Friday 30 November 2012

A Moment of Reflection

I have so much to share with you all about Tunisia, NaNoWriMo, writing, and life in general, but I'd like to take a moment of reflection, if I may. And I may, because it's my blog!

Yesterday, I found out that a dear friend's mother had passed away a few months ago.  This friend was one of my best friends at my second high school in Hawkesbury.  We're still in touch now and then, but life's ebbs and flows don't always bring us together.  Which is fine - we always pick up where we left off.

When I learned of her mother's passing, life paused.  Which was a bit awkward since I wasn't in a good pausable area, but there you go, it happens.

I lived in Hawkesbury for two years only, but those years were amongst the darkest and brightest in my life and really defined who I chose to become.  I finished high school there.  I skipped grade 12 by convincing them I didn't need grade 11 math to take the next level, simply because I wanted to leave earlier. My brother and best friend had stayed behind in Cornwall, the house situation was less than ideal, and I'd say it's really the only time I was constantly, exhaustingly angry at the world.

During that time, I hung out with a few people who left indelible marks on my psyche.  And their families did as well, by extension.

This mother helped me get through the darkness and she never even knew it.  She welcomed me into her house without question, made me one of her own.  She even helped to sew my first medieval costume, out of curtains - their own curtains!  I was so touched that I still have a piece of that costume.  My fine medieval drapes.

As I stood there on pause, all of these little moments in time crystalized as I recalled minute things that she said or did, and how they made a difference.  I didn't see it then, couldn't see the small pushes up for air as I desperately tread water and tried not to drown, but now I see how much she pushed, how her whole family pushed me up, without knowing or asking for anything in return.

It made me think of all of the people we lose in our direct lives.  Of the impact we can never really know they had on others. And of our own impact we have on others, as well, without ever seeing the thread that we weave through lives, holding people together or undoing them, one small word or gesture at a time.

If there is an afterlife, or a final goodbye to the world before our consciousness goes off to dance amongst the stars, I like to believe that we're allowed to see that thread, for one precious moment, and to realize that our lives, all of our lives, make the tapestry not just of our own story, but of history, of the world, and of humanity.

And I really believe, from having known my friend's mother, from knowing so many of you, from having received so much warmth from so many people, that this tapestry is bright, beautiful, and breathtaking.

Thanks to all of you for everything. You'll probably never know how much you affected those around you, and they might never, either, but you are, and you will.  Keep that secret nuzzled in the inside pocket of your coat and peer at it once in a while to remember. Always remember.

Let's all make this tapestry a little brighter today, in honour of this unassuming woman, of all of the unassuming people who just try to do the best they can, day after day, and who make all the difference.  

Friday 16 November 2012


So I was at World Fantasy and I was going to blog about that, but then I was really sick and gross and all "meh," so I slept for two weeks instead. But I feel better!

Now, I shall not be patient zero at the next con, which starts today: Naru2U!  (  It's a quaint anime con at the Travelodge in Ottawa. Roomy and I are both doing panels.

Mine are:

Friday, November 16, 9pm
Marie and Jay's Crazy Hour!
Exclamation mark and everything!  The Jay is Jay Odjick, a local comic book writer and artist whom I adore.  He's funny, I'm funny, we're dangerous together.  There may be some swearing, and we'll talk something writing related.  It'll be good, trust me on that.

Sunday, November 18, 10 am
Collecting 101
This is Roomy's brainchild.  I think she's tired of me always referring to her collection and conveniently glossing over mine. But mine is tiny.  I've referred to it a couple of times, and it has lots of He-Man and She-Ra in it. We'll also have another collector there, and she deals in Transformers. Again, we're all funny, so it should be fun (that's my disclaimer for everything, apparently).


For My Little Pony lovers, Bronies, and pony fetishers (I don't want to know), Roomy, AKA ElfPony, has the following panels:

Friday, November 16, 8pm
All I know is the supplies have a severed head in them.  Looks about right.  Good for toy restorations, too, I imagine, and for roommates going eeewwwwww at times.

Saturday, November 17, 6pm
Bronies vs. Collectors
This, to my knowledge, highlights the sticky issues that can arise when a new, enthusiastic and recognized fan group "takes over" an existing, long-lasting fandom.  It should be fun to watch!

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

NaNoWriMo Peppiness

I'm participating in Nano this year, because I write with two of Ottawa's regional liaisons in the mornings, and they could beat me up if they wanted to.  I'm just not that swift first thing in the morning and I'm easily intimidated. So I crumbled and agreed when they looked me in the eye and said: "You're doing Nano" (or wait, did they just ask and not state?  Whatever). Regardless, I work great under threats, and I'm looking forward to November.  I'll use NaNo as a spring board for my next project.

Last year, I wrote a pep talk for the Sudbury NaNo Group. I'm posting it here as a reminder to all of us: it can be done.  

It’s NaNoWriMo!  Woo!  That magical time of the year when words fly onto the page, you don’t change clothes for days and you forget your own name.


When the words don’t fly, however, don’t panic.  Well, panic a little bit, have a cry and eat a chocolate bar.  I mean, those are just healthy coping mechanisms.  But afterward (shortly afterward), try one of these tricks to throw yourself out of a scary non-writing spree. 

1.      Change mediums.  Change from laptop to paper, pen to pencil, lined paper to plain.  That might jog your mind into spewing those words out again.

2.      Change locations.  Go from coffee shop to home, home to a friend’s house, a friend’s house to a rock by the water.  Keep it fresh.  You’re technically supposed to ignore the scenery and write, but your senses are still being stimulated by the world around them, so give them something fresh to mull on while the rest of your mind is engaging your story.

3.      Stop whining. I mean, whine a bit.  It’s seriously healthy.  But give yourself a limit.  Have a breakdown in the shower if you must. But get ‘er done.  Whining is good to get the stress out, not for gaining sympathy. NaNoWriMo is not for the strong of whine.

4.      Skip a scene.  If a scene is really not cooperating, dump it.  Skip ahead.  Can’t figure out how to connect one piece of the action with the next?  Then skip that, too.  I usually leave stars (***) in my first drafts when I forgot a character name or can’t connect things right away.  When I edit, they’re easy to find.  Now’s not the time to worry about the finer details of your work.

5.      Kill your protagonist.  It’s a weird trick, I know. But sometimes those protagonists are infuriating!  They just won’t cooperate.  Your head goes in spinny little useless circles trying to figure it out.  I drop an elevator on my protagonists’ heads when they don’t cooperate. This is especially fun in fantasy where elevators don’t exist.  I drop that elevator and go for a walk. By the time I come back, snickering, my protagonist usually smartens up. We erase the elevator (or keep it in for your word count – you did write it!), and we proceed with the story.

6.      Go with your instincts. The best laid plans… You know about them. If your gut is telling you that what you thought would be the best twist ever isn’t, don’t write it.  You’ll stay stuck.  Your gut knows when something is leading you off track or to a dead end.  Your subconscious, cool beast that it is, is making connections your mind hasn’t even thought of.  Trust it and let your instincts take over where your mind might fail you.

7.      The usual. Butt in chair. Give yourself word counts to follow.  I usually write down my word count on a sticky note every half hour and post them on my wall. I find it motivating. They’re coloured sticky notes, too, so it’s almost like decorating your room! (I may not be the best to provide advice on home décor.)

8.      Isolate yourself. If you can, do this. Even a few days could save your word count.  I go to a convent. Cheap, no TV or Internet, three meals provided, and peace and quiet.  Last time I did this, by keeping my butt in the chair and ignoring the beautiful sunny world beyond my closed curtains, I wrote 45,000 words in two days.  Those words needed lots of edits, but the draft was there.

9.      Imagine you are… a warrior in battle, and getting those words down is imperative.  A soldier fighting a war.  A world-renown journalist with tight deadlines. Make your own story about you. Character play.  Do what you have to do to stay in that chair.

I had a tenth idea, but I prefer sets of three in lists.  It’s clean and tidy.  BUT, if I were going to say a tenth one, it would be: Remember how cool you are.  How cool this is.  Because it is.  Not everyone has your power with words and your ability to do this.

So go for it.  Do it. Keep doing it.  And, at the end, give yourself a hero’s welcome. You’ll have earned it.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

World Fantasy Con Schedule

This weekend is World Fantasy - woo!  I've been fighting this evil cold on and off for two weeks, so here's fair warning - I AM patient zero.  Mwa ha.

If you'd like to find me because you don't heed warnings (and good for you on that!), here's where I'll be:

Thursday, 3pm
Aurora Room
Haven't decided what I'm reading yet, but I might read my Kevlar Canoe story which will come out in Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories.  It's fun.

Friday, 5pm
Vaughan Room
New Twists on Accepted Myths
Jim Freund (M), Marie Bilodeau, Mercedes Lackey, Virginia O’Dine, Meg Turville-Heitz

Okay, that's the official stuff.  I also intend to be at:

Thursday, 7 - 9pm
Ravenstone Press Book Launch Party
Featuring Karen Dudley and Chadwick Ginther.  I'm looking forward to picking up both of their books and you should, too!  Come out and support some awesome Winnipeg talent!

Friday, 8pm - whenever
Edge Reading Room Party

Saturday, 7pm
Dragon Moon Press' Pub Night
The Fox and Fiddle, 115 York Street - an easy walk from the hotel!
Featuring the launch of one of DMP's new authors and some other authors there to sign your books, including copies of Hero and Villain!  Should be lots of fun. Come and have a drink!  Once that dies down, I imagine I'll hit the ChiZine party. Because I love me a ChiZine party.

I'm sure I'll go to other events, but there are the ones I'm definitely going to.  Let me know if there's something else I should absolutely check out!

When I'm not there, I'll probably hang out in the dealers' room at one of my publishers' tables: Edge Science-Fiction and Fantasy and Dragon Moon Press.  Tyche Books, which have bought a couple of my short stories, will also be there, so I'm sure I'll hang out there a bit, too.

See you there!


Patient Zero.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

My Service Providers are Being Scary...

So, after my whole Rogers no bill and fun fail last week, I'm hyper-aware of any contact initiated (or not) by my service providers. Today I received my hydro e-bill, with this little gem in it:

Aaaaaaaaah!  She's STARING at me!  And I'm IN HER FRIDGE!  And why is she so happy about having an empty fridge? Or is she in the furniture store in her pyjamas?  (Please tell me those are supposed to be pyjamas?  It's too dull to leave the house, surely.)  

I'm already on MyHydroLink (I'm a usage tracking junkie with them, too), but if I wasn't, I wouldn't sign up now for fear of either being enslaved in a fridge (and possibly eaten) or for fear that she'd show up at my door and do that face at me.  You know she'd do it early in the morning, too, wearing a dull gray pyjama.  I don't adapt well before my first cup of coffee. I'd either punch her or break down crying. Best not find out.

That photo, right there, is the stuff of nightmares.

But, then again, I haven't been sleeping a whole lot, so I might just be imagining things. But I don't think so.

Oh, and still no sign of that Rogers bill!  Several people have told me that they've also not received their bills, so I checked on the Rogers website to see if they had a notice, and this is the only notice of any type they had: 
Lookee! Tiny little letters! Click to make bigger and actually read...
I'm thinking good on these folk.  They're getting a free phone, and they'll never be billed for it! (Seriously. I want in!)

I'm planning a phase 2 letter if I don't receive it by end of week.  It's only fair and fun to do so! 

Monday 22 October 2012

Secularization Update

As long time followers of this blog will know, I tend to escape to a convent to write, developing finer plot points with Giant Jesus (awesome listener) and chatting with the dead (stacking nuns in the cemetery).  More than a year ago, the convent was sold to the city which owns the grounds.  I whined about it here and here. Oh, but how I do whine at times.

This time, there was still a distinct lack of space.  I found myself going for meals later and later in an attempt to have a quieter space.  I did make some friends this time, which is lovely, but not the purpose of my trip.  I'm there to write!

Usually, I got up and visit Giant Jesus right away. This time, by the time I'd reached the convent, it was dark and rainy, so I just ran in and started writing and editing.  The next day was also cold and windy, and every inch of the covent felt so... packed.  Everyone was everywhere.  I rarely need my space so badly, but this time I felt absolutely smothered.

And I wasn't the only one.  Breakfast on the first day, a lovely petite Italian woman, looking anxiety-ridden, asked if she could sit with me.  I was sitting alone at a table for two, eating as quickly as possible to get out of the crowded area.  She felt it, too, the noise and movement of the room.  I stayed to chat with her - she obviously needed to just chat with one person who wouldn't judge or direct the conversation.  I let her go, and eventually we learned that not only do we share the same name, we were both writers.

So that morning just wasn't a good morning for writers with my name.

I headed back to the room and hid a lot. And I mean, a lot.  I hid deeper than just the room, too - I hid in my writing. I threw on my earphones and just wrote and wrote and edited.  I love the story I'm working on, the final volume of the Destiny series, so it was easy to lose myself in it.  I was late for meals, forgetting to check the time.

And I loved every minute.

I didn't even go for a walk until Sunday evening, before supper, when I felt I should really go say hi to Giant Jesus.  I was being downright rude!  The wind stole every sound away, ensconcing me in my thoughts.  Most of the weekend group retreats broke after lunch on Sunday, so the convent was mostly empty.

I chatted with Giant Jesus and walked the cemetery.  The trees were dancing in the orchard and I danced with them.

Supper last night was wonderful.  There was only one other table, filled with older ladies and gentlemen, and they were downright couth with they volume level. I could hear the classical music filtering in and I even took the time to do some plotting as I ate dessert, instead of just running back to my room.

Adapting to the new structure of the convent is teaching me a lot about myself. I realized this weekend (when I wasn't busy blowing ships up in my story) that yes, I'm an extrovert, but I need my introvert moments.  And when I need them, I need them badly.  I can get flustered in a social situation when I don't want to be in a crowd.  The reverse applies, as well. The last time I went to the convent, I wasn't ready to be by myself, and I came home early.  I know my own motions, and I need to respect my psyche, no matter how unstable it may at times seem.  (We're going to do what now?)

I like the loneliness of the cemetery and Giant Jesus.  Secularites (totally a word!) seem to fear them, as though the symbol of a religion will somehow gobble them up.  I'm not religious, but I enjoy talking to giant statues about finer plot points.  It helps - try it!

On the writing front, I learned that I'm turning into a giant wuss.  I mean, not in the writing itself, I still destroy, maim and kill at random. But I cry a lot more.  I had a downright sob-fest yesterday killing off a minor character, but one that had been there since book 1 (spoiler: everybody dies! HA!)  I don't do sob-fests well, either.  I get all splotchy and leaky.  Really unbecoming.  But I guess that's why I lock myself up in a convent to have them.

For now, I've made peace with the no-longer-convent-convent.  I'm learning to follow its lead, while imposing my own peace.  It's all about production in the end, and as long as I have earphones, a plug and a space to think, I'll be productive.  We'll see how I feel when I go back in spring.

I leave you with this lovely view from my window:

Not that I generally take the time to enjoy the view, but when I do, wow. Like, seriously, wow.  

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Rogers = Fun Fail

So yesterday's post was a bit of fun on my part, perhaps on Rogers' behalf.  But, seriously, who wouldn't want to get out of some doldrums by receiving something strange and funny? Well, Rogers does, apparently.

I received this reply to my joyful concoction:

Dear Ms. Bilodeau,

A lot of Rogers customers have reported missing bills this month. We're working on the issue and will issue them as soon as possible.



... Okay?  That's it?  Rogers, I realize you're busy because of your system fail, but our little dance of love is shattered.  I could take the poor customer service and the overpriced service, and I can certainly handle not receiving a bill, even though you're confusing my monthly finances, but a lack of wit? That's inexcusable. A restraining order would have been slightly bothersome, but much funnier.

Well, it would be, except I know Rogers has some funny people working there. I usually call, you see, instead of sending in love letters. I love that person-to-person interaction.  Strange, I know.  

About two years ago, Doctor Who moved from CBC to Space, right at the beginning of the Matt Smith era.  Of course, I was still sobbing in a corner at the loss of David Tennant, so I didn't immediately notice the new series had begun.  One day I confessed this on Facebook, when the first season was almost over. I'd just then realized that it was on Space, and I didn't have Space.

People laughed at me, my friends. It was a hard time for me. The LOLs were many, but none were mine!  Bowing to peer pressure (and an undying curiosity about this new doctor dude), I called Rogers.  It went like this:

Dude:  How may I help you?
Me: You've got to help me.  I'm so embarrassed, I don't know what to do.
Dude (probably thinking he wasn't paid enough to deal with people like me): I'd be happy to assist you, ma'am.
Me (still embarrassed): I'm a sci-fi writer, you see, and all of my friends just found out I don't have Space!  And like, they found out on FACEBOOK!  Do you understand the implications??
Dude (coming to conclusion that he had been right about the pay thing, but willing to go along): I believe I do, ma'am.
Me (relieved): Oh good.  I knew you'd be a kindred spirit.  Can you help me??
Dude (deciding the person on the other end of the line might be insane and should be kept happy):  Of course, ma'am. We'll give you a one-year upgrade for free and some free long-distance, too.  Can I do anything else for you?
Me (almost brought to tears by generosity): I love you.

Okay, seriously though, I'm glad I have Space. I really am. I still call Rogers once in a while to see if I can work another discount free. They're quite willing when they think you're friendly and/or criminally insane.  

So I give Rogers one fail for the letter, and one win for Space.  

It still hurts, though.  Writing a letter of love to be so... ignored.  Maybe I'll write a love letter to another one of my service providers.  

Maybe I just need to move on.  Oh, but Rogers, how I wanted to be loved by you.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Letter with no Reply - Rogers

As I was trying to organize my finances this month, I noticed that my Rogers bill, which usually arrives on the 4th of each month, had not yet graced me with its presence.  I quickly drafted a letter and sent it off to Rogers. Apparently unable of simply asking "where's my bill?", I instead went all freaky weird bondage on them.  I expect I'll eventually get a reply in the form of a restraining order. 
It was bound to happen eventually, let's face it.

Dear Rogers,

Did you forget me, Rogers?  Did you forget our regular date, on the 4th of each month, when you try to impress me with your knowledge of my day-to-day usage and I impress you by questioning false information?  Are we no longer doing this dance of services rendered and payment received?

Let's be honest, after all.  Although I try not to speak of it in polite company, I do pay you for your services, as you well know.  It's always been a bit of a sticky point in our relationship, hasn't it, Rogers?  That you would give me nothing unless I paid you, that you coldly provide what I need, contact me once for payment, and then ignore me the rest of the time, cast aside like yesterday's analog TV?

Come on, Rogers.  I don't want this to end.  I want to continue taking advantage of you, but I want to compensate you for it, too.  So that you'll keep showing up on my television and on my computer, at my demand.  I know how you work.  Receiving payment makes you come.

So just send that bill my way, okay?  I want to check out your numbers and cross-reference my usage.  I want to pay you and use you, Rogers. 

Just like I know you like it.



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.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

When the Villain Comes Home

Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood just released another super cool anthology with Dragon Moon Press:

Last year, they released the award-nominated anthology, When the Hero Comes Home, which included my short story, The Legend of Gluck.  This new anthology features another one of my stories, Happily Ever After. I'm super proud of this story.  It takes personality disorders to a whole other level.  When Gabrielle's lovely assistant read it, she said that she liked it, but that I probably should get therapy.  It's one of the sweetest things anyone's ever said about my writing.

I've had the chance to read most of the anthology and, like its predecessor, it's impressive and showcases some bestselling authors and some new voices. I highly recommend it!

Find it here, and it'll pop up other places soon, I'm sure!

Monday 30 July 2012

Reaching The End

The final instalment of the Destiny series, currently entitled Destiny's Whatever (title will more than likely change), is well on its way.  I'm having fun, getting to the depths of various mysteries, while letting my characters have some fun and blow stuff up.

This is the second time I reach the third book in a series (I like three - it's a nice, clean number. Must be my failed catholic upbringing).  When I wrote Sorceress of Shadows, the final volume in my Heirs of a Broken Land series, I very much had the same experience I do now.

The first book is all about discovery. Discovering your world, your characters, your intrigues... It's a wild ride not to be taken lightly.

The second book, I find, is the highest pressure book. You don't want your series to slack off in the middle, so you have to keep things tense. The story can't just be filler.  It has to have a reason and purpose for being, while leaving the readers wanting book 3.  

The last book, however, is a whole other beast. This is probably your characters' final curtsy.  This is your last chance to visit those hauntings, to give them the moments they've been waiting for (or not), and to let them breathe their last.  Oh, I mean, they might live beyond the third book, but  it'll be off page. A whole other experience.

The final book has to live beyond the pages in your readers' imaginations. It has to be a satisfying ending for them, too - the readers stuck with you this long, after all!  And it has to remain true to the story, no matter how much you might want to end on a high note with sparkling unicorns and caffeinated rainbows.  That's rarely the way to go (thankfully).

I'm reading a trilogy right now and I'm on book 3, the final book (at least so far).  I whipped through books 2 and most of 3 in a few days, regardless of their impressive girth. But I'm slowing down, with less than 200 pages to go.  I'm not sure why I slowed down, but I suspect that, at this point, I'm a bit scared. A few events in the last book made me feel like the author was doing this because it was her last chance to make the characters do something, even if it no longer fit the story.  I might be wrong - I haven't finished the story, after all, but it was enough to make me worry.

I might also have slowed down because I know I only have a few pages left with these characters, and after investing so much into them, I'll miss them when they're gone.

I'm keeping all of this in mind as I write my own final book.  I want it to answer questions while coming up with plausible resolutions for issues plaguing my characters, some since Destiny's Blood.  It's a bit hard watching my characters take their final curtsy, too. I mean, it's hard letting go of characters from books you've read, but it's a lot harder letting go of ones you're writing.

The book is due this Thanksgiving at Dragon Moon Press, and I still have a lot of work to do.  August is full of cons and outings, but I'm still confident I can get 'er done.  I'll keep you up to date!

Onward to The End we go!  

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Pepsi Hummus Recipe

Part of me thinks this recipe should be hidden in a vault or warehouse somewhere, Indiana Jones style, but so many of you have asked for it that I cannot refuse. I deny all responsibility for any dire, world-changing or just downright embarrassing consequences that may haunt you for the rest of your life should you choose to make this recipe.

Pepsi Hummus Recipe

It is always preferable to make this recipe while paying little attention.  Add your own touch by not even looking at the ingredients you're using while retelling your Roomy a quite frankly exaggerated tale of your latest caper.

1 can of chick peas (rinsed and cleaned - the chick peas only, not the can. Don't be that absent-minded)
1 garlic clove (crushed)
3 tablespoons of tahini
juice of half a lemon (existing paper cuts bring extra distraction during this step)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 unspecified amount of Pepsi

Mix all ingredients using a handheld mixer.  Add water if too thick.  Once you've added the Pepsi, stare in shock and horror.  Be amazed at the consistency change. Be disgusted, too. Ignore discouraged groans of Roomy/housemate/significant other. Try and wrestle handheld mixer free of now super powerful mixture.  Burst out laughing.

Enjoy hummus with vegetables, some pita bread, or a laser gun if hummus begins to attack. We drank Pepsi while consuming it, in the hopes of evening out the battlefield. And remember, always remember: don't blink.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

A Rotten Head for the Aurora Awards

The Aurora Awards voting period is ending on July 23.  The award allows Canadians to vote for Canadian works of science-fiction and fantasy, and I was touched and honoured to be nominated for my short story, The Legend of Gluck, from When the Hero Comes Home, edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood. 

I was so pleased that I asked Roomy to draw me a rotten head in celebration.
Nothing says parté like a worm sticking out of an eye socket!  Wait, there's something missing...
There we go. Matching party hats. Now we're having a party!

Okay, got slightly distracted there.  To vote in the Aurora Awards (by next Monday), just go here.

Thanks again for everything!  You make Klar (the rotten head) and I feel like we're doing something right.  I mean, aside from the polka dot party hats, which are oh-so-right.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

5,000 kms and Many Ponies Later

In February, I came home to an excited Roomy who leapt up and said "Roomy!  Orlando is only a 24-hour drive away!" 

She was of course referring to the My Little Pony Fair location, but I love a roadtrip and I was in. (She's a collector, I'm an enabler. I could be an award-winning enabler, if such awards were handed out.  Heck, I drove her to Memphis, Kentucky and Rhode Island (twice!) to fairs, I made sure a door was built to her pony room so she wouldn't kill my infiltrating kittens (that was partly for me, too), I drive her to random thrift stores to go pony shopping, and I even brought her to IKEA while recovering from food poisoning to get her a new shelf, and even built it that day. See?  Master enabler. Or a sucker.  I'm cool with either.)

Oh, and I help build dioramas.  Past years have been more intricate. This year I was too busy, but we already have a plan for next year.  If it's in Chicago. If it's not in Chicago, we're doooomed. But I can live with that.

Last year, Roomy instituted a Marie Activity into each pony fair trip, partly as a treat/thank you, partly as a way to ensure that I don't lose interest. Last year it was a Lovecraft walking tour in Providence, Rhode Island, and this year it was the Kennedy Space Center.  I have to admit that I'm not even the one who thought about the space centre.  I was looking at Disney Land and Lego Land and all sorts of expensive lands, but my wee little twice-whiplashed-why-do-you-crouch-so-much neck is a ride hater since Edmonton's Mindbender made it go "crick and crook."  And they never answered my requests to rename it The Neckbender.  Oh well.

But Roomy mentioned the space centre and that was that. The rest is pictures:

We gave space ice cream to our friends as a souvenir.  Because nothing says "I'm thinking about you" better than freeze-dried dairy products.
This is me, destroying important and undoubtedly expensive machinery with my poor flying skills on mars.  I died, my whole team died, but it was a heck of a good time.
I know, I know - Danger, Will Robinson (I so love that show).  But if that thing comes out of the woodwork and starts yammering at me about danger, I'm screaming at it and running away. Because I ain't lost in no space and that'd be weird shit happening.
There's just too much awesome in this picture.
Space propaganda made us happy.
This had the Canadarm and the Hubble, so we were happily geeking over it.

That's it for the space centre.  We were there for four hours and could have enjoyed another four.  It was pure awesome.  (Plus, I got in a potential legal altercation going there, where my flight instinct kicked into full gear regardless of alarms and flashing lights and all that good stuff. But I'll see what, if anything, comes out of this before I blog on what might potentially be my poorest reaction to a life situation yet (aka dumbest moment).  My friends were bent over in two crying and laughing as I told them, so that's usually a good clue that I wasn't so bright.  But I'll tell you all about it later!)

So, anyway... then there was the fair!

Our diorama was a bit less than inspired, but still cute.  We brought Canadian winter to Florida.  We have ponies playing hockey, with cheap ass little hockey sticks made out of cardboard.  On the left, you can see a green ribbon - that's the top of the wrapping of a gingerbread house. We decided to wrap it so that we could sell it, and people's grubby little hands and sneezes wouldn't be all over it. I made the world's worst sale sign imploring people to take it so I wouldn't eat it all and gain twenty pounds and have to go pants shopping because I hate pants shopping. In retrospect, that was a poor selling technique.  We didn't sell it (see?  Very poor).  Instead, it broke out of its wrapping as I was carrying it to the car and landed on the hotel carpet on its side in an explosion of happy colours.  ...I still ate it.
The 501st was there, and they were loving it.  Yes, that's a pony/storm tropper hybrid.  It's okay to cry.
Roomy won first prize in the custom contest!  Woo!  She made a nebula pony in honour of the Kennedy Space Centre. It's super awesome.  This side show the Horsehead Nebula, and you'd swear it was airbrushed on, it's so good. But no - Roomy is all about brushes.  There's a little space shuttle with the Canadarm sticking out on her leg (we're proud of that - Canadians like to grab stuff, remember that!).  On her other side is the Cat's Eye Nebula.  I helped with nebula identification, because I love nebulae. They're made of gassy win.
Overall I had an awesome time. My new car, Lorna, did a great job getting us there and back. I can safely say she's broken in, now!  Two weeks with me and she's already needed her first oil change. 

More posts to come later on the Haunted Pony and the legal altercation.  Woo!

Life is good.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Shared Mythologies: the Darkness in the Light

Three years ago, I came home on the day before the solstice to find my fat cat, Merle, lying on the kitchen floor. Usually he would come greet me at the door, but on that day he didn't even lift his head.  He was lethargic, but he purred when I said hi, so I figured he'd eaten something weird (the cat had once chocked on a bell, and he ate an entire pack of contraceptive pills when he was a kitten. It wouldn't be out of the norm).  The fact that he hadn't eaten his breakfast, however, was rather odd.  Merle ate all the time, without fail.  He had an immune deficiency and required cortisone shots every six weeks.  I like to blame those for the hunger/fatness issues.

Once, a few years before that, I thought he had an eye infection.  When we finally brought him to the vet, we found out that his immune deficiency was attacking his gums.  Six teeth were so rotten, they had to be pulled out.  It never slowed down his eating.

So when I realized Merle had missed a meal, I grew concerned. Roomy was away to the Pony Fair in Las Vegas (couldn't drive there, go fig), so I was on my own.  By 6:30 pm, it was obvious that Merle was in distress, so I gently put him in the carrier (as gentle as you can be with a 25 lbs cat), then in Maude (my car), and drove to the emergency clinic.  This is the only call I have ever made on my cell phone while driving.  I called my brother so he could meet me there, since the clinic was not far from his house and I knew I would become a crying mess.

Okay, I was already a mess.  I'd lived with this cat for nine years, since he was a wee bit of a Merle.  My mom had decided she wanted an orange cat to call Miel.  My friend Ren and I made that vision happen.  And he became angry Merle.  He'd stayed with me and my senior tabby, Bart, and the three of us lived alone for a few years, welcoming friends into our house now and then.

We reached the vet clinic and my brother was waiting outside.  The cat weighed a ton, especially in his carrier, but I wanted to carry him in.  We brought him in the room and waited for consultation. He was lethargic still and wasn't purring or moving around anymore.

There's this point in every pet owner's lives when you know your pet isn't coming home.  Sometimes it's really obvious.  With Merle, I knew the second I went to say good bye to him.  They'd strapped him up to monitors and an IV line, and planned on doing tests overnight and contact me with results in the morning.  When I went to say goodbye as he lay in his little cage, I knew that was it.  The cat had a good run, but life had finally caught up to him, at the tender age of nine.

I received the call at midnight, on the cusp of the summer solstice.  His heart had stopped and they had failed to resuscitate him.  They needed my permission to stop efforts, since they hadn't seen this coming, and I had signed no paperwork. 

"Just let him go."

I spent the night with my brother and Ren.  We watched bad movies and laughed at the memories. The next morning, my family gathered for a final farewell.  He had been a big cat, in every sense of the word, and had made a mark in our lives. That was my brother's first Father's Day, too. Well, it was memorable! 

That evening was Earthborn, the Kymeras' summer solstice show. I was a mess.  I hadn't slept all night and had cried most of it.  I thought I'd go and tell just one story, and then come home.  But Ruthanne Edward, the other Kymeras storyteller, was struck down with H1N1, and I needed to tell at least two stories for the audience.  The theme was "home."  I remember that I told a story about Merle, and equated him to home.  Everyone cried.  Except me, cause I was telling at the time and had to maintain some form of composure.  At one point I had to tell the audience to close their eyes and take a deep breath with me, and they all did.  It was soothing and stopped the tears from flowing. Okay, I cried after the show.

I don't fully remember that story. It was created on the spur of the moment, out of grief and exhaustion, and will never be told again.

Some stories just aren't meant to be told more than once.

I always feel nostalgic when the warm weather sweeps through my city.  Tonight, I'm also bringing in my first car, Maude, for a final farewell, the same way that she helped me bring Merle to his final farewell on the same day, three years ago.

I'm looking forward to meeting my new car, but there's still some sadness attached to losing your first car. We went everywhere, Maude and I.  To Cape Breton, Memphis, Rhode Island (twice!), Kentucky, Windsor...  Good memories were made while driving that car.

A friend once told me that it was good to be in a couple, because you had someone to witness your story. I've been single a long time and enjoy it, but I agree with this philosophy, though I don't limit it to couples. I have a great group of friends, my family, who witness life and make it everything it is.

When we buried Merle, they were all there (in spirit if not in person), and I remember watching my nephew, not even a year old, in my sister-in-law's arms.  I remember vividly the rush of grief when I realized that, to my nephew, Merle would only ever be a legend.  A story told at night. Something the old people rambled about.

And then, I took heart when I told the story at Earthborn. Just as I do today telling all of you.  Just as I will tonight when I hand over the keys to Maude to a complete stranger.  Well, I won't necessarily tell him all of it, but I'll share the memories with all of my friends, still. My mythology is theirs, and theirs is mine.

And so Merle and Maude, both caramel-coloured and legendary in my own mind (ha!), will live on in my friends' memories, and in mine. There's great comfort in that, somehow.

Although I now refuse to name any more of my caramel-coloured things with anything starting with "M."  Lesson learned!