Thursday, June 14, 2012

I said goodbye to Kitten just before 5:00 this morning. We said a tearless goodbye, knowing not only that we will meet again one day, but that the other is never more than an IM away.

A strange emotion welling in my breast, I took my place in the long line for the security checkpoint – just in time for at least a hundred harried passengers to turn around and stampede out like spooked cattle.

Due to a security equipment to malfunction, the flow of the security checkpoint for terminals D and F was diverted into the checkpoint for B and C. This caused something of a jam as twice the normal amount of people were forced through the same security bottleneck. Every man, woman, and child in line was sweaty, tired, and understandably irritable.

All except myself, actually. I was feeling rather cheerful about the whole thing, grinning like a fool and feeling no pain, due in part to the extra-special dose of anti-anxiety medication coursing through my veins. I'm more than aware of how I usually react to being forced into tight enclosed spaces with several angry, sweaty individuals, and I was more than happy to spend my time smiling gormlessly at the people on either side of me, no matter how situationally inappropriate. I spent my time getting to know the ladies in front, who mostly ignored me outside of the suggestion that one of them should pretend to be twelve so they could get in the priority line, and the fellow behind, a young man bound for California who had been near the front of the other line when the malfunction occurred and might be accurately described as “righteously cheesed” in relation to that fact.

It took over an hour to get through security, but at least I had a smile on my face.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Booker Award

Lyzzy Redd: The Booker Award now goes to... Lyzzy Redd!: A certain Skye Fairwin  nominated me for this blogging award. Once again, thank you! :) You have to have your blog at least half writing...

If you followed the link up there, you need no introduction into our topic; if you did not, however, then here's a bit of an explanation.
The lovely Lyzzy Redd has nominated me for the Booker Award, which goes to book blogs. Sadly, though, I do not believe I qualify to receive the awards, as while I am highly interested in books, writing and reading, my blog does not at this time qualify, having less than 50% of it's content on the topic.
I am nevertheless highly flattered that she thought of me and very glad that she herself was given consideration.
Part of the award requires one to list one's top 5 favourite reads, and while I shall not be receiving the awards, I thought I might just do that anyway to be a good sport.

1. The works of Sir A. C. Doyle on the Adventures of Mr. Holmes and his faithful companion Dr. Watson
2. "The Importance of Being Earnest" by O. Wilde
3. Mansfield Park by J. Austen
4. Animorphs by K. A. Applegate
5. The Stranger by A. Camus

The Kitten and the Conference

It was early June when I travelled to New Jersey to visit my boon companion, a young lady whom I call Kitten. The eponymous reason for going was the Philadelphia Writer's Conference, but, fascinating experience though that was, a conference alone is not reason enough to fly the rough distance of 1000 kilometres that separates northern Alberta, Canada from the American east coast.

Meeting Kitten face to face was a deciding factor, the conference was an added treat.

The writing conference itself made up the bulk of my first three days in the United States. This was the first conference I had ever attended, and I found the event highly interesting and invigorating. I particularly enjoyed the class on writing for New Media.

The high emphasis on the business, marketing end of writing was occasionally overwhelming and discouraging, if only because it seemed, at times, to be at the loss of the artistic side of things, that speakers and participants only gave the art brief lip-service before turning back to business. This was not the case in all classes, of course, and looking objectively, the speakers most certainly talked about the art of writing. It is simply that the emphasis was placed more towards marketing than would be to my liking and the advice on the art of things was somewhat underdeveloped and aimed at a more novice level. It is highly likely that, this being my first convention, my initial expectations were flawed.

Undoubtedly one of the best aspects of the convention was being surrounded on all sides by like-minded individuals and talking with people who might actually be genuinely interested in that steam-punk epic I'm writing that stars a bird-obsessed autistic and a double amputee. Just being around people who have similar interests and ideas and who have even a glimmer of insight into my life as it is. It's almost like being part of a community. Warm fuzzies for everyone.

All in all, I would call the conference an enriching experience, one that was all the better for having dear Kitty Bergeron at my side and for meeting personalities like Lucas Mangum, horror writer extraordinaire, Patti O'Brien, who I regret not being able to talk to more, and Marie Gilbert, who is everybody's best friend and grandma, no exceptions, and an unbelievably cool lady.

I also ended up attending a session led by Jonathan Maberry, who writes zombie thrillers. Notable because at one point he described a scene from one of his novels which I had already heard near word-for-word only a few weeks earlier during a chat with my sister (read: during an hour while my sister talked and I nodded and made appropriate noises) about a book she was reading about the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. I rather wanted to discuss a few of the plot points with him, particularly the idea of bounty hunters who are paid to put zombified people to rest by the families of the deceased, but I wasn't sure whether to approach him or not. I erred on the side of caution, if only because I wasn't sure how to explain that I knew the plots of his novels, not because I read them, but because my little sister likes to tell me the best bits and some things need a lot of context in order to be funny.

I also met Merry Jones, who is very sweet, and a few other people whose books I put away for a living.

All in all, a good way to spend a weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Got a lot done over the past day or so. Very exciting. Spent most of today wondering why I felt so tense and anxious before realizing that I had 5 cups of tea at noon for giggles. Note that I put two bags of dark tea and a generous dollop of honey in every cup, and I rarely consume caffeine at all.
Yeah. It's amazing I didn't re-grout the bathroom floor and call up the Prime Minister to tell him all my neat ideas about how to strengthen the economy. (Giant. Balloon. Dog. THINK ABOUT IT.)
I was supposed to have a debate in Canadian Politics today, but my opposite failed to come to class. Shame, I was looking forward to it. Mother was more offended than I was, but she has views about people who fail to hold up commitments. She's also quite protective.
I have weird moments of dissonance when other people talk about their parents, and Mummy's a big part of why. I wouldn't call my mother perfect, she doesn't like it, but compared to many parents out there, she's a saint. She cares about my future beyond how it reflects on her; she'd never belittle my dreams; she always cares when I'm sad. She's not even the traditional motherly type! She's a truck driver with a twisted sense of humour and a chip on her shoulder. You wouldn't believe how many jokes about death, grevious bodily harm, and drugs I knew before the age of 12. What is wrong with other people's parents that their relationships end up this way? I know there's two sides to everything, but this is just messed up. I feel like the only person with a amicable relationship with one or more parent(s).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Song Recs

DJ - Madeon Remix

Originally by Alphabeat, this remix far outshines the original.

Super Psycho Love and Beat Drop both by Simon Curtis

Rymden I En Låda - Detektivbyrån

Gel - Collective Soul

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone - Paula Cole

Degenerations - Mes Aieux

Mercy Me - Alkaline Trio

No One Knows - Queens of the Stone Age

I Was aTeenage Anarchist - Against Me!
1. What would you do without Chail?

...I don't know. She is my primary source of socialization, though we have little in common in terms of interests. It is difficult to imagine a world where I could not have Chail, the person who perhaps understands me best.

2. Describe M. Kallel in five words.

Enthousiaste, heureuse, joyeuse, interesante et crazy.

3. Does Clint make you hot?

...That is a most unfortunate question, considering our relationship is of the familial variety.

4. Would you open a mystery gift Kitty just gave you, without much hesitation?

Yup. And even if it ended up being a trap, I'd open another mystery gift from her without blinking.

5. What was your first impression of Melinda?

WHAT IS THIS STRANGE NEW CREATURE? I don't know if I'd say it was immediate, but I was rather enthralled with Melinda during our early acquaintance. My first impression was that I had found someone equally interesting in being witty for the sake of being witty, which made me rather happy.

6. Is KeiLei your best friend?

Difficult question. I tend to have friends for different purposes that have very little overlap. Going by the traditional meaning of "best friend," however, the term more closely fits my relationship with Melinda. KeiLei and I are more along the line of Platonic sweethearts, romantic friends in the tradition of the Victorians.

7. Who is Mummy's best friend?

Me, silly! :P
In truth, I don't know. Her friend Teresa is a good candidate.

8. If Kezia were to be mistaken for a celebrity, who would it be?

I have no idea. I can think of no one whom she resembles physically and her personality is, in my opinion, unique.

9. If Natalya and Melinda teamed up, what would they most likely accomplish?

Goodness gracious. Well, they could separately accomplish anything to which either of them put their mind. Despite the fact that Natalya's time around Chail has inoculated her somewhat to spectacularly boorish behaviour, I suspect Melinda's primary accomplishment would be driving Natalya's eyebrow right up her forehead.

10. Who would win in a duel, Kaylee or Kitty? And what kind of duel would they pick, anyway?

Kitty, hands down. She's not afraid to fight dirty, and Kaylee would likely get distracted. Kitty would weild a mighty pen. Kaylee would pick either a stuffed unicorn or a lemon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Letter to a Peer Critic

Hello, my name is Joelle Pigott. I am a writer and administrator of a peer critique group known as Literati Sedition. I have been performing peer critiques for the past few years. I have a couple rules that I think are imperative in the world of peer critiques, and I shall list them here, in order of importance.

  1. The two most important traits a critic must foster are honesty and compassion. Honesty, because we must tell our fellow writers, our fellow artists the truth directly and honestly in order that they improve their art and themselves. Compassion, because these works are not only the sweat and blood of our peers, they are their hopes and dreams. Causing people unnecessary emotional pain in the name of bastardized honesty is immature and unnecessary. Hurting people is not constructive, but discouraging. In addition, it is unlikely to encourage them to take one's advice.
  2. One must cultivate a neutral tone and critique the prose, not the writer. This is not a casual conversation with a friend, but rather a professional discussion with what might be a complete stranger. A casual tone may be easily interpreted as aggression, especially as one is frequently unable to discern tone from text alone. Focus on addressing the issues found in the work itself and avoid the pronoun “you,” because this often devolves into saying: “YOU did this wrong,” “YOU have failed.” It is more appropriate to say: “THIS does not work,” “THIS is incorrect.”
  3. One must also be detail-oriented and specific. It does no good to point out something flawed, but fail to address why it is wrong and what can be done to fix it. It only serves to perplex and frustrate the author, rather than aid them.

Below is a critique from a peer critic whom I view to be somewhat misguided as to the proper way to help one's fellow artist. Comments in brackets are from me.

"On page two you put, ‘Normally, girls pet my hair sometimes even know Cassie hated it.’ This sentence makes no sense at all. Try rephrasing it.
(This is highly brash, bossy language. The critic seems to assume that they are the one in charge, not simply an observer making suggestions. It is extremely rude to command the artist to make changes, as a critic lacks legitimacy in a work that is not their own. Instead, it is best to make suggestions, e.g., “This doesn't make sense, perhaps try rephrasing it.” When phrased as a suggestion, it becomes friendly and polite sounding.)

I’m going to be honest; I don’t really like the beginning. It kind of just throws things at you, and that’s never a good thing.
 (This is not a place for the critic's opinions. It does not matter if the critic likes the choices the artist has made, but rather, whether the story works as a cohesive piece. This is why it is also best to avoid the pronoun “I.” It removes the temptation to make the review about me, me, me. What I think, what I feel, is of no use to the author. This part of the review is also highly unspecific, and does not explain in detail what is wrong with the beginning and does not explain in the slightest why this is a bad thing, but instead assumes the critic's meaning is obvious.)

Again, I like the first chapter; I just don’t like it at the begging. Everything happens so fast, the story starts and all of a sudden all of these things are happening. It just doesn’t sound good. I just think you need to slow down a bit and ease into all these things happening.
(Oh really? I've always thought the begging was the best part... Sorry for mocking typos, it's not the maturest of behaviours; however, there is a point here. When one is critiquing, one is not texting a friend or leaving a note for one's mum. One is dealing with other writers on a formal level. It is important to be clear and treat the other person respectfully, and that means keeping certain standards and not being sloppy. Typos do happen, and that's understandable, but do not believe that it is fine to critique shoddily. Here we have unnecessary repetition of the same criticism that adds nothing but emphasis of the critic's opinions and distaste for the writer's artistic choices. The criticism is again vague and does not properly support it's points. The author is directly addressed in an overly-familiar manner.)

Again I feel like things are moving too fast. I’m on Chapter two, page seven, and I feel like enough has happened to take up four chapters.
(Again, we repeat ourselves without giving meaningful explanations or supporting our ill-defined opinions.)

I find it a little unbelievable that Max would sniff his shirt to decide whether or not it is clean. Things like that only happen in TV shows that aren’t even supposed to be close to realistic. Real boys don’t really act like that, the care way more.
(Not only DO real boys act in this manner, it is extremely common. The criticism calls the story unrealistic without good reason and gives support for this opinion which is questionable.)

On page 8 the paragraph that starts with, ‘I open the fridge door…’ That whole paragraph it just sounds like you are listing events. It doesn’t sound right. I think I may have read another paragraph like that as well.
(“I think I may have...” is unacceptably lazy. The critic must sniff out the offending paragraph so that it may be properly compared. The author has no method of determining what paragraph the critic is talking about. One must give the author enough context to be able to find the problem area. The critic points out the paragraph in question near the bottom of the review instead of placing it here, almost as if they didn't even bother to structure their review, edit it, or even give it a once over. Almost as if they simply wrote the review in a long, rambling stream of concious with a focus on length rather than conherency or content.)

I’m only on Page nine, but so far I think it could really use some more detail. All I really know is that his hair is black and his eyes are brown. Other than that I know absolutely nothing. (Because of course, all we really care about is what the characters look like.)

Okay, being honest, the excessive cussing is really starting to annoy me. I don’t mind a little, but you have gotten a little out of hand.
(This is entirely opinion and most certainly out of line. The critic's sensibilities are not important. The author is the only one with the right to choose the content and style of their writing. One may make suggestions, but these sorts of demands are outside of the critic's right to make. We are here to provide constructive criticism, not judgement.)

Okay, so I find it a little bit unbelievable that Max would get so worked up over a girl, especially a girl like Cassy.
(More opinion, no supporting reasons for this criticism. One is, in fact, required to support the claims that one makes.)

They are sophomores? Now I find this all really unbelievable. They are much too young for all this to be happening. 15 year olds just don’t act like that. Things like that just don’t happen to people so young.
(Even more opinion, even less supporting argument. Highly insulting tone, with repeated nagging instead of constructive suggestions.)

Ok I still don’t feel like I know enough. Things are happening so fast and going at lighting pace yet I still barely know what Max looks like right now. What does the school look like? What does Jaxon look like? What does Melly look like? What does Cassie look like? Tina? There are so many questions I have right now that have not been answered. There is so much addition information you give us yet so much information you still owe us.
(You owe us. The writer does not owe the critic anything. One does not make demands like a petulant child in one's reviews. It is undignified and highly inappropriate. The critic is more concerned with themself and their needs than with helping the writer. The focus of the criticism here is on the visual, which is frankly unimportant in this medium. If the criticism is that more detail is needed or that more detail would improve the story, it should be stated simply, without whinging.)

Ok, if they are really sophomores than they act way too old for their age and I find it to be very unrealistic. Also they are not going to let a 15 or 16 year old work as a lifeguard. And sophomores don’t take Algebra; they take Geometry or Algebra 11. And the way Max is I would see him taking Geometry.
(More repetition of previous points, the critique is unfocused and poorly structured. It is almost like the critic ran out of points and is simpy padding for length. The points made are trite. It is not improbable that Algebra 11 might be referred to as simply Algebra and the age to become a lifeguard depend on the location. In many areas, it is as young as fourteen.)

Max should store Adam’s body in the Catacombs. That’s what I am going to do when I murder the most annoying boy at my school… Wait, I never said that! :P
(We are all highly amused. Coy emoticon.)

What does the park look like? I still don’t know hardly anything about anyone, and it is starting to aggregate me. You have a good plot line going and you are keeping me interested, but there are just so many things that could use work.
(If anyone is curious, the verb “to aggregate” is a synonym of “to collect.” Of course, it is obvious that “aggravate” was the intended word, but unfortunately, that means that the critique has again taken on an impertinent tone, with selfish demands in the place of constructive criticism. Much needs work, apparently, but it shall not be learned here.)

On Page 26 the paragraph that starts with, ‘The weekend goes by too fast.’ This paragraph sounds like it is just listing things. This isn’t the first time I have mentioned this.
(Why don't you listen to me, author? Jeez, you're kinda slow aren't you? Didn't you understand all my oh-so-clear instructions? The review may not have been intended to sound this way, but that does not make it acceptable.)

Okay, so I read to chapter six. Like I said before, it moves entirely to fast without giving us enough information. So many events happen in such a small amount of time. Also I have so many questions about Max alone that haven’t even been relatively answered. Also I noticed a few times where your tenses disagree with each other. You are obviously trying to write this in presence tense, but there are a few places that mix that up. Also I think they act entirely too old for their age. They act like 18 year olds, which makes it seem very unbelievable. There are a lot of things in this story that seems unbelievable. There is definitely not enough detail, either. I find myself unable to sympathize with Max because I just don’t know enough about him. Your character development could use some work as well. For where I am right now I feel like I should know way more than I do. I also noticed some grammar mistake, not many, but some. I didn’t point them out though because I remember reading somewhere not to point out grammar unless it is really bad. This is a good story and has a good plot line but it could use some work. Keep writing and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about I’ll Be Here All Summer!"
(And we shall sign off with a deluge of narcissistic, poorly connected and half-formed thoughts and insulting, insipid opinions. We shan't even bother to give specific instances or even point out the locations of the many flaws we thought were serious enough to mention, but not important enough to actually aid the author with fixing. Why? Because the critic does not care. The critic is not here to help the artist. The critic is here to talk about me, myself, and I. The critic does respect the author, and the critic certainly does not respect the author's work. Perhaps the critic did not intend to be nagging, judging, and quite frankly, insulting, but on all accounts, they succeeded.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sad Book

I opened a children's book, today. On a whim, nothing more. It had a goose and a turtle on the cover.
Inside, I discovered a tale of a old turtle and a young goose, who are the greatest of friends. They do everything together. One day, the turtle passes away, and the goose doesn't understand. It takes some time, but after remembering all her friend had taught her, the goose comes to terms with her friends death.
If you will excuse me, I have a sad.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Canadian Political Science Notes

"Shadow cabinet" is about the coolest parliamentary term ever. I wonder if we stole it from the British...