Sunday, 30 October 2011

Blood Passage Book Trailer

A trailer for Blood Passage has been uploaded to Vimeo, which you can view below. As always, comments are most welcome.

Blood Passage Trailer from Michael J. McCann on Vimeo.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Venturing Forth Into the Twitterverse

Okay, so now I've gone and done it. I've opened a Twitter account and I've begun to tweet. All suggestions and tips for the effective use of Twitter to get the word out there would be gratefully received!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thursday Themes

The beauty of the blogosphere lies in part in the fact that it's a rich field of opinions on a wide range of subjects. You never know when you're going to trip over a thread that can lead to insight. Such was the case the other day when I read a post by BJ in her blog The Dark Side of the Covers on the subject of free prequels. I posted a comment on her blog at the time but it's been percolating in the back of my mind ever since, so I've decided to take it up where she left off.

You can read BJ's post here.

To summarize, she noted that the e-book phenomenon has bred free spinoffs, often of the prequel variety, that authors will publish in order to publicize an upcoming book. Effective freebies are self-contained and whet our appetite for more, while poor freebies seem truncated or stagnant and can be sloppily edited.

As followers of this blog will know, I've used this technique to spread the word about Blood Passage, the first Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel. I've published six free short stories featuring Donaghue and Stainer so far that can be found here. Others will follow this fall and winter until the collection is complete. The idea is to eliminate cost barriers and give readers a chance to become familiar with the characters and my writing style. Hopefully those who enjoy police procedurals and like the stories will take a shot at the novel, which is now only $0.99. (End commercial.)

Here's the thing: I'd like your opinion on the effectiveness of this approach as a marketing technique. Each story tends to attract the same number of downloaders. I'm assuming/guessing/hoping that people are collecting all the stories as they appear. At the same time, I'm aware that Smashwords has a reputation for being a place to trawl for freebies but not a place where people tend to spend money. So here are a couple of questions:

  • do readers of e-books who download free offerings tend to be willing to pay a buck or two for the primary product if they like the freebie, or do they tend just to graze on the freebies?
  • if you're a downloader of freebies, how long do they tend to sit in your reader before you get around to reading them (ie, how long should I wait before I decide this strategy doesn't work)?
I look forward to your comments on this subject. Fire away!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Indie Writing and Indie Recording

Those of us in the indie book business regularly find inspiration in the scores of indie recording artists who keep producing outstanding music at the ground level. Recently I came across a terrific blog called the Indie Music Filter, produced by fellow Canadian Chris Budd in Toronto. He welcomes mp3s from emerging performers and features the best on his blog, which I encourage you to look up.

Among the links that I followed were four that I'll quickly mention.

A name familiar to many, M83 is the electronic pop act of Anthony Gonzalez. Indie Music Filter has embedded the new video "Midnight City," a very catchy tune.

Next up was Savoir Adore, which features singer/songwriter Deidre Muro and drummer Paul Hammer. Indie Music Filter links to their song "Dreamers." Their website and blog are a little disorganized but I found a couple of singles that had me very excited. These guys are GOOD. Check out as well this article published online in The L Magazine, featuring Savoir Adore as one of eight NYC bands you need to hear.

Also of note from the Indie Music Filter was the band the High Highs, a Brooklyn band with a soft retro sound that really appeals. I particularly liked "Ivy" and "Horses."

Finally, it was fun to discover the Montreal band Adam & The Amethysts, featuring Adam Waito, originally from Thunder Bay. Indie Music Filter featured their single "Dreaming" from their album Flickering Flashlight. Apparently I missed them in Ottawa not too long ago. Next time.....

If you're interested in new music, I encourage you to follow Indie Music Filter and to check out these performers.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Follow Friday, Oct. 21/11

Once again it's Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee's View  and Alison Can Read. This week their feature bloggers are The Bursting Bookshelf and Book Savvy Babe. Hop by and take a look.

This week's question: What superhero is your alter ego?

I'm afraid my answer is pretty mundane. My favorite superhero was always The Amazing Spider-Man. I bought each issue as they appeared in the drugstore down at the corner and kept them in a special place, in order, in my bedroom closet. I really wanted to be able to swing from rooftop to rooftop the way he did, and I thought it would be great to be able to snare that bag of chips on the other side of the room just by shooting web at it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

What Compels Us Toward Tales of Violence and Murder?

Yesterday NPR ran an interesting, if short, book review by Bruce Machart entitled “Devil in the Details: 3 Artful Tales of Murder.” You can find it here: While the article offered brief reviews of three novels, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen, The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock and So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell, I was mostly attracted by the question Machart posed at the beginning of his piece, which I’ve paraphrased as the title of this post.

What, indeed, draws us to fiction that focuses on the worst aspects of human nature?

As a reader I’m attracted to crime fiction that features a strong protagonist as the representative of law, order, rationality and the human need to challenge and defeat the brutal side of our nature. Perhaps it was my misspent childhood reading comic books with shining, invulnerable heroes that’s responsible, but there you go.

As a person I abhor violence and I’m afraid of death. Much of my life has been a process of trying to come to grips with the existence of these things in life and to find ways to cope with them. I read fiction not only to be entertained but to learn what I can about perspectives other than my own, so as a result I’m drawn to stories featuring a central character who can move in these worlds and handle these things better than I can. Even if they fail, it represents the struggle to do what’s right in this life, to resist, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” if you will.

As a writer of crime fiction my motives are essentially the same. The central characters in the Donaghue and Stainer series deal with death and brutality every day. When Hank Donaghue’s mother, a retired State’s Attorney, asks him in Blood Passage how work is going, he jokes that it’s the same as usual: “The hours suck, the pay is worse and all my clients are dead.” Law enforcement officers are notorious for their black humor, but it’s a defense mechanism, a way of depersonalizing the horror they witness every time they punch the time clock.

Is depersonalization the key? Are we drawn as readers to crime fiction because it gives us a chance to deal with death and brutality from an objective, third-person perspective? Does it provide an opportunity to examine the horror and the emotional reactions of others through a filter, to imagine from a safe distance how we would cope if we were put in such a position? A rehearsal against the day when we might have to face such horrible things head-on?

What draws you as a reader to crime fiction?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Book Launch, Jasmine Aziz

This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Jasmine Aziz's novel Sex and Samosas at the East India Company restaurant, 210 Somerset St. W. in Ottawa. Jasmine's book is erotica with a distinct comic flavour, and anyone with an interest in that genre should definitely check it out at Congratulations to Jasmine on a great launch!

Props as well to Donald Lanouette of Partner Publishing for a terrific-looking cover. I also had a chance to meet Karen Opas Lanouette, editor-in-chief at Partner Publishing. This company deserves consideration by anyone looking for assistance in book design, editing, and other related services.

Finally, the East India Company was a great venue for the launch, and although I didn't try the food it looked and smelled wonderful.

Well done, Jasmine.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Found Books, a special edition

I'm a fool for books and always have been. As I mentioned in a previous post, Found Books is a little feature where I highlight a book I've found second-hand somewhere, at a yard sale or rummage sale, the Goodwill or what have you. It's a book that's been published for a while, sometimes a long while, and I just want to talk about it because I like it.

Yesterday was hound dog heaven for me because it was the day of the eighth annual North Grenville Book Fair. So far I haven't missed one. They charge a buck a book, no matter what the book, and the proceeds are used to support programs at the local library and the local Community Living organization. This year they claimed to have 25,000 books, so I spent 3.5 hours there yesterday afternoon/evening and I know I didn't look at every one of them, but I sure tried.

My modus operandi is always the same. When I get through the door I head straight for the cookbooks, because competition is fierce and the really cool ones go fast. This year's finds included Mary Emmerling's American Country Cooking (Clarkson N. Potter, 1987), a beautiful table top book with stuff like creek soup from Texas, country garden chicken from Virginia, and crunchy oat and cranberry muffins from Seattle, all of which I'm likely to try. Also very nice was The Herbal Pantry by Tolley and Mead (Clarkson Potter, 1992) which had a recipe for coffee anise liqueur I'm definitely going to riff on. I just took a nice crop of anise from my herb garden, and an enormous crop of chocolate mint, so I'm going to combine those two as an infusion in the vodka this recipe mentions, then slide it into coffee. MMM mmm.

Also got a bunch of crime fiction, as always, but this time I've decided to take a shot at the Scandinavian stuff. I haven't read Stieg Larsson yet, so I picked up a copy of the Hornet's Nest one, plus a couple of Henning Mankell and an Arnaldlur Indridason (Iceland). We'll see.......

Lastly, for now, I'll mention that I found a copy of David McCullough's massive biography of Harry Truman. I was hoping I'd find his John Adams, since it's a period I'm more interested in right now, but no luck. I was also hoping I'd find Ron Chernow's new bio of Washington, but that was really stretching it. I'll settle for Truman, which should keep me busy!

With any luck, the two boxes I lugged home with me will see me through the long winter that's surely coming.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Follow Friday Once Again

Here we are at Friday once again. How quickly the weeks seem to go by! Time to participate in the Follow Friday festivities, hosted by Parajunkee's View at her new website and Alison Can Read. This week their feature bloggers are Confuzzled Books and Life Between Pages. Check these blogs out; they're delightful.

This week's fun question: If you could have characters from a particular book meet and form an epic storyline with characters from a particular TV series, which would you choose, and why?

This is a tough question, because characters sets are usually pretty complete and it would be a challenge to splice them together, but two characters from a book instantly spring to mind. Young bloggers may not have had a chance to read the early novels of Samuel R. Delany, but I'd choose Katin and The Mouse from Nova, and I'd have them wander onto the set of the next Joss Whedon edition of Firefly. Katin's intellect and The Mouse's gutter sense and the "music" he creates on his sensory syrynx would lend a fascinating dimension to a new epic quest of the Serenity.

Enjoy your Friday, everyone.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Back To Work Tuesday

After a very pleasant long weekend celebrating our Canadian Thanksgiving, it's time to get back to work. My objective is to have a new Donaghue and Stainer short story ready to upload to Smashwords by the weekend, and I will celebrate this addition to the collection with a new list price for the e-book version of Blood Passage. Stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone downloading copies of the short stories. I'm surprised and gratified that so many people are showing an interest in the collection, which has cascaded over to Barnes & Noble as well. The first Donaghue and Stainer short story listed by Barnes & Noble for the Nook, "Invisible Boy," has reached the top 5,000 in total e-book downloads, which I find absolutely remarkable. Fans of Donaghue and Stainer may rest assured that this is only the beginning.

All right, enough procrastination. To work,.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Follow Friday

Once again it's time for Follow Friday, in which we find new and interesting blogs to follow.

This week I'm focusing on co-sponsor Parajunkee, at and her featured blogger of the week, Jagged Edge, at

The fun question of the week is the following:  If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

This is an interesting challenge, because there are so many fascinating characters, going back a long way. I think if I were to choose someone right now from television, I'd choose:
Danny Reagan, homicide detective on the CBS television show Blue Bloods, played by Donnie Wahlberg. It would be a fascinating experience to have the self-confidence, determination and edge that this character has, but there's one qualification: I'd only want to be him for a day. I couldn't do what a homicide detective does for a living!

Enjoy your stay here at The Overnight Bestseller, and don't be shy to click that Follow button!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Halloween Heads-Up

Now that October is here it's time to plan ahead for your Halloween reading. If you like to curl up with a ghost story on All-Hallows-Even, then The Ghost Man is for you!

The Ghost Man is the story of Simon Guthrie, a reluctant passive medium trying to rebuild his life after personal tragedy. He discovers his new dream home in the country on the Rideau Canal Waterway is haunted by a restless ghost whose family met their own tragedy more than a century and a half ago, and Simon must survive the manipulations of a powerful demonic entity before he can find peace in his own life.

The Ghost Man is available in paperback through at or in Canada at

You can also order it through Barnes & Noble at

For further information, check out my website at

End infomercial!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Letting Go

In his 1958 essay "Zen and The Problem of Control," Alan Watts remarked that humans are a "self-conscious and therefore self-controlling organism," but posed an interesting question: how do we control the self-controlling part of us? He uses an interesting analogy to suggest how self-control can become a form of paralysis: it's as if "I wanted simultaneously to throw a ball and hold it to its course with my hand."

As a sports fan I recognize the wisdom of this analogy. Major league baseball players often talk about trying to avoid over-thinking in performance situations. Pitchers constantly remind themselves that at some point they have to stop thinking and just throw the ball. The batter, in turn, has less than a second to decide what he wants to do when the pitch is made. Ultimately he must shush his brain and let his body do what it has been trained to do: see the ball, hit the ball. Their planning and preparation, all in an attempt to control the outcome of their contest, must be released, shaken off at the moment of performance.  The batter either has to swing or not swing. The pitcher can't wind up, then walk the ball off the mound past the batter into the catcher's mitt. He must let it go.

As a parent I understand the wisdom of letting go. I've worked very hard for many years to point my son in the right direction -- that is to say, a direction that will be beneficial to him as an adult. I still coach, suggest, prod, nag and all the rest, hoping to nudge him down the road I think I can see more clearly than he can because I'm supposedly older and wiser. Yet I know in my heart ultimately I have to shut up and let him go. I can't walk him to his future. He has to walk there himself.

As a writer I'm also trying to rediscover the wisdom of letting go. When I was a young buck writing literary short stories I'd begin with a single image and see where it would take me. Occasionally, surprisingly, this worked as a technique. Today, though, I know that writing crime fiction requires a much different approach, and so I do a lot of preliminary research and I write an outline before I write a first draft. For myself, I have to know the solution to my mystery before I begin to write it.

Just the same, as writers we all recognize the feeling when we glance up at the clock and realize we've been writing steadily for the past two hours and where the hell did that all come from? It's as though the story began to tell itself, as though the characters took over and just did what they were supposed to do, and we in turn did our thing, which was to scrabble like crazy to get it all down while it was happening.

Oh god how I want to be there right now. I've been trying hard lately, but it hasn't happened. I've outlined and I've researched, then outlined something else and researched it, then blogged, then back to the first outline for more. An idea comes, I work with it, it sputters and dies. I can sense the spirit of Alan Watts chuckling: I'm trying very hard to let the writing flow, but "this amounts to saying I must be spontaneous, and controlled or willed spontaneity is a contradiction!"

When I was an undergrad still living at home, I'd be sitting at the dinner table next to my father, feeding my face, and he would reach out and take hold of my right (non-feeding) hand, which I always clenched unconsciously into a fist, and he'd gently open it up and place it palm down on the table. "Relax," he'd say. I wasn't even aware that I wasn't relaxed. I think of this right now, so many years later, because I have to unclench again.

Relax, Mike. Let go.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Cruising for Old Vinyl

Twice a year I get to drive into town and hit St. Anthony's Hall to blow a few bucks at the Ottawa Record Show. I've been collecting vinyl LPs since they were the standard in music reproduction and this show is one of the few times I can chase the dream of finding that illusive record I always wanted but never seem to be able to find.

Today I managed to fill in some holes in my collection with some decent picks. Pictured on the left is my find of the day, the first album by The Average White Band, Show Your Hand, issued in 1973 on MCA. I've had the 1975 reissue, Put It Where You Want It, for a long time but had never actually seen the original version before, so I was pleased to find it. Not that it's rare, you understand. Just that I'd never seen it before. (I don't get out a whole lot.)

Other interesting purchases today included:
  • Osibisa, Heads (MCA, 1972);
  • Checkfield, Distant Thunder (American Gramaphone, 1987);
  • Monty Alexander - Ray Brown - Herb Ellis, Triple Treat (Concord, 1982);
  • Savoy Brown, Hellbound Train (Parrot, 1972);
  • Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, Straight Ahead (RCA, 1974); and
  • The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971).
A good opportunity to fill in some holes and just have a lot of fun flipping through bins of great music. The best part was that all the above cost me either $2 or $3, with the exception of Show Your Hand, which was $5. Cheap fun!