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    Castle and Dresden


    2012 - 12.09

    We currently have the most recent books by Richard Castle and Jim Butcher out from the library.  We haven’t finished reading them yet, but let us know if you would like to read them before we return them to the library.  The books are:

    • Frozen Heat – Richard Castle
    • Cold Days – Jim Butcher

    Valentine’s Post-Game


    2012 - 02.16

    Valentine’s Day was a little strange this year, I actually spent much of the evening chatting with a friend over hot chocolate at Starbucks.  I was gone for nearly two hours.  When I got back, the apartment was very very clean, laundry was put away, it was all pretty spectacular.

    I think that while I was gone someone ordered a lot of pizza and became the ‘Za Lady, and a bunch of faeries cleaned the apartment… it’s a working hypothesis…

    I’m pretty lucky to know someone who would enlist faeries just to do something nice for me ;-)

    Pulled the Trigger: Surrey International Writers’ Conference


    2011 - 09.16

    Karin is going to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC), which I think is going to turn out to be very exciting, especially now that she’s committed.  There’s lots of stuff going on that weekend, and it is a little pricey, but I think it will be worth it.

    She gets to sit down with Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette), author of Shades of Milk and Honey, and frequent contributor become co-host of the Writing Excuses podcast that we listen to.  Personally I think that’s really cool.  She’s also represented by the Donald Maass agency which is the same agency which represents* Brent Weeks (@brentweeks) who also lives in Oregon… hmmm.  Donald Maass himself will also be at SiWC.  So it’s pretty cool, or at least I think it is.

    In September, I’ll be a guest at the Surrey Writers Conference in Surrey, B.C. This is widely regarded as one of the better literary conferences for aspiring writers and I’m excited to be a part of it this year.
    – Mary Robinette Kowal, http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/surrey-writers-conference/

    Here’s another perspective:

    Granted, the chief goal of any writer should be to write for themselves, not for fame or for fortune.  Though, those are nice for those of us with crippling gambling problems and a desperate need for attention (not that I know anyone like that who is also named Sam Sykes, goodness no).  What’s even nicer, however, is the respect that comes with reaching a point where people will actually ask you for your advice on writing and not end the query with “you jackass.”

    Well, as per advice that is so unhelpful as to come from a jackass, I basically have three suggestions: get an agent, get perspective and get better.  Where does one find these, though?  Well, in consolidated form, they tend to all be present at Writer’s Conferences, which I’ve noticed are alarmingly rare.  However, they do exist, and one of them has invited me to come offer my advice to hundreds of burgeoning aspiring authors seeking a means of getting their work out there!

    The Surrey International Writer’s Conference is one I’ve been attending for several years now, back when Tome of the Undergates was but a wee Pamphlet of the Undergates and I was a wee, inexperienced writer with nary a clue as to what I was doing.  But now I am a big, experienced writer with nary a clue as to what I am doing and I can safely say that this is one of the best conferences to attend if you’re at all serious about becoming a writer.

    As they say in Quebec: por que?

    Three Reasons.

    1. Consolidated Networking (or “Dudes What You Want to Know”): SiWC (no, I don’t know why the ‘i’ is lower-case) is host to authors, editors and agents, the holy trinity of publishing, and attended by librarians, booksellers, book-buyers and, most importantly, other authors.  There is no one at this conference that you do not want to know, save for Steve who works at the front desk (you know what you did, Steve).

    2. Aggregate Accessibility (or “I saw Terry Brooks Throw Up Last Night!”): The purpose of this conference is chiefly to meet writers and drink a lot of beer.  These tend to go well together.  As a result, the professionals here are not going to wave you off or ignore you (unless they are on their way to a workshop, in which case you should not chase them down and hit them with a briefcase) and most are very open to hearing your pitch, your questions, what have you.  There’s even a few sessions of Blue Pencil designed just for that purpose!  Holy shit!

    3. KNOWLEDGE (or “BRAINMEATS”): The workshops here cover everything from plot to pacing, worldbuilding to genre influence, sex scenes to chase scenes to fight scenes to action scenes to parrot scenes.  If you have ever had a question about writing, no matter how weird you think it is, it is probably answered in a very helpful hour-long workshop.  I encourage you to attend every one that you can, as you never know what you might have needed to know until you know it!

    4. Sam Sykes Will Be There (or “You Can’t Escape Me!”):Yes, I will, in fact, be giving a workshop of my very own, entitled “The First Time Publishing Experience” on Friday at 3:00 PM.  We’ll be discussing everything a first time published author should know from networking to promotions to taking criticism and keeping motivated.  Even if you’re not published yet, it’s good advice to take, since motivation can lapse all the time!

    What?

    That was four?

    Yeah, it was!  What are you going to do about it?

    That’s what I thought, baby.

    Anyway, the Conference is coming up (next month!), so you might want to check it now if you’re at all interested!

    If you’re already signed up, though, please feel free to stop on by and learn a thing or two from me!  I can say with complete authority that I am worth listening to.

    Because I have a Presenter’s Nametag.
    – Sam Sykes, http://samsykes.com/2010/09/surrey-international-writers-conference/

    Amazing the things you can find out about something the more research you do, and the more research I do the happier I am that Karin is going!  Can’t wait to hear about how awesome it was.  I just hope she can resist the temptation to drop names of all the people she meets, unless of course Howard Taylor is there, because he’s so cool he can name drop himself. (Writing Excuses, Season 3, Episode 9-10)

    * Donald Maass also represents Jim Butcher (@longshotauthor) among others.

    What do YOU want to be?


    2011 - 09.14

    A while back I made a joke about being Harry Dresden for Halloween, but I don’t really think I could pull it off.  At various times in the past I’ve also thought of being Richard Castle just so that I could wear a bulletproof vest that said “Writer”, although that doesn’t feel nearly as appropriate these days, even if Karin would probably make a better Alexis.  She’s still definitely the writer around here (even if for the last few weeks at least I could claim to be the blog poster).

    Then again, given that there isn’t any trick or treating in the building (don’t think it’s a bylaw, just doesn’t seem to happen), and that we don’t have any party plans at present, maybe I don’t need a costume at all.  Karin on the other hand needs something that she can wear to school at least, if not additionally to a party.  Although, Karin would probably appreciate having the excuse to wear multiple costumes…

    Why am I posting about this now?  Well because if you start figuring it out now, you still have time to pull together an awesome costume for Halloween.  If on the other hand you don’t start thinking about it for another six weeks, then you might just be out of luck.

    So what do you want to be for Halloween?

    Ghost Story: Review


    2011 - 08.31

    We’ve both now read Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, and although I think we both enjoyed it, I won’t speak for both of us here.

    It was an interesting and different novel within the Dresden Files, which on many levels it needed to be.  Unfortunately that’s about all that can be said about that without offering spoilers, so I won’t go there.  There are moments in this novel more so than any of the previous novels which contain historical reflection and flashbacks (mostly to scenes which you have not previously experienced in reading the other 12 books in the series, but may have been aware of).  Those were definitely interesting.

    I enjoyed the book, but…

    …well the series has evolved I suppose, and perhaps it’s starting to leave me behind.  We’ll see.  Unlike the Laurell K. Hamilton, Anita Blake series which started great and then seemed to devolve (and which is now starting to re-emerge and capture some of that original magic), the Dresden Files has been a continuous and natural progression and expansion of the characters, their responsibilities and the world.  If it hadn’t happened, although I might on some level be enjoying the stories more, I’d probably be complaining that it seemed unrealistic.  Sort of how Bart Simpson has been the same age for over 20 years…

    I digress.  Changes was such a monumental book that any follow up would be difficult, despite the fact that a follow up was clearly necessary.  Ghost Story does a good job of being that follow up novel, and sets the continued path for the series moving forward.  Is it as action packed as many of the other stories, no.  Does that change the feel of the story, it sure does.  In the long term will I appreciate this story for the complexity it adds to the character and the series, probably.  So I think it’s a good addition, and one which I’ll probably appreciate more later, but at the moment it feels as though something was missing, a little je ne sais quoi.

    Regardless you should read it, and the other 12 books, and the various short stories, novellas, and anthologies with related tales.  It’s worth the effort.

    P.S.  How cool of a Halloween costume would it be to go as Harry Dresden?  And what are the odds that anyone would actually recognize who you were dressed as?

    Ghost Story


    2011 - 08.21

    Picked up Ghost Story by Jim Butcher from the library today.  Karin gets to read it first, yup, the ways to prove your love.  Anyway, if you want to get in line (since Karin will likely finish it tonight) let us know.

    Books, books, BOOKS!!!


    2011 - 08.07

    I bet that the title of this post gets Karin all excited ;-)

    Just checking out my holds at the Burnaby Public Library (BPL), and looks like I’m in a good place for most of them, and will be getting them soon:

    Karin will like that it’s possible that I’ll have some of these books by the time she’s back from her vacation.  She might not like that I may have already started reading them (and despite the fact she reads way faster, we have a standing rule: if someone has already started reading the book you have to wait until they are finished.  No Poaching! or “Book-jacking” as we sometimes call it).  However, I’ll have missed her so much I might let her read them first (assuming I even have them yet).  Then again right now I’m on page 97/994 of The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two) so I might not even be finished that by the time she’s back.

    This appeals to one of our readers (e.g. me), so here’s a couple of videos:

    Patrick Rothfuss Interviews Jim Butcher at San Diego Comic Con 2011: No Ghost Story spoilers, but there is a Changes spoiler around 10:50, you have been warned.  [I haven't actually listened to it yet]

    Jim Butcher Interviews Patrick Rothfuss at San Diego Comic Con 2011: Don’t know if there are spoilers as I haven’t listened to it yet.

    Patrick Rothfuss also appears in Writing Excuses, in particular Episode 1.32.