• Category Archives news
  • Tied to My Trailer

    Good thing my band Varnish wrote the theme song for Peace Fire, non? That made the plan for the book trailer easy and took an edge off the part where I have been dying to have a video for this song.

    Music: Tied To My Chair (Single version) by Varnish

    Tools:

    Peace Fire cover: a silhouette with a red flare in the middle, in front of and a large, round, metallic shape
    Peace Fire is out 11 October!
    Pre-order your Kindle edition here.
    Sale price until 10 October


  • I Swear…

    A friend once noted that a film about my life would get an adult rating due to casual swearing, to which I replied that there is nothing casual about my swearing. And I actually mean that. And, because of that, I’m writing this post especially for my friends and family who don’t like swearing in their books or who don’t mind it for themselves but do mind it for their offspring.

    The short version: There is definitely swearing in my book. There is also a version I made just for you without it. You’ll have to scroll (or read) to the end for information about that. (Pre-order that version here at a discounted price.)

    The long version…

    Someone asked if there were things I worried about with my book. And, yes, there definitely are. Some are, I think, pretty universal artist concerns. I also had two specific worries that, whilst not unique to me, are less universal. You see, my book has bracing quantities of swearing and has characters with names that you might think are yours. In this post, I’m going to talk about the first. There will be another post for the other later on.

    I was raised in a strictly “no swearing” home. The only time I recall swearing as a child, I didn’t know that the “f-word” an older kid gleefully taught me whilst walking home was one of the fabled “bad words” that weren’t allowed in our home. So, being chased about with a bar of soap to wash out my mouth when I used my new word at dinner that night was…unexpected. After that, I made it through my teens and into my 20s without swearing. (There was one time and it kind of slipped out and I was mortified. Mortified. By that point, I’d bought into the belief—that I now think is incorrect—that swearing showed laziness and/or a poor vocabulary.)

    Lighting gel called "Bastard Amber"
    When I did lighting for theatre, this oft-used colour gel was the bane of my existence

    I won’t name names, but I was once shocked (shocked!) when someone I respect, someone who was in the anti-swearing camp, shared a short story of theirs in which a character swore. (Just once. And a pretty minor word. But you better believe my world was rocked.) When I asked them about it, they said that you have to stay true to your characters. And that’s what I did here. Which resulted in some pretty bracing swearing.

    When I started swearing, it was after a long and logical conversation with myself. I chose to swear. And I won’t try to convince you non-swearers to swear (though one of my reasons for the choice shows up later in terms of a choice I made about edits). In fact, most of you non-swearers haven’t heard me swear. You might be shocked. (Or you might, because you were small-minded and stereotyped me based on appearance, feel vindicated in believing I was the kind of person who’d swear…Whatever gets you out of bed in the morning….)

    After I wrote my book, I had conversations about this with assorted people who held all kinds of opinions. In the end, I absolutely believe that the swearing is a more authentic approach. I absolutely believe that the normal version of my book is the better version, but…

    I understand that there are friends and family who’d like to support me, that there are parents out there who’d love to put this story in their offsprings’ hands, and probably some groups of people I haven’t thought of, people for whom the swearing is a deal breaker. No judgement; I get it.

    Instead of judgement, I wanted to consider options for letting you anti-swear folks read my book. Some of you have been vocally excited about the book, and I’m trying not to let you down.

    Before I tell you what I’ve done, I want to be clear about two things:

    1. This is all the discussion I’m really interested in having with anyone who judges me for the swearing. I won’t be engaging if you ask for a private explanation. Please understand that I will be ending such conversations as quickly and gracefully as I can manage.
    2. I am not at all ashamed of my normal version of the book. If I were ashamed, the version I’m about to describe would be the normal one and the one with swears would be the Swear Jar Edit (that would get sold secretly).

    A jar labelled "swear jar" and filled with large denominations of money and a credit card

    I had the chance to discuss this with one of my anti-swear people about whose opinion I was actually worried. They took it in stride, so I’m counting on the rest of you who don’t have nearly the stake in me they do to do the same. I believe in you!

    Final bit of information before I tell you about the edited version. See, I suspect some of you might underestimate what I mean when I say the swearing is “bracing,” so I’m going to give you some numbers (whilst using enough censorship that this post stays swear-free). In my 340 pages of story, the following words (or conjugations thereof) show up the number of times listed here:

    • F-word: 111
    • S-word: 105
    • D-word: 60
    • H-word: 52 (but some might be in words like “shell” because I used Find to do a word count, which introduced some uncertainty for some of these)
    • Rude words related to male genitals: 4 (all uses of one variation show up in uses like “cocky” or “cocked the gun,” so that’s not included here)
    • A-word: Whether you spell it the “usual” way or the variant that includes an R, it’s the sort of thing that might show up in words like “parse,” “assume,” “password,” etc, so there’s no easy way to get an accurate count. But those of you who didn’t run away after the f-bomb count can probably handle this…
    • B-words: 10 of one and 12 of the other
    • Shockingly, any other words I might have used, including the c-word (which makes my US English friends particularly uncomfortable), didn’t show up when I searched for them. I was surprised, but, there you go…
    • Because it is of special concern to some of you, whether you read the normal or edited version, I want to note that I did not use the Lord’s name in vain.

    So, plan to run into an f-bomb about once every three pages. Same for the s-word. And, if you make it through one page with no swears, there’s a good bet it’s just clustered up somewhere else. The total of all the sweary words used comes out at over a swear per page.

    Bracing.

    That swear jar in the picture up there is now starting to look a little less imaginary to you, isn’t it?

    Now, this other version…May I introduce you to the Radio Edit.

    Peace Fire (Radio Edit) cover: a silhouette with a red flare in the middle, in front of and a large, round, metallic shape. Red stamp on cover with text "Radio Edit"

    I called it the Radio Edit because, as most of you probably know, music is a massive part in my life. When I think about voluntarily censoring something I’ve created, my mind immediately goes to radio edits of songs. Though I could totally use words on the radio that I’ve taken out of the Radio Edit. I could also have way more sexiness on the radio than you’ll find in the Radio Edit.

    Because it’s the culture in which the story takes place (and, yes, what counts as swearing varies based on which English-speaking country you’re in), I did the edit based on US English swearing. It should be good for you non-swearing folks in general, given my experience has been that, overall, US English is the most limiting variation. Unless you have a problem with words like “crap,” “piss,” and “jerk,” in which case I really can’t scale it back enough for you. (I also left in phrases like “the evidence was damning” because there are non-swearing uses of words that US English considers swears in other contexts.)

    Actually, here’s a count like the list above:

    • Bloody – 6 times, some of which had to do with actual blood. Left in because I opted for US English ideas of swearing, and it’s not even seen as a remotely rude word at all in the US as far as I can tell.
    • Crap – Whilst it shows up only 8 times in the regular version, it shows up 70 times in the Radio Edit. Left in or used as a replacement for the same reason as “bloody.”
    • Piss – 11 times, but…listen, I hear some of you non-swear folks say you’re “pissed off,” so I feel pretty okay about this. After all, you’re not giving this book to your kids. “Piss” seems like a pretty reasonable non-swear rude word these days.

    The swearing was not removed just by using the Find and Replace function. (For instance, I did not just, as one friend suggested, replace every f-bomb with “frick.”) That would have left a massively inferior book (instead of one that I just feel isn’t as authentic sounding). What actually happened is that I made a list of every swear word I could think of and a few extra-rude words, and then I used Find to locate them. (If I missed anything, please accept my most sincere apologies. The cost of a full line edit and the impact on timelines was not something we could work out.) I then made changes on a case-by-case basis. (Which only confirmed my belief that swear words serve particular purposes and carry their own, unique connotations and nuances. But this edit isn’t about me; it’s about you. So, I did my best for you, all things considered.)

    If the Radio Edit does well enough, it will be part of the plan from the start to do it for the books I write after this. If it does well enough and enough interest is shown, we can totally look at the option of print copies later on. For now, because it’s not the way things are normally done and due to the cost (in terms of time, money, and energy), it will only be an ebook. Currently, Amazon is the only place I’ve confirmed it will be available for pre-order. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app to your computer or device. That’s what I use!) I’m working to make it available more widely, and should at least have it available through Barnes and Noble (as an ebook). If you search for Peace Fire at your preferred ebook supplier, unless the cover is the one you see above (with the Radio Edit stamp on it) and the description notes that it has been edited for swearing, I can’t guarantee that’s what you’re getting. Shop carefully!

    xxx

    Peace Fire (Radio Edit) is now available for pre-order here at a discounted price


  • A Little Revealing

    Peace Fire is due out 11 October and, oh yes, it’s time to show you the cover for it!

    Because maybe this little look at a blurb from Ernest Cline got you interested:

    White text on a dark background: "A smart, fun, fierce tale of geek revolution and high-stakes adventure." -Ernest Cline, Bestselling Author of Ready Player One

    And then maybe this cheeky little bum flash (aka the back cover) has you just too excited to wait:

    A circular metallic shape above the text: In 2050, the world is a little denser, a little greyer, and a little more firmly under the corporate thumb. Wriggling carefully under that thumb, in their dimly lit flats, Katja and her friends have tended to walk the fine line between cyber criminals and cyber crusaders. For them, no physical reality compares to their lives built on lines of aggressive code. But then somebody blows up the office where Katja is pretending to be a well-behaved wage slave and jolts them into the concrete and clouds of corporeal Seattle. Of brains infiltrated by a clandestine threat. Can a handful of digital warriors win a war that stretches into the world on the flesh and blood side of their computer screens?

    So, let’s just flip it around and pull back a bit and…here’s the money shot:

    Peace Fire cover: a silhouette with a red flare in the middle, in front of and a large, round, metallic shape

    I took a few weeks to research possible artists for the cover. Putting a cover on your book is like…dressing it up for a performance or a job interview or a first date with the person who may be The One. It’s not something I take lightly. I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, at least not when you’re metaphorically talking about people, but we all judge actual books by their covers. Oh, man, what if I got the wrong artist and my book showed up for its first date in something entirely unlike it and the person never called it back?!?!

    But I had seen George Cotronis’s work on my friend Mercedes’s books. And checking out the other pieces on his web site made me feel like this was the artist to make the picture in my head happen. In fact, I had the pictures in my head for all three books currently planned for this series. And, someday, I might pay someone to make them just so I can see those in the flesh (or at least in the pixels). And I totally admit that I braced for disappointment when he asked if he could try his own idea first. My brain doesn’t easily let go of its ideas about how a thing should be.

    Imagine my delight when even his first draft was awesome. When my bookseller friend who is obsessed with cover art declared it a great cover. Then George took feedback and poked and prodded and…And there it is. A cover I love, a cover that is the right outfit for this book’s first date, a cover now released into the world.

    A cover that I suspect gets even better when you’ve read the book. But maybe that’s just my delight spilling over.

    Either way, I hope that you see this cover and think that this is a book you’d like to take on a first date. (I am biased towards you buying the print version so that you can hold both the front and back in your hands. Isn’t that the goal of most people on first dates?)

    Want to set up that date now, for cheaper? (I won’t judge; cheap dates can be great.) We’ve got the pre-order live and at a reduced price (save a couple bucks!) from now until the night before the book is published. For now, that’s just for the Kindle version, but we should have some other early options posted on social media (Facebook or Twitter) over the next few months.

    If you do your ebook shopping somewhere else, let me know and we’ll see what we can do about pre-order prices there as well!

    Thanks for following along on my crazy “First Published Book!!” adventure. I hope there are many more !! to come for all of us!

    xxx

    Pre-order your Kindle edition here.
    Sale price until 10 October


  • Clearing the Pipes

    2012-05-10

    And, I’m back! Here’s a quick catch up so that I can get to my longer, ponder-y post that’s the official “every second Saturday of the month” post in a couple days. (And, yes, that means at least a monthly post, but there might be others….like this one!) Mainly, this is to get you up-to-date on topics that have been mentioned here before, just in case you haven’t also been following things on Varnish pages and sites.

    • We released Each to Each (a sort of maxi-EP, if you will) 1 December, 2011. It’s got the 5 studio tracks, plus 3 live tracks (of lesser production quality) that I threw on. It’s only available as a digital download at this time. Much love and thanks to all involved in making it happen.
    • In order to put all his musical energy into Post Adolescence, Johnny stepped down as bassist. Yes, in fact, I am gutted. But we’re all still friends, so that’s a happy thing. Don’t want to think what life would be like without my best friend.
    • Mentioned in one of the first posts that my mum didn’t like our music. Somewhere about midway between that post and when she passed away, she told me (out of the blue) that she did, in fact, really like a couple of our songs. That was a seriously happy thing for me to hear.
    • I’m going to shift things here a bit so that the focus on this blog is more to do with me, including Varnish things specific to me. Not that I was posting loads of band business here, but I’ve got so many updates on the Varnish main site, the Facebook, and Twitter that you’ve got plenty of sources for Varnish information. And I hope you’ll join us one or more of those places, cos your support and love are huge to us.
    • I am still a big hippie, believing in love and light and the great worth of all people. Plus, organic food and treating animals well and taking care of the environment. And so forth. I’d apologise for not being rock ‘n’ roll enough, but I feel pretty good about it. Heh.

    And now, back to work. Cos taking care of my band is a full-time job!
    xxx

    ps Here is a picture of my cat. Doesn’t his cuteness make you forget (or at least forgive me for) how long it’s been since I posted here?

    Does this NY Met bag make me look cultured?


  • about time i updated, non?

    eep.
    well, looks like the best intentions i had got eaten by life. lots going on in my personal life and music, and suddenly i look and find this blog has been neglected. i am going to try to hold myself to at least a monthly post the last half the year. and you feel free to poke at me as it gets near the end of a month if i haven’t. (plus, i was reading some old entries one day whilst out and on someone else’s computer, and i must go back and fix my errors. put on my editor hat and clean things up. yeesh.)

    so, what have you missed?

    * we’ve played some shows, of course. because that’s what we do. our last was with five alarm fire, the new band of john maurer from social distortion. oh my stars. what a great night. and i feel very lucky that john and i clicked and spent most the night talking. he’s quite cool, and i urge you to check them out if five alarm fire play near you.

    * our johhny’s main band, post adolescence, had their cd release! i’m linking you to their myspace, urging you to buy a copy. if you buy it digitally, please consider using digstation, because the boys get 100% of that money. seriously, seriously proud of my best friend & bassist, and of the other boys in the band (also my friends). plus, it was produced by mark clem, whose name you might have seen mentioned as producing the varnish ep (also a friend of mine).

    * ah, the varnish ep…the silver lining of the fact that the cover art has proven ridiculously hard to make happen is that there’s still money in my savings (because it would, otherwise, have been spent to press the cd). and that’s good because it looks like my day job is about to cut my hours (maybe my job?) in the next week.

    * but that last part is only not awesome because i have bills. it *is* awesome because i have also started working on some side project stuff about which i’m very excited. it’s different from varnish, so it lets me stretch and explore. and it’s with two people i consider family (always a bonus…one thing i love about working with johnny in varnish is that he *is* my family). plus, i’m working hard to promote varnish more and really get moving. i’m going to add us to more sites. and i’ll be sincerely, deeply grateful for any efforts people make to help spread the word about us.

    * not yet sure how i’ll handle selling them if you don’t live near (probably paypal), but we got these cool, limited edition (made only 50, 4 of which go to the band) varnish dog tags. this is the mockup, not a photo of the actual thing, but it’s pretty close:

    varnish dog tag

    * there are also stickers now. if you head over to our facebook page and look at the pics from 2010-06-19, there’s a picture in there. i suspect those will make their way happily around…

    * lots in my life and in my head. and varnish are working on new material. just moving ahead as much as i can in all areas. blessed to be surrounded by good people, to have a stellar bff like johnny (and his cat), and to see myself at least clearly enough to like myself. something i wish i could help all of you do….see clearly that you are of worth….i truly believe we’d all get further in life and would treat ourselves and each other better if we knew we were of great worth. so i’m going to keep telling you that until you believe me. because i never lie….

    i appreciate the many lovely compliments that people have sent my way after shows and online. i feel truly blessed to be able to make music, and super flattered that you see my goodness. so far, i must confess, my favourite has been the following:

    “Ultra Goddess to the highest power. You know you wanna learn all you can about the divine feminine that *IS* Varnish’s Lead vocalist. You KNOW you wanna.”

    i hope you all get a chance to truly see the divine that’s in *you*
    i mean that.
    and i mean it about everyone. literally. even if you’re someone i don’t get on with or who doesn’t care for me. it doesn’t change the fact that you have that in you.

    be good to yourself.
    don’t settle.
    find beauty.
    be courageous.
    and poke me if i don’t update. because, like ms. o’connor once sang, i’m full of good intentions…

    xxx


  • just so you know it’s still alive

    oh my stars. it’s been two and a half months since i posted, hasn’t it?
    unless all the registered users are desperate spam-bots, there are actually some of you out there already hoping for posts.
    so here’s a quick one, full of little random bullet points (close friends are not surprised at that) to let you know this is still a living blog. it just needs a little cpr. heh.

    * cd progress: as you know, the songs are done and have been ready and mastered for months. have now had the requisite conversation with the cd pressing folks. am all ready…except for the cd art. still. but i have decided to find a way to get cd art i’m happy with (i already know what it looks like, but just need to have it created) asap. in spite of the unchanged status of the obstacles in the way. and i’m a determined girly. yah!

    * my new motto (which i came up with on my very own — go me! — and hope the band will also take as a motto) is “make music, not excuses.” feel free to use it. just remember where it came from and buy the t-shirts when i make them. hehehe

    * why is my most spammed post on here the one called “best friend (lyrics hint)”? seriously. i get a few huge spam “comments” on it daily. and only infrequently on a few others…and this is why i don’t talk about what lyrics mean. it must be a sign. haha!

    * speaking of best friend….in this case, my actual best friend (who is not the topic of that song, in case you missed the post), who is also my bassist…i’m just pleased as punch that his main band (post adolescence) have finished recording their album and will be releasing it in the next couple months. and it’s amazing stuff (thanks to the fact they started with hot material, and then used the same killer producer we used). you know i’ll be saying more here when it’s out and ready for you to consume.

    * as far as playing live goes…we’ve managed one a month for february and march, will have two this month (one tomorrow, in case you’re in the area, at the blue moon), and have one lined up for may. already working on june and months beyond. a number of factors (local “blackout” periods where venues don’t want you to play within 2 weeks of playing for them, other bands our folks are in, and so forth) make it unlikely we’ll regularly do more than one a month for a while. but you better believe we’ll fit in as much as we can.

    * we’re now at a point where art for gig posters and pictures of the band are a good thing. if you’ve got something you want to share or have us consider, drop me a line. we’re a bit tight on the money just now, but we’d at least want to hang on to things for a future where we can set you up. (that said, i’m really excited for the poster my friend nathan made that we’ll be using for our may show. it’s hot!)

    * have started a song that has the word “varnish” in it a few times. i write like mad, and i clearly like “varnish,” so it’s odd that this is the first time i can recall it coming up. suddenly, i’m wondering if it comes off as silly to use that word multiple times in a song given that it’s the band name. not my deepest pondering yet. heh. just one more reason to have another project someday, so i can use all the lyrics i write, whether or not i think they are right for varnish.

    okay, that ought to make you feel more confident in the lifespan of this little blog. i promise i have a list of topics to address. and i continue to be open to your suggestions. i just have to scrape out a little more time now that life has gotten a bit more on the full side. maybe next time i’ll talk about chilblains, seasonal allergies, and my new motto. (now i’ve put that in my mind, increasing the chances of posting again soon. see how that works?)

    stay safe. keep believing. as bjork would say, “all is full of love.”

    xxx


  • the joint might get hoppin’

    just a note for those of you who check in sometimes to see if i’m updating. i miss blogging some days. after all, i think a lot, and i find it helps me to process if i write things out. and then things are written out, but they go nowhere. just sit on my computer or in my paper journal (yes, i have one of those). most the things in the paper journal really oughtn’t go out in to the world. but i have this urge to set the other ones free, see what they do in the wild.

    i may be a private person, but i also front a band and write the lyrics. this should be no surprise.

    so i’ve decided to expand the scope of this blog. i’m not yet sure what impact that will have. it should lead to more posts, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot when i post so infrequently. however, there’s only one way to find out what will happen. and that’s to go for it. right?

    i’ll get us going by posting something here i posted as a note on my facebook. because, really, it was whilst writing that note that i finally had to admit i missed blogging.

    feel free to join the conversation. i’m pretty sure this thing has comments…