Monday, April 29, 2013

So what’s next?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself all weekend. I’ve finished the Core-Born series’ synopses, so now I should start working on a new project, right. That’s usually what I do. Moreover, I already have an urban fantasy trilogy on the go that I really, REALLY love. It’s has a great premise, strong characters and enough originality to be distinct. But is it trendy? I have no clue! I never used to ask myself that question and don’t like that I’m asking it now.  It’s a question I can’t answer.  Sure, I have plenty of other stories in my mind that I can write. I know that some fit the market better that others…but do they speak to me. Right now…nope! It’s a heart versus head decision. When it comes to writing, my heart always wins.  Well, I guess I just made my decision…advienne que pourra.
          Me, when I'm trying to predict the next big trend in books. :-/

Friday, April 26, 2013

Famous Writers’ Libraries

I have a fondest for Victorian houses. I grew up in one, my grandfather’s. That’s why I picked Samuel Langhorne Clemens’, better known as Mark Twain, library for the third post in this series. Also the room is nothing short of spectacular…if one likes the over-the-top, cluttered Victorian style, which I do...very much.

No: 3 Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The right question

As most of you know, I’ve been struggling with a plot lately. Actually, it’s the synopsis for the second books in the Core-Born series, which my agent is currently shopping around. Fingers crossed! I couldn’t figure out the beginning…until one morning it came to me while I was eating breakfast with my husband. Like a skeleton key, that opening scenes unlocked everything. As a result, now I have the storylines for book two, three and four. I’m very excited about this. I really don’t like being stuck. Okay, I hate it! Having a clear direction to follow is a relief to me. All thanks to the right question. In this case it was: At the end of book one, what is Jessie still afraid of? As you may have guessed, Jessie is my protagonist. The answer: Going into her locker to pick up packages. Bingo! =)

Friday, April 19, 2013


Despite less-than-stellar reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m still going to see it.

Famous Writers’ Libraries

For the second post in this series, we are visiting Norman Mailer’s library. I chose this one for its stunning architecture. A two-story library how cool it that? By the number of lamps in the lower level (I count six.), Mailer didn’t like dark corners.

No: 2 Norman Mailer’s

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stuck in the middle

Usually, when I plot a story, the beginning and the end are the first parts that come to me. But this time it’s the middle I’ve figured out first. That’s weird for me. It would be so bad if I knew how to get my characters there and out.  Well, no luck so far. All I’m getting is more scenes and details of the middle section. Maybe the key is in there, and my mind just isn’t seeing it…or maybe I haven’t asked the right question yet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

If Barbie were real

                                                    Oy vey!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Famous Writers’ Libraries

This is the first post of a series that will run on Fridays. Each will show pictures of a different author’s library. I love books and always wanted a library of my own. We moved often, so I was never able to set one up the way I wanted. Plus, I had to get ride of a lot of books with each move. The horror! Sadly I could afford to keep them all. A box of books is like a box of wood, and when you pay the movers by the pound you can imagine how expensive it can be. I didn’t abandon all my books though. I keep my favorites and most of my hardcovers. And now I finally have a library to display all my babies, which brings me to the first libraries in the series. It’s the one I envy the most because it makes me wish I still had all my books.

No: 1 Neil Gaiman’s

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sir Christopher Lee is not dead

                                ...but he's sure is awesome!

Sci-fi gets no respect

Popular sci-fi writer Robert J. Sawyer slams Canada Council for not giving him a grant

Twenty years ago, when my third science-fiction novel came out, Books in Canada magazine profiled me. The profile’s author, Andrew Weiner, quoted me as saying, “Maybe it’s a grass-is-always-greener thing. But I can’t help thinking that writers working in almost any other area are getting more respect. It’s really very frustrating.”
To which Weiner added: “No respect. At times Sawyer seems about to slip into a Rodney Dangerfield routine. I can’t get no respect.”

Well, of course, in the two decades since, I’ve gotten a lot of respect. Just last month I received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General’s office. And on March 18, McMaster University picked up 52 boxes of my papers to add to their Canadian-literature archives — surely a sign that SF is now part of the mainstream.

And yet that same week, the Canada Council for the Arts turned me down for the 10th time for a grant to write a novel. The Council’s “Grants to Professional Writers — Creative Writing” are valued at up to $25,000. One might argue that I don’t need the money anymore (although I certainly did when I first started applying). But economic need is not a granting criterion, and bestselling writers of other types routinely receive grants.

(Back in 1993, a churlish fellow claimed I wasn’t “grant-worthy.” I shut him up by applying for and receiving an Ontario Arts Council grant.)

There are those who say (although being so is nowhere in the Canada Council’s rules) that science fiction can’t really be about Canada. They’re wrong: my books are mostly set in this country, have Canadian protagonists, revel in our diversity, and deal with Canadian themes. As the Globe and Mail has said, “Sawyer sells so well in Canada because of his celebration of our culture; citizens seek him out for both a good story and affirmation of our identity.”

Then again, maybe the particular projects I’ve proposed to the Canada Council weren’t significant. Judge for yourself: here are some of the novels I went on to write after the Council declined to support them:

The Terminal Experiment, which won both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Nebula Award and the Aurora Award (Canada’s highest honour in SF) for best novel of the year, and was a finalist for the Hugo Award, the top international prize in SF writing.

Flashforward, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly (“denoting a book of exceptional merit”), won the Aurora Award, won in blind judging Europe’s top SF award (the 6,000-euro Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción), and was adapted by ABC into a television series.

Rollback, which also received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was named one of the 10 best SF novels of the year by the American Library Association, was the 2009 “One Book, One Brant” community-wide reading choice, and was a finalist for both the Hugo and the top juried prize in the SF field, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Wake (which I applied for three times), which won the Aurora, was a Hugo and Campbell finalist and a Globe and Mail bestseller, and also received a starred Publishers Weekly review.

Watch, which won the American juried Hal Clement Award for year’s best young-adult novel, won the Aurora, was one of three finalists for the Canadian Authors Association’s Fiction Award (“honouring writing that achieves excellence without sacrificing popular appeal”), was a finalist for the Audio Publishers Association’s Audie Award, and was a Globe bestseller.And Triggers, which made five year’s-best lists, was the publishing trade journal Quill & Quire’s “Booksellers’ Choice” for SF or fantasy novel of the year by authors of any nationality, was a Globe and Maclean’s bestseller, and is a current finalist for the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award and CBC Radio’s Bookie Award.

Yes, from time to time, writers of “speculative fiction” — the obfuscatory term used to hide what’s really being produced — do receive Canada Council grants, but for most of us whose work is widely read, crumbs may be had but not plums:
In the former category, five years ago, Toronto libraries hosted the “Canada Council Heritage Series on Speculative Fiction,” with authors paid $150 reading fees — less than 1 per cent of the maximum value of a creative-writing grant (I declined to participate).

But in 2007, after I arrived in the Klondike at Pierre Berton House, the famed writer’s retreat, I discovered the Canada Council had, for the first and only time, overruled the unanimous choice of the selection committee in Dawson City, denying funding for my stay.

Nonetheless, I did what one is supposed to do: I wrote a novel inspired by my time in the Yukon. Red Planet Blues, set in the Mars colony of New Klondike against the backdrop of the Great Martian Fossil Rush, has just been published under Penguin Canada’s mainstream Viking imprint, debuting at No. 7 on the Maclean’s bestsellers’ list. It, too, had its grant application denied by the Canada Council — as did the new book I’m starting to write now.

Andrew Weiner ended that 20-year-old Books in Canada profile with these words: “Robert J. Sawyer may indeed go boldly where almost no science-fiction writer has gone before, into the strange alien galaxy of the Canadian literary mainstream. And he may, in the end, get some respect.”

And I guess I did, from everyone except the Canada Council for the Arts. I suppose we can check again on that score in another 20 years. I’m sure I’ll still be around then — but if the Canada Council isn’t, I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t shed a tear.

Robert J. Sawyer’s 22nd novel, Red Planet Blues, is just out, no thanks to the Canada Council.

Rob is only stating what most Canadian sci-fi/fantasy writers have been complaining about for years.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Aurora Awards

It's Aurora time again. For those who don’t know, the Prix Aurora Awards are the Canadian version of the Hugo. They are given out annually to the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy literary works, artworks and fan activities from the previous year. So it’s time to nominate your favorites.  You can find the list of all works known to be eligible here:  Once you made your choices, follow the instructions at  It’s easy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Awesome recipe

I had friends over the other day and I tried this new appetizer recipe: Prosciutto Asparagus Spirals. They’re awesome. They look amazing and are super tasty. Plus, you can make them ahead of time and left them in the fridge, covered with a plastic wrap, until it’s time to cook them. Very convenient. They are so good I decided to share the recipe with you.

Prosciutto Asparagus Spirals


1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed

6 tbsp. garlic & herb spreadable cheese, softened

8 slices prosciutto or thinly sliced deli ham

30 medium asparagus spears, trimmed


1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Spread 3 tablespoons cheese on each pastry sheet. Top each with 4 slices prosciutto. Cut each into 15 strips crosswise, making 30 in all.

2. Tightly wrap 1 pastry strip around each asparagus spear, prosciutto-side in. Place the pastries seam-side down onto 2 baking sheets.

3. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.