Sunday, September 25, 2011

An imago is an idealized concept of a loved one…or a winged insect

My dog chases them all the time. Isn’t it strange that I can write a whole novel and yet there are some words that I have never used in a sentence? In fact, some words are so foreign to my way of speaking that they would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb if I ever used them. I yawn, but never oscitate.  So this week’s campaign challenge has left me feeling less than poetic. I could write about a miasma of steam rising up to obscure my reflection in the mirror, but I haven’t had time today to take a shower.  Could there be a lacuna in my vocabulary? I don’t even know if I’m using that word correctly.  I’m reminded of a scene in the movie “Clueless” when a guy tells the late great Britney Murphy “Be seeing you” and she answers “I hope not sporadically,” having just learned the word. The fact that I’m quoting “Clueless” should give you an idea of my mindset.  The challenge is to write a 200-word blog post using several assigned words.  One of them is synchronicity.  I bet you can guess what the others are. Vote here for #101 (That’s me).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Memories last forever (if you put them on youtube).

I was at Chudleigh's Apple Orchard today and I got to thinking of all the times we've been there before. I went down the slide with William and remembered going down the slide with him as a toddler. Then he was in my lap; this time we were racing. I recall an infant Jadzia sucking on an apple, not enough teeth yet to take a bite. Though she has teeth now, the apples are still as big as her head and she carried one around for an hour without finishing it.

We can really only afford to go to Chudleigh's once a year. From admission to lunch to apples, our wallets are gouged at every turn. So the kids change dramatically every visit. The place stays oddly the same; our family keeps evolving.

I took my trip down memory lane to youtube and found this:

That's William at the age Jadzia is now, eating an apple pie.  Yes, I know I keep misunderstanding what he's saying in the video.  Could that be a reason he can't be bothered telling me about school now? Anyway we didn't make an apple pie this time. Honey crisp apples are way too good to waste on such an endeavor.

In other new, I am getting a cold from being around allergens too long. Is it really necessary to bed the entire playground in hay?  Really?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wardroids Trailer (that I made) and an Awesome Book (that I didn't write)

On the way home from the writing retreat I was thinking out loud to my friend Siobhan about the templates my husband uses to make ridiculous trailers of our family vacations. "I wonder if you could use one to make a book trailer," said I.

So I got home and started messing around with iMovie.  I chose the template best suited to my science-fiction-comedic-action-romance which I usually call "Wardroids" even though several people have said that it's a terrible title (somehow anything else I think of is slightly more terrible).

The problem: footage.  This might surprise some of you, but it's very difficult to find footage of wardroid sex slaves preparing for rebellion on any of the free stock footage sites.  Instead I found time lapse clips of sunsets and a cool slow motion fire ball. 

Here's about where my husband took over.  My sunset and fireball trailer, while dramatic, really didn't illustrate my book very well. Luckily my husband has a subscription to a stock photo site.  I searched and searched and found several pics of people and androids which could vaguely pass as my characters.  Adam turned these into video clips using his magic computer powers and we spent the evening plugging them into my template. I still kept my sunset and fireball in there because it's good to have at least some actual video.

The end result is, I think, pretty decent. 

I bet you all want to read that book now!  Unfortunately it's not published.  You should call up your connections in the science fiction industry and ask them to get in contact with me.  Show them the trailer, and be sure to tell them that the book is way better than the trailer (less stock footage).

One book that is published however (this is a segue, pretty nice huh?) is my friend Siobhan Minty's self-published masterpiece "A Gay in the Life of Melinda Finch". Available on Amazon here and Smashwords here. If you enjoy my sense of humour (and if you're reading this blog I assume you do), you're going to enjoy this.  It's about a woman named Melinda who has to pretend to be a lesbian to write a gay advice column. Also there's a love triangle, which becomes a love trapezoid.  And there's a twist ending. Here's the review some random Amazon user gave it:

Melinda Finch is zany and loveable. Her story is hilarious and surprisingly poignant. A great read from beginning to end. If you don't think that love conquers all, this book will make you a believer. 

Okay that was me, but I meant every word.  And the book is only 99 cents.  Seriously! (Feel free to mention Siobhan's book when you're negotiating my book deal with your publisher friends).

William's First Day of JK

Today was William's first official day of Junior Kindergarten, not including the open house we attended in the summer and the meet the teacher thing we did last week.  Today was a half day, to ease him into the routine I guess, not that he needs that much easing.  I'm the one who needs to get used to school, to become accustomed watching him walk through those blue double doors and then walking away.

 I was so excited to have some time minus one kid now I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I ambitiously tried to fill those few hours he was gone.  I took Jadzia to the store to buy shoes and nail polish. When we go home it was already ten. I had to pick up William at 11:15.  I tried to prepare tonight's dinner (pierogi lasagna) in advance but I barely got the filling done before we had to race out the door.  An explosive poop delayed our progress even more and I found myself rushing to the school (dragging my dog and daughter along).  I didn't want to be the parent who is late on the very first day.
 Luckily we got there with plenty of time (my watch said 11:15, but we still waited a couple minutes). William seemed in good spirits, but when asked about his day he said "I don't remember." I managed to drag out some tidbits. He played with cars, including one Hot Wheels car.  He played with scooters at recess. He didn't eat his whole snack because "he was already full."
Tomorrow, and forever more, William will go to school all the way to 3:15. Maybe I'll get some writing done. Maybe Jadzia will get the mother daughter time she's been missing. Maybe we'll be so busy that we won't notice the hole that he leaves when he's gone.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pics From the Retreat (Mostly from the Hike)

Willing to risk anything for their craft, Siobhan Minty and Elaine Cougler joyfully point out that our trail may be swarming with deadly insects.

I managed to capture the whole gang on film. From left to right: Sherry Isaac, Elaine Cougler, Siobhan Minty, Carole-Ann Vance, Sharon Clare

Taking a picture of myself always results in a double chin, but Siobhan looks gorgeous.

Sherry, me, Elaine and Sharon pose next to (and on top of) a time machine.

Sherry attempts to take a picture of the sparkly ground (the sparkles didn't show up too well in photos).

Sharon takes a group photo while I sneak a pic of her.

Elaine and Sharon admire Sherry's picture of the sparkly ground.

A friend we met on the journey.

The house we stayed in was much nicer than this.

The view from Halcyon Haven at sunset.

Back at home, Jadzia enjoys painting the book I got from Sharon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More Writing Retreat

Today is the last day of our retreat.  I had a fabulous time yesterday. We began the day with two workshops, one from Sharon on characterization and one from Sherry on rhetorical devices. It was like being back at school (I love school) except all of the kids were the smart kids and the social interactions weren't nearly as awkward.

After a delicious lunch of sweet potato soup and chicken wraps with goat cheese and cranberry, we set off on a hike by an old mica mine. Mica flakes littered the forest floor and, catching the light, looked like stars fallen to the ground.  The weather was perfect, pleasantly warm with a pure blue sky (uncontaminated by clouds). We finished the two-kilometre trek in record time (which to me is any speed faster than a two-and-a-half year old sucking her thumb).

After the hike I convinced my friend Carole Ann to go swimming with me (Carole Ann has just finished her book. Yay!) The water was lovely, so clear that we could see the snails at the bottom and so refreshing that we almost didn't notice the weeds grabbing at our limbs.

Later we sat in muskoka chairs by the water and listened to a meditation CD.  We were supposed to connect with our past lives and maybe discover a character from that. I don't know about past lives, but sitting with my eyes closed, listening to the waves and the birds and the breeze was very relaxing.

We had yummy stew with salad and sweet potato fries for dinner (I love Sharon's cooking) and then did skits of Sherry and Carole-Ann's work.  The idea was to see how a scene worked with multiple people. By acting it out, you discover when characters aren't reacting enough, or if some people get forgotten.  Plus it was a lot of fun to try and act out the lines.

Anyway, Sharon has made another lovely breakfast so I must stop being rude and go eat with my writer friends.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Writing Retreat

Today I am blogging to you, on location from Halcyon Haven in sunny Lombardy. I'm attending a writing retreat with five of my fellow authors,three of whom I know from writer's group, and two new faces.

Yesterday my friend (and fellow writer type) Siobhan and I drove seven hours through traffic.  We ate at a restaurant frequented by truckers which was attached to a convenience store. There were quite a few flies but the food was decent.  Plus, my meal came with ice cream (no, I did not order from the kids menu).  Anyway we arrived last, in the dark, and got slightly lost by the end because my GPS, a typical male, only pretended to know where it was going.

This place is quite nice, right on the lake.  Looking out the window, it feels as though the whole house is floating on the water.  My friend Sharon (also a writer-type, just assume everyone I mention is a writer) organized this whole thing and has all kinds of workshops planned.  She also has a delicious menu and made us a fritata this morning with lots of delicious vegetables ( I love when my eggs have many colours in them). Of course I'm more excited about the woman-food than anything else.

Anyway, in the interest of social networking, here are links to everyone's websites:

Carole Ann: TK






Thursday, September 08, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Today was William's first meeting with his new teacher, Mrs. Leonard.  Though I attended with him, I was quickly shuffled into the corner to fill out forms while William was assessed on his drawing skills, his knowledge of letters and numbers, and his coloured-bear sorting ability.  I think he did well and Mrs. L agreed, but William was disappointed that he only got to "do boring stuff".  Next week, he was promised, there will be playing and there will be other kids.  Man, I wish I was going to junior kindergarten, it sounds like a blast.

After we got home, I tried to discuss the visit with my son.  I couldn't observe everything he and the teacher were doing and was curious. 
"I just don't remember!" William exclaimed.
"But it was only twenty minutes ago," said I.
Shades of years to come.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Just when I was thinking of being productive

My power went off at 4 today.  Being a computer/tv family with at least one dark-phobic child, we have no idea what to do with ourselves without electricity.  With the playroom transformed into an ominous cavern, William abandonned his lego.  I found him a flashlight so he could use our windowless bathroom.

Jadzia snatched up the half-charged ipod and demanded that it play Elmo games (she settled for Plants vs Zombies).  Soon William tried to "help" his two-and-a-half year-old sister thwart a zombie invasion, and I stepped in to referee.

"Let's go for a drive and see who else's power is out," I suggested.
The offspring begrudgingly agreed and we set off.  The outage didn't appear to extend far beyond our street.  The traffic lights Northwest of our house were dark (treat it as a four way stop, please people), but the ones Southwest of us were fully operational.

We ended up at the grocery store.  Not knowing how long the power would be out I bought things that needed neither chilling nor cooking, namely peaches, pears, raspberries, and sushi.  Also diapers.

William fiddled with the door latch as I was putting Jadzia in the carseat to go home.  The car door stubbornly refused to close. I called my husband, who luckily was on the way home from work.  He met us in the parking lot and used his man powers to fix the latch in 30 seconds (yes, I'm a strong independent woman, but my womanly powers didn't work for some reason). 

We arrived home to find the power still out.  Then, just as we were getting excited at the prospect of going out for dinner, the house hummed to life.  I made salmon with corn and fried rice.  Yum.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The First Campaign Challenge.

I assume you all have been following my blog intently and already know that I am signed up for Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Campaign, well today Rach has presented us with our first challenge.
I have to write a 200 word story that begins with the sentence "The door swung open".  Bonus points if it ends with "The door swung shut." Extra special bonus points if the piece is 200 words exactly. Here goes:

The door swung open like a cross between a drawbridge and the cargo doors on a military plane.  Faster than Angie would have imagined, she found she didn’t have time to decide whether or not to run.  She had no doubt that the occupants of the cigar-shaped ship could already see her, standing in her pyjamas in the ankle-high grass.  As Angie waited, she looked back in the direction the ship had come.  It had knocked down the old oak tree with the tire swing before carving a black scar through her parents’ corn field, narrowly avoiding the farm house where Angie’s family had been sleeping. Looking back at the gaping mouth door of the space ship, Angie was shocked to see not a little green man with a bulbous head, but a blond girl of about three years old, her wide brown eyes framed by dark lashes.  The girl held out her arms as though waiting for a hug.  A sudden longing brought Angie to tears.  The child smiled an impish grin and Angie could no longer resist. She ran up the ramp and took the delicate creature in her arms.  “It’s okay,” Angie whispered. The door swung shut.

That's it.  Hopefully a mildly original take on the UFO-in-the-cornfield cliché.  Exactly 200 words so long as you count "ankle-high" as one word (Microsoft Word does).  I urge you to try out this fun little exercise, even though you can't win a prize unless you are signed up for the campaign.

Edit: If you like my story, be sure to go to this page and press the like button above my name (I'm number 27). Get me in the running for the people's choice awards.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Six Years

So it's my hubby and my six year anniversary, so we celebrated by going with our friends to the Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, a humid indoor jungle with colourful bugs flying everywhere. All the humans in the room were drenched in sweat, particularly my son who's every pore becomes a faucet at the slightest rise in temperature.

Some things I learned: meal worms taste like bland potato chips, giant snails eat sweet potatoes, and butterflies enjoy ice tea (if it's spilled on a little girl's dress).
Luckily, my favourite moment of the day was caught on video:

Ah, the joy, followed by the timid uncertainty at having a giant insect stick its proboscis into the fabric of your pretty princess dress.  Isn't it strange to think that none of these little people existed six years ago?

Anyway, to go along with the theme of highly humid activities, we had dinner at the Mongolian Grill, where you select ingredients which are then cooked in front of you on a giant metal circle (which also turns the entire restaurant into a sauna).  On retrospect, it probably wasn't the best choice for late summer dining.

Oh, and here's a picture of a butterfly that I stole from my husband who has a really expensive heavy duty camera.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Indulge me in a bit of a ramble

I signed up with this blog campaign, so I can network and meet other writers. At first I was afraid that I'd signed up too close to the deadline to be included.  Now I'm worried that my blog might not be good enough to be included.  As you've probably noticed, I haven't been blogging much of late and when I do I don't really say much of substance. I tell myself that this is because I'm tired dealing with the offspring, but really I've fallen in the trap of nihilistic self doubt. I have a little hater in my head that tells my that nobody cares what I have to say and typing anything is not worth the effort.

I feel the same way when writing my science fiction. Every time I sit down with my laptop, the little hater tells my that I'm wasting my time and no one will ever publish it. Even if my writing were as good as my friends claim it is (and let's face it, it probably isn't), brilliant writers are a dime a dozen. You need to have something more than a good idea and wicked wordsmith skills. I've been reading Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocolypse, a totally believable and positively riveting account of machines attempting, rather successfully, to annihilate the human race. Even if my robot book were as well-polished as Daniel's robot book (it's not), I would still be less likely to get published.  Dan has a PhD is robotics, and I am an unemployed Star Trek nerd with two small children. You can almost hear Dan's credentials singing sweetly in his agent's ear, while I can quite clearly picture any agent I've pitched to rolling her eyes and yawning.

This gives me the idea that I should write something to do with art history, since that is what my degree is in.  Aliens could take over the Sistene Chapel or something.  Except that even though I loved my time in University (it was like grown-up kindergarten), the art history component was a necessary evil that bored me immensely. Even aliens couldn't spice it up.

And another thing. I put myself in the Science Fiction category of this blog campaign even though this blog has never been about science fiction. I feel the sudden need to add SF content to this volume of mildly amusing annecdotes about motherhood, but I'm have nothing to say on the subject (beyond what I'm writing in my books) and I'm not sure it would fit.

In the interest of adding SF content and introducing myself to a larger blogging and writing community, this is what my unpublished and depressingly untitled books are about (one sentence each, always a fun exercise):

My first book (which is finished, in that I have typed THE END) tells the story of a redheaded mechanic named Emily who rediscovers lost memories when she gets kidnapped by wardroid sexbots and taken to a post apocolyptic Earth, while her lovesick and slightly crude Commander (who also happens to be the clone of a robotics scientist) charges off to rescue her.

My second book (which I'm writing right now) follows a trisexual alien family (two husbands, one wife) as they deal with life in a matriarchal society with rigid gender roles, and (eventually) the birth of a human hybrid child.

If anyone out there wants to give me an unbiased account of how much my book sucks e-mail me and I'll send you as many pages as you can tolerate.  If you want to suggest a title based on what little information I've given here, leave a comment below.
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