Friday, November 28, 2008

It is snowing both in earnest and Kamloops today.

This week has been... I'm not going to go there. Instead, I'll say that my Wednesday became a Thursday and I managed a little over 2000 words. To meet my goal of 1000/day for November, I will have to write about 6500 in the next three days. It's entirely doable, it just made going to work a little difficult today.

Then I remembered why today is important:

Now, I feel a little bit better about the shift I've got to put in this afternoon. Regardless of what you think of Starbucks or the efforts of (RED), from a purely design standpoint that advert is a brilliant and clever bit of typographical magic.

Indulge in your love of the Peppermint Mocha Twist, people, because it just got easier to make excuses for why you can get one.

Remember Monday is World AIDS day and your tips help buy people Holiday gifts.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have been a naughty writer. No biscuits for me. No, no.

For a good three weeks I was making excellent progress on SHARDS. I made it about 18, 500 words in—and BELOVED came calling. Softly, at first, but then more insistent with each passing day. Offering ideas, and when that didn't work, it started to play dirty.

So I gave it 5XX words. Nice words. Good words. After that, I told it to go play outside while I attended to SHARDS.

I'll be honest: writing-wise last week sucked. Less than 2000 words over seven days. Pathetic.

I had such hope for this week. Shiny and new and quiet. Two perfect days in a row mid-week with no shifts to set a goal of 2500 daily words. Two days of cocooned writing that I would gladly emerge from on Friday ready to face the coffee crowd.

My beautiful two days is now a Wednesday. One of those peculiar transition days—not the beginning of the week nor the end. Just that odd middle part. A magical day, perhaps, but a 5000 word day?

Maybe. It is still Monday, after all, and they are relatively hopeful days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shiny Baubles for 11/21/08

I have many, many Christmas ornaments finished. They are all, however, headed to Christmas at the Square at St Andrew's on the Square here in Kamloops. (It's one of my favorite buildings downtown—I did part of a photo shoot for my DAAD final project there. I also love the Brownstone Restaurant building and the Youth Hostel.)

I had some bookmarks finished as well, but they've already sold, so the only offerings this week are three bracelets:

Big Bauble Bracelet: Hot (sexy) magenta jewel-tone faceted beads, faux smoky quartz beads, and a zebra cord bead from Japan. Finished with a square toggle clasp and a detailed butterfly.

Shining Star bracelet: gold, blue, and green glass beads accented with yellow glass stars and a large blue and gold folded glass star from Japan. Finished with a star toggle clasp.

True Love bracelet: pinks and clear glass beads accented with larger glass beads and a polished square rose quartz. Finished with a shot-through-the-heart toggle clasp and the kanji for love.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Samples and entry fees

Samples deal with "giving" product away on the basis of future reimbursement for continued relations with whomever you've given the sample to. A lot of businesses give out samples. If you blog, and you're doing it as a business tool, you're giving out a sample.

I provided a sample to Jenna, my would-be editor at TOKYOPOP, when we discussed me coming on board to do The Tarot Cafe Novel. The blog wasn't enough, because it didn't establish how I handled fictional narratives. If you've looked at the writing samples, you'll notice all but one(?) of them are scenes or flash fiction. So I showed Jenna "The Rainy Season," with the understanding that if that wasn't long enough I'd be happy to do a sample outline and chapter for The Tarot Cafe.

It was the opening chapter and a sample outline for an adaptation of "The Fairy" vingette from the first or second volume of the comic. The story that retells Cinderalla from the Fairy Godmother's POV.

I felt it was acceptable to do that, because it was like going to a job interview. I was in the process of being hired, and the samples I did were specific to that company and the task I was being interviewed for. It wasn't a pishing email or a post on a forum or a Craigslist attempt to get the work done for free.

The thing about samples—most business aren't giving away all that they have. Most samplers are the first chapter. Not an ongoing deluge of progressive scenes through the narrative posted weekly. As a reader, I want to see the first scene or chapter to get a taste of how you write. I've seen as much as the first 20% of the novel available online—if you're still reading 20% in, you're going to go buy the book.

Entry fees, however, strikes me as paying someone to acknowledge your product. When it comes to finances and work, I feel whoever is doing the job should be getting the money. Sounds idealistic, but it's complicated world and sometimes simple concepts are what get me through.

For example, why would I pay an agent fee? Many new writers ask this. They wonder why they should pay someone else for the work they've done. Simple: you pay your agent for all the work you won't have to or can't do. An agent also gets paid because it's her business. However, she doesn't get paid until your manuscript sells. Like you, she does a great deal of work before she ever sees a cheque.

Even your CPs get paid—in time, attention, gratitude and the first read of that bestseller's manuscript.

However, you don't pay an editor or a copy-editor. Their publishing company pays them. They aren't your employees, they're co-workers—you're all working on the project of getting that manuscript published for the publisher.

Why I don't agree with vanity press or POD is that a publisher pays me for my work. Not the other way around. There have been success stories from POD and vanity—the most recent is Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader, but she was later picked up by William Morrow and published in the traditional manner. Same with Christopher Paolini. Which isn't to say that POD and vanity are doomed paths, just that the current industry still functions based on traditional hardcopy distribution and it's the major houses that have the access.

That's not to say there aren't many valid reasons when or situations where entry fees are acceptible: to support the people holding the contest, to narrow the field, to gain access to a professional arena.

One might ask why I feel it's acceptable to pay an entry fee to attend World Fantasy, but not to submit a story for publishing consideration. Simple, World Fantasy is a professional author event. I'm guaranteed they'll let me in the door, because I've registered. When I pay a contest entry fee to submit a story, I'm not guaranteed that story will be published. I'm paying for the honor of the story being read.

Why I bring this is up is my humble blog somehow—occasionally—gets attention. TOKYOPOP, blogosphere invitations, delightful spambots, links to travel agencies, etc. Well, this morning I got an email about something called the Chapeau Blog Awards—nicely designed site, by-the-by.

If a reader invited me—thank you, it gave me a little feeling of validation. It doesn't however excuse that I spent this morning blogging instead of working on my draft.

Chapeau's "exclusive blog award competition" requires an entry fee. Thus, it's humorous and accurate to define "exclusive" in this instance as "those who pay $195 to $250 for the privilege of consideration."

I'm 80% certain the fee could be written off as "promotion."

However, in all seriousness: Chapeau has no category for "publishing," "fiction," or even "memoir." Bogs function on the written word, and this contest seeking to reward "brilliant blogs" doesn't have a writing-specific award.

So I should pay $195 to list myself an entertainer or hobbyist? Nah, think I'll say my money and go register for World Con. If I do before December 31st, I can spend that extra $5 on a peppermint mocha twist.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lately it's been beads over words

It's not Christmas season, but the whole Holiday rollout at work this past week has chronologically thrown me. Once again, I'm reminded, time is largely just a human construct. Undeniably it passes, but the actual "when" of seasons is rather subjective.

That being said, things are picking up for the Christmas shopping season. I donated a necklace and bracelet set to a local bonspiel's silent auction. (If you know what sport that involves, you're probably Canadian or Scottish.)

Fire-finished beads, pink cathedral beads, black and gold glass beads, and gold metal clasps. The bracelet features a folded glass beads and the necklace features a polished, faceted citrine pendant.

Bookmarks continue. A few people will be getting special Christmas surprises. ;)

Speaking of Christmas, for the season: Handmade holiday ornaments. Versitile and festive, these colorful creations can be hung on your tree, mantle, or attached to gifts/cards. Selling for $5 each ($7 including shipping) or 3 for $14 ($18 including shipping.)

Starlight variation.

Sleigh Ride variation.

If you're in Kamloops next weekend, Nov 21–22, please visit Christmas at the Square. The Art We Are will have a table, where the ornaments as well as many other beautiful local artisan's creations will be available. I'll even be working the table for a couple hours Friday afternoon, so say hello.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two recent pieces that hadn't been uploaded

Vintage Glam: Glass bead, reclaimed plastic gold beads, faux smoky quatz beads, and gold-colored mesh "pearls" with antique-finish gold clasp.

This was a donation to The Art We Are gallery's charity auction for the Kamloops Clubhouse.

Blue and Gold wing bookmark: Gold-colored wing charm from Japan, blue/white glass beads, blue/gold cathedral beads, blue/white fire-finished glass beads, blue and gold glass beads.

World Fantasy Conference 2008 wrap-up

Since The Tarot Cafe Novel will be on shelves in two months, it seems appropriate to pop on blogger and mention a little bit about World Fantasy 2008.

It was a great conference, so much thanks to Randy McCharles and the other WFC Calgary committee members and volunteers. Also thanks to the Hyatt for hosting.

Panels were spread out from 10 am to 10 pm, with breaks for dinner. I would say the top five panels were:

1) Argh! My Alien is an Elf! with Robert J Sawyer, Joe Haldeman, Stephen Stirling and Walter Jon Williams (moderator.)

2) Resurgence of YA Literature with Garth Nix, Linda DeMeulemeester, Kathryn Sullivan, Anne Hoppe, and Sharyn November (moderator.)

3) Defining the Next Paranormal Detective with AB Goelman, Gayleen Froese, Justin Gustainis, Jay Caselberg, Laura Anne Gilman and Devon Monk (moderator.)

4) Evolution of the Vampire Slayer with Suzy Charnas, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jason Nahrung and Alice Henderson (moderator.) (Although I think it was Nancy Kilpatrick who missed this one.)

5) Tie-ins with Robert Shearman, Mark Morris, me and Doselle Young (moderator.) (Patrick Weekes did not attend.)

Most fun events? The autograph session Friday night, being on a panel Saturday night, and the banquet on Sunday afternoon. No, I didn't choose those because they're what I happen to have photos from.

Saw old friends, made new ones—hello Devon, Dianna, Rob, Brittany, Mark and Doselle—and was told by Paul Cornell someone to not mention next time I'm on a panel that I'm nervous, because the audience couldn't tell. I, of course, have no idea who this kind gentleman was—rather embarrassing as he knew who I was.

The panel was brilliant, despite my nerves that I didn't shake off until about halfway through. Three people in the audience even knew what The Tarot Cafe was. Being at a "serious professional writer" conference and knowing that there are Tarot Cafe readers there? Wow, I didn't just feel like a real author—I felt like the effort Jenna and I put into making the novel a quality story is going to pay off.

Patrick Weekes didn't show up, which caused two of the people in the audience to leave. If by some chance he's reading this: you were wanted.

Doselle Young was a fantastic moderator and made being on the panel so much fun. He kind of shook things up and asked unconventional questions, which gave us all an opportunity to be entertaining as well as informative. I hope encouraging and possibly inspiring, too, but I'd settle for "kept audience awake." 8:00 pm up against a panel on Vampire Elves* is not an easy task.

Plus, we had Rob and Mark to keep things professional and informative. Very cool gents, so I shall let you know that Rob Shearman's TINY DEATHS won the World Fantasy Award for best collection. Mark Morris has a Doctor Who tie-in novel in which the Doctor and Donna meet Gandhi, a Hellboy tie-in that came out recently, and he'll have a TORCHWOOD tie-in entitled BAY OF THE DEAD coming out next year. It sounds zombietastic, so make sure you check it out.

Once again, however, what WFC reminded me is that conferences are really social experiences and the moments I enjoy the most aren't the panels, but the informal discussions and visits that occur in the hallways, bar, lobby, elevators, etc in between panels. If you find yourself at WFC 2009 in San Jose, make sure you take advantage to speak to people. It's not a matter of networking, it's understanding that we're all gathered in a hotel with a common interest, so why not socialize?

Also, as I'm uncertain I will be in San Jose, can someone else take it upon themselves to tell authors you happen to be in the elevator with that you enjoyed their novels and/or panels? People appreciate it.

Christina Rundle and I with Marjorie M Liu at the Friday night autograph reception. Marjorie is totally cool and I'm so grateful she took the time to pose and chat with us.

We are serious professional badass urban fantasy/dark fantasy writers. (You can tell by our costumes.)

The tie-in panel. From left to right: Rob Shearman, Doselle Young, Mark Morris and myself. Rob is answering a question in a serious, professional manner that has all of us and the audience rapt with attention. It probably has something to do with Doctor Who.

The Awards Banquet on Sunday afternoon. Christina and I pose with Brian Hades of Edge Publishing. We were fortunate to sit at the Edge Table for the banquet.

*It was actually a panel about genre combinations one should not do. I'm told by Danica that "vampire robots" was the no-no, which of course gave me an idea for a really great vampire robot story.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Starbucks + Product (RED)

So, I should probably disclose that I work for Starbucks. (Which you would know from reading my profile.) I was hired about three weeks ago, and I work up at the location in my hometown's Chapters.

Today, I attended the holiday rally, in which I learned a lot secret Starbucks things and started planning what you're all getting for Christmas presents.

However, probably the most exciting bit of news is something that I can share because it's already been announced online:

"Starting on November 27, 2008 and continuing through January 2, 2009, Starbucks will contribute five cents from the sale of any (STARBUCKS)RED EXCLUSIVE beverage at all company-owned and licensed stores in the United States and Canada to the Global Fund to invest in AIDS programs in Africa." —

What does this mean? Well, anytime during the holiday season that you purchase any size of Peppermint Mocha Twist, Gingersnap Latte or Espresso Truffle, you're helping to provide medication, training and education to the people of Africa who are suffering from AIDS.

Let me break it down for you:

• Every FOUR drinks sold buys an individual's daily dose of AIDS medication.

• Every SEVEN drinks sold buys an injection that prevents the spread of the HIV virus from pregnant mother to her child.

So tell people—and remember to tip your barista.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It has been a week of firsts...

A lot has happened since my last entry—America delighted and inspired the world by choosing a candidate who ran on a platform of hope, instead of another four years of a party that has remained in power through fear-mongering. (I decline to comment on the results of California's Prop 8 until I can find an official announcement including the absentee vote count.)

The fact that Barrack Obama is also the first African-American president... well, that's significant, too, but in making it about race, don't we diminish—however slightly—this proclamation that race no longer matters?

Since I'm, like, chuffed about results, I'm not even getting that worried feeling about everyone referring to him as the first "global president."

The media called the election before polls even closed on the West Coast and in Alaska. I half-wondered if I'd wake up on November 5th to find a report that we'd all made a mistake, so please welcome President McCain and his Toclafane friends. (C'mon, you wanted to see McCain regenerate into John Simm as much as I did.)

This is my transition, if you didn't notice, into what else happened while I was gone. Namely, David Tennant announced that he won't be carrying on as the Doctor in the 2010 series. I'm, of course, gutted about this. The whole prospect of a Steven Moffat-steered, Tennant-driven series was how I was planning to sustain myself during the year of specials.

With respect, I understand why Tennant is leaving. It is what Buffy did: Left us on a high note begging for more instead of losing us to inane plot twists and repetitive stories. As a writer who wants to do a series, I see the appeal of going on and on, but I know that a character has only so much in him. Those memorable ones remain with us long after the series has ended, because it didn't drag out and immunize us to their charms.

I want anything I do to end on a high note, too, and not succumb to the "how about three more books, here is a dollar sign with a lot of zeroes after it." (Yes, this might be a bit cart then horse, but it's all hypotheticals right now.) In that way, I can only respect Tennant's decision more.

Yes, I'm aware the series isn't ending and the Doctor isn't dying, but the Tenth Doctor—my Doctor—is. I don't like it, but that's the fannish part of me. The creative part gets it.

Oh, and it snowed today for the first time this year. Powdered surgar, dissolving mostly as it coats the still-warm earth. Actually, snowing still. We're starting to lose the still-green grass beneath white, although I can see various blades slicing upwards.

First snow and snow on Christmas really do fall into a completely different category. We don't think of the boots and ski pants and wind-burnt cheeks that winter brings, but just fill with this child-like sense of wonder of "ooooh, snow!" At least, I find myself doing so today.