Summer’s End, New Beginnings

August was not a good month for me, thus the lack of blog postings. My family and extended circle had three major health crises, and a series of minor scares. After an extended arm wrestle with my last job, I ended up being forced to look for work elsewhere. As I strive for professionalism in all that I do, I will not post details of that situation here, except to say that the whole thing was bogus from start to finish, and it was a wake-up call that I needed to get off my butt and get moving again. We also thought my cat ran away for a few days, which was not fun. As it turned out, she was just hiding, so that one resolved itself in a positive way.

Throughout last month, I just seemed to be clinging to the mast of the ship of my life, trying to ride out storm after storm, praying that we wouldn’t go down. The business, and my writing life, was no exception. I tried a new printer for my books, hoping to save on shipping and buy Canadian, which is important to me. I will not name who it was, but the proofs were misleading and the quality on the printing was absolutely terrible. The covers were literally flaking apart. I got my money back, but that didn’t change the fact that I was short on stock for my next appearance. Also, someone who works with Pop Seagull as an editor had a personal crisis, and backed out of editing the latest book at the last minute, leaving me to find a replacement on short notice and at a disadvantage. I have mixed feelings on this, because I sympathize with their troubles but I wish they could have been honest with me when I gave them the chance to back out shortly after I heard about their life issues.

On top of all this, the historical project I’m working on stalled out completely during the chaos, as I scrambled to get enough assets ready in time for Distant Early Warning to be delivered on October 17th. The animated book trailer I’m working on also got the short end of the stick, and now we’re looking at a release for it sometime in January rather than at the book launch party, as I had hoped. I had known that one was a stretch goal, but things were on track, more or less, until all the upheaval. Now, I’m looking at presenting the work in progress as part of the book launch party as sort of a ‘behind the scenes’ treat. Hopefully I can get it up to the leica stage, which will still be understandable and entertaining for people to see.

Now that all of that is out of the way, here are the good things that happened over the last little while.

I went to the Milton Pirate Fest, and was charmed and entertained by this fun little festival. The actors that roamed around were really good, and the food and programming was fun for all ages! I really appreciated how enthusiastic everyone was about authors and reading in general, and thought that our readings had a really positive vibe to them. Other highlights were the sunshine, meeting new people, and the snow cones and turkey legs. I really hope the author group that I attended with will be going back next year. I also want to thank my author friends for being so supportive and lovely, and convincing me to go despite the botched book shipment and job drama. Catherine, Stephen, Joy, you guys really made a difference at a very low time for me.

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, loved it with all my heart, and now am curious about the comics. I have a new scifi novel bouncing around in my head right now, and I think if it were made into a movie, it would look a lot like that one, with a bit of Contact and some of the art direction of Alien thrown in there for good measure. So yeah, that was a very inspiring experience for me and I’m so glad that the movie got made, because it’s certainly not as formulaic as a lot of what comes out now.

And, lastly (but not leastly?), despite all of the setbacks, Distant Early Warning is coming out, on schedule, with a great launch slot, and we’re going to have plenty of time to prepare. It’s actually shaping up to be our nicest looking book yet, and I think that’s saying something. I did a post over at the Pop Seagull blog with a little self-interview on the book, my writing process, and some key facts about the release. It will be the first in a series of posts talking about the book, the launch, our vending platforms and pre-orders. We’re even going to have some interviews with the real VIPs… the characters.

I also want to invite all of my readers to come to the launch party on:

October 17th, 2014, from 7-9 pm at the Holiday Inn Guelph hotel and conference centre

It will be part of the festivities at Genrecon, and I think we’re going to be able to kick off the weekend with a bang! (Not the kind of bang from Denny’s shotgun, though. Homer Simpson already definitively proved that shotguns are not effective marketing tools.)

And, in conclusion, here’s a little art that I’m contributing to the book. It’s also probably going to get put on t-shirts at some point.

Splash Page/Logo Art for Distant Early Warning (Coming October 17th, 2014)
Splash Page/Logo Art for Distant Early Warning (Coming October 17th, 2014)
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Fantastic New Article By Suzanne Church on SF Signal… How to Justify Your Horror Obsession!

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/04/guest-post-suzanne-church-on-10-ways-to-keep-your-sff-loving-boyfriend-happy-while-enjoying-your-horror-fix/

I can totally relate to this article. Sometimes it’s hard to justify your love of horror to fan friends that enjoy lighter fare, and I love Suzanne Church’s humorous take on it.

It reminds me just how lucky I am to have a zombie nut at home. ❤ His office even comes complete with a wall o’ skulls.

Feel the spoopy...
Feel the spoopy…

 

Yup, we’re just a couple of work-a-day professional eccentrics.

In fact, I think that he is definitely the more hard-core horror fan of the two of us, which is tough, because there’s always a little bit of a dark twist to everything I do. But he’s a wily one… and I think he may have used some of these tactics to get me into more horror, especially the one about offering up stuff with more fantasy elements to it. Before being with Robin, I hadn’t experienced how wonderful fantasy/horror hybrids could be… I thought it was all vampires and werewolves, which although I know a lot of people enjoy that kind of dark/urban fantasy, just isn’t my favorite. I think you either love it or you don’t. It’s funny how the people you meet influence your work sometimes…

How about you, out there in blog land? Has anyone come into your life and shown you things that changed the way you think about your art?

I Didn’t Write Blogs, But I Have Been Writing…

The new book is starting to take shape. It’s a sequel, but I have been meaning to post about the first one more anyway. Here is an excerpt of what I’ve been writing… first draft. You’ve been warned.

Aunt Very blew a loud breath out of her nose.

“There’s a war on, child,” she said, every contour of her body communicating her reluctance to share her experience with such things, “We’re fighting for our land, for our peace of mind, for our sanity. There are going to be casualties, and the bold ones are the first to go. Whoever said fortune favours the bold was full of shit. Fortune favours the prepared, the cutthroat and the very very skilled.”

Denny slapped her knee, sending water sloshing out of the glass in her other hand. The question had been nagging at her through all the interviews, and handshakes, and tapings and attention. She couldn’t ask it there (not in the script) but here? It was time to let it rip.

“And what part do I have in all that?”

Very’s face softened.

“A very special place. One that remains to be discovered. You’re an outlier, Denny. You don’t fit within the rules, and yet you’re part of the game nonetheless. That’s the most powerful position of all.”

Denny looked over at Peter, nursing his ice water, expecting him to spout some jargon about her unique gifts and experience, or selling her brand or some more of the nonsense that he used to pep her up before interviews. Instead, he tipped his glass in their direction, cocked his head, and said:

“I don’t know what you’re looking at me for, Dens. You just got the best answer you’re ever gonna get.”

… and there is my first excerpt from the new book. As true today as it was when I wrote it 24 hours ago.

I Didn’t Do It… But I Might Have.

This is part two of a series I started on Thursday about character development, and how my characters both are and aren’t myself and people that I know. If you want to read part one, it’s here.

 For a quick recap, on Thursday I wrote about the oddities that ensue when writers draw characters from real life experience. I concluded that, personally, I don’t believe that writers can ever produce a character that isn’t drawn from their own experiences and biases, in large part because that’s ultimately the only well we have to draw from when creating stories. I then went on to impart a story of how one of my villains came to be, and the real-life circumstances he was drawn from.

 As therapeutic as turning my frustrations with a former crush into a villain may have been, I have had far more powerful experiences with some of my protagonists. Three protagonists in particular stand out in my mind as having helped me work through major life changes.

 The first is Nemra, from my second published short story, Beyond Nemra. At the time I wrote this story, I was in the process of letting go of my relationship with my first real love, and falling in love with the man who eventually became my husband. My relationship with my ex boyfriend had been very difficult at the end, devoid of affection, and full of secrets. I found at the end, that he was telling things to friends of ours that I should have been told, and was only ever told after the fact. He wanted to railroad me into marriage by trying to convince me that I wasn’t getting any younger (at 23, ha) and yet he clearly didn’t feel any affection for me anymore. I was scared to break it off because we lived together and had joined our resources, but eventually, after many tries to reconcile and make him open up again, I realized that it was over.

 After I broke up with him, I was left with a lot of resentment and unanswered questions as to why he went cold on me. I started dating again, but I still had a lot of grief and rage bottled up inside over what I saw as him ruining a good thing. I felt, often, like I had a fire caged up in my chest, trying to explode outward, I was so filled with emotion. My new love for Robin and my old resentment of my ex warred with each other for dominance within me. Then, in my quiet moments on the way back from a writers’ retreat that summer, my feelings took human form in Nemra, the girl with a fiery enchantment trapped inside her that she will either release, or die.

 Despondent after being abandoned by her wizard lover, Nemra swallows one of his talismans and throws herself into the world as an adventurer for hire, hoping to die quickly by the sword, or slowly by the enchantment trapped within her. Then, she meets Kerimar, a man who convinces her, through a series of trials, that she may yet love again. Nemra releases the talisman just as she and Kerimar are surrounded by enemies, and the enchantment flies up out of her mouth into the clouds, and comes back down as burning blue hail that fells their enemies and leaves the two of them free to love again. Writing this story exorcised the last of my resentment toward my ex, and allowed me to love again, too.

 The next character that helped me work through a lot of life stuff is Ravoth Yonfarion. Ravoth, unfortunately, will never see print, because he is part of a license novel that I wrote that will never see the light of day. I can’t talk much about what the project was about, but I can still tell this character’s individual tale without getting into too much hot soup. Ravoth is nearly immortal, and very, very old, but he can only survive by receiving immortality treatments from his best friend, a terrible dictator whose former ideals have sunken into a lust for power and order at any cost. When Ravoth learns that something he and his friend created long ago that could unite the land and bring peace and understanding has not died, but merely lain dormant waiting for a time to grow, he must choose whether he will kill his creation and live, or take a stand for his ideals, protect his creation, and die.

 When I wrote Ravoth, I had just left my home and come to animation school. I was older than just about everyone around me, because it had taken me time to gather the courage and maturity I needed to take a stand and own my love for art. I felt lonely, and like I’d been fighting for years just to make it as far as I had, and still I had a long fight ahead of me. Ravoth, the old soldier alive beyond his years and homesick for a time long gone, comforted me with the thought that no matter how long you’ve spent going down the wrong path, it’s never too late to tap into your inner fire. I still love him, and wish others could have ‘met’ him too.

 The third, and most recent character on this list is Denny, short for Felicia Dennigan. Denny is a strong, independent woman struggling to survive without much support from her family, in a decayed Ontario where the dead have started rising from the grave and tormenting the living after dark. Denny lives outside the zone affected by the monsters, but she is quickly drawn into a wilderness adventure of epic proportions when she discovers that her missing father is one of them. She faces many dangers along her journey, but the hardest challenge for her by far is learning to trust others.

 At the time I wrote Denny, I was very lonely. Many of the friends I’d had for years were dropping away from me, one by one, and people at school gave me a wide berth, for reasons I’m still not sure of. I spent most of my days feeling isolated and a bit abandoned, all while having to achieve high marks and spend a lot of time on schoolwork. Denny helped me work through the things I was doing to push people away, and the trust issues I had that contributed to my loneliness. As I wrote her, I started to see the same traits in myself, and learn how to push back against them. I used my new-found realizations to find community outside of school, and became much happier and less isolated.

 And now, it’s time for the question of the week:

 Has a fictional character ever helped you work through something big in your life? I’d love to hear the story. Comment, or better yet, blog it!

Welcome!

The title says it all. If you’ve never been here before, by name is Elizabeth Hirst, and I’m a writer, animator, and general practitioner of quirkiness. I’ve got a (much)  longer version of my bio up top, in the ‘Bio and Credits’ heading on the top nav bar. I’ve also got links to my books, and some writing samples, if you’re curious.

I live and work in Southern Ontario, Canada. My place in the world informs quite a lot of my work, and will probably fill up a lot of my posts as well. I’ll also be posting about convention appearances, events, and stuff that interests me. Previously, I have done some indie publishing, and my old blog for that is here. I’ll still update that one now and again, when I have news about my company.

I’ll be updating this blog, at the very least, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Bonus material may happen, but those are going to be my regular days. So, let the comments and follows begin! Be the first and have eternal bragging rights. 😛