Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
The stone only has so much blood, peopleSo last year after I did my taxes, I got a notice that my student loan payments didn't count, so I owed the government over $800. Which I only paid off because of my grandfather's inheritance. Well, it turns out that somehow my Bakka T4 didn't take or something when I put it into QuickTax. So they reassessed me and I owe ANOTHER $900.
Where the hell do they expect me to get this kind of money??? I barely make ends meet as it is.
( 10:12 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Singing in the SpringIt's that time of year again. The Toronto Choral Society is presenting Haydn's Creaton on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, as always, are $20. You can give me the money beforehand and I can guarantee you a ticket, or you can buy them at the door (just make sure to mention my name).
It's going to be stunning. For those who remember Carmina Burana, Zorana Sadiq returns as our featured Soprano soloist, as well as two other very talented professionals, and a 24-piece orchestra. It's a month out, and we're already singing at what is usually our dress-rehearsal level, so by the time we actually get to the concert, it's going to be something else. The music is absolutely beautiful, and we're expecting enough attendance that we're performing at a new church this year.
I hope to see you there!
( 9:35 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Shameless Self Promotion TimeI would like to take this opportunity to drag myself out of the piles of income tax information under which I have been buried for this past week to do some shameless self promotion.
"Blood Ties" in Fantastic Companions (yes, the Variel story) is eligible for an Aurora for best Short-Form work in English, and the anthology itself is eligible for Best Other Work in English. If you are Canadian (or know someone who is Canadian) and would like to nominate the story and/or the anthology, the online nomination form is here. If you haven't read the story and can't get your hands on a copy of the book to check it out, e-mail me and I'll see what I can do.
I am very proud of both this story and these books. Anyone who's spent five minutes talking to me about my work with the ROM kids knows how excited I am about the idea of teaching using stories to place the concepts in context, and I think that what Julie, Fitz&Whits, and we authors have achieved with both the Realms and Wonder Zone series is deserving of recognition.
The (not quite full, because Leah isn't on the list yet) list of eligible works can be found here.
And now back to taxes...
( 9:17 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Ad Astra 2006I do so love my conventions. Ad Astra 2006 was no exception. There was much love, and laughter, and some extreme personal and professional validation for me and Karina, which was amazing. And I had a few days away from work to do absolutely nothing but hang out with my friends and have fun, the value of which cannot be underestimated. Even if I am exhausted now.
Friday was a half-day for me (and a slightly more than half-day for Karina), requiring the leaving of work early to pick up ribbon to finish one of Karina's Stellar Magpie pieces (my favourite of hers so far). Then I had to get home to tag and label all the pieces for the Art Show.
Karina arrived soon after, and after a frenzy of cataloguing and debating about the proper way to display certain pieces, we were on the road.
We got to the con in good order, and after immediately running into a bunch of our friends and loading our stuff into the Art Show (and learning a lot about our future display needs in the process), it was off to my first panel on "Sex in SF" while Karina remained behind to frantically prepare notes for her surprise moderator duties on the "Hard Fantasy" panel at 8.
The sex panel went well (really, how could it not?) with some interesting debating on sex vs. romance. I personally don't like to see sex in a story without at least some aspect of romance to the subplot, or it feels really gratuitous to me. This is not limited to sex, either. I feel the same way about what I feel to be gratuitous violence or character death. I'm all for any of it, as long as it doesn't feel tacked on to the story purely for the sake of being there. But the panel remained lively, occasionally funny ("Sex is like anything else, the more you practice, the better you get") and a really good start.
Karina's panel also went well, in no small part because she invited
Then there was schmoozing and regrouping and the meet and greet, where Karina and I met up with and had a lovely talk with Rick Wilber, who received a special award this year for his work with the award-formerly-know-as-the-Asimov-Award. Then Karina and I made the trek back to my house to grab a few hours sleep.
My first panel, "Get Them Hooked Early", was a little meandering, partly due to the hour, and partly due to a lack of real definition. But I came prepared with questions and it still went pretty well.
Then I did a stupid, stupid thing. I completely zoned out, and somehow got it into my head that my next panel was at 1, so I stuck around for Karina's panel. My panel was actually at 11, so I totally skipped out on "When Bad Covers Happen to Good Books" with, among others, Betsy Mitchell. I was, needless to say, both disappointed and extremely embarrassed. Fortunately, Chris was around to introduce me to Betsy later so I could properly apologize. I just wish I had someone who could have helped me track down the other panellists, too. But at least I wasn't the only one to miss a panel this weekend.
The MYTHSPRING launch went really well, too. I swung back and forth between helping Chris sell the book and sitting in the audience to admire all the shiny authors, and Genevieve's presence made the whole thing even better. Julie later told us that her favourite moment of the day was bringing Gen in through the back doors (it was too hard to fight her wheelchair through the front way). When they went through the kitchen, all the chefs (who Julie thinks were Korean) formed this honour guard down the middle of the kitchen to guard against any hazards that might be sticking out, and bowed as Genevieve passed. I really wish I could have seen it. So the authors read, Bakka sold books, there were good cookies, and everyone had to move out into the lobby because the demand for autographs was very large and ran into the time allotted to Guy Kay's reading (Guy, for his part, was extremely gracious and gave ten minutes of his reading time to Julie).
After the launch, we checked into the hotel. My favourite part of that room is the fact that we had a room out of MYST.
This is the view from inside the room:
Click on this one to get the panorama shot:
And it's even cooler at night:
We hung out at the Bakka table a bit -- I was happy to see we sold out of HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON. Twice. We were seriously pushing the book (Chris's review, endorsed by all the staff, begins "this is the best book since, like, ever"), prompting Nathan to say "I haven't felt this pressured to buy a book since the Scientology table at CascadiaCon!" The difference being HMD is a force of good instead of evil. :o) We also sold out of DOPPLEGANGER. Yay for Bryn!
After dropping in on Sarah Zettel, who was giving out free books with tea, scones, and gingerbread (which was lunch), we got some books signed before my 5:00 panel (which I did NOT miss) on teaching the "unteachable". The panel consisted of me, Isaac Szpindel (who, among other things, is a Wonder Zone author), Eric Choi (Wonder Zone), and Arlene Marks (who teaches using Wonder Zone's sister book, Packing Fraction). So all of us took issue with the "unteachable" tag. We had a general agreement that there's no such thing as unteachable, and the closest you get is unengaged. There was a lot of spirited discussion of alternative teaching strategies, the Wonder Zone series was explained, and with the assistance of Nicole (who caught people as they were coming in the door to enter their names in a draw), we gave away one of Jean Pierre's Wonder Zone posters (won by Nicole, who had joked at the beginning about entering her name a lot -- sometimes the Universe has a strange sense of humour). It was, on the whole, a great panel.
Zipped upstairs to the Czerneda newsgroup pizza party (dinner) which was extremely crowded, but provided a great opportunity to catch up with a lot of people. Lorne brought truffles, Chris and the working staff showed up, and I was reminded (several times) that I had panel at seven (which I was well aware of). So it was off to the "World of Fantasy" panel -- not the best way to close out my panellist duties, as I got talked over a lot (Jana was ready to punch someone) and I actually had to break in to my fellow panellists at one point as they continued to talk over me on one of the rare occasions that I actually did manage to get a word in. But Chris was in the audience, which made it worthwhile, because when Chris chooses to contribute she's practically a panellist herself, and won't let anyone get away with, well, being wrong.
Then, with my panellist duties over, I got to dash downstairs to catch the tail end of the Heather Dale concert (I always have panels during her concerts) before the masquerade (which was a lot better this year). Derwin was odd, as always (this year was a "Brokeback Mountain" theme -- Dick Cheney goes bird hunting on Brokeback Mountain and dies of avian flu after making out with Foghorn Leghorn). There was some gorgeous anime-inspired costuming, a really good ghostbuster, and Best in Show was won by the Cheshire Cat (who I couldn't catch for a picture, dammit) -- my favourite of the show, and not just because of my odd Alice obsession at the moment. It was an absolutely phenomenal puppet (the costumer/puppeteer herself was dressed as a tree), and I'm going to have to go webhunting to try and find a picture.
We went back to our room for our traditional fireside-without-a-fire reading series, and adjourned to the dance, which wasn't as good as usual. Usually, the first hour sucks and then they start playing good stuff -- this year the first hour sucked with the exception of Doctor Who, which we missed. Then they started playing a couple good things, and then went back to the sucking. Without Doctor Who, there was little to look forward to, so we decided to leave (though apparently someone who was not us brought Enter the Haggis later, which just goes to show somebody is learning). We closed out the night hanging out with various and sundry members of the newsgroup family (plus truffles).
They're laughing at Kel, who was trying to get Jana to show off her socks. I don't think I've seen Jana hit anyone quite so much in so short a period of time. I like it when I get to hang out with fun people.
Sunday morning, running on little sleep, we scrounged some food from the Green Room and went to see James Alan Gardner read his MYTHSPRING story, which is hands-down my favourite in the book (I read it at the ROM, and was laughing so hard they could hear me out on the gallery floor). It's just so very, very…. Canadian. Then we ducked into the end of Jana's panel to discover that Lorne (who was moderating) had slept through it (see, I wasn't the only one!).
Then we went to the Art Show to check on our work. Karina sold two pieces (yes, to our friends, but still…), but the best discovery was that Stellar Magpie won the best new artist prize. Hurray for us!
And here is our pretty table. Note the shiny ribbon. If you click on the second one, you get a closeup of Karina's FSW (frelling sparkly wreath), which was my favourite thing on the table. Sometimes Karina puts me to shame with her awesomeness. Yay!
Heather also told us that we'd had a lot of positive feedback, most of our business cards were gone, and she said that Toronto Trek is the con that sells a LOT of jewellery, so we're signing up for that art show ASAP.
Jana and I went to the first half of Karina's "Ten Ways To Sabotage Your Own Writing" panel before ducking out to see Amanda's reading (Amanda is gooood), and after checking out and packing up, we closed out the con with some really damn good Japanese food.
And yes, I know it's really shallow and superficial of me, but part of me was really really thrilled at how many people are finally noticing the weight loss. Six sizes and 37 pounds. It's about damn time.
Friends, fun, and really good food. Really, what more can you ask for?
Well, new Doctor Who. But that's not far off!
New pictures here! And a new trailer!
P.S. -- the Stellar Magpie con report can be found here.
( 12:08 AM ) Sarah Jane ~