Posts Tagged 'adam shaftoe'

My Blog Hop Challenge from Marie Bilodeau

Last Friday, Marie Bilodeau tagged me in her blog hop, where authors answer questions they received and challenge three more authors to answer a new set up questions. Think of it like a specfic Ponzi scheme.

She challenged Hayden Trenholm, Geoff Gander and me. Check out Hayden’s and Geoff’s reply.

But unlike her questions, I received four questions that make me think Marie was huffing glue while chugging Robitussin®.

So, here we go:

1. What research would you conduct to write a scene in which squirrels become the sole proprietors of the Febreeze Empire?

Febreeze “Empire”? Now that is fiction. So, I would look into commercial oligopolies in markets where companies have manufactured a need to justify their existence. As well, I’d tried to find sales figures to try to reasonably explain their growing market dominance and what cultural events led to the high demand for air freshener. Perhaps some disaster led to things smelling bad.

2. If you could conjure one mythical creature to finish a book for you, which one would get to select the ending and why?

Elves because they are perfect and therefore would not make tpyos.

3. Bigfoot sex. Discuss.

Bigfoot is not real. Ergo, Bigfoot sex is not real. (End of discussion.)

4. What would you need to do to become the most prolific writer ever (can include crimes, questionable science and lack of morality).

Get a bunch of elves together to type my books and consult on story structure. I mean, they’re perfect. They could have a cut of the royalties in exchange for me not revealing their existence. They could live at my in-laws’ cottage since they seem to like living in trees or some kind of crap like that. However, not everyone likes elves as Kari Maaren points out:

Next week, I’ve tagged Adam Shaftoe, Samantha Beiko and Michael Matheson to answer my questions!

So I attended Ad Astra this weekend

To sum up this year’s Ad Astra in one word: laughter.

Derek Künsken, Robin Riopelle and I took a detour to retrieve Robin’s new book Deadroads from Fedex purgatory.

It began on the car ride down on Friday with Derek Künsken and Robin Riopelle. Things could have turned ugly when we learned the Robin’s copies of her new book Deadroads—which should have been shipped to her home on Monday—had made it to the FedEx depot near Pearson Airport. But, Fedex would not ship them to the convention hotel. So, we made a detour to the Fedex depot, got lost, found our way, and rescued the books. Rather than get mad, we considered it an adventure.

Friday was dinner, panels and catching up with friends, but capped off by an hour-long live podcast with Adam Shaftoe, Madeline Ashby, Candice Lepage and Nick Montgomery. Despite my Chuck Palahniuk-like rants about Baby Boomers and Steampunk cosplayers, I think we all had a good time. The audience certainly seemed to laugh.

Saturday I did a reading that followed Marie Bilodeau‘s. Marie read from her new novel Destiny’s War and “The Kevlar Canoe” from the Masked Mosiac anthology. Since Marie was bright and bubbly as always, I needed to segue people into my dark fiction. Using my 100-word shocker “The Wall of Gloves” as a palette cleanser, I then read from my short story collection Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark and my Aurora Award-eligible short story “The Leaving“.

Marie Bilodeau read from Masked Mosiac, a Canadian anthology of superhero stories.

The day passed by attending more panels before sitting on the “Can the Author become the Critic?” and “What makes a Great Villain?” panels.

At 10:30, I read from The Empire Striketh Back on a panel about (bad) fanfic organized by Michael Matheson. There was much laughter as some read their Star Wars/Pacific Rim fanfic mash-ups and some pretty horrifying Harry Potter fanfic.

I spent a good deal of Sunday in the Green Room catching up with friends I don’t get to see that often. I’m especially pleased I got to talk to Derek Newman-Stille, who I met at Can-Con last year, about a number of topics, including the “armour” we introverts put on when speaking in front of groups.

And then it was over all too quickly.

A few things worth mentioning:

  • ChiZine Publications did not attend this year. After a busy 2013, co-publishers Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory decided to sit this one out and rest. With most people knowing my involvement with CZP, there were many people asking where they were. I take that as a great sign of what a tent-pole CZP has become in the Toronto specfic community. As Adam Shaftoe put it somewhat facetiously:

  • Derek, Marie, Hayden Trenholm and I (all Ottawa writers) did quite a good job of raising awareness for Can-Con, Ottawa’s speculative literature convention in October. A number of Toronto-based writers committed to attending and many more expressed an interest. If you are anywhere near Ottawa, I invite you to come to the capital on October. I know Ottawa has a reputation for not being a fun place, but Can-Con will show you we know how to have a good time.

I posted some pics from the weekend on Instagram.

Ad Astra 2014 Schedule

Here’s my schedule for Ad Astra 2014. The convention is using to organize the convention. Check out the Ad Astra calendar.


11PM: Podcasting After Dark
Main Room (Richmond CD)
Adam Shaftoe, Candice Lepage, Madeline Ashby, Matt Moore


1:30PM: Reading

6PM: Can the Author Become the Critic?
Adam Shaftoe, David Lamb, Matt Moore, Patricia Briggs, Rio Youers

9PM: What Makes a Great Villain?
Ada Hoffman, Gregory A. Wilson, Matt Moore, Rob St-Martin, Thomas Gofton

Ten (and a half) Things To Know About Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark

My new short story collection Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark is now available on AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & Noble (Nook)Google Play and the Apple iBookstore! It contains a mix of horor, science fiction and a few in between. Until the end of the year, I’m offering it at a discount of $4.99.

Since Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark features ten short stories plus an introduction by Adam Shaftoe-Durrant, here’s ten and a half things I’d like you to know about this collection.

1) The title Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark came to me immediately upon seeing the photo taken by my friend Frank Depino. (See #3 below.) I love that the photo was both inspirational and terrifying. Of course, part of the title comes from my short story “Touch the Sky, They Say”. But more than that, a lot of my fiction touches on contrasting ideas, so Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark has both an inspirational message (“touch they sky”) as well as a more grounded, almost pessimistic message (“embrace the dark”).

2) Though I am self-publishing this collection, all of the stories have been published in magazines and anthologies like On Spec, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, the Drabblecast and Leading Edge. That is to say they have been professionally edited and have been through several proofreads.

2.5) “The Weak Son” was edited by Bram Stoker Award winner David Morrell, best know for creating the character John Rambo is his novel First Blood.

3) The cover is a photo taken just before a storm in my home town of Guilford, Connecticut on Tanner Marsh Road on the overpass above I-95. It was taken by a high school friend, Frank Depino, who is president of mediaBOOM, a company that specializes in amazing looking websites. Check out Frank’s Instagram page for some amazing pictures—some bright and cheery, others just as creepy.

4) The collection is dedicated to my high school creative writing teacher, Joan Frances Garbar, who gave me a piece of criticism that has stuck with me over the decades: “I don’t see enough of you in your writing.” (I should also use this space to thank my university creative writing teacher, Janice Law, who pushed me to improve my prose and tighten my stories.)

5) The introduction is written by Adam Shaftoe-Durrant, who runs the Page of Reviews website. While Adam has favourably reviewed a number of my stories, his review of “Touch the Sky, They Say”—which is the first time he reviewed my work—was not too enthusiastic.

6) Some of these stories began life with different titles. Perhaps changing them helped get them published. For example:

  • “The Machinery of Government” was originally titled “Lovey, Dovey” after the main character’s pet name for his wife (which I later excised).
  • “In the Shadow of Scythe” started life as “And Behold, a Green Horse”, combining the biblical reference to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse with the colour of environmentalism.
  • I first entitled “While Gabriel Slept” as “Father’s Day”.
  • “The Weak Son” received a number of rejections under the title “Soliloquy”.
  • When I sold “Touch the Sky, They Say”, it was titled “Grey New World” but the editors did not want a derivative title.

7) Two of the stories in this collection have been nominated for the Aurora Award, Canada’s most prestigious award for non-genre fiction. “ΔΠ (Delta Pi)”, which opens the collection, was nominated for the 2013 award. “Touch the Sky, They Say”, which concludes the collection, was nominated in 2011.

8) This collection includes the first short story I ever sold. “Full Moon Hill” appeared in the Winter 2007 edition of On Spec magazine. However, this version is a shorter, tighter version than what appeared in that issue.

9) Even though I firmly believe stories should, by default, be told in the third person past tense, six of the stories in this collection are told first person, present tense. I talk more about first person writing in a three-part series. Read part one of this series.

10) Every story in this collection begins with an image that reflects a scene, concept, item or theme from the story. Some are more obvious than others. My hope is that they give this collection something a bit more  than just straight ahead text. Below are some examples:


“Ascension” is about something universal and connected—and horrible—within us.


A full moon and saloon figure into the mixture of horror and western in “Full Moon Hill”.


Something awful happens in “The Weak Son”. The questions is what… and who.


I’m over on the Page of Reviews today

Promo Image from AMC's television TV series The Walking Dead

Remember when Rick used to be horrified when he used his gun? And because he was, so were we. That’s missing now in The Walking Dead.

Page of Reviews mastermind Adam Shaftoe had been laid low, so he asking me to contribute something.

My piece “Why it’s Hard to Make Horror for TV (or “Why I stopped watching The Walking Dead”)” discusses the topic of horror and what makes something horrifying versus thrilling. I talk about how our tastes in horror have evolved, mostly in response to what we are able to deal with as a society.

And as a jaded society that can get real-time footage from a war zone, what’s left to horrify us? Rather than the extremes, it’s small changes to our assumptions about our everyday life.

Stop on my and give it a read!


Op-Ed Piece in Latest On Spec


Cover for the latest issue of On Spec (Spring 2013)

I’m thrilled to announce I have an op ed piece in the latest issue  (Spring 2013) of On Spec magazine.

“Next Stop: Suburban Fantasy” talks about why Urban Fantasy has become such a dominant genre. Is this combination of gritty urban setting, kick-ass heroines, romance/sexuality, and fantastic creatures a parallel of our modern, urban lives?

More than that, could the societal forces that made Urban Fantasy so popular shift the focus of speculative fiction into the suburbs in the next few decades? (From the title, it’s obvious I think the answer is “yes”.)

Here are the opening paragraphs:

It’s human nature to fear what we don’t understand. To reduce our fear, we strive to explain or rationalize it. These explanations often fit into some contemporary context so we can relate to them. At the same time, we may project something greater than ourselves onto these fears to justify our lack of comprehension.

It’s is not surprising, then, that Urban Fantasy is such a popular genre as it’s a way for us to come to understand our urban lives. More and more we are becoming an urban population and cities present new unknowns. The concentration of people, the constant movement, and the density in all three dimensions is something that inspires feelings ranging from awe to dread. While we might be able to comprehend the goings-on in a town of 2,000, we can’t hope to understand more than a fraction of what’s happening in a city of 100,000. To say nothing of a Toronto or a Montreal. So Urban Fantasy as a genre has become the way we try to make sense of our urban lives—by projecting the fantastic onto our cities.

This is my second column with On Spec. In Fall 2011, Adam Shaftoe and I wrote “All This Has Happened Before: Cycles in Genre Fiction”. Also, I made my first fiction sale to On Spec. My nanite lycanthrope SF/horror story “Full Moon Hill” ran in their Fall 2007/2008 issue.

Ad Astra 2013 Schedule


Here is my schedule for Ad Astra 2013, taking place in Toronto (or Markham as my Toronto-dwelling friends like to point out) at the Markham Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites:


10 pm: Floor 2, Suite 2
I’ll be reading “Delta Pi” and sharing the hour with fellow Ottawa writer Matthew Johnson


12 pm: Franklin
Nerd Game Show Power Hour
Sara Dhooma (m), Daryl Smith, Matt Moore, Adam Shaftoe

1 pm: Berczy A
Defining Horror
Suzanne Church (m), Michael Matheson, Rio Youers, Matt Moore

4:30 pm: Berczy B
Autograph Session


1 pm: Beaufort East
Summer Scifi Trailer Park
Sara Dhooma (m), James Bambury, Matt Moore, Adam Shaftoe

2 pm: Beaufort East
What Are Horror Authors Afraid Of?
Matt Moore (m), Suzanne Church, Rio Youers, Sandra Kasturi

2011 Year in Review

2011 was not my greatest year as a fiction writer.

Out of 44 submissions, I made a single sale: “Ascension” to AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. While thrilled, some of the rejections were to markets I really wanted to be a part of, namely Mike Kelly’s Chilling Tales II and Blood Bound Books’ Night Terrors II.

Perhaps that’s because this year was mostly a year of revisions. I didn’t turn out as many original stories as I would like, instead going back to older stories and revising them, using skills I have sharpened to fix mistakes I hadn’t realized I’d made. In retrospect, this was not the best strategy. Some of these stories are too long to be marketable, and others are still not at a level I am happy with.

But, this will be my 59th blog post of the year, so at least I am blogging. I have also jumped on Google+ and created a Facebook page.

My career, however, gathered a lot of momentum.

In January, I was thrilled to hear Cast Macabre‘s version of my short story “While Gabriel Slept” (sold in 2010) after a number of other audio markets said they loved it, but didn’t know how to make it work. This rendition chilled me… and I wrote the story! (Download the MP3). Later in the year, Cast Macabre also accepted my ghost story “The Weak Son” (first published in Tesseracts Thirteen), but the site seems to be on hiatus and I don’t know when things will get rolling again.

In mid-2011, I learned “Touch the Sky, They Say,” published on AE, had been nominated for a Aurora Award. While I ultimately lost to my friend Hayden Trenholm, it was a great honour and great experience, especially the support D.F. McCourt from AE gave me. And my friends from ChiZine Publications Erik Mohr, Helen Marshall and Sandra Kasturi won Auroras for their work.

I also made a good friend in Adam Shaftoe, editor of the Page of Reviews site, who interviewed me twice for his podcast and ran reviews of my stories “Full Moon Hill,” “Touch the Sky, They Say” and “Ascension.” He also name-checked me in reviewing Contagion, using my thoughts on what makes a horror story (which was inspired by Gemma Files) to try to define the film.

Speaking of naming checking, Helen Michaud, non-fiction editor over at AE, called me out in her essay “Over the Transom: A Rose Without a Name is Not as Cool a Companion.” Her premise is that characters should be named. Trying to use nameless “he” and “I” and “you” in order to add a certain mystery to the story often falls flat. However, she used “Touch the Sky, They Say” and “Ascension” as exceptions that prove the rule.

In non-fiction news, editorials I wrote ran on AE (about “dark SF”) and The Page of Reviews (about whether we still need to vigoursly defend genre distinctions). Another editorial on the decline of science fiction and rise of fantasy, which I co-wrote with Adam, will appear in On Spec.

I attended Ad Astra, the World Horror Convention and SFCOntario, sitting on panels, catching up with friends and making new ones. Since attending Ad Astra 2008 as a nobody, I find myself run off my feet at these conventions, knowing so many people and often leaving with regrets I didn’t get a chance to talk to this person or that.

I am looking forward to 2012. I have learned a lot over this past year and hope to apply it in the year to come. My goal is to “bring the awesome” (as I am calling it). Not just writing what comes to mind, but telling chilling horror stories and thought provoking sci-fi.

In closing, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome, appreciated and a part of the wonderful speculative fiction community. I’m looking forward to spending more time with you in 2012.

The ChiZine Connection: Brett Savory, Sandra Kasturi, Helen Marshall, Laura Marshall, Sam Beiko, Brent Hayward, Bob Boyczuk, David Nickle, Gemma Files, Nick Kaufmann, Claude Lalumière, Derryl Murphy, Mike Rowe, Doug Smith, Paul Tremblay, Erik Mohr, Barry King, Kevin Nunn, Tristan Joseph, Rio Youers, Ryan McFadden, Corey Beep

Authors & Editors: Mike Kelly, Madeline Ashby, Suzanne Church, Matt Johnson, D.F. McCourt, Helen Michaud, Diane Walton, Adam Shaftoe, Julie Czerneda

The East Block Irregulars: Derek Kunsken, Peter Atwood, Marie Bilodeau, Hayden Trenholm, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Geoff Gander, Agnes Cadieux

See you all next year!

New Article on Page of Reviews

I have an article up on Adam Shaftoe’s Page of Reviews about the divisions and definitions in genre literature, and why it might be time for us to start thinking about what makes a good story rather than fighting over whether it is or isn’t sci-fi.

It begins:

In August, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction review published my short story Ascension, which is about the zombie apocalypse told from a zombie’s point of view. Some would say this alone makes it a horror story. Yet it also deals with mass consciousness and the transcendence of the physical to the purely mental―the zombie apocalypse as the singularity―topics normally found in science fiction.

So, is it then a sci-fi story?

My question is: does it even matter? And are these divisions hurting us as a community?

Head over to Page of Reviews to read it all and let Adam know you were there by leaving a comment.

Review of my story “Ascension” on The Page of Reviews

Over on his Page of Reviews website, Adam Shaftoe has reviewed my latest story “Ascension” (which can be read on AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review).

Adam begins with:

What to say about Ascension? I suppose I could come out and say that it is the best piece of horror fiction that I’ve ever read.  Although, I’ve been told that a good reviewer is never supposed to be so direct in their praise as it may come off as being too obsequious.  But when a story works as well as this one does, there’s really no need to be circuitous with the praise.

And ends with:

Matt Moore has proven his masterful talent in using flash fiction to create a rich and thoughtful world.  Ascension emphasises the living in “living dead” to create a unique demarcation from the established forms of zombie/horror fiction.  Now will somebody please give Mr. Moore a bucket of scotch, an empty room and a blank cheque so he can write a novel of this calibre.

In between, he discusses a lot of the issues and ideas I tried to put into this story… and even some I was not aware I had addressed.

Many thanks to Adam for his thorough, thoughtful review.

If anyone had a bucket of scotch they want to donate, contact me using the links at right.

Read My Book


A ghost tries to solve the mystery of his death. The zombie apocalypse is the gateway to higher consciousness. A mercenary must kill the savior of mankind.

Includes the Aurora Award-nominated stories "Touch the Sky, They Say" and "Delta Pi".

Table of contents and reviews.

Available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords

Upcoming Appearances

Ad Astra 2016
Apr. 29 – May 1, 2016
Toronto, ON

Where Else to Find Me

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My Other Projects

The Chiaroscuro Reading Series

I chair the Chiaroscuro Reading Series in Ottawa, Ontario.
 · ChiSeries Web Site
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My latest Instagram pics

I normally never need to use my rescue inhaler. Maybe if I over exert myself in cold, damp air. But I went to a restaurant with an open kitchen that had chicken grilling and the smoke filled the dining room. I left with my clothes smelling like smoke and a mild asthma attack. #asthma #asthmaattack #grilledchicken #nandos Well, my first panel at Can-Con was not well attended. #Ottawa


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