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Pelee Island Memoir-Writing Retreat…It’s on for June 21-24, 2013

Please join me for three days of summer writing and mentorship at the “On Pelee Time” bed and breakfast on Pelee Island in south-western Ontario.

You have a story to tell, I know you do. And I’d like to help you tell it. From Friday June 21 to Monday June 24, 2013 I’ll be conducting a retreat for friendly, amateur writers at a gorgeous new bed and breakfast on Pelee Island, the most southern spot in Canada.

We’ll be a small group of [Read more…]

Laughing With My Patients.

June 12, 2011

Until a number of readers told me that they laughed much of the way through TAMPERED – my murder mystery where the lives of simpatico seniors are in jeopardy and the body count begins to rise – I didn’t think of myself as a very funny person. And then I got to thinking: at the rather stark and antiseptic clinic where I see my patients, I laugh all day long. While I’m tending the sick and the injured, [Read more…]

Life Imitating Art this Week in Germany: Death in a Salad?

June 7, 2011

Readers of TAINTED, my first Zol Szabo and Hamish Wakefield mystery, will remember that the government-appointed gurus were falling all over themselves trying to figure out how mad cow prions were tainting the food supply. The government boffins made a lot of useless noise that  produced no credible results. In his eagerness to look smarter than everyone else, Dr. Wyatt Burr – that pizza-addicted, ego-driven, government patsy – caused havoc around the world. He sent even the [Read more…]

The sometimes Tainted world of lofty pursuits

Ted Barris, a well-known Canadian broadcaster and journalist, interviewed me a few weeks ago when I appeared at a book-lovers’ evening at the Whitby Library, northeast of Toronto. It was a thrill to spend time with Andrea Tippins and other members of Whitby’s vibrant library community, and to meet Shelley Macbeth, owner of Blue Heron Books in nearby Uxbridge. Ted exudes enthusiasm for the personal stories behind Canada’s war history, and he’s an accomplished thinker and wordsmith with an infectious [Read more…]

Joining the iPod Generation

This blog post was originally posted on November 23, then temporarily lost in cyberspace.

Everyone under fifty has an iPod, it seems – a Shuffle, a Nano, a Classic, or a Touch. You see people wearing them everywhere, wires sprouting from their external auditory canals (ears) and faraway looks in their eyes. You know the look – it says don’t bother me, I’m in another world and I like it that way.

I came into a little money the other day (please [Read more…]

TAINTED wins Literary Prize!!

This blog post was originally posted November 16, then temporarily lost in cyberspace.

On November 15, Arts Hamilton held its 17th annual literary awards ceremony at Theatre Aquarius in downtown Hamilton. It’s a venue we are all very proud of and the centre of our performing arts scene.

In support of Arts Hamilton’s literary competition, judges from all across Canada had pored over the poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction, of dozens of Hamilton-based writers. The judges came up with six winners, [Read more…]

Happy New Year

For my wife Lorna and me, 2009 started and ended with two icons of our teenage years: Vietnam and Paul McCartney. In between, our year was punctuated with friendships, for which we are very grateful. Now that the kids have left the house, we have more time for friends, which makes this a very positive stage of life.

February took us to Vietnam aboard the Silver Whisper of the Silversea cruise line. In our teens, Vietnam was a war, not a [Read more…]

Great time in Owen Sound, and TAINTED’s second printing arrives!

It’s tricky sustaining interest in a book when it’s sold out. That was the happy situation TAINTED found itself in for most of July. But now it’s back in a second printing — a high-five to the good people at ECW Press. A couple of inconsistencies in small details have been corrected (thanks to a hawkeyed doctor-reader friend). And in the opening scene, Zol defines prions and BSE more clearly for the reader. There was no time for me to [Read more…]

Gratifying responses to TAINTED

When you write a novel, especially your first, you have no idea how it’s going to be received — by your friends, your family, a publisher (if you’re lucky), the reading public, the critics.

I’m thrilled, and humbled, to say that TAINTED is being very well received in lots of places. Margaret Cannon in today’s Globe and Mail called it:

“[an] excellent debut novel… What works are the two likeable and convincing doctors and the scary plot. Pennie’s message – that no [Read more…]

Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life”: Our best comes out

It’s seven thirty on Saturday morning, and I’ve just returned home from the second-ever, all-night Ancaster-Dundas “Relay for Life” sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society. My wife Lorna has been the event’s co-chair these past two years, working with a committee of a dozen talented and tireless women – and one man – to raise funds for cancer care and research. In towns and cities all across the world, people pitch their tents and walk laps around a track in [Read more…]

An epidemic of misinformation

Tolstoi wrote, in War and Peace: “The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.” I’ve learned that his words hold true for writers as well as soldiers.

More than anything, the completion of a novel to the standard required for publication requires patience. There’s the slogging through the first draft, then the revising/reshaping/polishing/repolishing that prevent the work from inciting ridicule when shared with others, then the complete rewrite for the publisher who finally deems to read bits [Read more…]

A “Tainted” Launch & Celebration

Our “Tainted” book launch celebration on Wednesday April 15 at the Ancaster Old Town Hall was a great success. The venue is charming in an olde worlde sort of way, with a clock tower, limestone walls, and high cove ceilings. The party was a team effort, masterminded and mostly executed by my wife Lorna. She prepared and labelled “tainted” nibbles that reflected the clues and characters in the novel (including young Max’s favourite brownies). Acoustic Properties, the musical trio that  [Read more…]

Welcome to my site.

This is the first day for my website. I’ll be posting blogs from time to time, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading Tainted, the debut mystery for  Zol Szabo and Hamish Wakefield.

Brantford Expositor: BGH doctor developing second career as novelist

Soon after assuming his new post as an infectious disease specialist at Brantford General Hospital in 2003, Dr. Ross Pennie learned of two local cases of a deadly and particularly frightful brain disease. The cases “gripped me with terror,” Pennie said. He and his colleagues were awash in an “emotional chill” until it was learned that the two cases were naturally occurring forms of the disease and not a brewing public health nightmare.