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The flash piece was rejected for the second time today. It was also the least positive rejection I've received, although the editor did encourage me to send other works, so I'll take solace in that.
I've been spending a lot of time lately obsessing over Clarion, if only because registration for summer classes here in Ottawa is coming up in a matter of days and I'm in the process of getting another student loan for next year (most of which, if I got into Clarion, would go towards paying for that). Plus, I sent in my application on Feb. 2nd and their website had quoted an eight week response time, meaning that it could be arriving at any minute.
Anyhow, this obsession sent me towards Liz Zernechel's blog. She happens to be the Director of this year's workshop, meaning that she's the one processing all the applications. Anyhow, from a quick perusal of her blog, I picked up two important pieces of info (for the record, when I talk about Clarion here, I'm referring exclusively to Clarion East): 1 - This year's Clarion has received more applications than any other Clarion in the last ten years. Fantastic for them. Not so fantastic for me. 2 - Due to the number of applications, the eight week response time isn't one hundred percent accurate. Looks like I should still get a response by the 15th of April, though, which isn't bad at all.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, people.
Cavan blogged at 10:34 PM | 1 comments
Take two. This is what I'm thinking as I sit down on the bench. The park is busy now. All dogs and baby strollers.
I have rested the length of my arm along the top of the bench. This ensures that no one will sit down beside me, because it would be too intimate a situation. They would feel as if my arm was about to fall down around them, my hand clasping their shoulder, a smile on my face. I have noticed this. People are afraid of unwarranted friendliness. It's how you point out a person who's not quite right.
I have done this because I don't feel like talking. I feel like communing with some great, all-knowing spirit. I feel like peeling away the layers of my self to reach some kind of true understanding. Mostly, I am thinking about Helena's body. This is unavoidable, I know. Part of being this mammal that I am. Still, I'm aggravated. I would like to be spiritual, to think about something for the betterment of my mind.
It does not come. Instead, my mind is filled with nipples and the bump of the pubic bone at the hip.
Eventually, I make some kind of vague pact with the golden leaves, pinecones and blades of grass. This pact has no real words, but I am thinking, I am willing into effect a sort of mutual understanding. If it is broken, I will spray pesticides all over the park (not part of the pact - this thought comes unbidden from the back of my mind). Still, it's out there now. In my head, I'm apologizing. Sorry, leaves. Sorry, pinecones. Sorry, grass. I won't hurt you if you'll just make things alright.
The leaves are unresponsive, content to continue on with their fluttering. This dance of the leaves in the wind, it seems as if it must have been choreographed. Set down, at one point or another, by the Greek gods when they were tired of sex and familial squabbles.
I cross my arms and think to the leaves, Take it or leave it. I am not aware of the pun until after I've thought it. Stupid. No one would take that seriously. The leaves: Oh, I think we'll leave it.
I decide that nature is a lost cause. So much for communing. I throw my burger carton/day-planner onto the ground. Take that, bitch. I don't say this out loud. Actually, I don't even really think it. I'm just thinking that this is what I'd say if I were a character in a movie.
Cavan blogged at 11:34 AM | 1 comments
So, last night I was pulled over by the cops for the first time. I wasn't doing anything reckless, unless driving with one headlight in a well-lit area is what passes for daredevilish activity these days. Anyway, the end result of the encounter was that I was given a $110 ticket with the condition that if I had the bulb replaced within 72 hours, I could have the ticket cancelled.
Of course, that ticket is exactly $110 more than I have at the moment, so I had the light changed and went down to the police station to have them cancel the ticket. I walk in and before I even begin to explain my situation, before any words are exchanged, the desk cop takes the ticket from me and goes into the back. He returns with the ticket's file, stamps "Cancelled" on both of them and tells me to have a good day. Didn't even bother with any proof that I'd actually had my light changed. In fact, I'm not sure he even bothered to look at the ticket.
Next time I get a ticket, I'm definitely going down to the police station to see if they'll rubber stamp it just like that. While I'm at it, maybe I'll try passing my Visa bill across that desk. Now that's a piece of paper I could use one of those stamps on.
Cavan blogged at 11:57 PM | 2 comments
The essay from hell was turned in last night, so now I'm preparing for a few days of relative inactivity (relative being the operative word here). Actually, I came home last night to a number of emergency workers outside my door and thought that something terrible had happened, like my cat had managed to dial 911 with his last dying breath. Turns out the paramedics had to be called in for my neighbour across the hall. I wasn't able to glean any information beyond her being alright, but it was an odd sight to come home to.
For writers: I've come across a massively useful market listing that's much like Ralan, except that it caters to all genres, not just spec fic. It's also searchable, has response time logs, a nice interface and they have a submission tracking system that's in beta testing right now. It's called Duotrope Digest - be sure to check it out and sign up. Also, thanks to whoever listed Goodbye, Darwin there. Speaking of the anthology, I've been receiving a large number of submissions lately, so hopefully we'll get close to finishing it soon.
More SF news: Still coping with the death of Octavia Butler (who, by the way, is having a large Clarion scholarship set up for writers of colour in her honour), the SF community has lost another of its great writers, Stanislaw Lem. I've never read any of his work, but I do have a copy of Solaris on my shelf that I plan to read this summer.
Also, the FHM "Sexiest Woman" issue just came out. Now, between this and the People "Sexiest Man Alive" thing, I'm not quite sure I get the point of the ranking of a lot disturbingly attractive people in an order that, as it pertains to actual attractiveness, is entirely arbitrary. Or, maybe I'm just bitter that Jessica Alba didn't win. For the record, the winner was Scarlett Johansson (which, I'm sure, more to do with this dress than anything else). Not that I'm complaining because, well, you know.
Cavan blogged at 3:51 PM | 2 comments
Cavan blogged at 12:18 PM | 2 comments
A great post from Gary Gibson, who finally exposes inspiration for what it truly is: a bunch of randomly firing synapses. Actually, I'm always surprised at how many writers wax poetic about the inspiration process.
For me, it goes like this: Hey, that would be cool. And I could put it together with this other thing. Oh, and that other thing that I tried to write for the last thing but it didn't work? It would totally be awesome here.
Generally, that's a pretty accurate description of what goes through my head when I'm coming up with a good idea. Any opinions on this?
In other news: One of my fave bloggers in the world is John Scalzi. His debut novel, Old Man's War, was just nominated for a Hugo Award and, as if that's not enough, he's up for the Campbell as best new writer. Go say congratulations.
On the home front: My apologies for the lack of updates around here, but you can expect them to continue for a little while. It's crunch time at school right now - I've got a trio of big essays on my plate at the moment.
Cavan blogged at 5:34 PM | 1 comments
I watched V for Vendetta last night. It was amazing. Go buy your tickets. Now.
Cavan blogged at 10:41 AM | 2 comments
William Gibson is blogging once again, which can only mean one thing - he's finished another novel. My excitement is barely containable.
Anyway, two gems from his blog: First, he gives V For Vendetta "more thumbs up than a Chernobyl pianist". Second, he links to this ridiculously cool video of a ridiculously cool robotic snake. I totally want one.
Cavan blogged at 1:17 AM | 0 comments
Most places you go these days (well, in the writing community - I suspect that the rest of the world doesn't care), there seems to be a general consensus that writing and editing at the same time is counterproductive. Instead, the preferred aesthetic is that a writer writes their little heart out and produces a large number of words without regards to quality and then - and only then - sets about refining it and turning it into something readable. Whenever I've mentioned that I'm a very slow, meticulous writer, because I tend to edit on the fly, the general reaction seems to be: why? Why would you do such a thing?
Give or take a few tweaks, both "Smoke and Mirrors" and "Between Eternities" were first drafts. There were no dramatic rewrites. At their most intense, my edits consisted of adding an extra paragraph to the latter story and of cutting one out from the former. Obviously, this has a lot to do with my writing style and, personally, I enjoy it. It's a nice thing to know that, after you've finally written "The End", that there's only going to be a few touch-ups here and there to work on.
That said, I can see some of the superiorities of the alternate approach as well - I tend to get discouraged when I have such a low wordcount to show for x number of hours or days of writing. What I'm really curious about, though, is why most people seem to think that the "write, then edit" approach is better. I'm not saying that it isn't - I only know what works best for me.
Without regard to your own personal preference of either technique, do you think, objectively, that one of them is better? Furthermore, am I dreaming this general preference, or does it actually exist?
Cavan blogged at 5:53 PM | 3 comments
In a recent post, Melly made reference to the fact that she's not very fond of books about writing, on account of their making her self-conscious about what she's putting down on paper. My own history of using these books is relatively sparse. Back in my early teens, when I'd just started writing, I was given Crawford Kilian's Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. A few years later, when I was in high school, I bought myself a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction, written by Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder. Since then, I haven't put my hands on any other how-to books.
I remember reading the first book cover to cover, absolutely fascinated with all of the things Kilian had to say about writing. However, I think, at that age, I would've done the same with almost any book. Now, if I ever happen to flip through the book again, I don't find anything I haven't already figured out by myself.
The latter book was more useful, thanks to the fact that it's filled with a vast collection of resources that go beyond simply writing (ie. I never would've discovered this site if it weren't listed in the book). In fact, I still use it. The writing portions, though, seemed somewhat obvious.
Now this isn't to shortchange the authors of these books - I'm not trying to say that they're bad writers. Actually, they're very, very good writers. The point I want to make is that, unless you're a beginner, these books end up doing one thing: slapping names onto concepts that we've already unconsciously picked up through years of practice. The most common feeling I got when I went back through these books was "Oh, so that's what that's called".
Melly's example has to do specifically with infodumps. To quote her: So now I seem unable to write a good infodump only because I am aware that it might be viewed as such and despite the fact that I used to be able to write them seamlessly.
The point she's trying to make, I think, is that when a writing book makes us conscious of a concept we were employing without a care in the world, by applying a name and a negative connotation to it, our ability to write things the way we used to goes up in smoke.
Now, when you're writing SF, infodumps are an unfortunate necessity, but I'm going to suggest that Melly's inability to write an infodump without realizing that it sucks is a good thing. I talk from experience because a similar thing happened to me when I found out about this whole infodump thing. My inner editor, who jabbed my insides with a pointy stick whenever I wrote an infodump, won out in the end, thanks to this how-to book information. As a result, I now write a lot fewer infodumps and spend a good deal of time and effort trying to weave things naturally into plot.
Of course, I still have to write the occasional infodump. And it still sucks.
Cavan blogged at 8:18 AM | 1 comments
For a limited time, I'll be offering reduced rates for Apodis' book publishing services. At the moment, the package runs $489 US, but for the next few titles I accept the price will be $289, which is significantly lower than the bulk of POD publishers out there.
But why? Well, the goal is to spread some awareness about Apodis and, hopefully, expand the catalogue. At the moment, Apodis has published a book written by me and has one in the pipeline: an anthology edited by me. Frankly, I'm sick of me. My goal in setting up this company was to help other new writers get some exposure, so it'd be nice to fill out the catalogue with some names other than Terrill.
So, if you know of any science fiction writers who are looking into self-publication, be sure to point them towards this post or the Apodis Publishing website.
Somewhat related tangent: Thanks to the anthology, I've had the luck to become familiar with the fiction of two very talented writers who, frankly, are everywhere. Run down the list of paying markets over at Ralan and you'll find that, between the two of them, they've been published at almost every single one. I've become a fan of their work and, since they'll both by appearing in Goodbye, Darwin, I thought I'd share some of their short fiction that's online.
David McGillveray's "His Whore The Vector" is over at Futurismic. It's one of the best shorts I've read in a while. (David, if you ever come across this, I'd cut off my arm to have the reprint rights for this. My left arm. I need the right.)
Ian Donnell Arbuckle's "That Old Silk Hat" is at Speculative.ca. Now, in case you're keeping track, Speculative has published four pieces of fiction. The first was "Between Eternities", by yours truly. The second was "Twice A God", by the aforementioned McGillveray. The third was "Remersion" by Jonathan Laden (also a very talented writer who I've seen around the web), who also happens to edit a magazine called Fictitious Force, which rejected "Between Eternities" before I sent it off to Speculative. Finally, #4 was "That Old Silk Hat". Infer from this what you will. (Note: Conspiracies abound.)
Entirely unrelated tangent: I have to recommend another fantastic movie.
Cavan blogged at 4:54 PM | 3 comments
I'm pleased to present the first glimpse of the cover for Goodbye, Darwin. You guys get the first look at it, actually - I haven't even put the photo on the Apodis website yet. This is just a low-res file, but I think you get the gist. Any reactions?
Cavan blogged at 11:13 PM | 2 comments
Apologies for the lack of posting this weekend. Tomorrow, in my Canadian Literature class, I have to make a presentation that's worth a significant portion of my grade for the course (in case you're wondering - and I know you are - I'll be yammering on about the role and function of setting in Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God). So, you know, I've been busy with that.
In the meantime, here's an article from New York magazine on Macaulay Culkin and his new novel.
Also, if you haven't seen it yet, make sure you check out this movie.
Cavan blogged at 10:48 PM | 0 comments
Just a quick note for those still interested in submitting to Goodbye, Darwin. I've extended the accepted length of stories to 12,000 words and am also now accepting reprints. Additionally, I'll have some cover art to showcase for you at some point next week.
For more info, see www.apodispublishing.com.
Cavan blogged at 8:45 PM | 0 comments
At the moment I'm working on a short story that takes on an epistolary form (in this case, emails). If you're at all familiar with 18th and 19th century novels, you've probably come across an epistolary novel or two - notably Frankenstein, though that may be a bad example considering that it doesn't really read like an epistolary work.
Anyhow, writing this story got me to thinking about experimentation with style. Personally, I love experimental styles. I think they're fantastic and, more often than not, able to shed light on the way we read literature. For example, I've mentioned Ray Ogar on this blog a few times before, and that's because I'm entirely in awe of the stylistic choices he's made in his books. Additionally, books like Geoff Ryman's 253, a story about 253 passengers on a train, each one of them described in exactly 253 words, really pique my interest. So, too, do stories like Charles Coleman Finlay's "Footnotes", a tale of an epidemic told in, you guessed it, footnotes.
However, I'm well aware of the fact that most people out there don't share my enthusiasm for stylistic experimentation. Most people (and feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong in making this assumption) would much rather just be told an interesting story. Fair enough. Most of the time, that's what's most important. In a story like "Footnotes", though, I'd argue that it's possible to be as engrossed (if not more so) in trying to decode the story as you would be in following the plot line of a traditional narrative.
So, all other things being equal (ie. strength of plot, characters, etc.) would you rather read a book/short story with an experimental style or a more traditional one? Do experimental styles jar you when reading, or do you find that authors simply stylize works that are otherwise weak?
Cavan blogged at 6:04 PM | 7 comments
I should be doing some last-minute cramming for my midterm.
Instead, I'm playing this addictive game where you're a bike-riding anime schoolgirl who crashes into a guy and has to knock him as far as possible. It's kind of that Penguin Baseball game, except with groovy music and other characters who punch and kick the guy you've just mangled with your bike. Anyway, I totally just blew away my old high score and hit him 1038 metres. Beat that.
Cavan blogged at 10:04 AM | 7 comments
That's right, thanks to Margaret Atwood, you needn't even get out of bed or put on pants to have a book signing. She's invented a remote control pen that'll sign books in far off places while the author sits at home, knocking back a bottle of Jack Daniels and eating sloppy joes. Read the article.
Cavan blogged at 6:55 AM | 2 comments
Cavan (pornistarus cowboyis) - A species of cowboy found most commonly during the 1970s and 1980s. Best known for their sleazy looking moustaches, the Cavan breed could often be found moonlighting as porn stars (even when not working in porn, most Cavans, like the one pictured, could often be seen proudly displaying phallic symbols).
Also known for wearing ridiculous looking leather (though one should note that this does not necessarily indicate any relation to another breed - brokebackus cowboyis), Cavans can often be found dwelling in many urban locations (like gutters). Cavans are now an endangered species, due largely to shifting tastes in society. As a result of their horrible fashion sense and ill-advised facial hair, Cavans are no longer in demand among females and have, therefore, been reproducing at a mere fraction of the rate they enjoyed thirty years ago.
Cavan blogged at 5:43 PM | 2 comments
Unfortunately, this will be the last post here. The problems with using Blogger on a day-to-day basis have simply become too frustrating for me and keeping this blog up and running just isn't worth the continued angst.
If, by some miracle, Blogger decides to start working as it should again, or I'm able to get either Movable Type or Wordpress running properly, I'll restart the blog.
Thanks to all who visited.
Edit 12:45 PM: Alright, so I've been posting manually, with lots of irritating workarounds and cutting and pasting for about three months. I've tried everything I know to fix the problem. Hell, I've tried almost everything I don't know. So, I guess, ironic world that it is, the problem would magically fix itself as soon as I'd decided to give up.
More soon, as I try to figure out what went right.
Edit 1:09 PM: Looks like at least one problem is lingering - when I update my template it never gets past 1% on the progress bar. Not sure how I'll get around that one, but I have a feeling it might just be a delay and that it'll update itself after a few hours or so.
Also recieved 144 emails a few minutes ago - all of the comments that weren't emailed to me over the past three months. My blog's "last updated" date has been, for the last three months, December 6, but now it's properly showing March 7. I'm hoping this means that my RSS feed is up and running again. If anyone is still bothering to subscribe to my feed, let me know if it's working again.
Edit 1:16 PM: Wait, scratch that template issue. It updates properly after I've either edited a post or created a new one.
Cavan blogged at 12:28 PM | 8 comments
I've officially reached the point where I'm ready to leave Blogger and switch over to Wordpress or MT. Unfortunately, I've tried my best to install both of these and haven't managed to get anywhere.
So, if you use either of these platforms with your own host and domain name, I'd be very thankful to anyone who'd consider walking me through it via MSN Messenger or something like that. Please leave a comment or send me an email if you're up for it. Thanks.
Cavan blogged at 11:11 AM | 8 comments
In something of a symbolic gesture, I went out and bought myself a new notebook, exclusively for all the short story writing I plan to do in the next few months. Problem is, I have no ideas.
Now, I'm not sure about most people out there, but my process for coming up with stories generally goes something like this: 1) Think up cool opening sentence 2) Keep writing until the plot of the story takes charge. The problem with this, of course, is that a story doesn't always emerge out of a single sentence. It's a real hit and miss proposition (and it misses more often than not).
So, the tactic I've come up with is to write opening sentences or scenes until I find one that I want to keep going with. While I was on break at school today, I took about a half hour and came up with a number of these. Some were horribly bad and some intriguing. For those who are interested, here are the range of opening scenes that pass through my head in the space of 30 minutes (by the way, you'll notice that these are all in the same type of format - I decided I'd just stick with one sentence type for the day):
Jonathan knocked on the door of number twenty-seven. He pressed his ear against the door and listened for movement. Nothing. He opened the door with his manager's key.
The beds were made. Everything was clean, at least. He hadn't been looking forward to cleaning up after the kind of people who would leave without paying. (Clearly, Jonathan would have been an unbelievably riveting narrator.)
Adele was hearing things. Big things, with wet, furry faces. They'd been into her trash again, like they always were when it rained.
She flicked the lights on and off a couple times. Their heads turned towards the house for a moment before they ran off into the bush. (Raccoons wreak havoc in the not-so-distant future of suburbia.)
Sara can't remember the last time she got a letter. Five years, at least. Before she'd come here. (Argh!)
The captain's chair wasn't comfortable. I'd spent years eyeing it, doing everything I could do to make it mine. I fantasized about sliding into it for the first time. The way the material would yield to me, like I'd always belonged.
I shifted my weight onto my right ass cheek. The left had fallen asleep. I had a kink in my neck and cracked it, drawing looks of disgust from everyone who heard. (Captain's Log: Uhh....my ass is sore?)
His name was Fable. Actually, his name was Aesop, but all the kids who knew the connection had started calling him Fable. It stuck. He didn't mind. He hadn't been fond of Aesop in the first place and, besides, having a nickname was cool. (Believe it or not, I actually kind of like this one. Maybe I'll update one of Aesop's fables for SF.)
So, if you're feeling bold enough, spend a half hour or so writing out a few random opening scenes that pop into your head and be sure to share them here. Also, feel free to mock any of mine - especially that letter one.
Cavan blogged at 7:37 PM | 2 comments
A very good article in New York magazine on the whole blogging phenomenon with a look at the stories of a few A-list bloggers. Read it.
(via By The Way)
Cavan blogged at 4:34 PM | 1 comments
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