Nano Spotlight: New Day Rising

November 25, 2011

Good evening everybody, and it’s a privilege to introduce a great friend of mine for Nanowrimo spotlight tonight, and a fellow Hamiltonian writer, Rich aka FantasyWriterGuy!

How and why did you end up participating in National Novel Writing Month (the first occasion you did.)
Somehow I got sucked into doing the three-day-novel contest and while bantering with fellow three-day-masochists there were many references to NaNoWriMo which sounded like a far more humane excuse for forcing yourself to write and for meeting other writers. So I looked into it. I actually succeeded in writing a complete novella in three days – about 24,000 words and yet it then took me five attempts in five years to finally do 50,000 in 30 days. Go figure.

What are you writing about this year?
The usual: Butterfly robes, floating teapot aircraft, the God of Frivolity, avian ham, Voltaire, cheese graters, green men, rainbows, two-headed cats, robot clowns, willinillies, shizzpoogterriers, winged hedgehogs, landchovies, screaming jeebies, ogre-bears, limouworms, six-legged choodwinks, skellizardons, passenger clouds, big bad evilkins, a too-short dwarf with Short Dwarf Syndrome, a thief with apparent sexual orientation issues, a priest with a tourettes-like curse, a swordsman with the IQ of a pencil box, an enchanter whose spells are marred by ludicrous side-effects, a ranger of tremendous heroic qualities who is never taken seriously because of her gender, friendship, personal growth and sacrifice. Same as everyone else, I presume.

What’s your favorite part of Nanowrimo and why?
Like any gathering of writers: It’s power to remind you that you are a writer. It’s so easy to forget. Although, meeting new amazingly wonderful writer people to befriend, love and cherish is pretty okay too…

Who’s the best character in your Nano?
Lance Lightfinger if I really must choose. He’s capable of very poor behaviour at times, owing to his significant insecurities. But the quest brings life-changing experiences. His future looks bright!

Sneaky Ninja Question! What time in the day do you write the most?
Midnight; when things get quiet and people leave me alone.

New Day Rising – or Rich Landriault if you prefer his slave name – spends enormous amounts of time pondering instinct and consciousness, human evolution and the illusions of society, and not nearly enough time blogging. But he has fabulous intentions to start blogging more regularly at

Insecure Writers Support Group: A Balloon Full of Encouragement

November 2, 2011

Hi there, fellow insecure writers. Sorry I didn’t post for IWSG last month, I lost track with the Campaigner Spotlight, Rule of Three, Six Sentence Sunday, and a few other things.

So, it’s Nano – which can be a crazy, but also very encouraging time to be a writer, because most of the participants have been through this stunt of trying to write a book in 50 days and know how daunting it can be.

I want to share an idea that my ML, Gale, presented at the Hamilton Kick-off party this past Sunday. It’s something that may work if you’ve got a writer’s support group that meets up regularly, or that we could adapt to cyberspace somehow.

Everybody wrote a somewhat generic but encouraging message on a little slip of paper and rolled up the paper. Then, the paper was inserted into a colored balloon, and the balloon blown up. We tossed around the balloons for a little while until they were shuffled thoroughly, and then everybody took a balloon, (of a different color than the one their message was in,) and took it home. The idea is that you pop the balloon and get the message when you most need that little jolt of encouragement from a fellow writer.

I was hoping to leave my balloon until I’m packed for San Francisco, and then thought that I’d pop it because I couldn’t take the balloon on the plane. I tied its ribbon to the bookcase when I got home Sunday evening so that it wouldn’t get trodden on or in the way. But when I went to take a picture of it for this blog post…

I guess there must have been a pinhole leak. But inspiration doesn’t leak out through holes – there’s still inspiration in that balloon, even if there isn’t air any more!

So – if you were preparing a balloon for another writer, what encouraging message would you put in it? Here’s a new one from me, since I don’t want to repeat the one I put in the orange balloon:

You can tell this story. It is the destiny that you were born for.

The Runnymede Runaround – a picture file!

October 8, 2011

I may have mentioned the Runnymede Runaround before – the Toronto Script Frenzy/Nanowrimo crew meets every other Friday evening, year-round at a Starbucks Coffee near Bloor Street and Runnymede road, if the date is an odd number. They call it ‘Odd Fridays at Runnymede,’ or OFAR.

When I first found out about OFAR, during Script Frenzy, I plugged the Starbucks address into Google maps to see how I could best get there by public transit from work, and then how to get home. The routes I got make up the basis of the Runaround – an unusual loop-the-loop that takes me through Burlington, quickly across Oakville and Mississauga to Toronto, and back to Hamilton – without much retracing, particularly because of the way the GO train and bus routes work out.

So, I thought that yesterday, as I went on the Runaround, I’d take some pictures on my iPhone and show you a bit of what it was like.

First off, the morning commute goes more or less as normal – get out of my apartment, catch a bus across the street, which takes me into Burlington along the lakeshore. Then transfer to two other buses in Burlington, one which goes up Maple street and to the Burlington GO train station, and then another quick ride a few blocks to my office. (I didn’t take any photos during the morning.)

Left the office at twenty after four or so.

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How I miss you, Canada

July 1, 2011

Or at least, I think I will when this post is published, and Canada day comes. I’m writing nearly a week in advance, setting up blog material for the Kansas trip so that I don’t need to worry about going online to update the Kelworth files in the middle of the CSSF workshop.

But I’m going to be away from Canada for July 1st, probably for the first time since I was five or so, as far as I can remember. (That was the first big family trip to England in my life.)

It’s hard to pin down quite what Canada means to me, other than a kind of vague and fuzzy sense of ‘home-ness’. In my travels, the only other two countries I’ve ever been to have been the UK and the USA – neither of which are quite like Canada, true, but neither of them are really very far apart from us either. The UK is where a lot of my roots are, as well as a lot of Canadian roots in general, and the USA is our nearest neighbor, the source of most of the television and movies that I watch, and a lot of the books that I read. (Though you can’t entirely count out the Irish authors!)

To me, Canada is a maple dip donut at Tim Horton’s, and laid-back political discussions about proroguing and the NDP. It’s the CN tower in the Toronto skyline, the GO trains and VIA rail, and the funny one-way streets in Hamilton.

PS: I’m logging in from Kansas to post this, but can’t think of anything to add. Happy 144th birthday, Canada. Thanks for being there for all of us, and may you prosper for hundreds of years more.

A-Z extra post by request: The Umbrella rant.

May 1, 2011

U is also for…

A few people mentioned that they wanted to see my ‘angry rant about umbrellas’ that I said I wasn’t going to write last week for U, so here it is.

I’m not angry at umbrellas. I’m angry at myself for forgetting umbrellas and leaving them behind. Not always – I do relatively often take an umbrella when I leave my apartment in the morning and actually still have it with me when I come back home. But over the long term, it seems like I never keep an umbrella with me without leaving it somewhere.

I lost a good sturdy full-size umbrella on the 31st of March. I remember having it when I got to Williams Cafe on the Hamilton Harbourfront for the Hamilton Script Frenzy party, and I suspect that I lost track of it when switching tables so that one of my new friends could plug in her laptop, since it had battery issues. I asked at the counter the next time I went there, but nobody had turned it in to the lost and found.

And a little black umbrella with a telescoping shaft went astray last Thursday, actually – or at least, I assume that it’s gone forever. I remembered having it with me when I was walking home from work – the weather was fine by then, so it was sitting on my work bag. The next time I actually thought about it was when I was getting ready to leave on Friday morning, because the forecast was threatening rain again.

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April 9, 2011

H is for…

I’m not sure if it’s irony or serendipity that the A-Z schedule has me on H for today, because I’d like to write a little about my Hometown of Hamilton, and I’m not there at the moment, nor will I be all day. (I’m up in Toronto for the Ad Astra convention, whoohoo! More about that some other day.)

I was born in Hamilton, grew up there, and through my life there hasn’t been a time where I didn’t have my permanent address there. Even in my university days, I might sleep most nights in a dorm room or rented room in North York, but every other weekend I’d be taking the trip back home.

Hamilton isn’t a really big city, or a small town – the population signs have slowly climbed up over the years to cross the half-million mark though. It has the reputation of being this really gritty blue-collar city, but I guess I’ve never really seen that, unless I’m taking the bus on the Bayshore route past the steel plants. Half of them are shut down now anyway.

Hamilton is a college town – my Dad taught for years at McMaster University, and we have Mohawk community College and a lot of smaller schools as well. It’s a popular filming town, (The train station scene in the X-men, anybody?) It’s a city with a small, but determined and stubborn artist community. It’s the biggest hockey town in Canada that will never ever get its own NHL team for real. (We’re just a bit too close to the Maple Leafs and the Sabres, alas.)

I suppose nearly any city or town has all of those different neighborhoods and places that can surprise you and jump-start your imagination. But Hamilton’s are the closest to me, and I’m satisfied with that. Well, again, except now, because Eglinton avenue is close to me now, and if that can’t jumpstart a story I don’t know what can.

So, what’s your hometown like? (Either where you live now, or where you grew up.)

The groundhog day storm.

February 3, 2011

I started hearing things earlier this week about ‘the big storm’ that was going to hit on Wednesday – we haven’t really had a big snowstorm yet this winter, though the snowfall that hit the day I went down to Saint Catharines for the workshop was substantial. But everybody was talking about this one being a biggie, so I made sure that it would be possible to work from home if that came down to it. This is something that often is done on really bad-weather days at my job if some people think it would be dangerous or a tremendous PITA to get to the office.

As the snow started to pick up Tuesday night, I remember noticing that the streetlight glow through my bedroom drapes was so bright that it was distracting, and ended up putting on one of those eye mask deals. That was from all of the snow in the air and the ground, of course, reflecting the light around.

Wednesday morning, slept in till nearly seven, got up and turned on the local TV news, and they’re going through a big spiel of local closures and ‘If you don’t need to get on the road, don’t,’ so I figured that I wasn’t going in to work. Logged on to the office network, started working on the top item in my to-do list, and soon enough emails started coming in from the other team members confirming that they wouldn’t be coming in, so I added my me-too.

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Locked inside by my own fear…

October 16, 2010

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming, ‘the Snowflake continues’, to bring you a ramble about what passes for my real life.

The front door key to my apartment started sticking in the last week of September. The first time it happened, I was standing out in the hallway for about fifteen minutes after getting home from work before getting inside. I managed to catch the landlord a few days later, when he was in the building for something-or-other, and remind him that he’d wanted to get the lock changed so that he’d have a master key in case he needed to get in, since he’d lost the master for the old lock. He said that he’d look into getting a new lock, and I reminded him again when I paid rent for October. Over this time, the lock really acted up badly a few times, and most of the time it took ten or fifteen seconds of fiddling. Some times it went with hardly any trouble at all.

Last night, the driving teacher called me a bit earlier than my scheduled time, told me he’d be in the parking lot in five minutes, and so I rushed around, remembered that the key had been acting up a bit more than usual on the way to and from work that day, and hurried out into the hallway. No go. Absolutely no go. As I heard the phone ringing inside, and knew that the teacher was calling me again to say ‘I’m here, where are you?’, I actually got worked up enough to bend the key halfway along, by around thirty degrees.

First reaction – “Well, that’s it, this thing is never gonna work again.”

So I rush downstairs, tell the guy that I can’t go for my lesson that night, call up the landlord. Everything got well sorted out in less than twenty-four hours – the landlord was here around 3 this afternoon with a shiny new lock and key, and I was able to work from home today while I waited for him.

It seems a bit odd to be mentally trapped inside my home, (or at least not willing to go further than around the building for a minute,) when the door can be opened, but on the other hand – this is a reasonably safe neighborhood, but I still just don’t feel comfortable leaving all my things when anybody could come up the stairs and open my front door. I’m not sure if that’s slightly neurotic or just sensibly cautious. After all, people’s doors have locks for a reason.

But it was with a sense of palpable relief that I headed off this afternoon to get groceries.

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