Saturday, October 15, 2016


How reliable do you think your childhood memories are? Are all those half-remembered events and general impressions from decades ago truly representative, or are they distorted through filters your life has since placed around them?

I got to wondering about this recently, with the unusually damp Autumn we’re enjoying up on the west coast. The last couple of days in particular, I’ve been saying to myself, this reminds me of Guernsey winters.

My recollection, especially from my teens, is of long spells of leaden skies, blustery winds, and endless rain. Day after day I’d wait for the bus, trudge up through St. Peter Port to school, and dash from class to class (my school was spread out over many separate buildings) to the sound of drops pattering on my umbrella. Rain coats and umbrellas were essential accessories.

When we moved from Guernsey to Victoria, we remarked again and again how different conditions were here. Yes, annual rainfall is pretty similar but here it mostly seemed to fall at night. Hauling groceries in a wet dash to & from the car seemed to be consigned to an occasional (as in maybe once or twice a year) discomfort rather than the expected norm.

As people in the office grumble, I find myself glibly saying, this is nothing compared to where I came from. But at the same time I can’t help wondering how objective I can be. Having made such a drastic move twelve years ago, it’s easy to fall into the trap of selective memory. We want our new home to be better, to have made the right decision, so are we selectively playing up the good sides and contrasting with the frustrations of our former home?

How about you? How do you view your life from year ago, and what filters today might be unwittingly distorting those memories?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The pace of change

I’m an IT director in our provincial government, and last week my ministry organized a two-day conference to explore themes and trends in technology.

One of the biggest messages I took from those two days - reinforced by one speaker after another - was the pace of change in the technology world.

It’s scary!

No, I mean really scary, as in ten years from now will anyone who’s an adult today even understand the world any more?

Ideas that were pure science fiction ten years ago are reality today. And the scariest part is that the pace of change is exponential. That means that in five years time we’ll be living with technology that is speculative and far-fetched today. And the same will be true a mere two years after that. Then a year after that.

Will we be able to recognize the world a generation from now?

Regardless of the real world, this poses serious problems for sci-fi writers. We all know how novels from the 1950s feel dated today because of the changes in technology, but they still enjoyed a few decades’ shelf life first.

Ten years ago I was writing a novel (which I never finished) that involved computers worn as jewelry, gesture recognition, direct neural stimulation to provide sensory input, and an exclusively virtual interface. That all seemed safely far-fetched back then, but ten years on all those elements are here today in some form or another.

When I wrote Tiamat’s Nest, autonomous self-driving cars still seemed safely a few decades away because computers as a whole were still too prone to stupid errors and failures to be entrusted with the task. But this year we have them on the streets in some cities. That frightens me because no matter how well they perform when things are going well, computers are still dangerously error-prone. Not to mention prone to malware, and how about the prospect of being kidnapped by your own car - the ultimate in ransomware?

So, to all member of Homo Sapiens V1.0 out there, how do you cope with the accelerating pace of change in the real world. And to sci-fi writers, how do you stay speculative when the most way-out ideas you have might become reality before your book is even published?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Simple pleasures

It’s been a really tiring week so far. Not bad, just tiring. A few disturbed nights. Lots of after-school driving around. Yesterday I had an all-day training course that involved lots of talking and interaction - and you can guess how that feels to an extreme introvert!

Tomorrow at work we have a couple of end-of-summer events on the same day, a coincidence born of the way our organization has been split and reorganized over the past couple of years. A lunchtime barbecue for our physical office, including some of my staff plus colleagues in the same office but now belonging to a different branch, and an after-work round of mini-golf and pub meal for my branch involving staff from three different offices.

This afternoon I sat at my desk looking at my calendar and the very thought left me feeling drained! Not that I don’t enjoy all those things but ... introvert ... it’s tiring at the same time.

This evening I dropped Matthew off at Venture Scouts, a ten minute drive from home, and drove back along the coast road.

The sun was almost set behind the hill to one side. It was nearly dark, but the sky - immaculately clear - still glowed above and the mirror-smooth sea picked up the light in a luminous milky blue.

I thought, “That’s pretty” and drove on. Then I thought, “Dammit, I live in such a beautiful part of the world yet when did I last take just a few minutes to stop and look at it?”

So I did something drastic and daring for me. Instead of driving on home, I pulled in and stopped. Just for five minutes. But it was quiet, introvert, me time. Islands in the distance. The lights of a few boats. Mountains off to one side. A seal sculling lazily near the shore.


So simple.

So rare that we take the time to appreciate it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Have you scene?

My process in drafting The Ashes of Home has been quite different from previous novels.

Up to now, I generally think and write in chapters, and mark the start of new chapters as I go.

This time around I started along the same lines but eventually found it far easier to forget about chapters during the drafting stage. In part, this is because I am tracking three main points of view, and I found it more productive to focus on each one’s story without worrying too much about what was going on elsewhere.

That, of course, meant that I had no idea where chapter breaks would eventually fall.

What I did do, though, was mark where natural scene breaks might fall. Sometimes this was just a natural pause in the action, or a jump in time. Better still I’m always on the lookout for natural pauses that are also cliffhangers - the shock of an unexpected revelation or a sudden twist in events.

Yes, I’m looking for points in the story where, as a reader, I would desperately want to read on. Then *bang* new chapter, or even switch to another point of view and leave things hanging.



I did weave the separate strands together as I went whenever I had enough of each one to make it worthwhile. Mostly that was done to keep things ticking along roughly the same timeline. So now I’ve got a novel draft that kinda hangs together as a story, but which is a long list of scenes in need of overall structure. And I’ve got lots of notes about things I need to change, make consistent, or incorporate.

To help with this stage of the process I’m trying something I’ve not tried before. I’ve gone through and made a scene list.

This chart shows each scene with point of view, a rough idea of length, and a one-sentence description. Some of these scenes might end up running together, but I’ve also started noting which scenes would make ideal break points.

My hope is that this outline view will help to refine the overall flow (maybe things need swapping around a bit), work out where best to add in new scenes, and eventually work out how best to chunk things out into chapters.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Crystal's Timeless

Today I'm helping Crystal Collier share the news about Timeless, the third book in the Maiden of Time series.

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal

Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

And ... we’re done!

A big day for me. After just under seven months of intensive effort I’ve finished the first draft of The Ashes of Home.

Shayla Carver, master assassin (retired) and planetary governor has made more enemies than is good for her. All she wants is to rebuild her home planet, burned to a cinder many years before, but ghosts from her past haunt her. Among the many plots on her life, one especially dangerous enemy is intent not just on revenge but on plunging the galaxy into a devastating civil war.

I started this project all the way back in 2008, while I was revising and querying Ghosts of Innocence first time around. After roughing out a number of scenes and a high level outline (which the finished story bears no resemblance to) I set it aside while I went through more rounds of revising and querying, then self-publishing Ghosts, and writing and publishing Tiamat’s Nest.

This draft has gone really well, but of course it’s nowhere near ready for publication. Eventually I’ll be looking for critiquers and beta readers, but before then I’ve got a lot of editing and revising of my own to do. I normally dislike this stage of the process, but for once I’m actually excited about it. I’ve got a set of notes on things I need to go back and work into the story, and most of all I’m looking forward to reading it through as a whole - something I’ve not yet done.

Time for a celebratory drink...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labour Day

Hope you all enjoyed Labour Day (or Labor Day south of the border.)

This is the weekend of the local Saanich agricultural fair. For once, Ali and I visited on our own. We gave it a miss last year but have gone every other year since moving here. We like to mooch around looking at the animals, the crafts, and some of the entertainment. The kids used to love doing that also when they were younger. Now, not so much.

This time, we really noticed the dwindling numbers of livestock on show. Here’s a couple of photos from 5 years ago.

This year the shed with the goats in only had about half the number of animals. As for the draft horses, I can count 7 rigs in the arena in that old photo compared with only 3 when we watched this weekend. The same pattern was repeated in many of the animal sections around the fair - pigs, sheep, cattle, geese - all down in numbers.

Other sections thankfully are still going strong - all the arts and crafts, and the farm market, and the place was still buzzing with activity.

Megan invited some school friends over to spend the afternoon and evening on the rides, followed by late night pizza and a sleepover at our house. Thankfully we've had today to recover before back to work and school tomorrow.
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