Tuesday, August 30, 2011

that time of year that thou and me behold...

It's almost September, it's almost September!  It's sick, I know, and kind of sad that the beginning of school is such cause for celebration.  Maybe it's because I've been working all summer and desperately need a new mundane.  Maybe I'm over memorizing elaborate drink names and am thirsty for some poetry and literature.  Maybe I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.  Maybe I'm just a nerd.

I'll be sad to see this summer go: it really was a full and healthy season, despite cloudy conditions.  I hung out with friends, saw some of the sights, drank a lot of coffee, and was incredibly blessed.  Thanks for my first awesome summer in Edmonton.  Just let me put on my green Chuck Taylors, and I'll be on my way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photo Shoot with Jacob Bos

Concordia is a place of opportunity. Random things happen.  Like me being a model.  What the heck.

Joking aside, it was a sweet day - kind of cloudy, with sun running over everything, and the river valley in it's August prime.  I, on the other hand, was nervous.  But Jacob was totally cool, a passionate photographer and artist, as you can see in the way he set up the shots and used the light.  The most vivid part of the experience for me was Jacob pointing out a tree growing out of the side of a bank.  I had always wanted to climb that tree, but always had a reason for passing by and thinking 'another time'. This was that other time, and getting myself out onto it felt prophetic in an every day sort of way.  The 'awkward elbow', as it was named, was me bracing myself so I didn't fall to a bloody end on the beach ten meters below and bust my guitar.  It was completely awesome.

So here are some of the pics, and some of my favourites:

If you'd like to see more of Jacob's work, check out http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsyourphoto/sets/72157627365844631/ or http://itsyourphoto.com/

Saturday, August 13, 2011

When Words Collide - Part Two

Today I learned...(she checks her notes)...a lot of useful and humbling things about writing and the creative process.

At the "Behind Every Great Story is a Romance", our first panel of the day, I learned that even Bleakhouse features romantic elements in all plot threads of Dickens' masterwork.  Without romance, the point of contact with an audience is lost, because none of the characters are vunerable.  None of them are human.  I have often set out to write pieces devoid of romantic tension and all that nonsense, but seriously people, it is nigh IMPOSSIBLE.  Characters, unless they are robots not yet at the stage of conscious thought or self-awareness, are minions of their own attractions and emotions.  Relationships with others are a built-in need of the human soul, and literature should reflect that.

 At the Slush session Virginia O'Dine and Robert J. Sawyer were on the panel.  Anonymous submissions of a page each were read aloud in the sonorous voice of Jack White.  If at any point the panel became bored and raised their hands, the reading would cease, and the two experts would then explain what the piece was lacking.  Think of America's Got Talent but without the buzzers. I, um, also submitted a page to be read aloud.  It was a film noir attempt, rather basic, and nobody cared.  That's okay.  Back to the writing desk...

During the Wilderness Survival session I ate a peanut butter and lime marmalade sandwich.  Did you know that a character who is hiking all day should be consuming 2500-4000 calories?

The Young Adult Science Fiction panel really tuned me into why science fiction is an important genre: it allows for the exploration of often controversial and poignant issues affecting society today under the cover of otherness.  Far off galaxies.  Distopias. Vampires.  They address what it means to be human, and what it means to live in a social environment that is less than perfect.

In Fostering the Creative Proccess, two things came across very clearly for me: we are all dehydrated and we are all CRAZY! Also, people are creative, it's built into our brains: new experiences cause new dendrites to form in our thinking organ, and sameness prunes dendrites away.  Our brain is thirsty for creative, out-of-the-box expression and ideas.

Science Fiction in Academia.  There is a steampunk course at the U of C.  Do you think Concordia would be into that?...steampunk is a hot topic this weekend, it seems like everyone has questions about it, or theories of it's greatness, how it's going to affect culture and literature in the next little while.  I should've brought my goggles today maybe I would've felt smarter.(thank goodness it's only a couple more weeks til school)

I'm afraid I got distracted during the Cross-genre session and drew a picture of a downcast alien in a bar.

Turning History Into Fiction was the session lived up most to what I expected from a panel of seasoned historical fiction writers: good stanch advice about good grammar, good facts, and staying true to historical characters.  I had never thought of putting words in real dead people's mouths as needing almost ethical consideration, though apparently, there is some criticism of the historical fiction writer's craft of filling in the dialogue.

Lastly, E-Book sales on Amazon have increased 300% over the last year, while print sales have decreased 40%.  This is depressing.  I will read print til the day I die, so help me.

Michelle and I also had the opportunity to mingle a bit at the EDGE party room, an interesting end to a most interesting day.


Friday, August 12, 2011

When Words Collide - Part One

 Okay, so this is how it went down:

Fresh from the keynote address at the first ever When Words Collide Sci-Fi conference, my friend Michelle and I got into the elevator, headed up to the party room because we heard there were cookies.  A handful of people siphon in after us, and I begin to make conversation a bit, something I do when I'm nervous or there's lots of people around.  And as I become aware of who's standing next to me, I start jabbering more, because, this half bald man in a black shirt with a fancy neck hanger nametag is one of the keynote speakers.  And not only that, he's a published authour named Robert J. Sawyer, who has written some twenty books and won a dozen awards.  He didn't say much.  I was asking Michelle if she'd read Charlie and the Glass Elevator when he got off.  In the hallway, we realized that his book Calculating God was in my bookbag, and why the heck didn't we get him to sign it?!

Sigh...besides that priceless moment, the opening evening of the conference set off sparks.  I've lately been wondering if writing is something I want to pursue anymore (in a music phase at this point in my creative cycling), but events like this, surrounded by talented authours and editors - it's like a resonance.  Michelle and I got to talking about books, and Shakespeare, and writing, and at the party room (there were indeed cookies - that you could write on the icing with edible ink!) we met a few people from Calgary, also editing types.  Saw Brian and Anitta, our friends from EDGE publishing.  And, one of my high points of the night, purchased a copy of TECHNICOLOR ULTRAMALL, a book I've been waiting for since last year!  Yes, geekdom is good, I want a house in the sci-fi village. With automatic doors of course.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Dude, I found all this awesome junk in the street and Sara and I made it into a mobile.

It began with the top part, the foot of a truck I found in a puddle.  And it all kind of built up from there: a lamp  pull cord, the bottom of a green bottle, a broken key, a random piece of metal perhaps from a bicycle.

The can opener is my favourite.

i have a library card...

I was filled with joy, like I had graduated to another plain of existence, like I truly had been given a passport into Bookland and was unbound from the seedy coat of ownership.  This was bliss - folk music and books of reptiles, poetry.

Book of Mercy by Leonard Cohen
I can't say how much I enjoyed this collection of personal psalms.  They are tied to the Hebrew tradition through form, using the repetition of words as opposed to modern lyrical rhyming structure, though there are internal rhymes in many of the poems.  Poem 8 of book I demonstrates this especially well, the word "fall" the repeated refrain and the theme, God upholding the falling as the "master of the human accident".  Repeated usage of light/ dark, affirmation, chairs, birth, song - a unified work which displays faucet upon faucet of rich feeling and spiritual hunger.  God is not only called the Most High, the "father of mercy", but the "magnet of the falling cherry petals".  Cohen is simply eloquent and raw, his language full of movement and rhythm, his emotional material as varied as the Psalms which influenced this work.

                                "You let me sing, you lifted
me up, you gave my soul a beam to travel on. You
folded your distance back into my heart.  You drew
the tears back to my eyes.  You hid me in the moun-
tain of your word.  You gave the injury a tongue to
heal itself.  You covered my head with my teacher's
care, you bound my arm with my grandfather's
strength.  O beloved speaking, O comfort whispering
in the terror, unspeakable explanation of the smoke
and cruelty, undo the self-conspiracy, let me dare
the boldness of joy." ~ 19, Book of Mercy