Saturday, November 14, 2015

Can Con 2015

Another Con, another blast. I hate to sound blasé about any aspect of the con-going experience, so I’ll put it like this: a great time is what I’ve come to expect from sci/fi conventions, and Can Con delivered once again.

Can Con is held in Ottawa, so each trip means I also get to spend some time with my parents. On this trip I went down on Thursday Oct. 29th and came back on Monday Nov. 2nd, so I got an extra evening and two additional mornings with them! My ride there and back was with Elizabeth Hirst and her parents, and mutual friend/author/strange funny person Ira Nayman. All of us were attending to launch Robotica, Pop Seagull Press’ latest anthology. Liz and I also started to put the word out about the re-release of The Five Demons You Meet In Hell. We had a table set up in the dealers’ room, where I spent most of my non-panel time.

The launch of Robotica went extremely well. There was cake. Yummy cake. We had five readers and a decent-sized audience, plus a video hello from Jen Frankel, who sadly was unable to attend in person. Ira Nayman read first and I read last, and good times were had by all.
I had a great reaction to my reading. Lots of laughs in all the right places, and all the other readers said they were glad they didn’t have to follow me. Ego boosts don’t come much better than that!

My panels were interesting, and free from any negativity or bad behaviour. And that includes the panel on villains! I liked that one; any discussion where I can bring up both Megatron and Veggie Tales is definitely a winner.

That was Friday night. On Saturday I had one on ghost stories, and I had no idea how that one was going to go. I’m not a big fan of ghost stories, and I think I’ve only written one (and that one was based on an old joke), but my fellow panelists had their games on and we had a good talk.

My other Saturday panel was on cult films. I was better prepared for that, with a list of my favourites. We hashed out a definition of a cult film - basically, a genre film that was poorly received at first, which went on to gain a following of devoted fans long after its initial release. I would have liked to have talked more about Army of Darkness, because who wouldn’t? And I don’t care what everyone else says, I hated The Rocky Horror Picture Show! Nevertheless, it was a fun panel.

But not fun enough to compensate for missing the paper airplane contest, which was on at the same time. :( A shame. It’s a vital part of the Can Con experience for me!

Sunday’s panels were Speculating Sex and Sexuality, and Fan Fiction Reading - The Guilty Pleasure. The sexuality panel was scheduled for 10:00 AM, and was remarkably well attended for a Sunday morning event. The audience had plenty of intelligent questions, and I think my co-panelist Derek Newman-Stille and I did a great job!

My final panel was originally going to be about reading and making fun of poorly-written fanfic stories. However, my co-panelist Mary Stormy Pletsch didn’t like the bullying tone suggested by that description, and instead pitched a more general ‘what is fanfic’ panel. I was more than happy with the new direction, as it gave me the chance to talk about my Doctor Who story Bane of the Doctor. Mary is also a Transformers fan, an unexpected bonus!

On Monday I journeyed back to Toronto with Ira, Liz and her family, and post-con depression set in. I’m delighted I had the opportunity to attend, and plan to be back once again next year.

Next up for me: SFContario!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I'm A Lucky Author

Sometimes, as an author, I will discover I've had a larger impact than I'd realized. Farrah Al-Mutawa, a close friend and fan, sent me the following texts - I have kept the texts exactly as they'd come to me, and only took out my one or two responses - and I cannot tell you how grateful and humbled I feel because of them:

Some of my friends can't focus on reading cause of ADHD but they can handle being read to

One of friends (passed away a few months ago) has cancer and so I read them your books

They said it was great escape from the cancer and the hospital without leaving the hospital

Don’t thank me

They told me to thank you

But I was so sad their passing I wasn't able to cope

They enjoy your Galactic book best

I prefer Cupid

But they enjoyed all of them

She passed away before Valentine's Day

We had planned on re reading Cupid on v day

That's why I had to put off re reading your books for a bit

I realize that I can visit my friend anytime

Just by reading your books

It's like she's there with me when I do

Never got a chance to read her other author friends books but at least she got to read yours

As a bonus, I received these texts on a day when I was feeling particularly low regarding my writing. Needless to say, this perked me right up! I am a very lucky author.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

No Sympathy For Ash Mad?

So, infidelity-encouraging and enabling website Ashley Madison was hacked. Private customer information was stolen, some of it was made public, and the hackers (known as Impact Team) have threatened to release everything if the company is not shut down. A refrain I’ve been reading a lot on social media is, “I have no sympathy,” mostly from people who remain blissfully unaware of what they are endorsing, condoning and congratulating.

Where some see karmic justice being served, I see a violation of people’s privacy. Plain and simple.

I understand where the non-sympathizers are coming from. Ashley Madison is a dating website for people who are already in a committed relationship. Because “relationships change over time,” as their spokesperson said in a commercial I saw years ago. “Life is short, have an affair,” is their current slogan. The victims of this cyber terrorism, as AM is calling it, are married or otherwise committed men and women looking to cheat on their spouses or significant others.

Another clear-cut case of boo right in the hoo. If all those allegedly thousands of home-wreckers are exposed, they are getting what they so richly deserve, right?


This is not a black and white issue of villains getting their comeuppance. It is, as I said earlier, a violation of privacy. It is theft. It just happens to be the theft of private information of people we are only too happy and quick to judge. If the victims here had been Red Cross blood donors, or a list of people who’d contributed to charity, the hackers would be the bad guys, no question.

Now, the opposite could also be stated: if someone hacked the bank accounts of the head honchos at Goldman Sachs and redistributed that wealth Robin Hood-style to the poor, I wouldn’t be nearly so bothered. It would still be theft, and technically wrong, but would I consider it “wrong”? Or karmic justice? A lot of people consider Edward Snowden a hero because of the information he brought to light regarding Homeland Security. I tend to think there is a world of difference between exposing secret government surveillance on its citizens, and exposing all the people who have a profile on a cheating website. The assumption seems to be that everyone on Ashley Madison is a scumbag. Are they? A good question, but not a relevant one.

Also irrelevant are the hackers’ reported motives. They say the purpose of their attack was to address a lie in AM’s services. For a $19 fee, they will wipe a customer’s information and history from the site. The hackers say they do no such thing, that the option doesn't actually work. Are the hackers heroes for putting AM on notice? Maybe they are. That doesn’t change the fact that they stole information. If they make that information public, a lot of people will be hurt.

But they’re cheaters, Tim! Cheaters!

So what? What they do in their bedrooms or online is nobody’s business but theirs and their significant others. The cheated have a right to know that their partners are unfaithful, but would they want the whole world knowing their business?

“Up next to give his projections for the next fiscal year is Johnson, who as we all know has a spouse who’s cheating on him.”

“Wow, Cheryl, your designs for this new jet engine are almost as impressive as the designs your husband has on other women!”

“I hope these investments are more secure than your vows to your life partner!”

No, I can't imagine they'd want that information going public either.

Is Ashley Madison guilty of the fraud the hackers accuse them of? Maybe. If so, will they change their policies for the better? Possibly. Am I wrong for having sympathy for the victims of this cyber crime? Absolutely! At least, that’s what I’m sure many people will think and/or say. And they will likely interpret this post as an endorsement for infidelity. It isn’t, but I am being Hitler-adjacent once more. At least this time I’m prepared for the potential fallout.

Which is more than I can say for the members of Ashley Madison!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

5 Demons - Special Announcement!

Big things are afoot for The Five Demons You Meet In Hell. First and foremost, I’m removing it from Smashwords and Amazon. July 31st, 2015 will be the last day it will be available from those ebook retailers.

Does this mean it is gone for good? No. Bigger things are in store! I have just signed a contract with Pop Seagull Publishing, who will republish the novel next April both digitally and... IN PRINT! Yes, those of you who have asked for a hard copy of this epic afterlife story will finally be able to hold it in your hands and get it signed by yours truly!

When? That announcement is coming soon. In the meantime, I am permanently lowering the price of the book to $2.99 for the remainder of its run, both on Smashwords and Amazon. That’s less than the price of a Large Double-Double and a bagel at Tim Horton’s! If you haven’t read 5 Demons yet, and want to buy it for less than a Timmy’s breakfast, now’s the time to do so!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I Have A New Blog!

Actually I have two, but only one of them is entirely mine. I’ve created a Wordpress account for myself, and have launched The Timothy Carter Experience. I’m restricting this new blog to author related stuff, the way I meant to when I originally created Worlds of Tim. I chose to delve into more personal topics to give readers a more rounded look at myself and my work - personal stuff will continue here but won’t be a large feature of the new one.

I am also one of the contributing writers for Fantasy Rantz. Created by Sarah Water Raven and featuring contributions from herself, myself, Jen Frankel and others, it is a blog dedicated to ranting about fantasy, among other things. I’ve already put a number of posts up, including one about spoilers, an essay on sexism in recent movies, and the issue of letting stories dangle, so please go take a look.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Terry Pratchett: His Place In My Life

Two of my favourite authors are dead; Douglas Adams, and now Terry Pratchett. I should really post something about Adams’ influence on me; he got me into writing and reading. For now, though, let’s stick with Terry.

I didn’t take to Pratchett straight away. A friend gave me the first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. I found Colour hard to read, and not the laugh-fest I’d been promised (this friend knew I was an Adams fan, and assured me Pratchett was just as good). It wasn’t a novel so much as a series of episodes involving a wizzard named Rincewind, an Inn-sewer-ants salesman named Twoflower, and a very aggressive piece of walking Luggage. I made it through the book but wasn’t terribly impressed, so I didn’t bother with Light. At least, not straight away.

Two things happened that changed my mind about Pratchett’s work completely. My cousin William loaned me a book Terry had co-authored with a fellow named Neil Gaiman. I thanked him and put that book on my shelf.

The second thing that happened was a TV show called Prisoners of Gravity, a talk show with a sci-fi twist; comedian and Frantic member Rick Green interviewed genre authors on a variety of themes and topics. One such episode was on the subject of God in sci-fi and fantasy. Terry Pratchett was an interviewee, and I was impressed with his intelligence and wit. He talked about his latest Discworld novel, Small Gods, and how it related to the subject matter. I bought and read Small Gods right away, and loved it. I pulled The Light Fantastic and Good Omens off the shelf and devoured them; Light was good, but Good Omens is my favourite novel of all time.

I’d like to add here that Small Gods and Good Omens came to me at a time when I was seriously questioning the Christian faith I’d been brought up in. Those books asked similar questions, and even provided one or two answers. I didn’t immediately turn into the agnostic I am now - I was far too terrified of eternal damnation for that - but my journey to spiritual enlightenment had begun. Lucky thing I read those books when I did, eh? Quite a coincidence I came upon them when I did, at exactly the time I was ready for them. Divine intervention, perhaps? I like to think so. It makes me smile.

And so did all of Pratchett’s books I’ve read since. Except for Strata. Never could get into that one. I got used to the regulars, as it were, who appeared in the Discworld series: the Ankh-Morpork City Watch; Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlik; the Patrician, Lord Vetinary; the Wizards of Unseen University; and of course, Death. And the Death of Rats. SQUEAK. The world they inhabited - the Discworld - was a fully realized place, especially the city of Ankh-Morpork. I never wanted to end up in The Shades alone!

I got quite a kick out of his ‘children’s’ books, especially the Johnny trilogy. And I use quotes around the term ‘children’ because, well... Terry put it best when he said “people assume they are children’s books because the main characters happen to be children.” If I had decided I was too old for Johnny and the Bomb when I picked it up, I never would have learned of the danger in going down the wrong leg of the trousers of time.

Terry understood children. When he wrote them they were never marginalized or waiting for a grownup to sort things out. They were intelligent and capable. But still children.

I’m a few novels behind, so I have more Discworld (and that book he co-authored with Stephen Baxter) to look forward to. Terry will remain alive for me for a few more years while I catch up. The end will come, as it must for all of us (and all series, eventually). I can only hope I’ll leave behind a similar body of work when Death taps on my shoulder.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Writing’s a funny thing

I recently hammered out two short stories for an anthology that I would not have written if that anthology hadn’t existed. One of them was hard to write, and left me feeling very anxious about it. The other was an absolute joy that had me giggling madly and praising my considerable genius.

I did 8 chapters of a new novel, only to put it on hold so I could write those stories. I thought that maybe it wasn’t a story worth telling, but I’d started Chapter 9 and wanted to at least get that done. The interaction between two characters in that chapter created a wonderful moral dilemma and convinced me the book needs to be written. I’m now on to Chapter 10.

It’s nice to know that, nearly 30 years later, the writing process can continue to surprise me.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Dangers of Standing Next To Hitler

For one thing, you might get killed by a time traveler. Think about it.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m saying that if you raise a controversial topic, the way I did in my last post, there will be people who will be only too happy to attack you for what you didn’t actually say.

I call it being Hitler-Adjacent, and it goes something like this:

You are researching World War II Germany for a school paper or an historical novel. Of the many facts you learn about that period, you happen to discover that Adolph Hitler happened to have been surprisingly good at golf. Huh, you think, and you post this random discovery on social media.

And then you get attacked for saying the leader of the Third Reich was an alright kind of guy.

You of course said no such thing - all you did was mention he was fairly proficient with a nine-iron. The trouble is, if you write this sentence - Hitler was good at golf - too many people will only read those first three words: Hitler was good. The taint of who he was and what he did covers all else.

I thought I’d been really clear when I wrote my post about the FHRITP incident that I wasn’t defending Shawn Simoes or his ‘right’ to say whatever he wants in public without any form of consequence. However, my calling into question the right and power of an employer to fire someone over things they’d said and done on their own time (and asking what the implications of such power might be) wasn’t done at a safe distance from the sexism and assholish behaviour of the FHRITP incident and thus couldn’t escape the taint.

I will be better prepared for the fallout next time around(and yes, I’m sure there will be one). Still, nothing could have prepared me for the perils of moderating the discussion in the comments that followed my Facebook link to my post(whew, that's a mouthful and a half!). During the worst of it I felt my identity as a writer called into question; dare I speak my mind again, if I can't handle the consequences? Hmm... speaking one's mind, and consequences... how very relevant!

But that’s another post for another time. Until then, I’ve still got quite a bit of taint to scrub off.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fired Over FHRITP

This week the acronym FHRITP entered the lexicon in a big way. A bunch of soccer fans verbally harassed CityNews correspondent Shawna Hunt while she was delivering her report, saying things like “fuck her right in the pussy” from whence the acronym comes. Ms. Hunt turned and called them out on their assholishness, and the video of the encounter went viral. As a direct result, one of those assholes (Shawn Simoes) lost his job at Hydro One.

Actions have consequences, justice is served. The world now knows bad behaviour like that is not to be condoned, or written off as ‘boys being boys’. Karma’s a bitch. As Metro columnist Rebecca Kohler said, "Boo her right in the hoo!"

That dude totally deserved to get fired, right?

No. No, no, a thousand times no. Of all the issues brought to light by this incident, this is the one in which the full implications been overlooked.

I’m sure a bunch of readers have no doubt run off to tweet and blog about what a bastard I am for defending sexual assault and being a dipshit. It is impossible to raise a difficult topic without incurring the wrath of those who did not read the entire post. If this were a conversation, I would not have even made it this far before someone cut me off saying:

“So you’re saying it’s okay to degrade women?”

“So you’re saying he didn’t deserve any punishment whatsoever for what he said live on television?”

“So people like that are people you wanna hang out with, is that what you’re saying, Timothy Carter?”

And a world of etc.

For those of you who’ve noticed there is still plenty of post left to go, I thank you for sticking with me.

Let me be clear: Shawn Simoes was an asshole for saying what he said. He got called out for it and publicly shamed. Good on Ms. Hunt for not putting up with it, because for deity’s sake she shouldn’t have to. No woman (or man, or anybody) should ever have to put up with that kind of crap. The dude deserved to have that assholishness come back to bite him.

But I don’t think he should have lost his job. Answer me this: what is the connection between his reprehensible behaviour and his job performance? How is the work he does related in any way to something shitty he did on his own time?

I’ve heard that Hydro One made a statement to the media about how they don’t condone that sort of behaviour. Good for them. No workplace anywhere should allow that sort of thing. But unless Mr. Simoes was yelling FHRITP while at work, did the company really have grounds upon which to fire him?

First of all, this isn’t the olden days when everybody in town knew where everyone else worked, and could draw a direct line between a person and who they work for.

“Yeah, but people know he worked for Hydro One, Tim! If they didn’t fire him, they’re basically telling the world they’re okay with his asshole behaviour!”

People found out where he worked after the incident, not during. Was he wearing his work clothes? His employee ID? Even a T-shirt with the company logo on it? Did he say “FHRITP. Oh, and I work for Hydro One, in case you were interested”?

I reiterate: the guy acted like a tool. I’d feel uncomfortable working with that guy. His firing, however, sets a very dangerous precedent. How much control do we want our employers to have over what we may or may not say and do when not in the office? Will a company, concerned with dollars first and foremost, always stick to firings over behaviour the majority find offensive? Can we really trust them with that?

Put aside what Simoes said and did for a minute and think about this: what a person does on their own time, when not actually on the clock, is none of a company’s business. I have a friend who was once taken to task by a boss for using the “F” word on his own time. We both thought that supervisor was ridiculously out of line. With Simoes’ firing, bosses like that have just been handed a lot more ammunition. Don’t like that new guy at work? Find some footage of him saying something naughty. Bingo.

“We’ve seen a video of you out with your friends, Mr. Johnson, in which you stated that you don’t like packies.”

“But I said Packers! Green Bay Packers! We were just watching the game, and...”

“Nice try, racist. That attitude won’t fly here. Your career with the Pittsburgh Steelers is over!”

Humour aside, I hope you see my point.

“So Hydro One shouldn’t have done anything, then? Is that what you’re saying? They should have just let it go and let all their employees know that Simoes is the kind of guy they want working for them?”

Once word got out that Simoes worked for Hydro One, it would have looked very bad publicly if they hadn’t taken some kind of action. For example, they could have called him into his boss’s office for a conversation like this:

“We’ve seen how you act on your own time, Mr. Simoes. What assurances will you give us that you won’t bring that attitude in to work? We can’t control what you say or do when not on the job, but we can make sure it never happens here. We’ll be watching you closely from now on; any complaints of sexual harassment against you will be taken very seriously and punished accordingly. We will not tolerate that behaviour here at Hydro One, Mr. Simoes, do I make myself clear?”

Wouldn’t that have done it? It may not seem like a very big punishment, but I'm only talking about the employer's response here, not the justice we'd all like to see at the end of a Hollywood comedy.

I’ll say it again - Simoes deserved to face consequences for his words and actions. Here’s a question nobody seems to have asked - why wasn’t he arrested and charged? If I walked up to a woman on the street and told her I’d like to fuck her in her pussy, I’d expect to be charged for it. That would be an appropriate response. If I was filmed saying it, and the video went viral, and my boss warned me that saying something similar on the job would result in my termination, that would also be appropriate.

Terminating my job, though? Not appropriate. Because if it is, where do you draw the line? Where does it end?

Could I lose my job simply for having asked these questions in blog form?

“It seems you wrote an online post in which you clearly supported misogynist behaviour, Mr. Carter. Don’t bother to deny it, you said Mr. Simoes deserved to keep his job because sexual harassment is cool. At least, that’s how I interpreted it. So clean out your desk, woman hater.”

Have I just booed myself right in my hoo?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ad Astra Saturday & Sunday

Once again I've let too much time pass between blog posts, and between the event I'm writing about and now. You know what? I barely have enough motivation to get out of bed some days. Each post that sees its way to publication here is a miracle!

Sunday at Ad Astra was a good time. I spoke on two panels, attended the Mental Health and Fandom panel that afternoon (not sure why I wasn't on that one, but whatever), and hung out and gave support to my friends.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also talk more about Saturday. That's even further back in my memory, but there were a few decent highlights: lunch with Sarah Water Raven and her minions; sitting at a table in the book signing room with Suzanne Church, who gave me valuable cane-related advice; attending my friend Elizabeth Hirst's Pop Seagull Publishing anthology launch, where I heard some very good stories from some very talented authors and even found a piece of cake with my name on it; being warned that describing the plot of my novel Evil might be offensive to religious people at the Inclusiveness in Fandom panel; discussing my Doctor Who epic Bane of the Doctor during the FanFiction panel. Good times.

Sunday started with a two-hour look at trailers for upcoming movies. We looked at the teaser for the new Star Wars movie, plus trailers for summer soon-to-be-blockbusters. Then we discussed our reactions to those trailers, which ones we thought might be cool(Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road), which films we were cautiously optimistic about(Jurassic World, Terminator: Genysys), and which ones looked like they were going to suck huge, rancid monkey balls(Fantastic Four reboot, and a shitty-looking 'comedy' called Pixels starring Adam Sandler). It's a good ting we had a full two hours to work with!

My final panel as a pro panelist was another Doctor Who discussion (I'd been on one the day before focusing on 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi). This one was about show runners Stephen Moffat and Russel T. Davies and their differing styles, strengths and weaknesses. On both panels I was joined by my good friend David Clink, who provided many intelligent insights into Whodom.

Another good convention! Happy happy, joy joy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ad Astra 2015 - Day Two: Personal Reflection

I'd like to quote Mark Twain, if I may: "I've lived through a lot of catastrophes in my life, some of which actually happened."

I offer that quote partly because quoting Mark Twain makes me seem infinitely smarter and wiser than I actually am. If I quoted from Plato, I might never get over myself. Mostly, though, it's relevant to my Saturday at Ad Astra. I dreaded 'going into battle' with the panelist I mentioned in my last post, whom I had to deal with in more than one panel yesterday. I thought of ways to score cheap points against this person, silly ways of dealing with them, or strategies wherein I could be the 'bigger man' and not let it bother me. Even though it totally would have bothered me.

And, like my friend and personal masseuse Mark Twain, I had nothing to worry about. We got along (not famously, but just enough), and by the end of the evening I went away with a deeper understanding of this person. I'm glad it turned out that way, but I am also grateful for this experience in general. I was genuinely scared to face this person again today - not because I was scared of them, but because I wasn't sure I could deal with it in a way that would leave me satisfied. This is a personal battle I've fought many times in the presence of difficult people, and I'd often come away feeling like a loser. "Don't let them bother you," people would say, but they'd always neglect to tell me how. When I went to do my panels yesterday evening, I was prepared to 'not be bothered'. Whatever happened, I would keep my cool and accept that I could not change this person, and scoring the cheap victories I'd imagined would only make things worse.

Did those panels go perfectly? No, not quite. I felt out of my depth in a couple of them, especially the one on romance in YA fiction. I'll write more about that later (because I have to catch a bus very soon!). However, I did come away from yesterday feeling satisfied. For me, it was a good start.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ad Astra 2015 - Thoughts on the First Day

This one's completely in-the-moment, off the cuff. I usually write my posts out longhand first, but I'm winging this one for the sake of brevity and timeliness. As in, if I write it right now, there's a good chance I'll post it sometime close to when it happened! Fighting back against laziness and unmotivation, you know.

Yes, unmotivation. That's totally a word now. You're welcome.

Yesterday afternoon I made myself a pot roast in the crock pot, and ate a nice yummy bowlful before heading out to the Sheraton in Richmond Hill. I was concerned about timeliness, but that wasn't an issue at all. The trip was smooth and painless, and I got registered in no time at all. I went straight to the dealer's room to find friends, and find them I did! I had a lovely time chatting, catching up and making future plans. I also had to answer that inevitable question (and honestly, I should be damn grateful people are asking it): when are my ebooks going to come out in print? Not yet, I'm afraid. But perhaps sooner than even I would have thought...

Then came my first panel, Escape from Horror Remakes and the end of Neverending Sequels IV - Revenge of the Remakequel. Though I was optimistic and looking forward to a good bit of banter, I also had a small feeling of dread. There was someone on this panel who, based on their interactions with me in the past, I've concluded doesn't like me at all. The panel did nothing to disprove that notion. Indeed, this person had a go at me right from the start, and proceeded to dominate the panel. We've all had to deal with people who can't stand the sound of someone else's voice. The moderator tried repeatedly to include myself and one other panelist in the discussion, to very little avail. Not a pleasant experience.

I'm trying to learn from it. After all, people like that are everywhere - I've had more than a few bosses and one doctor who dominated me through sheer force of not listening. I have more panels with this person today. My goal is not to beat this person at their own game, but just to figure out how to deal with it without feeling like I'm being stomped on. I have an opportunity for personal growth. Best not waste it.

More catching up took place after the panel, and soon drinks came into the picture. Overall, a good first night.

Now it's Saturday, and I really need to get off the computer, throw myself together and get back to the Sheraton. I want to have lunch with friends, attend a book launch, and generally have a good time before my four panels this evening.

Here's my remaining schedule for the weekend:

Signing Sessions ◼ ◼

Time: 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Rooms: Richmond A, Richmond B

Why Are We Fighting the Same War? Inclusiveness from 1970 to Now ◼

Time: 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Room: Newmarket

Mummy is Hot for Edward Cullen: 50 shades of Monster Romance ◼ ◼ ◼

Time: 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Room: Oakridge

Someone Else's Playground: Flattery, Lawsuits and the Organization of Transformative Works and Culture ◼

Time: 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Room: Newmarket

Favourite Doctor: Why Peter Capaldi is Awesome... Or Not ◼

Time: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Room: Markham B

And on Sunday:
Summer Sci-Fi Trailer Park ◼

Time: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Room: Richmond C & D

Russell T. Davis vs, Stephen Moffat - Female Doctors, Story Arcs and the Death of the Doctor ◼

Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Room: Aurora

If all goes well, I'll post about the weekend as soon as I get home Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Apoca-Lynn: A Cover Story

I'm really quite pleased with how Apoca-Lynn's cover turned out. A lot of elements went into its creation, comprising the work of three very talented pros.

Pro # 1: Sarah Water Raven, author of Detective Docherty and the Demon's Tears and the upcoming Detective Docherty and the Vampire's Mirror, and the brilliant artist who did the cover for The Five Demons You Meet In Hell.

Sarah came up with the cover concept, and suggested using a model to represent Lynn. Which brings us neatly to...

Pro # 2: Rebecca Lovatt, book reviewer for Arched Doorway, expert baker of cupcakes, and all-around force for evil and terror. She posed for several photographs, taken by Sarah Water Raven at Ad Astra 2014, and agreed to be the face of Lynn for me. With Rebecca's fear-inducing visage (she's really quite lovely, except when she wants to make you crap your pants!) captured, it looked like Apoca-Lynn was in business.

Only it wasn't. Not yet. I wanted Sarah to complete the cover, but she had to bow out for personal and professional reasons (but not creative differences, I'd like to make that clear). I understood and respected Sarah's need to bow out, but I was then faced with the perilous problem of who was going to do my cover for me? As I was agonizing over this conundrum, I took a trip to Ottawa for Can-Con 2014. There I met Su J. Sokol, author of the amazingly brilliant Cycling to Asylum. It was also where I met her cover artist, who became...

Pro # 3: Lin-Lin Mao, exceptional artist and maker of origami bookmarks. I bought one. It's pretty cool. Here's a picture of me holding it:

Lin-Lin took the photo of Rebecca and the basic concept for the cover and created an image I was beyond ecstatic with.

So that's the story of Apoca-Lynn's cover. I am truly blessed to know such a talented group of people, and proud to call them my friends.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Apoca-Lynn: Genysys

My 2nd attempt at self-publishing success is a tale of love gone terribly, terribly wrong. I originally wanted to release this story on Valentine’s Day to take advantage of the dramatic irony, but April Fool’s Day will have to do.

Brief synopsis:
Bill O'Lannerman didn't know what he was getting into when he started dating a psychic named Lynn Woodslink. Childish, self-centred and kinda nuts, Lynn can read his every thought and move solid objects with her mind. When he broke up with her, she used those powers to put him in a world of pain. Aided by a club of spellcasting gamers, Bill struggles to survive the fury of his girlfriend scorned.

I had the inspiration for this story after watching a turkey turd of a movie called My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, it was about a guy who dates and then breaks up with a superhero named G-Girl. She uses her powers to take revenge on him, smashing his house, boiling his fish, putting his car into orbit, etc... until he finally apologizes for hurting her feelings. It rubbed me the wrong way - why was he apologizing to her?!?

Sure, it was just a movie, and a comedy to boot (just not a funny one). But it got to me, especially when I read some of the women-written reviews. They seemed to think it was a good thing when Uma’s character repeatedly smashed through the roof of his house. And when she threw a live great white shark at him? You go girl! If only all women everywhere could throw sharks at their exes. Wouldn’t that be great?!?

I didn’t think so, for personal reasons. I once asked a woman out to the movies, on what I assumed was a date. She emailed me back to inquire about showtimes, then added, “but don’t get your hopes up, because I already have a boyfriend!” I was upset - I’d thought I’d been pretty clear I was asking her out, and I thought the “don’t get your hopes up” bit was rather arrogant. I didn’t respond, and two days later I got another email from her. My lack of response had pissed her off, and she let me know it in colourful detail before signing off with “I guess all men really do want just one thing!”

Now I was pissed. I called a mutual friend to bitch about it, and he told me everything would be okay once I apologized to her.
Wait, what? She insulted me, I pointed out, and I have to say sorry to her?!? Yeah, my friend told me. You didn’t respond to her email, and that hurt her feelings.

So when I saw a movie in which a guy had to apologize to the woman who’d thrown a shark at him because he’d hurt her feelings? Yeah, it struck a nerve. I wanted to create a story similar to Super-Ex - a guy breaks up with a girl with superpowers, and she punishes him with those powers - but I wanted to tell it my way. And hopefully made a point or two about the way pop culture views male-female relationships. Apoca-Lynn is the result.

Yes, I’m aware that, oppression-wise, women have been given the short end of the proverbial stick for centuries. Yes, I know the media often portrays women and girls as sex objects with unrealistically thin bodies. I am a feminist, and view sexism as an evil that society should have grown out of by now.

But that doesn’t mean I should have to apologize to someone who hurt/insulted me. I think that holds true for all genders.

Of course, just because it touches upon some serious issues, don’t go thinking that Apoca-Lynn is some deep, message-laden manifesto! There are jokes aplenty, more per square inch of page than Evil & The Cupid War. It’s my favourite genre - far-fetched YA - and I’m in my element. It’s also a 1st person POV, a choice that was easy to make for this story. As with Evil?, it just fits.

I have high hopes for Apoca-Lynn. I’ve already started writing a sequel, Armagge-Dawn. If all goes well, I’ll have that one done and up on Smashwords in a year, maybe a year and a half. For now, enjoy this first Bill O’Lannerman tall tale. Here's the link for pre-sales - may it fill you with mirth. Unless of course you don’t find that sort of thing funny. That would be unfortunate, but don’t expect an apology.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day-to-Day Depression

I love the way people assume that when I’m not writing, I’m doing editing or promoting or some other author-centred bit of business. They’d probably have a lot less respect for me if they knew how much time I devote to Candy Crush.

After all, writing is a Serious Business, and if one isn’t Dedicated to Working Hard, then one isn’t a Real Writer at all, and just a Waste of More Important Writers’ Time. While that last sentence is bursting at the seams with bullshit, I’ve met many an author/editor (or person who thinks they are an author or editor) who holds that opinion. What I take away from that is that my writing ‘street cred’ isn’t as high as it should be.

I suffer from a combination of depression, anxiety, and general laziness, and I’m never sure which one has the most influence. I know what Serious Writers would say, and I’m unable to prove them wrong. If it was just laziness, however, I could get over it and get on with things.

A typical day in the life of Tim happens something like this – get up, feed the cats, go to work, come home, Candy Crush and bed. Somewhere in there, I write. Most of my best writing comes during the half-hour before work, which these days is a temp job that barely pays almost what I need to survive. During the work day, I’ll look forward to all the writing-related stuff I can get to when I’m home. When I get home, however, my energy and motivation are gone.

Well, I must get so much done during those long employment gaps between temp jobs, right? If only. I’ll get up, feed the cats, go back to bed, sleep in, get up again for food, feed the cats again, think about doing something useful with my time, take a nap, try and get myself out of the condo to do some writing, come back, do something about supper, Candy Crush, bed. It takes an herculean amount of will to get me onto my computer to do some actual work. Or, you know, look for a job.

I don’t like talking about this side of me, because what are people likely to say? If I want things to get better, I should do something about it! Stop the pity party and pull myself up by my bootstraps, because success won’t just happen. Stop feeling sorry for myself, and using my mental health as an excuse not to succeed. If I point out they wouldn’t say the same thing to someone living with cancer, I’ll get: “Are you really comparing your mental health to cancer?”

Yeah, I do use my mood disorder as an excuse. Doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I don’t know where my depression ends and my laziness begins, so when I’m accused of not putting the effort in my critics are never entirely wrong. Trouble is, getting on with things is extremely hard, and getting harder every day.

I could have had Apoca-Lynn out months ago. Same for Closets. I could be having great success with my other projects, if I could only get to them. I want to get my work back out there, into the hands of agents and publishers. I want to have a solid marketing campaign on several social media platforms. All I can manage, though, is what I’m currently doing.

Sometimes, I beat the laziness. I send out some resumes, I fix a problem in a manuscript, I do something that matters. It’s never enough. Not if I want to succeed as an author.

I do what I can. And feel badly about what I don’t. I’m sick, and I am lazy. But I wasn’t always this lazy.

The world doesn’t care about mental illness, only about results. You won’t succeed at writing by playing Candy Crush, Tim! Stop making excuses and work! What do you think you are, a cancer patient?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Do People Not Blow Their Noses Anymore?!?

Seriously. Everywhere I go I’m surrounded by sniffers and snorters who seem perfectly happy to make revolting sounds instead of reaching for a tissue. Maybe they don’t have tissues, but come on; winter comes every year, people. Be prepared!

Others obviously don’t find mucal retention as uncomfortable as I do. It doesn’t bother them, so they snort away with carefree abandon. Guess what, asswipes? That sound is disgusting and annoying! What is so special about your mucus that you feel you have to keep hanging on to it?
I was in the mailroom with a co-worker one time, waiting for the mail to come in. The co-worker had a runny nose, and he sniffed every ten seconds.




I couldn’t stand it anymore – I handed him a napkin. He said thanks, wiped his mouth with it and went right on sniffing! I guess he thought he had some pudding on his face or something. Blowing his nose clearly hadn’t even occurred to him.

Two more co-workers came in and sat down. And they started sniffing! I had to get up and leave. Too much mucus for me!

Another time I was on the subway. A woman was snuffling away. I gave her a napkin, she thanked me and wiped her nose, and kept on sniffing! So I gave her another napkin. She thanked me once more, wiped her nose, and continued with the sniffing!

W. T. Fuck?

I’ve also had people give me a polite “no thanks” when I offer a napkin, even though they clearly need it. What’s that all about?
I’m coming down from a cold, and let me tell you – I am so grateful to have napkins and/or tissues on hand. I hate it when my nose runs, and find it very uncomfortable to not be able to blow my nose. Am I really so different from everyone else in this regard?

Oh. Em. Gee. Right now, in the room where I am writing, there’s a woman sniffing away!

What is wrong with all of you? Blow your fucking noses!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

First Update of 2015 - All 3 Parts

So, this is my third attempt at an update in as many months. Previous attempts are posted below.

Here’s what I thought in January:

I’m typing up the last few chapters of I, Suicide. Feeling very good about that one. I wasn’t before, and I do have concerns with how it will be received. Now, I think it is very unique, and very different from all my other novels.

Kudos to me!

I’ve also started to work on a sequel to Apoca-Lynn. It’s early days, but I think I’m off to a good start. Apoca-Lynn itself is down to the final editing stage – I’m putting in a few more details to make the town more of a place. That way it’ll be recognizable in the sequels.

I need to get started on promotion. I want Valentine’s Day to be Apoca-Lynn’s release date, so I need a Facebook page and flyers and stuff. I wish this kind of thing came easy for me.

And here’s February:

Not as much progress as I’d like. I’d hoped to set up a Facebook page for Apoca-Lynn, and maybe do a Cover Reveal event. Sadly, my depression has delayed all that, and the editing process, too. I’m still trying to get the book ready, but there’s a long way to go and I have very little motivation.

I’m not even sure which online publisher to go with. Smashwords is nice, but I haven’t been able to draw much of a readership from them. Amazon KDP or Kobo are the choices I’m looking at now. Time is running out; motivation or no, I need to get moving on this one.

If only getting moving were easy. People in my life always reacted with annoyance, frustration and/or ridicule when I didn’t immediately get cracking on things in the past, whether just for myself or for them. Now that I (and most of them) know I have a mood disorder, things really haven’t changed much. Instead of seeing me as a lazy procrastinating slob, I’m a lazy procrastinating slob feeling sorry for himself and using his depression as an excuse.

Sometimes it is an excuse. Most times it’s a valid reason. Try explaining that to Life. You still need to feed and clothe yourself, no matter how sick you are inside.

And now we are in March. Apoca-Lynn is not out yet, but I do have a Facebook page for it. Maybe one day I’ll post something to it.

My current temp job has come to an end. Good while it lasted. We were just able to get by. Here’s hoping I find something else soon.

I have no idea what’s happening with the Evil movie. I’ve sold the film rights option, and that is all. If they do decide to go ahead and buy the film rights proper, I will make a very excited announcement.

Currently, I am up to Chapter 6 on Armaged-Dawn, my sequel to Apoca-Lynn. On the horizon are the continuation of Zombie Jesus Day, and more Doctor Who fanfiction. I have plans to make a separate blog for Section K stories, but that’s gone no further than the proverbial drawing board. I have a lot of stories to post, all of which require substantial editing. Honestly, no one is asking for Section K stuff. I don’t know why I’m bothering.

I could say that about a lot of things: my fan-fiction; my writing in general; certainly my attempts to get a better job. And yet, I keep going. Stubborn, I guess.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014, And the Stuff That Happened To Me In It

So, the New Year is here, as it always seems to be this time of year. Time to look back, time to look forward, time to make promises - sorry, resolutions - one has no intention of keeping (if pop culture is to be believed, which it usually is).

2014 was a good year for me. And, as a person living with depression and anxiety, I do not say such a thing lightly. Speaking of which, I've been tapering off one of my medications. If I can get off it completely while still remaining healthy, I'll be very happy (no pun intended).

So, what else was good in 2014? Let's take a look:

I sold the movie rights option for Evil, one of my best novels. I finished and posted a novel-length (or at least novella-length) work of Doctor Who fan-fiction, which you can find here. And, in the last couple of days before the year ended, I finished the first draft of I, Suicide, a Cupid War spinoff four years in the writing. I wrote a few short stories too, one of which is a Cupid War story! You'll be seeing that here before too long.

I was employed for well over half the year. Not bad, but I can do better. One resolution of mine is to break away from temp agencies. I'll say more about that in another post.

I visited my sister Claire in Regina. That did both of us a lot of good.

I gave up soft drinks, with only one relapse; I drank a half-litre bottle of Pepsi at my sister's place. Bad Tim! But the ginger ale I drank while I was fighting a cold does NOT count! That was for medicinal purposes. It's funny, people have asked me if I feel any better now that I've (mostly) stopped drinking pop. Honestly, I don't feel any different.

I went to four conventions this year, five if you count the Fan Expo (I don't). Each one brought me closer to my fandom friends while introducing me to new ones. Two cons were out of Toronto, another bold step forward in my self-promotion. Before you know it, I'll be a star attraction at San Diego ComicCon! Well, I can dream. Might as well dream big!

Not everything was good. Last month I got notice that The Cupid War is now out of print. I also removed Closets from SynergEbooks, so the only titles I have available are Section K (paperback) and The Five Demons You Meet In Hell (ebook). My novel-writing career has taken a huge hit, and it will take a lot to bounce back.

Part of that bouncing back will involve re-releasing Closets through Smashwords. I'm also planning to release my next ebook, Apoca-Lynn, through Smashwords on Valentine's Day. I'll keep writing, of course: next up is a sequel to Apoca-Lynn, and the continuation of Zombie Jesus Day. I have a lot to do, and for that I'll need a lot of motivation and energy.

Hello, 2015. Here we go!