Friday, January 27, 2012

What Was the First Album You Bought?

Whenever the topic of “first concert” comes up I’ve got a great story. In January 1974 (I was fourteen) my cousin Mike was on his way out west and the day he stopped at our place in Montreal Bob Dylan was playing the Forum. Mike asked me if I wanted to go see the show and I said it had been sold out for months. Mike said, no problem, we headed down to the Forum and Mike bought us tickets (and maybe a little something else ;) from a scalper in Atwater Park.

The concert was great, though I have to admit I was too young to appreciate Bob Dylan and my favourite part was The Band.

But when it comes to “first album” I don’t have such a good story. The first album I bought was K-Tel’s “Fantastic: 22 original hits 22 original stars” in late 1973.

Oh sure, it had Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me,” and two Elton John songs, “Crocodile Rock” and “Rocket Man” it also had Vicki Lawrence’s (Mama, from The Carol Burnett show?!?) “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and something called “Bongo Rock” by The Incredible Bongo Band.

At the time my favourite songs on the album were probably Stories' "Brother Louie," and The Five Man Electrical Band's "I'm a Stranger Here." This was in the era beore "Disco Sucks" so there's an odd mix, for sure.

Here’s the complete song list:

Stories- Brother Louie
Elton John- Crocodile Rock
Dawn (featuring Tony Orlando)- Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
Focus- Hocus Pocus
The Sweet- Little Willy
Bill Withers- Lean On Me
Lobo- It Sure Took A Long, Long Time
Vicki Lawrence- The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
The Incredible Bongo Band- Bongo Rock
New York City- I'm Doin' Fine Now
Barry White- I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby
Maureen McGovern- The Morning After
Chester -Make My Life a Little Bit Brighter
Les Emmerson- Cry Your Eyes Out
Charlie Daniels- Uneasy Rider
Albert Hammond- The Free Electric Band
Foster Sylvers- Misdemeanor
Five Man Electrical Band- I'm A Stranger Here
Stampeders- Minstrel Gypsy
Peter Foldy- Bondi Junction
Jim Stafford- Swamp Witch
Elton John- Rocket Man

Turns out there was a TV commercial for this album but I don’t remember it:

Also, it seems that K-Tel had the same albums in the US and Canada with slightly different song lists.

So, what was the first album you bought?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

George McFly Day!

My friend Adrian McKinty has started something called George McFly Day. It's the day when the author copies of a book arrive at your house. Well, today is George McFly Day at my house as my copies of Tumblin' Dice arrived.

ECW Press have done their usual excellent job with the book and together with the previous three it's starting to look like a real series.

This will also be the first book in ECW's, "Buy a book, get the ebook free," promotion.

Official publication date is March 1st.

Oh, and the about the book runs like this:

The High, a band with a few hit songs in the late 1970s, have reunited to play the nostalgia circuit at casinos. But for bassist Barry and lead singer Cliff, this tour promises to be unforgettable and even more worthwhile than ever. In this fourth installment of the Toronto series, these two band members turn the tables on the gritty underworld of casinos, as they rob the loan sharks and drug dealers who work at every stop of the tour. After finding their old manager who had swindled millions from them years ago, Barry and Cliff decide to go for the big score and get it all back — and more. But when the Saints of Hell, the notoriously dangerous motorcycle gang, get involved, all bets are off.

As usual with my books there are probably too many characters, too many sub-plots and not enough mystery but as my son Douglas (on the right in photo above said, "You sure use the f-word a lot," so there's that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free ebook with purchase

My publisher, ECW Press, is trying something new with their spring catalogue books including Tumblin' Dice; buy a book, get the ebook free.

Here's what the press release says:

“When readers pay top price for one of our books, we feel they should be able to read it in the way that fits best with their life: a printed book in a comfy chair, an eBook on their phone on the bus, whatever,” said David Caron, ECW Press co-publisher. “We also wanted to find a way to include bookstores that don’t sell eBooks, so that both the store’s customers and the bookseller feel that they are getting good value from an ECW Press book.”

The way it works is that when you buy a book in a bookstore or online you send an email to ECW, and include where you bought the book, the receipt number, and your preferred ebook format. ECW will send you the file, and a request to include you on their newsletter list, as well as some more ways to connect with ECW Press.

I like this plan, I think it's a good idea to be able to get the book in every format you want with one purchase.

I also like the idea of finding a way to involve bookstores that don't sell ebooks - indies, really. I saw an interesting post a little while ago from author Dean Wesley Smith about "gift card" ebooks that could be sold in bookstores. He described it like this:

"You walk into any major store and see a huge stand of gift cards. Now imagine that rack full of cards are all cards that represent electronic books. All the buyer of the card has to do is log in a code on the back of the gift card to download the book to any device."

And there's no reason it has to be a "major store," it could just as easily be a local independent bookstore. You could still browse, talk to a human being, get recommendations and make your purchase locally.

Getting back to ECW's spring list, there are a few books I'm looking forward to (in addition to Tumblin' Dice, of course), mostly the Mike Knowles Mystery Omnibus containing the first three Wilson novels.

Just in time to get caught up before the fourth Wilson novel, Never Play Another Man's Game is published in May.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Below the Line for Kobo and Nook and now Kindle, too.

The first book I had published, Below the Line, is now available as an e-book for the Kobo and the Nook.

First published in 2003 as a trade paperback from Signature Editions, the description goes like this:

Admit it. When there's a film shooting in the neighbourhood, we all slow down to get a closer look, secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of a real live movie star. But who are all those other people bustling about the set with cables and lights and power tools? They're the Canadian crewmembers: the location scouts, caterers, make-up artists, grips, gaffers, and armies of assistants. These are the folks who bring the stars their breakfast, park the trucks, and paint the set the director's latest favourite shade. On budget sheets and cost reports they are known as the crewmembers "below the line." Inspired by their own experiences in film, authors John McFetridge and Scott Albert have created an authentic backdrop for their novel, with script pages, call sheets, and camera reports, giving the reader a complete behind-the-scenes experience.

I'm not sure how all those, "script pages, call sheets and camera reports," look in the e-books (they required the trade paperback to be a little extra-wide). When writing the book Scott and I made up a complete schedule for the movie being made (Life and Death in Little Italy ;) and fit our short stories around that. It was a lot of fun to do.

I don't know when the book will be available for the Kindle.

The Nook edition is here.

And the Kobo edition is here.

Edit: The Kindle edition is now available here.