Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Evil Overlord" clichés...

There's a small video game I enjoy play with lately, a "by turn" strategy game, simple but interesting and not really expensive on Playstation 3, it's "Might & Magic -- Clash of Heroes".

I surprised myself in this game to fall into the cliché "to avoid as a writer"... ^_^
I'm referring, among other things, to a super list that we've passed around on the list for the writing workshop a few years ago: "The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord". 

That to say... that it happens when I play, to be on the edge of winning a match, and I could "finish it real fast" with a spell I've got in back-up, but I take a wicked enjoyment to wait and pursuit the attack, with the other units "waiting their turn to come in action". And it happens, when I do this, that the classical-cliché of the "bad guy having to much pleasure to see it opponent suffer", that my opponent comes suddenly aggressive and take dangerously over, and even sometimes even win despite of my lead!!

Does it mean I would be doomed to be a cliché character destined to fail as an "Evil Overlord" in an American movie!?! D=

Friday, November 25, 2011

Twinning work

In any case, to work in twinning, exchanging projects in progress, it helps to get opinions, comments, it helps not to work for 2 years in the dark and being told at once that the story doesn't work (to work in twinning, you know it now and you can fix it before the exercise becomes discouraging and frustrating). ;o)

Well, working on the text of others, it makes me desperately want to write! ^_^

I will finish the commented review that I've started, but then I think I'll get back to writing as soon as possible, because I am so tired that my project is not moving and blocs at every turn!

Friday, November 18, 2011


It's been a moment that I remained silent on this blog.

After... what? a week? I managed to put my ideas in order and unfasten myself from my last impasse. A big thank you to everyone who wrote to me (emails and forum) following this post; a special thanks to Jean-Claude Dunyach and Elisabeth Vonarburg. =)

But here, I got things moving to realize at the first corner that my new direction asked me a deeper reflection to be able to continue.

Fortunately, I have crossed a month where I was quite unable to write due to my pregnancy. Now that I've almost finished my first
trimester (in 4 days to be precise), I will surely have less nausea and migraines; they have already begun to diminish.

So while I was rather "
impotent" (damn migraines!), I could at least begin the process of reflection. It's not over yet.

Ah, this phase where nothing is really written and everything seems to stagnate, when in fact, all the work is going on in the head, in the texts and articles that I read and the documentaries that I watch. Nothing seems to move, but my brain is like an open mouth that
unconsciously feeds on all the information passing. What do I take; what do you throw away? What enlightens me; what is left to be scratched and be thought further?

Yet there are so many things that make noises in my head. My family grows, I think I can't blame myself to be thinking about of all these changes, perhaps even more than my writing project. 

But I hate that feeling of stagnation. I have to remind myself it's not really stagnant; it's more in "brainstorming"...!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The impasse of rewriting

To my writer friends, I'm asking for your opinion, please!

On my last post "Rewriting!", I was pretty optimist with the new ideas I got on the rewriting process. But here, did I've questioned myself too much? Yet I had nice (new) ideas that seemed to me to grow my story and all, but it seems like I can't put everything together. It's like if I had detached pieces and that I needed a centerpiece for all to join together...

I left it rest, mature, and simmer, everything. Meanwhile (I can now say "publicly" as my close ones  know) ;o) I got pregnant, then there was the 3 years old of my daughter to celebrate, so my mind was busy with other things. I thought more than once that I had to get back to my story, try to put everything in order.

I was able to put my plans up to date with the last ideas.. but somethings are missing! Some of the new ideas don't fit well, like if there's a integration element missing otherwise it would look like a patch-work. Some of the old ideas that are (or were) part of the center line of the plot and that I think no longer fit, or at least they don't make sense without finding a new integrator element? (I try above all to say that if I take them off completely, I have no end! Or at least half of the plot of the third act falls overboard, so ... "removing" is not an easy solution in this case!) I don't know. I'm at the point to question again "What am I trying to say with this story?" ; "What do I want to tell?" The story changed a lot during the last versions; maybe it's prime objective got lost between the cracks of two versions?

In the other hand, I don't feel like abandoning. The parts there please me. I also think that the new ideas are interesting and are worth it... as soon as I find a logical place for them, of course!

So there. I'm looking for advice. To my writer friends, how do you do in this kind of impasse? Should I force it? Should I put it in the corner of a drawer, work on something else for a while and come back to it later? Organize a "Cookies & Tea Party" evening, open the forge and discuss in group about the impasse of the writer and get help to put the ideas back in the right place in the story? Your opinion, please?  =)

Monday, August 22, 2011


Last spring, I spent the two weeks before the Boreal Conference 2011 like a sprint to write the first part of my manuscript (novel) of "science-fantasy" (science-fiction AND fantasy at the same time). I wanted to have something in hand, the beginning of a project that I could let someone read and have some comments. It gave me a motivating deadline, I was enough advanced in my plans and preparation to hold this challenge. 115 pages written in one week (ok, well, about 30 were already written when I started...) and the second week to review and correct.

On the Sunday of the conference, I've assisted to a panel "Publishing for dummies". Going there, I thought I knew what I need to know about publishing, but it was the dreamed occasion to verify. And effectively, I could guess the majority of the answers, which is a good point gained on my part! 

On the other hand, Francine Pelletier (author, who's also member of the reading committee of Alire
publisher) did a refreshing commentary. The subject was around the moment where the manuscript is completed. We have to be critical toward ourselves and get a constructive criticism from our circle... and not from our mother or best friend :

"Don't send a manuscript right when you just finished writing it, she said, and most of all, if you are convinced that it's super cool. Let it sleep in the in a drawer, forget about it for a few months, then reread it. If you are still convinced that it is super good, then it hasn't sleep long enough!"
A brilliant story needs time and reflection. I was good advise.

Back home after the conference, I received a few commentaries about the first part written. I wanted to let some time pass before deciding what to do with it (which comments to keep as good point, which one throw away...) and continue writing in the meanwhile, since it was going so well the two past weeks. Well, no. I couldn't write! Jammed! And yet, I have very detailed plans of every chapters, every scenes! for the whole book! This was "forced writing", not fluid. Not good...

At first, I thought I'd "lost the feeling" that gave birth to the story, just like what haunts me on the side of drawing and painting and I was on the edge of a panic attack: "Not another project that falls into nothingness! No no no!"

In fact, it seems that it was stronger than my head, my story claimed by itself the drawer. It retired for a few months meanwhile I worked on something else. And recently, it came back haunted me... with, on the surface, all the weaknesses, all the wrongs, all the elements that it does not make sense.

So it's time to re-write! Ah, the first time I was told I had to rewrite a manuscript (on which I worked for 2 years), I almost had a depression. My oldest friends may remember that time... Today, I know it's part of the process of a manuscript and henceforth, I no longer work two years to get back to it! I developed my working method differently, with more elaborate and detailed plans... and it is mainly these plans that are re-written! ^ _ ^

And what's really cool in a rewrite, is that suddenly, everything is possible again! For when we get to a certain point in the development of the project, we are forced through the corridors that we drawn ourselves. "Such a thing is not possible, because we have to get to this point in the plot... and if he meet her before, it no longer works due to... And he has to die, otherwise this part of plot is not working out...". By setting back the manuscript to square one, all corridors fall and ALL can be questioned. All MUST, in fact, be questioned!

I have not yet finished the new version, but I have a character who has just taken 50-60 more years old. Couples won't be the same, which allows me to introduce two new very colorful characters. I have a secondary character who has changed sexual orientation (which does not really change the story, but adds a new flavor). One of the three main characters just changed profession, which changes a little part of her personality that was ambiguous or unclear in my mind... and also changes several lines of the plot. I have some other ideas that move still, but I have not yet decided.

Who said it was boring to rewrite? = D
Well, gotta go back, I still have to develop the "plan B" of the conspiracy of the...
*She's gone*

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thank you everyone!

I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your comments and ideas, following the post "Dilemma, dilemma...", here on the blog, on Facebook or on a forum.

I was waiting for a place in a daycare, part time. The educator told me she would call me back from vacation; well, from one thing to another, it didn't work, we didn't get the place.

On the other side, my daughter -- for whom the language has blocked since the beginning of the troubles with the daycares and the many changes (that is to say, since last fall) -- has recently restarted to do some great efforts to speak. I feel like staying home with her to help her in this step that is slightly harder for her than the others.

I also found a community program where many different activities are offered for the little ones, from 2½ - 3 years old to 5-6 years old -- initiation to: music, dance, locomotion games in a gymnasium, skating, etc. -- which will start this fall. Majority of those activities are children+parents. Since she'll be 3 years old in 2 months, I think it would be interesting to build a schedule together, adding the fact that I've started to initiate her to the swimming pool this summer and now to painting in gouache (and she loves it! there's something magical in the fact of letting her paint and then hang the projects on the wall of her room).

I'm telling myself that it's not my final decision, but nonetheless, this is what I'll do until the Christmas Holidays. I'm letting myself the chance to see how it goes -- the talking, the painting, the other activities -- with the option of changing my idea if needed. =)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dilemma, dilemma...

Help!! I can not see the solution. I'm not able to reconcile the two aspects of my life!

To my right: I no longer have a daycare (again). But I feel good with my daughter! When I place her in a daycare, she does not always seem happy. It really depends on the educator and the group around her. But that can't know (if she'll like it or not) until we try a daycare... and we must sign a contract before trying a daycare.

When she does not like day care, she cries every morning on the way. On site (after I'm gone), she does not speak, when we speak to her or ask her a question, it has a reaction of total incomprehension or as if someone made a complaint about her, she freezes, she panics or cries. She doesn't blend with the group and she ceases all progress (even at home). What is notwithstanding alarming!

She has been in a group where she felt well. She had friends and although she did not like the separation from mom, she was having a good day.

I enjoy staying at home with my daughter. She restarted to flourish (something that was suddenly interrupted with the "daycare problems") and we spend some quality time together.

To my left: I'd like to pursue my projects. I wish to write novels. I would like to draw and paint and mount an exhibition, to be in the gallery. I wish to finish the small part that I miss in computer graphics to complete my "luggage" and launch myself in the illustration. I would like to teach drawing. I do not seek a glorious career in the arts or writing, but notwithstanding a little work and some income for my personal satisfaction.

My daughter is still very young and requires much attention. It is difficult to work "a long time" without interruption. Poor child, she is at home alone with me, she has not (yet) siblings.

Some projects are still possible with her at home, such as drawing (though not "easy" to continue when I'm interrupted...). Other projects are however completely impossible or at least difficult to deal with unexpected interruptions, like painting with acrylics (which asks for a extended period of time where I can escape without concerns) or write (which I have to isolate myself in a bubble of concentration completely detached from the "real world"; if it pops, I can completely lose my ideas).

My dilemma ... I would like be able to do a little of both, part-time. Find "the right daycare" where my daughter will be happy is a monumental headache. And each time it takes a period of integration and adaptation... then we can determine if it works or not. Change too frequently can also be a cause of distress and turmoil.

I probably should organize myself  with another mom in the same situation, and share our time: half a week or one every two weeks one of us takes the children while the other is doing the freelance job. But I don't know where or how to find such a person! Do you know someone? In the region of the south shore of Montreal?

I feel like I have to choose between my well-being and the one of my daughter... And immediately, I feel like answering: I take the one of my daughter! The problem is that I know that if I do not take time to work on a personal project, I'll end up in depression and I would be useless to anyone!

Please leave a comment! =)

Friday, July 15, 2011

A whole year "full time" on my projects

July 20th 2011 will mark a whole year working on my project on a full time schedule (one year that I've quit my job and that I work from home without income)!!

Full time for a whole year?
Hum... no, not really, but here's a recapitulation of that year nonetheless.

On the archives side, see: "A month after the return from vacations", "Second "full time" month on my projects", "Third "full time" month on my projects" and "Fourth "full time" month on my projects".

After the fourth month, I stopped those recapitulations, because the "full time" stopped working...

So here what happened in a condensed version:
  • During last fall, my daughter had a periode of time where she was often sick; she was more often home than the daycare, so... I was working part time on my projects...
  • In December, I had two classes at the NAD Center under the professional training, which were  Softimage (XSI) and Mudbox formation.
  • Starting at the Christmas holidays, because of some trouble with the daycare, I stayed home 3 months with my daughter (end of December to beginning of March), so very little time for myself and my projects.
  • In January, we did a purchase offer for a condominium/townhouse on the south shore of Montreal (we used to live on the north shore).
  • In March, my daughter started to go in a new daycare and I went back working on my personal projects in full time (or almost). If, from July to December 2010, I was mostly working on updating my software knowledge in 3D, from March 2011 up to today, I did mostly work on my writings and drawings.
  • And then, trouble with the daycare again, since... I don't know... beginning of June? mid-June? my daughter is going only part time at the daycare. Then in July, I cancel everything and I'm full time mommy. I realized in between that many parents have this kind of "trouble" with daycares and, strangely, it's always happening around the same age trench! Meaning that the kids are in their "terrible twos" (two years old)...

So, for the whole year, let say that I was almost half of the time on my personal projects and the other half being a mother at home with her beloved daughter. ^_^

What did I accomplished during this whole year?

First, I realized that this adventure was not to get me toward a job, because I enjoy WAY too much working from home and have the flexibility of schedule in case of trouble, to take care of my daughter. I decided to be working freelance, (see archives "one egg in each basket"), that is get an income doing a bit of everything: a bit of writing, a bit of illustration, a bit of selling my paintings, a bit of teaching... (More than once, I've been told that very few Quebeckers writers earn a living with the writings, idem for painting artists or illustrators... so, lets do a bit of everything!)

What then?
  • I have assemble many notes, ideas and preparations for a few writing projects (novels).
  • I wrote about 75 pages for one of these novel projects (originally, it was 115 pages, then I tought about what would be best for the storyline and I've cleaned and cut 40 pages).
  • Since the time of the Cegep (equivalent of an "in between" high school and college) I was searching for information about a theory on the antiquity, for a major novels series project; 15 years later (that is, this year), I... huh no... my spouse (!) found what I was looking for... So the research imperative for this writing project is underway!
  • Like I've mentioned in this post: "A super discovery!"  the discovery of a book about drawing did inspire me a lot! So, I'm in the process of setting up a drawing class on several different levels of difficulty, from the base to a more advanced level. Yay! =D
  • I got back to painting! Yay!
  • I spent many beautiful and precious moments with my daughter! ^_^ We are getting through the "terrible twos" with self-control, I'm now a master-zen of the hunger control! =P
What's the rest of the objectives or projects?
  • It would resume into : find incomes... =P  But we are not into trouble; I have time to focus on my projects. ^_^
  • Deepen my knowledge about Zbrush and Scuptis the software (I'm on the waiting list for a training at the Centre NAD, just have to wait for the availability of a teacher for Zbrush... it's been nine months that there is nothing... anyway...) Then I can get back to creation of computer graphics images. I intend to get into the 2D illustration, from 2D and 3D software.
  • Finish to work on the documents for my drawing classes, and start private teaching.
  • Finish the writing of the novel I've started and send it to a publisher. And write another, etc.
  • To paint, paint paint, draw, draw, draw and try to go for a small exhibition somewhere, and sell, sell, sell!  =D
  • And because I'm fearless and I am happy with my family... it will surely soon try to offer a little brother or sister to my daughter! ^_^

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Software experimentation

Ah! To Paint! Always so pleasant, what ever the medium... In the case of this rose, I did it from a software (Yes! yes! it is computer graphic!) called ArtRage.

This image is based on a photo (that I drew directly over it, I admit it with no shame nor disconfort) that came with the software.

Huh! Now that I put the photo beside my speed painting, I notice the mistakes!! Oh no!! D= 

This is only a study anyway! =P

So, there's only one software left to learn and I'll get to my starting goal. I give myself until mid-July, which will be 1 year after I left my job and start my personal update.

The setback for that last software left (ZBrush), is because there's still nobody on the waiting list at the NAD to get the course with me... Which means that I'll have to learn it all by myself, like I've started... For ZBrush, I was hoping to do it in class and get the certification... but after a whole year (well, ok, I'm on the list since last October), the offer expires!

After ZBrush, I'll be able to execute my plans for my personal works; I'll give more details in mid-July! =P

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Boreal Conference 2011 -- A memorable year!

So, during this May 13-14-15 2011, held the annual conference Boreal in Montreal.
For my part, there were three years that I missed the event due to "maternity leave", so I was waiting this with great anticipation. (For those who don't know, I talked about the Boreal Conference some time ago: to explain in two words, the Congress of the literature of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Fantasy Quebec (SFFQ)). The risk, when one is too excited in anticipation of something is always to be disappointed or that "thing" in question is ultimately not as exciting as one expected...

Well, the Boreal this year was probably one of the best I have ever seen! Here is my summary and very personal point of view of the event.

(I did not take pictures Friday 13 at night, and I have not been this there very long... Skip to the next day).

Day 2: Saturday May 14

9:30: Roundtable: "The fantasy in Quebec after Harry Potter?"

Animated by Élisabeth Vonarburg, Author and the "Great Guru" of the writing workshop I attended in 2006 and 2007 (and continues mentoring even after!) ;o)

At the left: Julie Martel, author (and long for the youngest writers SFFQ) and at the right, Dominic Bellavance, author (the new youngest) ;o)

Many eyes still heavy so early in the morning, but room still busy!

10:30: Roundtable: "The fantasized collection"

From left to right: Claude Lalumière, Alain Ducharme, Frédérick Durant et René Walling.
I appologize for the many french links...  =/

11:30: Roundtable: "Six Brumes Event"
From left to right: Jonathan Reynolds et Guillaume Houle.
The "Six Brumes" are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.

Caroline Lacroix and her last published "Flyona".

 The room was packed! We missed a few chairs!

 Photo at the left, in the forground: Alamo St-Jean; photo to the right, Alexandre Lemieux, whom I met during my second writing workshop, in 2007.

2:00pm: Roundtable: "The imagination and humor: a marriage doomed to divorce?"

From left to right: Joël Champetier (author, editor and literary director of the Solaris magasine), Jean-Pierre April (author and literary critic), Alain Ducharme (author) et Dominic Bellavance (author).

Joël Champetier (author, editor and literary director of the Solaris magasine)
the guest of honor at this conference, 2011.

 3:00pm: Roundtable "Elegant pen or substantial background?"

 From left to right: Daniel Sernine (author and literary editor of the collection "Jeunesse-Pop" editions Médiapaul), Yves Meynard (author and chronicler for Solaris), center, host Carméli Jacob (editor, coordinator of the articles and section editor for the Brins d'Éternité magazine), Pascale Raud (coordinator and advertising for Solaris), Frédérick Durant (author )


5:30pm : Solaris and Jacques-Brossard Awards
(formerly "Grand Prize for Science Fiction and Fantasy Quebecers")

 Daniel Sernine gives the Solaris award to Josée Lepire.

Jacques-Brossard award (formerly "Grand Prize for Science Fiction and Fantasy Quebecers")
Left: president of the comity, center Valérie Bédard and right, Alain Ducharme, 2 of the 5 members of the jury.

 The winner of the Jacques-Brossard 2011 award: 
Héloïse Côté, with "La tueuse de dragon" (meaning "the dragon slayer") published at Alire.

7:30pm: Launch of the latest novel from Joël Champetier: "Reset - Le voile de lumière"
 At the left, Jean Pettigrew (editorship at Alire) and left, our guest of honor for this Boreal 2011, Joël Champetier (author, editor and literary director of the Solaris magasine)

 Élisabeth Vonarburg, my competitor paparazzi ;o) ... who's taking a picture of the public behind her.

 Joël reads us the first few pages of his novel.

Day 3: Sunday May 15

10:30: Roundtable "Publishing for dummies"

From left to right: Guillaume Voisine (Publisher, editor and literary editor for Brins d'Éternité), Claude Bolduc (author and... damn, I forget the publisher... I must be too tired already on this ​​Sunday morning...), Francine Pelletier (reading committee for Alire) et Dominic Bellavance (host of the roundtable; author).

11:30: Roundtable "How did I write"

 From left to right, (author and literary editor of the collection "Jeunesse-Pop" editions Médiapaul), Yves Meynard (author and chronicler for Solaris), Élisabeth Vonarburg, (author and "Great Guru" of the writing workshop), Alamo St-Jean (author and host of this table).

4:00pm: Aurora/Boréal Award

Our host for the awards: Alain Ducharme.
Note that during the animation for the awards, the crowd (hidden behind the photographer) ;o)
was tearing to one another a kilo of candy! (almost a true story) ;o)

For starters, the prize for the on-site writing contest, hosted by Julie Martel.

Boréal Award – Fanedition: Brins d’éternité (fanzine)
Carmélie Jacob, Guillaume Voisine et Ariane Gélinas

Boréal Award – Artistic & audiovisual creation: Sybiline (Lajoie, Chantal) (Covers: Solaris 173, Solaris 175 and Brins d’éternité 26)

Aurora/Boréal Award – Best work: Solaris Magasine  
(chief editor: Joël Champetier)

Aurora/Boréal Award – Best Short-Story: Côté, Philippe-Aubert: « Pour l’honneur d’un Nohaum » (Solaris 176)

Aurora/Boréal Award – Best Novel: Côté, Héloïse: La tueuse de dragons (Alire)

Congratulation to all!

The final word from the coordinator of the event, Ariane Gélinas

I want to emphasize that this year, many writers from the "next generation" and the writing workshop were nominated or won awards, whatever the category. I would like to thank Elisabeth Vonarburg, for all she does for us, novice writers! If you only knew... her workshops costs 100 times nothing, and Elisabeth helps us even outside of the workshops, like a second mother who would have 25 beloved children. Really, it's not nothing!

"A Great Lady, Elisabeth is!" she says with moist eyes and sniffing loudly like Rubeus Hagrid. ;o)

What? It's already over?
A big CONGRATULATIONS to the team with which Boréal 2011 has taken place without a hitch!
I'm really REALLY looking forward to Boreal 2012 = D