I’ve been experimenting with my recording setup today. Now that I have a MacBook, I can have my microphone in the same room as my computer (no fan!), which has opened up much better possibilities for doing things like mixing my voice with backing tracks.
Which is how I created this. I only did a couple of vocal takes and didn’t do any editing, so this is a straight-through recording–a little rough in spots, but serves as a proof of concept.
…is not one of the four novels I expect to appear in 2014. Instead, it’s this one, a non-fiction book for Rosen, an educational publisher I’ve done quite a bit of work-for-hire stuff over the years. Of which this is one. It’s about starting a career as a digital designer: pathways into the field, where to get training, etc., etc.
Publication date is January 1.
We had a great time at the Mythbusters live stage show in Regina tonight. We had good seats (fourth row) but best of all we had VIP passes for the meet-and-greet, private Q&A and photo-op with Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage afterward–as you can see from the photo. And best of best of all, we kept the fact we had VIP passes a secret from daughter Alice, who was as thrilled as I’ve ever seen her–thrilled speechless, in fact–when we revealed the passes at the end of the evening as the rest of the audience was filing out.
During the Q&A I asked the guys if they’re science fiction readers, and turn out they both are. Jamie asked my name but didn’t recognize it (not surprising), but I did get a chance to chat with him for a few seconds after our photo and he talked about how that was all he read growing up, but he just doesn’t have as much time to read fiction now as he used too…not to surprising, considering!
I suspected they were SF fans since so many people come to an interest in science and technology through science fiction: I was pleased to find out I was right.
If you get a chance to catch their live show, I highly recommend it. It was great fun, and they’re exactly the same on stage, and in person, as on TV.
Here’s the cover art for the revised version of Song of the Sword, first book in my new five-book YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, being published by Coteau Books beginning in May. Even if you read the original Lobster Press version of the book, you’ll want a copy of the new one, which is extensively revised and also comes with a cover which (I have on good authority from my resident authority in YA fiction, 12-year-old daughter Alice) is much more attractive to the target audience.
It’s already available for pre-order on Amazon!
The estimable Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times-bestselling author of the amazing fantasies The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, with whom I share the honor of being published by DAW Books, has a long history of selling signed books and other artifacts through his website to raise money for charity.
Right now, among the items you can buy are autographed copies of Masks. The cost is $40, with the money going to Worldbuilders, which raises funds for Heifer International.
Colleen Anderson, editor with Steve Vernon of Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast (EDGE), the latest installment of the long-running Canadian anthology series, has been posting a series of interviews with the authors whose works are included in the book, and this week it’s my turn, in honor of my story The Path of Souls.
I am thrilled to finally have a story in Tesseracts, and enjoyed answering Colleen’s insightful questions.
Read the whole thing at her blog, but here are a couple of excerpts:
CA: “Path of Souls” is a beautifully rendered world, told by an outsider who makes it home. But that home is in some ways a gilded cage. What was the most important aspect of this tale for you?
For me the heart of the story is the decision by one individual to take responsibility: to do what must be done, what is the right thing to do, despite the personal consequences. That is, I think, the only definition of heroism that makes sense to me. Whether that decision makes sense to someone outside that individual’s personal mindset is another matter, of course. The actions of the main character might be seen as foolish in the extreme: she essentially throws away her previous life for many long years of service to an alien religion. But she is convinced that what she is doing is what is right, and that doing what is right is more important than her own personal wants and desires.
Over and over in my fiction I find myself returning to the theme of individual responsibility. In so much of the world, especially in the realm of politics, we pretend as if people are defined by a few simple characteristics: gender, skin color, income, place of residence. “Can such-and-such a party’s policies resonate with voters-of-a-particular-ethnic group?”, etc. But none of us are defined by the various groups into which we fall—not entirely. Each of us is an individual. We build our lives from a series of individual decisions, and while the easiest path to follow is always that most often taken by those with whom we associate, we have the power, the free will, to break from that path, to take “the road less travelled,” as Robert Frost memorably put it. And that moment, when an individual truly acts as an individual and separates him or herself from the herd, especially if that moment arises out of a powerful moral sense, is a moment that greatly interests me as a writer…
CA: Will we be seeing other tales on this particular world, or are you moving on to new worlds?
This is the only tale I’ve ever set or anticipate setting in this particular world. But I’m very fond of it, partly because it’s one of those stories whose genesis I can pinpoint with some accuracy. A few years ago, Globe Theatre here in Regina held, perhaps three years in a row, a fundraising event called Lanterns on the Lake. People bought and made paper lanterns and came down to the shores of Wascana Lake to light them and parade them. The image of that endless string of lights stretching down to the moonlit water struck a chord with me that eventually resulted in “The Paths of Souls.”
It’s also a story I’m fond of because it’s a bit of a tribute to a book I absolutely loved as a young science fiction reader: Andre Norton’s Moon of Three Rings. That idea of humans coming to a world they think they understand and falling into trouble because they don’t really understand it at all was something I wanted to use, and I also wanted to capture the deep sense of strangeness and wonder Norton’s book woke in me when I was 12 or so. I think maybe I manage it, at least a little.
Other nominees in the same category are London Falling by Paul Cornell (Tor), Cold Steel by Kate Elliott (Orbit), The City by Stella Gemmell (Ace), and Without a Summer, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor). All of these books received 4 1/2-star reviews from RT Book Reviews.
You can find the entire list of nominees in all categories here.
Did I mention I’m thrilled? Also gratified? And excited?
I’ve been a bit remiss posting on here about the release of Masks, which officially occurred on Tuesday, because it’s been a hectic week: I’ve also been directing my play-with-music, As Time Goes By: A Love Story with Music and Ghosts, and it opened on Thursday. That meant tech rehearsal Monday and a run-through Tuesday and dress rehearsal Wednesday and countless little details to be attended to in the interim. And while all that was going on, Masks hit bookstores!
But I have collected the reviews I’ve found so far, and they’re darn good. The good review from Publishers Weekly and the 4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews are particularly pleasing. I’m also thrilled that a number of reviewers are making the point that this book crosses the divide between YA and adult fiction: adults will enjoy it, but it’s YA-accessible, too, though not published as a YA book.
Here are the reviews I’ve found so far. They’re also posted here on this site and on my E.C. Blake site, as well, and I’ll try to keep those pages up to date. There are lots more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, etc., but I’m focusing on the ones from blogs and magazines:
“The worldbuilding is solid…and Mara’s personal growth is a delight to follow. Sharp characterization, a fast-moving plot, and a steady unveiling of a bigger picture make this a welcome addition to the genre.” – Publishers Weekly
“4 1/2 stars – Masks grabs the reader’s attention on the first page and holds it until the last….The characters are complex and relatable and grow throughout the story, and the storyline itself is fresh and never predictable. Masks is simply impossible to put down and will leave readers begging for the last two books in the trilogy.” - RT Book Reviews
“4 of 5 stars – I liked this book a lot; the story had me riveted from beginning to end, and there’s lots of potential for the main character and the series’ fantasy world.” - Bibliosanctum
“Tension building that will curl your toes and amazing world building!” 4/5 stars – My Shelf Confessions
“A must-follow fantasy series with a new heroine to root for!” – Addicted 2 Heroines
“[A] delightfully original and dark fantasy world…E.C. Blake’s Masks is a fantastic debut, set in a chilling and magical world.” 4/5 stars – A Reader of Fictions
“Inventive…Younger readers…are likely to find plenty of fun and adventure in Mara’s story.” – Fantasy Fiction
“Masks is a great step up for older teen readers moving into reading adult fantasy. This book has a bit of a dystopian feel without the cliches that seem to be becoming common in YA dystopian fiction. Adult readers who have enjoyed series such as Terry Brooks’ Shannara novels should be sure to read Masks.” – Kari Lynn Writes
“A great read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels and what is shaping up to be an epic journey.” 5/5 stars – Musings of a Hopeful Author
I’m in the midst of rehearsing As Time Goes By: A Love Story with Music and Ghosts, the play with music I wrote and am directing for Regina Lyric Musical Theatre (you can buy tickets on their website as well as at Bach & Beyond in the Golden Mile Centre). It’s a modern-day love story that features music from the ’30s and ’40s and, yes, ghosts.
Yesterday I was interviewed on CJTR (community radio) about the show. Listen below!
And if you’re in Regina or area, come see the show! It’s going to be great fun.
Here’s the interview: