The City

There’s an interesting cultural observation I’ve made since moving to Winnipeg. I never thought of myself as a “country girl”, but since moving to “The City” I’ve realized I really am.

My last boyfriend, before my husband, was in the military. He told me a story once about when he was on the road with some friends and they ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. They had a jerry can of gas in the trunk, but the jerry can didn’t have a funnel, so they couldn’t get the gas into the gas tank.

I said “Well did you have a newspaper or a magazine or something, that you could use as a funnel?”

He looked at me for a few seconds and then said “shush, you.”

My husband was in Boy Scouts and liked to remind me, “A Boy Scout is always prepared.”

We’ve been together long enough now that he’s stopped, because he knows my response is “Yes, but a country girl knows how to improvise.”

The phrase “The City” means different things to a lot of different people. What I’m talking about is Manitoba, though. If you talk to anyone who lives in Manitoba, outside of Winnipeg, if we say “The City”, we mean Winnipeg.

Part of this is a result of the bare fact that Winnipeg is the largest urban center for… a long ways. The nearest place bigger than Winnipeg, without crossing the border is Edmonton in one direction, and Toronto in the other, and each of those is nearly half a continent away. Gonna throw this link out there if anyone wants to verify this fact: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/population.html

It’s something I never thought about growing up in Portage La Prairie, an hour’s drive away from Winnipeg. And I don’t think a lot of people think about that. But being a writer, it makes me think harder about how people think about things. Ant then it makes be think about how my own characters perception of things will differ from my own perception, or from other characters.

I think the reason I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with George R. R. Martin’s characters was that they were all lords and ladies and kings and queens. There were no characters that who’s roles I could see myself taking. I find in my own writing, I tend to write more characters who are small people – the “everyman” sort of character if you will. I think it’s because I don’t buy into the whole reality-show-about-how-difficult-rich-people’s-lives-are thing. I don’t have cable tv, and don’t miss it.

Actually I do, but I didn’t have it for about four years and didn’t miss it, and now that I do, I don’t watch it. (Netflix for evar!)

This post doesn’t really have a point or conclusion, it’s just something I’ve realized, and thought about. It’s a little bit about how people think about their own identity, an a little bit about my own identity. I mean, to people outside of Winnipeg, Winnipeg is practically a hick town. To me though, Regina is a hick town. (No, kidding, the last time I was there, all I remember is the teens wandering around with hickies on their necks. Not even joking.)

But the way I think about things is part of my own identity, and you have to remember, as a writer, that’s part of your characters’ identity. I’m a girl who grew up in, not a small town, but a small city. My dad was a bee farmer, and I spent tons of time out of doors, out in the country, wandering around in the bush, exploring abandoned buildings, building fires, building epic snow forts (that’s gonna take it’s own post) and playing with power tools at ages that people consider irresponsible of my parents.

The experiences a lot of people got from things like scouting, I got a lot of that just from tagging along with my dad. Things that a lot of “city people” hire someone to do, like cleaning the gutters, or shoveling off the roof, I wouldn’t think of hiring someone, I would do myself. I get my oil changed at the garage, not because I couldn’t do it myself, but because my dad gets it done there because they can do it more efficiently, and it’s less trouble. I’ve never done it, but I’m sure I could do it if I needed to. And it’s not a prissy rich white girl “pft, I could do it if I wanted to” – it’s a real, I know I could do it. I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty.

I’ve helped install magnetos, a voltmeter, a fuel gauge float, vacuum tubes, etc, on a plane I plane to fly myself. I’m basically staking my life on work I’ve done myself. No everyone trusts themselves that much. But that trust in myself, I will lay that with my dad. He might not have always been the most empathetic or emotionally supportive person, but he taught me things. Things to keep me safe. Things to make me feel confident walking into the world. Not specific things, but the phrase “come help me with this,” does something to a child.

For example, when my dad would shovel off the roof, he’d tie a rope around his waist and have us hold the opposite end. Us being my brother and I. We, at a very young age – I’m pretty sure under ten years old, were entrusted with making sure my dad didn’t fall off the roof, and if we couldn’t hold the rope, we were to get help. Around the same age, he brought me down to the spare room in the basement and told me, if he was ever working on the electricals, or dropped the hairdryer in the sink or something, and got electrocuted, here, flip this breaker, and it’ll shut down all the electricity in the house.

And sometimes I wonder if it’s that that made me the sort of person that, when something needs to be done, I go do it, or if it’s something inherent in myself. Something I was born with. I don’t know. I often assume everyone is as capable as me, and am surprised when I’m with others and

If someone had asked if I could learn how to install magnetos on a plane, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say yes. Not afraid of machines. My dad had a riding lawn mower, a mini front end loader, a garden tiller, etc. Dangerous machines that could have killed us. He built fires to burn rubbish and such, and let us play with them. We grew up old school, before they wrapped kids in cotton balls. Or at least, before the cotton reached the farmer’s kids in rural areas.

And realizing that makes me think. About what’s shaped me, and from there, what shapes characters. And why I tend to choose the characters I write about. They tend to be small characters, but capable. Not princes and princesses. Everyday, common people.

But it’s also why I write Dieselpunk. The machines. It’s familiar and comfortable.

Like I said, I have no point to make here, really. Just an observation and a couple of anecdotes.

Report on Keycon 29

I had a great time this year at Keycon. I had my awesome aviator goggles, and blue/purple bangs and I made the most of it. Apparently goggles and dyed bangs are enough to convince people at the con that my jeans and a t-shirt constitute a costume. People asked me what character I was dressed up to be, so I told them I was an airship pirate.

This year might have been a little ad-hoc, but I realize that was because multiple con organizers, including one of the con chairs, had to step down for various reasons beyond their control. Those stepping in did their best to pull it together last minute.

It was great to see the hospitality floor full this year. Lots of suites serving food and drink – alcoholic and non-alcoholic, with the suites done up beautifully. With more of the suites open late in the evening, there was less crowding in the hallways, especially during the dead dog on Sunday night.

Programming was also improved, IMHO, this year, there was less trying to figure out which of two or three panels I wanted to attend – they seemed to have been more careful to schedule writing related panels so that they didn’t compete with one another, and I got to attend everything I wanted to.

The guests of honour of course were interesting, especially Jonathan Mayberry. He could just keep talking and he had so many interesting things to ramble on about, that when he asked if anyone had any questions, people just wanted him to keep going on whatever he wanted to talk about.

Author Idol was disappointingly poorly attended – there were about seven people in a massive room, and two submissions, mine and a friend’s. I suspect that was largely due to the lack of notice – I only heard about it a few days before the con, and had to scramble to get a synopsis ready and critiqued. On the other hand, the editor and author on the judging panel both very much liked the synopsis and thought it was well put together. The editor, Ellen Smith of Champagne Books said she would likely request the manuscript based on it.

So it was pretty cool that Ellen Smith was also in on my panel on how to write a query letter and synopsis. That was fairly well attended, fifteen people or so, lots of questions and conversation. I was nervous, but not as bad as I might have been – it was lovely to have Ellen there with me.

Outside of official Keycon activities, I also got to hang out with Chadwick Ginther, who has an Urban Fantasy coming out in September, and get to know him a bit better, along with a bunch of other fellow authors over supper at Moxies on Saturday night, including Erika Holt, Marie Bilodeau, Sherry Peters, Eileen Bell, Gerald Brandt, and Robert J. Sawyer. Great conversation made it easier to overcome my Aspergers Syndrome tendency to be the quiet one in a group. In fact, I did a lot of fighting the Aspergers Syndrome over the weekend, reminding myself that hiding away in a corner and not saying hi to new acquaintances when I see them is not how Lindsay makes friends. I still expect rejection, in the back of my mind, and it’s hard to overcome years of assuming that people don’t like me and trying to protect myself from being hurt by not trying. And it was worth every bit of fighting it.

So, overall, I had an awesome weekend, and I very much look forward to next year, when I expect things will be much better prepared. I know the people running it next year, and they have done a great job in the past. Thanks to all to Con staff who put things together this year, and I’ll see you all again in 2013!

Robocall Rally – Winnipeg

This blog was created as my writing blog. I realize that some people don’t like when a writer has an agenda, especially a political one. If you’re one of those people, you’re probably not my target audience, so full disclaimer: I will be posting political stuff on this blog and I will *not* apologize for it.

Today was a day of action for Canadians to protest electoral fraud. Across Canada, we marched, waving flags, and holding signs.

In Winnipeg, around three hundred people, including myself, met at River and Osbourne, where Kevin Lamoureux, MP for Winnipeg North, and former MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis gave speeches, calling for the Conservative Government to conduct full independent investigations into the robocall scandals. A petition was signed, and we marched to the office of the Winnipeg South Centre MP, Joyce Bateman.

The office was closed, and no one has been able to contact Mrs. Bateman. It’s like she didn’t want to hear what we had to say. </sarcasm>

It was not entirely unexpected. Obviously she has no defense, or she would have had something to say to us. Instead, we made do by singing O Canada outside her abandoned office.

The Conservative Government has refused to fully investigate the Robocalls. They’ve pointed the finger at the Liberals, demanded that the Liberals release their phone records (which they did) but then refused to release their own. What kind of person does that if they’re not a bunch guilty bastards? If they’re not behind it, let them clear themselves! But they won’t. The only reason anyone could possibly have refusing to release their own records, refusing to investigate, is if they have something to hide.

That’s the end of the story. They want to pass laws that allow police unlawful search and seizure rights – they want to be able to spy on our internet usage, and they want mandatory minimums for blue collar crime. Lets see some mandatory minimums for electoral fraud!

I am disgusted with our government and ashamed of it. It doesn’t even matter who was behind  the voter suppression calls, they happened, and the Government is responsible for finding out who threatened our democracy, punish them, and correct it by, at the very least, calling by-elections. But they won’t because they’re happy with the results and they know damn well, they’ve pulled so much BS in the last year that they would likely lose their majority.

This is the sort of thing that we send observers into developing countries to prevent. This is what Canada has fallen to. The only way we’re going to get rid of the Harper Government is if we march into parliament hill and drag them out of their offices kicking and screaming, because they’ll just lie and cheat their way out of anything else.