Friday, 31 July 2009

I will consider this weekend a raging success if I:

don't stay up too late at my sister's bachelorette tonight;

manage to clean the entire house tomorrow morning before our guests arrive;

find/create/buy some food to keep said guests happy;

make it to the Montreal Highland Games on Sunday, despite many errands;

catch up on emails and the Characters Houseparty over at the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum; and

write another scene for the new work in progress. 1492!

Thanks to Anne and May for the Friday Fill in the Blank!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

An Echo in the Bone... done! For all intents and purposes - Diana's finished writing it, and now it's on to galley proofs, and everything else the publishers do to get it ready for the bookshelves. I drool at the thought of copy editing this book; so many twists and turns to double check, facts to verify, names to spell correctly, languages that are translated... And Diana writes so well that it would be a joy to tidy up the final copy. Copy editing is a very satisfying process; if only it was my full-time job.

I'd like to herewith promote myself as copy editor extraordinaire, available for hire!

For Diana's Compuserve announcement, go here. Karen's announcement and countdown are here.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Which Book Would You Want To Live In?

Last week, Nathan asked that question, and quite a number of people mentioned The Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. Two other authors, Erika and Beth, mentioned Outlander, but they both wanted to steal Jamie from Claire.

Those books would be some of my knee jerk reactions, too, as well as the books of Susan Cooper and Madeleine l'Engle, among others. I think the world of Outlander would be much more fun if I was friends with Jamie and Claire both, instead of risking my life trying to separate them.

Then I got to thinking. I'm not sure I'd enter any of these books without setting some conditions. Hobbiton would be a grand place to live, and Narnia might be fun, depending on which age you jumped into. But Hogwarts while the Death Eaters are loose? You'd have to know beforehand which time you were going to and whether you'd be a main character...

On the other hand, where's the fun without a bit of risk? If it was just to visit, it would be exciting to be whisked into any of these books, at any moment in their timelines.

Of course, I wouldn't say no to a nice pub in 1930s Yorkshire with James Herriott, either.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Is This A Good Query Letter?

Nathan Bransford posted a new example of what he considers a "stellar" query letter.

I'm still trying to put my finger on why I completely disagree with him.

There are three strikes against me: I'm not an agent; I may be rejecting it off-hand because the plot bores me to tears; and I'm a bit soured by the Lakers reference (what're you supposed to do if you don't even like basketball much? Find something else to hate with Nathan?).

As for a proper critique, I've been staring at the letter for a good few minutes, and still can't put my finger on why it feels wrong. Perhaps it's the idea that a medic would get involved in conspiracies - she's not a cop or an agent, so what's she have to offer? "claiming to be on her side" in what? Perhaps it's because the letter gives a strong sense of the author, but reveals next to nothing about the protagonist.

But maybe it's just me. I don't like the kitchiness of this letter, either.

In the end, I much prefer the straightforward tone of Joanna Bourne's query for The Spymaster's Lady.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Face of A Lion is Complete!

After a marathon 24 hours of editing last week (not all in one stretch, but close), I can safely and without any reservations, state that my novel is Done! It's Finished! Complete! Over!
Ah, there's always a 'but', isn't there? This is without beta reads and without any substantial agent-requested changes, since I'm still agent-hunting. For all intents and purposes, however, it's confetti time!
[we pause now to indulge in a moment of skippitty-hoppity]
Leaving me free to write and research for the new wip as I see fit. I've got about ten scenes under my belt but no links or overall themes yet. Still in exploration mode on this one, which is set 1450 years ahead of The Face of A Lion. The next one is likely to take place in the 1930s - getting closer to a modern novel with each step...

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Another Contest!

If you'd like to win a copy of Linda Gerber's Death by Denim - and if you haven't read it yet, then you ought to want to win! - skip on over to the YAthenaeum site!
I've entered this morning, even though I'm actually spending the day getting some serious work done. It's going slowly, but I may, just may, be COMPLETELY finished editing before the week is out. Wow!
And rereading hasn't been so difficult either. I'm always wary, as I think "oh no! what if I reread my work and realise I'm a terrible writer?" but this time around, I think I might have something good here. We hope.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Montreal Poets and Writers, and Scottish Singers

A new feature of the online edition of our local paper starts tomorrow...

Sorry, got a little distracted by Frodo and Sam, who are frolicking on the bed as only cats can do. Frodo is cleaning Sam's face, holding it between his two front paws... Where was I?

Ah yes, among the writers and poets to be featured will be Monique Polak (I missed having her as a teacher in CEGEP by about two years; but was fortunate enough to be taught by Claire Holden Rothman (resisting the urge to call her Ms Rothman; student-y habits die hard)) and Robyn Sarah.

Meanwhile, the Compuserve Forum login feature is down, and I haven't been able to reply to any messages. A couple of days ago in response to a question from Diana, Sharon posted: "We tuned in because of a documentary about the Scottish band Runrig who we have listened to for years. If you haven't heard of them, I would definitely recommend them. They sing in gaelic and English and the music is just beautiful."

I've been meaning to reply as follows: I can not believe no one's ever mentioned this band to me before! Or that I went so long without discovering them! I've been listening to The Cutter and Cnoc Na Feille and Siol Ghoraidh nonstop since Saturday. (I am glad, however, that I listened to these three songs before coming across the dorky '80s style dancing in the video for Alba, though I like that song as well.)

Finally, here's a poem by Robyn Sarah:

Cat's Cradle by Robyn Sarah (from The Touchstone, Poems New & Selected (Anansi, 1992))

When women together sit sipping
cold tea and tugging at the
threads of memory, thoughtfully
pulling at this
or that bit or loop, or slipping
this loop over that finger till
warp and weft of past lives begin
crazily to unwind, when women sit
smoking and talking, the talk
making smoke in the air, when they shake
shreds of tobacco out of a crumpled pack
and keep drinking the same weak tea
from the same broken pot, something clicks
in the springs of the clock
and it's yesterday again,
and the sprung yarn rolls down loose
from the spool of the moon.

When women together sit talking
an afternoon, when they talk
the sun down, talk stars, talk
dawn--they talk up a dust
of sleeping dogs and bones
and they talk a drum for the dust
to dance to, till the dance
drums up a storm; when women
sit drumming fingers on tops
of tables, when the tables turn
into tops that spin and hum
and the bobbin of the moon
keeps spinning its fine yarn down
to catch fingers, when fingers catch
talk in a cat's cradle, and turn
talk into a net to catch the curve
of the storm--then it's talk
against talk, till the tail
of the storm trails into dust
and they talk the dust back down.
Things that matter and don't matter
are caught together, things done and undone,
and the kettle boils dry and over
while they lean closer to peer down
into the murky water where last night's dream
flicks its tail and is gone
(and the reel of the moon keeps cranking
its long line down)--when women together
sit sipping cold tea and sawing on the strings
of memory, it is an old tune.
The rice sticks to the bottom of the pan,
and things get left out in the rain.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Jen's hosting a procrastination contest. Let's face it, I'll enter any contest where the prize is a chance for more books. Even though I, too, have begun purging myself of stuff, in a bid to stem the flow of "pack rat!" epithets.
Nathan's hosting a host his blog contest, though I doubt I can come up with a winning post in the next few hours...

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • Alexandria by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • 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***
  • Hermit Crab by Peter Porter (poem)
  • The Hidden Land by Private Irving (poem;
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
  • My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary
  • Managed by Kristen Callihan
  • beta read! (JB)
  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • 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