Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another NaNoWriMo Post

6271 words today. Not bad at all. Not the 10,000 I was hoping for, but I'm not going to complain too much.

The brain is not a muscle, as we all know, but it does share a certain characteristic with one's muscles. If it doesn't practice something, it stops being good at it. Whenever I've been away from the sword or martial arts for any length of time, I can feel the disuse on my muscles. The old nerve pathways are grown over, and I have to practice until the path becomes clear again.

Same thing with my brain. I've been out of the discipline of writing. It's been months since I engaged in any serious work. Too much of life going on. Moving, organizing a new place, looking after my little girl and changes at work all make it hard to focus on the big projects.

And as a result, the paths in my brain that give a clear line from the subconscious to the page have overgrown. And I needed to do something about it. That's why I went into NaNoWriMo: to get that focus back. And I must say, so far, so good.

This week I did fall down a bit. I had a busy start to the week and precious little sleep, so the writing levels were no where near what I had hoped for. As a result I am behind on the "suggested word count," which is 23,334. My word count is 16,14

My goal tomorrow is to do 3-4000 words, which will get me almost back on track. Then 2000 a day for the next 4 days. After that, it's time for SFContario, which I have been woefully neglectful in publicizing, but which I promise to do a blog post about in the very near future. Really.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"Winter's Bone" and NaNoWriMo

Too lazy to do two posts. Also, it is midnight and the alarm goes off way to early (yes, I have an alarm on the weekend. I am, in fact, odd).

Just finished watching "Winter's Bone" and if you did not see it in the theatre, I cannot recommend enough that you go rent it. It is incredible. Amazing acting, amazing camera work, amazing use of landscapes. Incredible use of suspense and one of the most truly horrifying scenes on film.

Way, way cool.

Meanwhile, on the other end of things, I did 2000+ words in a couple of hours today, which has me sitting pretty good for where I'm sitting. I am behind, of course. According the page I should be at 10,002 words by end of day Saturday, and I am only at 8,379. Not unexpected. I have my little girl with me this week, and we had a couple of low sleep nights - night terrors and a visit from a mouse. Oy veh.

But, the mouse has vanished and is hopefully holed up in someone else's apartment, the last two nights we both got great sleep, and I'm feeling very energetic, positive and upbeat about the whole thing. It's all good, at the moment.

And so, soon to head to bed, and visions of another 2000 words dancing in my head.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Twas the night before NaNoWriMo...

And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
And no panic had set in.

Feeling pretty good about it, actually, which may just be denial, but hey, I'll take it. Not panicked, not worried. Just finishing up a nice Hallowe'en with my little girl and her Granny, and about 60 kids ranging in age from 2 to maybe 15 who came to the door. The cutest was the 3-year old dressed as a penguin.

Only a few of the kids noticed I had a skull under my arm. But then, they don't notice these things with adults, or possibly try to ignore them. One was impressed and said so.

So, the night before NaNoWriMo, and I'm feeling pretty good. Know the story, know the lead character, know the other main ones, have some idea of plot. It should all be good.

So, if I'm not posting much here, you probably won't notice the difference! (Yeah, I know I don't post enough). But seriously, I will try to get some posts up telling how it is going. I'm looking forward to it.

And now, soon to bed, to rest up for the big event.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Yep, I'm going to give it a shot.

I haven't written anything long since Cold Magics came out. Too busy moving, unpacking, working, and going to conventions. There was one period where I don't think I had a free day or evening in a month. So, while the writing bug has been biting me, and I've been working in fits and starts, there's been no consistent time or space to keep the drive alive.

Now, however, my time has sorted itself out as has my place and I've only got one convention to go to, SFContario, November 19, 20, and 21, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, 300 Jarvis Street, Toronto. Got to love a home town convention.

For me, writing, like everything else, has to be made a habit to be done effectively. I find I need to be writing at least 5 days a week to really get in stride; 6 days a week preferably, and 7 when I'm reaching the end of a project. And when I get out of a habit, it takes some work to get me back in.

Fortunately, NaNoWriMo has the two things that help me most when I'm trying to get back on a habit: a challenge, and a deadline.

First draft of a new novel in month. I can do it. I've got the novel in my head, the general plot figured out, the main characters all sorted. Now I'm just waiting for the starting gun.

So, let's see how it goes, starting Monday.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sunday Night: the Last Con*cept Blog Post (for now)

Well, that was a pretty good end to a pretty good weekend.

Spent most of the day in the dealer's room, selling books and getting one more chance to talk to people before they headed on their way. Sold a lot of copies of Small Magics and a fair number of Cold Magics. Had several people who'd bought Small Magics on Saturday come back for Cold Magics on Sunday, just based on their reading Saturday night. That was a very nice feeling indeed.

My panel today was "Killing Your Babies," which was all about editing and the joys of realizing that that amazingly cool scene/character/description/idea/philosophy that you just know was the perfect thing when you wrote it is the thing you need to cut from the book. And if ever there was a group of people qualified to talk about it, it was my fellow panelists. From closest to furthest from me (I was sitting on the end of the table and moderating! I was moderating this group! cool!), there was Tad Williams, Marie Bilodeau, Violette Milan, and Deborah Beale!

It was a wide-ranging discussion with lots of great audience participation and lots of great stories from the writers at the table. In the course of talking about editing, we shared some of our favourite/most horrifying story realizations, discussed the "Disneyfication" of popular culture and the many times all of us have either written or read something which we know needed to be cut out.

Great fun, and an excellent panel to end on.

Then, to make things even cooler, I got an interview with Angela Roberts from The Gloaming. She asked some great questions, and I hope I wasn't talking too much in my answers. Thanks, Angela!

And speaking of thank you's, my thanks to everyone at Con*cept for having me as a panelist and treating all of us so well. And my deep, deep thanks to Marie Bilodeau, my partner in crime and at the Dragon Moon Press table for the weekend, who kept us both laughing through the weekend, translated for those whose who spoke mostly French but still wanted to know what my book was about, and for finding us great breakfast spots two days running.

To everyone new I met, and to everyone I got to see once again, merci beaucoup, et au revoir until next time!

Saturday Night Con*cept Blogging, plus Time Management Basics

And here I am. Only 12:20 and already heading for bed. I swear I was a night owl, once...

Had an excellent day of selling Small Magics and Cold Magics and talking to people. Had a great time on the "But When Do I Write" panel, where myself and Rob St. Martin, Karen Dales and Glenn Grant all talked about time management and how important it is for a writer.

It was such a good discussion, with such excellent people that I want the share the highlights with everyone who happens to pop in and read.

First off: If you want to be a writer, find the time to write, no matter how busy your life is. If you can't, you really don't want to be a writer.

Steps to finding the time:

1. Organize your life. I use a system where everything that one is doing is divided into URGENT, NOT URGENT, IMPORTANT, NOT IMPORTANT (if you know whose system this is, let me know. It isn't mine and I can't remember, but would like to give credit where it is due). From there you can...

2. Prioritize the things that need to get done, in the order you need to get them done in.

3. Create a schedule that allows you to work on the important things (like your writing). Make sure you schedule your free time, so you don't feel guilty about it when you have it.

4. Build a community of people around you who support and understand your goals.

5. Reward yourself when you reach a a goal.

We also talked about the nature of change, and or trauma, and how either or both these things can really throw off your writing schedule. Unfortunately, both are part of life, and in either case, you have to let yourself and your life settle to the point where you can get back on your writing schedule.

It was a good day, and I'll looking forward to another good day tomorrow.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Con*cept Friday Night

Late night blogging from a nice little Con in Montreal. Had a good first evening and a nice book launch with lots of folks attending.

Marie Bilodeau and I are partners in crime for our Montreal launch. I'm launching Cold Magics, Marie is launching her new book, Destiny's Blood. Marie is an amazing reader and a great person, and I can't wait to read her book. It sounds really good.

Then a group of us went out for drinks and late night snacks at a nearby restaurant. It was a great way to end the evening.

So that's day 1. Looking forward to a great day tomorrow with 2 panels, a table to sell books at, and time hanging with fans and fellow writers.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Geek Link! Cool Cave in Spain

Tonight's Geek Link comes from Spain via the CBC, who have some great pictures of a cave containing the world's largest collection of helictites. Very impressive pictures.

Helictites, for those who don't know (which included me until I read this article), are eccentric crystallographic formations (yeah, I know, big help). This means that instead of forming vertically like stalactites and stalagmites, the crystals form in gravity-defying directions and shapes. They are very cool to look at:

(image taken from the CBC article)

So have a look. It's just plain neat, in a geological kind of way.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Some books move us more than others, moving beyond entertainment to be come an experience. William Gibson's Pattern Recognition is one of those books.

This is the first book of Gibson's I have read that does not take place in his familiar and well-imagined cyberpunk worlds. Rather, it takes place in our world, in a post-911 reality of marketing and internet obsession, and of mystery spanning across the globe. It is a work of literary fiction of the highest orders

I'm not going to bother with a synopsis. You can read that on the Amazon page for Pattern Recognition, here. I will say, this is a spectacular book, and one that I highly, highly recommend you read.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Great Place for a Good Story

I just learned of a new website called 52 stories. They are publishing a new story every week online, for free. Very cool, so I thought I would share.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Review!

This one is from from You Gotta Read Reviews, which had very some nice things to say in their review of Cold Magics:

"I cannot recommend this book enough. I hope there are more to come in this series and will be picking up a copy of the first book in the near future."

Extremely nice, and glad it was enjoyed.

For those just reading this blog today, the first book was Small Magics, available here.

And of course, you can pick up Cold Magics here.

Erik on Amazon

I'm just working on getting my Amazon Author Page together (something I am far overdue to do). So I have started by adding this blog to that page, and am uploading a photo (one of my actor shots) and will have a BIo up tonight.

(I can just hear my publisher saying "Finally!")

Right now I'm up to my neck in projects. I'm moving house, writing a zombie movie (purely for fun), prepping for the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, and organizing the next three writing projects:
  • Historical Fiction Novel
  • Young Adult Novel
  • Third book in the Magics series (because I can't just leave you hanging!)
So I am going to be mighty busy for the next six months. But not too busy to post where I am going to be appearing. Watch for a list to come soon!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Best Cold War Film Ever

In 1964, Stanley Kubric's amazing satire Dr. Strangelove hit the theatre. It poked fun at the cold war mindset, at the paranoia and fear-mongering of the military complex, and the laughable, horrifying idea that someone thought there could be winners in a nuclear war. Some say that it was the single best film about the stupidity of the cold war.

I used to agree with them. Then I saw Fail-Safe.

Also shot in 1964. Also about the cold war. Not a satire, but a riveting drama that haunts you for days afterwards. It died at the box office because Stanley Kubric found out about it and insisted his movie be released first. A serious movie released after a satire on the same subject does not make a box office smash.

The two books upon which the movies are based, Red Alert (which became Dr. Strangelove) and Fail-Safe are nearly identical. So much so that the writer of Red Alert sued the writers of Fail-Safe for plagerism. It was settled out of court.

Despite that dubious honour, Fail-Safe is an incredible film. Directed by Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men), the use of lighting, close-ups, and silence drive the tension in this film sky-high. And the ending will leave you shocked.

If you like, you can see it on Google Video, but you'll have to watch it in pieces. I say, rent it or find it, and watch it all the way through. It's incredible.

Here's the opening:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Great Movie

Escaped the desk and got out to the movies tonight (last night, now). Caught a showing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Great movie. Riveting, suspenseful, horrifying in just the right way.

Now Magazine's review of it sums it up really well. For my part, I liked it so much, I want to go get the book.

Highly, highly recommend this movie.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Great Reviews for Small Magics and Cold Magics!

It is a happy day when you get to say that people liked your work, so this is a very happy day for me! I have three new reviews!

Two folks who bought my books at Ad Astra have written reviews of Small Magics, and a fan from San Francisco, who bought a copy from Gabrielle Harbowy (editor, DMP Associate Publisher, and San Fran resident) wrote a wonderful review of Cold Magics!

The first Small Magics review comes from the Left Hand of Dorkness blog (which is an amazing name, by the way!) and is a great little piece. The review is lengthy and detailed and ends with:

"Let me finish by saying that I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it so much that I'd recommend it to my friends, family, and random strangers on the street or internet. Pick it up!"

The whole review is lots of fun to read. He has a great way with words. You can find it here.

The second review you can find on the Small Magics' Amazon Page. You'll also find it in one of the comments of this Blog. My favourite part is:

"...the blinkin' book kept me up till 2:00 am last night. I couldn't quit reading. I had to get up at 6:00 am to get ready for my mundane work. You are evil and I love it. It was an excellent read!!"

The Cold Magics review can also be found on the Cold Magics' Amazon Page. Very happy making. Here's part of it:
"Cold Magics is a romping good time. High fantasy at its best. Subtle, fraught with tension (so much so I had to read fluff in order to sleep at night) and the action is wonderful."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Now THAT was a Book Launch - Cold Magics at Ad Astra

I don't think I've had that much fun in months.

For those who have not been following, I launched my new book Cold Magics at Ad Astra, April 10, 2010. The convention itself was excellent, the people were great as always, and the book launch went amazing. Our posters, package invites and word of mouth seemed to really do the trick, because we had a packed house. Our chocolates and prizes were well received, especially the "Moose Jaw Style Candlelight Dinner for Two" (No, I'm not telling you what it is).

Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me. Fortunately, my ever-helpful and stunningly talented editor (and now DMP associate publisher) Gabrielle Harbowy did. So some pictures will appear below.

Before that, however, there's some Thank You's that need to be said.

First, to all the folks at Ad Astra. Thank you so much. You were great as always. The party would not have been nearly the success it was without your help.

Also, thanks to Scott and the rest of the security team, with whom last year I inadvertently started a tradition. At Ad Astra 2009, I went to the green room where Scott was working security. We talked, and it turned out he forgot his book. I sold him a copy of Small Magics, and it became the communal book for all the security at the green room. This year, Scott found me on day one of the convention and bought a copy of Cold Magics, which became this year's communal book. I'm only sorry I won't have a new one out for next year (at least I don't think I will, but talk about an incentive to write faster!).

Great thanks are due to Marie Bilodeau whose book, Destiny's Blood, is due out with Dragon Moon Press this summer, and whose chocolate helped bring the party to life. Mmmmm. Also to Gunnar, a friend who showed up with even more chocolate -- dark Mayan spiced chocolate from Soma -- and gave it to everyone at the party. Thanks Gunnar!

I also want to thank Chris Jackson, who was my table-mate for the weekend, and was selling his first DMP book (though not his first book by a long shot!) Scimitar Moon. I am reading it now and it is great. I highly recommend it. Chris was good fun and good company for three days of selling and talking.

Thanks to Gabrielle Harbowy, editor/associate publisher extraordinaire for being there, helping with everything, and taking some pictures since I so cleverly forgot the camera. We didn't get a crowd shot, but the place was packed!

And, of course, my great, great thanks to Gwen Gades at Dragon Moon Press, for taking a chance on Small Magics, and for keeping the series going with Cold Magics. Without her, none of this would have happened.

Finally, thank you to everyone who attended, who bought books over the weekend, and who made it a truly great evening.

Look! Pictures!
The Dragon Moon Press Team: From left, Erik Buchanan, Gabrielle Harbowy, and Chris Jackson

Author, with books. Very cool moment.

Gabrielle and I, just before the launch started (hence the slightly manic smiles).

The reading! They laughed at the funny bits and clapped when I finished! Life is good.

Erick Fournier. Actor, fight guy, and cover model for Small Magics and Cold Magics, brandishing his copies of the books. Thanks again, Erick!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Ad Astra Schedule

For those of you who are attending Ad Astra (and I recommend you do -- it's a good time) here is what will be taking up my time this weekend:

Fri 9:00 PM Ballr. East Working with Smaller Presses

Gabrielle Harbowy, Chris A. Jackson, Brett Alexander Savory, Derwin Mak, Eric Buchanan

Is a smaller press the right choice for you? How does a small press work? How can you find them? Panelists will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of working with a smaller press.

Fri 10:00 PM Ballr. East World-Building – A Balancing Act

Erik Buchanan, Ed Greenwood, Rob St. Martin

How do you research a world that doesn’t exist? How important is world-building to a story? Can too much emphasis on world-building hurt other aspects of the story? How can you find the right balance of story elements?

Sat 11:00 AM Ballr. East Editing Your Own Work

Gabrielle Harbowy (m), Rick Wilber, Jana Paniccia, Erik Buchanan

Authors and editors share tips on how to spot the problems that are so easy to miss in your own work, how to add a bit more polish to your writing, and how to prepare your draft so that editing goes as smoothly as possible.

Sat 4:00 PM Ballr. East Autograph Session

Sat 5:00 PM Ballr. East Autograph Session (to 5:30)

Sat 10:00 PM ConSuite Cold Magics Launch (to 1am)
(just to make sure people notice)

Do come to the book launch, if you are coming. I'm looking forward to doing a reading, and looking forward to people seeing the new book.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life is Good

Tonight, I finished the last exam of the last course for the certificate program I was taking. I am finished.

I come home, and there is Cold Magics, fresh off the presses, just waiting for the book launch at Ad Astra.

I am relaxing, sipping Scotch and wondering what to do with all the free time...

Life is good.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Young Artists for Haiti

Time has passed since the earthquake in Haiti. Not much, but enough that it has fallen off the news. Despite that there are still people who need a lot of help there.

Young Artists for Haiti is a group of talented Canadian Musicians who have re-recorded K'naan's single "Waving Flag" (best know as the 2010 World Cup theme) with all proceeds from the sale of the single going to three charities working on the ground in Haiti.

Here is the single on You Tube.

If you can afford to help, please do.

And please spread the word.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Book Thief

It is 12:10 a.m. I have to be up in less than 5 hours.

I could have been asleep at 10:30, but I was reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

The best books are the ones that you keep reading. Even though you should be working, even though you should be paying attention to other things. Even though you should be sleeping.

The Book Thief is a very good book.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Interesting Thoughts on Writing from Other Authors... And Life Getting in the Way of My Art. Again. Dammit.

It has been one of those years, and we're not even 1/4 of the way through. I should be working hard on marketing Cold Magics right now. Looking for events and booking interviews, trying to capture the ever elusive market share by pressing the flesh and pushing out the social media. So what am I doing?


For a mid-term. In Communicating Financial Information.

Now, don't get me wrong, this is a good course, taught by an excellent teacher, with good information. Unfortunately, the timing is lousy. My course runs until the end of March. And that plus little things going on in my life (like selling our house) are really putting a damper on my marketing plans. Most aggravating.

But enough of my whining for the moment.

Over at his journal Neil Gaiman posted links to two articles from The Guardian:

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, Part 1 and Part 2.

Both are insightful, thoughtful, and give you some ideas of how writers who make their living at it think about their craft. Good reading.

And now, I must put my mind around my studies. Again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interview with Irreverent Muse

Just got finished an interview with Michell Plested from Irreverent Muse. Michell is an amateur writer and a podcaster who talks to authors about the publishing journey. We took some time to talk about Small Magics and Cold Magics, which will be coming out in April, and what makes writing so much fun.

I'm slightly worried about this one because I only managed to get about 3 hours of sleep last night and despite two coffees and a Coke, I'm afraid I may have been slightly loopy by the time I started this interview. Hopefully, it'll be funny. Fortunately, Michell is a gracious host and put up with my ramblings.

When I have the link to my actual show I will put it up. Meanwhile, do check out Irreverent Muse and see who else he's had a chat with.

EDIT: Fixed the links to Irreverent Muse. Hat Tip to "Desk Boy" on Facebook, who noticed and told me.

And yes, you can follow this blog on facebook by joining the Erik Buchanan Page.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's a book!

It really, really is:

Now that is a happy-making sight. We've got the book out to the first batch of reviewers, and will be doing more later this week. The promotional plan is getting underway, and I'm trying to organize myself around it.

It's very, very exciting!

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