Friday, 29 April 2016

The Universe Digs Me, Man

In the early nineties, when my mother was going through a particularly difficult time in her life, she became somewhat spiritual and turned to a lot of the self-help gurus of the day to get her through her days. Books about empowerment and motivation and blah blah blah were all over the house… stacks of self-help books sat in corners and in bathrooms. I couldn't get away from them. Then she started putting motivational quotes in my lunches. To a kid in his teens, my mother's new-found spirituality was a little unsettling. And super embarrassing.

One evening before going to bed she handed me a book titled THE LAW OF ATTRACTION. "Read this," she said. "It'll change your life." I looked at it and in typical fashion asked her to summarize it for me. "Basically," she said, "if you know what you want… what you really want, and if you continue to tell yourself it is going to come to you, then it will." I coughed "BULLSHIT" and went to bed.

Despite my response, it was the first time I had heard of the law and I think that night it was absorbed somewhere deep in my subconscious. THE LAW OF ATTRACTION… "like attracts like." In the book IN TUNE WITH THE INFINITE, Ralph Trine wrote "The law of attraction works universally on every plane of action, and we attract whatever we desire or expect. If we desire one thing and expect another, we become like houses divided against themselves, which are quickly brought to desolation. Determine resolutely to expect only what you desire, then you will attract what you wish for."

My intention with this is not to get new age-y with you… To give you THE SECRET or  pull a Tony Robbins on you and tell you this thing is rock solid, but there are FOUR instances in my life where the universe truly delivered exactly what I wanted, despite the insurmountable odds of these things happening. It was partly because I worked extremely hard for these things, but mostly it was because I said they were going to happen… over and over and over again.

In grade eleven a friend's parents purchased a little coffeeshop in Abbotsford called ROASTMASTIRS, with an "I" in "STIRS". Punny, right? Roastmastirs became our hangout for the next two years. I'd sit on the patio hour after hour drinking cold coffee, inhaling second-hand smoke, and ignoring school. I liked the concept of owning a little coffeeshop. I was working at Starbucks at the time and I hated it with a passion. I knew if I owned a little coffeeshop I would make it sooooo not Starbucks. "Yeah, one day I'm going to have my own coffeeshop," I told my friends.

I didn't say, "I think I'd like to have a coffeeshop," or "maybe one day…" I said, "I am going to…" and so my intention was put out there into the universe. Over the years, no matter what direction I was heading, no matter what career I was trying out, I always told people my end game was owning a little coffeeshop. And the years would pass… and that desire would continue to smolder in my subconscious as I moved into the next phase of my life. Early adulthood.

I had always been good at telling stories, or "lying" as my mother put it. In grade twelve I had a creative writing teacher who saw potential in my daunting prose. She inspired me to work on simplifying my text and to explore, in more detail, the craft of writing. That year I began a novel that was a semi-fictional take on my life growing up in the bible belt in the Fraser Valley. As I wrote it, I began telling people that I was going to get my book published. Not that I was "hoping to get my book published…" But that "I was GOING to get my book published." These were the days when millions of writers were fighting for double-digit openings in the publishing world. These were the days before self publishing and lackluster literature was so widely accepted. My friends told me to stop dreaming. My extended family told me it was next to impossible. When I finished my book, I sent it off to two-dozen publishers. After every publisher rejected my novel, I contemplated giving up writing, but then something funny happened. At a family Christmas party, I noticed one of my young cousins reading a children's book by Lemony Snicket. She said it was her third time reading it. If I wanted, I could borrow it. I read the book in three hours and knew then and there I had been writing for the wrong audience. That night I dreamed I was at the barrier wall of this castle-like home. The wall stood as high as the clouds. There were police officers all around me with their batons drawn. But something wasn't right about these cops. They were all hobbling. Then one of the officers caught his pant leg on the bumper of his squad car. When the pant leg rose up, I could see his leg was made of wood. I woke up with a story in my head. Six months later I had the manuscript for my first middle-grade children's novel, THE KING OF ARUGULA. I didn't have the same expectations with this one. I visited several classrooms of children aged 9 to 12, workshopping it with the very people I had written it for. When they were happy with it, I sent it out into the world. The sixth publisher I had sent it to accepted it. I knew I was going to get my book published… and I did. It may not have been the book I had been writing at the time I had made the decree, but because the universe was working for me, it directed me to where I needed to be. I spent two years with that book traveling the province reading it to kids and promoting it.

And it just so happened to come while I was on a new career path. My book came out just before I went back to school to learn about the world of publishing. I was given an assignment in class to build a magazine from the ground up. I focused on a magazine of playfully dark children's literature, like what I was writing. Though it was just an assignment, I quickly saw that there were thousands of amazing writers out there who had no outlet to share their work. As the assignment grew into an animal of its own, I began to tell my fellow students and my teachers that I was going to jump in and do it for real once school was over. They told me how hard it was going to be. They told me I would never last more than an issue or two. They told me to get real. It just so happened that when I left school, my parents were making more money than they had ever made in their lives. They helped me get the first issue off the ground. The universe was on my side again. I published fifteen more issues of CROW TOES QUARTERLY. The magazine was on magazine racks across Canada and had subscribers in more than twenty countries. I said I was going to do it… and I did. And despite the struggle to keep it going I loved every minute of it.

When the magazine folded in late 2010, I had to return to the real world and rebuild a social life that had collapsed alongside the magazine. Starbucks coaxed me back into their management program. All I had to do was sell them my soul. For four years I put my morals aside and I pushed the poison of the green siren. And I was making more money in management at Starbucks than my friends who were teachers. It was making me sad. And Angry. At that point I think the universe had had enough of my inner struggle. In the spring of 2014 I was at a family reunion in Oliver when my aunt mentioned a little café in Penticton I might like. She had heard me say for twenty years I was going to open up a little café of my own one day. I couldn't visit the café then, but when I got back to Vancouver I looked it up on the Internet and found out it was for sale. I had never been to Penticton and I had no chance in hell of securing a loan to purchase the café. But I knew the minute I saw it for sale, I was going own it. I was so sure of it, I went to my boss at Starbucks the very next day and gave her my notice. As luck would have it, my mother had just started working for one of the wealthiest men in Abbotsford. He was a good Christian man who had built a fortune in construction. At 80 years old, he now gave out personal loans and used the interest on the loans to fund initiatives in Africa. My mother got my foot in his door. For me, the catch was, I had to sit down with him for two hours and prove to him that I was worthy of his help. And what he said during our meeting still gives me chills. "The way you talk about this," he said, "It's like it has been inside of you forever. It's like every path you've taken, every decision you've made has lead you to that chair across from me. It's like as much as you want this, the universe wants it for you just as much."

Six weeks later I was living in Penticton, about to take over SAINT-GERMAIN CAFÉ GALLERY. There was always a pure energy behind the belief I would one day own a café. There was never any wavering on this belief. And I never put a time frame on it. I just knew it was going to happen. And that is the key to the LAW OF ATTRACTION that I want to leave with you. As soon as we put time limitations on our dreams, we put a sense of foreboding on what happens if we don't get there in that time. This negativity scares the universe off. I know the LAW OF ATTRACTION is real, because it brought me three exceptionally wonderful things that might not have come had I wavered on them in any way. I just lived my life and when the universe knew I was ready, it delivered. And it keeps delivering little things, like new loves and new passions.

Now I know, if you've been paying attention, you're probably saying to yourself, "he said the law of attraction brought him four things. He missed one." I'll let you know, the fourth is actually a work in progress. We'll talk again when I'm mayor of Penticton…

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

I Wrote a Story For a Three Year Old and I Got Schooled

I always believed stories for young children were the most basic, easiest stories to write… until I was challenged to write one. Having never written something for someone who is younger than seven, I approached the writing no differently than I'd approach writing my middle-grade novels.

My first draft was filled with wordy conversations between all the different species of animals in the book. It was filled with metaphors and subtle humour and messages about tolerance and acceptance. It was wonderful (in my opinion), but as I quickly learned, not even close to suitable for the age group I had set out to write it for.

It took a friend of mine, who was once an elementary-school teacher, to put my writing (and me) in its (and my) place. She took the hardcopy of my first draft and she took a big red pen, and for half an hour she hacked away five thousand of the seven thousand words I had written. She also hacked off a big chunk of my ego. What remained was SCUTTLED. To my astonishment, it was all there the first time around, but it was hidden underneath all that literary fat I so often rely on in my more mature novels.

SCUTTLED is not the greatest thing I've ever written, but for something I pieced together in a couple weeks after being challenged to write it, I'm pretty happy with the outcome. More than that, what the challenge showed me is that sometimes it's okay to get rid of the fat and show the muscles stretching… the bones moving. It's okay not to have some kind of 'clever' in every sentence. Simple and straightforward can be a good thing.

I will take the knowledge I gained writing a story for a three year old and I will incorporate it into my future writing for children (and adults)… and I think my writing will be better because of it.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Findings From My Literary Experiment

In July 2012 I set off on a literary adventure unlike any I had been on before. I began writing an online serial novel for teenagers. I knew the market was virtually nonexistent, but I felt it was a great way for me to flesh out a science-fiction story that had been boring its way through my brain for more than three years.

Every week I wrote a new chapter and sent it out into the world via a dedicated website where it was read and critiqued in real time (read more about THE BALTHAZAR EXPERIMENT experiment HERE). After I completed the story, I compiled the chapters and notes and suggestions, and I slipped everything into a folder on my desktop, where it all matured and evolved for more than a year.

When I returned to THE BALTHAZAR EXPERIMENT two months ago, I had never been more excited to get down to editing. I worked diligently to turn the story, which relied heavily on cliffhanger chapter endings (due to its serial nature) and uber-fast pacing, into a more complete novel. I worked on world building and character development. I honed a lot of the dialogue and improved a lot of the science. In the end, a compelling, thought-provoking, touching and thrilling YA science-fiction novel was in front of me.

And now it can be in front of you.

THE BALTHAZAR EXPERIMENT is currently available as an eBook. You can download it HERE.

Excerpt from
By Christopher Millin

Xavier liked living, if not in the darkness, then just on the edge of it. The past -- the time before "The Film" and HelperBots and curfews -- was considered a dark spot in human history and was one of the only things in life that interested him. He constantly thought about the past. He wondered about silly things like what people one hundred years ago thought the future might be like. Did they envision homes in the clouds and flying vehicles? Did they think people would vacation on the moon and aliens would be their next door neighbours? He wondered what these people would think if they had a time machine and suddenly found themselves in this future. His present. Sure, there are robots that look after kids and do the housework, and sure, cars hover a few feet off the ground. But space is still a mystery. Houses are still poorly built. Government money is still being divvied unfairly. "They" talk about the need to evolve, to better ourselves from our animal relatives, but "they" are still doling out trillions of dollars to advance warmongering technology and the technology needed to control the masses. Xavier had once heard a statistic about how much it cost to develop "The Film" and to fit every newborn child on the planet with it. In the first year, the cost exceeded four trillion dollars. In the years to follow, the cost rose significantly. In school, he was taught about the good behind "The Film" and the curfew and obedience. He tried to endure school, but the lesson plans focused way too much on the now…on rules and numbers and so-called requirements to move forward and advance as a human being. As a race. True history was a side lesson of bullet points and short paragraphs, focusing mostly on the time just before "The Film" was introduced and the time just after. It was against the law to skip out on school, but it wasn't against the law to mentally check out of school. And that's what Xavier did on a regular basis...

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Making Vikings Envious

Remember 1993? Nah, me neither. Except for... wait... I remember liking a song called CREEP by a band called Radiohead. I wonder whatever happened to them. I also remember I wanted to be anywhere but the place I was in at the time.

I was living in a place called Abbotsford, an hour and a bit east of Vancouver. My disdain/respect for Abbotsford can be more closely examined in my "fictional" tale NEW FATHERS (available as a free download from HERE HERE and especially HERE). I had a few cool friends in Abbotsford and I was just learning about just how much trouble I could get into before I actually got arrested. But I was bored. And I wasn't happy. At 17 I wanted so much more. Not the selfish more: more video games, more money to waste down at the mall, more...

I wanted more of the outside world I knew existed, but seemed so far away from me. Even at my young age I felt like I was stuck, because Abbotsford was a big ol' bubble I just couldn't pop. Or didn't know how to pop, until I saw an ad in a local paper for the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Without a second thought, I applied to be an exchange student. Then I said a few clever things in my interview. Then surprisingly, I was accepted.

Hah! Those foolish Rotarians!

Having never really travelled anywhere far, other than Disneyland, I had a long list of countries I wanted to go to that were as far away (in distance and culture) from Abbotsford as I could get. Africa and Germany and Japan were on this list. What I didn't know was I didn't even have a choice as to where I would be sent. The sister club of the Rotary club I had applied to was in Finland. Finland. All I knew about Finland at the time was that Jari Kurri (of the Edmonton Oilers during their dynasty years) had come from there.

In late July 1993 I boarded a plane en-route to a small city in Finland called Pori. I didn't know then just how life altering the journey would be. Though Pori was the same size as Abbotsford (population and size-wise), it was nothing like my Canadian home. The people were mysterious. The language was impossible. And everything was invigorating, because it was so new and different. I learned to drink coffee and appreciate world music in Pori. And though Finland has no mountains, I learned how to snowboard. I could swear like a trucker in Finnish, but kids my age wanted to improve their English so badly, they never gave me a fighting chance to learn their language. But that was okay. I came to love Pori and Finland. And when I returned home a year later all I could think about was going back.

As it is with so many of our intentions in life, life always seems to get in the way. In my case, life kept me from leaving Canada for five long years.

I returned to Finland while backpacking around Europe in 1999, but I was a poor traveller at the time, having spent my year's worth of money the three months prior to arriving. I couldn't do much more than sleep on the couch I was offered, eat cheap meals of bread and cheese and entertain myself with NHL 99 on the PlayStation. It was more hanging out than visiting.

So when 2013 rolled around I began to think about how cool it would be to return to Finland and celebrate 20 years since first arriving. The only problem was I still had no money (a running theme in my life). 1993 passed and so to did my lifetime of money woes. I didn't win the lottery or anything, I just learned how to manage what little money I did make. And in no time I had squirreled away enough money to go back to Finland and do it properly.

But why constrict myself by going only to Finland?

Being part Danish, I thought it would be fun to go to Denmark as well. As luck would have it, my girlfriend also has friends in Denmark, where we were welcomed to stay as long as we wanted. With so much lodging offered up, we decided to go all out and make it a Scandinavian adventure. Finally, after six months of planning, on May 5th, 2014, I boarded a plane to Copenhagen, Denmark. Over the next two weeks my girlfriend and I visited Copenhagen, LEGOLAND in Billund (Denmark), Helsingborg (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Helsinki, Turku and finally Pori (in Finland).

It was the trip of a lifetime. I mean, we spent a whole day in LEGOLAND. Does it get any better than that?

In Pori I walked all the same streets I had walked as a cocky foreigner all those years ago. I met up with old friends who now had families and careers, but had changed very little in all other ways. I fell in love with the city and its inhabitants all over again.

And despite the jokes about making it a tradition I return every twenty years, I know I'll be back much sooner. Just looking through the pictures, I kind of want to be back there right now...


Copenhagen, Denmark

The unfinished pedestrian bridge in Copenhagen, Denmark

A taste of Eurovision 2014. This was the French band Twin Twin. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Helsingør, Denmark
LEGOLAND front entrance. I was nine years old again.



Hoth in LEGOLAND. This was my favourite part of LEGOLAND. Of course!



Oslo, Norway

Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway

Vigelandsparken, Oslo, Norway

On the roof of the Opera House in Oslo, Norway.

Admiring unique architecture in Oslo, Norway.


Helsingborg Castle. Helsingborg, Sweden

Helsingborg in miniature. Helsingborg, Sweden

Helsingborg, Sweden

Rain won't stop me. Helsingborg, Sweden

Helsingborg, Sweden


A band shooting a video in Helsinki, Finland.

Flower Festival in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

The Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Our hostel (which is also an Olympic Stadium) in Helsinki, Finland.

Our hostel on an old cruise ship in Turku, Finland.

Turku, Finland

Turku, Finland

Turku, Finland

University students in Turku, Finland.

Annankatu 6, Pori, Finland. Where I used to act (and act out).

Everyone in Pori is in a band, or so it seems. Out for one of many gigs.

Pori, Finland

A day at the cabin in Pori, Finland.

Street art in Pori, Finland.

More art in Pori, Finland.

Pori, Finland

Sunday, 10 November 2013

It's Finally Time To Get The HOLE Story

It has been a long time coming, but THE KING OF ARUGULA (the first book in THE HOLE STORIES) is finally available as an eBook. You can now read the trilogy in its entirety on your digital reader.

Available at:
iTunes (iPad/iPod)

Available at:

Available at: