Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Publication Date for Napier's Bones

While I have yet to see it on CZP's website, publisher Brett Alexander Savory has announced on Facebook the Spring 2011 lineup for their books, and I'm surprised and pleased to note that I've been pushed from an initial suggested date of May to March 15. Says Brett, in talking about some of the newer authors they'll be publishing (to go along with a whole slate of returning authors):

But this doesn’t mean that CZP is shy on new authors, according to Savory. “Next spring’s line-up is quite diverse, both in terms of the authors and the books themselves. Whether it’s the mathematical-alchemy-driven Napier’s Bones (by Derryl Murphy), the ultra-hardboiled crime fiction Every Shallow Cut (by multiple-award-winning author Tom Piccirilli), or the dark fantasy The Isles of the Forsaken (by Carolyn Ives Gilman), we are still pushing the envelope when it comes to diversifying our list and the authors as well.”

He also notes:

As with all CZP titles, hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and eBooks will be released at the same time. Pre-ordering for the March hardcovers will begin in October.

Hear that? Napier's Bones will be available for pre-order next month! The countdown has started.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Napier's Bones - The Cover

Here it is, folks, the cover art for my novel, Napier's Bones. It's designed by Erik Mohr, who I suspect is largely responsible for the singular and snappy, sharp look of all of ChiZine Publications' titles. I'm pleased, I am; it's nice to have something that will not only stand out from the crowd, but that doesn't easily fit into any of these categories.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Canada Post Sets a New Standard

I really do wish I was one of the lucky ones, able to write full time. Perhaps some day, more than likely after the boys are gone from the house and we don't have that extra financial load to carry (one that we do so happily, mind). In the meantime, seeing how I stupidly chose not to finish university, the work I can do inevitably is of the commercial or grunt variety. For the past 6 years I've been with Canada Post, and for over 2 years since we arrived in Saskatoon I've been a full time letter carrier.

There are good things about the job: in that time, I've lost 40 pounds; I get to spend several hours a day outside, walking and sometimes chatting with people or visiting with "my" dogs and cats on the route; and I know that I don't have to work evenings or weekends, which means I'm able to do a whole lot more with my boys than I would if I worked selling cameras (to name but one job I have had).

This isn't the place to get into everything that's gone wrong with Canada Post in my short career there, but suffice it to say that I once said it was the best wage-slave job I'd ever had, and I no longer believe that. Perhaps another day I can grouse about other things, but today I'd like to turn my attention to a letter that arrived in my mailbox the other day, a letter from Canada Post.

The front of the letter (it's really a card that opens up, with something on the back and on the inside) has my name and address and says "INSIDE: Important Information about Canada Post's Social Media Policy." On the back, accompanied by various logos we've all come to know, for Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and more, are the words "Do you use Social Media? Here's what you need to know."

This caught my attention, even though the card came as Addressed Admail, which is the junk mail Canadians get that still has their name and address on it. Usually I toss this sort of thing, but I was intrigued. Curious about what nonsense I would now be privy to.

On the inside of the card there is some info about logging into Canada Post's Intrapost, but that's not relevant. Instead, allow me to reproduce everything else here. On the first fold it reads:

Why do we need a Social Media Policy?

Canada Post wants employees to join in the conversations Canadians have about us online.

Before you engage in those conversations, there are some things you should know and that's why we have created a Social Media Policy with 10 helpful guidelines. The policy strikes a good balance: say what you think while respecting your colleagues, our customers and the company.

Online comments can protect our brand - but using social media improperly can undermine everyone's hard work. That's why serious violations of the policy could trigger sanctions, including dismissal. It's important for every employee to follow the guidelines.

If you post or comment online, please express your views responsibly.

[and then, inside the fold]

Our Social Media Policy

The guidelines contained within the Social Media Policy spell out employees' responsibilities when using social media for professional purposes (including participation in discussion groups such as Life@work) and when participating in social media for personal use. They are consistent with best practices used across the Internet and reflect Canada Post's values.

1. Be responsible. You are personally responsible for the content you publish online through social media, and can be held liable for any commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary, or libelous. Be aware that the content you publish is visible to the entire world and will remain public for a very long time. Protect your privacy.

2. Follow the rules. Be aware of, and respect, the rules of participation governing the discussion groups and social networks within which you choose to participate. Remember that laws and company policies that apply in the "real" world also apply online.

3. Be transparent. If you post material or discuss topics related to your work or to Canada Post, identify your relationship to Canada Post. Even if you take part in an anonymous discussion or use a nickname, disclose your connection to the topic at hand. Never pretend to be someone you are not.

4. Take ownership. Clearly state that you are not speaking on behalf of Canada Post, unless you are expressly authorized to do so. Consider using a disclaimer such as: "This is my personal opinion, and does not necessarily represent the views of Canada Post." (Although good practice, this does not exempt you from being held accountable for what you write.)

5. Respect your audience and colleagues. Don't engage in any conduct or use any language that would not be acceptable in the workplace. Protect the privacy of others and respect their opinions.

6. Add value. When you express yourself in social media on issues related to, or about Canada Post, you contribute to the public perception of the Canada Post brand. Write about what you know, from your own perspective. Include links to relevant canadapost.ca pages or, in the case of internal posts, Intrapost pages.

7. Protect the brand. If you identify yourself as a Canada Post employee in an online social network, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients.

8. Be accurate. If you publish information about Canada Post, ensure the information is accurate and the source is clearly indicated. Be the first to correct your own mistakes, and do not alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.

9. Do not reveal secrets. Do not disclose confidential or proprietary information about the company, its clients, stakeholders, or suppliers. Respect copyrights and ask permission before you cite a colleague, client, stakeholder or supplier. If you are not sure whether some information is OK to publish, ask your manager/team leader.

10. Do not forget your day job. You are encouraged to use social media during your leisure time. Make sure your online activities do not interfere with your job or commitments to customers. Check with your manager/team leader if you are not sure about the appropriateness of publishing during work hours.

Got all that? Good. Now, let me break some of it down.

1 through 5 are all, for the most part, eye-wateringly obvious. Those of us who have floated around online for many years already know a) how to behave and b) what happens to people who are caught out. Where CPC falls apart, though, is in combining the stern parental voice that uses words such as "never" and "liable" and the even more stern voice that admonishes you to always make sure people know where you work and to make sure your readers know you don't speak for them (upon which they are quick to tell you that you could get into trouble even though you've clearly stated you don't speak for them. IANAL doesn't cut it here).

To break it down even further, this desperate need to hold your hand betrays the elementary school mentality I've been noticing at work for some years now. We know better than you, you should listen to us, we can't trust you to make any sensible decisions on your own. Also, we've noticed that some of you have gone off the reservation and we need to get you back, quick, before anybody else notices.

The last sentence of 5 was of special meaning and humour to me. A couple of weeks ago I needed to get in touch with a term employee that I was hoping to coerce into house and dog sitting when my family and I are in the Maritimes. Because I didn't have her phone number, I approached my direct supervisor and asked if she could contact this girl and give her my number, so that she could decide whether or not she wanted to call me. I did this because I know if I were in her situation (young gal, single, quiet) I would want to be able to control the access certain people had to me. Especially people from work. It's a privacy issue. But my supervisor didn't understand this, and just gave me the girl's home and mobile numbers. What that tells me is that either CPC has no official privacy policy as it relates to employees, or else this supervisor did not know of it or did not care about it. Either way, it was an appalling lapse in privacy control, and even safety. What if I was some creepy stalker looking to get back at someone who had spurned my advances?

6 and 7 are quite problematic. It's not my job to add value or protect the brand. I know. I checked the contract. It turns out (and here's a surprise) I'm supposed to deliver the mail. The fact that I do so with a smile on my face, in spite of the BS in the depot, the arthritis in my knees, and the insane quantity of junkmail each day (sorry, unaddressed admail is the preferred parlance) is testament to how important it is to me to represent my job in a positive light when I'm working. But that stops the minute I get home. I don't actively walk around bad-mouthing the idiots who don't know how to run things, at least not every minute of the day. But if someone thinks that I should be all sweetness and light about a corporation whose response to me being physically bullied and intimidated by a supervisor who is larger than me was to transfer him to another depot - with word that he may be transferred back by the end of the month - then they have obviously picked the wrong universe in which to live. My private life is my own life, and strangely enough I'm guaranteed to right to speak my mind. If I choose to bicker about some aspect of work, so be it. If someone at head office has a problem with that, I recommend paying attention and looking for a way to fix things.

8? Of course I'll be accurate. Thanks, Mom.

9 begs the question, What sort of secrets are we talking about? Obviously not private phone numbers. Hell, maybe I could post contact info for all of our management team here online. A precedent has pretty much been set. Canada Post info? It's a crown corporation, which means that, even though it is run like a corporation, there is still a government minister responsible, and therefore there are limits on what it can keep private. Wikipedia, for instance, has a fairly good overview of numbers, none of which can be considered proprietary. As for clients, well, it's none of my business and shouldn't be yours either. I deliver what I'm paid to deliver, and I don't snoop, nor do I let others know what's going in their neighbour's box. But on the flip side, if I were asked to deliver something that was remarkably offensive, I'd likely bring it to management, and when that inevitably didn't work, I'd take it further.

As for 10, well, let me spell out my day for you. I arrive and start sorting at 8:15, and usually no later than 10am I'm out the door (later as Christmas approaches). And then I walk and deliver. I don't take breaks. When I'm done, I go back to the depot, clean up for the next day, then go home. But let me tell you, if life were easier, if they hadn't pushed my start time from 7:45 to 8:15 because they couldn't for the life of them figure out how to get the priority mail to us in time, well then, I'd be living the easy life and would have all the time in the world to post updates to Facebook or my blog.

The problem there, though, is every one of them would be bitching about work. So maybe there's a method to their madness after all. In the meantime, I intend to lead my private life in the fashion I see fit. I won't do anything stupid like discuss doing violence to a member of management (yes, someone I work with once did that. The idiot), but yes, I'll bitch and moan all I want. And if I happen to follow some of those rules, it won't be because Big Brother told me to do so, it'll be because I already know how best to behave online. I'm not the one who's just suddenly stumbled into this strange thing the kids are doing on that great series of tubes.

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