Monday 21 November 2011


It struck me yesterday that a lot of my creative friends are very ambitious.  And they have to be, to survive.  Anyone who's received multiple rejections for one story, who had no one show up to their show or their book launch has to have ambition or passion or a thick skin to get back on the wagon (possibly after downing several pints).

I often hear about the failures. How a story didn't come out quite right, or a book launch was ill-attended, or that they didn't get the award. Heck, I didn't win the Aurora Award yesterday. Was I disappointed?  Of course!  I'm human! (Really...)

I soon found myself congratulating good friends on their well-deserved victories and, as I walked away (in my awesome shoes), I looked at the length of my career. At where I've been since Princess of Light was published in March 2009, just 2.5 years ago. I imagined the road spreading before me and I thought: Holy shit, I was just nominated for an Aurora Award for best novel.  A freaking Aurora Award!  Shit that's cool!

And then I felt gratitude. For everyone who took the time to nominate and vote for me. For my family's unfailing support. For the people I only see at cons and yet offer such friendship and inspiration that I always look forward to the next meeting.

This morning I woke up with a nasty case of expanded gratitude. I started with being way too happy at the purring ball of fuzz wrapped around my head (until I realized how fuzzy my pillow was going to be and shooed him off). My gratitude exploded from there.

I was grateful for everyone who came out to our reprise of Chasing Boudicca on Saturday night. For the tears some of them shed. For the awe with which they commented on the show. I was grateful for my performance friends who delve into stories with me, which translated into being grateful for my writing buddies (the East Block Irregulars) who strive and work so hard and push me to become a better writer all the time. And inspire with their passion.

The day is now progressing into gratitude for the little things. The ability to write in the mornings. The perfect cup of coffee. The crisp coolness of the air and how it cleanses my lungs. And who I'll meet today, or chat with, or think about and smile.

Thank you, all of you, for your continued support and for the joy and laughter you bring. You make everything so awesome it makes me gush at times.  Deal with it.

And did I mention I was on the freaking Aurora Awards ballot?  Awesome!

Thursday 10 November 2011


So it turns out I won't be at Hal-Con this year since I didn't get on programming due to some miscommunications. I'm sorry I'll miss all the cool and fun people (you know who you are!), but the budget is tight this year and cons have to pay for themselves. And programming is the golden ticket to getting known.

But no biggie - the con-com is awesome and barring any horrible circumstances, I'll be there next year!

So now my next and final con of the year is SFContario!  I'll only be there on the Sunday since the Saturday evening is the reprise of Chasing Boudicca.  But I refuse to miss out on SFContario and my first ever Aurora Awards ceremony!  Well, okay, I've been to two ceremonies, but this is my first year being on the ballot, so that's fun.  Freakin' fun!

I'll be at the Aurora Awards brunch and ceremony, of course, but also at:

1:30 pm, Parkview
I think I'll read from Destiny's Fall, the sequel to Destiny's Blood.  Not sure yet. Maybe from my diary, too. Little Marie's deep thoughts are always a success (truly).

The Business of Writing
2 pm, Solarium
Marie Bilodeau(M), Leah Bobet, Robert J. Sawyer, John Scalzi, Douglas Smith

I've been on panels with most of these fine writers over the past few years and they're made of win. I'm thrilled that this year's last panel will be with such great people!

I'm moderating that panel again, which is funny. I don't know how I turned out to moderate most of my panels this year, but I'm enjoying it. Sometimes it's easy - I know the topic well and have a good idea what listeners are looking for. Other times it's a struggle because I have no idea what the panel is about and neither do any of the panelists. That's when I ask really strange questions such as "what's your association with reality?"  Thankfully most panelists are game for a little play time.

The worst part is scrambling to save a panel you can tell is tanking.  That's not always easy, sometimes completely impossible. But trying can be fun, too!  At least I know that my last panel of 2011 will be a success, unless none of the panelists show up, for some strange reason (I'm watching you all!)

So I hope to see you SFContario and, if you're in town, come to Chasing Boudicca on the 19th. I'll blog more about that next week!


Tuesday 1 November 2011


Last year, I was approached by a Sudbury writers' group to give them a kick-off message for their NaNoWriMo adventure.  I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo this year - too busy editing the sequel to Destiny's Blood. But I wish all of you who are participating the best of luck, and share the message I wrote last year.  I hope a couple of tips will prove useful! 

In 2009, my first novel was published.  I was also under my first publishing contract to submit the two other books in my Heirs of a Broken Land trilogy within six months of each other.  So I wrote a lot.  I edited and I launched books.  I also worked full time, and I'm also a performing storyteller.  Of course, the storytelling was taking off at the same time, too.

Writing requires dedication.  Your first publishing contract probably won't promise a six-figure advance, you won't be able to quit your day job right away, and life won't screech to a halt while everyone breaks into song to celebrate your success (I was disappointed, too).  Instead, you'll be published and suddenly have way more demands on your time and energy, and you'll still have to juggle everything else in your life.

And it's awesome.  Enjoy every minute.

Here are some of my war lessons and some basic things you should accept about NaNoWriMo:

  1. People will think you're crazy.  They're right.
  2. You will have bad days when everything you write is crap.  Keep writing.
  3. Eat well, sleep some, stretch lots.  Your body is the conduit for your words.  Treat it with respect.
  4. Write every day, at least a bit.  Novels are demanding lovers and will shun you without frequent attention.  
  5. Life doesn't get in the way. Our choices do.  Choose wisely.
  6. When you can't tell dreams from writing from 'real' life, you're on the right track.  
  7. Don't drink yourself into oblivion.  It dulls your spirit and your writing.  Caffeinate yourself into existence, instead.
  8. Writer's block is a myth.  Change mediums, POV characters, rewrite a scene, ignore that connecting scene and trudge on, change your surroundings.  Do what you need to do to keep those fingers typing.
  9. Discipline works best when enforced.  For example, when writing, set your screen saver to come on after two minutes of inactivity.  If it comes on, your fingers and mind must get back to the task immediately.  You can be nice to your psyche when you no longer have a word count deadline.
  10. Don't over-think.  Believe in the process.  Focus on writing scenes.  

Once you're done, don't send off your manuscript in a wave of enthusiasm.  Trust me, it's not there yet.  Let it rest for a few weeks.  Finish it if it isn't finished.  Then re-read it.  And learn to edit.  Getting published isn't magic. It's hard work and dedication, and a willingness to share your work.
NaNoWriMo is a great way to get those words and ideas out, so make sure to remember everything you've learned and apply it all year long, in a less frenzied pace!

Bon succès!