Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wheeeeeee!!! Vacation

Today marks the start of my fall vacation. I'm packed and ready to head to Montreal for CON*CEPT. Really looking forward to it. I had a blast at AdAstra earlier this year, so I'm super excited to be going to another con this year.

I'll be in Montreal for a least 4 days, though depending upon how I feel I may extend that by a day and do some sightseeing. Once I get back I'll have the rest of the week off, and it's going to be spent writing. I want to finish the first draft on the story I'm working on and then get some background material written up for the novel I want to start in Nov. Still have not decided if the novel will be part of the NaNoWriMo challenge, as I'd have to write over a thousand words a day every day for the month to do it. We'll see.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Everything At Once

It amazes me sometimes how everything seems to come up at once. So many things seem to want my attention at the same time.

For example, let's look at last week. Tuesday and Wednesday I was at Showcase Ontario, an IT conference/show for the Ontario government. So right there are two days of walking and standing around, and they were long days as well. Showcase took place in Toronto and I live in St. Catharines, and it was determined that we were within "commute" distance, so no hotels paid for by the government; we had to drive in each day. This meant leaving at six in the morning and not getting home till after six at night, with at least 4 hours spent driving each way. At least I didn't have to drive and was able to catch a ride, but still, being stuck in a car for the equivalent of half a normal workday is far from pleasant. So Wednesday night I was exhausted.

And did I get a chance to veg out and rest? Of course not!

Saturday was a kendo tournament in London, Ont., and Wednesday night was the final class before the tournament so I had to head to class as soon as I got home from Showcase and get all my equipment squared away so that there was no delay on Saturday, and Wednesday was the only chance I'd have. So, exhausted beyond belief I dragged myself to class and got that dealt with.

So fast forward to Saturday, and I'm up at 5AM to get ready to leave at 6 and drive over 2 hours to London. Thankfully I'd had a chance to rest a bit the previous two days, but I was so tempted to roll over and go back to sleep instead of going to work. But, I made it in to work and wasn't completely wasted for Saturday.

It was my first kendo tournament. I just started kendo about 4 months ago, so I wasn't about to get all dressed up in armor and start swinging. I was there to compete in the basic skills over 16 years old competition. It went well. I thought I could have been better, but I did end up in third place and took a metal home. The other guys did well, with our senior sensei taking second place in the masters over 50 section. But in the end, I got home exhausted from a long week.

So what about Sunday? Couldn't I just spend the day lounging around and recovering? Sadly no.

Sunday was Word on The Street in Toronto. Now, I could have skipped it this year, but I really wanted to go to the writing workshop tent and browse the vendors to see if I could find any really great deals. Well, I did end up sleeping in and didn't get there till nearly 2PM. Still, that gave me enough time to browse and catch a couple workshops. Really didn't find any deals that struck my fancy, which is the exact opposite of last year where I could have dropped a few hundred easily.

So the next few weeks are going to be nice and quiet, right? Nope. Next weekend I'm off to Montreal for Con*Cept. This should be interesting. I had a blast at AdAstra this year, and I'm hoping the experience in Montreal is the same.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Clash of The Geeks Now Out

The Scalzi/Wheaton Fan Fic contest that I didn't win (Grrrrrr... ah well, better luck next time) has now been made available for download. Find more on Scalzi's site here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Dork Review: Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks by Ethan Gilsdorf (yes, the guy's name sounds like he belongs in a fantasy book, and yes he does make mention of this in the book) bills itself as "An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms".

So, does it hit he mark on this?

I don't know about epic, but it definitely is a personal journey for the author where he attempts to reconnect with an earlier self, the part of him that needed to escape from a life torn asunder by a parent's illness. He found solace in a group of friends playing Dungeons and Dragons, back in the early eighties when it was as far as cool as possible to play. Not that most DnD players are really that cool now, but hey, we can count Lexa Doig and Vin Diesel amongst us now so at least the average level of attractiveness has risen. (Referring mostly to Lexa Doig on that one, as I'm not into guys, but for those of you who are please enjoy the mental image of Vin)

Anyhoo, let me break down the book for you. Guy has midlife crisis and problems with girlfriend, guy attempts to figure his shit out by going back to the fantasy escapism that dominated his teen years and that he gave up in college, guy tries to see if it's possible to be into fantasy and still be a normal regular person. Finally, guy finds out a lot about himself and sees many different facets of geek behavior and writes it down for many to read.

Did I like this book? Yes. It reminded me a lot of my teen years. Let's face it, I was a loner through high school. Heck, I'm still pretty much of a loner now, but with much better social skills then back then. I get where this guy is coming from. I remember being the outcast, the weirdo, the new kid in school that had no friends and didn't know how to make them. Like Gilsdorf I was never the jock or the stoner or the art dude or what have you. I was the guy in the library devouring books, the guy who rarely spoke up in class, the guy who wondered if he'd ever fit in. This book reminded me a lot about that time in my life, so it struck a very personal nerve. Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs were one of the few ways I had to connect with others and start to come out of my shell. I don't know if I would be even contemplating being a published author if my imagination hadn't been filled and developed by stories I crafted with friends over paper and dice.

If what I've described above touches a nerve with you, then I recommend reading this book. It may well be worth it just to remember what it was like to escape for a little bit, before you go back out to fight the dragons that exist in real life.

Find Ethan's site here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Rejection

Well, Riding Europa has been rejected by another site/publisher/magazine. Looks like I've exhausted the pro-rate markets I can submit to online, now to start printing and mailing. I think I'll start Canadian and submit it to On Spec first.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Apparently I'm a 36 year-old Happy Female

Ok, so Jen from Blag Hag (the lovely young woman behind BoobQuake) posted a site a few days ago that performs text analysis on the content of blogs and then provides a report. Here are my results to the left.

So, apparently I write as if I'm a woman in her mid thirties to late forties, who is generally positive and personal. So, I'm a happy cougar on the prowl who likes to get personal.

Hmm... not bad, except that I'm a straight male just about to turn 33. The happy parts seems about right though. I'm a lot happier now than I was a few years ago.

If you're interested, the site can be found here.

The Dork Review: Filaria

So are you looking for a nice light read? Something fluffy you could read with your brain parked in neutral, your neurons gently resting while you watch happy bunnies and kitties frolic?

This book ain't that.

Let me be frank, and not Frank the guy who owns the gym I go to, but frank as in honest. I like this book, so keep that in mind when you read the rest of this review.

Filaria is dark. Dark as in coal covered in tar buried deep underground in the middle of the night. Underground works as well, for the setting is a complex buried in the crust of an unnamed planet. It could be Earth, it could be anywhere in the universe. Where it is doesn't matter. What matters is the people filling this world, their struggles, triumphs and defeats as they live in a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams.

The book is told from four different viewpoints, and switches between views regular as clockwork. It's interesting to watch how events in one persons view are perceived by another viewpoint character, and to see what characters from each section appear in others. Brent Hayward, the author, does a great job of weaving a story out of these very different takes on the world, and reveals information with style throughout the book. Each viewpoint character lives on the page and you really do get into their heads and begin to understand how they view their world. To me this novel is a great example of artistry to keep in mind when I write.

I must issue the following warning though: If you primarily read more direct literature, say Harry Potter or Honor Harrington, be aware that this book is much closer to what some English majors would consider "literary" instead of the "genre crap" that the rest of us real people read (please be aware this is not a dig against genre fiction, which I love and read and do write, or against English majors, of which I was one, but I have seen that attitude amongst some of them). I could easily see this book being part of a course on Modern literature I took in university, or perhaps it would fit better in Post-modern studies. I dunno. I never studied Post-modernism.

So to sum up, Filaria is a university level read. It's dark, complex, loaded with imagery and well crafted characters, and not to be undertaken lightly. Still, go out and read it and stretch your mind a bit. If you don't your brain may get stiff from disuse.

Oh, and before I forget, this book's should be available in stores so good hunting. If they don't have it, ask them to order you a copy or order directly from the publisher here. (Yes it's another Chizine book. I had to read it before I go to the convention in October in case I ran into the publisher and he asks if I have, so it got placed on the top of the pile. And now I've read everything from Chizine I currently have. Guess the means I have to buy some more in October.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Dork Review: Objects of Worship

Wow, it's been awhile since I've done a book review. You'd think I hadn't been reading. Truth is I read a lot, but a lot of it lately has been non-fiction and/or really niche items that would only be interesting for a limited amount of people, like books about kendo or samurai, or the book's been nice and all but not worthy of the effort of a blog post.

Alright then, so what makes Objects of Worship by Claude Lalumiere worthy of me taking the time to review it? Because it's freaking awesome!

Ok, maybe I'm going a bit overboard with the praise, but I really did enjoy this book. It's a collection of short stories by a Montreal author, all of it work that has appeared elsewhere. To be honest, I generally prefer to read short stories in this format. Grabbing a bunch by the same author at the same time just works better in my opinion. The stories tend to be more consistent in tone and structure, at the very least in the skill level in which they are executed.

Now, before I bought this book I hadn't read anything by Lalumiere. I was taken in by the sales pitch put forth by the publisher, Brett Alexander Savory of Chizine (real nice guy BTW), and picked this up at Ad Astra earlier this year. I think the phrase that sold me was "gay zombies raising a human child". Yes, there are zombies in this book, in more than one story. Don't worry, they're good stories and not tired retreads of an already exhausted concept. Add in at least one Cthulu-like being, a few superheros, and a dash of weird family values and you've got one heck of a mix. Sprinkle a bit of sex, in a few different forms, and you're done.

Pick it up direct from the publisher here, as you aren't likely to find this in any bookstore. That's both the unfortunate and wonderful thing about small publishers. When you find them they can be gems, but like most gems they're hard to find lying around.

EDIT: Turns out I was mistaken. This and many other fine CZP books can be found in stores across North America. Go out and find them, and if your store doesn't have any, ask for them to get some in.