Worldcon 75 in Helsinki

KatrinaEvents, Workshops, Festivals & Conferences

worldcon75_logo

I did say a while ago that Kat’s Crazy Counter-Spectacular would be back later this year. Well, Leg 2 is almost upon me. From August 9-13 I’ll be at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention, this year held in Helsinki, Finland.

I am quite excited about this one because 1) Helsinki! and 2) I’ll be on panels this year for the first time.

My first panel is The Editor’s Dream, and is all about the ins and outs of maintaining a good relationship with your editor(s).

My second panel is Climate Change and Social Responsibility in Science Fiction, on how climate change is being covered in science fiction.

I won’t post times, as my understanding is the schedule might change, but here’s a link to the up-to-the-minute online schedule.

It’s an honour to get a chance to present at Worldcon. Anticipation (Worldcon Montreal in 2009) was my very first science fiction convention, so Worldcons have a special place in my heart.

I hope to see you there!

Kat’s Crazy Counter-Spectacular 2017 – Leg 1: London

KatrinaRandom Thoughts

DonJuanInSoho_01

A Short Travelogue and Play Review

Let’s get this out of the way: I lead a comfortable life. I have a good job, a roof over my head, have a great bunch of family and friends, and keep myself (probably too) well fed.

But the last 12 months have been a little rough around the edges. I had a brush with cancer that required surgery. On returning to exercise after a month off from that, I developed painful Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis, which put most of my favourite activities out of reach and left me constantly sore and hobbling for 8 months. I gained an unpleasant amount of weight as a result. A close family member died. World politics went pear-shaped and left me stressed out. And after getting my hopes up for a professional breakthrough on the writing front, I fell short of the prize by a hair-thin margin that, well, threw me for a bit of a loop.

Not a banner year.

So when I saw from a friend’s Facebook post that David Tennant had a new play out in London, I had a little sad. My first thought was, “London! Poo. Of course I can’t go! That’s halfway around the world. Plus it’s probably sold out already.” I gnashed my teeth about it for about 36 hours.

Then a gear tripped in my brain and a little voice said, “What if it’s not sold out?” So I checked. And there were still great seats available. Then the little voice whispered, “Well, how much is a flight?” So I broke out the travel search engines and found a flight to London for less money than what I paid to get there back in 1992. Then I looked at my expected tax refund, and the little voice nudged me and said, “You know, you do have some spare change this year. Enough to funnel back into savings and do a little side jaunt.”

That’s when I said, “Fuck it. I’m going to see David Tennant’s play because it will make me happy, DAMMIT. Screw the jet lag.” The jet lag, incidentally, was the highest price paid: two 9+ hour flights with a grand total of 8 hours time difference each way, with only 72 hours on the ground. *bleurgh*

So that’s how I wound up seeing Don Juan In Soho at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End this past weekend. I rarely review plays because I rarely attend plays, but here goes.


I loved Don Juan In Soho, but I didn’t want to. That’s probably the whole point. David Tennant plays DJ, the titular cad, with Adrian Scarborough as his long-suffering right-hand man. Tennant is genius casting, because his charisma and charm seduce you into rooting for the character, even though he’s despicable.

Rather brilliantly in a meta kind of way, the play abuses and manipulates its audience almost as much as DJ abuses and manipulates his hangers-on. The zany comedy, hilarious slapstick, occasional dance number, and chemistry between the leads suckers you into laughing at some pretty repulsive behaviour. For some, it was too much: the couple next to me didn’t return after the interval. It was one of the crudest, most vulgar, misogynistic, at times racist pieces of entertainment I’ve watched. I can perhaps forgive the Brits for not knowing how offensive the term “Eskimo” is to First Nations, but given the rest of the content, I suspect the usage was intentional. I also had a personal pout at the “moustachioed Ukrainian” jab—the truth hurts almost as much as the plucking middle age has forced upon me.

The one-liners come fast and furious. Tennant’s sheer physicality is mesmerizing—he throws himself into the part with complete abandon—while Scarborough matches him effortlessly as the quintessential straight man. Though some of the farce didn’t work for me, I do hope to never be the recipient of a gaze as filled with contempt and disdain as Tennant’s as he looks upon those DJ considers his lessers. And I was astonished that during one particular scene, upon observing what Tennant was doing to one of the actresses on stage, no one in the audience stood up to shout “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!”

Ultimately, though, the seduction doesn’t work. The people in DJ’s orbit—with the exception of Elvira, his wronged wife, whom I was glad got to exit with dignity—keep returning for more because they can’t help falling for him. But while you in the audience want to love DJ, and you ache to have him turn his charm upon you, you know you’ll just get burned. In his major speech, when DJ tries to justify his actions and his life philosophy by pointing out the hypocrisy rife in the world, and claiming that at least his actions are honest, all I could think was “Bullshit.” He is either the biggest hypocrite of all, or has succeeded in deluding himself: the actions of other bad actors don’t justify or absolve the hurt you do to others. I wasn’t sorry to see DJ’s final comeuppance. I was only sorry it meant saying goodbye to Tennant.


My experience with the play didn’t end at the play. The next morning, in search of brunch, I walked into a random restaurant suggested by my hotel. The couple ahead of me were arguing with the maître d’ about the hour-long wait for a table, so I figured I’d have to forage elsewhere, but when it came to my turn, I was told that singles were fine, and seated at a stool at the far end of the bar.

I toasted my jet lag with a glass of sparkling wine, and the subject of why I was in the UK came up with the bartender. Who then grinned at my answer. “Don Juan In Soho? I’m the assistant set designer. How did you like the play?” I gave him my review above, and we then proceeded to have a lovely conversation about set design, the rickshaw and the statue that were key elements in the play, architecture, the long slow builds of certain careers, and working with creative people, among other things.

When he found out about the short length of my stay, he—like the border guard, and everyone else I met in London—said, “You must be a big David Tennant fan.” Yes. Yes, I am. That’s the simple answer. There’s a more complex one that I didn’t mention to anyone I met, and that has to do with the relationship between some of Tennant’s performances and my own creative writing output, but getting into the subtleties of that with a border guard just isn’t worth the hassle. “Did you stay to try to see him at the stage door?” Yes I did. But I felt weird about it, and ultimately didn’t get to shake his hand or meet him or anything, because the scrum bothered me, so I stood at the fringe. The whole idea of being in a shouting crowd of people like that and clamouring for 10 seconds of attention felt horribly needy to me. I can see why people do it, but if I’m ever to meet an actor I admire, I’d rather relate to them as a human being than a show pony. Liam the set designer and I both agreed that is one of the less savoury aspects of celebrity.

I don’t travel alone that often, and my Canadian reserve typically means that when I do I don’t interact with many people, but I got out of my shell a bit more on this trip and met quite a few people: a group of French tourists and then two English ladies on a night out kept me entertained on my first terrace. An older Danish gentleman and I talked climate change and the differences between North American and European culture at our neighbouring tables at dinner. I even said hi to an actual celebrity when Devon Bostick (Jasper on The 100) wandered past my first bar terrace, although my jet lag turned me into the worst sort of gabbling fangirl (“Great show! Love your work!” Oh you loser, did you really just say that?) My good friend Jeremy came down from Leeds and walked the Thames for miles with me. And Liam B. serendipitously kept the magic of the play going at brunch.

On the flight home, I mainlined Season 3 of Broadchurch, which I hadn’t had a chance to see yet. It was the perfect length for a 9-hour flight. It’s kind of incredible to, in the same weekend, watch the same actor disappear into first a complete letch, and then a fundamentally decent man entirely at odds with rape culture, and be utterly believable as both. Mad props for acting craft, that’s all I have to say.

So all in all, yes, despite the worst jet lag of my life, this trip made me happy. Thank you everyone for a great time, especially you, David. You did not disappoint. While I know it wasn’t part of the deal, I’m only sorry I didn’t get to tell you that—among other things—myself.

Lesson learned: life is short, see the play.

Stay tuned later this year for Leg 2 of Kat’s Crazy Counter-Spectacular 2017: Helsinki.

PS: Liam, if you’re ever doing set design in Vancouver, I owe you a drink :-)

Join Me at the 2017 Creative Ink Fest

KatrinaEvents, Workshops, Festivals & Conferences

It’s that time of year when you can catch me at the Creative Ink Festival! I’ll be hanging out at the Delta Burnaby Hotel with tons of other great writers from March 31 to April 2.

This is an interesting event to check out if you’re an emerging author looking for craft and business of writing tips and tricks.

I’ll be on a couple of panels and at the autograph session.

Stress Management for Creative People – Saturday, 10 AM

The artistic lifestyle is not and has never been easy. Who has not been bedeviled by money, time and family issues? Not to mention the challenges of self-promotion and the pressure to perform. How do you get a handle on this? Come and find out!

After The Critique – Sunday, 3 PM

You’ve had your worked critiqued by a first reader, workshop or critique group, now what? How do you apply all the input you’ve been given? What’s the next step?

The 2017 Eligible Work Post — The Tree of Souls

KatrinaThe Tree of Souls

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Since all the cool kids are doing it, let’s just get the awkwardness out of the way:

I published a single work in 2016 that is eligible for the 2017 SFF awards season: my dark fantasy, The Tree of Soulsin the Novel category.

As far as I know, it is Hugo, Nebula, and Aurora eligible. Perhaps even BSFA too.

Thanks for your consideration, and happy awards season reading. I know I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some great books to put up for nomination.

Untalented Wins Honorable Mention in Library Journal’s 2016 Indie Ebook Awards

KatrinaNews, Untalented

Isolte and Saroya

Wow. This was a nice thing to wake up to.

self-e_honorablemention_youngadult

Untalented is a YA Honorable Mention in Library Journal’s 2016 Indie Ebook Awards.

Archer has created a vividly detailed realm utilizing the old theme of the haves vs. the have-nots. Saroya, steadfast, independent, and imperfect, is a heroine young readers will want to root for.

A big thank you to Library Journal, the judges and librarians. I’m rather floored. I believe you can now check out Untalented on LJ’s SELF-e system.

Saroya, you go girl!

Upcoming Appearances

KatrinaEvents, Workshops, Festivals & Conferences, News

Summer has come to a close which means it’s time to get busy with author appearances!

The first is VCon, Vancouver’s premier science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention, this weekend (Sep 30-Oct 2) at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, BC. I’m not sure how final the schedule is, so I’ll refer you to VCon’s site instead of listing here panels that might change. I’m on a number of panels at this point, and will be giving a short reading at the Book Launch event on Friday night, and a longer reading on Sunday at 1 PM in Green Timbers 3. Come on down and check out the con. The Book Launch is free to the public, so even if the full con doesn’t tempt you, I’d love to see you there. White Dwarf books will have my books available for purchase as well.

I’m also excited to share that I’ll be at Surrey International Writer’s Conference Author Signing event on Oct 22 at 7 PM, also at the Sheraton Guildford in Surrey,  but in the Fraser Room. There are going to be tons of great authors to meet, and Chapters will have books for sale. The Author Signing is also open to the public.

July Tidbits

KatrinaNews, The Tree of Souls

I’ve had a string of houseguests, so haven’t been very active here. Why do you care? Well, because I forgot to tell you about the Goodreads giveaway of The Tree of Souls running until the 23rd. Get it in time for your summer beach read!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Tree of Souls by Katrina Archer

The Tree of Souls

by Katrina Archer

Giveaway ends July 23, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Also, today I’m guest blogging over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University about sustaining tone in longer works. Head on over there to get some tips.

Cycling Follow-up

KatrinaOpining

It’s been a bit of a crazy month; I’ve had visiting guests and a major writing deadline to hit, so had no chance to follow up on my cycling post, which went locally viral in the Vancouver area (the post is now responsible for about 15% of my total site views since 2006, when I started seriously tracking stats).

I’ve closed comments on that post, but apologize because the old comments are still there, just not visible. There’s a bug with my WordPress theme that I’ll have to sort out before they’ll show up again. I’m not trying to stifle the existing discussion.

I touched enough of a nerve that CBC’s On The Coast asked me in to chat, and did a companion article on CBC News. Two days later, so did CKNW’s Jill Bennett show. Even Reddit got a hold of it. So that was weird, because I didn’t set out to become the poster girl for civil cycling in Vancouver (especially given that sometimes I’m no angel, either). At any rate. Apparently I don’t suck at radio :-)

Some commenters seem to think I was personally advocating licensing with that post. That’s not actually true, although I’m not ready to dismiss some form of registration or licensing out of hand. It was that out of hand dismissal on the part of HUB, without any alternate solutions proposed, or even acknowledgement of an existing issue, that upset me.

Of the top of my head here are some things we could do.

Teach Cycling Road Rules, Etiquette and Safety in High School

I learned to bike from my parents when I was a kid. I learned the basics about road signs. But I learned many more road safety rules from driver’s ed. Many of my friends’ kids aren’t going to take driver’s ed, because our transit and cycling infrastructure is so good. So where are they going to learn about things like shoulder checks (which saved me from hitting a jogger on my bike the other day), less obvious road rules like roundabouts, proper lane position and right of way? I don’t trust parents to teach all these things either; the day after I wrote my post I caught a parent letting their kid ride their bike across the marina pedestrian-only bridge. This person thought the rules didn’t apply to their child because their child was “small”.

More VPD Bike Patrols

I know we have a bike patrol unit. If I see them once a year, I’m doing well. I see cop cars patrolling the roads regularly. I don’t see the cop cyclists.

More Studies With Better Data

ICBC does not track cyclist collisions that do not involve motor vehicles. The BICE study out of UBC looked at hospitalizations involving cyclists, but there’s a strong suspicion that accidents and other incidents between cyclists and pedestrians are underreported. If cycling is a core of the city’s transportation plan, there should be more funding to research these types of incidents, since the number of cyclists on the road will continue to rise, and we’ll see more accidents, but we don’t even know how bad the problem really is. There’s some evidence out of the UK that indicates that even though the absolute number of pedestrians injured by cyclists is lower than by cars (because there are fewer cyclists on the roads), per billion kilometres traveled, cyclists are almost as dangerous to pedestrians as cars.

Mandatory Road Safety Course Upon Citation

If you get a cycling ticket, maybe you should be required to take an online road safety refresher test. The longer you go without taking the test, the more money gets tacked onto your fine. Maybe this should also apply to car drivers.

Some of these ideas are half-baked at best, I’ll admit. But at least they’re ideas, and not outright dismissals. Discussion needs to be had, because my post obviously touched a nerve. And if you touch a nerve, there’s usually a pain point that needs resolving.

My neighbour is on the mend, but still not home. AFAIK, the cyclist who injured him has not been caught. Thanks to everyone for their concern.

Guest Blogging at Fiction University — Format Your Book With Scrivener

KatrinaArticles, Publishing, Tips

Hey there! Today I’ve got a guest post up a Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, all about formatting your book for publication using Scrivener.

So if you’ve found Scrivener too daunting until now, but are even more unsure about design apps like InDesign, head on over there because I’ve got you sorted. With pictures and everything!

A big thank you to Janice for hosting me.

Vancouver Cyclists: We Have A Problem

KatrinaOpining

[Update June 15: I’ve been told by someone who spoke to the victim that the cyclist in this incident intentionally inflicted the injury. The victim told the cyclist to dismount from his bike on the bridge. The cyclist stopped, balanced on his pedals and then thrust his bike at the victim. INTENTIONALLY.]

[Update June 14: I guess I touched a nerve: this post has gotten so popular it briefly took my site down this morning, but we’re back up! Thanks for visiting.]

[Update June 13: Since this post is going ever so slightly locally viral, I’d like to add a plea that if you are the cyclist involved in this incident, or know the person involved, or have any information relevant to the authorities, please turn yourself in or contact the Crime Stoppers / Tips Line 1-800-222-8477 or www.solvecrime.ca, so perhaps some good can come of this.]

Yesterday, on the very clearly marked pedestrian-only bridge that provides access to the marina where I live, a cyclist ignored the signs, mowed down my 84-year-old neighbour, sent him to hospital with a broken hip, and rode off without offering assistance or a care in the world.

In the linked video, I listened to Erin O’Melinn, the Executive Director of HUB Cycling, the local cycling rights organization, state that licensing would be expensive and ineffective. Now, perhaps because this was a short TV interview, she said more that was edited out. But I was really bothered by the fact that she didn’t even acknowledge that Vancouver has a cyclist arrogance, rudeness and entitlement problem. You know who she sounds like with a blanket statement like that? The NRA on the issue of gun licensing.

I’ve been driving cars for 30 years, and motorcycles for 3 years. I’ve also put over 10,000 km on my bicycle in the last 12 years because I use it to commute to work. And while Vancouver’s vehicle driving habits are no bed of roses, the amount of stupidity, carelessness and lack of courtesy I see daily on the part of Vancouver cyclists is appalling. Would licensing be expensive? Most likely. Would it be effective? It won’t stop every problem, but it will solve some. As a vehicle driver, I’ve taken at least 7 different written and practical road tests in my life (due to moves and the types of vehicles I’m licensed for). Those and the courses I’ve taken have all made me a more courteous and defensive driver. Licensing might not be the answer, but some type of mandatory road sense education should be part of the solution.

I’m FOR more cycling. I’m happy Vancouver is installing more cycling infrastructure. I believe in HUB’s mission. But cyclists as a group need to acknowledge we have a fundamental courtesy and road skills problem, and we need to clean our house.

I’ll readily acknowledge I’m not a perfect cyclist. I blow through stop signs. But not when there’s a car that’s reached the cross-street first and has the right of way. But I witness groups of cyclists regularly hold up cross-street traffic on the bike routes by ignoring stops.

I ride on the sidewalk occasionally (mostly on Terminal Ave where the street layout makes it hard to get to my destination without being on the sidewalk, and the traffic speeds. It’s a wide sidewalk). But I do it slowly. With a bell. And give the pedestrians a wide berth. And smile. And say thank you when they move aside to let me through.

A cyclist at Quebec and Terminal blew through the red light and nearly mowed me down because he thought, given he was riding through the top of a T, no cars would hit him. He forgot to take into account other bicycles trying to cross to Science World. He never stopped to apologize.

I’ve watched cyclists go the wrong way through traffic calming roundabouts. Cyclists ride two or more abreast on single lane roads, holding up frustrated drivers behind them. Riders holding a phone to their ear in busy traffic. Riders wearing headphones in traffic. Riders modding their bikes with electric motors, doing 50kph or more while still ignoring traffic rules. Riders failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, even if the cyclist has a stop sign. Riders knocking over and injuring children on the seawall, then yelling at the parents before riding off, refusing to help.

I’m convinced a large percentage of riders do some of these things out of sheer ignorance, because they don’t own a car and have never had to learn the full rules of the road. Then there are simply the assholes.

And if you DARE to call a cyclist out on any of this, you invariably get the finger and sworn at. Once, I tried to cross a street as a pedestrian, and spotted a cyclist coming. He had a stop. He was over 30 feet away when I put my foot into the road, thinking I was safe. He blew past so fast, without giving way, that I had to jump back or get hit. When I complained “Hey, stop!” he told me to fuck off, and called me a cunt.

When we’ve politely asked cyclists on the marina bridge to get off their bikes, they’ve sworn at us and threatened violence. Or they argue, acting completely offended, claiming that we don’t make the rules and they have a perfect right to be there. Really? That bridge is narrow. It’s not made for bikes. It’s busy. And as the co-op that manages it, we do make the rules. Is that sign not BIG ENOUGH? It’s there for a fucking reason. Because otherwise, elderly neighbours get broken hips. My neighbour has MONTHS of recovery ahead of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had to move, because boats aren’t easy when you have mobility issues. His life is irrevocably changed. So I have no patience anymore for cyclists who act like they’re god’s gift to two wheels.

SpruceSign

These aren’t isolated incidents. I witness similar things weekly, if not daily, and I’m only one person.

So Vancouver cyclists, as a fellow cyclist, I implore you: acknowledge we have a problem. And I understand: #NotAllCyclists. But there are too many bad apples among us, and something needs to be done. Check your arrogance, rudeness, and entitlement out the door. Shape up, share our spaces more safely, and show some common decency.

To HUB, I understand you run safety courses, but perhaps your core values should include something about basic cycling courtesy as well. Because I see a very great lack of it on the roads out there. We need to do more. We need to be better, and show more empathy to the other people sharing our roads.

Otherwise more people are going to get hurt.