Monday 30 August 2010

Radio Fun!

Being Guest of Honour at CAN-CON and the release of Destiny's Blood have combined and mutated to create media interest.  Well, maybe they haven't mutated, but they might yet.  Who knows.

Three radio interviews were lined up, all with very different interviewers and audiences.  The first was on CBC's All in a Day and really focused on Destiny's Blood (listen). My favourite part was when the interviewer read a piece of my novel he had selected.  It was neat and strange - the beginning of chapter 23 wasn't quite what I'd expected.  Still, it's fun to hear someone else select something and make it their own.  That's when writing really becomes alive!

My second was with Dean Verger on CKCU's Monday Morning Special Blend (listen).  Dean asked a lot of  targeted questions on writing, style and technique, which proved fun and challenging on a Monday morning before caffeine.  (Note to self: next time, drink coffee before interview.)

I was also on Radio-Canada's Divines tentations, but unfortunately I don't have a recording for that one.  I was sitting on the bed in the consuite at CAN-CON during that phone interview, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

What I like best about these interviews is the element of surprise.  You just never know what they'll ask, if you're interpreting their question correctly, or if you're throwing them a curve ball.  You have to think on your feet and hope they won't ask questions that are too strange.  And that you don't answer too strangely.  The poor interviewers don't need to deal with that, either!  Especially since all of these radio interviews are live.

I think we all managed to stay on the safe side of the strange tracks, which is for the best.  Now that the book is merrily making its way around and CAN-CON is over, I anticipate the media interest will dwindle a bit, though I'll certainly try and stir some!  Mind you, I could use all the writing time I can get.

...Must figure out win-win scenario...

Friday 27 August 2010

The Blessing of Older Cats

Warning: This entry is full of cats.  It may in fact trigger an allergic reaction.  It’s just that fuzzy.
Merle.  He was big.

Anyone who knows me knows I have cats.  I have three cats, and my roommate has two.  Yes, I’m aware that makes five, and I’m also aware that it’s insane.   But we’re still within by-law limits!

We had two cats each when we first moved in together, and none of them were young.  The youngest amongst them, Merle (a fat, loud, generally angry and cuddly legendary cat) died very suddenly more than a year ago.  Like, really suddenly.  He didn’t eat one meal, fell over, I brought him to the vet and he was dead at midnight. To clarify things, Merle didn't ever not eat (double negative!).  He once needed six teeth removed because they had rotted through (he had an immune-deficiency disease), and I had no clue because it certainly didn't slow down his eating.  So he died, suddenly, even though at his size and with his disease (and lack of brains), none of us has expected him to live even that long.  That was a memorable solstice, especially since I had a show the next day and decided to tell a story of his death (feel my pain!)
Bart.  Happy tabby.

Anyway… so Merle passed away and it was hard to get beyond it.  He was loud, cuddly and always around.  And I’d lived alone with him and my other tabby, Bart, for almost a decade (with various roommates here and there).  And the crux of my problem was (and still is) that Bart was dying.  We think it’s a brain tumour, and he suffers from random seizures.  It's bad, but not yet bad enough to justify putting him down.  He's still quite a happy kitty (especially when beating on kittens).  He’ll either pass away from a seizure he can’t snap out of, or the tumour will grow and affect his lifestyle too much, and I’ll have him put down.  He’s a smart cat, too, so it’s doubly sad on that level.
Pamplemousse.  Pamplo, for short.

So more than a year ago, Merle died, and Bart was dying.  Then my neighbour’s cat had eight kittens, many of which are polydactyl (extra toes!)

Of course I adopted two of them, Pamplo and Pantoufle.  They’re cute and therefore impossible to resist.
Pantoufle.  Extra toes!

Okay, young cats are cute, but a pain.  They harass  older cats, get into everything, and it’s a good thing they’re cute since they have a taste for My Little Pony toys, which my roomy collects.  They stole one of her precious customs from a box which happened to be closed and on a bookshelf.  That’s when we discovered they could climb and had a taste for plastic.  That they’re still alive speaks to my roomy’s compassionate soul.  Or rather it speaks to the fact that she likes the extra toes a lot.

That’s a lot of cats.  But wait, there are more!
Cosmo.  Beware the soccer ball.

My roommate has two cats – a psychotic soccer ball-shaped cat named Cosmo, and a laid-back tabby named Buster.  They’re also old, though not as old as Bart.

Earlier this year, Kerri and I realized that Buster was losing weight.  This was great, since he was fat, but it was too quick and there were no dietary reasons for it.  So we brought him to the vet, and turns out he’d developed diabetes, a side-effect of a drug he was taking for an eye condition.

Buster.  Not always a cadeau.
Anyone with a diabetic cat knows how much work they are and how much of a commitment they represent.  They have to receive insulin twice a day, as close to 12 hours apart as possible.  And that’s only after getting it under control.  For a few weeks we had to bring him to the vet in the morning and pick him up at night so he could get his glucose curve, until the vet thought we had it under control.  (A diabetic cat also requires good friends willing to break into your house to administer insulin.)

So, if you’ve managed to keep track of this entry (gold star for you!), so far we have one diabetic cat, one seizure-ridden cat, one psychotic soccer ball-shaped cat (though that’s just his personality), and two kittens.  Right now you’re thinking, or at least should be: "So where the heck is the blessing of older cats?”

Good question.  And here is my answer.  Or my desperate justification.  Whatever.
Rare case of patient Cosmo.

I’m not a homebody.  My roommate is, but I’m not.  Except that now I have to be more of a homebody.  If she wants to go out for an evening, which let’s face it, is only good for both our mental health,  then I’m staying in (depending on time, event, etc…)  If my tabby is having a bad time, then I’m staying in.  If possible, I won’t have someone else put him down. My cat, my responsibility.

I’m getting more home time, which results in more writing time, more reading time, and just generally more ‘me’ time. 
Kitten boys.  All grown up.

And Bart and Buster became much more affectionate when they became ill, so staying home often includes a warm fuzzy body on your lap, resting and absorbing body heat.  That forces me to slow down, and to listen to that purr and enjoy it while it lasts.

Kittens are cute, but they’re work.  Older cats are also work, but in a different way.  They need more care and consideration.  And for me to slow down to their time, which is considerably slower than what I’m used to.

And that’s where they became a blessing instead of a burden.  At times they force you to slow down enough to notice their breath and yours, to take in the small sounds of your house, the comfort of your couch (I really love my couch), the feel of a book in your hands, the peace of focusing on only this moment and not the next, because this may be all there is, and it’s beautiful.  And fuzzy.

And totally worth missing a few nights out for.

Tuesday 24 August 2010


On hiatus since 2001, CAN-CON was back this year.  Which was great, since Ottawa was in need of a local con.  It was amazing to see how many sci-fi fans there are in the area, especially knowing that this is only the first year.  Next year should see even more participants join,  following this year’s success.

From my point of view, as Guest of Honour, the con was a success.  It wasn’t huge, but it was also its first year.  It’s just a baby, and yet I believe there were more than 100 attendees – kudos to the organizers!

The con was a success because it offered everything that it’s supposed to offer: opportunities to network, talk business, share stories, learn new things, see old friends and meet new people.  On top of that, I personally enjoyed the shopping, chatting, eating (cookies!), wearing fun outfits and just the general great atmosphere of the con.  It was small and quaint, and it was completely worthwhile.

I met lots of great writers (both published and unpublished) and had an all around good time.  I can’t thank the con-com, volunteers, guests and participants enough for such a great weekend!

Ooh, and the launch of Destiny’s Blood was also a success.  Except the nachos were stale.   Regardless, I think people had a good time.  I’ll post pictures as soon as I have them!

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Wow - What a Ride!

Me, reflecting, not in Mexico.
Once in a while it's good to stop and ask: "Wait, where am I?  How did I get here?  Wait, who am I???" Or, you know, maybe not that last one.  Check your ID.

In March 2009, my first novel, Princess of Light, was published by Absolute XPress. I remember doing final edits between Christmas and December 31.  They were due at midnight and I sent them off with 5 minutes to spare. It was a fun but crazy time, especially since some of my close friends were down from Windsor.  I hate missing out on any of the action, so edits would occur at night while we were all sitting around, chatting or playing games.  Well, they were chatting and playing games.  I was sipping coffee and shutting them out (I should mention here that I have the best friends in the whole world.  I've done research, too, so this is factual.)

When Princess was released, I had a heck of a learning curve to climb, and I kept climbing it for the release of Warrior of Darkness that August.   The learning curve was tempered with trying to write Warrior.  Every morning from 6:30 to about 8:30 I'd write.  I spent most Sundays with my book.  I even hid in a convent for a bit, to get away from everything.  I had the first draft, second draft and reader feedback all taken care of by June.  I was revising final edits from my editor while camping with my friends in Quebec City (again, my good friends from Windsor were down. I only see them twice a year, but they seem to come with deadlines.)  I edited under a canopy on a campsite, by a campfire, and then in a coffee shop in Quebec City so that I could e-mail the whole thing off.  It was a break-neck race to get the book finalized and out in time for WorldCon in Montreal.  We made it, but just.  I was picking up my box of books at the post office as I was leaving town for Montreal.  Good times. 

Me, not sleeping.
There was no time to chill - Sorceress of Shadows was due by December 31.  I should point out that I agreed to these deadlines when I signed my contracts.  (I'm a sucker for punishment, apparently, and my friends will attest that I don't learn from past mistakes.)

So I undertake the same writing schedule, somehow fitting in cons, workshops, storytelling shows and a full-time job in there, too.  On December 31, while visiting my friends in Windsor, I'm finishing up the manuscript to send it off.  I wasn't happy with the ending.  I felt that I'd missed an opportunity, but I couldn't figure out what or how.  This WAS the conclusion to the story of Cassara, Avarielle and Shirina, and I wanted to give them a good ending.  I loved those characters, and had pretty much just spent a whole year with them, non-stop. I sent in the manuscript expressing my concerns, asking for a bit more time.

One thing I never wanted to become was one of those authors who continuously misses deadlines. Seems unprofessional to me.  But in this case, I needed some wiggle room.  And I got it.  My publisher, Brian Hades, was leaving the country for a month, the editor was swamped, and we pushed back the release date to May, giving me two more months.  I love my publisher (and his wife too, so it's okay).

I went back to edits and fretted and swore and cried and was a general mess for a while, and then I figured out the ending I needed.  Really late at night.  Kept my roommate up pounding the keys.  And she didn't tell me to stop, even though she had an early start the next day.  Like I said - good friends.

Edits were done without my friends from Windsor around (weird, I know), and the book was out in time for May.  I took a few breaths of relief.

For a month.

Then Destiny's Blood, which had been sold to Dragon Moon Press in November 2008, came back with edits.  I buckled down and attacked.  I love the editing process. In the editor I find an ally for the story, and I learn so much during it.  So I edited, we went back and forth, and it went to lay-out and the cover went to design.

Me, as a pony.  No kidding.
It was exciting.  I needed the printed books in time for CAN-CON, where I was Guest of Honour and intended to launch Destiny's Blood.  I knew there would be a quick turnaround on the final lay-out proofs, and I was well aware they were due any day as I left for Kentucky to bring my roommate to a My Little Pony fair (she's a collector.  The trick to having good friends is to be a good friend, too.)  On the way over, we decided to stop in Windsor and crash there for the night.  I admit - I didn't check my e-mail that night.  Guaranteed the proofs for Destiny's Blood were going to be in my inbox, since I was with my "deadline friends."  The next day we arrived in Kentucky in the late afternoon, and I logged into my e-mail as soon as we were checked in.  And yup, the proofs had arrived the previous day.

I e-mailed my publisher, confirming that I had received them and was about to go through them.  She wished me a happy vacation and told me to get them back to her ASAP (I love my publishers.  They all have a wicked sense of humour, which is the only way to stay sane in this business, I think!)  So, after two days on the road, I sat down and edited.  Then I went for a swim and then edited some more (legs were cramping up).  The next day we went to the fair, and as soon as we were back, I edited.  And the next morning I answered questions from my editor, who was also going through it again.  And then I re-read the manuscript, and everything was somehow done in two days, and I was once more in Windsor on our journey back home, having sandwiched edits between seeing my friends from Windsor (a better model).

And now I take another breath, while preparing for several shows and cons.  And then it's time to throw myself back in.  The tentatively titled Destiny's War is due at Dragon Moon Press by end of year.  It's not where it should be by now, though I'm happy with how it's shaping up.  September is going to be a writing month - a pure race to the goal, an adrenaline-filled ride that hopefully won't result in a crash, and I'm gonna love every second of it.  When I'm not whining to my roommate, anyway.

With any luck (meaning I'll send in a good enough manuscript that doesn't require massive rewrites), Destiny's War should be out in about a year.  After four book releases in less than a year and a half, it's a different pace, and I'm certainly not against it.

All right, pause over.  Back to the manuscript!  Have a good one, everyone.  See you in October!

Monday 16 August 2010

Article in Ottawa Citizen

The article on CAN-CON came out in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday, and I'm jazzed about it.  It gives a good idea of where the conference has been, and how it's going to shape up this year.  It gives me some good face time, too (literally, in the form of a giant picture), and it talks of my good friend Larry Stewart.

I was really happy to learn that Larry was a Special Guest at CAN-CON this year.  Larry and I go way back, when he and my brother lived in the same apartment building more than a decade ago.  I knew Larry first as, well, Larry, and not as Larry "The Doctor" Stewart, as many in fandom know him.  Larry is the kind of friend that comes to my mom's for all of the big important suppers, and who is also an uncle to my nephew. And he's a hoot.  His impressions alone make going to CAN-CON worthwhile!

If you haven't had a chance to see him in action, now's your chance!

Saturday 14 August 2010

A Call to Arms

Philippa Ballantine, a New Zealand author I've never had the chance to meet, has reached the next step.  A vivid podcaster, some of her novels have also been published by one of my publishers, Dragon Moon Press.  They're fun, magic-filled books (Digital Magic and Chasing the Bard), and I encourage you to check them out anytime, but for now, I'm passing along a call to arms.

Philippa, you see, has made the jump from small press to big New York press.  She sold her latest novel, Geist, to ACE.  It's a dream many authors in small presses share, and one that our publishers encourage.  We make it big, our back lists probably starts to sell more, too, so everyone's happy!  Proof of that is that Dragon Moon Press Associate Publisher and editor, Gabrielle Harbowy, did the copy-edits on Geist before it sold to ACE.  (Gabrielle also edited Destiny's Blood, and trust me, she kicks ass.  And quite a few Dragon Moon Press authors make the leap, which shows the publisher's dedication to helping good authors become great ones.)

But the problem right now is that ACE is in the process of deciding whether to just stick with the two books they've contracted from Philippa, or buy two more, which she needs to complete her story.  And Geist hasn't even hit bookstore shelves yet.  It would be criminal to have an incomplete series, if you ask me (which, since you're reading my blog, you totally are!)

Visit her site to see how you can help

Again, she's a great author.  I wouldn't make this call out if I didn't believe she could go really far.  She just needs a little extra boost to get there.

Friday 13 August 2010

Heels Over Head

I just managed to tip my office chair (a mighty feat, I know!)  As my legs flew over my head, I experienced several wonderful flashbacks of other times my legs flew over my head in that second before the impact, watching them flying into my view as unexpected and foreign as someone else's legs, and thinking: "Oh crap, this is going to hurt."  If you've never experienced it, trust me, the legs reach your view before your back hits anything of interest.   (Note: This is not an endorsement to find out personally.  Between these stories, a few more, and throw in the few whiplash stories I have, there's a reason my chiro loves me.  But, that being said, it's pretty cool to see your legs fly as you fall.)

And these are (some of) my heels over head memories:  Last week, at the cottage on a sunny day, a slight breeze lifting the humidity from the lake, jumping up and down on an inflatable device we believed might be a trampoline, toppling, spotting my legs over me, realizing I was going down, blocking my nose seconds before the impact in the water, cool marks on my back for days to prove my fall.

An older memory, in university, a beautiful winter night.  An eclipse of the moon, and my now sister-in-law and I are outside to witness its dark vanishing.  Me deciding the blanket of snow on the ground looked soft and inviting, letting myself fall onto it, underestimating distance as legs go flying up into view seconds before hitting very thin blanket of snow and mostly impacting rock and cold ground, catching breath as looking up to the eclipsing moon, fluffy snow shaken free from a nearby pine tree tumbling into my view (I suspect that was my friend's doing), going back into the house before hypothermia sets in.

Much younger, as a pre-teen on a play park merry-go-round, my brother spinning and spinning the sucker so we'd hold on, me sitting in the middle, my brother tickling me, making me jump up, that nasty little centrifugal force grabbing me, feeling the metal bar on my fingertips as I reach and miss, feeling the other metal bar hit the back of my legs, seeing (yup) my legs flying up seconds before I hit the sandy ground, a few metres from the merry-go-round.  That was pretty cool, actually.  And some kids were duplicating my stunt afterward, so I was rather flattered. 

So there you go.  I may not fall head over heels often, but I have definitely experienced heels over head.  And now I'm sore and nostalgic, all at once.  And I'm grace incarnate.  Good thing it's jeans day at work!

Thursday 12 August 2010

See you at CAN-CON

Here's my schedule for CAN-CON, where I have the great, well, honour of being Guest of Honour!  First one ever, too.  As I told a journalist, which I hope she'll edit out (though of course I have to write it here, apparently):  It's my first time in your publication and my first Guest of Honour gig - I feel like I'm losing my virginity all over the place!

Let us pray the journalist is a good editor.  Anyway... this is where I'll be.

Friday, August 20
Destiny's Blood Book Launch, 7 - 10 pm
After a crazy couple of years with four books coming out, this author is taking it easy and only writing one novel this year.  To celebrate my last book launch in at least a year, I'm going to have platters!  ... not many platters, so get there early, buy a book and eat a cracker!

Saturday, August 21
Guest of Honour Hour, noon  (I think I'll be on display.  I'm bringing multiple outfits, to keep things fresh.)
Writers Workshop, 1 pm
Panel: Non-Mainstream Publishing, 3pm

I don't have the full schedule yet, but I know there are two more not-to-be-missed events !

August 21, 4 pm
Book Launch of Stealing Home, by Hayden Trenholm
Hayden is an aurora-winning kick-ass author and a just all around nice guy, so come out and support him as he launches the final volume of his trilogy.

August 21, 8 pm
Kymeras' Steampunk Show!
It's part of the steampunk social.  We'll be telling steampunk stories and poems! For more info on the Kymeras, check out our shiny website,

This con, the first in Ottawa since 2001, should be great.  I hope all the Ottawa and nearby fans will come out and encourage the "local scene."

Sunday 8 August 2010

Destiny's Blood on Amazon!

I just spent an amazing week at a cottage with nothing but my best friends, my laptop and a couple of good books.  One of the best (and, admittedly, scariest) parts was having no Internet.  But then I came back to some wonderful surprises, including Destiny's Blood on and!

The Heirs of a Broken Land trilogy won't be available on Canadian sites until the release of its second edition in 2012, so this is the first listing on for one of my books.  It's cool to see!  And it'll be easier for Canadian readers to get, which is a big bonus.

The official launch for Destiny's Blood will be on August 20, at CAN-CON in Ottawa (where I'm Guest of Honour).  The launch will take place at the Travelodge on Carling, from 7 to 10 pm, and we'll have platters! Come out, enjoy, chat it up and buy a book! 

On Destiny's Blood (cover art by the amazing Kari-Ann Anderson)

Layela Delamores wants nothing more than to settle into a quiet, peaceful life, running her small flower shop with her twin sister, Yoma. But the peace she craves is shattered each night by terrifying visions that she can never remember upon waking. When Yoma vanishes, Layela is certain that her nightly visions hold the key. Only her sister's thieving friend, one of the last surviving members of the ether races, can unlock them, but Layela suspects that her friend isn’t telling her the whole truth.

Torn from the safety of her flower shop and thrust into a universe of smugglers and assassins, Layela must pursue her sister across space in a desperate bid to overcome the destruction foretold in her dreams. But without full knowledge of her visions, she has no way to prevent them from coming to pass. And the fate of an entire galaxy hangs in the balance.

Unless Layela finds a way to stop destiny itself. But that would mean sacrificing her sister.

Or herself.