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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How to Write a Novel

When I decided to write a novel, I sat down and wrote it. This turned out to be a terrible idea. The draft I ended up with was unreadable. It contained every obvious rookie mistake. Then I started to learn to write properly, and redrafted my book along the way.

It took ten years.

I submitted the finished novel about 20 times and got praise and ‘almost but not quite’ replies from publishers and agents. So I wrote another book, using everything I’d learned. This one took just over a year, and the first publisher I sent it to bought it. (Transferral is available now,  from Chapters/Indigo, or pre-order from Barnes and Noble, if you’re interested.)

I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way. If you want to write, here is my advice.

Continue reading

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Transferral Book Launch!

I’m so excited to announce my official book launch. This is all really happening!


Continue reading

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Alternate Versions of London in Film and TV

A little while ago, I posted about my favourite novels featuring alternative versions of London (other than mine). I promised a follow-up post on alternative film and TV versions of London.

It’s a slightly shorter list, I’m afraid. I’m more a reader more than a filmgoer. So I’ll start with films and TV shows that are books too. Continue reading

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On the Hugo Awards and Villainy

I don’t believe that anyone is a write-off as a human. Especially not thousands of people. Yet, in the recent Hugo Awards, around 1,800 people voted for the slate of the Sad/Rabid Puppies. A group that most media outlets have tagged as sexist at least, and are frequently called racist, misogynistic and trans/homophobic. Continue reading

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Word on the Street

I’m going to be on a panel at the Word on the Street Toronto festival on Sunday September 27th. It’s being held at Harbourfront.

I love Word on the Street. It’s a festival I’ve attended regularly for years. I’ve gone on my own, brought my daughter and mother, and brought my Little Sister (with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto). I’ve had a Margaret Atwood book signed there, listened to some of my favourite authors talk, discovered all kinds of good books and supported friends at their readings and panels. So it’s extremely exciting to be on stage there myself.

Especially because of who I’ve been programmed with.

I’m going to be on the This is Not the Shakespeare Stage at 1.30pm-2.30pm along with Erin Bow and Eve Silver. We will be discussing the ‘Politics of a Parallel World’. Continue reading

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