Dale L. Sproule on The Majestic Mutt

SF Canada member Dale L. Sproule was recently interviewed by Akhil Chawla, host of The Majestic Mutt. This podcast explores the brave new world of multiple careers and side hustles in the post 9-5 era.

In the interview below, Dale talks to Akhil about writing as a career, his latest novel The Human Template, as well as The Carnivorous Forest and other fiction projects.

Dale L. Sproule is a writer who has published over 50 short stories in a wide range of media. In the late 90’s he co-published/edited a magazine called TransVersionsLiterature of the Fantastic. The magazine sought out work that came at the genre sideways and published work by a wide range of amazing voices. He has been privileged to interview some amazing writers and has published dozens of non-fiction articles for venues ranging from SF Signal to Books in Canada, from AE Science Fiction to Rue Morgue. Learn more about Dale and his work at dalelsproule.com.

Dreams of the Moon by Lorina Stephens

SF Canada member Lorina Stephens is launching, Dreams of The Moon, a collection of 10 fantastica short stories.

Darkness and light. Wonder and sorrow. The ambiguity, sometimes, of reflected illumination.

In this new collection of both previously published and new short fiction, Lorina presents a progression from darker, sometimes horrific stories which explore religious mythology, mental health, and the beloved dead, to the more light-hearted explorations of spirit guides and illustrations made manifest.

“Dreams of the Moon is a good example of a collection of pieces relating to universal themes addressed in an eminently readable and relatable manner which I believe every reader will find interesting, entertaining, and above all, personally meaningful.” – R. Graeme Cameron

Learn more about Dreams of The Moon at an online launch tomorrow via a live Zoom presentation.

SF Canada Zoom Meeting & Lorina Stephens Book Launch

Time: Jun 8, 2021 04:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83475737519?pwd=TzZwclAwMEVLUGZrUklUVzNGRWhVZz09

Meeting ID: 834 7573 7519

Passcode: 321877

Lorina Stephens has worked all sides of the publishing desk: writer, editor, publisher. From freelance journalist for regional and national periodicals, to editor of a regional lifestyle magazine and then her own publishing house, she has been in the industry since 1980. Lorina has witnessed publishing evolve into the dynamic form of self-expression which exists today. For 12 years she operated Five Rivers Publishing as a house which would give voice to Canadian authors. Her short fiction has appeared in literary and genre publications, novels under her own house, Five Rivers Publishing, non-fiction under Boston Mills Press and an anthology co-edited with Susan MacGregor, Tesseracts 22: Alchemy and Artifacts.

Learn more about Lorina and explore her other titles at fiveriverspublishing.com.

Order your copy of Dreams of The Moon through Five Rivers, Amazon, or Kobo.

Naïda by Scott Overton

SF Canada member Scott Overton just launched a new novel about an alien artifact found in a northern Ontario lake. Naïda is the story of how this artifact changes its discoverer, Michael Hart, in a way that has implications for the whole world.

The glowing structure at the bottom of a lonely northern lake is clearly not of this Earth, but scuba diver Michael Hart can’t stay away. It could be a scientific treasure like no other. It could be a trap. It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be someone special.

The alien artifact is ancient but not abandoned, and what it offers will change him forever, leaving him with astonishing abilities and a destiny he would never have imagined. Except it might be a destiny he no longer controls. He might not even be human anymore.

Ocean researcher Sakiko Matthews is desperate to find a cure for Earth’s dying seas, willing to put her career on the line to learn the answers she needs. In Michael Hart she finds a mysterious ally who could be the key to her success, but the price will be terribly high.

The very future of the human race is in the balance, and the actions Michael takes will make him a hero, or the greatest traitor the world has ever known.

Because he is no longer alone, not even in his own body.

There is another.


As the host of a radio morning show for most of his 30+ years in broadcasting, Scott Overton entertained and informed thousands of groggy people as they faced each new day. He brings those same skills and perspectives to his writing, which includes science fiction and fantasy, mainstream and thriller fiction, and even a children’s book.

Scott’s debut novel Dead Air was first published by Scrivener Press. Read a sample chapter, watch the book trailer, and more here. His short stories have been published in On Spec, Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, the anthologies Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound, Doomology: The Dawning Of Disasters, Canadian Tales of the Fantastic and elsewhere. Scott’s a member of the Canadian Authors Association, SFCanada, and a past President of the Sudbury Writers Guild.

Learn more about Scott’s writing at scottoverton.ca.

Purchase your copy of Naïda from Amazon, Kobo, and other booksellers.

Writers’ Craft 13: Marketing and Promotion

A tricky subject

There’s a reason I’ve left the subject of marketing and promotion to one of the last articles on the subject of writers’ craft: it’s a tricky and often highly individual decision, dependent on personal preference, budget, and influence. I don’t think there’s any one perfect strategy. Sure, there are alleged experts who are going to sell you there version of the holy grail of marketing. But I’ve been at this for 40 years, not just in literary arts, but as a business partner in the home renovation industry, and having experience in both the construction and arts, I can assure you marketing is essentially a crap shoot.

So, should you market?

Well, yes. Because even though there’s no one perfect strategy for marketing, the flip side of that is no one will buy your widget if they don’t know you have a widget for sale. So, when devising your marketing strategy, it’s important to understand what makes up your market. Who is interested in what you have to sell? What age group? What income bracket? What related interests? What geographic region? All of that goes into the mix.

But what avenue to choose?

Certainly today there are myriad choices available. Myself, I opt for what’s going to cost me the least, allow me the greatest exposure to my target market, and take up the least amount of time and effort on my part. Allow me to list some of the tools in my belt:


I think this is an essential tool in this age of global telecommunication. The website should be clean, optimized to operate across all platforms (desktop, tablet, mobile), an user friendly. However, having your own website is another whole world to explore and learn, and can be fraught with unexpected frustrations, like when your site gets hacked, or spammers discover you’re a target, and the way to deal with any of that is by dumping a another load of cash into apps and services to protect your site. After awhile you start asking yourself, just how economically sound is having a website? Am I actually selling more because I have a website? And with 4 million books published last year worldwide, you start to realize your voice is just one very small blip in the noise of our universe.

And aside from having a blog and putting out blasts of periodic pontification, news and features, are you then going to use your website as a shopping portal? Ecommerce, anyone? And then what kind of secure payment gateway to use?

You see what I mean?

But even so, despite the funds I plough into this website to keep it secure and free of hackers and spammers, little say the lack of sales through the site, I still think it’s an important tool. That’s why I keep it going. Should you? Only you can answer that.

For what it’s worth, I use WordPress, host through GoDaddy, and use PayPal for my payment gateway. I run a theme called Tilt, which I like because of its ability to allow me lots of diversity. I don’t allow unmoderated comments on my blog. I also pay for a security system through GoDaddy. After my initial sticker shock, I was pleased because the hackers and spammers pretty much disappeared. Previous to that I was getting hacked on a regular basis, and spammers were hitting the site on a daily basis.


I would say gaining reviews, and reader awareness through reviews, is a good idea, because if nothing else it boosts your signal. So, best and easiest is to offer ARCS (advance review copies) or freebies to people and writers you know of influence from whom you can beg a favour. It also helps if those individuals have some influence in the genre in which you’re writing, which hopefully is an obvious sort of statement. And then take those positive reviews, or at least steal a few positive key phrases, and use them on jacket promotion, interior reviews, on your website, blog, social media, and so and thus.

I have regularly used LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer program to garner reviews. Helps somewhat. But you do have to bear in mind you often get pretty stupid, ill-considered reviews whether good or bad. Helpful things like: this book sucked; or equally helpful: this book was great. Having said that, there are some very good reviewers on the site, individuals who post their intelligent, considered reviews not only on LibraryThing, but Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon now), Amazon, and other bookseller sites.

If you can manage it, only send out digital copies. Saves you a ton of money.

You can also take advantage of Publisher’s Weekly Canadian indie book galley tracker platform. However, it’s important to remember that in 12 years of operating Five Rivers, I only ever once had one of our books reviewed, and that was Joe Mahoney’s A Time and a Place. Kind of a disappointing return on investment, even if the book received a glowing review. Did that help with sales? Not so much.

Blog tour

Another good step is to see about setting up a blog tour, or at the very least a few guest appearances on other writers’/reviewers’ blogs. There are services which will set this up for you, charging escalating scale, with varying degrees of success. Being a really cheap individual, I baulk at paying for this service, because the few times I did invest cash into a credible service, it resulted in little to no follow on sales or interest. So, again, your mileage will vary. Which is why I choose free whenever possible, because while it’s very important to get the word out there, you also don’t want to lose your shirt paying for promotion. No point selling two books that cost you hundreds, even thousands, in promotion.

Promotional placement

Paid promotion/placement through ebook sellers can be another avenue for you. Kobo is the best of these through their Writing Life platform, and usually in the give your book away for free category. You can sell hundreds of books for free (I know, I know, I’m aware how ridiculous that sounds) through these placement campaigns. Do they result in follow on sales? Not so much. But, again, it does get your name out there. And if you’ve been very clever, you’ve placed several pages of advertising in the back of your book, promoting your other works, even having the first chapter to read. It’s a good strategy, Or at least it’s supposed to be. Again, I’ve rarely been able to track follow-on sales.

Amazon offers this sort of thing as well, but only if you sell your soul to them and publish exclusively with them. I know a lot of authors do that. I never have, because it strikes me as not a good idea to give everything to such a huge monopoly, because in the end they own you. There are many indie authors, however, who do this sort of narrow marketing and seem to do well with that strategy.


Then there’s PPC (pay per click) advertising. It’s a lot more expensive, and for it to be effective you have to be willing to set a considerable budget for the lifetime of the campaign you’re going to run, with little to no expectation of return. So, if you have some cash you really don’t need, then go ahead.

The best of the PPC strategies, I feel, is through Facebook, believe it or not. They have the same dynamic, targeted marketing tools as Google, but focused within Facebook’s platform, so you can tailor your demographic quite specifically not only by way of genre, but age, interest, geography. Just be sure to set your parameters to clicking through to a targeted site where they can purchase the book, otherwise you’ll burn through your budget in no time at all. And you can set your daily spend limit as well.

Google is the king of this sort of marketing. I have used Google for our glass business, with some very modest success. But it is very cost prohibitive, so I have only ventured into those waters a few times. Thousands of dollars for Google as compared to hundreds for Facebook.

Podcasts and vidcasts

Again, worth the effort if for no other reason than to get your name and product out there. I’m only just beginning to break into that strategy, having done an interview for MinddogTV, and for Gordon Gibb’s Kawartha Oldies radio podcast. So, researching those is a good idea. Can’t hurt.


Awards as promotion: basically that’s what they are — a promotional vehicle. There is a perceived aura of gravitas that comes with having been shortlisted, or winning, a literary award. Does that mean your book is going to sell more copies? Most likely not, unless that award happens to be one of the really prestigious awards like the Booker, or GG, or Giller, and even then that can backfire. Five Rivers had quite a number of books shortlisted for various awards, the most prestigious of those being the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and that was for A Town Called Forget, by C.P. Hoff, which was longlisted. There were zero bump in sales, despite promoting the stuffing out of those accolades.

Virtual Launches and readings

And of course that brings us to a new and developing strategy: the virtual launch/reading. That seems to be gaining interest, and strikes me as a potentially good strategy to get your name out there for very little cost and effort. Basically the idea is to create a venue through any of the social gathering platforms such as ZoomGoogleMeet, and such. This is a strategy I am going to explore further in 2021.

Staying organized

I have found setting up a spreadsheet so I can track what promotion for what book of use, as well as keeping track of promotional venues. It can get as complex as a submission spreadsheet.

And that’s about the extent of my playbook. Hope there’s some information there that’s useful.

Issue 18 of Polar Borealis Available for Download

The latest issue of Polar Borealis, edited by SF Canada member R. Graeme Cameron, has just been published.

Discover fiction from SF Canada members Geoff Hart and Robert Dawson as well as poetry from Lisa Timpf and Melanie Marttila.

Both Polar Borealis and Polar Starlight are currently closed to poetry and fiction submissions, but are open for cover art. Check the website for more details on what Polar Borealis typically publishes.

Download Issue 18 for free. Visit polarborealis.ca to view back issues and find more information about this paying market.

Congratulations to the 2021 Aurora Award Nominees!

The 2020 Aurora Award

On May 9, 2021 the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced this year’s list of Aurora Award Nominees. These awards are given to Canadian authors and artists of science fiction and fantasy for eligible novels, short stories, artwork, magazines, and film or television from the previous calendar year.

Several SF Canada members are on this year’s list, including Robert J. Sawyer, Susan Forest, Barb Galler-Smith, R. Graeme Cameron, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, and Derek Newman-Stille. But the list of amazing and talented artists is much longer! So, head over to the full list of nominees on the 2021 ballot and refill your reading list for the summer.

Voting for the Aurora Awards opens July 31, 2021 and will close on September 4, 2021. Winners will be announced in an online ceremony on October 16, 2021.

Learn more about the Aurora Awards at prixaurorawards.ca.