Friday, 30 September 2011

Letters with no Reply - Manuscript

Sometimes it's best not to get replies. Or send letters.  Still, a letter needed to be written to this evil, uncooperative manuscript.  It was going to be an awesome book, a prequel to Destiny's Blood, but it was not meant to be. Heck, it didn't WANT to be!  I was struggling (for a whole month!)

Meanwhile, not knowing I was working on this despicable book, Dragon Moon Press requested two sequels to Destiny's Blood.  Now there was a sign that I should change writing gears!

Once I started writing the first sequel, I understood why the prequel wasn't working out. My heroes were not in the right place, or rather the right time. The sequel started tumbling together as I used bits of the prequel, their story now supporting this story instead of being the story. (Work that out in your heads.)

As the first of those two sequels is now in Gabrielle Harbowy's awesome editing hands, it's time for me to truly let go of that failed prequel. Here's the letter I wrote to it before giving up on it.
Dearest Manuscript,

I was very excited about your imminent arrival.  I cleaned up my desktop and my writing desk for you.  I made a new file.  I archived old documents.  I bought a new notebook (hard-cover, spiral-bound, 8.5x11 – my faves), and I purchased multiple-coloured pens to welcome you in style.

Despite all of this, you have yet to show up.  After the first few days I brushed it off as a minor held-back, perhaps a traffic jam?  But it has been over a month, and I have come to believe that you, manuscript, are inconsiderate.

Oh, the plans I had for you.  We were going to dive back into the world of Destiny’s Blood and face the Ether Wars.  We were going to rely on the powers of the Berganda to lead us through the wild chase, and help a young woman find her best friend and her true home.  People were going to laugh, cry, and feel damn good about the whole thing by the end.

And I was ready for that ending.  I had the last party all planned out.  Our Berganda heroine was going to come back after having faced pain, death, true friendship, loss and hope, and she was going to go back home, where it all began.  And that was going to be the greatest metamorphosis for her, and it would have changed her fate forever.  A fate changed of her own choice. That was going to be the best part.

But no.  You just didn’t feel like showing up.

I'm disappointed in you, Manuscript. Very, very disappointed.  But you know what? I'll go on without you. There are plenty of other manuscripts that would like to hang out with me. I don't need you.

So there.



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Apple Thief at Windborn

I'm very excited for Windborn this Sunday. Not only do I get to hear wonderful tales and poems from fellow Kymeras Sean Zio and Ruthanne Edward (Kathryn Hunt is sadly out of town), I'll also get to enjoy The Fruit Machine by special guest Brendan McLeod.  I saw this show during the last season of Once Upon a Slam, and it was good fun. Well worth coming out to see. 

On top of all of that fun and goodness, I get to premiere a story I've been toying with for a long time. This is the story of Emily. I first touched on her story when giving a small talk years ago about the creation of stories. Out of thin air, I mentioned the story of Emily, the young girl who stood on the other side of the road from Cinderella's house, tears streaming down her face as the prince found the foot that matched the glass slipper. I was curious about her story, but it took another five years for it to materialize. (Some stories are rude, let's face it.)

And what did make the story materialize honestly surprised me. For Windborn, the Kymeras selected the theme of apples. And, while prepping my stories, my very late psyche informed me that Emily was an apple thief. With that strange connection, the story plopped itself down comfortably into my mind.

It's a two-part story and a it's got a bit of everything - romance, betrayal, magic and curses. And apples, of course!

I'll also be at Jo Walton's Farthing Party in Montreal this weekend. It's a quaint con, with one track of programming and no dealers room. I think it's going to be awesome. It'll be nice and cozy and involve lots of chatting and listening to cool topics. I love cool topics.

I'm leaving Farthing Party at 4 o'clock and racing back to Ottawa for Windborn. I should be there around 6:30, which is good since the show start at 7 pm at the Mercury Lounge (in the Byward Market - Check out the Facebook event page.)

Good times, my friends! Hope you come out and meet Emily!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Letters with no Reply - Videotron

Videotron is a huge cable and Internet provider in Quebec.  I loved them and then I didn't.  Really not.  I believe this is the original letter with no replies.  To be fair, I never did receive another bill, which I suppose is a type of reply. 

Dear Videotron,

Although I truly sympathize that business may currently be financially challenging, I find myself within the impossibility of paying bills for a service that you no longer provide for my household.

I also understand that it may be difficult choosing which of your old clients to harass with repetitive billing, and am indeed flattered you have chosen me, despite paying a disconnection fee and already spending entirely too much time on the phone fixing the last bill mix-up.  I am afraid, however, that I must decline this honour.

If you would like a list of whom to harass in the region with faulty bills, I suggest you simply do like all successful spammers and purchase one online.  As it stands, please remove me from your bill-spamming list.

Don't misunderstand me - I applaud your enterprising spirits in raising funds. Truly. I must, however, reinforce the point that I have decided not to pay this faulty bill, reflecting the same decision I took for the last five months.  Please accept my consistency as proof that I will not be returning to your company, neither now nor in a hundred years.  I have entirely too little time available to try to sort out your business dealings.

Rest assured that I will not recommend your company to any of my acquaintances, and may in fact stomp on any of your future advertisements. 



Monday, 12 September 2011

Can-Con 2011

This weekend was Can-Con 2011 in Ottawa, and it was awesome time.  I had the pleasure of seeing lots of old friends and make new ones, talked books with some fun people (and got some awesome trades!), was brought peach juice by klingons and the wonderful con suite folk, and ate lots of chocolate.  Really, that makes for a perfect con.

But, above that, this con will always be special to me since it'll always me my first Guest of Honour gig (in 2010), AND it's in my city. We only have one sci-fi con in Ottawa, so let's support it by showing up in even greater numbers next year. Trust me - it's definitely worth it!

I left my brain in the con suite (I'm sure they'll get it back to me), so I really can't piece anything else together right now. Just wanted to give a quick word of appreciation to the con-com, the participants, fellow panelists and guests. Hope you had as much fun as I did!

Next con: Farthing Party in Montreal in two weekends! Woo!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Star Trek and Can-Con

Today is Star Trek's 45th anniversary! I remember when I first encountered Star Trek. My parents had forbidden me from watching it (even though neither one of them remembers why). I used to hide under the dining room table and watch it from there, with chair legs in my way. But I still thought it was awesome cool.

Of course I was allowed to watch cartoons and, when I was a kid, a lot of cartoons in French were dubbed animes. Those that were from France and not Japan usually made it to the Japanese market anyway since they hosted similar themes (war and death!), so I'm not sure how that was much better. Watching that orphan's dog being ripped apart by wolves as it tried to protect its master was so much better than Kirk and his ripped shirt, I'm sure.

And then my parents split up and I was allowed to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. That's right. From no Star Trek to falling asleep as Freddie maimed people in front of me, then waking up to a dark room after the movie had ended, the screen flickering menacingly while your brother and father are now but shadowy lumps on the floor in front of you and you wonder if they're DEAD because they're just lying there and Freddie might be coming and you're cold and little and too scared to move. (Turns out they were sleeping.)

But I digress.

Go, Star Trek!

This was supposed to be a post about my early geekhood, but apparently I had some stuff to work through. Thank you for listening.


This weekend is Can-Con!  It's our one local con and I love it so.  Last year I was GoH and this year they've honoured me with Special Guest status. It's a small but growing con and I hope it'll have a long and fruitful future.

My schedule is as follows: 

Saturday, 4pm
I'm going to have some fun with this one. I'll tell a story or two, of course, and I might read from my next novel. And, since this entry showcases emotional baggage (truly), I may read from my diary. That's right. You want a glimpse into Little Marie's mind?  Come to my reading. It'll be an eye-opener, truly.

Saturday, 5pm
Languages: Real, Constructed, Artificial and Imaginary
with Amanda Sun and Duncan McGregor
This should be fun. I intend to speak in a dialect unknown to anyone, including myself.

Sunday, 11am
Keeping Your Readers On The Edge Of Their Seats
with Hayden Trenholm and Leah Bobet
Hayden and Leah are both fantastic authors and fun to listen to. I'll just sit there and bask in their coolness.  You should, too!

If you're interested in picking up copies of my books, they'll be in the dealers' room. Nanopress has a nice inventory.

Hope to see you at there!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Usefulness of Writing Communities

Back in 2008, I met a group of Ottawa writers while at World Fantasy Con in Calgary (my first con!). They were the East Block Irregulars, a critique group of professionally published SF authors. I was invited to join their group on a probationary level, to see if the critiquing fit was good. Before going to my first meeting, I received a sheet of rules and guidelines, including gems such as don’t speak when you receive a critique. You may give a respond after all critiquers have given their review.

That was my first clue that they were serious about their craft. I’d been to writing groups before, but never one that didn’t involve a lot of griping about trying to get published.

I received two stories to critique at our next meeting. And therein laid my next clue that they were a serious writing group. The stories were high calibre. I struggled to find useful critiques, not used to analyzing peer-written stories with the goal of actually providing feedback. 

Then the first meeting came. Once the last person arrived, all chatting stopped and we got down to business. The first round of critiques was quickly followed by the second round. It was honest, professional, and one of the most freaking useful things I’d ever heard in writing.

Once the meeting done, we all went our separate ways. No griping about publishing, about how hard it was to write, about personal difficulties. Oh no. We were there to meet and help perfect our writing, and that was the only reason we met.

Over the years, we have met on a more social level, though it’s always made clear when it’s social and when it’s business. Keeps everyone in line.

This weekend, I was originally supposed to go to the convent for a writing weekend. Several events conspired against my journey there, so I decided to stay in town to join the East Block Irregulars for a writing weekend.  I was promised Jos Louis.

I must admit to some initial worry. I get a lot, and I mean a lot done at the convent. I’d been to another write-off with the EBI before, but it had been only three of us. This time, there would be five of us (at different times).  But regardless, this was my best bet for a writing weekend. Staying at home would lead to unavoidable shadowing of Roomy and her protesting that she’s not that interesting, or to doing random household chores (the last time I stayed home while supposed to be writing, I built lots of Swedish furniture. Just saying.) And, with my writing room being in shambles while awaiting its renos, my little haven didn’t exist.

So I showed up at 7:30 to the writing retreat on the first day, at Derek Kunsken's house (he has a story in the August issue of Asimov's. Check it out!) We had a quick breakfast (no eggs and bacon – takes too long), and then we started writing. Lunch break, supper break, home.

Repeat for two days.

I got a lot done. Not the same type of work I would have gotten done at the convent, but I’d definitely call this a successful and productive weekend. 

And I was surprised to see that my favourite part was a nice supper hosted on the Sunday night. We chatted, laughed and talked about goats. It made me appreciate my group even more. They’re a unique but useful bunch. (My second favourite part was throwing a Jos Louis at Matt Moore. But that’s another story.)

So this lone wolf writer is learning the usefulness of a community of writers. But I’m lucky, too.  I found a community that shares similar professional achievements, paths and aspirations as my own. My fear that a writers' group was just a waste of time was definitely destroyed over these last three years of being a member of EBI.

AND, this year, three of us are on the Aurora Awards ballot (read about it here). Come on, that’s just cool! 

So will I go to the convent again?  Hell’s ya. I immerse in a story at the convent like nowhere else. I can talk to myself, get up and dance, run up a hill to see Giant Jesus and speak to tombstones. Those aren’t things you should do in public. Or anywhere more public than a convent, I suppose.

Now that the convent is becoming secular, I have another 2.5 years while they wind down religious activities before their model changes. After that, prices will probably increase as will the number of loud bird watchers. (You’d think bird watchers would be quiet, but alas…)

I intend to find another similar retreat before the Final Fantasy-esque countdown ends, but in the meantime, it’s nice to know I have another option. One that involves Jos Louis.

Hope you all had an awesome writing weekend, especially for the brave ones amongst you who participated in the Three-Day Novel Writing contest! (A member of my writing group, Hayden Trenholm, won that contest one year. It’s true! See?)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Letters with no Reply - Bell Canada

When I posted the Hallmark letter, I knew I had written a few other letters but couldn't find them. Over the weekend, I found some more and realized that wow, I may have written too many of these. They entertain me. I note that I don't write as many of them now, but instead indulge in battles with computer answering services and untrained customer service representatives. According to this letter, this wasn't always a passion of mine, but rather its shaky beginnings.

Dear Bell Canada,

Let me begin by saying: wow.  The level of innovation in your customer service and technical assistance is really quite out of the ordinary.

The whole “Create-Your-Own-Adventure” theme is really neat and unexpected!  (If you don’t know those books, you were sorely cheated in your childhood.)  I mean, at first, when a Russian-type sounding gentleman hopped onto my line and interrupted a lovely chat I was having with my brother, I must admit I was slightly taken aback.  And then when I hung up my phone and picked it up only to be serenaded by his interesting dialect again, I was surprised, but accepting.

After visiting with my brother, as I could obviously not speak with him on my phone and didn't wish to waste my precious cell phone minutes, I returned to find, with some disappointment, that my line was full of static.

But no fear – I’ve read enough Create-Your-Own-Adventure stories to know I must pick a path and follow it to a perhaps bitter end.
So, with the help of my cell, I called robot chick Emily and she transferred me to tech support (don’t you find that system just a tad freaky?  I mean, people, Asimov’s three laws of robotics should not be so lightly ignored. And I'm sure you ignored them.  But I digress and am willing to accept her as a secondary character in your little customer service quest.  Kind of like an avatar.)   (Oh, and I was calling on my cell using my very limited minutes, by the way.)

Anyhow, the tech gentleman kindly gave me another number as I am a Quebec resident – 1-866-556-8569.  I hung up and, accepting of these role-playing games, I dialed the new number (we’re now at 62 minutes on my 100 minutes a month limited cell phone plan. Just FYI).  The line connected, and the message struck a foul blow from the murky depths of the phone.... “The number you have dialed cannot be connected from your region.”

Good plot twist!  Didn’t see it coming at all!  And I read lots of fiction, and I mean weird unpredictable stuff, so kudos to you!

So I follow the path you’ve laid down at my feet.  My home number, should you care to investigate, is 819-***-****.  If I’ve reached the climax of Bell’s little Search for Technical Assistance story, then I suppose my phone line will be repaired.  Otherwise, I kindly ask you to please redirect my efforts.  I’m thinking to some company like Sprint Canada.
Though I would miss the fun...