Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Update Part 2

I had a great time at Pure Speculation, which I attended on the Friday night and Saturday. Many of my fellow Cultists were there, including Barb Geiger who now lives in southern Alberta, and who graciously agreed to give me some feedback on the horses in the book* I'm working on.

(*Speaking of the book, I wrote the first draft of it as my NaNoWriMo project last year, but this year I am not signing up for NaNo because I want to keep working on it rather than shifting gears to a new project for a month. I am getting really hopeful that this will be the second novel I finally finish!)

I had a chance to catch up with some non-cult friends as well, and my brother Ian. I don't see that much of him these days, but he is arguably even geekier than me*, and was there covering the convention for the website.

(*My husband told me, after outscoring me on a geekiness quiz, that the problem was that some of the geeky things I was interested in were just too far out in left field to have made it onto the questionaire, while he was unfairly marked up for computer knowledge that he only had because of his job.)

The panels were very interesting, although I think I am becoming something of a dinosaur before my time because I kept wishing panelists would just talk to me instead of fussing around with multimedia. At least Judith Graves, an up-and-coming writer of paranormal young adult fiction, thought to bring speakers. My hearing is good enough for general purposes, but understanding a clip played across the room on somebody's laptop is way beyond me. I was impressed with the GoH, Tanya Huff, and think I will be checking out one of her books soon. (She did not bring any multimedia stuff. At least not that I saw.)

Speaking of books, I added a couple books to my LibraryThing page last week. One was Tolkein's Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, which I enjoyed a great deal. I have always felt a bit disconnected with Norse myths and legends, but this book really managed to get me excited about them. I especially enjoyed all the background material. As a storyteller, I have often gone through the process of putting together a version of a story that I find satisfying, and it was fascinating to see how Tolkein had done the same thing. His great knowledge of and appreciation for the source material was obvious, and contagious.

I also added Dance of Knives, which I labelled at the time as 'currently reading.' Luckily, I don't have to update that yet because I have started reading it a second time. It is one of those books where you discover further in that what was going on back at the start wasn't quite what you thought. I also found that my sense of time in the book seemed to be distorted by the fact that I read the first third or so over several days, and the remainder in about a day and a half. It was not a confusing book, but definitely complex, and I enjoyed it so much that I have been thinking about the story a great deal and really wanting it straight in my head. I already flipped back to re-read a couple sections, and finally just decided to take it from the top.

The book has a common element with the one I am working on*: a character that has been isolated from physical contact with others. The characters are otherwise completely different, and the isolation is for completely different reasons, but the portrayal of her character has certainly made me think a bit about how I am handling my own.

(*There you go. I'm actually talking about my writing on my 'writer's blog.' Must be getting braver!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall Update

I have a bit of time before heading over to Pure Speculation, and thought I would quickly post a bit about other things going on right now.

I will be telling nasty, awful, scary stories at Spooktacular again this year, on the 29th and 30th. I don't have any new stories, but am looking forward to spending a couple evenings with Marie Anne and the other tellers. I'm not sure who will be there exactly, but I am hoping David Haas will be back. His renditions of Ambrose Bierce stories last year were fascinating. And of course it would be great to see Jennie Frost too.

My husband, kids, and I took a trip down to Calgary about a week ago and visited Sentry Box. They do still have my book in stock, and I really appreciate their support! I bought two books there. One was The Stars as Seen from this Particular Angle of Night, which is an anthology of speculative poetry that I haven't finished reading yet, but am very much enjoying. The other was Dance of Knives by Donna McMahon, which I have finished, and which I thought was wonderful. I will be reading the second book in the series as soon as I get my hands on a copy. (Too bad Sentry Box is three hours away. . .)

I wrote a little article on homeschooling for the SHiNE (Society for the Homeschooled Network of Edmonton; no the 'i' doesn't stand for anything) newsletter, but used Jennifer Kennedy for my byline since I meet these people socially and want them to put a face to the name. It is a very dull article really, about scheduling in different subjects, but I figured it could be classed as writing news.

Time to be on my way. I'll try to post something about Pure Spec soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Story in Neo-Opsis

My science fiction story 'Touching Down' is in the current issue (#19) of Neo-opsis magazine. I've almost finished reading my contributor copy, and am enjoying the stories and Karl Johanson's quirky articles.

To find out more about this Canadian sf magazine check out:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Druids Review

Several months ago, I reported on the Edmonton launch of Druids by Barbara Galler-Smith and Josh Langston, and promised a review. I don't really like to write reviews, though, and have been procrastinating. Meanwhile, the book has attracted quite a bit of attention, and now has made the short list for the Aurora award for Canadian speculative fiction. You can find out more about this award, and vote if you wish, at:

We don't really know a lot about the ancient Celts, and fantasy novels set in Celtic worlds are often based more on fairy tales than history. Druids, however, does not present us with a misty world of heroes and wizards, but a believeable mosaic of ancient tribes, unaware of the upheaval which their culture will soon suffer from the growing ambitions of Imperial Rome. The druids of the story are the keepers of knowledge within this culture: healers, priests, and judges. Most of the things which they do are things that might really have been done, and the problems which they face are primarily realistic ones. When magical elements are encountered, they are elusive: prophetic dreams, and a queer transformation called woad-sleep which they employ but do not truly understand.

There is a sense of eerie mystery about these parts of the story, and it is clear that the characters take a risk when they trust in such mysteries, even as they take risks in choosing what people to trust. This book alone spans about twenty years and a considerable area of western Europe, and the scope of the series as a whole seems destined to be an epic one. But so far the action is not dominated by historical events so much as by the personal choices made by the characters. As the story progresses, it is not just the tide of history which catches up with them, but the consequences of their own mistakes, particularly misplaced trust. At the end of the book, it is not yet clear what the final consequences of their magical experiments will be.

Altogether, Druids is a complex and dramatic tale, which leaves the reader with a sense that there is still much to be revealed. For those interested in the world of the ancient Celts, it strikes a nice balance, reconstructing a world based on history rather than myth, but not becoming so prosaic as to lose the sense of mystery that makes that world so fascinating in the first place.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quick Update: WIP, Spam, and Story Concert.

I should have known better than to make a point out of not posting in November. Lo and behold, I promptly did not post in January either, despite not having any very good excuse. I have been doing quite a bit of writing though, and am still working on that NaNoWriMo novel, which now is genuinely over 50,000 words, since that last un-chapter has been cut out and new material added. (This is the WIP part from the title. The acronym, particularly when mentioned in conjunction with the Cult of Pain Writer's Group, might suggest something racy, but in fact it only stands for Work in Progress.)

I have been having a lot of trouble with spam on this blog. I have just finished deleting the most egregious examples, and have now set the comments so that anybody wishing to post will have to type in the letters from one of those wobbly code things. If that doesn't work, I may end up disallowing anonymous comments (which seem to be pretty much synonymous with spam). I have a certain prejudice against that, as I don't want to exclude people who don't want to sign up with Google. That is a large part of my reason for not joining more exclusive things like facebook.

My storytelling group will be having a concert for World Storytelling Day, on March 21st. Our theme is 'Journeys through Light and Shadow.' It will take place at the Strathcona County Library from 2-4pm, and there will be a break for refreshments. Donations to the library will be collected. The concert will mainly be intended for adults; children can attend, but those under about age 10 are likely to find it a bit tedious.