I’m back!

I know, I know.

This absence has been atrocious.

However.

Let me explain.

Last summer, I came to realize that the battery of my trusty laptop was dying. Easy enough, right? I went to the local computer shop, ordered a new battery, and went on with my life. Then I installed the Witcher 3 – a newer game on my older computer (the computer turned five this past November) that I expected to run on high settings like it did for other games, not realizing the grave error of my ways.

The intake for the fan was on the left side. The outtake was on the right. The plugin for the AC adapter was also on the right. So it got really hot as the computer struggled to keep up with the high graphics settings of the Witcher and overheated the plug.

So, while the computer still technically works, I don’t want to work on a technicality. I have been without a computer since last, oh, September?

It.

Was.

Hell.

Continue reading

Lightning

There was something about lightning.

He didn’t know what it was, but it was something soothing. Maybe it was the fact that the sky itself was tearing apart in its own rage and sorrow, such a tempest maelstrom that whatever was wrong in himself was banished for the duration of the storm. His own problems—everything about him—seemed so small and pitiful in the face of the thundering bellows of the gods.

It was cathartic. It was peaceful. It was beauty in chaos, in the utter madness that was the all-encompassing storm.

If anything could survive such an event, it would be cleansed and washed way, and no longer would his problems seem so terrible. At least for a time.

Sitting beneath a tarp, listening to the screaming whisper of raindrops on canvas and leaves, moss and rock, leaning against the warmth of another person whose breaths came gentle and slow as the thunder ravaged the lightning-torn sky, as if each cloudy drumbeat eased a grip on his heart—well, that was ecstasy. Or at least as close as he would ever get.

Rain dripped down his nose from being caught in the downpour earlier, and soaked his hair to his head, made his clothes stick damply to his skin. The air was chilly, but not cold; not with someone next to him, someone else who could draw calm and strength from the power of the storm. Breathe deep the surge of lightning, the crisp perfume of ozone ripping the clouds asunder.

And simply wait.

Oh dear.

I’ve been bad. Very very bad.

My heartfelt apologies for abandoning this for the past several months. Things have been wild and I’ll try to do better :/

  • Last fall, I got a job.
  • Christmas was amazing. I got James a pocket watch; he got me a Nikon D3300 camera. I’ve been going wild taking photos lately.
  • I finished the rewrite to OF THE ARBOUR and started rewriting its sequel, OF THE ARENA.
  • I’ve also started rewriting CHANGELING, due to the addition of several changes that would have made editing pointless.
  • A few weeks ago, I bought my first adult car. My first ever car, Sir Percival Beverlynn, lovingly referred to as Percy, is a 1994 Hyundai Elantra with charisma and personality. But he was no longer able to keep up with the demands of my life, so I got a successor: a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta named Hans Wilhelm (no surname as of yet, but we’ll see what fits him as we grow to learn about each other).

I’ll post a tidbit from the Arbour or Changeling to make up for this heinous abandonment. Promise I’ll be better!

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Halloween 2015

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Let it go, let it go…

Happy Halloween, internet! Or day after, whatever.

Being that Halloween is one of my favourite days of the year, if not my absolute favourite (the proof is in the proverbial pudding, as seen on last year’s monstrous post), what would 2015 be without a post celebrating this most spooky day?

This year, my costume thoughts went through some serious changes, and I didn’t have an absolute idea until a few weeks before Halloween itself. First, I wanted to be Team Rocket, because my partner’s name is James and why would I not pass that up. Then, after I got him watching a bit of Doctor Who, he suggested we be the Doctor and Rose (both of which we’re absolutely doing at some point). But when we found out he would be at work for Halloween, I was stumped. My friend Lexi was potentially going as Lana Cane from Archer, so it was an idea that I would be coke-addicted Pam from the same show. It would be a fun character, but not much of a costume, especially after last year’s epic toast to nerddom.

weeping angel
Weeping Angel, from Halloween 2014

So, when the Archer costumes were not coming together as planned, and as I got elbow-deep in playing the Legend of Zelda again since James and I got an N64 and I found Ocarina of Time, I decided I should do something from that, as an homage to my favourite childhood game. For whatever reason, I skipped the idea of being Zelda or Saria or like character entirely, and went straight for the jugular:

I should be the Great Fairy.

image from http://zeldawiki.org
image from http://zeldawiki.org

You may be wondering about the picture of me as Elsa heading the post. That was my costume for work, since, you’ll note, the Great Fairy is pretty much naked. Unlike Halloweens past, I wasn’t working at the bookstore this year, but in the deli of a health food grocery store. Different levels of appropriate, there, especially working in the deli. But being Elsa was still fun; a lady called me Elsa, and another was so excited and wished her daughters were there to see. I made a Disney-loving coworker cry and beg for pictures with me. So it was great.

But after work, the real fun began.

 

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With Lexi’s help, I glued fake ivy and leaves to two sets of nude shapewear, and altered a Poison Ivy wig (if and when I reuse this in the future, I’ll be getting a better wig for it; this was the best I could find on short notice). Unlike last year’s glorious craftsmanship, this was super easy to do, and probably took six hours total to complete.

But it was so much fun 😀

How was everyone else’s Halloween? What did you dress up as? Tell me everything – it is the most magical day of the year, after all!

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Doge, Doctor Who, Triforce, Green Lantern, SHIELD

Of the Arbour is nearly finished!

I just finished writing the final major plotty scene in the OF THE ARBOUR rewrite last night, and have only a few loose threads to wrap up before it’s finished and it can go out to beta readers for editing. While this is always an exciting occasion, I’ve been considering fantasy tropes a lot lately, and how they tie into my stories.

Unlike other novels, I went into OF THE ARBOUR, and especially the rewrite, purposefully using typical fantasy tropes. But in order to make it more fun for me and for the reader, I spun them on their heads. Under normal circumstances, these are all things that I detest reading about, but by (in my opinion) warping them and making them more relatable, they no longer remain those hated tropes we see entirely too often.

TROPES USED IN THE ARBOUR:

  1. The farmboy: Sage is everything the farmboy trope demands: he is thrust into a scenario he didn’t ask for, and bumbles along like a ball in a pinball machine. He’s a nobody who ends up the hero, but by no choice of his own. Now, I don’t actually dislike the farmboy trope because it’s a relatable character, unlike heroes who just somehow know what to do. I find that readers can get more attached to a character who is just as confused as they are. While Sage is good at fighting and often wins his battles, he does so out of skill and not luck, and when he loses, he loses hard. He hates doing anything noteworthy and tries to shy away from others as often as possible, making him a less than ideal hero. In fact, he’s straight up terrible at being the hero.
  2. The prophet/prophecy: Prophecy is one of my most hated aspects of fantasy, followed very closely by the love triangle. It seems like such a cop out to me to have everything prophesied to win or lose, regardless of a character’s choices or skills. So, in this instance, a prophecy is foreseen at the beginning of the novel, when the aforementioned prophet is 20 and doesn’t even know they’re a prophet. Fast-forward 5 years, and a friend who studies prophets is starting to see connections, and yet the “prophet” bungles things so spectacularly that having foreseen this part of the plot doesn’t actually change anything: they’re so thick about it all, so in denial, that even having foreseen a problem and having someone realize it, it doesn’t make a difference in the end. Everything they tried to prevent turns out exactly how it was foreseen, and what work they did was for naught.
  3. The love triangle: Love triangles are a thing I detest nearly as much as prophecy. When I think of a series that has both of these heinous crimes, I think of Wheel of Time, though I love the series despite this. With the Arbour, there is technically a love triangle, but it gets turned on its head: while someone is pursuing Sage, he’s pining after a lost loved one who died a year previous. By the time his emotions are sorted out for the one who died, the pursuer has admitted feelings and they’re both able to move forward. So it’s still technically a triangle, just one of the participants is dead.
  4. The dashing hero: Sage is not your typical fantasy hero. He is riddled with anxieties and issues, and while I imagine he’s handsome and others in the story say as much, he’s got severe body image problems that stem from a bad childhood and adolescence, as well as disfiguring scars and a limp. He’s a cranky, sarcastic, cynical, and oftentimes cruel insomniac that masks his insecurities with teasing and ill humour. But when he’s happy, he’s a delight. He just has to work for it.
  5. The villain: One thing I always try to steer away from is the typical villain who is evil for the sake of being evil. With this rewrite especially, I tried to make it so the antagonist was the antagonist purely because he was not the protagonist. I am a firm believer in the anti-hero concept, because it’s very rare than a person is truly evil. Unless somebody is personifying Hitler, I’m just not into it.

Fantasy tropes are there for a reason – they were tried and true in the past, though more and more people veer away from them. With this rewrite, I dove in feet first, but I’m having a lot of fun turning them around and twisting them so they aren’t your typical overused ideas.

This is the most fun I’ve had with a rewrite. I can’t wait to be finished and send it off to beta readers, so I can get more feedback.

Soon soon soon 😀

TRUDEAUMANIA 2015

image from http://www.canadaflagshop.com
image from http://www.canadaflagshop.com

CANADA HAS A NEW PRIME MINISTER.

I repeat.

CANADA HAS A NEW PRIME MINISTER.

Stephen Harper single-handedly enraged a country of pacifists enough to make voter turnout unprecedented. A campaign of fearmongering and hate speech wasn’t enough to stifle the voices of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

When Justin Trudeau was named prime minister elect of Canada, I got emotional.

When Justin Trudeau was announced to have the required 170 seats in the House of Commons for a majority government, I cried.

I’ll never forget today. The time of unprotected waterways, muzzling scientists, hate speech, fearmongering, racism, and collapsing economies is over.

No matter what happens from here on out, it can’t possibly be worse than Harper.

“In Canada, better is always possible.”

CANADA-VOTE-TRUDEAU-FILES

 

Today, I am even more proud to call this big, beautiful bitch my home.

Je suis canadienne!

Rewrite comparison: Of the Arbour

As you all may or may not know, I wrote a book several years ago that I’m rewriting, called OF THE ARBOUR. While I still liked the plot and the characters, the writing was juvenile and sloppy, and desperately needed honing. Hence, rewrite!

The rewrite very closely follows the same plot as the original, with added characters and new subplots, and a much darker, more tense and miserable tone. I’m on the penultimate or penultimate penultimate, depending on how much I write chapter of the rewrite, and as I reread it and check back at the original for important plot points and bits I still like, I can’t help but be amazed at the difference a few years has had on my writing style and skill.

The original and the rewrite both start the exact same way: Sage, the main character, and Cain, an anti-hero, are sparring for the grandmaster of the Arbour as a final exam for their second-last year at the school. In both scenes, Cain is winning via superior skill and strength, and Sage is forced to defend instead of attack and ultimately loses the fight.

But the difference astounds even me.

OF THE ARBOUR ORIGINAL

Glittering sparks flew as metal screeched against metal, flashing in the dark and echoing painfully in the shadowy cavern. The swords flew apart and their wielders leaped back at each other, swinging and slamming their heavy steel weapons together, causing the blades to scream once more. Their feet shuffled against the rocky floor, hopping off small boulders and the sliding walls of the cavern, their wild, seemingly aimless swings always hitting their mark with natural ease.

Both fighters were male and both tall. They jumped away from each other, lips lifted in silent snarls. The taller of the two had long black curls that brushed shoulders covered in thin cotton, a uniform that moved and breathed freely. He emitted a low roar as he pushed his feet off a flat rock nearby and propelled himself at his foe with a wild slash. His opponent was a slightly shorter blonde with painfully messy hair. His dark blue eyes flashed as the brunette’s blade barely missed the top of his head, and in a split second he rocketed forward, his long sword clasped tightly in his hand as he jabbed forward at his enemy’s feet. The brunette just leaped in time, twisting his body in the air so he landed facing the blonde, who was back on his feet, his blade held defensively. His teeth were bared in a dark sneer, his breathing coming heavily as the black-haired one growled, tossing his sword from his right hand to his left and yanking it in a slash across the blonde’s chest. He barely stepped back in time, swishing his own sword up to slap his enemy’s away, causing the hard metal to screech together.

The young blonde calmed his panting, his pale peach skin flushed with the excitement and adrenaline of the battle. He hated that he was panting and heaving, and that his face was red as the new sun, whereas his foe’s flesh—a dark, olive hue that matched his tangled black hair—never seemed to change from that same shade.

The dark-haired man hesitated. His mouth opened somewhat as he gasped for air, and his gaunt cheeks filled with breath, giving them a rounded shape for a split second, then he exhaled sharply, trying to conserve his energy. His narrowed brown eyes sparkled with the pump of the battle, egging his fellow warrior on, taunting him.

His foe caught the taunt with open arms and grunted as he hefted his sword, thrusting the sharp, slanted tip at his dark rival, his cobalt eyes bright in the dank, dim grotto. The brunette man dodged in time, and the apex of the blade tore the front of his simple white robes, somehow managing to miss the flesh. The skin was left intact.

The blonde launched backward, forcing a few metres between himself and his antagonist. He flexed his fingers on the circular hilt of his sword, lifting his free hand to brush dirt from his long, straight nose. He examined a tear in his own plain white robes that he hadn’t even noticed he sustained—a small bit of crimson was soaking the simple material of his attire, turning a deep vermillion as it spread into the fibres of the clothes. Furious that he had been injured and the brunette man hadn’t, his sky eyes flicked back to his enemy, who was standing calmly fifteen metres away, his brown eyes small and evil in the darkness. The blonde snarled and leaped forward, bringing his sword down in a malicious arc, slamming the blade onto his foe’s. Their faces were centimetres apart, both pushing against each other as hard as they could, muscles straining beneath the flimsy cotton of their robes.

“Enough!”

OF THE ARBOUR REWRITE

He was exhausted.

His muscles trembled when he moved, shuffling back and scraping his feet on sharp rock. Lifting his arms was a challenge, but he had no choice—he had to keep going. When it came, and steel crashed against steel, he felt the vibration in his very bones. They seemed to grind together in his hands where he gripped the smooth leather hilt; but he felt no pain in his flesh, where the skin had grown thick and tough with practice. He knew his soles bled—he had seen the smears of brownish red on the stone floor—but he felt nothing. Aside from hot streaks of salt where the sweat slid down his temples and his chest, his flesh was numb; the pain he felt was etched into his bones, coursed through his muscles with each movement.

But he had to continue. What small part of his mind that wasn’t overwhelmed by his exhaustion knew that he had no choice but to keep going.

The crash came again and again. His breath was loud in his ears, and sweat stung his eyes; he blinked it away and pushed back, giving himself even a fraction of a second to catch his breath.

Cain’s cheeks were flushed mottled scarlet, and his curls were plastered to his skull with sweat. Sage could have smiled, if he had more energy. It came as something of a small relief to know that Cain was just as worn out as he.

The reprieve was brief. Eyes narrowed, sword hilt clenched in both hands, Cain let out a guttural roar and pushed forward off the rocky floor. Sage only had a moment to react, and then their swords were once more locked together. One more step back; another swing and block; and the screech of metallic song that made his ears ring.

As he danced around Cain’s attacks, blocking almost mindlessly, he wondered how long they had been at this. Sunshine streamed in dusty beams through the open mouth of the cave. Sage’s sword met Cain’s once more, and when he shoved it away he hopped backwards several steps, both in an effort to dodge Cain’s relentless blows and to better see the sun.

An hour at least since they began the fight. An hour of the most brutal training of his life.

By the gods, how he wanted it to end.

But there was no end. There would be no end until blood stained one of their blades, and Sage had sense enough to know that it couldn’t be his.

Cain’s attacks were relentless. It was all Sage could do to keep his sword up in time to block them. He had no room for attack of his own, but if he couldn’t get past the speed of Cain’s attacks, he had no hope of drawing first blood. Each time he stepped forward, dragging his feet on the gravel and sand, Cain pushed back. They had endured all the same training—they were well matched as sparring partners—but Cain had just enough of a height advantage over Sage to keep any hope of attack at bay.

Master Kelvan had always said that the best offense was a good defence, but this was getting ridiculous. There was no way to win if you were constantly defending, unless you were lucky to accidentally tire out your opponent enough for him to make a vital mistake.

Sage knew Cain would never make any sort of mistake. Cain was tireless; as a child he and his friends assumed that Cain simply evolved past the need for sleep.

“Sage, Cain, you may stop.”


Check that difference. Even rereading such a small portion of the original makes me cringe.

Practice makes permanent. A wise man once told me that. Read and write and practice, and you’ll get better. It’s the only way to improve.

What I was proud of before I’m embarrassed by now, but that is the way of the artist. Without having been proud of it once, I couldn’t have learned and improved.