Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scribblers Retreat Writers’ Conference


I recently came back from Georgia, where I participated in the May session of Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference. I gave one-on-one lunch consultations on writing and publishing in the conference hotel’s bar—er—restaurant. Let me put it this way: my sessions were well attended! (Smug grin)…The conference took place at Sea Palms Resort on Saint Simon’s Island, and proved to be a refreshing treat in southern warmth and gentile hospitality. I was just one of the conference’s participating authors but they made me feel like I was the guest of honor.

The May conference is one of a series of four conferences held throughout the year (I’ll be giving a session in the SF stream in August, alongside Jack McDevitt—after World Con in Montreal). The May conference was about writing “How to” books; Dr. William Rawlings gave the keynote, setting the pace for a great conference.

I was late, as usual (my close friends who know me from another dimension understand “Nina time” and nod slowly with quiet understanding) and made an unwitting “entrance” to the opening ceremony. A distinguished and impeccably dressed lady waved me enthusiastically to her table and I concluded that she must be the conference coordinator—she wasn’t; she was one of the island’s icons and most respected citizens.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Piet Voute—Blending Vision with Craft


Well…It’s been a while since I took anyone up on Vinny, my ship, for an interroga—er—interview. And Harry, my robot, was getting bored. So, I thought I’d interview my neighbor (since I AM the Alien Next Door), who happens to be a crack animator. He’s a high school student, his name is Piet Voute, and he taught himself how to use the super-cool free animation software, Blender.

Just like all his predecessors, Piet took to the crystal transporter with style and no ill effects…unlike yours truly, who emerged from the transported onboard Vinnie rather pale and weak and desperately needing a drink. My robot Harry gave Piet a Doctor Pepper then handed me an orange juice (not what I had in mind, but I didn’t complain.) We settled into some plush seats in the aft lounge and I began my interroga—er, interview.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Love’s Labor Lost: Those Who Prey on Love


Oh, brave new world that has such people in it!—Miranda in “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare
Many of us, particularly in North American and European cultures have decided to bring a friendly animal into our lives and households: either a dog or cat or other furry creature that draws out our affections and unconditionally provides us with so much more back. There is a catch, though. And a cost.

I’ve shared my home with a cat (or two) since the late 1980s…not the same one; each has passed on and a new one has come into my life, filling my heart with joy. My previous two cats lived 19 and 18 years before passing on. My current cat is a healthy eight years old. When my son and I brought him home from the adoption centre, we had tacitly agreed to take responsibility for his welfare. We fed him, took him to the vet for his annual check-up and provided him with our unconditional love. He loved to go outside and we let him, knowing full well that there were dangers from predators (e.g., coyotes and eagles hunted near our place) other cats and accidents with cars etc.