Weird, Wrinkled and Wordy

June 19, 2009

For the Love of Vampires

Filed under: Movies,Television,vampires,Vancouver,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 9:26 am

I have a thing for vampires.

spikeIt started at a young age…I had a poster of “The Count” from Sesame Street on my bedroom wall.  When I learned my numbers, my first vampire love was forgotten.  In my early teens I saw the Frank Langella version of  Dracula and first understood why people found vampires sexy.  But it was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula in university that truly captivated me.  I started reading the literary classic late one Friday afternoon, and stayed up all night and well into the next morning to finish it.  I was too afraid to put it down and too intrigued to stop reading.

I was a big fan of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, both identifying with the strong heroine, and of course, developing a giant crush on Spike, the blond punk vamp who initially tries to be bad but somehow ends up doing good despite himself, before finally resigning himself to fight on the right side.  Most recently, the series “True Blood” and the terrific novels by Charlaine Harris they are based, have captured my interest.

The Vampire tradition is so rich that continues to inspire the most creative people working in film, TV and literature.  It gets re-invented with each generation.

What’s all this rambling a precursor for?  My new venture.

Vancouver Vampire Aficionados now have a group to call their own.


November 19, 2007

Juno = Oscar?

Filed under: Movies,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 12:18 pm

JunoCanadians will probably find that title confusing since Juno is the name of our award for achievement in Canadian music and Oscar is what the American film awards are called. In this case, Juno is also the name of a small film that deserves recognition for many reasons. Juno tells the story of a pregnant sixteen year old girl who looks for the perfect adoptive parents for her unborn child, only to find that perfection may require altering your point of view.

The screenplay by Diablo Cody is sharply funny, yet realistic and touching. The audience is afraid to laugh too hard only because the sound will drown out the next line of dialogue, which could be even funnier. Cody has a distinctive voice as a writer and it needs to be heard over the formulaic fodder we so often see at the movies these days. She’s already won one award for Juno and I would not be surprised to see her with an arm full of them by the end of awards season.

Ellen Page is another reason to find this film. She has amazing range an honestly in her performance. Talent in spades and she’s just getting started. A lot of people have called her edge and her performance in this film (and others such as Hard Candy) is truly that, but so much more. Her Juno has both edge and innocence and no one but Ellen Page could pull off the whole range in between.

October 31, 2007

My favourite memories of Halloween

Filed under: Art,Family,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 1:38 pm

Halloween has always been my favourite holiday, and as I’ve tried to come up with reasons that don’t have anything to do with chocolate, I’ve settled on the notion that it must be about creativity. Halloween is one occasion where a greater than normal portion of the population does something creative, from decorating a home or choosing a costume to just indulging in their own imagination. So, as I ponder the vampire I just saw striding along in the financial district of downtown Vancouver, I thought I would reminisce, just a little. Here are some of my favourite memories of Halloween:

  • The black paper silhouettes of flying witches, cats and bats my mother cut out to put on our picture window. Every year we would beg her to let us put them up earlier and earlier. They looked spectacular against the white backing of the curtains.
  • A silver/blue cocktail dress of my mother’s that my sister and I fought over wearing for several years. Eventually, we wore it to shreds.
  • Going to my Grade Five Halloween dance as Princess Leia, wearing one of my mother’s slips and a silver cord belt from one of her dresses. And yes, I had dual buns.
  • So many years of walking through a back alley with my friends, scaring our selves silly by just imagining what kinds of creatures were lurking in the shadows.
  • Being too sick one year to go out with my friends, but my father taking me around the block and stopping at a dark house with a scary old woman sitting on the porch, rocking back and forth in a squeaky chair. Turns out, the “old woman” was one of my father’s male colleagues. He was very kind.
  • Being so proud after the Halloween when I was finally allowed to keep my candy in my own room and trusted to ration it out carefully until the Christmas treats arrived.
  • Dressing up for Halloween at GM Place in 2000, watching the Vancouver Grizzlies beat the Seattle Supersonics and snagging myself a free T-shirt and a ticket to another game.
  • Having friends show up for a party at our place with him dressed as Saint George, and her as the dragon.

Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

September 4, 2007

3 Days Later…

Filed under: Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 2:46 pm

I actually did it. Over the Labour Day Weekend, I wrote a novel.  Well, a novella perhaps.  It has 8 chapters and an epilogue, goes on for 99 pages and consists of 22,731 words. I’m very proud of the fact that I simply got it done.The exercise was part of the 3-Day Novel contest. I figured it would be an interesting challenge and I was correct in assuming that what I got out of it would have little to do with the number of words or pages I produced.

Due to lack of planning and a weak outline, I wrote myself into a hole by the middle of Sunday. I didn’t know why or how, but I knew I had reached a point where the story didn’t work and I didn’t know where it was going. So I took a nap.

When I got up, I re-read what I’d done, and decided what steps were still necessary in terms of conflict and character to resolve the story. Sure enough, in the last scene I had written, I had made a poor choice that derailed my story. I was relieved that I didn’t have to go back further than one scene, and very impressed that I had stalled so quickly after making a mistake. Somehow I knew it didn’t work.

So after writing myself into this mess, I proceeded to write myself back out of it. Gaining confidence in my ability to do that is priceless.

Of course I’m physically exhausted and not tempted to do it again anytime soon, but it was certainly a valuable experience.

August 21, 2007

The Fury of Creation

Filed under: Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 10:20 am

So many artists speak of the ‘joy of creation’ that is has become a common phrase. Listening to “Writers and Company” on CBC Radio the other day, I heard a description of another aspect of the artist’s life – the fury of creation.Nobel prize winning poet Derek Walcott was speaking about the love/hate relationship many artists, be they painters or poets or anything in between, have with their artwork. Joy in the act of creation describes the high you feel when you hit on something that flows and energizes you. It is an addictive feeling, but so sublime that we are willing to slog through hours of mechanical tedium to glimpse it again.

But there can also be resentment in that same experience. The process of creating something original and true can take a toll on the artist. It can make you obsessed, or leave you emotionally drained. I have never heard a more apt description than ‘the fury of creation.’

I’m not terribly knowledgeable about poetry, but Derek Walcott is someone I want to learn more about.

August 9, 2007

My epic tome, in 3 days or less?!

Filed under: Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 3:52 pm

Incredulity was my first response when I heard about the 3 Day Novel Contest, happening over the Labour Day Weekend. How on earth could anyone write a whole novel in 3 days? And then I realized the brilliance of the idea. Besides noting that I have to trim my ego, I also had to re-examine what I think of as a “whole novel.”

One of the hardest things to overcome when setting out to write a novel is outright fear of the sheer size of task in front of you. It’s no wonder most people who encounter it suffer from instant inertia and never recover. Finishing a first draft is cause for a major celebration. In my case, my first draft took years. That novel hasn’t sold yet, but as I contemplate starting a second novel, I keep seeing the image of huge iceberg floating in front of me. All of that blank white space visible and knowing there is even more hiding underneath the surface. Scares the words right out of my brain.

But 3 days of writing doesn’t seem that scary. You can even prepare an outline in advance, though the contest organizers suggest you keep it simple. Too much preparation will only cheat you of the valuable experience, they say. Most entries are between 90 and 150 pages. Though the contest is based on the honour system, you are also asked to submit a witness statement verifying that you wrote your submission between 12:01am September 1st and 11:59pm September 3rd.

So I’m going to do it. No epic tome, certainly. But something.

July 25, 2007

Is Fiction Safe Online?

Filed under: BIFF,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 12:31 pm

For several months now, I’ve had a bunch of my short stories up on the Internet. Part of our routine at BIFF is to challenge each other with short story ideas. We started out with 500 words on the topic, “Frog for Rent.” It was great fun and we had several contributions. My most recent contribution was 1322 words about “Hairy Parade Ninjas” (or not about, in my case) and has just been put up online.These aren’t stories I have a deep emotional investment in, but I have to admit I worry about them, just a little bit. Will someone try to scam them, spam them or just plain plagiarize my work? And would it even matter to me if they did, since they were just done for fun?

As a relatively new and so far unpublished writer, most of my writing is still very private; a personal indulgence rather than a profitable venture. Reading my stories out loud in front of a dozen or two of my friends was easy, but giving the go-ahead to have them published online took some consideration. I look at the firestorm around the release of the most recent Harry Potter book and it scares me. What a tremendous achievement, and one I’m certainly glad J K Rowling decided to share with the world, but what horrible pressure. I think one has to truly need to go public in order to balance off all of the fears that come along with putting your writing out there.

Not sure I’ll ever get there. One very good step in the right direction is to attend the Surrey International Writers Conference.   Registration opens tomorrow.

June 20, 2007

100 Days

Filed under: Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 11:26 am

Alan Johnston bannerOn March 12th, BBC Correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza. He has been held captive for 100 days. Mr. Johnston was the only Western journalist permanently based in Gaza. His abduction shocked many as he was seen as a rare objective voice in the region, getting the truth out about what is going on in such a turbulent place to the wider world. Politicians from all sides who can’t seem to agree on anything else, have called on the militant group holding him to set him free.

It is frightening to me that journalists and aid workers have now become targets of choice in the newest form of warfare. From a simply practical perspective, it seems short-sighted. We are a global community more so now than ever. I’d still like to believe that global pressure can be brought to bear on groups and governments that show no respect for human life.

You can decide if you think petitions do any good, but if you wish to show your support, click on the button on the left to sign a petition at the BBC website asking for Mr. Johnston to be set free.

February 25, 2007

Blogging Outside of the Box

Filed under: Technology,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 2:16 pm

Spent the last two days at the Northern Voice blogging conference at UBC. I can actually say my brain feels like it has been stretched to its limits by so much thinking “outside of the box.” I heard the word community in nearly every session, and I am having to seriously redefine how I used to think of the word and how the new technology associated with blogging can change that definition. I suspect this conference will influence my thinking in ways I don’t expect for months to come. And I suspect that The 13th Colony will become my own little experiment with the issues my brain is sorting its way through.

The organizers were very welcoming to me, having just been saddled with a new volunteer a couple of days prior to the conference. The other attendees and speakers were all open and friendly. Thanks to Dale M for giving me the push I needed to get there.

February 21, 2007

Black Ink

Filed under: Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 3:02 am

I always write in black ink.  Pencil makes the sleeves of my white cardigan look dingy after awhile.  Writing in stone requires far more commitment than I’m willing to make, even to my own words.    Blogging is a whole new ballgame for me.  Permanent, but only for as long as I wish it.   Virtual, so not quite physical.  Ephemeral.  From my keyboard to the world in one easy step.

I’ve recently finished my first novel, and though it is safely stored on my hard drive, a jumpdrive and a cd, it was almost entirely created with pen and paper.   I find it fascinating that even though most of my life has come to revolve around the computer, that I still find it necessary to write the old fashioned way.

Why black?  It stands out best against white paper, of course.  Blue reminds me of school and red means I’ve made a mistake.   Black is the colour of type in every book I’ve ever read, and the only colour my printer is capable of.

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