Archive for the 'My Writing' Category

Workshop on November 21: Short Story Writing

I will be teaching a writing workshop on short stories along with the amazing Lydia Peever at the November 21st meeting of the Ottawa Independent Writers.

The details:

WHEN: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 7PM (doors at 6:30)
WHERE: Hintonburg Community Centre, 1064 Wellington Street, Ottawa
HOW LONG: 2 hours
COST: $10 payable at the event (free to members of the Ottawa Independent Writers)

Why take this workshop?

Have you always wanted to write a short story? Or are you looking to improve your skills? You’re not alone.

Short stories can be deceptively complicated little beasts. I’ve known a number of novelists say they’re harder than novels. This workshop will break down how short stories work, where to find inspiration, techniques to turn that inspiration into the story you want to tell, and how to get them published.

Meet and greet begins at 6:30, workshop at 7 p.m. Coffee, tea and snacks are included. If you’re not a member of the Ottawa Independent Writers, the $10 fee can go toward your OIW membership if they wish to join.

There is plenty of parking at the rear of the Community Centre.



Writing workshop: “Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats” at CAN-CON on Oct 13 in Ottawa, ON

I will be teaching a writing workshop on how to create and maintain tension in your story at CAN-CON in Ottawa, Ontario.

WHEN: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ noon
HOW LONG: 2 hours
FORMAT: Lecture with group exercises and hand-outs
COST: $20

Why take this workshop?

Regardless of what you write, you need to hook the reader and keep them reading. “I couldn’t put it down,” is something we all want to hear. This can be through characters we care about, end-of-the-world stakes, will-they/won’t-they romance, or a plot that keeps unfolding new twists.

But have you been getting rejections like “Just didn’t grab me” or feedback saying it “Started too slow”? Do you have trouble figuring out what your main character should do next? Does your story start great and ends with a bang, but gets bogged down in the middle?

This workshop will help.

How will it help?

Tension is more than short, clipped sentences, the “ticking clock” or cutting between scenes. It’s making readers want need dying to know what happens next. This all comes from how you reveal and conceal information, and increase the stakes for your character. It’s not gimmicks, tricks or “on page 14, reveal the conflict” formulas. It’s solid writing techniques that can be used in any genre and any length of story.

What will you get out of it?

We’ll discuss:

  • How to structure scenes and the overall story so readers will keep turning pages
  • Techniques to make sure there’s always several things threatening your main character, driving them through the story
  • The various kinds of antagonists working against your main character, and why they are such a threat
  • How to keep upping the stakes if your character fails
  • How to stop using clichés, tricks and gimmicks that actually remove tension from your story


Story out in new anthology The Sum Of Us

16651594_10154976984491449_72596578_nI have a new story out in the anthology The Sum Of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound. “Good-bye is that Time between Now and Forever” is a brief story about a daughter travelling with her father to an appointment for doctor-assisted suicide. Except in this world, the dead rise.

The theme of The Sum Of Us is the burden that caregivers carry. Often forgotten or not valued, caregivers face challenges that too-often go unrecognized. This anthology hopes to change that. And part of the money raised from sales will go to support programs provided by Canadian Mental Health Association.

With a cover by Samantha Beiko and stories by friends Hayden Trenholm, Sandra Kasturi and Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, you can find links to where you can order the book on The Sum Of Us page on the Laksa Media site.

Cover for my short story collection It’s Not the End and Other Lies released

I’m very happy to show you the cover for my debut short story collection It’s Not the End and Other Lies. Published by ChiZine Publication (CZP), it is scheduled to be released in April 2018. The cover is by Erik Mohr, who has been doing the covers for CZP since the beginning.

After years of admiring CZP’s work, I am honoured and humbled to be joining their roster of writers.

More to come as a release date and table of contents is finalized.

CZP_It's Not The End and Other Lies

Writing workshop: “Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats” at Limestone Genre Expo on June 3 in Kingston, ON

I will be teaching a 2-hour writing workshop on how to keep readers on the edges of their seats at the Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, Ontario on Saturday, June 3, 2017. It will start at 3PM.

Why should I take this workshop?

This workshop is for writers of all genres who want their stories to be page-turners that readers can’t put down. If you have been getting rejections or feedback like “Started too slow” or “Just didn’t grab me”, this workshop is for you.

There’s more to maintaining tension than just writing short, clipped sentences, the “ticking clock” or cutting between scenes. Stories, and the scenes within them, have a structure. (And do not confuse structure, which is descriptive, with formula, which is prescriptive.) That is, we are introduced to a scene, something changes for our characters, and they move on to the next scene. This can involve saving the universe or looking for their car keys. To create tension, you need to understand how the pieces of this structure work—plot, pacing, characters, conflict, etc.

We’ll look at things like:

  • How to end a scene in a way that makes the reader want to keep reading, but by giving a pay-off and not “cheating”?
  • What kind of threats and challenges can you throw at the main character that aren’t tired, clichéd or too easy?
  • Who or what is working against your main character?
  • What is on the line if your main character fails?

I hope to see you there!

Schedule for Limestone Genre Expo 2017

Here’s my schedule for the Limestone Genre Expo, a multi-genre convention taking place June 3 – 4 in Kingston, Ontario. This is a new and growing convention that I hope you’ll check out if you’re in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or upstate New York.

One highlight is a workshop on Saturday about how to build tension in your stories. I’ll also be doing a reading from The Sum Of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound, a great new anthology about the burdens caregivers must bear. My story, “Good-by Is That Time Between Now and Forever”, is about how do we care for the elderly and terminally ill in a world where the dead never stay dead.


  • 10:00 – 11:00: A Bleak Future: Post-Apocalyptic And Dystopian Fiction (Room 1020)
  • 1:00 – 2:00: True Crime Leads to Crime Fiction (Room 1020)
  • 2:00 – 3:00: Why We Need Tales of Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts (Room 1020)
  • 3:00 – 5:00: Workshop – Keeping Readers on the Edge of Their Seats (Room 1040)


  • 11:00 –12:00: Oh the Horror! (Room 1010)
  • 3:00 – 4:00: Reading – “Good-by Is That Time Between Now and Forever” from The Sum Of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound (Room 1030)
  • 4:00 – 5:00: Historical Fantasy: Facts vs Imagination (Room 1010)

Schedule for Ad Astra 2017

Here’s my schedule for Ad Astra 2017, a sci-fi/horror/fantasy convention happening this weekend in Richmond Hill, Ontario (just outside Toronto). Some good horror programming on here!

I will also be doing a reading, but the timing for that is TBD.


7:00 – 7:30: READING
Markham B
I’ll be reading my historical science fiction story “A Shame That Binds Our Hearts, Binds Our Fate,” which appeared in On Spec, Issue #102 and placed 2nd in the Friends of the Merril short story contest. Stick around for Matthew Bin at 7:30. His novel Brendan’s Way (Bundoran Press) is launching Saturday at 9:00).

Richmond B
John Carpenter’s films have always had an audience in fandom, but recent years have seen a critical reappraisal of his work. In the words of Guillermo del Toro: “Carpenter creates masterpiece after masterpiece and they are often ignored.” Films like Halloween and The Thing are definitive horror films, but are they more relevant to cinema as a whole than previously thought? What other works of Carpenter deserve a closer viewing? (with James Bambury, Beverly Bambury, David Clink, Adam Shaftoe-Durrant)


Richmond A
Works of horror necessarily disturb their readers with feelings of unease, revulsion, and fear. Easy to say, hard to do. What do horror authors do to create the negative emotions their readers are seeking? (with Derek Künsken, Jon Oliver, Alexandra Renwick)


Publishers describe novels as a “supernatural thriller” or “novel of terror”, but is no one saying “horror” anymore?  Did the 80s heyday, and eventual burn-out, of horror novels ruin the term? Or maybe the onslaught of remakes of 80s horror film? Why aren’t we saying “horror” anymore? (with Anne Bishop, Beverly Bambury, Dean Italiano, Jen Frankel)



Fantasy in the 1970’s and earlier was usually a stand alone book or a trilogy at the most.  Now it’s a megaseries of books often with a movie or television tie-in.  Once the little sibling of science fiction fantasy now dwarfs its sibling.  How did this happen? (with Jeff Beeler, Brandon Draga, Nicholas Eames, A.A. Jankiewicz)

My Can-Con 2016 Schedule


The schedule for Can-Con 2016 has been posted and it’s amazing. There is everything here for fans of science fiction, horror and fantasy. Plus science panels, pitch sessions, agent sessions, and more. Please take a look at the panel descriptions.

If you’ve never been to a convention but have thought about it, but felt it might be too much for you, please read my post about why conventions are safe spaces for the shy or introverted. If you feel this way, please check out Can-Con. Registration information is online. It will make you feel at home and introduce you to an entire community you didn’t know was out there.

For me, I will be busy! Here’s my schedule, subject to last-minute changes.


7:00 – 8:00: So This Is Your First Con!
Zenith Room
I’ll be joining Lisa Toohey, Ryan McFadden, and Brandon Crilly (m). I will try to bring some humour and sage wisdom to this panel.

9:00 – whenever: Bundoran Press party
Tavern ConSuite
I’ll be reading from my story “Innocence Prolonged, And Overcome” from the new anthology Lazarus Risen. What happens in a town where everyone will live forever? Well, it’s not good. Nope, not good at all.


11:00 – 12:00: Reading from But It’s Not The End And Other Lies
Guildhall ConSuite
Join me doing a reading from my upcoming collection But It’s Not The End And Other Lies (ChiZine Publications) about what makes us human and what makes us monsters. Joining me in this time slot is fellow CZP author Ian Rogers reading from Every House is Haunted and ‘Nathan Burgoine reading from Triad Blood.

5:00 – 6:00: Can The Exorcist Work in the Modern World?
Twilight Room

I’ll be moderating a panel with Timothy Carter, Madeline Ashby, Mike Rimar and Ranylt Richildis. Since The Exorcist works on the idea that the Devil is real, that must mean God is real. And Jesus. And the Bible. In a secular world, does being scared by The Exorcist mean we must accept Christianity? We’ll discuss.

9:00 – whenever: ChiZine Publications party
Tavern ConSuite
This is the party to be at. Meet the leading voices in horror and dark fiction. And there will be booze.


12:00 – 1:00: Not All Antagonists Are Created Equal
Sunset Room

I’ll be moderating a panel with Julie Czerneda, Erik Scott de Bie, Gregory A. Wilson and Nina Munteanu where I propose there are three types of antogonist—villains, monsters and forces of nature. We’ll slug it out, talking to both fellow authors and fans. Bring ideas about your favourite antagonist.

1:00 – 2:00: Horror is Domestic
Sunset Room
I’ll be with Suzanne Church, Sean Moreland, Ryan McFadden and Sandra Kasturi. This is an important concept in horror—horror is some external, corrupting force invading the family unit. Is this essential or is it bullshit? We’ll figure it out.

Conventions as “safe spaces” for the shy and introverted


Can-Con 2016, Ottawa speculative fiction convention, is coming up in a few weeks. It’s taking place September 9 – 11, 2016 at the Novotel in downtown Ottawa.

If you are a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, horror or anything like that, but have never been to (or considered attending) a convention, please give this a try. A bit of my history: When I began writing seriously, I was encouraged to attend Ad Astra in Toronto. I was very hesitant. I am a shy person, very introverted, and a weekend surrounded by strangers seemed overwhelming to me. Like, panic-attack overwhelming.

But I went and was transformed. Here were people like me: shy and thoughtful, but away from the loud-and-boisterous braggarts who dominate just about every public space, we could be ourselves. Was Robotech as good as we remembered, is Star more SF or more fantasy, when does horror go too far? I could talk to people if I wanted to, or be off by myself and no one bothered me. And not just did no one bother me, no one made me think that being on my own was somehow wrong.

A speculative fiction conference is a safe space in a lot of ways. We actively fight sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and racism. But you are also safe to be in your own shell. We’ve all had experiences where sitting and reading our book is viewed as pitiable or even a justification to “save” us from being alone. This does not happen at a speculative fiction conference. And something like Comiccon, even with all its geeky goodness, can be overwhelming with so many people.

SF conventions, like Can-Con, are places to observe and think. It is as contemplative as it is social. You can go to the room parties, read in the bar, or chill out in your room—it’s all OK. If you don’t say one word to anyone else, no one will judge you or think it’s wrong or you’re being a jerk.

If you’re a fan of SF/F/H and feel like no one at work or in your family really gets you, and you have to pretend to be someone else to get by every day, please come. Experience what I did. Make strong friendships even after a life-time of finding it hard to make new friends. We might not all love the same things, or see eye-to-eye on The Force Awakens, but we will respect who you are and what you believe, and welcome you into our community even after so many others have excluded you.

Please come:

25 Things I Wish I’d Known 25 Years Ago

25 years ago, I was a few weeks away from heading off to my first year of university. Since that time, I’ve often thought about how much I have changed and how I would have acted if I’d known then what I know now.

So in an act of self-indulgent narcissism, here are 25 things I would tell 25-years ago self:

  1. Teasing can be a sign of friendship – You were teased throughout  school. It was mean-spirited and meant to hurt you. In moving into the dorms, surrounded by young men (and women), you will be teased again. It might be away to establish a pecking order, but can also be a sign of friendship and familiarity. Do not immediately pull away from those who poke fun at you. A way to find out is to tease the person back. If they laugh, they are your friend. If they react with anger (i.e., how dare you break the pecking order and tease them), they are a bully.
  2. Don’t assume you are disliked – After 13 years of being the outcast, the victim, the weird0, you have come to assume everyone you meet will dislike you. This is, and has been, a false assumption. No one you will meet knows who you were or what you were like in high school. They will judge you for who you are now. Do not sabotage new friendships before they have begun. Show interest in them, ask questions, and decide if you like them.
  3. Stop being weird – Because you assume no one likes you, you stress your weirdness. It’s a defense mechanism to put people off. It doesn’t work. You can be a fan of Star Trek or Highlander or Stephen King, but don’t make it your identity.
  4. Not everyone is out to exploit you – You feared anyone paying attention to you. If the cool or cruel kids noticed you, it was either to tease you (“Hey Matt! You fucking freak!”) or exploit you. (E.g., “Hey Matt! What was the answer on the home work last night!”) When it came to exploitation, sometimes you almost gave in because you were grateful they did not tease you. But now, someone paying attention to you or showing affection is not a path to exploitation. Not everyone who is nice to you wants something from you. Don’t be distrustful of someone unless you have a reason.
  5. There are still bullies – Even with what is said above, bullies still exist who are out to exploit you, or delight in hurting your feelings. Your best defense is to ignore them. If they see they cannot get a rise out of you, they will move on. They will exist at college, in your job, when shopping, etc.
  6. Do not be a bully – Sometimes, the best way to get away from the bully is to join them in exploiting or demeaning those who are weaker, more shy or more eccentric than you are. Do not do this. Ever.
  7. Stand up for what is right when someone is selfish – There is a difference between a bully, who wants to hurt you, and someone who is selfish, where their focus is on themselves. Do not give in and think “Well, no sense making a fuss.” Stand up for yourself and demand to be treated fairly. Call them out on it because they are counting on you not saying anything. Tell someone to move their bag off a seat, don’t allow them to cut in line, etc.
  8. You can’t change people – Still, there is a difference between demanding you be treated fairly and expecting someone to treat everyone fairly. Some people call out people for littering or being vulgar in public—this will accomplish nothing and can invite a confrontation that is impossible to win. Such people will not change. Stand up for yourself, but that is as far as you can go.
  9. Friendships can fade and it’s not your fault – You are going to meet a lot of new people and form new friendships. Those friendships may endure, or they might last a semester. That’s life—not all friendships will be life-long. If a friendship does not last, do not assume it is because the other person does not like you. The friendship may have been based on proximity, like living a few doors down or having a class together. If you want one to endure, you must work to maintain it. And be prepared if the other person is not willing to put in the work.
  10. Show commitment to groups – You are suspicious of groups and are not a “joiner”. You fear joining a group will require you to sacrifice your identity or do something you do not want to do just to be accepted. There is truth to this. But be prepared to not be accepted or included in the group—be it a club, group of friends, or team—if you do not show a level of commitment that is needed to show you value the group and want it to succeed.
  11. Drinking – Right now, you do not drink. You will be tempted to and even pushed to by some people. But others will respect your decision. The decision, though, is yours. Be honest with yourself.
  12. Prioritize physical fitness – You do not have genetics on your side when it comes to weight and fitness. Youthfulness will fade; even with the same level of exercise and diet, you will slow down as you get older. Do not define yourself by your weight, pant size or muscle definition, for that is vanity, but invest the time to keep your body mobile. The ability to physically do things, without pain or soreness the next day, will become important as you get older. Start now, establish good habits, and laydown a base.
  13. Make decisions – There will be a lot of hard choices ahead of you in the years to come about money, school, relationships, family and your career. Make those decisions. More time has been squandered, lives lost and money wasted by not making a decision than making a bad one.
  14. Don’t be afraid to make quick decisions – You prefer to have time to consider something, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. But if you need to decide in the moment, make the decision. You have a lot of time ahead of you to mitigate or undo any bad outcomes that happen.
  15. End each day without regret and don’t beat yourself up – You will make a lot of bad decisions. You will make dumb mistakes. You will forget things, rush through things, say the wrong thing. Don’t spend hours or days telling yourself that you are dumb, worthless and incompetent. Try to learn from what happened, incorporate that lesson into your day-to-day dealings, and move on vowing to never make that mistake again. Be able to end each day looking in the mirror without regrets, knowing you made the best decisions you could and vowing to improve tomorrow.
  16. Don’t pretend to ask for someone’s opinion when you are really showing off – You are always looking for external validation since (1) you never received it from your family and (2) often your peers mocked you. You have a habit of wanting to show someone something you made under the guise of wanting their feedback or that it might interest them, but the reality is you are trying to show off. Others see this. It stinks of desperation and low self-esteem. Knock it off. If you are honestly interested in someone’s feedback, let them know why you are approaching them and ask specific questions. Otherwise, stop being so desperate for others’ approval and worry about what makes you happy and fulfilled.
  17. Don’t share all of yourself right away – You can sometimes assume friendships are closer than you think. Don’t share your thoughts and feelings right away. Do not be dishonest, but it’s okay to hold back. Not everyone will be comfortable with such a sudden rush of candor.
  18. Improve you how sleep – You have never slept well. But you have never made sleep a priority. You stay up too late, nap too long. It’s fine to have a late night, but don’t stay up late because you can. Your memory and anger issues come from being sleep-deprived for most of your life. Get better sleep and you will be able to focus better.
  19. Keep a notebook with you always – Always have a pen and paper with you to write things down. Phone numbers, assignments, product names. Do not trust your memory.
  20. Your life is a project – You are an organized person on projects, but not life. You forget events, are late with assignments, find yourself at the end of the week not having done what you wanted to do, etc. (This is because you are sleep-deprived.) Use the skills you bring to a project to run your life like one. Make lists of things you want to do. Make shorter lists of what you need to get done now. Cross things off as they are done. Keep a calendar, keep it updated, and check it often.
  21. Finish what you start and don’t be distracted – You get ideas frequently, often in the middle of accomplishing something, and tend to pursue them without completing what you set out to do. As you get older, the things you will need to do will become more complicated and more important. Do not end up like your father—asleep in front of the TV with a basement full of half-completed projects. Finish your task and cross it off the list before moving on to something else.
  22. Take advantage of culture – At university, you will be surrounded by culture—plays, music, lectures. Most of it free or at a price lower than normal. You will never again have access to these events. Take advantage of them, even if in the end you did not enjoy them at least you will know instead of being left to wonder.
  23. Buy music – You will be exposed to a lot of music. Buy what interests you, not just what you love. You are pragmatic, so hate to buy something you know you will not need, but make an exception. Music will mark events and milestones in your life, and give you common ground with people.
  24. Stay current with music – In college, you will be surrounded by music. After, it will be harder to be exposed to new music. For the most part, it will be the radio driving to and from work, which will be a limited selection. Find ways to learn about new music, listen to it, give it a chance, and buy it.
  25. Don’t worry about fashion – You don’t follow trends and wear conservative clothing. Some people will push you to keep up with trends, but you keep your clothes for a long time, often longer than trends last. This is OK. But it is also OK to buy clothing that is in-style, knowing it won’t last. Not everything you buy has to be worn for as long as it will last. However, make this an exception—don’t waste a lot of money things that will have a very short period of usefulness.





Upcoming Appearances

ChiSeries Ottawa: Charles de Lint, Paul Glennon and Liz Westbrook-Trenholm – Host
Nov. 7, 2017
Clocktower Brew (Basement)
575 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON
Nov 21st OIW: Short Story Writing with Matt Moore, Lydia Peever – Instructor
Nov. 21, 2017
Hintonburg Community Centre
1064 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON

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