Monthly Archives: June 2012

Friday Link: Bald and Beautiful

I am fascinated by photos of difficult subjects — poverty, palliative care, grief, cancer. If the photographer is sensitive, the photos are beautiful but often stark. It’s no surprise that they might be lacking in joy — in fact, one might even say that’s expected.

But recently I came across a set of photos that just blew all that out of the water.

Photographer Brandi Reynolds writes,

So my friend, Val, texts me one night and says she has this friend that is going through cancer treatment. The friend has lost her hair and decided that she wanted to do something artful/fun with her newly bald head and would I be up for a photo shoot?

I said yes immediately, so honored that Val would think of me, got in touch with Sara (the friend) and last friday we met in Sundance Square in Ft. Worth for a photo shoot.

I didn’t know what to expect going into the shoot. On the one hand, my heart went out to her (to anyone) going through cancer treatment. I lost a friend to cancer and I remember his journey and how hard it was. I’m a little sensitive, a little emotional, to the word cancer.

But yet, this was someone who decided to take the loss of her hair and turn into art and I was excited and curious to experience that.

I hope you’ll click through to see her photos and read the rest of the post.

(Hat tip to S.M. Hutchins of Live Wonderstruck for the link)

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Guest Post by KD Sarge: Just Don’t Stop

My second guest blogger during my semi-hiatus is KD Sarge, a science fiction and fantasy writer and fellow Turtleduck Press member. KD is a working single mother who somehow finds time to write — a lot — because it keeps her sane. She’s also a dear friend. I knew she’d been through a lot, but I didn’t know what she’s about to share today…

Twenty years ago I was on my own for the first time, living in a tiny ugly studio apartment where most of my neighbors spoke a language I didn’t. I was working forty hours a week, and I was going to school full time—more than full time. I was taking eighteen credit hours. I was working nights, getting home at one in the morning and three days a week my first class was at 7:30 a.m.

What can I say? I was young. Not only did I want to know everything, I wanted to know everything right now. And working my butt off unnecessarily was romantic! As my high school English teacher used to say, not “kissy-face huggy romantic” but adventure! Excitement! I would look back on that time, I thought, and laugh about it. It’d look great in my author bio when I got published.

You know what happened, right?

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Guest Post by Rabia Gale: British Authors I Love

As part of my blog semi-hiatus, I’m thrilled to introduce my very first guest blogger, Rabia Gale. Rabia is a fellow science fiction and fantasy writer who’s here to talk about her biggest childhood influences. Whether you grew up knowing that a boot was a trunk and a torch was a flashlight, or discovered British literature later on, come on in and tell us about your favourite Brits.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesBorn in a former British colony, I grew up with the Famous Five rather than the Boxcar Children. In school I studied Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence instead of Steinbeck and Hemingway. My biggest source of books was the subscription library run by the British Council.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that the three authors whose works influenced me the most as a child and as a teen are British. Their books made me think and feel deeply, moved me to tears and laughter, and have earned a permanent place on my bookshelves.

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Friday Link: Photos to Restore Your Faith in Humanity

Administrative note: You’re in for a treat on this blog. For the next two weeks, I’ll be featuring some awesome guest bloggers who are keeping the lights on here while I move house. I’ll still be responding to comments as I’m able and posting Friday links, and I’ll be back for real on July 9. Until then…

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A Farewell to My Neighbourhood

One of the things I love about Toronto is that it’s a city of neighbourhoods. Every little chunk of the city — every ten-block stretch of commercial/retail development surrounded by residential streets — has a unique flavour. There’s a Chinatown and the student district, of course, but there’s also Greektown and Little India and the hippie corner and the hipster stretch. Like many different cities all inhabiting the same space.

The neighbourhood where I’ve lived for the past seven years is one such place, a microcosm unto itself — or maybe several. Continue reading

Book Nostalgia: Trixie Belden

Trixie Belden and the Secret of the MansionToday in our Nostalgia series, we’re talking about a girl sleuth. No, not Nancy Drew. My detective alter ego was a sandy-haired farm girl from small-town New York, a girl with three brothers and a poor little rich girl as a best friend. I discovered her at just the right age, as a preteen dreaming of adventure. If you were a fan of Trixie Belden or one of the other ongoing mystery series, come on in and let’s reminisce…

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Friday Link: Life Lessons From My Father

It’s Father’s Day this weekend, which means it’s time for thoughtful, well-crafted reminiscences about one’s father. Unfortunately, I’m kind of swamped at the moment. Fortunately, I’ve already written about my father…

You know the saying — that people must be ready to reinvent themselves and adapt in order to survive in these competitive times.

My father had that covered long before the concepts of “recession” and “self-publishing” were everywhere.

In his first life, he was a farmer. He grew up on a mixed cattle and grain farm in Alberta, driving tractors and combines. Old red barn, falling-down granaries, sloughs, windbreaks, fields of grain, hay bales stacked up in long rows, one-room schoolhouse, all of that. (You can see photos of the farm at McKinney Photography.) Even when he left the farm, he worked with his hands for a while, surveying, fixing cars, on his way to a blue-collar life.

Except that’s not where he ended up.

Read the rest here. And, if you can, hug your dad this weekend. My thoughts go out to those of you who can’t.

See you back here on Monday!

 

3 Ways to Cope with Being Stuck in Transition

Have you ever felt stuck between two stages of life? Maybe you’ve graduated college/university but haven’t found a job yet, or you’re working on making a dream happen but it’s still a ways off?

That’s where I am right now. I’m about to move into my first house — an exciting stage to be sure, but it’s taken a long time to get here and still isn’t quite here — and I’m having a little trouble finding balance.

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Women in A Game of Thrones

One of the strengths of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is its gritty realism. His writing doesn’t pull its punches. Among other things, that sensibility extends to his society-level worldbuilding. Today we’re looking at his treatment of women through that lens.

(Note: I’ve read the first two books, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, and haven’t yet watched the HBO series. There will be spoilers for both books. If you’d like to chime in, you’re most welcome, but please limit your discussion to the first two books/seasons.)

Cersei Lannister

Cersei Lannister. Image credit: http://www.hbocanada.com/gameofthrones/

Martin’s world is a classic medieval fantasy world, based on a feudal society where women are bargaining chips and their possible futures are severely limited. Many fantasy writers working in similar worlds take some liberties here to allow their female characters more autonomy and a greater range of options. Martin has chosen to stick with historical realism. This isn’t a bad thing in itself — science fiction and fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold wrote an extremely strong noblewoman in Paladin of Souls under the same constraints. Let’s look at how well Martin does.

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Friday Links: RIP Ray Bradbury

You’ve probably already heard the news that Ray Bradbury passed away this week. To me, he was a master of the twist ending, of combining science fictional ideas with beautiful prose. I remember being shaken by “The Veldt” and “All Summer in a Day” and “There Will Come Soft Rains” — I thought the endings were horribly sad, but I also never forgot them. Fahrenheit 451 also made a great impression on me, with its mingled dystopia and destruction and hope and sense of wonder. He was truly a giant.

Here’s a collection of remembrances and other related things from around the ‘net this week.

Neil Gaiman posted two tributes, one on his blog and one in the British newspaper The Guardian.

Gaiman also posted an audio file of himself reading a beautiful short story called “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. This is what finally made me cry. (Side note: even if you’re not big on audiobooks, if you haven’t heard Gaiman reading, go listen! He’s brilliant at it.)

SF author John Scalzi posted a tribute on his blog.

The New Yorker published a piece by Bradbury himself (via Better Know a Book).

Long may he be remembered.