Monthly Archives: August 2010

Writing: Rumors of Chizine’s Demise

Are indeed greatly exaggerated and completely untrue. Chizine, or Chiaroscuro the online magazine of dark fiction/poetry is not defunct nor has come even close to this state. As an assistant poetry editor, I am in the know and kept in the loop. Chizine was a viable entity before it was sponsored by Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books and continues to be so. The magazine is no longer sponsored by this company, which has been hit with low sales and is dropping their paperback line. What happens to Leisure really has nothing to do with Chizine.

While Chizine did enjoy sponsorship and some joint projects such as the “Fresh Blood” contest  (which Chizine Publications [CZP] will publish the winner’s novel in limited, signed, hardcover edition as previously planned) they were never owned by Leisure Books. As well Chizine Publications is a completely separate aspect, and CZP publishes limited edition books. CZP was never sponsored by Leisure/Dorchester and is the brainchild of Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi.

Full announcements can be found on our sites: and Chizine has a pretty big slush pile at the moment and is closed to poetry submissions, but fiction submissions are still open. Pay rates are $10 USD per poem and .07 cents per word for fiction to 4,000 words. An aside: I can’t fathom why someone would go through the process of submitting and when we say we like it but would like you to work a bit more on it, never bother to respond back. It’s a competitive world out there in the speculative fiction field and not that easy to get published and paid for it. I certainly would work on the piece if an editor asked me to.

Feel free to check out this Bram Stoker Award winning magazine, or look at the submission guidelines for book manuscripts. And know that Chizine and CZP is running strong.


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What Makes a Word a Word?

Oxford University Press, the supposed authority on the English language has recently been updating the dictionary. Every living language evolves, with slang as well as words falling in or out of favor, and meanings changing. I would think though that instead of regional (or these days, media generated) changes that are as popular as long as a show or fad lasts, the words would have staying power.

But Oxford claims they very much research these words. Their criteria are listed on their site. The word has to be used by more than one person and be in use for a certain period of time. They say that words or definitions are added when “people are using them unselfconsciously, and expecting them to be understood.” The word must appear in print at least five times, which when you think of a review of a show or movie, can give that word staying power rather quickly. In our world-wide web, that doesn’t seem to be a very high criterion at all. Only five times to gain the immortality of the dictionary?

Now when you consider the English language it’s been evolving for a very long time. Spelling was definitely not codified even in Shakespeare’s time, partly because it was still only the elite classes who could read and write. But people wrote it how they liked. The first English dictionary is credited to Robert Cawdrey’s A Table Alphabeticall published in 1604. He listed the words, with definitions. Before then there were lists of words, sometimes to try to control their spelling but not with definitions attached. Yet, the change in words was slow, because few people traveled and then by horse and carriage or by foot.

Along came faster transportation by train and then car and planes. These modes helped to also transport the language and various usages to a larger geography and population.  Then came the interweb (one of the newly added words) and suddenly words from all over the world were more accessible, through blogs, books, websites, reviews–information and entertainment sites of all types and styles.

Oxford says it used to be that a word had to be used over a period of two or three years, but now in the digital age this time period has shortened because a word can attain enormous currency rather quickly. Well, yes it can. I’m surprised that they looked at words that were around for only two or three years. That doesn’t seem to be enough time for a word to have staying power, and now less time is needed? I never heard of chillax (to calm down and relax, which when you think of it is about the same thing) or bromance (a close but nonsexual relationship between two men–I thought that was called friendship) until last week when the news announced Oxford’s newest additions to the language.

Now, sure these words are used by some. I don’t watch TV sitcoms or comedy shows so maybe I’m the equivalent of living in a small town far from London in the Middle Ages, and I don’t hear the new lexicon. But I just think that some words should be a bit more permanent. Okay, I know. The language changes. No words are necessarily permanent but to add the latest fad or cool word that might only be used for the season of a show and then fall out of everyone’s vocabulary, well it just seems too temporary. Will bromance and favicon even be around in a year. Playing Scrabble is going to be a lot easier and harder. You’ll need a new dictionary every year to play the game if you’re play one of those new hot words that everyone’s using but no one’s heard of.  But hey, you can make up words more and they may actually be right.

I have heard of and used turducken, tiki torch and steampunk, all new words in the dictionary. But then tiki torch has been around a long time and steampunk at least for ten years. (Hey WordPress, why are these words being highlighted as misspellings?) Maybe Oxford can start different lines of dictionaries. The could have the New Oxford Dictionary of Temporary But Utterly Cool Words, and the Oxford Dictionary of Words We Will Understand in Ten Years. But then, it’s not an easy job picking and choosing and the English language is rife with changes and additions. I think a job like this could be fun, but I wonder if there would be huge arguments such as  whether staycation is a real word or just a passing phase.

Evolution of the language is speeding up, which means in ten years you may not be able to understand what your neighbor’s saying, even if you do now. So perhaps I’ll just go the WordPress “favicon,” check my “hashtag” at the door and “tweetup” with an “ampelographer” for a drink later if we can avoid the “attack dog.”

Oxford Press Site

A Table Alphabeticall

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Writing News For August

In the last two months several of my pieces have finally been published. In a way, this is delayed reaction because the pieces were “bought” a long time before this. However, sometimes publishers have a long lead time to publication and other times as in the case of both poems published there are other issues, such as computer meltdowns.

In March, my story “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” came out in Evolve, an anthology published by Edge publishing. Any review is better than none, as far as I’m concerned and the comments on my story have been good overall. A reading is scheduled for Sept. 27th at the Vancouver public library and there will be more details as soon as I learn them.

Country Connection, published by Pinecone carried my poem “Bones of the Earth” in issue #60. It came out in July. My poem, “Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” just came out in Witches & Pagans #21, by BBI Media. The magazine deals with neopaganism and this particular issue deals with gardening. The poem itself is one of my Greek revisioning poems. There are many different poetry markets and I’ll send  my poetry or fiction to any market that will pay me.

Also, “A Taste for Treasure” came out last month in Alison’s Wonderland, an erotic fairy tale anthology through Harlequin Spice. This tale is based on one of the more obscure Grimm’s tales of which there are many. So overall, it’s been a pretty good summer for me. White Dwarf, our local speculative bookstore (and the only surviving one) reports that the book is selling quite well and even men are buying it because the cover is not too gooey romantic. That’s good news.

I still have “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” to come from Cutting Block Press, and I’ve just resold my story “Lover’s Triangle” to New Vampire Tales, which will be published by Books of the Dead Press. It’s a reprint anthology and this story, my second ever sold, will be seeing its third reprint. Not bad for one story.

In the meantime, I’ve finished my draft of my Mary Magdalene story which is going through a title change. I now have the second draft to do after getting comments from a couple or readers. It shouldn’t take a lot to make the changes, polish it up a bit and then send it out on the submission wheel. I have big hopes for the story but sometimes the stories I love the best are the ones I never seem to be able to sell.

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Writing: Ray Bradbury, Sexy

Once upon a time I was a child reading whatever I could get my hands on. I did the classic flashlight-under-the-covers thing (now it would be a laptop) and read read read. Nancy Drew, Norse myths, fairy tales, you name it. My mother’s fiction books and eventually my brother’s books, which were Heinlein, Clarke, Herbert. But I was also reading Edgar Allan Poe.

ComicCon, San Diego, photo by Sophia Quach

At least I tell myself this but I wonder now how many stories I actually read of Poe’s. I think it might have only been a few but they resonated so strongly that the imagery of the words stuck in my head. At ten I was reading many of these books. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, as well as The Dosadi Experiment and The Green Brain by Frank Herbert. Ray Bradbury (pictured left) was a short story man in many ways and I read the collection called The Illustrated Man when I was about 12. It had creepy stories and I remember them keenly. Even if I didn’t remember the story I remembered the feeling and I have to say that the atmosphere was so strong that probably Bradbury influenced my writing in way that Herbert and Heinlein did not. I read them. They did SF, and showed future worlds and places. But it was Bradbury who dug into the psyche of people. His stories were never quite horror, though often horrific.

Many of his stories were made into movies or TV shows and in the era of The Twilight Zone (which consequently had many of the young up and coming actors in the shows), his style fit right in. In fact several of his stories were made into The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The (New) Twilight Zone episodes. As well, there was a Ray Bradbury Presents TV show with numerous episodes. To say the man is prolific is an understatement.

Two of his most lyrical titles are I Sing the Body Electric (I love that, and think it one of the best titles of all time) and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I have not read these but they were both made into movies, which I did see. As well, Fahrenheit 451 was probably one of his most famous books and movies. He is considered one of the great minds in American literature and has written several stories under every letter of the alphabet. And at the ripe age of 90, the man is still writing. The following links list all of his stories, and the other media in which his work has appeared, such as plays, movies, episodes.

Last year, in 2009, another collection of his stories came out, We’ll Always Have Paris and most of these stories were written that year.

We'll Always Have Paris

Ray Bradbury has a strong spark of being a creator who is unceasing. I guess it’s no wonder that there is now a song that has come out, done tongue in cheek and slightly naughty. I’m sure that Ray Bradbury has seen it and has had a good laugh. And writing this, I’m getting a hankering to read some Bradbury, which really spurred me into writing, and that I haven’t read in a long time. So I think I’m going to go out and buy We’ll Always Have Paris. And now, feast your ears on this song F**k Me, Ray Bradbury
which looks at the sexy side of being a writer. An homage of a different sort for one of our greatest writers.

Ray Bradbury Stories

Bradbury Media

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From Cirque to Circus

I had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza the other night. I’ve seen a film of their underwater show (and quite a long while ago) but I have never seen an act in person. We had the cheap seats (at $60) under the blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau (big top) and it was still quite close as the stage is mostly theatre in the round. Everyone is close enough to see the acrobatics, though on the side you might end up with a lighting post or miss a little bit in the two-tiered rotunda which housed the band and singers on the top tierbut I think that was mostly just for their entrance.

The show began with a young character in a type of punchinello/pulcinella outfit trying to fly a kite when a large box is delivered from which a character leaps out with a magic wand. I almost expected a genie lamp because the rotunda’s red, burgundy and teal curtains had a slightly Persian/Aladdin feel, and was accentuated by the troupe that first comes out tumbling and balancing on each other and large balls. Dressed in hats, red and white, with a pattern like scaled armor on some, the troupe looked like soldiers or guards. These performers ranged in size from very petite women to large, well muscled men, who were the brawn upon which the others actually stand.

From Cirque's official site

The singer and band wardrobes complemented the exotic style of the set. After the balancing act there were two contortionists with utterly amazing moves. I’m not sure one should be able to rest their head on their own butt, and the ways these women moved are hard to visualize because it was so bizarre. These feats of agility and strength are almost beyond comprehension. A single trapeze artist did several hard spins and twists on the swing but she didn’t seem quite on. However, it’s harder to execute such moves without a partner. The hand-to-hand couple displayed teamwork where strength, balance and flexibility show a constant flow of the human form. Costumes don’t always match what’s on the site and there was no unicycle act but Cirque says these can change from time to time.

There were also four tightrope walkers working at 15 and 25 feet, walking, and on bikes. I found this act well done but the least amazing in a stunning show. This was only because my mind was going, oh they’re only balancing on this thin wire. And yet I was thinking, OH! They’re only balancing on this thin wire. Not something most of us could do without years of practice. It was this act, along with the trapeze artist, and later the man balancing on a tower of chairs, that struck home to me that this was like the circus I saw when I was a kid. I don’t remember much and must have been very young because I don’t think circuses were that frequent even when I was a teenager. I remember elephants, lion tamers, clowns, four-person trapeze, tightrope and chair balancing. This must have been the Shrine Circus, run by the Shriners (freemasons) since I don’t think Ringling or Barnum & Bailey came to Canada.

Cirque of course has no animals, except for the dog. This creature, along with the clowns, king, trickster,thief and cops were the pantomime and comic acts between the acrobatics and the thread of the story. If you were in the front aisles or the side seats there was a certain amount of audience involvement, which I won’t give away but it sometimes involved a volunteer being taken onto the stage. The larger troupe also shot colorful ticker tape/confetti from canons into the audience which added to the circus atmosphere. The clowns were very good and silly but I didn’t care for the magician/thief much. I guess he was too smarmy for my tastes and his magic was okay but somewhat obvious.

In the second half of the performance, after a half-hour intermission, the troupe came out dressed in darker skeleton outfits (but with happy masks) and there was more of the dark carnivale feel with an imitation of Vegas showgirls sporting the big feather tails and headdresses. I presume this darker side was kept lighter because of the mix of audience ages but I thought the music could have matched the outfits and skeleton theme much better with more percussion or sticks to imitate bones. Various “skeletons” and the innocent chased each other with scythes from time to time. The quality of the dancers did seem to vary a lot but then some of the other acrobatic performers were mixed in with the regular troupe and some performers movements looked more precise and energetic compared to others.

Other performances included the man balancing on chairs up to 23 feet and strength and beauty of his physique was as awe-inspiring as his balance, flexibility and strength. The hoop artist took hula hoops to a new height. It was mesmerizing to watching the spinning silver hoops as she stood on one leg and juggled or spun up to seven. Spectacular. The teeterboard had acrobats doing spins and leaps in the air, including on stilts. Very well executed. And the spinning wheel of death had two daredevils dressed in scaled legs with little horns on their heads that seemed to play back to the dark skeleton parade theme of the second half. One man was in each large metal circle (think hamster wheel) attached to the other one and they began to walk, faster and faster, until they were doing leaps and drops. I thought okay, so they’re walking in a big circle but it took on a more daring edge when one daredevil leapt to the outside of the ring and proceeded to skip, leap and jump. He nearly fell once or twice, catching the rope on his heel, but considering the difficulty of trying to meet the edge of a ring spinning beneath your feet, it just showed he was human.

Though I thought the precision was missing a bit in the troupe, overall Cirque’s Kooza was beautiful, amazing and harkening back to the roots of the circus performer. It was well worth the price and at about two hours of acrobatics it somehow didn’t quite seem long enough to view the epitome of what the human body can do. I’d give Kooza an 8.5 out of 10.

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In the Magpie Tradition: Collecting

Magpie from Wikipedia

I grew up in Alberta where magpies were a predominant bird, much like crows are here in Vancouver. Magpies are raucous and bold and like bright things, much like crows. And they are related to the family Corvidae, which includes crows and ravens. We commonly said in our family, oh she’s like a magpie when someone collected or kept shiny things. But it also came to refer to anyone who collected items.

And really if we, as human beings, have something in common with the family Corvidae it is indeed our love of shiny things, as well as being collectors. It’s as much part of human nature as it is of crow nature. People collect shoes, jewellery, books, music, electronics, figurines, matchbook covers, baseball cards, paintings, plants, pictures, buttons, cars, women, men, countries. You name it, someone somewhere collects it.

And I am no exception. I collect a few things such as jewelery, clothes and books. But having always been an avid reader, and being a writer, I collect books, to a degree. And sure the internet is bringing about more digital media and books but there is something different in having a big picture book than scanning through pics on a computer monitor or the weensy screen of a phone. And many of us who love reading, love to hold a book and feel the paper. I haven’t had a chance yet to try the Kindle or any other electronic, hand-held reading device and it could be I like it. I tend to read my books so that they are not dog-eared and the spines are not bent. I treat them like religious relics, usually.

But I collect more than just books. I collect comic books. Yes, I am that rare breed, a woman who reads comics. My love of comics started as a child where there were probably only a dozen comics like Thor and X-Men and were read and re-read by me and my siblings. I forgot about them until I was in my 20s and one Christmas my boyfriend stuck some in my stocking for fun. I started reading them again and started subscribing.

And then I took the big plunge and worked in a comic book store for quite a few years. This has given me various skills and interests and at the height of my comic collecting I even bought two of certain first issues, but I usually only bought comics that I was interested in reading. And then I left the store and the comics changed as they always do. I would bag and box the comics and the boxes built up. Eventually a friend who had room in her basement agreed to store my comics; that include eight long boxes and three short boxes totally about 4,000-5,000 comics. There they lanquished until I completely forgot about them.

I continued to read and buy comics and do to this day but only a very few titles. One day, this friend contacted everyone who had stuff out of sight, out of mind in her basement and said she was tired of storing other people’s junk, and rightfully so. I was faced with all these comics that I haven’t looked at in many many many years, and no place to put them. So I started this weekend in going through those boxes and seeing what’s there. Most of them are not alphabetical with Avengers and Batman in one box and X-Men and Warlord in another box. No, there are a few issues of each in each box because as I read them I filed htem as I went. This has meant sorting each box but I’m not going as far as sorting all boxes at once. That’s just too many.

Some of the titles I used to collect (and that I’ve found so far) are: Dreadstar, Dalgoda, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Corum, Nexus, Mister Miracle, Miracle Man, Animal Man, Justice League (including Europe, America and International), Teen Titans, Love & Rockets, Nausicaa, Crying Freeman, Lone Wolf and Cub, Uncle Scrooge, Mickey and Donald, Terminator, Airboy, Strontium Dog, Watchmen, Groo, Shadow, Elektra, Flesh and Bones, Omaha, Swamp Thing, etc. And that’s only a few of the titles in those boxes. OMG

As is often the case, we collect some things for a short period (like marbles when I was a kid and you can search my blog on marble and the games of childhood) or forever, like books. However, even though I still read comic books, I don’t really miss all of these. I must catalogue and sort them and then try to sell them. And this is the price of collecting. Some I’ll sell for a song but a few might just be worth something so I have to go through them all and that is going to take time.

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Fashion Nightmare: Plaid

We call it plaid, which is different from the historical meaning. A plaid was a piece of cloth with a certain weave. The tartan was the pattern upon the cloth and any particular pattern differed from one region to the next. This pattern was call a sett. Tartan plaids were worn as shawls or traveling garments (the great kilt) that doubled as blankets. There were a range of patterns or tartans throughout Scotland and they were not clan specific until about the late 1700s when the Stuart-Sobieski brothers decided to set the patterns for different clans. Of course some clans came from certain regions where particular dyes and patterns were used so there is some correlation to clans and regions.

I have never understood the fascination or the love of the tartan, but obviously it is a strong cultural symbol and that love may have nothing to do with taste. Most of these patterns with lines or stripes on the warp and the weft seem garish and ugly, but people identify strongly with them. So in one aspect I think the tartans are already fashion nightmares of colors that are better off left apart. As early as the 1700s and perhaps even earlier there is evidence in paintings of men wearing trews (trousers) doublet and hose, all in a different size or color of tartan. Dear ole Mungo Murray (to the left) was the height of fashion but wore a variant of European style by adding in his highland dress, the tartan. It’s hard to see in this picture but he is in fact wearing three different tartans: the hose on his legs, the kilt and the separate shoulder piece. For most trews, pants or hose of this period, you will note they are cut on the bias (the diamond as opposed to horizontal and vertical lines) because it adds stretch to the fabric.

Why the Scots were so fascinated by this pattern, I don’t know but it became a national symbol, especially after it was banned. What happens when you ban something? Well it becomes so popular that when the laws are lifted everyone wears it with pride as a symbol of the struggles. Don’t forget Scotland had lowlands and highlands and many wars with the British as to who would own the land and whose nobles were more noble. So Murray, and these laddies to the right were the epitome of Scottish fashion and nobility. They two wear three different patterns of tartan in their trews, doublets and jackets. It wasn’t really something women wore, except as a shawl. What the rest of Europe thought of these folk, I can’t imagine but their patterns were considered garish and uncouth.

And maybe just maybe that’s part of the symbol of the wild Scotsmen, running amok in a kilt (never a skirt) and slashing people with his claymore, his red beard aflying. Of course, the red hair in the Scottish and Irish heritage comes from those Viking marauders of centuries before. So really, we can blame the English for this fashion nightmare and its tenacity and anytime there is any cultural event for the Scots out come the kilts and the wretched clan tartans. And

My eyes! The colors!

even more than the British, you can blame those Stuart-Sobieski brothers for their marketing genius. I mean, seriously, what man would be caught dead in some of these colors?

And most men wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt, unless its a tartan kilt. But plaid (as we now call it in North America) can pertain to any fabric that has lines on both the horizontal and vertical plane (warp and weft). It can be simple, like the jacket plaid here, or it can be complex with a host of colors. But it’s still plaid.

Okay, fine, I admit I once had a plaid skirt in teal, magenta, purple and blue. And I do have a vintage plaid kilt/skirt that was my mother’s. But I haven’t worn it in a long time and I certainly think men need a larger wardrobe selection than plaid shirts. And I have, like those nobles of old, seen men wearing two to three plaids together, in different colors and different patterns, widely different colors. Just because it was done long ago doesn’t mean it was tasteful even then.

Sure, a few pieces of clothing can look fine if made of tartan, but I just don’t ever think of sophisticated, upper class or elegant when I think of it.

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Faerieworlds: A Realm in Review

A week ago I took a break from the daily toil and went to Faerieworlds in Eugene, Oregon. What is it? It’s a three-day camping event involving many bands and fairies, of course. Why do this? Because I can. I can dress up, have fun, camp, sleep in, dance, party without worrying about anything more than where to eat and when to shower.

The drive was long with an accident on the other side of the highway which had the looky-loos slowing down. We went 10 miles in an hour. And it seems that regular summer volume on the I-5 also slows down to a crawl. After many hours we arrived in Eugene at Buford Park where Faerieworlds took place. This event has been going eight years according to the website and there are a few things that could have been better laid out, such as where to park when registering, or picking up registration. There was one table with a guy yakking to two people and instead of one of them serving us they continued to listen to him so I went to the vendor registration instead. We received a wristband (not to be taken off) and a laminated tag, and it was unclear if both had to be worn. I never wore the tag. There was no list of events so knowing when a band was on could only be gleaned from catching the emcee, and things like the costume contest, well, I never knew about it at all. There was an event guide but it seems the $110 membership fee didn’t cover even a photocopy of the scheduled events.

The site is a big field, like a pasture, with trees only at the perimeter, and a mixture of grass, hay and blackberry brambles mowed down and removed, but there were still scratchy snags and very uneven ground. You wouldn’t want to go barefoot. Faerieworlds (or the park people) wouldn’t let us drive onto this field with our camping gear, which seemed odd because the ground was hard and there wasn’t any nice foliage to protect. In fact, they did let us drive on to pack up so it makes no sense. Luckily for us, we were near the road and didn’t have far to cart things. Another bizarre Faerieworlds rule was no glass or campfires of any kind, including camping stoves, yet I saw one fire that people had started up for something and obviously all the food vendors used stoves of varying types. Plus the taverns had glass bottles (though they served in plastic). It’s one thing to control fires but I’ve been to some very large camping events where campstoves are never a problem and people have never tipped one over and started a fire. So this rule was just dumb and inconvenient. A friend who went last year with her two kids didn’t have a good time because she had to go elsewhere to cook and didn’t find people friendly at all. Luckily we got by on cold food.

We camped in inner circle camping, which is noisier and nearer all the vendors and stages (there was the main stage and a smaller more intimate stage in the food area). Portapotties were banked out on the road and another set on one side of the camping. Adequate number for the bodies there but they only flushed them in the morning which meant by evening there was no water or paper towels in the cleaning stations and the toilets were becoming disgustingly full and devoid of toilet paper. In the dark that’s scary. A shower trailer was also on site and though they had odd hours of operation (7-11 am and 9 pm-1am) there seemed to be little in the way of  lineups.

At least six bands played on the main stage. Faun, a German band, highlighted Saturday night with Delhi to Dublin from Canadaplaying beforehand. Other bands included Stellamara, Woodland, Gypsy Nomads, Telesma, and smaller groups on the more intimate stage called Neverworlds. What was extremely nice about the setup was that we could be at our camp and still hear the music clearly. Or we could go around the vendor area, dance anywhere or be up in front of the stage. The music was great and well worth the money. However, many people did not enjoy being woken up to the Faerieworlds alarm Saturday morning which consisted of very loud German techno. I’m not sure why they thought they needed to wake fairies up at 8:30 anyways. I just wonder why the bands ended at midnight on Saturday when it was the main day of the event. Having music go later (everything seemed to close too early that night) would have been better.

There must have been about 100 vendors and the quality was verygood. Not a lot of original jewellery but enough, as well as some supremely amazing masks out of leather or formed plastics with feathers or fibers. As well there were several vendors selling wings of course, either one of a kind, handmade or mass produced. There were two taverns. There was clothing from silk fairy tatters to steampunk, accessories, and little magical things to go along with wings. Next year I think I’ll save up to buy one of the masks. They weren’t cheap but they were beautiful pieces of art. The vendor area also included some games, courtesy of a local Renaissance faire and was a maze of colorful items. Unfortunately some vendors only took cash and the official table selling the bands’ music only took cash because they divvy the money up to the bands. Still, I could have worked out a system for having credit cards and paying out each band.

What was probably the most fun besides the music, were the costumes and spontaneous performance art. There were numerous styles of wings and costumes that people had made. There were trolls and goblins in a tug of war, satyrs and wizards, dryads and Na’vi, steampunks and purple fairies, and all sorts of people just doing their thing. Some did spontaneous performance art, like the caterpillar and the dryad pictured here and I loved that. It’s inspired me to go back and listen to more music next year and maybe try a few more outfits for fun.

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Writing: Sunburst Awards Needs Help

The Sunburst Awards is a Canadian award for speculative fiction, which is judged by a panel as opposed to fans. They have only been going a few years and were named after Phyllis Gotlieb’s book by the same name. Two prizes are awarded annually, one for adult and one for young adult SF. It seems they are running into monetary issues for funding the prize. Below is the letter I received, so that if anyone wants to support the Sunburst, they can contact the organization.

As a Canadian writer I can say I support and like Canadian speculative fiction for many reasons. We are small in population compared to the US. In fact our population could fit into California so we have many hurdles to the publishing industry. It still costs the same in production to make a book but if you’re selling to a percentage of 36 million people, it’s a much smaller group than the same percentage of the US population. Hence why we’ve often needed funding to keep various arts afloat, that the US doesn’t need.

Our writers are as unique as anyone else. Canadian themes can often include the landscape because it is such a large part of the nation’s psyche. We’re the second largest country on Earth after Russia, and we have a whole lot of space. Not only that, but most of our population is along our southern border because a lot of Canada is harsh and cold in winter.

If you are an editor, author, publisher or reader of the speculative community, then you can show your support by donating or by make a short video as outlined in the letter:

The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award based on excellence of writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year.

Unfortunately, the Sunburst Awards have run into a hiccup.  They do not have enough operating capital to keep going as they currently stand. This sad news comes at a particularly critical juncture in the award’s life–the operating committee is in the process of getting the Sunburst organization registered as a non-profit, and getting it “national arts organization” status.

As part of a fundraising drive to shepherd the Sunburst through this change of status and structure, we’d like to ask writers, editors, readers, and publishers from the speculative fiction community at large to record short (30 second to 2 minutes) videos that say what they think about Canadian speculative fiction. These can address a variety of topics: where the field has been; the state of field today; where the future might lie; favourite authors, etc. These will be posted individually on a YouTube channel (sunburstaward), but will also be edited in order to create a series of short videos to promote awareness of the fundraising campaign. A longer video will be shown at the opening remarks to the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium (

To participate, send your name, contact information, video and a short release statement giving us permission to use the video to by September 15, 2010.

For more information on the Sunburst Awards, visit or contact

To donate directly, visit

Helen Marshall
Sunburst Award Volunteer
Co-Organizer of the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

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Cornucopia List: August 6

I realize this list is more a personal indulgence than perhaps a piece that others are interested in, but as they say: it’s my blog and I can write what I want to. So here goes my list of things for which I’m grateful.

  1. Massages–I wish I could get these more often, and I’m talking about therapeutic massages, but any are nice. I have a soft tissue condition (chronic myofascial pain) which causes my muscles to knot and not release. This causes hard, rocklike nodules that can refer pain to all other sorts of areas in the body. Hard trigger point massage is about the only way to release these (or a long vacation in a hot place) and it’s painful. Unfortunately our medical system likes to think that massage isn’t necessary and in the long run it costs our system more. So massages I appreciate with a deep and undying love.
  2. Dreams–These are the dreams of sleep, not of the waking hour. We spend a third of our lives sleeping (more or less) and in a way it seems a waste not to do something. Of course, our bodies replenish their stores so that we can function properly in our waking hours, but it doesn’t always seem enough. So I love remembering my dreams. They’re rarely mundane and run the gamut to strange adventures and even stranger lands. And yes, I have managed to write quite a few dreams into stories or poems.
  3. Faerieworlds–I’ll write a review of this event in the next day or two, but it was such a good time for just camping, hanging out, wandering about and listening to some awesome bands, that I’d do it again. Oh and the wings. What fun to dress up as fairies just because you can. There were some astounding outfits and spontaneous performance art by people attending. It gave me ideas!
  4. My Brain–Oh brain, where would I be without you? A brain is something not to waste, which means I don’t want to spend all my evenings being a couch potato. I want to explore, do new things, have varying adventures from socializing with friends, to reading, writing or hiking. The brain is complex and not always knowable even to ourselves. I hope it continues to work well and to expand in knowledge and memory.
  5. Randomness–What a humdrum place our world would be if it was completely regimented. Not all surprises are good and not all random things go well but to see or experience the unexpected, to not know what is around every corner, now that is what keeps us living and moving and adapting. I love random things. In fact I like randomness so much that I abhor schedules. Ah to live a very random life.

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