November 21, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING?

 A couple of weeks ago my friend the mystery writer Vicki Delany invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Series, which would involve my answering a set of questions. Unlike most writers, who are shy, and reserved, and shun the spotlight, I love to talk about myself and my work, so I was happy to jump in.

You’ll find Vicki’s blog post for the series at http://klondikeandtrafalgar.blogspot.com If you haven’t read any of Vicki’s work, I particularly recommend her Constable Molly Smith books, police procedurals with a Canadian twist.

And now, to me.

What is the working title of your book?

What I’m working on right now is the first volume of a two-book series. The working title for the series is Halls of Law. We’re still kicking around the title for the first book. I’d tell you some of the rejects, but that would be too embarrassing.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I’m a big crime show fan, so I started wondering what a CSI program would be like if the CSIs were psychics. What would their lives be like? How would people know they could be trusted? That made me think of the Brother Cadfael books; what if the psychics lived in a kind of monastery set up? At first I thought this could be a series of crime stories with a fantasy twist, but I realized the cases would be solved pretty quickly, so I put the idea aside for a while. Then I started to think about what kind of problems such a group might have, and that led me to shift the story to an epic fantasy setting.

What genre does your book fall under?

I guess I’ve already given away that it’s epic fantasy. Which makes it a Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones type of thing, rather than a True Blood/Harry Potter type of thing.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

This is the first time I can’t actually answer this question. I often think of actors when I’m deciding what my characters should look like, but this time I used family members and, believe it or not, other fictional characters. Tel Cursar, the young male lead, for example, I imagined as a young Travis McGee, as John D. MacDonald describes him.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?

Kerida Nast, a psychic in training, is forced to run for her life when her country is invaded by people who think psychics are witches and must be exterminated.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My publisher is DAW Books (http://www.dawbooks.com), and my agent is Joshua Bilmes of the JABberwocky Literary agency (http://www/awfulagent.com)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The idea’s been kicking around for quite a while, as you know from what I’ve already said. I’m still writing the first draft, but I expect it to be done by the end of the month, so altogether it’s been about eight months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Now this is tricky, considering that we’re talking about a fantasy novel that was inspired by a crime show. The closest I can think of is Barbara Hambly’s early work The Darwath Trilogy, and its later follow-ups Mother of  Winter and Icefalcon’s Quest; and for something more recent, Robin Hobbs Farseer Trilogy, and its follow-up, the Tawny Man Trilogy.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Did I leave anything out of my CSI explanation?

What else about your book might pique the interest of readers?

Let’s see. One of the books I used for research was The Complete Roman Army, by Adrian Goldsworthy. My friend Paul Weimer recommended it to me, and it proved to be just the thing for helping me set up my socio-political structure. The only other thing I can think of is that the books will be coming out under a pseudonym, V.M. Escalada. They’re a bit of a departure for me, as the characters are younger than I usually write about, so my publisher is going to do a different kind of marketing thing for them. Though I suppose it’s actually a little misleading to call it a pseudonym, as Violette Malan Escalada is my legal name in Spain, where everyone has two last names.  

And now for some recommendations, personally selected by me. Here are five authors who’ll be participating in the Next Big Thing Blog Series next week. So far I’ve only mentioned crime writers (okay, one living and one dead), and now’s the time for fantasy writers. Check them out, you won’t be sorry.

Alex Bledsoe                          http://www.alexbledsoe.com

Elaine Cunningham                 http://www.elainecunningham.com

John R. Fultz                           http://www.johnrfultz.wordpress.com

Dave Gross                             http://www.frabjousdave.blogspot.com

Howard Andrew Jones           http://www.howardandrewjones.com

 

 

I have a PhD in 18th-century English literature. Most people don’t care (hell, most of the time, I don’t care), but those who do invariably ask me why I write fantasy novels. The implication, as you might guess, is that I should be writing something more important, or more literary, or more “real”. I used to fob these people off with some answer designed to appease them (and change the subject). Now I’m more likely to tell them the real reason:

Genre fiction in general, and fantasy literature in particular, is the only contemporary literature in which characters can act honourably, without irony. Maybe they aren’t nice people, maybe they aren’t even good people – they’re certainly loaded down with flaws just like the rest of us. But they are honourable people. Even if they don’t think so themselves.

Of course, I became aware of this over the course of time, both that it was true of fantasy literature, and that the concept, as a concept, was important to me. But my first inkling of it came in my early teens when my brother gave me Warlocks and Warriors for my birthday. It’s subtitled “An anthology of heroic fantasy” and was edited and introduced by L. Sprague de Camp. (BTW, my memory is that my brother stole this book from the library, he maintains he did no such thing; I maintain my version makes a better story) . There were three stories from this anthology that in particular intrigued, and even frightened me, hanging in the back of my mind to this day: “Black God’s Kiss”, by C.L. Moore, “The Bells of Shoredan”, by Roger Zelazny, and above all, “Thieves House”, by Fritz Leiber.

From these stories I learned that heroes didn’t have to be royal; that the endings were sometimes ambiguous, when it came to that happiness stuff. And in particular I learned these three things: That when your friends are in trouble you go back for them; that you hold by your code no matter what, even if that code causes you a lot of trouble. Oh yeah, and payback is a bitch.

These three stories also gave me my models for sword and sorcery heroes, Jirel of Joiry (a woman!), Dilvish the Damned (someone no longer exactly human), and, most significantly, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (comrades, partners).

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sword and sorcery stories, as written by Leiber, Moore, Kuttner, de Camp, et al, were appearing in print at pretty much the same time as stories by people like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. In both we have protagonists (certainly not heroes in the classical sense) who inhabit places dangerous and dark, and who yet know how things operate, how to get by – and how to behave. The society around them is corrupt and cynical – hell, they might be a bit corrupt and a bit cynical themselves. So, they’re not heroes, but they are heroic, by the standards of their own worlds.

Although it might be hard to imagine, the worlds inhabited by today’s sword and sorcery protagonists tend to be even more dark, and still more dangerous, than the worlds of my three classic favourites. But luckily for me – and for the stories I want to tell – the protagonists are still my kind of guys. Like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, like Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, they’re honourable people.

Web Log

October 12, 2012

Saturday, October 12th.

I’m revamping my website a bit. I’m now using this space for observations on writing in general, and on writing fantasy in particular. I’ll still be giving you personal news, but you’ll find that in the page “Personal News and Notes”. (Look right). I’ll be giving you more World Con observations and photos there soon.

Friday 7 September, 2012

Fan Expo and World Con, or, How to drive Violette insane

As of the 5th of September, I’d spent ten of the previous fourteen days in hotels, and there you pretty much have the secret of driving me crazy. Not that it isn’t fun to have someone clean up your room for you everyday, or to eat out for every meal, but I find I start missing my home pretty quickly.  And the food I prepare for myself. And how much less it costs me. If it wasn’t that I get to hang out with some pretty terrific people, I wouldn’t leave the house at all.

This is what I’m going to say about the hotels we stayed in. The Hyatt Regency in Chicago, where we stayed for World Con, is a beautiful place. I would have been much impressed by it – if I hadn’t stayed in the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto first. Very few hotel experiences can out-do the Royal York.

This was my second year at Fan Expo and things were a little different for us authors. Instead of being set up in the Dealers Room as we were last year, we had beautiful long tables out in the concourse. It was great to see Nancy Kilpatrick again, and Karen Dales. Joining us on our side of the tables were Stephen Pearl, JM Frey, Adrienne Kress, and Lesley Livingston. At our backs were the same voice actors we’d shared space with last year, so everything was old-home and cosy. As you can imagine, there was a terrific amount of traffic flowing past our tables, but unfortunately, not the kind of traffic we could really take advantage of. Most of them were people looking to get from point A to point B – not people looking to meet authors and buy books.

Still, there are advantages to being out in the midst of the fray, and one of them is that you get to see the people that everyone else is there to see – at least while they’re being shepherded past your table. We had the Delorean from Back to the Future right next to us, so we got to see Christopher Lloyd several times, along with catching sight of Stan Lee, James Marsters, Amanda Tapping, and John Barrowman. The highlight for us, however was early Saturday morning when John Rhys Davies came by our tables before the day started to talk to us – tremendously impressing Karen Dales’ son Gwyn when she introduced him, “Gwyn, this is Gimli.”

John Rhys Davies signing his “Gimli” photo

What was even more impressive, however, was that Mr. Rhys Davies came back again the next morning with a photo of himself in costume as Gimli, to sign for Gwyn. This is the kind of gesture – the thoughtfulness and kindness – that should stand as a model of behaviour for us all.

Oh, and I got interviewed by City TV. They didn’t end up using it, but I’ve got photographic proof that it happened.

Proof!

My World Con report will have to wait. I’ve got to run into Kingston to do a promo for the Kingston Writers Festival.

Monday 20 August, 2012

Yes, I survived the weekend of book signings in Toronto.  Thanks and huge hugs to everyone who came out. I still have a pile of things coming up however, not the least of which is Fan Expo, which starts this Thursday, August 26th, at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto.  This is Toronto’s version of ComicCon — in other words, 4 days of mayhem, costuming, autographs, dealers, panels, photo sessions . . . and did I mention mayhem? I’ll be at a table in writers’ row, and I’d love to see you there.

Right after Fan Expo I’ll be off to World Con in Chicago. Here’s my WORLD CON SCHEDULE for those of you who’ll be there:

Thursday, August 30th, 4:30pm The Hunger Games in the Classroom

Friday, August 31st, 10:30am, The Basics of Character Building

Friday, August 31st, 1:30pm, Autograph Session

Sunday, September 2nd, 9:00am, Teaching SF: Focus on Educators (that’s why we’re on at 9am, I guess)

Sunday, September 2nd, 5:00pm, Reading

Monday, September 3rd, 9:00 am, Urban Fantasy isn’t Just for Women

Monday, September. 3rd, 1:30pm, Kaffeeklatsche

Tuesday 7 August, 2012

Good morning everyone! This is release day for SHADOWLANDS, which means that even though you may have seen it on bookstore shelves, or on Amazon, before today, technically you didn’t. See it that is. But you are seeing it today, right?

Yesterday was the last day of my ten-day giveaway, and I want to thank everyone who participated. This draw is over, but keep your eyes peeled for my next First Friday Freebee, which will come up on September 7th.

Day Ten’s winner was Rosemary Herrick, and Fred Kiesche is the winner of the Retweeter’s Draw

Monday 6 August, 2012

And a happy Civic Holiday, or whatever we call it these days, to people in Canada. I think we just call it the “August long weekend”, don’t we?

In any case, we’ve reached the final day of my ten-day giveaway. Today is the last day to win a free, signed copy of SHADOWLANDS for your very own, as tomorrow is the official release date. Some people have told me that they’ve seen the book on shelves already, but since stores aren’t allowed to put them out until tomorrow, those people must be mistaken, right? Because we wouldn’t want any bookstore to get into trouble. Right? I thought so.

I’ve heard from wonderful people during the past ten days, and I only wish I had enough copies to have sent one to each and every one of you.  I’ve had questions for fans of The Mirror Prince, questions for fans of Dhulyn and Parno, and even a draw for people who have never read one of my books.  Today I’m opening up this final opportunity to everyone, readers or non-readers. There’s no hoop to hop through, just email me, message me, or DM with your wish to enter, and your name goes into the hat. (For those of you who know me, it’s a new one you haven’t seen yet).

As usual, if you’ve won a book already, you can’t win another. If you retweet or share the announcement, your name goes into a separate draw, which I’ll announce tomorrow.

Day Nine’s winner was Gayle Crowder.

Sunday 5 August, 2012

A nice, cool morning, with threats of thunder storms. Just the way I like them. And it’s Day Nine of the Ten-Day Giveaway. Today and tomorrow, those are your chances to win a free, signed copy of SHADOWLANDS. You know the drill, answer the question below, and enter today’s draw. You can enter again tomorrow, but only if you haven’t won already (and you know tomorrow’s answer).  Email me, message me on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter with your answers. People who retweet or share also go into a special draw of their own. (So if you don’t know the answer, you know what to do). Here’s today’s question:

For readers of Dhulyn and Parno:  What is the Path of the Sun?

Day 8’s winner is Becky Cunningham

Saturday 4 August, 2012

Day 8! There’s only a few more chances for you to win your free, signed, copy of SHADOWLANDS. Tuesday is the release day, and the draws will be over. Let me review: answer the question below and you’ll be entered in the draw. You can enter as many times as you know the asnswerst to the questions, but you can only win once. People who retweet the announcements, or who share them on Facebook will also be entered in a separate draw just for them. Two chances to win! Email me, message me, or DM me with your answers. Here’s today’s question:

For readers of Dhulyn and Parno: What’s the name of the poem Dhulyn recites, and the play Edmir writes, in The Soldier King? (hint: don’t overthink)

The winner of Day 7’s draw:  Harriet van Bavel

Friday, 3 August, 2012

Here we go with Day Seven of the Ten-Day SHADOWLANDS giveaway. It couldn’t be simpler. You answer the question below, and you’re entered in the draw for a free, signed, book. You can enter every day, but you can only win once. People who retweet the announcement, or share it on Facebook, get entered into a separate draw, just for them. Email me, message me, or DM me. Here’s today’s question:

For readers of The Mirror Prince: What is the name of Cassandra’s sister?

Day Six’s winner was Emily Stott.

Thursday, 2 August, 2012

Wow. Okay, here we are on Day Six of the Ten-Day Giveaway. You remember how it works, right? You answer a question, and you go into a draw for a free copy of SHADOWLANDS. You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win once. People who retweet the announcements, or who share them on Facebook, go into a special draw, that I’ll do once the ten days are over.  Email me, message me, or DM me. Here’s today’s question:

For readers of The Mirror Prince: Name one of the Talismans

The winner of Day Five’s draw was Sarah Patterson.

Wednesday, 1 August, 2012

Here’s Day Five, so we’re half way through the ten-day giveaway for SHADOWLANDS, and today I’m doing something a little different. Today’s draw will be for people who haven’t previouslly read any of my books — that’s right, you heard me.  Let’s give some strangers a chance. Encourage your friends to enter and who knows, maybe they’ll lend you the book when they win. Remember, email me, message me on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter. People who retweet go into a separate, special draw of their own, to be chosen at the end of the ten days.

So, for people who haven’t read any of my books before, describe one of my book covers (ahem, look left).

The winner of Day Four’s draw was KW Ramsey.

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012

Yes! Day Four of the SHADOWLANDS ten-day giveaway.  Remember how it works? Answer the question correctly and you go into a draw for a free, signed copy of Shadowlands. You may even get yours before the release date. You can only win once, but there’s no limit to the number of times you can enter. If you retweet the announcement, you go into a special, separate draw.

Today’s question is for followers of Dhulyn and Parno:  What are the Marks?

Congratulations to Day Three winner, Katinka Balthazar.

Please note, I’m getting so many entries that I’m going to stop letting people know they didn’t win. If you don’t hear from me, try again, and good luck.

Monday, 30 July, 2012

Day three of the SHADOWLANDS ten-day giveaway. Answer the question correctly and you go into a draw for a free, signed copy of Shadowlands. A new draw every day! Just email me, message me on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter. Remember, if you retweet me, you go into a separate, extra draw. Here’s today’s question:

For readers of the Dhulyn and Parno stories:  What is a Mercenary Badge?

FYI: Saturday”s winner was Nick Zinn, Sunday’s winner was Chantelle Wilson

Sunday, 29 July, 2012

Okay, here’s day two of the Ten-Day Giveaway!. Win a free, signed copy of Shadowlands. Today’s question is still for readers of The Mirror Prince, but keep looking, every day there’ll be a different target. You can only win once, but there’s no limit to entries.

For people who know The Mirror Prince: What human city do Max and Casssandra in?

Saturday, 28 July, 2012

Here it begins, the ten-day countdown to the release of Shadowlands. Everyday, for the next 10 days, I’m going to give away one free, signed copy of the book. Everyday there’s going to be a new hoop to jump through, to be eligible for the freebee. Some of these are aimed at people who have read The Mirror Prince, others will be aimed at fans of the Dhulyn and Parno series. Still others will be for people who haven’t previously read one of my books.  Email me, send me a message on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter.  Are you ready? Here’s today’s hoop.

For people who know The Mirror Prince: What did Max find at the Tarn of Souls?

Friday, 6 July, 2012

Welcome to the July version of First Friday Freebees. This is your chance to get a signed copy of one of my books for FREE! This month I’m taking entries all day, until midnight EST. Tomorrow I’ll close my eyes and pick out three lucky winners. So email me, send me a message on Facebook, or DM me on Twitter.

If you already have all of my books, please pass this message along to someone who hasn’t.  Thanks and good luck!

Wednesday, 4 July, 2012

First, a happy Independence Day to all my US friends and colleagues.

Second, as most of you already know, Shadowlands will be released in August, and that means book signings! Have a look at my new Appearances page to find out where I’ll be.

Thursday, 21 June, 2012

Longest day of the year here we come! Do you think you’ll get more done today than yesterday? Or is your life ruled more by the clock and less by the sun?

I don’t know either, but today I’m giving you the second installment of my Choreography  for Strippers memoir, you’ll find it tucked coyly away in my Weblog page, so as not to shock casual passersby.

Hope you enjoy!

First Friday Freebees, 1 June, 2012

Not only the first Friday, but Friday the 1st!  And that means it’s time for a book give-away. This month the first three people who contact me, via email, Facebook or Twitter can choose one of my books for FREE!  For those of you who are planning to buy Shadowlands in August, I still have a couple of The Mirror Prince available in trade paper format — just in case you’d like your books to match.  Don’t wait, contact me now!!

And as usual, those of you who already have my books, please let your friends know about this opportunity.

Choreography for Strippers? Really? 18 May, 2012

The element of my bio that I get asked about the most is how I got involved teaching choreography to strippers. Believe it or not, nowhere near as many people want to ask me about 18-th century English literature, or beginner’s Spanish. I’ve told a short version of the story often enough, but people have expressed interest in more details, and there are many of you out there who aren’t likely to be able to ask me in person, so here we go.

Because of the delicate nature of some of what I’m going to discuss, I’m not doing it right here in the open. Click on my weblog for more.

It’s First Friday! May 5th, 2012

And we all know what that means! Yes, it’s your chance to win one of my books, for free, gratis, nada. I even have a few of The Mirror Prince left, for those of you who’d like to get an advance look at the world of Shadowlands, before it comes out in August.

Here’s what you have to do:  contact me. Send me an email. Or a DM on Twitter, if we’re follwoing each other. Or a Message on Facebook. This month, I’m going to collect all entries until midnight my time (EST), and tomorrow I’ll pick out the 3 prize winers. So go!

Remember: if you already have my books, pass along this opportunity to a friend. If you’d like signed bookplates for the books you have, let me know.

Freebees won! April 11th, 2012

I know this is a bit late to let you know who won last Friday’s free copies of The Mirror Prince, but you’ll remember we’ve had Easter weekend, with all its imcumbent fanfare and chocolate-eating. So here are the winners, a bit belatedly. I did something a little different this month, in that I had more than the usual three winners. There were special circumstances, however. Here we go:

Tammy Chevarie of Kingston, Ontario was the first person to contact me, and she gets a book for her son Zack. However, I decided not to count her as one of the three winners, since we’re old colleagues, and she and Zack come to all my book launches. So that made Rosemary Herrick of Lansdowne Pennsylvania, my first official winner. Susan Smit, of Arlington Texas, and Nickolas Zinn, of Franklin Virginia, were the next to reach me, and I was all ready to cut off the contest right there, but before I could do it, I was got an email from Elizabeth Moon.

Yes, that’s right. The author the Paksenarion novels, and the Vatta’s War books, that Elizabeth Moon. Was I thrilled that she wanted one of my books? Of course I was. Was I going to make an exception for her? Well, she is the 3rd person from Texas to win one of my freebees, so, of course I was. Besides, like Tammy, Elizabeth is a friend of mine (we have the same agent), and I would have been happy to send her whatever book she wanted, any time.

So that’s it for April. Those of you who missed this month, keep a look out for the first Friday in May, and good luck.

First Friday Freebees! April 6th, 2012

Welcome to First Friday Freebees, and Happy Easter everyone. Or, as we say around our house, Hooray! It’s Chocolate Day!

Since The Shadowlands has gone to the publisher (click on “Sneak Peek” above for a look at the cover and the first chapter), I’d like to give away some copies of the prequel, The Mirror Prince. So the first three people who contact me, either DM me on Twitter, message me on Facebook, or email me directly, will get a free, authographed copy mailed right to their door. Or, the door of someone they love. And please, if you have a copy already, would you re-tweet, or share the information for me? Thanks.

And remember, if you have copies of my books, but don’t have them signed, I’d love to mail you some signed bookplates, just contact me!

Great News  March 26th, 2012

Just wanted to let everyone know that the final version of The Shadowlands was handed  in last Friday, March 23rd. When I say “handed”, of course I mean sent electronically. I don’t have the completed cover yet, but I’m waiting for the okay to post the art work that I do have. Fingers crossed, everyone, for that August release date.

Wooo Hoooo!

First Friday Freebees! March 2nd, 2012

Yes, it’s time for my First Friday book give-away. This month is for my CANADIAN readers only. The first three people who contact me, via email, Facebook, or Twitter, will receive the book of their choice, signed and for free! And remember, these are the trade paper-sized books (unless, of course, you’d like the mass market size, I can do that too).

If you already have all of my books, please pass this message along, retweet it, share it on Facebook. GO!

Podcast Day! February 27th, 2012

Everything you wanted to know about contemporary Sword and Sorcery, with James L. Sutter, Lou Anders, Scott H. Andrews, Patrick Hester and Jaym Gates: www.sfsignalcom/?p=50973

A blog post on my podcast experience, February 23rd, 2012

Had the opportunity to join some real experts on a sword and sorcery podcast last night. Click on my Web Log  to read about my experience.

Belated First Friday: Saturday Februrary 4th, 2012

I was unexpectedly away from any internet connection yesterday, so I missed my First Friday Freebee announcement. Don’t despair, because here it is, a day late:

This month is for my US readers only. The first three people who contact me from the United States will get one of my books free (their choice). Message me on Facebook, DM me on Twitter, or email me directly. If you already have my books, pass along this offer to others. GO!

Readings, February 1st, 2012

What to know what makes a good reading? Check out my Weblog.

I’m hearing from my First Friday Freebee winners. So far Robyn and Rick have received their books. Does anyone else thing it’s ironic that the post office is taking longer to deliver within its own country?

ConNotes, January 25th, 2012

I’ve got quite a lot to say about Epic Confusion, so check out my Weblog.

Epic Confusion, Troy Michigan, January 20th -23rd

Please check my Conferences page for this weekend’s schedule.

January 7th, 2012

Winner’s of January’s Friday Freebees:

Sorry this took so long, but when you ask for submissions from overseas, you actually have to give them a chance to contact you. Here are this month’s winners: Ricky Lester, of Michigan, is the US winner, Dara Wright, of Nova Scotia the CND, and Robyn Gibbings of Australia from overseas. Congratulations to all three of you, and better luck next time for everyone else!

Signed Book Plates

You may also want to contact me and let me know if you’d like signed book plates for books of mine you already have. It’s nowhere near as nice as getting to meet you in person at a con or a signing, but it’s the next best thing.

Cheers, everybody.

And it’s First Friday Freebee Time! January 6, 2012

It’s the first Friday of 2012, as well as the first Friday of the month, so it’s freebee time! I’ll send one of my books free (their choice) to the first three people who contact me. This month, I want to hear from one Canadian, one American, and one person from overseas. Email me, DM me on Twitter, or Message me on Facebook. If you have my books already, pass this along to someone else. GO!

ChiSeries – Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I’m very pleased to announce that 2012 is beginning brilliantly for me with an invitation to take part in the Chizine Reading Series, along with Douglas Smith and Shari Lapeña.

The event takes place Wednesday, January 11th, 2012, from 8:00pm to 11:00pm at 152A Augusta Avenue in Toronto. I hope that lots of you can make it, I’d love to see you there.

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

 Christmas Season

The fantastic thing about this time of year is how incredibly busy I am – much more so than usual —  yet somehow I don’t seem to mind it. That’s real Christmas magic.

I’m lucky this year because the latest draft of The Shadowlands is finished, so I don’t have to be working on that while I make all the lists (who, what, when and where) and check them twice. (Say, does that make me Santa Claus?) There’s not a lot of shopping to be done – we’re pretty well all adults in our family so we trade goodies of one kind or another, usually edible. It does mean a lot of looking up recipes, trying out new ones, baking, candy making, mixing, jarring, etc. but again, since the book is (at least for the moment) finished, I actually have time to enjoy doing that without feeling too rushed.

One of the things that we really like about this season is the wonderful excuse it gives for getting together with people. For us that started a couple of weeks ago with our Paella Party, continued while we were inTorontofor SFContario (see my Weblog for highlights) and it’ll go on for the next six weeks or so.  Any minute now we’ll be looking forward to February, so we can relax a bit.

Just so you know, I’ll likely be doing at least one more draft of Shadowlands before I hand it in for the January deadline. At that point my editorSheila Gilbertat DAW will read it (again) and suggest final tweaking. I’ve seen the cover art, by the way, but I can’t show it to you yet – I have to wait until it’s an actual cover, and not just the art.

In case I don’t see you, os deseo una  Feliz Navidad, y un Prospero Año Nuevo.

Monday, November 14th, 2001

I look at the date and I shudder. I can’t believe it’s been  over two months since I last updated this website.  Of course I’ve been busy with non-writing  obligations (everything from the garden is now frozen or canned) as well as writing-related  excursions (Word on the Street in Toronto,  Natural Resources Canada Art Show and Sale in Ottawa, ConCept in Montreal).  And did I mention the Paella Party? This is something Paul and I do every year  (16 years and counting) where we invite everyone we can think of and serve 3  different kinds of paella (one vegetarian), and a different selection of tapas  (though some, like the garlic potatoes are perennial favourites). Some people
come early to help (thanks Barb) some people travel a distance and stay over  night (thanks to Rick Blechta for
bring his telescope; moons of Jupiter anyone?). It goes by in a bit of a whirl  for us, but judging by the results (hardly any leftovers, dang nab it) and the  responses we get from our (possibly drunken but not driving) friends, we think
everyone has a good time.

The Shadowlands is coming along well, though the revisions  are taking longer than I had anticipated – as usual, I’m afraid. Problem is  that I keep coming up with nifty, clever, or frightening things that will  improve the story, so I have to keep  making more tweaks and changes. With luck I’ll be sending the ms. off to  my agent and editor by the end of the month.

Next up is SFContario, this coming weekend in Toronto. If you’re  planning to be there yourself, have a look at the Conference page for my  schedule. It would be great to see you.

I’m having a bit of rant in my Weblog this time around. If  you’d like to indulge me, have a look.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I can’t believe it’s almost two weeks ago and I still haven’t told you about Fan Expo. Check out my Weblog for all the details.

So why has all this time gone by since you last heard from me? Besides 5 days in Toronto, I mean? This is always a crazy time of year around our house. I’m always writing, of course, that’s my full time occupation,  but starting in April and going right through until October I’ve got the major distraction of the garden. A long time ago I decided that if I couldn’t eat it, I couldn’t spare the time to grow it, so when I say gardening, don’t think of flowers, think of tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, broccoli, eggplants, green peppers, basil, parsley, and probably a couple of other things I’ve forgotten about just at the moment.

Once the plants and seeds are in, maintenance doesn’t take more than about an hour a day. Until the end of August, when everything starts to ripen. That’s when the extra freezer gets turns on, and the canning equipment comes out. Between one or the other, about half of our food for the next year is put away in the form of soups, sauces, and jars of tomatoes, ready for whatever I’ll need them for in the coming year. This year was a good one for peppers, so I got Paul’s aunt Ard’s pickled pepper recipe from her (she got it from her Romanian mother-in-law before any of us were born) and put up 5 jars. I’ll let you know how they came out.

What else have I got going on?  This past weekend my own in-laws, Don and Marj Musselman celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Then on Saturday the 17th I host the Authors Room at the Lyndhurst Turkey Fair – yes, I live in the country. Then on Sunday, the 25th, it’s back to Toronto for Word on the Street at Queen’s Park. Wish me and all the other participants good weather!

**

I’ve got a couple of great things happening in the next little while. Next weekend, Saturday August 13th, is Scene of the Crime, the mystery-writing festival I help to organize every year. This year we’re giving the Grant Allen Award to Maureen Jennings, and our other guests are RJ Harlick, Elizabeth Duncan, CB Forrest, and Howard Shrier. You can check out the website, www.sceneofthecrime.ca for details if you’re interested, though I’ll warn you that only walk-on registrations are available now, at $50 for the whole day’s events.

What might be of greater interest for you F and SF fans, however, is that I’m going to be at FAN EXPO in Toronto, August 25th to 28th. Fan Expo is the Canadian equivalent of Comic Con, and I’ll not only be on a panel, FANTASY WORLDS AND HOW TO GET THERE, but I’ll have a table where you can buy my books, and get a signature at the same time. The whole thing should be just crazy mad fun. And while we’re talking crazy mad fun, check out my Weblog for what I did at Polaris.