I’ll be the first person to admit that social media has many benefits. It’s great for promotion, has the ability to catapult you to financial success overnight if used properly, and is an excellent way to stay connected with friends, family and loved ones.

But therein lies the paradox. Social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, to name a few, has not only thrived but exploded in popularity by exploiting the human need to connect with others. It preys on our propensity to be admired and loved, our desire to measure our self-worth by how many likes we get with our selfies (for those of you who don’t know, it means self-taken photos).

Like me please.

Like me please.

I recently had a conversation with a computer repair technician, and you wouldn’t believe some of the stories he told me about social media addiction. Maybe you would. He said one customer brought a computer into his shop to have all her photos backed up on a flash drive, claiming it wouldn’t be a very large job as there were only about 600-odd photos. What the technician found was over 100,000 photos, most of them of the woman’s teenage daughter. Apparently the teen spends many hours at the computer (and on social media), and every time she strikes a different pose (which must be fairly often) she snaps another picture, trying to capture that perfect angle, her best side maybe. Who knows how many of these photos made it onto her Facebook Wall of self-aggrandizement, looking for likes, a sense of self-worth and even a sense of identity from the virtual mirror of social judgment.

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Drunk-Dialing Craze Sweeps Across Canada

PEI–In an unprecedented development, thousands of drunk-dialers across the country are calling people everywhere and at all hours of the night.

“This is no joke,” PH-D Drunk-Dialer Walt Blackman told throngs of reporters gathered outside the Drunk-Dialing Academy of Higher Learning (DDAHL) in downtown Montague late last night. “Clearly these callers are searching for a higher level of consciousness. And they know it can be obtained through proper drunk-dialing.”

“I was still getting dozens of calls at five in the morning last night,” Blackman said. We’re talking about a diligent group of hard-working people here. This trend is moving faster than a viral tweet.”

According to Blackman, the volume of calls, which started about two weeks ago, has been rapidly increasing. “Now, our phones have gotten so busy I’ve hired two new switchboard operators who are working around the clock trying to answer and even make sense of them,” he said.

I love dd

He attributes the recent barrage of calls to two things; one, a recent surge of new applicants for the ever-popular Drunk-Dialing 101 course which has been around so long it even pre-dates Christ. Two, the increase has a lot to do with the Labour Day Long Weekend. “People are anxious to start drunk-dialing whenever a long weekend comes up,” Blackman said, slurring his speech slightly. “I expect literally thousands of calls tonight. Everyone wants to talk to friends and family when they’re drunk.”

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How I narrowly survived Hurricane Arthur’s fury

As I write these words, intense winds batter my house and shake the surrounding tree-line violently.

It’s easy to downplay Mother Nature’s wrath. “We could use the rain,” I said to a gas station cashier the other day while discussing the expected arrival of Hurricane Arthur. “I really don’t think it’ll be that bad.” I said this even after watching the devastation it caused in North Carolina, not to mention the other states; even after reading news reports Arthur had caused flash flooding, downed trees and massive power outages in neighboring provinces New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

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What is success to you?

There are millions of authors out there trying to get their voices heard, their visions read. Not all of them will make it. Some will get discouraged by the lack of attention and quit writing altogether. Still others will succumb to family and financial pressures and wave the white flag of surrender. And that’s an easy thing to do. Just quit, pack it in, say no more, never look back.

But is it what you want?

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Sneak-peak at a work in progress

If you don’t hear from me for a while, please don’t think for a second my creativity has gone dormant. Or, I’ve abandoned you. No. The little wheels in the little mind are always turning, always searching for new story ideas, always reading, writing, trying to refine the craft and become a better writer.

Admittedly, I’ve had a lot of other projects to detract from writing lately. The weather here on Prince Edward Island has been beautiful over the summer. Sometimes I find it hard to keep myself indoors, at the keyboard, creating when the weather is so nice outside. After all, I have a beautiful forested, waterfront acreage to explore.

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What it is to be Canadian

Anyone who knows anything about me, and trust me I’m far from a household name, knows that I spend my time living between Calgary, Alberta, and rural Prince Edward Island. Alongside my real estate investment consulting business, I work as a freelance novel editor and an author of predominantly horror fiction novels.

What I woke up to last Friday morning, June 21, was definitely horrifying. But it wasn’t fiction. It was real. A storm that originated in Denver, Colorado, had travelled to Calgary, causing torrential rains and massive flooding in the city overnight. At least 26 neighbourhoods representing about 100,000 people had to be evacuated. In High River, a small town outside the city that was hit hardest by the floods, at least three people were reported dead.

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If you’ve never worked with a cover artist before, here’s some information that may save you a lot of time and money. I work with Johnny, a talented cover artist, whose day-job is a senior artist for Walt Disney Productions. He works sixty hours a week for Walt Disney, comes home, spends time with his family and then burns the midnight oil creating beautiful, evocative, and in my case menacing book covers.

Check out the latest cover for The Strap, my horror novel scheduled for release in about a month. Continue reading

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Terror in Ecuador

Don’t worry, it’s just a working title for another novel I’m writing.

It might not be as terrifying as it sounds. But, on the other hand, I’m a horror writer after all. One of the highest compliments a reader can pay me is to say my work truly scared them. It’s something many horror writers strive for, but probably few ever attain. One reader who recently read Rule 14, my latest horror, said she was truly stressed and scared reading the work, which she also enjoyed. After I got over my concern for her mental health, I have to admit I was pretty elated about the compliment.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; positive feedback is the fuel that keeps my creative fire burning. But, alas I digress. Except for the burning part, or in this case burn-out. I’ve kept such an insane writing schedule this year, the rate of production has started to take a toll on my health. I’ve hit the wall a few times, only to recover for a few days and start anew. I’ve often tweeted; write, write, write. Rest, rinse, repeat. It’s easy to say, quite another to do consistently.

I also found my inspiration waning ever so slightly. Too much time at the keyboards, and not enough time actually living. I started thinking about it recently and realized that an adventure was exactly what I needed to reignite that spark and passion. Isn’ t the story much more poignant if it has its roots in actual experience? I suppose one could debate that until they are blue in the face. But I won’t bother. To my mind, it is, or at least it’s what I need right now to refuel that creative engine, tune it up so it’s firing efficiently and effectively on all cylinders again.

See, experience, enjoy life and write about it; in an exotic and dramatic country.

That’s the plan anyway. Hence, the trip to Ecuador. In a few days, I’ll be leaving the frequently frigid winter of Canada and flying into Ecuador. Quito, to be precise, the capital of the country. I’ll be gone almost two months and it should be plenty of time to explore the many wonders of the most biodiverse country on the planet (it’s said to have more plant and animal species per square mile than any other country in the world).

Sure, a few people say I’m crazy. Things like, “You spent all that time cranking out all those titles, now you should be working hard on marketing them.” To that, I say screw it. With any luck, over time the art will stand on its own. If not, at least I’m enjoying the ride; hell addicted to the ride. Besides, how often will I get an opportunity to travel to a Quichua Indian village deep in the Amazon jungle and witness a traditional shaman healer perform his magic?

Obviously a rhetorical question. We only have one finite life. At least in the physical realm. Who the hell knows what happens after that. And I believe travel is not only the best education a person can get, but in my case a necessary accelerant to refuel my fire for writing; inspire me with dramatic, educational and (let’s hope anyway) compellingly entertaining material.

I plan on spending some time in Quito, a city rich in history and culture, situated high in the Andes and surrounded by picturesque mist-covered mountain peaks. Then it’s off to The Oriente, a vast jungle landmass with unparalleled biodiversity and spectacular awe-inspiring, raw beauty. Nature, truly at its finest.

Also on the itinerary is The Galapagos Islands, a wonder of nature that, according to Lonely Planet, “might inspire you to think differently about the world…Nowhere else can you engage in a staring contest with wild animals and lose.” The animals have no fear of humans.

Also on the list is the big modern city of Guayaquil, the gateway to the Costa Del Sol, where Esmeraldas, Isla de la plata ( the poor person’s Galapagos), Montanita, Canoa and Manta make the cut but not necessarily in that order. The beauty of the itinerary is that it is not etched in stone. If I like a particular place, I may just decide to hang around a little longer. I know that after the initial sightseeing burst of activity, I’ll be looking to lock in a peaceful hotel by the beach in some sparsely-populated village where I can admire the ocean view daily and tap into its seductive beauty to inspire the creation of more words.

Perhaps more important than the sights, I hope to meet locals and pick their brains to find out what makes them tick, what are the things they hold dear to their hearts, what motivates them, and what are they really like on the inside. I’ve often said when the world becomes too boring, mundane or stressful, I tend to retreat into the familar comfort of my wild imagination. But not this time. This time, I’ll also be retreating into a country vibrantly alive with beauty, culture and history and a resilient people who, so I’ve read, are inherently friendly and happy for the most part.

At least I can talk the talk (it’s a Spanish speaking country and I’m fortunate to be conversant in the language). Time will tell if I can walk the walk. But the journey has already started. In Terror In Ecuador, 17,000 words later, the stage has been set for my arrival in Ecuador. The story will unfold as my adventure unfolds. Perhaps reality will be stranger than fiction. And the beauty of creating that way, is it’s unstructured, passionately raw and real; elements many writers claim constitute the ingredients of a good yarn. Look at Hunter S. Thompson.

Who knows, on Christmas day, I might find myself having dinner with a poor Ecuadorian family and I might be the one playing Santa Claus bearing gifts and food. To truly be able to provide for others less fortunate on this important holiday would surely bring me a joy and satisfaction unmatched by any Canadian Christmas celebration.

Without further adieu, let the adventure begin.

Happy holidays! Feel free to offer comments, advice or travel tips in the comments section below.

And, as always, thanks for stopping by.



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The toughest race on Earth

They have been called the toughest race on Earth. “The greatest race the world has never seen (Christopher McDougall). ” They are a mysterious, peaceful and spiritual race of people who live off the land and have largely resisted the exploitatve advances of modern day civilization and a commercial economy. They can drink excessive amounts of corn beer well into the night, wake up the next morning and effortlessly run barefoot sixty miles or more through treacherous mountain terrain (you wouldn’t want to see me the morning after excessive drinking). They have been called the greatest runners on Earth. They are the personification of the notion of a simple life, wildly juxtaposed with our desire to accumulate material possessions and complicate our life with the stresses of modern day society.

Who are they? They are the Tarahumara Indians.

They live in what some travelers call a hostile and unforgiving landscape, the Sierra Madre Occidental or Sierra Tarahumara mountain range in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. They number about 70,000 and most still practice a traditional lifestyle, living in cliff overhangs, caves, or in some cases small cabins constructed of wood or stone.

Their staple crops are corn, beans and squash and they rarely eat meat, knowing that if their supply of food gets destroyed by the elements or rodents, they may need to trade a sheep or goat for more food supplies. Since their average life span is forty-five years, a live goat could mean the difference between life or death.

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