Brexit Madness

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After an inexplicable defeat today in the House of Commons, where she was seeking more time to do she-knew-not-what, British Prime Minister Teresa May recalled Neville Chamberlain to service as her lead negotiator on Brexit. Deceased these 79 years, Chamberlain was considered by Mrs May as her last hope to avoid a disastrous No Deal Brexit. He was immediately dispatched to Brussels for negotiations with the EU, whose position has been firm and clear for weeks. Mr Chamberlain was photographed on his return, brandishing a piece of paper. It may have been his resignation.



New Year Update

pl - screenshot, skorean aladin website

This screenshot is from Aladin, an e-commerce retailer in South Korea. No, it is not announcing a Korean edition of Poplar Lake, just promoting the original North American one, which retails to residents of Seoul for just 27,050 won — but wait! (it says) Act now, and receive an 18% discount!…

Plus ça change, when it comes to marketing. In all seriousness, I was surprised to experience on a personal level the global reach of digital commerce. I know virtual distribution in the ROK won’t move many (if any) books. Publisher NON relies on more traditional distribution methods and markets and an actual physical presence in bookstores. Poplar Lake is in the Chapters/Indigo chain in Canada, for example, although not in every outlet. It’s difficult to get shelf space for the books of small presses and little-known authors. All you need, people tell me helpfully, is an endorsement from Oprah. Alas, that hasn’t yet happened, and until it does you’ll have to ask your bookseller to order Poplar Lake in if it’s not in stock. On the Not-Quite-Oprah front, we are anticipating a fresh newspaper review shortly — I will post a link to it when it emerges. Until then, every mention of Poplar Lake anywhere helps spread the word. You can help by rating, reviewing or commenting on the book on Amazon, Goodreads, other book-oriented sites, Facebook, Twitter, other social media, or your own blog. Most importantly, tell your friends, your relatives, your neighbours, your colleagues, your book-club pals, what you think of it.

I have not posted here for ages because I’m busy writing again. I’m in the throes of revising a story I wrote more than a decade ago. It’s an historical tale set in the Pacific northwest in the late eighteenth century, when European mariners first came into contact with the indigenous inhabitants of what is now British Columbia.  Until 2018 I had not looked at the manuscript for several years (my agent was circulating it, unsuccessfully, while I was working on what became A Person of Letters and Poplar Lake), and when I took it up again I decided to take a completely different approach. I’ve reframed the story, changed the perspective, chosen a different narrative voice, rethought the characters. It’s a complete rewrite. I’ll have more to say on the project in a future post.


About Poplar Lake:  Publisher NON calls the novel “a darkly satiric novel about families and relationships and the day-to-day lies that sustain them, a tragicomedy rich with yearning, heartbreak, and love.”  Terry Fallis, two-time winner of Canada’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, has said of it, “In Poplar Lake, Ron Thompson has written a captivating story, rich with humour and heart. I didn’t want it to end.”  See Poplar Lake’s publisher page here.

Ontario’s climate change plan – A Response

For those of you who live in Ontario: the Government has a consultation underway right now about its climate change plan. If you’re surprised to hear that, so was I. The process closes on November 16. You can provide input to it by clicking here. Given that the current government cancelled the previous government’s climate change programs (fair game, a new broom sweeps clean) it’s asking for input – also fair game, though it’s not fair game that the process is hurried, largely unpublicized, and completely anonymous. In the age of trolls and bots, that anonymity is surprising. I’m firmly of the view that if people had to identify themselves, and could not hide behind handles and avatars, they would be more civil and honest in the comments they make; and that the results would be less manipulable and more representative of actual citizen opinion.

In that spirit – my submission follows in entirety (and I encourage you to make your own!):

First of all I want the government to base its approach on science and the scientific method. State unequivocally that the climate change we are observing is the result of human activity. You need to eliminate climate change denial as a defense to do nothing.

Second, do not be ideological in policy formulation. Every reputable economist, including the latest Nobel laureate, says that pricing carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions. I am a common sense person and I know this to be true. Price signals work. Your own “Areas of Focus” stipulates the goal of “unlocking the power of the private sector to finance and drive innovative climate solutions.” Set a price on carbon, and let the power of the private sector solve the problem. Stop changing the approach mid-stream for petty political purposes. It signals that you are not serious about the issue and do not believe there is a problem; it confuses those who should be working on solutions.

Unfortunately your Government is fighting the federal government’s plan to tax carbon and rebate the proceeds to the people. The reasons seem purely political. They are not based in sound theory. Ontario will have to use sub-optimal methods to curb emissions. But as you claim to want to take action (in a ‘made-in-Ontario’ way), go sector by sector, find the biggest sources of emissions, and target them. Give emitters clear targets to achieve, and ensure they make them, without exception.

Third, while we need to plan mitigation measures, because climate change is now inevitable, it is far cheaper to reduce carbon emissions now to avoid more damage than to respond ineffectively to the damage later. The insurance sector is very clear on this. The future costs of climate change will dwarf the cost of solutions we implement now. So please, don’t make this consultation another empty process for political purposes. DO SOMETHING that will reduce emissions, and stop wasting valuable time.

As Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz wrote in the Globe & Mail recently (see…/article-denying-solution…/), denying solutions that work is a form of climate change denial. Do not reject any solution out of hand without determining its cost/benefit and efficacy.

Fourth, if Ontario is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem. The only way we can address the challenge of climate change is to act in a concerted manner with other jurisdictions in Canada, and around the world. We cannot go it alone. If Ontario is going to rely on its own ‘made-in-Ontario’ approach, it has it work. It must reduce emissions. It must meet our international obligations. And we must hold other jurisdictions, in Canada and elsewhere, to THEIR obligations.

Finally, I object to the fact that this consultation is anonymous. I attest that this is my only submission; but how on earth can you rely on the feedback you get if no one who comments is accountable? How representative is the feedback you get? How can you follow up to confirm anything?

The Roll-Out Country-Wide

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It’s been interesting for me to watch the roll-out of Poplar Lake across the country since its release. Take Indigo. In Week 1, copies were available in a few Indigo/Chapters outlets in Toronto and Ottawa. In Week 2 it reached Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal. In Week 3, it’s also in Regina and Edmonton. Volumes are tight, and it’s always hard to get display space, but I’m pleased to see coast to coast distribution thanks to the efforts of the Literary Press Group and Canadian Manga, NON’s distributors.  Poplar Lake has already been added to library collections in several cities—spot it above at a branch in Toronto.

Last week the ebook version became available on Amazon, Indigo, and Barnes & Noble.

Publisher NON calls Poplar Lake “a darkly satiric novel about families and relationships and the day-to-day lies that sustain them, a tragicomedy rich with yearning, heartbreak, and love.”  Terry Fallis, two-time winner of Canada’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, has said of it, “In Poplar Lake, Ron Thompson has written a captivating story, rich with humour and heart. I didn’t want it to end.”

See Poplar Lake’s publisher page here.

Photos from the Poplar Lake Launch Party

PL Launch mosaic

Here are some photos from the fantastic Poplar Lake launch party this past Wednesday at the Pilot in Toronto. Was very pleased to have a full house and bask in the energy of so many wonderful friends. Thanks again to everyone who came for your enthusiasm and support, and especially to John Macmillan, for masterly performing as host and MC, and to Jacquie Maund and Kaitlin Thompson, for superbly welcoming and hosting guests as they arrived and over the course of the evening.

Thanks also to Michelle and the fine team at the Stealth Lounge, and to the blues duo of Robert Davis and Fraser Melvin who played the crowd home. Thank you to everyone who sent me photos – what you see here is the product of many cameras. And thanks to Chris Needham and Now or Never (NON) Publishing, for their generous support for the launch and their continuing hard work.

Poplar Lake is available in book stores (ask for it if it’s not on-shelf) and online from Amazon and Indigo. See it’s publisher page here.  Terry Fallis, two-time winner of Canada’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, has said of it, “In Poplar Lake, Ron Thompson has written a captivating story, rich with humour and heart. I didn’t want it to end.”

Now that Poplar Lake is out, it’s fingers crossed for reviews and reader reaction. I’ll post here and on my Facebook Author Page as I receive news and feedback. Do please review it yourself on Goodreads, Amazon, your own blog, or in graffiti on the subway.

Once again – thank you all for your support. I am humbled by it.


Poplar Lake Launch Postscript

Launch - countdownWednesday night was the Launch Party for Poplar Lake. Here’s me looking nervous before everybody arrived. There was a great turnout (+100) and it was great fun, MC’d by my good friend, that inimitable Joycean, John Macmillan. Thank you to everyone who came out to help me celebrate, and to those who sent well-wishes. I very much appreciate your support and kindness in welcoming Poplar Lake into the world.

I’ve been very busy since the launch so bear with me. I will post photos and an update in the coming days.

Poplar Lake was released officially on October 15. It’s available in bookstores like McNally Robinson in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, Fanfare in Stratford, Coles in Yorkton, Book City (Bloor West) and Another Story in Toronto, and various national Chapters/Indigo outlets. My publisher NON and its distributor are working hard on visibility. If it’s not in your store, please ask when it’s arriving. The book is also available on-line in paper and e-format, on Amazon (.ca and .com), and Indigo.

Launch Party to Feature the Blues!


I’m happy to announce that blues artists Robert Davis and Fraser Melvin will perform at the Poplar Lake launch party on Wednesday, October 17 at the Pilot Tavern in Toronto. Robert and Fraser are fixtures in the city’s blues scene.  They’ve recently collaborated on Robert’s Cuban Blues CD which is slated for release in November.

Robert and Fraser are fantastic musicians and I’m honoured they’ve agreed to grace the evening.  If you would like to attend, you are most welcome. The space is filling so reserve a spot – message me on my Facebook Author Page with your email and I will send you a direct Evite.

Event details as follows: 

The Stealth Lounge, 2nd Floor, The Pilot TavernPoplar Lake - NON 2018 edition
22 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5

  • Drinks and Mingle to the Blues 7:00 pm
  • Welcoming Comments 8:15-ish
  • The Robert Davis Fraser Melvin Duo will perform a special set after the formal welcome
  • Cash bar and food service will be available all evening.
  • Copies of Poplar Lake will be available for purchase ($21 with GST; cash or cheque only please).

Poplar Lake is a stand-alone prequel to my 2015 novel, A Person of Letters.  Terry Fallis, two-time winner of Canada’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, has said of it, “In Poplar Lake, Ron Thompson has written a captivating story, rich with humour and heart. I didn’t want it to end.”