<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
It's Official

I've moved my blog. Yes, to LiveJournal. Yes, I used to hate LJ too, but now I don't; we all learn to cope.

For the longest time, I attempted to maintain both the blogspot and LJ versions (thinking that the blogspot blog was temporary until I could get it housed properly on my website again). But I now notice that the few posts I made during September were all on LJ, and I didn't mention Waking City here at all. This is most definitely A Sign.

So, I am now here: http://ksumnersmith.livejournal.com/

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:45 AM (0) comments

Thursday, August 17, 2006
Fountain of Youth

Carly sent me this link yesterday, discussing David Copperfield's recent announcement that he had found the actual, literal Fountain of Youth on one of his private islands in the Bahamas.

No beating around the bush, that David Copperfield. He doesn't want to start out with any wishy-washy claim of finding healing waters or therapeutic springs. No, he goes for the big claim immediately, striking while the iron is hot and any kind of proof is nonexistent.

My favourite part is where he says:

"I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting."

I'm very glad that he put the Fountain of Youth to this very rigorous leaf and insect observational testing.

Carly adds: "Also, how is he finding all the bugs that are near-death? Is there a bug hospice I'm not aware of?"

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:44 PM (1) comments

Monday, August 14, 2006

After nearly two weeks of what was obviously not just a head cold, I finally gave in and went to a walk-in clinic today. I was hoping -- oh, how I was hoping -- for antibiotics. It is not often that one thinks, "Please let me have an ear infection," but I was at the point I just wanted to have something curable; for there to be something I could take to feel better. No more aching head, no more sinus pain, no more sore throat, no more congested ears that make it sound like the whole world has fallen down a well.

Only to be told that I have a particularly nasty virus, and that I'll just have to wait it out. "Grr," I said, and bought some crazy timbits. (Okay, so they're loukomades, but "crazy timbits" seems to sum them up nicely. You know, if you're Canadian and/or happen to understand the word "timbit".)

At least I've had good things to read: Michell Sagara West's new Luna book, the fourth Harry Dresden book, five collected editions of Fables (which brings me up to issue 41 or so in one fabulous go), and James Patterson's two Maximum Ride YA novels. My thigh-high stacks of books on the floor are soon no longer going to be my "to read" piles; they're just going to be bookshelf overflow.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 8:59 PM (1) comments

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Why Are(n't) You Listening?

Thank the powers that be for Enter the Haggis, their new album, and the geniuses that invented streaming media.

It's hour god-only-knows-what of my weekend writing/revision fun for this RFS response for work (due tomorrow, of course, and have people sent me the promised materials that I need? No, of course not), and right now the loud music is the only thing that's keeping me going. I enjoy many of the songs, but I currently have "Lancaster Gate" and "New Monthly Flavour" on constant repeat. (The latter of which took me a few plays to get, but now has been stuck in my head for two days straight. If it's the same damn song, why are you listening? Dun-dun-da-da-da-da.)

I swear, there will come a time when I can do things like read a book, or watch DVDs, or write, or make sparkly things, or write up this stack of critiques, or do any bloody thing that does not involve me typing the words "iterative" or "Ministry" or "Shore's strategic analysis and development team" over and over like some response-writing machine. Until that day ... fiddle and bass, bagpipe and pounding beat, keep me strong.


Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:24 PM (1) comments

Friday, July 07, 2006
Good Things
Or, Reasons I'm Exhausted and Incoherent

Saturday morning I went to see a free preview screening of Superman Returns. This meant no sleeping in, no breakfast, and a good deal of rushing around to make it to the 9:30 AM screening.

I will be good: see, no spoilers here at all. Not a one. Not even about the part where...

It was well worth seeing, I think. I left the theatre feeling happy and excited and chattering happily about various events, and considering the no sleep/no food/rushing around thing mentioned earlier -- in addition to some irritating individuals who whispered through much of the movie -- this is not an inconsiderable compliment. No, I’m not running about yelling "BEST MOVIE EVER!!!" I will, however, say somewhat loudly that it was "QUITE ENJOYABLE!!"

Following the movie, I went down to Bakka. Officially I was there to attend the book launch of North of Infinity II (which I remember submitting a story to, waaaay back when it was first open to submissions in 1998), which was very well attended and had some great authors there signing copies; but the real reason is that I wanted to hang out with the folks that work there and eat some fabulous cookies.

At some point early in the afternoon, Leah and Simone found a package of A Scanner Darkly swag -- including, to our delight, fake tattoos each with a blue/purple flower (which I call cheerful, and Leah has deemed creepy) and either DOOM, DESPAIR, DEATH or DESERTION written beneath. These proved to be irresistible.

The conversations in the bathroom as these tattoos were applied were quite fantastic.

"Aah, my death broke! Can someone get me another death?"

"Hang on, hang on, that doom needs longer. It hasn't been 30 seconds yet."

"Yay, despair! My despair makes me so happy. Look at it there, all pretty."

My despair has actually stayed with me, sitting nicely on my shoulder through three showers and considerable abuse. It's tough stuff, this despair.

I also nabbed a couple of passes to see the free preview of A Scanner Darkly next week, so yay for that, too!

Sunday I was just plain exhausted and incoherent.

Monday was just Monday, until the evening when I went with Sarah, Jana and Chris to see the taping of an interview with John Howe, artist and illustrator, who is probably best known for his work on the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The interview was conducted by Canadian fantasy author Caitlin Sweet.

John Howe is one of those people who talks quietly and intensely about the work that he loves so much, and does so in such a way that you can't help but become caught up in not only his narrative, but his passion as well. "I could draw," I found myself thinking. "Of course I could draw. I could paint, too. I should paint!" Etc.

Problem is, I'd want to do all these things well -- well as in "as well as John Howe" -- and that's not only foolish, it's frankly impossible. Because wow, is he ever talented.

The interview ended a little after 10 PM, and as I stumbled out of the studio (still rather exhausted and incoherent) I thought to myself, "Oh good, time to go home and sleep. I might even make it home before midnight..."

Which, of course, is when Caitlin and Chris said, "Hey, we're going to go out with John for drinks. Wanna come?"

Now really, why on earth would I say no to that? There are some things for which I'll gladly lose sleep.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:20 AM (1) comments

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Why I Should Never Dye My Hair Blonde

So, not so terribly long ago, I helped Sarah pack and move. (She has posted quite a bit about this, whereas I have posted very little about anything at all, to the point where I let my birthday go by without the briefest mention. Such is life.)

Now Sarah found many strange and interesting things in little hidden corners of the old apartment, one of which was a wig. A blonde wig. A short, cute little bob of a blonde wig.

Which I, of course, promptly put on my head and wore for long periods of time while helping to pack boxes. It was very hot and humid during the day-of-packing, and wearing a wig, I discovered, was much like having a big woolen hat on your head -- except it's rather more fun, and causes a much more entertaining reaction from unsuspecting friends.

"You know," I said, after seeing myself in the mirror, "wearing this wig makes me want to make this face." And I demonstrated.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:12 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Random Conversation of the Day

Person: I could see you being a really good advice columnist.

Me: Nah. All my advice would boil down to "Stop being a dumbass."

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:31 PM (0) comments

Thursday, June 01, 2006
(Because "Anthooooology!" doesn't sound quite as fun)

Just got an email from Chris at BakkaPhoenix – they have Children of Magic in stock!! This has made a very frantic, very confused, very busy day much happier.

Book! With my story!! In stores!! (Really, this never gets old. Does it? I hope not.)

Anyway, in celebration, I’m finally going to post a copy of a starred review that the book received in Publisher’s Weekly (and which I’ve been keeping quiet about for way, way too long, as far as I’m concerned):

Seventeen original stories about young people learning to use magical
powers, both in fantasy worlds and our own, come together in this strong
anthology featuring such writers as Alan Dean Foster, Nancy Holder, Jane
Lindskold and Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Unlike most theme anthologies, almost all
the contributors make good on the premise. Standouts include “Touching
Faith” by Alexander B. Potter, in which an odd little boy investigates TV
faith healing and brain scans as he attempts to come to grips with his gift;
“An End To All Things,” Karina Sumner-Smith’s eerie revelation of a world of
both dark and bright magic; “After School Specials” by Tanya Huff, a hip,
funny look at contemporary wizardry; Sarah A Hoyt’s “Titan,” a twisted tale
of a young Leonardo da Vinci; and a darker glimpse of an alternate
Renaissance Italy in Fiona Patton’s “The Trade.” Strong writing, a love for
the topic and a commitment to crafting short fiction that works make this
collection a real gem.

I can’t wait to see it – though I hope that the cover is less frightening in person than the picture on Amazon would suggest. When I showed Carly that image, it made her scream. New tagline: Children of Magic are coming to get you!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:11 PM (0) comments

Thursday, May 11, 2006
Structure and Story-Shape: A Show of Hands, Please

So I have tried and tried and tried to explain to people what I perceive as "story-shape," which is central to my experience of writing and understanding fiction. I once discussed the concept with Michelle for something like three hours straight and still, I think, confused her with my poor attempt to put it into words. The closest I've come is a list: story-shape is visual (intensely so, at times), and it's also a sense, and a sensation of movement or of stillness, and a feeling of density, and an intuiting of direction, and like touching an object in the dark. Sometimes all at once. And also rather like none of those things, because it's itself and those are only analogies.

To tell the truth, I sort of shut up about the whole thing and continued on with my life, never mentioning it until I end up telling someone in a critique that their ending is coiled too tightly, while the middle is lopsided and sort of swampy, while I love the rolling-wave movement of scene three (or something to that effect).

And then, in the middle of a normal LJ-reading thing, I come across this line in an interesting post by Elizabeth Bear regarding "broken" books:

When you hold the book in your head, give it a spin on a fingertip, and you can see it wobble because the center of gravity is off somehow.

And that's it. Sarah, how many times have you heard me complaining about spinning a story and having it wobble?

Does anyone else experience this?

And maybe Bear's experience and mine diverge at that point, but it made me wonder: what if my story-shape thing isn't so odd after all? Or maybe my experience is only mildly odd in comparison to the great weirdness contained in other authors' brains.

How do you experience story structure?

ETA: All the talk is at the livejournal version of this blog. Go here.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:42 PM (0) comments

Monday, May 08, 2006
It's already come to this...

In a recent meeting, there was a conversation that went something like this:

Anonymous Individual #1: And he said, "Why use JSF when you can design the same functionality in struts?"

Anonymous Individual #2: What kind of excuse is that?!

Anonymous Individual #1: I know! I mean, you could design the same functionality in Clipper ...!

And then I laughed. Because this was funny. Yes, the thought of someone creating a Clipper application was downright hilarious. This is what working for an IT consulting firm does to a girl.

I worry about myself sometimes.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:55 PM (0) comments

Thursday, April 27, 2006
In Which I Ramble About a Signing

So this past weekend I attended another signing. I was one of a good list of authors in attendance at Forster's Book Garden in Bolton for their celebration of Independent Booksellers Day. The big names in attendance were people like Kelley Armstrong and YA fantasy author J. Fitzgerald McCurdy and local 5-Minute Mysteries celeb Ken Weber, but there were many other authors in attendance, including authors of biographies and golfing books and yoga books and a small press publisher and more.

And, you know, me.

It was a long event, but definitely worthwhile attending. There were lots of great people to chat with, authors and readers alike, and I had quite a few fantastic conversations over the course of the afternoon. Plus, I think I managed to sell something like 15 copies of Mythspring, which I have to say adds up to a good stack of books and is quite enough to make me happy. Truthfully, I would have been happy so long as I sold something, but people were really interested by the concept of the anthology when they stopped to talk with me (or else were being very kind and willing to shell out $23 for their kindness), which pleased me no end.

My favourite conversation of the afternoon, though, was with a young author. She was interested in writing herself -- fantasy, actually -- though she said that she was too young to try to get published and seemed rather sad about this fact. I told her a little bit about my background -- how I decided to be a writer when I was 13, started submitting to magazines just after my 15th birthday, and sold my first short story when I was 17. I told her how very much rejection sucks, and that there will be a lot of it, and a bit about some online resources and that authors get paid to be published, not the other way around. And when her mother came by and said, "Too bad she's too young to be published," I told her the same thing.

"Of course it's possible!" I said. "It's hard -- sometimes really hard -- but if it's what you love, it's worth it." The change in her expression as we talked ... that's the highlight for me. It was like I'd opened a window to the outside and her face was suddenly bright with sunlight.

I don't know ... people talk about giving back to new authors. And I think of all the advice and help I've received from authors farther along from me. I'm hardly old and not even close to being established, and yet I think I get it. Because for that moment, I felt like I'd actually done something worthwhile. Better than selling books, better than signing books, better even that seeing my name in print.

Ah, well. Anyway, people said that by the end I was looking pretty tired. I'm sure that this was true. However, the full truth is that in addition to being tired from all the talking and interaction required of an author at a four-hour event (and an introverted author at that), I was getting very sick, and had no cold medication, and had about worn away all my energy making sure I didn't look sick at all, not even a little. Sick? Who, me? Surely you must be thinking of someone else. I was just worn out from all that chatting and looking pretty in my green skirt, not spreading illness, oh no.

And if no one knows that the first thing I did upon getting to my parents house was swallow a handful of Advil and sinus medication, then so much the better.

Okay, so this is the bit where I have to apologize. To my two former high school classmates with whom I chatted and ate donuts and drank tea after the signing, but whom I shall not name here for fear of being weird and creepy in a public online space: I am sorry if I made you sick. I did not mean to, truly. Also, by "sick" I mean "sick with a cold," not "repulsed by my presence." While the first I will apologize for quite sincerely, I'd rather not know about the latter.

Actually, it was great to see two people that I'd spent so many of my school years with -- and even better to get a chance to just sit down and talk without worrying about high school politics and who's friends with whom or any of that nonsense, just chat and be people and drink tea. Definitely good times. Thank you both for coming and saying hi to me, and no, I won't mention that you bought all the new Kelley Armstrong books before I'd gotten a chance to get over there. Nope, nope, you won't hear me saying that at all.

And now, because of the aforementioned sickness (which has had me home from work two days this week), I'm stumbling back to bed.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:15 PM (1) comments

Monday, April 17, 2006
The Life Reclamation Project

So, last week was really bad for me. Simply put, my day job make a major move to complete its mission to take over my life (a mission that went into high gear these past three weeks) and very nearly succeeded. I actually created a new way to answer the question, "How are you?" Instead of bothering with words, I simply mimed stabbing myself in the neck with a pen. (Depending on my mood, there was also sometimes a dramatic death scene. Absence of death scene was a Bad Sign.)

However, my minor breakdown Thursday afternoon (which I managed to shut down about five seconds before it became a spectacular breakdown by leaving the room entirely) proved to me one very important thing: this can't continue. One should not feel like curling up and a ball and bursting into tears on an ordinary Thursday afternoon. Death scenes, dramatic or otherwise, should not become a regular feature of an office environment.

I don't want to quit and I'm not asking for more money; I just want -- need -- my life back. I can't keep staying late at the office, and taking work home, and working weekends. I must have room to do something other than eat, sleep and work. Like, say, write a book. And see and talk to and email my friends and family. And make jewellery, and write blog posts, and read books, and all those other things that have almost vanished from my life this month. This is my day job; it is not my career and it is not my reason for being.

Enough. There have been some discussions at work. My Life Reclamation project has begun.

Wish me luck.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:31 PM (0) comments

Thursday, April 06, 2006
Ad Astra Con Report 2006

Is this a con report? Why yes, yes it is. And here I thought I'd proven myself capable of only promising to deliver con reports, and failing utterly in the follow-through. Though now I remember why I never get around to writing and posting con reports: I write too much, and so they're loooong.

So yes, this past weekend was Ad Astra, my most favourite of local cons. And this year, I was attending as not only a local writer and fan, but also as half of Stellar Magpie, the sparkly corporate entity that had entered a pile of jewellery in the art show. So as not to duplicate info, the Stellar Magpie con report is here.

Anyway, after an early morning (arriving at work at 7:50, blech), a hectic day and a desperate scramble to get everything ready, plus a flurry of activity at the art show, the con itself actually begun. Pausing at the Bakka table to say hi to Chis and Leah and Simone, and eat some of their most wonderful sandwiches, I thought I'd just check out the official description for my first and only panel that evening, one called "Hard Fantasy" -- in essence, a panel that discussed whether or not magic in fantasy should have rules and internal consistency. (Um, this is something we need to debate?) Tired as I was, I was happy that this was one panel that I didn't have to moderate; my plan was to provide pithy remarks and sarcastic commentary, and otherwise let the moderator run the show.

I found the description. I was the moderator. I had not been notified.

I think I swore.

So, while Sarah ran off to her sex panel, I curled up at the back of the Bakka table and began to take notes. I kept nodding off. Finally, in frustration I turned to Leah and said, "What would you ask?" Leah went off on a tangent as I took notes, until I came upon a better solution and invited Leah to crash the panel.

Good thing I did. Leah is hereby voted best panel-crasher ever. She debated with Lorne and other-panelist Alexander, while I stood back and attempted to direct the destruction. I verbally poked and prodded to spark interesting debates, then giggled to myself as the volume rose (and whispered occasionally to Leah, "You're going to attack now, right?")

Favourite panel moments: "The first rule of Babysitter's Club is you do not talk about Babysitter's Club. The second rule of Babysitter's Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT BABYSITTER'S CLUB!" tied with "Okay, so you’re combing your hair with elephants ..."

There was then a meet and greet. I met. I greeted. I was devastated when the container with the hot water for tea proved to be empty, then laughed aloud when another container of hot water (originally masquerading as coffee) presented itself. I realized I was falling asleep. So, gathering Sarah, we retreated to her apartment.

"You know you're exhausted," I said, collapsing onto the thin mattress of the travel cot, "when a cot feels this good." Then I was asleep.

Day two dawned overcast and chilly, but at least it wasn't raining, so that was something. I decided to wear my most kickass new necklace, a purchase I'd made only days before at the One of a Kind craft show. (Currently voted Best Purchase in a Long Time, despite the price, as it's so very me, and garnered more comments during this one day than any other jewellery I've yet owned.)

We arrived early for Sarah's 10:00 panel, "Getting Them Hooked Early," which I caught the very end of -- in time to hear Sarah talk about something I've discussed more than once, which is how for the younger generation of SF readers our first memories of space travel are not landing on the moon but rather the Challenger explosion -- or, in the generation after us, likely Columbia. (I am always most impressed with the reaction that this causes in older male SF writers, which I can only describe as shock.) Then time for my panel on "The Pros and Cons of Workshops" (which I was not scheduled to be in as far as I knew -- it wasn't mentioned to me as one of my panels, and I wasn't listed as a panelist in the book, but it was there on the back of my badge and so I said okay and went).

It wasn't as lively as the panel the night before, but still interesting enough, I'd say, though I doubt anything particularly groundbreaking was said. In the end, this was a good panel for me as I got a chance to meet-in-person and talk to Tobias Buckell, who I hadn't known was coming. (I was also unsure of whether he'd remember me at all, seeing as I didn't think he'd reached the rule of three that I apparently have -- someone has to meet or have three discussions with me before I am at all memorable. Then you're stuck with me. It's rather odd, but generally true.)

The Mythspring launch came next, which ended up being one of the highlights of the con for me. This was a public launch held in a rather large room (part of the ballroom) and the place was packed. Genevieve was able to come, which was wonderful, especially as she pitched the idea to Julie at Ad Astra in that very hotel two years earlier. Each of the authors gave a short reading, of which I think mine made a good attempt at being the shortest reading, but damn, "Safe Passage" is a hard story to read from aloud. Rumour has it that there were cookies and that they were delicious; however, I didn't have a chance to claim one before we were pushed from the room, books in hand and already having stolen ten minutes from Guy Gavriel Kay's reading.

Sarah Zettel had a book party, and with scones and tea and gingerbread, which I called fantastic and also my lunch. And there were free books! I'm not usually an Arthurian fantasy kind of gal, but she explained a little what these three were about, and now I'm interested to give them a read. They're right near the top of The Stack, right below my copies of His Majesty’s Dragon and Bryn's Doppelganger, and probably just above Cordelia's Honor and Dreams Made Flesh. (For those keeping track.)

I also had a reading scheduled for the afternoon ... which wasn't listed in the program book. (See a trend?) So I spoke to concom, who were lovely and apologetic and said that they'd just posted signs to let people know that I had a reading that afternoon. Which was fine and great until I found one of those signs, and it said my reading was at 3:30, rather than 4:30. And thus began my quest to track down all the reading signs and correct them. (The guy who was actually reading at 3:30 was rather relieved to see me correct this, as he'd been quite confused.) The reading itself went very well, and I had a decent crowd despite the mix-up. I read from "An End to All Things" because of the snarky dialog. I was also quite nervous, but am assured that it didn't show. Much.

Dinner was Julie Czerneda's pizza party, where I proceeded to eat my portion of pizza out of crusts alone. (Thank you again to everyone who kindly donated their crusts to my very hungry, non-dairy self.) Though this meant that I had a massive lump of dough in my belly as a major meal, I was happy, as a gigantic lump of dough is rarely something that my stomach protests. There were also handmade truffles, thanks to Lorne, who regretfully informed me that he'd made them with 35% cream. So I only ate one.

For the first time out of all the Ad Astras that I've attended, I finally got to see Heather Dale's performance -- and promptly became obsessed with her song "Exile." I've been singing it for five days straight. Thanks to Ruth's help, I rushed out and got a couple of CDs. The masquerade was ... masquerade-y, and my view was not at all obstructed by Don Bassie's head or his rather fluffy hair -- but only because he had to straddle two chairs to keep it that way. (Thanks, Don!)

We also held the latest installment of the Fireside Reading Series, the tradition began at WFC in Arizona when Ruth and I didn't want to go to crowded parties but instead curled up by a fire and read each other stories. We had a good crowd, all gathered together in Sarah, Jana and my hotel room. I ended up reading my Clarion blues poem, which I still can't get through without cracking up at least three times, and which was well-received by everyone there. (I was relieved, I admit. I had no idea if it'd still be funny four and a half years later.)

Sunday, I was running out of energy, much as I am now writing this con report. I went to James Alan Gardner's reading of his story from Mythspring, which was hilarious. And I had a panel at 1:00 on "How to Sabotage Your Own Writing" (because you can't think of enough ways to sabotage your work on your own, and thus need panelists' help), which I moderated. This was, I think, my favourite panel of the con, because it was relaxed, funny and kept moving.

There was a lot of programming that I wanted to see and couldn't -- readings especially -- and, as usual, I wished I could have had more time to talk to certain individuals, but overall, a great time.

Then I went home. The end. ::whew::

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:11 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
As the afternoon ticks away...

So, waiting for contractors to send me their timesheets so that I can send invoices to provincial Ministries before fiscal year end (a fascinating process, let me assure you), I decided that I’d much rather not do work than actually do work, despite my location, and so have spent this afternoon delving into my old Bloglines subscriptions, greeting them all like old friends. And somehow my tangent took me to the Pinko Marketing wiki, which is entertaining despite the fact that I have nothing to which I can apply the concepts at the moment, which took me to various other blogs, and eventually to the discovery that there is a conference here in Toronto this May called mesh – a web 2.0 conference.

Oh joy! I cried, envisioning myself hearing interesting speakers and participating in workshops and seeing delightful new online tools, while not having to explain or have explained to others in the audience words like “blog” and “wiki” and “RSS.” (Please note that the cry of "Oh joy!" should be taken merely as a way of explaining my enthusiasm rather than an actual utterance. I am, after all, at work and have a reputation to maintain.)

After all, in the long run my geek-marketing self is not fooled by all this tech-geek jabber that I feed to it on a daily basis. Reading technical resumes, my geekish heart informs me, is not even remotely exhilarating. (While the SF/F geek part of me wishes I’d just go back to reading my book already, the writer-geek is pondering ways to nearly drown characters for maximum effect, and the rest of me is trying to convince someone to go down to Tim Horton’s and pick me up a tea and an apple fritter, already.)

The discovery that this joyful conference would cost me $350 stopped me cold. $350 for two days? Um … no. Sadly, but no.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:25 PM (1) comments

Sunday, March 26, 2006
So ... very ... tired ...

I can think of many good ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. None of them, however, involve me spending all afternoon and a chunk of the evening alone in the office doing work, which is, of course, what I did today.

I shouldn't complain; it needed doing, and I was the only one who could do it, so. Yeah. Two gigantic cups of tea and a box of Timbits were very necessary to help me through the day. Now I find myself inexplicably craving a pork chop and potato salad. I think my body's in shock.

I'll admit, I'm a little worried about how I'll get through this week. Despite sleeping 12+ hours on Friday and Saturday, I'm still falling asleep anytime I stop moving.

"I'll just read my book on the couch," I say, "just for a little ... zzzzz."

"Oh, look, a cold metal bench where ... zzzzzz."

"Why aren't we moving? Stairs are for walking, people. Let's get .... zzzzzz."

Also: what on earth is it with me and crazy people on the subway? Carly unfailingly sees attractive guys when she travels by TTC; I, however, am always stuck with someone some kind of crazy. And, sadly, my crazy-power overwhelms her attractive-power anytime we travel together.


Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 8:35 PM (0) comments

Mythspring Launch

So this Thursday was the long-awaited launch of Mythspring: From the Lyrics and Legends of Canada, held at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the Lillian H. Smith library downtown. This was an invite-only event -- mainly family and close friends of the authors and editors.

I arrived early and starving, having eaten barely anything at the chaotic mess that is my day job at the moment, and promptly became far too jittery to do more than look longingly at the piles of cookies, bars and chocolate-covered strawberries. Took me a bit to relax enough to stop feeling like a total twit, but once we were rolling everything was fantastic.

I was joined by fellow authors Karin Lowachee (who agreed that our names and their spellings are the best), Mark Ladouceur, Lorne Kates and Roben Goodfellow, editor Julie Czerneda, and then the star of the show, author/editor Genevieve Kierans.

Gen, for those who don't know, is a fabulous author who attended Clarion the same year as I did. She also has ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, which is just about as mean a disease as I can imagine. This anthology was her idea, her brainchild, and to be honest, I think my biggest contribution to Mythspring is not my story, but the fact that I was able to introduce Gen to Julie and give her the opportunity to pitch the concept. Quite literally, this anthology is the realization of a dream she's had for years.

There were a few delays as Gen arrived at the event and her friends and family helped her get set up, but the point was that she could be there at all, and no one minded the wait at all. After a few group pictures, Julie introduced the authors, had us say a little about our stories (and shouted before I could give any spoilers for mine, creating a situation far funnier than anything I could have said, anyway), then read a piece from Genevieve's first story in the anthology, "Mirror, Mirror."

And throughout, we signed books -- boxes and boxes of books. Most interestingly, I signed books for Liam Neeson, Phil Collins and Loreena McKinnett -- seriously. Not that any of them were there, but the books were theirs nonetheless. I was ... somewhat taken aback.

Julie has pictures of the event up at her website, kindly taken and posted by lovely photographer husband Roger. They're great shots, actually, which capture the feeling of the launch very well -- other than that one in which I appear to be holding an invisible grapefruit, of which I am not too fond for rather obvious reasons.

Also, just so you know, I'm totally in love with the skirt I wore to the launch (and my boots, my lovely boots!). Yes, important things.

Launch #2 -- the public launch -- is being held at Ad Astra this coming weekend, on Saturday at 12:00, during the time when the convention is free to everyone so feel free to stop by, even if you're not buying a membership. And hopefully, by then, I'll have had time to read the rest of the anthology!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:09 AM (0) comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006
Chatty Geeks Wanted

Anyone in the Toronto area interested in working for an IT consulting company as a recruiter? My consulting company, to be specific -- which, I can attest, is a strange and interesting place. No experience necessary (to which I can also attest -- an IT consultant? Me? Apparently). The working environment is casual, busy, at times chaotic, with lots of freedom and frequent chatter. The core of the company? Six guys and myself.

What we're looking for:

(All of which I would summarize as a smart, geeky individual who likes to talk.)

If you’re interested or would like more info, send me an email: ksumnersmith [AT] shorecg [DOT] com. And if you're not interested … carry on, nothing to see here.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:12 PM (0) comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006
Five Habits Meme, via Elaine

(Weeks late, yes, but answered nonetheless.)

1. I name my cars. Sometimes I name other people's cars, too. I don't think that cars are alive, though it's clear that different vehicles have different mechanical personalities -- a rattling noise, a sticky lock, a fanbelt that just won't stop squeaking. And yet I find it comforting. The car and I, we can be partners driving at 120 kilometers an hour down the 427; just the two of us against the pavement and the rain.

2. I don't leave the house without at least two tissues. Such things are required when one has a nose like mine. And yet it causes difficulties on days when I wear a skirt.

3. I can be bored by my own hunger. Sometimes I feel that if I just ignore it long enough, it'll go away and let me get on with things already. This is usually a problem at those times when I haven't been grocery shopping for about three weeks and cannot face a meal of tuna on crackers, or freezer-burned bread crusts, or a lone boiled egg and a pickle.

4. I prefer to sit crosslegged, even in chairs or on airplanes or when curled up on my own couch. It is better, somehow, than having my feet on the floor; more comforting, perhaps, and warmer.

5. I save things: chocolate, letterhead paper, a particular colour of sparkly bead, an earring box. Because though I want to eat the chocolate now, just think of how much more delicious it will be later; and if I use all the paper, then it won't be special, it'll only be gone; and if I wait to use the beads then surely I'll think of something even more beautiful; and though it's only clutter now, perhaps I'll find a use for that box one day and then I'll be so glad that I kept it. I have to remind myself to take joy in things now, that not everything needs a contingency plan, and that sometimes it's better to just let things go.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:30 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, February 28, 2006
2006: Year of Change

I said at the end of last year that I thought 2006 was going to be a year of change. Which didn't necessarily mean that it would all be easy or fun or even always good, but that things would generally be changing in a positive direction.

And I think that so far I've been right. If only I'd truly comprehended my own caveat of "not easy or fun or even always good."

My job is keeping me busy. I like my job, and I think that someday I'll honestly be able to say that I love my job -- when I feel like I've finally got a handle on things, and am not constantly scrambling to reach a basic level of competency. (I am smart, and though I may not know much about IT, I know how to put together a good compound sentence, dammit. However, I absolutely refuse to like jazz. Can't make me.) This week has been calmer at the office, as we rest in a lull between proposal flurries, and hear good news about proposals that we've won. (Winning is good. As is the income that follows a win.) At any rate, it's clearly far better for me than working for the Career Centre ever was, and generally quite enjoyable.

I'm still trying to figure out how to balance everything, though -- the needs of Karina the IT Consultant with the growing requirements of Stellar Magpie (at least no one ever told me that running a business was easy) and ever-present Writer Karina, not mention just plain me, the one who has to clean the house and do the dishes and has a strange and inexplicable craving for donuts.

I think it's telling that I don't want to lose any of those things -- no, not even the craving for donuts. (... Mmm, donuts ...) I think I'm heading in the right direction, somehow, even if I'm doing so with my usual flair for dekeing and getting ridiculously lost along the way.

And there are health-related things that are going on right now with me, with my family and with certain friends -- and I just wrote a very long entry about it all, which I find I don't have the courage to post. In no small measure, I think, because talking about it takes me away from the only way that I feel I have of dealing with such things right now: avoidance. Let me curl up in this corner with a book and the bad things will go away. Let me make sparkly things until my hands ache and then fall into bed, oblivious. Let me sleep and sleep and sleep until my alarm goes (far too early, always too early), and do it all again.

All of which means if you're not in a position to run into me in person, you probably haven't heard from me much, if at all. I'm sorry. Truly, and I can't say how much. At times when I desperately just need to talk, I somehow still can't face the open email window. Or maybe it's not that I need to talk, but rather just to listen -- which would be why, when a friend called, I kept her on the phone for over five hours, telling me story after story so I wouldn't feel alone.

(Hmm, perhaps I should rename this entry. "Karina is Confused: Please Tell Her a Story" seems a good replacement.)

Ah, well, in the long run I think it's better than being bored, even if I do long for the quiet joy that was the summer of unemployment. And there are many things that have been making me happy. Going to the bead show with Sarah this weekend and buying many wonderful, sparkly things. Going with my dad to the car show, critiquing paint colours and pretending that I could possibly drive lovely things like Minis and convertible hardtop Volvos and the like. Reviews that say my writing doesn't suck. Unexpected surprises in the mail. Donuts.

Anyway, lots of things coming up in the near future including the launch of Mythspring, Ad Astra (including a second launch for Mythspring, plenty of panels, and an appearance for Stellar Magpie in the art show), a reading/signing at Forster's Book Garden in Bolton, a probably-meeting with another possible jewelry seller, and ... the increasingly pressing need to buy a calendar.

Plus, I'm slowly building my new website, filling in content bit by bit, and honestly planning to help Sarah a little more with the Stellar Magpie site (which now has its own domain!). Really. You know, sometime.

2006, year of change. I just wish these years came with crash helmets.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:29 PM (0) comments

Sunday, February 26, 2006
Octavia E. Butler

I just read the news that Octavia Butler died yesterday, at the age of 58. This news made me gasp, and cover my mouth with my hands. I never had the privilege of meeting Ms. Butler, but I can say without hesitation that she is my favourite author.

I started reading Octavia Butler's novels when I was perhaps fifteen -- shortly after the time when I read Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, in which he uses the first few paragraphs of Butler's Wild Seed as an example of how to write an intriguing opening to a novel. And he was right, because those few paragraphs absolutely captured me -- and thus began my quest to find this elusive novel, Wild Seed. I had to cross a border to do it, eventually finding the book in a store in Florida. Her other novels were all also there, and I remember thinking, "Perhaps I should buy more." But never having read an Octavia Butler novel, I didn't know if I'd like it or not, never mind if I'd want to own them all.

I fell in love with Wild Seed, and with it the works of Octavia E. Butler as a whole. I regretted not buying every single one of those books when I could, and spent years combing through odd stores trying to find the rest of her novels. (My novel-buying opportunities were sadly few when I was a teenager, Bolton noticeably lacking a bookstore and my trips to The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto limited to once a year.) I shouted with glee when I at last found a copy of the long-searched-for novel Kindred, and laughed when I discovered a hidden copy of her short story collection.

Dawn and its sequels kept me up far too late time after time throughout high school, the hours before dawn becoming fewer as I said to myself, "One more chapter, just one more." Discovery of the publication of a new novel -- Parable of the Talents -- had me watching the calendar for months, with notes written to myself as reminders of its approaching arrival liberally sprinkled about my desk (as if I could forget).

Even my years-long search for her first novel, Survivor, was eventually rewarded. Someone finally posted a copy of a first edition paperback for $2.50 on ABE Books, clearly not knowing what they had (or that other booksellers were parting with their copies for about ten times that amount, at least). It still has an honoured place in my book collection.

I stumbled across her newest novel quite by accident. I was only supposed to buy one book before I was again employed, and that book was The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 18. Yet when I went to pick up my copy, there on the floor in Bakka were hardcovers just being unpacked from their shipping box: a whole beautiful stack of the hardcover Fledgling. I shouted something incoherent, grabbed a copy and hugged it to my chest. (Yes, sadly, there were witnesses.) Parting with $40 has never been so easy.

Finding and reading a new Octavia Butler book was always a joy. I connect with her work the way I do with the work of few other writers; I'm captured by the vivid elegance of her writing style as much as I am by her characters and her plots. Her books are not always comfortable -- in fact, perhaps one of the things I've always liked best about her work is that it forces me to think, to see things from another angle, and never allows me the easy convenience of seeing things in anything but all their varied shades of gray.

And I look at my collection of her books and am so saddened to know that those are all there will ever be. From everything I've read, Ms. Butler was not only an incredible author but an incredible woman as well. I had often hoped that perhaps one day I would have the opportunity to meet her and thank her in person for the joy that her books brought me; but I'll only ever get to know her through her fiction.

Octavia Butler was -- is -- and perhaps always will be my favourite author.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:44 PM (0) comments

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