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Here’s a poem I found in my drafts

“The Nearby Death” The nearby death is an EMP. You go dark and silent. You, and you, and everyone in range. Your functions shut down. This is simple.  The simplest. All the noise goes quiet. Remember where you were. Remember where she was, at the epicentre. Her loss, the pulse. Here is the pause. Remember where you are. Your generator, here: You left it ready for this. You knew this dark would come. Fire it with your arm. Its fuel is old and stale. It makes noise and light. You make light, with your body, with your old and filthy fuel. Start up again. […]

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Walking Alone

I have a new story up at Strange Horizons: “Four Steps to the Perfect Smoky Eye” is about “girls and the men who claim to protect them” (in the words of @sarahbbrand, who summed it up better than I could!) It is strongly rooted in my own experience.  In a way, all stories are, but this one has some pretty literal moments. I’ve spent ages labouring over this post, trying to describe the experience of growing up in St. Catharines, in the years when Paul Bernardo was hunting girls my age.  Trying to describe a taxonomy of fear. There was the killer, but there were also boyfriends who got demanding, classmates who got pushy, teachers who got handsy.  There were men in the library who made casual conversation and then wanted to know where I lived.  There was that friend who got drunk and held a knife to my face that time.  There was that guy in our class who murdered his girlfriend. And there were our fathers, some of whom offered protection in some traditional ways (rides to school, threats to keep boyfriends in line) but in exchange, demanded control of our wardrobes, reading habits, friend choices, sexualities, our […]

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This is my brother Ted.  He passed away suddenly on Saturday.  He had been struggling with cancer for the last couple of years but had recently had good news; we are still not sure exactly what happened. This isn’t exactly a post about Ted.  (I don’t write about real people in my life here, or anywhere–you might guess where they turn up in my fiction but you won’t likely be correct.)  It’s a post about death, about what happens when it comes near.  This is the second time in recent years that I’ve lost an immediate family member, and the same thing has happened to me both times: a sense of grace, of awe, of something that is almost elation. Death is miraculous, in the same way that birth is miraculous.  It is outside of our control.  When it strikes this close, like lightning, it raises all the hairs on my arms with this electric sense of a near-miss.  He is gone.  I am still here. There are a million cliches about this, of course.  I’m posting it here because I want you, whoever you might be, to receive a little of that awe, to drop a bit of that […]

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In which I’m back in my home town

Hard rain pounding down from a mostly sunny sky.  I went out and danced in it, barefoot on my front walk. New York was clear and the air was great for running and I saw lots of people I love, but man, I missed this place and the cats in it and the comfort of making my own dinner.  Now I’m rain-wet and there’s probably soot in my hair, and I’m going to saute some cabbage and listen to hip hop. […]

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In which I cannot hear my new Handsome Furs due to the air show

It’s even worse than a balloon party around here: I have to sit, stiffly cringing, awaiting a horribly loud noise, which I know beyond a doubt is coming, only I don’t know when. And every time it does, it’s going to make me flinch visibly, spill coffee, and overuse italics. Also, the cats. They don’t have italics, or coffee, but they have the visible flinching. […]

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In which I break radio silence

Back-to-back trips have the salutary effect of frustrating my writing desire enough that on my return, I am more than ready to solve the problems I planted on my departure. To wit: the backstory of the not-a-werewolf; the timing of the magician’s history in the Dickensian Fantasy rewrite; the presence (or not) of Augusta in Toronto. Back-to-back trips also furnish me with so many opportunities for pleasure, not the least of which was yesterday’s exploration of Boston. I had a half-pint at a pub which opened in 1765; I photographed architecture; I coveted, but did not buy, a number of wonderful pairs of boots. And early in the morning I ran, up the mall on Commonwealth Ave, through the Public Gardens, and around the Common. When I am in doubt about the quality or direction of my craft, I must remind myself of this: half of my writing is done with my feet. […]

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Gratitude

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions any more, due to (a) my own repeated failure to comply with the ones I felt were self-punitive and (b) my tendency to obviate all the less punitive ones by doing them anyway, upon the moment they occurred to me, instead of waiting until the New Year to implement them. I do, however, use the New Year as an occasion to think about my progress over the last twelve months (if any) and my intentions for the next twelve. This year a number of friends and acquaintances have positively humbled me with the things they’ve done for others. I’ve learned about the science fiction community’s ethos of paying forward. I’ve been welcomed by that community, along with a number of my peers, and blessed with everything from distilled knowledge to good humour to medical texts to a warm embrace against a chilly wind. I’ve watched my best friend vow, in memory of my own father, to avoid taking lives in her home, and instead transport bees and flies outdoors. I’ve witnessed the generous spirit of my mother’s small town, helping her out with everything from lawn care to baked goods, and I’ve witnessed […]

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I’m sad. Now I’m going to make you sad. Stop reading.

My little cat, seen here indulging in her favourite game of Stairway Ambush, has become very ill. She’s in the hospital just now, where I cannot comfort her. The other cats rejoice in her absence, for now they can sleep upon the bed without getting spat upon and boxed in the face. I, on the other hand, wish with all my heart that she might come back to us in fighting form, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this time. I think I’ve learned what a dying thing looks like. […]

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