Wednesday, November 30, 2005


On Monday, the Mixed Chorus and I performed for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. It took place in a giant theatre that glittered with lights and had acoustics so perfect that a man in the back row couldn't pass wind without the conductor on the stage hearing it.
My voice remained out of order right up the point where I was supposed to sing, and then, suddenly, I could. Not well, and probably not even on key, but I could sing, and so I did. It made me feel a whole lot better - I felt less like a fraud (like I did when we performed at the United Church before) by lipsyncing, and when I get the Christmas CD I'll know for sure that one of the two hundred voices is mine.
Mum, Dad, Nana and Papa loved the show. Mum wants to go next year, even if I'm no longer in the Chorus, although she's vowed to arrive earlier next time. She and Dad arrived fifteen minutes before the show, but since it's general admission, they were relegated to the fourth, and highest balcony. From the stage, it seems to high up it almost appears as if it's leaning forward, balanced only precariously on top of the third balcony. My mother was so terrified by the heights that she had to hold her program in front of her face to hide the gap but still look at the stage.
Still it was a wonderful show. The handbell ringer show was most entertaining. The sound of the bells is okay, but most of the fun comes from watching the male ringers, who have to ring the largest and most awkward of bells. Since the largest four are bigger than a man's head, ringing them is not a graceful affair - I mean it should be an Olympic sport. They can only ring them by lunging the arm right from the shoulder, and then they have to put it down quickly (and gently) and leap for another bell to ring it just in time. One man moved so frantically he tore his music book.
So, I had a good time, my parents had a good time, and I'm getting better. I can talk now, although I've developed a cough. But I don't really worry anymore, the Big Concert is over.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Murphy's Law

I sorry I haven't been keeping up on my posts.
I also haven't been keeping up on my writing either.
Or my homework.
And I've succumbed to my music addiction. I can listen to music an do absolutely nothing but daydream for hours on end, even when it gives me headaches, as it often does.

I'm feeling really bad - I caught my mother's cold. Worst part is, it gave me laryngitis.
I've never lost my voice. Ever. My voice is important to me. I talk, I sing, I talk some more. Laryngitis has gone through my family maybe four times in my lifetime - it's hit every one of my family members at least once, but never me. There was one time when all of them lost their voices at once - that was a happy time. I could blather on all I wanted because they couldn't tell me to shut up loud enough for me to acknowledge them.
Yesterday, I got laryngitis for the first time. Guess what today was: the freakin' Mixed Chorus Concert! I couldn't sing! I had to lipsync through the whole thing, and the way this thing is progressing, I'm going to have to lipsync through all my other concerts too.
Life's not fair. I can speak in lower registers, but higher pitches are lost to me, and I'm a Soprano II! When I laugh, it comes out as a dry cackle. So not fair. And tomorrow my parents are coming - they paid money to hear me sing in the choir - what's the point, if I can't even contribute? Have I mentioned how unfair all of this is?
However, I am making small progress with The Boy Who Would Be Queen, but Reading the Willow King has fallen by the wayside. I was so passionate about it before, but now it's spent. Hmmm....

Not. FAIR!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Subject No. 24

I have fifteen dollars in my pocket (okay, now it's ten, because I bought some chips and a bag of M&Ms today - I'm starting to get a cold and feel crappy) because I took part in a Science-Fiction psychology test.
It was quite entertaining - I was given a list of names and asked to check off the names I recognized as fantasy authors, and then I was given a pile of book covers with the author's name blotted off and asked to sort the covers into piles I thought shared the same narrative content. I was subject number 24 in the test.
Before that, I had to do the same with mystery novels/writers, as a "controlled" variable - because while I read almost entirely Fantasy fiction, I don't read very many mysteries. So now I have $10, and I'm planning on using it to rent a Patrick Dempsey movie or too. It's a little difficult, because most of his movies were made in the 80s, and were never really significant enough to merit a conversion to DVD (with the exception of his more popular movies Can't Buy Me Love and Loverboy) I have to go to specialty independent video rental places to find his movies. Mind you, I'm just going to watch his movies, and only when I have the time and don't have to work on projects or study. I am not - as my mother would have you believe - "stalking Dr. McDreamy".
Also, I've started reading George R R Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" trilogy for Green Man, and I'm already being sucked back into that world again. I love those books. I find I read them differently now. For the longest time, I relied very strongly on mental visuals when I read. First, I pictured them in my head as anime characters (this helped for Robert Jordan's books, because they became very episodic like anime), then I took to playing "movies" of the books events in my head, casting famous celebrities as the characters.
In Robin Hobb's "Tawny Man" trilogy, for instance, I pictured Hugh Jackman as Fitz, Anthony Hopkins as Chade, Gwyneth Paltrow as the Queen, Jennifer Aniston as Starling, and (I hope Robin Hobb forgives me), David Spade as the Fool. Of course, all the actors, when they're in my head, are good actors, so it works out fine for me.
Unfortunately, this allows me to read slower than I could - it took me a while to go through "A Song of Ice and Fire" the first time, even with Mel Gibson as Ned Stark, Nicole Kidman as Catelyn, a young Elijah Wood as Bran, Tom Cruise (!) as Littlefinger, and the fantastic Peter Dinklage as Tyrion. So now I'm not trying overhard to visualize it now, or play movie scenes in my head as I read it, because I actually have a deadline now to bring in the reviews, and it's in less than a month. So I'll have no time to watch Happy Together, For Better And For Worse, or Some Girls until the Christmas holidays, at least.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Another Novel

Reading The Willow King is not going as planned - the words don't seem to come out on paper the way they've been forming themselves in my head. I'm still going to work on it, but I think the reason it's dull now is that when I was passionate about the idea (during the summer), I didn't go past creating an outline because I wasn't finished The Shining Empress yet.
And now I'm passionate about another novel idea (The Boy Who Would Be Queen). So, I'm going to start to write that too. I can always do two novels at once - when I'm stuck on one, I'll start on another, or work on some short stories (I nixed the "Daughter of the Moon's Companion" idea, and replaced it with "Aunt Tansy's Alma Mater" idea) instead. So, I'll be able to keep myself busy as long as I like. I think in this case, I need to strike while the iron (or idea) is hot, and not wait it out - I can always go back and revise it later.
During the upcoming Christmas holidays, I'm going to force myself to write everyday. Write and read. Because I want to get as much done as possible.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling...They're sexeh

Okay, this post has very little to do with writing, but I'm going to indulge myself, so bear with me.
As a young woman who loves television and movies, it is only natural that I express a certain preference, if you will, for certain actors whom I deem Sexeh and Hott. I've had brief crushes that ended very badly - like Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller's Day Off: *heart* Inspector Gadget: *ew*), David Spade (yes, I know...), Rob Schneider (seeing The Animal trailer: Hmmm....Seeing The Animal movie: *ew*), etc....
But while looking at my current roster of Actors I Deem Sexeh and Hott, I notice a particular similarity in all of them.
They are all Irish! Or of Irish descent.
Yes, yes, I still like Tobey Maguire and Topher Grace, but since they haven't been in anything recently (and I'm being forced to wait until 2007 to see them both in Spider-Man 3), they've been put on the backburner, so to speak.
But the ones that are currently on the Sexeh and Hott list, I don't see it as coincidence that they come (or their grandaddies came) from the Emerald Isle. I'm of Irish descent, and my family is very possessive of our Irish ancestry (my dad's a Scotman/Pole, but he's officially "adopted" Irish culture), so maybe this is manifesting itself in my taste for actors.
I'm not the kind of person who goes and looks up their biographies and pretends to know anything about their personal lives - that comes across as creepy. Take it as shallowness - I don't love them, I simply really enjoy watching their performances due to their superior acting skills and smouldering good looks. The Top Three, right now, are as follows:

1. Patrick Dempsey
Yup, good ol' Doctor McDreamy has made hospitals a pleasant place to be again. All the men on ER are ugly, or scarred, or brain-tumoured, so I have to go to Grey's Anatomy for good old-fashioned handsome doctors. Well, technically his character's a surgeon. He's the one who's only of Irish descent, but c'mon, if the Isle hadn't existed he wouldn't have been here! Plus, he shares my birthday...(^_^), but that isn't totally important, because so does William "She Bangs" Hung (-_-;;;)
2. Liam Neeson
He's good and dependable - you can always count on him to be in a good movie. He's the kind of man you notice, even in the few stinkers he's been in (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and The Haunting). Plus - unlike Dempsey, he has dozens of classic films to look back on and gawk at his handsomeness. He has a very unique facial structure that's interesting to look at, so while he's not conventionally handsome, he's very good-looking. I saw him recently in Kinsey (which was a little awkward), Batman: Begins (Irish Ninja!!!), Les Miserables (as Jean Valjean - the poor, tortured mayer with a past...), and Schindler's List. Plus, he has a sexy accent.
3. Cillian Murphy
He's relatively new to the whole Hollywood scene, but I hope he gets a great deal of work so I can look at him some more. He's very androgenous (in his upcoming film Breakfast on Pluto, where he cross-dresses, it's a little disturbing how authentic he looks in drag), but gorgeous when he's acting like, er, a man. I haven't seen 28 Days Later yet, and he had only the tiniest of cameos in Cold Mountain, but he first caught my eye as the devilish doctor Jonathan Crane in Batman: Begins, and later as an (equally devilish) assassin Jackson Rippner in Red Eye. He manages to remain Sexeh and Hott even after being stabbed in the throat with a pen and forced to cover up the wound with a woman's scarf. More movies for him, please!

I also acknowledge Celtic hotties like Colin Farrell, even if they're not to my taste. I tip my hat to Irish mothers - you make very pretty babies. Keep doing it.

Okay, the weirdness is over. (Hopefully) I'll return with some actually relevant posts later.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mom Test

I've officially completed the peer- and self-editing process for "Desert Muse". I've tinkered with it as much as I dare, and so I will soon submit it to the "Mom" test.
All the major criticisms and editing were done with the writer's group, so the "Mom Test" is just to have one more pair of eyes search over it for typos and obviously misspelled words before sending it in to a magazine.
Reading the Willow King is, well progressing - it's a little hard. I'm focusing mainly on dialogue, when I should be using description, but I can always go back and revise it when I finished - I just have to get the ideas converted into text first.
Also, I've updated my site again! The picture for my profile is really a caricature of me, anime-style. I'm not planning on posting my real name or an accurate photo until I'm actually published - and then it will be my Author's Website.
Also, don't be afraid to comment! If I don't reply, it doesn't mean I'm angry, it means I'm rendered speechless by the glory of your wit and skill!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Light A Candle...

...For Arrested Development, peeps, one of the funniest shows on television.
Fox has cut down its episodes from 22 to 13, and the show has now been pulled from the schedule and put on haitus. While some people believe it's due to Jason Bateman's surgery, other entertainment sources believe this is simply the final nail in the coffin of a great show. Why weren't you people watching it?
This was a show so good, that if you showed in it Britain, they would be the ones making a lesser European copy of it.
Well, one can't blame Fox. Fox, the network reviled for cancelling Firefly before the first season was even over, is not at all at fault for Arrested Development. It kept the show on for three years - gave it three seasons, three chances. People practically chucked Emmys at them, but still, ratings were low. TV is still a business, and Fox was uncharacteristically generous in keeping Arrested Development alive for as long as it did. I tip my hat to you, Fox.
And if this really means the end for Arrested Development, one must turn to other sources for quality television. Like NBC's American The Office. Yes, yes, it's an American version of a British show, but it's built itself up to be quite entertaining. At first, it was tough to get used to, because Steve Carrell is a much more caustic and deliberately offensive boss than Ricky Gervais' version. However, when one watches it, Steve still manages to convey his character's desperate, pathetic loneliness. Plus, Jim and Pam (the American equivalents for Tim and Dawn) are adorable to watch.
Rainn Wilson (as sycophant Dwight) poses a much more menacing figure than the rail-thin UK version, but he's still hilarious. In yesterday's episode, you catch a glimpse of him gearing up to ask Michael Scott (boss Carrell) for a raise by listening to rock music and playing air-guitar in the stairwell, screaming "You know why I deserve this raise? Because I'm AWESOME!"
If you don't want to watch this Office just on principle (or loyalty to Gervais), then try My Name Is Earl, which is on NBC right before The Office. It's a sweet-natured morality show and a raucous white-trash comedy all rolled into one. Who knew Jason Lee had it in him? See the show - he's captivating.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Baby! My Baby! An Editor's Attacking My Baby!

I received another critique for "Desert Muse" today from someone in my writer's group, who seemed like a pro.
While the general message was, "Your story was very good", I completely forgot about all of that, and instead looked at all the strikes and comments he did to my story! He tore it to pieces! He had this cool editing progam that made speech bubbles with his comments in them all over my manuscript. He did admit that my writing was florid and wordy. He cut out many things and said I needed better descriptions of visions and time.
It hurt. It really did. I wasn't angry at him, really, more angry at myself. He acted like he was pro (he could be an actual published writer, I suspect), and with all the strikes made to my work I felt like I had just broken in on his classy dinner party while wearing a mud-spattered paper bag. I embarassed myself in front of a professional writer with a horribly amateurish manuscript! How will I ever be a writer? Look at all the horrible mistakes I made!
I'm always reading in Writer's Digest and in writing guides how every writer, professional or not, often has moments when they feel that their editor has just molested their story, and begin to search police stations to see if there's a warrant out for a mysterious figure notorious for slashing innocent manuscripts to death. I hate to say that I didn't think it would happen to me, but I did. There's that crazed over-confidence again - I send in my story with absolutely no idea how anyone in their right mind could possibly find anything the matter with it. It's easy to accept criticism when it comes layered in swathes of glorious praise - and it's hard to accept compliments when they come edged with heartless correction.
I know I'll get over it, eventually, and it will certainly come in very handy next week, when I will polish off the final draft of "Desert Muse" and send it in to Challenging Destiny. Good criticism is like yucky cold medicine - you never feel good about taking it until later.

Did I forget to mention?

I started writing my second novel Reading the Willow King yesterday. This is the first-draft period - the seed has been planted, so I'm just going to let the story grow in whatever direction it feels like until it's done. I'll spend the 2nd and 3rd drafts pruning it down to a suitable shape, and then hopefully some nice editor will chop it down even further to make a delightful bonzai tree of a published novel.
Wish me luck!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Praises and Adulations!

I posted "Desert Muse" to my writer's group, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive!
All of them had good constructive criticism ("if you're traveling for three straight days, and the moon is full on the second day, the moonlight should still be bright for all three days", etc), but not before they told me it was "an enjoyable read, fantastic in fact", "delightful", "sure to be published" , "wonderful"...
Of course, I was inclined to disagree with some of the negative comments, but the rule for my Writer's Group (and I do think it is a wise one) is do not reply to criticism. In this way, writing is like production, and the reader is the customer, and the customer is always right! If the reader didn't understand that the tragic deaths on the desert voyage were not mandatory, and only the result of stupidity, then no amount of explaining it to them will take away their confusion at reading it for the first time.
Also, one should never use the "Well, what do they know? Their stories suck/they're not authors" excuse. It's crap. Who do you write your stories and books for? You don't write them for authors, necessarily. You write them for the average readers! So they should have just as much a say in how your work is doing than the six-figure-advance-flaunting best-selling authors.
Still, it's very vindicating to have my work praised to such an extent by total strangers. And don't take this as my excuse to puff up my chest in front of you. When I write, I have varying periods of deep self-doubt and insane self-confidence. When I read story magazines, or story anthologies, my ego shrinks to the size of peapod, barraged by thoughts that I could never write that well, how will I ever be accepted? I in no way even come close to the heights of their writing, so I should just quit now and take up gardening, instead.
However, when I actually send in my stories, my ego soars on the wings of my accomplishment of actually having the courage to send my work into a magazine that publishes stories that superior. I never expect rejection letters (until they actually appear in mailbox). I always expect a big fat "Oh my God, your story changed my life" letter, with a juicy $1000 check inside. I then expect to be asked to contribute said story to The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and then I'll win a Locus Award and a Hugo, which will lead me off into a stunning career that will make me the youngest person to be named SFWA Grand Master at the age of 25.
Crazy, no?
But praise really helps my confidence, obviously. It's one thing to have your mother praise your work, because you're always going to suspect her of bias regardless of her promises to remain objective. But to have strangers (like the editor at Challenging Destiny) read your work, without knowing anything about you, and telling you it's good, well, that's something else entirely. It allows me to feel that I could actually pursue writing as a career, and not just as a hobby when I'm slaving away at some dead-end job.

Still, can you imagine the looks I'll get if I can put "Grand Master" on my resume?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Just finished my second-draft of "Desert Muse", and I sent it in to my online writer's group, and to my university's Writer-In-Residence for critique.
My writer's group (fairly) states that for one to post work for critique, one must also write reviews of other people's work. And so I do - I've made it a rule to critique two pieces for every one piece I send in. Seems like a good system to me.
Once the votes are in, I'll complete a final draft, and send it in to another magazine, probably Challenging Destiny first, because I received such an encouraging rejection letter from them, plus they're Canadian, and will get back to me fairly quickly. If that pans out, Realms of Fantasy will be next, because I haven't sent anything to them yet.

"I defy your writing logic!" she screamed angrily.

I've been keeping up on my reading in The Canadian Writer's Handbook, and, like a disturbing amount of other writing-advice books I have read, it strongly discourages the use of speech tags ("screamed, barked, explained") and adverbs in writing.

Adverbs and speech-tags are integral to my writing. When I first read that speech tags shouldn't be overused, I just ignored it as one particular author's opinion. When I started reading about it over and over, I got a little worried. I've made it a point in my writing never to say "he said, she said" unless I am at a complete loss for words. You see, what many adults writers may forget, or be unaware of, is that in creative-writing classes in elementary school, my teachers always encouraged me to use something other than "said" to follow dialogue. Looking back, this may have just been a tool to get me to teach myself vocabulary, but it's remained ingrained in the way I write.

Well, the writing guides say that using speech tags can be a kind of a crutch. The tone, sound, and volume of the dialogue should, they say, come through in the dialogue, and not just in the tag that comes after it. So, the implication is that using speech tags too much is just a way to make up for bad dialogue. I don't know if this applies to fantasy writers, because I've read many fantasy writers who use speech tags, and many who do not, as well.
And as for adverbs - the guides advise that if I'm using too many adverbs, I should be making the verbs stronger, instead. So, instead of "she ran quickly", I should write "she sprinted".
I don't want to change my style. I'm very possessive of it, and it's the way the words naturally come out on the paper. On the other hand, if I want to be a professional author, I shouldn't encourage bad writing habits, and if I practice writing while keeping speech tags and adverbs to a minimum, it may eventually become my natural style.

So I'm going to give it a shot. I will still use speech tags, but I think the whole point isn't to not use them, but just not to overuse them. When I'm using only speech tags, maybe that's a bad thing. Sometimes I can read speech tags smoothly, and sometimes I can't, but truthfully, I never even have the problem when reading texts without speech tags. So, if I want to make a certain point, or emphasis a certain bit of dialogue, I see no problem with using speech tags. With adverbs, well...writing fantasy requires a great deal more visual description than other genres in general, but I'll see what I can do to keep my writing from becoming too florid.
At least it'll help with my too-long word counts.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Greetings, From the Monastary!

Due to the stress of one more mid-term (nihongo no tesuto: Japanese test), my Classics Project, my Symbolic Logic Assignment, and my Final Essays in Film Studies and English, I have renewed my determination to retire to my quiet, pink, faux-vine-adorned cloister in order to meditate and pray, and in the process of so doing, to get all my work done, and some of my writing too.
I have decided to dedicate myself (when I am not blogging, or maintaining my contacts in the Spider-Man-Fan and author-blogger community), once again, to work, work, work. I missed a class for Symbolic Logic due to unforeseen problems of which it is not ladylike to divulge, and with that class I have apparently lost all my previous affinity for the ridiculously unnecessary subject. I got 95% on the freakin' Mid-Term, but the new stuff we're learning is so complex and needless that it flies right over my head.
And everytime I set myself down to writing for the essays, I can never write more than a few sentences before I start to think that I should hardly be writing this, until I get some books on the subject, and then I proceed to procure said books from the library, refuse to read them because they are long and boring, and then return them late and pay the $40 fine when I want to receive my official grade statement.'s especially hard for my English one - I have to find something to give my paper historical context, but there aren't very many books on the subject at the University library, and at present I am too lazy to go down to my local library and find out why I can't make requests anymore. I've tried looking up articles, but I have no head for research, and I chickened out when my professor offered me help. I claimed I didn't have time, but really, I just wanted to go home so that I could start procrastinating!
I think I'm going to have to eat crow, and ask her for help before the November Break.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Author Contact

I went to a distant relative's wedding shower yesterday.
It was interesting - when they were opening the gifts, the hostess started a game where the person whose gift had just been opened had to make a wish for the next person whose gift was about to be unwrapped - without knowing who the next person was to be.
When my family's turn came, I wished for the next person to experience "wild passion" - a suggestion that elicited much laughter when the wizened grandmother of the bride stood up next to watch her gift being opened. The rest of the party didn't pass so smoothly, I was snubbed by both Sister #1 and my grandmother, and returned home in a bad mood.

I've tried posting on authors' blogs now - Jennifer Macaire and Catherine Collins have both replied, and Robin Hobb (Robin - freakin' - HOBB!) replied to my posts on her message board. I posted on Elizabeth Bear's LiveJournal today, but I was a little intimidated - all the other commentators appeared to be published authors as well, who knew Ms Bear a great deal longer than I have (I have not, as of yet, had the chance to actually read any of her books, but I have heard of one [Hammered, which was mentioned in Locus]), but I am automatically admiring of anyone who has managed to garner fame in the fantasy/science fiction genre. Is this wrong? I just hope she isn't insulted that a teenage girl who still lives in a pink bedroom with teddy bears in her parents' house dared to post on her Journal.

Also, on the Spider-Man movie website, they've officially announced Thomas Hayden Church is cast as Sandman for Spider-Man 3. Expectedly, the messageboards proceeded to erupt into chaos, and I and a few others have felt it necessary to try and restrain the swearing-matches and fan-boy chest-thumping that has resulted.

I'm still trying to write the second draft for "Desert Muse". It's fairly easy for me to rewrite the first halves of my stories, but for the latter halves (which are invariably better-written), I'm often lazy and resort to copy-and-pasting large passages into the second draft instead of rewriting those parts. Should I rewrite first-draft passages even if I think they're already good enough?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Uh, yeah, I'm gonna need more time...

...To finish all of these books! Culled from Entertainment Weekly, my parents' suggestions, and Locus magazine, these are books I'm planning on reading. While they might not necessarily be in that order, I hope to read all of them, at some point. Wish me luck, and if you've read some of these already, post in my blog and tell me what you think!

The Queen of Springtime, Robert Silverberg (currently reading)
On Writing, Stephen King
Year’s Best Fantasy 5, Various Authors
Shinjuu, Laura Joh Rowland
The Eyre Affair (and other books), Jasper Ford
East Side Story, Louis Auchincloss
Crache, Mark Budz
Baker Towers, Jennifer Hargh
The Chrysanthemum Palace, Bruce Wagner
I’m Losing You
I’ll Let You Go
Still Holding,
Bruce Wagner
The Pig and I: Why It’s So Easy to Love an Animal, and So Hard To Live With a Man, Rachel Toor
Christmas Stars, Edited by David G. Hartwell
The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore
The Bachelorette Party, Karen McCullah
Please Don’t Come Back From The Moon, Dean Bakopeulos
Out of My Head, Didier Van Cawelaert
Mr. Timothy, Louis Baynard
Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
The Family Tree, Carole Cadwalladr
Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
Home Land, Sam Lipsyte
Small Mediums at Large, Terry Iacuzzo
Be More Chill, Ned Vizzini
Ireland, Frank Delaney
Phantom Nights, John Farris
The Book of Joe, Jonathan Tropper
Little Black Book of Stories, A.S. Byatt
Blood Done Sign My Name, Timothy B. Tyson
Harbour, Lorraine Adams
Case Histories, Kate Atkinson
Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
Prep, Curtis Sittenfield
The White Rose, Jean Hanff Korelitz
Death of an Ordinary Man, Glen Duncan
Wrong About Japan, Peter Carey
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
Dear Zoe, Philip Beard
The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell
The Reading Group, Elizabeth Noble
Upstate, Kalisha Buckhanon
The Big Show, Steve Pond
The Truth About Celia, Kevin Brockmeier
Snobs, Julian Fellowes
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Notes from the Underbelly, Risa Green
The Forgotten Man, Robert Crais
The Big Picture, Edward Jay Epstein
Oblivion, Peter Abrahams
Midnight at the Dragon Café, Judy Fong Bates
Gods in Alabama, Joshilyn Jackson
, all by Karin Lowachee
Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
In the Glory of it All, Sean Wilsley
Innocence, Kathleen Tessaro
Dead Beat, Jim Butcher
Child of a Rainless Year, Jane Lindskold
Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult
The Year of Our War
No Present Like Time,
both by Steph Swainston
The Well of Stars
, Robert Reed
The Last Guardian of Everness, John C. Wright
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clark
Freedom’s Gate, Naomi Kritzer
A Crack in the Line, Michael Lawrence
Fitzpatrick’s War, Theodore Judson
Olympic Games, Leslie What
Through Violet Eyes, Stephen Woodworth
Black Juice, Margo Lanagan
The Mysteries, Lisa Tuttle
The Wizard Knight, Gene Wolfe
A Princess of Roumania, Paul Park
700 Sundays, Billy Crystal
Making It Up, Penelope Lively
It’s Superman! Tom De Haven
Campus Sexpot, Daniel Carkeet
Son of a Witch,
Gregory Maguire
Gary Benchley, Rock Star, Paul Ford
School Days, Robert B. Parker
The Physics of Superheroes, James Kakalios
On Beauty, Zadie Smith
Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, Jill Soloway
A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards, Anne Bauer
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Tooth and Claw, TC Boyle
Wish. Melina Gerosa Bellows
Running With Scissors, Augusten Buroughs
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
26A, Diana Evans
The Easy Rawlins Detective Series, Walter Mosley
Iron Council, China Mieville
Looking for Jake, China Mieville
How To Be Lost, Amanda Eyre Ward
God Jr., Dennis Cooper
Charlemagne’s Tablecloth, Nichola Fletcher
The English Teacher, Lily King
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
That's 102 books, in case you're counting.

Feedback, while Laid-Back

I love autumn and winter.
Those are my favourite seasons - they're cold and snowy, without being soggy like spring. The air always smells like woodsmoke (in summer, the air smells like barbequed beef - which isn't always a bad thing, except when you walk home from the busstop with steak on your mind and you end up with boring old tuna casserole on your plate).
The nights are getting longer, the clouds are descending, and the shadows are gathering everywhere - to me this isn't a bad thing. It makes me feel warm and safe and cozy, as if I'm a tired moth cupped within the shelter of someone's hands. To sit in bed with a lamp on and a novel in front of me, it is bliss. I am learning to love reading again, although I'm still having trouble sitting down to write anything. The moment I start, it becomes work, so I start procrastinating. Ah well, "Desert Muse" is almost finished, and soon I'll start pestering Mother to read it and then set it in front of my online Writer's Group to see what they think.
I uploaded the first chapter of The Shining Empress onto the Writer's Group forum, and they basically concurred with what my mother thought of it.
I'm very talented at establishing imagery with my words, but too often I use three words where one would suffice. Also, my main character's a total bitchface. She gets better - but not that much. I always found Kisaino entertaining, and it was great fun to write about how silly she is, but that doesn't necessarily mean that other people will have fun reading that.
One different between what my mother thought, and what the people at the Fantasy Writer's Group thought probably had to do with the fact that the folks in my group were more used to reading fantasy than my mother.
My mother reads fantasy occasionally - Charles De Lint, the Anita Blake books, Jasper Fforde's stuff - but I don't think she reads it the same way I and the group members do. She found the names of my characters bewildering; if they both started with the same letter, she confused them - for several paragraphs she thought my warrior prince was a girl. The group members never quibbled about the names, although I suppose we're used to it. After all, I'm reading Robert Silverberg's The Queen of Springtime for Green Man Review, and half the time I think he picks his characters' names by closing his eyes and jabbing blindly at his keyboard.
Anyhoos, I'm starting to learn that I'm going to have to trim my prose down, and make more likable characters.

Next up: I'm going to be publishing my gigantic Books to be Read list - if you've read any of these books before, send me a comment about whether you liked it!

Friday, November 04, 2005

My Exclusion from Nerd-Topia

I realize that it's sinfully early to do so, but I've been constructing and revising my Christmas Wish list.
It's amazing how much writing your own wish list tells you about yourself. For me, this year I thought that the things I was asking for were more mature. I asked for books about novel writing, and memoirs of authors, as well as Movie/Book/CD gift certificates.
I also didn't ask for anime. Or videogames.
I think I've actually grown out of videogames. I just don't have the time to invest in RPGs anymore - they're like novels - if you stop halfway and come back to them months later, you have no idea what's going on. I have so many more things I need to spend my time on - my stories, my blog, my reading of authors' blogs, my reading books for review and school - that videogames just seem irrelevant.
And anime - I still like watching it, but I've never had the money to buy them regularly. It's not that I don't like anime anymore, it's just that I've learned I can live a perfectly happy life without it. Both this, and my new apathy towards videogames leaves me feeling a little depressed.
I think it's because liking videogames, and liking anime, gave me contacts. Not actual, literal contacts, but I always knew that there were other people out there who looked these games and shows, cool people, famous people, funny people (like the guys over at,, and - I felt part of the whole Nerd Universe, a silent network of sunlight-shunning people. It made me feel like I was making some sort of contribution to pop culture, because Nerd is "in" these days, and all the TV shows and entertainment magazines and films are making a big deal about games and anime now. It made me feel popular - like I would if I found out that Rachel McAdams used the same lipstick I did. It's stupid, and shallow, but it made me feel less like a freak.
And now I feel a little isolated. I've eaten from the Forbidden Tree of Maturity, so now the Nerd God has expelled me from the Nerd Eden, to eke out a harsh life in the barren Desert of Adult Interests. Now that I don't rely on videogames for entertainment anymore - writers are solitary people by nature, and when was the last time a Fantasy Author (excluding Stephen King, Rowling, etc..), or the act of reading or writing fantasy novels, was joked about on the O.C., or was the motive for a grisly murder on C.S.I.? I'm sure I'll get over it, I'm sure many people (parents included) will think this makes me an "adult now" - but sometimes I wish I could scoot back over to the kiddie table.

At least I still like playing Monopoly - Topher Grace, Tobey Maguire, AND Jay Leno love that game, although Leno doesn't use a jackpot for Free Parking. Pssh, loser.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


200 hits!
It pays to put one's blog in an (aspiring) Author's Blog page! (
And I've updated my profile!

Gory Guilty Pleasures

I have no Classics class today, because our professor has run off to some conference or another, in Portugal. So here I am, reading authors' blogs, working on my English Essay, and surfing the web.
There's apparently a trailer out now, at for Final Destination 3. Oooh!
It will probably not go down into the annals of film history, but it's a guilty pleasure that I, and my sisters #1 and #2 partake of, on occasion.
We saw the first Final Destination movie, which involved a teen who gets an explicit and graphic vision of his plane exploding in mid-air, and waking up in a panic, gets himself and five other people kicked off the flight. Guess what? The plane explodes ten minutes after taking off, and the plot is that Death had a particular plan, and that by ruining the plan for himself and five other people, the teen and his friends are being stalked by Death, who means to set things right. You never see him, but through intricate, gears-and-bolts and seeming coincidences, the teens die, horribly. Sad to say, it's fun to watch.
What's interesting about the Final Destination films is that you can't yell at the characters for being stupid. They don't die by going down into the basement by themselves, or by wandering off into an abandoned warehouses. They meet their ridiculously violent deaths by seeming accident. In the first film, one boy slips on a conveniently placed puddle (Death's work) and ends up hanging himself on a clothsline in his bathtub. Another girl walks out into the street and gets hit by a bus. Another boy (played by Sean William Scott) get beheaded (or more accurately, half-beheaded, he leaves his chin behind) by a piece of metal that was sent flying by a speeding train. A teacher gets the most violent death - she ends up jabbed in the throat (by an exploding computer) stabbed (by falling knives), and burned (poorly-maintained oven). You've have to see it to believe it. And at the very end, a year later, one of the three remaining people ends up crushed by a piece of French architecture in Paris. The boy with the vision dies off-screen, by a falling brick (how pedestrian!), or so we're told by the final survivor in the second movie.
The second Final Destination involves a young woman who has a vision of a horrible highway accident involving a logging truck. In a panic, she stops her car in the middle of a merge and prevents the people behind her from driving on and meeting their predestined fates. In this one, we meet the last survivor of the last movie, who's holed herself up in a loony bin to keep Death from coming after her. This movie has a bunch of twisty things about it, as well as gory deaths. We learn in the film that all the people who were supposed to die in the accident, had had their lives saved before by the deaths of the people in the first film (example: a substitute teacher was moved from one school to another, and ended up avoiding a school shooting - and guess who he was called to replace? That's right - the jabbed/stabbed/burned teacher from the 1st movie).
This movie was a little sillier because it showed that that Death doesn't just screw up once in a while, but apparently all the freakin' time. He even makes several false-starts and miscalculations in this film! A teen (before he's finally crushed beneath a falling pane of glass), is supposed to die in the dentist's chair, when he's breathing sleepy-gas through his nose and a broken piece of a mobile falls into this throat, in one of the most gruesome dentist-movie-scenes ever. He's saved by a dentist! Damn you, Death! Get it together!
In this film, the last survivor from the 1st film and one of the other characters dies when an oxygen tank in a hospital is set alight, a lottery winner is impaled through the eye by a falling fire-escape ladder, a crack addict is cut into three pieces by a flying barbed-wire fence, a woman is beheaded by an elevator, a boy is flame-broiled by an exploding barbeque, and woman is skewered through the head when a airbag is deployed, which pushes her head back onto the spike protruding from her headrest, the result of a car accident.
It's deliciously evil to watch, but how they set up the deaths is fairly entertaining and suspenceful. The third movie, judging from the trailer, seems to base itself on a roller coaster disaster that yet another pyschic teen escapes, along with a group of doomed youngsters. The deaths in this one (again, judging from the trailer) seem to include a malfunctioning tanning bed, falling swords, wooden stakes, a rear-end collision, and fireworks.
I don't think I'll be lining up to see it in theatres, but I might want to take a look at it when it comes out on DVD.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Got both my papers today.
Turns out that the English class I got locked out of on Wednesday was an accident - I tried the door and the prof didn't hear me scrambling at the doorknob, and the students closest to the door didn't bother to open it. Grrr....A pox on them and their children!

My film paper got a B+. The teacher said I needed to focus more, and that can be a bit of a problem, at least concerning my final 10-page essay. He doesn't require sources, just intense analysing, but my initial topic is a little, er, general. The topic is how I think Hollywood was doing its part for the civil rights movement by employing racial and social minorities in the roles of comic relief. I kinda feel I have to go all over the place for this one, but I'll try to reign it in.

My English paper got a B, a 3.1 (high 70s). This professor said I basically needed to explain my points more, because I brought them across with quotations without adding something after - well, that'll help, and will make me feel less guilty for padding my final essay with extra sentences that aren't necessary.

Still, I don't like getting Bs. They're low, for me. They are high 70s - low 80s. And I'm supposed to be a writer. English is supposed to be my thing. Science is the thing for Sister #1, and she's getting 97s! Why am I only getting middling grades? I always chose a topic and defend it eloquently. Does this mean I'm a bad writer? What if my grades now determine what kind of writing careers I can get in the future? How can I get better when essay-writing is entirely subjective?

Basically, I'm not doing wonders for my GPA. Maybe I should just quit English and take up a major in one of those silly courses that require concrete formulas I can make myself remember, where if you're right, you're right, and if you're wrong, you're wrong.

Or maybe I should stop writing in my blog now, and get working on those essays.

My Hasty Leap from the Wagon

I've come to realize that I've been a bit hasty in labelling NaNoWriMo as a writing challenge for amateurs. Upon my recent exploration of author's blogs, a great number of them mention NaNo, and how far they've managed to get in a day.

So, I'm chewing on my toenail polish when it comes to what NaNoWriMo is. It's a fun challenge for all kinds of writers, published and unpublished. It's probably just as hard for an accomplished writer to make a whole novel in 30 days as it is for the junior high student just getting into the game. To be fair, this was the first year I've heard of it as any big thing, but I should have been a little more considerate.

However, I stand by my decision of dropping out this year. My papers need work, and while I still have plenty of time, I find myself pushing my writing skills to the utmost just to get the page limit that I require. I've fairly good at BSing - at writing five words into a phrase that really only needs one, but I can only go so far without completely exhasperating my professors.

I received a letter (mass e-mailed) from Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo on November 1st, and while it was meant to be encouraging, it only helped to point out the reasons why I shouldn't be doing it this year. It was all about how I should feel entitled this mouth to let the kids drive themselves to school, to not cook, to let someone else walk the dog, do the chores, etc -- that's selfishness, and not one that I feel I can indulge in, living as I am with my parents and two sisters. My writing, which is important to me, is not as important to them, and the work around the house has to get done every month, November being no exception.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The look of a Writer

Two posts in one day! Aren't you lucky, dear readers!

I finally received my September 2005 issue of Locus magazine, the one for Fantasy and Science Fiction books, or as I like to call it, the One Magazine I Subscribe To That Allows Ugly People On the Cover. Most writer's aren't ugly, and I know this, but the cover photos are spectacularly unremarkable, if not unflattering. Most of the famous, established authors featured are plump middle-aged women in bobs with cats-eye glasses, or else old men in long, Old-Testament style beards who are balding a little on top. The only exception to this rule seems to be Neil Gaiman, who always manages to look like an angry rock star with his lips twisted into an arrogantly cool pout and his hair in his eyes. Anyone who had any part in writing 1602 deserves to look like cool. Well done!

I hope to be on the cover of Locus sometime. It's a magazine that doesn't seem to get the same amount of subscribers as, say, Entertainment Weekly, but it's always exciting to read about who's sold their 87th book for a six-figure sum, or who has delivered their long awaited trilogy to their agent, or who has had to split their original manuscript into two books because as a whole, it is so long that it is physically impossible make a single book that size (hint, hint, George R. R. Martin). It's edited by a man named Charles Brown, and his Editorial is often diverting, although it seems as if he can't go a day without eating supper at a famous author's house or restaurant and drinking a great deal of wine. His editorials go something like this, "Read What'sherface's book, which was very good, then I went to dinner with her and ate this and this, which were delicious, and then I met Someone Someone, and we shared a delicious lunch where I ate too much, and the next day I went to a conference where I met Whatshisname, and we couldn't stop talking all the way to the lobster restaurant..." You get the idea. What a life! Reading, writing, and eating lobster with celebrity writers. Awesome.

While reading about writing can be fun, I'd like to read more about the writers themselves. I'm already a devoted Snarkling (of Miss Snark, Literary Agent, at even though I've only been reading her blog for three weeks, but I'd also like to find the blogs of professional writers as well. I know Neil Gaiman, Rock Star/Comic Guru/Famous Fantasy Author has one, and does the man who edits for Tor Publishing, but I'd also like to see if Robin Hobb (aka Megan Lindholm) has a blog, or if Tad Williams has a blog.

I'm pretty sure Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens have sorta missed the boat on this phenomenon, but if you happen to know any interesting fantasy author blogs, be sure to mention it in my comments.


Every neighbourhood has its own Halloween ebb and flow. People with kids move in, then those kids grow up, then eventually move out and more people with children move in. It's a slow, inevitable cycle.

My neighbourhood is barely older than I am. When I went trick or treating, kids assembled at doors in groups three persons deep. We roved the street in packs of fifteen to twenty. The Halloweens were always snowy in those days, so I could never be the dainty fairy princess, because no costume could look dainty when worn over a fluffy parka. I was a cat for many years, an angel of death (mistaken several times for a dead nun, due to the white balaclava worn underneath my hood), a good witch, and for my final trick-or-treat, Cleopatra.

The children of the neighbourhood have grown up. We go to parties now, or are supposed to go to parties, anyway. The doorbell rang maybe eleven times yesterday night, at most. That can be a good thing, because it means we can eat the rest of the candy with little guilt, but it certainly made last night quiet. I like the idea of one day where the streets are roaming with giggling children. They were nearly empty yesterday.

Also, I realize that if I want to get homework done, the office of the Gateway is not always the useful place to do it. The Gateway is manned by a host of philosophical, intelligent young men and women of our generation, who cannot help but engage in meaningful conversation whenever they get the chance.

Take yesterday, for example - an argument erupted whether Darth Vader could be beaten by Batman/Unicron/Ash from "Armies of Darkness"/Magneto/20 Unicrons/Professor X, etc.
"The comic-book Batman could take him," one participant insisted, "But movie Batman would get his ass kicked."
"If Darth Vader had the Death Star, and a host of Tie-Fighters, could he then take on Unicron?" another asked.
"Quite possibly."
"What about twenty Unicrons?"
"I don't think anybody could defeat twenty Unicrons."
"Not even thirty Death Stars?"
"Thirty Death Stars and Batman, if he turned to the Dark Side?"
Needless to say, I'm intimidated. These men are far superior to the members of the Anime Club!