March 8, 2013

Damsels in Distress

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 5:17 pm
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In honor of today being the International Women’s Day and all, I give you Anita Sarkeesian’s first video in her series of discussing women in video games: Damsels in Distress part 1.

It’s interesting, it’s enjoyable, and it’s about video games. The internet doesn’t get much better than that, ladies and gents.

Happy International Women’s Day!


June 11, 2012

Picturing the Protest

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 9:06 pm
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Montreal student protests have been going on for over a hundred days. It’s interesting, and noisy, and I have many opinions about it, but I thought instead of sharing all of them, I’d show you some images.

On a nighttime stroll, I met a homeless man. He showed me his pirate ship and told me: Watch the news. This ship will make sense soon. It all will.

A few nights later, I took another walk. This night, the cops had cornered off several streets, trying to stop the protesters from getting into the downtown area.

It was a brave, new world.

They pushed the throbbing mass of fireworks-toting students back using tear gas and riot shields.

And at the end of it, I still didn’t understand the significance of the pirate ship.

April 21, 2012

Pet Peeve of the Day: Gender in Gaming

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:37 am
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I’ve just backed my first kickstarter project: Shadowrun. Shadowrun was the first urban fantasy book series I read, I was obsessed with the RPG and it was the setting for one of my first short stories, so when they asked for backing, I was in.

Then I watched the pitch video (you know, the please-give-us-all-your-money video), and I got the distinct feeling that it wasn’t aimed at me. I haven’t analyzed all of it, but I know the sentence that alienated me completely: “I love making games and I’ve been making them for a really, really long time. You may have heard of some of them, or maybe your dad has, games like…”

1. Way to make me feel old. I’ve heard of the games he mentioned, so I must be old enough to have kids backing these projects.

2. Or maybe your dad has. Your dad. Not your parents. Not your mom. Your dad. Because girls don’t play games, right?

Now, of course, I buried these peeves and still backed the project. I love Shadowrun, and I’m not going to let the uncomfortable feeling in my tummy telling me that he’s not pitching this game to me dictate whether or not I support it. After all, I know I’ll love this game, even if its creators think that only (old? young?) men will.

Then I got update message number 8 in my email inbox. Along with other news, it said that if you back the game with $60, you get a special backer tee-shirt. Sweet, I thought. Maybe I should back for more money, after all I’m in love with this game, and how cute would I be in a backer tee-shirt. Let’s take a look at them.

You probably already know what’s coming, right? That’s right: three nicely designed tee-shirts, all of them for men. No girly tees. Now, I know there are girls working on this project. I saw them far in the background of the pitch video. Don’t you think they’d like a tee-shirt that fits? In fact, have you ever been in a position where all the participatory tee-shirts are designed for women and men just have to live with it? I didn’t think so.

It’s not so much the fact that I want everything to be catered to me (although I’d love it if mainstream cinema was), it’s the fact that I feel like they haven’t given my demographic a thought at all. The girl gamer is expected to suck it up and wear menswear, ignore problematic gender issues in the games they play and accept that their entertainment will be aimed at others. And I don’t think that’s fair.

This is not a call to arms for fluffy bunnies and more interactive versions of playing house, I love shooting zombies as much as the next person. What this is, is a call for gaming companies to realize that they already have a whole group of people willing to back their projects, but they’re not pitching to them.

I could go into an even longer rant about this, but Bob from the escapist has covered the subject really well in five minutes, so I highly suggest you watch that.

April 3, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Even Tømte

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:12 am
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Even Tømte is many things. An artist, a journalist, a writer, a father, a larper, a great friend. So it’s no surprise that he has a way with words. But this piece, which I’m honored to host on my blog, is not only well put, it tells great truths:

1. Writing leaves you exposed. Scary as hell.
2. Break all the rules.

Truer words and all that. I won’t spoil anything else. Just trust me when I say: you have to read this.


Break the Rules

I am a journalist in the specialized press, which means I cover a clearly defined field, for professionals and people with a special interest. I write about international economy, aid, and development for a government-owned magazine. Like most other fields, development has its own tribal language. We use words like MDGs and LDCs and the Paris agenda and good governance, or the Norwegian equivalents thereof. Like most journalists in the specialized press, I find it hard to write in a language that is at once intelligible, engaging, and precise.

The world is a strange place. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find engaging with the world to be a constant challenge, particularly the spaced-out parallel dimension that is the media. You turn the page of your newspaper, shell-shocked. You struggle to keep your breathing calm, reading Facebook, watching the news playing out its grotesque theatre, maybe even watching TV or getting turned into a neurotic by your smartphone. Screaming headlines about a politician tweeting something tounge-in-cheekish, «cultural debate» (is this art? Vote here: yes/no), some model getting «boob shocked», how to get the perfect smile (complete with a price list), cupcake recipes or those darn pictures of cute animals that people keep sharing, and it’s in some weird, fucked-up way your job to read this, ’cause you gotta keep up with the news, and you have this sinister feeling that you’re part of this too. This is how you pay your bills.

No wonder you drink.

No wonder you take up smoking at the age of thirty-one.

Pour me another one.

I recently started writing songs for my band. Stumbling a little at first, but gradually getting better at it. Embarrassed about my own texts, but encouraged by my fellow band members (who are razor-sharp writers themselves). It is great fun, and goddamn hard. No more telegraph-style news, no distant analytical musings or hiding behind sterile professional terminology. Honest, personal, hard, raw. Writing leaves you exposed. Scary as hell.

Going back to the job again was hard. Bills gotta be paid. But the feeling of alienation was stronger than ever. Hard-wired into the journalist ethic is a strong commitment to reality. But is this real? How do you present reality in a formatted, click-winning way with an hour or two of research, without bending and distorting and fucking it over? Do anyone still believe they can read the papers and learn what the world is like?

As a survival technique, I started writing parody. Portraying the absurdity around me, but in a format that is less internalized than the language of «news». Still bending and distorting, but according to different criteria. I find it to be a more honest way of describing what I see. While working, I would jot down impish comments and sentences in my notebook that were never meant to find its way into my news articles. I kept the texts stashed away on my hard drive for my own amusement.
Then one day, one of my devilish little texts started melting together with the actual news article I was supposed to write. I was a little puzzled by that at first, then I thought oh, what the hell and hit the publish button, and there it was. «The naughtiest text written in a government publication in years», one of my superiors called it. My editor loved it, and I thought, maybe I have found a way of dealing with the job after all. We’ll see.

Is there a lesson here? I think there is. Write stuff, write different stuff than you normally do, break all the rules, and then bring something home.

December 20, 2011

To My Someday Daughter: a great article about gaming culture

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:55 am
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Geordie Tait‘s article To My Someday Daughter is well worth a read. Tait examines the prejudices and double standards of male gamers using the community’s reaction to Alyssa Bereznak’s piece about dating a MTG champion. He’s honest and funny, and that helps the medicine go down. If you’re still considering clicking the link to his piece, I invite you to read this quote:

“Feminism is an actual field of study. As with any field of study, it should be entered with an absence of preconceptions. If a woman has strong feelings about women’s issues, it doesn’t mean she spends all of her time sharpening her castration tools. Talk to women about what’s important to them. As you learn more, you’ll understand more, in the same way that a budding engineer might gradually grow to understand a complex blueprint. If your first instinct when you hear the word “feminist” is to say “those man-haters want equality, but they still want me to pay for everything, hurf durf!” then you currently have as accurate an understanding of feminism as a confectioner would have of a Titan II missile schematic. You know those congressmen who say that Grand Theft Auto IV is a “crime simulator” that is “training new felons?” That’s you, and feminism.”


Now go read the rest of the article.

July 26, 2011

Practice Public Speaking

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:07 am
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Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing and The Social Network, once claimed that he’d be perfectly happy to sit in his room and slip a script out and have someone slip a meal back. That way they’d all think he was as clever as his characters. Before today, I didn’t realize I agreed with that statement.

I got up at 6:20AM to get to CBC Radio Montreal and do a live broadcast about the terrorist attacks in Norway. I have to admit that I didn’t do the best I could. I walked out of the studio feeling like I didn’t get my point across as well as I would have liked, and that I didn’t sound as professional as I could have. That’s not a good feeling and I’m going to take the steps necessary to make sure the first interview for my book will be better.

As writers, we’re encouraged to participate in open mic nights, to read our stories to our friends and aloud to ourselves. Some people also tell you to practice your pitch in the same way. That’s sound advice, but I’d like to take it one step further and advice you to start practicing public speaking. Read the news and formulate your opinions on current events, pretending to be a reporter or an expert. Tape yourself speaking and listen back to it. Note what words you overuse and what words you forget. I, for instance, have a tendency to insert the words “thing,” “stuff” and “like” into every conversation. I also cuss a lot.

Don’t go crazy about it. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t say anything unless you prepared it beforehand, but I do want you to be confident. When you meet a agent or an editor, when your book is launched and the newspapers and local radio want to interview you on your bestseller (because we’ll all get there, I’m sure of it!), I want you to know that you can speak for yourself. Seriously, how bad would you feel if your pitch flew off your tongue, but was followed by mumbling interspersed with cusses?

Things I didn’t know about radio interviews:

1. Hearing how your voice sounds to other people while you speak is unsettling.
2. Having a timer in front of you takes away much needed focus.
3. Not inquiring about what kind of questions they plan to ask before you go in means you might end up saying things like “I don’t think he’s crazy. Well, I mean, he is crazy, but not, um, in Norwegian we’d call it “utilregnelig,” meaning…”
4. Having a glass of water will only make you notice how dry your mouth is whilst simultaneously make you freak out about making slurping noises on air.

I’m happy I went and I hope I adequately represented the Norwegians of Montreal, but next time I’ll come better prepared. Listen to the interview here:Daybreak clip

Do you practice public speaking? Do you have any tips on how to sound professional and intelligent on air?

July 25, 2011

Tune in to CBC Canada radio tomorrow

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:24 pm
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I’ll be on at 7.40AM to talk about the attacks in Norway.

Listen live online here:

July 24, 2011

Do you have family in Oslo? Check the papers

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 1:13 pm
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This blog is about writing fiction, but today I cannot avoid the personal. What happened in Norway hit too hard and too close to home.

Two days ago I was walking down Ste-Catherine street in Montreal in blistering heat, planning my vegetable container garden, when I got a text message: “Do you have family in Oslo? Check the newspapers.”

“God, I hate it when people can’t just come straight out and say what’s going on,” I thought as I pulled up my 3G and opened And there it was. Pictures of destroyed government buildings blasted across my screen. Buildings I used to walk by, buildings I used to work inside. I rang my mom, asking if my brother was okay. She launched into a long speech about his troubles of selling his used furniture (he’s moving downtown, you see).
“No mom,” I interrupted. “Have you heard from him? Are you sure he wasn’t hurt in the attack?”
“What attacks?”
Turns out news travels faster to Canada than to Holmestrand. Global world indeed. Whilst on the phone with me, my mom got updated on the situation and we called everyone, making sure all friends and family had made it. They had.

It was only later that we realized this attack, killing seven people and hurting many more, was only a diversion. While we spoke, the real attack happened outside the city at a summer camp for politically active labor party children.

It’s two days later and people are still reeling. That one lone man could murder over eighty children is inconceivable, and yet it happened. I’m proud to see the calm political leadership of our elected representatives, and I’m impressed by the work of both medical professionals and the police in this terrible tragedy.

For the ramifications of this attack, see this article

The rest of my links are in Norwegian, but well worth a read. I suggest google translating them, and if anything doesn’t make sense after that, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll translate on the spot for you.

When people have access to all the information on the internet, how come their views aren’t challenged: seerfragmentering

Terror attacks used as a bloody book launch: Manifesto For A European Civil War

Who’s the terrorist: European Neofascism

It still seems unreal. I wish I could walk down the streets and see the ruins. It irks me that this terrorist’s “publicity stunt” worked and that all over the world, people are reading his words, downloading his book. I hope the radical right doesn’t get a single new followers from this attack.

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