Sunday, October 6, 2013

Can-Con 2013 Round Up

The laundry has piled disproportionately to length of time I’ve been out of the house. I’ve forgotten how the oven works. The dog doesn’t recognize me. Side effects of con-going. Worth it.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Matthew Johnson, who always takes me under his wing at cons and introduces me to nice people. That’s right, I DO know where he lives, but he doesn’t have to be so damn accommodating. I bought your book, Matthew. I’ll have to get you to sign it.

I had to keep dipping out of Can-Con proceedings (and ridiculously good panels) to actually write. And not completely fun writing, either. Work-related writing. The entire museum universe has decided, all at once, that I must produce text. By Monday. So be it.

Even so, I managed to sneak in a couple of panels, a beer (thanks Chizine!), a quickly eaten meal at the con suite, and some great conversations “on the margin” (as I was taught to say at International Branch).

·      Perfectly awesome panel on blog tours. I learned so much. Thanks, Linda Poitevin.
·      Meeting a wonderful young man in the con suite, who told me about his musician half-brother, what it was like to be 15 years old, and how the mean kids from last year weren’t at school this year.
·      Panel on spirit possession/influence, in many permutations. Insightful dialogue between panelists Kate Heartfield, DerekNewman-Stille, and Sean Moreland. Why you go to these things in the first place.
·      Discussing feminism with Violette Malan. The only thing that would have made it better was more coffee.

·      Missing Marie Bilodeau’s paper airplane extravaganza. I had a cold, and it caught up with me. That’s not really an excuse, because I know vodka would have straightened a great many things out.
·      Work interfering with life.
·      My bio didn’t make it to the panelist list on the website. This makes me sad.

Thanks, con organizers. It’s a shit ton of work, so I hope you (all) got to enjoy it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dry Socket and Other Scary Things

Even if I wanted to, I couldn't come up with two scarier words: dry socket. I'll make this part of the post brief--I had all four of my wisdom teeth out on Friday. I am an utter failure at doing pain/blood/needles etc, so I opted to be put under. Dry socket is--for those of you blessedly unaware of tooth extraction recovery--when the blood clot forming over your Gaping Wound of Former Tooth departs prematurely leaving, you guessed it, a DRY SOCKET.

I'm not saying I have a dry socket (and attendant exposed nerve/bone/pain), but I am increasingly paranoid that one of my sockets is not healing right. The internet, I'm afraid, is not my friend here, because have you ever Googled for images of "dry socket". Please, don't.

In any case, three good things have come in the aftermath of Tooth Extraction Friday the 13th (hey, it was easier to get an appointment that day):
  • Free gelato courtesy of my darling daughter's place of employment (staff get free gelato on Sundays because the shop's closed Mondays and they make it fresh daily. Celine Kiernan and I had a good time discussing what the difference between gelato and ice cream is, because all I got is air, temperature, and usual).
  • Lots and lots of Masterchef Australia. My God, why can't the American one be as good? In MCAus we get Heston Blumenthal being kind and wise while teaching us how to scramble eggs properly. In MCAmerica we get Ramsay yelling that he wants something "stunning" ad nauseum, and Bastianich spitting food out his wee pinched mouth. I'll give that limey bastard something stunning all right. Ever heard of dry socket, Gord?
  • Enough time to get re-acquainted with Twitter, FB and various friends thereon. And to make a post. And maybe to write a little bit.

Honestly, is this what it takes? Several holes in my jaw, plus exposed nerves and bone, to slow the hell down enough to write? Lesson learned. In the meantime, I'm going to have some cappuccino gelato. It's going to be stunning.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Inspiration in unlikely places

First of all, I'm supposed to be inspiring them, right? Those adorable little 12- to 14-year-olds with a passion for writing and art. A week, I have them, ostensibly to create something, to light a fire within them that will keep them warm when the summer's sun has run its course and the reality of winter--and school--has hit.

Bounced around like an eraser thrown at a wall, one girl, 15 going on 40, poisoned everything she touched, drew the other little girls to her like sparkly moths to her dark flame. "She'll find it hard to not smoke at the camp," her CAS worker confided as she dropped her off, "she's been at it for the last five years."

I watched her turn her self-loathing inside out, wear it like spiked armour. All eye rolls and sighs, tight skirts and bad home bleach. Black nail polish bitten like hot tar.  Look harder (I told myself). Feel first, judge later. The last slide show, end of camp, when all was said and done and felt: a series of pictures. Her smiling in spite of herself. I hadn't caught her in those moments, yet there they were.

Maybe she couldn't allow herself to like where she was, because she never liked where she was, and if she liked it--if she permitted herself to like it--she would feel the camp's loss more keenly when she went back to the place where she smoked and bleached and cut. "I don't want to be here," she said more than once. "I just want to do nothing. Isn't that what summer's for?"

I came home last night optimistic; hard not to when the advance cheque from SkyHorse was right there, black and white proof that life is, indeed, good. I can allow myself to enjoy the moment. It's been a long time coming.

She taught me that, even though she had not learned it herself.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Stasis. Again. Still?

So, officially, the Skyhorse-Night Shade acquisition is all signed off (read about deal here).  I'm presuming that means Dead Roads will see the light of day, but I haven't had much information. I am a cheerful, outgoing sort, so I always assume things will be all right. I kinda have to, given my relentless optimism.

Other aspects of life have been zooey, which is a distraction, from both stress and writing, but enough is enough. Yes?

So I have returned to the sequel for Dead Roads, which is right now called The Drowned Girl. All of which is making me want to hop in the car and go to Caraquet, New Brunswick, in August.

Back up a little.  Festival acadien de Caraquet, aout 1-15, ouais? Ouais. Lisa Leblanc, for crying out loud. Like to see her. I know, I know, there's plenty of festivals right here in Ottawa that will be brilliant, but the chaotic crisis climax of the second book actually happens at the Caraquet festival, so I'd like to be there.

Already the summer is filling up: I'll be in Europe for a couple of weeks in July, and I'm teaching at the summer camp first week of August, but after that? I could use a road trip, right? Right! Any takers?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Helluva town

Off to NYC tomorrow morning, mostly for nefarious purposes (i.e. eating well and maybe seeing some art), but also I will be meeting my agent.

That's right. In person. Not on the phone, or in email messages (or possibly, in my dreams/nightmares, but best not to talk about that).

It seems strange, that I haven't met this person who works so damn hard on my behalf, but I bet this is not unusual.

Looking forward to this much-needed trip. I have a stupid amount of work to get done today, but it's possible I just might get it done.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Getting Back on a (New) Horse

There's been much said about Night Shade Book's impending slide into bankruptcy, so I won't wade through the complex pros and cons here.

Suffice to say that my announced split with NSB came a couple of moments too late to gracefully pull out before the buy-out plan was announced, and that meant remaining with NSB, a house that while awesome in its ability to put out lovely books, wasn't known for its business acumen.

So, this leaves me with a potential new landlord, Skyhorse/Start. Things seem to be going in a good enough direction for me, and for my agent, to sign the deal. If the deal goes through, things look optimistic for Dead Roads to get out, since Skyhorse will want a return on its investment (i.e. me). Also, I am impressed that Skyhorse/Start revised their initial author terms after many, many writers (all of whom more experienced than I) pointed out the initial less-than-equitable terms. It shows that they're willing to listen, one can hope.

If everything goes to plan, Skyhorse/Start will be a new publisher in the SF/F genre with a cracking good catalogue. I'm tentatively happy (read: thrilled) to have meat back on the menu.

Friday, March 29, 2013

NEWS: Tricky Business

If you’ve tried buying a pre-order of Deadroads from Amazon in the last few days, you may have noticed what you thought was a glitch in the system. A weird message that read that the book was no longer available.

Do not adjust your screen. Or call Amazon.

Night Shade Books and I have parted ways. Our vision for the book started to diverge a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to make sure all the i’s were dotted before going public, so I apologize for the radio silence.

Other authors have described their goodbye with Night Shade more eloquently than I possibly could, most notably Bradley Beaulieu. 

Night Shade produces amazing books, and their authors are deserving of reader support. I am really sorry I won’t have the opportunity to work with them, particularly editor Ross Lockhart, who has recently left NSB as well.

So, what’s next? Well, rest assured, for anyone who has pre-ordered, money will be returned, first of all. As for Deadroads, it is awaiting a new publisher. My agent, Sandy, is such a huge supporter, and she works very hard on my behalf. I hope to have news soon.

I may take the same hybrid route as Bradley Beaulieu, depending on how things fall. This publishing business is changing all the time—how we find out about books, how we buy them, how we read them. Opportunity? Or challenge? Both? Both.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Also, I blogged

...but not here. I know!

I blogged over at the Qwillery, all about how I love my day job, which I could have happily strangled today, seriously. I love my clients, really I do. It's all interesting stuff, but there's too much of it. I am waiting patiently for April to arrive, because  everything will either be done by then, or not. And if it's not, I'm still off to the west coast for a visit to my aging parents, and then to NYC with my daughter and bestie, and then, oh THEN, I'm to New Orleans and I really just can't wait.

In the meantime, apparently there's a book out at some point.

Lookit, review!

"Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches." - Andy Warhol

Dead Roads is due out soonish, and in the lead up I seem to be in the middle of the busiest bit of museum-work that I've had in, oh, about five years. So I've been scattered like you wouldn't believe, in every way you can imagine.

I took yesterday off, first day off since January, but ended up going to the ER anyway, so it wasn't much of a holiday. On the other hand, I got to hang out with one of my paramedic friends for about 5 hours (and her new baby), so that was lovely.

As some of you know, the main character of Dead Roads is a paramedic, and really, I love the EMTs. They have such a great sense of humour and they love their jobs. I sing their praises! There's an advance review of Dead Roads up at Katy Sosaeva's Blog, Now is Gone. So, go read it already!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Debut Author Challenge? I'm in!

It's hard when you're just starting out. No one knows who the hell you are, and if your words are worth cash. If your words are worth time and effort and -- if you're lucky -- emotional investment. I like to think that Dead Roads will be worth all of those, but you don't know that, right?

So I'm truly thankful that blogs like The Qwillery exist. They take new authors under their wing, and try to get them noticed. It's a little like that really great person at a party who notices you standing in the corner, pretending to examine the African violet for water spots. They take you by the arm, judge who would most like to talk to you, and introduce you.

The Qwillery has put forward Dead Roads as part of their Debut Author Challenge. It's a great place for all of us to find out about who's showed up to the party.

My guest blog will be posted right around Dead Roads (omg, I just typed in "Dead Toads"...that's plain awful) release date (April 3, 2013), followed by an interview. And I haven't a thing to wear.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Name Origins

Dead Roads (now officially two words in the title, though remaining one word in the text, go figure) is now available at my publisher's, . You can, apparently, get it as an E-book too, which is quite thrilling -- all come April 2, 2013, which is not so far away.

In other news, the nice folks doing the audio book have contacted me, wondering exactly how I pronounce "Riopelle". Ha. That's the least of their worries. I hope someone there speaks French, especially some form of North American French (I'd settle for chiac, or even joual, or Cajun French...all good).

A word, then, on the origins of the actual name, "Robin Riopelle".

This is my birth name. The name given to me by my birthmother before placing me for adoption. I grew up with another name (which is why many of you know me as Liz), but Robin Riopelle has been part of my personal identity since I was around 13 (when my adoptive mum gave me my adoption papers). I've been on contact with my birthfamily for more than 20 years now, and everything is about as good as you could hope for. I love them, they love me, I know who my "mum" is (that would be the woman who raised me), but I also have an enormous, incalculable connection with the woman who gave birth to me, and who gave me my first name.

One of the characters in Dead Roads has been disconnected from her birthfamily -- I'm not saying that she's me, but I understood a lot of what she experiences, how she might react to situations, how she perceived nuances, because I've been there. I know what it's like to re-connect with birthfamily after years apart, how difficult and weirdly easy it is to forge bonds -- and how impossible it is to shake or even want to shake, the connections you have to the people who raised you.

So, Robin Riopelle. I've published under my adoptive name (mostly museum-related articles, etc.), but this is the first thing under my birthname. It seemed time.

p.s. for the record, it's pronounced "RIO-pel" or REE-a-pel", according to my sister and brother who were raised with the name.