The Lake And The Library by S. M Beiko

Wishing for something more than her adventureless life, 16-year-old Ash eagerly awaits the move she and her mother are taking from their dull, drab life in the prairie town of Treade. But as Ash counts the days, she finds her way into a mysterious, condemned building on the outskirts of town—one that has haunted her entire childhood with secrets and questions. What she finds inside is an untouched library, inhabited by an enchanting mute named Li. Brightened by Li’s charm and his indulgence in her dreams, Ash becomes locked in a world of dusty books and dying memories, with Li becoming the attachment to Treade she never wanted. This haunting and romantic debut novel explores the blurry boundary between the real and imagined with a narrative that illustrates the power and potency of literacy.

I had a lot of books on my TBR list, but at Keycon, I attended a reading where this author read from her second book, and what she read was so messed up wtf, that I went and bought her first book.

Disclaimer: I grew up in a small prairie town, loved books and art and spent most of my time lost in fantasy worlds of literature, and wanted nothing so much as to get out of the stupid dick town I was stuck in. In other words, the main character of this book is basically me at that age. It was a little eerie.

And thus, the first thing I noticed was the main character’s voice, and the narrative voice. The narrative actually reminded me of Peter S. Beagle, or Neil Gaiman, honestly, both of whom I love for their elegance of prose. I’m not one to obsess over well written prose, so when I notice it, it’s because it’s especially good.

The story straddles reality and magic in a surreal sort of way. The magic doesn’t jump out and slap you in the face, it sneaks up on you, kind of, in a slow, subtle sort of way, and builds it’s way to immersion.

A beautiful book, and I’m looking forward to that author’s next one.

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.