where the writers are
From 100% on a Short Story to Parade Captain!

This last weekend I had a highlight in my writing career: I was a parade captain in the Gull Lake Centennial parade. Gull Lake, SK, Canada is here:

It's the town where I graduated from high school in 1985 (I attended Tompkins school from K-9) and learned that heavy metal is the greatest music that ever existed (my older brothers had already started those lessons). The organizers  were kind enough to invite me to participate in the parade. At first I thought my high school friends were just playing a trick on my super-sized ego, but it turned out to be really real! This is how cool I looked in 1985 when I graduated:

 

Yeah, weren't the 80's great? I miss the smell of perms.   I couldn't decide what to wear. I mean do you go all casual for a parade or do you wear your old high school football jacket? Anyway, I did make it to the parade lineup in time. There were many old friends there and many old cars and many old friends in old cars. There were also mounties: Oh, you're a writer. Is it still legal to shoot writers? There were soldiers there, too, of course. After all you need all the security you can get when clowns and writers infiltrate your town. This is a buddy of mine, Gord Kozroski, who was in the army for ten years. And still fits into his uniform. He is a real captain (retired). See--people who listen to Iron Maiden can do something with their lives! And here I am in the parade: Oh, wait. That's a clown. How can you tell the difference between a writer and a clown? The clown has the nicer vehicle. Here I am with the two other parade captains: Man, was waving ever tiring! And looking at the disappointed faces of all the children was tiring, too--they thought we might have candy in our car. We didn't. But we did have lots of incredibly funny jokes. My two fellow captains had so many jokes that I nearly broke my face laughing (it is possible). Oh, here's another clown: Or that might be a writer, actually. I can't tell because the vehicle is an old one. And, of course, here are more shots of the parade: It was a 45 minute parade. Absolutely amazing. I did see my Algebra teacher on the parade route and shouted out to him, "Thanks for passing me!" I must say Algebra was very touch and go there on that last exam. But luckily I guessed right on the multiple choice questions. Otherwise I'd still be in high school. Later I did the traditional selling and signing books thing: And I posed for a photo with MLA Wayne Elhard! I also got to thank my english teacher, Mr. Leek, for passing me way back when. And I meant to thank him for teaching The Cruel Sea, which influenced my novel Megiddo's Shadow.  Two of Mr. Leek's students posing with him. Susan forgot that we're supposed to age with time. Mr. Leek gave me 100% on a short story in Grade Eleven and it was one of those encouraging moments in life where I paused and thought, "Hey, I should do this as a living." What was the story about? Oh, a happy little tale about someone who died and went to hell. Hmmm. Guess I was a little twisted back then. I also have fond memories of Miss Wenner teaching Fahrenheit 451 in grade ten. A science fiction novel in school! That nearly blew my 15 year old mind. She also gave me 89% on a poem once. What was it about? Oh, it was about the Antichrist coming to earth alongside the four horsemen. Happy stuff, eh? The rest of the day unfolded perfectly and ended with a beef on a bun dinner. Mmmmm. I would show you a picture of that, but I ate it too fast. So I'll end with another picture of a clown: Happy parading through life everyone, Art