Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pending Publication

Happy to announce my story "Age of Miracles" is included in Strangers Among Us - Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts, edited by Susan Forest and Lukas Law. The anthology "xplores the delicate balance between mental health and mental illness through short speculative fiction". Other authors include such big names as Lorina Stephens (my publisher/boss at Five Rivers!) Hayden Trenholm (author, and publisher at Bundoran Books), Gemma Files, A. M Dellamonica, Edward Willett, Suzanne Church, Ursula Pflug (to whom I've sold stories for both her anthologies), Sherry Peters, Derwin Mak, Erica Holt and a bunch of others with whom I am as yet unfamiliar...but looking forward to reading in this anthology. Looks to be a pretty fascinating reading! Introduction by Julie E. Czerneda

The anthology is also a fund raiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

I had a lot of fun writing my story for this anthology, and I immodestly think "Age of Miracles" one of my better stories so far. The anthology will be officially launched August 8, 2016 at When Words Collide Festival in Calgary (at which, coincidentally, I am Editor Guest. I'm told as Editor Guest I get to do a 15 minute reading, so will have to see if I can maybe read this one. Either that, or something that I am writing next August.)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Recent Publications

I was very pleased to have my story, "Hacker Chess" included in the original anthology, Playground of Lost Toys edited by Colleen Anderson and Ursula Plug (cover above) and then almost simultaneously, reprinted in Exile Literary Quarterly (cover below). The anthology is terrific, with stories by Candas Jane Dorsey, Linda DeMeulemeester, Claude Lalumière, Kate Story and Melissa Yuan-Innes and sixteen others. I haven't gotten my copy yet, but I heard Lalumiere, Story, and Yan-Innes read at a pre-launch party at he Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature (Ottawa, Oct 31) and their stories blew me away.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Daily Comics

I start my day with the comics, which come emailed to me via Go Comics:
  • Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson
  • Stone Soup by Jan Eliot
  • Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
  • Betty by Gary Delainey and Gerry Rasmussen
  • Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller
  • Frazz by Jeff Mallett
  • Fox Trot Classics by Bill Amend
  • Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
  • Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
  • The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn
  • Real Life Adventures by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich
  • Bliss by Harry Bliss
  • Rubes by Leigh Rubin
  • Moderly Confused by Jeff Stahler
  • Speed bump by Dave Coverly
  • Strange Brew by John Deering
  • or are emailed to me directly from their creators site's:

  • Savage Chickens by Doug Savage
  • Wrong Hands by John Atkinson
  • I love Savage Chickens the best--cartoons about work and life featuring chickens drawn on yellow sticky notes. I end up pinning about 50% of these for use in class, or just 'cause. So great. Highest 'hit' rate of any of them. Based in Vancouver.

    Wrong Hands is mostly word play, and frequently brilliant, he only posts when he thinks of something, so irregular. Great when he does. Based in Ottawa

    Cul de Sac was a complete surprise, recommended to me by a stranger (which inspired me to do my own reviews here). It took a little while to get into it because individual strips are not necessarily that hilarious, but once you're following it, there is a cumulative effect so that I have come to love the characters. Kind of a modern Peanuts--but with more realistic kids and occasional appearance of actual adults. Highly recommended.

    Stone Soup is pure soap, but I love it. Again, have to give it a little time to get caught up in the story and the characters, but charming and optimistic and humorous. Delightful.

    Ballard Street, again, a very high hit rate in spite of being just totally eccentric: everyday starting points of neighbours who are not quite right, psychologically speaking.

    Betty was a spinoff/revampng of a strip that started in the Edmonton Journal decades ago. Funny family strip with many daily insights.

    Frazz is about a school janitor and his relationship to the kids and teachers in the school. Always pleasant, but I often find school-related content I can use in class.

    Zack Hill is about a kid and his dog and the boarding house his mother runs. The cast of characters in the boarding house are often interesting, the commentary by the dog is often funny, and Zack's adventures at school are often something I can use in class.

    Fox Trot, Pearls Before Swine, Calvin and Hobbs will already be familiar to everyone. The others are all singe-frame cartoons with various levels of nonsense.
    A typical Bliss cartoon.

    Reading the comics gives me a minute to compose myself before standing up, since I usually read them on my phone email, directly after turning of the phone wake up alarm. Better thing to start with, much less depressing, than the "to do" list.

    Wednesday, May 06, 2015

    Orange Crush

    Alberta has had a long history of essentially one party rule, with sudden over night switch to new party:
    1905–1921 Alberta Liberal Party
    1921–1935 United Farmers of Alberta
    1935–1971 Social Credit Party of Alberta
    1971–2015 Alberta Progressive Conservatives
    2015-present Alberta NDP

    So, following the trend, NDP in power to about what, 2065?

    Fascinating to see Prentice abandon his seat immediately upon realizing he couldn't be premier anymore. Shows he was never interested in representing that riding, never interested in advocating for deeply held beliefs, just interested in the top job. Completely irresponsible flight from his responsibilities. Foisting the cost of yet another byelection on his followers. Slap in face of PC volunteers in that district--would not want to be the PC guy who has to run there next.

    Fascinating to that his exit speech was all about how none of it was his fault. "No one expected a drop in oil prices, no one expected 50,000 job lost as a result, no one expected..." Yeah, he expected to be parachuted into top job and to run a province effortlessly. It was mean of us to expect some actual leadership, for him to actually have to do something more helpful and constructive than to save a few million by cutting the charity tax deduction. Mindboggling hubris. Alberta may be way right wing, but the thing about right-wingers is, hubris does not sit well with them. Under another leader, the PCs might well have slipped a bit in the election, but it takes a real effort for a party so entrenched to collapse this far in one go.

    Lethbridge Food Show (Review)

    The 1st Annual Lethbridge Food Show: the food wars arena

    Well, that was good.

    The first Lethbridge Food Show was not the first of its kind in Lethbridge--in fact, the field is getting a little crowded. 5th on 5th has been running a Taste of Lethbridge as a fund-raiser for several years, and it has been a huge success--it runs in April. More recently, the Galt Museum has been running A Taste of Downtown, which also runs in May. It was sufficiently successful that it sold out before I could get tickets. So hoping that this new commercial version doesn't compete to the point where it hurts either of those charities, but there's probably room for this one too. But maybe a little coordination to spread themselves out across the calendar wouldn't hurt.

    This one was reasonably well organized, and had a number of added features that appeal.

    First, the venue allowed for actual food trucks to participate, in addition to the usual spread of tables. Nice to know Lethbridge has some food trucks these days!

    Second, the food was really good. That's kind of important. We spent $60 for the two of us which is roughly what a good meal costs, and we feel we got our money's worth sampling this and that till stuffed. What I like about sampling is the opportunity to discover new places in town. Who knew that there was an excellent chef (Chef Express) renting the kitchen at the Legion? I loved his butter chicken fusion dish--butter chicken adapted, he said, for white guys. (*Laughs*) But I have to confess I am less interested in authentic than in yummy, and his butter chicken was creamy goodness! The chocolate coated bacon also dangerously good, though obviously a gimmick. Other food highlight: deep fried pumpkin pie. Seriously amazing. But a number of really good resturants were featured, though I didn't bother sampling those from places we eat regularly. I could see the food show growing much larger, given the success of this initial outing, and can think of several places that weren't represented that might well do well (like our Korean place) were they to participate. So lots of room for growth there, but already worth the price of admission.

    Third, having a big name guest Chef -- in this instance, David Adjey-- was kind of cool idea. Comes across a little different in person, so that was interesting.

    Fourth, Lethbridge Chef Wars was good idea, though implementation needs to be refined a bit. The idea of doing a live, local version of Chopped TV show has definite potential, and the set up was excellent - photo shows the large arena space dedicated to it, with three quite generous cooking stations laid out, judges table, and etc., and a camera guy running from table to table, projecting cooks and their dishes up on two giant screens. That was handled quite well. The tiny problems were the sound system was echo-y so that it was often difficult to make out what the judges were saying, and there were very long periods were contestants were cooking without any commentary...TV generates excitement by having a host narrating the battle, constantly commenting on chef's choices, progress and techniques, etc., so long silent stretches sapped a lot of the energy out of the thing. Not sure if that was inexperience on part of MC/host, or whether they'd given up on the sound system. Minor fixes, though, so we'll see what happens next time.

    Fifth, looked like a good size beer garden, but being a non-drinker I didn't check out the displays there.

    Sixth, child-friendly! Kids under 12 free admission, so that allows for some families to get out, parents to participate, that might not otherwise be able to get to the 'Taste of' events. Ice sculpting events and food likely to appeal to kids too.

    Overall, I'm a satisfied customer, saying congratulations to the chef from the Italian Canadian Club who organized it all, and hope it really does become an annual event.