Sunday, October 24, 2010

Congrats To Trevor and Toosje!

This weekend I was in the wedding party for my friend Trevor. First time I'd ever worn a tux in my life. Thank goodness they came in early, as the rental place screwed up everything above the waist and had to reorder. Getting a tux for me is, let's say it's a challenge as I'm a bigger guy over 6 foot.

The bride looked radiant, the bridesmaids were lovely, heck, even us groomsmen didn't look too bad in our tuxes. Heck, I even got told I clean up nice. Of course it was inevitable that my mother would find something that needed to be adjusted. 

Thankfully there weren't too many people in the church when she started man-handling me. :)

And yes, that's as much of a picture of me as you're going to get right now. If I find a better one amongst the wedding photos I'll post it, but so far I haven't seen one I really liked. Of course, I really do dislike just about every photo that's ever been taken of me so finding one I like is going to be a challenge.

All in all the wedding was a blast. I'm really happy for my friend and his lovely wife!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Block Busting

I'm feeling really good tonight. Wanna know why? Cause I wrote over 1000 words today, in about 2-3 hours!

You have no idea how good it feels to get that much word count out on the page, especially since it doesn't feel like I was just putting down words to fill up said page. What I wrote down actually felt good, like I was actually putting something down that wasn't total shite. Now, it may be, I wont really know until I go back in a few days and work at editing it, but still, it's nice to feel things flow. For the last few weeks getting words out has felt like wringing water out of a dry towel. In other words, friggin impossible. I was lucky some nights to get 100 words on the page, for those nights I was able to write at all because life kept interrupting.

But tonight I finished the first draft of a new story, and soon I should have some feedback on the novella/novelette I've written so I can work on that. Also, I will start getting things in line soon to start my novel in November, which will not be a NaNoWriMo project. I can't guarantee I won't get blocked again (I hate using that word but it's the only one I can think of that's accurately descriptive), so I don't want to put added pressure on myself. Writing a novel is pressure enough.

I can do it though. I'm going to write a novel, edit it, get it read and get feedback, edit it some more and then try to get it published, then start another novel while that one makes the rounds. I can do this, I know I can.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Bold Marketing Plan

Just read a story where an unknown author hurled his book at President Obama to make sure he got a copy. Very inventive, however, I think I'll avoid using that tactic when I finally get published. I mean, there are plenty of things I'd love to hurl at Stephen Harper, none of them books. I mean, what a waste of paper that would be.

Original story can be found here.

More Focused Writing

Something interesting I've noticed in my writing lately, is that I'm more aware and conscious of what exactly is going down on the page, as in I can see a wider perspective storywise with every word I put down.

Hmmm... how best to explain this. Ok, right now I'm working on the first draft of a short story involving a samurai fighting demons. I noticed early on in the draft I had him talking to his horse, but this made no sense at all because I wanted him to be taciturn and stoic seeming, so it made no sense for him to talk to his horse. It may sound odd, but this was a revelation to me. I could better see how to evoke this character on the first draft instead of having to go back and edit it later. Therefore my first draft feels stronger to me.

What I guess I'm trying to say is, that instead of just vomiting forth words onto the page I've become more mindful of what I'm actually writing, essentially I feel I actually writing better now that my mind is better attuned to what I want to actually accomplish.

Put another way, instead of just reaching out and using whatever cliched thing comes to mind I'm actually thinking deeper in my construction of my prose and characters. Maybe I'm not as hopeless as I thought I was. (Even though I have had words said to me I'm not hopeless, but still, that little voice at the back of my head telling me I suck still exists).

This should make things really interesting when I start writing a novel come November. The plan is Nov 1 I start writing it, with an update each week, probably on Monday, as to where I am in my progress. I hope to have a first draft done within three months, then take a break to work on a short story before tackling a second draft. We'll see.

It should be interesting.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Dork Review: Virga: Cities of The Air

Let me just say that Karl Schroeder makes me feel like a drooling idiot, and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

So full disclosure, when I first heard of the concept behind the Virga novels I didn't think much of them. They just didn't excite me, and I hadn't read any of Karl's work at that point so I had no interest based upon knowing the author's style yet. Then I read a free copy of Ventus available on his website between calls at work and loved it. Everything about that book was believable and fantastic at the same time. Ventus became as real to me as the chair I was sitting in or the the bus I ride to work each day. That is the mark of a great author.

So, at this point I'm interested in Karl's work, and willing to read something else, but having a shelf full of books to read and promising myself I wouldn't by any more books until I had read all the pending ones it was unlikely I'd have a chance to read anything of his anytime soon. Two factors changed this, a gift card from Chapters for my birthday and an eight hour bus ride to Montreal.

Virga: Cities of The Air is a trade paperback priced just above $20, and with a gift card for that amount that I didn't want sitting around till it was forgotten I picked it up in time for my trip to Con*Cept. I love trade paperbacks. I love the feeling of value I get in buying them, and knowing that I'm getting multiple books for the price of one. The only drawback is not getting the individual covers, but this can be a blessing or a curse depending upon the cover art anyways.

So on the to meat of the review. The trade collects Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce, both books set in the artificial world of Virga, where life literally revolves around multiple smaller suns and one giant sun in the center known, funnily enough, and Candesce. Just like Ventus this world is evoked so strongly and clearly in the text that it lives in the reader's mind, taking root and thriving in the imagination. It's a world where gravity is optional, where heroes ride on jetbikes and airships prowl the endless skies dodging floating icebergs. And it's hard-SF! There is no magic in this book except for the words contained within.

This unbelievable world is filled with believable characters, from the dashing military man, his scheming yet loving wife, to the tormented hero on the jetbike who wants revenge against the man who caused his parents death. The characters grow throughout the books, becoming more than the just brief descriptions, becoming real people who speak to the reader. 

My opinion of Virga could not be any different now then when I first heard about it. Truly these books are a masterpiece, and I can't wait for the next two books to be released in trade paperback. Aside from being great books they give me a goal to strive for, to make my writing as powerful and evocative. I may never reach that level, but I'm inspired to try.

I recommend you pick up these books, for the world contained within, the intriguing characters, and the adventure of traveling through a realm beyond imagination.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Con*Cept 2010 Con Report

I'm back from Con*Cept and had a day to decompress. Needed it after over 8 hours traveling by bus. Ugh, next time I'm taking the train, for reasons that will become clearer below.

First, let me state that I had a blast at Con*Cept. It's important I say this, because there were a few things about the trip that annoyed/irritated me and I'm going to mention them. The things that annoyed me had absolutely nothing to do with the people running the con or the con itself or any of the guests, and I want that to be absolutely clear before I go any further.

Ok, so here's how it all began. Friday morning I'm up and raring to go, get to the downtown bus terminal and find out that what was supposed to be a $129.00 open return ticket is actually going to cost me $220. Thank you St. Catharines Transit employee who either gave me the wrong price by mistake or flat out lied to me. Too late to make the train which would have been about $15 cheaper and I really did not want to drive nearly 8 hours straight all by myself. Grrrrr....

Alright, no worries, just a little bump. I had to switch buses in Toronto and thankfully the driver of the first bus warned me that the one to Montreal leaves 5 minutes after we arrive in Toronto. So I grab my bag and rush over, only to find out it isn't one of the regular Coach Canada buses, it's a "Megabus", meaning no overhead for my backpack and I have to hunt and peck for a seat as I'm one of the last people on the bus and it's nearly full. Again, grrr....

Now, I'm no stranger to long car rides. All of the family vacation I went on while growing up involved me and my sister jammed in the back of a car, so I can amuse myself on a long trip. I'd just bought Virga: Cities of The Air, a trade paperback of the first two Virga novels by Karl Schroeder (review on the way later this week), so I had that to read on the trip, but seeing some people with laptops able to access the internet on the Megabus had me puzzled for a bit. The girl in the seat in front of me was updating her Facebook, far enough away that I couldn't read it so I wasn't snooping but close enough I could recognize the page. I figured she must have a Rogers or Bell stick, but I found out on the way home that the bus had wireless Internet when the driver announced that the Internet had been turned on, meaning if I had a laptop or iPad I could have been using that with wireless access the whole trip up. Something to consider for the next long bus or train ride, as while I really enjoyed the book there were times it would have been nice to have something else to look at/watch for awhile.

Alright, so I arrived in Montreal a little worn around the edges but not too tired. I get to the hotel and get my room key, fascinate the clerk with my umbrella that has a handle like a katana, and head to my room to drop my stuff off. Once in the room I find it a bit warm, but there are no controls that I can see for the temperature and the windows don't open. It looks like there's an air conditioner in the window, but I don't see a way to turn it on and, really, it's the fall. I'd much rather have the windows open and a nice breeze blowing through but that ain't gonna happen. Grrrrrrr....

So the traveling is over, I'm at the con, now what? Well, registration was quick and simple, opening ceremonies had cake (yeah cake!) and then off to some panels. Really, the day started to pick up from this point, though I did make the mistake of eating dinner in the hotel. Ugh, overpriced and lackluster, blah!

Still, I really did enjoy the first night. Con*Cept really does have a different vibe then AdAstra. I don't think I saw anyone in costume on Friday night, and there weren't that many in costume on Saturday or Sunday either. The Masquerade on Saturday only had six participants, including one very sexy Barbarella, as compared to the dozens of people I saw at AdAstra in some really elaborate costumes.

The real gems at Con*Cept were the panels. I think I attended just about every single one there was on writing, with panelists that included Marie Bilodeau, Erik Buchanan, Violette Malan, Karen Dales, Jo Walton, and the guest of honor, Tad Williams and his lovely wife, Deborah Beale. Really, there wasn't a single panel that I didn't come away from wishing that we'd had more time on the subject.

The highlight of the whole con had to be the Sunday morning brunch. Now, originally my plan had been to sit near Lar De Souza because I love the webcomic he draws and would love the chance to ask him about the process of creating it. Yeah, that plan got tossed out the window after seeing Tad Williams on a few panels. Now, I've never read one of Tad's books. I think I tried to start Memory, Sorrow and Thorn at one point but if I remember correctly I got the wrong book as it was a few books into the series and so much had happened in the previous books that would have been useful to know, yadda, yadda, yadda

So back on point, I sat near Tad and his wife Deborah at the brunch, and really the hotel could have served us cardboard and I wouldn't have noticed. Both of them were intelligent and engaging, with stories galore, but they also listened and had real conversations with the people around them rather then just talking and attempting to sell books. There were just really, really nice people, and so obviously still in love with and comfortable around each other after twenty years of marriage which is always nice to see and pleasant to be around. There was just so much positive energy around that table I couldn't leave, even though there was panel I wanted to get to.

The rest of Sunday was pretty low key and fun. I got to attend my first Dead Dog party and ended up going out to dinner with a bunch of people from the con, including Twitchy and a couple others involved in running the WTFur con (sorry, couldn't find a link for it).

Monday was another day spent traveling. I decided to forgo extending my stay as I hadn't a single decent night's sleep the whole time I was in that hotel room, even though I'd figured out how to turn the fan on the air conditioner on it still didn't make a difference. Plus the bed was too soft. And the rooms they had the panels in weren't really soundproofed well so noise leaked in from outside. Let's just say I hope next year is held in a different hotel.

So, would I go again next year? I dunno. At this point I plan to hit AdAstra for sure next year, and spend at least a day at AnimeNorth with a group I know putting on a sword demo. Other than that, I would really like to go to Polaris. I didn't go this year because of a special commitment that won't be in place next year, and in 2011 they'll have Adam Baldwin who played Jayne in Firefly, one of the coolest characters on one of my favorite shows.

To sum things up, for a freaking long blog post, con was great, hotel sucked, bus ride sucked, met and hung out with some great people. Totally worth it!