Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Book, New Blog!

Well, folks, we're less than one month away from Traitor's Hope's release date, and things are pretty exciting in my office (read: living room). Today, I took the liberty of revamping this blog's design, making the focus on the new art for Traitor's Hope rather than the Blade's Edge cover art. Why you ask? Well, because I like to switch things up, and something about the old look felt too cluttered somehow.

In even more exciting news, Traitor's Hope has gotten its first few reviews via NetGalley, and one of them is up on Goodreads for all the world to see. These reviews have been quite positive, and have made me incredibly happy for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they've referred to my writing as "excellent." Here, you can check out the Goodreads review for yourself:

Bonus gratification comes from the fact that the reviewer found the book to be a perfectly acceptable standalone, without having read Blade's Edge. This makes me enormously happy, because she's not going to be the only person who does that, and it's important that it holds up without the first book. I'm so happy to hear that it does.

Meanwhile, the MOST exciting news comes from the fact that the 75 copies of Traitor's Hope needed for this book launch (and also comicon) arrived today, and they are glorious. Here is video of me doing the "unboxing." (And yes, I cut the box open first, because cutting it open with one hand while holding my phone in the other didn't seem like a good idea, especially with a baby looking on.)



I'm so excited to deliver these to McNally Robinson tomorrow so that they can set up a display from now until the launch. YAY!

Oh, and one last thing. Blade's Edge now is only 2.99 over on amazon, in case you still haven't read it yet.

More soon!





Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On the magic of proof copies...

If you have ever read a book, you have experienced the closest thing we have to actual magic. Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, book making today is a lot closer to magic than it used to be.

Allow me to explain.

Two years ago, a few months after I published Blade's Edge, the thoughts in my head started to coalesce around the story of "and then what happened?" This was partially due to the number of readers who got to the end of Blade's Edge and asked for more, and partially because my brain wanted to spend more time with the characters I had come to know and love during the process of writing Blade's Edge. 

Those thoughts, which started out vague and questioning, eventually solidified into notes, which transformed into an outline, which then spread into a first draft (fun fact--I created the file for Traitor's Hope on September 10th of 2015). The first draft was then chopped up and rearranged into a second draft, which was then refined into a third draft which was then chiseled and polished multiple times to emerge as a book.

In an interesting, 21st century twist, not a single word of Traitor's Hope or the notes that comprised its first stages existed anywhere outside of my head or a computer file until a week ago. Seriously. I wrote the first notes in my notes app between my phone and my laptop. I did the rough outline in my notes app as well (more phone, more laptop), and then a more detailed one in Scrivener. I did all the drafts in Scrivener right up until the very last bit of formatting, which I then did in Word. Not a word on paper. Just thoughts in my head and then words on a screen. So fleeting.

Furthermore, the artwork for Traitor's Hope--created by the wonderfully talented Juan Carlos Barquet--was similarly limited to a thoughts and binary existence. The artwork took form in Juan Carlos' mind and then was brought to life on a computer. I don't know if he sketched any of it on paper before he created the final product, but certainly the sketches he sent me, and the final results were all purely digital.

In addition, the graphic design applied to that artwork was purely digital.

In other words Traitor's Hope didn't exist in any physical sense, AT ALL, until the proof copies were printed. In a magical moment that I wish I could have been present for (though it probably seems less magical in a giant printing facility where hundreds of thousands of books are produced daily) Traitor's Hope went from being an idea, to being a thing. A book. Something one can hold in one's hands.

If the shipping docket it to be believed, this happened on September 4th.

It was in my hands on September 6th.

And the moment was fairly magical...





As clearly evidenced by the ridiculous faces I made.

Of course, not all books only begin existing on paper when they've been printed and bound. Indeed, the first draft of Blade's Edge was composed almost entirely by hand, and I still have the notebooks lying around somewhere to prove it. In truth, that made touching the physical book for the first time only slightly less magical. There is still, and I imagine there always will be, something thrilling about finally seeing years of work transition into book form, no matter how much of it was on paper beforehand.

Opening a proof copy and holding it is mind blowing no matter how you slice it. Here is this thing. Anyone could just pick it up and read it. It's there...just waiting to transfer my thoughts into someone else's head. And if that's not magic, I don't know what is.

Sadly, proof copies are not to be quietly revered from afar, and I soon was faced with the daunting task of marking mine up with a pen in order to make sure that the final copies would be pristine.

I have not intentionally marked up a printed book since grade school. Even when I was supposed to do annotated notes I used sticky notes. Writing in books feels like a small crime to me. But, it really is the best way to be sure you catch all the little things that try to sneak their way into print books.

Here's what Traitor's Hope looked like after I took a pen to it: 



video


And now, after making various corrections, resubmitting all the files a couple of times, and picking over it all with a fine toothed comb, it's ready. Or, is it's as ready as it's going to be. Blade's Edge went to print with 10 tiny mistakes spread out over 310 pages. I'm hopeful that Traitor's Hope will have even fewer mistakes in its 284 pages, preferably none. But, hey, I've found typos in all the Harry Potter books, and every other print book I've read, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much if I missed one or two. 

Alright, after a week full of late nights staying up to review files and clean copy, it's time to get to bed. There are currently 75 copies of Traitor's Hope heading my way for the book launch. Exciting times! You can pre-order the ebook from this link: http://a.co/4kp7Wbv and the paperback from this one: http://www.virginiamcclain.org/apps/webstore/products/show/7574337





Friday, September 1, 2017

Traitor's Hope is available for Pre-Order

Well folks, it's getting awfully real over here. Traitor's Hope is going through its final rounds of proofreading and I'm busy hammering out all the little pieces. Like turning Juan Carlos Barquet's amazing cover art into an actual cover, and formatting the interior, and distributing review copies, and scheduling marketing blitzes and... you know, making a book happen.

It's hard to believe that on October 14th Traitor's Hope will be ready for the public. In the meantime, did you know that you can pre-order the book? You can pre-order the kindle version here, and the paperback here!


I'm so excited that I barely know what to do with myself. Probably a sign that I should go to bed. More soon! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Progress!

So, it has been far too long. There are reasons, quite a few of them really. I've been working on a few things; mostly raising an infant and rewriting the sequel to Blade's Edge.

I'm still raising the infant, but I'm done revising the sequel to Blade's Edge. Or at least, done with the major rewrite. It's off into the hands of my editor, and I'm sure much tweaking still needs to be done, but the big part is finished (I hope) and that means that the book really will be out this year. This is very exciting.

Here's a preview (subject to change) of the cover...



Meanwhile, I am going to get back into some of my other projects. First of all, I plan to dive back into my Victoria Marmot web serial, and in addition to that I am currently hatching a plan with the talented Katya Kolmakov to cowrite a new webserial. This will be an interesting adventure as the story will essentially be a romantic comedy and... well, if you know me at all you know romance isn't my strong suit. It's good practice to push one's comfort zones though, so I'm going to give it a whirl and if all else fails, Katya's practiced hand should keep us on track. At least I feel reasonably confident on the comedy portion of the romcom. I'll post links to that as soon as we get started so keep an eye out for that.

And last, but far from least, Katya will be running a Kickstarter in order to publish one of her other novels Hammer Up using Kickstarter and hiring yours truly to edit, format, and do the cover layout for the project. So, I'll post more about that when it starts as well.

I think that's about it for now, but I should have more news soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Now is not the time for silence

Something you may not know about me; I'm an immigrant. In fact I'm an immigrant times over.

First of all, I'm an American of European descent. A melange of Scottish, Irish, English, German, French and who knows what else. All immigrants to the United States at various stages of history. I am the product of that beautiful mix of cultures that can only come about in an immigration friendly society.

Beyond that, I have lived, studied, worked, and grown up in a number of countries outside of the US. The first was Germany; for 2.5 years when I was a child. My father got a job with PanAm and we all got visas, moved to Germany, and came and went as we pleased until another job took us back to the US. Germans were kind to us, supportive of our attempts to learn the language even when they spoke excellent English, and generally pleasant about our appearance in their country.

Next was Spain. For my second year of University, through a study abroad program, I applied for a student visa and lived and studied in Spain for a year. I arrived mere days after the September 11th attack on the Twin Towers and everyone I met was supportive, kind, and sympathetic. My host family was worried about my family back home, but I assured them that everyone was fine. Security was tight with a newfound apprehensiveness, but nonetheless I never received any hassle about my visa while coming or going.

More recently was Japan. Two years with a work visa to teach English came with full access to Japan's healthcare system, and the majority of the people I encountered were very welcoming, despite Japan's more xenophobic history and proclivities. I have many fellow expat friends who made families and lives for themselves there and are still living there today.

Currently, I reside in Canada with my husband and our new daughter, who was granted Canadian citizenship simply for being born on Canadian soil. I have my permanent resident card, the equivalent of a Green Card in the US, and now I can come and go easily between the two countries.

I am an immigrant. I am making a life outside of the country I was born in, as I have done on multiple occasions, for no better reason than a job offer, an interest in improving my language skills, a curiosity about the rest of the world, or, most recently, because I fell in love with a Canadian.

My husband has been an immigrant a few times in his life and he too comes from immigrant stock. If he hadn't been allowed to live in the US we never would have met. My life would be very different; my daughter would not exist.

Of course, people don't think of people like me when they think of immigrants, not in the US, and not in Canada either. Certainly the kind of people who voted for Trump because they thought he would change the nation back to a place they felt comfortable in don't think of me when they think of immigrants. They probably think of people who have a different skin tone than I do, or who wear different clothing. Maybe they picture head scarves or turbans, maybe they expect a detectable accent or a lack of facility with English. When I tell people here that I'm an immigrant they often chuckle and say, "well you don't count."

Really? I don't count? Why not?

Some of them actually mean that I haven't gone through the upheaval of leaving my own culture for a completely new one just to try to improve the life of my family. In those few cases, they are certainly right. Canada is very similar to the US, and I was prosperous and safe before I moved here. However, what most people mean is that I'm "just like them" so, I'm not what they're talking about when they say immigrant.

ALL IMMIGRANTS ARE JUST LIKE YOU.

They are just like me. They ARE ME. They are people making a life in a different country because of a job, or a chance to improve their language skills, or to study, or because they fell in love with someone, or, perhaps the most important reason, because they cannot safely live their lives in the country in which they were born.

I have never had to immigrate for that reason. I have never HAD to immigrate at all. For me, it has been a choice, every time. I have never been a refugee.

I have also had the unearned privilege of coming from a background that has meant that I have rarely encountered people who judge me based on my appearance, or my accent, or my choice of clothing. Just by dint of my birth and upbringing, people don't look twice at me in the street, but rather do a double take of disbelief if I happen to mention that I am an immigrant. I did nothing to earn this passive approval. It's no special trick that I've learned. It's simply based on the color of my skin, the cultural norms for clothing I was brought up to wear, and the fact that English is my first language, and a generic North American English at that. Canadians never suspect me of being American either.

I mention all of this not because I think I've earned a cookie. I mention this to illustrate a point. The people who are currently being detained as they try to return to their homes in the United States ARE EXACTLY LIKE ME. The fact that they may not look like me, or dress like me means NOTHING. They are people who have gone through the arduous process of acquiring a visa, or a green card. They are people who have spent countless hours waiting in line to file paperwork, who have submitted themselves to background check after background check, who have had their identity checked and rechecked over and over again, and have had to shell out money and more money in order to have people look over all that paperwork and finally say: "yes, you can come to America."

They have ALREADY DONE ALL OF THAT. They have lives in the US. Homes, friends, jobs, classes, lovers, husbands, wives, children, family, LIVES... and they are being kept from returning to those lives not because the best minds in the US have sat down and decided that the process which accepted them into the US was too lax. Not because the process has been assessed and deemed unworthy. Not because a democratic process has decided that they are a threat to the country. No.

They have been barred from returning home because the new president of the United States has thrown the constitution out the window and decided ON HIS OWN that he will bar them from returning.

I don't care which party you affiliate with, you should be horrified at what that means. It's such an egregious affront to the constitution that it only took the ACLU a day to get a federal judge to support an injunction on it. But it seems unlikely that that's the end of the story.

It is important that we all speak out against this. It's important that we all speak out against all of the injustice we see coming from the White House in coming days.

It took me a long time to write about Trump's election because I didn't know where to start, and I couldn't figure out how to put all I wanted to say into a single blog post. I can't. I won't. It will take many many posts for me to get it all out, but I will start trying to as often as I can because SILENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER.

Perhaps it's simply that I felt this was the first injustice that I could address with personal experience. I imagine what it would mean if I were to go to the United States to visit family (as I plan to do in coming months) and then if Canada tried to bar me from returning. How would it feel to be separated from my husband? Would they let me keep my daughter or would they send her back to her country of origin without me? These are questions that real people are forced to ask themselves right now, all because of the whim of a little man who is afraid of "other." Yet these people are not "other," they are us. They are you, they are ME.

I am an immigrant. I'll say it again so that you really understand. I'm not an immigrant "but," I am an immigrant. And, unless you are 100% Native American, SO ARE YOU. Your family once came here seeking refuge, seeking a better life, or maybe just to study, or to find a job, or because they fell in love. They came and were accepted. They made a life, and now you are an American. It is the backbone of our society (yes even with all the injustice it has pushed upon the people who were here before us, and the people who were brought here against their will--that too is part of our history). For better or worse it is how the United States has become what it is today.

This is only one of the many injustices that have come from the White House in the past eight days. I haven't written yet because it is difficult to find the time, with an infant to care for, and I have found myself repeatedly at a loss for words. Today I realized that I can't stay silent. We need every voice that can be raised to raise itself now.

I am an immigrant. Immigrants are us.  We are immigrants. It is not a question of US VS. THEM; they are us. THEY ARE US! And we cannot do this to ourselves. We simply can't. Do not sit by and allow your people to be persecuted this way. And make no mistake these are your people. I don't care what day of the week you deem holy, what you do with your hair, or how much melanin is in your skin, DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that the people this affects are somehow different than you. They are not. They are people who have families, who love people, who have friends, who want to study or work, and want to return to their lives. They are you. They are me. It's a question of us. And we should not allow this to be done to us. Not to any of us.

Now is not the time for silence. Speak up. Let everyone know how you feel about this. Let everyone know that we won't allow this to happen to us. We will not allow ourselves to be treated this way. We will shout, we will rally, we will donate to the ACLU, we will make our voices heard and we will demand justice.

If you want immigration reform, fine. That's a thing to work towards, using a democratic process, with research, assessment, oversight, and the protection of people's rights and freedoms at its heart. It is NOT the work of the stroke of a pen on a piece of paper alienating a huge portion of our population. It is not a ban that reminds historians all over the world of the beginning of Nazi Germany.

Speak up, and keep speaking up until the injustice is at an end.

Now is not the time for silence.

I beseech you, friends, speak for yourself, for those whose voices are being stifled, and for us all. This kind of oppression only spreads if it isn't stopped.

Sincerely,

An Immigrant





Friday, December 30, 2016

The Hold Up...

You might be wondering what happened to the whole Blade's Edge sequel coming out in December thing... Well, I got part of the way through my final revision when I realized that I could fix a number of problems that had been bothering me about the book with a couple of changes. Yay! I figured out how to make the book better and more cohesive and killed that small voice that was telling me that this book wasn't good enough to be the sequel to Blade's Edge.

However, those couple of changes actually require a complete rewrite of the middle 50% of the book. That's over 50,000 words completely from scratch, and that's not counting the other bits of rewrite that the rest of the book needs. In other words, I have a lot of work to do to get the book to be as high quality as my readers deserve, and though I considered (briefly) pushing through with things the way that they were and simply getting the book out on time, I decided against it.

I hope you'll forgive me.

So the book will be out sometime in 2017. I'm hoping for spring, but I make no promises as I really need to make sure that it's the best it can be. Meanwhile I'm still working on the Victoria Marmot webserial over on Patreon, snuggling my three month old baby and watching her grow, and trying to blog periodically as well, not to mention doing the occasional formatting and design jobs that come my way. Staying busy, in other words.

I will post here occasionally with updates, and I also hope to post about the election and a few other non book related topics in the near future. For now, however, the baby is crying and that's my cue. So, I leave you with this photo of Artemis enjoying our most recent blizzard.


Monday, October 17, 2016

What I've been up to...

Well, to be honest, for the past three weeks I've mostly been snuggling a baby. (Did I mention yet that I produced a new human right at the end of September? For more details on that go here.) I also finished the translation project I was working on, and I have commissioned new artwork for Traitor's Hope. But, mostly it's been baby snuggling.

Ok, fine... to be accurate, it has also been diaper changes, feedings, and crying (both me and the offspring).

Now, I am trying to get my act together for C4 Winnipeg and making sure I have everything in order. In addition to selling and signing copies of Blade's Edge at table A223 along with the talented and delightful Katya Kolmakov, I will also be talking on a panel about world building on Saturday the 29th at 12pm in the Pan Am room. I would love to see people there!

The husband and I are still figuring out how to manage caring for the newborn that weekend but chances are good I will have her with me for at least some of the time, so if you are interested in meeting the newest human in my family, that's a good reason to stop by as well. I hope to have her in costume but am unsure what that will be yet.

Finally, good and bad news about Traitor's Hope. The bad news is, there is zero chance that I will have it ready to sell for ComiCon. I'm bummed about that, because I was really looking forward to having it ready to sell to the folks who bought Blade's Edge last year. The good news is that I think it's quite possible that I'll have the book ready to sell for mid-December and I should have some sweet bookmarks with new cover art teasers made up in time for ComiCon complete with where to find Traitor's Hope when it comes out etc.

So, that's about it from here for now. Here's a photo of my latest walk, which was a serious accomplishment for including both offspring and dog and being reasonably long despite me recovering from a c-section.



Hope to see folks at C4Winnipeg! Happy Fall!





Thursday, September 8, 2016

Keeping up appearances...

Well, in truth, I don't have that much to report. Not that I haven't been busy (I have), just that it seems like, busy as I am, I don't have much in the way of news. So here are the newsy bits:


  • I have finished the bulk of the translation project I was working on, and am now just finalizing edits with the author. YAY!
  • I am back to revising Traitor's Hope (the Blade's Edge sequel) on a daily basis and this makes me very happy and gives me hope that I might, just maybe, possibly, still manage to get it out before the end of October (that's going to be an incredibly tight deadline to pull and will only work if I wind up with a super cooperative newborn, but fingers and toes are crossed).
  • Shh... don't tell anyone, but I've been getting sketches from Juan Carlos Barquet and am close to having cover art for Traitor's Hope. This is INCREDIBLY EXCITING.
  • Speck (the nickname for the new human I'm incubating) could arrive at any moment now, which is both exciting and terrifying.

And that's really kind of it. I guess some of those things are pretty exciting, but it seems like I've been in this holding pattern for ages and nothing is really done yet, so I don't feel like it's lots to report. I can't wait to be done with the revision but I have a lot of work to do yet before that happens. In the meantime, I feel like I've been horribly neglecting this blog, so wanted to make sure I posted something this week. 

Furthermore I need to post more for the Victoria Marmot web serial. Which, if you haven't checked out yet, but you don't mind profanity and teenagers with a deep sense of sarcasm, you really should. The first three chapters are accessible for free, and then, for as little as $1 a month you can access as much of the serial as exists currently, which stands at 10 chapters at the moment with two more coming this month alone. 


More artwork like this is headed my way! I can't wait!! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Since I can't sleep anyway...

...I guess I might as well update this blog.

One of the little touted third trimester joys of pregnancy is the inability to sleep well, or with any regularity. So, as I sit here staring at my computer despite wishing to have gone to bed two hours ago, I thought I might as well update the blog.

I don't have a ton of news unfortunately. I think I mentioned in my last update that I was starting a major translation project, and indeed said project is taking up the majority of my time these days as I push to finish it by the deadline.

My two week road trip went well, despite being super pregnant for the duration, and Corey and I had a wonderful time visiting friends and exploring Ontario (more details can be found on my pregnancy blog but, fair warning, there are lots of details about pregnancy in that entry).

I only have one more month of this whole producing a new human thing left, and then the human will join us on the outside and I will no longer be the sole person responsible for its well being. That is both exciting and terrifying.

I did make a fair bit of progress on my revisions for Traitor's Hope before starting this translation project, but haven't worked on it at all since August 1st. I will get right back to it as soon as I'm done with this translation and hope to get it out before the end of October (in time for ComiCon) if I can. But I'm cutting it super close, and the arrival of Speck may throw a serious wrench in the works. I'm trying to remain at peace with that fact.

In super cool news though, I should have some more original artwork by the exceedingly talented Juan Carlos Barquet in a few weeks for Traitor's Hope. It feels a little weird getting cover art before I've finished the major revisions for the book, but I want to have the artwork ready so that as soon as I'm ready to use it's there for me and I can get this book out.

And, if nothing else, having it will inspire me to keep working on Traitor's Hope until it's ready for the world, because Juan Carlos' art is nothing if not inspiring.

I think that about covers things for now. I am going to try to put myself to bed and see what happens. Here are some photos from the road trip for your entertainment.

Sunset as we returned to Manitoba on the last day of our trip.

One of the most delicious tacos I've ever had, if you're ever in Sudbury head to Tuco's Tacos you will not regret it.

Kyle the budgie, visiting my head while I work on my translation project in Toronto at our friend's house.

Corey and I looking out at Ottawa from the top of the Peace Tower.

The library in parliament 

The changing of the guard in Ottawa (humorous because it has only ever existed as a tourist attraction, and has never been an actual guard change)

Kakabeka Falls

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Quick Update to Let Folks Know I'm Still Around...

Well folks, just a quick note here to let you all know that I have not actually fallen off the face of the planet.

Things have gotten quite busy. I need to finish my revisions for Traitor's Hope in the next week because I need to start a new translation project on August 1st.

Also, Speck is set to arrive in less than 8 weeks.

Furthermore, I am about to disappear on a two week road trip starting on Saturday.

In other words, you may not hear from me for a while, but I'm still around and working furiously to bring you the Blade's Edge sequel by the end of October at the latest (I hope).

So, here are some ways you can keep up with what's happening with me.

1. The pregnancy blog is likely to receive some form of update even during the road trip because it falls apart if I don't keep up with some semblance of weekly updates. So, if you want to make sure I'm still doing well you can go check that out.

2. My Patreon patrons will still be getting new chapters of the Victoria Marmot webserial. So if you miss my writing that's a great place to check it out. (For as little as a dollar a month you can have exclusive access to the Victoria Marmot webserial. Chapter 7 goes up today and there will be at least two more chapters going up in August.)

3. My facebook author page... if you haven't liked it already, you'll find that it's where I always post updates from this blog, as well as reminders for in person events for writing etc. While on this road trip it may well get the occasional photo update etc. so if you're worried you haven't seen me in a while you can check there.

4. My twitter feed. I have been known to post random things there as well, even while traveling.

Ok. I think that sums up the ways you can track me down while on holiday, so if you need your fix please check out any of those options. Meanwhile, I will try to post a full report of the trip when I return if I'm not too buried in translation work.

Off to revise Traitor's Hope!

Here's a shot of Artemis enjoying summer, just to tide you over.