Saturday, 29 September 2007

Listening to Tolkien

"...with the leg of the shin of my father's kin... so hand the old bone over... as well set your boot to the mountain's root for the seat of a troll don't feel it!"

I wish I could write like this and I hope I can read like this to my kids!

That's all for tonight... we'll see if I get a few hundred words in...

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

First Cat Post

Sam (aka shmuzz, aka pepsi, aka smismar, senor, rotisserie, etc.) loves to drink from the bathroom faucet. About five times a day. Well, he'd probably drink from the kitchen faucet too, but he’s not allowed. He comes in after my morning shower, and we spend ten minutes together. I fussle him, he rubs himself on the shelf below the mirror, and slowly, gradually, he works his way into the bowl of the sink and starts lapping the water around the drain hole.
A few days ago, Saturday I think, he was in there while I was cleaning the bathroom, and I wasn’t letting him drink because I’d just sprayed cleaner all over the bowl. I rinsed it all with hot water and then – Sam jumped off and ran away. Considering it now, he must have gotten a splash of very hot water in his face, maybe even in his eye. He hasn’t drunk from the faucet since. I didn’t think too much of it until this morning, when I brought him into the bathroom, closed the door and tried to “acclimatise” him back to the faucet. He got as far as sticking his head under the trickle of water, but didn’t drink. Either he doesn’t like the smell of the cleaner or it’s just taking him longer to get over his trauma (not unusual for Shmuzz). I’ll try again tonight...

Frodo (aka Chirpy, etc.), who taught Pepsi how to drink from the faucet, does not try it himself anymore...

Extended Reply to Jenny

Jenny ( was talking about downtime...
We seem to be sort of on the same wavelength - maybe it's an autumn, bunking down for winter thing. I haven't written more than a couple hundred words in the past couple of weeks, only done sporadic resarch and plot-lining. The story's always there in my head, but it seems to have reached a plateau. I need to get rolling downhill!
I also haven't even been reading as much (which means finishing only one book a week instead of working through four or five), which is strange for me, but it does happen. Just feels weird when it does - like I'm sort of disembodied.
I've been reading Emily Carr's (search at books since Monday; she has a wonderfully evocative way with language - perhaps the flavour will rub off on me a little, bring back the spark...
Here's hoping the October excerices will galvanise me... I hope you've got a doozy up your sleeve, Claire!

Friday, 21 September 2007

While Sorting Through Old Emails...

...I found this, my oldest email on the web. From my uncle (, whose cat Temi just turned 19!) I've got emails from the mid-90s, but those have been printed and long since deleted. The original was mostly in Turkish, translations are in brackets.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: "Bdelloid1"
To: denizb33
Sent: Friday, 23 August, 2002 11:15:13 PM
Subject: Re: hafta sonu [weekend]
In a message dated 08/23/02 14:06:26 Eastern Daylight Time, denizb33 writes:
>Hafta sonu tek basina insan Istanbul'da ne yapabilir? Isden bir kiz ile çikabilirim, telefonlastik filan, ama ondan
> baska ne var? [what can one do all alone on a weekend in Istanbul? I can go out with a girl from work, we've
> already talked on the phone, but is there anything else?]

1. Kitapçi gez. [Go around the bookstores.]
2. Mete'yi ara ve yalnizliktan sikayet et. Belki yemege davet ederler. [Call your uncle and complain about being lonely. Maybe they'll invite you to dinner.]
3. Orhan Pastanesinden Tatli alip ye (Caddenin karsisindaki taksi duraginin sagindaki sokaktan bir blok inince solda). [Get some dessert from the Orhan Bakery and eat it [directions].]
4. Yemek pisir. [Cook something.]
5. Çamasir yika. [Do laundry.]
6. Büyükada'ya gidip benim arkadasim Teri'yi ziyaret et (senden 1 veya 2 yas küçük bir oglu var). [Visit my friend Teri on Prince's Island (she has a son about your age).]
7. Orhan Pastanesinden Tatli alip ye. [Get some dessert from the Orhan Bakery and eat it.]
8. Gece otobüsüyle Cuma gecesi Kusadasi'na git, Pazartesi sabahi dön. [Take the night bus to Kusadasi on Friday night and come back for Monday morning.]
9. Orhan Pastanesinden Tatli alip ye. [Get some dessert from the Orhan Bakery and eat it.]
10. Stare at the walls."

I miss Turkey! If I was there now I would get some dessert from the OzSut bakery/patisserie and eat it.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Why Published Authors Always Tell Aspiring Authors to READ

I agree with Diana that if you want to write, what you have to do is 1. Read and 2. Write (not necessarily in that order). There are endless good reasons for this, but I came across one today, while reading Dorothy L Sayers' translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. Being a product of the 20th Century, it never occurred to me that roads, paths, trails, etc. were not always divided in two, for traffic coming and traffic going. Apparently, in the good old days, people walked wherever they wanted on the road! If I had thought about it, of course, I might have realised the truth of this. But how much more fun to be reading something entirely different from the focus of your own story, and come across a small detail that counts as research. Back in ancient Ephesus, then, the mixing of crowds passing in all directions on the street would be something Austin might notice and comment on, especially if he's running away from one place and trying to reach another.
(Dante referred to this in passing when describing how the city of Rome organised road traffic on the Bridge of Castello Sant' Angelo for the Jubilee Year 1300. The rule was: keep to the right - just as it is today)

Friday, 14 September 2007

70 Day Writing Challenge

This is the tail end of the 70 Day writing challenge. Sven says sweat! but I haven't accomplished anything since the exciting 1500-word burst on Monday. With about 5 days left to go, my goal now is to at least type up ALL the 10,000 or so words I've got in my little notebook. Then I'll need courage to Read It All Once Through. On Paper. With A Red Pen. Oh dear oh dear... Maybe in avoiding that, I can finally finish the library cataloguing I've been doing (on - the catalogue's at 1300 books and I still have two large bins of books to add before it's done.
As for this evening, I hope to type up the index information I've got for Chapters 4 to 6 of Outlander. And maybe finish the scarf/shawl I'm knitting.
So many hobbies, so few evenings :-)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

At the Half-way Point...

Yesterday was the last day of the five-day writing marathon over on the CompuServe Books And Writers Community. I wrote 1000 words per day and 1590 words yesterday – a one-day record for the Austin and Kedi story! My total hovers at 40,000 words; it’s hard to achieve an exact count because the WIP is interlarded (Hi Claire! ) with research notes and quotes.
I’m considering joining National Novel Writing Month in November ( The rules stipulate that you must begin a new novel; if I consider the Ephesus scenes as Act I (Hi Jenny! ), then I can start a brand new “novel” with Austin’s arrival in Rome. Since I always need some sort of outside willpower and enforced deadline, this may help me achieve the 80,000 word-goal for the finished novel. Although 50,000 words in one month is a bit of a stretch, given that I’m on the last week of the 70-Day challenge (Sven says sweat!) ( and barely squeaked together 900 words per day.
And yet, all these challenges and monthly exercises have resuted in a lot more writing than if I had been left to my own devices – at that rate the novel might have floundered and come ashore only years from now...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Character Origins

My uncle (of Snail's Tales fame) was asking about the Klara story (An Arnavutköy Spring), and as I clarified the origins of the characters - Klara a Greek Ottoman, Servan from Brittany - it occured to me that for all my 20-year-long (and counting!) obsessiveness about England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales, I haven't yet managed to have a single plotline or character from that part of the world! I've got Greeks, Turks, Romans, Swedes... But no Scotch, Welsh, Irish or English men, women or children. I wonder why that is?

Edited to add: Even Austin was born in England to Canadian/Turkish parents.

Friday, 7 September 2007

What I Have Done Today

This post was inspired by the What I Have Accomplished Today post at Snail's Tales.

1. Wrote 100 words before I started work.
2. Wrote 1400 words and commented on a few September exercises, and posted my own X, in between my 8.30 to 4.30 job
3. Met quite a few of my goals for the writing marathon!*
4. Cleared up some old emails from my inboxes
5. Had a lovely dinner with a few friends and attended Miss Sugarpuss' burlesque show!

Hoping tomorrow is just as fun and productive...

* here are the goals:
1. Do not sleep
2. Write 15K (ha ha ha ha)
3. Post September X
4. Post all comments to other Xs
5. Print story
6. Start editing DH's story for submission

Tuesday, 4 September 2007


Claire has an interesting post, to which I commented, about how much criticism a writer can take. I dole out much unwanted and unasked for copy editing advice, but I tend to receive other kinds of criticism (such as using too many -ing endings or my dialogue not ringing true). I could put up with copy editing corrections, but negative comments on style hurt quite a bit more. Still, as I commented on Claire's page, there's only one thing you can do - learn and move on... The best part is, if you're like me, sans editor and contract, you get the final say in your MS! We'll see what happens later, come query time...

Monday, 3 September 2007

Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon

I finally got my copy from Amazon yesterday. There's a feeling that Jamie Fraser gets at times, a sort of griping in the wame; well, I just hope that at least one book that I write gives a reader that sort of thrill/worry/anticipation/joy that I feel when delving into the life of Jamie, Claire or Lord John. This is also the first time I've read a book where I've already seen bits and pieces of it out of context (on the writers' forum), but it's much nicer to read it as a whole.
So as you can see, no writing accomplished this weekend. But I did manage to type up one already-written scene, and pick up a few facts, plot developments, research tips along the way. Note to self: too much red wine stains the lips purple; Austin should notice this.
I'll probably be heavily into the September exercise this week, yay to Claire for coming up with so many questions!
On a side note, being up this late (lovely housewarming Nina and Robin!) means I finally get to watch some good British tv. "Everything's bottom to you, isn't it?"
Check out Miss Sugarpuss' new blog!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Things I Am Excited About This Weekend

1. I got my copy of Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon today! But I promised I wouldn't start it until I wrote at least a few hundred words.

2. Wrote 900 words, and did another tally - I'm at c. 46K! Which means only c. 15K to go by the end of the month (or before, since Sven's 70 Day challenge ends on the 20th). I've gotten more organized on the timeline as well, and figured out a few more threads in the spiderweb, such as where exactly Althea fits in. I'm blaming/lauding Claire for this completely, since her announcement that September's exercise would be about sex got Austin his first kiss!

3. McGill is clearing out the Education Library, which means our library is growing - 40 new LPs to listen to! Free!

4. Roasted chicken a la Jamie Oliver in the oven right now, sending delicious scents over to where I sit...

5. Another photo-worthy lovefest by Frodo and Sam...

6. Still having good weather, and no work on Monday! We took a nice walk in the sun today.

7. Strawberrry cheesecake ice cream for dessert!

Boy when you start listing the good stuff they just add up...

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at
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  • see the 2014 list and statistics at
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at