Adding to the melee of ideas

I’ve been seeing a ton of great writing recently.  Not in print mind you, I’ve been woefully inadequate in my reading habits lately, but on screen.

Skyfall was just fantastic.  The direction was brilliant, the cinematography a veritable bath of candy for my eyes, and the script- well damn.  The actors of course brought it to life with gusto, but they couldn’t have done so without the words there to work with.  Javier Bardem took it and ran with it, to great, great effect.

Some possible spoilers (but amazing images) in an album of amazing shots from Skyfall.

Fantastic imagery.

Also, something you may not have seen, is a cartoon called Gravity Falls, which I’ve been hearing all all about and finally started watching.  It’s a) extremely well written b) cute c) hilarious d) all of the above.

I can’t wait to see Grampton St. Rumpterfrabble as the rousable cockswain Saunterblugget Hampterfuppinshire.

Here’s an episode to get you interested.  I hope it can get some more buzz so we can see more episodes; the writers on this one have got it goin’ on!

And then there’s Wreck It Ralph.  Amazing!  The script is just awesome.  I’ve never heard the term “Pixar Level Script” until I heard people all abuzz about this film.  And it’s true.

How awesome for Pixar to have put out such a consistently amazing product that it’s become synonymous with tight storytelling. Trailer below.

And now I’m off to the cafe to sit and think and drink awhile while I stir the pots that have been simmering on my back burners.  Recently my mind stove has upgraded from a two element deal to four.  :O!  This means I have to pick my next project?  I have multiples I could be pursuing?  Man oh man.  Well, time to go suss them out.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you get a chance to take in some amazing storytelling on the big or small screen!

Heidi out.

P.S. Cloud Atlas is next up on my list, and hopefully this week I’ll get to Seven Psychopaths as well.  It’s a good fall for movies! 

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.  😉  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?  🙂

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.

Good News, Everyone!

Yes, good news indeed!

I’ve received another acceptance for a short piece!

It’s an anthology of zombie flash fiction:

It’s going to be published by Hazardous Press.

I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s out.  Should be a riveting collection of all things zombie related.

My piece is called “Coping Mechanisms” and features a Projectionist named Rose, and some settings familiar to my fellow Vancouverites.

I’m actually getting royalties!  Ooooh, aaaaah!  I’m excited.  It will be out in print and ebook formats.

In the mean time, got to keep writing!  Sure feels good to get an acceptance; really bolsters my spirits.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for reading, following, commenting, and linking: your support is really helping me get my career off the ground.  I hope to string you along on a lifetime of exciting work!

Heidi out.

Important Question Upon Waking

I awoke this morning wondering if there were giraffes that were unusually taller than other giraffes.

Sure brain, this is an important thing to try and figure out as you’re waking up.

I kept a dream journal for a year solid.  It took dedication; sometimes I wanted to relish waking up slowly, but I knew that doing so would cause the dreams of the night to waft into the ethers.  I wrote down every dream.  I have a book full of strangeness, which I bagan copying into a nice good copy, categorizing them (“Being Chased” and “Shopping” are the two most prevalent themes).

I think last night was my first dream about giraffes.  That’s all.

Tonight, I embark upon my vacation; Aaron and I are going camping on wonderful Keats Island.  Some friends are joining us.  We muster in downtown Vancouver today, then head to Gibsons to get our gear in order.  We’ll be catching a water taxi tomorrow morning to Plumpers Cove, a wonderful spot.

Games I’m hauling over there: our newly opened Harry Potter CCG, a deck of cards, Once Upon a Time (great storytelling game), possibly Race for the Galaxy, and Citadels.  We’re all about games when we camp.

Also on the menu: a book about cracking the Northwest Passage, Sno Crash, my sketch book, and writing journal (going to return with a piece or two ready to type out and submit).

Yesterday I submitted two pieces to Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Flush Fiction: “Starship Engineers Make the Best of Friends” and “Zargnafs to Xebits”.  Both were fun to write, and I think people would enjoy them whilst using the washroom.  :}

So, I shall post again on Tuesday with news of Keats Island and Plumper Cove.

But for now, I shall go put all of my friend Ian’s belongings into a truck.  Seems everyone is moving these days…

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

Sarah Salway at the CBC Book Club

On Thursday I had the great pleasure to attend a taping of the CBC Book Club for North by Northwest.

I’ve enjoyed listening to Sheryl MacKay host the Book Club for some time, and when my new friend Doris Ackerman on Saturna Island mentioned that her friend’s husband, the illustrious William Gibson, was going to be co-hosting a program, I decided to try and attend.

Then, a week after our trip to Saturna, Aaron shouted from the shower about something on the radio (we have a radio hooked to the lightswitch in the washroom, to provide CBC brand entreatment whenever the light is on).  I went to CBC.ca/BC/BookClub and entered to win tickets.  Days later, we were being escorted down into the thankfully air-conditioned CBC Studio One.

Admittedly, prior to her appearing on the Book Club, I was unfamiliar with Sarah Salway.  I did some reading up on her before the taping, and was delighted to see that she writes both novels and short stories.  I decided to ask her about her perspectives on writing them at the same time, and was delighted to hear both her and Mr. Gibson answer about their own writing process.

She was wonderful to hear, and I am going to get her book of short stories, Leading the Dance.  She read some excerpts, and they were funny, charming, real, and well written.  I enjoyed listening to her answer other questions from the audience as well.

I was on cloud nine for the whole night: real live authors, people who make money by writing!  Listening to both Sarah Salway and William Gibson share their insights was a treat that will stay with me, and inspire me, as I continue this journey to become an author.

Tune into North by Northwest on CBC Radio One (690 AM in Vancouver, or right here online), Saturdays, September 3rd & 10th, between 8 and 9 am both days to hear this Book Club.  You can hear her lovely readings, and me nervously asking my question!

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.