Friday, 28 January 2011

Coffee Musings and Identity Revealed

I wonder why my Second Cup cup has the words "Take care of you," with the "you" underlined, written on it. Is it trying to tell me that perhaps starting my day with a large coffee is not smart, therefore rendering itself obsolete? Nah. Is it trying to say it's poisoned and shouldn't be ingested? Well, so far so good. Does it believe I take my daily wisdom from a cheap, throw away piece of cardboard, as though nothing else in my life might prove more meaningful than a morning coffee? ... maybe.
Seriously?  More useful messaging would be "Sit your arse down and write, missy."  But maybe that has less wide appeal.  Go fig.
So I hesitated to reveal who my espresso machine benefactor was until I spoke to them.  It's good to confirm these things.  It was my Windsor BFF, Kat. I've rambled about her before.   When she was down over the holidays, I went on about my plans for the future, and apparently my eyes lit up when I expressed my desire to own an espresso machine (I plan good).  See?  I told only my closest friends of this dream.
For some reason that really stuck with her.  My shiny hopeful eyes haunted her (scary, I'm sure).  She surely suffered night terrors.  And then she received an e-mail from Best Buy telling her it was on sale.  I can see her shrugging as she described her reaction to me over the phone: "I saw it, and I thought what the heck, it's meant to be." 

I love my friends. 

Now, if I were you, I'd be wondering why the heck I was buying a coffee at Second Cup when I have a super duper fancy machine at home.  Good question.  I do my morning writing at Second Cup before work, and they frown at you bringing in your own coffee, apparently. Plus I bus it in to work, and the winters around here would ensure I'd arrive with coffee ice cubes, which seriously lacks appeal.

But on weekends, and for evening writing sprees, what marvelous coffee I'll enjoy!

Tonight, I'll be the Sacrificial Teller at Ottawa's new storytelling slam, Once Upon a Slam.  Between reading some H.P. Lovecraft and the new espresso machine, I haven't been sleeping all that much.  It may be reflected in tonight's slightly psychotic tale.  The guest teller, Brendan McLeod, is rumoured to be awesome, so if you don't have any evening plans, I hope you'll consider joining us!

Until then, hava cuppa java!  (Unless you're allergic, are prone to psychotic meltdowns or suffer from insomnia.  Then I suggest you have decaf, or some nice warm milk.  Let's keep an open mind, here.) 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Mystery Package

Friday evening, tired from a long but fun day, I stumbled home, threw a book on the stove (seems I always have one of those with me.  Books, not stoves), and continued stumbling all the way up the stairs to my bed.  Very exciting.

On Saturday evening things were shifted around in the kitchen, including said book, and Roomy remembered that I had received a package notice in the mail.  I didn't remember ordering anything, but maybe I had pre-ordered a book?  Perhaps?

Curiosity grabbed hold of me and I braved the -40 degrees temperatures on Sunday to get my package.  I was sure it was going to be a book.  It always is, really.  I like books.  Lots. 

I handed the slip to the lady at the postal counter of the pharmacy, and her eyes grew wide. "It's a big 'un," she said. "It's on the floor!  What is it?"

I had no clue.  I offered to help, but the package was surprisingly light (for being the size of a (very very) small house). 

"Seriously, what is it?"  She asked again, curious.  I confessed to having no clue.  I had a thousand theories in my mind.  None of them were good.  Had I ordered something while drunk?  It had been a while, so it'd have to be the slowest shipping in the world.  Had someone sent me a gag gift, and a big bébitte would come jumping at my face?  I hoped not.  Lovecraft has already destroyed my poor nerves enough.

And no return address, of course.  Instead of risking embarrassment and confusion, I ran back to my car and tore the box open, to find... something miraculous.  It was something I had wanted for a long time, but rarely spoke of.  A desire so deep I kept it huddled near my heart, to let it warm me during cold and dark times.  So secret, in fact, that only my closest friends were aware of the details, and of my plans for this once I had acquired one. Which I pondered every so often, but alas, still waited for the right time.

And it seemed that now the time had come.  But it was not of my doing.  And I had no idea whose doing it was.  Who was my benefactor?  Who would do such a wondrous thing for me?  And to do so anonymously... wow.

I ran back in and informed everyone in the pharmacy what I had received.  They were as amazed and as baffled as I.  Most of them probably now think I'm an online shopper suffering from shopping black-outs, but it's okay.  I don't mind.  Let them think what they will. For I now have a most coveted of items.

And what, you're probably asking, is this item?  It is marvelous.  It is stupendous. And it is freaking awesome.

It is.... an espresso machine!  THIS espresso machine, to be exact:
I'm so cute you know you love me.
It was everything I wanted.  It even had the "Pppsshhhttt" thing I so coveted (known otherwise as a steam wand).  I was thrilled.  I was ecstatic.  I was deeply suspicious.

Who would randomly send such a joyous machine to me without alerting me of its incoming-ness?  Who doles out Heaven without a whisper of claim? 

Seriously, who?  I called my brother.  It wasn't likely, but I couldn't think of anyone else. 

He answered the phone.  I ambushed him:  "Did you send me an espresso machine?"

No pause, used to random ambushes: "No, I'm sorry to say that I'm not that nice." 

And I disagree - he IS that nice.  And I did get an hyphen in his daughter's name, so really, that's all the honour I'll ever need (have I mentioned lately how CUTE my niece and nephew are?  Well there you go.  They are.)  But he and his wife were busy juggling their newborn and toddler (very dangerous, I keep saying), and I thought it unlikely that they would worry about my caffeine consumption at this particular juncture in their lives. 

I hung up, perplexed.  I pondered and pondered the question: Who???  I thought and thought about it, not daring to approach anyone else, while Roomy randomly claimed she had purchased it and therefore I should clean the entire house for weeks in gratitude, and I ignored her, knowing there was NO WAY she would try to caffeinate me so much since she was stuck living with me, and yet... no answers. Notta. No clue who had done this, who had so clearly known my heart's deepest desire (my heart is not that deep, apparently).

Then I assembled the machine, cleaned it, tested it, drank cappuccinos (some not so great), bought some new coffee beans, grounded lots of 'em, watched YouTube videos on how to make a perfect latte, all the while pondering and pondering some more.

And then...  came the message.  From one of my BFFs.  It simply said: "Something to help you write."

I wrote back with wit and charm:  "Wha?"

Her answer: "You'll see."

And I was stunned.  That a friend, for no reason and out of the blue, had given me such a grand gift... stunned.  I shed a tear, remembering how great my friends all were, and how they've all managed to surprise me of late with their love, their generosity, their ability to support and cheer on and live life with zest.  Oh ya, I was touched.

I've gone on about how great 2011 has been, so far.  It's really been wonderful.  I have been so touched and surprised by everyone and everything around me that it's hard to put into words (and I'm a writer/storyteller!  I have lots of words, in TWO languages!). 

But I do understand this: it's a great year, but so was 2010, and so was the year before, and the one before that, simply because of the fact that the people I love so very much have been a part of my life for years, and every year gets better, espresso machine or not. (It has a Pppsshhhttt!!!  Ahem.)

Sniff.  Wasn't that just grand?  I'll drink a cappuccino/espresso/latte to that! 

Friday, 21 January 2011

Aurora Awards

The Aurora Awards are Canadian and fan voted, and made of win.  Nominations are now open, and any Canadian can nominate a work of science-fiction or fantasy, by going here.  You have to become a member of the CSFFA, but it's quick, free and painless.

This year, I would be honoured if you'd consider nominating:

In the long-form works category:  
Destiny's Blood
Published by Dragon Moon Press.  To help you make an informed decision, my publisher has made the work available online for free.   Pretty awesome, eh?  (Sorceress of Shadows is also eligible, but I'd prefer not splitting my votes.  As Destiny's Blood is a stand-alone, and not the final book in a trilogy, I feel my chances are best stacked there.) 

In the short stories category:
A Pint to Prophecy
Included in the Podthology anthology.  This story is available as a free podcast, for your listening pleasure. 

These are the works I hope you'll consider, but there are many other fine works by great Canadian authors.  I encourage you to check out the full list.

Nominations are open until April 30, 2011.  I hope you'll give my pieces a chance and review them, and any support is, as always, appreciated!

Closures (but not really)

I've been going on about prep work for our show, Chasing Boudicca (including many tick illustrations), and last night was showtime.  I don't think I managed to sleep enough to put coherent thoughts together, as my thoughts need to percolate (or at least be caffeinated), but I woke up with all of these wondrous moments and impressions still wrapped around me like a comfy blanket.

The bogging heat of the spotlights.  Becoming acquainted with the stage.  Spotting family and friends in the packed room.  The sound of someone crying.  The flute lamenting the loss of lives and of innocence.  The drum murmuring of heart beats.  The way Kate gracefully slid off her stool.  The lights reflected in Ruthanne's red hair.  The dimming of those lights when I told the saddest parts.  My heart racing during the final battle.    Fearing my voice would crack with emotion during the last scene.  The silence of the room.  The standing ovation.

It's all fractured in my head, along with the bits of stories and song that still cling to my mind like a fine web, unwilling to let go of my subconscious just yet.  Thanks to everyone who came.  Chasing Boudicca was an experiment in weaving poems and stories, with three voices and a musician, and we're ecstatic that it was so well received.  We're hoping to tour it, so please pass any invitations along! 

I must also apologize.  I left you all dangling (I'm sure you were) on what my niece's name turned out to be.  It's not actually Something Something Bilodeau, or Something Quequ'chose Bilodeau (weird, I know).  She has a very cute name.  It's Ada-Marie Marguerite Bilodeau.

When the tired but happy parents told me her name, I was so stunned I don't even think I reacted.  You know the spinny disk that appears on Mac computers when they're processing?  My head tends to do that when something very strange occurs.  And it did then.  As my sister-in-law said: "you get a hyphen!"  And what greater honour!  (And she's adorable, of course.)

It's another name steeped in family history.  Ada Bruce Torrance was a wonderful artist who studied with the Group of Seven, and Marguerite is my sister-in-law's mother's middle name.  Pretty awesome, eh?

So now the curtain call is over and I'll be focusing my energies back on my writing. Yesterday, I sold a short story to a yet to be announced extremely cool anthology, which is a nice way to re-spark the full-blown writing process.  Daily targets will be significantly increased and I intend to become well acquainted with the solitude of my writing room over the next few weeks.  I'll pop my head out now and again, but if you need my attention, please send me an e-mail, or send singing telegrams.  I've always wanted to receive a singing telegram. Who am I kidding - I've always wanted to deliver singing telegrams!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sacking Britain Tonight!

After months of research, story creation and rehearsals, the day is finally here!  Tonight is the premiere of Chasing Boudicca at the National Art Centre's Fourth Stage!  I say premiere since we're hoping to tour this one a bit.  We'll see what we pull off!

I loved preparing for this show.  It was even worth getting a tick.    The show was built on what little we know of Boudicca's story, based mostly on archaeological records, and on a cycle of poems by Kathryn Hunt, which gave the show its name.  When she was a wee-ish Kate, she spent some time in England with her family, hunting the sites were literary events occurred.  Having read a book on Boudicca, they went hunting for the valley of her final battle.  Kate she wrote marvellous poems of herself chasing Boudicca, as an angry thirteen year-old and as an adult.  There will be a chap book of the poems for sale tonight, and it's worth purchasing.  I still choke up every time I read The Road West.

Kate and I actually met thanks to a common love of Boudicca and the good thinking of fellow Kymera Sean Zio.  He heard her cycle, he heard me tell a story of Boudicca, and he made sure we met.  Smart man.

Ruthanne Edward and I will tell the story of Boudicca in between poems.  We start with the rebellion of 47AD and the birth of her daughters, and take it all the way to the end of Boudicca.  And then we give her another ending.  Because we just don't know what actually happened.

The show was built to play off our storytelling strengths, as well.  Ruthanne can do epic (actually, Epic, with a capital E) like nobody's business, and I get to throw in some humour and character development, which I love doing.  We'll be telling two pieces in tandem, as well, which is not something I've seen many tellers do.  And there will be a bodhran player (celtic war drum).  How awesome is that?

After a radio interview and a full rehearsal last night (with limited amounts of giggling), and an early morning radio interview this morning, plus months of prep work, I'm even more impressed than ever with Ruthanne and Kate's dedication, creativity and skills.  Seeing these two in action reminds me again and again why I love performing, why I love story creation, and why I also love doing it in a team.

Once the figurative curtains have set tonight, I'm sure we'll start talking about our next plans, and what the Kymeras will do after this.  And I can't wait to see where it'll all lead!

See you tonight!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

2011 Rocks!

I can safely make that statement because early this morning, my niece, Something Something Bilodeau, was born.  As one of my friends pointed out, she'll probably live to see the 22nd century, and that's just awesome!  I hope she has the curiosity of her father and the willpower of her mother, the intelligence of both and the fashion sense of her mother.  Or her auntie.  But not of her father.  Please no!
Because I simply can't bear to show you my brother's fashion sense, I shall delight you all with a picture of a sleeping kitten, dreaming of horses.  Canadian horses, that is.

Papa and maman are happy, and everyone is healthy.  I get the fun of bringing my nephew to meet his sister today, and I can't wait to see what he'll think of her.  I was babysitting him last night (foolish parents), and I told him that his mom and dad had gone to the black market to buy a little sister.  I tried to get him to say black market, but he frowned and said: "No!"  Kid's pretty smart.  I'm surprised his parents even let him near me.  I did, after all, accidentally teach him to say "die!" when he was one-year old.  Made for, um, interesting encounters as he looked at random people and tried out his new word.

Jessy - the mom who looks kick-ass after xx hours of labour.  And the bundle I assume is Something Something Bilodeau.  Or a strangely shaped watermelon.

So tonight I'll know Something Something's name.  Her brother's name is George Henri. It's a name steeped in the histories of both families.  My great-grandfather was named Georges Henri, and my sister-in-law's father is named George.  So they made the name bilingual and off they went!  Come to think of it, Something Something isn't very bilingual.  It should be Something Queque-chose Bilodeau.  Now that's a name!

I can't wait to meet her, and to see what she'll make of this wonderful gift of life! 

Friday, 7 January 2011

Sojourn - Back at Last!

In 1998, Roomy's cousin, Christopher T. Gerow (no, the "T" doesn't stand for Tiberius), released a comic book entitled Sojourn.  It was an enjoyable journey and I was disappointed to see it end.  So I was ecstatic to hear it was being re-released on the Internet, as well as the potential for more, um, stuff?  I dunno.  Guess we'll find out! 

It's a dark urban fantasy tale and I'll say no more.   I'll let you discover it as I did!  The new blog was launched today, featuring the first few pages of the comic book, and more pages are promised for each Friday.  Now's a good time to start reading it.  Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Plans for 2011

Last year was fun.  Sorceress of Shadows was published in March, concluding the Heirs of a Broken Land series.  I've missed those characters ever since.  Then Destiny's Blood was published in August and has been making the rounds since.  I told at loads of new venues and learned new stories, and met so many wonderful people I can barely keep track.

I hit Ad-Astra, Can-Con and Con*Cept, and loved all of these cons for different reasons.  They're definitely all on my "to attend" list for this year!  And I also attended Words in the Wilderness, Sudbury's first literary festival, and it's an event that shouldn't be overlooked in 2011!

Looking back is cool, but looking ahead is much more fun.  This year has loads in store already.  Dragon Moon Press has requested two more books in the Destiny's Blood world, which I'm happy to provide.  Destiny's War is due out in August 2011.  I'm only taking out one novel this year, to be realistic (for something different), but I've already sold one short story to a wicked anthology (details forthcoming), and I hope to sell a few more as well.

And the Heirs of a Broken Land series is coming out in second edition from Edge Science-Fiction and Fantasy next year, so there will be a whole new set of edits to go through.  I'm looking forward to it!

The storytelling is promising, with a kick-off at the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage on January 20. We'll see how many more gigs I pick up!

I'll be attending many a-con, beginning with GAnime in February.  It'll be my first anime con, so that should be fun!  I wrote my favouritest bio ever for it, in fact.

I'm definitely keeping Ad-Astra, Can-Con and Con*Cept on my list.  I'm looking at hitting one western con this year (at least), depending on time and money, and I may be dropping by at a few other cons here and there.   I love cons.  I don't feel that I attended nearly enough in 2010.  I hope to remedy that in 2011.If you have any con suggestions, please throw them (gently) my way!

And the most exciting promise of 2011 is the imminent birth of my first niece, Something Something Bilodeau (I assume they'll actually name her something better than something something).  I already have a very cute little nephew, and I can't wait to meet my niece, too!  Friends and family make the world go round.

I hope you all have many wonderful things to look forward to in 2011, and I hope to see you around the circuit!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Wondrous Holidays - Something Other Than Ponies

It struck me that you may think my Roomy is only about ponies.  Not that I'm overly concerned about three-dimensionality on my blog, but I wanted to ensure, at the cusp of this fresh new shiny year, that you knew she was more than just a collector.

Oh no, she's so very much more.  She's also a baker.

You heard me.  A baker.  She makes fresh breads, cakes, treats and cookies that my tabby loves to steal.  That gives her two dimensions, anyway, and I think that's plenty.

She received a super duper cool camera for Christmas from her mom, and it takes super duper cool pics. 
Fluffy tabby pic on new camera.  Makes him looks fluffier.  Possibly because he's just stolen cookies.

But wait, there's still some wonder beyond the ponies!  It was one of our BFF's birthdays two days ago, and Roomy made cupcake snowmen in celebration!  And so, to begin 2011, I delight you with a tale of sugar.
OMG!  I'm tipping!!!
Fear the Cupcake Army.
Cupcake Snowman wishing he was far, far away, amongst the stars.  I ate him.
Evil cupcake snowman.
Evil cupcake snowman comes equipped with tail!
Angry snowman lost his nose.  His is a difficult, anger-filled life.
Shocked snowman with blue nose.  Other snowman looks away innocently.  I believe he had something to do with the strangely-coloured sniffer.
Five snowmen.  Why?  Maybe because Roomy's uncle is part of Five Man Electrical Band.  Or maybe because all of our BFFs together makes for five of us. Or maybe she enjoyed the symmetry.  We'll never know.  Unless we ask.  But we won't.  We enjoy the mystery.
Really happy content cupcake snowgirl.  Possibly because she's the only girl in an army of handsome snowmen.  Best not to think of it.
 And Roomy's coup de grâce:
Snowman cupcake Matt Smith Doctor Who with a fez.
But all good things must come to an end, just like 2010 did.
The horror!
I loved 2010.  I met loads of great people and the good times outweighed the bad times.  I had fun and adventures galore, and I'm sure 2011 will build on that fun.  It's going to be a year of change - I've already sealed that act, but it's going to be good change.  I hope that when you all look back at 2010 you can remember the good alongside the bad, and that you can still muster the hope that 2011 will be a kick-ass year, not because some stars aligned or ancient prophecies are fulfilled, but rather because you do what you need to do to make it happen.

Like eating cupcakes and cookies.

Mmmmm fez...