Wednesday, December 28, 2011


It's time to come clean: I am a Homestuck.

What, that terminology means nothing to you because you are not already a member of the fandom?

Wikipedia explains: Homestuck, the current adventure [in MS Paint Adventures], began on April 13, 2009 and follows many teenagers as they play a reality-altering video game that brings about the end of the world.

Fans tend to refer to themselves as 'Homestucks.'

Being a part of the fandom has drawn me to join Tumblr, as the creator, Andrew Hussie, updates sporadically there, as well as the creator of one of my other favorite webcomics, Kagerou. But what really sealed the deal for me was that Tumblr is where the creator of Kagerou writes fan-fiction of Homestuck. Called Brainbent, it really deserves a post of its own, but I'm trying to contain my fandom. Brainbent explores the adventures of the Homestuck characters if they all lived in the same place and that place was inpatient psychiatric care. The story is well-written and entertaining in its own right, but the strength of it lies in that using familiar characters and only going slightly farther in their original Homestuck characterizations contributes to an intensely non-threatening space for people to read about and ask questions about mental illness. Because the moderators reply and repost a lot of what fans contribute, I can't even count the number of people who have openly expressed that Brainbent inspired them to take more action in their own mental health.

I've seen fanfiction derided for lazy world-building or character development quite a bit, and it's often true. But in the good ones, using a pre-existing work largely just provides context. Fanfiction lets you use people or places or both that are already familiar to you and many of your readers. It also means readers have a head-place they're already familiar with, already comfortable with, when you want to address something specific or difficult. Brainbent tackles mental illness using the familiar context of Homestuck, Wide Sargasso Sea tackles colonialism and assimilation in the context of Jane Eyre, and a short story we ran in Theory Train in Issue 2, called "Seasonal Affective Disorder," touched on Stockholm Syndrome in the context of Greek myth.

Sometimes, though, it's not high-minded and thought-provoking. Sometimes fanfiction is fun, further exploring a universe you love. The one I'm working on with my friend Tristan, Here Be Dragonflies, is more in that vein.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kobo Vox

When my boss said he'd arrange for me to spend some time with a Kobo Vox at our staff Christmas party, I thought he was going to borrow his girlfriend's.

He didn't.

He gave me one.

It's pink.

I made noises of enthusiasm that I'm reasonably certain my coworkers had not previously produced by a human.

The Kobo Vox is a backlit ereader with wifi accessibility. This means that, whenever I am in range of a wifi network (school, home, Starbucks, the library), I can download as many books as I like directly to my ereader. It also means that I can check my email, browse the web, and watch Youtube videos, if I like. One of the highlights so far is that it lets me read Google Docs easily, so I can read my friend's novel-in-progress on the bus to work.

Having not had a cell phone in three years, I was a little concerned that a touch-screen, and especially a touch-screen keyboard, would frustrate me beyond all rationality. But the keyboard has proven well-spaced, so I mis-type only about as often as I do on a physical keyboard.

The automatic bookmarking is a nice feature, as well. I find I'm curling up more frequently and more easily with my ereader than with a book or my laptop, and it's fantastic.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Google Plus

So I finally succumbed to Blogger's promptings and integrated this site with my Google Plus profile. It doesn't appear to have changed anything on the front end, which is great. I guess this means I can delete the Google Plus link from the list of links for other places to find me, with this integrated.

There's something to be said for a unified web presence, and people being able to track you across multiple media. It introduces people who may know you from one area - a comic or group blog, for example - to other things you're good at, like prose writing or editing or whatever else you do.

I know I treat this very much as a hub site: every social networking site I'm on links here, even if I don't link to all of them in my sidebar (because, really, if you're coming here to find out about my editing rates, you don't particularly need to find my OKCupid dating profile, do you?), and that works well for me. I get frustrated when I find authors who have an author site, and a Tumblr, and a Twitter, and no mention is made on any of them that the others even exist, or if mention is made it's buried somewhere in the archive never to be seen again. So all of the projects I work on that are ready for public consumption are linked here for everyone's convenience.

The biggest downside to the integration with the rest of Google's services is a fairly new thing to the rest, too: the interface is now very white, and I don't like the aesthetics of the navigation.

Biggest positive might be that I no longer have to update as many places with a new profile picture whenever I get a haircut.

Next week I'll be talking about the Kobo Vox, as I get to play with one at my office Christmas party tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Island Writer Launch

Island Writer is now available for free download here:

The launch went very well. We had a lovely evening of readings from our contributors. One of the interesting things that came out with the readings that wasn't as apparent when we were putting together the magazines was how dark a lot of the stories were: we'd joked at our editing meetings about a common thread of police involvement and hard liquor, but it was quite prominent hearing them aloud that a lot of our contributors had really gone for the gritty side of life for this issue.

This also marked the first time Island Writer has gone digital, so I hope everyone takes advantage of it to read the fantastic stories and poems within.

Reading list
Judy Burgess - A is for Arthur
Lee-Anne Stack - The Bouquet
Daryl Baswick - Rainbow Park
Cathy Van Elslande - Gee Whiz
Laura - Tokyo Experience
Judith Castle - Doll
Derek Peach - a birthday poem that was not published
Ulrike Narwani - After The Opera on Humboldt St
Sheila Martindale - Under Police Escort

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh. Right

So, I exist. Sort of. Mostly. I passed my class, and now just have licensing to face down before I can work as a paramedic in BC.

This means I get to rejoin the adventure of looking into what's new with publishing (while not working at the place that pays me or on Island Writer or Theory Train). Anne McCaffrey's death on November 22 was sad: I loved her book The Ship Who Sang. The Kindle Fire is deliciously pretty, and I am in lust for either it or the Next 7, since both perform as lightweight tablets as well as e-readers.

Amazon is looking like a better and better route for independent authors, as you are competing with the entirety of the market there. Smashwords has become what looks like much more of a niche where only the self-published live. Which is great for readers looking for indie writers, but there aren't enough of those yet. Feedbooks, where I published my novella and downloaded Wuthering Heights, is now showing me mostly porn (word deliberately chosen over erotica) under the 'New and Popular' tab. That's disappointing, as they encouraged Creative Commons licensing, where Smashwords won't accept it at all, or wouldn't last I checked.

Regular updates will, I hope, resume this Wednesday with a write-up of the launch of the latest issue of Island Writer.