The most gratifying times as an author are when we’re able to make our work available to more readers. Every reader is truly appreciated. Still, I’m pretty picky about choosing the publication markets for my short stories.

I’m very pleased that AE—The Canadian Science Fiction Review has just published my short story “The Healing Touch”. It’s a love story, but with a twist, of course. AE uploads new content every Monday, and it’s always well worth a look. Especially since it’s free of charge! So I urge you to check out “The Healing Touch”.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, feel free to share it with your friends.


People always ask writers where we get our ideas. There must be as many answers to that question as there are writers. No—scratch that. There might be as many answers to that as there are stories. Because each story is different and comes to us in a slightly different way.

My story “No Walls” is the only one I can remember that sprang from one line. The first line of the story. Suddenly it was there, in my head: I almost died the first time I learned that I could walk through walls.

Along with that first line came the basic premise: the main character can sometimes, for some reason, walk through walls. Of course, some of the walls of a structure are exterior walls, and if you’re on the thirteenth floor of an office building, that’s not a good wall to walk through. So he almost dies, taken off guard by this sudden ability.

Neither a first line, nor a basic premise, do a story make. SF writers have to come up with a basic concept, then extrapolate for all its worth to make an actual story. As the narrator of the story says, “What would the average person do with a ‘gift’ like mine? Is it good for anything but larceny?” I guess that depends on what kind of person you are before getting the gift. It also could depend on who finds out about your gift and what ideas it gives them. Clearly, the dark direction I took with the premise must say something about me.

It also struck me that a man with the power to ignore barriers would actually be trapped by that ability. And hopefully you’ll see the many ways that occurs when you read the story.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Gerard Houarner of Space and Time Magazine because, although he rejected “No Walls”, he gave me his reasons for doing so. There will be a special place in Heaven for all editors who take the time to do that! He was right—I made some changes, and my very next submission, to Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, the story was bought. It became my first published story in Issue 18 of Neo-opsis in December of 2009. For that reason it holds a special place in my estimation. I hope you like it, too.


The title of this post is not mine—it’s the title of a workshop given by Canada’s most successful SF writer, Robert J. Sawyer. I was lucky enough to catch it at the “Social Science on the Final Frontier” conference at Laurentian University in Sudbury, but you can read a lot more of Rob’s advice on writing at his web site . It’s must-read material.

Before you do, you should know that Rob has said in a keynote address that the days of the SF novelist who can make a living at writing are numbered. He estimates there might be ten years left before the well dries up ( ).

If you’re still determined to soldier on, the most important point Rob makes about writing is that you must have something to say. The kind of plot that’s just one damn thing after another will not make your book stand out. You’ve got to have a strong theme that will get people talking about the book.

Before you do anything else on your manuscript, decide on your theme and then choose a character who’s opposed to it (like the astronaut Taylor in the original Planet of the Apes movie, who begins the movie sneering at the faults of humankind as he leaves it behind forever, only to end up in a courtroom defending the human race).

Rob points out that the number one reason people will buy a particular book is author recognition, but the number two reason is because someone else recommended it. So talk at the watercooler translates into sales. Don’t try to be blandly acceptable to everyone—make a point, and don’t be afraid to be controversial. That’s the only way to make something of lasting quality. And wouldn’t we all rather leave behind a body of work that will still be remembered by generations to come?