Monday, August 31, 2009

New rules for the game

I have three jobs. I've had three jobs since the beginning of June. Sometimes I have four, but usually that means I've had to abandon writing so I'm still technically only at three. Not all of these jobs pay, and those that do don't necessarily pay well. (Obviously or I wouldn't have four of them.)

For the past two months: (1) I made coffee. (2) I sold books. (3) I wrote. (4) I did graphic design.

I've spent the past two weeks in the midst of a shake-up. I gave notice at (#1) after returning from Montreal, and today was my last day. (Although, to be fair, Thursday past was my last shift.) However, before leaving (#1), I was offered a freelance position involving (#4). So really the universe is just balancing out.

What this all amounts to is simply put as I don't have a lot of time to spend sitting staring off into space, which happens to be a vital part of any creative individual's existence. Instead, time needs to be budgeted while I work on locating those extra hours in the day that everyone else has already found.

To write with any kind of consistency, I need a level of concentration that I can no longer flick on with the snap of my fingers. Having two part time jobs and the erratic hours they produced plus crow-barring in design work didn't leave many chunks of time that could be set aside for writing, because there are other things one has to do in order to keep functioning. (I haven't discovered how to live on less than 6 hours of sleep. If you have, please share the secret.)

But the departure of (#1), opens up the daytime for (#2). Since (#2) doesn't grind the life out of me, I'll still have energy in the evenings. I'm hoping my Monday, which had been part of my weekend for the past two months, can be used to accomplish the additional client I've taken on for (#4).

Part of the stress of (#1) (#2) and (#4) was that I wasn't writing. So while I was getting a paycheque every week, I felt like my actual career was going nowhere. This had nothing to do with the waiting or the inexcusably long response times. I wasn't producing new material, which anyone who wants to have a career in publishing has to do.

So I've made myself some rules: Two hours writing or 1000 words each night. Until something is finished. Then I start finishing one of the two other things that were started this year. When they're done, I start something new and finish it.

You are most welcome, nay implored, to hold me to this.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I find this hi-lar-i-ous. And worrying. But mostly funny.

Rob Taylor sends his poetry to James Moore, Minster of Cultural Heritage and Official Languages, to protest the cutting of arts grants to Canadian literary magazines.

Maybe I'm going about this the wrong way. Maybe I should be approaching Canadian publishers with my manuscripts. You know, while the Canadian publishing industry still exists.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Day for Books

Happy Canadian Book Birthday to Jackson Pearce, AKA watchmebe. Her young adult fantasy As You Wish is one I've been looking forward to for over a year, ever since I first started watching her antics on the LJ. As You Wish is just the first of many wonderful books from this talented author, so pick you copy and keep your eyes open for SISTERS RED in April 2010.

Today also marks the release of the Unbound anthology with stories from Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Jocelynn Drake, Vicki Pettersson and Melissa Marr's adult fiction debut.

Guess what? Only...oh, three months too late to be of any use for the Hugo voters, Neal Stephenson's Anathem is out in paperback. I enjoyed Neal Stephenson's earlier works, but not enough to buy him in hardcover. Especially not when these past four books have been epic doorstops and I couldn't get into Quicksilver, despite my efforts. When Anathem didn't have an electronic copy of the novel in the Hugo voter pack, and the other novels on the final ballot did, I had to go with what I had access to read or had already read. Otherwise I would have just been voting on name recognition and that wouldn't have been fair.

Anyway it's cool, because now I can read Anathem—as soon as I get through the twenty other books on my shelf.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This one is for Ethanael

Your move, Oh Mighty Prince of Fortune.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Last Afternoon in Montreal

I share with you this moment, still and vibrant. A riot of color half-obscuring a cityscape.

I share with you this deep breath, this peace, this tiny wonder. You cannot see the clouds, but they were gathering to chase us back inside.

They waited, those clouds. They waited until we had finished puzzling out the secret of why old cities and their beating hearts speak so passionately to our souls. Call to us in voices we hear with our bones.

It's the illusion of permanence. We love to hope. That is the thing that makes us great.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In which Chandra reads and makes funny faces...

My friend was kind enough to help me make a video of my 12 minute except that I read at WorldCon. She was also kind enough to break it into two youtubeable chunks.

La, three scenes from THE TALE OF ARIAKE made longer by my babbling through some kind of intro and outro.

Part One:

Part Two:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I should post about Anticipation.

I ought to. But I'm processing, sorting through the multitude of thoughts and trying to distill it down to something that's not only interesting for those of you who weren't there but also of meaning.

There's many little observations that could be expanded into larger commentary, but that requires energy I'm not feeling today and focus that I haven't been able to maintain. Burnt it out doing the hyper-focus that happens when one is on a panel. Yesterday may have been the first full day in a week that I've been honestly, perfectly relaxed.

The words are calling, and I shall go find out what they want to become. However, before I do, E has revealed to me that he discovered this thing in my absence called "twitter." God help us all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So shines a good deed in a weary world

Today I met a truly lovely person.

His name was Neil and he looked very familiar. Like the Twelfth Doctor. He did have a TARDIS pin on his lapel. He also had a Dalek pin, so maybe it was just a coincidence.

I shook his hand, introduced myself, and told him it was a pleasure to meet him.

He said it was a pleasure to be met and wrote "The End" in my copy of The Graveyard Book.

I gave him a sachet of tea to brew later, because he seemed tired. He said he would. He also said thank you, because this is what polite people do.

If you should ever meet Neil, please treat him kindly and say hello.

Anticipation: Where to Find Me

As Leah Bobet has posted her schedule, I am reminded I ought to post my own. Dated Aug 10th, so that it should remain at the top of the blog until after Anticipation is over.

Thursday @ 7pm, P-516E
First Contact: What will the Neighbors Think? with Brad Templeton (M), Chandra Rooney, Elizabeth Bear, James Strauss, James Stanley Daugherty
Duration: 1:00 hrs:min
Teen Programming
"We’ll examine perceptions and preconceptions. What would aliens think about our planet, our society, and our lives? Imagine you’ve come to Earth, or Canada, for the first time; what do you see? What do you experience?"
The answer being: Chips and adventures, please! (OMG, Elizabeth Bear!)

Thursday @ 9 pm, P-511BE
East Meets West: Chandra Rooney, Derwin Mak (M), Gord Sellar, June M. Madeley, Feòrag NicBhrìde, Lila Garrott-Wejksnora, Hiroaki Inoue
Duration: 1:00 hrs:min
"Western fandom for manga and anime continues to grow. Are we now seeing western examples influenced by the East? Are they any good or just copies?"
This is the panel where I will discuss how what I write makes a hell of a lot more sense than Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, and bring up how Fred Gallagher and Dark Horse sold anime fandom back to Japan in the form of Megatokyo. (OMG, is that the Hiroaki Inoue who co-founded GAINAX?)

Friday @ 4 pm, P-516E
Manga Madness: Ada G. Palmer, Chandra Rooney, June M. Madeley, Tom Schaad, Feòrag NicBhrìde (M)
Duration: 1:00 hrs:min
Teen programming Bilingual
"What’s your favourite manga (for ages 11 - 18)? Is manga just Japanese comic books, or is it more?"
The saddest thing about this panel is that most 11–18 year old know more about manga than I do.

Saturday @ 9 am, P-512AE
Author Reading: Chandra Rooney, Catherine Petrin and Melanie Fletcher
Duration: 1:00 hrs:min
Come hear me read a scene or two selected from FRAGMENTS for maximum awesomeness. If I can be awake to read, you can be awake to listen. (I'm not above bribing people to attend by abusing my Starbucks employee discount.)

Saturday @ 3:30 pm, P-524A
The City of the Future: Anne Whiston Spirn, Cara C. Sloat, Chandra Rooney (M), Kristin Norwood, Mike Gallagher
Duration: 1:00 hrs:min
Human Culture
"Science fiction is a predominantly urban genre: we dream of gleaming spires and topless towers, of super highways and glass bridges. We imagine filthy dystopias of alienated pod dwellers, and utopian arcologies. What kinds of cities do we dream of today?"
Other than reading FRAGMENTS and stalking possibly seeing Neil Gaiman, this panel has me the most excited. We're going to talk about the Singularity and the recent trend towards sustainable living and whether there will even be cities in the future. I know this, because I get to moderate.

Sunday @ 12:30 pm, P-524B
The Best SF Manga: Chandra Rooney (M), June M. Madeley, Jus de Pomme, Jean-Luc Demers
Duration: 1:30 hrs:min
"Whether you're a fan or a newbie, the boom of interest in the manga may seem overwhelming. What are the landmarks that are essential reading? What's new and worth checking out?"
Given my dislike of genre limitations, this is going to be about kick-ass manga in general because I'm going to recommend Rurouni Kenshin regardless of it being a historical series.

Monday @ 10 am, P-522B
Spiritualism In Your Fiction: Using Tarot, Astrology, and Other Spiritual Means to Tap Creativity with Chandra Rooney, John A. Pitts, Trisha Wooldridge (M), Adeline Lamarre
Duration: 1:00 hrs:min
Creative Writing
"Spiritual writing or tapping into creativity. Do you want to put magic realism, astrology or tarot in your writing or just use them to increase your creativity and spiritual self?"
Last day of Anticipation + I know why you put me on this panel but SRSLY? = You should show up just to see what happens.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Not now. Busy.
Dear Ethanael,

The coffee maker in the hotel room brews with resentment, and I worry this deep-seated hated of its previously abusive temporary masters will seep into the coffee. To produce the magical brew, one has to balance the chalice delicately so that it's half off the little heating pad.

Given that I don't have a great deal of luck with hotel coffee, Liz and I spent the day on an adventure for a Starbucks. It did not, however, become "my starbucks" because it's a licensed store. For the civilian, this makes no difference, but those of us in the green apron corporate army can only use our discounts at other corporate stores. (If it's a problem that I'm blogging about that, SBUX, then make our card work at all stores with our green aproned fellows and the post becomes irrelevant.) We purchased our delicious Pike Place Roast and brought it back to the hotel, so now we'll see if good coffee can coax the little demon machine into behaving.

Because, really, if I had to spew out the stuff produced by the filter the hotel provided? I'd be cranky, too.

I'll try to get a picture of the amazing sunflower gold stove for you for tomorrow.


PS You said you'd post while I was in Montreal, dude. You posted while I was en route and therefore are required to post again.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The left over girl

"Well, we can't leave her," Dante says.

We could. But he won't. Not now that he's said we can't. It wouldn't be very gallant of us. Even if we aren't gallant and this isn't a comic book and she's not a schoolgirl in distress. The distress has come and gone. She's what remains.

I shrug. "I guess we wake her then."

Pause. Time for him to wait for me to do it and me to let him know I am not touching her. She may not be a ghost, but that doesn't make her safe. He gets the message, but he waits a few extra heartbeats longer just to be stubborn. Dante likes to assert his independence. I've worked out that much about him.

He kneels beside the girl. For all his talk, his hesitation betrays he's as uncertain as I am. We crave the unknown until we're faced with it.

"Hey." Dante touches the mound of fabric where her shoulder should be.

No reaction.

He tries again. "Miss."

A soft moan like the luminos trees sighing. As she stirs, I hear the same slight ringing. It's her, affecting the possibilities. They gather around her like curious fireflies. That ring. So not really like fireflies at all.

Her face is young, but that doesn't mean anything. My face is young, too. So is Avalon's. Faces can lie. You've got to judge the eyes. (You've got to use the mirror.) Her eyes are young as her face. They focus. She sees us. Does what most of your people do when seeing us: She screams. Kind of annoying. We don't scream when we see you.

I've gotten used to this reaction. Girl Val and I have worked through it together. She doesn't scream anymore. Success.

Dante jerks to his feet like the leftover girl might bite him. Like she hurled knives at him instead of sound. He's been told you're all something close to very wild animals, remember. If you should meet him one day, try not to reinforce this belief.

She presses her hands to her mouth and makes little whimpers. "A dream. It's a dream."

Dante and I exchange a look. My attempt to be reassuring for his undiminishing concern I've allowed him to talk me into something he'll regret. This is a good sign. Not that he suspects me. I'd like it better if he didn't. That she suspects this of being a dream. It means she still has memories of her world. Ghosts start forgetting they should find the Twilight Lands strange. It's how you know they’ll become ghosts later.

Maybe she won't. If she's a fragment, she may not. She'll have that link to someone from here. It keeps them intact, but if they stay here too long and exceed the threshold they won't be able to leave. She's Not Right, but she's been here a while. Past the staying point. Whatever she is or isn't, she belongs to this world now.

No waking from this "dream."

Dante, for all his being constantly surrounded by females, seems at a loss for what to do. Maybe he's reconsidering his previous statement about us not leaving her here.

"Hello." I wave. "I'm Ethan. This is Andy."

"No," she says. "It's a dream."

My face is young, but my eyes are old and I've dealt with those who think they're dreaming before. For now, we'll let her believe it.

"If this is a dream, then what's the harming in participating?" I offer my friendliest smile.

It's super friendly. If you saw it, you'd feel compelled to smile, too. It also makes it hard to argue with my logic. Especially handy when my logic isn't really all that logical.

Her hair is brown like Girl Val's, but the left over girl has eyes a suspicious green. Not like any of the greens my eyes can go. A muddy human green. I suppose it's an interesting enough color. We don't see human colors as often on this side of the glass.

"It could be a very fun dream." I shoot a look at Dante. "Right?"

The look is meant to be interpreted as you will agree. I'm not asking his opinion, just making him part of the conversation.

"It's not a dream," he says.

"It has to be," she snaps. "If it isn't… Then what are you supposed to be? Vampires?"

I suppose her unpleasantness shouldn't be a surprise. A nice girl wouldn't have been abandoned out by the Chronograph. A pleasant fragment would have been welcomed into a tribe. It's probably best she's not. Dante knows how to deal with females that don't want him around. His sisters have given him plenty of practice.

He crosses his arms. "What are you supposed to be?"

It's not overly clever, but it gets his point across.

She pulls at the feathers in her hair. "I don't know. It wasn't my idea to be dressed like this. The fairies who left me out here must have thought it was funny."

I'm going to give you some advice for if you should ever meet an Old One. We are not vampires. We are not fairies. We are not aliens. We are not elves. We are those who watch from behind glass. The once and sometimes still gods.

We are Old Ones. Try to remember that. Be polite. Maybe we’ll help you get home. If you insist on giving us one of your ridiculous labels, we may dress you in taffeta and tie feathers in your hair and leave you to be swallowed up by the dream fields.

I'm not saying it was the right thing for someone to do to this left over girl. I'm just saying it's not hard to see why they would.

"Did you eat with them?" Dante asks. "Drink anything?"

Her human green eyes go wide. "So they were fairies. You're fairies, too, aren't you?"

This is another bit of advice to remember: Don't eat or drink anything on our side of the glass. It might be more important than what I said earlier about being polite. In that, don't eat to be polite. Politely refuse.

"No." Dante pushes up his goggles. "Did you eat or drink anything?"

She gasps. Scoots back. After everything she's seen and that's happened, you would think a pair of mismatched eyes wouldn't be worth such a reaction.

"Yes." She looks away. "We partied for a while. Then I guess they got bored of me."

Dante shifts his bi-colored gaze to me. I nod. Bored is a possibility, yeah, but the louder one is that they tried to change this left over girl. Make her a permanent resident. It didn't take as well as it should have because of the broken notes in her song. She's weaker than she should be. Not connecting to our lands properly.

It raises questions, of course, but at least it answers why she's past the staying point.

"Excuse us," Dante says.

We aren't taught to be polite to your people. His parents raised him to be well-mannered in general. His family is big on decorum. Even Avalon is very conscious of how things ought to be done.

"My uncle told me it's illegal to turn fragments," Dante says. "Why would anyone try to keep her here?"

Good question. I tap my fingers against my headphones while I listen for an answer.

"She must have been beyond help when they found her," I say.

The girl gets to her feet. She doesn't have shoes, but black ribbons are wound around her legs from ankles to knees.

"You said you were Ethan and Andy?" She doesn't sound certain. "Can you take me home?"

Home is a word loaded with ambiguity. A place for her that someone ought to find, as Avalon would say. But saying yes binds us with responsibility. Makes us accountable for her well-being. I can't think of many who would willingly chain themselves to a broken, unpleasant stranger.

I was broken once. A stranger helped me. It caused her to become Stellina. Who knows what it'll cause if we help this left over girl.

"No, you can't return," Dante says. "But we can find a place for you here."

She nods. Hesitates. "Thank you."

Someone told me once that these fairies your kind are so fond of don't like to be thanked. It hurts them. That's how you know they can't be real. Nothing real could be hurt by gratitude.

"You're welcome," Dante says. "What should we call you?"

"Maria," she says.

The name harmonizes as it adds itself to my repertoire. Claims her song from the left over girl. Now she is Maria. Or what remains of her. The naming forms a bargain. Binding us as surely as if Dante had sworn an oath. For good or ill, we have to find her a place among us.

And he thinks I'm the one who gets us into trouble.
Well, it's past 11 pm and I am pretty much packed for Montreal.

The schedule is posted above all sticky like until Monday, and I will have some kind of internet access.

More importantly, Bunny has been named Topher. A friend was talking about seeing the Coda episode of Dollhouse on DVD and mentioned Topher Brink, and I was reminded how much I love that character and did sort of want to name my bunny after a famous science-y kind of dude. (When I say "science" I mean science fiction.) Now if I could get out of the habit of just calling him bunny-buns...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Mr. Bunny

So... this is our bunny. We weren't planning to get a bunny. Bunnies have never really been my thing, because they're not exactly interactive pets.

However, Friday night my brother and his friends found this little troublemaker rabbit building himself a nest in the empty lot beside our house. (We didn't actually know it was a him until Sunday morning.) Mom worried about predators, as we do get bears and snakes and the occasional cougar that come up from creek that our suburb backs onto. The crows are mean, too. Without a great deal of trouble, the bunny was caught and brought inside for the night with the intention of trying to locate its owners.

Well, that provided difficult since they didn't get the rabbit registered—as it has no ear tat—and the pet store didn't have a matching record of a dark brown dwarf rabbit that someone from our area had purchased. To prevent this story from getting any longer: I now have a rabbit.

The rabbit, however, does not have a name. Or one that has lasted longer then 24 hours. If we'd bought the bunny in the store, I'd not worry so much... but it has to suck being called by a name that isn't yours, so I've been rather cautious about applying a permanent label to the little fellow.

Maybe I should just call him Master Bunny. I think he's totally down with plotting world domination.