In the past week the temperatures have swung up above freezing. The icicles I’ve been photographing everywhere have vanished, and the snowdrifts are shrunken, dirty shadows of their former selves. Litter and other appalling, filthy things are emerging as they melt; this is one of the things I never loved about the end of winter, when I lived in Alberta. Still, the sidewalk-hoovers were out in force today, sucking up the crap. It’s unutterably cool to live in a city where the city pays humans to vacuum the sidewalks.
My Novel Writing II class is winding down. Final submissions came in yesterday, which makes this another week where I’ll write about 10k words of critique. (Novel III is up next, in the spring and there’s still room for a couple more writers.)
Kelly and I went and wrote fiction at the TIFF Bell Lightbox lounge, Luma, a couple times last week, in the evening. They seem to have all the good things: tables big enough for two or four people to work on, good windows, caffeinated beverages, adult beverages, nibbles, desserts, and not-too-obnoxious ambient music. (Jimmy’s on Gerrard, I am looking at you.)
The Lightbox is about a ten minute walk from our place, and my dream (one day I’m sure we’ll make it happen) is that someday we’ll follow up a writing date with an 8:00 p.m. movie of some variety.
Speaking of Kelly, her story “Good for Grapes” is out now in New Canadian Noir, and can be found in an ever-increasing number of bricks-and-mortar and virtual bookstores. Corey Redekop is doing mini-interviews with a number of the NCN authors: here’s hers.
So, everyone, what are you reading these days?
Christopher Buehlman’s The Lesser Dead has been out for about a month now, and if you like your horror horrible (as opposed to romantic, edgy, or cuddlesome) I cannot recommend it enough. Here’s my review at Tor.com, in which I try to say more than “oohh, oooh, squee, squee!”
This week I am reading fourteen student novel openings and a book that won’t be out until 2015. Sneak peeks are one of the perks of the job, and I’m looking forward to telling you about this one closer to its release date.
A thing about living right downtown here is I mostly see sparrows and pigeons. Starlings, sometimes. Grackles and gulls, for sure. I’ve had cardinals and finches in the tree outside my window, there’s a young raptor who taunts me on Queen Street when I’m out without the big zoom camera, and I can go to the lakeshore for ducks and cormorants. It’s not as though the birds aren’t here.
But, day to day, it’s mostly sparrowkind.
In Vancouver last week I caught glimpses of all my faves: crows (commuting crows, by the hundreds!), starlings, great blue herons, three species of duck, bushtits, cormorants, and a glimpse of northern flicker. I thought I’d have to content myself with the scolding of a Stellar’s jay in the bushes, but it turns out my sister-in-law feeds them. I almost collided with one Monday on my way out the door; it was headed to a clutch of peanuts on the kitchen windowsill.
It was satisfying and soul-nourishing, and a nice concrete example of a difference, neither good nor bad, between Then and Now. But not truly between Here and There, because if I’d got a house outside of the downtown core, I’d be hip-deep in feathery company.
New York Comic Con was an enormous, delightful, fan-filled spectacle of an experience, and I was thrilled to be able to go there, to meet some readers and get to know all of Team Tor a little better. I got to talk magic systems with Sam Sykes, Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Kim Harrison, George Hagen and Jeff Somers at a standing-room only panel. I signed books, gave out Child of a Hidden Sea buttons, and met a lot of people who had, previously, been e-mail contacts.
In and around the event, Kelly and I visited The Frick Collection, the Met, Chelsea Market and the High Line. We saw Cabaret, with Alan Cummings, at the former Studio 54. I tried on some dresses at the Desigual store, but failed to commit to any of them, and walked through Central Park a couple times. In the process, I got a much much better sense of where things are in Midtown.
What else? We ate many pastries, and actually saw Times Square both by day and by night. (Our decision to skip it on the previous trip was more or less borne out, but I admit I wasn’t entirely immune to the glitter and flash of it all.) We drank much coffee at Gregory’s, and much better coffee at Blue Bottle, and discovered that the Food Network has a fantastically beautiful loading dock of all things:
On Sunday we went to the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn with Ellen Datlow, Rick Bowes and Terence Taylor, and then we looked around the neighborhood (which includes a superhero supply store!) for a little before going back to our new digs in the West Village.
Then on Monday we flew home to two well-cared for but pleasingly happy to see us kittens. By then we were in such kitteh withdrawal that, despite having been favored with a bit of love from the cats at our Air B&B, we were watching the Greatest Hits of the Kitten Channel on Kelly’s phone during take-off.
photo by Kelly Robson
Today I am shaving 260 words from one of the squid stories*, so I can send it to a market with a firm 7.5K word limit. I can tell I’ve been through the story before. There’s not much to trim. It’s tempting to simply change the word count at the top of the page and assume they don’t really care about that extra half page or so.
But that would be errant smart-assery, not to mention unprofessional. Even if I weren’t generally rule-abiding, I know it makes me nuts when my students blithely ignore my guidelines. So–a sentence here, an adjective there. Nip, tuck, smooth.
Next weekend I am one of a bunch of Tor authors heading off to the New York Comicon, so I’ll continue working on these little bits and bobs for awhile yet. I’ll shoot a few stories off to market, push paper on a grant application, comb through the files looking for reprint opportunities, that kind of thing.
But this Saturday is my (so far) favorite Toronto event, Nuit Blanche Last year we made our way through the throngs to Nathan Phillips Square, and back, and saw many awesome things. Then we were home, in bed and exhausted, just as the party was properly starting.
This year we are practically at City Hall the minute we step out our front door. So I hope to see even more incredible sights and performances before thronging home to collapse at some ludicrous hour like ten.
How about all of you–what’s on the boards for October?
“Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy,” in Strange Horizons, and “The Town on Blighted Sea.” (The latter is also in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection)
“The Sweet Spot,” in Lightspeed and Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing.
“Time of the Snake,” in Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge.