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Between Fire and Pines Update and Other Such Stuff

Between Fire and Pines has been out for just under a month n0w, and what a month it has been. At the insistence of one of my managers our store is now stocking numerous copies. I also have my first author signing planned for June 25th. I’ve sold 15 copies in-store, another 15 hardcopies online, and roughly 10 ebooks. So either somewhere out there 40 people are about to start demanding their money back or I’ve just ruined my reputation in the eyes of these 40 individuals.

But through all that, one thing has remained consistent. The feedback has been the same.

I couldn’t put it down. It just kept moving.

I call that a win. From the manager who definitely doesn’t read gore-suspense-thriller to the friend who offered the single review on Amazon, they just had to keep reading.

Now somehow book club has learned of it, and I can never go back to book club. Too bad. It was fun while it lasted.

I’ve paid for a small amount of marketing, which didn’t result in any sales; lowered ebook prices to extreme measures, which did result in sales; stared in bewilderment at the hardcopy of my novel, realizing I can never rewrite it again.

 

And that was when I hit the brick wall. Both metaphorically and literally because I wasn’t watching where I was going. It was bound to happen. I’ve heard people say it time and time again. When you finish that first book you experience this sort of atmospheric burn-out, probably from sheer bewilderment that it could possibly be done and in print. This is a problem because I have 8 more books I need to write, and yes, for those of you wondering, I do have enough ideas for all 8 books. This may be my first rodeo, but I have been training with this horse for thirteen years. Yeah, how do you like them metaphors?

So I hit the wall, and then the wall resulted in a strange mental stress which, perhaps unexpectedly, resulted in an intense, holy-shit sort of physical stress that, for the last week, has made my body just… just awful. Cranky, bitchy, chronic painy awful. Screw you, chronic pain. You’re such a dick.

We got a dog this week as well. Alex’s compensation for canceling the trip to Japan. Her name is Whiskey. She is an 8 year-old shepherd mix and she is derpy as hell.

Stress after stress. There was an article in CBC about Prince’s Fentanyl overdose. They spoke to several doctors who stressed the challenges of dealing with chronic pain patients. They did not speak to any patients themselves though, because… reasons, I suppose. It irked me. Not because what they were saying was wrong. I imagine it must be difficult to deal with chronic pain patients. I agree, opiates are over-prescribed. But if you are going to talk about chronic pain, perhaps CBC readers would benefit from actually hearing from someone who suffers from it.

It upset me, to hear that the conversations were difficult for doctors with no concept of how much of a challenge it is for patients to come to doctors, with all their fears and flaws exposed, and say “I need help.” Then to top it all off be told that, “Hey, it’s as much psychological maintenance as it is the physical pain. There is no magic cure.” You can’t just throw that at someone who is looking at pain for the rest of their life. At least ease them into it, jeez.

Where was I? Oh yes, stress led to pain and pain did a number on my creative juices, and it’s only after a couple days of writing notes by hand that I really feel like I can accomplish something again. Book 2. Because book 1 is finished and out of my hands. Nope. Still surreal. I’m probably 2/3rds of the way through the draft. Plenty of explosions and emotional highs and lows. Less gore though. I needed to tone that back. The ending will be more succinct, and Natalia’s growth as a character will be clear. At least, it will be if you’ve read the first book, which you can buy from any of these fine establishments:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Directly from CreateSpace (So I get more moneys)

You can also check it out on Goodsreads, unless you are in book club. If you are in book club, please forget everything.

 

 

An Open Letter to Gearbox Software: “The Pros of Hiring Me, Kathleen Sawisky”

Dear Gearbox Software,

Okay, so my plan to be the next host of CBC’s Q doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I can’t fault them for that, really. I have zero experience with the radio, except that one time that I was on CBC’s Eye Opener with David Gray where he interviewed me about Gamergate. Hey look, an interest in the industry! Bam, right there. CBC will probably end up hiring some ‘National Icon’ like Norm McDonald or the immigrant from that Tim Horton’s Christmas commercial that aired a few years back. You wouldn’t know him. It’s a Canadian thing. Just trust me when I saw it was heartwarming and I have no problem in losing the coveted role of Q Host to him.

Speaking of brilliant satirical writing and high standards, please hire me. Your CEO, Randy Pitchford, recently hinted to the next Borderlands game going into production once a team could be compiled. Let me tell you right now, Gearbox. I am that team. Well, I mean, I’m part of it. I should be part of it. Wait, can I start again?

Dear Gearbox Software,

Please hire me. I know, I know. I’m not what you’re looking for. I’m ‘inexperienced’, and ‘don’t have training in the area’, and ‘Canadian’. I use the Oxford Comma and I have breasts, which I’m pretty sure you’re okay with given how you portrayed Ellie in Borderlands 2. Maybe it’s because Anthony Burch was the writer, but you folks just nailed that game by taking all the clichés and tropes of games and tossing them under the bus. Obviously you folks give at least a partial crap for women gamers and their opinions.

Unless of course you don’t want to talk about the current political environment of video games, in which case let me tell you about me.

                I am in my final semester at the University of Calgary for a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. In my spare time I write essays and open letters to, and about, things and people that annoy or amuse me. I have utilized sarcasm and satire most of my life to deal with the awkward nature and emotional struggles I have faced due to severe scoliosis and chronic pain. I am a delight to be around and people generally like me. Or if they don’t like me, they put up with me. One time this guy I knew didn’t put up with me and the end result was not pleasant for anyone involved. I have a dry sense of humor. So dry, my sense of humor was used as a sponge to soak up after Hurricane Katrina. You see that? I’m not afraid to hit in the sensitive areas. Unless it was too soon, in which case I admire the strength and attitude of the American people under such difficult times.

In my spare time, what little of it I have, I like to play video games (off the top of my head, top five include Earthbound, Final Fantasy VII, Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite, and Super Mario RPG). However, I also knit (being Canadian, it is vital I have an unlimited supply of kitschy home-made goods that I may use to keep myself warm with over our long, ten and a half month winters.) I also sing songs about my cat, which are generally impressive only to myself and my husband. I think the cat might be impressed if I stopped rhyming ‘cat’ with ‘fat’, but whatever, it’s not like he cares. This one time I used ‘mat’ instead and he puked up all his food. That might have been a reaction to my rhyming scheme or the fact that he was displeased that he was going yet another day without wet food. In my defense, every time we give him wet food he gets the worst kitty gas. It’s not like we live in a large space, you know? I shouldn’t have to put a gasmask on every time I come home. This isn’t London during the Blitzkrieg. Unless of course that was insensitive. No, just forget I said anything. Can I start again?

Did I mention the chronic pain? Don’t worry, it doesn’t get in the way of me being totally awesome in every way. Plus side, I can legally be defined as someone with a ‘disability’ which probably would have some sort of tax benefit for your company. One of us might as well reap the benefits of it, am I right? Ha ha ha!

Listen, I’m going to level with you. I know I’m not the perfect candidate. You’re looking for someone with experience in the area. Someone with, dare I say, ‘training’. But what is training compared to real world experience? You might be saying to yourself, “Kathleen, it is something. It is, in fact, a great deal of something.” To which I would reply, “Pshaw! Your training is nothing compared to my raw, socially inept wit.” You would probably then proceed to dump my resume into the neatest recycling bin (I care about the environment), and go on with your day (because your time is very valuable and I wouldn’t dare waste it on something as mediocre as my wry sense of humor.)

But, Gearbox Software, your desire for satire, sarcasm, and humor is the very definition of me. If there was some sort of tiny dictionary with those three words next to each other, you would find a picture of me looming over them. Yes, I am young (chances of me dying halfway through a project due to a weak heart are non-existent), and yes, I am Canadian (I am so freakin’ friendly!) Yes, that might mean a bit of extra paperwork for both of us (good things come to those who wait!) and yes, it might mean spending a bit of extra time at your office filling out said paperwork instead of being home with your family (who are totally overrated anyway, am I right?) But Gearbox Software, if you give me this chance, if you take the risk of hiring me as a writer for the next Borderlands game, I promise you that you will see success like nothing you have experienced before. The whole gaming world will be talking about you and how you took the chance on a young woman from Canada who went to the big ol’ States to pursue her dream of being employed while writing dumb jokes for a video game series that is known for its humor.

I am basically the perfect candidate for the position. I come from the Texas of Canada. I already have my own cowboy hat. Okay, no, that’s a lie. I don’t. But I will buy one if required. I’ve been to Texas before, when I was four years old. Granted it was only Corpus Christi, and the only thing I remember about it was the Barbie that I brought with me, but culturally I’m basically already Texan, you know?

Okay, that’s a lie too. Not that I lie compulsively, ha ha ha! Ha… Ha ha.

Having taken up enough of your valuable time, I feel it would only be right to leave you with this handy guide to me. I’m sure by now you’re plenty enchanted with me, so this is really only a cursory list. I look forward to relocating to Dallas next week to begin my career with Gearbox.

Pros to Hiring Kathleen Sawisky:

  • Delightfully enchanting
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Thorough enjoyment of irony and lists
  • Canadian
  • Emotionally secure
  • Lots of silly tee shirts
  • Make delicious bacon-maple candy which everyone at the office will just love
  • Excellent leader
  • Famed for my creativity

Cons to Hiring Kathleen Sawisky:

  • Every November 23rd I turn into a vampire for 24 hours
  • Canadian
  • Really more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker
  • Difficulties in suppressing rebellious nature
  • Sometimes I cry myself to sleep
  • Okay, I cry myself to sleep all the time
  • Not very good at using the Siren in either Borderlands game. More of a Gunzerker to be honest
  • Despite Communication Degree I sometimes get very excited and talk too fast and trip over my words
  • I take mild delight in annoying others

An Open Letter to the Producers of CBC’s Q – “Hire me.”

As a soon-to-be graduated Communications student, I am constantly on the lookout for potential employment opportunities. Given last weeks quick dismissal of Jian Ghomeshi from the CBC, I thought it prudent to get my hat into the ring for his job as soon as possible. As always, I do it in the form of an open letter.

 

Dear Producers of CBC’s Radio Talk Show Q,

It’s been a rough week for you folks over there in radio land. With Ghomeshi’s apparent evolution into a sexually promiscuous Mewtwo (who, I assume, is now being utilized by Team Rocket for nefarious purposes), the future of Q as Canada’s go-to radio show is in jeopardy. But never fear, Producers of Q, because I am here to make you the offer of a lifetime.

I can replace Ghomeshichu as the host of Q. I know, I know, a nobody Communications student from Calgary. What could she possibly offer the people of Canada as far as a moderate radio host personality goes? How could she possibly achieve Ghomeshisaur like stardom, thus ensuring the longevity of radio broadcasting and our beloved National Public Broadcaster? Well, let me tell you something, Producers of Q. I am your woman, and I aim to prove it to you.

First off, I have experience on the radio. I was recently on CBC Radio 1 to discuss Misogyny in gaming with David Gray. It was a brilliant experience, and I didn’t swear once. I nearly said tits, but managed to catch myself at the last moment. This self-censoring is clearly integral in a quality radio host. If you hire me to be the new host of Q I can guarantee that your listeners will never hear the phrases boner farts, quiche mongerer, or Senior-Poop-For-Brains come out of my mouth. I cannot, however, guarantee that I won’t refer to people I dislike as a dumb-dumb. It may seem pedantic and elementary, but I guarantee that when I say it, it has a certain endearing quality.

Secondly, I will provide my own lumbar pillow. We all know that radio work means a lot of sitting, and the best way to avoid workplace injuries and those nasty worker’s comp forms is to ensure comfort and health for everyone involved. You won’t have to worry about me going on medical leave for lower back stress, no sirree. With that in mind, you should probably take a moment to educate yourself with this particular post.

Speaking of things I’ve written before, my own particular brand of off humor, satire, and moderate beliefs makes me the perfect individual to provide unique insight into the daily lives of Canadians. Let’s face it, when we try to make a top five list of Things That Define Canada, sense of humor usually falls around #3 or #4. I am the embodiment of Canadian humor.

But an endearing personality and rip-roaring sense of Canadianness is not the only thing required to be successful on CBC radio. Let’s take a look at the last five songs on my randomized playlist:

Alright by Pilot Speed

Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars

Cicadas and Gulls by Feist

Okay, wait before I go on, this is a fluke. I actually have a huge array of music and I certainly didn’t intend for them to all be Canadian. Hold on, let me randomize it again.

Samba by Ludovico Einaudi

There we go, modern piano. See, eclectic! And behind door number 5….

The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit

I’m also a fan of Tom Waits and Hawksley Workman. Basically, basically what I’m getting at is that I’ll listen to anything. I’m a music nerd.

For all these reasons and more I would be an excellent radio host. But what about how I interact with other people? What sort of co-worker would I be to those who have ensured the survival of Q for so long?

Will I eat an entire bowl of garlicy hummus before interviewing the Governor General? Never.

Would I eat Susan’s gluten-free lunch that she brought specially from home because cutting gluten from her diet makes her feel so good? Of course not!

Will I have to be cornered by the secretary before I unwillingly sign the birthday card for inter, whose name I never actually learned? Naw.

Will I bring shame to CBC on an international scale, providing endless amounts of scandal for the hawks at The Star to sink their teeth into while drawing attention to the outrageous treatment I have delivered to the opposite gender? It’s highly unlikely.

Will I take part in wacky shirt Friday? Always.

Will I sue the CBC? Heck no, my Canadian Media and Culture class taught me the value of our National Broadcaster. I appreciate you, CBC. You and I, we have a long history of getting along together.

I understand we’re all still reeling from the loss of our starter pokemon, Ghomeshitoise, but much like brilliant Eevee, Q must go through an evolution in order to maximize its potential in the next stages of the game. Trust me, CBC – I am just the Communication Stone you need for the job.

With much sincerity (and a bit of hilarity),

Kathleen Sawisky, Esq.