Cover image for “The Nature of a Pirate,” by Cynthia Sheppard
As I dictate these words, I am sitting on the Go train, headed to UTSC to pick up some things I left in the sessional office. Even though I am teaching in summer, too, they clean out everything between quarters… which makes sense, if they don’t want the shared office to become a cluttered den of crap. It’s a good task for what I hope will be my last day of reduced activity due to the cold. An almost recreational commute, a quick errand, and then back home to see what else I can make of the day.
Next term I will be on campus Thursday afternoons and evenings for the next level of the same speculative fiction class. I am excited about being there, both for the sake of the teaching, which is delightful, but also to see what it is like there in the summer. Fewer icicle photos, more flowers, is my guess.
In other pleasing news, I am currently up for two awards: A Daughter of No Nation is nominated in the Best English Novel category for an Aurora Award, and I am in the running for something called the K.M. Hunter Artist Award. Kelly’s novella “Waters of Versailles,” meanwhile, is in the running for an Aurora too, in the Best English Short Fiction category. If the cool around our house runs any deeper, we will have to issue hip waders at the door.
I am pleased and excited to say that Caitlin Blasdell of the Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency has taken me on as a client.
My previous agent has been in the process of retiring for some time, and while I knew a change would be good for me both personally and professionally, I was looking forward to seeking out a new agent/author relationship with all the joy one brings to the prospect of a triple root canal, sans anesthetic. I hate transition rather passionately.
In the end–and as such things generally are–the search was nothing like I imagined. And, incidentally, nothing like dental work. In fact, it was a process that yielded up some really good writing, and promises, I think, to inspire still more. That’s an outcome that leaves me very happy indeed.
I am newly back at work after a thoroughly fun-filled week in London, where Kelly and I devoured one incandescent play, seven museums, multiple castles, some exquisite cream tea and scone combos and Tube Stations beyond count. We posted highlights and selfies as we went, along with dance videos.
One of the social media things I’m incredibly enchanted by, with regard to my own photography, is watching my Instagram map fill up with little tags of the places I’ve been and seen. This is a snippet of my posting activity for the period when we were gone.
If I had nothing but time to spend on zooming in and out on this map, attempting to create the maximum density of Polaroid-shaped images that prove I Was So Totes There!, I would do little else. Dinner would burn and the children would starve. One Of the main reasons we walked through Covent Gardens was so I could fill a blank spot on the map.
One of the other geeky things I did was accept a Fitbit challenge from a friend who perhaps should have guessed I’d walk as much or more if I was on vacation. He did very well, though–I didn’t quite walk him into the ground. Still won, though. (This concludes the unattractive gloating portion of our post.)
I didn’t mention this online while we were travelling, but I killed my camera on the first night.
This wasn’t an entirely terrible thing. I have been engaged in low-grade waffling about my birdhunting camera for a fair number of months now. It was somewhat elderly, but not so frail it couldn’t have been donated to a good home. Like all of my cameras, it was a point and shoot, but for a P&S it has an enviable zoom for nature photography, and it let me get good candids and some appealing faraway details on architecture and other inaccessible pretty things. But I haven’t done much birding and wildlife shooting since moving to Toronto, and Birdhunter was heavy. I have wee, wimpy overused wrists, after all. The thing was also always a bit of a lemon: glitchy in minor but irritating ways. I was trying to figure out what I wanted in my next camera. I did a lot of thinking and feeling and maundering and I won’t spell it all out here, lest someone mistake this as an invite to advise me. I hadn’t reached any conclusions.
So I took it to London and, on the first night in a bathroom stall at the globe, hung it on a hook that did not support its weight. Smash! So all but the first hundred or so of the 1572 London pics in my Flickr Album were shot with the iPhone. I have a set of lenses for the phone, a gift from a friend, and I experimented with them for a couple of days–I’d been meaning to do that, so hurrah! Then I decided to just keep it simple.
Upshot: most of the pictures I got are ones I’m quite happy with. I grieve for the close-up I would have gotten of that fox in Kew Gardens. I got so close! (The reason: an old lady was chumming the lawns with bread.) I wish I’d had a shot at one of the parrots. But the phone worked decently well for tourist pics, and the next phone, with a better set of lenses… that may be the route I take until I’m ready to start seriously birding again.
Why, yes, I did say dance videos. Here’s Kelly performing at the Tower of London.
San francisco mural
Since getting home from the book tour I have been doing many things: preparing to talk at the Toronto Spec Fic Colloquium, for example, and thinking about novels I might want to write in the near, and grading lots and lots and lots of student stories. I have reread Tana French’s Broken Harbor and attended an undergraduate English Conference at UTSC–chaired one fiction panel there, actually–and finished a 12,000 word draft of a novelette that is the third attempt at a story that has died twice, previously, on the table. I am so relieved to have the narrative stapled together this time, even if I do eventually have to hack the midsection to bits.
I’ve been figuring out what I’m going to read at ChiSeries next week and and assembling the small piles of paper that will eventually be my income tax records and posting photographs and attempting to Navigate University Bureaucracies.
With Kelly I’ve watched two seasons–all there is!–of a BBC show called Twenty Ten, which is the prequel to W1A. The latter popped up on Canadian Flix of Net, and we fell absolutely in love with it, launching a rewatch almost as soon as we’d closed out the last episode. From that (though we have occasionally been catching up with Agent Carter and Brooklyn 99), we fell into Last Tango in Halifax, which I have to shamefacedly admit became far more interesting to me when I realized it was also BBC product and not (cough cough) local product.
And in between all that I have been squeeing with delight over Kelly’s Nebula Nomination for “Waters of Versailles.” All her dreams are coming true and it’s the best thing ever, and you should share the joy with her because it’s infectious.
Finally, I’m dreaming of London, because we are going there. Soon! To eat crumpets and look at paintings and walk along the Thames and ride the Tube and be giddy glittering tourists on the loose in the springtime.
What have you been doing?
Some of you may have already seen my new Cynthia Sheppard cover on the The Nature of a Pirate Amazon page and/or when I posted it on social media, but here it is again for your delectation. Isn’t it beautiful? My editor very kindly gave me a version without the art, too, so that I can have a Sophie icon that doesn’t have random pieces of alphabet all over the place.
These three books now have, between them, some of the most thematically appropriate, well-matched and flat-out nicest covers I’ve seen on any trio of novels, and I love them all with every cell of my circulatory system, up to and including the big glob in the midst.
In related news, Tor Books has reissued Indigo Springs and
Blue Magic with new covers, and these too are very pretty indeed. I think they’re very appropriate to that universe, and the seeping magical blueness that causes so much trouble for Astrid Lethewood and her poor doomed magic-contaminated friends.
Here they are: