Friday, July 31, 2009

What's in a Name, part II

I've put up my 4 narrowed-down choices for a nom de plume for my romance writing career (see side bar), but that doesn't mean I won't accept more suggestions!

I thought I'd share a few tips from various persons in the industry about choosing a pen name. I learned a lot, especially, from a workshop romance author Eloisa James gave the TRW a while ago:
  1. Make the name short, less than seven letters long. The size of the font used on the cover will be bigger this way. Don't forget, you're competing with a whole bunch of other romance books and authors--make yours stick out.
  2. On choosing your last name, think about who you'll be close to, and who you want to associate your work with.
  3. Be wary of picking letters at the end of the alphabet: in big bookstores, that usually means you'll be at the bottom right-hand corner of the bookshelf, where no one will see your books.

The other requirements still stand: domains have to be available, as well as a blogger account name.

Thanks to everyone who has voted or put in their own two cents so far!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Property Virgin Gone Wild

Today I went to see my first house.

Now, it's a funny (or perhaps perplexing) story of how I got to this point in my life. See, with our impending nuptials slated for next year, John and I have decided moving out from my sister's basement apartment would be beneficial for all of us. After all, the last thing we want to do is spend our honeymoon with Bowie and Avery hanging around us (not that I don't love the rascals, but, y'know.)

We talked back and forth for months about owning versus renting. I preferred to own, but John was (and still may be) a little queasy about home ownership. For the record, so am I: who really wants to be in debt for the next 30 years? But the interest rates really are too good to pass up right now. It wouldn't hurt to at least look.

My parents have offered loads of support, but their ideas of our lifestyle choice don't exactly jive with ours. Nevertheless, yesterday I spotted a listing for a cute house in Leslieville and got my Funcle (fake uncle) Simon, who's a Realtor, to arrange for a viewing.

We drove the neighborhood and weren't entirely impressed by the exterior. The next day it was sealed: this place was a painted hole. It looked like someone had gone to the effort of staging the place nicely, but it didn't hide the fact that the floors were more slanted than a bunny hill at the ski resort, or that the shoddy finishes would all have to be torn out.

So it was a bust. But it was our first viewing, so we've finally broken the house-hunting hymen. I'm in the process of applying for a pre-approved mortgage, but the specialist assured me the house I looked at today was within my price range, so now I know what to look for.

Admittedly, I spent a sleepless night wondering and worrying--something I thought would never happen to me over something like house hunting. I suddenly feel 40 years old.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Like soccer? Like clothes? Go to!

An old colleague of mine, Patrick, has opened his awesome new apparel company,

I'm getting my dad one of these.

Check it out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guilty of Cruelty to the Visually Impaired...

...And that's that.

I think that person on top of the ginormous bird is playing with a paddle ball.

So You Think You Can Cry

I saw a story on Yahoo about an emotional tribute to breast cancer on So You Think You Can Dance and decided, hmm, this might be good to put on my blog.

Now, I'm fairly cynical when it comes to watching dancers and dance routines. Dancing ranks just above mimes and poets on my art-I-don't-really-get scale (sorry, Fi), so you'd think go into this with a fairly jaded point of view. After all, if the headline said "Tribute to bad smells" or "Tribute to Gummi bears", I probably wouldn't have shed a tear. Context is key in a performance like this, so really, I shouldn't have been all that moved.

I was wrong.

At first, it wasn't so much the dancing as it was watching the stiff-upper-lip British judge Nigel swallow down his emotions like a Vulcan chugging vinegar that made my eyes get all hot. Then I rewatched the performance then and said, hey, wow, that is a really good show.

And then I spent the next ten minutes chewing on my tongue so I wouldn't sob out loud.

Watch the full piece, including the judges' reactions here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Readin' the Blogs, Postin' the Links...

Just thought I'd point y'all towards my friend Heather's awesome word blog. Check it out at

Also, for no reason other than I need a laugh during these dreary, rainy days, this:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Goodbye fanfiction...

...Hello real world writing.

Yup, I've pretty much decided to leave the realm of fanfiction so that I can focus on honing my craft as a "real" writer. Last night, I posted my final chapter of my final Avatar: The Last Airbender story. The series is over, and I've pretty much told all the stories I'm going to tell. So it's a good time for me to stop.

I had some great times working on that stuff over the past three years with some great reviews and fantastic support from fans who've written some really nice things about me. They're the reason why I'm pursuing my writing career, and one day, I'm going to be able to thank them all in print when I get published.

Fare thee well, fanfiction. Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Meanwhile, big sis said she enjoyed Fighting for Her Love, (Hi Fi! Thanks for reading!) so with a little more spit and polish, plus a beta read among the pros, I think I'll be ready to pitch it to Harlequin Superromance. It'll be the first time I'll pitch to someone at my actual office--I've been staunchly avoiding that scenario when an editorial assistant smacks me across the back of the head with my own manuscript before setting it on fire and placing it on my desk. But I can't help what I write, and it fits best with the line, so I'm going ahead and risking injury.

Star Attraction is giving me a headache. I'm not sure I like it anymore. But it's still worth pitching, just because I can. If nothing else, I can post it on a blog or on

Haven't heard from Mills & Boon still about Her Cinderella Secret. Will try contacting someone at the end of the month.

Testing ideas for a fourth novel. Still have lots of unfinished projects, plus I want to try my hand at short stories. Mostly trying to take it easy and enjoy the summer while simultaneously planning the wedding and finding a new place to live. Fun times.

"Gay penguin couple splits after one shacks up with female "

Saddest animal world breakup ever.

From Yahoo! News:

After six years together, the relationship between a pair of gay male penguins at San Francisco zoo is apparently over, with Harry leaving Pepper for another penguin -- Linda.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the relationship between Harry and Pepper, who lived side-by-side, protecting eggs abandoned by other penguins, came to a shocking end when Harry moved into a neighboring nest with recently-widowed Linda.

The development has sparked a variety of reactions in the blogosphere, where Linda has been called a "home wrecker" who "lives for her own happiness, no matter who gets hurt."

John, writing on "The Frigging Loon" blog, said he was "heartbroken" about the split and that he hopes Pepper "finds another male penguin that is ten times hotter than Harry!"

That whore!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Said Yes to the Dress

Thanks to my two awesome bridesmaids, I got my dress yesterday.

No peeking till the wedding day, John.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interactivity Challenge! What's in a Name?

In a chicken and the egg dilemma, I have been staring down the inevitability of choosing a pen name and establishing a web presence by registering a domain, building a website, and starting up a separate Blogger blog. I tried this earlier when I'd finished my first draft on my first book, but as I hadn't chosen anything or even nailed down any choices.

No, I haven't sold a book...yet, but when I do (stay optimistic!) I want to be able to post the news somewhere that "isn't me."

It's a totally counter-intuitive choice--I'm not even willing to take John's name when we get married, but as many articles and advice column suggest, romance authors choosing nom de plumes should take on identities and stick to them. I've never been anything other than me, and I'm rather sheepishly unapologetic about it (why yes, that is an oxymoron, but so am I). So how do you go about turning yourself into someone else?

First step seems to be in choosing a name. (The Human Spider!)

So far, I've chosen Victory as a first name: there are already a lot of Vickies and Victorias, so I'm going to try to separate myself from the pack a little while maintaining my "real" name.

Any suggestions for a last name? I've played with the following: vote for your fave, or suggest your own! The criteria: it has to be available as a domain name and a Blogger blog name (e.g.;,, etc.)

  1. Victory Essex
  2. Victory Soto
  3. Victory McGrath
  4. Victory Jones
  5. Victory So
  6. Other...?

No closing date set for this challenge yet...but I'll be providing a real prize if you suggest the name I go with! (Think T-shirt and books and fun crap!)

Stay tuned!


Headshots from The Last Airbender:

Yeah, yeah, they're all white (not Dev). I'm giving up on any belief Hollywood would change their mind on casting Asians to play Asians. Whatever. This movie's getting made, and I'll judge it based on the performances. (Holds breath.)

Noah Ringer as Aang:

Dev Patel as Zuko:
Nicola Peltz as Katara:
Jackson Rathbone as Sokka:

Saturday, July 04, 2009

30 km might be easier if there was lots of shopping on the way...

Since I've been sick with laryngitis, I haven't been able to do my usual workout, but I got back into training for the big Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk today, and boy howdy, gravity and my weak stomach were really trying to take me out. Did 14.31 km in about 5 hours (with lots of shopping and a couple of quick bathroom stops.)

Found that the khaki shorts I was wearing--casual things I got at Bluenotes--were a little too long and didn't give me much in the way of comfort for a walk this "intense". So I stopped at Old Navy and picked up a pair of teeny-tiny running shorts for, like $7.25 (they had a 50% off summer hot picks sale. Woot!) I even got the matching running bra top so that I'll be forced to work off some of my gut before I can wear it in public...which will likely be never.

A lot of people don't really understand why I'm training the way I am. They don't have a concept of what 30 km is to walk.

Well, here are some examples of 30 km walks, mapped out via Google Earth:

  • If you started at Exhibition Place and headed north via the most direct street route, you could walk to Vaughn Mills/Wonderland in 30 km.
  • If you started at the bottom of Yonge Street and kept heading north, after 30 km you'd be in Richmond Hill, just north of Gamble Rd./19th Ave.
  • If you were to drive 30 km on the 401, you could start at Yonge and 401 and end up at Brock Road in Pickering.
  • If you were to travel 30 km on the TTC Bloor/Danforth subway line, you could start at Kipling station, ride all the way to Kennedy station, and continue on the Scarborough LRT to Ellesmere station.
So yeah. I'm training. Good thing shopping is a good incentive for all this exercise.

Economics for the Anal Retentive

In these tough economic times, and as someone who has been diligently saving for a house since I was 6, people have asked me how it is I've managed to squirrel away what I have.

The easy answer is that I'm a cheap and boring person who doesn't travel, have a hobby, or generally enjoy life to its fullest. The hard answer is that I'm an Excel nut.

Since June 2004, I have been anally keeping track of every single penny I spend and make. I developed a sophisticated Excel spreadsheet to help me watch my expenditures and check it against what I earn.

Because a friend asked to see my system, today, I'm making my insanity available to the public!

Budget and Expenses vs Earnings.xls

The Excel spreadsheet includes notes on how things are listed and kept track of. It can be tailored to your needs, but the point of the whole exercise is to keep track of what you spend.

Sounds easy, but most people don't have the room in their heads to remember they spent $1.73 on a cup of tea from Starbucks that morning, or that they dropped $5.89 on a bag of milk at the grocery store.

How do you keep track? Here are some tips:
  • Keep receipts.
  • Write it down in a little notebook, if you have to.
  • As soon as you come home at the end of the day, log everything you bought into your spreadsheet.
  • If you're not good at that, email yourself or set up an alarm to remind you to look at your spreadsheet every day.
Any financial planner will tell you that keeping track of what you spend is essential to your financial well-being. Whether you want to be as nit-picky about it as me remains to be seen...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Run for Liqueur 2009

This Canada Day garnered me the most fascinating fund-raising contribution ever--donations from people willing to drink beer (or milk) and run laps around a the same time.

I acknowledge the following, and thank them for their support and sacrifice:

Joe (technically came in second place since he managed to drink his beers and run)
Denise (finished two laps after drinking two glasses of chocolate soy milk)
Roger (who did 5 laps, but couldn't quite get through his beer)
Mike (who completed all four laps and finished his Canadian)
Attila (I had my money on the MMA fighter in training, but he, too, quit after 2 laps and two glasses of rice milk)
Jon (who didn't run, but very kindly donated)
Kristeen (who has been diligently raising funds for the WEBC and came out in support of Roger and the rest)
Yvette (who kept score)

Thanks to Xiao Pangzi for organizing a successful--albeit kinda disgusting--fund-raising event for the WEBC via the Run for Liqueur. The proceeds were donated to my teammate, Ivana, on my behalf.

I had to take my pants off to pump up my ball...

A trip to our local Canadian Tire to purchase camping equipment also yielded good deals on things John and I have been lately coveting: namely, a 65-inch inflatable yoga ball for me, and a bike pump for John.

Gleefully, I raced home to open up my new purchase, which cost only $3.58. I ripped the massive purple rubber sphere from the plastic bag, and immediately started using the included hand pump to inflate it.

Three minutes later, the healing effects of $84 massage I'd just gone for disappeared as I gave this damn thing the hand job of a lifetime.

But wait, I just purchased a bike pump, didn't I?

So in went the Raleigh bike pump ($15.99 on sale). I worked that thing like a someone doing something dirty and suggestive to a something. (Give me a break, I read this kind of thing all the time.)

As I write this post, thirty minutes later, I am STILL pumping my ball up, and working up a huge sweat in the process. I've had to change into shorts so I don't overheat, as the hose in the bike pump seems to be doing (ouch, that thing scalds. Who knew air friction produced heat? Damn thermodynamics....) I'm going to have to put a movie in while I do's barely halfway full...

...But wait...didn't I just buy an electric pump for the air mattress we purchased for our camping trip???

*runs gleefully for pump*