Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wearing my Publisher's Hat Today

Now that I have emerged from both Christmas and a school term of middle class income and 16 hour days, into a week of little paid work, and ahead a term of less work [and less money, alas], I am going full speed ahead writing and self publishing. Today I am going over the formatting of An Apple a Day with the proverbial fine toothed comb.  First I will produce a pdf to put up on as a POD edition.  Once that is done, I will try my hand at Smashwords.  I just received advice on a Linked In group that I should try converting my Pages file to ePub and submitting that to Smashwords, thereby avoiding their frightening Meatgrinder program.

My goal is to have Apple a Day published in this year - so the book will be ready by tomorrow and make that personal deadline.  The Smashwords may not.. but maybe....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Smithy's Writing: The end of a great idea

Smithy's Writing: The end of a great idea: Some while ago I discovered an interesting app for the iPad called tactilize - that allowed one to produce interactive content for the iPad ...

The end of a great idea

Some while ago I discovered an interesting app for the iPad called tactilize - that allowed one to produce interactive content for the iPad in individual 'cards' - but the name 'card' belied its depth.  I chose the word 'depth' as it describes how this innovative program worked.  You had only one page, yes... but you could embed content under the surface of the single 'card' - videos, sound, photographs, drawings, text.. and put text as a kind of main page as well as all these other elements.  They were hoping to improve the software to allow for multiple cards.  It was a truly innovative means to publish multimedia directly to the iPad.

I am a poet and wrote a number of multimedia poems - mostly different fonts and colours combined with photos - and yesterday was going to do my first with a video.... when I tried to publish, I got an error message from the company that hosted it in the cloud.  I found's Facebook page.. and posted a query there.... and received the answer a little while ago.. the company is dead.

Requiescat in pacem.... for a truly interesting way to publish directly to the iPad....

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Yesterday night on Facebook, I did one of those little 'are you left or right brained' tests... I came out right brained at 66-34... one poster noted that she knew she was right brained, but the test said otherwise... the woman who posted the thingie, a friend in Italy, came out 50-50.  As for me, I didn't know I was right brained, or even what that meant until about four years ago [and I am 62 years old right now]... but when I think back, I most certainly am right brained. I lived a left brained life until I was in my late 50s - a fake, false, failed life working in an office, then attempting to be a scholar.  I was rather more successful at scholarship, though the best part of my PhD thesis was a story I told in one of the chapters.  One of the examiners at my oral exam said he felt as though he had got to know those people from the 1890s, personally.

Well, another friend some months ago leant me his biography of Neil Young, the rock musician.  I don't much care for Neil Young - his voice is off key, reedy and high pitched.  But in skimming through the book as a duty of friendship, i noted that his words/lyrics confirmed my belief that lyrics are poems.  I just now skimmed to the last two short chapters where I encountered Neil Young's creative process - which involved drugs! [Quelle surprise!]  But which otherwise [my only drug being Scotch, or wine, or an occasional real ale] mirrored my creative process.  I am going to quote from page 492 [and here the scholar kicks in:  Neil Young. Waging Heavy Peace,  A Hippy Dream. New York:  Blue Rider Press, 2012]:

"The sound was cascading over me and all around me, and I was swimming in it."

He had just finished a song written and roughly recorded some time earlier without all the usual professional bits and pieces that make a song 'professional' - it was a product of his full blown right brain.. a work of art, not smoothed out professionalism.... what leapt out at me was this sentence.. as, when I write poetry, or when i write my long prose/poem book, 'The Man who fell from the Sky... is how the words feel to me... they cascade over me, around me..  I swim in the words.......

Thanks, Neil Young.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The corners of my round brain

 There are many corners in my round brain, where sparkling objects lie covered in others of similar vein

 they wait patiently to be lifted and held in the light, dancing and weaving dreams of delight

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A writer's day ends at last

Well, here it is 1:32 a.m., technically tomorrow, but I have never been entirely partial to the cold precision of science.  As I have yet to to go to bed, it is still today.  I left off many hours ago and am a bit too tired to detail every part of my day since then.  Let's just say that the day was a mix of housework, taking the car for an oil change and to have its heart checked which was a bit of a break for me as I could sit and play on my iPhone while I waited.. then some small things to get at Denninger's, the Austrian/German deli. I returned home and spent time grading assignments..

I didn't have to cook much as the chill con carne had been bubbling merrily all day.. just heat some commercial frozen garlic baguette.. and eat.  Unusually I had two, or rather 1.5 helpings [there!  I can be scientifically precise!].  I paid bills too - always a wretchedly stressful activity in these days of too many expenses and too small an income.

The evening dog walking was pleasant as it is cool and there was a light rain which felt good.....

From 11:30 to just a few minutes ago I worked on finishing grading so I could have some free and clear time tomorrow to write - or rather to finish the editing of Apple a Day.

Anyway.. my writer's life today consisted of about a total of a half hour writing in this blog.... out of a 17 hour day....... not good!  But.. unless I win a lottery i must have my day job!

Night all.....

A Writer's Day

Well, this writer's day, he said ungrammatically, but authentically.

10:26 a.m.

A reasonably successful day so far.  I went to sleep just after 1 a.m. and woke around 8.  I groaned and rolled over trying to return to my dream.  It wasn't a particularly happy dream, but even my less than joy filled dreams are preferable these days to waking reality.  I did get up at about a quarter after eight and went downstairs.  My wife was still sleeping in her hospital bed in our former living room. Hmmm, it is now, in fact, a living room - the room where she lives and commands all those within her range.  Anyway, I tidied the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, reheated the one mug's worth remaining from yesterday, made my usual breakfast of multigrain toast and sliced cheese-like substance.  Then I made a large pot of chili con carne, fed the dogs and PC our cat.  I found time to check and see if our pension payments were in the bank [hers for disability, mine - I started collecting my government invested pension as I know I will never retire] - they were. I let the dogs out, and went outside myself, still in my pjs.  There is still one rose in full bloom, despite the very cold night time temperatures, and a few buds that may  or may  not survive to bloom.  I uprooted the radish plants.  The soil  here is hard clay - I have added a few loads of good, black topsoil over the years but it is still not enough for root crops.  No radishes, in short.  It is nice to breathe the clear, free air if only for a few moments.

Back indoors,  I made a shopping list of odds and ends to  pick up as I have to go out and get an oil change in the car at 1....I put Classic FM on my iPad [a London England classical music station I prefer brought in by a lovely little app called tunein radio].  My old iPad version 1 is not much use anymore as fewer and fewer things work properly on it, but it serves for music or for reading eBooks still.  Oh, and it works nicely for a new writing app called - I have put a few poems up on that neat little program.  They promise a multi-page format soon... I look forward to that!

What else have I done in these past two hours or so?  Oh, yes, my day job!  I am a part-time instructor at the University of Guelph's History department, and in the Electives area at the University of Guelph-Humber.  I spent a good half hour grading essay proposals - which reminded me of an amusing little 'card' I shared on Facebook yesterday:  "100 years ago we were teaching Latin and Greek in High School, today we teach remedial English in college' - amusing, but not terribly good for the future of writing!  And not terribly good for my mental health while marking assignments.

My wife woke up just around 10, and I made her breakfast - coffee from the pot, cheerios as she was so late she didn't want too much to ruin lunch at noon.... and I checked and stirred the chill... oh, yes, and I put the laundry in for a second rinse, then into the dryer.  I hear that the dryer has stopped now...

Time to finish my morning routine .....

Ciao for now

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apple a Day

I am half way through a close edit of Apple a Day (a history of health care in Canada) - the mss. had been professionally edited but I didn't own the rights to virtually all the photos.  So I replaced them with copyright expired pictures, mostly from Library & Archives Canada.  Then I started to read carefully through to make sure the pictures were placed as I wanted them, and also came across a very few spots where rewording was needed or preferred.

Once this intensive read through is done, I will do a quick read - then begin the task of teaching myself how to use Smashwords to upload it as an eBook - as well as placing a print book in the lulu marketplace.

Alice Munro

I just had to purloin this from an interview done with Alice Munro in the 90s - -she describes the suburbia I grew up in - not for me North Vancouver, but rather, South Windsor [Ontario] - she, even in speech, has a writer's eye.  She claims she could never write about North Vancouver but in this excerpt she does, capturing North Vancouver and South Windsor .. and all the North Vancouvers and South Windsors of the world

Was Vancouver less useful for material?
I lived in the suburbs, first in North Vancouver, then in West Vancouver. In North Vancouver, the men all went away in the morning and came back at night, all day it was housewives and children. There was a lot of informal togetherness, and it was hard to be alone. There was a lot of competitive talk about vacuuming and washing the woolies, and I got quite frantic. When I had only one child, I’d put her in the stroller and walk for miles to avoid the coffee parties. This was much more narrow and crushing than the culture I grew up in. So many things were forbidden—like taking anything seriously. Life was very tightly managed as a series of permitted recreations, permitted opinions, and permitted ways of being a woman. The only outlet, I thought, was flirting with other people’s husbands at parties; that was really the only time anything came up that you could feel was real, because the only contact you could have with men, that had any reality to it, seemed to me to be sexual. Otherwise, men usually didn’t talk to you, or if they did they talked very much from high to low. I’d meet a university professor or someone, and if I knew something about what he knew, that would not be considered acceptable conversation. The men didn’t like you to talk, and the women didn’t like it either. So the world you had was female talk about the best kind of diet, or the best care of woolies. I was with the wives of the climbing men. I hated it so much I’ve never been able to write about it. Then in West Vancouver, it was more of a mixed suburb, not all young couples, and I made great friends there. We talked about books and scandal and laughed at everything like high-school girls. That’s something I’d like to write about and haven’t, that subversive society of young women, all keeping each other alive. But going to Victoria and opening a bookstore was the most wonderful thing that ever happened. It was great because all the crazy people in town came into the bookstore and talked to us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I forgot to mention

I forgot to mention...... my small book of experimental poems has been published on the iBookstore.  Available for your iPad or computer at $2.99.  A print version is available in the marketplace for $10...

A new day

Good morning he said... i have rolled out of bed ... the sky is still dark... but i spy some light just coming into my heart... 6:59 ante meridiem as i start on writing with half my brain fried...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Waiting for Apple

I hope my wait is not the same as in the Samuel Becket play, Waiting for Godot
.  I submitted my small book of poems , The River, to the iBook store vetting team in late August.  A few days later I was issued a 'ticket', which is AppleSpeak for there was a formatting problem that needed to be repaired before the next step in publication in the store. I used a template on the iBook Author program - I used this as I wanted to do a multimedia book and I expected fewer problems using an Apple program. Apparently some of the templates only work in landscape, while some work in both portrait and landscape... and I inadvertently picked a landscape only mode...but this requires the ticking of a box to prevent IOS devices from attempting to switch when rotated.  So I repaired that - it took all of ten seconds.... and resubmitted.

I noticed yesterday that the 'ticket' had disappeared, but that the book was not yet in the iBookstore.  I googled around and found that it can take anywhere from hours to weeks before it appears in the store.. in my case, stores.. as I submitted it to 51 stores around the world.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The River

Some time ago I began a short book of poems using the iBook Author tool - which, as far as I know, is the only easy to use tool for creating multimedia books. It is restricted to Apple's iBook store [and I pray that the judgement in the U.S. courts won't abort the bookstore!].  Apple as from the beginnings of its own word processor, Pages,  been the leader in multimedia for writing, and its development of iBook Author is only the most recent addition to this forward looking approach to writing.

Well I finished the book - I put a print version up on  I sent The River to Apple and received a return with a minor problem in the file to repair... I did that, but for several days after, the Apple site one must sent books to was down.  Then I was busy with the first day of a new term teaching at the University of Guelph and the University of Guelph/Humber began.  Today I will try again.....

Friday, August 30, 2013

Speed Writing

I decided to write.. but had nothing in mind to write.. so I chose a font and size and started to write whatever came into my head, stopping only if I made an egregious spelling error - this piece took me about 65 second to write:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Print & Digital & Thought

Corey Pressman on the impact of digital

I came into this series on the impact of digital - and indeed, the impact of print - on thought, on how we engage with the universe and each other as humans - and on our spiritual lives [but more about that in my religion blog].

This particular post looks at the idea of finality - how print required a self-contained, 'this, and not that' view of reality.  A book, or pamphlet or article in a journal has a beginning, a middle, an end.  It is self-contained, an object of and in itself, delineated from other objects.  It can be just black print on white paper in an innocuous font - or as in many early books, an objet d'art - a thing not only complete, but a thing of beauty in its completeness - a cover design, the feel and texture of the paper chosen, perhaps a supple leather binding, interesting fonts within, colours, abstract and realist pictures and later photographs....

What, perhaps, digital publishing/writing [they are the same with the advent of self pub] has done is remove this finality.  A text is never complete - and no longer requires the clumsy artifact of second, third and so on 'editions' - each of which in the non-fiction world require years of revision and are thus already out of date when they appear.  The academic world has not accepted this intrinsic aspect of digital pub/writing as of yet - I was told once by an acquisitions editor for a university press that, they did a few eBooks - by which he meant, they took an out of date version of an academic work and put it into pdf form online.  Yecccchhhh.  [sorry, the best word i could come up with that expressed my opinion of this in one 'complete' expression!].

The 'academic' book I am writing on the relationship between religion and society will be permanently ongoing - well as permanent as there are others to extend, correct, and alter it after I am gone.  I put 'academic' in [what are those thingies called?] because to be called academic, one must be peer-reviewed and printed... and this will have peer criticism I am sure, but will most definitely NOT be printed.

This idea of non-finality is more interesting when you turn to fiction, however.  I am also writing a work of fiction - multimedia, bizarre and unending - call it a novel if you must - which will at some point be up and available, but unfinished.  I hope to keep it going for as long as I am able, and then would hope others would play around with it beyond that point -......

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A quick rumination

@notlimey: Life is mostly hell so I decided to savour all the fleeting moments of beauty I stumble across

I came across this tweet I made (twitted?) in early June... It does look negative, but is quite optimistic I would argue.  Maybe I will post it in the argument clinic on fb.....

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Most of my thoughts here are likely going to be trite, following a well-worn path.  I have not done an Historian's due diligence, which is very bad of me, having been trained as an academic.  That is, I have not read as much as I could find or stomach already written by others better qualified.  I will, of course, think anyway, this being my blog!

For a male, beauty most often inheres in women.  Men, of course, love beautiful buildings, paintings, sculpture, scenery and so on.. but the purest form is found in women.  This most probably has a sexual core, but is not as pornographers and ironically those who attack pornography, wholly or even mostly, sexual. What I am trying to express here [and doing badly] is another theme in my intellectual life:  dismay at the control scientific classification maintains over our imaginations to the detriment of a holistic view of life.  The male sense of the pure beauty that is connatural to femaleness is a part of an organic whole.  

This sense, and I must emphasize the word sense in order to make a clear distinction with any logic or rational apprehension, takes a wide continuum of forms.  This includes abusive pornography and swings far off to Victorian florid poetry.  Neither of these extremes bear much resemblance to the reality of the human female, but they do have that essential core of beauty.

Well enough of setting terms... what is beauty?  More particularly, what is this beauty men find in women?  Only a poem will do....for now,

Her eyes flashed
seeing him
her smile warmed
and touched his skin
she moved, yawning
and stretched
singing a silent tune
that held his soul
deep within

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Here I go again

Well... I must write so will.... but how much writing I will manage to squeeze into my 16 hours a day 7 days a week work schedule I am not certain....

The Last Day I will write?

I woke up today, tired as usual, but clear-headed for once.  A week ago I set up a daily schedule in an attempt to find some good, solid time for writing.  I won't go into the banal details of my life which made this effort necessary.  Let me say simply that I have unavoidable duties which take up about 75% of my waking day, and writing and my paid teaching must live in the remainder.

So....this morning I woke up after a short and fitful night's sleep to the cold, grim realisation that this schedule was not working.  I have written nothing since last Wednesday, and even then it was a piddling, fiddling around with photographs for a book I will finish.  No writing.  No words that fly and sing, or plunge to the depths.  None.

So I lay there and came to the calm, considered realisation that i had run out of time to write.  I have been writing for more than ten years now and have a clutch of books to my name.  But four years ago I decided to write things that were me - good, pure, unadulterated works of imagination and verve and fire - poetry, prose-poems, an experimental multimedia work - and some history that interested me.

Well, at this precise moment, I have finished my morning rota of duties, and have eaten and am on my second mug of coffee.  This fuel has given me the energy to allow myself a last day to write - I will go to church to pray and meditate - then see what unfolds today.  I will not force it - poetry is my marker - will any words rise out of me?  Or will that blank emptiness that has been my writing continue?  

Well, enough for now.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Martin Luther, individualism and the writing revolution

I am reading the Reformation: a Brief History by Kenneth G Appold. In the current section he is describing the sources of his radical re-interpretation of Christianity. The author goes on to describe the political manoeuvrings around Luther - why he was at first ignored, then the politics of bringing him to trial, or at least debate. This occurred between the time of the posting of the 95 theses in 1517 and 1521, when Luther was excommunicated. In this period a pamphlet war was engaged.

What this all says to me is two factors had changed - one the rise of individualism and the other the necessity of reading and of relatively cheap material to read. Reading is an essentially individual activity - this is not to say it is necessarily private - one can read out loud, one publishes [as here] for others to read. But writing and reading are the dissemination of internal, personal and individual thought.

The Protestant Reformation is usually, and quite sensibly, approached as a revolution in religion - but it can be seen from another angle if you turn it on its side. The Reformation was a cultural turn from the mediaeval world of communal and oral life where what you knew, you knew because others said it to you and you said it to others as you lived your life in a small community. Learning was also visual and tactile. Words and sight and touch moved in a dance of reinforcement, integrated into the oral and communal life of people.

The Reformation is the label historians of religion stick onto a cultural change in western Europe - religion being integral to culture and culture to religion [I use the term 'culture' here in its anthropological sense, of course, as the 'total way of life of a people'].

Reading and writing came to the fore for a growing class of intellectuals in that broad, other cultural movement called the Renaissance. The dissemination of ideas now rocketed off in all directions with the new technology of communication called the printing press, movable type, and paper. This new form of mass communication could not be contained by the old 'powers-that-be', at that time aka the 'Church'. I will here give the standard 'historian's caveat' - this did not all happen at once - the 'Church', now much constrained and limited to far fewer lands than before [well ... and another caveat - European lands, because at this same time, the old religion was busily establishing itself in the Americas and on other continents]. Anyway, this did not all happen at once because there was not to be one Reformation, but rather, 'reformations' - Luther's ideas dominated the northern German and Scandinavian lands, but other Reformations took hold - those of Jean Calvin most importantly, but also the state reformed Catholicism of England, and the small persecuted groups of so-called anabaptists.

Again my point in all this is this cultural turn came out of a perfect storm of multiple changes. The change that interests me here, in this blog, is the very change I am a part of in the 21st century -the communications revolution. To put the Reformations in a modern mode - Luther's ideas went viral - and just as ideas spread via the internet today, were altered and changed as they spun there way across western European society.

Those who defended the old ways - principally what we today call the Catholic Church, or the Roman Catholic church, which until the ideas of Luther went viral, simply, 'The Church', was changed - adapted to the new reality of a war of words and of control over communication.

So too today, email, instant messenger programs, YouTube, facebook, twitter, Linkedin, cell phone cameras, self published eBooks, website, ftp..... I have probably missed something here - constitute the technological drivers of another cultural revolution not seen in the world since the printing press and movable type and paper.

What is the 'church' today? Well for a writer such as myself, it is the legacy publishers, the academic presses, peer review old style, copyright law. What is the Reformation (s) today? Smashwords, Creative Commons licensing, the world wide web [not to be confused with the internet - the WWW is a part of the internet], experiments in online peer review for academics [for example, the History Working papers project ] , wikipedia.

Who is our Luther? Probably, Tim Berners-Lee who created the first web page and convinced his supporters at CERN where he then worked to give it to the world and built into it the protocols that prevented any one 'church' [as in big computer company] from owning or controlling it. The essence of the WWW is that it cannot be owned or controlled and this philosophy still very much has driven all the changes that I write about in this blog.

All this is something of a personal irony for me, as I am a Roman Catholic - but the double irony is I belong to the Church of Rome, not by birth, but by my individual choice. There is a triple layer of irony also - I belong not through cold reason - an intellectual assent to theological fact, but because I am also an heir of the Romantic movement and enjoy the wafting scent of faux mediaevalism and of even older memories stretching back to the world of imperial Rome.

Ah well, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee and to the technological revolution that brought about computers and the internet, I am liberated to choose and write as I will - but thanks even more so to the much older cultural revolution of the early modern era, the essence of which is the rise of the individual and individual ideas.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Norman McLaren

I am watching a full length film biography of Norman McLaren on my National Film Board of Canada app - part of my ongoing, 'when I get the time' look at creativity.

Creative Process: Norman McLaren by Donald McWilliams

I had to get down my early impressions - especially that I am seeing the same elements as in the film

Gerhard Richter Painting

McLaren, Richter and Picasso all note that their paintings do not follow the artist's plan, but follow their own paths.  I see the same in my writing.  McLaren is interesting to me at the moment.  What little I knew about him was he was some boring old NFB documentary film maker - those old short films with a plummy CBC voice putting you to sleep while you watched uninteresting images in some High School class.

Rather, I see a man who combined painting with film - indeed he says that using the human voice would have been a foreign imposition.  He painted in stages and filmed the stages.. he played with animation, but not in the Pixar or Disney mode.  In one example, he had a drawing of dark mountains on a canvas on an easel which was filmed, then stopped.. then applied white chalk to portions of the mountains... filmed that, and so on, then put it all together.  Picasso is reported to have said of one of McLaren's film paintings... 'At last!  Something new!"

Well, this interests me as I am following this path, but with text as the basic background..... and with film, painting, music etc. mingled - not enhancing as the current mistake in publishing has it - but intrinsic to the whole.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gerhard Richter Painting - creativity

I am watching this German movie focussed on Gerhard Richter at work. His studio is all white with all his tools carefully arranged and in place - order is the order of his life it seems. After a long shot of the orderliness of the studio he is shown sitting on a back step looking out at a garden. At last, I thought, some needed disorder! But no, a long white, straight walk stretched ahead controlling the greenery on each side such that the straight path controlled the scene and the vegetation played a dissonant supporting role.

Yet his abstracts give the lie to this encompassing order. In his painting, the greenery of chaos rule.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gerhard Richter Painting

I started to watch a German movie called Gerhard Richter Painting on Netflix today... I am only six minutes into it, but a statement by Richter made me see the unity at some level of all the arts.  He said, "they do what they want"  in response to a comment by the film maker that the paintings he was working on at that point had changed.  Richter then added, "I planned something totally different", then a succinct comment replete with levels of meaning "pretty colorful'...... sounding as though he was observing something he had little to do with, or that perhaps had its own life.

Over the years, I have heard novelists say that the characters in their books take on a life and do things that surprise the novelist, or that the writer had not planned or expected.  I am finding this in my slowly growing eBook fiction - for example, the other day another character showed up and caught Simon's attention.. his full attention.....unplanned, unexpected but wonderful... in the proper sense of the at word.... 'filled with wonder'

Gerhard Richter Painting - official film site

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I just finished watching this TED talk:

In it, the children's book writer and illustrator Jarret Krosocska gives the story of his creative journey.  What impressed me was that creativity is a need for persons such as him - it is not a career choice, a job, something to pay the bills and provide money for free time - it is a life lived.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Two morning poems....... with a different perspective as I try to decide whether to  kill off Sky Man or not....