Thursday, 29 January 2009


I've done it! I've entered all (and I do mean all; there was a lot to fix, copy-edit wise and editorial wise) the red pen corrections into the electronic copy! Whew! Two days behind schedule, too :-)

champagne, confetti, chocolate interlude

Right, interlude over. Now comes more work. I have the following To Do list:

check all files to make sure I’ve noted all research, read all previous crits, etc.
make list of phrases to be translated into Latin (and find a Latin speaker)
double-check remaining copy-edit notes
WRITE the 5-6 scenes that are left and rewrite 1 major scene
read Shakespeare’s Cymbeline
reread one more time
send to beta readers!

Oh, and agents of course - I've got to polish that Q letter. But things are looking up. Reaching definite goals has done wonders for my self-confidence. Also, yesterday, as part of the January exercise on the forum, I wrote a brand new scene and had a major revelation about one of my main characters! Nothing like a surprise twist to make things exciting again...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Another Contest!

Are you as desperate to read Death By Bikini by Linda Gerber as I am? This book ban is preventing me from scooping up all sorts of delicious looking YA. So I've entered Reviewer X's contest to win a copy!
Hmm, perhaps if I post more regular book reviews on here, Penguin will start bestowing books on me too :-)
In other news, look for a spin-off knitting blog, coming soon - watch this space!

Monday, 26 January 2009

20 Pages Left... go on the major overhaul! Then a few scenes left to write/re-write and some tweaking and some Latin translations - and then I'm ready for beta readers!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Man's A Man for A' That

Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the poet Burns. We celebrated by listening to the 1959 Caedmon recording (on LP) of his poetry and of Scottish Ballads. You might wish to host or attend a Burns Supper in his honour and raise a wee dram yourself!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Promised Prophecy

Here's my projected schedule for 2009:

Dec 2008: The Face of A Lion: 6 pages per day, editing with the red pen

Jan 2009: 6 pages per day, entering all edits electronically; Cymbeline (Shakespeare)
to read (last research), house party on Compuserve!

Feb: send to beta readers, work on last bits, finish query (Q) letter; do Outlander
chapter summaries on the Yahoo OutlanderGathering group

March: finish Q letter for Frederick's Flight, send to five agents I've already queried; find more agents

April: reread The Face of A Lion; send more Qs; start drafting for "1492" and "Rose Diary" stories

May: continue drafting and start research

June: send more Qs; see what needs editing in The Face of A Lion; continue research, continue drafting

July: continue drafting and research

Aug: see if I can get a short story out of something, send to magazines

Sept: polish drafts - don't leave editing till last minute!' send more Qs

Oct: how many words am I at?, continue drafting, continue research; send more Qs

Nov: continue drafting, continue research; send more Qs

Dec: continue drafting, continue research; send more Qs

The Face of A Lion Update

While Jen's away writing, Kait's filling in over on Mission Accountability, and I checked in with her today...
As of yesterday I've been falling behind... I left all the difficult revisions to this last 10-day stretch and now I'm getting overwhelmed - I've got so many rewrites to do to tie up themes and character development points, I'm going crazy! I should do what our mistress Jen is doing but I just started in a new section at work and can't take off more than a day or two. And I got a call saying my glasses came in but they were all wrong and have been sent back for re-tooling. Without them, I can't get up early in the morning and work for two hours or so since I can't see and if I wear my contacts for too long my eyes will suffer...

Okay, that was the woe is me bit. Now for the constructive attitude...
Erm? Attitude?
Alright, he's a no-show.

Meanwhile, let's see the goals:
Complete 6 pages per day, if not more
Resolve all the issues I've left behind (sticky notes on the pages I've already "done")
Print a clean copy to make myself feel better and markup what's left
Rewrite the end of the Riot chapter (the one that needs a ten-page rewrite and got me so discouraged yesterday) to bring Austin to the forefront of the action

I've also got a slew of blog posts waiting to be worked on, all about Shakespeare, knitting, etc., not to mention the Helene-style calendar I've got to draft by the end of the week!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Five Things I Love

From Susan!

1. Fellow authors

It’s impossible to name everyone, but I love being surrounded by like-minded authors; Susan, who gets appropriately het up about being banned from the YA section of the library (I mean really!), Jen, who spurs us on at MA and keeps herself on her writing toes, Jenny who keeps finding contests to enter, all the other MA girls who are dedicated, inspiring and provide laughs at just the right time, and of course everyone over at the Forum!

2. My new section at work

Where I get to do lots and lots of editing and copyediting – yay!

3. Trying new recipes at dinnertime

There’s two in the new issue of Chatelaine, or was it CanadianLiving, one for chicken and one for salmon, that I can’t wait to try, and Jamie Oliver is consistently coming up with exciting stuff – like rosemary salt!

4. The UK of the 1920s and 1930s

I can’t help it. The 1900s and the 1910s (saving the war) must have been good times too. By “good times” I mean a time when people were still articulate, when everything was new and exciting but still wrapped in the role-defined methods of the 19th Century (so that it was something brave and daring to step outside of one’s role), when the world’s population was less, when the pollution was less, when train travel was the norm, etc., etc.

5. Pam’s post on cat haikus

In honour of which I’m posting photos of Frodo, on the fireplace, and Sam, in a bag:

What about you? Any things you love today?

Head on Over to Nathan's

To read guest blogger Adrienne Kress on Why She Writes for Children.
That's it exactly and I believe C S Lewis once said much the same thing; one writes what one likes to read.
Actually, somewhat in relation to this... Yesterday I was browsing in the mega-bookstore-chain closest to work (albeit quickly, since I had to hurry back to the office) and had the darndest time finding a YA or Middle Grade book that resembled my own The Face of A Lion. There were many fantasy novels, many novels involving time travel, a few that involved animals, but none that quite had the same tone and inflection of mine.
This may or may not be a good thing, but at the moment it makes querying agents trickier...

Friday, 9 January 2009

I Forgot to Go On About This!

I've been getting a kick out of it for a month:

Eddie Izzard's Death Star Canteen, set to Lego

All Agatha All the Time

I've been rereading quite a few Agatha Christie books, mostly for fun but also partly because my new glasses haven't arrived yet (and won't until the 19th, unfortunately).

I can't wear my contacts for too long, or they hurt - so I either have to read (and do everything else) with taped up, askew glasses, or read with the book about 1cm from my face. In that position, it's hard to read anything new that I don't trust.

Anyhow, here's a list of words, ideas, etc. that I've marked for research and follow-up (sorry, lingo from work there; I've moved to a new section and have been concentrating hard all week) [this is why I not only have many a TBR pile and an endless wishlist, but also a Books-I-Just-Finished-With-Flags-Marking-Things-To-Look-Up pile]:

"he'd probably had to retrench his scale of living a good deal since the war"

"Michael and I are absolutely on our beam ends. Mick's had a really good part offered to him... Now we'll be in clover."

post-WWII England: "With eggs so scarce and mostly foreign at that, so that boiling is always risky."

to scotch a rumour

to doss down on the couch (rather than sleep in the bed)

"he didn't half create" - i.e. made a fuss

"the nigger in the wood pile"

saying or quote: "three to one, the nun"

"not for her the state of mind of Cortez' men upon the peak in Darien."

" your poet says, 'to annoy, because he knows it teases.'"

"In my young days the young men... discussed Maeterlinck's 'Bluebird'."

"mugging over some notes"

I know two things about the horse, and one of them is rather coarse

boracic acid (what is this stuff, anyway? Google here I come!)

the green bay tree

A Lion of Lucerne

"cut the cackle and come to the horses"

Milton's Sabrina Fair (no, I haven't finished reading Paradise Lost yet!)

"Mrs. Gamp" as a nickname

"So might Agamemnon and Clytemnestra have stared at each other with the word Iphigenia on their lips" (how I wish schools still gave one a proper grounding in the classics!)

"...don't be like the heroines of third-rate thrillers who start in the very first chapter by having something they can't possibly tell for no real reason except to gump up the hero and make the book spin itself out for another fifty thousand words."

a song lyric: "For the Colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady are sisters under the skin."

"...a line from one of your poets: 'A question is never settled until it is settled - right.'"

"'Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead.' A line from one of your poets."

"all according to Cocker"

"a secret de Polichinelle" - a secret that everyone can know, and people who don't know it never hear it, cos everyone assumes they know it already

And, finally, a riddle from Poirot, just for fun:
"'What is it that has two legs, feathers, and barks like a dog?'
"'A chicken, of course,' I said wearily. 'I knew that in the nursery.'
"'You are too well informed, Hastings. You should say, 'I do not know.' And then me, I say 'A chicken,' and then you say, 'But a chicken does not bark like a dog,' and I say, 'Ah! I put that in to make it more difficult.'"

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


Helene's put a rundown of her year on her blog. The amount of work she puts in, and the number of separate projects she has going at once (eight!) is truly inspiring. I'm going to draft a similar, loosely-based schedule for myself, and get to work!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Missing Pieces

Jenny's got no computer, and I... I've got no glasses. I was merrily cleaning my glasses yesterday morning, when SNAP, the bridge came apart, smack in the middle. My prescription hovers around the -12 mark, with astigmatism thrown in for fun, which means that no glasses = virtual immobility.

I got this photo off Wikipedia:

Mine's a lot worse - I probably wouldn't be able to separate the stripes or octagons on the shirt and ball, and the kids' noses wouldn't be so well-defined. Their hairlines are also too clear cut.

About the only thing I can do without glasses is shove a book in my face (partly why I've been rereading all those Agatha Christies (see Books I'm Reading sidebar); the other reason might have something to do with the holidays and the weather (-20 degrees Celsius practically every day) - last year I was rereading The Lord of the Rings around the same time).

You'd think a bit of tape would solve it but no... tape's too weak and the two pieces (or halves) of the glasses fall out of the two ends of the rolled up tape much too easily. Plus we had a party to go to last night! In the end, electrical tape worked for a few hours, but that stuff has it's own problems; it just doesn't stick for long periods.

Went down to LensCrafters today, but the optometrists don't work on Sunday, so no free samples of contacts... They said my only option was to buy new frames and get temporary lenses made, which for me, means thicker lenses than usual and no anti-glare (since I pay extra for thinning and anti-glare on my glasses), and it would take an extra hour and a half, since my prescription is so high. Fine, I just want to see! Then they said I had to have metal frames, since my prescription... yes yes, I just want to see! So they bring me a few frames that they'll be able to use, and the cheapest one is 300$! For a piece of metal? For temporary glasses?

But what can I do, right? I have to see, and I need something to wear while I order the "real" glasses (which themselves will cost upwards of 600$). If they don't happen to have 90$ frames lying around, this is my only option. Then word comes back from the technician - sorry, we can't do it anyway, our equipment just doesn't meet your needs because your prescription...

Well, anyway, I was so relieved about not spending 300$ that I'm happy to "stick" with my tape :-) Even though it means going to work tomorrow looking like... But at least the optometrist will be there tomorrow (I hope!) and I can at least get contacts or something.

Actually, the main problem now isn't so much the tape in my line of vision or the constant threat of the pieces falling apart - it's how dirty the lenses get with so many fingers trying to tape them together for me, and I can't clean them properly because too much movement causes them to fall apart again. Dirty lenses, ick ick ick.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Statistics Canada

This is in relation to my Books Read in 2008 posts below. Wednesday's newspaper had a column on a government commissioned survey: the majority of respondents reported reading an average of 17 books over a 12-month period, of which 22% were Canadian authors.

Mine was 106 books over 50 weeks, with 14 Canadian books, or 13% by Canadian authors.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing; should I read more by Canadians?

2008 Look Back

Got this one from Jen, who got it from Carol:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Went on a road trip through Pennsylvania, New York State, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky (Hi Jenny!) and Ohio. And visited Toronto for the first time. For about five hours. Also visiting parts of Turkey I hadn't been to before: Ankara, Karabuk, Safranbolu, Kastamonu.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't quite remember making any. Just trying to concentrate on finishing editing The Face of A Lion.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Claire!

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, my doctor and my high school history teacher.

5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? More dedication that results in concrete work done on the novel each day.

6. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Not sure... Probably the road trip.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Actually getting the editing completed on paper, getting a promotion at work.

8. What was your biggest failure? Not being dedicated enough - I could have finished this editing over the summer, had my query ready and been querying all autumn.

9. What was the best thing you bought? More like *not bought* - I've held off on buying books since June, except for Folio and books published by friends!

10. Whose behaviour merited celebration? I'll echo Jen: "a lot of my writer friends -- who either signed with an agent, finished an MS, sold a book, etc."

11. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Oh well, who am I to castigate others? We'll see how things go in my new section at work.

12. Where did most of your money go? Visa. The house.

13. What did you get really, really excited about? Two two-week vacations within five months! Bruce Springsteen in Montreal!

14. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Same, thankfully.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer by far.

15. What do you wish you'd done more of? Editing.

16. What do you wish you'd done less of? Putzing around.

17. Did you fall in love in 2008? Yes, all over again, she says cheekily.

18. Did your heart break in 2008? No.

19. What was your favourite TV program? Springsteen Live in Dublin.

20. What kept you sane? Friends, family, writing community, cats.

21. What political issue stirred you the most? Um. I've been paying taxes for two years now and our street is still crater valley.

22. Who was the best new person you met? Marissa!

23. Favorite book you read? All three Marilynne Robinson.

24. Favorite movie? Movies these days suck.

25. What are your plans for 2009? Get The Face of A Lion out to beta readers and a host of other agents so I can maybe allow myself to fiddle with the other ideas that are coming through!

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
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at
  • 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