I got a couple of seasonal presents this week: Badass Book Reviews has listed Child of a Hidden Sea as one of their best 2014 fantasy novels in their annual round-up.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Arts Council has, on the excellent advice of ChiZine Publications, given me a grant to work on a horror novel currently titled See How They Run. ChiZine publishes books by so many authors I love–Caitlin Sweet, Gemma Files, David Nickle, Paul Di Filipo, Claude LaLumiere and Derryl Murphy–and by a plethora of other talented folks I hope to come to love as I get acquainted with their works.
I am, of course, delighted and grateful to both the OAC and ChiZine. My understanding of how the Writers Reserve program works is that it exists to allow small press publishers to direct funds to deserving authors. In other words, there’s no financial benefit for the publisher–they read the submissions, of which there must be many–for the good of the writing community.
My point? If you were going to buy a cool weird book this winter anyway, and you want to throw ChiZine some love, I can guarantee you won’t be sorry. I’m halfway through We Will All Go Down Together, by Gemma Files, and it is a freaky good time. Or if you want to see a fictional rendering of Toronto’s recent citypolitik (and other subjects too), give Dave Nickle’s Knife Fight and other Struggles a try. Got teens? The Caitlin Sweet book, The Door in the Mountain, is a YA novel about Ariadne and the Minotaur, with prose so fine it will make you weep. Or, possibly, bleed.
What’s better during the holiday season than tucking in somewhere cozy with a fine book? Nothing, that’s what! I wish you all good reads, good food, and downtime in what’s left of 2014.
As the year wraps up, we tend to start counting our various accomplishments. I’ve got a Books Read list coming your way soon, but in the meantime, here’s all the new Alyx fiction that saw release in 2014.
Naturally, my big publication news this year was the release of Child of a Hidden Sea, the first book in the Hidden Sea Tales trilogy about Sophie Hansa, her brother Bramwell, and the delectable Captain Garland Parrish of the sailing vessel Nightjar. The sequel, Daughter of No Nation, will be out in November of 2015.
I also had three short stories… well, novelettes, actually, published this year:
“Snow Angels,” Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, September, 2014.
“The Color of Paradox,” TOR.COM, June 2014.
“The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti,” TOR.COM, March 2014. This story is one of two Child of a Hidden Sea prequels currently in print.
I try to limit my whine bloggery, but this week has had the emotional tone of a light bear mauling. You know the kind of thing I mean: buffeting, skull-gnawing, the occasional rake of claws. Still, the bear ain’t seriously pissed off or, worse, hungry. Eventually she heads off to play with some other food–because bored–and you pick your foot off the ground and hop to Dr. Frankenstein’s for a discount reattachment.
There were awesome things too, like the Chizine Saturnalia party, the Carbide Tipped Pens book launch, and–so delightful and exciting!–Kelly selling a story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill,” to Clarkesworld. Her list of upcoming publications can be found here now, if you haven’t been keeping score.
So! Someone remarked that I haven’t been posting about the kittens. Can that possibly be true? Here’s a very weird picture of the two of them hiding from the dude who came to fix our doorjamb.
The most notable thing right now about Lorenzo and Chinchilla is that they look an awful lot like cats. They’re about eight months old, which implies another few months of growth, but Lozo’s hit the 12 pound mark. CinCin’s half his size, and will certainly be the tiniest cat we’ve ever owned. Not the tiniest beast, thanks to the lizards, my college tarantula (yes, like so many other girls, I experimented with arachnid ownership when I was at university) and their coterie of magical crickets, whose short, pointless insectile lives were devoted to helping the noisiest singer among their number escape, all so that we would be treated to a constant symphony of sunsets at summertime, an echoing, bree, bree, bree, FRIGGIN’ BREE!!! HAHAHA PRIMATES YOU WILL SUFFER FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST MY COMRADES, I CAN DO THIS ALL NIGHT!! from under the refrigerator.
The kids have also picked up a few new spy nicknames: Fred and Barney, Moose and Squirrel. We still also call them Loaf and Sauce, though interestingly they seem to have mostly lost interest in the wet food that spawned this pair of names. They can pack away the kibble like nobody’s business, though. Anyone else had their young cats go: “Meh? Kibble’s fine; I’m bored with the wet stuff.” It happened with Obiwan too.
On a more mundane note–and I’ll probably repeat this a few times, in various entries–my sff.net e-mail address is going to be shutting down some time in the New Year. You can still get me at email@example.com or the main addy. Many people do use Facebook to reach me, which is completely fine as long as you understand that a) it may take me weeks to remember to check that Inbox and b) I do not respond to single-line demands for anything, whether it’s a book review, a Like My Page, my mailing address, jam, blurbs, signal boostage, photographs, or money. Say hello, for pity’s sake! Tell me how you’re doing and what you’re up to, and then hit me up for whatever it is you want. I might still say no, but chances are better that I’ll answer you rather than leaving a trail of steaks leading to your door, all to tempt that bear I mentioned.
Something I did in October when I was in Vancouver was to tell everyone I know that I’d be at Caffe Calabria in the mornings, writing if I had the place to myself, and socializing if anyone cared to show. I met Barb there. Badger came, as did Emily from our old condo. I figured I’d see some of the cafe regulars, but it turned out there are a shocking number of them: I saw both Toms, for example, the alternate-energy physicist and the religious studies professor. An aspiring YA author, Jenny, was there both mornings. I caught Adita and Harry, the snowbirds whose daughter is a poet, on their last day in Canada. Oscar was there (what I know about Oscar is TMI for the Internet), and Yespat the engineer. I even exchanged friendly hellos with a trio of people I think of (not that this reflects well on me, but their voices carry and all they do is bitch bitch bitch some more) as the Friday Snark Club.
The sheer number of people I had a “Hey, how are ya?” relationship with and the delight that came with seeing them made me realize how many connections I’d built up just by going to work at dawn in the same place, 6-7 days a week, 2 hours a day. It drove home that I hadn’t even begun to do that particular kind of in-community root-growing here.
This lack of effort was no accident–in fact, I had it scheduled for November. I didn’t put much effort into a cafe hunt in May when we first moved to our new building. I knew there’d be guests coming and then travel and more guests and more travel, and the publicity push for Child of a Hidden Sea and then the film festival and more travel atop that. It was a thoroughly awesome summer and autumn, but I wasn’t keeping to the sort of schedule that makes it possible for me to settle into a routine.
Of course it was impossible I’d score another place quite as perfect as Calabria. It was 300 meters from my door, it opened at six in the morning, and Frank Murdocco’s eclectic curation of 20th century music is uniquely delightful, irreplaceable.
But! Now that October and all those trips are in the rearview, I’ve been going to a recently opened cafe called Portland Variety. The coffee is excellent, the atmosphere is right, the staff is lovely, tables are plentiful and the music leans to jazz (which is easier to tune out than pop, satellite radio’s litest hits or the go-to choice at Jimmy’s Cafe, the Doors.) I’m comfortable working here for hours on end, and there are starting to be other morning regulars. It’s not obscenely close to home, but the route back to the condo leads past the grocery, and that’s a significant plus.
It’s promising, in other words. I have high hopes that at last I’ve found this particular piece of my workaday puzzle.
Over a quarter century ago, I had the fortune to be in a relationship with someone who would, every Friday, remove the TV Guide from the newspaper, go through it with a blue highlighter, and mark very neatly all the things he might wish to see in the coming seven days.
photo by Kelly Robson
This represented an excellent division of resources from my point of view, as he had the paper, the guide, the highlighter, the TV, a cable package and time set aside for a meticulous clerical task on Friday nights, whereas what I was bringing to the table was a desire to watch Dr. Who and Star Trek: TNG.
After I married Kelly, it turned out the VCR could perform much the same function, though only for 8 shows at a time, and only reliably if you left it a five minute margin of error on either side of the hour. The technology improved as we wore out and replaced gadgets. Then for awhile there was a DVR and it recorded everything, happily, only to fill up with unwatched hours of content when we hit that sad couple of years when the best things on were, like, Bones and The Mentalist. And why were we bothering with cable again? So then we weren’t.
Nowadays what I want seems to be the thing that tells me when the things I like are airing new episodes… And happy day, there is an app for that! It’s name is TV Forecast, and all it does is provide the info I want:
It doesn’t ask me if I watched the stuff, or if I liked it. It just gives dates, or says TBA, or admits the thing is cancelled.
I am sharing all of this with you in case you also just need an app that tells you when your favorite shows are returning. And also in case you know if there’s one of these for bands. If I could have a list like this saying exactly when my fave bands’ next albums were being released, no muss, no fuss, but here’s the day… let’s just say that certain media empires might make dozens more Canadian dollars per year.
Are there any apps in your life, small or large, famous or unknown, that make your life better?