Posts Tagged ‘News’


Tomorrow I start

June 1, 2011

Tomorrow, June 1st, I’m sitting down and starting the new WIP. Do I have every detail of plot as ironed out as I would like? No, not really, but looking over my old notes from Project W has made me realize how much of that story was conceived on the fly. It’s like the old saying that writing a book is like driving at night; you can only see as far as your headlights allow, but you can make the whole trip that way.

My trusty guide

As for world-building and characterization… well, a lot of the world-building still holds from Project W, as it’s set in the same universe. The characters are new, but they seem talkative and cooperative thus far. As always, I’m quietly excited to see who gets picked up along the way. It’s like the night before the first day of school- when you know, at that very moment, there is someone out there who will become one of your new friends. But at that very moment, neither of you knows the other exists yet.

I have some idea of what I’m in for. My map and bag are packed, my travelling companions are raring to go, but there’s still one or two last-minute checks to make.

The night before anything is always one of the longest and shortest nights, isn’t it?



I Now Officially Write for a Living

May 21, 2011

No, I have not sold a book yet. However, I have managed to find and obtain a job which marries three of my major loves in life, those loves being…

  • Writing
  • History
  • Working with kids

Starting at the end of this month, I will be the “Theatre Programmer” at the Pioneer Village just outside of town. Essentially, I will read turn-of-the-century kids’ novels, do historical research on my own, and then write and perform monologues for kids.

Wearing Victorian clothing.


In a Pioneer Village.

The amount of awesomeness just increased dramatically. I intend to keep serving on my days off (especially now that I’m getting the hang of it, and enjoy meeting all the interesting people we get in the restaurant), but this is really my dream job.

I’m being paid to write. Not only that, I get to introduce kids to history. And even better, I get a taste of everyday Victorian life for myself. Yes, I will admit, that my first thought after hanging up the phone (well, second, my first thought was probably “HUZZAH!!!”), was…

Imagine the steampunk I’ll be able to write after this!



No more libraries???

May 19, 2011

I never thought it would happen, but apparently the days of the school library may be numbered.

On the surface, the idea seems absurd. Schools are places of learning. Having a huge collection of books in one place is an excellent way to facilitate learning. Therefore, leaving aside the issues of getting kids to enjoy reading (which I’ll get to in a second), it would seem a matter of practicality to equip schools with libraries.

Yes, technology is changing. We rely more on the Internet for research, and last I heard, Amazon was selling more e-books than actual print-and-paper books. However, that does not subtract from the importance of books as a research source. Do me a favour. The next time a set of encyclopediae is handy, look up a topic of your choosing. Then, boot up your computer, access the Internet, and search for the same topic. I’m willing to bet you’ll end up on Wikipedia.

I’m also willing to bet that it took much less time to simply open a book. Then, since I’m such a gamblin’ soul, I will make one final bet that the information in your print encyclopedia was reviewed and fact-checked, making it more reliable than the encyclopedia that “anyone can edit.”

And this is just looking at libraries from a purely academic point of view. These are school libraries on the chopping block. School libraries are instrumental in exposing kids to books and making the world of reading an accessible one. I cannot count the hours I spent in my elementary school library, devouring books that I found on my own as I perused the shelves, as well as those the librarian recommended to me. The Call of the Wild. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. From the Earth to the Moon. The Chronicles of Narnia. Sherlock Holmes. Ancient Myths and Legends. The War of the Worlds. Watership Down. Redwall. Silver Chief. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. The Hobbit.

Notice, if you will, the presence of a lot of “older” books: Verne, Wells, London. While my school library certainly had books for a younger audience, it also carried the classics. So, when you read everything of interest in the “little kid” section, you naturally moved on to some literature that, in hindsight, was extremely good preparation for the rest of my schooling, as well as my current writing.

I don’t know that it would have been possible in a public library. Don’t get me wrong, I love public libraries too, but… many of them are a lot bigger. The librarians don’t often know you as personally, and can’t always provide that individualized recommendation. They can’t say, “It’s about a magical land, with a wicked queen and a lion who saves the day. It may be a little scary, but I think you’ll like it.”

Too often, we hear news stories about how kids don’t read, kids don’t use their imagination, kids don’t have any attention span anymore because they’re too hooked in to TV and video games. Growing up, my home was well-stocked with books because my parents were huge readers. But not every child is so fortunate. Nor does every child have a public library that’s close and easily accessed (which is a tragedy too).

And yet, if you give kids the opportunity to explore books freely and comfortably, they will eventually find something that makes their imaginations soar. Then you have a reader for life.

Reading is like drinking seawater. The more you drink, the thirstier you become.

Keep them thirsting for more.



Endeavour is Off

May 16, 2011

Apparently, I was sadly misled. Or I missed NASA’s updates. Either way, I’m saddened.

I thought Endeavour would fly the final shuttle mission. She gets the next-to-last instead. While I have no real issue with Atlantis seeing out the shuttle age, it would have been nice to witness Endeavour’s final lift-off. As the last mission is scheduled on or around my birthday (end of June- mark your calendars), it would have been even nicer.

But life is what it is. I’ve lamented about the end of the shuttle programme before. The mood now seems akin to the last few weeks of school. There’s a sense of inevitable winding-down, the imminent closing of a chapter. I am proud of the fleet, the astronauts, and the ground-based crews. I’m nervously excited for the future (excited because who knows where we’ll go, nervous because with budget cuts and red tapes, who knows where we’ll go…).

And yes, I’m a little sad that one of the world’s most beautiful machines will be grounded.

Endeavour is “my” ship for a simple reason: as a small child, I spent a few summers at Space Camp/Camp Spatial Canada. Although probably not as cool as the American versions of Space Camp (i.e. the ones close to actual space centres), we nevertheless got to live in a space museum, test astronaut simulators, and fly missions in a full-scale mock-up of Endeavour.

She dominated the training pit, taking up most of the space in the vast hall while the simulators clustered alongside the walls. Every time you walked through the hall, the hulking space craft drew your eye. And while I did have (*cough*still have*cough*) an overactive imagination, I do remember having a moment of disorientation after one “mission,” illogically wondering how she’d landed in the training room without crashing through the walls.

And to the crew now orbiting the Earth: best of luck, and come home safely.

The Cosmodome

In the museum




Simulator at lower right




May 10, 2011

I continue to muddle along at the restaurant. On my last “training day,” I was paired with a server who actually took the time to walk me through things step-by-step, gave me opportunities for “dry runs” (i.e. practicing clearing and resetting an empty table in the back), and gave me her number to call if I got overwhelmed on my first solo shift.

Cue a huge sigh of relief.

With parts of my brain able to focus on things other than stressfearstresspanicstressohGodno, I found myself actually enjoying the work. Admittedly, last night was frighteningly slow, but I wasn’t complaining. In fact, I realized that working in a restaurant may “feed” into my writing.

People have always fascinated me. Who they are, why they act the way they do, what they’re thinking, what their lives are like. I’m the person that “reads” on the subway while secretly composing stories about the other passengers. Not in a creepy way, mind you. Just in a curious, playful way.

Restaurants are even better for that than subways.

Obviously, it’s not terribly polite to eavesdrop on your diners. Still, inevitably, you pick up scraps here and there. That’s actually better from a writing perspective, because you have to fill in the gaps yourself, thereby flexing your creative muscle and avoiding possible libel charges. Even if you don’t actually interact with a diner directly,  the mere sight of someone can spark something.

That’s particularly true of this restaurant, which sits at the junction between a few very different neighbourhoods. It’s within walking distance of the office tower crowd, the urban hippies, the university, a slightly “gritty” part of town, and Chinatown.

We attract a mix.

I have seen beautifully coiffed, older people who come in alone and savour every bite. I’ve seen couples gazing at each other across the tables. I’ve met the “regulars,” two middle-aged women who have a glass of wine and a long “girl-chat” every night after work.  

So much human experience. So many slices of life.

I may actually have another job offer at hand. But if it doesn’t work out… well, I have a feeling I’ll be all right here.



Kind Words

April 22, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the agent-hunt, and since I just received another “No” in my inbox, I suppose this makes it a good time for an update.

So. The “No’s” have been flying fast and furious (I know the plurals usually don’t take apostrophes, but “Nos” just looks funny to me. Like I was typing “Nose” but forgot to finish the word). They’ve pretty much all been of the “Dear Author” variety too, although I’m not so sure about this last one. Either the agent is excellent at making form letters sound more personal, or it wasn’t a form letter.

Naturally, this isn’t the most encouraging, although I think I’ve reached the point where it’s pretty easy to shrug it off and send it out again. Persistence is the key, right?

I will admit, I was kind of reaching the point where I was wondering if I should just move on. Spring seems to be my time for pre-writing, and I am well into working out the plot points of a new novel. If all goes well, that’s what I’ll be working on this summer. But I digress. Note that I said, “I was kind of reaching the point…”

That’s because I did get a much better kind of “No” than “Dear Author.” I got a “No” from an editor that was along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing like mad here), “I’m not sure we could sell it, but it needs a home. You should try [insert publishers’ names here].”

Even though it was a no, it made my day. It was a “No-but-I-like-it” kind of no, and I think that’s the best kind. The assertion that “it needs a home” especially made me smile, because of its perfect timing. After all I was on the point of wondering whether I should just quietly put this one aside. Now… well, now I think I’m going to push on with it for  a while longer.

Simple words can have a strong impact.


PS. It occurs to me that it’s nearly Easter. I shall probably have to do something to mark the occasion. 🙂


I’ve come to a decision

April 1, 2011

Hi everyone,

This has been perhaps the hardest post for me to write. Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as much lately. This is regrettable. I wish I could blame it all on life and work imploding around me, but it’s been more than that.

I thought I knew what I wanted. For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of being a writer. One of the earliest connections I felt with the craft happened at age six. A visiting storyteller mentioned how when he was a kid, other kids thought he was weird because he wandered around by himself, muttering stories under his breath. I remember sitting bolt upright amongst all the other children on the floor, my eyes like saucers because I did the exact same thing. And here was proof that I wasn’t weird: I was just a future storyteller, just like this guy.

Some years later, and… well, I’m feeling pulls in another direction. Yes, I know I was just talking about making early notes for another novel, but if the first one isn’t doing so well making the rounds of the agent-hunt… I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to heed those pulls.

After much soul-searching, I have decided, with much sadness, that I am going to pull out of the arts. Carefully place my notebooks on the shelf. Cap all my pens. Close the laptop lid.

Writing is… was… wonderful for me. But it was all dreaming  empty thoughts about things that don’t exist. And while I am profoundly grateful for the experience, I think it’s time for me to grow up. No more spaceships. No more dragons. No more sending heroes off to save the world.

I’m done with Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m done with writing.

I need something concrete, something real. And frankly, I need something that will actually bring in enough money to keep my stomach full and a roof over my head.

So, thank you all for staying with me, and with Intergalactic Writers’ Inc., for this long. I appreciate it more than you will ever know. And before I sign off on this, the final post here at IWI, I would just like to say:

Bwahahahahaha! Oh man, I could not keep a straight face writing all that. Just to make things perfectly clear, I will not stop writing until I am a mindless brain in a jar. Bring on the SF/F. Let there be dragons and magic, androids and spaceships, cyberpunk and steampunk, urban and dark fantasy, space operas and epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, and heroes and heroines for many, many, many years to come.

Cheerfully (if cheekily) yours,