Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Look Back at 2009

2009 was, now that I think on it, a very tumultuous year. It was a year of profound changes... many of them good. Some of them not. In 2009, I discovered who my friends were, and, sadly, who they were not. I lost my grandmother to a heart attack. I was forced to move from the flat I had loved. I lost my job at the end of 2008 and couldn't seem to find a new one. I lost faith in people. Yet, for all the stress and the tears and the uncertainty that made up 2009, I find that I have a great deal to be thankful for. I discovered a new direction for me, one that feels right and just. I finished my manuscript, which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the equivalent of four complete novels. I found a new home, made a new friend or two, started a new story and finished the first book of that story, and fallen in love with life all over again. I am so grateful for all that tumult for now, it seems, I'm finding my path at long last.

I am grateful that I have ears with which to hear music, for music moves my soul like no other thing in this world. Thank-you, to all the musicians in the world.

I am grateful for the new job I got at the beginning of 2009. I am grateful to J.K., who tipped me off about the possible opening.

I am grateful for my friends. All of you stood behind me and celebrated when I finished my first ever manuscript this August. You helped me write it, and edit it, and still to this day encourage all my efforts with writing, and in every other endeavour.

I am grateful, strangely enough, to those that did not. You helped me to prioritise my time, allowing me to spend it on the people that actually care and matter. You helped to solidify, in some bizarre way, the person that I am, and I'm not unhappy about the me I see before me. If that makes sense.

I am especially grateful to M.K., C.H., M.F., and K.W. for all your help with my writing, for your careful editing and gentle criticisms. My artist's ego remains intact. I am grateful for you all defending me when the occasion arose. I doubt you'll ever understand how much that meant to me. I love you all.

I am grateful for K.C., who, due to a very unfortunate event in his life, stumbled into mine and has become one of my most trusted friends. Truly good people are increasingly difficult to find in the increasingly selfish world. This is an inside joke but, K.C., you rock the Casbah! I am also grateful for K.C. because through him I met his lovely new girlfriend, S.D., who also rocks the Casbah.

I am grateful to all my Kung Fu brothers and sisters, and my Sifu. You have helped my find myself once more, and have helped me heal. My faith in my own species is continually being restored because of the wonderful, eclectic and kind people I find myself surrounded by four nights a week. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach Kung Fu and Kickboxing, that I might be a small part of extending the warmth and fun that my Kung Fu school has extended to me.

I am so grateful I got to know D.P. a little better. A fellow reader and a pleasure to be around, I am glad he's now a part of my circle.

I am grateful for T.H., who has been a constant in my life for a while now, and who has always been there when I needed someone to lean on. I love you so much. We are definitely sisters, even if not blood related.

I am grateful to the spirit of the written word for bestowing the gifts of passion for writing and reading. I am grateful for the stories that fly through my head at a maddening pace, even if I can't write them all down. I am grateful for all the people I have met as a result of this passion - A.W., D.N., G.dM.... just to name a few. I am so incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to write and be published... one day.

I am so incredibly grateful for my flatmate, who seems to be as eccentric as I am. I am so incredibly grateful that I had no other choice but to move in with her, and that my fears of living with someone for the first time in four odd years were completely unfounded, otherwise I might have missed out on the great fun, and the laughter, that is our home. I am grateful for Persephone, the stray we found, and I'm so grateful for Galahad, the one of her four kittens we kept.

I am most profoundly grateful for my family. For my father, whose quiet, but constant, presence keeps me safe. For my mother, who, though she lives half a world away, is always standing beside me. For my grandmother, though she passed away at the beginning of the year. She was ever a sparkling light for me, and will always be so. To my sisters and my brother, without whom I would not be me. Thank-you so much. I love you all.

Lastly I am grateful to you, the readers of this blog, for being there for me, for being, whether you knew it or not, the constant reason for me bothering to blog at all, for being the faceless crowd that continually urges me forward - the audience for whom I write my stories. Your presence in my life is an enormous motivation for me to keep going. Thank-you.

So, in all, I am grateful for 2009. It was a year of change, not all of it welcome, but all of it necessary.

All that is left, I suppose, is to wish you all a very happy New Year. May 2010 be full of wonder, love and laughter! To celebrate the new year, I'll be taking a few days off and won't be bothering you again until the 7th. Lucky you! Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Worlderful World of Meh

Meh. That single expression pretty much sums up how I feel right now.

There is nothing to report but yet more searches. That really is the only use for that website, I swear....

Search Engine: Google
Search Terms: sonia carriere
Visitor Location: Ottawa, ON (Canada)
Date: December 22, 2009
Time: 5:19 PM EST

Was that you again Jazz?

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Caro, MI
Date: December 24, 2009
Time: 7:07 PM EST

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Hudson, NH
Date: December 26, 2009
Time: 5:02 AM EST

What's with all these photography searches I keep showing up on? I'm not exactly a photographer....

Search Engine: Ziggs
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Referrer: None
Visitor Location: Albany, NY
Date: December 29, 2009
Time: 9:41 AM EST

Hello to whomever looked me up in Albany!

Alright, I'm done with yet more non-news. Maybe there'll be something exciting to blog about tomorrow... like a Wii... or something.

Take care!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Wonderful Christmas, and a Fruitless Search

I'm going to warn you beforehand. This will be a looooooooong post. There is a fair amount of frivolity and misadventure to report. None of it, of course, has anything to do with my writing except to say this:

I still haven't heard anything from Tor and I've decided to extend my short break from writing into the New Year and just read and recharge my imagination.

Now that's out of the way... how was your Christmas? Mine was fantastic. As in brilliant and fun, not unbelievable. In any case, it began Christmas Eve. I was fortunate enough to get a half-day at work and so only had to work until half past twelve. Then I left work with my father (I got him a part-time job in the same office) and went to his place for bacon and eggs. I believe the term is "brunch" when you have breakfast at lunch time. I don't care. It was delicious.

There was a party at my cousin's very large, very beautiful house in Aylmer, Quebec. That didn't start until 8pm however, so Dad and I killed time by watching movies. They were his Christmas gifts from me... which I made him open early so we could watch them. Star Trek came first. I'm not a Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination, but I really enjoyed that movie. The next was Terminator: Salvation. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't have high hopes for that one, but the action was good, and the story line was relatively interesting.

The party was lovely, of course. I must say, the Carrière family and all it's affiliates (you know, families that married in) is full of warm, wonderful people. It was so lovely just to be surrounded by them for a time. We stayed quite late, well and truly passed both our bedtimes (Dad and I can be quite lame sometimes. I'm usually in bed around 10:30pm). We were exhausted by the time we got home. I think it was around 1:00am. That's normal for some people, but I need my sleep!

We were lovingly woken by the shrill sounds of the Skype ringer around 7:00am. Australia was calling, and I blissfully answered. I spoke with my immediately family, all of whom except Dad are still in Australia. The exception was my eldest sister, as she was staying with someone who didn't have all the necessary things for Skype, like speakers and microphone. Oh well! There's always next time. In any case, my family were all well and happy. It is so lovely to hear from them!

Tired, Dad and I went back to sleep! We woke around midday (that's 12 noon for you North American folks) and had porridge, finished watching Terminator (which was still on pause from the previous night), then went and got ready for Christmas Day celebrations at my aunt's lovely house, also in Aylmer.

My family has this wonderful tradition whereby each person buys a gift - one gift only - in a theme. This year's theme was "begins with either 'J' or 'N', or 'M' or 'C' for Joyeux Noel or Merry Christmas." Long theme, I know. A woman must buy for her gender, and so must a man. All the gifts are placed according to gender beneath the tree, and a game is played. The winner of each round gets to pick a gift. Once you've won, you can't play again. It's a lot of fun. This year's game was "The Game of Things." I've played it before this, and it is hilarious fun!

I won myself a beautiful set of Christmas mugs. My aunt Jacqueline has amazing taste! I'm breaking those out at Christmas next year!

Exhausted, Dad and I retired relatively early, sent back with more food than we could possibly devour in one week. Score!

I stayed over Christmas Night, before heading back to the kitties on Boxing Day. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, and didn't get any photos of the event. I'm kicking myself for it now.

I slept most of Boxing Day before heading out to the movies with Dad once more. We watched Avatar in 3D. Can anyone say frikkin' awesome?! Avatar was basically Fern Gully on steroids. The storyline wasn't really all that original (though had original elements), but the movie was nonetheless absolutely spectacular and I urge any and all to go see it. I cried. Of course.

I had gotten Chapters gift cards for gifts this Christmas. Thanks so much K.C. and J.S. for them. Because of you, just before I went to the movies, I was able to get 4 books for 36 cents. You guys rock my world. Thus, my collection of Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin grows. Lovely!

I went home to find that Jazz had returned from her cottage Christmas with... a keyboard! Yay! Jazz plays the piano, and when she moved out of her parent's home, she left the piano behind. I contrived with her parents to get her a keyboard, so she could still play. That reminds me. I owe Jazz' mum some money for that.... I'm very happy there will be music in the house. Jazz has promised to teach me how to play. This should be interesting... I'm not the most coordinated person around, and having one hand do something different from the other at the same time might be a bit tricky for me, but I'll give it a go anyway!

I was so impressed with Avatar, that I made Jazz swear we'd go see it on the 28th. Thus, yesterday afternoon, Jazz and I headed out for some Avatar love. It was just as awesome the second time around. Oh, and Jazz cried too. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

We returned home and got to talking and, rather suddenly, we decided we wanted a Wii. So away we went again, on the hunt for a Wii. There were none at either EB Games or Zellers in the Billings Bridge Plaza. So we headed off to South Keys. There were none at Future Shop or at Walmart (I generally don't like to shop at Walmart, but desperate times, people). Future Shop noted that there was one at the Merivale Mall location, so off we went again, just in case. Nope, all sold out there too... and at the Best Buy next door! It was a very disappointing, very fruitless search... and I was quite sad, since I was looking forward to playing Wii while Jazz was off in Boston for the New Year's celebrations. She leaves this morning and doesn't come back 'till Saturday evening. Le sigh!

Never fear, however. We've both got it in our heads that we are getting a Wii, so when Jasmine returns, we shall try again! We're both a little stubborn like that....

Alright. I shall stop torturing you all with my inane non-news. Hopefully there shall be some news about my writing soon! I hope everyone's Christmas' was as wonderful as mine!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I'm given to understand that the phrase "Merry Christmas" may be offensive to some people. If you are offended, I can only say sorry, but I think it's a little silly to be offended by someone who is wishing you well. In any case, Happy Holidays too.

I won't be blogging for the holidays (blessed relief, I know). I'll annoy you all again on the 29th.

'Till then, have a wonderful time! I know I will be!

Take care.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I've been tagged!

Right, so I was recently tagged by fellow author and friend Anna Walls. Be sure to check out her blog here. In any case, it's a sort of game, I suppose, where we get 'tagged,' have to answer a bunch of questions, then we tag three others who must also answer these questions and tag three others and so on and so forth.

It's taken me a while to get around to it as, well, I've been trying to blog about writing stuff. Since I have no news, though, this quasi-interview seems a good way to pass the time.

So without further ado....

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

I've just finished book one of a new project entitled Seraphimé. It's a tale about how one woman becomes the embodiment of the land in which she was raised (the Tundra) and thus ascends to godhood all with the aid of the ancient Lord of the Wilds (who is a male triple deity, his other two functions are the God of Death and Master of the Hunt). There's a love triangle in there too. Book one is done, but I'm waiting until after the Christmas period of craziness before I start book 2. Hopefully there will be only two books this time!

The first thing I wrote that I still have would be some pieces of poetry I wrote in High School. Not very clever stuff, but dear to me all that same.

2. Write poetry?
Yes. Though less now that I've started novelling, I do write poetry.

3. Angsty poetry?
Some of it. I'm a pretty angsty person when it comes down to it, I suppose, and I can get into some very dark moods. There is light, however! Not all my poetry is dark and depressing. Some of it is amusing.

4. Favourite genre of writing?
To read and write, my favourite genre has to be Fantasy. A good Fantasy will draw you in and beat you relentlessly until you come out enriched by imagination. I love it.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
Good question. I'm not really certain I've ever written a truly annoying character. There are traits of some characters which would be considered annoying, I suppose. Things like bad grammar, or a tendency to make everything into a joke, or being particularly daft.... but nothing that is on the whole really irritating.

6. Best plot you've ever created?
I'm so biased about this it isn't funny. The Great Man series has to be my best plot ever. It took me a long time to write, the main character is very close to my heart... and it's very, very dark. And a little twisted. That said, I've only written two plots thus far in five books (four books for The Great Man series and one completed one for Seraphimé).

7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
The guy who is supposed to save the world, becomes the major force behind the ones who are trying to destroy it. From The Great Man series, of course.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
Now that I've surrendered myself to the creative process and abandoned all pretence of a structured outline, never. See, I had a revelation - all I needed to write was the protagonist and the ending of the story. How I got to the end was, by and large, happy chance. I arrived at this epiphany during the writing of The Great Man. For almost six months I tried to force the story to stick to the outline I had developed. They story wouldn't budge. Writer's block plagued me for close to six months. Then, one day, I decided to give it up and just write. Now I have four completed manuscripts of a story I can't wait to share.

9. Write fan fiction?
No, though I often develop little stories in my head surrounding the characters of any given show.

10.Do you type or write by hand?
Type. I can type faster than I can write, and my brain moves so quickly, I need to do everything in my power to keep up!

11. Do you save everything you write?
I would be a damned fool not to! (That's a yes, incidentally)

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

13. What's your favourite thing you've ever written?
The Great Man series by far.

14. What's everyone else's favourite story you've written?
Well, they've only ever seen The Great Man, so it'd have to be that.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen?
Now this is tough, as my main character in The Great Man series spends some time being an angsty teen (you would too if you'd been through the horrible rubbish he's been through), so I have written an angsty teen. I haven't, however, written angsty teen fiction. I'm just not into that, so I don't write it. As for romance, while there is a fair amount of romance in my writing, the genre I write is not romance.

16. What's your favourite setting for your characters?
Tough question. Battles are cool places to be in, but you can only get real character development in quieter places, like the home. Thus, I cannot choose a favourite setting for my characters. They're all great!

17. How many writing projects are you working on now?
One at a time.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Not yet! Fingers crossed!

19. What are your five favourite words?
"You made me cry!" I know it's only four, but those are my favourite words. I love to hear them because it means that my work is having an emotional impact on the reader. Love, love, love it!

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
They are all like me in some way or another. How could they not be? I'm writing through the lens of personal experience. I suppose Julian represents my inner world most clearly. It's a dark, scary place sometimes!

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
I don't. The characters come to me from somewhere beyond conscious thought, and they each have a story attached to them. My only task is to relay their stories faithfully and accurately on the page as the characters relay them to me.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No. Most of my dreams are really trippy and make no logical sense at all. For example, last night I dreamt that I was part of a competition run by my Kung Fu school. One guy was racing another on some sort of skateboard using only his hands for propulsion, the other was on a bicycle which turned into a horse when it reached the bottom of the hill. Then, after the race (which the guy on horseback won, but only just), we were all attacked by ninjas. Battle ensues. We win. Myself and two others were called out by our Sifu (who wasn't actually my SIfu in real life) to his "office" and then the alarm went off and I woke up. I could write a story from that, but everyone would assume I was on LSD or something!

23. Do you favour happy endings?
No. They are completely unrealistic. How on earth does one simply return to normal life after going through unspeakable horrors? It doesn't happen. Even if the good guys win, there has to be some talk of the repercussions of the decisions that lead to that victory. Happily ever afters just don't exist in life. I think it's unbearably corny if they do in fiction (unless it's really, really well written).

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Not even a little bit. I have to get the story out first. I'll worry about that stuff later.

25. Does music help you write?
Yes. Undoubtedly, unequivocally yes. Music has the power to affect my mood in the most profound way. Music is always on when I write. Always.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
“I am but two hundred years old. I have three hundred or more years of life left, and I am now condemned to live them all, alone. Countless thousands of nights spent in solitude. My sons, my wife, are taken from me. There is none of my kin left. When I die, who will paint the sacred symbols on my body? Who will light the fire so that my soul may find its way to the halls of my kindred? There is no one. So when at last I die, after three hundred long years alone, I am bound to remain, separated forever from my kindred. Is this not sufficient reason to mourn?”
- Xavier, Sammonishy'i warrior. Prince of Darkness, Book 4 of The Great Man series.

And my tags:
Paul Mitton of Dark and Secret Writes
Jenn of Don't Publish Me
Rita of Rita's World

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It is so hard to blog about writing if nothing is happening with my writing!

I've re-edited the first two books in The Great Man series. I need Beta readers for them. I have one, but he promises nothing as he's bouncing back and forth between Ottawa and Montreal like a ping pong ball this holiday season. I have another, who also writes, but she is expecting a child and is very busy at the moment.

To make matters worse, I'm exceptionally paranoid and won't let just anyone read my manuscripts. Like my friends, they generally have to earn my trust before I let them near the manuscripts. Is that weird? Are other writers like that?

Of course, that present a problem in trying to find an adequate number of Beta readers that will return my work with in three months. I suppose I shall have to accept that it might not happen, and that my manuscripts will all have to be submitted with only self-editing to help them out. I wonder if that will be enough....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grr... Arg...

Still no news for Tor, so I've decided to fill this space with more nonsense. Last week I received a alert that my profile has been viewed by someone in Bangkok (not the proper name of the city, I don't know why it's still in use, hell why don't we call Thailand Siam still?!). In any case, THANKS PHIL!

Phil very kindly promised me he'd look me up while he was on holiday in Thailand, just so I'd have a search from Asia. Yay for friends who make me smile!

I also got this notification:

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Tampa, FL
Date: December 20, 2009
Time: 6:37 PM EST

I don't know how I came to be on a database for New York photographers. How amusing. Clearly it doesn't take much to amuse me....

I've been dog-sitting for a few days for friends who have gone away to take a much-needed break from the city. I completely understand that! In any case, I love the puppy (who is actually quite old) I'm sitting, but I must say I've missed my cats like crazy!

I realised just how much last night, when I briefly returned home after a night of annoying the neighbours with Christmas carols (yes, I went Christmas carolling!), to be appropriately loved by the cats. I've missed them so much! Galahad was adorable... he wrapped his front paws around my arm when he fell to sleep. Le sigh!

I'll be extremely glad to go back home Tuesday night and cuddle them again!

Well, that's it from me. I hope you're all well!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nothing but Ziggs

Well, there is really nothing new going on. Still haven't heard from Tor. The tree fell down again last night, but luckily with less damage than before. Yay for ornaments that bounce and don't break!

Other than that, there are some more searches to report.

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Helsinki, Finland
Date: December 11, 2009
Time: 8:43 PM EST

Finland! That's new! I'm so happy to be searched by all sorts of people from all sorts of places!

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Tampa, FL
Date: December 14, 2009
Time: 12:44 PM EST

And the latest one was from my home town:

Search Engine: Google
Search Terms: sonia michelle carriere
Visitor Location: Ottawa, ON (Canada)
Date: December 18, 2009
Time: 12:50 AM EST

People who know my middle name scare me a little.

Slow news day, I know. Sorry. Until next time then!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tree Trimming Pictures

Oh happy days! I have photos of the event!

This lovely little straw goat is a Christmas icon of Sweden. We've named him Beryl.

Dad, Kevin and I begin the decorating.

My father, being by far the tallest of the group, put the highest decoration on.

Yep. This one. The hand-painted glass one that shattered quite nicely when the tree fell.

Every good tree needs candy-canes.

Galahad imagines himself a mountain lion hidden in the firs....

Gingerbread house time! I'm the architect, Kevin is the builder, and my father is, apparently, the foreman.

"No you fools! It's supposed to look like this!"

Instructions are for losers.... and we like being messy!

The roof kept sliding off, so I had to hold it there.

Ta-dah! The world's most haphazard gingerbread house!

Meanwhile, the world's loveliest Jasmine slaved away cooking.

And what a delight she created!

I'm not entirely sure why I got the honours of carrying it in, since it was Jasmine's wondrous contribution, but... "Ta-dah! The turkey is here!"

The happy feasters....

... and Kevin....

And, of course, there is the obligatory group photo.

And with the cats.

All in all, a most wonderful evening. I cannot wait for the carolling on the 20th to commence!

That's it from me. I hope you are all well. Take care.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Tree is Up! The Tree is Down! The Tree is Up!


Despite being rather melancholy yesterday, I'm in a spectacularly good mood this morning! I had an absolutely lovely time last night with good friends and family decorating the Christmas Tree at our flat. Having just finished her latest gig as a 3rd Assistant Director for the film 'The Boy She Met Online,' Jazz went into super-entertainer mode to get everything ready for the party.

We gathered first, a small party of four, to decorate the tree. Included in the group was my father, my flatmate, my Kung Fu brother and his girlfriend, and myself. Might I say, my flatmate picked a gorgeous tree. It's roughly 8 feet tall and wonderfully shaped. It's a Balsam Fir, so the flat smells incredible! An excellent choice Jazz! In any case, we had a great deal of fun throwing tinsel on and putting up the baubles.

Just as we were finishing the tree, our two other guests arrived, my lovely friend Tri and her boyfriend Jon. We talked and laughed and then decided that making a gingerbread house was the thing to do. So we did, each taking turns to decorate, or to act as the foreman, in some cases! Though we aren't professionals, the house looks great, in a sloppy kind of way. The tumble-down appearance of the house simply adds character!

As we were chatting and decorating and building, we sampled a number of drinks. There were copious amounts of wine (we only managed to finish one and a half of the five bottles of red, and one of the two bottles of white. A paltry effort, but the guests were driving, so had to be responsible). Jazz also created a wonderful hot buttered rum drink. Delicious! There was hot spiced apple cider, Cranberry carbonated fruit juice, egg nog, and, at the end of the night, a strange brew that was made from stout beer, wine and spices. I forget what it's called. If you know the name, do let me know. Apparently it's a traditional British Christmas hot beverage. It was quite good, though I'm generally not a fan of beer, stout or otherwise.

Then came the dinner. My wonderful flatmate cooked an absolutely gorgeous turkey, with potatoes, carrots and stove-top stuffing with cranberries. I did the gravy... which was all I could do, really, as I worked all day. The feast was magnificent!

I shall have pictures of the festivities up as soon as Jazz gets them off her camera.

Then, at 5:30 this morning, the tree decided to fall down. It smashed several of the baubles, included my beautiful, hand painted decoration that I had gotten as a gift one year. I'm sad about it, but not so much that I'm terribly upset. At first I thought the cats were to blame, but when I bolted upright in my bed, I noticed them sitting beside me, their curious eyes turned towards the source of the sound. It wasn't them (I'd have heard them running away and felt them jump on my bed if it had been).

I rushed into the living room and immediately restored the tree, a little skewed, and swept up the needles and smashed baubles. Noticing that the tree was a bit squint, as they say, I knelt down to turn it back. At precisely the point of restoration, the tree tipped once more... right on my head. I put it back up, whereupon it promptly fell down again. I put it back up, deliberately skewed this time, and swept up the mess a second time.

I managed to step on a shard of bauble while putting up the tree the last time, and cut my foot. I didn't realise I had done so until I noticed blood on the floor. I cleaned up what I could see. Finished steadying the tree, wrote a quick note to Jazz explaining what happened, cleaned my foot, whacked on a band-aid and collapsed into bed.

I had intended to do some of the dishes from last night this morning, but my struggle with the tree left me wearied and I didn't get up in time. So sorry Jazz!

This evening I'm on the hunt for replacement baubles, and perhaps some strong fishing line with which to secure the tree to the wall, let it decide to commit bauble-cide once more!

Well, that's it from me! Take care everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog Highlight: Writer Beware

Hi all,

When doing my research on publishers and agents, I stumbled across Writer Beware, a faction of the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). You can link the the site here.

This site is an absolute must for authors who are starting out brand new to the shady world of publishing. You can read through various cases where authors have been scammed, and they have a list of questionable publishing houses and agents which to avoid.

They also, thanks to their contributors, have a blog. You can link to it here. It's a brilliant little blog that every author should be following. It keeps news updates, not just pertaining to scams and so on, but also news in the publishing industry. That is something we all need to keep abreast of if we're to get the best out of our efforts.

The long and short of it is, if you are a new author, follow this blog. It might just save you a whole lot of grief!

That's all from me. Keep well on this fine, snowy day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis the Season!

This weekend was simply wonderful! Not only did it look like a Christmas postcard outside, I was able to meet up with and enjoy the company of good people all weekend. Saturday was particularly special for an accidental reason.

It was a very busy day for me. In the morning for roughly an hour and a half, I went to Lion Dance practice. I had taken a three month sabbatical (of sorts) from it as I had started too much at once and was very quickly burning out. I was very surprised that I simply remembered everything. To be honest, because it was a seminar and there were a fair number of new people, our troupe leader took it very slowly first and I was able to revise extensively. I had forgotten how much fun it could be, if a little rough on my still broken toe and torn hamstring.

The troupe went out to lunch afterwards. Being in Chinatown, we were in no shortage of places to eat. After lunch with the troupe, I went immediately to the Community Centre where I regularly teach beginner Kung Fu. I taught for an hour and then happily walked to my bus-stop, only to discover police cars lining the road and the road itself blocked off. People lined the streets and seemed to be in good cheer.

I had no clue as to what was going on, but I realised that a bus would not be coming through the police blockade any time soon. So, having done it countless times in the summer, I started to walk and as I started to walk, vehicles started driving down the road and announced the reason for the police blockade.

It was the Winter Olympic Torch Relay. I had stumbled upon it quite by accident, not remembering when and where it was happening. For 12 or so blocks from the edge of Downtown Ottawa to the beginning of Old Ottawa South, I walked with the Olympic Torch. It was quite wonderful to see all the happy faces, and to hear the cheering. I'm kicking myself for not brining my camera with me.

Of course, the downside was that I couldn't cross the street as the torch relay turned and I ended up missing not just one, but five buses home. Not that it particularly mattered, though I was anxious to get home and get ready for the party I attended Saturday night.

That party was wonderful. It was, of course, the Wutan Christmas party and it was a blast. I'm just sorry that everyone went home so soon! It began with a buffet dinner that was, as most buffet dinners are, fairly average. However, the company was good, so I'd be the last to complain! The Lion Dance Troupe (sans moi) performed for us, followed by forms demonstrations. These were spur of the moment happening, these demonstrations. Most of the performers were volun-told. I, unfortunately, was one of them.

It was announced that I would perform Tiger-Tail Broadsword, a form I had performed in the past. I refused, of course, but soon my entire table was chanting my name. Having really no choice, I consented, only there was not broadsword to perform with... a good thing considered the cramped space! I was cheerfully handed a spoon by my Kung Fu brother Martin. The spoon was still covered in the remnants of his ice-cream dessert, and was promptly returned. Some kind (cough, cough) person handed me a clean spoon and I went up and performed.

Naturally, I forgot the form entirely and ended up doing something akin to a dance that really had nothing to do with the form. Nevertheless, I have been told that my spoon was fearsome indeed and no one at the dessert station would ever mess with me.

The night ended far too soon for my liking, but I suppose that was a good thing as I had to clean the house the following day in preparation for a small dinner party I was throwing for friends.

Sunday's dinner party went well. Kevin very kindly cooked and cleaned. There was wine (a bottle of which I had won Saturday night in a draw), there was home-made pizza (absolutely delicious!) and there were laughs and lots of cat cuddling. The purpose of the dinner was to introduce Sharon's cat Fei Fei to ours. That did not go well. Fei Fei did not take to Persephone and Galahad, whose curiosity was rewarded with hisses and growls. It seems that we will not be able to look after Fei Fei when Sharon goes away for Christmas. I certainly hope that she finds a sitter!

The next few weeks are going to be just as crazy. Tuesday night, Jasmine and I are hosting a tree-trimming party and turkey feast at our place, I have to go and dog sit for four days over the weekend, and there will be carolling on the 20th. Not four days later, it will be Christmas.


Of course, with all this running around, I'm going to need to take a break, and I've book three days after New Year's Day to rest a recuperate.

Well, that was my exciting weekend. I hope yours was just as wonderful!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Noting Nothing

Nice alliteration in the title, yes?

In any case, there is nothing to say today, so I shall simply leave you with a quote:

Even if you have nothing to write, write and say so.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

I shall leave you with that. Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Storm

Last night in Ottawa, there was a dumping of approximately 18cms of snow during the day and overnight. The whole world is blanketed in crisp, white, sparkling frost - shin deep in places. It's so beautiful. Yet all I can hear is my colleagues complaining bitterly about the snow.

"It's so hard to drive," complains the woman who has yet to put on snow tyres.
"I had to put on my heavy coat, it's cold out there!" whines the under-dressed man.
"The buses were slow," says the woman who lives not half an hour's walk from work.

My goodness people! What is wrong with your eyes? Do you not see the beauty that is laid right at your feet? It's stunning out there!

I love the snow. Every time it snows, it's as if the world is made anew. The air is cleaner, crisper. The trees are decorated effortlessly. The houses seem to settle into the earth and, for once, become it.

But they don't see that. They don't see the postcard perfect world after a snowfall. They don't see the gorgeous magenta sunrise that casts purple shadows all over the sparkling white world. They don't smell that wonderful, crisp scent that refreshes and invigorates.

When it snows, you get the best and the worst from people. Last night during the storm, our bus driver kept everyone in a good mood with bright smiles and jokes. He even serenaded us with Christmas carols sung in English and French. He was wonderful, and people in the bus, in return, were wonderful to each other. It was by far the best bus ride home from work I've ever had.

On the other hand, you get the people who rejoice in being the Scrooges of the world. "Bah humbug," they mutter as they trudge through the snowy footpaths with a frown that could make Santa himself weep. They shoulder check people as they pass by, making it clear that they have the right of way simply because they are them, and in a foul mood. They look at you as if you just cursed a blue note when you wish them a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. They are the people who are immune to the natural beauties of the world around them.

To those people, I can only shake my head sadly and sigh.

To the rest of you - enjoy the snow! Be kind to one another, for there is nothing more infectious than a smile and a kind word. And make sure you get involved in a friendly snow-fight with a random stranger. From experience, nothing makes the world better!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Seraphimé Update and Other Stuff

For those who haven't read it in a previous post, Seraphimé is the title of my most recent narrative effort. I thought that the whole story might only be one book this time around, I was wrong.

At 89 098 words, book one of Seraphimé is now, as of late yesterday morning, complete (about 11 ooo words shy of my target, but still not a bad length). Well, the first draft is complete. I now await my beta readers to review it, should they chose to. I'm leaving it alone for three or so months.... well, that part of the story anyhow.

The plan now:
  • Go back and review The Third Prince. There can never be too many reviews/ edits. I want that manuscript polished to perfection in case Tor, or anyone else for that matter, decides they want to see it.
  • Write Seraphimé, Book 2. Deadline - 3 months from commencement (though book one really only took just under two).
  • Hopefully come up with better titles for Seraphimé, Book 1 and Seraphimé, Book 2. Man, I need a better imagination.
  • Hope to high heaven that Book 2 finishes the story. That's the goal at least.
  • Go back and review Lord of Horses.
  • Start and finish a new story/ book (hopefully there'll be another one in there), or Seraphimé, Book 3 if necessary.
  • Go back and review Seraphimé, Book 1, which by then will have a better title.
And so on and so forth in a cyclical fashion.

You know, I've just realised that I've written five full-length novel manuscripts (as in manuscripts for novels, not novel as in 'new' or 'imaginative'). Not bad for someone in their twenties right?

Now, to the other stuff that is far more interesting. A Facebook friend of mine (thanks Tom!) directed me to this site:

It's a wonderful idea that endeavours to create a library of the entire world. Living in the Urban Jungles are books. Some books never get read, and are thrown out without a further thought. Bookcrossing seeks to eliminate that.
What you do:
Have a second copy of a book you don't want? Have a first copy of a book you don't want? Register with, give your particular book a special code, write all about it in the cover of the book, along with the website address, and.... leave it in a public place to be found and read by someone else, who will either keep it... or pass it along in the same manner.

What. A. FABULOUS. Idea.

I've signed up. I've inherited a bunch of books that I'm probably not going to keep. So, instead of sending them to die a miserable death at the hands of the paper pulp monster, I shall do the above and release these books to run free in the wild.

The great thing is, you can track your books (because of the great code) and see where they are in the world, who has read them and kept them/ passed them on.

Furthermore, it's a terrific idea to get word out about your books. If you're a self-published author and you want to drum up word of mouth, free one copy of your book in a public place, and watch it travel. How cool is that?

I am in LOVE with this site.

Well, that's it from me. Hope everyone out there in the faceless interwebs is doing well!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another False Alarm

Last night after training I arrived home to find a parcel up against the door. Confused, I picked it up and lo and behold, it was from Tor Fantasy. My heart flew into my throat. My pulse started racing. My hands went cold and clammy.

Why do I have a parcel from Tor? How did they get my home address, I used my work one? How is it that they know my name (although their computer had a hard time with 'è' and so my surname was spelt 'CarriA;re'... but anyway), I submitted under S.M. Carrière?

Well those three questions should have been clued me in. Tor sends out letters to people who've submitted, not parcels. Tor doesn't know my first name and they couldn't have gotten my home address. The parcel was, in fact, a book I had won in a competition and later completely forgotten about. I could've died from embarrassment... I should have known, or at least guessed, better!

To be fair, I didn't know the book I had competed for was published by Tor. All the same, I feel a right dolt! I don't know how many of these false alarms I can take!

That's it from me. Hope everyone is well!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Baen Free Library

My Kung Fu brother and good friend directed me to this site:

The Baen Free Library.

Thanks Phil!

It's a remarkable idea put forth by the authors and editors of Baen Publishing. The idea is.... wait for it.... wait.... FREE BOOKS! That's right. Every author has been asked to volunteer a book or two to be posted up absolutely free.

The author who claims to be the father of the idea (Eric Flint) gives a whole host of reasons on the site with far more eloquence than I could. Go there and read it!

It got me thinking a little bit. Should I offer the first book of The Great Man Series as a free eBook? Certainly if I gather enough of a following, I could benefit. I might be able to generate a little hype about my stuff.

Strangely, I still dream of being published traditionally. I suppose that plenty of authors have been given very pleasing publication deals after they've self-published and became well known. The Celestine Prophecy was one such title.

Then there is the flip side - a lot of publishers stipulate that they will not consider previously published books for publication. Yes, eBooks count as publications. I might not do well on my own. Hell, I'm not doing that well now. No one knows who the hell I am.

I know, I know. I've only been doing this schtick since August. I suppose I am being a little impatient. Le Sigh.

In any case, I promised Tor that I wouldn't do anything until 6 months after they've received the book proposal. So, I have until March, really, to figure it out. I think that I'll offer the first book for free as an eBook if I don't receive any offers from Tor.

That's it from me, since all the ziggs search alerts were from my Kung Fu brother last week! Hope you are all well!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had picked up this book because I desperately needed something light after reading The Lovely Bones. I was feeling a bit down and thought to myself "A Jane Austen story would be the perfect picker-upper."

I was wrong. Though wonderfully wrought and beautifully executed, this story left me even more depressed than before. It was, as the author so perfectly put it, a story about a woman who "dared to love above her station, and lost." The fact that she had loved a man, but could not be with him, I found, a much more realistic, if depressing, ending to such a story. Everyone has been there - driven mad by want of another and forever denied them.

Incidentally, a greatly fascinating side of the story was the writer's process. I found the author quite correctly captured the inspiration behind writing characters and scenes, acknowledging that most authors, either aware of it or not, take real life experiences and create from them fictional scenarios. As a writer myself, I found I could very much identify with this little aside in the novel.

Now, some women find it comforting to read or hear about others in the same situation as they - they find comfort knowing that they are not the only ones who feel lonely, or unloved, or are craving a love that can never be realised. I find it utterly devastating. There are a flood of emotions that I have trouble enough dealing with on my behalf. Reliving them for another's sake is no comfort to me at all. It is loneliness felt twice over.

The story itself is brilliant, taking aspects from each of Austen's works and weaving them into a singular love story where Ms. Austen is the central heroine. As we all know, Jane Austen never married. I should have been prepared for the outcome.

Even better was the fact that the whole thing was presented as if they had been written by Jane Austen herself, discovered, edited and reproduced for the masses. There are even editor's notes in little footnotes scattered throughout the book. It put a smile on my face as the author was evidently aware of which parts of Ms. Austen's supposed love affair influenced which part of which tale later written by Ms. Austen. It put a smile on my face.

Three stars because it was a good read, even if not my usual genre.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Bit More on Online Social Networking

Alright, we know... or at least we've been told that newcomers to the writing scene would do better to have a strong network already in place to market the books they write and publish. More and more, we are told, traditional publishers will do little to market any given work and it's all up to the author.

Gone are the days when the writer writes. We must now be net-workers and marketers and goodness knows what else. Not an easy job, I have to say, and I would dare to ask how publishers can hope to acquire a writer's best effort on a piece if they have to spend so much time networking and marketing and other stuff.

To be honest, I'm a bit confused by that. I would think that a publisher would want a book they've decided to publish to succeed, and so would do all it can to help it succeed. After all, being the publisher of a flop would tarnish the publisher's reputation as much as the author's. Don't publishers care about their reputations? Wouldn't they want their authors to devote as much time as possible to polishing their next work, rather than commenting on this site, chasing up this festival or that festival and every other festival... Just a thought.

Furthermore, having to so publicly expose yourself tends to take away the mystique that authors used to be able to cloak themselves in. The Great Man series is very, very dark, and horribly twisted and extremely bitter. How can people take that seriously when they discover that I'm actually a great big goof-ball with a loud laugh and frizzy hair? Why can't I just hide away and let me readers (because I have oh so many....) imagine me as a tiny, tortured soul writing with only one lamp in the dark of my basement... if I had a basement? Where is my safety glass to divide me from the masses? I write to be read, not to be famous. I don't want to be like a rockstar. I don't want that kind of attention!

In any case, the state of things cannot be changed by the seemingly illogical functions of today's publishing industry. The fact of the matter is, you need to network and to market yourself, and fiercely, in order to get noticed. To that end, I have joined several networking sites, as you already know (if you go back a few posts. Alright, more than a few posts). They are as follows: To be honest, other than providing me with notifications that people have viewed my profile, ziggs hasn't done an awful lot for me. There are hardly any new contacts being made and no activity in the groups I've joined. It might well be that this site has really helped others, but it seems to not be working so well for me. I'm keeping my account though, because I rather like knowing that someone in New Delhi, India has viewed my profile!

Facebook. I have a profile AND I've created my own fan page. It felt incredibly strange to create my own fan page and then asking everyone I knew to join up. I only have 17 fans, almost all of them long-time friends (thanks for the support guys! I heart you!). The fan base hasn't grown any for a number of months. I suspect that it is largely because I don't have anything published (yet... come on Tor!) and so random strangers as less likely to become a fan of me. Unless they're creepers. Ugh! In any case, facebook is proving a much more useful networking site than ziggs.
. Now here's a site I thought was pretty cool. In this site, you can post either an excerpt of or the whole work you've written for review by other aspiring authors. I'm paranoid, so I only put up an excerpt or two, and that's all I ever will! The most popular ones make it to the editor's desk at Harper Collins for review and pa shot at publication. A great idea in theory, but I quickly became disillusioned when I noted that it was nothing more than a popularity contest.
No sooner had I signed in than I was flooded by requests to read and back this book or that book... I had so much to get through, that I had no time at all to do any of my own work. I quickly tired of this site when I realised that it was more of a popularity contest and whether or not an editor got to read your work was less about the work's merit than about how much time you had to devote to the internet and how much you sucked-up to other would-be writers. I'm still on there, but I haven't been active in a while.
Now, all that said, I have been greatly encouraged by the comments on the stuff I did put up there. The comments were generally really good. Though, now I'm not so sure that they were truly genuine, or if other authors were just trying to get on my good side....

Alternatively, I quite like It is a community made primarily of readers who read, review and share their books online. There are also a number of groups for authors that I Belong to. It is a bit more social, but a good deal of fun. This is one site I recommend if you like reading!

Last, but certainly not least is the site This site is to me what ziggs is trying to be. There are a large number of people on LinkedIn who are very active. There are several writer's groups and the one I enjoy the most is Aspiring Writers. If you are an aspiring author, this is the group to belong to. Everyone on there is bright and friendly, encouraging and helpful. They've created a subgroup where you can post up an excerpt of your work for others to critique for you. I trust the critiques here much more than those on Authonomy, as no one is trying to brown-nose their way to the editor's desk.
As far as professional networking is concerned, LinkedIn is the place to go to. Sure I have social links (my sister, and old crush from university who is soon to graduate Law School (Hi Bill, if you're reading this!)... it never hurts to have a lawyer as one of your connections! And so forth), but the majority of my links are with other writers trying to make it, professional editors and other people purely associated with my field. This is professional networking like it should be.
By the by, you are more than welcome to connect with me there if you like!

So, thus ends my very long post on social networking online. It might be a revision of a previous post, but just in case there are new readers out there, I've put it all up again, with slightly wiser, experience-based opinions on the subject. Now I have to go and write my next 3 000 words, so that's it from me. I hope you are all well!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have never before been so engrossed, yet so repulsed by a book before in my life. Though written simply, there were passages in this book that literally had me gagging and wanting nothing more than to curl in my blankets and cry, or devour large tubs of ice-cream and several bottles of scotch.

This story, particularly in the earliest pages, is not for the faint of heart. If ever you've had a traumatic experience, prepare your therapist well before picking up this book. It's not that it's especially graphic, but the author manages to create the most profound sense of horror with nothing more than a few simple words. That is quite a talent.

Lovingly woven, this tale is actually, despite the initial few blows to the stomach, quite a wonderful tale of acceptance, of perseverance and of the bonds of love.

It's a good book, and worth its acclaim. Just... be careful if you're considering reading this.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting Ziggy With It

More searches!

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Tucson, AZ
Date: November 21, 2009
Time: 12:26 PM EST

Tucson Arizona, hello!

Search Engine:
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Mexico
Date: November 21, 2009
Time: 7:12 AM EST

Mexico! That's the first one from Mexico I've gotten. Hello person in Mexico!

Search Engine: Ziggs
Search Terms: Viewed from Ziggs Groups
Visitor Location: Milwaukee, WI
Date: November 22, 2009
Time: 7:41 PM EST

This one from a forum. See, networking does work!

Search Engine: Ziggs
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Referrer: None
Visitor Location: Victoria, BC (Canada)
Date: November 25, 2009
Time: 1:57 PM EST

Hi fellow Canuck!

Search Engine: Google
Search Terms: sonia carrière
Visitor Location: N/A
Date: November 26, 2009
Time: 2:37 AM EST

Someone searched me and even remembered to put the accent over the 'e' in my name! They must be French!

Search Engine: Ziggs
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Referrer: None
Visitor Location: Oakland, CA
Date: November 30, 2009
Time: 11:48 PM EST

Clearly I put this up because there is still no news from Tor. Grrr.... In any case, that's it from me. I hope you are all well!