Tag Archives: Publishing

Playground of Lost Toys Interviews: Daigle & Carreiro

Lost ToysToday, I have Christine Daigle, whose story “Of Dandelions and Magic” speaks very well to that magic and loss we can experience as children. This is the stuffy story we chose though we had many for the anthology.

I also have Lisa Carreiro, author of “Makour.” This tale is darker and speaks of redemption as well as perseverance by tying into memories from childhood.

  1. What was your main reason for submitting a story to Playground of Lost Toys?

Exile Editions’ history of publishing diverse voices in Canadian fiction was definitely part of the motivation, but the call for submissions to this particular anthology spoke to me because it seemed to be in the vein of what I write; weird sci-fi/fantasy, often with hints of fairytales and dreams.

  1. Does your story relate at all to anything from your own childhood?

    writing, Canadian authors, rabbit stuffie, stuffed toys

    Christine Daigle is author of “Of Dandelions and Magic”

“Of Dandelions and Magic” relates more to my son’s childhood. He has a “towel duck” that’s nearly eight years old and quite ratty. On his last birthday, he wished it would turn into a real duck. Around the same time, our seven-year-old rabbit died and my son started asking me to tell him stories with the rabbit as the star. The initial idea for this story came to life as I pushed him on a swing.

I did, however, have a threadbare doggy as a child that I carried around in the crook of my elbow until stuffing started escaping through the hole I’d worn into the neck, just above the windup key for the music box.

  1. What theme or idea were you exploring in your story?

I was exploring the idea that we lose the beliefs we held as children and, as adults, it’s hard to see the world as a magical place, even if our desire to do so is strong. As we journey back in time to try to recover pieces of ourselves, it’s difficult because we’re fragmented. When we are kids, the world is a frightening place, and as adults, nothing really changes except our ability to filter what we say and to decide what thoughts we choose to listen to. We never really have all the answers, and we don’t really need to have all the answers to keep living with the wonder of a child.

  1. Is there anything else you would like to say about your story or the theme of the anthology.

Penelope Fitzgerald wrote, “The ambition of all children is to have their games taken seriously.” When I first read At Freddie’s, it struck me that Fitzgerald’s aphorism was a good one to file away for future exploration. I’m so glad to see this theme getting the anthology treatment!

  1. What other projects do you have in the works, pieces people can buy, or places to find you in the coming year?

My first co-authored novel, The Emerald Key, was published in July 2015 by Ticonderoga Publications. My most recent short fiction is forthcoming in Sci Phi Journal and the Street Magick anthology (Elder Signs Press). I’m putting the polish on another co-authored dark fiction novel steeped in Irish mythology. I’m planning to start looking for a home for that soon.

And here is Lisa Carreiro’s interview about “Makour.” Her story takes place in space, features dragons and trains. It’s one of two stories that has a train in it.

  1. What was your main reason for submitting a story to Playground of Lost Toys?

“Makour” was inspired by the theme “Lost Toys,” which immediately set my imagination in motion. I’d had the two characters, Pascal and Keirdran, rattling around in my head, but set nothing on the page because none of the escape scenarios worked for me. The word “toys” was the prompt I needed.

2. Does your story relate at all to anything from your own childhood?

As a kid, we had a toy farm set with plastic animals. The foal became my special toy: I endowed that wee bit of plastic with superpowers. He flew everywhere, he rescued the other farm animal toys from all kinds of dangers, and he had adventures throughout the house. I invented dozens of scenarios, always leaving a mess of scattered toys in my room; usually with the foal on top of the dresser watching over the others. I don’t know what happened to it; I simply outgrew it.

3.  What theme or idea were you exploring in your story?

SF, space, dragons, trains

Lisa Carreiro wrote “Makour” a story that spans the far reaches of space and the determination that keeps people going.

The lost toys theme also set me thinking about all those things we lose as we age, not just the toys we loved. Although my childhood in no way resembles Pascal’s, many adults think back on a time, a place, a person, or an object with nostalgia or affection, or perhaps grief for what’s lost. Add a measure of adventure–in this instance journeying among the stars–and possibilities for exploring the theme multiply.

4. Is there anything else you would like to say about your story or the theme of the anthology.

Like many writers, I work around a “day job” that pays the bills. I’ve written fewer shorts in recent years while concentrating on finishing a novel, which I’m about to send out. With that done, I’m focusing again on the short stories. At the present I’m finishing up and polishing a few, which are just about ready: everything from a man who finds a youth who claims to be a god who’s fallen from the sky to a woman travelling to Proxima Centauri with a crew of genetically enhanced tigers.

5.  What other projects do you have in the works, pieces people can buy, or places to find you in the coming year?

Some of my earlier short stories have appeared in Tesseracts Eleven, On Spec, and Strange Horizons.

Thanks again to Lisa and Christine. I’ll bring more interviews in a few days when next I meet the internet.

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Writing: The Storm of 2013

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To write or not to write; there is no question. Creative Commons: http://freshink.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

I’m rather late to a sum up of 2014 (hahaha, I’m an idiot. This is why everyone needs an editor. I meant uh, 2013, because it really was that busy.) and it’s because it was one of the busiest years I’ve ever had. I barely had time to think or write on this blog. Hence, while I hoped to get out all of the Tesseracts 17 interviews within two months of its October release, it took me till January. And that’s how last year started; editing the 450 submissions for the anthology. I also participated in Women in Horror month in February, by posting interviews with Canadian writers or horror.

I had made a vow to have a rough draft of my ever languishing novel done by April but that was thrown to the wind. Along with the editing I also did a bit of other freelance editing around a full time job that went to double full time in April. That meant I was pretty worn out when I came home. I’d also injured my shoulder and was in unendurable pain that hit high levels in August. Using a mouse and typing aggravated it as well. So I had to add in physio on top of all that.

demons, anthologies, horror, fantasy, Demonologia Biblica

Available through Amazon. This is my favorite cover.

I then threw in a trip to Europe (Germany, France and England) where I also attended the World Fantasy Convention at the end of my three weeks. Luckily my shoulder was better enough to survive the trip. But guess what, I volunteered to be on the preliminary jury for the Bram Stoker awards (the major horror award in speculative fiction) and I was suddenly reading in every spare minute I had. It was probably around 50 entries in all . I hope to do some book reviews here at some point of the books I read.

So let’s see, there was editing, and copy editing, and reading, but was there writing? Why yes, there was writing and works being published. In fact, I had a pretty good year in published pieces, though a couple of publishers are in bad graces at the moment for not paying on time nor sending me my copy of the book. (More on that soon if I don’t hear from them.) Here is a list of works that came out last year:

  • “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” in Demonologia Biblica by Western Legends Publishing
  • “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” in Deep Cuts by Evil Jester Press
  • “The Book With No End” in Bibliotheca Fantastica by Dagan Books
  • “The Highest Price” in Artifacts and Relics by Heathen Oracle
  • “Gingerbread People” in Chilling Tales 2 by EDGE SF & Fantasy
  • “Tower of Strength” in Irony of Survival by Zharmae Publishing
  • “The Diver” in Readshortfiction.com (free under literary)
  • Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast by EDGE SF & Fantasy, co-editor with Steve Vernon
  • “Heart of Glass” in Polu Texni  (includes an interview and is free to view)
  • “Illuminating Thoughts” in Polu Texni
  • “Father’s Child” in Polu Texni
  • “Don Quixote’s Quandary” free in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
writing, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, anthologies

The Book With No End, is in this anthology out from Dagan Books.

I should also mention that I launched for Chizine Publications and Sandra Kasturi the Vancouver branch of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. We began quarterly with three readers in April and then again in July and October. The new one is coming up on Feb. 12th, at Tangent Cafe in Vancouver, with speculative authors Ray Hsu, Geoff Cole and Noah Chinn. It’s free, so if you’re in town come out and enjoy some tales.

Somewhere in all this I did have a social life and I did sleep… I think. I also completed, by the very last day of the year, the rough draft of my novel. After so many stops and starts, it was done. Of course I have a massive rewrite to do but at least the plot and character arcs are down. So, yes, it was a very busy year and very productive.

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Colleen hosts the Vancouver ChiSeries, funded in part by CZP.

I’ve also found out that I made it onto the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot for my short story “The Book With No End.” The Stokers are the top dark fiction awards for the genre and rank with the World Fantasy Awards, the Hugos and the Nebula. I will eventually write about the process for getting on the ballot because it’s a bit confusing. The Stoker prelininary ballots are a mix of recommendations from the membership and the jury. Once the membership votes, there will be a short form final ballot and then I believe another vote. I’ll find out if I make it that far.

Works to come out at some point soon in this year are “The Collector” in Cemetery Dance. I’m promised it will be very soon and I’ve been waiting over five years so it will be nice to see that one show up. Bull Spec also promises to publish my poem “Visitation” soon. I’ve also just learned that I’ve sold three poems to Burning Maiden and I’ll be featured in the next edition. Those poems are “Tea Party,” “Medusa” and “As I Sleep.”

So what’s in store this year. Obviously more writing and rewriting, and we’ll see. Some irons are in the fire but until I have an answer everything is just a dream. 😉 But we all should dream, shouldn’t we? May you all have a productive year.

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Writing Update

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Creative Commons: Drew Coffman, Flickr.

Why haven’t I been posting much this last month or two (with the exception of the Women in Horror interviews)? It’s because I’m consuming poetry and fiction, constantly. As Steve Vernon and I came down to the deadline of fiction stories, the submissions went up with over 100 coming in the last two days of the deadline. This if for Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast coming from Edge Publishing. The final product will be a collection of stories and poetry by Canadians, expat Canadians and those now living in Canada. We will have horror, fantasy, SF, and many subgenres. Some of these might include such stories as those about zombies, fairies, vampires, ghosts, other or secret worlds, mythical beasts, mundane SF, space travel, invasion, possession, transformation, etc.

The deadline has now come and gone and we received over 450 submissions. When all is said and done I’ll do a demographic breakdown but I can say right now that we had at least one submission from every territory and province except Nunavut. And that is important because we are supposed to, if we can, have authors from every area. Now if someone was the only person submitting from their province it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically get in but if we feel the piece has a good kernel of a story we’ll be working with the author to bring it up to par.

Steve Vernon, Tesseracts 17, Canadian fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, SF

Nova Scotian Steve Vernon is co-editor of Tesseract 17, a collection of Canadian speculative fiction.

The problem is that we’re on a tight schedule. We’ve sent out 300 rejections. That leaves 150 pieces to pare down to 25 because that’s about what will fit in the anthology. Where we have both said no to a piece made it easy for us to reject. But there were those where one of us liked the piece and the other didn’t. As Steve and I found in the past when we were co-judging the Rannu poetry competition, you might initially dislike a piece but after considering it in more detail and listening to the other person’s arguments you might change your mind.

Deep Cuts, horror, editing, dark fantasy

Deep Cuts is published by Evil Jester Press

Now the other tough part is that we have to get our final selection, send out the emails and ask for any rewrites, get those back, sort and edit the anthology into the order we want and then submit it to the publisher. We’re supposed to present the manuscript at the end of April. And taxes are due. And I was going to have a rough draft of my novel done by then. And… Well, the only thing I’ve been doing almost every night is reading reading reading. And rereading of course.

One good thing is that the Deep Cuts anthology came out with my story “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” and it’s now available. Other pieces will be coming out but I’ve been too busy to note when though I think many are soon.

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Writing: Romances, the Pride and the Shame

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Making fun of Harlequin covers is a favorite past time of some, and could be one reason my friend doesn’t want it known she wrote romance novels.

I’ve was talking to a friend of mine who in the distant past wrote and sold several novels to Harlequin. She did this at a time in her life when she was a single mother of two  and was trying to support them while putting herself through school. She is an artist who does beautiful paintings now.

Now the interesting thing is that Harlequin is viewed by some as low brow and by others as prestige. Low brow because we’re just reading those trashy romances and if you write a trashy romance, well, you’re not a real writer. Prestige because Harlequin pays quite well, is a successful publisher and you’ve written for Harlequin. Perspective, you see. I have another friend writing and trying to sell romances right now and she thinks it’s a great thing to do.

Harlequin as a publisher is one of North Americas more stable publishing houses. Writers tend to be paid fairly well because Harlequin has a high sell-through. Although the stories might be a paper chick flick and perhaps formulaic in the guy and gal always get each other in the end, there is a lot of range in their romance novels these days from mildly titillating to downright penetrative, in all senses of the term. Harlequin has been branching out as well into fantasy and other genres, whether werewolves, vampires or some other creature that goes bump in the night and indeed they still must go bump. I did sell one story to a Harlequin fairy tale anthology and of course it was romantic and/or erotic.

The Romance Writers of America is not only a well-attended association of writers and would-be writers but also brings in top agents and writers to local conferences. I know several people who have joined the RWA just for these aspects, even if they do not write romance. Basically romance today is not your mother’s romance.

So, this conversation with my friend was quite interesting. I present it here, edited because she does not want her name revealed. In fact I have never ever been able to find out what name she wrote under and I’m only one of a few people who even know she wrote romances.

No, I don’t care if folks think of me as what I am. ;D ….. I mean that’s how I caught my beloved D by being wild and lascivious, isn’t it?

Well that’s a lie…at least the part about me not being embarrassed about people really knowing who I am. Just so you know…I do not tell anyone the name I wrote under because I did it for the money…and only the money for my girls. When I do speak of my writing it is mostly because I really want the person I’m talking to , to understand that I really do understand the pressures of creating something salable, like a story or a book…for a paycheck.

My writing was an act of desperation. I wrote like an East End drug addicted prostitute whores herself. I

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My friend juggled a job, going to school, raising two girls and writing romance novels. Creative Commons: Misty de Vries, Mercator

had  two kids to feed and  I needed to earn more money. I had no child support and a barely above min. wage job. I started writing  after work when the girls were in bed, I wrote on the bus going to work, lunch breaks at the store, I wrote on a scribbler, took it home and then wrote it up of the typewriter later that night (yes, she did all this before computers). Being dyslexic, it was like slavery. I had to concentrate so hard even when I was utterly bagged. I had no grace, no time to muck about and, God help me, if I screwed it up because then  my children would go without. So I wrote what I knew would sell and did it as quickly as I could type up the pages. I could not think of another way to earn enough money to look after T and K. I was so tired all the time my writing could not be the least jot original. I was caught between the rock and the hard place with no help. My family would not help me. I had shamed them with my divorces. My mother cut me off, not that she had ever supported me but she made it clear, as she said, I had made my bed …. If I was broke, it was my fault. As a solution I turned to writing because it was  something I could crank out while being at home with my children.

My writing is not something of which, I was ever proud. That is not to say I am not proud of the accomplishment of using my wits to take care of the girls.

I am.

But I was  not  nor ever will be, a  writer. I was, by  some miracle and a short period of time,  an adequate hack, which is something else entirely.

Also It was not a happy time for me. And the whole writing thing is forever tainted in my mind with all of that  desperate hungry  unhappiness.

A few years ago when my health took a little turn I tried writing again; but this time I tried to write stories I might want to read. I tried a lot, then some more… I tried and tried.

I went back to drawing.

So at last, I will get to the  point, I will enthusiastically pass on my recommendations. And for your piece of mind. I will also run them through the spell checker… so they won’t think an idiot wrote them. Don’t you love computers!

Talk about stress! A part of me wishes I had never said anything or agreed to  your request.

So… to the issue at hand. There were 5 in all.

She has her reasons for not feeling she was a writer, and she feels her novels were not very good. I’ve never read them (or any Harlequin) for that matter, so I don’t know the quality. However, I told her that she was an inspiration…because she wrote, and finished several novels and sold them. That in itself is a great accomplishment. I know because I’ve been working on my second novel for ten years! I plan on finishing it by April because it’s getting ridiculous. So while my friend feels she was a hack who wrote to survive, I wish I could write as a full-time job. These days it’s even harder to sell something because there are so many more people writing and computers and the internet made it easier. But I’ll still hold my friend in high regard, even if I never find out what she wrote or what name she wrote under.

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Writing Year in Review

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Creative Commons: Drew Coffman, Flickr.

Well, it’s time to reflect on my year before I run off for the New Year’s celebrations. I did start the year with the three-month Apocalypse Diet, which I blogged about. It was an interesting experiment and I didn’t have to eat brains or truly battle zombies.

This year I was determined to write more and send out more. I can say I had a record year for submissions and rejections, and maybe even for acceptances. In some ways I call this my bridesmaid year, as in always a bridesmaid, never a bride. I think I had a record number of stories held for final selection or shortlisted, but in the end did not make the cut. In some ways this is more painful, yet encouraging. So that this is not hyperbole I’ll give a list of those places where my stories and poems were held past the first reading:

  • Writers of the Future honorable mention for Monstrous Aberrations
  • Friends of Merril fiction contest (one of ten shortlisted) for The Ties That Bind
  • Aurora Award nominee (poetry) A Good Catch
  • Punchnell’s (literary fiction)
  • Pedestal Magazine (poetry)
  • New Quarterly (poetry & literary fiction)
  • Gulf Coast (poetry)
  • Tesseracts 16 (fiction)
  • Whitefish Review (poetry)
  • Stupefying Stories (fiction)
  • Dark Faith 2 (fiction)
  • Penumbra–Dreams issue (fiction)
  • Scape (fiction)
  • Plasma Frequency (fiction)
  • Abyss & Apex (fiction)
  • Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (fiction)
  • Horror World anthology (fiction)

But…it was also a year for acceptances and works published, though in the end I’ll see most of these out next year. The first four were published and the rest are out next year I hope.

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Embers Amongst the Fallen available through Smashwords

  • Mermaid (poem) in Polu Texni
  • Legend (poem) in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
  • Queen of Heaven an Earth (poem) in Eternal Haunted Summer
  • The Brown Woman (fiction) in Over the Brink from Third Flatiron Publishing
  • Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood (fiction) in Deep Cuts
  • The Highest Price (fiction) in Heathen Oracle: Artifacts and Relics
  • P is for Phartouche: The Blade (fiction) in Demonologica Biblica (Britain)
  • The Book With No End (fiction) in Bibliotheca Fantastica
  • Gingerbread People (fiction) in Chilling Tales 2
  • Lady of the Bleeding Heart (fiction) in Fantastic Frontiers 2
  • Tower of Strength (fiction) in Irony of Survival, Zharmae Publishing
  • Visitation (poem) in Bull Spec (I hope next year…it’s been 2 years now)

My goal was to get at least 12 items accepted and while Visitation was accepted previously, as was Gingerbread People I believe, I think I ha a pretty good year of near acceptances. While it’s disappointing on one side it means my writing is getting closer. I’ve also identified one of my issues. I put in too much backstory up front and now that I know this, I can try to chop frugally.

Carolyn Clink and I edited and chose some fine poems for Chizine. I also drove out to Calgary and attended theconvention When Words Collide, where I read a bit of fiction an poetry, and was asked by Brian Hades to co-edit Tesseracts 17 with Steve Vernon. We’re working our way through many stories right now.

Steve Vernon, Tesseracts 17, Canadian fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, SF

Nova Scotian Steve Vernon will be co-editing Tesseract 17, a collection of Canadian speculative fiction.

I also flew to Toronto and did a poetry reading at the Art Bar Poetry Reading Series and thank them for inviting me. I attended the Specfic Colloquium and World Fantasy Con. I met some new writers and had a blast visiting old friends Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory of Chizine Publications an getting to know some new people. Another project started to germinate there but I can’t mention it yet until we have more details to make sure it’s happening.

I almost forgot but I also self-published a collection of my reprint stories, Embers Amongst the Fallen. It is available through smashwords and Amazon.com. I also put up two erotic stories under T.C. Calligari. I plan to put up the rest of them in the new year and get a bit more speculative fiction up. Should you have read a copy, please leave a review on those sites as well as Goodreads.

As well, I hosted a specfic cocktail party for writers an it was a success. I’m trying to build community here in

erotic, spanking, fetish, erotic fiction, T.C. Calligari, writing, short stories

Not hard to guess what this one is about.

Vancouver and I’ll be hosting another one at the end of January or early February. I’m also looking for the right venue to see if we can spring the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, which happens monthly in Toronto. We’re hoping to launch it in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver in April so I’m looking for the right type of bar for a Wednesday evening.

I and continued to write and read. For my holidays (ending tomorrow, alas) I decided to catch up on Tesseracts reading, but also get working on that novel I’ve been working on for ten years. Yes, ten years! I watched all of Game of Thrones seasons one and two to inspire me and then hunkered down. By tomorrow I will have completed the story arc for one of three viewpoint characters, and I’ll have half of my chapters written. This is good considering how slow it’s been up until now. I have a deadline of April to finish the first draft and hopefully the rewrite. Then it’s off to the agent and editor who expressed interest nearly two years ago. Yes, I’m stupid.

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When it comes to writing and reading, just do it! Creative Commons: Eric Guiomar

Doing this review helps when I begin to think of all those rejections I’ve received, and that the stories that were shortlisted or received honorable mentions won’t sell anywhere, or that what I consider are my best three-four stories also won’t sell. But then, some of my stories, that I thought were good have taken ten years to sell. There is hope and maybe I’ll look at those four again and see if there is too much up front for all of them.

The main thing is to persevere and not get depressed. I’ve wanted to edit an anthology for a long time and now I’m doing it. I’m hitting some of my goals and therefore are setting new ones. To all of you who write, edit or read, continue doing so. Support writers and buy books and magazines. Give your input, give your reviews. We all need each other. So have a great new year. May it be productive and fulfilling and may all your endeavors bring you success.

Happy New Year! Creative commons: Flickr Champagne Toast

Happy New Year! Creative commons: Flickr Champagne Toast

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Just Another Cyber Monday

I don’t have a lot to report in the writing scheme of things. I’m working on some stories and reading slush still for Tesseracts 17. We’ll probably have another batch of rejections and “hold for further consideration” to go out in the next few weeks. Remember, if you’re submitting, you must be Canadian, expat Canadian or living in Canada. We’re looking for something from every province and territory. So far, there are very slim to no pickings for NW Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Manitoba. I would love to see stories or poetry from these areas, as well as from younger writers. Spread the word.

In the meantime, if you would like to pick up my book, Embers Amongst the Fallen, for your shelf or as a holiday gift, it’s on sale till tomorrow for $10.95 instead of $16.95  (UK and Euro prices are cheaper as well). This is for the print version available through Amazon. I’ll put the e-version on sale in a week, if I have time. This is a reprint collection of speculative stories, from fantasy to SF, with a bit of darkness sprinkled in between.

In the non-cyber world, I recently realized that Vancouver doesn’t seem to have much of a speculative community. There are writers and artists scattered about but we don’t always know each other. I noticed how much stuff Toronto does (colloquia, readings, other author events) and that Calgary has IFWA (Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) and I thought, why should they have all the fun?

So ,last Friday I held a cocktail party and invited writers and spouses/children to come to my place and mingle. It turned out to be a lot of fun and about 20 people came (my place isn’t large so it worked well). Everyone enjoyed themselves so we’ll try another one in January. I’m hoping that as we build community, ideas will germinate and grow and we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Chizine Publications also sponsors the Chiaroscuro Reading Series in Toronto. In April we’re hoping to launch in Ottawa and Winnipeg and I’m hoping we can do the same in Vancouver. This will involve published authors reading from their work and receiving an honorarium, and raffles for bags of books at a bar. I’m still searching out venues that would work and be central enough that people can get to them on various forms of transportation.

If you’re another Vancouver speculative writer, reader, artist, drop me a line and I’ll make sure you know about the next Specfic Cocktail Party. In the meantime, get out there and read.

 

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Writing Update

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Creative Commons: Drew Coffman, flickr

It’s been another busy month with the written word in my world. I’ve done very little writing though I’m percolating a green man story and working on some poems. I am reading through stories coming in for Tesseracts 17, and Carolyn Clink and I are going through a few poems for Chizine.

On top of that, I’ve received word that my story “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” will be in the Deep Cuts anthology to be published by Evil Jester Press in Feb. 2013. As well, “The Highest Price” was accepted for publication in the anthology Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery to be published by Heathen Oracle. My poem “Mermaid” was put up at Polu Texni on the 8th. It is done in the poetic form called a villanelle (which is also a dance). The villanelle has a particular rhythm and rhyme scheme where two lines are repeated in each verse until they come together in the final verse to possibly give a different meaning. It’s hard to write good rhyming poems these days as most writers are not trained in rhyme, nor even rhythm and the villanelle itself takes work. I’d like to try some other forms in the future.

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Embers Amongst the Fallen, art by Eric Warren

On the writing front, one way or another my book will be available during World Fantasy Con in Toronto. CreateSpace has been more difficult to wend my way through than Smashwords was. They make it a convoluted aspect for searching out royalties and shipping, and while shipping says nine days or five days, it’s hard to find out how long it takes to produce the book first. As it is, I’ll be hard pressed to get the books in time to take to Toronto.

While in Toronto, should you happen to be there, I’ll be doing a reading at the Art Bar Poetry series. It takes place Oct. 30, starting around 8:00 at the Pauper’s Pub (suitable for writers), 539 Bloor St. West. I’ll have copies of my poetry chapbook as well as (I hope) Embers Amongst the Fallen. Watch my blog as there will be a day before the end of the month where I will put the ecopy up on sale at Smashwords. As well, at World Fantasy Con I will be doing a half-hour reading on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 5:30 pm. Now I have to figure out what poems and fiction I’ll be reading. And if you do happen to buy my collection, please leave a review at Smashwords, Amazon or on Goodreads. If someone is willing to do a review now, contact me and I will send you a review ecopy.

So that’s my October so far. Very busy and a lot to do. I’m still trying to get another story up on Smashwords but I haven’t had time. Still looking for that time machine.

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When Words Collide Writing Convention

 

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Chizine’s table at the room party.

When Words Collide is a writing convention in Calgary, Alberta, organized by Randy McCharles and a host of helpers. This was its second year in the making and it’s growing too big for the Best Western it was held at. There were a host of panels and a moderate sized dealers room for various publishers to sell their wares. While there was a heavy accent on the speculative in the panels there were also mystery and romance panels. The romance writers had their own party and IFWA (Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) of Calgary was present.

There are cons that are professional track and some that have fan tracks. WWC is a professional track, with some readings, panels about writing and publishing and parties held by publishers. I combined a trip to Alberta to visit family and friends, and to meet some of the writers I knew through email but had not met in person. I could spend time with friends, participate in writing related fun, and yes, the Aurora Awards were held at this event.

I’m actually a bad convention goer. I go to conventions and talk and drink with

Brett Savory, writer, publsher, CZP, Chizine, When Words Collide, writing conventions

Brett Savory, writer, and publisher of CZP at one of the happy room parties.

people, visit the parties and maybe get to a panel or two. This time I was on a good size of panels so felt less inclined to go to other ones. I had intentions of going to a reading or sitting in on a panel discussion but I only made to part of one reading. I did do a combined reading with Bob Stallworthy who read some really excellent poetry, and Susan Forest, who read part of a story that is up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She was also up for a short story Aurora. I read two poems and part of a story, and not too good a reading since I was a little foggy from the parties the night before.

I also did a  live-action slush reading which involved people handing in the first page of a story. Guest of honor Jack Whyte would read the page in his lovely deep, accented baritone. When we as editors would have stopped reading a submission we put up our hands and said why. In truth I have a habit of trying to read through a full submission because sometimes a writer will hit their stride after a while and just needs some editing. The writing might be sucky but they idea might be great and it might be worth salvaging. The panel also had Susan Mac Gregor and Hayden Trenholm.

wriiter, When Words Collide, editor, Susan MacGregor

Writer and editor, Susan MacGregor

The panel I sat on about poetry and how not to make it boring turned out way better than I thought it would. Poetry has a bad rep of being inaccessible. Sandra Kasturi is a great moderator and there were enough people in the audience so it went well with input from the audience and the panel. The panelists meshed well and the audience seemed interested.

The last panel was on sex in fiction; should you put it in, how much when. We had a publisher of erotic fiction, a writer who writes young adult fiction, another who writes male to male erotica and I write short mostly hetero erotica. Many points were covered but I don’t think the panel flowed as well as the poetry panel. It felt a bit like we were trying to get across individual crusades as opposed to looking at how erotic and explicit scenes can be fit in all types of fiction if warranted. Still, the panel was intelligent and well-versed so the audience got their money’s worth. This panel was set against the publisher parties, but didn’t harm it too much.

The parties and the liquids were plentiful, and Bundoran, Tyche, Edge and ChiZine were some

Aurora Awards, nominee, Derryl Murphy, writer, writing convention

Derryl Murphy was one of the nominees in the Aurora novel category.

of the publishers throwing parties. Jack Whyte had to leave early Saturday morning due to an emergency but he was the hub of a scotch party, which involved four bottles of scotch and a lot of pretty interesting talk about sex and writing and all sorts of things. There wasn’t a drop left by the end of the night but there were a few green faces in the morning.

In all the convention was very enjoyable and I met many authors who I had only chatted with

Aurora Awards, writing convention, When Words Collide

The Aurora Awards were presented at the convention and the list can be found on their website.

in the past. This is a great convention for the new or established writer, and for fans who want to take in a few readings and the parties. Next year’s convention will be August 9-11, in Calgary.

The Aurora Awards ceremony was held Saturday night after the banquet. The list of winners can be found on the site. While I was nominated in poetry I didn’t win, but Helen Marshall won for Skeleton Leaves. Her poetry is excellent and anyone should pick up this gem published by Kelp Queen Press. It was worthy of winning.  Oh, and Randy McCharles won for his organization of the When Words Collide in 2011.

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Artist Highlight: David Russell

Enchanters, David Russell, fantasy, artist, storyboard artist, writing, editing

David Russell’s cover for Enchanters. My copy has an earlier but just as beautiful cover.

I first met David Bryan Russell when he hired me to edit his first novel. Enchanters is a delightful, well thought-out and written tale of a woman coming into her own as she finds a hidden world of magic jeopardized by chaotic forces. David deftly blends magic, aspects of nature being damaged and Glys’s journey through both worlds. The details are rich and visual.

What was different about David, compared to most of my clients with first novels, was that his manuscript was very polished. The plot had very few areas to query, and the pace worked well. Overall his book was one of the more complete and well-written manuscripts I have ever edited. That’s saying something for a person’s first novel and I can guarantee my first took many rewrites to get to where David’s book was. David will be continuing this tale, as well as others. What was also refreshing about Enchanter is that it takes place in Norway. He got away from the common marketing mindset, that American readers always want to see stories taking place in American towns and cities. It’ time all readers broadened their horizons and David has a passion for Norwegian mythology.

David and I became friends, though we’ve never met and probably chat once a year online. He’s American-born but chose to move to Australia so I have no idea if we’ll ever meet. It turns out that David wasn’t just a fledgling writer; he’s a well-established storyboard and cover artist. His book cover is exactly how he envisioned it, because he did it. There are other writers of speculative fiction who started as artists first or vice versa. After all, the creative vein runs through us, but we can mine it in different ways and it’s not uncommon for artists to work in more than one field. If you take a look at the sumptuous, diverse and rich imagery on David’s Dynamic Images  site, you’ll see that you recognize many of the films for which he’s done concepts or storyboards.

I believe that David’s work on storyboards honed his ability to see scenes and breakdowns that translated well into written  storytelling. He’s extremely active in his arts and it doesn’t stop with storyboards and books. With other talented individuals, David Russell has formed www.vistabti.com, a site that creates book trailers and covers. This is more on the professional end of things, such as what publishers might look at for marketing titles. The world of book publishing is changing and more ebooks are being sold than ever before. People are so hooked into the digital domain that we view reviews, writing samples and myriads of images on the internet. Book trailers are becoming much more common and of course book covers, whether digital or in print, will never die.

Take a look at David’s art. But, if you only look at the images, you’ll miss out on how he creates as lush a world in his book as he does in illustrations.

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Writing: The Cover Art Process

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks getting Embers Amongst the Fallen ready for publication. I decided to go the electronic reader route first and chose Smashwords, which will format it for different ereaders, PDFs and html. While formatting a story is relatively easy (I have a couple of stories I will be putting up) the formatting of a book with titles, footnotes and table of contents took far more time. And even then I had to keep correcting items. Eric Warren of Creative Touch Design Group did the cover for the book. I’ve never had control of the cover before and the process was an interesting one.

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One of our first tries, before I changed the title.

Eric is a friend, a writer and a great photographer. I told him that I wasn’t sure what I wanted but it needed to be darkish and smeary, with red, brown, green in it. He read a couple of stories and I filled him in on what some of the others were about. The images that caught him were ghost children, a woman being swarmed by insects and a funeral pyre. He sent me the version on the left. I liked the image of the person but I didn’t like the glaring white of the shirt. I liked the blurred features but felt the background was too indistinct. When I stood back and looked at this book there was nothing that really said fantasy or horror and it could just as easily be a book on spiritual inspiration.

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Version two did not have “speculations” but we thought this would help clarify the category though it has confused a few of my friends.

So we talked about it. One problem is finding enough images in the public domain where there isn’t copyright infringement. Sometimes you can change a picture enough. I liked Eric’s ideas and said can you add a wing behind one shoulder of the person? After all, there is a tale of angels in the book as well. With some hunting Eric found the right wings. Sandra Kasturi suggested I go with Embers Amongst the Fallen, taken from the title of one of my stories and much more imagistic than Temptations and Transformations. I also used Facebook to poll people.

Version 4 with image toned down and bugs added.

Version two was significantly closer. It had the blurb from Wayne Sallee, and the new title, flames and wings. But it was still too white. I didn’t like the white. And I liked the blurry androgynous figure better. This one looked like a man. To me it didn’t mesh. I was happy with the font. We decided the blurb was too busy so we dropped it.

Eric sent me a blurry and a non-blurry version because sometimes our brains envision other than reality. I also said, how about a swirl of insects coming over the body and up under “Embers.” Like an S curve, Eric asked. Yeah that’s it. Okay, it was getting better but it was still too white for me. And the font was a little too subtle in color.  I suggested taking the yellow color from the fire and using that on the font instead. The bugs looked more like ships from Star Trek and I wanted some contrasting color. I asked Eric to put a mask on the shirt and make it green and put a slash of green into the background. I also asked for one version with a cursive script just to see how it would look. Eric added a screen to the background, which also helped in texturing.

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Version 7 is getting much closer. There is more depth between the background and the font and the bugs look better.

Version 7 was getting closer. But the cursive font didn’t work. Too light to be seen in a thumbnail image that Smashwords puts up on their site. Eric added in some bees and beetles that helped define the swarm better.  The flames also stood out from the background, and the greens were helping. But the shade on the shirt wasn’t right, too opaque. I asked him to make both like the background color.  Then I was fooling around in Picassa when I downloaded one of his versions and I hit one of the screens. It turned the whole thing a bit more yellow but it made the wings creamy. That’s what I wanted, no white except my name. I also suggested putting a dark green drop-shadow behind the title to differentiate it a bit more.

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Version 10, with many tweaks. At this point I posted it for comments.

We went back to the other font and added Aurora Nominee above my name. He suggested Two-Time Aurora Nominee but I thought that was too much and would be cluttered. We decided to try a few bugs over top of the font. At version 10 I asked for opinions. Overall positive, but I’d already noticed that the beetle over the “L” in Fallen cut the word too much. People said it looked like an “I”. We moved it down but it was still cutting it too much so I said, try a bee instead. We also dropped “Speculations” down a bit to differentiate it as a subtitle. Embers had also been too close to the border so I had Eric bring that down as well.

I’m quite please with how the cover turned out. Eric’s happy with it too. The important thing in designing a cover is to allow for some artistic interpretation and know your first design probably won’t stay.

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Embers Amongst the Fallen available through Smashwords

Your ideas may not come out exactly as you envisioned: I know what I had in my head but it probably would have involved an illustrator. Still, this works well and I let Eric actually begin the process. Bugs and flames and wings speak of more than one thing and it references the 16 tales in this book. So here is the final version and if you would like to order an ecopy go to Smashwords. I should have a print version by the end of August and will post that when I do. Now I’m off to Alberta to the When Words Collide convention where I will be on several panels, do a reading and see if I win the Aurora Award.

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