Discarded Passions

I used to draw and paint when I was younger, and have a ton of art supplies that I haven’t touched in years. I spent a lot of money on them, and had them packed away in a tackle box to keep them organized.

I’ve been writing for the last 16 years, and that’s the art that stuck with me. From an early age, even my art was about telling a story, so it makes sense that I eventually found my true passion in writing. Since thn I’ve also become a pilot, which is only the most awesome thing in the world.

So I figured I’d put away my art supplies in a box, and used that lovely tackle box for office supplies.

You know how when you pull out something you once loved, and suddenly you want to get into it again? I was thinking, I’m gona go through this stuff and suddenly I’m gonna want to draw or paint something again.

And I went through my art supplies and thought, “Shit man, I’m never gonna use any of this shit ever again.”

There was a distinct lack of nostalgic feelings. Nothing. Like the art thing was just something to do, something to justify my existence, something I did to please the people around me and get that pat on the head I so desperately needed. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what it is. I was decently good at it, having practiced, and anything I was decently good at, I’d do it more because it got me positive attention. I don’t think I really differentiated between enjoying an activity and enjoying the attention I got for doing it.

It’s kind of a weird revelation. The stereotype is the young girl passionate about art, chasing her dream of being a professional artist, drawing and painting for the love of art. I was good at drawing, so I embraced the role. That’s a thing about Aspies – they imitate. I can’t even help it. At least now that I’m older, and I know I’m an Aspie and have that tendency, I can consciously pick and choose who to imitate, and what roles to embrace. Like my flight instructor – I can adopt her attitudes towards aviation safety, and aspire to one day fly as well as her.

But painting, it seems maybe there wasn’t the passion there that I thought there was. There was a lot of encouragement – way more than the encouragement I got when I took up flying. But with flying, the passion is there. It’s different. Writing too – I couldn’t stop writing, even if there was no hope of anyone ever wanting to give me money for it.

Anyway, I’m gonna go finish dumping my art supplies into a bin and see if my roomie wants any of it before I see about donating it to a school or something.

St. Andrews Airport turns 50

Originally posted on Global News:

WINNIPEG – St. Andrews airport opened its hangars to the public Saturday to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

“It’s rare, you don’t get to see these kinds of planes too often,” said visitor Bruce Simpson.

The downpour of rain cancelled some of the planned activities like hot air balloon and plane rides but the rain didn’t keep visitors away.

“Despite the weather I was determined to come out here today and show my son some planes,” Simpson said.

The airport opened in 1964 to help take on some of the growing demands on Winnipeg’s airport after it started attracting larger jet airplanes.

Airport management says back in its heyday in the 70’s St. Andrews Airport was the busiest airport in all of Canada for aircraft movement. Now it’s the second busiest in the province and eighteenth in Canada.

“Right now we have anywhere between 250 to 500 aircraft movements a day depending…

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Carman Fly-in: How Does The Helicopter Fly?

So last Sunday was my first ever Fly-in. For the uninitiated, a fly-in is an event held at an airport, usually with food for a nominal fee, and it’s for pilots to literally fly in to get together and hang out. It’s pretty much a party for pilots. Sans alcohol, because it’s illegal to drink and fly, and we’re all getting high on our own special drug anyway on the way in and out. And yeah, it would probably be faster to drive than to go to the fuss of dragging the plane out of the hangar, fueling it up, yadda, yadda. So why the bother of flying if it’s easier to get there by car?

Because we can, of course!

Jill of course wants to get C-FLUG out to as many events as we can, to get awareness out among other pilots, and women who might potentially be interested in learning to fly. So I’m very much aware at these sort of events that I’m an ambassador of sorts, and try to be as outgoing as I can. There weren’t loads of people, so it wasn’t too bad. I had a pancake and sausages and orange juice, and Jill introduced me to some of the people she knew. I introduced myself to anyone I caught checking out C-FLUG.

You what’s awesome? Being at an event like this, and having people come up to you and go “Are you the pilot of this plane?” and getting to say, “Yup.” It’s hard to explain what that feels like. It’s not like normal everyday groups of people, where I say “I’m a pilot” and everyone is like O.o. Really? You’re a pilot? This is an event where most of the people there are pilots, and unlike the flight school, none of them know me. So it’s someone who doesn’t know me, guessing that I’m a pilot. There’s a certain amount of acceptance inherent in being asked that question in that particular way. I don’t have to convince them. They’re not surprised. They’re welcoming, an if anything congratulatory, and happy to have me among them. I think Jill and I might have been the only two female pilots there, but like I’ve said before, no one who knows aviation questions my ability to fly because I’m a woman.

Anyway, this fly-in was organized by the medivac helicopter group, STARS, so they had the helicopter come in and do a landing demonstration. They did a low pass over the runway, which was pretty cool, and then landed. Once I finished eating, I went to check it out. I went up to one of the crew and asked him “Okay, so which one of you is the pilot?”

He sighed and said, “They always want to talk to the pilot.”

So I went and found the pilot, and when he was done chatting with another guy, I climbed on the side of the helicopter to peek inside the cockpit and check out the controls. And I asked him “Okay, how does the helicopter fly?”

He asked me how detailed an explanation I wanted, and if he got too technical, to let him know.

I told him “I’m a fixed wing pilot. Proceed.”

Now, Nathan, my dearest husband, bless his soul, gets tired of me talking about aeroplanes. I get it. I get tired of hearing about his video games. I love it when people ask me questions about planes, and it’s even better when they know a little bit and I can start to fill in more for them, like the engine panel at Keycon, where some people who knew car engines were asking about how aeroplane engines were different, and asking about RPMs and stuff, and I had all those numbers off the top of my head. It’s awesome.

Well, when this helicopter pilot realized that someone who knew enough about engines and aerodynamics that it wouldn’t all fly over their head, wanted to hear him talk about his helicopter, I swear to god, his eyes lit up. And I got the how to fly a helicopter 101. Pretty much the equivalent to what they’d teach you on your first flying lesson in a fixed wing aircraft. It was neat, learned a lot of things I’d always kind of wondered about, like how does it turn, and how do you make it go forward.

I wonder if I get published, and then put helicopters in the sequel to Redwing, if I could write helicopter flying lessons off on my taxes as a business expense?

Self Publishing As A Religion

And a missionary religion at that.

There’s a phenomenon that I’ve observed. Or maybe I should say “had shoved down my throat.” This is definitely not true of, or directed at *all* self published authors, but there is a subsection of them that are…annoying.

They are the ones that find some way of getting your attention, either by compliment, or otherwise expressing interest in your writing, and then the second thing they say is “Have you considered self publishing?”

Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Amazon, and their Great Plan for us, Kindle Direct?

Because if you’re not self publishing, you are obviously unaware of the glorious benefits of being in complete control of the publishing process. Because if you knew, you’d agree with them, right? And no matter how you explain that yes, you’ve considered all your options, and after careful deliberation decided that self publishing was not the best option for you, they  will conclude that you be misinformed in some way – you must be, otherwise you’d agree with them. No other possible explanation.

They will remind you that traditional publishing doesn’t guarantee quality, no matter how many sub-par self published books you tell them you’ve read. They’ll tell you the publishers are just out to screw you out of your money. They’ll explain that a good editor will make sure the book is ready for publication and that it’s just as well edited as any traditionally published books. And publishers don’t even market books these days you know.

And when you tell them, thank-you, but not interested, they get that tone like the Jehova’s Witnesses telling you that they’ll be sad to see you go to hell, and say, too bad, sad to see a book like yours that will be years before it gets into the hands of readers. If it ever gets published at all.

Why do they do this? Is there some pyramid scheme where Amazon gives them a commission for suckering people into KDP? They’re not even trying to sell you *their* book – they’re trying to convince you to self-publish *yours*. They don’t benefit from it at all. There’s only one explanation that I’ve been able to come up with.

They’re insecure. They’re worried they’ve made the wrong decision, so they try to convince others to join them to reassure themselves that they’re okay.

Don’t be that author.

And by “don’t be that author” I don’t mean don’t self publish. I mean, don’t treat it like a religion that you need to convert people to your way of doing things. Don’t self publish your book until you’re so confident that it’s ready for the public that you won’t need validation from fellow authors of your decision.

I’ve put a lot of work into my writing. When I talk to some writers, they’ll say oh, I’ve been working at this so long – it’s been like three years I’ve been writing. Or a year, or five years. So they know they’re ready to be published. They’ve put in their time. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. That’s about sixteen years of developing my craft. And maybe a year or three years is enough for some people to hone their craft to the equivalent of traditionally published authors. But looking at most of the self published novels I’ve read at this point, more often that they think, it’s not. And people like the aforementioned make me think they know it, and they just desperately don’t want to admit it.

I know self published authors who were ready, and who self published for the right reasons. I’m not going to go into what the right reasons to self publish are – there’s tons of that on other blogs. But look at your work and take a step back and really ask yourself, are you doing it because you’re impatient? Are you doing it because you know it’s not good enough for an agent to say yes, but you’re tired of developing your craft and just want to get to the part where people pat you on the head and tell you it’s wonderful? Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and you won’t sound to others like you regret it.

Post Keycon

Keycon was awesome as always. Met even more of my blog followers, and got to chat more with some of the fellow authors I’d met previously, but didn’t have time to talk to as much previously. And even so, I wish I’d had more time to talk to some of them!

I got out of work early on friday, and made it to con in time to hear Samantha Beiko read from her upcoming novel, and it was creepy and messed up enough to make me pick up her (Aurora award nominated) “The Lake And The Library.” Looking forward to that, as well as finishing Chad Ginther’s second book, “Tombstone Blues.”

My first panel, on engines went swimmingly – the room was full, which, even for the smaller boardroom is pretty impressive for ten PM on Friday evening. The discussion was lively – I geared it toward people who know nothing at all about any sort of engine, but there were a couple of people who were less novice. One who knew engines  quite well, but less about aviation, and he had tons of great questions along the lines of “okay, I know with a car engine, this works this way, is it different with a plane engine?” And the other was Timothy Gwyn, a commercial pilot and writer working on a sci-fi novel, who was a great resource for when other attendees asked questions about larger, more sophisticated aircraft that I’m less familiar with. I’ve been considering what sort of panels I’ll offer to present next year, and I’m thinking I’ll have him as a fellow presenter for one. But along with them, came a number of other attendees with questions, and it made for a lively discussion.

I went to a couple of Karen Dudley’s panels, where she talked about world-building, and food in fantasy, and learned all about bread dildos. Yeah, and I’m not even going to explain that one – if you want to know, you’ll have to pick up her book, “Food For The Gods.” The Sequel, “Kraken Bake” is being launched on June 3rd, at Mcnally Robinson, Grant Park.

Tanya Huff had some good panels too – the one on non-heteronormative characters in fiction I particularly enjoyed, seeing as “Redwing” has a gay viewpoint character. It was good to hear that getting flak for including homosexual characters in fiction has been very rare, and that I’m not likely to be asked to remove it by an agent or editor. In TV and movies, it sounds like a different matter, but at least in literature, writers are free to be liberal.

Another panel I enjoyed was the Marketing and Publicity for Writers panel with Robert J. Sawyer and Samantha Beiko. A lot of it I knew, but I got a chance to ask about suggestions for how to organize a book launch as a debut author. Also, Sawyer said something that I’ve heard a lot of agents complain about, but I like the way Sawyer phrases it. The agents’ complaint is that writers querying their novel claim that their novel will appeal to *everyone*, rather than nailing down their target audience. Sawyer reminds us not just to not make the mistake of doing that with an agent, but not to do it with potential readers either. Nothing is more annoying than an aggressive salesperson, and he gave anecdotes about how he’s often got compliments on his personality just by not being an aggressive salesperson. And the reason, he explained, is that people who aren’t interested in your novel, even if you get them to buy it, and to read it, won’t enjoy it. Your job as a writer marketing your book is to find readers who are going to enjoy what you write. It’s what Holly Lisle calls you one thousand true fans. To build a core audience that really loves what you do and will buy everything you write should be your goal, not getting everyone and their dog to read it and then write nasty one star reviews because it wasn’t their shtick.

I’ve definitely been trying to do that with the blog, and I hope I’m succeeding. A lot of unpublished writers fill their blogs with writing advice and contests geared toward drawing agents and fellow writers to their blogs to build attention. I agree with Sawyer that this is a bad idea, for two reasons. First, it’s a tad pretentious for a writer to publish writing advice on their blog before they’ve proven they know how to write a story by getting their book published by a traditional publisher. But second, fellow writers are not your target audience. I mean, the odd one might be, but for the most part, they’re more likely to buy your book because they feel obligated to support a fellow author, not because they expect to enjoy the book.

On the other panel I was on, the home grown writers one, several authors spoke about one thing I’ve heard said before, but Karen Dudley’s description of the phenomenon made it clear I hadn’t realized how huge it was. That’s the support for the arts we have in Winnipeg. Karen is from Alberta, and she apparently had a hell of a time getting grants and such from the government to get started writing. But when she moved to Manitoba, things were completely different. People showed up to signings, and cons. There are tons of writers based in Winnipeg – Sawyer has said before that’s the reason he visits so often, because he’s made so many friends here in the writing community.

Anyway, Sunday night I had a great time chatting it up with Gerald Brant and Shayla Elizabeth, both writers of sci-fi, talking about the querying process, and critique groups. Also got to chat with Timothy Gwyn a bit more. That’s one I wish I’d had more time to talk shop about the sky with, but I was rushing off to something or other. I’ll have to hunt him down at the dead dog next year, or possibly at Word On The Water in Kenora, if I make it out there this fall.

Anyway, I had a great con, and I’m looking forward to next year. Hope to see you there!

Keycon This Weekend

With Keycon coming up this weekend, I thought I’d better throw up a post letting people know I’ll most definitely be there and what panels I’ll be on.

First, on Friday at 10:00 PM, I’ve got “How a Four Cylinder Carbureted Engine Works” which will be exactly what it sounds like. Steampunks and Dieselpunks are encouraged to come for a primer on the mechanics of internal combustion.

On Saturday, I have two panels – the first is “Locally Grown: Authors and More You Likely Missed”, where I’m appearing with several other local authors including:
Writer Samantha Mary Beiko (The Lake and the Library)
Writer and Illustrator Gmb Chomichuk (The Imagination Manifesto, Raygun Gothic)
Fantasy and Mystery writer Karen Dudley (Food for the Gods)
Historical Fantasy author Leia Getty (Tower of Obsidian)
Novelist Chadwick Ginther (Thunder Road, Tombstone Blues)

The second is another of my own panels, titled “Why Thunderstorms Are Shaped Like Anvils.” And it’s not because Thor is making horseshoes. Come learn about weather. It’s sciencey.

When I’m not in panels, I’ll be figuring out what all Nnedi Okorafor’s panels are, and going to all of them, (apparently Nnedi cancelled last month sometime and I did not notice, bah!) and hanging out with fellow authors. Last year I met some of my blog followers, which was cool, so if you’re there, feel free to introduce yourselves. I hope to see you there.

Levels Of Validation For An Author

I posted this on facebook, but it was a popular post so I’ll repeat it here.

1: Your mom/friend reads it and says “That was lovely!”

2: Your critique circle says “Definitely a good start.”

3: Best critique partner says “You’ve got a novel here.”

4: Pro author in a blue pencil session reads first 3 pages and says “This is good, send it out to an agent.”

5: Agent reads first 50 pages and offers to look at revisions.

6: Agent reads revisions of first 50 pages, gushes and asks for the full manuscript.

7: Agent has taken the time to read full manuscript, gives feedback, and offers to look at revisions.

My friends and family have mostly encouraged me along the way, but lately I think it’s sinking in to the people around me that I’m not just an aspiring author who’ll get published someday if I work really hard at it. A lot of them have seen how long and hard I’ve worked at it now, and they believe me when I say I’m close to breaking out. I’m at that point where instead of begging people to read my work, people are expressing curiosity and asking to read it. I’ve had people online asking if I needed a beta reader and saying it’s okay if I don’t have time to return the favour. But the reality is, I think the novel’s at the point where a novice author may not have much to offer me that I can’t figure out on my own.

Maybe that’s what’s making my friends realize I’m close to getting published. The fact that I’m not showing my work to anyone who expresses the least bit of interest. When people say, “I’ll wait till it’s published,” I’m not frustrated that they’re not so excited they want to read it now.

And now I’m back to revisions, and I won’t say too much other than if I have anything to announce, don’t worry, I’ll be letting people know. But the feeling an author gets from knowing that an industry professional made it all the way through their manuscript, not just the polished first 5 pages, without throwing it in the garbage… not only that, but thinks it’s close enough to good enough to be worth the time it takes to provide feedback. Knowing they don’t *do* that if they don’t think you’re worth their time.

This is the fuel driving me through revisions :D

Serving Two Masters: Writing vs Flying

I’ve been a bit torn lately. I get why they say “No man can serve two masters.”

I’ve had my writing for a long time, and that’s been my main focus for the last fifteen years. Then the flying thing came along, and I said okay, I’m going to throw myself at that right now while I have the opportunity, and set writing aside for a bit. It’s not going to kill me to set writing aside. It would if it was for something I didn’t love, but I love flying at least as much as I love writing.

This winter, C-FLUG isn’t allowed out to play if it’s colder than -20 Celsius, so I haven’t been able to fly much. I’ve been writing, and there’s things happening on that front, so it’s encouraging. So at once I’m kind of turning my focus back to writing, while still trying to get in the air every chance I get. I keep feeling guilty about putting one before the other, and vice versa. I feel like I’m doing a terrible job of managing my time, and I get frustrated.

But then I realized that was why I was frustrated – because I had these two things, and I can’t do them both at the same time. I’d have more time for both if I didn’t still have to keep the day job, but as it is, that’s not yet an option. I’m very close to one or the other of them taking off (excuse the pun), one if I could get a break with the weather to get some flying in and finish my commercial license, the other if I could get a break with an agent. And that closeness to making it with both makes it that much more frustrating that I’m dividing my attention between them.

So from there, taking that step back to realize that’s why I’m getting stressed out about it, I think that’s going to make it easier to deal with. Because to hell with anyone who says I have to pick one and give up the other. If anyone tells me no man can serve two masters, here’s what I have to say to that!

First Solo Anniversary Post

It was a year ago in a few days (April 17th) that my instructor first sent me up alone in a Cessna 152. I had more hours than most students do on their first solos, due to waiting on my medical, but I guess that just means I could make the landing prettier. It was one of my better landings up to that point, after all.

Most people don’t know when their first solo is going to happen. Instructors don’t want to put pressure on them. I had it explained early on, in my first lesson, how the first solo is the big deal, big special day thing. My thoughts on lessons had been mostly concerned about how I was going to pay for it, and not so much wondering about what the training would be like, other than it would be awesome, so it hadn’t occurred to me. Of course I was like, oh, yeah, I guess that would be a big deal. But past that, there wasn’t much talk about it. I’ve talked to some of the other girls about their first solos, and they all say the same thing. They were doing circuits with a senior instructor, instructor has them come back to the ramp, hops out and sends them off to fly their one circuit for their first solo. They’re surprised, unprepared, a little flustered, but they don’t have time to get nervous, so okay, we’re doing this.

Anyway, most people don’t know the day it’s going to happen, but for me, I was only waiting on one thing, and that was my medical. For the newcomers, my Aspergers diagnosis was a thing to fuss about, and I was starting to think maybe I wouldn’t be able to get a class 1 medical after all. I’d been on the phone with Transport Canada several times trying to get an update on whether or not my medical would be approved, and finally heard back that it had, and was in the mail. Which usually takes a day, so it might come that day. I emailed my instructor that it was in the mail, and she said, well, maybe we can get your student license together tomorrow, and I replied, oh no, I’m waiting at the door for the mailman, he usually comes early. And he did come before I had to leave for my lesson, and he was indeed carrying my medical certificate. And I was looking at the weather, and the winds and clouds were co-operating. There was nothing left to wait on, as long as my instructor decided I was ready, so I while I told myself it wouldn’t necessarily be today, I was driving out to the airport knowing pretty much what the plan for the lesson would be, provided I was up to the task. And the rest is history.

After that was the first point when I dared call myself a pilot, even in my head. Before that, I was going to become a pilot. I don’t know if there’s rules for when you’re allowed to call yourself a pilot, but if you ask me, that point where you can get a plane into the air and back on the ground safely without the safety net of an instructor, that’s should be when. It’s not like being a writer where if you write, you’re a writer, and there’s a million other writers out there that will happily pat you on the head and say you don’t have to be making a living at it, or be published, or even ever share your work with anyone, it doesn’t matter if you’re shit at it, if you put words on a page, you’re a writer. For pilots, it’s a little different. Can you fly this puppy or not? Yes or no? You can stick anyone behind the controls of an aeroplane and let them get the hang of climbing and banking – it’s not that hard to keep the wings level, really. But if someone goes around saying they’re a pilot after some pilot let them have the controls for a few minutes, we’re all going to go “aw, isn’t that cute.”

Any idiot can get a plane into the air. A pilot can get it back on the ground. (And still be able to use it later.)

Thoughts On The Agent Search

There was a time when I had someone (an abuser) accusing me of lying constantly, of thinking things I didn’t think, and so on. In that time, I felt like there was two people living inside me. The person doing all the things that person was projecting onto me, and myself.

I don’t know if it’s just normal, or if that split just stayed with me, but I feel it again. Like there’s two people living inside my body. The first is the one who’s worked on honing her writing craft for the last sixteen years, has gotten to the point where she knows she’s got something good to show for it, and deserves to make it.

And the second is a weepy thing who’s no better than anyone else, and why should she get to live her dream when so many around her still struggle? Why do I deserve to succeed?

Sometimes it’s hard to remind myself of all the hard work I’ve done on this. Thank the gods, I have my husband, who’s seen at least nine years of it. He reminds me.

I’m not sure how much I should say about the status of my manuscript. I’ve gotten past the query stage. I have nothing to announce yet, but I know this manuscript is the best I’ve sent out, and it’s worthy. I think I’ve had publishable novels that I’ve sent out in the past, but while I think they were good enough to be published, they weren’t as good as this one. No one who’s read the manuscript disagrees. I’m confident. I feel like…

Okay, here’s the metaphor I used describing it to my husband: it feels like stall practice. Not so much like being on the takeoff roll – there, you hit takeoff speed, you pull back on the control stick, and the plane lifts off, right there, the moment you  give her her head.

No, you don’t have that kind of control here. It’s more like stall practice. That moment when you’ve got the airspeed down near stalling, and the stall horn is blaring. That moment before the stall, just waiting for the nose to drop….