Monday, December 06, 2010

Dear Publishing,

I think we need to go on a break. You see, I met someone else. It's this new draft. The truth is: We've been having an obsessive, passionate love affair all through November that satisfies me in ways you haven't for months.

Don't think I haven't noticed you stumbling around with other authors, coming back here smelling like their aftershave or coated in their lipgloss with your sheepish grin and I love you, baby, we just need to keep trying smile.

Haven't I always overlooked your transgressions? Forgiven you and continued to nurture the fragile hope that we could have real relationship one day? But it's the holidays and I can't take the look in our friends eyes at the Christmas party when they ask so, any news in that tone of polite obligation.

Let's give it a couple months to find ourselves and follow our bliss. I'll contemplate leaving you for good—perhaps becoming a writer for a different medium, like comics or television. But don't worry. No doubt come February you'll show up with a box of half-eaten chocolates and I'll take you back, just like I always do.

xoxo Me

Friday, November 12, 2010

Best Idea EVER

Dear James Frey,

S'up, dude? You may not realize it, but you are my new word-monkey guy. I have just hired your talented & revolutionary self to write my ideas down into book-type things for me.

You might be thinking, OMGZ, why me? I'm so not worthy of your inspiration that you get from too much anime and stealing ideas from Doctor Who. It's ok, you can admit you think I steal my ideas from Doctor Who. It's reasonable to feel envious of my awesomeness. Lots of people do. It's why they're so negative when I make stuff up and try to pass it off as factual. But you know that feeling all-too-well. See? We have so much in common. I agree that aliens are both super-powered and profitable!

Anyway, less about you. More about me. I'm the important idea person in this partnership, after all. You're probably wondering why I don't just continue writing my own books. Well, I have to work two jobs, because writing isn't paying my bills. So while I'm working & running a Teen Book Club & busting my butt advocating teen reading, I'm not left with oodles of time to devote to my own writing.

That's where you come in, word-monkey extraordinaire. I read this interview you did, and I was like "WOW, that dude needs a little helping hand into this harsh publishing world." That's why I'm addressing you in this blog post: I want to help you break into publishing.

And ok, I only read the first page of that interview—was it an interview? It was an interview, right? Let's just say it was and move on. On the first page you were all "I want to change the world with the things I write," I was like "yeah! You know it."

It's really important to me that you care about what you're doing. I want you to feel happy and proud of what you produce, because your pay for ghost-writing is essentially going to be hand-written notes of appreciation from Ethanael. Unless he refuses to hand-write them, then we'll just make sure we print an eloquent form letter on nice stationary. Only the best paper stock for you, buddy!

If you're going to be all "But I'm James Frey" then I guess we can choose a pseudonym to publish under, but I'm totally going to tell everyone that I did all the hard work. You'll be credited as an unknown writer I plucked from anonymity for the opportunity to work and learn from me. There's just so much I could teach you!

If you're still on the fence, then you just need to think of how much exposure this will get. It'll be so epic for both us. Well, mostly me, but I will definitely thank you by name in my Hugo acceptance speech.

Remember, James, it's really all about collaboration and changing the world through writing whatever the fuck we want.

Have your agent call my agent to set up the meeting,
Chandra

PS I'm going to clear you a spot on the floor to keep your stuff in our office, but you can't leave anything behind because the rabbit likes to chew.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The TNRD Library Tour

I should be writing words towards my goal of having 50,000 words total by the end of November, but it occurred to me that I haven't blogged—on this blog anyway—for like a month.

Hi. How are you? I didn't spell check this entry, btw.

In October, I did four author events and each one was successful in its own way and all of them had different crowds and atmospheres to the events. I'm noticing, regardless of this, I tend to say variations of the same things. And when in doubt, I quote Neil Gaiman. Not because I can't come up with my own replies, but he usually says what I mean in a way that's easier to remember when I've got 20 to 100 eyeballs on me.

The first event was a joint one with two high schools and about 50 students who didn't read or write. At least, most of them told me they didn't. There was also a pair of them asleep during my reading. You could say it was a tough crowd. But the great thing about starting like that is all other events seem to go better, because no one is sleeping during the reading. Or at least they aren't so obvious about the sleeping. I mean, someone could have been sleeping. I wasn't really paying attention because I was reading.

The second event featured all my friends from the North Shore and a stranger. We sat in a circle by these indoor streetlamps that I later declared were fixatures—which is a real word that refers to the special kind of light fixtures that mark hidden doorways—and talked about NaNoWriMo and Doctor Who and I had to defend my position on not-watching Firefly. I read the first chapter from The (damn) Magpie Book. It was at the end of the event, and the librarians were trying to make us leave so they keep flicking the lights during the reading, and when the lights came back on the streetlamps would flare. This was atmospheric and it helped to give my friend Tegan nightmares. (It's a very special honor to be on the list of people who have given Tegan nightmares with Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Rachel Vincent and Big Bird.) The chapter was enjoyed by all and Sarah got to ask one of her signature Very Important Detail Questions.

The third event featured... um, I don't know how to put this politely. A lot of old people. The event was featured as part of the author speaking events for Canadian Libraries month. The week before Nalo Hopkinson had been at the library. Yeah, Canada Reads Nominee Nalo H. Then me. We go for variety in Kamloops.

Anyway, I was really glad I hadn't brought anything with profanity in it to read. Instead I read my favorite part of TALE that stands alone and that set the stage for talking about living in Japan. Also, I tried to babble my way through some questions about research and folklore. The excerpt I read was compared to Memories of A Geisha and someone told me later it also reminded them of Charles De Lint.  EPIC WIN. I was a little uncomfortable at this event, not because it was old people, but because they had me sit on like a makeshift dais and a chair. I kept feeling like I should say to people "Yes, you may approach the throne. What tributes have you brought the Tribe of Judgment?"

But I didn't, because as much as Sarah would have laughed, I think I would have lost the rest of the crowd. We did, however, stay until they closed the library which implies I have a habit of closing libraries and I should probably go to a support group for my loitering problem. (We went to Tim Hortons afterward and loitered some more.)

The last event was nestled in a cozy reading room of a library with a class of grade eight students, who came with questions and I finally got asked where I get my ideas from. (I don't think it counted when Sarah asked and I was like "Uh, I steal them from Doctor Who.") Then they asked who my biggest writing inspiration was and almost said "Neil Himself" until I remembered I wasn't on twitter and I should use his real name.

Some other stuff happened, and I was pretty much exhausted by Halloween. I didn't write a whole lot. Thus the goal to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. (I have 15,XXX right now.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Big (Sorta) Reveal

Ok, so it hasn't been officially promoted but there was a tweet from the TeenReadAwards twitter account, so I take that as the cat being out of the proverbial bag.

Back in August, I was offered a position to author a teen category blog for the company that I work for. I was already writing articles while I was down in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago, and on Sunday the blog soft launched when the new corporate site was unveiled.

Now we're still sort of in beta mode, so there are some tweaks coming before we do an official launch... but you can access all of the category blogs here, and get to the Indigo Teen Blog here. There's also a twitter account: @IndigoTeenBlog.


I'm thrilled at the opportunity to help Canada's store for booklovers and the online young adult reading community work together. Our first interview was with the Smart Chicks in Pasadena, and it was an amazing experience. Great things happen when enthusiastic people who love what they're doing get together, and there is fantastic content on all of the category blogs. If you have a chance, I'd love it if you'd come visit and leave us some comments.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall brings the flood

It's looking like a good thing I had that vacation in September, because October is busy.

First of all, the secret project I've been involved in since mid-August launches this weekend. Some people already know what it is, but there will finally be an URL to share. I think once it goes public it'll feel a lot more... well, real. So more on that next week when I can do a dedicated post.

The Tarot Cafe library tour for the TNRD has five stops. We're still waiting on a date for Logan Lake; Lytton, Barrier, and the two locations in Kamloops have been confirmed. Lytton will be my first school visit, which is terribly exciting.

Our times in Kamloops:

North Kamloops Library
Oct 20 2010
7 pm

Downtown Library
Oct 26 2010
7 pm

I am seriously considering going as a zombie for Halloween, because I may be shambling and muttering braaaaaaaaaaains by the end of October.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Well, the new job ticks along in the background but there's not yet an URL for it—and I'm thinking I'm probably not supposed to talk about it until I can go "LOOK. SHINY. WORDS."

I'll soon be heading off for the airport to embark on my vacation/clean out storage in Los Angeles. Will return in a couple weeks.

Last night, I was trying to remember when I last met a friend that I'm supposed to see when I was there. I was certain it was last year. No. It was February, because this is the year that is three years long. Oh yeah 'nothing happened' this year. What a delusion. I'm amazed I haven't passed out from exhaustion over the sheer amount of STUFF that has happened.

I guess that's how it goes when you're focused on one goal that hasn't been accomplished yet, you fail to see all the other ones that have.

The dreaded Crow Masters have not yet released me, but I escaped and wrote about 3000 words for the Dream Eaters, which means my September goal of having 3 strong chapters and an outline for that project is likely to be achieved.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

September Goals

I'm counting down until I'm on vacation in Los Angeles, and stubbornly ignoring the steady creeping closer to my birthday. Started a new job a couple weeks ago, and I should be able to talk about it soon. Definitely in another couple weeks.

It's now September, which means it's time to set the Monthly Goals.
 
• 1/2 through the existing material I had for EIGHT FOR WISHING. So another 30,000 words to re-hash and then it will be new material.
It feels right. Finally. Like it fits with the book that came before it and it's telling stories that are relevant to one another instead of ones that don't want to play nicely together.

Goal: Writing fresh words beyond where the re-hashing ends by the end of September.

• 2800 words in battle mech book 1. It is not the Victorian Boarding School one anymore—that's book two. Realized this is a trilogy and will be working on outlining the 3 book arcs this month. The trilogy and all three books need titles. Or at least something better than "book one" for the file name.
I still think it's a bigger idea than I am a writer, but I'm not getting any better by not writing it.

Goal: first book outlined by end of September.

• 800 words into THE LOST ART OF CONSUMING DREAMS. So far the greatest stumbling block has been what colored shoes a well-dressed monster pairs with a gray pinstripped suit. (The answer settled on was: Shiny black.)
It wants to be written, and I am eager to see what shape it takes.
Goal: 3 strong chapters and an outline to show M by end of September. Hopefully she can tell me if it's YA or not.

Books to be delighted by this month:

1) Plain Kate by Erin Bow: Scholastic Canada is pushing this one, and 60 pages in I am wholeheartedly agreeing with their decision. Wondrous Eastern European medieval setting. Lyrical prose. A girl who's good with a carving knife. An albino witch. Gypsys and a talking cat.

2) The paperback for Enchanted Glass.

3) Dexter is Delicious. Yes, he is. (You aren't reading the Dexter novels? Really? Well, you'd better start or we can't be friends anymore.)

There are others: Paranormalcy, Halo, Firelight... but I'm on the fence about them.
   
Paranormalcy sounds interesting because it's funny. Firelight because it's dragons. Halo... well, it's pure cover love. That's all. But it's a book about angels with a really pretty cover and I have yet to be thrilled by any book about angels with a pretty cover in the Teen section.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loving a book to death

Internet, we have a problem: I am sick to death of a book that came out on Tuesday. A book I won't even get a chance to read until next week. If I even read it, because after another two days of this I'm going to start developing hives whenever I see the book.

I understand that Twitter and Facebook have made our sharing of what we're doing instantaneous, but there several problems with the way a lot of people are behaving this week. I'm not talking about revealing plot details in a public space. It should go without saying that's a crime against your fellow readers.

With social media, a lot of people want to make reading a social activity. Reading isn't a social activity. It's something that happens before you can participate in the social activity of discussion.

You can't have a discussion about a text with someone who hasn't read it. You can tell them about the text and they can comment on what you've told them, but that's just a secondary reaction. Any opinion they express is based on your bias.

When thousands of people join in to talk at other people about a text, it's nothing short of propaganda. These past two days the collective tweetbrain has been bludgeoned into feeling guilty if they aren't reading a certain novel. It would be different if this novel was part of new 1t1b campaign. It's not. It's mob-mentality loving a book to death.

I'm open about the fact that I've read the two previous novels in this trilogy and thought they were a bit flawed. I also feel any relevant discussion they offer—and they do offer a lot of socially relevant discussion—is usually overshadowed by shipping arguments of one pairing versus another.

To paraphrase a friend: This is why we can't have nice things, Fandom.

My frustration isn't over the popularity of the novels. I want you to read. I want you to love books. I don't care if they happen to be books that I don't feel the same way about. We're different people. We're allowed to love different things.

No, I'm annoyed because reading is a personal relationship—an intimate connection between a text and a single reader. It's a sacred bond that authors and their publishers work for years to create.

When a person tweets/statuses their emotional reaction to a book with specific page numbers, they ruin everyone else's ability to approach that text with no preconceptions. It's a spoiler to know that on page XXX someone's heart was breaking for this character, because now I know that around page XXX something sad is going to happen.

Maybe that person thinks she's creating anticipation, but she's only creating expectation. She's influencing the emotional response other people will have. Would you like someone to tell you how you're supposed to feel about your personal relationships?

Part of why I don't LOVE these novels is because other people created such immense expectations for them. I was told for so long that these were the GREATEST BOOKS EVER WRITTEN, so when I finally read them I was rather disappointed. Then I was made to feel guilty for believing them to only be decent, thought-provoking novels that are worth the time it takes to read them. That's not a criticism; just like it's not a criticism to say I don't enjoy them as much as another series. It's an opinion.

We all have opinions, and we all have the right to share them. But there's a huge difference between a single "OMG, YOU GUYS THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME" while you're reading—with a follow-up confirming that the book was indeed AWESOME all the way to the end—and a constant parade of your emotional reactions with page notations.

The first behavior is respectful to your fellow readers. It suggests it was more important to finish reading the book than tweet about it. That's the kind of book I want: One that I can't put down long enough to reach for my phone.

The second behavior is exhibitionist. It's not about the book at all. It's about you.

I realize that Twitter is turning us all into narcissists, but could we at least try to put up a fight for what remains of civility and consideration of others? Honestly, isn't that part of what our beloved trilogy is about?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This book is cursed

It's a humbling feeling at 67,000 words into a draft to realize you've approached the telling of the story all wrong.

Not the story itself or the question of who the story belongs to. No, it's the background details and the overall focus; what moments you share and which characters share them.

About 40,000 words previous, I had a feeling the story wasn't working and that its issues were rooted in its beginning chapters. The problem with issues that early is that they twist and redirect the entire story in little ways, until it's not growing because those problems are like nasty weeds stealing all the sunlight.

Doing what I have to do—what the story needs me to do be happy with the telling of it—means I rewrite 67,000 words. I don't have to throw them out. A great deal of the plot can remain relevant, but the pacing and the time and the people involved has to shift.

I have to rework a romantic subplot, re-plot a secondary character's involvement, plot a new secondary character's role, and try to refocus the story. Was hoping to spend my upcoming vacation reading, but it looks like I'll still be drafting.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Voices

I've been struggling with character voice in the narration of The Magpie Book's draft. I should be expecting it, as I struggled with the previous book to get the distant male narrator to show us his dazzling personality.

I know it's the draft, and there are so many other things to be worrying about than the main protagonist feeling shy. It's a pet peeve I have in writing—I dock marks for poorly constructed worlds or narrative voice that could be anyone. If I won't let others get away with it, I can't very well give myself a pass.

That's why the draft is dragging. Not the plot requiring more words than I intended or a growing desire to be finished and moved on to something else. The draft drags because the main protagonist drags his feet. He mumbles. He delivers things in an almost monotone instead of a monologue. Yes, it's third person, but it doesn't matter. He should still be in the words because it's his story. He's hiding. And that's frustrating.

It's an issue to address in the redraft, but that doesn't decrease the annoyance of being so aware that it is an issue. At this point, I should know what he sounds like.

The idea slated to start drafting after I complete The Magpie Book is forming. Shifting. Changing. Settling. It'll do all that again in the draft, but at least it's not such a vague, ethereal being anymore. I also think I may have had a crack in the nut that is the stalled project that got shelved late last year. It may, after a little more simmering time, be ready to speak to Agent M about again.

What about you? How goes everyone else's writing? On sabbatical for August or are you slaving away at the keyboard no matter what the temperature?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teen Read Awards Reader's Choices Announced!

It took a few days to add up all the votes, but the 5th book has been locked into each of the ten categories. So, your choices for the first annual Teen Read Awards with the reader choice in indigo:

BEST READ
Shiver
Catching Fire
The Reckoning
Shadowland
Along for the Ride

BEST ALL TIME FAVE
The Book Thief
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Catcher in the Rye
Twilight
The Hunger Games

BEST SERIES
Vampire Academy
House of Night
Blue Bloods
Pretty Little Liars
The Mortal Instruments

BEST BOOK TO FLICK
Push
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
New Moon
Whip It
Chronicles of Narnia

BEST NEW WRITER
Wish
Fallen
Before I Fall
Beautiful Creatures
Hush Hush

BEST HERO
White Cat
Leviathan
The Maze Runner
Heist Society
Percy Jackson & The Olympians

BEST VILLAIN
The Necromancer
The Carrie Diaries
The Prophecy of the Sisters
Stolen
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow

BEST HOTTIE
Hush Hush
City of Glass
Along for the Ride
The Vampire Diaries: The Return
Vampire Academy 5: Spirit Bound

BEST LIP LOCK
Sea Change
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Captivate
The Daughters
Breaking Dawn

BEST CANADIAN READ
Word Nerd
The Uninvited
For the Win
Darklight
The Reckoning

Thank you to everyone who voted for Beautiful Creatures as Best All Time Fav and Wicked Lovely for Best Lip Lock. I think you're right, even if our choice didn't make it to the final five.

Go vote for Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl for Best New Writer(s). Win awesome prizes and if you're on twitter, make sure you follow @TeenReadAwards for extra giveaways like phone calls from authors!

Next blog entry will be when they announce what the Grand Prize is...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Last Tuesday morning, my step-grandfather passed away. We were expecting it. Had been half-expecting it since late February.

The funeral, burial, wake was this past weekend. It involved about 19 hours in car travel—including a return to somewhere I didn't want to have ever see again, despite that I sometimes dream about it. But the place I dream about doesn't exist any more; it's been swallowed by trees and time and spat out as something unrecognizable.

It's not my home; it hasn't been my home for a long time.

I have not written in three days.

I don't have any intention of blogging this week, except to announce who the Your Picks are for the Teen Read Awards.

That's pretty much it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Write Like?

So anyone who's been following me on Twitter knows I've spent the past few days fascinated with this website called I Write Like. It analyzes the writing you input into the field by word choice and style to best match it to an existing "famous" author.

Now I have tried everything. A paragraph. A scene. A chapter. But it wasn't until today that someone with a much more logical mind than I suggested I put an entire manuscript into the field. (Mostly because I assumed anything over 5000 words would crash the site.)


Here are the results of the analysis of the entire manuscripts (supposedly). I'll put them in order of 'completion.'

FRAGMENTS: Cory Doctorow.
SHARDS: H.P. Lovecraft.
TALE: William Gibson.
The Magpie Book (in progress): Cory Doctorow.

Now, is there anything to this? That's the real question. Because I've put in blog entries and gotten James Joyce even when I parodying Pride & Prejudice's opening line.

I can't say anyone has commented that TALE reminds them of William Gibson, because most of the people who've read TALE for me haven't read Gibson. It's also interesting that a mythic realism story is coming up as being in the style of one of the originators of cyberpunk. My guess is that the Japanese terms are being given more weight than they should be.



It's also intriguing that FRAGMENTS and SHARDS—which are two consecutive manuscripts in a series—generate such a drastically different result. Although they were purposely focused on being different kinds of stories. SHARDS is more of a horror story, whereas FRAGMENTS is more quest-focused.

But there might, just maybe, be something to the analysis that I Write Like conducts. When my agent first read FRAGMENTS, she told me afterward that it reminded her of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. (Because of the Gamer element.)

Then again, anything like this should be taken with a grain of salt because I could get I Write Like to tell me anyone from Stephenie Meyer (Chapter 10) and Dan Brown (Chapter 26) to Neil Gaiman (Chapter 28) and Rudyard Kipling (Chapter 16) for parts of TALE.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garica & Margaret Stohl


Sometimes you wonder with a follow-up book if it can be as good as the first taste of that world. Especially when that first taste was Beautiful Creatures, which is quite honestly my favorite novel in the teen section. It is the most wonderful book, because it is full of wonder.

On one hand, I’m going to be inclined to feel biased about Beautiful Darkness. (Not only did I love Beautiful Creatures, I'm also very fond of its authors Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.) On the other hand, the sequel has it so much worse because it has to follow that kind of an introduction. Rest assured, I promise you that Beautiful Darkness is every bit as good, if not better than Beautiful Creatures.

In Beautiful Creatures we lived and breathed Ethan Wate’s Gatlin, and got a glimpse of ‘Gatlin Below’—the Caster elements that lay beneath and beside the world we know. In Beautiful Darkness we see that the Caster World isn’t a metaphor or a secret society: it is a world of its own. And it is just as wondrous, rich, and real as Gatlin.

We also learn a lot more of the history, as this is the South and the past is only ever a step away from the present. Some questions are answered; some matters are resolved. A great deal more is brought into play, because it turns out Beautiful Creatures just scratched the surface of the Caster mythos.

All of this is shown to us through the eyes of Ethan Wate, whose story is never really content just being Boyfriend to a Caster Girl. (Although, being Boyfriend to a Caster Girl remains very essential to the story.)

Beautiful Creatures is very much a book of the Light, and Beautiful Darkness is a book of the Dark. These reversals play all through it, and they have staggering ramifications for the characters and their futures. If you recall how Beautiful Creatures ended, you know that Beautiful Darkness has to explore the aftermath of those events and the price that must continue to be paid.

What I love about the Caster Chronicles is how real the characters are. These are emotionally honest books—maybe the events are fantastical, but the way characters react and deal with the fallout is always grounded in reality. These remain examples of not just quality writing, but the truth of what fantasy can do: Hold up a mirror and show us ourselves at both our best and our worst.

Beautiful Darkness is a fine example of how we’re all a little bit Light and a little bit Dark, and it’s up to each of us to claim ourselves.*

*I love when E & L got that literal message in Beautiful Creatures. It was such a cool scene.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

End of June

Happy Canada Day!

Also Happy Release Day to Karen Kincy and her debut Other. Karen is this great young author (it's ok to call you "young," right?) who I met a few years ago on livejournal. (We bonded over fox spirits.) Having a read an older draft of Other, I'm so excited to get this book and see what the manuscript has become. So if you want to read a book with a mystery element, great characters, a cool Pacific Northwest small town setting, and lots of shape-shifting magic... this one's for you!



As for me, I've now got approximately 38,000 words written for the magpie book (that's actually what my agent calls it, although it does have a proper proposed title.) Which is the follow-up to TALE. We'll be going out in September with TALE, as I didn't want to go out during the summer. Mostly because I'd like to have the magpie book drafted when we do go on submission. (Just to make my life easier.)

At 38,000 we (the characters and I) are well and proper into the meandering middle of the book. Everyone has a span in the drafting process where the story is difficult, and mine always falls somewhere between the 25,000 to 45,000 word mark. Once I'm over that 50,000 word mark I know I can finish the draft.

Word Total goal for end of July: 60,000.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vincent and the Doctor


Sometimes you watch things and they're sad for all the wrong reasons. They're sad because the things that happen in them are completely unnecessary and come across as emotional ploys. You're left more angry than upset.

Other times you watch something and the emotional aspect is genuine and the reasons for the emotions are honest. The show is sad in the best possible way, and you feel like you've grown. Taken a step closer to understanding the world and people in it.

What happened to Rory in Cold Blood was the first kind of sad, but Vincent and the Doctor is the second.

Like Amy Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite painter. (That's not a unique trait, I know.) Starry Night was the first painting I ever saw (in a sixth grade art textbook) that made me feet something. Who doesn't love this crazy genius? Then add in 11, who is another kind of brilliant madman, and you get what's probably the best episode of the season.


Yes. The best. Better than angels, because there is no need for a giant crack in time and space. Tony Curran was amazing as Van Gogh and Bill Nighy played an understated but wonderful part. I am almost convinced bowties are cool. Almost.

So bravo, Richard Curtis. Bravo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cold Blood


Hey remember in The Eleventh Hour when Rory drove that sweet mini cooper to the hospital and he did a burn out when got there? Wasn't that awesome?

Or when he fought a Space Fish Vampire with a broom? Wasn't also awesome?

You know what wasn't awesome? KILLING RORY WITH A HEAT RAY.

You know what was even less awesome than that? NEGATING HIS EXISTENCE BY FEEDING HIM TO THE GIANT CRACK IN TIME & SPACE.

When I was younger, I saw a TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder." It's the short story where the guy goes back in time to hunt a T-Rex but he steps off the path and kills a butterfly. When the guy returns to the future, he doesn't exist. My entire reaction to the show was "...but if he doesn't exist, who stepped on the butterfly?" (And if that's not what happened in the episode, pretend it is so you can see where I'm going with this.)

So here's my question... if Rory doesn't exist, who saved the Doctor? Who fought Space Fish Vampires? Who noticed all the coma patients walking around? Is the solution to shoot Chris Chibnall for causing this paradox? (No.)

As for parts of this episode that didn't give me a massive headache... what I really liked was when the woman wasn't the best of humanity and the Doctor told her that she was going to raise her son to be better than her. You think, oh look at how merciful he's being after she really screwed up. Except, he isn't being merciful. He's being horrid by making her live the rest of her life with the knowledge of how badly she screwed up. And he's done it with a smile.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Canadian Teen Read Awards

I'm going to break one of my rules today and blog about something happening at work*. I'm doing this because I believe 250% that what we're taking part in is something fan-freaking-tastic.

Today the Teen Read Awards (presented by Indigo) site launched**. This a teen-voted-for-awards thing for books. It it is the coolest thing I have seen Indigo/Chapters do. (And I've had the pleasure of seeing them do some really cool stuff.)

And there's daily prizes! I can't win them, but you can if you're 11–17 and a resident of Canada—excluding Quebec. Under 15 you need parental consent to vote. I heard rumors of movie passes from Cineplex and even a Kobo eReader? (I <3 mine!) Read all the rules here.

Four books in each category have been chosen, but there's a fifth spot open for your choice. You can vote once a day in each category, after you've registered. (Voting in nominations closes July 25th.) I think this page—despite my involuntarily muscle spasm at the use of the word "deets"—sums it up nicely.

So, a favor, Canadian teens. There's this book, you see, and I love it with all my heart; it's called Beautiful Creatures. Maybe you've heard of it? Well, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl are nominated for Best New Writer—and they have some tough competition from Lauren Oliver & Lauren Kate.

Please, if you LOVED Beautiful Creatures and you can vote, will you help Kami & Margie win? If it was up to me, I'd also give Beautiful Creatures Best Hottie, Best Lip Lock, Best All Time Fave, Best Read, and Best Hero! (Sorry, but it's City of Glass for Best Villain.) Thank you for any assistance you feel comfortable providing.

While you're at it, maybe you could nominate Melissa Marr for Radiant Shadows, Lisa Mantchev for Perchance to Dream, Jackson Pearce for Sisters Red, Kimberly Derting for The Body Finder, Catherine Fisher for Incarceron or maybe even Matthew Quick for Sorta Like a Rock Star... the list just goes on and on.

Even if you didn't like Beautiful Creatures, please participate—if you're eligible—and vote for the books you do LOVE. Tell your friends! Get on Facebook or Twitter to champion your favorites. Happy voting, Canada!

* I point you to the disclaimer about this being all my personal opinion, legal department, thank you kindly.
**Be a little patient with the site today, too, because earlier we overwhelmed it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Hungry Earth


The pressing question on my mind is what are those rusted metal wing-weapon things that they keep in the chapel? (See above right corner.) Potential rusted metal weapons in the same room that you're keeping a hostile Lizard Girl? Sounds like a bad plan, guys.

This episode was written by Chris Chibnall. He wrote "42" from the Doctor Who series with Martha, an episode for each series of Life on Mars and Torchwood's second opener "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" AKA When Jack Snogged Spike. (It also had a blowfish driving a sports car in it.)

• A delicious twist of not actual aliens, but just a civilization of homo reptilians who predate humanity. (Awesome, except every time someone said "homo reptilian" I giggled like a 14 year old.)

• The episode also featured a kick ass graveyard—not like the kind that Nobody Owens lives in, but still a great little one and some of our heroes ran around this graveyard in the dark and were chased by scary shadowy lizard people.

• There was also some Doctor and Rory bromance, and I suspect there are a lot of slash fanfics that explore the deeper meaning of this.

• I want those wireless glowing headphones that kid had.

• Hey, kid, you're not dyslexic. Your brain's just hard-wired for Ancient Greek.

The Gruffalo is badass. If The Gruffalo also turns out to have some greater thematic relevance to this two-parter, I will be very impressed.

Now the stuff that leaves me wondering:

• Would the Doctor really let Ethan—I mean Elliot wander off on his own? This seems highly irresponsible considering that the Doctor had just finished wigging out over losing Amy to the ground.

• Also, the Doctor has a sling shot—which means that soon we shall see him fight zombies with a cricket bat because the no weapons thing is totally just a rule he enforces on other people.

• Future-time-line Rory & Amy seemed to be dressed...um....identical to current-time-line Rory & Amy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Necessity of Cages

I haven't been blogging much, which is because I've been telling myself that I'm ever-so-busy. Partly true. Mostly, I've been cycling between discontentment and a vicious kind of unrelenting hope that refuses to die. The discontentment is largely based on inability to speed along events that said unrelenting hope won't allow me to abandon.

Dreams are devils, I think. If we let them, they'll master us. Aspirations run amuck if left on their own. They blind us, they steal away our time, and ultimately they take their toll on our lives and relationships.

We don't talk about this, because we're worried about being discouraging. Well, honestly, if you're so easily discouraged then you've likely never had a true aspiration. Devil-dreams don't let you go—never without a fight.

Thus, the necessity of cages. The more I write, the more I come to value outlines. They are a place to capture all those ideas that would run around and break things while I was doing paying work.

I used to believe an outline would take away the joy of discovery. It doesn't. What it takes away is the amount of clean-up I have to do in revision and the time I spend staring into space trying to answer "and then what?" during the first draft.

It's part of the wonder of ideas: Even when you put them in a cage, they can still find a way to escape. They're not such fragile things that a little structure is going to destroy them. If anything, it only makes them stronger.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Amy's Choice


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sci fi show, must be in want of an episode questioning its in-show reality. Few do it better than the Buffy the Vampire Slayer one, but Simon Fye wanted to at least nod to the troupe while dressing a wee funny man in various Doctor ensembles.

My favorite: the Ten blue suit and glasses during the "your brain is completely see through!" scene.

Because the mechanics of a concept like this are fairly well understood, the episode holds water. It even accomplishes some fun bits and some truly great emotional bits. The Doctor and Amy holding hands while they drive the van is brilliant.

While the episode may across as a bit of a filler, it deals with the whole unnecessary Doctor-Companion Potential More Kissy Face angle. The episode also shows why Amy makes the choice she does, and because it's Doctor Who and not Gossip Girl we can trust this issue is now resolved. (Or as resolved as anything can be for our impulsive Amy.)

I did, briefly, question if the Doctor knew what was going on from the get-go and why he allowed it to continue—or if he was all "Whoa, wait. I saw this fake Valeyard plotline in a Dr Who comic. But we didn't bring any time-sucking crustacean-bug things on board... How is Donna, btw? She was like training me to deal with Amy. OMG, old people zombies!" I'm sure when the Doctor worked it out, he allowed things to play through because he knew Amy needed to make the choice. (I could, however, be projecting Ethanael's characterization on 11. I get them confused sometimes because they're both purposely insane.)

It is always appropriate to reduce people to piles of sand, because that is an awesome visual. And bonus points for reinforcing the Hansel & Gretel knowledge that old people should not be trusted—unless they're the Doctor. Serious, tho, Old People Zombies was my favorite part.

My least favorite part was Rory's ponytail, because it was actually a mullet. Mullets are never ever cool. Ever. I am taking away the cool points Rory earned fighting space fish vampires with a broom because of the mullet-tail.

Final thoughts: Was this not an obvious casting opportunity for David Tennant with a goatee? Perhaps I am the only one who feels this way, so I'll keep holding out for that cracking all the universes to allow a 10.5 and 11 smackdown-then-team-up-Marvel-style.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Vampires of Venice

Best. Episode. Yet.

Because of vampires? Because of Venice? NO. Because Rory is the best secondary companion ever. Unimpressed by the TARDIS. Quick to understand that the Doctor is dangerous because he makes people want to impress him. But most importantly: Rory fought space fish vampires with a broom!

Oh, yeah, and the Doctor jumped out of a cake at Rory's bachelor party.

I love this episode, really. Because there was some thought put into it. More than just the lush scenery and the fabulous dynamic of Doctor & Amy & Rory, there was a logical explanation for why the "vampires" didn't have reflections but why we still saw their teeth.

I love silly and fun, don't get me wrong, and I love just plain creepy, too, but you can be silly & fun & creepy and still have monster/alien mechanics that make sense.

Which is why I'm confused over the Queen Space Fish Vampire having to undress before she jumped into the water, but I'm going to say that her perception filter got jammed on and overwhelmed her brain so that she got all confused and had to undress. Or she just wanted to be really DRAMATIC.

Did I mention Rory fought a Space Fish Vampire with a broom?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

We find out what happened to Dante

The garbage can didn’t attack on its own. It’s not like the former city of London abandoned pastries in favor of large metal objects. That would be sensible. Very little about this Thursday has been sensible.

No, the garbage can attacked because someone used it as a projectile. Didn’t realize this until after it happened. Thus the confusion over thinking even more inanimate objects had decided to threaten my well-being. Didn’t hear it coming because no one has had the decency to stop surprising me.

Maria pulls me out of the way. I hear a warning seconds before she grabs my arm. No time to move myself. She moves me. It jangles. She doesn’t notice. Too busy staring at the garbage can like it might right itself and come after us again. Shouldn’t happen. We’re in Vancouver. The guardians keep that kind of thing to a minimum.

“Are you ok?” she asks. “It was headed right for you.”

“Yeah.” I stare at her fingers.

She lets me go. Her face turns that funny pink color again.

“I’m ok,” I say. “Thanks.”

Just being polite. Just saying what is said in these situations. But the simple expression of gratitude makes her go all shocked-face. As if she didn’t realize I could be polite. I can. I choose not to be. My parents were always polite. All it got them was dead.

“It was—yeah.” Maria swallows. “You’re welcome.”

“Luminos!”

The music in my head silences. Doesn’t stop. That’d be impossible. My attention wrenches from listening to it. Full focus. That is not a name a stranger should be yelling. Especially not at me.

She is the silence overwhelming. A vaguely familiar one that coats the inside of my head and throat. She is also wearing the most awesomely bad-good scarf ever. I think it coordinates with the hoodie Maria found me. Definitely doesn’t match.

I make the frowny face. I know this girl in the scarf with the skinny jeans and the too many bracelets and the teal tank top that almost matches her yellow shoes. Given the exuberant use of color in her wardrobe we might even be related.

“Ethanael Luminos,” the girl in the scarf says. Her eyes are that blue the sky never is here. The color of a summer afternoon. Her hair is strawberry ice cream pink.

Maria stares. At me. At the girl with the candy-colored hair.

“Present,” I say. “S’up?”

Maria doesn't giggle. I think I hoped she would.

“Ethan,” Girl in the Scarf makes a grab for me.

She’s wearing gloves. So am I. Even through them, I can feel her touch. Nostalgic. Or something. It causes what I believe humans call a ‘flashback.’ Back flashing to when my parents weren’t so dead and I wasn’t so tall and this girl and I first met.

Some kind of party. A birthnight party. Maybe. My Then Alive mother brought over a girl not much older than me, all in frills and ruffles and ribbons of various startling shades of green.

Ethan, my mother said. This is Felicity Chant.

How do you do, said Felicity and held out a hand in a little white lace glove.

I listen, mostly, said I. The music tells me what to do. Sometimes I tell it to do something else. But that doesn’t make Dad happy.

Me too, she said. Listen. I mean. And it doesn’t make my mother happy when I change things, either.

I stared, like Maria stares at me, because I’d never met anyone who could change the music. Sure, a few people could hear it. But change it? That was secret and special and just mine. Didn’t know how I felt about sharing it with someone else.

I took her hand. She was silent. Like Niall. Who was my reference for all things Over There. My little kid symbol match. Silence = Niall. But Felicity did not equal Niall. Logic fail. Smash. Very traumatizing for a little kid on his birthnight.

What’s wrong, Ethan? My mother asked.

She doesn’t have any music, I said.

I do, Felicity told me. It’s just very quiet. Like yours.

When you’re older, my mother said, you and Felicity will be married.

I thought about it. Mom and Dad were married and they seemed happy enough. But they were grown-ups and obviously this Felicity and I wouldn’t be grown-ups for a long time. Whatev. I’d worry about it then.

Ok, I guess, I said. Is she staying for cake?

Don’t you know? My mother asked.

I don’t know what he’ll do, either, Felicity said. This must be what others mean when they talk about being surprised.

I don’t like it, I said.

No, she agreed. We should promise never to surprise each other unless it’s very important.

And we did. It’s one of the few promises I’ve kept.

“Felicity.” I adjust my headphones. Straighten my hood. “Color me surprised.”

“Yes. Sorry.” She gives Maria an inspecting glance. “I had to get your attention. There’s a cluster of guardians coming this way. Your being here hasn’t gone unnoticed. You have to leave the city.”

Uh oh.

“We’re waiting for people,” Maria tells Felicity.

“Then you’ll be waiting a long time. They’ve been incarcerated on the grounds of aiding the Prometheus in abandoning his duties.”

“Who is she talking about?” Maria whispers.

“Avalon had to take a leave of absence,” I say. “But he didn’t actually tell anyone he was going.”

“Ethan.” Felicity points at Maria. “Who is this?”

“Maria. Andy and I are finding her a place to live.”

“Trafficking in stolen humans is not going to help your cause.”

I shrug. “She was stolen when we found her.”

“She’s also standing right here,” Maria adds.

“You both need to leave Vancouver.” Felicity ignores her. “Now.”

Dante and Niall can take care of themselves. Blame me. Beg forgiveness for being mislead by a Luminos. We’re all wicked, y’know. Like a family of supervillains.

No way I am I leaving without Avalon. Your world needs him. More importantly, Oliver and Runa need him. Can’t hear Felicity, but her face says she knows I won’t go.

“Ethan.” I like the way she says my name. Kindly. All full of concern for my well-being. Already practicing for the future. “They’re in guardian custody awaiting transit to the Far Reaches. It’s the only way the Prometheus is leaving this city.”

“Unless we break Avalon out of jail,” I counter-offer.

Felicity nods.

“Let’s go,” Maria says.

Felicity and I are perfectly synced as we turn to stare at Maria.

“We can’t leave them there,” she tells us. “Not when they were arrested for such a stupid reason.”

Felicity starts to protest. “You don’t—”

“She doesn’t need to,” I say. “She’s right. You know. I know it. That potted palm tree over there knows it. Thanks for the warning, Lili, but a Luminos doesn’t leave family behind.”

“Yes. Family is the only loyalty a Luminos has.” She sighs. “We’ll use another exit. There’s no point wasting our energy fighting this lot of guardians. We’ll need all we have for the escape.”

“Cool.” I stuff my hands in the hoodie’s pockets. “Lead on.”

Felicity sighs again. It’s the same kind of sigh my mother used to give my father.

“Ethan.” Maria doesn’t grab my arm. “Who is she?”

“Felicity. She and I are going to get married,” I reply. “But not today. Today doesn’t work for me. Little bit busy.”

“It doesn’t work for me, either,” Felicity says. “And thank you very much for asking.”

“Great,” Maria says. “Now there’s two of you.”

Monday, May 31, 2010

End of May

I have been temporarily coaxed back to LJ by Karen Mahoney for her three month summer writing challenge, which will require Tuesday check-ins at her LJ space.

This reminded me I should probably do a general check in here as well.

1) Life has been somewhat insane this year. Lots of background noise. Everything scattered to the winds. Things appear to be finally focusing and that's a Very Good Thing Indeed.

2) Still working at the bookstore. Still having a good time there. My managers have decided I am their go-to-girl for teen titles, which is brilliant. Also amusing because the title I'm most excited for this summer is the Stories: All New Tales anthology that Neil Gaiman co-edited. (It is not to be found in the teen section.) You can read one of the tales from the anthology here. It's by Roddy Doyle and it's terribly amusing or amusing in a terrible way. One of those.

3) FRAGMENTS is still out on submission. We have had 3 responses so far. They went: (1) I really like this—except for the stuff I don't; (2) I loved this, but my publisher didn't get as excited as I'd hoped; (3) There's nothing 'wrong' with this, but it's just not for me.

4) Earlier this year, I spent copious amounts of time and energy repositioning THE TALE OF ARIAKE as a young adult novel. It should be going out to editors soon.

5) I'm currently working on the rough draft to a companion manuscript for TALE. It's as just over 20,000 words. It is my intention, through Kaz's accountability program, to finish the draft by the end of August. I have no idea how long that draft will be, but I'm going to say 80,000 words. It's a nice enough number, and it means I only have to manage 20,000 words a month until September.

6) I'm outlining two other 'skerit projects.' That is all I will say about them because if I say anything further I won't actually bother to do the outlining.

7) Today is Thursday has returned. Sort of.

8) The rabbit has discovered he likes to chew electrical chords. I don't know if this means he's missing an element in his diet or just suicidal, but other than that he's fine and fat and glad you all asked about him.

9) There will not be NYC posts, because I'd rather spend the time writing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cupcakeathon!

In honor of Lisa Mantchev's new releases, Perchance to Dream, there will be cupcakes! Chocolate Chunk Devil's Food cupcake with coconut butter-cream icing, to be precise.

This is what cupcakes look like when you're fairy-sized...


An army of cupcakes advances on those 'healthy' fruits. Bah, 'healthy' food will be defeated by tasty sugar bombs!


 Bonus points = Rabbit in a blanket kind of looking like a cupcake.... with ears.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Tuesday that might as well be a Thursday

Today is a day of epic celebration, for today two fabulous author ladies have new releases!



Vicki Pettersson's Fifth Sign of the Zodiac Cheat the Grave is on the shelves, and this one finds a mortal Joanna Archer struggling to find her place among the supernatural side of Las Vegas. Can a mortal be the Kairos? Is there a place between the Shadows and the Light? You'll have to read Cheat the Grave to find out!



Lisa Mantchev's Second Act of the Theatre Illuminata Perchance to Dream: This darling YA follows the adventures of Beatrice "Bertie" Shakespeare Smith, her Sephiroth-look-alike Ariel, and her Fab Faerie Foursome as they leave The Theatre in search of a way to save Nate and discover who Bertie's father is.

Don't forget that it's #Cupcakeathon today in honor of Perchance to Dream! I've got to go to the store and get the mixings to make some fairy-pleasing Coconut Chocolate-Chip cupcakes.

Also, it's Towel Day—so whatever you do, don't panic. I've dug out my little Totoro hand-towel that I travel with. (There is an actual reason I have a totoro hand towel for traveling, and it involves a Christmas in Japan and the fact that there are no hand dryers in train station washrooms.)

Which begs the question, does this mean I have to make 42 cupcakes?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone revisited


Because it wasn't actually Doctor Saturday this weekend, and because a friend was having a bad day and needed cheering, I spent tonight rewatching "Time of Angels" & "Flesh and Stone."

The second time through it does make a great deal more sense, and explains away a couple of the issues that I had with the first viewing. Mostly they're things that @antiphrastic and I have been puzzling over since "Flesh and Stone" aired last Saturday.

They shot at the angels to provide light, and the Doctor "assumed" that the angels were distracted by the giant crack in time and would react to Amy by instincts. (Which still suggests that angels don't actually know when people are looking at them, but at least acknowledges that the Doctor can't say that for certain.)

As for what he told Amy when she was seven, I think it was a reference to how when he was leaving her and told her he'd come back, she said people always said that and he informed her that he wasn't people, he was the Doctor. (Ergo, he would be coming back and she needed to trust him.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There’s a skill to changing your clothes in a bathroom stall

I bet you're thinking Ethanael, it's not that difficult. Because I know most humans think in italics. True. Also true that a lot of humans have the ability change their clothes in a bathroom stall. You may even be one of them.

But can you change you clothes while regaling an audience on the other side of the stall door with an epic of story of how you pwned Lovecraft at the "Carry On My Wayward Son" guitar solo?

No? Didn't think so.

"Um, Ethan?" Maria sounds less than regaled. "Don't you think someone's going to wonder why you're in the girl's bathroom?"

Huh. I did wonder what she was doing in the men's room. And why it was so pink. Briefly. Then I just assumed we're in that part of Vancouver. You know. The area where men enjoy pink bathrooms. Because they're gay. The men. Not the bathroom. Toilets don't have a sexual preference.

"Yes," I tell her. "But that's irrelevant to HP's inability to master the orange key. The orange key is important, Maria. You can tell if someone's more than human by their mastery of it."

You're wondering why Maria and I are in the girl's bathroom together. You thought we'd gone with Neal to find Dante and Avalon. You're also wondering why I'm now spelling it N-E-A-L when I was spelling it N-E-I-L-L before.

I'm passively-aggressively spelling his name incorrectly in various ways to minimize the possibility of him finding this before our little adventure is finished. I'd rather he couldn't prove I know what I know about Maria. He knows I know, of course, but he needs proof to act on it. Like in writing. On a blog.

Maria and I are in the bathroom because we're changing our clothes. Implied by the mention of my clothes changing skillz. Neal sent us to the mall to acquire some garments that would raise our incognito stats. All Maria needed was something a little less destruction chic. I needed to cover up. Problematic because a lack of weather generally means a lot of covering-upage is unnecessary. Even if Dante could have offered me his parka, it would have drawn the guardians' attention like a magnet.

Options for my blending in are a hoodie with the hood up or an over-sized comical hat. I wanted to get a hat. Neal told me no. So I got a hoodie. It's yellow. And pink. And teal. An inconsiderate mob of color. There's a very small but probable chance the combination will induce seizures. Not so much incognito as just neato. Got because Maria dared me to. Maybe that she'll be humiliated long before I am.

She wears jeans. In grey boots. Yellow shirt. No patterns. Good. We don't want to clash. Like cymbals. Very disruptive.

"That is one ugly hoodie, Ethan." Her face is doing that smile people do when they're secretly happy but are trying to make you think they disapprove. "It's so bad it's good again."

"I tend to have that effect," I tell her.

We're supposed to go wait for Neal outside the mall. Blend in. Be neato incognito. Or at least try to keep from being hauled out of the city by the guardians. Or thrown in a dungeon and forced to battle our way to freedom. Or whatever it is they do to unwanted visitors. I'm not really sure.

Shocking. I know. Can't say I've ever really wanted to find out. Professional curiosity only goes so far. Unlike Valor powers, I have a healthy sense of self-preservation.

Maria and I leave the bathroom. All casual like it's normal. We head for the exit. Not too fast. Just walk with a purpose. Silence mixes with song. Getting hard to tell which silence is whose. Dante. Avalon. Neal. The guardians. Too much silence. Shouldn't be so much in one place. Draws attention. The wrong kind.

A jangle of distorted Beauty catches me. Maria's got her arm threaded through mine. Three layers of fabric and the contact still stings. I must wince.

"What?" She looks at me. Really means the question. "I'm just keeping you from wandering off or walking into a bench or something. Don't go getting the wrong idea."

No such things. Ideas are ideas. People make them wrong or right.

I shrug. It's a good enough response.

"Do you think they're ok?" she asks, her voice low.

"Hope so."

"Me too."

Take a moment. Appreciate the two of us. Arm in arm. We're practically friends. Got it? Good. Because it lasted about two seconds before the garbage can attacked.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

I liked Time of Angels a lot more than Flesh and Stone. Not because Flesh and Stone isn't an important episode, but because I felt like it was trying to do too much too quickly.

And look at the shoes River wore in Time of Angels. They are so unbelievable, that you can forgive they are Not Era.

There was a lot great stuff in these episodes: the image of an angel is an angel alone is a philosophy paper. I have to say Amy wins this series. She just does. Not because she tried to seduce the Doctor, but because she's just made of more win than 11 & River Song put together.

I am considering changing the label for this to "Amy Pond FTW."

What I've concluded from these two episodes:

1) River Song killed the Doctor.

2) Steven Moffat has a thing about forests, monsters using dead people's voices to speak through communicators, and people turning off light sources. I will use this information to craft the 11th Doctor drinking game.

3) Next time there's a continuity error in something I write, I'm going to say to my agent "Look, a giant crack in time!" because giant cracks in time explain everything. And they eat people. Then make you forget that the person ever existed. Giant cracks in time are like what Weeping Angels want to be when they grow up.

4) For example: Giant cracks in time explain how despite that the whole basis of the Weeping Angels is that they quantum lock when you're watching them, they don't actually know when you have your eyes closed.

5) All space ships should have forests on them. Forests on space ships are AWESOME.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting


Kimberly Derting's debut novel, The Body Finder, is an elegant addition to your To Be Read list. Derting has crafted an intriguing novel with just enough hint of the paranormal to make it interesting, while maintaining a realistic grounding that keeps the narrative refreshing.

Violet Ambrose has a morbid gift: She senses "echoes" of murders that cling to both the victim and the killer. These echoes manifest as an additional sensory experience—a taste, a smell, a sound, a sparkle of rainbow-colored light. Each echo is unique to its kill, and every animal—or person—who has killed carries those echoes with them for rest of their lives.

Weird, true, but manageable. Violet's bigger problem is that she's returned to high school after a summer break to discover puberty has replaced her best friend, Jay, with a guy whom every girl in school wants to date—including Violet. But can she risk their friendship? Is it wrong to have those feelings for her best friend?

As the narrative progresses into that well-known tale of two friends falling in love, girls from the area start going missing and bodies start being found.

The Body Finder is very much a teen romance with a solid thriller subplot. It handles both aspects well. By building suspense through the use of those monsters who are completely human to create the horror, Derting's debut stands out from every other paranormal title on the shelf. The interludes from the killer's perspective, which are woven through the story when it most needs that little extra push to keep the pacing going, are some of the finest passages in the novel.

Which is not to discredit the appeal of Derting's main characters and their young love blossoming. Teens will find it relevant; adults will find it nostalgic. The story takes its time to set the tone, paint the scenery, and builds to a satisfying climax that will leave you breathless.  

The Body Finder made my list of top reads for 2010, and I'm very much anticipating its follow-up, DESIRES OF THE DEAD, in March 2011.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Victory of the Daleks

I'm unconvinced that I even liked this episode, so I'm probably just going to mock it. Ready?


This was the episode that was all about the New!Shiny! Daleks. The twist was that they gave us a whole bunch of New!Shiny! Daleks. My personal favorites were the Ironsides... because they were incredibly creepy with their shouty servitude and tea bringing.

You should not allow Daleks to serve you tea.

The most awesome thing about these special edition Daleks: The Ironsides have POCKETS AROUND THEIR NECKS. Who are those pockets for? Not the Ironsides—their little plunger arms can't open a snap that's on the other side of their bodies. Is it where they keep their tea that they're so happy to make for the allied forces?

Again, completely with 11 on his decision. Daleks should be hit with things. Giant Iron Wrenches are a good choice, but I still think a large mallet would have been more satisfying—and have absorbed the impact shock.

I couldn't find a picture of the New!Shiny!Daleks, so just pretend this picture of iPod Nanos are them. They're totally similar: shiny brightly-colored plastic ready to seriously rock out to some Ke$ha while obliterating all other MP3 players.

I recommend as you look at the photo you say in a Dalek voice: WE ARE HERE TO PLAY YOU MUSIC. YOU WILL ENJOY OR YOU WILL BE DISINTEGRATED. That way you can feel like you're watching the episode with me.

Welcome the new Dalek Color-Coded Death Paradigm, which is not nearly as entertaining as Daleks in pointy pope hats.


My last complaint about this episode? Thanks to Mark Gatiss—whose episodes have never really been my cup of Dalek-served tea—I am now scared of eating Peek Freans Fruit Creme cookies. Yes, it might be a cookie, but what if it's actually a TARDIS self-destruction device that just looks like a cookie? How could I live with myself if I caused the TARDIS to self-destruct because I could only find old lady cookies to have with my Dalek-served tea?

To sum up, the only thing in this episode that actually matters: Why doesn't Amy remember the rather unforgettable events of series four?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Beast Below

I enjoyed "The Beast Below" more than "The Eleventh Hour," because this second episode gets back to what Steven Moffat is really good at: Scaring the crap out of us.

What I really adore about Doctor Who—especially when it's done well—is the creation of an entire time/world within a single episode. The social/political issues of Starship UK hit close to my heart, as we're asked should we willfully wipe the truth from our minds and the issue of choice versus the illusion of choice.

I love that Moffat created the parallel between the voting booths and Amy's desire to protect the Doctor from the choice. His anger at the decision being made for him—"You don't get to choose what I know"—was the most human 11 has been yet. Also the oldest and the kindest and the very last... was beautiful. So it was wonderful to get to see the depth and range of emotions from all the characters.

Loved, loved Liz Ten. She was rocking the little red riding hood and the six shooters—it was like something out of Buffy! Loved the Winders and their gas rings; terrified of the Smilers, and can't believe that Starwhale vomit was a legitimate plot point.

My only concerns are that dear lovely Matt Smith doesn't quite do angry as well as his predecessors and the recap. Not questioning the necessity of connecting the dots for the audience—it is a kids show and the delivery was handled well—just the placement in this episode. It took away from the tension a little to do a breadcumb collection in the middle of "OMG THE DOCTOR IS GOING TO FRY A STARWHALE'S BRAIN." (Maybe that was the point?)

Two final thoughts: (A) Starwhales make me think of Peter Watts, and (B) I can't wait to see 11 hit a Dalek with a mallet.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two weeks have now since I last had any word on the progress of FRAGMENTS with editors. There was a second pass the week I was in NYC; it sounded like we had an editor but the publishing group wouldn't come on board—and they get the final say. So it went a step further—as far as I know—than anyone else has taken something, and it was from one of the original round of editors. (Also known as They Who Remained Silent.)

We shall see what next week brings.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Today marks the release of Radiant Shadows, the fourth and penultimate book in Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely/Tales of Faerie series. Congratulations, Aunty Melissa!

It's also Antiphrastic's birthday, so happy to you. I heard she got Beatles Rock Band...

I spent the day getting reviews up on Community, working on signage for Kimberly Derting's signing, and wondering how Spider Girl got her powers. (It's a mysterious mystery that I realize Wikipedia could easily solve for me.)

I've been running the numbers, and I'd like to share something with you. Let's posit that this manuscript I'm drafting is going to be 75,000 words. (Honestly, I don't know. The fox one was longer because it started out as an adult novel, so I'm guessing about 75 kilowords as FRAGMENTS was about 73.) If I write 1000 words a day—a very manageable goal—then it would take 64 days to complete. In other words, I would have a draft by the end of July.

I'd better get cracking.

Being a writer is like being Spider-Man

This is what I told a friend earlier today: Being a writer is like being Spider-Man. She responded by asking if I meant with great power comes great responsibility, which is appropriate but not really my line of thinking. Nor was I making a clever link between costumes and pen names. (Y'know, like superhero costumes, most pen names are funny looking.)

Peter Parker has one of the crappiest lives in all of comicdom. He gets the stuffing beat out of him on a daily basis defending a city that acts like most of the time that they'd rather he pack it up and move to Jersey. He can't ever seem to get a break—and when he does, you know it's because something is probably going to go wrong as soon as you turn the page.

Despite this, he's still out there webslinging like maybe today's the day when things are going to go his way for a change. Being Spider-Man makes his life hell, but he does it. (I don't believe it's completely motivated by his guilt over what happened to Uncle Ben.) Something I always respected about Pete is that he walked away. He threw that suit in a trashcan and tried to have a normal life. He even succeeded for a little while.

There's only so much crap that any human being—super powers or not—can take. Burning out and walking away? It's what makes Peter Parker sympathetic in a way that Bruce Wayne will never be.

Last year, I had had enough being bounced off brick walls. I threw that Serious-Writer suit in the trash can and was all "I am seeking publishing no more..." Sure, my eyes strayed to where I'd stashed the spare mask when I heard of other author's deals. It's hard to break the habit. I even put the boots on for a couple weeks in November. Y'know, just seeing if they still fit.

As life fell apart around me, I realized that I was hurting myself more than any rejection letter ever could. I was denying what gave me purpose. I'm not saying there aren't other things that provide a sense of fulfillment, but there's a hunger that only writing truly sates.

Once you've been bitten by a radioactive writing bug, there's only one choice that will ever make your happiest. You put the suit back on and go out there. Regardless of the fear. Regardless of the doubts. Regardless of the sacrifices. Maybe it's a thankless job. Maybe it's a crap life. But someone has to save the world—even if it's just the one created in a WORD file.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

One of the greatest things about watching Doctor Who is watching someone meet the Doctor for the first time—or meet him again with his new face. Realizing they've stumbled onto a fantastic adventure; a show that can be everything and anything. One that doesn't just reinvent itself each episode as a different genre, but reinvents its main protagonist as part of its mythos.

When we get a new Doctor, the show celebrates it. Everything is new again for us, because it's all new again for him. We needed that after we said goodbye to Ten, because 98% of us weren't ready for David Tennant to leave.

Matt Smith, however, is the Doctor. He breathes the role from the moment The Eleventh Hour begins. This new Doctor is confident, but not arrogant. He's silly, but not manic. He takes everything in stride, and when he spins around or he does something completely mad... it seems natural. As it should be.

Amy Pond is fantabulous. 11 has his hands full, but their collective madness balances out to a dynamic, powerful chemistry that compliments the tone of the show perfectly. And yes, the whole she's running away before her wedding day is a little obvious but it's not the annoying kind of obvious. It's the writerly kind—the "Aha! I was right" when the reveal comes.

One of the reasons that I admire Steven Moffat so is because he can take something like a statue and make it terrifying. He can transform the simple into the fantastical. He does it without losing a sense of humor. His Doctor Who episodes are usually more moving, more terrifying than any "mature" show on television. They're less blood and guts and more psychological and gothic.

 If The Eleventh Hour is an indication of what's to come, we are in for a hell of a ride this series—and I, for one, can't wait to see where we go next week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So there wasn't any actual in NYC blogging besides my last post.

Sorry.

I have a travel journal that I need to sort through so I can weed out the personal things that aren't really meant to go in the public domain and some photos that I need to get organized. There will be blogging, but it may not be until next week since I haven't had a look to see how many of the photos are actually in focus.

Quickly, I loved the city. Loved the hotel. Very much want to return there. I did, even, consider how I might come to live there... then realized I should probably be a little more realistic/practical about that sort of thing. ;)

More to come....

Thursday, April 08, 2010

As I said on twitter, I'm sitting in Art Deco Heaven—AKA the Waldorf=Astoria lobby, where the wifi is free. It means I have to make an effort to come check my email, but it's pretty chill and there's currently some live piano+vocal music happening in one of the lounges that's providing lovely bgm.

This is probably the most relaxed I've been all day, which was spent in a hellish customs line and airplane/port limbo since about 7:30 this morning. We've already walked past St Bart's and visited the amazing Grand Central Station.

Tomorrow is insane, as three days worth of touring gets squeezed into one. I'm headed back up to the room for a shower and to get to sleep.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

As I sit in a quiet area of YVR, it occurs to me that travel and a lack of caffeine is perfectly expressed in the slightly hazy way the mist clings to the trees beyond the terminal buildings and runways.

It's one of those grey cloud-moving mornings that are best spent in bed, writing, or well, on a plane to somewhere that isn't so grey. Since I can't have the first option, I'll have to make due with the second then third.

I'll be in NYC this weekend—an insane packaged tour that I was invited to join as part of my aunt's birthday. I won't tell you how old she is, but it's one of those significant numbers that requires doing something impressive. Although, I am stepping out of part of the plans to spend an afternoon with my agent.

Next week, I've got a couple days in Edmonton to recover from the jet lag and then I'll return home and to thejob. At some point I've got to look at a manuscript that a friend has been waiting to hear feedback for. Not sure when, but there will be travel blogging about NYC. It'll just depend on when I can get to it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And it begins...

Sometimes "no" isn't a bad thing.

For example, if one went out on submission in February of 2009 and one had yet to hear any kind of response from those eight editors, then one's agent sent a reminder to those eight editors and discovered that one of the eight no longer even worked for that publishing house, and then one's agent submitted to another six or seven editors in addition to the seven who had had the manuscript for a year...

Well, getting a response—even a no—would be a welcome thing. It may comfort one with the knowledge that one isn't completely delusional about having a manuscript on submission. Perhaps said manuscript wasn't being used as kitty litter or whatever the digital equivalent of kitty litter is, as one had begun to suspect.

It's true, I don't like to wait. But after a year? I'm getting rather good at it. You know what else I'm good at? Handling a pass. One from a publishing house that I'm not really fussed about working with? That's not even a pass, it's more a mutual agreement that we wouldn't be a good fit. (Also, learning to recognize what's a real issue and what's a philosophical difference.)

I'm not going to lie. I went through a phase where I thought I would take any offer, any editor. But that's desperation talking, and it's so not sexy. The idea of having any editor doesn't do it for me. I want the right editor. I want to work with someone whom I can trust not to have ridiculous arguments with me because we have completely incompatible visions of what a book should be.

It's a compliment to know this editor couldn't stop reading the manuscript and enjoyed the narrator and the dynamic between the two main characters. When someone will tell you that, even if they won't say say yes, it means you have something good. Even if they don't like another aspect. Even if they don't offer. You still wrote something they enjoyed. Maybe they didn't adore it, but they liked it—and the right editor will love it.

Had this editor made an offer pending a request for revisions to alter what they didn't like? I would have told them no. (Not that it really matters, as they didn't say they'd look at the manuscript again if I made changes.)

I know who I am. I know what I write. It's different and it's hard to pigeonhole, and that's not going to change. I'm looking for someone who wants to make my manuscript better, not make it into something that it isn't. If that means waiting, then I wait.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Book, One Twitter

I love Wired.com. When in doubt for content, I go there and I always find they've got something cool for me to read.

One Book, One Twitter or #1b1t is this nifty brainchild of Jeff Howe@crowdsourcing—who has conceived of trying to get as many people as possible on twitter to participate in all reading the same book at the same time. Like what the city of Seattle's been doing since 1988 or the Canada Reads program CBC sponsors. Except international and in 140 character bursts. Three of the top possible titles thus far? American Gods, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451.

I submitted Cory Docotorow's Little Brother, because it's more relevant to our generation—and way less depressing than Orwell—as well as Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, because it's an accessible recent fantasy that's readily available in multiple languages.

If you were going to choose one book for all of twitter to read, what would it be? Reply in the comments—or better yet, submit your choice.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Well, it took until nearly the end of March but I finally found my first great book of the year. Which isn't to say that I haven't read a few others that I enjoyed, just that this is the first one I feel the need to encourage everyone I know to read.

Catherine Fisher's Incarceron is one of those ambitious epic stories. However, to Fisher's credit and obvious writing experience, Incarceron never becomes overwhelming. Finn's epic fantasy quest is balanced by Claudia's more intimate Regency-esque plot. On their own, either storyline would make a decent—and very different—novel. Together, they form a brilliant one.

Dual narratives are not easy to do well. Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan stubbornly adhered to its single POV per chapter even after the narratives intersected. This created a very choppy novel by allowing the structure to dictate whose POV we followed. Incarceron is more successful, as the POV follows whom it needs to follow for the sake of the story.

Ironically, my only technical complaint about Incarceron is the few instances where Fisher jumps POV while in a scene. She'll do a paragraph or two with Finn then switch to Claudia. I understand why it's happening—the scene isn't linked to perspective as much as purpose—but it did jar me out of the narrative once or twice. Largely because we're well into the novel before this more omnipotent POV is employed—giving the impression that the structure is alternating limited third person. Thus, my confusion.

I've read that Incarceron has been optioned by Fox; it doesn't surprise me someone wants to do a film adaptation. One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book is the amazing world and it's stunning imagery. There is a forest of metal; stop for a moment and consider how brilliant that is going to look onscreen.

Incarceron draws on everything from Dante to Jane Austen. There's adventure, intrigue, a tiny dash of romance, and lots of chewy philosophy. I emphasis that this is a fantasy novel. In a section overstaturated with paranormal romance, Incarceron is a refreshing find.

This book is all about the cells that we build for ourselves, both psychologically and physically. You're going to be hard-pressed to find a more interesting antagonist than a living prison.

As for the plot? Incarceron could be a long lost Square Enix game. It has those comforting familiarities, but it's different enough to keep you interested. You feel compelled to see it through to the end. I knew a "twist" from about chapter four on—and it didn't get in the way of enjoying the novel. That's a rarity. Usually knowing where a book is headed bores me, but Fisher's vision and method of fully employing her world kept me hooked.

When I wasn't reading Incarceron, I was wondering what would happen next. As a result, I read most of the book in a single day because I didn't want to do anything else. When I reached the end, breathless, all I could think was "there has to be more!"

According to Catherine Fisher's website, there is a sequel called Sapphique. I've gone looking for the UK edition because I can't wait until December to see if Finn has a total identity meltdown and hits things with the Key. (Yes, that was a Kingdom Hearts II reference.)

So go read Incarceron. If you can't get access to the UK edition of Sapphique, the US version is set to drop in late December.