When Words Collide, #wwcyyc18

Wow! It’s done already?  How could a weekend go so fast? The weekend flies by because it is jam packed with panels, people, book launches and parties!

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I may have a book buying problem

I can’t give you an idea on the parties because they happen way too late for me. A lot of networking and deals happen at the parties and Coffin Hop Press’s The Dame was Trouble, according to the publisher Axel Howerton, began at the Noir at the Bar event at #wwcyyc 2017. Axel talked to the editor, Sarah Johnson and now we have a unique anthology celebrating women! Unfortunately, my book budget was already blown by this point so I couldn’t pick it up. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought.

The other launch party I went to was Tyche Books. When I heard there was a book involving a werewolf stripper, I had to buy it – Furr by Axel Howerton. Once I’ve read it, I will put up my thoughts on one of the characters, hopefully the werewolf stripper.

I picked up Where the Stars Rise from Laksa Media. They launched it last year and at that time, I wasn’t interested in it. This year, the cover reached out and grabbed me so it’s now in my hands. I’ve started it already and I’m glad I picked it up for its unique and interesting speculative fiction. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that one. Their newest one is Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders and that one looks particularly compelling given the current political climate.

I received feedback on Burnt, mainly telling me more editing. One person said that it looked promising and I should keep going. I may kill the book entirely due to structural problems that could end up requiring a re-write but I will give it a few months before I make that decision. An editor’s insight will be helpful so once I can get that money together…

I attended Sam Hiyate’s workshop on agent submissions and it opened my eyes to the high demands on authors, agents and publishers when it comes to getting a book out. I’ll be using his tips for my own query letters.

The funniest presentation I went to was Adam Dreece’s about world building. His use of voice and willingness to make off the wall examples entertained while he also provided help for those who world build too much. That isn’t something from which I suffer but the information was still helpful.

I’m already looking forward to When Words Collide 2019 #wwcyyc19!

Why physical activity?

I try to be fit because it makes me feel good. Losing weight isn’t one of my goals with physical activity, although I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds. The most current research (which could eventually be proven wrong) appears to indicate that we cannot lose weight through exercise and that we must cut calories .

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Since losing weight is not likely to happen, my exercise goals are mental health related. I want to feel positive and being fit allows me to do that through the endorphin hit at the end of a run or hike or gym session. I focus on that feeling and try to carry it with me, especially when I’m feeling down. Actually what I should write there is when I’m feeling depressed because activity keeps depression from winning.

I have battled depression most of my life. I knew when I was teenager I was experiencing depression but I didn’t want to go to counselling. Talking to people I loved and trusted was difficult. Counselling wasn’t going to happen.

When I read an article saying research had shown exercise to be helpful in dealing with depression, I latched onto it, and I have never let go. I found that my emotional states were less roller coaster-ish and that I could deal with negative emotions much better. I was hooked!

I know when I haven’t been exercising because the depression starts to creep back. As soon as I feel it, I start something, whether it’s weightlifting, walking, running, or cycling. It takes a week for me to get the small high that gives me a bright spot in the day. After a few weeks, that high (by which I mean, return to even keel normality) stays around for a few hours. Once exercise is a routine, I find my depression almost all gone.

This is of course only my experience as everyone experiences different levels of depression. This is only offered as an insight into why physical activity is important to me and me alone.

What is your reason for being physically active?

Be kind to yourself.

 

What Happened?

Okay, where have I been? This blog is sorely neglected! But an early baby for a first time parent will do that to a person. Time for a revamp, hence the introduction of The Active Writer! I aspire to write active characters and to write actively but I also love being active, whether it’s lifting weights, running or walking with my dog or hiking up the hill. I will include short monthly posts about my physical activities.

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I will still write about the characters I love in this blog but those characters will expand to include fantasy fiction and whatever else I might read or have read along the way.

Burnt is ready for an editor!  Being on maternity leave, my pocketbook is not going to allow me to welcome one. Once I return to work, I will begin saving again for editing. Until then, it’s look for an editor and start a new story!  This one will be fantasy and that’s all I have for you now.

So I had hinted in my tweets last year that I was going to write about a character from Terry Brooks’ fertile mind. I am not going to write about Terry Brooks’ characters because it has been too long since I read those books and I won’t be able to give them the justice they are due. Once I’ve had a chance to re-read those books, I will return to this post.

My next post concerning writing and reading will be about When Words Collide, 2018 which takes place from August 10-12, 2018 in Calgary. #WWCYYC18

After that, I will write about Victor Stromboli from Transient, written by Al Onia and published by Bundoran Press.

In the meantime, stay tuned for a post about physical activity.

 

Anne Rice – The Vampire Lestat

VampireLestatTo someone like me who spent too much of her early life following the rules, the very idea that someone can walk through the world boldly and as if it was theirs, hooks me from the beginning. That’s who Lestat is for me – a brat prince with a personality that encompasses everyone who comes in contact with him. He pursues what he wants and everyone else follows, even if they don’t want to. Wow, to be able to capture people in such a manner – I want to be him and yet, I don’t quite.

Lestat’s passions enable him to survive in this new vampire world he is thrown into by Magnus, his creator, who creates him and then kills himself, leaving Lestat all alone. Lestat’s emotions, wandering between despair and joy at this sudden change, hold his actions captive. He navigates the vampire world with confidence or depressed fatalism, pushing and prodding it to find out more information. He finds who he wants, Marius, when he shouldn’t have been able to, through sheer persistence. And because his passions drive him, he wakes the first vampire Akasha.

Lestat’s journey introduces us to this gothic world where predators can’t be with each other yet know they must come together as only other vampires can match their wild passions. Lestat’s audacious attitudes contrast the gothic world he’s been thrust into, a shadowy world driven by the strong emotions of long lived creatures. Lestat’s recklessness places this murky world in danger with his actions all the while seeking a truth he may never find – is there a God and if so, where is he in God’s plan?

And that’s why I love reading Anne Rice.

Tad Williams – Bobby Dollar

Tad Williams is better known for his science fiction and fantasy but for a short period he delved into contemporary fantasy with three books around Bobby Dollar and his girlfriend Cassandra. I’ve only read the first one, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, but it was so intriguing that I hope to read the other two, Happy Hour in Hell and Sleeping Late on Judgement Day.

Bobby Dollar, the main character, is an angel trying to be angelic but there’s a part of him that can’t quite get there, a harshness that enables him to survive when he’s operating in the dark. That edge is also what attracts him to Cassandra, who he believes needs saving.

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I want to see how much trouble he will get into with his shrewd “get the job done attitude” and his much opposite need to believe Cassandra’s troubles. To be fair, they may be as they have been stated in the book. I just have my doubts. In this world, people, even angels, are never so easily defined as “good” versus “evil” so for him to believe that Cassandra needs saving makes perfect sense.  He wanders back and forth over a thin boundary between heaven and hell. At one moment, he’s firmly in heaven’s camp, trying to defend people even when they don’t deserve it, and giving them a chance. The next moment, he’s drinking straight from a bottle or bombing around town in his loud car.

The muscle car he drives, a 1971 Matador, blasts through the traditionally quiet and contained image of angels and leaves me wondering why he is an angel and what are the rules for angels? His mysterious past had horrific moments that still keep him awake, even though his past was erased. Is this where the duality comes from? Who is this angel who isn’t very angelic?

The oh-so-human attitude that drips from him when explaining the rules to his trainee, Clarence hints at a wider discontent with heaven and headquarters imperfections. Angels should be more likely to have a good relationship with headquarters so what kind of heaven is this?

Despite all these questions, Bobby Dollar is authentic with his brash, almost stereotypical New Yorker or Bostonian attitude. Who couldn’t enjoy an angel like that?

HIs hidden past, his love of living just a shade dangerously and his realistic discontent intrigue and tantalize me – what’s really going on here and who has the truth? Bobby Dollar has enough secrets from himself and everyone else to get himself into trouble at any turn.

Faith Hunter and Jane Yellowrock

Faith Hunter – Jane Yellowrock

My sister first introduced me to Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series on a wine tasting trip. I finished it in a weekend. Finally! A heroine who kicked butt, was no nonsense, still feminine when she wanted to be and could deal with any bad ass out there. Oh, how I had longed for a book like this growing up.

This series holds me tightly. Every time a book comes out, I’m gripped by a need to buy it right away and if I don’t, it’s one of the few things I will actually remember, a mantra that repeats in my head, “I must buy that book next pay day.”  My favourite books are Skinwalker, Black Arts and Dark Heir. However, more are on the way and who knows, my favourites may change.

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Having someone to cheer for will always bring me back and Jane Yellowrock is someone I can  cheer for. She tries to do the right thing by taking out the bad guys and protect the most vulnerable, whether they be humans or other “supernaturals.”

In Skinwalker, Jane is hired by a vampire to find and kill a rogue vampire, one who’s killing other vampires. In the process, she meets several women who work as prostitutes for vampires and when one of them is attacked and killed by the rogue vampire, her desire and drive to find the killer increases. She must protect the vulnerable and innocent. It is who she is.

In Black Arts, it’s much later in the series and Jane is now working full time for Leo Pellissier, Master of the City of New Orleans, setting up his security for a gathering of supernatural creatures. By now, she’s acknowledged and accepted that who she is is the protector. She’s on the trail of someone killing Katie’s women, some of them friends of Jane’s, and she’s also looking for her missing best friend, Molly.

In the end, she has to place herself on the line to protect Leo’s business interests, find the killer and protect her best friend from herself.

In Dark Heir, she tasks herself with protecting a variety of supernaturals and humans. Humans she protects from a homicidal, old vampire intent on just killing, European vampires from sexual abuse and arcenciels from being trapped and used for their magic. In our world where good and evil keeps getting re-defined for monetary and power interests, escaping into this world with a character who can and does protect those who need protecting makes me believe it’s possible we will come back to this.

These protective instincts flare up throughout the series and as the oldest sibling, I can understand them. It’s a wish for everyone to be able to live safe and happy without being preyed upon by others, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. For me, it’s a desire to see balance in the world, that those who deserve it stay protected and those that deserve, pay for causing harm to others.

How many of you have a protective instinct and why do you think you have it?

When Words Collide 2017

WWC Program Guide 2017
2017 Program Guide

Another edition of When Words Collide wound down and I left the conference with renewed energy for reading, writing and everything books! A genuine melding of book lovers, this conference is for readers and writers. Authors read and editors gushed.

Laksa Media launched two books, The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound and Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Other publishers which held readings and/or introduced line ups included Coffin Hop Press, Analemma Books, Five Rivers Publishing, Edge Publishing, Evil Alter Ego Press, and Pulp Literature, among others.

 

For those who can’t help themselves but write, there are up to 11 sessions each hour that include:

  • pitches to editors and agents
  • presentations on plot, character, and world building
  • the business of writing such as social media, hiring editors, and publishing
  • live action slushes
  • blue pencil cafes where authors and editors provide feedback on a portion of your manuscript
  • question and answer sessions with authors
  • and so many others!

At When Words Collide, I can’t stop myself from buying books. This year, I was going to buy one, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression from Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglosi. Hahahaha!  That was never going to happen. What I actually bought was The Emotion Thesaurus along with:

Books from WWC 2017
So many books to buy…how to choose?

Publishers and editors were even kind enough to listen to writer after writer pitch their manuscript. My first pitch two years ago was nerve wracking but this time I found myself less nervous and able to talk without a script. Three even asked for a look! Now I must put my manuscript through yet another round of editing.

Lady luck had me in her sights and I attended a workshop with David B. Coe to improve my writing. What a great workshop! It was a Clarion style workshop where my fellow participants read my work and provided feedback. Now, I have direction and an outline for what I need to do to improve my first chapter. How could I not love this conference? #wwcyyc17  I can’t wait for #wwcyyc18!