Friday, August 25, 2006

Look Ma, Knob and Tube!

That's right, prehistoric electrical wiring! It's all very terrifying. This is what my living room looks like right now, and my brain is in a similar state. We're in the middle of renovations and are officially nomadic and homeless for the next while. I'm going to take a break from posting until mid-September when I actually have a home network again and somewhere to post from instead of roaming the streets desperately trying to find wireless hotspots. Not that that's not fun. Because it is, totally.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Now THAT'S Dedication

I'm a longtime reader of JA Konrath's blog; he's a US writer and literary marketing wiz with a seemingly endless amount of energy, and his blog is home to a number of lively discussions on all kinds of topics.

He announced earlier this summer that he was going to go on a mind-boggingly enormous 500 store book tour for his latest tome, Rusty Nail. He even got a write-up in Wired (which covers all things nerdly, and is near and dear to my heart) about the GPS he's using for his cross-country extravaganza.

I've been following his progress, and it makes me tired just to read his entries these days, except for his latest post, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Tour Day 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40, which included a sweet anniversary shout-out to his wife, who is halfway across the country with their wee ones on their tenth anniversary. Now THAT'S dedication.

I'm a bit of a loner, but staying in a hotel room for a day or two just plain old makes me cranky; Joe's been on the road for weeks at this point. If that was me, I'd seriously need a hug right about now. He's asked readers/writers/friends to loan him a couch if he's in their neck of the woods, but he's not coming to Toronto, or else I'd pony up a steak and a beer for the poor guy. And maybe even a hug, if it wouldn't make me look like some kind of Canadian wacko.

He's a tireless advocate for new writers, answers his email promptly even if you have strange questions, makes up awards that he gives himself, and is an all-around nice guy. Take a look at his blog, and if you like his style, you might want to check out his published stuff; his latest is now on the shelves, but if you're more of a short story/anthology reader I've also seen the new anthology he's in, Thriller, all over the place lately. He also has a short stories series, Four Pack of Jack, available on for a piddly 49 cents (I know that that 49 cents is US, not CDN, but our exchange rate is awesome these days).


Thursday, August 03, 2006

My Name is Maia, and I'm a Book Fondler

A friend of mine, another "emerging" writer - who I'd link to if she had a website - lent me a book last week. After reading the first chapter, I knew I had found another new favourite writer; Ryan Knighton, a deliciously acerbic Vancouverite. The book is Cockeyed, a memoir about being diagnosed and living with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that eventually causes blindness. (You can check out some of his excellent writing on his website.)

I have experienced a whole boatload of vision loss myself, so much so that even though my lenses are specially treated they're still a sexy Coke-bottle-ish thickness. Moderate myopia (measured in diopters) is between -1 to -3. I am around -8. (Complete lack of vision is in the neighbourhood of -18). I started life with perfect sight and started to lose it at the tender age of 8. It stopped in my early twenties, thankfuly, but every year or so when I was growing up I'd slip a diopter or two deeper into blur. After all that downward sliding, I developed quite a fear of losing my own sight. In one of those ironic twists of fate, I have such spectactular hearing that that I can hear a proverbial pin drop. This is great fun when trying to sleep.

Anyway, that's all kind of apropos of nothing, but is a bit of background on why I find his work so fascinating, although the fact that my vision can be successfully corrected means that there's a whole universe between his experience and mine. I find his descriptions of his adaptive behaviour interesting, though, and I started to think about how I do similar things; not turning on lights if I get up at night, because without my glasses I can't see anything anyway. When staying at hotel rooms, I don't put things on the floor, because I'll trip on them if I have to get up in the middle of the night, (likely because my bionic ears have heard some inconsequential noise and I've woken up).

I haven't borrowed a book from someone in a long time, and as soon as I started to read this particular book, I ran into trouble. The book was in pristine shape, almost as if it has never been opened. My friend is currently on a literarly romp around the Maritimes, so I can't ask her if it's okay to bend back the cover, but since she hasn't done it already, I have to assume the answer is no. Which leads me to wonder; how to people hold books when they don't bend the spine? How do they keep their page if they don't bend back the corners? Bookmarks? Sadly, I'm just not a good bookmark person: I keep losing them. I tend to mark my path through books with turned down top page corners of when I'm trying to keep my spot and turned down bottom page corners when I want to mark a particularly good moment in the book. When I was struggling with plot structure problems in my book, I read 4 or 5 books and marked all the plot transitions with sticky notes. I leave my books face down and open. I read in the bathtub, in waiting rooms, at the pub when waiting for friends, and my books all look like they've been manhandled within an inch of their lives. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Maia, and I'm a book fondler. A bit of a literary pervert, if you will.

I wouldn't normally be so concerned about putting my grubby paws all over her book, except the damn thing is autographed, and so, is unique. On the bright side, Ryan Knighton will be in Toronto for the International Festival of Authors in October, so I'm going to go see him read and get him to autograph a book for me.

(Or two.)