Sunday, March 13, 2016

FanFiction Saved My Sanity!

I’m a writer. It’s who I am. So when I can’t write, I’m not very happy. Big identity issues.

I’ve been fighting the Block lately, and it’s been going on for a while. Part of why there haven’t been any new posts, either here or on the new one or even Biblical Proportions. Turns out I have just as much worth as a person whether I’m cranking out stories or not. Yay me! But still, I needed my writing mojo back.

Fan-fiction to the rescue. Currently I’m a couple of chapters into a new Doctor Who story, and I recently uploaded a fic that crosses Deadpool with The Big Bang Theory. They may not be my own characters, but they got my mojo working again. I feel like I’ll be back at work on my own stuff in no time!

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.