Victory Hot Chocolate: The Melting of Kings

So I made those marshmallows, and they turned out great!

Making Marshmallows.

Cut them into cubes with scissors.

Melting into the hot chocolate…

One for Aaron too. ¬†ūüôā

*Gloop!*

Perfect

A great way to end the week. ¬†It was brain intensive; I didn’t anticipate that big of an edit before my Nicholl Fellowship deadline, but, well, the script is way better for it.

And now, I’m off to Bon’s to meet a friend for breakfast, and then another friend I are are continuing down the ‘tiny-food-making’ path, and decorating *tiny* cakes. ¬†Of course, pics to follow.

If you’re looking for a short story to read, I suggest “All Quiet on the Temporal Front” by Bennett R. Coles. ¬†His Sci-Fi fu is fantastic. ¬†Now that I’m not in the thick of editing, I’m going back to read his “Virtues of War“, which is incredible so far.

Cheers guys.

Heidi out.

The Nicholl Fellowship, Google Glass

I was really pleased to see sci-fi becoming a reality, as it tends to do. ¬†In my latest novel and screenplay, I take Google Glass to limits, exploring such a devices purposes and practical uses. ¬†Today they showed off the¬†preliminary¬†interface. ¬†I’ll be interested to see, as the years tick on, if I got it right in my work.

Also, one of my test readers got back to me (with some very good feedback, useful edits, and much welcomed praise) about my screenplay. ¬†He suggested I submit it to the Academy Awards Nicholl Fellowship. ¬†Apparently they actually *pay* five writers for a year to write a screenplay! ¬†This would be a dream. ¬†Getting paid to write, and exposure for my work? ¬†Maybe it would get “Luka and Iso” picked up for production.

If you’re interested, you can check out the Nicholl Fellowship here.

I am ensconced in the Quintaglio¬†Ascension¬†Trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer. ¬†As ever, he strings me along at a good clip, with wonderful characters and a great hook. ¬†Sentient dinosaurs advancing their culture from the bronze age onwards? ¬†What’s not to love! ¬†I can hardly put it down.

Also recently, my friend Brie and I have teamed up; she asked me to write something for a comic she was making, and I did. ¬†I’m excited to see the inks next week. ¬†Hopefully we can have further¬†collaborations¬†in the future; her art is mega, mega cool, and being on a writer-artist team with her would just kick so much butt.

That’s all for now, folks! ¬†I’ll keep on tightening up my script, and let you know how the process goes with applying for the Nicholl Fellowship.

…And if you know of anyone looking for a sci-fi screenplay/novel combo about the first genetically engineered dragon, would you point me in their direction?

Cheers.

Heidi out.

Robert Browning followed me home after a movie last week…

…and keeps whispering in my ear.

All he says is this:

At times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sages’ way,
And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
Ages ago; and in that act, a prayer
For one more chance went up so earnest, so
Instinct with better light let in by death,
That life was blotted out‚ÄĒnot so completely
But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
The goal in sight again.

Sooo… What I’m saying here is go see Cloud Atlas. ¬†3 hours, beautiful, and worth it. ¬†I remain heartbroken that it is drastically similar to a project I’ve been toying with; it may have to wait for a while, until editors are through a phase of submissions inspired by the movie.

“Why Stories Should Never Begin At The Beginning”: A Xpost by Chuck Wendig

Why Stories Should Never Begin At The Beginning.

He makes his point quickly, and he makes it well.

The point is that I got to the fucking point.” ¬†

Just give it a read. ¬†It’s fast and it stabs right at the heart of the problem that oh-so-many writers experience, myself included.

I also have a counter to it though…

I loved this post and thought it was great advice.

That being said, this trend of starting right in the action, with you main character in the worst trouble of their life, has me of two minds.

On the one hand, it makes for compelling reading that draws you in lickety-split.

But on the other, what is happening to exposition, to showing characters how they are *before* they are fighting for their life? So often we’re dropped right into a compelling tale without having really any idea of *who* the main character is, what they’re like normally.

I’m hearing more and more editors and publishers saying you have to hook your audience on the first page, in the first paragraph, in the *first sentence*. Well ok, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to go back and give a little exposition after I bait the hook.

I don’t write my books like I’m telling the story to a friend in a bar, because that’s not what I’m doing. They’re reading a book. And if the story is compelling enough, I want them to be able to have the attention span to read what’s going on a little bit before my character is bleeding to death on the steps of the art gallery.

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

Pals of the Pen Variety

I got myself some pen pals! ¬†So far I’ve written two letters (hand written) on the topics of the destruction of mankind, and the colonization of space. ¬†I’m expecting the first letters from two others, for a total of four pen pals! ¬†I’m excited.

Well, the hunt for an agent is… happening. ¬†I want to say going well, in that I’ve found several agents who I feel would really dig my book, AND who I’d like to work with. ¬†So yes, in that regard, it’s going well. ¬†As ever, the rejection letters are trickling in. ¬†I had my fastest one ever today; 24 minutes! ¬†It seems fast, but then, if it’s not right for someone, I’d rather know sooner rather than later. ¬†ūüôā

I’ve been trying to get to know the agents I’m submitting to a little more before I contact them. ¬†For some, it’s a bit hard if they don’t have a big internet presence. ¬†They best ones so far have been agents with blogs, and that have done interviews. ¬†My favourite has been Eddie Schneider, who did this fantasic AMA on Reddit a while ago. ¬†That was really great to read, not just to get to know more about him as an agent!

Also happening on Reddit right now, is an AMA by author Michael J. Sullivan.  I have great respect for him; everywhere he shows up in r/writing he imparts so much wisdom, so many useful tidbits.  He answered a lengthy question of mine today! Thanks Michael.

On the non-writing front, The Walking Dead. ¬†Is. ¬†Fantastic. ¬†I haven’t cried that hard during a TV show in quite a while; this last episode, “Killer Within” had me bawling my eyes out. ¬†MAN. ¬†What excellent acting.

I participated in the Reddit Halloween exchange.  My gifter sent me this:

Fun!  I sent my match some interesting candy, including White Rabbits, a Double Decker bar, and a few other yummies.  Oh, and a big fake spider.  >:)

DELICIOUS.

This years Reddit Secret Santa is live!  Sure to be a record breaker.

…You know what else is delicious? ¬†Pizza. ¬†I’m making a meat lovers tonight, from scratch. ¬†Using sausage I made myself. ¬†I’m excited. ¬†And then tomorrow, a¬†Hawaiian. ¬†Then the next day, Veggie¬†Mediterranean. ¬†Gosh, pizza is awesome.

Pics to follow. ¬†ūüôā

Cheers guys.  Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

Weekly Top Lists and Polls!

Hey guys. ¬†Sorry I’ve been bad about updating; it just feels like I can only post “I’m working on it” so many times. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†But yeah, the manuscript is done. ¬†I’m now waiting for my beta readers to get back to me, and their notes are trickling in.

I met with a high school book club on Monday, which garnered me 10 contacts in my target audience! ¬†I’m extremely pleased but also nervous as butts. ¬†Writing it is one thing, having other people read it is entirely another. ¬†Good ol’ Alot of Doubts rearing his stupid ugly head again…

Onwards! ¬†I have decided, to keep my posts regular, that I shall post a Top 5 list every week, with an accompanying poll for all you awesome readers to take part in. ¬†I’m hoping this can get us all thinking and talking about our favourite whatevers!

Why top 5? ¬†Well, top 10 seems overdone, and much too easy. ¬†I tried to just do top 3, but that was far too hard! ¬†I ended up with runners up, which defeats the purpose. ¬†So, I have settled on a top 5. ¬†Each choice pertains to my ‘elemental’ theme, with each selection relating to the ‘element’ I pair it with, if only esoterically, and often without¬†explanation¬† Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and, sort of the runner-up category, Heart.

I was going to call it the EFWWH List, but that felt like tripping at the finish line. ¬†So I’m going to go with “The Captain’s Five”. ¬†Aside from the obvious Captain Planet reference, it sounds cooler, and more sci-fi.

So I give you, without much further ado, the first “The Captain’s Five” List and Poll!

The Captain’s Five:

Top Sci-Fi Novels

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

This is a¬†quintessential¬†Sci-Fi read. ¬†Compelling and extremely well written, it has characters that get under your skin, that get inside your head. ¬†The story follows a boy bred for Battle School who must take charge and lead the other children as they prepare for another war with the alien “buggers”. ¬†The whole series, and the shadow series from another character’s¬†perspective, is at the top of the sci-fi food-group pyramid.

“The Hyperion Cantos” by Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion” and “The Fall of Hyperion” are just, absolutely, stunning. ¬†Sci-fi at its best. ¬†Set in the far future, the first book contains the stories of the pilgrims sent on the suicidal Shrike Pilgrimage to face a terrible being who contorts time and breathes death. ¬†Beautiful and terrifying, it is full of wonder.
“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

It may have been the timing of me reading this one, namely in the formative grade 8 adventures into more ‘adult’ lit, but this one really struck home. ¬†I think my English teacher was rather horrified when I championed some of the ideas in the book. ¬†Eugenics to steer the future of the human race? ¬†What’s not to love! ¬†Oh, maybe not the way they taylor the classes, people bred to be stupid, you know, for slaves. ¬†0_O
“Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus” by Orson Scott Card

I know I know, two OS Card’s on the list? ¬†Well, he *is* my favourite author. ¬†And the two I picked are knight and day different. ¬†Pastwatch goes about the¬†business¬†of studying humanity by peering back through time, literally spying on people as they go about their lives, unaware they’re being watched by the future’s¬†anthropologists. ¬†But when the earth reaches the tipping point where we’ll be unable to survive on it, Pastwatch embarks on a mission to save it by sending people back in time, to strategic places, to try and correct the mistakes of our past. ¬†Absolutely¬†fantastic. ¬†This is my most lent, and most bought-as-a-gift book.
“WWW” (“Wake”, “Watch”, and “Wonder”) by Robert J. Sawyer

I think Robert J. Sawyer is brilliant at seeing the world, and telling us how it’s going to be. ¬†Or rather, how it’s going to be if just this one thing happened. ¬†In WWW, that one thing is a sentient being coming into existence in cyberspace. ¬†It’s gripping, and asks some truly important questions on what it means to be human, and what our reaction to such a scenario is likely to be.

So, thus concludes the first ever Captain’s Five! ¬†I hope you enjoyed it. ¬†Mayhaps I’ve left you with a new book or two to find and read? ¬†ūüôā

Now: take the poll! ¬†Let everyone know what *your* favourite sci-fi book is. ¬†Results published along with next week’s “Captain’s Five”!

…Please ignore “Sample Question 2″… ¬†Ain’t nobody got time for that. ¬†>_<

12PAX: Coming at it as a Writer

This was my first PAX.

For those not in the know, PAX is Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention.  It spanned the three days over the Labour Day long weekend, and had many things that interested me.

I went to a ton of panels with interesting people talking about interesting things.  I mostly tried to come at it from my perspective as an author.  It was nice; a lot of the talks really applied to writing, and not just in video games.

I wanted to share a bit about some of the writing related panels I went to, and the points I took away from them.  The speakers were engaging and humourous, informative and well thought out.

First up: Loving The Alien: Non-Humans in Fiction and Games.

This is extremely relevant to writers of science fiction and fantasy in particular.

The panelists were Erin Evans, author of Brimstone Angels and The God Catcher, David Noonan, lead writer of TERA, and referenced weekly in our D&D campaign, and Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron campaign setting in D&D, writer of two trilogies, as well as the creator/writer on a host of other RPG and computer games.

I know, right? ¬†Writers makin’ it. ¬†So good.

These good folks talked about non-human characters and the¬†challenges¬†faced by writers trying to flesh them out. ¬†It was interesting, though I felt rather pretentious when I had the thought “I know all this.” ¬†I DON’T know all this, but I guess it feels like that sometimes when you’ve spent time thinking about a topic. ¬†…But then, I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about this; I am in the throws of writing a novel where the main character is non-human.

The one point I hadn’t really thought about was, when you have non-human species, show them interacting in places where they’re forced together with other¬†species. ¬†You get to see all kinds of tensions, their differences, but also their similarities when you show where their borders clash. ¬†Showing a non human¬†character¬†in their element is fine and dandy, but show them at odds with other species to really make them shine.


The next day, a panel that caught my eye was called Making Magic Work: Designing Magic Systems for Games and Books. ¬†I was, unfortunately, behind the last person admitted. ¬†:/ ¬†The Tabletop Theatre was¬†consistently¬†too small for the number of people that wanted to see the panels there. ¬†I saw tons of people turned away from every talk there! ¬†I hope next time they have a bigger venue for such interesting panels. ¬†I found an interesting read if you’re into magic systems.

One good thing happened there, even without me actually getting into the panel: a girl in the line got a game going.  It was a simple game to learn, and a lot of fun.  It drew strangers together.  I purchased it post haste!  I ended up proliferating her idea, and started a game of it while waiting in another line up.  It was just a fun social interaction that left everyone feeling great.

The game is “Spot-it” if you’re interested. ¬†Colours and shapes; you’d think it was easy.

Anyway!

Later that evening, I attended “Setting the Mood”, on what makes a good RPG.

I was pleased to see Keith Baker again; he had a lot of interesting things to share about his experience with RPGs.  Also on the panel were Will Hindmarch and Logan Bonner.

These guys had a lot of RPG experience between them. They went over many great ideas, from using music as an aid, to party cohesion, to dealing with problem players. It was all about steering the story in the direction it should go, helping players play their characters, and just having a good time.

Ok, not explicitly about writing, but it was about storytelling.  It was a lot of anecdotes, some good Q&A, and just a lot of fun.

On the third day, I went to a panel called “Sympathy for the Devil: Creating Killer Villains for Games and Books.”

This was a lot of fun too. ¬†It was hosted by, again, the fantastic Erin Evans, as well as Susan Morris (author of Writers Don’t Cry, five books, and D&D for kids!) and Philip Athans (author of several of the Forgotten Realms books).

What this panel made me want to do was just talk with them about vilains. ¬†Interesting panels have this effect. ¬†It sometimes causes the Q&A to get a little dumb (we’re here to hear the panelists, not you, random audience member). ¬†But my friends, who were also listening with me, and I had some great discussions afterwards about villains and villainy.

It was interesting hear the panelists talk about their favourite villains; my friends and I made observations about them based on which villains they identify most with.  I completely agreed with Erin Evans, who said the her favourite, Ozymandeous, was not actually a villain.

One of the most interesting points they made was to have someone trusted turn out to be the villain. ¬†Guy keeps supplying you with weapons? ¬†Arms dealer bent on¬†destabilizing¬†the region for his master plan. ¬†Sometimes it’s easy to have a stereotypical view of villains. ¬†But the best villains have good ideas, make you want to join their cause, help them carry out their grand plans. ¬†It just so happens that they’re going to kill millions of people in the process.

The more human you make your villains, the more compelling they are.

So, that was PAX from a writer’s perspective. ¬†There were a lot of other interesting things going on, and I think in my next post, I’ll write about it from the perspective as a gamer. ¬†Good times.

…Especially when the creative team from Ubisoft joined our gaming session in our hotel on the last night. ¬†Wow.

But more on that in my next post!

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

Prometheus, Prometheus

If you’ve had enough of Prometheus, skip ahead to the picture of a pretty flower.

Oh Prometheus.  Such promise, such potential.

The visuals were stunning, the sound design absolutely fantastic, and the acting tremendous (having a crush on an android is totally normal, right? Straight up.).

But the story- the story was so flawed it made my head hurt. ¬†The characters were constantly doing things that didn’t make sense, the plot was constantly advancing in completely¬†unbelievable¬†ways, and did I mention all the characters are idiots?

I mean, by the time this movie takes place, humanity has had several centuries of sci-fi to learn from.  Countless tales of first contact, of exploring alien worlds, and all the problems that come along with such scenarios.

So I am to believe that this crew of highly trained scientists go in to this alien installation, take off their helmets, and just touch everything?

The level of stupidity regularly and consistantly displayed in this film is mind boggling.  My writing-brain was screaming the entire time.

…And yet I went and saw it a second time. ¬†Granted, about 15 minutes into the rewatch, I was making that I’ve made a huge mistake face, but then I sank into it, tried to look at the pretty pictures and appreciate all the high tech gadgetry, and ended up enjoying it again.

Aside from the acting, visuals, and sound design I’ve already mentioned being great, there were a few other notable things. ¬†There was a scene which made me cringe, cringe, in uncomfortable¬†squeamish¬†distress. ¬†Scott knows how to build tension and really punch me in the gut with a distressing and gross scene. ¬†Gosh, that one’ll stick with me.

Also, I really liked the costume design. ¬†Their helmets had a full 360 degree view, being clear acrylic all the way around, enabling both their and the audience’s view to be¬†unhindered by parts of a helmet getting in the way.

Gosh. ¬†Ok, that’s enough of Prometheus. ¬†I suppose ranting may be part of the healing process- a bad film is one thing, but when a film with a huge budget and amazing people working on it ends up this bad, it’s a sad tragedy that really makes my heart ache.


Pretty flower, right?

In other news, I had the pleasure of taking a long hike with my father-in-law and his regular hiking group on Sunday.  It was a spectacular hike in the woods, around lakes, to the ocean.  Birds everywhere, a deer, amazing greenery all around- a welcome relief to this noisy city life.

On the hike I had the pleasure of talking with two writers: Clint Budd, who is the President of The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association, and who runs the Aurora Awards, and his partner Donna McMahon, who has published two books: Second Childhood and Dance of Knives.

I’m going to hang out with them at Vcon, which I look forward to attending at the end of September.

It was just nice to talk shop with some really experienced writers.  Also nice to have some more role models to look up to.  Then, when things start to feel impossible, I can remember these people and ground myself again.

In the meantime, the rejections continue to pour in, the submissions flow out, and I’m outlining my third book.

Onwards to blood-borne nanobots, carbon nanofiber skeletons, and the ethics of bioengineering new lifeforms.

…But perhaps it can wait until after I watch another Fassbender film. o_O

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.