Ajax Library and Word on the Street

I will be at Ajax Library on August 23rd at 4pm to talk about writing, Transferral, Tangled Planet and trying to be brave. You can find the details here. Please come by if you are in the area!

And on Sunday September 24, I’ll be back at Word on the Street, which I am so excited about.  (I will continue to be excited about it until about two weeks before, when I will start to get nervous, a feeling that will slowly grow until the day of, when I’ll be terrified, nauseous, and wondering what on Earth possessed me to agree to stand on a stage and speak in the first place.)  But for now, excitement – eeee!

Word on the Street is one of my favourite festivals, and I’d been going for
years before I became an author. This year, I’m on the ‘Born a Hero‘ panel on the Teen Spirit Stage from 12.30pm-1.30pm with Sarah Raughley  and Cherie Dimaline.

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow panelists – I’ve wanted to read Cherlie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves since I first saw it on the DCB website, and this starred Kirkus review obviously bumped it up my to-read list – I’ll make sure I’ve made time before the panel.

I’m currently reading Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley, and loving it. (How could I not? It is as exactly as she described it – ‘PACIFIC RIM meets the AVENGERS with a SAILOR MOON cast’). Strong female protagonists, monsters, conspiracies and the world in the balance – hugely fun and compelling.

As usual, I’m going to be totally in awe of my fellow panelists. It’ll be a fascinating session, and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say about their books.  Please come and sit in the audience and send me supportive looks so I feel slightly more comfortable about the whole public speaking thing.

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Sunburst and Tangled Planet

Transferral has been longlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. So exciting to be nominated! Especially since I’m once again in great company – there are books by several of my friends there –  Lena Coakley with the wonderful Worlds of Ink and Shadow, Marina Cohen’s creepy  The Inn Between, and Ian Donald Keeling’s action-packed The Skids, are all also nominated in the young adult category, and Jay Hosking’s fascinating Three Years With the Rat is nominated in the adult category.

And my next book – Tangled Planet – is coming out in the fall with the wonderful people at DCB! My lovely agent, Lydia Moed, described it as “A tense, compelling read that combines the big ideas of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora with the pace and intrigue of The 100.” Here’s a brief description:

After 400 years, the starship Venture has arrived at its destination: Beta Earth, pristine and uninhabited. But after generations of living on their dilapidated starship, 17-year-old engineer Ursa and her crewmates are not prepared for the rigors of colonization. Deadly accidents and unexpected hardships threaten to tear the group apart. Then Ursa discovers something lurking in the overgrown alien forests of their new home. Something that shouldn’t be there. Something that’s killing the colonists, one by one.

Ursa needs to convince her crewmates to return to the safety of the Venture, but when she tries to tell them about the creature she saw, they assume she’s lost her mind – or worse, that she’s committing the murders herself. As conflict threatens to tear the crew apart and evidence of a conspiracy comes to light, Ursa doesn’t know who she can trust. But if she can’t find out what’s going on in the forests of Beta Earth and in the patched and worn corridors of her starship home, her fragile society won’t survive.

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Willow Award nomination, Transférés, and my next book

I am terrible at updating this blog. At least that means when I get around to it, I have lots of news to share.

Transferral was just nominated for a Willow Award! A Snow Willow Award, to be precise. The Willow Awards are a wonderful young readers’ choice award program in Saskatchewan.  Ten books are nominated in each age group (Snow Willow is for grades 7-9), and the readers vote on their favourite.

I am in excellent company, along with several friends and their fantastic books, including Icarus Down by James Bow (which is next on my shamefully behind to-read list), a favourite of my childrens’, If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle, and the identity-affirming French Toast by Kari-Lynn Winters.

My book is also coming out in France next week! It’s up on Michel Lafon’s website, and has a fantastic cover. Am looking forward to trying to read it with my limited French when my author’s copies arrive.

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And I have another book coming out in the autumn, from the wonderful people at DCB. More to come on that in another post. Watch this space. (That’s a pun. Because it’s set in space).

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Transferral optioned! French rights sold! Signed with an agent!

So, it’s been an exciting few weeks, and a number of things have fallen into place that I can now talk about.

Firstly, Transferral got optioned! And by Temple Street Productions, no less – makers of the wonderful Orphan Black (if you haven’t watched it, get on that).  Here’s the proper news release:

Transferral Option Announcement

Massive, massive thanks to Barry Jowett, Bryan Jay Ibeas, Kitty Yau, Cormorant and DCB for their amazing work in making that happen.

French rights have also sold, to Les Editions Michel Lafon, so it’ll be coming out in France! I am far too excited about getting a French copy. Am going to try to read it. My French is rather limited, but I think reading a book in French that I wrote will help. Right?

I’ve also signed with an agent – the lovely Lydia Moëd at the Rights Factory (who sold the French rights!).  Here’s my page at their site. Lydia is currently building her list, and is actively seeking marginalized authors over the summer. So if you are looking for an agent and are from an underrepresented group – send her a query. Information on definitions, what she is looking for and how to query here.

Currently working hard on finishing up my next book, so it’s ready for submission, and outlining book 3. Oh, you know, and the full-time day job. And parenting two small children. And volunteering.

And I wonder why I’m so tired…

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MYRCA 2017 Nomination

I found out on Monday that Transferral has been nominated for a Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. And I’m still so happy about it, for three reasons. Firstly – award nomination! Eeee! They like my book! Of course that is beyond exciting. Secondly, the company.  Seriously, look at these books:

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The Scorpion Rules was on my post about my favourite books of 2015, and I’ve since read Speechless and We Are All Made of Molecules, and I absolutely loved them! Two more of the books are on my to-read shelf (The Blackthorn Key, which I have heard wonderful things about, and A Pocket Full of Murder, which was recommended to me by E.K. Johnston when we were at Ella Minnow for Authors for Indies last weekend). And several more are on my (absurdly long) to-read list (and a few more will be added). So it’s amazing to see Transferral in such company.

Thirdly and most importantly, I’m excited because the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards is a literary initiative which encourages children to read the books on the list, and then vote on their favourite. So by being nominated, Transferral will be read by many more children. And that’s the whole point really, isn’t it?

By the way, here is my actual to-read-shelf, in case you thought I was making that bit up. I just finished The Lie Tree today (which was incredible), so I get to start a new book now, and it’s going to be a fellow MYRCA 2017 nominee for sure. I still can’t bring myself to read Terry Pratchett’s final book, so that’ll probably stay on the shelf for a while.

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Authors for Indies, Illusionoid Podcast & General Update

Once again, it’s been too long since I updated this blog.

I’ve been busy enjoying being an author and doing authorish things, as well as the day job and parenting – both of which have been even more hectic than usual.

I was interviewed for the Illusionoid improv podcast – you can hear my episode here, but I would also strongly recommend the prior episode, Henry and His Goon Child, which was fantastic.

I also did a reading at the Chiaroscuro Reading Series,  which is a wonderful sci-fi fantasy series with branches in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver. In Toronto, it’s (usually) held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at the ROUND venue in Kensington Market, but this month it’s on April 27th.  I only found out about Chiseries recently, and that’s on me – I have been missing out! I went to the Spec Fic Colloquim on March 12 (as an audience member) which was fab too. Will be trying to arrange babysitting so we can get out to more of the monthly events.

I also did some in-store signings, and my first ever author visit to a school, which I was nervous about, but turned out to be fun. Talking to teens who have actually read my book is an amazing feeling, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

I’ve been keeping things a bit lighter in terms of upcoming events, but I am going to be taking part in Authors for Indies,  a great day where authors help out in independent bookstores, recommending their favourite books to customers. I’ll be at the lovely Ella Minnow shop on April 30th. So, if you’re looking for book recommendations for children and teens – please come by. I have read so many picture books, middle-grade and YA novels, and I am excited about hooking people up with books they will love!

Plus my book comes out in the US in May!

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World-building and Illusionoid

I was invited to be a part of a roundtable on world-building, along with some excellent Canadian SFF authors, by the 49th ShelfCharlotte Ashley had some great questions, and I found everyone else’s answers fascinating and insightful.  It was fun to be a part of it.

I still have more upcoming events! I’ll be the interviewee at the Illusionoid podcast at the Social Capital Theatre on February 24th at 8pm. The Facebook event is here. If you can’t be there in person, I hope you can catch it online afterwards.

I’ll also be signing at Indigo Oshawa on Sunday February 28th at 2pm. See you there?

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Author Events

I have some of these coming up. That and the fact that my book is in libraries and being checked out by people in places I have never heard of makes me far too excited.

Getting published is this thing that you feel in stages, from ‘OMG, a real publisher likes what I wrote’ to ‘There’s a cover! This is a real thing!’ to ‘I have to speak in public! Why on Earth did I think this was a good idea?’

Anyway, here are the events that are currently causing me mild to moderate anxiety. Please do come. My greatest fear is an empty room.

I will be signing books at Indigo at Yonge and Eglinton on Friday February 5th at 7pm. The Facebook event for that is here.

I’ll also be signing at Indigo Oshawa on Sunday February 28th at 2pm.

I’m the interviewee at the hilarious Illusionoid podcast at the Social Capital Theatre on February 24th at 8pm. It’s a wonderful show by a group of ridiculously talented comedians. If you can’t come, please listen. And you don’t have to listen to my episode. I recently binge-listened to four in a row, because they’re so fun. You will be glad to know I am not one of the people who have to be funny.

And on March 16th, I’ll be reading at the Toronto Chiaroscuro Reading Series event at the ROUND venue in Kensington Market at 7.30pm. Chiseries is a fantastic sci-f reading series and two-time nominee for the Aurora Award. They also have an amazing SpecFic Colloquium on March 12 with Margaret Atwood and other wonderful authors. I’ll be a member of the audience there.

I am also available to come and speak to schools. I’ve been working hard on my presentation, based on advice from many of the best authors I know. You can find out more information about my rates and topics from Authors’ Booking Service. I’m a member of the Writer’s Union of Canada, so rates subsidized by them through the Ontario Writers in the Schools program are available.

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My Favourite Books in 2015

I know this is late for a ‘Best of 2015′ post, but 2015 was the busiest year of my life, and I’m still playing catch-up. Hence I didn’t read as much as I’d have liked in 2015. I probably only got through about 30-odd books.

Still – here are a few of my favourites, in no particular order:

An Inheritance of Ashes – Leah Bobet

Sumptuous writing, wonderful story filled with characters who felt solidly real, in spite of the fantasy events. A burned-out, tough post-war world, with people to match and an intriguing story.  Made me want to do so, so much better in my own writing.

The Scorpion Rules – Erin Bow

A wonderful concept, revisiting and updating the tradition of hostage children in a vision of the future that certainly isn’t a dystopia (possibly a utopia, as long as you aren’t one of the aforementioned children). But it’s the characters, the riveting plot and crisp writing that make this so much more. The best AI in fiction (in spite of the competition) and lots of goats are the icing on the cake.

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nenshi Coates

This is on a lot of ‘best’ lists for excellent reasons. It was difficult to read, because I constantly felt so ignorant. There’s such a huge gulf between my experience of growing up and life and Ta-Nenshi Coates’s. While ideas around privilege are familiar to me, this brought it home and made me more aware of just how profound the issues are.

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Almost from the first page I loved this one. There was a line that said something like “I never felt as old as I did when the children were young.” And I just thought ‘oh, thank goodness, it’s not just me’. And the rest of the book continued in that vein, with so much of it feeling so utterly true. I love how her children’s infancy really does pass in a haze of ridiculous exhaustion and a narrowing of her world as well as with a lot of love (in both her lives, but with different emphasis in each). In many ways, the two lives felt true as well – expressing the internal contradictions of family life. These last four years have been the hardest and the best of my life at different times, and this book did what all the best fiction does – made me feel that I’m not alone in that.

Rotten Perfect Mouth – by Eva HD

I only bought this poetry book because a friend of mine (who is a good friend of Eva’s) raved about it so much. And she was right. Stunning use of language, beautiful imagery. It’s rare that a poem will make me cry, yet I did several times, reading this slim book.

Other books I really loved included Dance of the Banished by Marsha Skrypuch and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – both of which cast a fascinating light on periods of history I do not know enough about.

In 2016, I’m really looking forward to reading Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley – have loved this one since I first heard her explain the concept in 2012, and read a fabulous earlier draft. Can’t wait to get my hands on the final thing at her book launch.

Have also pre-ordered The Words in my Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd, who I met at The Literary Consultancy‘s conference in 2014, where we were both shortlisted for the Pen Factor Competition. From what she told me about the book, and the piece she read, it was clear she would win (I was right), and that I would love the book.

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Updates, Tales from the Black and Blog Tour

It’s been a month since I updated my blog. In my defense, it’s a busy time. Two small children, a full-time job and a first novel coming out do not leave a lot of time for anything else. Plus I got sick, as did my whole family. So much vomit.

Apart from that, being an official ‘published author’ has been seriously fun. I got to be a part of Word on the Street and have a wonderful book launch at Bakka Phoenix. Reviews on my book have (so far) been positive. Phew!

I got a particularly lovely one from CM: Canadian Review of Materials, which gave it 4/4 stars and said:

Blair is able to explore the ramifications of domestic biological warfare and make it appealing to a young audience by adding parental conflict, romance, suspense and a striking contrast between the clinical world of privilege and the gritty, desolate landscape of the criminal community. In Transferral, Blair subtly captures her audience with the ingenuity of her dystopian vision and then sweeps readers away as she raises the stakes again and again. As the novel approaches its climax, readers will find themselves madly flipping pages to find out the fate of a nation. Highly Recommended.

I also took part in Tales from the Black at Bad Dog Theatre. It’s wonderful new monthly night where people tell ‘true’ sci-fi/fantasy/horror stories. So I told one from the point of view of a campaigns coordinator for the National Law Party in Transferral. It was all a bit terrifying for me, especially because it meant memorizing a ten minute story and speaking as if I were that character addressing a group of volunteers. I am not an actor, but the musical accompaniment from Nick Di Gaetano helped me get into the feel of it all. I was on last, and before me there were fantastic stories from Colin Munch, Jamie O’Connor, Jon Blair and Jocelyn Geddie. It will become a podcast at some point, and I’ll share that once it is. I’m planning to go again when I’m not on stage, so I can relax and enjoy the night properly. And I’ll certainly perform there again at some point. The next one is December 4th.

I’m also most of the way through a blog tour for Transferral. You can read guest posts, interviews and reviews at Brains, Books and Brawn, Books at Dawn, Workaday Reads Midnight Bloom Reads, Bookish Notions, And Lost in a Great Book.

Transferral is also now available as an ebook from Amazon and Chapters/Indigo.

Right. Now back to my sickbed.

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