New Biz

I’ve started a new graphic arts business. My first shop opens today on Society6. It feels weird starting a commercial art business after the last three years devoted to learning fine art. But why not do both? So I took six weeks off to make some wild images specifically for phones and laptops.

Check it out here: Society6/gcmcrae/designs

Happy Progress

Well, I know I’ve been talking about this senryu book for some time. It has seen some serious work over the years. But at last, I can confidently say it’s done. I went back to it after my post here last summer, added quite a few more poems and pictures and spent a lot of brain time on the arrangement of them. As it goes off to my editor this week, it now stands at 100 poems and twenty drawings.

For somebody that has been writing verse for over fifty years, it strikes me as bizarre that a) this is my first book of poetry and b) that I chose the most concentrated form of wordplay I could find for it. I was never known for verbosity but this is ridiculous. Seventeen syllables is not a lot of real estate in which to build a structure worth visiting by guests. To do it 100 times takes a certain kind of crazy. And yet, here we are.

My little illustrated book of poems will be out this spring.

A bit of an update

It’s spring-getting-on-summer – one of the busiest times of year for anyone on a farm. Critters are being born and have to be cared for (and played with), the ground has to be prepared for planting. And this being another plague year, we can finally visit our friends and sit outside without masks on. Tough to do when it’s 30 below and you’re snowed in.

Of course, this is when my website has to go kaflooee – just when time is precious. So here’s a new one (as you can see). In style, I’ve gone even simpler than the last iteration. Hope it passes inspection.

Yeah, yeah, I haven’t published anything recently. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at work on new stuff.

My senryu book is finally finished. I delayed it all this time for one simple reason: I knew I could make it better. A couple of new drawings and half a dozen new poems later, it’s done. Stay tuned for a publication date.

In other news, I’m still chugging away writing new fairy tales, though I haven’t forgotten about getting more Kana out into the world. Lots of good stories in the works, anyway.

And, as you can see above, my art education continues apace. Illustrating my own fairy tales doesn’t seem such a far off prospect anymore.


My senryu book is evolving into something pretty cool. I started out the year doing my work the traditional way, that is, on paper with a crow quill pen and a bottle of black ink. I completed two 11×17″ drawings this way and thought I was on a roll. But when I got to the third, I had such trouble drawing exactly what I wanted, I spent six frustrating weeks trying and trying again. Ugh. I eventually put my pen and ink aside and began to do the piece digitally. And boom, I was done it in a week. I’ve posted a tease of the offending piece above.

The way things are going, my little senryu book should be done and out in the world before spring 2021. I’m dying to get back to my fairy tales. I have four new ones and still sitting in the wings, the new Kana. As soon as these illustrations are complete, and I’m back to writing full time, I plan to embark on illustration tests in the style of the best fairy tale illustrators. Once I’m confident in the style, I’ll start work on my original Seven Tales and publish illustrated versions of each story.

There should be about twenty senryu images like this when I’m done. It takes me between two and six days to draw one of these things. That’s about four or five hours of drawing every day. I love doing it. It’s difficult and satisfying in a very different way than writing. Plus, I get to finish a project in a few days instead of a few months.

A Quick Update

Fans of Kana and the Red Pilot will be happy to know I’ve finished writing the sequel – and it’s a doozy.  More freaky aliens. More hilarity. The title for the book is Kana and the Skyjacker. In a few short words, the book is about Kana and Davis finding one of those little mini-spaceships and getting to tear around the countryside in it.

Now that the second Kana book is done, I have turned my attention back to fairy tales. I have three that I’m currently polishing for a new collection. Two of them are old ones that I’ve spiffed up and one is brand new. My plan is to write four more over the next year so that I end up with Seven More Tales.

I’m also plugging away at illustrating my little senryu book. (You can see an early version of one of the images above.) I have three large pictures done so far, with one left to do. Then I’ll be doing several small ones to scatter throughout the book. Once that’s done, I’ll be turning my hand to illustrating a picture book. Lots of work for the new year!



Free Pizza

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

It has been a very long road completing this book. It was my first novel. Like it was yesterday, I remember leaving the post office after sending it off to a publisher for the first time, my whole body wracked with emotion. My baby was leaving and going off into the world alone! This heavily rewritten version of that book is for that guy, all those years ago, on his lunch hour, returning to work to blubber over his peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I’m sure glad I never gave up this little novel!

Free Pizza is out now!

Barnes and Noble

New Book!

The proof of my new young adult book arrived in the mail yesterday. As you can see, it is called Free Pizza and it comes out in May this year. After Seven Tales, it was tough to leave the world of castles and kings. It was tougher thinking I had to top that book, since everybody seemed to like it. So, whatever it took to make Free Pizza good, I was willing to do – even if it meant ripping and tearing and rebuilding and polishing the thing to within an inch of its little life. My editor, Marg Gilks, thinks Free Pizza might be the best thing I’ve written. Truth be told, I spent so many years working on it, I can hardly believe the book is done and you all will soon get to read it. My vulnerable little literary munchkin is about to take the stage!

Finally, a Trailer for Seven Tales

It took me long enough. But I finally have a trailer for Seven Tales!

Art work:
– Junges Maedchen by Alexei Alexeivich Harlamoff
– Self-portrait in a Straw Hat by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun
– Visit to the Witch by Edward Frederick Brewtnall
– The Prodigal Son by Gely Korzhev
– The Giant by N.C. Wyeth
– A Girl Reading by Johann Georg Meyer

– Ophelia by Fausto Bottai

Happy news

Well, things are progressing nicely. My editor is now working on the new book (you can see a tease of the cover above). I’ll be announcing the new title pretty soon, so stay tuned.

Also, I’m happy to announce that I am now hard at work on the second Kana book. I can tell you, if you liked Kana and the Red Pilot, you will love this one. It contains the most exciting scene I have ever written in a kids book. The kind of scene that makes you want to run to a closet with a flashlight so you can finish it without anyone interrupting you. All I have to do is make the rest of the book as awesome as this and I’ll be away at the races.

Looking forward to Read-In Week 2018 and getting to share with you all!

Polar Bear book

As most writers know, a book is not finished until it is out of your hands and being printed in quantity. But I just reached a big milestone this morning when I put down my pen (well, took my hands off my keyboard) and contacted my editor to say the new book is ready for her critical eye. The title isn’t a hundred percent fixed yet, so for now, let’s call it the Polar Bear book. Here’s a little history of this thing.

I began writing it around 1982. Yup, you read that right. The gist of this tale is thirty-six years old. It started as a boy’s adventure story and was blatantly autobiographical. At that time it was called, The Boys of Summer, after Dylan Thomas’s famous poem.

     I see the boys of summer in their ruin
     Lay the gold tithings barren

The main action took place in the neighborhood where I grew up, around the Westmount area in Edmonton and toward the North Saskatchewan River, down Groat Road. Though I only had experience writing short stories at the time, I poured my heart and soul into it and began sending it out to publishers two years later. The book was huge in scope and when each publisher returned it, it seemed to prove my ambition was greater than my skill as a writer.

Over the years, I worked at it on and off, sometimes for months on end, often just trying to get a handle on trimming the story while retaining its core elements. Between 1984 and 2000, I couldn’t tell you how many drafts I did. But I have all of the work done in the past 20 years. There were versions done in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2014. It also underwent various title changes, among them, Jam Side Up, In Their Ruin, Stuff Happens and the oddest of all, Goober, Booger and the Unreal.

Then in June, 2016 something happened. I had acquired a new skill that let me play with the story in ways I’d never dreamed of. That skill was, put simply, not caring what it took to make the book a thing of quality. For the first time, I was willing to ditch characters and events for the greater good. And that skill really showed itself in November, 2017 when, after 15 months of hard work, I threw out nearly a third of the book. I had already been telling kids what the book was about. And here, I was ejecting everything I’d told them. Ugh. It was a hard decision. But the book is ten times better for it.

Cutting that big chunk left me room to move. Less plot let me spread out and concentrate my efforts on what was important – the characters. The original story was pure autobiography, pure nostalgia, was in the third person and the setting was the 1960s. The new book took place now – with video games, the web and cell phones and we had a first person narrator.

I wanted the book to come out in the fall of 2018. But I think spring, 2019 is now more realistic. With this book, I will have accomplished the second of my life’s literary dream projects (the first one was Seven Tales). And what’s funny is, I can easily turn that chunk of ejected material into a full-blown novel of its own. But we’ll see. Right now, I am jubilant over finishing this book.

Teachers always encourage me to tell their students how many drafts it takes to write a novel. As it stands for the Polar Bear book, in the last two years, I did around 15 drafts. Prior to that, it would be tough to guess, but I would imagine it was in the many dozens – thirty or forty does not seem an unreasonable number. And that’s not counting the endless amount of time I spent trying to picture a structure, a frame, where this story could unfold.

What’s funny for me, in choosing to do whatever it took to make an awesome book, I quickly abandoned any ties to my own life, to autobiography. In doing so, I ended up putting more of myself into it than ever before. I can’t wait for this book to be out in the world. And I can’t wait for you to read it.

So what’s this book about? First and foremost, it is a story of two dumb kids. Our adopted narrator, Brian McSpadden, has just found out he is going to meet his birth mother for the first time. His pal, Danny Cheevers has a huge accident involving his neighbor’s property and ends up having to pay for his mistake. The story is also about the boys’ annoying younger siblings and both sets of parents. Woven into the tale is some serious Canadian history, some mega-happy events and a whole bunch of hilarity. I can’t say I’ve ever read a book like it. But I can tell you, if you liked the loony tone of Kana and the Red Pilot, you’ll love this. And if you like a story that leaves you curled on the couch, trying to read through a stream of happy tears, well, this is your baby.