Backward Glass — some rad student art

I’ve already posted about what a great time I had visiting two schools a few days ago, Earl Grey Senior Public School and Cosburn Middle School.  I was made to feel very welcome by two excellent teacher-librarians, and an amazing number of eager and intelligent students.

Because I was already clogging that post with pictures,  I didn’t even mention one of the most delightful parts of my visit, which was the student artwork that I was greeted with on my arrivals at both schools.

An Earl Grey student had recreated the cover of Backward Glass in pastels, and at the end, wanted a picture of me with her work.  Here it is.

Artwork inspired by the haunting Backward Glass cover.

Artwork inspired by the haunting Backward Glass cover.

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Some guy holding an awesome recreation of the cover of Backward Glass.


















Then at Cosburn, I was greeted by the cover again, this time rendered in chalk on double doors, and again on paper.  So a big shout-out to the talent on display at Earl Grey and Cosburn.  Thanks again for having me as a guest.

Backward Glass in chalk.

Backward Glass in chalk.

A Cosburn student's poster based on the cover of Backward Glass.

A Cosburn student’s poster based on the cover of Backward Glass.

Backward Glass: Totally Free Teacher materials

I’ll be completely up-front about this:  I want to drive sales of my first novel, Backward Glass, a time-travel adventure that’s ostensibly for the young adult market, but which I really tried to write as an enduring classic for all ages — humble, aren’t I?  But, seriously, this novel was my attempt to write the ultimate all-ages time-travel thriller.  It’s had a starred review on Kirkus (“intricate, lusciously creepy paranormal mystery”), some very nice notes from Booklist (“This debut novel will leave readers eager for more”) and Publishers Weekly (“debut novelist Lomax handles the plot’s complexities with skill”), and a boat-load of raves on Goodreads (where, as I type, it has a rating of 4.26).

So people like it.  Now I want you all to buy it.  If you’re a teacher (for around grades seven to ten) looking for a book with a male protagonist (but also a strong female deuteragonist), I want you to buy it for your whole class.  Or for just a few students in a book club.  With that last idea in mind, my wife and I (who are both teachers ourselves) have collaborated on creating some materials for teachers who would like to study Backward Glass with their students.

All of this stuff is free, free, free.  And adaptable.  I’m giving it in PDF for easy printing, and in .doc format in case you want to make changes.  If you come up with anything of your own that you would like to share, I’ll add it in here (with appropriate credit for you, naturally).

Description PDF Word
List of characters. There is a filled-out version for teachers. If you want that, email me at Character List Character List
A list of some specialized terminology invented by the time-travellers in the novel. Again, there’s a version for teachers available by email. Backward Glass Terminology Backward Glass Terminology
A scavenger hunt of Canadian references in the text. Again, teacher’s version by email. Backward Glass Scavenger Hunt Backward Glass Scavenger Hunt
A big, giant activity package. Differentiated instruction. All kinds of mandatory and optional activities. No teacher’s version, but there are two handy-dandy rubrics for assessment. Backward Glass Activity Package Backward Glass Activity Package
Backward Glass book club questions. These are probably more for free-choice book clubs, perhaps for librarians to make available. Backward Glass – Book Club Questions Backward Glass – Book Club Questions

School visits, y’all!

I had a fantastic day today.  Exams are on at Lester B Pearson Collegiate Institute where my wife and I teach, and our principal very generously gave us permission to spend the day off-campus so that we could respond to invitations from Earl Grey Senior Public School and Cosburn Middle School to talk about Backward Glass.  When I told teacher-librarians Alice Te and Kate Tuff that I could make it, I had no idea just how much fun the whole thing would be.

Cool coincidence:  the awesome Emma Barnes, daughter of my erstwhile colleague the awesome Michael Barnes goes to Earl Grey where I visited today.  Ridiculous coincidence?  She won a book.  Why ridiculous?  She already got one at the launch.

Cool coincidence: the awesome Emma Barnes, daughter of my erstwhile colleague the awesome Michael Barnes goes to Earl Grey where I visited today. Ridiculous coincidence? She won a book.

davidlomax and alice te

Me with Alice Te, hero teacher-librarian at Earl Grey Senior Public School

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Me with crackingly awesome teacher-librarian Kate Tuff of Cosburn Middle School.

In short:  amazingly awesome fun.

Ms. Te and Ms. Tuff had prepared their brilliant students really well:  students knew who I was, had heard the prologue of the novel, and in each case, they had even created artwork based on the book’s cover — at Earl Grey we saw a poster, and at Coburn, another poster and even double doors chalk-decorated with the book’s iconic “mirror-and-creepy-hands.”

I can’t express how enjoyable it was to be in a school in a different role.  After more than twenty years of teaching in the high school, I’m pretty used to my place in the classroom.  Being a guest (especially one who gets treated so well!) at someone else’s school is a fantastic.  Students asked great questions, participated enthusiastically in a game we had designed, and were generally charming, brilliant and kind of heartbreaking.  (When one student at Cosburn was so forlorn at not winning the extra copy Ms. Tuff had bought for me to give away, I had to relent and give her my own copy.  Once again, I’m out of Backward Glasses.

Some guy doing some presentation at Earl Grey Senior Public School.

Some guy doing some presentation at Earl Grey Senior Public School.

But I’m ecstatic.  Thanks, you brilliant students at Cosburn and Earl Grey.  You made my day.

Some odd man presenting to students at Cosburn Middle School.  (Actually me...)

Some odd man presenting to students at Cosburn Middle School. (Actually me…)

Ford Nation still supports crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

… but in this case, it’s just a man named Ford Nation

A man who legally changed his name to Ford Nation announced today that he still believes “one thousand percent” in Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, who has recently admitted to smoking crack cocaine, as pictured in a video the existence of which was confirmed this week by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.

“The important thing is that he’s cutting taxes,” said Nation. “I don’t care what he does in his personal life. That’s not the issue.”

When reminded that until Ford’s admission today, he, like Ford, had completely rejected the idea that the mayor uses illegal drugs, Ford Nation said that nobody has been listening carefully enough to the mayor. “He said he doesn’t use illegal drugs. That’s present progressive tense. Doesn’t anybody understand that? Present progressive is used for actions from the past that are continuing through the present until the future. All he did was smoke crack on that one occasion. That’s all.”

When reporters pressed Nation, reminding him that last week he said that, even if a video existed, there was no evidence that the substance being smoked was crack, Nation was again scornful. “There’s still no evidence that it’s crack. We only know it’s crack because the most honest man in the world now says it was crack.”

Anticipating further questions, Ford Nation, added, “And if we’re talking about honesty, you’re probably going to bring up this whole why did he say there was no video thing. How could he know? Now that he’s admitted he was drinking at the time, you can’t blame him for not knowing that some jerk was making a video after slipping crack into the mayor’s crack pipe. And does Chief Blair arrest the guy who made the video? No. Blair isn’t interested in going after the real criminals. He’s just interested in going after the mayor.”

Reminded that the mayor hasn’t been charged with anything, and that it’s his associate Sandro Lisi who has been charged with extortion. Mr. Nation said, “And that’s the point. Blair has to resign. Lisi is clearly a stand-up guy. He makes several trips a week with clothes to the dry cleaner, keeps from getting job so he can make deliveries for friends, and tries to get stuff for the mayor. He’s a helpful, honest guy. And if anything is proved against him, there’s no proof the mayor even knows him. I know, I know, you’re going to bring up the thing about them meeting in secret at night and urinating out in public together. Well, so what? The mayor’s a real guy. He keeps it real. There’s probably a whole lot of guys he hangs around at night urinating with. Hell, I’d urinate with him if I had the chance.”

Asked to stop taking so much about his desire to urinate in company with the mayor, Mr. Nation pouted, and mumbled something about how “a guy’s gotta have a dream. Anyhow, I have to go. I’ve got to catch up on my commenting on Toronto Sun articles. Can’t let the lefties think they’re going to get away with anything.”

Nation ended the interview soon after, calling again for Chief Blair’s resignation and for Mayor Rob Ford to be nominated to the national position of “First Super-Awesome Tax Cutter and Gravy-Train Ender.” When informed that the budget of the City of Toronto has increased under Mayor Ford, Mr. Nation stuck his fingers in his ears, hummed a “busy whistle” tune and looked at the ceiling until reporters looked at each other uncomfortably, shrugged and left.

Book launch, y’all

I am flabbergasted.  It was exactly what I had dreamed of.

We had the launch for Backward Glass today at Chapters929 (AKA the Kennedy Commons Chapters) and my store liaison, Christie (who blogs awesomely at told me afterward that it was their second-best book signing ever.  I’ve got a long way to go to catch up to Robert Munsch…

It was fantastic, you gize!  I saw people I haven’t seen in more than fifteen years, plus met a whole lot of new bookworms.  There were about sixty or seventy people there for the reading, and more than two hundred in total for the whole event.

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My Origin Story

Over at io9, Ria Misra offered a great open-channel discussion prompt today:  Tell us your own origin story.  I love this.  I love origin stories themselves, and I love fictionalizing about my own.

Origin stories are fun. They are, of course, all about the myth of nurture, the idea that we become who we are because of signal experiences in our early lives that shape our future selves. Sometimes those “self-myths” are comforting to us, especially because they convince us that we’re not like everyone else, that we took the road less traveled, that those things that happened to us were important — that we have free will.

Super-hero origin stories most strongly rely on the Nietzschean idea of great trauma that tempers the noble soul:  “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”  (Apparently, this was the one area in which old Friedrich was an optimist; the pessimist’s response is, “Everything kills you, Freddy old boy.  Some things just take a little longer than others.”)  But in any case, we are drawn in an origin story to see that when our parents or our uncle or our planet get killed, if we are strong, we can grow up, put tights on, and beat up people who disagree with us.

When regular folks make up origin stories, it’s not usually about such vicious trauma, but it’s still about great big experiences that, in our own personal narratives, have made us who we are today.  The day we first visited the museum.  The first time we took apart a watch.  The idiot who said, “Girls can’t do that,” or “are you sure law school is for people like you?”

These stories are all about simplifying the confusing mess that is a life, and about denying the idea that, even without this or that magnified symbolic event, we might well have ended up here anyway.  Another museum might have worked as well — or even a coffee-table book.  If we hadn’t taken apart that watch, maybe we would have had a go at the dryer.  And let’s face it — hateful attitudes probably abounded in the life of someone who chose to resist them and do something positive.

That said — of course I have one of those myths. I like to tell my students that I was bitten by a radioactive book when I was young (though perhaps for modern audiences, I should claim it was a genetically modified book — but, no, radioactive is the best metaphor, a book that glowed in the darkness of my childhood). I say that the one power it gave me was the ability to recommend the right books for people. Tell me the last two books you enjoyed, and I’ll tell you the next one you’ll love.

What I don’t often say is what the radioactive book was — mostly because it’s not one I would now recommend. I was eight years old when I found Tarzan of the Apes at our local bookstore. It was a cheap hardcover edition, Grosset & Dunlap with Tarzan heaving a huge rock at an onrushing gorilla. My sister and I begged my dad to buy it for us and read it to us after we were finished with King Solomon’s Mines.

With my suspicion of the mythical nature of origin stories, I guess I should acknowledge that if it hadn’t been Tarzan, it would have been something else — but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like my whole childhood was shaped by Edgar Rice Burroughs. By twelve I had read every one of his books (some twice) — with the exception of a couple of hard-to-get ones. They weren’t always available at my local bookstore, so my dad would special-order them from one downtown near his work. I remember the days I would wait, dancing on thumbtacks until he got home — only to be disappointed because the store had been closed by the time he got to it or the order hadn’t come in. Then I discovered Bakka Books, Toronto’s longest-running spec-fic bookstore, replete with a well-stocked used section.

That was a revelation that led me both to the last three Burroughs books and to scads and scads more. More than thirty years after I first stepped in that store, my heart still quickens when I think of my trips downtown at thirteen and onwards and of the books I found, those thick red bags Bakka used back then that I took away, full of Bradbury, Le Guin, Wolfe and Asimov.

How could this not be my origin story? What else could have filled my veins with this insane, glow-in-the-dark poison that brought me here today?

I got interviewed

So this was fun. I got interviewed by Christine who runs The Bookish Daydreamer and by Jess from The Reading Nook Reviews. Their questions really got me thinking. I hope my answers did them justice. Here’s the first link. The second will probably be out tomorrow. I also did a guest post for both sites.

Opening night jitters

So the official release date for my debut novel Backward Glass is tomorrow.  Which is odd, since it’s been out in ebook for a solid week, and actually on shelves in a lot of stores for close to a month, but, you know, whatevs.

Thing is, I’m nervous, y’all.  People talk about publishing a book as being like giving birth, but since I’ve only ever experienced that major life event from the outside, I can’t say.

To me, it’s like sending your kid off to school for the first time.  You’ve prepared him as best you can, dressed him up to be his best, and filled him with all the words you think he needs to take on the world.  But is it enough?  Will anybody like him?  Will he make friends?  Does he have good marketing?  Is he being put on the right display tables?  Are people gonna tweet about him?

Okay, some of those don’t apply to the kid.  But still.  I mean my name?  It’s alphabetically pretty close to Lowry.  I hope The Giver isn’t a bully.

But what’s going to happen next?  The starred review in Kirkus was awesome, as were the nice notes from Publishers Weekly and Booklist (no link yet on that one).  And the reviews from book bloggers who got ARCs have been a highlight of my last few months.  (Okay, bragging done now.)

I don’t have much more point to this.  I just wanted to share that I have some jitters.  If you were someone who wanted to help me sleep tonight, maybe you’d want to tweet to a friend (or a friend who has a teenager — or a friend who is a teenager) that they should get to a bookstore tomorrow and get a copy of Backward Glass.  Or to an online bookstore right now.

Just saying.

I’ll be off in the corner biting my nails.


Book launch coming up!

I’m getting very excited about the launch of my novel Backward Glass, but to be honest, I’m also a little apprehensive.  I have some excellent reviews (starred from Kirkus, very positive from Publishers Weekly, and a tweet that the Booklist reviewer loved it, though no actual review as yet…) and yet at the same time, I worry that I’m about to place a tiny drip into a vast ocean.  People who have read the book have liked it — I just really want to make sure a lot of people read it.

So, David, how can I help?

I’m so glad you asked.  My friend Christopher Barzak (who gave a really generous blurb for Backward Glass) did this great post on his blog back in March when his (highly recommended) collection Before and Afterlives was about to come out, suggesting some things that friendly folks could do to help him make a splash.  I thought it was a great idea, and so I thought I’d try the same sort of thing.  Here is a list of things you could do if you’d like to help out.

  1. Buy the book.  Read it.  If you like it, review or rate it somewhere.  Goodreads is awesome.  Online book retailers are fantastic.
  2. Buy the book as a gift for someone who might like it.  Reviewers so far have made some very generous comparisons to The Time Traveler’s Wife, Back to the Future, The Wonder Years, Doctor Who and Stand by Me.  You pretty much have to know people who liked at least one of those, right?  If you know someone who doesn’t like any of those, maybe buy them a season of Doctor Who and The Time Traveler’s Wife as well as Backward Glass.  Because that would just be the right thing to do.
  3. Suggest the book to some parents of teenagers.  Backward Glass is supposedly pitched at a teenage audience, but to be honest, what I tried to do with that books is create a classic, the kind of thing you can read at any age.  Most kids probably shouldn’t read it younger than twelve.
  4. Buy it as a gift for your kid’s teacher.  Or librarian.
  5. Suggest it to your local public library.  If you’re within fifty miles of me, tell them you can get me there for the nominal fee of nothing at all.
  6. Suggest it to your kids’ school librarian.  You might want to mention the Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly Reviews.  It’s harder for me to do school visits, but I can try — especially for elementary schools when my high school students are writing exams.  If they’re too far away, I Skype.  Again, nominal fee of not a single penny.
  7. Ask for it at your local bookstore.
  8. Read it in public places, arranging your body language so as to be very approachable to strangers who might wonder what you’re reading.  Laugh or look concerned — while reading, not at the strangers.
  9. Tweet or Facebook pictures of yourself reading the book.
  10. Repost or Tweet this.  Share or Retweet some of my other Backward Glass related stuff.  Your friends and followers are no doubt people of taste and discernment.
  11. Come to the launch if you’re local.  It’s at the Kennedy Commons Chapters, October 19th from 1:00-4:00 pm.  I’ll read a little bit at the start, so feel free to miss that if it’s not your thing.  From 1:30 pm onwards, I’ll just be sitting at a table signing books and talking to folks.  I’d sure appreciate it if you can come by.  I’ve always had the dread of throwing a party that nobody comes to, so I’m really hoping for a crowd that day.
  12. Go to my author Facebook page (\DavidLomax100) and like it.  Share some stuff there with those discerning and tasteful friends of yours.
  13. Are you a former student of mine?  Get some of my other former students on board.  Tag them in posts:  “Hey, remember old Mr. Lomax from back in [insert unbelievably distant date here]?  He’s got a book coming out.  Let’s go to the launch and have a mini-reunion of the class of [unbelievably ancient date] at the Starbucks at Kennedy Commons on October 19th, somewhere between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, at which point we can all buy his book and see how old he looks.”
  14. Are you a former colleague of mine?  Same as above, but without the “old” bit.  Because teachers never age, right?
  15. Are you my enemy?  Come on by, because, hey, maybe nobody else will show up, and you can have a bwah-ha-ha moment.  (This, by the way, is my wife’s greatest fear.)
  16. Do you know influential people?  Influence them.  To do some of the items on this list.
  17. Are you a time traveler?  If yes, please drop me a note to tell me how the launch went.

Giveaway on Goodreads

Hey, all!  A few days ago I got some copies of my debut novel, Backward Glass, so I’d like to give them away.  Here’s a link to my Goodreads giveaway.  It lasts for six more days, and I’m ready to mail as far away as the Philippines and Malaysia.  And I’ll sign them.