Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Geek Cave - Peace in Holiday Times

I've mentioned multiple times that Roomy is a My Little Pony collector. I mention more rarely (cause it's more fun to show a bunch of ponies) that I'm a He-Man/She-Ra collector (Masters of the Universe, for those of you in the 80s know).  There are fewer of them, so the ponies win in numbers. They'll always win. But my warriors never rest, and they have a lot of weapons they're itching to use. So many weapons...

When we moved to our new house earlier this year, my figures, which were in my writing room, migrated to the Pony Room, which is now known as the Geek Cave.  Fun, eh?  As per tradition, Roomy started setting up the holiday pony diorama. (Incidentally, that diorama blog post is the most popular I've ever written.  Ever.  The Internet is a weird place, my friends.)


The 2013 diorama. Because Google Analytics tells me this blog will be more popular for having more dioramas in it.

This year, my figures happened to crash the party. Because, well, it's their room, too!

Royalty drinking. King Randor has a hard time standing, so he's a drunk. An unfortunate set-back in the otherwise peaceful land negotations.
The queen desperately tries to maintain land relations by helping to decorate. Hands are useful for such things, thus my figures are useful.
The royal twins, Prince Adam and Princess Adora (she came armed - she doesn't trust the peaceful ponies), care not for diplomacy. They dislike that Pony Christmas was on the same day as their birthday. They eat cake and wear hats and speak of better birthdays. At least the ponies know how to make good cake.
Ever left out, Mechaneck looks at the festivities from the outside, wishing that his neck wasn't in fact metal and frozen.
As my figures begin to suspect they were being used simply as handy tools with which to decorate, the tenuous peace begins to fray at the edges.
Well, at least they aren't particulary effective decorators. In better, more glorious days, the king would have noticed and the soldiers would have been able to take on a string of lights.  These, alas, are not better days.
But, really, nobody cares, because there are a lot of treats, and a sugar coma is a heck of a way to prevent war.
So, the Geek Cave is all lovey-dovey for the moment. For the moment.  But, when you pit so many pink things to conquer, like this:

Again so many well-armed, slightly psychotic warriors, like these:

Well, it might only be a matter of time before the casualties began to pile up.  Only a matter of time...

But not today. Not as the holiday spirit, booze and sugar keep the Geek Cave at peace.

Happy Holidays to all!

Roomy wrote her own take on the Holiday Diorama.  The ponies share a different view. Hu.  Check it out! 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

What's in a Dedication?

I usually wait until a manuscript is finished completely before I write the dedication. By the time the story is finished and assigned cover art, I usually get a good view of who this book best represents. Destiny's War was no different for me.

I'm lucky to count so many great friends in my life that it's always a bit tough to choose. In Destiny's War, it wasn't clear to me until I saw some inside art developed by Kari-Ann Anderson, the cover artist of the series.  

It's beautiful and simple - a tender moment between mother and child.  Truth be told, this could represent so many of my friends. But I had seen one of my friends perform this exact tender gesture with her newborn just a week earlier and, despite all of my shoutings about explosions, in the end, Destiny's War and even Fall is really about the love of a mother for her child.

I have so many good friends and I want to shout about them all the time. They're loyal, kind, hardworking, loving and respectful, and beautiful in every single way I can think of. To me, they're the brightest stars in the firmament of my life, right up there with my family. They ARE my family, and their families are my family, and there are precious few things I wouldn't do for each and everyone of them.  There are five of us all together, and they helped to shape my life into what it now is.

One of my friends, Karen, finished university at the same time as me and we both moved to Ottawa, a new city for both of us. We moved into my mother's tiny three-bedroom appartment and had a blast. We bought a cat together - he was orange and got really fat. We watched Digimon and Pokemon and laughed our heads off at ST: Genesis. We got our first full time jobs, discussed our dreams, shared our frustrations.

In 2001, I made the semi-final cut for a Chicken Soup book (before I discovered my fondness for blowing stuff up).  I ran into her room and woke her up, all excited. She hugged me and congratulated me (and didn't tell me to get the hell out), and I think she fell asleep again as I rambled about my writing dreams.

By end of that year, with her support, I'd written my first novel length story. We decided to package it for Christmas and give it to our friends. She drew beautiful pictures and we stayed up an entire night to get it done, giggling and screwing up so many things. So many.

Her dad owned an inn in Gananoque where she'd bring me for weekends, to write away. I got to sing during supper service. She whispered of her dreams and her hopes.

We went away for road trips together, just us, a tent, her car and a big ol' pile of stuff. One night, camping on a cliff in Cape Breton, a storm struck. The wind terrified me and she desperately tried to sleep on as I vanished under the sleeping bag and tried to hide under her, rambling about the fact that this cliff might have been here for thousands of years, but it was going down tonight (hey, I was sleepy!) The next morning, we laughed about it as we drank warm coffee at dawn and changed into our very damp clothes.

We almost made it to Newfoundland. We will, someday.  

With all of my friends, I learned a lot. I learned that friendship is not to be taken for granted. That you have to give and think about what they really need. That you hold your tongue and only whisper encouragements. That you never say "I told you so." That hugs should never be held back. That sometimes, distance is a necessity. That they'll think about these things as much as I will.

With Karen, I went from the whimsical (and psychotic) days of university to tackling this "real world." We learned together about its pitfalls: money, failure, lack of reason and meanness. But we also chose to embrace its wonders: opportunities, hope, laughter and life. And we still learn about it every single day.

So, to you, Karen I dedicate the final volume of the Destiny series. So much of my life would be different without you, my friend. So much of me would be different, the bits that were encouraged to grow and blossom, the parts that keep me going and that I love best of all. Today is your birthday, and I cannot wait to celebrate many more years with you and to see how even more beautiful and amazing you will become, as a friend, a wife, a mother and a kick-ass team member!

Love,

Marie
xoxo

Saturday, 7 December 2013

First Iliad Meeting

In June, the Ottawa Storytellers will be hosting The Iliad, produced by 2Women Productions.  We're taking things a bit backward - we did The Odyssey in 2012. But, still, what a journey!

I have to admit that, at some point during the journey of preparing for The Odyssey, I felt I would never undertake something that big again. I've done big shows and cooperative ones - The Kymeras' Bouddica show comes foremost to mind, as well as our recent Evelyn: A Time Travel Love Story. But three or four performers are nothing compared to 18.  Or to twelve hours of telling.

One of the most important steps of preparing for any set is immersing in the story. It's figuring out its quirks and substituting part of our soul with the soul of the story. It's similar to what writers do, except more so, since storytellers have to physically conveny the tale as well as with words.  It's a fabulous but at times draining journey.

Immersing in The Odyssey was tough for me. At heart, it's a story about post-traumatic stress disorder, so it's not an easy topic to tackle. Plus, the language was a barrier.  The epic language isn't the same as the language of the fantastic and I had a steep hill to climb to master that part of the English language. I hadn't struggled with my adopted beloved language in a while, but there I struggled a lot.

We also had to condense the story down so it would work with 18 tellers.  The Odyssey is huge, after all.  We had to cut some stuff, and we had to make sure the same stuff was cut throughout the tale. So it was a lot of work, and with books and cons, it's a lot of work piled on top of a lot of work, all while marching to someone else's drum.

I was excited to tell The Odyssey, but I was also just looking forward to getting it done.

And then the day of the show came and enthusiastic listeners arrived as we were still warming up. And the room darkened and candles danced and we all stood, all 18 tellers, and said (unrehearsed), one after the other, something that the story is...

"I am the black sails."
"I am Ithaca."
"I am a father's heart."

... one after the other, flowing into one another, a perfect performance that could never be repeated. Not in the same way.

Teller after teller then took the stage, taking up the thread of the story.  I cried when Odysseus finally held his family.  I cheered when he killed the suitors.

And I realized that all of that work had made it all the more real. That, in a very small way like Odysseus' own long journey, the longer and more difficult the ride, the better it was in the end.

Then I knew, without a doubt, that I would do this again and again, for as long as I was asked, because I had learned and overcome so much that to say no would be to cheat myself.

So today, in just a few minutes, we're kicking off The Iliad. We've all read Rieu's translation and we're ready to start the work.  Look out, next seven months.  You're going to be a wild ride!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Destiny's War Available as an ebook!

The final book in the Destiny series, Destiny's War, is now available as an ebook!!  This is a special release from Dragon Moon Press.  The print book will be available in the new year. 

The whole series is also now available as an ebook bundle for just 9.99!  That's a steal for three books where multiple worlds get destroyed, lives are changed forever (or snuffed out) and nebulae swallow star systems. (Pretty awesome, I know!)

Several people have asked me (in an appreciative whiny tone) if this would be the final book in the series.  For now, yes.  I'm happy with where the story ends, but I'm not saying I'll never revisit this world. There are still so many stories to tell!

In the meantime, I appreciate signal boosts and of course book purchases and reviews for any of the books in the series.  I'll post links to other bookstores as they come available.  Enjoy the journey!


She had given her up.
To save her daughter from a life of servitude to a silent First Star, Layela Delamores sent her only child away. Willing to miss the first decade of her daughter's life, for a chance to reunite as a free family.

Ten years.
Now, a new First Star is ready to take over from the dying star Mirial, freeing Layela and her family from the clutches of duty and obligation.

But the star was silent.
When the new First Star fails to ignite, the failing Mirial is the only lifeline to the countless ether races across the galaxy. But not everyone wants to save Mirial, including Layela’s own daughter. Trapped between obligations and hopes, Layela must find a way to save as many people as she can, or learn to live in the dead world she helped to create.


Purchase Destiny's War
Get the whole series! 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pretties of the Week

Last week was spent mostly in the Acadian Peninsula, in northern New Brunswick. Northern and eastern. Here are a few pretties with mostly unresearched and (possibly overly dramatic) captions from my journey.

Well, this isn't a great first caption. That's the Baie des Chaleurs.  It's pretty and that's really the main message here.

More sunset beauty.

IT'S THE BIRDS!!  Well, a bird.

This lighthouse is very Acadian.  Google their flag if you don't believe me. If you're Canadian and you had to Google their flag, also read up about Acadian history, because your high school history class has apparently failed you.

I got lost in a small town. The middle of the town was a park on an island surounded by streets.  It was empty, despite the bustling streets and buildings around it. As I took this picture church bells began ringing and the wind grew still.  Ergo, it is a haunted park.

Haunted path.

Haunted gazebo. 


Haunted path leading to haunted fountain.

More haunted fountain.

Possibly haunted sundial. Useless sundial, anyway.

Haunted flower pot. Pretty, too.  But still haunted.

Well, okay, most of that was a park I thought was haunted, despite the lovely sunny day.  I'm off to Moncton this week - southern New Brunswick.  We'll see if anything haunted comes out of it, or anything at all. This might be the last you hear of New Brunswick, really.  But then, does that mean I'm haunted???

... Ya, I agree. Probably not.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

I'm Number Two!

I wanted to thank everyone for their votes in the Aurora Awards.  It seriously meant a lot to me to make it on the ballot, and to come so close to a win!  Douglas Smith, a wonderful writer and person, won in the short fiction category.  But I came in second!  That's awesome - I absolutely adored writing Happily Ever After and still feel it's one of my strongest pieces.

I had predicted the winner for the novel category: Tanya Huff.  She predicted I would win, so I got to tell her that sure, she'd won an Aurora, but I was better at predicting winners. Ha!  Tanya is a wonderful writer and human being, and go check out her books. 

I couldn't be happier to see two such wonderful people take the Aurora Awards, as well as everyone else who came away with an award or just made the ballot.  Nods to Robert J. Sawyer for his Lifetime Achievement Award, to Hayden Trenholm for his Best Related Work win (Blood and Water anthology), and to Derek Newman-Stille for Speculating Canada (one of my favourite sites). 

I also had the honour of presenting the award for Best Poem/Song, which went to David Clink (accepted by his brother-in-law, Robert J. Sawyer).  For that, they gave me the punched out leaf from the trophy - it's deadly and sharp. These people know their community!

And so I leave you with my heartfelt gratitude and a picture of me with a punched out leaf:

Thanks to Tracey A. Vibert for accosting me in the corridor to take this picture.
 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Weekend Shtuff!

Don't miss out tomorrow evening (free stories!):

And then I'll be at the Ottawa Geek Market.   Roomy and I are sharing a booth, so if you're still wondering if I made her up, come and say hi!  ... of course, now that I've said that, she'll get kidnapped by ogres for the weekend. Again.

See you around!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Learning to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite "holidays."  Over time, I've learned to be more and more thankful of my life, my farmily and my friends. To have a day where we're reminded to be grateful is a wonderful thing.

I don't think I was ever an unthankful/ungrateful child (my mom can correct me if she so chooses to), but I remember the exact moment Thanksgiving gripped my life.

I was 18, in first year university.  I'd chosen to go to a school fairly far away and, despite my school being aghast with my decision, I'd selected an Englih university (not a popular decision at French schools, understandably).  I didn't realize at that time how poor my English skills were.  I was a fantasy reader by then, but I learned English by reading, not by listening.  And, turns out, fantasy vocabulary isn't necessarly the most useful for getting through university (go fig).

My first class, Archaeology 101, almost left me in tears (or at least terrors).  I had absolutely no clue what they'd been talking about. Not one clue.  I couldn't even grab enough words to contextualize the conversation (which is funny - archaeology is all about context!)

I made it through my first six weeks of school, but it was painful.  I didn't know how to craft English essays, I couldn't effectively crack jokes in English (anyone who knows me knows I think I'm funny), and some less informed Canadians made remarks that were less than tasteful about conquest and language barriers.  Those, I understood.

By the time I went home for Thanksgiving, braving the 8-hour train ride just to get to somewhere where I could finally speak and be understood, I was ready to call it quits.  Screw trying to do something more, screw a university degree, and screw not being understood.

I whined (a lot, I imagine) to my big brother, who looked at me with a slighly furrowed brow (or boredom).  When I informed him that I didn't want to go back, he told me to go back. He said that if I didn't want to go back after Christmas, once I'd completed a complete semester, then I could stay home.  But not before I'd really tried.  "Why don't you just embrace the experience instead of fighting against it? See what comes out of it?"  He said something like that, anyway. It struck me as pretty wise for my brother.

I went back ready to embrace, but mostly expecting to struggle.

A few things happened shortly after Thanksgiving that changed everything for me. A teacher with a French Canadian background understood my language barrier and offered me support.  I learned of the writing centre and they provided me with all kinds of resources.

But, most importantly, I met my friends, who are still sisters to this day.  We met quickly, one after the other, for a count of five of us in the end.  One is now the infamous (or long-suffering) Roomy.  The other is my sister-in-law.  Then there's Ren, whose house I'm now sitting in while the turkey cooks. I'm a good turkey watcher. There's one of us still a bit far, Kat.  I see her as often as I can.  She's coming right after Christmas with her husband, to stay for a week.

I'm in Ren's house because most of us are going to gather here, all of our families, to celebrate Thanksgiving.  To break bread and share laughter and stories.  And we do this at Christmas and Easter, too. Not because most of us are religious, but because it's about family, and we understand that bonds, whether blood or not, are maintained with love, friendship, and by remembering to be thankful for the people in our lives.

So, on Thanksgiving, I'm thankful my brother practically threw me into the train.  I'm thankful I met my friends, who are now my family.  I'm thankful that my friends helped me learn and embrace English, which then lead to so many great adventures and people that I've had the chance to meet over the years. I'm thankful  that every new addition to the family, whether husband or child, falls seamlessly into our stride, as though we'd all known each other forever.

But most of all, I'm thankful that I get to sit here, in a good friend's house, excited to see everyone in my family, and think of those who couldn't be with us today, and forge another beautiful memory.

And eat turkey.  Mmmm, turkey...

Happy Thanksgiving!
My group of friends (and their husbands including my brother and one child) at a random gathering last year.  Aren't we just a cute bunch? 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

CAN-CON - Paper Airplane Contest Rules

WARNING: I SCREAM AT YOU IN THIS POST AND I DO NO APOLOGIZE.

Back by popular demand, the paper airplane contest shall once more wreak havoc upon CAN-CON. I've been asked mutliple questions by citizens: what shall I bring?  Do we need our own band aids?  A change of clothes?  To sign a waiver?

Well, here are your answers: BRING ONLY YOURSELVES!

I've also received questions on the rules.  Some of you poor souls didn't make it last year.  So, here are the rules:

THE ONLY RULE IS TO FEAR ME!!!!

That's it.  Bring yourselves only, and be prepared to earn your way to even just folding the paper airplaine.

THIS IS NOT FOR THE WEAK!

It is for the strong.

BUT WAIT!!

I've been asked if people, whom I shall now refer to as show-offs, can bring a pre-constructed plane. I've pondered it and decided that I shall graciously accept to allow show-offs to bring pre-made planes within the competition grounds.  

BUT YOU MUST EARN YOUR RIGHT TO FLY. 

An even harsher skills competitions will be demanded of those who bring a pre-made plane.  If you only bring the supplies and build it on site, I shall be less harsh with my demands.  Slighly.

HOW DO YOU WIN?

I've been asked that, especially considering all of the fine prizes I make available.  Fine, fine prizes. 

YOU MUST BE THE BEST!

That's how you win.  And I define best based on my daily whim. 

... If this contest doesn't sound like a good time, I don't know what is! 

SEE YOU THERE.  8pm. Saturday evening.

Monday, 30 September 2013

CAN-CON Schedule

One of my favourite cons is this weekend - CAN-CON!  It's in Ottawa, which is great.  I hope to see you there!

Friday
8-9pm
News and fun from WorldCon
Matthew Johnson (m), Cenk Gokce, Marie Bilodeau, Andrew Barton
What happens in Texas does not stay in Texas.  Come and hear what we learned and enjoyed from this year's WorldCon!

Saturday
10-11 am
Sitting at Bundoran Press Table
I'll be in the dealers' room.  Hayden Trenholm, publisher of Bundoran Press, kindly offered a place for my books to be sold on his table in exchange for light slave work.  Last year, I sold books out of the trunk of my car. This year, I'm going classy.

1-2 pm
Reading
I'll be doing the first ever public reading of Destiny's War.  It shall be fun.  Karen Dudley will also read from her Aurora-nominated work, Food for the Gods.  She's a hoot - you should come check her out!

2-3 pm
Women as Authors and Women as Fans
Marie Bilodeau, Linda Poitevin (m), Cherry Valance, Robin Riopelle
There's been a lot of talk about women in the industry.  We're going to talk about it here, too, with a bunch of wonderful folk.

4-5 pm
Back at Bundoran Press table
This blog post is going to be great as a self-reminder, too...

6-7:30 pm
Giant Book Launch
Ghost King and Big Box Apocalypse #3 (Mirror Comics), Blood Relations (Renaissance Press), The Alternative News Service Guide to Love, Sex and Robots, Ira Nayman
I'm not launching a book at CAN-CON, but I've been asked to host this book launch.  I'm very much looking forward to this. These a great bunch of people and writers, so come check it out!

8-9 pm
Oh god! It's back! I tried not to have it, and even reported it to Transport Canada! Marie Bilodeau's Paper airplane trauma is back. Run away!
That's the most accurate panel description ever. Don't miss it! Don't worry about bringing supplies - we'll provide everything! (And keep an eye on this blog for upcoming rules!)

9:30-11 pm
Evelyn: A Time Travel Love Story
The Kymeras are back to share a wonderful story through story and poetry.  This show is open to people who aren't coming to the con, for $15.  Don't miss it - it's one of our best to date!

Sunday
11-2 pm
Aurora Banquet and Awards
I'll be hanging out there.  It's my last item at the con before I escape into the day. 

Can't wait! Hope to see you there!
 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Celebrating Story

Apart from a few stories at conventions, I haven't really been telling this past year. Last June I had the chance of being part of an epic telling of the Odyssey at Ottawa's National Arts Centre, and then that was it.  I didn't pursue it, and it didn't pursue me for a bit. 

A couple of months ago, the pursuit resumed.  I now have three shows scheduled for October, and I couldn't be more excited.  I'd missed the thrill of the story chase, the stage, and the insanity of performance.  Here's where I'll be, in case you've missed storytelling as much as I have:

Evelyn: A Time Travel Love Story
October 5, 9:30-11 pm, Minto Hotel & Suites, as part of CAN-CON
Join the Kymeras as they weave poetry and story to tell the tale of John and Evelyn, lovers separated by distance but reunited by time. In his quest for science, John leaves his London home to seek out the greatest minds in the world, but it is losing his beloved that launches him on his greatest journey of all.  
The wonderful organizers of CAN-CON are putting together a package for non-con attendees to attend evening entertainment.  I believe it'll be $15, but CAN-CON will be posting about it soon.  Join their Facebook group to keep on top of the latest news!

An Enchanted Afternoon of Storytelling
This is my "ha! I'm funny!" face.
October 18, 4 - 5 pm, University of Ottawa Open House - Medieval and Italian Studies, Simard 125
Italian Studies and Medieval Studies joined forces to bring you a delightful afternoon of professional storytelling. Nationally acclaimed novelist and storyteller Marie Bilodeau, of the Kymeras Group, will give a public performance for students and parents visiting the University of Ottawa. She will weave myths and stories form the Middle ages and the Renaissance, adapting them to a modern sensibility.
This is probably only for people attending the open house.  I wonder how hard it would be to sneak into this?

Scary Stories - Why Not?
October 22, 7-9 pm, Tea Party (119 York St., ByWard Market)
I'll be telling scary stories in company of Kathie Kompass.  My stories will consist of one dark and one funny tale, both speaking to what happens when you fall in love (well, lust) with the wrong person (well, creature). 
This one is pass the hat.  Bring change/bills/heirlooms.

I hope to see you at some of these!  If you can only attend one, I would say try and make the first one.  The Kymeras haven't performed together since the Boudicca show (I leave all things at the National Arts Centre), and we're coming back with an integrated tour de force of storytelling.  Don't miss it! 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Last Chance to Vote!

I've been quiet, I know. Don't worry - I don't intend to make a habit of it. Next week, regular blogging will return!

I'm popping by to remind everyone that tomorrow at noon the Aurora Awards' polls are closed. So vote today!

I'm nominated in long form fiction for Destiny's Fall and in short form for Happily Ever After from When The Villain Comes Home. Every vote counts, so I do appreciate your support.  And so does every Canadian writer/artist/musician/fan nominated, so show them some love!

http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

WorldCon Schedule!

I'm off to WorldCon in San Antonio, Texas!  I've never been anywhere that far south, and I can't wait to see the Alamo (I admit I had to Google that, but I now mostly remember the Alamo), and I'll be doing a side trip to the space centre in Houston.  Let's not be silly by not going.

There was an unfortunate programming kerfuffle, but the programming team was top notch and worked hard at getting me on a couple of items:

The First Barbarian of Texas: Conan the Cimmerian
Thursday 12:00 - 13:00
For over 80 years, Conan has ruled the roost as the literary and pop culture definition of "barbarian." What makes Conan so popular in and out of the U.S., with readers and film-goers, and fans of all ages? Is his reign likely to continue into the 22nd century?
Mark Finn (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Patrice Louinet, John Maddox Roberts, Marie Bilodeau

Autographing
Sunday 16:00 - 17:00
Marie Bilodeau, Emilie P. Bush, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Catherynne M. Valente

It's not a full schedule by any means, so plenty of time for catching up with friends and making new ones.  If you'd like to actually organize something, e-mail me at marie.s.bilodeau (a) gmail.com.  My books will unfortunately not be available in the dealers room, but I'll be bringing a precious few copies with me (dependent on luggage room left after I've packed my shoes).  If there's something specific you'd like me to bring, give me a shout by e-mail again!  I leave tomorrow morning, so this is really no warning at all.

Oh, and for the first panel - my flight is landing at 11:30.  I might make it, I might not.  I appreciate the programming committee's effort to put me on the program, so I'll run my little feet off to get there.

Cheers!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Fuck That (or A Call to Action)

Trigger warning: I swear a lot.  If this were in French, my mother tongue, the swearing would be more varied, FYI. 

A reviewer once said "Marie Bilodeau writes good action scenes for being a woman."

You're damn right I do. And I'm going to keep doing it, too.

I considered writing my next book under a male pseudonym.  If I go all out dark side of Marie, I bring high amounts of action, adventure and gore. And I think it's funny.

I was going to be called Simon Lars, based on my multiple middle names. It was an interesting idea, to see if my "male" sales would do better, just as I sometimes suspect that the Destiny series would do better if they looked more like the space opera adventure that they are (I love the covers, don't get me wrong, but I do wonder).

Roomy didn't think I could keep the secret that I was Simon Lars (she's probably right - I ain't very secretive).  Writing friends wafted between be a trailblazer, you wuss, or do it, see what happens.  My editor thought I should stick with my name, that my career is gaining speed and I should ride it out.

Then I thought three things: I write strong female characters, and it'd be damn hard, and I mean fucking damn hard to look myself in the mirror and think I was doing everything in my power to make the future a bit easier for my nieces if I spent my writing career pretending to be a man (did I mention I now have a second niece as of three weeks ago?  She's adorable. She deserves an easier ride.)

And I thought: I'm a girl. I can't hide it. I don't even want to. Because sexism isn't just about the name on a book. It's about going to work and having to fight for equal pay. It's about having to punch dudes when they get too friendly. It's about telling the boys to leave the cosplayer alone, and that I'm a geek, ya, and a damn good one, thank you very much. It's about owning it.

Then I thought: Sure, it might impact my sales.  Sure, I might lose some numbers to a few sexist, misogynist pricks.  I don't care. Because that's crazy tiny in the great cosmos, compared to what not hiding my identity might lead to.

You know, stuff like self-respect. Pride. Nice heels and a heck of a ride. We won't win this equality ground by hiding. So raise the fucking flag high and hold it there.

I'm a writer, I'm a geek and I'm a girl. Get over it. And if you don't like it, then just kindly get the fuck out of my way.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Itinerary (and show Ottawa some love!)

Tomorrow I'm off to visit Gabrielle Harbowy, editor supreme, in San Francisco. I've never been to that neck of the world-woods, so I can't wait!  We're going to see Alcatraz, which makes me happy. So very happy.  I'll also be handing in Destiny's War, following one round of extremely useful feedback from Gabrielle.

I'm back for July 1 and hope to catch Chris Hadfield speaking on the Hill for the noon hour show.  Considering I'm back in town at 1 a.m. that day, I'm assuming the rest of my day will consist of drooling.

July 4 marks the day we're off to the annual My Little Pony fair!  This year it's in Indianapolis. I've been in that city once already, when I was two years old. During that visit, I decided to run into the side of a mall, resulting in lotsa blood and stitches on my forehead.  Coincidentally, that was the first and last business trip my dad took us on. Roomy assures me she won't let me run into a mall, although I refuse to wear a helmet.  It just doesn't match my footwear.

I'll make sure to be back for July 9, since it's the second edition of ChiSeries Ottawa, starting at 8pm at Maxwell's (on Elgin Street - second floor).  Readers will be Hayden Trenholm, Eric Choi and Tanya Huff.  You should come out to this, for several good reasons. The ultimate reason of course being that it's going to be an awesome event. The other reason is the same reason that Ottawa folk should go to CAN-CON, the Ottawa Geek Market, Wonder Geeks Activate, etc. - to support the volunteers who make this happen.  Seriously.  For years I've been hearing people say that nothing fun is happening in Ottawa on the geek scene.  We are now thriving, my capital region friends, but the people who are making it happen need your support, your interest, your butt in a chair listening to those awesome readings.  Plus, the organizer of ChiSeries is my friend Matt Moore, who is not only an awesome writer (he's on the Aurora ballot for Delta Pi, a great short story), he's also really trying to do something positive for readers, writers and the Ottawa geek community.  So let's step up to the plate and show Matt and all of the other great volunteers in Ottawa that the events they put on are appreciated and valued. 

Because Ottawa is starting to be a pretty good geek town and I, for one, am loving it.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Remembering the Stories that Were, Never Can Now Be and Somehow Still Are

I chatted about zombies this morning, and I'll now speak about the dead. (Well, there's a good correlation, you have to admit.)

Summer Solstice Feasting

Roomy and I use the Summer Solstice as our day to remember the fuzzy critters who have left us.  When we moved in together in 2007, we had four old cats between the two of us.  We now have one of those left, and everyone else has quietly left us since.  The first to pass away was the youngest of the old cats, and it was on the Summer Solstice.  So, on this day, as on every first day of summer, we feast and remember. (Other cats mentioned here and here.)

We remember our friends' animals, as well, and all of the critters who came and went, making powerful or subtle changes in our lives.  For the time they are with us, they are family, too, and today, as we reach the zenith of light and begin our slow descent into darkness, so we remember them.

Remembering the Stories-That-Never-Can-Be-Yet-Are

I'm lucky in that I've never lost a close family member (fuzzy family members aside).  I've lost some friends, but no one extremely close to me.  But the thing about celebrating a life - any life - is that it's celebrating the missing stories and chapters, not just the ones that were written.

Roomy grew up very close to her grandparents.  I love hearing her stories about them, and I'm glad I had the chance to meet them.  They were wonderful people.  I didn't know any of my grandparents very well.  Both of my grandmothers passed on before I bothered with memory, and my grandfathers when I was very young.  I have only fleeting memories, mostly fragments of light resurrected by sights and scents. 

But Roomy remembers her grandparents well. We were chatting recently about life after death.  I'm not sold on anything - I've always figured I'd find out when I was dead, so why waste all this important time on the question now?  But I asked Roomy if she imagined she'd see her grandparents again someday.  She thought about it, as Roomy generally thinks things through (a bit different from my approach), and then she said: "I don't think they've ever really left, in a way." 

Roomy isn't overly religious/spiritual/whatchamacallit, but the stories of her family are still ongoing.  She'll still think of telling her grandmother about something, or sharing a tidbit from her day.  Her mother, who visited last weekend, said the very same thing. "I'd have called her (her mother), but then thought, no, I guess I won't do that."  They're very straightforward people, the type to just get back up, dust themselves off and keep going, so it's always fascinating to me when they reveal something so personal, so deeply ingrained into their character, with just a simple throw away sentence.  Makes me love them more for it.

Celebrating the Things that Still Are

Humans are complex individuals.  We're physically trapped in time but mentally free to explore any realm, any possibility, any dream.  It's easy to get trapped into thinking of all the things we just never had, and those we never will. It's the consuming game of "I'll be happy if I just have this one other thing" that's never settled into anything more than more sorrow and debt. 

So I like to think of all the wonderful things I have as I remember all the things I've lost.  My blessings are so many that I couldn't count them all, and I consider myself lucky for it.  I have a wonderful family, friends, cats, a lovely house, and my life is generally drama-free. A second niece is about to be born any day now, and I can't wait to meet her and re-discover the world through her eyes. I love this life.

Celebrate Now

I celebrate all of these things during the Summer Solstice not because I'm overly spiritual, but because the timing makes more sense for me than the traditional time of reflection: New Year's. It's cold then, and the winter blues might have settled in already.  There are too many distractions.  Too many commitments, too many expectations, too much food to eat. 

But in the summer, it's quiet.  It's not freezing.  I can go outside and actually smell the flowers.  I can look at life as something more than an endless white landscape of darkness.  My mind is more at ease and my body more solid.  It's a perfect time for remembering all that has passed and all that still is, and to dream and plan for an even better tomorrow.

I hope you'll take some time to reflect as well, on this, the longest day of the year.

Of Saran Wrap, Zombies and Alternate Timelines

I've been going on about zombies a lot lately.  I read a lot of zombie books, especially when I'm tired and have too much on my plate.  It's an easy read. I mean, the "bad guys" (zombies) are the best part - they're not eating you because it's personal, they just really want meat, and the rules are easy and straightforward.  Sometimes, a little straightforward is good.  So, Roomy (check out her blog) and I were chatting on e-mail before I headed off to KeyCon in May.  This shows you how quickly we go from zero to zombie. 

Roomy
Hi Roomy,

How's you?  I think my nose may have mostly stopped running finally.
 

Me (Note the clever colour scheme)

Hi Roomy!

I’m glad you’re less gross!  Do you feel better?  I want a healthy roomy.  I mean, they’re pretty awesome when they’re sick, but much better when healthy!  :D

Do we have saran wrap?  Cling wrap?  Something something wrap?  I need to prep my books to bring to Winnipeg in giant luggage (note to self: find scale).

I have no idea how much saran wrap we have.

I wish another me in another timeline would take on some of the sick this year.  I think I'm pulling more than my weight since January.  I'm just saying.


It’s true. That’s because the You in the other timeline is busy taking care of the Marie who’s always sick.  Plus there’s a zombie apocalypse, so they’re busy.  On the upside, other Marie will probably bite the dust by sneezing at the wrong time and other You will get away thanks to her legendary good health.

If you don’t mind stopping by the dollar store, I’d like to pick more up, just in case. Besides, no point in wasting our “good” saran wrap on book wrapping. :P  (Editor's note: I learned this way that wrapping books in crappy cling wrap isn't great. Go for the good stuff.)

I'm not particularly concerned about what's going on in the other timeline, the me in this timeline just wants to be healthy for a change.

All right, but your other you will be mad for going zombie.

… now that I think about it, maybe my other me is a zombie by now and we intersect that at some point, too.  Could explain my recent, um, lack of brains…

LOL!

I enjoy how we can discuss saran wrap purchases and alternate zombie timelines in the same e-mail string. 

We're good like that.

Of singular skill. By that, I mean with only one skill, and that’s to make shit up. :P

Speaking of zombies, however, I finished season 1 of The Walking Dead and started season 2.  Short seasons.  Of interest, it turns out I’ve seen pretty much every episode.  I just didn’t think I’d watched it because I must always get bored and walk away.  I’ll show those Walking Dead how it’s done…

Indeed we are.

You walk girl, you walk good.  Or watch.  Whatever.  Just show the zombies who's boss.


See how quickly that went?  For those who aren't on Facebook, here's this week's most popular post, again chatting about zombies:

My bank just called to inform me that my VISA card was believed to be compromised.
Clerk: I just want to verify your latest purchases. Last night, four purchases on Comixology?

Me: Ya, that was me. I discovered Marvel Zombies. Stupid addictive comic series across multiple universes. Kept me up late.
Clerk: Okay. Kindle purchase yesterday?
Me: Oh ya, that was a zombie book, and I keep *saying* ...I won't buy this author's next book, yet I hit the purchase button before I think about it. No impulse controls, at times.
Clerk: Okay. Good. How about Monday evening parking in the Ottawa Market?
Me: Ah! Geek event. Fun times.
Clerk: Zombies present?
Me: Nope! Spotted several demons and Jem, who totally *was* truly outrageous, but no zombies, no. ... I'm giving you too many details here, aren't I?
 
 
Wishing you all a lovely, zombie-free weekend and solstice! 
 
Love,
 
Marie 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hoarding your Stories

At a con this year (one of the many, many cons), I was taking a rare break between panels when I was approached by an emerging writer who wanted to chat about his story.  He made himself comfortable without waiting for my reply and started on a rant.

It wasn't a bad rant, but my head was buzzing and my feet were hurting and I was really thirsty, but he obviously needed to chat, so I let him go on.  And on.

He spoke of his epic piece of fiction that was several books long, and how he wasn't sure how long it'd be, and it was hard to figure out what to do next since his friends expected so much since they loved it and were basing videogames and comic books off of it.

I had to interrupt, mostly because I had a panel coming up. And did I mention he was going on?

"What's your goal with this story?"

He looked stunned at the question. He didn't actually answer it, if I recall correctly.

I had to go, so I quickly told him a bunch of stuff and resources he should check out (and possibly made his head explode).  I told him he needed to refine his craft, first.  His whole first book was a prologue and backstory, not a book, no matter how much he loved it. It probably wouldn't get picked up by a publisher but, if he wanted, he could consider self-publishing (and hiring a professional editor to help him out).

Then I told him to stop sharing his stories before they were done.  It steals thunder.  We begin to worry about what our readers think before they can even get a complete view of the manuscript. We obsess over individual opinions instead of overall character integrity. Sharing a story before its time can stunt it, because we might get feedback that doesn't work for it, not because readers are ill-intentioned, but because they don't have a complete view.  Or, like him, he could get feedback that's overwhelmingly positive and he grows afraid of the horrible things the story demands he does.  (I also told him to get an impartial critique group.)

Since then, I've chatted with quite a few writers about hoarding stories and most agree.  It makes sense, really. The same applies elsewhere in life. For example, one of my best friends is ridiculously pregnant with her second child.  She's due any day now, and I don't yet know the name of her new daughter. When my nephew was born, my brother and sister-in-law did the same thing, not revealing the name until he was born. The reason they gave, which I respect to this day, is that everyone will want to weigh in on the name.  Once the child is born and the birth certificate is signed, it's harder to start critiquing.

Good point, eh?  A story is similar, even if not as interchangeable as a name (mind you, for less than $200, you can easily get your name changed in my province...)  Just like new parents get familiar with the name of the child as they grow accustomed to the idea of this new life in their world, so must writers get used to their characters and feel the story out. Alone.  Speaking with one or two trusted advisors is great, of course. But keep it small, and hoard it.

I'm very excited about my new book.  It's crazy fun action and more horror than ever before. It's a different spin for my stories, and I'm loving it. But I spoke about it to someone I shouldn't have, and I knew it, and it robbed a lot of my energy.  It's not easy to begin doubting the premise of a book. After all, it's a big undertaking, so we want to get it right.  We're about to spend hundreds of hours on it, so we want it to be succesful.  I also don't have a contract right now, for the first time since being published, and I'm hoping this book will help me reach the mythical "next level."  So I have a lot riding on this book, which means I have to play my cards even closer to my chest.

I have to hoard the writing so that it can grow and be the best vision that I can make it, before sending it out into the world to test readers. But when I get excited, I talk.  It's something I'm learning to curb. Because this new story will succeed best if I give it time to grow, and not rob its energy by doubting its potential success and getting too many cooks working on the stew.

My story.  My vision. My potential success/failure. 

So there. Damn it.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Award Thank You!

I was so stunned to be nominated for two Aurora Awards this year that I didn't even blog about it.  I want to start off by saying thank you to all of you who took the time to nominate my works.  You've heard it before, but authors rarely know how their works are liked until reviews pop up or works are nominated by fans. So I seriously cannot thank you enough.  You are the best!

My nominated works are:

Destiny's Fall (Long-form fiction)
Happily Ever After from When the Villain Comes Homes (edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood - Short-form fiction)

These represent my third and fourth nominations in the Aurora Awards.  It's a high honour, and again, I'm flabbergasted.

In past years, I lost by only a few votes, so if you like these works, I would be extremely grateful for a vote.  You can vote directly on their website (Canadians and various forms of Canadians only).  It is $10 to vote, but you get an e-copy of all the books and short stories, so it's pretty awesome.  I'm up against some great writers, like Karen Dudley and Matt Moore (both of whom I adore), so you'll want to check out their works, too!  

The award ceremonies are in Ottawa this year, which is my hometown! And it's at CAN-CON, my favourite con (not only because it's local).  I hope you make it to CAN-CON, too.  It's fun, filled with great people and has some kick-ass programming.  So come check it out!  And don't miss the paper airplane contest (I assume they'll let me host it again, but maybe new regulations against "fun" will be put in place. Who knows.) 

Thanks again.  I seriously can't believe my fortune at knowing great people like all of you. 

Friday, 31 May 2013

Some Good Reading

I'm going to play a lazy Friday card and share some blogs and sites that I love to follow.  Ha!

This site is full of geeky goodness, from game and lit reviews to random Geek news.  They're true to their tagline: "It's your world, we just write about it."  

Another fun review/writing blog by upcoming writer KW Ramsey.

Gabrielle is my editor, and one of the many things I truly appreciate about her is how she carefully weighs her own opinions before sharing them, so they're always so shiny.  Witness the shiny on her blog as she shares wisdom on writing and publishing.

I've been following this blog for more than a year. Jay is facing now terminal cancer.  He's funny, caustic, and so human that it's worth keeping an eye on. We all know how our journey will end, and Jay is leaving us a bravely and honestly charted roadmap. 

This is a newest addition to my regular reading. It's written by a young man suffering from spinal muscular atrophy.  He's funny, positive and just sounds like a great guy.  Inspiration abounds most in our darkest days.

If you're a writer, this blog is worth following.  The title is self-explanatory, really.

There are more.  Of course there are!  I'll add another list later on.  Because, it turns out, I get lots of awesome daily reading material! 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Zzzzz... whu?

Well, four cons in four weekends down, making May into the most con-y month I've ever encountered.  T'was a lovely month, truly.  I'm prepping a side post about all the things I've learned, since I was con-drenched.

I just wanted to check in and say hi.  It's full speed ahead for edits on Destiny's War now, plus a new novel tackled me (right down rude) while I was in Winnipeg, so mornings are for writing, evenings are for editing, and nights are for sleeping (I love my sleep).

Speaking of which, time for  another nap.  Four cons in a month is a tad draining. See you all latzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Winnipeg, here I come!

After a fun night watching Star Trek Into Darkness (this blog is spoiler free) with my Klingon buddies, I'm now sleep deprived and off to Winnipeg!  The first event is tonight, with three of my favourite ladies:


With these three, it's going to be a hoot!  Tomorrow we're doing a staff event at the library. I'm not clear what that means yet, but how could it not be fun?

Saturday and Sunday are all Keycon all the time. I'll be spending time at the Bundoran Press table, since Hayden Trenholm offered space for my books in exchange for slave labour. I'll also be:

An Hour with Silvia Moreno-Garcia - 11:00 am Saturday, Terrace East on 13

Moderator: Marie Bilodeau

Panelist: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Description: Our Editor Guest of Honor will answer your questions.

 Autograph Session - 2:00 pm Saturday, Terrace East on 13

Authors in the autograph session: Robert J. Sawyer, Chadwick Ginther, Karen Dudley, David Annandale, Hayden Trenholm, Ann Aguirre, Marie Bilodeau, Billie Milholland, and Eileen Bell.

 Storytelling with Marie Bilodeau - 8:00 pm Saturday, Ambassador B on 11 (Manitoba)

Panelist: Marie Bilodeau

Description: I'm going to tell scary stories.  More or less. Some old, some new....  

 Author Reading - 1:00 pm Sunday, Terrace East on 13

Panelists: Karen Dudley and Marie Bilodeau

That's it!  Then I'm flying back on Sunday evening!  Meanwhile, Destiny's War is back on my desk for edits, so I'm off to the races. I'm excited by my chat with Gabrielle Harbowy about it - it's going to be awesome! My deadline is end of June. 

Next weekend is Anime North in Toronto. This month is intermixed with lit cons and media cons, and I'm loving the ride!

This blog was written on my iPad. I conveniently blame any typos on that. 


 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Boréal Schedule

This weekend I'm off to Montreal for Boréal!  I've only been to this con one other time, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. I can't wait!  Anyway, my schedule:

Saturday, May 4

Beyond Ebooks : A Genre in Transition 

10:30 am, Salle Saint-François

Christian Sauvé (A), Marie Bilodeau, Claude Lalumière, Yves Meynard, Jo Walton

At a time where iPad, ePub, Kickstarter, Lulu and
Twitter are all keywords of interest to writers of 
genre fiction, what does this mean to readers, 
reviewers and fans? The old "publish short 
stories in the Big Three magazines, then write a 
novel for a big New York publisher" is 
crumbling, but so are the traditional ways for 
readers to find and buy works they like. At a 
time where there is more genre fiction available 
for download than anyone can hope to read in a 
lifetime, how can we expect to find good stories, 
understand the genre as it currently exists and 
identify the authors worth reading? 
(This panel description sounds dramatic to me, such as "how shall we ever survive," and I love it. Best panel description ever!)


Masked Mosaic : Canadian 
Super Stories 

16h00-17h00, Salle Saint-François

Marie Bilodeau, Patrick T. Goddard, Claude 
Lalumière, Lisa Poh, Mark Shainblum

We launched this in Ottawa and it was a hoot.  Seriously. Don't miss this Montreal launch!

Sunday, May 5

How I Wrote... 
14h00-15h00, Salle Saint-François
René Walling (A), Marie Bilodeau, Yves Meynard, Jo Walton
Writers explain how one of their works took form.

That's it - quick trip to Montreal. See you there!




Thursday, 2 May 2013

Celebratory Giveaway

I was gobsmacked (in a good way) to learn that both my novel Destiny's Fall and my short story Happily Ever After (When the Villain Comes Home) made it on the Aurora Awards ballot. I can't thank you all enough for nominating me!  In celebration, I'm hosting a Goodreads giveaway of Destiny's Fall.  Because I love a party!

The ballot for the Aurora Awards is really impressive.  I have lots of friends on the ballot and have read many of the works included. I'm in great company.  This year, the awards banquet will be held at CAN-CON, which is my local con.  I hope many of you can make it.  It's going to be a hoot!  CAN-CON has been growing since its re-inception in 2010, and it's definitely worth checking out.  Plus, they let me host an airplane contest, so that's proof that they know how to have a good time!  Publishing gods willing, we'll also be launching book 3 of the Destiny series.  I've done horrible things in this book, and I'm very proud of them.  It's in the good hands of Gabrielle Harbowy right now, so by the time you guys get it, it's going to be ridiculously awesome.

Thanks again for all of your support - it means the world to me!

xoxoxo


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Letters with no Reply - Rogers Canada

Dearest Rogers Canada,

I know it's hard, and nobody ever wants to go though this. You hope and pray that it won't happen to you, you do the best you can on a daily basis, and still, sometimes, it just doesn't work out.  But you have to accept it, Rogers.

I just don't want to be with you anymore.

I admit that it was pure romance at first.  You went out of your way to keep me happy, you picked up the tab once in a while and, when I called in sheer panic because Space now played Doctor Who instead of CBC, you made sure I could access it, at no extra charge.  It was sweet, Rogers.  You were my knight on a white (and red) horse.

But, well, people change.  I changed.  I just... I can't be like you, always viewing the same channels, slaves to a pre-determined play time.  I just needed to be free, Rogers, to select what I wanted to see when it was best for me, and not dance to the strings of someone else's mandolin.

You were happy with the way things were, I guess.  You never offered me otherwise, even when I asked.  It wasn't easy for me either, Rogers, to break it off with you.

We've had good times.  And I know I'm a catch - always paying on time or twice in one month, for lack of attention.  Making jokes whenever we chatted on the phone. Not downloading more than you were willing to give.

But you have to let go.  The phone calls, letters, e-mails and texts are just embarrassing you, Rogers, and cheapening what we once had.  You've become the stain in my mailbox and the joke at my dinner table. And then you dared send me another letter, simply adressed to "Resident."

...

Think about how that made me feel.

I tried to be nice about it, but I can't anymore.  Your constant initiation of contact is wasteful and perhaps scarring.  Please stop corresponding with me.

We had a good run, Rogers.  But now it's time for you to let go.

Love (in a limited, non-eternal way),

Marie

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Writing Routine

I've been on a fairly consistent writing routine since 2002.  Get up in the morning, bounce around the house while getting ready, get on bus, head downtown, sit in coffee shop, write.

It worked for me because I didn't have to worry about being late for anything (I'm right downtown!), and the most important part of my day was over by 8, 8:30.  I tried evening writing for a while, but that really didn't work out.  I was too tired to muster up the extra creative energy. Evenings, however, were awesome for editing, since at some point during the day I'd usually stumbled on my brain and stuck it back in my head. (Drafting doesn't require my brain, mostly because I'm a mean editor of my own words.)

Now, after more than a decade of being downtown, I will no longer be heading there in the mornings, which means that I'll be trying to find a new writing spot.  There's one not far from where I'll be going, but it only opens at 7. That's a bit late for me.  So I'm thinking I might try to switch it up.  Maybe write at home in the mornings, in my awesome kitchen, sipping flavoured coffee brewed in my Roomy-gifted Keurig machine.

My main worry is that I'll get lazy.  If I only have to head downstairs, will I start to get up later? Getting up, especially in the winter, is already hard enough with a bus schedule to stick to.  Will I get distracted by life?  A coffee shop is great because I'm not expected to do the dishes, clean the counters, wash the floors, fuzz the cats (no that they usually have those, but, you know...)  Without a book under contract, will I see it as a chance to goof off?  To regain some of my social life, cast aside in favour of putting word to paper or screen?

I'm honestly not sure.  I'm trying to figure out ways to stop myself from losing that routine and letting the days slip by into weeks and months without new stories.  The trick is to implement fail-safes. Maybe I'll start reporting word count on my blog. Maybe I'll give myself harsh deadlines - I work best under pressure. Maybe I'll get Roomy to take away the Keurig machine if I'm bad.  No, wait, that would kill all productivity.

Lots to think about. Help a girl out. What are some of the fail-safes that work best for you?  

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Comic Book Shoppe

(It's a busy world, so I'm going to start providing carefully crafted executive summaries on my blog posts.  Today's executive summary is: "I heart the Comic Book Shoppe.")

When I first moved to Ottawa more than a decade ago, I looked for my new "geek outlet" store.  Where one buys their comic books and geek ware can help make or break their love for a city, after all.  It was made clear to me by other geek girls that the Comic Book Shoppe was *the* place to shop in Ottawa.  I heard things like:

  • "They actually have girls on staff."
  • "They carry titles by girl artists and writers."
  • "You don't feel like you're on display while shopping."
  • "You can browse comic books without wondering who's browsing you."

All stellar reviews, if you ask me. Over the years, I've shopped there on and off, but recently, with way too many cool things to get, I'm there at least once a month. Roomy and I enjoy our comic book nights.  I've always believed it was a great place to shop, but lately they've become a shining star for the Ottawa geek community, at least in my books.  A few reasons:

  • The Comic Book Shoppe 2, located on Bank Street, is in Ottawa's "LGBT Village." (I don't know if it has an official name - please let me know if it does!)  When DC said that a well-known aggressive homophobe would be penning the next series of Superman, Rob Spittall, co-owner of the Bank Street location, said he would not carry it, out of respect for the community he serves and the ideals the geek community strives to achieve.  He would still order it for the fans, of course, but he wouldn't put the money forward to carry it on his shelves. It was professional, thoughtful, and well-executed. Some people called it a breach of freedom of speech, but Rob has that right, too, and he supported it with grace.  I was impressed.
  • Last month, they hosted the Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories book launch, and it was one of the best venues I've worked with in town. They were friendly, accommodating and professional. We packed the place and they cheered us on.  What more could we ask for?
  • Last night cinched it for me.  They hosted their second Geek Girls Night, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun. They had a mini concert, vegan treats, manicures, grab bags and massages, and some great discounts. The event sported a relaxed social atmosphere.  They had pulled the female staff from both stores, making sure customers had plenty of assistance to find the cool they were looking for (or were hankering to discover!)  I supported the event by spending way too much there...

It strikes me how lucky we are to have the Comic Books Shoppe.  There isn't an establishment like this in every city, or not one that's such a beacon for the community.  I can't thank Rob, Cherry and everyone else enough for all of the work they put into maintaining such a great establishment.

Ottawa is better for having you in it.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Everything Changes

My brother and I were working on a script together this week and part of the inspiration was: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Right now, I'm hoping that's true.  I've been in an upheaval of changes lately, adapting to new situations personally and professionally, one tiny or major change at a time.

On the personal front, the main change is of course the new house!  Roomy and I absolutely love it but it's a heck of a change.  Our old routines are gone, and our house, only half (okay, a quarter) unpacked, is not yet welcoming of new routines. We're figuring it out, and it is fun decorating the new place one tiny section at a time.  It'll be a while yet before we can host a housewarming party!

One of the major changes in my routine is losing my morning Klingon bus buddy. He was my first human contact in the mornings, so it's strange to no longer have him there on the bus, waiting to stand up and let me sit next to the window (so I wouldn't go flying out - I guess he grew weary of me latching on to his arm every time the bus took wild turns. Which was all the time).  I miss our early morning geek chatter. It was an awesome way to start the day.

The other major change is that, for the past eleven years, with only one year off, I've been writing downtown every morning.  Over the past two years, I've gone from solitary writing to group writing. That in itself took a while to get used to (people!  People in my space!)  After some resistance  I got used to it and now I really enjoy it (or I'm suffering from stockholm syndrom).  At the end of next week, on the same day that marks my 35th birthday, I'll no longer be trekking downtown on weekdays, so I lose my writing buddies.  They're already working on finding me a new group, so I have high hopes on that end. Still, I'll miss Derek, Nicole and Brian, just like I missed Peter when he upped and went to China (although I enjoy making people believe he's a figment of Derek's imagination).

All of these changes in my daily social interactions come at an interesting time.  For the first time since 2008, I have no writing contract.  Not one. For the past four years and a bit, I've been working at finishing my two series, and I'd write short stories for anthology editors who specifically requested one from me. That approach worked for me. Now, there isn't another book under contract. And a whole slew of books that I've been ignoring are clamouring for attention, each puffing its feathers to entice me to dance with them.  So many awesome books that I get excited just thinking about it!

First, however, I want to cleanse my palate a bit.  Some short stories would do me some good. And then I'll decide what my next book will be.  I'm getting excited just thinking about the possibilities!

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The writing community in Ottawa is growing, or at least coming out of the woodwork at a steady pace, so I'll always get to meet new writers and find new writing buddies.  My home is lovely and as homey as ever before, because it's still full of cats and books and ponies and a Roomy (just one).  And the writing still whispers in the back of my mind, enticing me to drop everything else and run away with it, if not to a convent then at least to the confines of my mind.

As for a Klingon bus buddy?  ... well, the world can only provide something so cool so often.  Sometimes, it's good to lower expectations.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

We're Moving!

So, after a year of discussions, Roomy and I finally bought a house!

We realized that we had both being thinking in a rather traditional way about house purchases (first comes the husband, then the house!)  So, the husbands haven't showed up for either of us, and we enjoy living with each other, so we decided to just go for the house.  Of course now we'll both meet Mr. Right within a few days of moving in...

But anyway.  The house. We spend one day with super agent (and mystery writer!) Peggy Blair and saw seven houses during a snow swept day.  We fell in love with the last house we saw.  Fully finished and renovated, move-in ready, and the kitchen! I want to live in that kitchen!  I'd post a picture here, but pictures do it absolutely no justice.  You should probably just start being envious of our kitchen as of right now.  It's the only way to go.

Roomy signing the offer! ... yes, we took pictures of each other signing the papers.  Her picture (and probably signature) turned out better. I look like I'm signing papers and singing about it at the same time. Which is really too awesome to share on a blog.
It was a smooth process with absolutely no bump or horror story to report.  A bit dull, I know, but in this case, I'm more than okay with that.   We gained possession on March 1. 

And now we're homeowners!!!
I'm sure it would be to no one's surprise if I reported that Roomy's ponies have already moved in before us. Is anyone surprised? Didn't think so. That's her in our new living room with another pony collecting friend. Friends who encourage each other to collect should help move collections - that's our philosophy.
On Friday, the movers are coming for the rest of the stuff. We're busy packing and getting rid of lots of junk.  Lotsa.  We never merged our households until now, so we had doubles of everything in the basement. Enough of that!
Turns out that unsprung cat traps are just as effective as their built peers. 
We're trying to strike a balance between eating crap and eating veggies, whining and praising, packing and sleeping, patting cats and shooing them away.  Needless to say, we're completely failing, and the eating crap, sleeping and cat patting are totally winning. We're more on the praising side, but that's because of the kitchen. We praise the kitchen.  (Feel the kitchen envy!)
There's a monster living in the backyard next door.  It's pretty awesome.
And so, this blog is on official hiatus for the rest of March. We need to get the Internet back up and find the computers again after they've gone missing, so that'll take time.  I'll try to keep an eye on my e-mail, but please have patience - my systems are not all go!

If you're in Ottawa and can come out on Saturday to the Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories book launch, that would be great. I'll be reading from my story The Kevlar Canoe.  It's a flying canoe, so you know it's a good story!

Have a great beginning of March!

I leave you with a disembodied cake pony head.  Because I'd hate for you  to think we were all work and no play.  Oh no.  That's just not how we roll in this house, or the next!