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, Amazon.ca 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.

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Transferral Book Launch!

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


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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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7 Things Aspiring Authors & Would-be Stand-ups Have in Common

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been taking a stand-up course. I did my first ever set in a small club on Monday, and I’ll be doing my grad show on Sunday (and then I’ll stop – it’s been fun but I don’t the time to pursue comedy seriously). Throughout the course it has struck me how much learning stand-up is like learning to write. Here are seven things that both comics and authors must do. Continue reading

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Disease and Punishment – The Intertwined Histories of The Old Bailey and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital

In Transferral, I’ve used the real locations of The Old Bailey  and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital because, historically and geographically, they embody the connection between sickness and crime that is central to the book. Continue reading

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Four Miracle Products for Writers

Empathix cream

Empathix CreamWhy work hard on a well-rounded character, when you can use Empathix? Rub a generous amount of Empathix over your character’s main features to make them more attractive to readers. Covers up inconsistencies in personality while giving the illusion of intriguing contradictions. Continue reading

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Five Things Successful Creative People Do

I’ve seen a lot of blogs posts lately on how ‘creatives’ simply can’t be punctual, pay attention to practical details or meet deadlines. Because their creativity makes it impossible to show consideration for the needs of the people they are working with. (It’s not their fault. Creatives apparently feel things more than those dull, numb ordinary people.)

The thing is, I know a lot of people doing well in creative fields – including writers, film-makers, actors, and comedians. And they don’t behave the way those blog posts describe ‘creatives’ behaving.

There are exceptions, but here these five things I find separate the professionals from the hobbyists. Continue reading

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