Category Archives: Books

Five Things Make a Post

Or something to that effect. That’s how this used to work.

1. I have just signed a contract to work on a second edition of one my books that recently fell out of print after a decade. This is pretty exciting. It’s basically an update, tightening it up and refocusing it a bit for a new audience. It’s due back to the publisher around Easter, and will be (re)released this fall.

2. I am currently working on a different exciting project that I can’t say anything about because it Doesn’t Officially Exist Yet. It came about via networking (in other words, a series of instances where I was referred from one project to another and recommended back and forth); I don’t think I’ve written an actual CV in ages. Anyway, it’s forcing me to develop in a different direction, because (a) it’s scriptwriting, and (b) it’s not traditional scriptwriting. I’m learning as I go, and I’m so grateful for the support of fellow writer-friends who are also scriptwriting people. The scheduling is kind of blowing my mind due to the nature of the project; it’s… weird, and unlike anything else I’ve worked on. I can’t really explain without getting into specifics. This one is due out sometime this spring.

3. Things proceed apace on the three-year series project I’m writing for. A deadline every two weeks; it’s very steady. (If you can count to three you have just realized that I am working on three big things at once, and yes, if I think about it for too long I start to get panicky. For now it’s all balancing out very well, especially since the two most recent projects just revamped their delivery dates.)

4. I gave bullet journaling a try last fall and while it didn’t work for me in the popular trendy BuJo-ing sense, it does work in a simplified sense of keeping all my notes and to-do lists in one place. I just have to remember to take it with me when I walk around the house or go out. Also, it pleases my pretty stationery/fountain pen/office supply side.

5. Yesterday I saw my doctor for a follow-up to the increased dosage of my medication that she initialized a month ago. While I am generally feeling better, I told her that I wasn’t convinced this was the long-term solution for me because of other effects it was having. My doctor agreed; she said that those side effects wouldn’t fade, and that she’d been thinking of proposing a switch to a different, newer medication anyway. So three days of a half-dose of my current medication, seven days off completely to clear it out of my system, then two weeks of a half-dose of the new one, then increase to the full dose… it’s going to be a rough four weeks. And then it’s going to take four to six weeks for the new medication to settle, too. (For those of you keeping score… why, yes, this time period does overlap with working on three projects at once, two of them large and with Significant Deadlines.)

Thank goodness winter is almost over. Things will get easier in general to deal with as spring rolls in. WInter just takes so much energy to cope with.

Still In Moderate Disbelief

One of Sparky’s friends came up to him the other day and said, “Hey, hasn’t your mum written books?”

To which Sparky said, “Yeah, I think she’s written two or three.” (Six, kid. Not counting the anthology. Please keep up. The shelf with all of them is right outside your bedroom door.)

So the kid searched, and came back with huge eyes. “Your mum is on Google! She’s everywhere!”

Nice thought, but no, I’m not. Not the way you make it sound, anyway. An author’s name will pull up links to their books being sold all over the place.

This fall, something totally different will come out with my name on it. While I’ve mainly worked in commercial publishing as writer, editor, and copyeditor, I’ve also worked in the video games industry a few times. Names in game credits are harder point at. But this fall, a project that intersects my two fields is launching.

Right now I’m just really tired, because of crazy deadlines and schedule. But each day when I open my Work folder of bookmarks and click on this particular link for research, I still get a little cooled-out shiver of Is this actually my life right now?

And that is good. As long as I’m still excited about what I’m doing, then I’m doing the right thing.

I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world this fall. It’s probably going to confuse the heck out of people who only know me from my titles about alternative spirituality. But I’m allowed to have different areas of interest, and to apply my professional skills to those different subjects. It’s part of what makes me an interesting person, right?

Workity-Work

I am in the middle of a sea of uncertainty regarding work. Yes, there is lots of work to do! When can we get it to you? Well, not now. Later. Soon. That stuff that was also due in March? Not ready. Soon. Later.

As happens with large team projects, slowdowns here and there or periods of rewriting aggregate, and that aggregation now means the initial projected schedule provided to me is completely inapplicable by this point. So I know I have an unclear amount of work to edit… sometime this summer. When? Well… July? The first bits, anyway? (On the initial schedule, this part of the project was to be wrapping up in July.)

So I’m trying not to panic, both helped and hindered by Ceri saying, “You’re doing MENUS? Oh my gods, those are HUGE!” because now I at least have an idea of how much work there will be (i.e. a lot), but also now I am anxious about how soon they want this stuff turned around when it eventually gets here. The projected schedule estimated 10 days would be required to handle the material, which is somewhat comforting; that’s two weeks of work. There’s always more of a crush as the end of the project approaches, and the same amount of work has to get crammed into a smaller time period, though. I am good, and I am outrageously fast (did I not just turn around a 400+ page batch in a crazy-brief four or five days? yes, I did, holy cats, and let me tell you, there was wine when I was done), but not knowing is freaking me out. Especially since I have a week out of town coming up when I can’t work, which is likely to coincide with the first batch of this material finally reaching me.

Apart from the ZOMG I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH MY SCHEDULE, which is something that always triggers anxiety (and I haven’t yet mentioned that daycare is closed for the last two weeks of July, ha ha ha, this will be fun), I am still very much enjoying this project. It’s been fun to see the fan reaction to the trailers and launch material, and to know secret stuff, and to think about how much fun people will have discovering it all when the game is released. Turns out the Xbox version will only be available on XBox One, though, not the 360, which means it’s time for HRH and I to update our Xbox console. The recent announcement that the One will now extend backward compatibility to lots of 360 games is a relief, though.

On the other work hand (does that make sense? sure, why not, yay freelancing), I currently have a deliciously perfect and staggeringly good novel I’m working on for the publisher. It’s so good that I’m doing the equivalent of racing through pages just to see what happens next. It’s beautifully clean, so I have next to nothing to do other than add the occasional comma, remove the occasional italicized closing quotation mark, and make my list of proper nouns to check. It’s a luxury to work on it, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been the one assigned to it. It’s half contemporary, half historical, and has magical realism; it’s a book I will recommend wholeheartedly and without reservation to pretty much everyone when it’s released.

General Update

Let’s use a numbered list! Those are fun!

1. We are settling in nicely with the Cruze. It is still red. HRH drove it to Pennsylvania and back last weekend for Clan Camping, and apparently it handled like a dream. We’re getting insanely good gas mileage. I think, apart from the trip to PA (where they also filled up a lot less than expected), we have put gas in the car all of twice, neither a full tank.

2. I am currently copyediting a 600-page, 300-recipe French cookbook. This has had three major effects so far: One, I want to slow cook everything (as I said the other day to Daphne and Ceri, “mijoter TOUTES LES VIANDES!”); two, my desire to drink wine has increased proportionally to the direction to pour wine in every second recipe; and three, my desire to cook everything in butter has also increased. It is a pretty tight schedule, since it’s about twice the length of a standard manuscript but I have the same timeframe in which to complete it. HRH is back at work so my daytime work hours are reduced with both kids home, which doesn’t help with the stress levels. But I am in the home stretch, with less than 100 pages to go before my deadline this week.

3. I registered for this year’s Spinzilla, spinning for Team Kromski. This is a week-long event hosted by the TNNA (AKA The National Needlearts Association, specifically the Spinning and Weaving Group) designed “to motivate spinners to learn new skills, take risks, and spin their hearts out. It is also a fundraiser for the NeedleArts Mentoring Program (NAMP). NAMP connects adult mentors with school age children to teach the needle arts — spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, and stitching.” The basic goal is for teams try to spin as much combined length as they can. Plied yarns count for the length of the singles used to make them. In other words, if you end up with a 300-yard three-ply yarn, it counts for 900 yards of spinning. (Turns out the plied length counts, too, because you ran it through the wheel to ply it! So a 300-yard three-ply yarn would count for 1200 yards!) This is mildly insane because Canadian Thanksgiving happens during that week, but we shall see what kind of game plan I can draw up.

4. I read The Apprentices by Maile Meloy, which is the sequel to The Apothecary. It wasn’t as good, unfortunately. I also recently read Indexing by Seanan McGuire, which was fantastic. I got my copy of Beth Smith’s Spinner’s Book of Fleece book last week, and when this project is handed in I intend to sit down and enjoy it from cover to cover.

5. I will also enjoy trying out my new hand cards after this project is done!

I got paid for a crazy project I did a month and a half ago (recently it has been all huge or crazy projects, which is good for the bank account, not so good for the stress levels) and I took some of that money and bought a pair from Colette at her spinning studio. I also picked up some pink and purple Corriedale that Owlet fell in love with, so I shall practice carding by blending some Tencel with each of them and knitting her wee socks and mittens.

6. I forgot to mention that HRH painted the bathroom at the end of July. I came home from a week with my parents and the shabbiness of it finally made me snap. He scraped off the white paint on the wall soap dish (who paints a soap dish?), replaced the soggy MDF shelf above the sink, and painted the dark grey walls a lovely spring green. I love it so much more.

7. I bought a new computer monitor on sale a week or so ago. It’s a 20″, and it is astonishing. I can easily have three or four documents open on my screen and flip through all of them easily. I have no idea how I survived with a 15″ for so long.

That’s life in a nutshell right about now.

March Break Date

I’ve been struggling with a really bad bout of depression this past week, so I’ve been pretty quiet. Most of the time I’m fighting bursting into tears for no apparent reason, and just feeling really, deeply sad.

I handed in a project yesterday, and today Sparky and I went out on a date day, as it’s his March break week. We dropped off a bag of cloth diapers I sold, I deposited my paycheque (yet again, gone as soon as it hit my account — someday I will be able to enjoy it being there for more than a minute or two), and then I took him to our bookstore, ostensibly to pick up the next book in a series we’re reading together, but my ulterior motive was the 20% off Lego sale they were running. I thought his eyes were going to fall out of his head when he read the poster. So since I’d encouraged him to bring the twenty dollars he’d saved up, he had a $25 gift card, and he had a $10 reward for one hundred practice sessions of cello (we keep track!), he walked out with two books, one each from a series he’s reading, and two Lego kits.

Then we went into the adjacent Starbucks and I bought him a hot chocolate and a Rice Krispie square, and he read one of his new books while having his treat. Seeing him so happy was really nice.

I had a wonderful moment while we were in the bookstore. We’d gone through the Lego and the younger chapter book section, and had ended up in the 9-12 area. We were both sitting on the floor, our coats open, and he was reading aloud to me from one of the books he had chosen. I sat there, smiling at him, not really hearing what he was reading — he was reading way too quickly, so I couldn’t understand the individual words. He does that when he’s super excited and eager to share something, and usually I rein him in, but this time I didn’t worry about it. I just listened to his voice, and watched him bend over the hardcover book, holding it open with one hand and gesturing with the other as he read aloud to me. I didn’t have to worry about rushing him anywhere since we had the whole day together, and I didn’t feel like nagging him about his reading. I just enjoyed sitting there with my son, listening to him read a book aloud to me, both of us being happy about being there together. It was a very special moment, and I have no idea how long we sat there, to be honest. I only suggested we move on when another mum and her daughter came along and I felt like we were in their way. I wish we had more time for things like this together.

Owlet: Thirty Months Old!

Owlet is going through another level-up in language; it’s just more precise in general. (Except for ‘pinnanose.’ “Play pinnanose, Mummy?” I almost don’t want to teach her to say pee-yan-oh, because hearing her ask to play “pinnanose” makes me giggle inside every time.) She’s slimming a bit (thank goodness), and her legs look longer as a result. She looks more like a little girl now than a chubby toddler. I had to buy her a new snowsuit (the second one this winter) one size bigger, with longer sleeves and legs. She’s wearing size 4 jeans and tops, and I have no idea what her shoe size is; she’s worn size 9 boots all winter, but I bought them large on purpose. Her two-year-old molars are finally IN, thank goodness.

Her favourite colour is “pupple.” Her favourite foods are yoghurt (‘yodirt’), gravy (on anything — I have to keep a container of it in the fridge to pour over anything at a moment’s notice), her Shreddies and Ohs (her word for Cheerios) with milk in the morning, and “TANDIES!” after supper. (She gets two M&Ms for dessert after dinner. She tries to ask for them after breakfast and lunch, too, but that’s not happening.) She dips her whole hand into HRH’s coffee and licks it off. He caught her gently putting my wineglass down the other day. She looked at him and kind of smacked her lips quietly.

She’s working on issuing commands, often at inappropriate times. She occasionally tries to put people, things, or cats into time outs at random moments, or scolds them sternly for something they did ages ago that she suddenly needs to work through again in her mind.

She is very into Hide and Seek. Like most toddlers, she is somewhat unclear on the concept, but loves what she does anyway. She’ll hide in the same place that she found Sparky just about every time, and of course he finds her right away. We had to explain to him that he needed to pretend to look. “Why? I know where she is,” he said. Well, buddy, we knew exactly where you were when you played it at her age, too, but we played along.

She is also very into playing babies: rocking them, giving them bottles, and burping them. Her imaginative play with her Fisher Price animals and her ponies is starting to take off, too. There are general storylines that are followed: one pony gets a crown or something, runs to everypony one by one and says, “Look! Look!” and the other pony says, “Oh, you look so pretty!” Then they run to the next pony together, and so on. With the farm animals, one of them comes running to me and says, “So-and-so pushed me.” We have to go through the process of calling the offending party over, asking if it pushed the aggrieved party, reminding it that we don’t push our friends, and requesting an apology.

She had a bad cold at the end of January that had her home from school for a week, and triggered a nasty round of croup. If I’d known her entire class was coughing, I’d have sent her back two days earlier; I was doing the good parent thing and keeping her home to avoid infecting anyone else, but it turned out they were all sick already. Oh, well. We had fun doing groceries, and watching Sesame Street, and making lunches and scones together. One day I had to drop off a round of daycare cheques for the next couple of months, and they sent home a craft for her to do that the other kids had done earlier in the week. She loved doing her “homework” while Sparky did his. She played with the iPad way too much while she was ill, and I had to institute a detox when she went back to school; that did not go over well at all. There was about a week of screaming before and after school, but then everything settled, and now she’s back to books and toys in her down time, thank goodness.

Her favourite books at the moment are Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch, and the Oliver Jeffers books, particularly The Way Back Home. Her favourite song is “Let It Go” from Frozen, which she sings remarkably clearly, surprisingly on-key for a toddler, and does all the motions she’s seen in the video. Her favourite parts to play out are when Elsa builds the ice palace, and when she pulls off her crown and throws it away. (Sparky is also in love with this song, and sings it particularly well.) She is going to absolutely love the film when we get it on DVD.

Stuff I Did In 2013

Wow. Busy year.

Knitted two and a half pairs of socks. No, actually, if we’re adding up individual socks I knit three full pairs, because I knit three for Sparky’s Gryffindor socks, two for my slipper socks, and one so far for my own pair of regular socks. Ha ha! Six socks! (Too bad that’s not how it actually works. Sigh.)

I knit a complete child’s pullover sweater. How crazy is that. It was also my first test knit for someone.

I knit one and a half cap-sleeve sweaters for myself. The half is because I had a half-done one languishing in my cupboard since something like 2006, I finished it, realized it wouldn’t fit, frogged it all, and reknit it. It’s technically finished, but I need to undo the bindoff and add an inch to the bottom. I should add that I made some original modifications to the neck and sleeves that actually worked. I think I’m getting this knitting thing.

I knit a lot of blanket squares for my friends in my online mums group. And then I seamed two of those blankets together and knit the borders on each from yarn spun especially for them.

I spun twelve ounces of yarn for a friend’s project. I spun a similarly crazy amount for my mother’s stunning cabled wrap, and then dyed it, too. And I wonder why I don’t have a lot to show for my spinning time this year. Most of it belongs to other people!

In other areas of my life, I switched the bread recipe I use, and I’m liking the more artisanal loaf we get from it. I also started making my own yogurt, which is a big thing because I loathe yogurt. HRH and Owlet adore it, though.

I stopped using commercial cleansers and moisturizers on my face, observing how much happier and healthier my hair and scalp were when I quit using sodium lauryl/laureth-laden shampoos and silicone-sibling conditioners, and thinking that my face would probably react in a similarly positive fashion. Turns out my face is much happier not being stripped of everything (good and bad) and then having stuff smoothed back on to rehydrate it. I’m using the oil-cleansing method, and my tricky-to-handle, acne-prone face has never been happier. So happy, in fact, that I only have to do it every two days. So yeah, colour me impressed. (Also appalled at the ruthlessly-strip-then-requires-deep-moisturizing-with-unhappy-stuff-that-needs-to-be-stripped cycle that our consumer society has tricked us into repeating endlessly.)

I cut my hair, a lot. I’m hacking off three-quarters of an inch every four to five weeks. It’s nuts. I thought a couple of times that I’d grow it longer again, but I look so tired when it’s shoulder length that snip, off it comes, and I look so much healthier and brighter with it at about chin length again.

I was pretty healthy overall, the trip to the dermatologist and his concern over one of my moles aside. (That’s being taken off and sent for analysis next June. It’s difficult to reconcile “concern” with an eight-month wait for removal and analysis, but whatever.) The other health scare that had me sent a specialist also ended up fine, so another deep sigh of relief and hurrah for that. (Also, I now have a gynaecologist who is awfully nice.) I went back on my fibro medication this summer, and after a two-month period where it felt like it wasn’t doing anything, things suddenly clicked into place and the pain is manageable and energy levels are more consistent. Sleep is less of an issue, although still a big sensitive spot for me.

I kept up with Downton Abbey and Sherlock, we discovered the My Little Pony reboot, and I dropped Game of Thrones because the level of depicted violence and sex turned me off. I know, I know; I’ve read all the books. But the way HBO is portraying it is different, and it’s not enjoyable to watch for me. And life is too short to make myself read crappy books or watch TV that I don’t enjoy. I’m getting very good at cutting stuff like that out of my life.

In fact, I’ve looked back over the past couple of years, and I’ve done a better job at releasing toxic friendships and limiting contact with people who stress me out. I have a limited amount of energy to keep myself going. I need to protect it. I’m doing a pretty good job at saying no and focusing on the most important things in my life.

I’ve done some editing work that I’m very proud of, both private and through the publisher I work with. I’ve had the privilege of reading some great stuff before its release and helping to make it even better. I love my work, even when it drives me to excessive chocolate consumption like the most recent ones did. (Oh dear gods. You will never know, because the resulting books have correct facts and dates and are stronger in general. That’s what I do, and I’m fine being anonymous.)

I didn’t have a lot of time for cello, but I seem to be doing okay in that area. Just getting out once a week and carrying through on the orchestral commitment was a priority. We played some great stuff in orchestra, and I’m proud of my Suzuki work, too.

I read much less than I usually do (hmm, I should start including the books I edit; those totally count, why do I not do that already?). Although “usually” has taken a hit these past threeish years, so maybe this new lower finished frequency is the new normal. Standouts for me were the second in Elizabeth Bear’s Steles of the Sky trilogy and Kerstin Gier’s entire Ruby Red trilogy. I finally got around to reading Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, which was lovely. And courtesy of Tamu, I got to attend Neil Gaiman’s only Montreal book signing/reading tour stop ever (it’s hard to believe, but his previous stops here have been con-related, and he retired from touring after The Ocean at the End of the Lane one ended).

Music-wise I discovered The Doubleclicks, who should adopt me, because wow, it’s like they know everything inside my head. Also, cello.