Thursday, 25 July 2013

Creator Spotlight: Christine Steendam

One of the things that I had said I was going to do on this blog was spotlight some of the authors, musicians, and other artists who I think are deserving of more recognition- people that have created something that, quite frankly, I believe you will benefit from looking into. For the debut spotlight, I thought it only fitting to feature a fellow author who, like myself, published their first work this year, and one who I think you'll be hearing a great deal from in the coming years, Christine Steendam.

This evening I was fortunate enough to meet one of the writer's who's work I've come to admire. Christine Steendam the author of Heart Like An Ocean, a historical romance novel that tells the story of... Well, you know what, let's just take it straight from the book description on Amazon, because I doubt my simple words can do it justice.

"In a society where she doesn't belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don's only child.
On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.
Straddling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600's Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart wherever it leads."

Sounds pretty intense, right? And, it is. However, it is also a fun and entertaining read. The characters are excellent, real, and you find yourself quickly becoming wrapped up in their stories- even if, like myself, this isn't a genre that you would normally pick up.

I wrote a small review on the Amazon page if you'd like to check it out and while you are at it, make sure to pick up the book. Extremely reasonably priced and well worth every penny.

But I digress.

The reason I was writing this was not only to spotlight her work, but also the author herself. To me, the person who writes the book is as important as the book itself. That's just my feeling on the subject, but I'm always fascinated by the story behind the story-teller. Why did they choose to tell this particular story? Does it reflect anything about the author, themselves? What made them decide to be a writer in the first place?

I first became aware of Christine during the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project/contest when I was browsing through the list of local participants. There were a fair bit of folks from the great big city (aka Winnipeg) but only a handful of us from the outlying area (aka the "country") and I made an effort to keep track of how the others from my "group" were doing in regards to word count.

For whatever reason, Christine was one of the two or three entrants who's word count I kept an eye on. Part of it was because she sounded very "on the ball" as they say- she had a plan, had participated before, and just seemed like she was someone who I could use as a measuring stick.

For the first week and a bit, my word count kicked her's butt. Then, it didn't. Slowly but surely, she continued at a steady stream of increasing output until she FAR surpassed what I had. Eventually, I ended up dropping out, and she would go on to complete the 50,000 word goal, with time to spare.

That stuck in my head. I had dropped out partly because I had started a new job that turned out to be extremely stressful in the learning curve, and part because I was lazy. I lost that drive to continue on. Not her, however. She persevered, even when stuck, and managed to not only hit the goal, but surpass it.

So, when her book came out, I remembered what she had accomplished, and thought I'd send some support to a local author who had made good on her writing and had pushed me (unknowingly, and only for a few weeks, but nonetheless) to push myself, and so I bought the e-book version of Heart Like An Ocean.

As if destroying my word count during NaNoWriMo wasn't enough, she destroyed my preconceived notions on romance novels. It wasn't some tried and true same old song and dance romance novel, with two-dimensional characters and a predictable plot. Far from it, in fact. Her characters had depth, reacted realistically, the plot was anything BUT predictable, and, nothing against Christine, exceeded any expectations that I had. Quite simply, it was a great book.

So when I had the chance to meet her and exchange books, me having just released LEGACY, and her with a print copy of HLAO, I jumped at it.

She was everything one might hope for in speaking with a writer- eloquent, intelligent, thoughtful about the "art", humble about her success, and eager to see others succeed as well.

I fully expected us to have a "writers talk" along the lines of trading stories about the, well, stories that we had written and our experiences in getting to our respective debuts. We did, but mainly the time spent was of telling some of our OWN life stories. I was treated to a few small tales of her time in school, of her son, Jasper and his adventures, and her husband, Kyle, who sounds like a pretty cool dude in his own rights.

It seems that writers are always interested in stories, whether ones that they've made up, or ones that they, or others, have lived. A good story, is a good story.

Which answers a question that Christine had posed to me in a previous conversation:  Is her writing going to turn me into a fan of romance novels? The answer to that, is no. I don't think I could ever get into reading strictly romance.

BUT, you better believe that her writing has made me a fan of Christine Steendam, a skilled writer who crafts a compelling story with engaging characters that you genuinely care about, and I eagerly await any book that she publishes. And you should too.

Friday, 5 July 2013

First Day of the First Book

     Hey there, everyone! I'm back! Well, here we are, just over 25 hours in to the release of my first comic book, LEGACY #1, just in case SOMEHOW you missed the flurry of Facebook posts, tweets, text messages and emails. There was supposed to be carrier pigeons too but apparently that went out of style some time back. I call it classic, you call it animal cruelty. Details, details... I'm kidding. I'm from Canada, so of course it would have been geese. Or polar bears. MESSENGER BEAVERS. Now THAT would be cool. Maybe one day...

     But I digress. 

     So far, the book is doing quite well for such a small-scale release:  print copies are currently available only through me (though I am willing to send them ANYWHERE as long as you, at least, help out with some of the shipping) and digital is currently on DriveThruComics. There ARE plans in the works to get digital and print-on-demand through more websites, but alas, those are taking longer than I was hoping, to get going. That's all on me; I waited too long and made some assumptions about technical spec similarities and all sorts of other minor details that turned into not-so-minor delays. I'm working on it though! It will happen! Eventually. Either way:  If you want a copy (or even several copies) of this book, I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN. GUARANTEED. Even if I have to hire those messenger beavers with their exorbitant rates. It. Will. Happen.

     Digital sales are doing decently so far, and at last count, over 75 print copies will be sold by the weekend. Won't be giving Brian Michael Bendis or Geoff Johns any competition in the sales VOLUME category, but I like to think I have a better class of fans (he said, clearly sucking up). For, more or less, local word of mouth, I'm pretty satisfied for a start like that. 

     By month's end, I should be out of the first run print and be heading into a second printing; and all without even putting it into a store. Yet. That's in the works as well, but the plan all along has been to get more of a body of work together before going that route. A novel you can take anywhere from a day to a month to read; a comic book, even the wordy ones, take much less time. Therefore, I want to have at least a couple that can be released in short(ish) order, to get people coming back to the store for a steady diet of books. 
     You wonderful folks who are buying now are lucky in that you get the books first, but unfortunately will have to wait a little longer to get your next fix. And it's going to be a GOOD one! Andre's art is going to make worth the wait. The story's pretty darn too, in my not so humble and completely biased opinion.  ;)  More on the release dates/schedule/plans in a post coming up. For now, just take some time to pat yourself on the back for being part of something that's been a long-time dream of mine. Thanks for being part of it, even if you haven't bought a copy yet. 

     What are you waiting for? Go buy one!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

LEGACY #1 Is Officially Released! Aka I Have Actually Published a Comic Book!

Well, here we are, folks.

We made it. 

LEGACY #1 is a reality.

The books are all in, the PDF is up for sale on DriveThruComics ( ) and I'm plastering it all over my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Hopefully a few other people decide to throw it up on theirs too, to get the word out. 

It's been quite the journey to get to this point; Mike and I first spoke back in March of 2012 (the 15th to be specific) and, though the book was finished some time back, we're just getting to the release now (printing and shipping take far longer than anyone who's ever had to wait, would like LOL). 

I want to thank everyone who's been part of it; from the people who encouraged me to get back into writing to the people who've only heard about the book recently- I know I've thanked people a lot in these posts, but trust me, it will never be enough. That being said, if you REALLY want me to thank you, throw a couple bucks my way for a copy (or 5!) of LEGACY and odds are I will hug you for no extra charge. And if you say something nice about it, I may even wash your car for free! (There's a 99% chance that I won't but, hey, you never know.)

There's been more than a few times I almost walked away from doing this, but I'm glad I didn't, and happy that I'll be doing it more, down the road. LEGACY #2 will be out this Fall and New Guard #1 will kick off our as Winter release and the first of 2014. And just to let you know- it gets better with every book.  ;)  Glad to have you all along for the ride, can't wait to show you what's in store... It's going to be a blast!