shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2014-01-19 02:54 pm

Obviously I fail at updates

Some news:

1 - Reminder that my story "Baggage Check" is elibigle for various best short story awards this year.

If you like it, please consider giving it a spot on your ballot.

2 - Fierce Family is now available, and contains my story "Come Away to the Water."

15 exhilarating stories of QUILTBAG families experiencing adventure, disaster, and triumph make up Fierce Family. They are families of any constellation: all sizes and configurations, families of choice as well as families by birth. They are caring and connected – when outside conflict arises, they come together to defend and aid one another. Fiercely, and without hesitation.

3 - I'm going to attempt updating my WordPress blog, such as it is. You can find it over here: Life's An Open Book.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-08-27 09:00 pm


So I only seem to manage to drop in here when I have something to announce, which makes this more like a mailing list update than a blog. Oh well. I have accepted that I'm not a blogger. Can't force the issue at this point, especially when the rest of life is still chaotic.

To recap the past three months: tendonitis of the thumbs; unexpectedly required to move; the stress of finding a place, packing, moving, unpacking; unexpected layoffs at work; rounds of repairs needed at new place (still not done); and I have lost the ability to can. For a while.

But in the meantime, some good things did happen:

1 - My short story "Turning", from The Monster Book for Girls, made the long list of Honourable Mentions for Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year volume 5 anthology.

2 - I sold a story, "Come Away to the Water", to Crossed Genres' Fierce Family anthology.

3 - There's a wonderful review of MENIAL: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction (the anthology from Crossed Genres that I co-edited) at Strange Horizons.

4 - Today I found out I won a skein of yarn and a sock pattern in an online contest. Yay for free yarn.

Until next time something writing-related and note-worthy happens...

shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-05-02 07:39 pm

The Next Big Thing - Work in Progress

Sabrina Vourvoulias tagged me for this "The Next Big Thing - Work in Progress" chain-blog thing, so here it is. Of course, I'm also breaking the chain, so the wrath of the WIP gods (who do not exist) may rain down upon me. So be it.

Before I start rambling, I will say, do go and read Sabrina's blog post, and her novel Ink. It is one of the best books I've read in the past year.

Without further ado, my answers to 10 questions about a future book or a book that I'm currently working on.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The short version is just Carnival. The long version is The Carnival That Straddles Worlds.

It was supposed to be a short story. Then it was supposed to be a novella. Now it's more than 38k, and the ending will probably take more than 2k, so I guess it's busting out into short novel range. At least until a serious round of edits pull it back.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It was prompted by the Cool Bits Story Generator.

The prompt was: Your narrative is a supernatural thriller. It begins in other worlds. There is sex against a wall and a carny who meets an androgynous girl. It ends with candy.

A friend added the following commentary: This is a gritty, weird thriller about a carnival that straddles the worlds.

And the idea crawled into my hind-brain and wouldn't go away.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy is probably closest, with elements of horror. It's not exactly a thriller, despite the original idea.

(There likely won't be sex against a wall, either. At least not in the 'on-screen' version. I have a feeling it'll get pegged as YA and that just won't fly.)

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm not familiar enough with any child actors to cast Tif and Nate. And despite having a couple of weeks to think about it, I have failed to come up with actors for The Lady and the Owner. Hmm. Check back later?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To borrow part of my friend's phrasing:

This is a gritty, weird thriller about a carnival that straddles worlds, the people who inhabit it, and the children who become lost in it.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Don't know for sure yet, but probably neither of those. If I can convince it to be a novella, there are some magazines and/or small presses that might consider it.

7. How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The sad truth is that I started it in 2007, and it's still not quite done. I really want to finish the first full draft by the end of this year.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don't really know what to compare it to. I worry that people might compare it to The Night Circus, even though it's not even remotely similar in my mind.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The prompt was the initial inspiration, and then the encouragement of my friends/alpha-readers on LJ/DW kept the words going (albeit slowly...).

10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

It's an adventure story for gender-queer kids, and for those adults who wish they could have been more out than they were while growing up.

shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-04-07 08:56 pm
Entry tags:

Ad Astra 2013: the rest

For the rest of the panels I attended, I either didn't take notes, or only jotted down one or two things. Here's the last bits.

Read more... )
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-04-07 08:37 pm

Ad Astra 2013: Magic in the Big City

[A note about my panel notes - I jot down the things I find interesting, not necessarily with the connecting thoughts or any concern for flow. Sometimes things are quoted verbatim; sometimes paraphrased - I'm not good at noting the difference.]

Magic in the Big City
With its banality and cynicism, what does it take to make magic become a reality in a modern city? The challenges to writing about the supernatural in a metropolis are many, but they are not insurmountable. In fact, there are many reasons a city is the ideal setting for magical happenings. Join our panelists and learn how they take magic to the streets.
Jim Butcher, Lesley Livingston (m), Kelley Armstrong

Read more... )
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-04-07 08:17 pm

Ad Astra 2013: Creating a Successful Alternate History

[A note about my panel notes - I jot down the things I find interesting, not necessarily with the connecting thoughts or any concern for flow. Sometimes things are quoted verbatim; sometimes paraphrased - I'm not good at noting the difference.]

Creating a Successful Alternate History
When we talk about alternate histories, Steampunk is an obvious standout, but there are contless ways of using the principles of alternate timelines in fantasy and science fiction. By combining thorough research with a few basic rules of thumb, we can re-examine our present by rewriting our past.
Derek Kunsken (m), Stephen Hunt, Neil Jamison Williams, Ed Greenwood, Matthew Johnson

Read more... )
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-04-07 07:46 pm

Ad Astra 2013: Alternate Canadian Histories

[A note about my panel notes - I jot down the things I find interesting, not necessarily with the connecting thoughts or any concern for flow. Sometimes things are quoted verbatim; sometimes paraphrased - I'm not good at noting the difference.]

Alternate Canadian Histories
What if the Vikings had successfully settled Atlantic Canada? What if Louis XV had kept Quebec in the Treaty of Paris in 1763? What if the war of 1812 had a different outcome? Or if the Red River Rebellion had resulted in an independent republic of Assiniboia? What would our country look like today? This panel examines the options.
Eric Choi, Matthew Johnson, Neil Jamison-Williams (m)

Read more... )
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-04-07 07:07 pm

Ad Astra 2013: In General

I did not go up Friday night, as none of the panels grabbed me. To be fair, I was mostly judging books by their covers as it were, and only checking the details of a panel if the title caught my interest. It worked reasonably well.

Once again, I managed to end up at a panel without realizing one of the GoH's was on it. In this case, it was "Magic in the Big City" with Jim Butcher, Lesley Livingston, and Kelley Armstrong. It was an interesting and entertaining hour, mostly for the author anecdotes and sidebars about writing process and the strange coincidences that seem to go hand in hand with writing urban fantasy/paranormal.

Both Saturday and Sunday had me thinking "where IS everybody?" Maybe my perception has been skewed by WorldCon/WFC/Arisia, but it just seemed lightly attended. Maybe it was just because the group I've come to think of as "the usual AdAstra cosplay suspects" wasn't there. I don't know.

It did mean that when I finally caught up with a writer friend, we were able to crash on a couch and chat for two hours without feeling like we were in the way or hogging the comfy seating. Bonus.

I have to stop trusting the Weather Network. Seriously. Their forecasts have been crap for weeks now. We never hit the advertised daily high, and the wind forecast today was utterly wrong. Frustrating, when you really want to believe in Spring and not lug the winter jacket around (no coat check, alas).

Panels, the short short version: )

That last one, Form versus Function in Steampunk, was an interesting dialogue mostly between steampunkers from an aesthetic/costuming perspective, along with one of the other GoH's - Stephen Hunt - moderating/facilitating. Not what I expected, and VERY lightly attended, but still interesting. No notes from this one, as my tendonitis was being aggravated by writing long-hand (because of how I hold the notebook with my left hand while scribbling without a table, apparently).
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-04-04 09:53 am
Entry tags:

Ad Astra 2013

I'll be at Ad Astra this weekend (Sat-Sun). Work has been so insane that I haven't done more than a first pass look over the schedule. I don't know where I'll be when. But I'll be there (weather and TTC willing).

I also found some notes from Arisia in the notebook that got soaked by a leaky water bottle, so I should see about typing those up sometime.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2013-03-28 07:24 pm

Maybe someday we'll figure all this out

I have not updated in far too long. Not for lack of things to post about, but rather for lack of time and inclination.

So about that anthology I co-edited...

Since I last posted, Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction was released, and I attended Arisia 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed the panels I did get to, and I should at least make note of what they were, but I don't have the list handy at the moment. I didn't bother with panel notes, though, so there won't be any panel writeups. Boston was cold. Yes, colder than Toronto.

Menial seems to be going over well. You can find it here on GoodReads, and there are interviews scattered around the internet that I really should collect up, but haven't yet.

And then there's FISH...

The FISH anthology is now available! It includes my flash fiction, "I Know a Secret." There's an interview with me up on the web site. (Which, yes, is what reminded me to update over here.)

Other writerly news...

I sold a short story to the Crossed Genres Magazine 2.0! My first pro sale! Look for "Baggage Check" in June.

And I've been struggling with De Quervain's tenosynovitis (tendonitis in the thumb) which has made life extra challenging. But it seems to be improving finally.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2012-11-09 08:05 pm
Entry tags:

WFC 2012 - In Brief

Panels and What Not

5pm - The Fantasy of the Wilderness
8pm - Music Hath Charms (And Terrors)
9pm - Our Monsters, Our Selves

9am - Gothic: We Can't Define It, But We Know It When We See It
10-1030am - YA UF
1030-11am - Reading: Jude-Marie Green (MENIAL author) + Sandra Odell
11am - Defining Urban Fantasy
12noon - They Call Me the Wanderer

3pm - Bibliofantasies
5pm - New Twists on Accepted Myths

9pm-? Room parties

12noon - The Real World in Fantastic Fiction
1pm - The Changeling
2-4pm - FISH party

dinner, Pacific Mall

9pm - Reading: Barbara Krasnoff (not there)
- room parties

10am - Maps in Fantasy Literature
11am - Reality Made Fantastic, or Fantasy Made Real
shaydchara: dirty black keyboard with the F1 key missing (F1)
2012-05-18 10:19 am

Motivation, of the geek kind

Yesterday, I spent all day at the MadCap Roadshow in the Toronto Hilton. It was informative, and made me realize I really need to get a grip on CSS 2.0 and HTML5. Fortunately, I've always liked web-coding by hand, so all I need is a project.... which will probably end up being website revamp. Hmm.

Also, the Hilton gets full points for service. Not only did we get hot breakfast (were promised only continental) but also a full lunch (were told we were on our own for lunch). Lunch also contained meat, vegetarian, and vegan options, and when I inquired about mayo (bane of my existence) on the veggie wraps, I was promptly provided with a freshly made vegetarian sandwich sans mayo. Kudos!

Last night I finally tackled the looming ancient tech pile and removed the old, unused stuff from the condo. Having hazardous waste drop-off in the basement is very handy. I pulled the hard drives out of the incredibly heavy tower case, stuck the bigger one in an external enclosure, and hauled the tower to the basement. Also got rid of a box of old audio/video cards, assorted unused cables, and the mostly dead 13" MSI laptop (saved the hard drive and made it an external drive, too). is hard to let go of old tech. But having sat on it for more than a year in hopes of "repurposing" somehow, it was time to let go. Being a 6 PC household of 2 people was uncalled for.

Then, I sacrificed a metal coat-hanger to repair my found-object globe (pic beneath the cut).

Found-objects FTW )

And is if all that accomplishing weren't enough, I also downloaded Ubuntu 12.04 (which took three tries to get an intact 700MB file. WTH, Rogers?), created a bootable USB flash drive (3x), and did a fresh install on the teeny Acer Aspire One netbook that has been languishing in some half-broken Linux state for about half a year now. I ran into a syslinux bug, but after poking the internet, managed to come up with an effective-for-this-case workaround.

All in all, I feel very accomplished. And next week is vacation. Woot!
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2012-04-16 11:41 am

Two posts in one day, oh my!

Well, it's official: my micro fic did not make the cut for AE Micro 3.

Disappointed, of course, but since I like my story, I am forced to do that writerly thing that I have not yet attempted: re-submit it elsewhere.

On the other hand, very happy to see AE's other news: they're now an SFWA qualifying market.
shaydchara: dirty black keyboard with the F1 key missing (F1)
2012-04-16 10:42 am

hey, j-j-jaded...

After dropping in to Ad Astra as briefly as I did (seriously, I think I spent more time on transit than at the con - why could they not pick a hotel IN Toronto??), I realized that maybe it would have been good to go, even with all the chaos of new hotel and schedules missing and everything. It was great just to talk books and writing (and cats) with people who aren't coworkers.

The problem is, I don't trust myself to feel social, or to seize opportunities. Surprisingly, I did at Ad Astra, like when I spotted Adam's name on his badge and just called out to him because I knew if I didn't, I probably wouldn't run into him again. But it felt weird, and intrusive, instead of assertively social. I am such an introvert.

But I'm glad I did. And I'm glad I found Beverly and struck up a conversation with her, too. Sometimes, attempting social pays off.

There was a particular panel at SFContario that put me off the whole con-going thing last year. I probably should have written up my thoughts on it at the time, but it boils down to "dear elder fandom: the kids are all right." And I know SFC is still young and trying to get established. But I kind of wish Ad Astra was the one downtown.


Relatedly, while walking back from a Friday lunch break trip to Soma, my boss inquired about hearing me mention I was going to ChiCon, and asked if I was going to see any authors in particular. Which made me realize I didn't even remember who the GoH(s) are.


Meanwhile, my rant about WFC claiming to be "in Toronto" this year has simmered down to a manageable level. I'll post a "how to get there if you're really IN Toronto and not driving" resource post instead. Be constructive.
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2012-04-14 06:59 pm

Recent Reading

Ad Astra is this weekend. I stopped in today during their open house hours (11am - 1pm free admission), to catch up with some folks. One friend couldn't make it at all due to crazy life business, but I did chat with Adam Israel and Beverly Bambury.

I also sat in on the Criticism and Critique in the 21st Century panel, which has inspired me to at least round up the long (for me) list of things I've read since acquiring my Kobo Touch.

To the list, with commentary, even! )
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2012-04-01 06:47 pm

In brief

Life has gotten the better of me. I have posts I keep meaning to make, but never write. Same old, same old.


I won't be at Ad Astra this year, nor SFContario, as I am saving my money, vacation time, and social abilities for WorldCon/ChiCon7 and World Fantasy Con.

At least I still have plenty of time to make that "things you should know about Richmond Hill (starting with how it's not "Toronto")" post for WFC.
shaydchara: dirty black keyboard with the F1 key missing (F1)
2011-12-29 10:09 am

The Geek, it is strong in this office

Back around the beginning of December, a poster with detachable tabs appeared in the kitchen at work. You know the kind: they get stuck on lamp posts and mailboxes outdoors, advertising everything from dog-walking services to bootie boot camp. Tear off the tab with the phone number, and hope you remember what it's for.

Well. These tabs had lightsabers on them. Unfortunately, I didn't snap a pic of the poster, because I figured it was a one-off. But I did snag a lightsaber.

At some point, that poster disappeared, and was replaced by this one: It's dangerous to go alone... )

So of course I had to grab one of those, too.

Then came this one: Here. You'll need this. )

... for some reason, I forgot to grab a towel. I know, I know! What was I thinking?

But I figured it was okay when Morpheus turned up... )

The red pill was more my style, I consoled myself. You didn't need a towel in the matrix.

Finally, the week before Christmas, this appeared: )

At first I snerked. Then I debated the implications and pondered the intent. Finally, I took my lightsaber, LoZ sword, and red pill,

wrote my name on the back, and dropped them in the pouch.

Vacation. During which many things happened, including an 8h visit to the emergency vet on Christmas Day. (Everybody's fine.)

Yesterday, I worked from home. Today, I came in to the office to water the plants, and discovered this on my desk: )

I love this job. I really do. :)
shaydchara: a pen and notebook (Default)
2011-11-29 10:05 am
Entry tags:

It's Alive!

After many months and delays, The Monster Book For Girls anthology is very nearly almost live!

You can see the cover here on the ExaggeratedPress website.

If you're interested in pre-ordering, email Terry Grimwood (the editor) at

I'm excited! Very soon you will be able to read my story Turning (and then I need to find a home for the '!sequel').
shaydchara: an orange tabby cat sitting beside a t-shirt that says "pen > sword" (pen > sword + Rufus)
2011-11-27 06:45 pm

Shelved projects:

(Consider this an intro to a series of posts that won't get written (because I'm not a blogger): Needs a Fucking Plaque!)

Last weekend, while walking to #SFContario, I counted historical plaques. There were five that I could see from the street: two English and one French in front of Jarvis Collegiate, one on the pillar of Blake House, and another on St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at the corner of Jarvis and Carlton. (I always expect there to be one at the National Ballet School, but I haven't spotted it yet.)

Ten minute walk; five historical plaques.

And they were all rather boring.

But this is the problem with historical plaques, right? They commemorate something in the briefest of notes, and thus lose all the really meaty interesting bits.

Toronto is not a boring city, as the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera Blog and Torontoist's Historicist posts prove, but these are the stories that are not the ones you find even in plaque-size bites.

Take, for instance, this story about bears (er, the animals, that is, not the kind you find over at Church & Welly): it reveals that Bay Street was originally called Bear Street, and:

A little bit west of Bay Street, a bear found its way into a horse pasture. The two badass horses inside, Bonaparte and Jefferson, killed it with their bare hooves.

Those horse? Need a fucking plaque. Seriously. Just think about it - you're strolling around the financial district and you happen to spot a plaque that tells you how two badass horses killed a bear on this very site. Wouldn't you tell your friends? I'm betting you would, because it's that kind of quirky, easy to remember story.

Or how about this one, about the Circus Riot in 1855 (excerpt from a larger post):

A few weeks later came the Circus Riot—the most ridiculous riot in the history of the city. It was the firefighters, again, who started the trouble when they—get this—burned down a visiting circus after some clowns cut in line at a King Street brothel. The police watched it all happen, did nothing, and again found their memories to be mysteriously unreliable when the time came to testify in court.

Needs a fucking plaque, right?

I could go on, but I would mostly just be cribbing the cool bits from the Toronto Dreams Project blog, so you might as well just go over there and read through the archives.

(Posters, with QR codes on them, would be the perfect way to do citizen-commemoration of events that need a fucking plaque, I think. But I don't think I'm likely to make it happen.)

So. What's happened in your city that needs a fucking plaque?
shaydchara: dirty black keyboard with the F1 key missing (F1)
2011-11-27 12:38 pm

Writing Habits, or Lack Thereof

This year, as in a couple of previous years, I challenged myself to do a miniWriMo - 10k words instead of 50k for NaNoWriMo. I know I can't do 50k, so the thought with the 10k is to set up one of those, you know, habits of writing daily.

Last year I tried the same thing, and was done in on day 1 by the corruption of 1600 words on my flash drive. And when you lose your entire first day's writing. Well. It makes one paranoid about the rest of the month.

In 2009, I made 75% of my (then unofficial) target of 10k.

This year? Well. 58%. And I came to a couple of realizations, at least, if not 10k words.

1 - I'm still not convinced that this dedicated "write every day!" business is for me. And that's okay. I do not have to fit the "writer" mould. Whatever that is.

2 - When we're in the middle of ramp-up to product release at work, I'm actually writing quite a lot and, in this case, doing a lot of structure work to reorganize existing content. This is tiring and requires parts of my brain that would otherwise be plotting fiction. So it just happened to be bad timing this month that I exhausted all my writing brain on work. That's okay.

3 - I still need to get used to writing on a laptop (that is not my dead MacBook, or the over-heating netbook) at home. :p