Showing posts from April, 2010

Motley Crew

h, not that Crüe. I mean a motley crew of blog topics.

First off, I've nearly finished reading L'élégance du Hérisson, which has a number of articulate thoughts on the nature of art, the role of literature and what grammar is really for. During French class, the younger protagonist's teacher tells her that the purpose of grammar is to speak and write well.

"Alors là, j'ai cru avoir une crise cardiaque. Je n'ai jamais rien entendu d'aussi inepte. Et par là, je ne veux pas dire que c'est faux, je veux dire que c'est vraiment inepte. Dire à des adolescents qui savent déjà parler et écrire que la grammaire, ça sert à ça, c'est comme dire à quelque'un qu'il faut qu'il lise une histoire des W.-C. à travers les siècles pour bien savoir faire pipi et caca... Moi, je crois que la grammaire, c'est une voie d'accès à la beauté. Quand on parle, quand on lit ou quand on écrit, on sent bien si on a fait une belle phrase ou si on est en tra…

Favourite Children's Books - Vince Ditrich's Picks

hildren's books these days are divided into so many genres and categories that it almost seems funny to recommend, for instance, The Lord of the Rings, to a youngster. Yet I was 10 when I first read that and The Hobbit. Given the title of this blog, for one, it's arguably the book that touched me as a child, and I've reread it every year since then. But there are so many other authors that I'd also list as my favourites, which I won't repeat here; we've had discussions on this topic before on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum, last year and the year before, as well as a discussion on what we learned from kids' books.

Which book touched you that you still remember? Was it a series, a specific genre, or a single story?

Many of the authors that have made a difference to me are Canadian, and sometimes I wonder if I would have discovered them at all if I'd grown up elsewhere. A number of authors and readers responded to the Compuserve thread, including …

Canadian Musicians and What They Read

appy St George's Day and Happy Children's Day! I hope the link works; it's to the Turkish Wikipedia page.

In honour of Children's Day, celebrated by me in Canada, I'll be featuring some great Canadian musicians and their favourite children's books.

First up, Spirit of the West, whom you might know through their rousing Home For A Rest, or the song that first got me, If Venice Is Sinking, or even through the last Winter Olympics - three members of the band, along with folk musician Matthew Harder and Ashley MacIsaac, recorded a charity single called Dreams (available here), to benefit the first Ghanaian athlete ever to participate in the Winter Olympics, skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong.

Stay tuned!

Mark Twain

amuel Langhorne Clemens died 100 years ago tomorrow. For some inexplicable reason, the one story of his that comes to my mind the most often is A Literary Nightmare, 1876 (taken from Acephalous):

Will the reader please to cast his eye over the following lines, and see if he can discover anything harmful in them?

Conductor, when you receive a fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!


Punch, brothers! punch with care!
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

I came across these jingling rhymes in a newspaper, a little while ago, and read them a couple of times. They took instant and entire possession of me. All through breakfast they went waltzing through my brain; and when, at last, I rolled up my napkin, I could not tell whether I had eaten anything or not. I had carefully laid out my day's work the day befor…

SMART Writing

ow many times do I, or other writers, blog about our plans and our goals and our word counts? We get excited by 1,000 words here, a contest there... Well, now Claire, at All The World's Our Page, has challenged herself and us:

"The most important question of all when it comes to writing is, why do you want to do this?
If the answer is just to see if you can, or because you love the process, then you don’t need to set strict goals for yourself. The enjoyment is in the process.
But if the answer is because you want to see your work published, then you need to set yourself some concrete goals and treat this as more than a hobby. Not necessarily as a job- but absolutely as a project that requires strong management."
She details the steps for managing the writing project, which I won't repeat here. Go see!
What I will show is how I broke it down:

I had a stack of note cards handy, and was so inspired by her post that I grabbed the first one and wrote across the top Specifi…

The Draft Is Now At...

ose's story that is. The draft is now at...

36,001 words!

It's not that much to celebrate, though, unfortunately. I started the story last June/July, and at this rate wouldn't be finished before Christmas, whereas the goal is to complete the first draft this summer. Close to 1,500 words today; I need at least 1,000 words *per day* if I'm going to make that goal. That's a lot of five a.m. wake up calls.

(misses the first verse)

Blog friends + Fun + Celebration = CONTEST

hat's what Sarah Wylie says. Check out the awesome prizes she's offering as part of a contest to celebrate the fact that her novel has been accepted for publication:

"1 Lucky Winner will receive a critique of their first 30-40 pages by the fabulous Suzie Townsend + a pack of Twizzlers + a copy of Hex Hall
3 Lucky Winners will receive a query letter critique by one of these three agent extraordinaires: Kathleen Ortiz, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, or Colleen Lindsay (One agent will be randomly assigned to each winner.)
1 Winner will receive a writer's survival guide consisting of Twizzlers, a copy of Silver Phoenix and When You Reach Me, and a cute notebook and pen [snip]
1 Lucky winner will score a lunch date with THE Janet Reid and THE Suzie Townsend. Um, yeah, that's not a typo. (I'm tempted to enter myself. Would it be so wrong?) Unfortunately, this is not a free trip to NYC. BUT if you live in the NYC area, or whenever you're visiting NYC? You. Janet. Suzie. LUNC…

The View That Rose Sees When Approaching Istanbul, c. December 1492


First Page Blogfest!

elly over at Kelly's Compositions hosted a blogfest over the weekend.

Here's the first page of THE FACE OF A LION:

Austin met the cat during his first week in Turkey.
Bored with helping his parents clean their villa, he set out to explore the town. Every few minutes he had to climb onto the stone wall edging the street – there were never any sidewalks in this country – when a car or bus full of tourists whizzed past on the narrow road, a stench of diesel fumes floating behind. As the roar of each vehicle faded, the seaside sounds rushed back into his ears: the drone of motorboats slicing the water, cicadas buzzing in the distant tops of the fir trees, and below everything else, the unending rhythmic crash of waves breaking one after another on the sand.
He waited on the wall as another car zoomed by, then peered through the exhaust and added up the houses he had passed. His mum had said there were forty houses in the original village. Something had to be wrong somewhere, becaus…

Hans Christian Andersen

orn 2 April 1805. One of the stories I always remember is The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf (I believe it's in public domain, so I reprint here the version I copied from

THERE was once a girl who trod on a loaf to avoid soiling her shoes, and the misfortunes that happened to her in consequence are well known. Her name was Inge; she was a poor child, but proud and presuming, and with a bad and cruel disposition. When quite a little child she would delight in catching flies, and tearing off their wings, so as to make creeping things of them. When older, she would take cockchafers and beetles, and stick pins through them. Then she pushed a green leaf, or a little scrap of paper towards their feet, and when the poor creatures would seize it and hold it fast, and turn over and over in their struggles to get free from the pin, she would say, “The cockchafer is reading; see how he turns over the leaf.” She grew worse instead of better with years, and, unfortunately, she was pretty,…