Sunday, December 30, 2007

Been on Holidays

And still am.

Look for more blogging in the new year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Lunchtime Blogging

Here I sit, contemplating the snow I spent hours shoveling (all right one hour, plus several 10 minute stints to keep up) and the first thing that leaps to mind?

"Now where do I work out?"

Up until now, I've been working out in a local park, using a bench for abdominals, a wall for handstand push-ups, a set of monkey bars for pull-ups/chin-ups, parallel bars for horizontal pull-ups and a lot of open space for the rest of the workout.

It is now underneath a foot or more of snow.

I've been trying to get a workout space set up in my office (large office; it also doubles as our library). Unfortunately, it also doubles as storage space as we move things around in the house. Right now, I have two empty wardrobe boxes (going to a friend who is moving), two dressers (we just put in wardrobes) and six milk crates (left over from our move and need to be returned to our friends) cluttering up the 6x10 space that is going to be my exercise station.

Also on the agenda, buying floor mats (so the whole house doesn't rattle when I do burpees), getting a chinning bar and finding something to use for horizontal pull-ups other than the bottom of my desk, which is nice and give a good grip work out, but doesn't allow for the wide grip that I need to work my shoulder properly.

I'm looking forward to getting this all as done as soon as possible so I can design a new workout program. Of course, I'll need to spend some money, so if anyone wants to help out, here's where you can buy my book.

(Yeah, I know, cheesy advertising, but it's been a while since I did a sales pitch)

Speaking of books, Cold Magics is moving along again, which is nice. Good to be getting back in the groove.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cold Magics - The Rewrites Continue

So after a day or two of sulking I've managed to go back and get some work done. Gotten to page 261, which is not as far as I'd like, but considering half of it is fresh material, notbad.

Time for bed. Tomorrow, more writing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A brief comment on the progress of Cold Magics:


AAAAARRRRRRGHHHHH!!!!!


So, I have been writing this book for far too long. It is one of the problems with being a working person and an author that, when things in life change, your writing ineveitably suffers. With me, it was the change in jobs and the moving that have made this book drag on a year longer than it should.

And when these things happen you get into start-and-stop writing that can be disasterous for your work. In this case, my work ground to a halt until last night, when I realized where the problems all began: Page 233.

So all I have to do is take the work back to that point and correct it.

Infortunately, I'm on page 483.

Like I said:

AAAAARRRRRRGHHHHH!!!!!

Ah, isn't being a writer great?

Still, nothing for it. Back I go, and the result will be a better book.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Joss Whedon on the Writer's Strike

I'm home sick today, and came Joss's across the comments via Chet at The Vanity Press.

It's a good read.

My favorite quote:

"We’re talking about story-telling, the most basic human need. Food? That’s an animal need. Shelter? That’s a luxury item that leads to social grouping, which leads directly to fancy scarves. But human awareness is all about story-telling."
People forget that writing is a craft and a trade, and that people need to be properly paid for their work.

Support the writers. They need all the help they can get.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Geek Link!

Quick lunch time blogging, especially for a certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless until she writes in to yell at me.

It's a giant, prehistoric bug!


(image from the BBC)

Hey, at least it wasn't a spider.

Heh, heh.

I am in such trouble.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just call me Wylie Coyote

cash advance

I knew there was a reason I was picked on in school! It's because I was a genius! And the other kids felt threatened by my massive intellect!

It has nothing to do with the fact that I was an overweight, glasses-wearing geek who spent all his time with a nose in a book and looked down at the stupidity of all those around him!

Nothing I tell you!

...All right, it had a lot to do with that, but I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Coolest Little Girl in the World

One more quick note before I'm back to work:

H/T to A Creative Revolution

This girl started Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan and is raising money for female teachers so girls can go to school.

I hope her parents are very proud of her. I am.

Keep up the good work, Alaina.

Geek Link!

A comet blew up and is now the biggest thing in our solar system.

Check it out!

(check their Nov. 15 archive if viewing after today)

Also on the same page, some cool satellite photography of earth.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yay!

Quick lunchtime blog:

The Fall of Fred Phelps?


Good. Fred Phelps and his group are lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut at the bottom of the grand canyon (sorry, came over all prairie there for a second). I hope this ends their activities for good.

I doubt it, but I can hope.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Geek Link!

Still working madly, if sporadically on the website. How can you tell you're dating a novelist? He neverr finishes anything on tiime!

Anyhow, I saw this story and thought I'd share. It's about dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs Killed by Indian Volcanoes, not meteor: paleontologists

Of course, if one thinks about it, a giant meteor slamming into the planet could cause enough plate shift to result in the massive volcanic activity.

It doesn't have to be one or the other...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Important Post from Wyrdsmiths

Sorry I haven't been around for a while, but my time is getting chewed up by my website, which I am redesigning and starting to feel grumpy about (HTML takes too long and just annoys me) and pounding away at Cold Magics, which is also taking too long and which I am also starting to feel grumpy about.

But, important things:

For all the writers and wannabe writers out there:

Writers Write

Read. And when you are having troubles, read it again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hey, you!

VOTE!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Vote for MMP, Vote Against Tom Teahan

I ran into my local Liberal Candidate, Tom Teahan, today at the subway, and asked him what his position was on MMP. He said he was against it.

You know, I was kind of hoping to vote Liberal this year. I like parts of what they've done, and their campaign feels more realistic than the other parties.

Instead I will be voting for my local NDP Candidate, Michael Prue, and I am encouraging everyone in my riding to do the same. Michael Prue supports MMP, and so he gets my support.

MMP is the single most important issue on the table this election. It is a chance to fundamentally change the way we elect our provincial parliament and will increase accountability, democracy, and cooperation with our provincial government.

Any candidate who is against MMP is against democracy. Do not vote for them.

And since I mentioned two politicians during an election campaign, this will probably be my most read post in a while. So if you're dropping in just to read this, take the time to buy my book, Small Magics. Because after the election, you'll need something new to read.

Update: Never blog when tired. My local NDP candidate is Michael Prue, not Peter Tabuns. I have corrected it in the text above.

Now I feel like an idiot.

Anyway, vote for MMP, don't vote for anyone who is against it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Authors, Wine and Book Launches

A rather funny article about the perils of book launches and the drink served therein.

Which reminds me, I have to plan what sort of wine to have at my book launch for Small Magics.

Yes, I'm having a book launch if it kills me. I worked hard on it and I want a party and a chance to flog it for all it's worth to a small, trapped crowd.

I will post where and when in the near future. All are invited. Come buy my book and drink some wine.

It'll be fun.

And this is the end of the week's worth of blogging. Time to write for a little while, then sleep.

Shakespeare told dirty jokes? Say it isn't so!

So the book "Filthy Shakespeare" is hitting the shelves. Apparently, the book will let those not in the know understand that William Shakespeare was a populist who wasn't above using foul language, double-entendre, and dirty jokes in his work.

Now, anyone who has studied Shakespeare beyond high school already knew that, and those of us who performed Shakespeare knew it intimately. In fact, half the fun of doing Shakespeare is figuring out how to get the jokes to the audience.

Might be a fun read, though.

Geek Link!

Okay, this is cool. Gigapixel-sized panaoramic photos available on the web. You can upload your own, and you can look at other people's work. And it's free. Neat.

gigapan.org

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This Magazine

A magazine I came across one day while looking for other things. It's progressive, interesting and deep. They've got a wide variety of articles, and it isn't just the usual media drivel.

Here's the link:

http://www.thismagazine.ca/

And because I didn't say it in the last post, buy my book.

I Have an Office!!!

And I am happy as all get out. I have a door I can close, a library of bookshelves waiting to be filled with our library of books and a workout space just waiting to be cleared. The feeling is fantastic. I am a happy, happy monkey.

Of course, the job is not over yet. I still have to shim all the bookcases so they are more or less level, screw them to the walls in case a certain little monkey tries to climb them, fill them with books, clear out the boxes, get the workout space cleared, add floor mats to it, buy/build a chinning bar (probably the latter. Those things are expensive) and put down the threshold. May do that last tomorrow, if my child naps. If not, then soon.

And there's the whole house to get done as well, but for now I have an office, and it's a good start.

And now, I must write.

Okay, I have a week's worth of blogging I want to do, but I must also write.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lunchtime Blogging

Been busy for the last little while. And sick. So blogging has come to a virtual standstill.

Of course, so has my life, so I'm not too worried.

Got the bookcases and everything upstairs, went apple picking on the weekend, and generally did a whole bunch of stuff not related to writing or being published or even home renovations.

Good weekend. Wish I wasn't lugging this cold around with me.

Anyway, because they are cool, here's a link to Wyrdsmiths, who are putting together some good writer resources and are well worth a look. I visit often.

Back to work. Once I finish my sandwich.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Done!

The floor is in, the quarter round is in. The room looks fan-expletive-tastic. Yay!

Actually not completely done. The doorjamb needs to go in but that is a one hour project I can do any time this weekend. So I'm done!

I am so proud of myself, I might just explode.

I also wired myself with caffeine today so I could get the job done this evening. I'm wide awake and ready to haul boxes as soon as the floor dries! Wheeee!

No, really. Wheeee.

Happy, happy, happy happy.

Tonight, I haul boxes. Tomorrow night, bookcases, filing cabinet and put together the desk and computer. Then I have office! After that, other housework.

And the website, and the book promotions, because Small Magics is out and available!

Got to get the promotions going and have myself a book launch!

Also, this weekend, we clean. By end of weekend, we have almost functioning house!

Again with the yay!

Monday, September 17, 2007

And Once Again...

Nothing quite goes to plan.

Cheops Law: "Nothing is ever completed on time or under budget."

First read that in a Heinlein book. Can't remember which one. Time Enough for Love, I think.

Anyway, one section of the room has a bit of a jog which it took me the better part of an hour to shape the quarter round for. Didn't help that the laminate was just a bit further from the corner than I had expected. Rigged something and it doesn't look bad, but by then the kid was in bed and I had an errand to run and here I am. The work is so close to done I can taste it. Think I'll go up and do the last of the cutting before I go to bed (manual saw, no real noise). That way, tomorrow I can just nail everything into place.

On the other hand, I might just spend the night writing instead.

Heck, I'll do both. Who needs sleep?

If a project seems way harder than It should...

Chances are you're doing it wrong.

(A quick lunch-time blog)

Nonetheless, and screw-ups set aside, the floor is now down in my office. Tonight I install the quarter-round trim around the walls, then start hauling up boxes and boxes of books and bookcases and my desk and the many and sundry other things that are going upstairs.

Very happy to get the job done. Very tired or I would have got the quarter round in last night. That and I didn't have any nails.

Once the office is set up, time to focus in on the new website because the current one, you'll notice, is tacky. And badly out of date.

The new one has cleaner lines and looks much prettier. And it's more up to date.

And then, it's time to promote my book! Yay!!!! Buy Small Magics!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Floor! The Floor!

No, it isn't done, but it's started.

Hat tip to hammerzone.com (Better living through Handymanlyness) where I found the plans to to build the workbench I needed to cut the laminate to lay on the floor.

Here are the plans, should you need a workbench.

The floor is one quarter down. Laminate is easy to lay on the floor, easy to cut, and a pain in the neck to make join together properly. If anyone has any tips, they're appreciated.

Also, there's an 8 PM cut off time in this neighbourhood. Too many neighbours with small children and not enough light.

Think I'll write something.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Geek Link!

Haven't done one of these in a while.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/

For the science geek in all of us. Here's just three of their stories today:

Extra Gene Copies Were Enough toMake EarlyHumans' Mouths Water

Exoplanet Offers Clues to Earth's Future


Predation Linked to Evolution, Study Suggests

Interesting stuff, eh?

Almost enough to make Ontarioans forget there's an election coming.

By the way, vote for MMP.

Think I'll go write something

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Email Annoyance Part 3 and Final

I should be writing. Instead I'm blogging. Bad me.

The email problem is called "Spoofing." Basically, someone got a hold of my website address, found a contactlink, and used it as a launching point to send out 1000,000 or however many emails from some anaonymous server somewhere. Nothing can be done about it. Jerks.

Meanwhile, I should get back to writing, but I wanted to close that exciting part of the saga that is my life.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Email Annoyance Update 2

So, my computer had some possible spyware cookies which have been deleted a joke.puncher virus, which is also gone (in fact, the files with it in it are zips that have never been accessed or opened on this machine, so I think that problem is gone entirely, fingers crossed).

Which leaves the question, who is got hold of my domain name and is playing silly buggers with it?

I'll find out tomorrow, I hope.

Annoying Email Update

Finished scan 1. Got something on here. I've deleted it and am scanning again.

Still don't think it would do that.

And for all of you out there who see a cool game labelled Stress Reduction Tools, don't do it. It's infected (I checked around, and I'm not the only one who has had this issue).

Well, That's Annoying

So I just got 63 returned emails from my domain, erikbuchanan.ca. Apparently a lot of the emails didn't go through.

This is annoying on 2 fronts:

1. I didn't send any emails from any name at erikbuchanan.ca, let alone the ones they're coming up with, and

2. I can't send any emails from erikbuchanan.ca. It's a shell domain, and the email addresses there all lead to my home address, from which I would send any replies.

So, what the heck is going on?

I've called my domain host and told them, as well as emailed them, and am currently scanning my computer, though I don't think it can be me, as I, as I said, cannot send emails from that address.

So that's mighty annoying.

Meanwhile, if anyone is getting spam from erikbuchanan.ca, please accept my apologies, and know I'm doing what we can to fix the problem.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Quick Lunchtime Note

And yes, I am taking lunch at 2:30. Lost track of time.

Remember how I was going to do that floor today? Not happening. The electricians came in early to remove the knob-and-tube wiring from the house (my pocketbook hurts thinking about it) and started with - that's right - my study, because the floors weren't done and there was less danger of creating a mess there.

Good plan for them, and I'd love to get it done over the weekend, but I'm not sure I'll have the time.

Ah, the joys of home improvement.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I Have a Computer Again!

Not an office, of course, because that would be easy, but I have a computer!

For those who have been following the saga, the office floor is clear of tiles and debris, the sealing for the room is gone, and light once more shines through the window.

Unfortunately, the hardwood that lurks beneath is unreachable. The plywood on top has nails every three inches and shows no sign of coming up easy. This would mean a ton of work, and chances are the time to repair the floor would be astronomically annoying. So what to do?

Bought laminate which matches the laminate in the hall, and will be putting that down.

The plan was originally to get it down tonight, but by the time I got everything I needed (jigsaw, quarter round, boards to use as spacers on the wall) and started work it was 9 PM and the noise from the jigsaw would be more than enough to wake the neighbours' kids, and that's not fair to them. Dammit.

So, it looks like I'll be taking Friday off work, if I can swing it, and will be installing the laminate then. Meanwhile, we have a working computer and I...

(taking a moment to plug the speakers into the right jack)

...am listening to the Tragically Hip.

He said I'm famously rich
C'mon just lets go
She kinda bit her lip
Geez, I don't know
But I can guarantee
There'll be no knock on the door
I'm a total pro that's what I'm here for
I come from downtown
Born ready for you
Armed with will and determination
and grace, too
The secret rules of engagement
Are hard to endorse
When the appearance of conflict
Meets the appearance of force
But I can guarantee
There'll be no knock on the door
I'm a total pro
that's what I'm here for
I come from downtown
Born ready of you
Armed with skill and it's frustration
and grace, too

Tragically Hip Grace, Too lyrics


Life is good.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Politics: SPP and What It Means for Democracy

There are many writers on the web who are far more intelligent than I. One of them is Zapagringo, whose very intelligent look at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (commonly referred to as SPP) gives a lot of very good reasons why we as citizens should be taking note and fighting very hard against it.

Please read it.

My reason is this:

Any time the Prime Minister engages in making agreements on behalf of the country with another government nation or national leader without consulting Parliament and the people of Canada, that Prime Minister is deliberately flouting the democratic process which forms the basis of Canadian society.

Before a democratic nation chooses to enter into an agreement with another nation, that agreement must be made public to the people, and scrutinized by the people's elected representatives. Anything else is contradictory to the spirit of democracy.

If you haven't already, now is the time to start taking action. Call or email your local MP and demand the government create a clear, transparent process for SPP in Canada, including full Parliamentary and Senate scrutiny of all previously signed agreements, and votes in the House of Commons on all agreements to be signed in the future.

Another great link (Hat tip to Zapagringo):

Integrate This

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No Time

Busy day, no time to blog.

Floor half done.

More news soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunchtime Blogging and Big Dragon Moon Press News

Haven't got my office set up, so I'm putting this in while I'm finishing my lunch.

Got 1/3 of the second layer of times up out of the study, and 1/4 of the third layer (they tend to come up together). So far, looks promising. With luck, I'll be seeing hardwood by the end of tomorrow night. Without luck, I'll be shopping for laminate.

And my hands are killing me from all the prying and ripping and shoving of tile. I mean, typing hurts today. Still, getting near the end, which is all that matters. I have promised myself I will not look under the plywood until all the tile is off. Otherwise, I might lose heart.

Now onto Dragon Moon Press!

Dragon Moon Press, publisher of my book, Small Magics, is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, making them together the largest independent publisher of Sci-Fi and Fantasy in Canada. Hooray!!

Good on ya, guys!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Renovations Continue

So, I got three quarters of the first layer of tile off in just under three hours. Not bad. Of course, I nearly dehydrated myself into trouble, which was extremely stupid.

For the next round, a friend of ours brought over a heat gun and the rest of the layer was gone in 30 minutes. Got to love doubling your pace.

Also got the washer and dryer installed and I have to say that making sure the damn washing machine is level side to side as well as front to back would be made a lot easier if you didn't have to adjust the heights of the feet from inside the washing machine. Good thing Ive got long arms. I'd hate to try to do it if I was short. Anyway, it's up and running like a dream. Too bad one of the hoses leaks but, eh, what you going to to do?

We've got the bedroom set up (mostly; still need wardrobes and thinner bedside tables), the kid's room set up (she likes it, too) and hte kitchen mostly done. Not bad for a weekend.

Now if I can just get those other two layers of tile off in the next couple of days, I can get the office set up and have my computer back!

Small Magics news and Dragon Moon Press news coming soon!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Movers Come in Eight Hours

With luck, I'll get to sleep for five of them. Unlikely, but I can hope.

We're packed for the most part, but we're at the stage where we can't tell anymore because everything is surrounded by boxes. I was going to take down the computer tonight, but after all the trouble I'm having with the damn washing machine (bloody front loaders), I may just head for bed early.

Early. Yeah, right. It's 12:30 AM as I write this.

Anyway, once the move is underway I will have no comuter access for at least 2 or 3 days, so have a good weekend, and when I get back I'll tell you how pulling the rest of the goo off the study floor went.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Renovations Begin: The Study

Know what happens when you assume? Major renovation projects, that’s what happens.

The hallway and master bedroom of our new home is covered in laminate flooring. The room that’s going to be our daughter’s room is good old-fashioned hardwood flooring. Nice hardwood, too. The room that is going to be my study/workout room/library was carpeted. And I wondered why.

I asked the old owners what was under the floor of the room that is going to be my study. The old owners told me linoleum. Interesting.

I went looking through the second floor and discovered in the hall closet that, in fact, there was linoleum under the laminate floor as well, both of which ended in the closet, and underneath both of which was hardwood. Nice hardwood.

Now, I don’t want carpet in the study. I want hardwood. And with that in mind I decide that, if there’s hardwood under that linoleum, I want it.

So Sunday night, I went over to the new house and pulled up the carpet. Not a hard job at all. A pair of pliers and some elbow grease got the carpet up. Used a utility knife to cut it into strips, rolled it up, put it in a corner.

Getting up the under-padding took a little longer and if you’re going to do this wear kneepads and work gloves. Eye protection is a good idea, too. Those staples can spring out at you. Pulled up the under-pad easy enough then went over every inch of the floor looking for staples. Got them all up. Some people recommend going over the floor with a scraper to look for other staples. I used my hands – remember those work-gloves – and ran them over every inch of the floor. Got them all and swept the debris out of the way at the same time.

Next step: the tack strips. A tip from a friend of mine saved me a lot of time. Instead using one pry-bar and a hammer, use two pry-bars. Once you’ve got the first one wedge in, wedge in the next one beside it, pull up, move the first one over, and keep going. Got all the tack strips up in about five minutes. Then I stood back to survey the work.

That is the ugliest linoleum I have ever seen. Ever. And it wasn’t put down properly. And it has paint on it. Good thing it’s coming up.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Packing...

Packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing...

Taking break to complain about it on my blog...

Packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing, packing...

I'm moving this week, so you won't hear much from me.

Small Magics is in the hands of the printer, and as soon as it is available on Amazon, I'll let everyone know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Body Weight Exercise

Just a quick note tonight (I'm supposed to be working on Cold Magics and my website) to talk about a website I've been visiting fairly regularly these days: Body Weight Culture.com.

I prefer working out with body weight (push-ups, burpees, sit-ups, etc.) instead of weights, and this website is completely dedicated to the concept. Very cool people there, and some great information. I'm enjoying myself there, picking up some good tips for my workout, and learning some excellent things from the folks in the forums. I am also fairly stunned at how strong some of these guys (and gals) are. There's some great wokout advice there, and some good folks to talk to and answer questions.


And now, got to work that website. And write.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Day Packing

Got all the kid's spare clothes packed away, and a bunch of ours. The goal is to trim ourselves down to just enough to get from now to the 23rd (moving day). Should be all sorts of no fun, but the majority of it is nearly done.

The worst for me is the day before, when you look at all the odds and sods you still have left over, and wonder what the heck to put them in.

Got the gas and power ready to be switched over, too. God, I'm a homeowner. In Toronto. Who would have thought?

Anyway, time to get some work done. I've been promising to update the website (www.erikbuchanan.ca) for about a year now, so let's see if I can manage it.

And there's all that writing to do.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Small Magics First Review!

I've been reviewed! Yay!

The review is courtesy of Jeanette Cottrell, herself an author published by Dragon Moon Press, and appears on Simegen.com.

The review is overall very positive and complimentary, and she rates the book at 4 stars!

Yay!

You can read the full review here, but this is my favorite part:

Small Magics is beguiling entertainment. Character motivations are understandable and compelling, whether they agree, conflict, or are in deadly combat with each other. The color provided in village and festival scenes are as lively as that shown in a mob rebellion or sneaking into a cemetery at dead of night. This is a good read. Sit down with a cup of coffee, put up your feet, and read Small Magics. You'll be glad you did.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

So, hey, if you haven't already, why not buy Small Magics?

Moving!!!

The great struggle has begun. We packed about 2/3 of the main floor over the weekend with the help of our friends Chet and Kim (Thanks, folks!) and are up to our quickly sinking necks in trying to figure out when to pack the rest.

Back to packing. Miles to go etc., etc.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And where the heck was I that missing week, anyway?

We got the chance to take a week at a cottage. We took it. Here's the view from the porch:



It was a great week. Here's our daughter, Maggie, discovering the water:



...And after playing in the water:



And visiting a friend on the way home:



And we got home just in time for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows madness back home in Toronto:



Got my copy that night, thanks to my friend Kat, who managed to get a wristband (yes, you needed a wristband) so she could line up for the book at midnight.

A good week it was.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Polaris 21

Some time ago I said I'd talk about how Polaris 21 went. And now I am.

When we last left our bungling hero, I was stumbling around the house until 3:30 AM the night before, having gotten the dates for Polaris 21 completely wrong, and now was desperately scrambling to get organized. Finally, I succumbed to exhaustion at 4:30 AM.

Up at 7:30, I finished getting the stuff ready and them proceeded to call my assistant way to early to see if he was available. Of course he wasn't, so I went by myself.

And I had a blast.

There were great costumes, wonderful displays, great merchants (I bought a Bokken!). I sat on five panels ranging from the effects of TV, Film and Video game violence to how to manage using technical talk in your sci-fi writing without completely driving off the reader. Met some great people including Tanya Huff, who's vampire books (blood line, blood ties, and many others) are being made into a TV series. Good for you Tanya!

Both stage combat workshops went well and were reasonably well attend (though scheduled at the same time as Tanya Huff's and Barbara Hambly's signings, dammit), and the two people who showed up for my reading both said they liked the book very much and would buy it as soon as it comes out. And one of the people who was coming in to kick us out for the next group, said what he heard sounded really tense and interesting.

And if you figure that that makes three people who were there and three people is a crowd, then there was a whole crowd of people at my reading and everyone in it loved my book!

And if you're reading this, guys, go here to get an advanced copy!

Oh, well, that's what happens when you get put opposite Marina Sirtis signing autographs. I wouldn't have been there myself.

I'm on the clock in three minutes, but I wanted to end by saying I had a great time and thanks to David at Polaris for inviting me, and to everyone I met, played with, and talked with.

See you next year!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who Do I Play with Now?

I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In fact, I just reread the entire series from beginning to end.

I will try very hard not to give away any of the plot because I know there are many out there who haven't finished it yet. Instead, I wanted to talk about how I feel.

Bereft.

Not because what's in the book itself (I won't say anything about that yet), but because the series has ended. Definitively.

Harry and Hermione and Ron are done their adventures, and even though I can go back and read them again (and will) it won't be the same. I know what happens now, I know all the clues and all the stories and while each time I read it I will find new things and learn a bit more about the characters, it won't be the same.

It feels like all my friends moved away, and I am standing in the middle of the street alone.

Who do I play with now?

And that is the sign of a very, very good book, and a very, very good series.

I promised I'd talk about Polaris 21, and while I'm at it, I'll talk about where I've been for two weeks. But not today. Today, I'm going to think about my friends whose adventures are done.

I am going to miss them.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The King of Stupid

No, this is not a blog about politics. It is a blog about what happened to me on Friday night.

See, I have trouble going to sleep on Friday nights. My brain says, "Hey, you've got tomorrow off, you can sleep in" even though there is no sleeping in when you have a toddler. Nonetheless, I end up doing silly things like staying up until 1 AM or later.

This Friday (actually Saturday, 1 AM) I decided that, since I wasn't sleeping, I should start prepping for Polaris 21, where I thought I was scheduled to do my first public reading of Small Magics and teach two stage combat workshops on July 14 and 15.

Note I said "I thought."

I open my email and discover what everyone who is reading this and follows conventions already knows. Polaris 21 is actually July 6 to 8. I've missed the opening party, one of the panels I was supposed to be on, and I am completely unprepared.

Crap!

I end up awake until 3:30 AM pulling together stuff for the convention, then 4:30 trying to calm down enough to get to sleep. My assistant is not available this weekend, my weapons for the course are not ready, and I have to create promotional materials for Small Magics on the fly using what little office supply type stuff I have around the house.

Did I mention CRAP!!!!?

My next post, I'll tell you how it all went.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Well, How About That...

Back in high school I knew a girl named Angie Abdou. Now Angie is an author with a book of short stories out and a new novel. Here they are (click on each picture for their Amazon link):



Angie is launching her new novel, The Bone Cage, on September 21, 2007 at Pages on Kensington in Calgary, Alberta.

Congratulations Angie!

On Writing and Arguing: Logical Fallacies

This post by my friend Chet at The Vanity Press led to some thinking on my part on logic and the nature of language, which in turn led me to a list of common logical fallacies created by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere and posted on The Nizkor Project website.

Now, I took logic in university and did absolutely horrid at it (something to do with the class being at 8:30 AM, I suspect). Even so, I believe that understanding logic is very important. So much so that I believe we should be teaching it in high school along with rhetoric (the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively) so our kids can tell when politicians (or teachers or parents or advertisers) are lying to them.

So there's the link. Have a read. Then try to remember it the next time you listen to a pundit.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We Bought a House

Semi-detached, close to subway and schools, private drive, parking, and only needs a little work.


(It's the one on the right)

Cool or what?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Small Magics Update 2 (and other stuff)

All right, the beast is off. Gwen at Dragon Moon has it, and is putting together a final copy to send to the printers. Here's hoping I found all the erratta.

Gwen should get it out in a week, the printer should take about 4 weeks, which means a late start for it, I know, but not overly late, and not unexpectedly so, given my life these days.

So a new release date to be released soon.

In other news, I've just about got the new computer up and running (yes, it's taken me this long. Like I said, I'm busy). Which soon means more time for writing, rebuilding the website (the next project) and little fun things like, oh, I don't know. Going to a movie maybe.

Meanwhile we are also house hunting. I'm not going to put any details here for fear of jinxing it (yeah, stupid superstition, I know, still what can you do?) but I'll let you know when we've got it.

And now, back to work. I'm on the clock in 7 minutes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

And It's Off!

Small Magics is back in the publisher's hands, along with a list of erratta I missed the last time I went through it. It should be headed to the printer shortly, and then available for all who want it.

Thanks for your patience. I can't wait to see it!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Small Magics Update

For all those of you who have been awaiting the release of Small Magics, there was a slight glitch on my side involving a large amount of work to be done, a small amount of time to do it, and a new computer which, like all new computers, takes forever to get set up with all the right information.

I am expecting Small Magics to be out in two weeks, and will keep everybody abreast of developments.

Thanks for your patience.

Erik

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Computer

Well, we got a new computer, in case you've been wondering what is going on.

I've got the driviers installed, found a version of Windows XP (because from everything I hear, Vista is not good) and have started adding in the software.

My big concerns are transferring my Norton Anti-virus subscription, Dreamweaver, and several other programs so that we can use them on the new machine.

I have decided to try going open source, rather than with Microsoft Office because, again, Vista has issues and I couldn't find a copy of 2003 or XP. SO far, the office suite looks good. I need a calendar program, but I've got Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird for Web and Email respectively.

The next challenge will be getting the files off the old computer and onto the new one. If everything works, the old machine goes to a new home, and the new one takes its place.

And that's what I've been doing. That and and writing and editing and working on a film and my day job and looking after the kid and looking for a house and developing a publicity campaign and being the treasurer for FDC.

So, not busy at all, really.

Friday, June 01, 2007

And Now, Get in Shape Month is Over

And you know, it went pretty well.

I declared May, for any who might be new to the blog, to be Get in Shape Month because I was feeling all sorts of out of shape. I had four goals:

  • To get back to working out 6 mornings a week (3 days strength and martial arts, 3 days running)
  • To do more swordfighting
  • To make it through my core program without resting
  • To be able to push myself hard through my entire calisthenic circuit training

And how did they go? Not bad, but not great:
  • Worked out 5 days instead of 6 most weeks but that's more than I was doing
  • Didn't get to swordfight once (dammit). Rapier Wit is in teaching mode right now, so open nights were taken up with rehearsals
  • I can now make it through my core program, which is essentially three minutes of variations on the plank, without rest and with only a little crying
  • I can almost push myself hard through my entire calisthenic training program (its a twenty minute, no rest program).
So I didn't quite achieve those goals, but I did get some other things out of it:
  • I can do 50 pushups again
  • I can do 12 chinups again
  • I can chest press 200 lbs again
  • And I lost 5 pounds
Not bad at all. For the next three months I 'm actually going to be concentrating a bit more on the weight loss. I am not fat (according to the charts) but I'm not where I'd like to be, so that's the next step.

Back to work.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Some Nights...

You just don't get anything done.

Late dinner, toddler with sore tummy, suddenly it's 10:50 and I haven't written anything yet.

Annoying, but there you go. Some nights things don't get done. Like the dishes, which really, really need doing.

Back to work. I might get a page in before 11:30 and bed time.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Now that was a weekend!

My wife and I have just returned from Stratford, Ontario, where we spent Friday and Saturday staying in a very posh hotel, eating very good food, shopping and seeing the preview performances of A Comedy of Errors and King Lear at the Stratford Festival.

And to make the weekend perfect, we left the little one behind in the tender care first of a very good friend of mine then of my wife's mother. Both are excellent caregivers and knowing that they were looking after our child enabled us to relax and enjoy the weekend.

And because I'm in the mood for it, here's a quick review of everything we did:

The Hotel
We stayed in the Annex Inn, which was very posh indeed. The price was high, but the room had a king-sized bed, fireplace, whirlpool tub, and a comfortable sitting area for post-show chats and reading. It was definitely worth the price and we may well be staying there again when we go next year, if we can swing it.

The Food
Bentley's: Good food and nice folks. I stuck to pub grub, Sara had the pasta. Both were excellent. And they make a nice Bruschetta.
Fellini's: Our favourite place to eat in Stratford. We have never had a bad meal there and this time was no exception. Their pasta is some of the best I've tasted, and their lunch special was exactly the right size. My wife had the mussels, which were equally good. And they give you wonderful bread.
The Church: Food as art. Dinner there cost as much as the first night at the hotel. I will probably not spend that much money on a meal again in the next five years. A beautiful restaurant, gourmet food, excellent service. Try the scallops in linear and cubist forms.
Foster's Inn: Both breakfasts. Had the Eggs Benedict both times. Nothing beats a home-made hollandaise sauce.
Let Them Eat Cake: We stopped there for scones to start our morning (we're both early risers, and wanted nibbles to tide us over until breakfast. Excellent scones.

The Plays
A Comedy of Errors: A good production of what is arguably one of Shakespeare's funniest plays. It is a farce, and was played as such. Director Richard Monette chose to set his play in classical Syracuse, then completely ignored the period to very good effect. This play was his Shakespearean swan song (he is leaving his position of Artistic Director this year) and was filled with enough festival in-jokes to keep the regulars rolling in the aisles. Those of us who aren't festival regulars still enjoyed it. If there was one complaint about this show, it is that Monette allowed the glitz and the tricks to overwhelm the text, to the detriment of the production (I should mention that many consider that to be his trademark).

King Lear: Directed by Brian Bedford, this is an instance where trusting the text led to a magnificent production. The production was stark, simple, and brilliant. The acting was supurb for the most part, though I found both Edmund and Cordelia to be slightly one-note (they were good notes, but still...). Bedford was supposed to be playing Lear, which I was greatly anticipating. Instead, we had his understudy, John Innes (and we think Bedford was playing one of the serving men, the sneaky so and so). John Innes acquitted himself brilliantly and deserved the standing ovation he received.

All in all it was a great weekend, a great way to recharge, and on Monday, it is back to work. I'm looking forward to it.

And speaking of work, time to do some writing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shrek the Third

Well, I was disappointed.

The animation was incredible. The level of sophistication that has been developed, even since the first Shrek film, is incredible. Hair that moves like hair, shadows changing shape on the ground, water looking like water. The quality was amazing.

Pity the same can't be said about the script.

Shrek the Third had some very funny moments, and was well enough written to make it enjoyable, but was not as good as the first or second films. There were a lot of characters, which didn't bother me too much, but no character development, which did. The moral point of the film was driven home with all the subtlety of the last spike (look, Canadian history reference!), and the ending was as much of an anti-climax as driving home alone after a date.

Between the tickets, the popcorn and the parking, I spent $50, to see that film, and it just didn't feel worth it.

But it did look fantastic.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Geek Link!

Solar wind may owe its speed to helium: study

And so folks know, I'm on vacation this week. Sleep (if I can convince my body to do it), time to exercise, time to watch a movie, and househunting.

I'll be blogging still, but look for the posts to be much more relaxed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On Writing

I had a long conversation with a friend of mine last night about the craft of writing. What makes it fun, what makes it frustrating, what makes an otherwise sane person (okay, aperson of questionable sanity, in my case) sit for hours in front of a computer (or notebook or typewriter or whatever) putting together stories that have come out of God knows what part of the subconscious in the vain hopes tht someone will like reading them.

And more important, how do we do it to the best of our abilities?

I realized that this was something I wanted to talk about and to share with others, and so I'm going to start wtiting on writing here on the blog. I don't know that there will be many entries, and I don't know how original, but it should be educational for me, and some of it may even be useful to so some of you.

So to start, if anyone wants to answer, I'll ask, why do you write?

For me, I write because not writing is painful. I feel like all the thoughts and emotions and ideas inside me will explode if I don't regularly put fingers to keyboard.

I also write because I can see these stories inside me, and I want to capture them before they vanish.

...well, aren't I dramatic?

Anyway, that's why I write. Why do you write?


Meanwhile
I've just gotten the latest copy of the Dragon Moon Press newsletter, which features yours truly as the lead story.

I recommend Dragon Moon Press (and not justbecause they publish me). If you would like to learn more about what the authors are doing, why not sign up for the newsletter?

DMP does not sell their email list to anyone, and you'll learn all about what's coming up for the Press and for all of us.

And now, I have work to do on the new iteration of my website, and on Cold Magics (yay! writing!)

More soon.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

And It's Off...

I have just finished going over the final proofs for Small Magics. These come looking like the interior of the book, and are the author's last chance to make sure he hasn't screwed up too badly before the book goes to the printer.

While I'm pleased to say I didn't screw up too badly, I can't say I didn't screw up the last edit. Found a huge number of punctuation errors, and some text that was bad and needed fixing in a big way. All of that is now done. The errata is on its was back to Dragon Moon, and I am getting all excited.

And now to write something in Cold Magics, just to show I have started work again.

(Given how tired I am, I'll be lucky if it's a complete sentence)

Then to bed. To sleep, to dream, to get up and go to work.

Update:
And those of you who read this before I fixed the typos will know why it is so important to proof your work. And most of all, proof when you aren't tired!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Geek Link!

Today, I have two geek links.

For Science Geeks:

Swiss solar-powered boat completes fuel-free Atlantic voyage


Which is very cool. And while it will be a long time before solar power cargo carriers ply the oceans, it is a step in the right direction. Who knows, if solar energy becomes efficient enough, how much less gunk (fuel, oil, exhaust) we could be putting in our oceans?


For Theatrical Geeks:

Get out your ponchos: bloody "Evil Dead" musical opens in Toronto


And I got to say, who could resist "Evil Dead?" It's a Sam Rainey classic, brought to the stage with with hilarity, a ton of blood, and they give free ponchos for the first row or two.

I so want to go see it.


And a Comic Geek Note:

I am currently reading Buffy Season 8. Very good. Lots of fun, good art and very well written.

And now, I have 4 minutes before work starts. Time to fill up the water and start typing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Well, I'm All Annoyed Now

And on several fronts. First, because of the Conservatives newly introduced rules for campaign financing, which were written, as near as I can tell, to ensure that only the rich or those supported by the banks can afford to run for office.

Thanks, Stevie, for taking another chunk out of our democracy. And why haven't you disclosed who gave you money for your 2002 leadership campaign?

Second, because I missed posting the ultimate geek post this Friday past. That's right, last Friday was Darth Vader Day and I missed it (two points to the first one to figure out why it was Darth Vader Day).

To be fair, I was exhausted and fell into bed early. And can you believe it? The kid slept until 8 AM. I got 10 hours sleep. It was glorious.

Third, I also on Friday came across a ton of Geek Links to put in, but can I remember any of them now? Sigh. no.

Now, onto happy things. The last reading of the galley proofs proceeds apace. I'm on page 215 and at this rate will be done well before May 15, which is the deadline I set myself. Then they go back to Dragon Moon, off to the printer and soon we'll all be holding books in our grubby little hands.

After that (more happy thoughts) I can start writing again! Cold Magics is pining for me like a Norwegian Blue pining for the fjords, and vice-versa. I am looking forward to getting back to it and getting it done. Not to mention the other two projects I've got on my mind.

Get in shape month proceeds apace. Got five of the six workouts in that I wanted, will shoot to get all six in this week. No swordfighting, but hopefully next week. And I don't know what it is about my workout, but my hamstrings are burnt. Running up that last hill this morning nearly killed me.

And that's all for the moment. More editing to do before bed.

Meanwhile, did you see that they think they've discovered Herod's tomb?

Back to work.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's Get in Shape Month!

May is Get in Shape Month!

And what evil person declared this, you ask? Me. I'm chunking up and feeling lumpy and need to get back on the bandwagon. Too much deskwork and not enough swordfighting.

So welcome to Get in Shape month! The goal is to get your body moving and yourself feeling good. For those of us with chronic injuries, it's also about making those things that hurt stop hurting.

Remember: No Pain, Good!

The rules:
  1. NO STUPID, UNREACHABLE GOALS: Losing 40 pounds in a month isn't healthy. Neither is trying to run a marathon in 30 days when all you've done is walk to the store. Impossible goals set you up for failure and make you feel bad. Make any goals you set this month SMART: Specific, Measureable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time-specific.
  2. NO CRASH DIETS: For exactly the same reason. They set you up for failure. Eat healthily, indulge occasionally, and don't sweat the small stuff.
  3. NO FOCUSING ON YOUR WEIGHT: This month is about getting in shape, not losing weight. That is a side benefit of the getting in shape process.
  4. HAVE FUN: Find things you like to do and do them. No point in picking activities that you dislike, eventually, you will just stop doing them anyway.
  5. HAVE A REWARD AT THE END OF IT: My wife and I are going to Stratford (Ontario, that is) at the end of the month. I'm going to run my 10 km along the banks of the Avon. Also, I could use some new clothes.

My goals:

  • To get back to working out 6 mornings a week (3 days strength and martial arts, 3 days running)
  • To do more swordfighting
  • To make it through my core program without resting
  • To be able to push myself hard through my entire calestenic circuit training

All my goals are achieveable in this time period given my current condition and free time. The side benefit will be to make my pants a bit more comfortable, and make me feel a lot better about myself.

So, who is with me? Who wants to jump on the bandwagon? Let me know and I'll start posting some exercise and diet tips here for those interested.

OK, That's Just Cool

Sometimes stuff is just neat:

Musicians unlock mystery melody in chapel

And this is one of those things that took a fair amount more brains than I've got to figure out. Also, check out the website:

www.tjmitchell.com/stuart/rosslyn.html

Some neat stuff there.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Stephen Hawking Breaks Free of his Wheelchair

Some things make me happy. This is one of them.

Stephen Hawking's dream of weightless flight fulfilled

Given all that the man has done for physics, I hope he gets to make it into space.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Geek Link!

Anyone want to go on a little trip?

European astronomers find potentially habitable planet outside solar system

I'll never get there, but wouldn't it be cool to go?

Hat tip to Lyda Morehouse over at Wyrdsmiths

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

With Sorrow in Our Hearts

For those who died in Virginia



"Death in not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."
-Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, April 16, 2007

Something We All Need to Read

Because Dave was brave enough to share it:

The Galloping Beaver: The Abyss

My grandfather was in the navy in WWII. He never talked about it either, until recently, and then very little. He told me of being in the harbour in Gibraltar, listening to them dropping depth charges throughout the night, to stop the manned torpedoes that the Gremans were sending.

Thanks Dave, for sharing, and for giving us a small glimpse into the horror that men and women around the world are facing in war.

H/T to Chet.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's Here...


Ain't it cool? Click on it to buy it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sporatic Blogging

For those who read me regularly, an apology.

Blogging will be more sporadic than usual for the next couple of weeks. Work (where I'm blogging from now on my lunch break) is moving to a fever pitch as we prep the launch of the new version of our website (www.managemyhome.com) on April 27.

I'm also doing one more edit on Small Magics, this time, on the proofs. Very neat and hopefully there will be as few changes as possible. Most of what I'm looking at is formatting, but there's been a couple of text changes as well.

So that's what I'm doing. I'll try to keep posting, but time is at a premium.

Once April is done, more posts, more often. Anyone got a favorite topic?

Update:
"Sporatic Blooging?" How tired was I when I wrote that? Anyway, it's fixed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Condolences

It's been a bad week in Afghanistan.

Killed Sunday April 8, 2007
Sgt. Don Lucas
Master Cpl. Chris Stannix
Corporal Aaron Williams
Corporal Brent Poland
Private David Greenslade
Private Kevin Kennedy

Killed Wednesday April 11, 2007
Master Cpl. Allan Stewart
Trooper Patrick James Pentland

Our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers to their families and friends.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday Night Post

Happy Easter to any Christians reading this post, and to the rest, happy whatever makes this day good for you.

My daughter returned from her first overnight visit to Mum-Mum's house (her maternal grandmother). Apparently all went well, save that my daughter did not sleep well in the playpen we sent, and as a result, neither did Mum-Mum. Good to have a day or two on our own, good to have her back.

I have finished re-reading the draft of Small Magics and am going to send it through the spellchecker once more before it goes back to my publisher (Dragon Moon Press) for final proofs. The cover art is coming along swimmingly (and you'll notice I've added Laura Diehl's link to my list on the side there). Laura has done a great job, and put up with me which is no easy feat.

And now, because I read this recently, and meant to post it earlier, I'm going to put here an abridged quote on the nature of existence by Leo Rosten. It struck a chord with me when I found it on the Walking with Ghosts blog, so I thought I'd share it:

Credo, Leo Rosten

I BELIEVE that you can understand people better if you look at them as if they are children. For most of us never mature; we simply grow taller.

I have learned that everyone - in some small, secret sanctuary of the self - is mad. If we want to stay sane we must moderate our demands - on ourselves and others.

I have learned that everyone is lonely at bottom, and cries to be understood; but we can never entirely understand someone else, no matter how much we want to; and each of us will forever be part stranger - even to those who love us most.

I have learned that it is the weak who are cruel and that kindness is to be expected only from the strong.

I have had to learn that life - so precious, so variable, so honeycombed with richness and delight - is held cheap in the scheme of impersonal events. When a human life is snuffed out in an instant, without meaning, without reason, without justice, how can one deny that all our lives hang by threads of nothing more than luck? I cannot escape the awareness that in our last bewildered moment just before we die three simple, awful questions cry out from our souls: 'Why me? Why now? Why forever?'

I have come to see that every person is subject to fantasies so obscene, yearnings so mendacious, drives so destructive that even to mention them shakes the gates we have erected against the barbarian within.

I have been driven to believe that no despotism is more terrible than the tyranny of neurosis. No punishment is more pitiless, more harsh and cunning and malevolent, than what we inflict upon ourselves.

Most men feel cheated if happiness eludes them. But where has it been written that life will be easy, our days untroubled by suffering, our nights unfouled by the beasts within our nature? Where, indeed, is it guaranteed that life will be at the very least fair?

People debase 'the pursuit of happiness' into a narcotic pursuit of 'fun'. To me this is demeaning. I would question the sanity of anyone not often torn by despair. Euphoria is the province of lunatics. I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be 'happy'.

I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honourable, to be compassionate. It is above all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.

And while looking up the reference to who Leo Rosten was for those who wish to know, I found this quote from the man which nicely sums up one of the major problems with neo-conservatives, both north and south of the 49th:
Extremists think "communication" means agreeing with them.

And now, I am going to bed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Small Magics: Update

A quick post tonight because I'm up way to late once again and 5:30 AM is coming far too soon.

Laura Diehl, my magnificent illustrator is doing great things withthe cover art, and Gwen, my publisher and I are just working out the schedule for the next two months before the book hits the shelf.

Meanwhile, I'm learning as much about generating publicity as possible, because I want to actually sell a few of these things!

Time for bed.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Theatre Review: The Rocky Horror Show

Live at Canstage, here in Toronto.

You know, when we see the movie, there's one thing we forget amist all the toast throwing, water-squirting, flashlight waving and response shouting.

The music is incredible.

You'd never know it from the film. With a couple of notable exceptions, they cast the film with actors that couldn't sing. They tried, they failed. Not so at Canstage.

The cast is hugely talented, the voices are powerful, the staging is brilliant, the characters alive and lively. Instead of just recreating the film, the director and cast made it their own.

Audience participation was encouraged, though there was no throwing of toast or squirting of water (actor safety, you know). Interestingly enough, a lot of the shout-outs didn't happen, because many of them are dependant on timing, and the timing of the musical is different from the film. Shout outs are welcome, though, so go see it two or three times and you'll be able to time it out perfectly.

So for all of you who think that the Rocky Horror Picture Show is great, I can only say:

It is way better live. Go see it.

Geek Link!



Season 8, in comic book form. Can't wait to get it.

Hey, not all geek links are about science.

Hat tip to Chet.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Late Night...

And I haven't written or edited anything yet.

Spent most of this evening writing an email to Laura Deihl about the cover art she is doing for the book (Hi Laura, if you happen to drop by). She's doing great work and I wanted to make sure that I communicated that as well as talked about the things I wanted to question (we authors are a demanding and annoying lot).

Anyway, that's all for me tonight. More blogging later in the week. Now I must edit and write before I go to bed.

I'm tired.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Writing: "Grace Always Trumps Pedantry"

I came across the quote in the title of this article while deciding whether to use "then" or "and then" in one sentence in Small Magics (I didn't use either. I changed the sentence). It comes from Jack Lynch's Guide to Grammer and Style (the actual quote is here under "Grace") and it sums up what good writing is as neatly as I have ever seen.

Good writing is graceful.

And graceful doesn't mean short or long or beautiful or grammatically correct. And it doesn't matter whether the language is elegant or foul, or if author uses short, choppy sentences in three line paragraphs or long, languishing sentences that make paragraphs run pages.

What matters is that the writing flows; that it takes the reader from one moment to the next, one character to the next, one scene to the next. And it doesn't matter if the writing guides the reader gently along or hauls the reader like a bouncer tossing a drunk. What matters is that the reader comes along for the ride.

You can always tell when the writer's grace has failed them. It's the moment when you suddenly find yourself stepping back from the book; from the moment and the characters and the scene and the world they inhabit. It's the moment when you actually think about what you are reading, rather than being swept away by it all.

So back to editing. Here's hoping for grace.

Update:

My mother caught a typo in the third paragraph (thanks Mom!).

And in answer to your other note, you are correct, it was intentional. Using the plural "them" to the singular "the writer" is a graceful way of being gender inclusive while avoiding the awkward "him or her."

(See how I worked "graceful" in there, relating this update back to the subject of the post? Slick, eh?)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Geek Link: And You Thought High School Was Bad...

New and interesting discoveries in the world of sexless reproduction.

(Insert own joke here)

Actually some pretty interesting stuff that call into question some of the basic assumptions of how species diverge and adapt. Very cool.

...Yeah, I know. Why do you think I call them Geek Links?

On Writing: What Comes (and Doesn't) with Publication...

First off, a hat tip to the Wyrdsmiths, who led me to two posts by science fiction author David Louis Edelman on what does and doesn't happen when you become a published author.

Here are the high points:

What Doesn't Happen:
1. Money does not suddenly rain down from the sky.
2. Your career worries do not melt away.
3. Your lifestyle and self-image do not dramatically shift.
4. Writing does not suddenly become easy.
5. Your friendships and relationships don’t undergo a sudden transformation.

What Does Happen:
1. Strangers will be strangely deferential to you.
2. You will suddenly become “the writing expert” to your friends and relatives.
3. You’ll have mixed feelings about what you’ve written.
4. Self-published authors will look to you for validation.
5. You’ll have accomplished something that nobody can take away from you.

Both posts are worth a read, as they are both quite funny and a good reminder to those of us starting out that life isn't going to change that much (except the bragging rights).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

By the way...

I'm on Amazon!!!!

You can now pre-order Small Magics on Amazon. The book will be out June 15, 2007.

Now, Harry Potter comes out July 21, but ladies and gentlemen...

I have a dream.

For just one day, I want to knock Harry Potter out of the top spot. Just one day, I want to be on the top of the Amazon wish list. An impossible dream, maybe. But who wants to help me get there?

I'll work out a plan this week and get back to you all.

Back to work...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Long Week

All right, I lied about writing on Thursday. Truth be told, I was still recovering from my trip. A good meeting down in Atlanta (nice and warm there, too). Pity I was only outside for 15 minutes in total. Ah, business trips...

Anyway, new and exciting things are happening. My publisher has sent back Small Magics for one last edit before she sends me the final proofs. The neat part: It's in the format it will appear when it's published. Very cool.

Also, amazing how many errors there are in it. I swear we caught all the punctuation and formatting errors, but apparently I was wrong.

So, Cold Magics is going to be slowing down a bit as I take one last kick at the Small Magics cat.

Meanwhile, my cover artist (it's so cool to say that) has come with seven ideas for possible covers and we have started work on them. It's really neat at this point in the process, I must say.

So, that's what I'm going to be up to. I'll work hard on blogging, especially since it looks like the Tories are gearing up for an election. Of course, at this time, no political party really wants one because no one will come out any further ahead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quick Note

Off to Atlanta on business, so no time to blog tonight. Will write again on Thursday.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I'm a Bad Man...

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate


Take the Dante's Inferno Test

Friday, March 09, 2007

America in Iraq: To What End?

"I see, as in a map, the end of all."
-QUEEN ELIZABETH, from Richard III, II, iv

Rolling Stone Magazine has put together a panel of experts to talk about the war in Iraq.

And if they are right, the outcome is going to be grim.

By the way, the people on this panel are not a group of granola chewing hippy liberals, as the American right likes to portray everyone who opposes their opinion. Rather, they are:

Zbigniew Brzezinski: National security adviser to
President Carter

Richard Clarke: Counterterrorism czar from 1992 to
2003

Nir Rosen: Author of In the Belly of the Green Bird, about
Iraq’s spiral into civil war, speaking from Cairo, where he has been
interviewing Iraqi refugees

Gen. Tony McPeak (retired): Member of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff during the Gulf War

Bob Graham: Former chair, Senate Intelligence
Committee

Chas Freeman: Ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf
War; president of the Middle East Policy Council

Paul Pillar: Former lead counterterrorism analyst for the
CIA

Michael Scheuer: Former chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden
unit; author of Imperial Hubris

Juan Cole: Professor of modern Middle East history at the
University of Michigan


Now, given the credentials of these people, what do you think the chances are of the administration listening to them?

Yeah, I think that, too.

H/T to Chet, who got it from Dymaxion World. And the quote that's on his page makes it onto mine, because it sums up the whole mess:

This is a dark chapter in our history. Whatever else happens, our country's
international standing has been frittered away by people who don't have the
foggiest understanding of how the hell the world works. America has been
conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the
proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president.
Now we know the result of that experiment [laughs]. If a guy is stupid, it makes
a big difference.-- Gen. Tony McPeak (retired), Member of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff during the Gulf War

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Oh yeah! Cover Art!

Completely forgot to post this before, which shows how tired I am.

Just began the process of choosing an artist for the cover of Small Magics. Very cool!

Here's the artist's website:

Laura Diehl Illustration

I like her work, especially her ability to make her images a story as well as a moment in time. I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

Tuesday Night...

And I really don't have a lot to say. I promised myself I'd blog three nights a week, and this is one of them. Unfortunately, I really don't have anything to say.

So here's a couple of writing links:

http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/fiction/

http://wyrdsmiths.blogspot.com/

Two good if very different blogs about writing.

And now, it is late, and I still have several pages left to write.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Of Great Books

So, I was reading Hamlet-

(wow, this is already sounding pretentious, isn't it? Bear with me...)

-using a 1955 edition published by the Great Books Foundation. It included a suggested reading list for a year, with some very interesting titles in it. So I went looking to see if they still exist.

They do.

And they are fascinating. Founded in 1947 to promote liberal education for the public, they continue today, and this is their mandate:
The Great Books Foundation is an independent, nonprofit educational
organization with a mission to help people think and share ideas. Towards this
end, the Foundation offers workshops in Shared Inquiry discussion and publishes
collections of classic and modern texts for both children and adults.

They have some excellent collections, ranging from literature to science to citizenship to human rights.

Have a look at their FAQ for a better idea of how they work, then check out their reading list. There's some fascinating reading there, and I'm planning on ordering some as soon as I finish this draft of Cold Magics.

Now I just need to get a book group going...

Geek Link!

Some very nice pictures from the New Horizons space probe, which is currently looking at Jupiter, and has a couple or great close-up shots of the moons.

Meanwhile, I am getting myself organized for doing book publicity, and I will soon have an appearance to announce!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Help Me Help a Friend

Hi folks,

My friend Alexander Galant has applied to get on "On the Lot."

For those who don't know him, Alex is an amazing filmmaker and an incredible director, who've I've had the priviledge of working with as a actor and as a fight director on several projects. Here's his website.

For those who don't know it, "On the Lot" is a show where individuals compete for a $1 million dollar contract to make their own movie. And I want Alex to win.

So, the more people who view and rate his film, the better chance he has of getting in, so anyone who reads this, please, click the link below, and watch his film. It's amazing.

http://films.thelot.com/films/19764

Please watch.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gone for Three Days

Off the Chicago on a business trip. Should be fun. Only sad I won't get much chance to see the city itself. Such is life.

Hope everyone's week is good, and I'll blog when I can.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I am Spartacus


I am way late on this, but Shakespeare's Sister is a brave woman and deserves all the support she can get, even from an occasional political blogger like me.


And so does Pandagon, who also took the high road.


So I, too, am Spartacus.



Good luck, folks.



Friday Night Mish-Mash Round 1

I was planning to blog last night but ended up at work until 9:15 PM. So tonight, I blog. Three cool things for you this evening:

First, a little history:

Historic pictograph is First Nations view of treaty talks

Very cool to think of someone putting down on paper their view of what was happening. They want the pictograph back in Saskatchewan, but need to raise $175,000 US to purchase it. Haven't found any details yet, but the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is part of the bid, so if you want to help out, give them an email.

Second, a little more history:

Ice anglers discover unidentified shipwreck in Lake Superior

"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early."

Be interesting to find out what sort of a wreck it is, and how old.

And finally, a little sprituality:

How To Meditate

It's a great litttle website that introduces you to some of the basic skills of meditation, and to Kadampa Buddhism. The meditation information is really good, and it gives a nice bit of insight into the stages of meditation you journey though as a practitioner of this method of Buddhism.

I highly recommend meditation, by the way, no matter what your religion or lack thereof. It calms the mind and body, and helps you to take control of your life.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Archaeology Links

Been sick for most of a week, and finally got back here.

Archaeology is one of those "if I had another life I'd do this" things for me, and so I've added a whack of Archaeology Blogs to the site. Some are local, some relate to single projects, some cover large areas. Hopefully, there's something interesting there for everyone who wants a look.

Back to work. Have to finish the dishes and maybe write something.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Geek Links!

Been a while since I posted any science stuff, so here's a couple of cool ones I found today.

Archaeologists won't separate prehistoric couple unearthed in eternal embrace

and

Arctic island to house world's first seed vault

And now, I have a proposal to write. And some more of Cold Magics.

Back to work.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wheeeee!!!

It was great!

Day 1: We got there late, so no skiing, but had a fabulous dinner and shot some pool and got board games from the front desk and relaxed for the evening (yes, we are geeks). Slept without interruption (except to turn down the room heater which would not stop blasting out heat no matter how warn the room got).

Day 2: Skiing!

Now Sara, my lovely wife, had never been on downhill skis in her life, so the larger part of the day was spent teaching her how to get down the hill without killing herself or someone else. Got to say, she picked it up very quickly and was skiing down the longer runs without falling by the end of the morning. She did fab.

As for me, didn't fall once, which is a minor miracle, went down the beginner runs repeatedly, then got the chance, once Sara was feeling confident enough to ski alone, to try my luck at the intermediate runs.

I swear that intermediate runs were much less steep when I was sixteen. Still, made it down those as well, though on one I leaned back so far that My uphll arm hit the snow. Hurt myself but managed to stay more or less upright. Naturally, I did it again. Whee!

And the kid did very well on her weekend with Mum-Mum. Both had colds, so they spent the time indoors, playing, coloring, and watching videos. Mum-Mum had a great if very tiring time and so did Maggie, who went down like a rock.

And that was the weekend. A good time was had by all except Thomas (lead character in Cold Magics and Small Magics) who has been waiting two days for me to get him to the next bit of his adventures.

So, back to work.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Skiing!

That's right, skiing.

My wife and I are off to a nearby resort this weekend for some rest, relaxation and fun while our daughter's Mum-Mum (her maternal grandmother) takes care of her overnight Saturday.

Of course, our beloved Maggie (our daughter) has decided to have a cold and a fever this weekend. Still, Mum-Mum is game and we're heading out (taking the cel phone with us just in case). Fortunately Maggie is now two and both old and big enough for cough medicine. She is sleeping the sleep of the drugged even as I write this.

But that's not the most exciting part. The most exciting part is that we're going skiing!!!

I haven't been on skis in 20 years. Literally. And my wife has only been on them once. Neither of us have proper gear and we're going to rent skis.

It should be hilarious.

So, wish me well, and here's hoping for a minimum of falls as I get me ski legs back.

Back to work...

And then to bed.

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