Monday, July 28, 2014

The Highlight of My Childhood

So a few weeks back I was visiting my parents and siblings. And randomly, some reminiscing about our shared childhood came up.

My younger brother was the one who started it. He brought up the fact that when we were little, we had a few of these Mr. Men figurines. We loved Mr. Men -- owned all the books. Anyways, apparently I thought one of the (most likely) green toys looked like snot. So I named him Snot Nosepick. One of the female figures also looked like mucous, so of course she became Booger Nosepick. They also had their kids, Green Nosepick and Yellow Nosepick. What a nice little nuclear family, the Nosepicks were. My younger brother declared that it was the Highlight of His Childhood. I had totally forgotten about it.

Not to go all self-obsessed on you (oh who am I kidding? I love being me!), but it was a bit of a reminder of my own power. Among my younger brother and sister, I was a bit of a ring leader. ("Where was I during all this?" My older brother protested. Acting too cool for school, I think we said). I mean, other than the Nosepicks, there were the times the three younger of us played with Barbies. ("I can't picture you playing with Barbies," protests my love). Oh, don't worry. We never played with Barbies in that way. No siree, no princess dress-up, playing house for us -- unless it was in the shoe-box-and-ducktape house our mom made for us, complete with mac tac wallpaper.

Most of the time, we pretended that "someone had turned off the gravity" and floated our dolls up to the criss-crossing hardwood planks of the crawl space. There, we'd shove our Barbies and Kens through a plastic pipe, by which mechanism they'd enter another dimension.

A dimension in which 'California Joe', so-named because he was one of the California Raisins, gave concerts for the Barbies. Of course, he needed an opening act, which consisting of broken Barbie parts singing what they were (i.e. "leg, leg, leg, leg"). By the time he hit the stage, the audience was so sick of singing legs that all he had to say was, "yo" to send them into 1964-Beatlemania-like frenzies.

And then there was the time that the Barbies went on an epic road trip. We packed a bunch of them into a pink Barbie car and drove it over hills (stairs), into vast valleys (basement) and eventually into a mysterious and apparently hilarious tunnel (a laundry bucket). Then my younger brother decided to up-end the tunnel and sit in it. The consequent of which was that Ken lost a leg, and I renamed him Hopalong Cassidy. Even when my dad repaired him by giving him duck tape boxers, the name stuck.

There were outdoor games as well, all made up by yours truly. I remember amusing the neighbourhood kids with "fight the giant". We'd use basketballs for cannon balls and skipping ropes as Indiana-Jones-style whips (who needs Nerd guns?). There was also "explore the planet" during which we'd take our bikes to the cul-de-sac on our street and ride around its perfectly circular circumference.

I'm not sure what brought these memories on. But other than being merely self-indulgent, I think that the point of dwelling on them is to remember my own power. It's not that I've had a blow to my confidence lately, but it happens from time to time. Call it an exercise in filled up that "encouragement" file in my head. That file that each and every artist needs in other to overcome self-doubt and avoid creative paralysis.

I was a creative kid with a wacky sense of humour. And that hasn't changed! I just have to remind myself to play with ideas as much as I did back then.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Novel Idea

My fertile mind is at it again, and I think I have an idea that can be developed during the eventual upcoming NaNoWriMo 2014.

So one of the big things we did this weekend was to take a day to see a friend who lives in Kingston, Ontario -- a small, old city (by North American standards) that was once our capital. She toured us around town and showed us all the high points, and we had a great day culminating in a visit to Fort Henry. An historical cite of an old British military establishment, it's everything you'd expect from a site: employees walking around in period costume, low ceilings ("man people were short back then") and the entire day finishing with a "sun set" ceremony in which blanks are shot out of massively old weaponry and everything is very ra-ra British Empire with no hint to the negative aspects of colonialism (lines in the narration such as "the British lion roared across the globe" did make me cringe somewhat).

But there was one thing that did inspire me. In one of the rooms, there was some signage describing the role of women in the fort. The basic gist was that among the lower ranks, six wives were allowed to accompany their husbands. The wives were to subsist on half rations, and any children on quarter rations. But they could make some money by darning socks and sewing and mending shirts. And these sewing circles would be organized by the officers' wives. There weren't many officers at the fort at any one time, and it seems like they had no limit on how many of their wives were allowed to be at the fort.

So anyways, it occurs to me that there is tons of historical fiction written about Europe. Just massive amounts. But very little in the public eye about anywhere else, including Upper Canada. And even more so about early Canadian women's history. It occurred to me that I would love to write a novel written from the perspective of a woman staying at Fort Henry, and that it would be a way to write a story about many of my own experiences that I feel I can't write about in any sort of Roman à clef.

I'm very excited about this idea. I don't have even a working title, and I only have a vague idea of how it would be written (maybe through letters home?) or the plot or anything. But I do have until November to figure out a thing or two -- including the massive amounts of research that I have to put into it. However, I do love a new idea for a novel. It is at this stage of the creative process, before anything is set in stone, that I love the most! So many possibilities! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Moving Some Older Posts...

So, I'm trying to refocus this blog a little bit and I'm thinking of migrating a lot of my old, style- and beauty-related posts to my actual style blog.

Just a little note to say, don't be concerned if things start going missing. Nothing about writing will leave this blog, however, don't you worry about that. It's still an author blog, and now I'm just going to make sure that that's what it is above anything else!

Also, large print makes everything more exciting!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Trailer and Other News

So I completely flaked yesterday and forgot to tell you a couple of news-worthy items. Blame it on...getting back into blog writing? Sure.

Book Trailer

First of all, I put together a book trailer for RoboNomics Book II, Chapter 1 of which comes out on September 1 +Wattpad. Excited? You will be once you see it! I dare you not to be! :P

You may have seen this already on one of my many social media accounts. I'll admit it: even though this video is my creation, I'm a little obsessed with it. Part of the reason I'm so narcissistic about it is that, ironically enough, the "voiceovers" for the video were produced by computers. No joke! I wrote the 'script' but then I just recorded computer speech-to-text programs read them out.

The more 'human' British voice was from a website called NaturalReader. That 'voice actor's' name is Peter. The more 'robot' sounding voice is 'Alex' from my text-to-speech algorithm in my old MacBook (OS 10.6.8 -- don't judge! hehe).

It's nuts to me that this is possible. Sure, it's not exactly advance A.I., but considering the material of my book, it's incredibly funny.

Then there's the fact that I've never seen a book trailer quite like mine. And I did do that on purpose. Before I even made the trailer for RoboNomics Book I, I watched a lot of book trailers. And I found a lot of them, including ones made by the massive multi-national corporations who call themselves publishers, to be pretty craptacular.

Now I'm not saying that my trailers are the best in the world. After all, I made with a budget of precisely ZERO dollars. But in aiming to make something that more closely resembles movie trailers, I would like to declare that I have kicked the publishers' bums.

In other words, I'm the best. :P

Big News

Okay, so the other thing that I've announced on my social media accounts is the fact that RoboNomics Book I is going to be a featured story on +Wattpad! I am so super excited about this I can't even tell you!

What it basically entails is that my story is going to be in readers' faces quite a lot more. Becoming featured isn't a privilege bestowed on every story -- it actually has to be vetted and decent. But it is the mystical key to gaining more attention.

I have to admit that I have been surprised by the amount of attention RoboNomics has garnered thus far organically -- nearly 3,700 reads now and 70+ comments and votes. But on a site with users in the millions it still means that it's an 'undiscovered' gem. Apparently being featured means thousands more reads, votes, comments, and that means more attention from publishing industry peeps who are keeping an eye on the site. Does that matter to me? That's a debate for a future post -- but for now, it's enough that people will read and enjoy and be challenged by the story. I'm happy that's it's happened to a small extend so far, but it is about time -- on the eve of Book II release -- that the story get to the next level.

Anyways, that's happening at the beginning of August so I'll let you know how it impacts everything. And I'll keep you in the loop about Book II progress as well! Okay ta-ta for now! :)

Don't mind me...just trying out some new functionality...

Hooray! :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

I'm Back! Part II

Yes, I took another long break (well, a week) because yes, I was still ill. I told you the summer would be spotty at best. But I do have a lot to write about over the next few weeks, so stay tuned. Then August will be crazy. Between my move-in date being pushed back and his leaving-for-another-course date being pushed up, the end of the summer is going to be busy and stressful.

But I promise I won't forget you! :)