Friday, 28 September 2012

Looming Deadline

Oh, but how it looms. I suffer from awesomnia now (which is insomnia stimulated by too much awesome). 

This blog is going on hiatus until the third book in the Destiny series is safely in the hands of Dragon Moon Press' awesome Managing and Acquisitions Editor, Gabrielle Harbowy.  So I'll be back in about a week and  half.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the new members of our household! (I blame Roomy)

The fluffy one on the left is Smudge, the other one Pumpkin (nickname: Pie)
Pantoufle is already okay with the kittens.  Pumpkin thinks Pamplo is his mom and he keeps trying to suckle him, so he's still on the fence. Mind you, he did give Pumpkin a big bath this morning, which is not a very good case against being a mom-boy.
See you all soon!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Last weekend was Can-Con, which is my local literary con.  I have to admit that Can-Con is always one of my favourite cons.  It's nearby, which is nice, since I can go home to my own bed. But it's also one of my favourites because it's intimate and I get to chat with lots of people each time.

This year, Can-Con's organizing committee did an even more fabulous job than before - getting better and better!  Hats off to the con-com.  You guys are rocking it more each year!

I had lots of fun on programming.  My weekend started with a "So this is your first time at a con" panel. We were short on panelists due to busyness/ sick children, so Dr. Dave stepped in and added his stories to the mix.  Good messaging all around, mostly centered around: we're all here to have fun, don't be a jerk.

My second panel was the paper airplane contest.  That's right. I mouthed off to the programming dude, Derek Künsken (who also happens to be my morning writing buddy), and he decided it would be funny to put me in charge.  Well, I loved it!  The contestants were hilariously into it.  They first had to sing for a good piece of paper (and boy some people could sing) and then, to get extra points, they had to use the "paper airplane launcher," a role assumed by Thought Admiral Korath of KAG Canada (that's a Klingon, people).  It was... awesome.

Participants had to bribe the launcher to get the throw they wanted, so that was pretty hilarious. Then the ever lovely Jenn Seely played the part of The Enforcer, throwing little uncooperative Styrofoam airplanes at the launched airplanes to take them down.  It was hilarious.

I can't thank everyone enough for being such sports as we tested an obviously new and odd event.  I think it's safe to say we'll have another such activity next year. Practice your paper airplane making skills now!

The rest of my panels were quite fun as well. I had one on marketing, one on flash fiction, one on villains and one on my writing group (the East Block Irregulars) hitting WorldCon.  I laughed during the panels, until my sides hurt.  I have to say I was quite impressed with the moderators this year, too.  Everyone seemed ready with questions and were quite good at getting everyone to talk and at keeping the conversation flowing.

The main messaging on a bunch of my panels (except my villain one, in which I believe my dark side may have peeked out a bit too much) was: Don't be a jerk.  It's fairly consistent messaging here, people, so let's take note.

My con ended on a high note with reading space shared with Leah Bobet. Leah and I discovered a while back that we had a very giggle-inducing reaction when in the same room, so we stuck with our combined strength and read some funnier stuff.  Leah read her awesome second-person-point-of-view parable written in King James language, the Parable of the Shower.  Seriously funny stuff. I even cried a bit I was laughing so hard.  And she read it so beautifully, showcasing even more how awesome she is!   I read from my upcoming story The Kevlar Canoe, and that went over quite well also. I stuck with the religious themes.

My other high reading point of the con was reading Matt Moore's Touch The Sky, They Say.  Matt is a friend and fellow East Block Irregular, and moderated the flash fiction panel.  He asked each panelist to bring a couple of examples of flash fiction we felt worked.  I had a few stories in my hands, but Matt's story was my favourite, so I decided to go for it even though I would potentially embarrass him.  He's tough and could take it.  But reading the story to an audience reminded me once more how much I love it.  Go read it. Go read Leah's story. Be amazed at Canadian talent. I am, all the time!

Hayden Trenholm did a fantastic job as the author guest of honour.  Truly classy, funny and engaging. His first anthology, Blood and Water, is good stuff.  Go check that out, too (OMG, more fantastic Canadian writers!)

Thanks to everyone who made Can-Con so memorable. I'm already looking forward to next year.  Heck, next year the Aurora Awards are coming to Can-Con, so our little con should be a whole lot busier. And even more full of awesome Canadian talent!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Real Life: There is NO Escape (Bwa ha)

Someone made the oddest comment at WorldCon: Cons are not real life.


Sweet Life of Mine, how do we pull this off?  How do we manage to escape this strange "real life" thing and enter this con reality?  Is it beyond liminality? (Currently Roomy's favourite word. Two anthropology of religion majors living in the same house makes for strange words being tossed around.) 

I didn't break it to the person at the time, but let's be clear: everything's "real life." There's no escape.  BWA HA HA HA!  Work is "real life."  Writing, creative pursuits - also "real life."  (Okay, I'll stop using quotation marks. Sarcasm implied.)  Your ass on the couch watching TV - real life! 

OMG, it's everywhere!!  RUN!!!!

On a more serious note, I've been thinking about this comment because I get the pleasure tomorrow of sitting on the "So This is your First Con" panel at Can-Con.  I've been trying to get my thoughts together on what useful advice to give that would stem above "cons are fun, people are cool!  Be nice and respectful."  Which I'll iterate anyway. Spoilers...

Getting back to real life. I think cons are so much more important to 'real life' (okay, downgraded to single quote - best I can do) for me than many other things.  First of all, I get to meet people who like the same things I do and can chat about them. Cons are also a place for me to do business.  Anyone who wants to work in sci-fi (writing, drawing, blogging, marketing, etc.) should see cons as a very real and very important part of their professional careers. 

Writing is real life, too.  Boy is it ever.  There are deadlines to follow, edits to review, tears to be shed, maniacal laughter to be stifled...  It's all very real.

We tend to apply the "real life" label to the stuff that involves money.  Or, to turn things around, the stuff that bears immediate consequences (such as paying rent).  By saying that cons are not part of real life, it suggests that there are no consequences to anything done or said at them. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that's not true for most people.

By implying that cons, or creative pursuits, are not riddled with consequences (as is life), we assign power to succeed to something else than our actions.  I'm not defining success as bestseller-dom here, but rather as just not making a general ass of yourself in life.  Some days, that's all the success that can be achieved, let's face it.

So do you yourself a favour.  Label everything that you love so much and want to keep enjoying and succeeding at as part of your real life.  Don't cheapen it or rob it of intensity by assigning it to not-real-life (?)

For those who argue that societal pursuits define real life and personal pursuits define everything else, think about that.  You're assigning all of your reality to this great beast that is society (Du DUM!). 

Stop doing that.


Can-Con Schedule

I'm super excited for Can-Con this weekend.  I love a con, and I love a local con (I get more shoe selection if I stay at home), and I love a growing local con.  This weekend is a bit nuts for me since, on top of Can-Con, we're celebrating the first birthday of my nephew Xander (his parents are giants and he is already, too. By two, he'll be taller than me, and I'll bring him to Can-Con as my enforcer.  Not yet sure what he'll enforce, but trust me, he'll enforce).

For all you lovely folk who plan on being at Can-Con, this is where you can find me!


6pm, Rooms 1 and 2
So this is your first time at a con
Marie Bilodeau, Farrell McGovern, Matthew Johnson, Agnes Cadieux

9pm, Rooms 1 and 2
Paper Airplane Contest!
Check out my last blog post for contest rules. I've changed half of them since - come and find out what they'll be!  

1pm, Room 1
How do you consume your short fiction?
Liz Westbrook, Agnes Cadieux, Marie Bilodeau
Hint: I've been told ketchup is not a proper answer.

2pm, Room 2
The East Block Irregulars Go To Chicago
Derek Künsken, Hayden Trenholm, Marie Bilodeau
This should be fun - Derek will give practical advice, Hayden will be his usual funny self and I'll tell of eating grasshoppers.  Good times for all!

4pm, Room 2
What should writers aim to get from marketing?
Leah Bobet, Matt Moore, Marie Bilodeau, Allan Isfan

6pm, Room 3
Villains: are they more interesting than heroes?
Alan Neal, Marie Bilodeau, Linda Poitevin, Shelley Tsivia Rabinovitch


1pm, Room 3
Flash Fiction
Matt Moore, Marie Bilodeau, Jennifer Michaud

3pm, Room 2
With Leah Bobet, author of Above and overall awesome individual.

Find me!  Let's hang out, chat, have coffee, check out the dealers' room.  

Life is good.

Monday, 17 September 2012

RULES! Paper Airplane Contest

Through my early morning, uncaffeinated self (meaning through no fault of my own), I perhaps boasted the prowess of my airplane launcher to Can-Con's programming maestro, Derek Künsken. The result: I'm now hosting the airplane contest. I should learn to not speak before I've had coffee.

Regardless, I'm excited for this contest. It shall be a powerful feat of wits, strength, and paper folding techniques.  As I've been randomly challenging people to the contest, I figure I'd post some willy-nilly rules that most of the people who will be there probably won't see, and I might not feel like re-iterating. Survival of the most-read, people!

Okay, the basics:

WHEN:  Friday evening, 9 pm
WHERE: Rooms 2 and 3 (as always, check your schedules for latest updates)

The not-so basics:

SUPPLIES: The hostess (moi) will bring supplies for paper airplane making. For those who are willing to sing for their paper, they'll get nice, fancy, already cut to the right shape paper (while supplies last. I'm a fan of show tunes, rock and roll operettas and Bizet). The rest of you are getting left overs from one of my manuscripts to try to turn into something aerodynamic. I have lots of explosions in my manuscripts, so that may be to your advantage.

You may bring a pre-folded plane, BUT it may not be made of anything but one sheet of folded paper. No extra supplies for the wilier among you. I'll apply this to myself, for which you should all be grateful as my brother is of rocket launching genius. I witnessed it once more this weekend when he sent his son's truck flying about in the backyard.  No one was injured, though several cats were terrified.

JUDGING:  I am the supreme judge.  Contesting judgment shall result in contestants having to eat their paper airplanes (** NOTE - I'm informed by the Can-Con organizers that this is inappropriate behaviour.  I shall therefore stick to the original description of taunting in both official languages.)

WINNER: I'll judge airplanes by whatever mine does best.  I'm not revealing that beforehand, because I might squish my airplane on the way to the con hotel and have to build a new one on site with entirely different capacity. This contest isn't for the weak of heart.

LAUNCHER: I have a paper airplane launcher!  Well, I did, before my four-year-old nephew played with it.  Well, okay, it wasn't mine, it was my brother's, but I bought it for him, so for the two weeks before I gave it to him, it was mine.  I intend to find/build another one beforehand.  Participants will be allowed to play with said airplane launcher as long as they show that they have clean hands and a clean soul. (It should be noted that if I do built this launcher, it shall be of poor quality and may take your eye out.  FYI.  --note to self, bring waivers.)

TREATS:  There shall be treats!  I shall take care of it.  I'm not sure we can bring treats to those rooms, so shhhh - it's a secret!

PRIZES: There shall also be prizes! Composed mostly of random things I no longer want in my house (possibly a cat), the prizes shall be awarded as the moderator sees fit.

After this lovely, undoubtedly well-attended event, we'll all trek over to join parties. Because that will be awesome.

Questions?  That means you're paying attention!  Good for you. Feel free to ask them, but I might not answer.  It's all about learning to enjoy the mystery.


Perhaps it would be best to think of this not as a contest, but rather as an hour of fun, laughter, unfair judging and tasty treats.  I promise fun!  See you then!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Dream Diary - On Recycling

I sleep like the dead. I seriously do.  Put me horizontal and I'm out. I also dream.  A lot.  Thankfully (I think), I also often remember my dreams. For a few hours, anyway.

And now, lucky folks, I've decided to share the ones that are really fun, before their thread releases their hold on my mind.  I'm also including a moral, because I'm a fan of 80s cartoons and believe any storyline is enhanced by a (sometimes not-so-obvious) moral lesson.

Last Night's Dream

I'm in bed, and I wake up.  My fluffy kitten, Pamplo, is now a brown tabby. An ugly brown tabby (and tabbies are my fave, so it was really ugly for me to say that. Dream that. Whatever.)

I call Roomy.

She looks at Pamplo and nods wisely.

Roomy: "You know what happened, right?"

Me: "The neighbours thought Pamplo was cute and swapped him out for this ugly cat?" 

Roomy: "No.  It's environmental conditions."

Then I was sad that my cat was going to stay ugly and I couldn't go all vigilante justice.

...that's it. That whole dream. So, if your cute cat turns ugly, it's environmental conditions, people.

Moral of the Dream
Recycle. And blame your neighbours for the incomprehensible in your life.

Pamplo, on the burden of cuteness.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

My August in Pictures

I've been quiet in August.  That's because I was... everywhere!

The first weekend was spent with my bestest buddies, aka family, in a little hamlet near Windsor.  We laughed, we cried, we ate ice cream. A perfect time.

The reason we headed to this little hamlet on this weekend, ice cream and BFFs aside, was to see some 1812 festivities.  This is part of the Military History Parade.  I believe the ice cream cones were victorious. The ice cream is always victorious.
A great battle was reinacted on the Detroit River. Well, it wasn't that great, but it was funny.  Two canoes circled the tall ship and it surrendered after one shot and a speech whisked away by winds.  I'm sure it was heroic. One canoe was then hitched to the boat and they boarded, while the other one circled, struggling with strong tides and winds.  Once conquered, the American flag came down from the mast and was replaced by the Windsor Star flag.  All hail printed news!

The following weekend was a Kymeras' retreat at a cottage.  Kathryn Hunt pointed the way.

A poet by the water, thinking poetic things. Or that he's hungry. Difficult to tell.

There was a playground near our cottage and we rocked it.  We spun, we slid, we felt barfy.  It was awesome.
And we're totally getting the band back together again.
 In a more somber moment, Roomy and I said good bye to the mighty and beloved Cosmo Kitty, Mighty Cow Cat, People Eater of the North, Purring Factory of Doom. We were there until the end.  The sounds of grieving filled our house, and then we had to leave for Fan Expo in Toronto.  Not the easiest shift I've ever had to do in my life.
Fan Expo was lots of fun.  Loads of people. This was my neighbour.
Saw lots of friends and sold lots of books.  And bought geek t-shirts.
Fan Expo demonstrated that although the Sand People are not actually easily startled, they do come back in greater numbers.
Next weekend, off to Chicago for WorldCon. Chicago has a giant mercurial drop that absorbs all that it reflects.  They call it a piece of art. I call it devious.
I ate a salt and vinegar grasshopper to get a free book.  I washed the sucker away with wiskey. Little legs got stuck in my teeth.  Photo courtesy of David G. Hartwell, whose children goaded me on (they're fans of insects).

Amidst all of the insanity, a book was being written.  It's due soon, so next weekend is a writing retreat with my critique group, the East Block Irregulars.  Here I am with fellow members Hayden Trenholm and Derek Künsken, enjoying a drink at WorldCon's ChiZine party (always a con hit for me)!

So that's why I've been silent.  But I'm back now, and writing furiously to get the third Destiny book done.  I'll keep you guys updated and share more adventures from August. There was much more silliness than this! And maybe even a profound moment or two. Maybe.