Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Launch Party!

At last, dear friends, a moment several years in the making: my first book (the first of many, I assure you) becomes a reality and in the manner of all auspicious events, there's a party! Come help me celebrate! There's food, drinks, frivolity, a reading and as many shenanigans as we can pack into a couple of hours. Meet me at the piano bar. And if you can play piano, you're especially welcome. :-)

Here's the official invite just posted by my publisher on Facebook.


Time Wednesday, April 6 · 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Location Bianca's, 171 Water Street
(In the banquet room, separate from the restaurant--just enter at the front, turn right, take three steps and you're there!)

Please join Killick Press/Creative Book Publishing as we celebrate the launch of our newest author, Gerard Collins. Hear the author read from his amazing debut short story collection "Moonlight Sketches," and get your copy signed.

Praise for "Moonlight Sketches"

"Here is outport Newfoundland like you’ve never seen it – or heard it: musical, broken-toothed, full of pathos and sly humour. Collins’ characters fall from innocence and... land on their feet, with their fists up. You will admire them. You will fear them. You will find you care most about those you fear. Moonlight Sketches is a work of extraordinary imagination and empathy."

Jessica Grant - author of "Come Thou Tortoise"

"Smart kid courts trouble with his bad-news friend. Beautiful woman aches to leave town. Things are not going well for Julia in university. Gerard Collins gets to the story. His writing is clean and unselfconscious."

Kathleen Winter - author of "Annabel"

“A compelling collection with lasting images and an atmosphere you’ll feel as thick as a cloud around you. Collins excels in hooking his reader with a well-paced sense of impending tragedy, and in capturing the isolated moments that have built his convincing characters, many of whom having been wrung through the wringer of small-town mentality. Collins knows the recipe of his own work: when to add nuanced comedic relief to a dark story, and when to add a closing line that clangs like a gong.”

Chad Pelley - author of "Away from Everywhere"

I truly hope to see you there. Everyone is welcome.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Date for Moonlight Sketches

I keep forgetting that a bunch of you who read this blog aren't necessarily on my Facebook page. I announced yesterday that my short story collection, Moonlight Sketches, will now be available by April 1st. I had thought it was due today, but was recently informed otherwise. I guess just because you read it on Amazon don't make it so.

Thanks for all the interest in the book and the release date.  Details to come.



Got a great advance review of Moonlight Sketches from the Book Madam. It's a cool new website devoted to the love of books, Canadian books and authors in particular, many of whom are among the best in the world.

Check it out:

Book of the Month from Book Madam and Associates.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's in a Title?

I've actually lost sleep over this issue. I mean, I know it doesn't matter in the bigger scheme of things. I know things are tough all over and, if it helps any, I've lost way more sleep over Japan, Haiti, the Middle East and Libya lately than I have over the title of my blog. In fact, I'm still haunted by the fact that I woke up just before 3 a.m. last Thursday night, unable to sleep and turned on the TV just in time to see the Tsunami as it crashed ashore. It brings to mind that old adage about how a butterfly flapping its weeks can be felt across an ocean. Needless to say, though, I'm a sensitive lad and it doesn't take much to wreck a good night's sleep or an attempt at a moment's peace. When this semester is done, I seriously have to check into a) meditation, b) Reiki (again), c) a media cleanse or purge, or d) rehab.

Anyway, a case in point would be my blog title. I don't get many nights when I have two whole hours when I can justify tinkering with details such as what color the font should be on my blog. I don't even normally think about my blog until I'm actually blogging. But I redubbed it "Blood 'n Guts" Friday night because I was in love with it. Turns out I was merely having a Friday night fling because Saturday morning, I was feeling a great sense of regret. What have I done? Who/what did I sleep with last night? "Blood 'n Guts, Gerard? Really?" It seems my long-dead teenaged self enjoyed the idea, but my grownup self woke up the next day with the feeling that I really shouldn't have done that. Blood and Guts? I'm gettin' too old for this shit. Sorry. Had to say it. Apologies to Riggs and Murtagh.

Anyway, I'm going back to grassroots--dancin' with the one that brought me. The subtitle for a year or so now has been "A Kick at the Darkness," and that, me dears, is who I am. I've been on this whole authenticity kick for a couple of months, so I've decided I need to keep it real. Maybe "Blood 'n Guts" is catchier; after all, blood and guts roll off the tongue, don't they? (Don't imagine it; just agree with me.) But I care less for catchy than I do for something that reflects something about me, the (nearly) grownup me, the one with a sense of eternal, hopeless optimism, who thinks we can affect our world with the flap of a wing, the stroke of a pen, the click of a letter on the keyboard or the utterance of a thought.

It's a tribute to one of my favorite songs ever, written by Bruce Cockburn ("Lovers in a Dangerous Time") and one of my favorite lines from a song. Kicking at the darkness is what I do, what I feel most of us do. The night creeps in, the darkness threatens to swallow us, the violence, the terrorism, the tsunamis, the robberies and cruelty, the despotism and politicizing and commercialization of nearly every living, breathing thing--doesn't it all feel as if it can choke you sometimes? And yet we kick back, desperately, savagely, enraged at the audacity of the those who think they can control us--even if they're right. Death conquers all. Darkness takes no prisoners. But we can try, can't we? Through humour (thank you, Jon Stewart!). Through writing (thank you, authors). Through art. Through music. Through photography. Through surviving, day after day. And, yes, perhaps even though blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking and singing and smiling and avoiding the crack that would break your mama's back.

Kick at the Darkness. That's the new title. As God is my witness.

Is there a God?

And would She approve this message?

I'd like to think so. On both counts.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Blood and Guts! Yeah, baby!

Okay, so yeah--the blog is now called "Blood 'n Guts." As my wife remarked just now, "It's a pretty drastic change from Moonlight Sketches." The former name was "more pastoral," she said. No argument there. But I want something else, something more visceral, more energetic, full of vigor and something with nuances--a title that greets you with a bloody handshake.

Of course, I liked "Moonlight Sketches"--it said a lot about what I was trying to do here. The problem was that I took it from the title of my book that's coming out soon. That kind of doubling up felt fine more than half a year ago when it seemed like the book was still, well, half a year away. But the closer the release date came on, the queasier I felt about it. It just felt redundant.

So here's where it comes from:

My hometown is a place called Placentia, which is a town below sea level (or just at sea level--I'm not sure which). But the water separating us from the "mainland" was called The Gut. As a kid, I was fascinated by how The Gut would lop with whitecaps on the windiest days when the tide was high and threatening to swamp us. I can recall riding in the backseat of my father's car, along the main road, with the seemingly insufficient breakwater made of logs doing its best to hold The Gut at bay, to keep it from spilling onto the road and submerging half the town in seawater. On the worst days, usually in winter, the waves would lop right over the breakwater and onto the road, and the salt spray would drift like spirits across the pavement and across to the other side. I would often have nightmares, literally, about trying to cross The Gut on foot, traversing the side of the road (or the bridge that joined us to Jerseyside) and fearing I was going to drown. (Above Photo by J.M. Smith)

So, as I was trying to come up with a title, the idea of "The Gut" took hold of my brain. I thought of simply calling the blog "The Gut" or "Gut Instinct" or something like that. Then I thought of "Blood and Guts," which became "Blood 'n Guts" and, ya know, I like it.

The new title suits my Gothic sensibilties, harkening back to the comic books I read as a kid, most featuring Weird War Tales or Dracula or Jonah Hex. Of course, it also describes the "blood and guts" movies that are a rite of passage for any serious fan of horror movies, which I was. Friday the Thirteenth. Halloween. Nightmare on Elm Street. That kind of thing. The schlockier the better. My tastes have changed quite a bit, but I still can't resist the odd Rob Zombie movie or whatever the latest horror flick is in the theatre. Mostly, though, the title is a nod to my darker side.

My fiction writing doesn't go that route--not usually, anyway--but my tales do tend to peer into the dark soul of humanity. I'm an optimistic by nature, but that doesn't keep me from going there where, perhaps one might be better off not looking at all. And that's the other part that makes me think the title fits--I like to look into the "guts" of things, how they work, what they're made of, what makes them do what they do.

Then there's the "blood" part--sometimes there will be blood. Sometimes, though, the blood is more metaphorical than phsyical, though it's often both. Again, there's the nod to my heritage. My stories in Moonlight Sketches aren't about my hometown--far from it, in fact. Sure, some stories (perhaps even all of them, on some level, conscious or unconscious) are influenced by my childhood growing up in a rural area that certainly had its share of darkness, like any small town. But most also take inspiration from the other places I've lived on this island and even beyond it. And yet it seems appropriate to me that I pay homage to where I come from--"blood" being a reference to the bloodlines, to heritage, to the things that make us what we are. It's a nod to the experiences that shape us all and particularly myself because, after all, lest you go thinking these stories are completely about you or about other people who shall not be named--they are mostly about me. They concern my own search for meaning in a chaotic world. I'm not even sure there is any meaning to it, of course, but I'll never know that for sure if I don't look into the guts of it, keeping in mind where and what I've come from and why I'm here.

Quite likely, I'll never know any of it anyway. But this blog is an attempt to uncover and discover, to decipher and explain, look into, and discern the world and myself, as well as all selfs. Quite selfish, you see.

So, yeah, blood 'n guts, baby! Hope you like the change, as I'm truly looking forward to a slightly different tone around here.


Oh, yeah, and the awesome artwork above is from Darren Whalen and it's PROTECTED by the artist's copyright and Creative Publishers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Cleaning

It's March madness in my corner of the world. I teach English at a university and it's the month of grading essays, meeting with students and various other teaching-related duties. The meetings are mostly pleasant, the grading less so, unfortunately. It's just that there are so many, it often feels like that classic Star Trek episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles," where they just seem to be multiplying. It can drive you a little stir crazy, especially in the throes of an Eastern Canadian winter.

In fact, it's snowing here today, again, just when it was fit to go outside and do some well-needed running (which I did on the weekend--'twas glorious). Now I'll have to wait for nature to do her thing because the city of St. John's is not one to be bothered with clearing sidewalks if there's a snowball's chance in Hell the rain and warmer temperatures might take it away...or even if there's not.

Meanwhile, I'm reading stories for an out-of-province short fiction competition, which I'm enjoying immensely. This time last year, I was reading nearly thirty novels in a span of 4-5 weeks for the NL Book Awards. That one was won by the very deserving Jessica Grant and her hilarious and poignant novel, Come, Thou Tortoise. This time around, the reading isn't nearly as heavy in terms of volume and it makes for a more leisurely adjudication process.  Plus, I'm the only judge, so that means I don't have to spend time consulting with anyone. I don't mind that part of it, but when you're as busy as I usually am during March Madness month, it's best to keep the variables to a minimum.

Anyway, it occured to me that I should spruce up the ol' blog a little bit. Company's comin', you know. Got a new book--my very first, called Moonlight Sketches, coming out this month on March 22nd and shortly after that, there'll be the book launch, tentatively scheduled for April 7.

I've been going all this time thinking I had a "Profile" on this blog, but really didn't. I guess it was one of those things I figured I'd get around to. When I started this blog, it was pretty much on the downlow until it got closer to my book coming out. I didn't advertise it or post it on Facebook or anywhere else, so I figured traffic would be slow. And it was, at first. But lately, it's picked up a lot, so I figured it's time I added some info, including  (you'll notice) a photo of the cover for Moonlight Sketches (a short story collection) and links for buying the books at Amazon and Chapters on-line. You can pre-order, if you'd like. In fact, I wouldn't mind because those sales go into the system as soon as the book is released, making the chances for a strong first week more likely--always important to get people's attention. More importantly for you, you'll get your book asap.

Oh, and I also added a link that goes directly to my Facebook page--you know, in case you dare to get a little closer and learn a little more.

Soon, I'll be changing the name of this blog again. If you have any suggestions for names, I'd love to hear them. I started with "Gothic Times" and then switched to "Moonlight Sketches," but I think the redundancy there is a bit redundant. So I'll be switching again soon and giving the banner a fresh new look, maybe something that will also download a bit quicker.

That's all for now. Oh, and thanks for all the feedback on the "Favorite Things" series. It's still ongoing. I've got some new ones coming up soon. In case I don't make it through March Madness, I've specified in my will that I want the new instalments in a timely fashion.

Ciao for now.