A Teenage Suicide – Ebook and print on demand – Oct 4th, 2013

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5 Incredible Books About Montreal You Need to Read.

This will be a bilingual selection…so work on your French, ‘pis apprenez votre Anglais! (Ps : a good way to fuck up your spellcheck program is to write something dans les deux langues)

 

1- Mordecai Richler : The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

My favourite (and probably best) Montreal author working his magic with flawless satire, morally questionable characters and a sense of setting that is unparalleled in Canadian literature.

 

duddy

2- Marie-Sissi Labrèche – Borderline

On m’a fait lire Borderline au Cegep. J’ai adoré. Un style rough sorti du Centre-Sud (de l’époque) et, surtout, une forme littéraire appelée “auto-fiction” qui m’a tout de suite plu (l’auteur et le personnage principal partagent le même nom mais la vie du personnage est amplifié, modifiée et le fun c’est de jamais dire ce qui est vrai de ce qui est inventé.

border

3- David Fennario – Balconville.

Un texte parfaitement bilingue straight out of Pointe-Saint-Charles. Le premier livre bilingue au Canada. Un livre tout ce qui a de plus Montréalais, pour ne pas dire québécois : le quotidien de quatre voisins ouvriés, sans-emplois, femme au foyer… Mixing both languages in a way that has been deemed, “Montréal plus vrai que vrai.” I still hope one day I manage to “pull a Fennario” as I like to say.

balcon

4- Charles Harrison – Generals Die in Bed

One of Canada’s great (most likely) unknown war novel. It’s style is dry, straight forward and rooted in more of a “raconteur” style. Like Hemingway and others of the so called “silent generation”, Harrison didn’t speak (or in this case, write) invain. Even if the novel is short, every word count and it will hit you right in the guts. The opening scene is still one of the best depiction of WWI era-Montreal I have yet read.

generals

5 – Michel Tremblay – Hosanna

Perhaps because it dealt with being gay at a time when it was still very hard to be, even in Canada. Maybe because my uncle was gay and was taken away too soon in the 90’s wave of AIDS victims. On me l’a fait lire aussi au Cegep. J’ai adoré autant que Borderline (quand j’y pense, ma prof de littérature aimait les livres rough)

Hosanna rang a bell with me. It’s raw emotion, flawless (minimalistic) setting and the first play I ever read by Tremblay.

hosanna

 

Merci. Thank you.

 

Non-Mechanical Errors (in pictures)

So we opened my first solo show last week at a Vernissage on the 14th.

Here are some pictures. (I think all of those were taken by Mary Lee Maynard…pretty sure)…you can get the complete catalogue of paintings in my “visual art” section HERE.

 

DSC_0415vernissage a

DSC_0184DSC_0189DSC_0199DSC_0201Ian (Photo Mary Lee Maynard)

I Admit It : I Would LOVE a Legacy Deal.

I turned 32 last week so, I will allow myself more of an “opinion” piece that’s self-reflective about my life and where I think it’s headed (especially when it comes to art and writing).

I went with my spouse and kid(s) *second one pending* to Chapters yesterday.

And I love it.

I have to admit it, I fucking love it. It’s a HUGE, corporate type of store, but I fucking love it.  I love the fact that it’s 4 stories high. I get to drink coffee in there. I love the selection of overpriced little coffee mugs, the discount section next to them, the countless tables I can just glance by. My daughter can just run free in the kids section and there are tables and games set up there for them. There’s an elevator up in there and my daughter can’t wait to get in there. It has absolutely everything I read like a gigantic selection of graphic novel you can only rival in specialised comic book stores, which I also love.

I’m 32 years old now and I guess It’s time to admit what I love and what I don’t. I know that the cliché is that colleges I went too and what I studied (social sciences and writing), I should be all up against big corporate stores and big publishing. I should be crying out the agony of the poor, independent writer in river-letter shouting for more funding and public support.

I’m not.

There’s a huge debate going on right now between “self-published” and “big 5″…ie go with Amazon/Apple etc… go through Legacy publishing. ie Hachette (if you don’t know about the Amazon/Hachette feud right now, just google it.)

But what has been called “self-publishing” is not really self distributed, is it. Amazon is a GIGANTIC corporation and thus, the debate between “self” and “big 5″ is really more about which corporation you want to do business with.

So unless you’re selling your books out of the back of your car, it’s all “assisted” publishing in one way or another.

But I digress.

Where am I going with this? I have “self” published in the past. Hell, I was “self” publishing years before e-books. I started with punk zines and art zines and political zines back in my early days of CEGEP (sort of a junior college here in Quebec). I was going to small press bookfairs years before the idea of “self-publishing” and ebooks existed. That’s where I honed my craft. I learned, failed, tried again… moved up to college (after no small amount of financial struggles, but then again, I’ve rarely met someone who didn’t have to work hard just to pay from school… not in the East end of Montreal anyways) one thing lead to another and then last year I’ve won the Expozine award for best English book.

That meant a lot to me. It meant that I could achieve the best of what “indie” could be. I feel confident about my writing, I feel confident about my art, my design choices, the people I’ve chosen to work with over the years. (You’re only as good as the people you work with.) But here’s the problem.

I am horrible at self-marketing. I can’t do it. My brain doesn’t work that way. I think it’s overly arrogant and self-righteous (if not a bit desperate) to tell someone else “here, buy my shit!” I know people do it all the time. I’m just really bad at it.

One more thing I can’t do is physically distribute my books in the stores of the world. And despite the amazing technological capabilities of Amazon or Apple (they have designed truly amazing distribution structures) Store won’t order my books and I am not getting reviewed in blogs or newspapers.

Of course, I could start harassing them, pay to play (or pay to review) but as I mentioned above, all my money went to college and I’m horrible at self-marketing.

What I am good at is writing (and art/design). I’m a creative type. It’s what I like, it’s what i do.

So just like I’ll admit loving a chain store like Chapters.

I’ll admit it : I would LOVE a legacy publishing deal.

I don’t mind self-publishing. I really don’t. I love doing it in the past, both through small press fairs and setting up Ebooks is really so easy, any idiot could do it.

Self-publishing It’s a valid thing and I can’t swear I’d never do it again.

But I would jump through hoops for a legacy deal. I would love to work with seasoned editors. I would love to have coffee and talk about designs because I am a designer myself. I dream about translations…seriously…I would literally giggle at seeing my books in japanese, Kataganas on the cover with my name underneath it all. You would never see a bigger smile stamped on my face. (I love Japan and its culture)

I dream about those things. I don’t think I should feel bad about that.

In the grand picture of Amazon vs. Hachette face off, I feel I shouldn’t have to take a fucking side because the reality is that I just want to write.

 

That should be enough.

Take care,

 

Ian

 

 

 

 

 

Painting : Soon (for Non-Mechanical Errors 14/08 @Vap Box Montréal)

Hey there,

 

Finished up the last two canvases for my first solo show : Non-Mechanical Errors on 14/08 @Vap Box Montréal. 4812 St-Urbain, Montreal. 18h00

 

DSC_0403 DSC_0386 DSC_0431 DSC_0392 DSC_0415

Judge a Book by its Cover

I want to write a quick post about this because I just had that age-old argument with a colleague.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” as if it was supposed to be some great metaphore on how we put too much thought into appearances and not enough in the guts.

While it may sound like glitters and unicorns where everyone can feel good and embrace mediocrity…let’s face it : we need to judge a book by its cover.

We need to…

Because being a writer also makes us artists and therefore, we CANNOT neglect the aesthetic aspect of our work.

Some people only care about aesthetics (Art for art’s sake) and others will claim a work is purely sociological/political…both work with aesthetics, or at least they should.

As writers, it is imperative to dig into design and visual art. We need to know what we love visually, what we like aesthetically and how we can translate the stories we have in our heads, not only into words, but also visually.

It can be daunting : how do you synthesise 300 pages of work into one single image. It is an exercise in minimalism, that is for sure. But why not live up to the challenge. It can be a visual concept, an emotion, a character… why not take this chance to be creative just the same.

Of course, some will say that authors don’t always (or ever) have final word on cover designs. That can only mean two things : A) you had no guts to impose yourself (everything is negotiable) or you wouldn’t dare to try in the first place.

You don’t even need to be a designer. Simple photoshop skills (which most younger people have anyways) will suffice to AT LEAST do a proper maquette of a cover that you can then send to a designer (if need be).

With all the photographs available online in various databases (stock photos) you can do a mock-up in a half-hour, probably do a full (usable) cover in a matter of hours… at least to indicate to your designer what kind of direction you’d like to go.

Cover design it not THAT complicated. If you’ve been raised around computers, you already (probably) know how to do it. And the best thing is, it’s cheap too.

If you can’t afford photoshop, try a cheaper program. Don’t have a good camera : stock photos. Fonts aren’t interesting : buy a few good ones online.

NG cover lowfi

 

The cover for “Northern Gothic” is basically a texture I bought online and photoshopped it to get the color I wanted plus, I added a very common font (that is cheezy, yes, but so what?) It cost me $4.34 (Canadian) to do… that’s it.

But you don’t have to go “cheap” all the time.

ats-banner.jpg

With A Teenage Suicide, I wanted to push my creativity and use everything I knew about the world of Punk rock. So I designed one cover for each of the characters, using “A Teenage Suicide” as a band name, while imitating logos from bands that the teenagers in my story would listen too… I had t-shirts printed and then asked people I know to act as models.

All of that cost me a few hundred dollars (printing one t-shirt at a time is REALLY expensive) but I found the experience worthwhile (sometimes an idea gets in your head and you can’t sleep till its done.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a simpler note, I’ve designed the mock-up for my next novel (Grand Trunk and Shearer) because I know what kind of visual I wanted. I wanted to use the Victoria Bridge because it crosses the neighbourhood my story is set it. It’s a Montreal landmark, plus it looks great. I could have gone there at night and taken a picture, but I was lucky to find one that was perfect in a stock photo database.

I also wanted big BOLD letters that took a lot of space (like the tattoo on my left arm) Because…well, that’s what I wanted.

integrity

Total price for the cover : maybe 40 bucks.

Try and fail and try again, untill you’re happy with what you got. It’s that simple and it’s that cheap.

There’s no reason not to do it.

 

Take care,

 

Ian

 

J’ai fait le tour de TOUT les grands travaux de la ville, desfois deux fois!)

Bon,

 

Notre chauffeur de truck est en vacances fait que j’me suis ramassé sur son shift pour la journée!

 

J’ai fait le tunnel Ville-Marie,

Le tunnel Lafontaine

La 30

Le pont Champlain (dieu ait mon âme!!!!)

L’échangeur Turcot (Osti m’a mourir, osti m’a mourir!)

L’autoroute Décarie (Ouin, c’est cute NDG vu d’en bas)

La 40 entre les 2 15 (ohhhhhh boy!)

la 15 nord jusqu’à Boisbriand, ma sortie est bloquée (construction)  SImonac!

Fait que j’me ramasse sa 13 sud… vers Montréal

Détour, détour dans Boisbriand (qui a des osti de zones de 30 a grandeur, en passant!)

Trouve l’entrepot, pis on recommence

13 sud vers Montréal

Sortie Hickmore, Arrêt a Lachine

la 520 est vide (AMAZING!)

Mais b’en vite j’me ramasse s’a 40 entre les 2 15 (ENCORE!!!)

Sort au plus criss, arrêt Rue Stinson

Mais Stinson débouche pas nulle part a cause de l’osti de track. Meme si mon prochain arrêt est sur Lebeau (distance a vol d’oiseau, 150 PIEDS!) J’me ramasse dans ville Mont-Royal (allo les riches!!!)

Tourne pis tourne pis tourne autour des cônes oranges, finit par traverser l’osti de track! Mais la, criss, ya pas une rue drette a Ville Mont-Royal…J’me ramsse en Angle Nord-Nord-Est…

Autour de Rockland, j’me retrouve dans l’échangeur 15/40 (ENCORE!!)

Finit par pogner la sortie l’Acadie… mais évidemment, on peux pas tourner a Gauche sur Sauvé (la seule OSTI de rue qui traverse la track dans l’autre sens) tourne pis tourne pis tourne a droite… se ramasse enfin sa bonne voie…

Prochain arrêt : Park-Ex! (Yé!)

deux p’tits slaloms entre les cones sur l’Acadie (rendu icitte, chu habitué) pis finit par trouver la place… Y’ont un parking (AWESOME)

(faut je dise en passant, que j’ai envie de pisser depuis 3h la, moé la!)

Prochain arrêt : St-Hubert pis Everett.

Chu en business sur Jean-Talon…

Passe par la ruelle : pas de porte arrière (évidemment)

Tourne pis tourne pis tourne a droite…

Finalement, dieu me calisse patience : ya deux spots libres devant le magasin (parcomètre, mais rendu la, osti, j’lai payé de ma poche)

Ensuite, Cristophe-Colomb

(OBSERVATIONS : depuis quand y’a rien qu’une osti de voie rendu a Rosemont? Aussi :le club échangiste WAY sketchy au coin de Rosemont est démoli, VIVE les condos (pour une fois)

Descends St-Denis, ya juste 3-4 spots, mais j’menligne correct pour pas me ramasser sur Sherbrooke (question de m’éviter un mal de tête de plus) même si les travaux commencent autour d’Iberville.

Bref : J’aime le transport en commun finalement…

Bonne journée,

 

Ian

 

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