‘What am I working on?’ … apart from allergies, you mean?

Last week ‘MAB’ over at The Flannel Files, tagged me on the latest round of #mywritingprocess, which I took to mean more than regaling you with tales of trying to focus on my keyboard whilst in the throes of a anti-allergy-drug-induced altered state of consciousness.

Allergies! We hates them, hates them my preciousssss.

I’ve had a bit of a dairy intolerance most of my adult life, but this is ridiculous. It’s getting so that I can sense a potential allergen a kilometer away. Given that we live in the midst of a farming belt, (wafts of eau de cow-poo float across the lake with the morning breeze) and that Spring has finally sprung (happy bees, plants, and hummingbirds) … I’m screwed!

In spite of this, I bravely soldier on.

*swoons and falls melodramatically back in writing chair, only to have it almost tip over, thereby forcing a most ridiculous flailing of limbs in order to avert a complete disaster*

With decorum now completely destroyed, (if I had any to begin with) I will now regale you with tales of my actual responses to the questions at hand.

I’m currently working on: this post, the next episode of Identical, (all things being equal it’ll go up tomorrow) and my mystery thriller set in a slightly distopian, slightly steampunky alternate reality, that started out as a short story. Pesky short stories, always wanting to grow up into novels, entire series’ even.

I’m not quite sure of what genre I write in, but if I had to categorise it to fit into an amazonian algorithm, I’d go with Science Fiction, because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to keep SF elements out of any story. The difference is, I suppose, that it’s my very own personal brand of science fiction-ness.

I started out writing SF because I once read something so badly written that even my adolescent self knew she could do better. SF also gave me an out from a life that was most definitely not what I ordered in the waiting room before I was born. I have lesbian characters because one can never have too many lesbians in space.

My writing process is rather boring, I’m afraid. I start at the beginning, go through the middle, and end up at the end. Then I edit, and rewrite, and edit, and rewrite, and edit … (rinse and repeat) until it’s baked. My creative process is somewhat different however, in that it’s almost never the same. Sometimes it’ll be a line of dialogue that catches my attention, or a scene, or something I read, observe, or spontaneously pops into my head. I shove it into a blender, set it to ‘high’ and wait and see what survives.

There are many permutations of the above processes, but when all the glitz and glamour is stripped away that’s what’s left.

The final part of this little exercise is to ‘pay it forward’. Instead, I’m simply going to invite anyone who feels ‘in the mood’, to have a go at it.

What are you working on? How does your work differ from others in its genre? Why do you write what you do? And, how does your writing process work?

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‘Helen Lawrence, Vancouver Confidential’ – A 1942 Noir Adventure

As part of our Christmas prezzies, Widderson and Widderdaughter-In-Law presented us with two tickets to any show under the umbrella of The ArtsClub our little hearts desired.

We perused the offerings and chose Helen Lawrence mostly because it was set in a period in Vancouver’s history that Mrs Widds is researching for one of her novels. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. And decided on a matinee because neither of us fancied driving home to Widder island in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain.

We girded our loins with thermoses of tea and cheese sammiches and drove through the pelting rain, that hopefully heralds the beginning of spring, into Vancouver. Parking, which is notoriously nasty, especially if you don’t want to part with your hard earned loonies and toonies, turned out to be a breeze. We circled the block around the theatre exactly one and a half times before we found the perfect spot.

The rain poured heavier. Almost as heavy as I saw it rain as a child, where the first huge splats would raise miniature dust storms on the desiccated land … but that’s a story for another time.

Because we have Plans for later on in the year, (yes, they are such important plans that they warrant a capital ‘P’) we’re saving every loonie and toonie we can, so we devoured our cheese sammiches and thermoses of tea as we waited for the show to start rather than swan into the nearest cafe for sustenance. We didn’t dine in the theatre foyer, that would’ve been too outré even for us.

***

... from the cover of the program ... cool, eh?

… from the cover of the program … cool, eh?

Imagine you are watching a movie in which the director has to get the shot in one take, not only that, it has to be filmed in real time, in front of a live audience. Each actor not only has to deliver their lines impeccably (which they did), they also have to hit their marks precisely in order to be in sync with the pre-recorded backgrounds they are projected into, and to provide the close-up cameras with the appropriate shot. The actors also have to perform to the live audience as well as the camera, which as any actor will tell you require two completely different kettles of coloured horses.

Helen Lawrence is noir at its finest, understated and yet able to pack a punch that’ll leave you breathless. It’s a simple concept … a dame comes to Vancouver’s rougher side in 1948, looking for the man who done her wrong. Helen, the residents of the hotel she stays in, and the residents of Hogan’s Alley nearby, all have secrets that slowly come unraveled.

And it was that slow unraveling that hooked my attention and held it for almost the entire hour-and-a-half show. (Apart from the technical wizardry of the whole shebang) It could’ve been trimmed a little just before the grand finale, but that’s a picking of nits in an otherwise spectacular theater experience.

The hint of a romance between the youthful ‘Artful Dodger’, Julie, and the world weary Helen, reflects an aspect of our (LGBTQ) experience with media at the moment that is gradually evolving, (an aspect that has perhaps contributed to the success of shows like Lost Girl - whatever you may think of the insanity they laughingly call plot continuity) where the gender identification of the characters is the least important aspect of the story; it’s the story itself that matters. Although, personally, I thought it was a very nice touch :D

If you’d like the nuts and bolts information and details about the cast and crew and the production, Google Helen Lawrence (the play, not the singer) or visit the play’s homepage at The Artsclub.

After it finishes it’s run in Vancouver the show will be touring all over the place. Go see it.

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This interview with the two leads will give you an idea of the complexity of the production, and how beautifully it translated to the ‘big screen’.

***

Hat tip to David Cooper

Hat tip to David Cooper

 

Best Laid Plans

Recently I’ve had an influx of new readers and followers on this blog, which is really nice, so I thought a bit of a catch-up/about me post was in order … but first, the weather …

The snow’s all melted except for the sad remnants of the little boy wizard-in-training’s snow fort. (he, of the wondrous wellies from my previous post) The bluejays and robins, and some sort of bird that looks like a cross between a starling and a robin, are still enjoying their baths, except that now they have to be content with puddles, and potholes that appeared in the middle of the road after the snow transmogrified into water.

It’s been raining for nine straight days now. This morning I found myself checking for signs of gill-ness around my neck and ribs, and web-ness between fingers and toes.

Such amounts of one particular sort of weather can sometimes bring on bouts of introspection. (much preferable to bouts of rain induced homicidal mania, or conversely, depression) Satisfied I had not sprouted gills or webbing, I sat at my desk, with cuppa, and stared over the top of my monitor at the garden and frolicking avians, not really seeing either. And reviewed the complex and statistically improbable stepping stones that brought me to this place and this time.

I was born in England, but before I turned two my parents decided to seek their fortune in the colonies. They had three choices, Australia, Canada, or New Zealand. Why they chose Australia I’ll never know. Perhaps it was so spectacularly different from Canada and New Zealand. However, to Australia we went. I wonder how I’d’ve turned out if we’d stayed in England. (or moved to NZ or Canada … another one of those irony things is I’m in Canada anyway)

The next big splitting of the pentiments (hehe, see what I did there?) was having to leave school at fourteen. Working at all sorts of low-skilled labouring jobs. I could’ve stayed doing that, perhaps working my way up from a factory floor into a managerial position. What stories would I have been able to tell of that life, I wonder? But no, I had a yearn to learn, and a short attention span. Everything I tried added to my list of things I didn’t want to do or be.

I thought I might want to be a world class athlete, but motorbike-meets-semi-trailer took care of that ambition.

I thought I might want to be an architect, and talked my way into university as a mature age student. (High school dropout goes to university. I still chuckle at that) I was good at it too. Architecture, not university. Turns out I’m too much of an iconoclast to play the academic game.

In the end architecture clashed with the spiritual path I’d taken to like a duck to water. I was studying architecture and Shamanism at the same time, but ultimately, ‘there could be only one.’##

Now we come to a fun bit of this little wander down my memory lane. Finding romance on the interwebz. Let me tell you, there were a thousand ways that could’ve gone wrong, but it didn’t. OK, there were a couple of hiccups, but nothing that didn’t expand my horizons a little. (Moving from one side of the Pacific Ocean to the other qualifies as the ultimate expanded horizon, I think)

Throughout all my adventures, a thread ran through everything I did, became and evolved into. Writing.

If you’ve read my ‘About Me’ page you’ll know about my first foray into storytelling. Nothing much happened after that until my motorcycle accident, where I spent the first year of recovery alternately being tortured by a wonderful physiotherapist and writing the first draft for what ultimately turned out to be (probably) book 3 of the ‘Gallery’ series (of which, book 1 is ‘Mortal Instinct’) … and what a journey that was

So, it seems that I was always destined to be a writer, it just took me a while to get here!

P.S. the rain stopped, as it is wont to do, and then the sun came out, finally!

 

##

 

Monday Snow Musings

Did you know that robins and bluejays like playing in the snow? Even when it’s turning into a giant slushy because of two days of rain on the heels of three days of snow. So does the little boy from the house across the way all decked out in bright yellow wellies with blue stars on them. (I’m certain he’ll grow up to be a wizard)

Today however, I can’t go out and play with any of them. My knees are acting up and the best I can do is gaze winsomely out my window. (where I took the pic from) You can’t see the birds because I think they’re bathing in the car tire canyons created by this morning’s exodus, and the boy scooted out of sight before I got the shot, but they’re all still out there, playing in the slush. Who in their right mind, even a robin or a bluejay, bathes in icewater, even for fun?

There are bluejays and robins here somewhere

There are bluejays and robins here somewhere

Days like today seem to belong to other realms or reality. Another house across the way has a plume of white smoke issuing from its chimney. The smoke gets caught up by a bit of a breeze that mixes it seamlessly with the dense mist that’s rolling in from the lake.

While I appreciate all this wintery imagery in spite of my banged up knees that keep me snug inside my little Widderhouse, my writerly tasks are nudging my elbow. Perhaps they’ve conspired with my knees to keep me here at my desk. So, back to it I go .. right after this …

It was great to see Gravity collect so many Academy Awards last night. I am slightly peeved that Sandra Bullock didn’t win, but I haven’t seen any of the movies that the other nominees were in so it has to remain a little slightly irrational peeve.

This video proves yet again that life and art are eternally intertwined.

Cornucopia IV

I reckon all indie and small publishing companies ought to at least take a squiz (Aussie slang for ‘look’) at this blog,  Ebook Bargains UK Blog.  Don’t let that ‘UK’ bit fool you. This blog is about the global ebook picture. There are more things in heaven and earth than Amazon and the US markets. (to not-quite mangle the Bard

Also for Indie authors … IndieReCon starts tomorrow. (25th February) Check out the Presenters.  Plus they have a Grand Prize and giveaways,  and … everything!

IndieReCon Promo Badge

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I knew it. The Kitteh Revolution has begun – they didn’t need to grow opposable thumbs after all!

***

To celebrate our third straight day of snow here on Widder island, (there’s about 40cm –16-ish inches – right outside my window) here’s a video that did the rounds during the festive season just past … also perfect for a snowy Monday in February …

‘Identical’ – Season 2, Episode 2

You can read all the previous episodes HERE, or from the ‘IDENTICAL’ page above, or select ‘Identical’ from the ‘Categories’ widget over there to the right. (they’re in chronological order so you’ll have to start at the bottom of the page)

What Has Gone Before:

Travelling through the Nicola Valley in British Columbia, Ciska takes shelter from a nasty storm with Meg, whose stolen car is found with her exact duplicate dead at the wheel. Following her mother Jane Lightsmith’s orders Tamsin Lightsmith, of the RCMP, deletes all references to ‘dead Meg’ from the records, as ‘live’ Meg realizes she doesn’t belong in this dimension, or pentiment’ as Ciska has labeled them.

Ciska tests an invention that will enable her to avoid the storm’s mysterious effects based on theories she envisioned two hundred years previously. She tells Meg and Tamsin her true age.

Jane Lightsmith arrives in town.

***   ***

All the players are in town, but the rules don’t make sense. Just exactly what is going on

Identical S2 Ep2 Cover Art - New Friends, Old Enemies

Ciska’s legs gave way and she slid down the cold white tiles, ending up on the dark floor.

Terracotta. What is it with this town and terracotta floor tiles?

Meg huddled against a tiled column nearby, scrubbing at the blood on her hands with a futility born of horror.

Poor Meg. From the moment Jane knew her true nature she was always going to be the sacrificial lamb.

Meg raised her head as though she’d read Ciska’s thoughts and looked, not hopeful, there’d never been much hope since they started this quixotic mission, but determined.

Good for her. Time to finish the job.

Ciska rolled onto her hands and knees, ignoring the smears of blood that stained the tiles a darker red and launched to her feet. Meg batted away her helping hand, for which she was grateful. She probably didn’t have strength left to help anyone else.

“Where’d she go?” Meg asked after she’d splashed some cold water on her face and washed most of the blood off her hands.

“Deeper into the complex,” Ciska said. “Away from her equipment. There’s nowhere for her to go.”

Are you sure?”

“No. But then I never was, at least about her.”

Ciska and Meg left the destroyed bathroom, dodged around a pile of fallen concrete and exposed bedrock and resumed their search. They’d find their target sooner or later.

Ciska’s thoughts slipped back to a time only a few days ago. From the moment she’d told Tamsin and Meg the truth, she knew a confrontation between her and Jane Lightsmith was inevitable … 

***

… Ciska left Meg and Tamsin to their own devices and sat on Meg’s back stoop. She leaned her elbows on the step behind her, stretched out her legs and crossed them at the ankles. She watched the few clouds in the sky turn orange then deepen to indigo as another sultry autumn day drew to a close. Tamsin and Meg continued to argue, about what, precisely, she had no idea. Eventually they fell silent and she supposed they’d come to some sort of agreement.

Well, I kept my end of the bargain. What they do with it is up to them.

She’d give them time to come to terms with it, however time was limited. Far too many questions had been raised in this pentiment and she needed their help finding answers and more importantly, what to do with the answers they uncovered.

She sensed someone behind her and tossed a mental coin. A large mug of tea appeared over her shoulder and Meg slumped down onto the wooden step.

Meg leaned on Ciska’s shoulder and gazed in the same general direction as Ciska. “I think I could get to like you,” Meg said. “You always seem to be looking at far away horizons.”

“Some things are worth remembering. Looking at them for a long time helps me remember them after time has passed.”

“Personally, I don’t think you look a day over three thousand.”

“I told you that you wouldn’t believe me,” Ciska said.

“Oh, I believe you alright. I’m living proof of that.”

“That you are.”

 “Are you sure you’re that old?”

Ciska’s laughed, almost bouncing Meg’s head off her shoulder. “You’re more concerned with me being significantly older than you assumed, rather than an endless number of parallel worlds existing all around you.”

Meg punched her lightly in the thigh as Tamsin joined them.

“Give her one for me while you’re at it,” Tamsin said. After Meg happily obliged, she continued. “I can’t begin to imagine the things you’ve seen.”

“The entire march of civilization.” Meg said with wonder as the weight of the concept descended on her.

“Where’s Jimmy Hoffa’s body?” Tamsin countered.

Ciska groaned.

“What happened to the Marie Celeste?”

“Did Queen Victoria really think lesbians didn’t exist?”

“Who said to Genghis Kahn, ‘go west young man’?”

“What happened to Atlantis?”

“Did you meet Boudicca, Nefertiti? What were the Sumerians really like?”

Who drew the Nazca Lines?”

Ciska gave up trying to interject and waited until Meg and Tamsin finally ran out of questions, silly or not. She tried again.

“Now, it’s my turn. How do you know about these things? In general.”

“The news. Books,” Meg said.

“The internet. History books,” Tamsin said at the same time.

Ciska nodded. “The internet’s only been around for a very short time. So, most everything you’ve mentioned comes from ‘History’ books. And history can only be viewed retrospectively. If I didn’t know that Alexander was going to change the world, how could I witness it if, a, I didn’t know about it at the time, and b, I was on the other side of the world, at the time.”

“Were you?” Tamsin asked, not quite teasing her.

Ciska rolled her eyes, but before she could reply a vehicle engine died in front of the house.

“That’s Silv’s truck,” Meg said. “I’d know that sound anywhere. I don’t suppose this is just a coincidence?”

Ciska shrugged her innocence, and followed Meg and Tamisn into the house.

***

Meg seldom left her door unlocked let alone wide open but given recent events it didn’t surprise her that she’d done both. Two women stood in the middle of her kitchen.

“Hello Silv. What brings you all the way out …” Silv appeared to stagger slightly as she was nudged aside. “Jane!” Meg said. What an unpleasant surprise.”

Tamsin interrupted them before the civilities could proceed any further. “Mum! I didn’t think you’d be here ‘til next week.”

Meg watched as Jane Lightsmith ignored her daughter, just as she always had, until she needed her for something, which apparently, given that Tamsin was expecting her, she now did.

“Hello Meg,” Jane said. “Where is your guest of honor. I’ve come a very long and uncomfortable way to meet her.”

A gentle hand on her shoulder moved Meg aside. Ciska then moved Tamsin the other way. Meg’s blood ran cold. She’s getting us out of the firing line.

“I’m right here,” Ciska said. As she walked further into the room Meg saw her reach behind her back and slowly pull a knife from a sheath hidden in the waistband of her pants.

“I thought you’d turn up sooner or later,” Ciska said. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

“Hello Franciska. You keep trying, but you keep missing. However, I really don’t think this is the time or the place to try again, do you?” She looked pointedly at Meg and Tamsin. “Isn’t anyone going to invite me to sit down?”

Meg ignored her and sat down herself. She watched Ciska slide the knife back into its sheath, and realized they’d all momentarily survived some sort of crisis point. Just when I didn’t think my life could get any weirder.

Jane sat opposite her and reached for the teapot, turned over a cup for herself from the tray and filled it. “Well, isn’t this civilized? Do sit down, all of you.”

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Silv said and rushed to the bathroom.

***

Jane sniffed. “Can’t take the heat,” she said dismissively, and watched Ciska as she and Tamsin sat across the table from her, on either side of Meg.

How predictable. Both of them. “Well,” she said. “Shall we begin our civilized conversation? I’m sure Franciska has told you all about these nasty ‘pentiments’, as she calls them, and how they could destroy all of existence as we know it.”

“Her name is Ciska,” Meg said.

“We hadn’t got to that part yet,” Tamsin said.

“Don’t look so surprised,” Jane said as Ciska tried to hide behind the scowl she’d worn since the moment she saw Jane. “I’ve had you followed for quite a while now. Yes, even as you travelled from one pentiment to the next. There’s so much you don’t know.”

She sipped from her tea and gathered her thoughts. What to tell and what to withhold? Enough bait to hook, but too much and Ciska would put all the pieces together before she was ready for them to be revealed. “As with all theories, there are always other theories.”

“Wait a minute,” Tamsin said, uncharacteristically interrupting her. “We haven’t even heard the first theory first. Perhaps Ciska could enlighten us.”

As Ciska answered, Jane tuned out her words, she knew the story be heart, and watched Ciska as she spoke, absorbing every detail, the way she moved her hands, the little quirk at the corner of her mouth, everything. She showed nothing of her emotions to the women in front of her. She was used to it, her feelings had been firmly under control since the time she betrayed the one person she’d ever truly loved. Seeing Ciska again was not going to change that.

***   ***

Stay tuned for Season 2, Episode 3 of …

‘Identical’

***

GLOSSARY AND LINKS

The ghost ship Marie Celeste

The Nazca Lines