Showing posts from September, 2010

Banned Books Week

appy Banned Books Week! Go read!

What can you do to support Banned Books Week?

1. Sign up at Tahereh's page with other bloggers drawing attention to Banned Books.

2. Talk about your favourite Banned Books over at Random Acts of Reading.

3. Blog about Banned Books Week, and let Random House know at, to win a free book!

I have to say, I was surprised to see that so many of my favourite authors have had their books banned at one time or another - everyone from Lois Lowry and Judy Blume (which I knew about), to Roald Dahl and Katherine Paterson (which I definitely did *not* know about); not to mention Steinbeck and l'Engle. Or Joyce!

Imagine a world without any of these authors? To read interviews with Steinbeck and many many other seminal authors of the 20th century (Dorothy Parker, E.B. White, Paul Auster, etc.), visit Paris Review, where they've recently uploaded their archives.

Inspirational Photos Round Two

first post on inspiration featured a photo of Columbus' patron, Queen Isabella. The other day I was once more on Christophe Colombe street in Montreal, but further up, and came across the statue of Columbus himself:

The other day I was in the Rare Books section of the McGill University Library and came across this - not much to do with inspiration for my current wip, but still a nice memento of Canadian authors - Stephen Leacock's walking stick!

Guest Posting Over At Kait's Today!

ome find me here.

Here's a bit of a teaser...

A Weekend's Worth of Links

ie thee to these blogs for fun and contests:

Kate Kanyak is giving away books!

Talli blogs about creating compelling characters. I have to say I agree with her; I don't know squat about my characters until I jump into the story. Trying to develop a character in advance only stalls my writing completely - the only way to find a character's voice is to begin writing scenes.

Nathan has an amazing post - so what else is new? - about dead or absent parents in children's literature. I seem to be following the trope as my two latest novels both feature absent parents. Oddly enough, adult/guide figures abound... Why is it that teenagers can accept direction from any other adult but their own parents?

Speaking of parents, what lessons have you learned from your mother? If you have a story or essay or other vignette on this topic that you'd like to submit for an upcoming anthology, let Carol Krenz know!

And visit Kait for the latest installment of Forsaken By Shadow.

73 Years of The Hobbit, Release of The Exile and... Advance Buzz

dinor veren, or Joyous Anniversary (in Sindarin, I hope) to The Hobbit!

On 21 September 1937 The Hobbit was first published in Great Britain. Where would I be without Tolkien, I wonder? Not just rereading The Lord of the Rings every year, but all the other authors I discovered through him, and the links that run through his work to many of my other interests and explorations - Welsh language, history of the British Isles, poetry, and so on.

"To celebrate the hardback release of There and Back Again – The Map of Tolkien's The Hobbit by Brian Sibley, and Harper Collins are teaming up to give you a chance to win a free copy!"
If you'd like to win a copy of the book, sign up here. It's illustrated by Canadian John Howe.

It's also launch day for Diana Gabaldon's The Exile! I ordered my copy through Amazon so have to grit my teeth and wait, but if you've got your copy already, join the discussions here on Outlandish Observations and on the Com…

Daily Survival Kit

e Kit de Survival, for Writers (I tweaked this from Shannon's Weekend Survival Kit).

Obvious items to include in the kit:

Contact info of beta readers, crit partners or best friends and family who love to read your stuff - because at one level or another, we're all craving feedback.

Matches from your local - pub, that is. Because to be inspired to write, you've got to go out every once in a while and not be isolated.

Books - to be inspired by the best, to learn from those who explain the craft, to escape into new worlds, to research... Even if your To Be Read pile grows out of control.

Your favourite pen and notebook - failing that, I've taken note pads, napkins, the verso of papers at work...

Additional items:

A gift card from your favourite coffee place - ah, fuel.

Music (like the Blue Rodeo playlist at the bottom of this page).


A distracting game - Tetris, Bejeweled, Minesweeper...

Don't forget, Kait Nolan's Forsaken by Shadow - Part 8 h…

Closed Circuit by Marte Brengle

mall town stories make for in-depth novels and Marte Brengle’s debut Closed Circuit is no exception.

Lyric, Iowa and the electronics repair shop on the northwest corner of the town square set the stage for mystery, drama and romance. A sticky hot summer has barely begun when Ruth Peyton discovers that her landlord has sold the building where she lives and works – to Adam Tallbott, someone from her past that she’d rather not speak to ever again.

Not only that, but there are rumours flying that he’s bought other buildings around town, and is planning to raze them all. Or build a supermarket. Or dig for minerals. Gossip runs wild and all too soon Ruth finds herself in the thick of it, as Adam tries to win his way back into her life.
Can she play him long enough to find out what he’s really up to – without losing her heart to him in the process?

Brengle has created an entire cast of characters for Lyric who soon become as familiar to the reader as their own friends, and the story is told …

Researching Historicals...

eborah Raney had a recent post about why she doesn't write historicals, explaining - in a nutshell - that she would get bogged down during the drafting process "second-guessing myself on every single word" wondering if she was being anachronistic or using the appropriate term for the simplest tools or articles of clothing.

To this I say, bring on the square brackets! Diana Gabaldon talks about this a lot, and it really works. While you're in the midst of a first draft, as long as you have a basic concept of your time period, you don't need to get bogged down in details. If I write "she looked at him across the lantern in his hand" I can just square bracket [lantern] and come back to it later, to see if it ought to be an oil lamp, a candle or what have you.

Of course, if you're not a stickler for accuracy, you could write a book like this one. (Please click on the link - I promise you won't be disappointed!)

In case you missed it, Google had a Do…

Review - Susan Bischoff's Hush Money, and an Award!

ush Money, by Susan Bischoff!

If you could have one talent, what would you chose? Super vision, total recall memory, the ability to read as quickly as Star Trek’s Data? Susan Bischoff’s debut novella Hush Money explores a world where talents are inherited, not chosen, and must be hidden at all costs. Unless you want to be sent to a government run State School? As protagonist Joss might ask...

The characters’ voices ring through loud and clear and the story’s heroine is strong without making the male protagonist seem wimpy in comparison. There’s definitely something to be said for reading outside your comfort zone; I don’t normally read paranormals but was drawn into Joss and Dylan’s world from the first page. Hush Money is a fast-paced tale with a fantasy element that's both consistent and believable, and a romance that's sweet and realistic, especially when... ah, you'll have to read it yourself!

The ending echoes Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies in that it both wraps up the mai…

Ten for Tuesday - Interesting Links

varied links for your Tuesday viewing/reading/listening pleasure:

1. Come 1 December, Talli Roland is hosting a blogsplash to celebrate the release of The Hating Game as an e-book, ahead of its UK hard-copy launch in early 2011. Visit her blog to sign up!

2. The latest installment of Kait Nolan's Forsaken by Shadow is up, here!

3. New songs by Ryan Bevan, here.

4. Struggling to write a difficult scene? Get a kick in the rear from Write or Die. "Putting the Prod in Productivity".

5. If you're stuck in full on procrastination mode, you can't do better than to head over to Tahereh's page and read the 100 steps of How To Write A Novel.

6. Banned Books Week is coming up. What will you be reading?

7. International Literacy Day was last week. What did you read? Claire had an insightful post in celebration, The Power of Words.

8. And for those of you writing historicals... Jason Goodwin on getting details right, and wrong.

9. Have you heard of the Page 69 Test? Mars…

Fantasy Writing Places

ola had a post recently, a beautiful post, taking readers on a tour of Fantastical Writing Places.

I think her fairy dust got to me, by which I mean the post inspired me to think of some places that I'd love to write in. Before that, though, an announcement: Linda Gerber's latest, Trance, hits bookstores in less than a month and she's offering a super duper countdown contest!

Where's your fantasy writing spot? My short answer: the Mediterranean.

Long answer... Perhaps a sailboat docked near Spain's Costa Brava:

Island hopping along the Cote d'Azur, towards Bonifaccio, Corsica:

Then along the Italian islands, round the tip of Sicily, out into the greater sea. Dolphin, seal sightings... And then, the Greek islands. Finally docking in Kusadasi (though it's a lot more crowded now; this photo is from about 30 years ago. That arrow on the card points to the hotel next to my grandmother's house):

Come to think of it, this is the same trip my protagonist Rose t…

Recipe for Börek!

ere's the recipe for the börek I promised to bring to Karen G's BBQ Blog Party!

Ingredients (metric)
a glug of vegetable oil
1 beaten egg
250mL milk
mix the above ingredients and set aside (include a baking brush) (if you find yourself running out, you can always add a bit more milk)

1 box phyllo dough (defrosted if using frozen) (the boxes of phyllo dough I buy come with 8 sheets; my two pans are small so I cut the 8 sheets in half, leaving 8 sheets per pan.)

250g Turkish or Bulgarian white cheese
handful of parsley, finely diced
mix the above ingredients and set aside (include a spoon)

Any size pan will do, but you should preferably have a rectangular one to fit the shape of the dough. Lightly oil the bottom of the pan. Lay the first sheet of dough in the pan and brush gently with the oil-egg-milk mixture. Repeat with three more sheets. Fold the sheets in half if your pan is smaller.

Spread the cheese-parsley mixture across the top sheet.

Cover with another sheet, and once m…

Self-publishing - Another Round of Debate

efore the Internet (remember those years?) self-publishing was a murky, expensive exercise. You sent the MS of your beloved book to a company by mail, they bound and printed it and you paid for every copy then turned around and tried to sell it or push it on family and friends.

At least, that's how I think it used to be.

I never paid much attention to it before; the few books I've read that were self-published back in the day were very badly edited and had plots and story lines that went nowhere. Let's not even get into historical fallacies...

Post-internet, self-publishing is a different dimension altogether. Writers now have not only many more options for the formats of their books, but since information on the publishing process itself, not to mention editing and marketing, is so widely available, there is no longer the easy excuse of "I didn't know about that!" for putting out a badly written, unedited book. As Kait Nolan explains, formatting and editing

Auto Summarize Your Novel For Fun and No Profit

f you haven't yet seen Joel Stickley's How To Write Badly Well, you're missing lots of fun reverse writing tips.
His most recent post mocks Word's Auto Summarize feature, something I didn't know existed. It's a completely useless programme, seemingly, but good for a few laughs.

Here's Out of the Water, distilled from 65,069 words in 4,734 sentences to 20 words in 20 sentences. 'Sentences' used here, by Word, in the loosest possible terms:

"Rosa!” Rosa! "Rosa?"
"Rosa! "Rosa!” "Rosa! "Rosa! Rosa!" "Rosa! "Rosa?" "Rosa. "Rosa!" "Rosa! "Rosa!" "Rosa!" "Rosa! "Rosa –"
"Rosa?" "Rosa."
I also tried the 25% summary option and got more repetitions of other characters' names with a few grins and smiles thrown in. Wasn't that fun boys and girls? At least I know I'll be getting rid of all those grins w…

Reading Habits of the Stars - Last 24 Hours of Blog Party

unday! You've still got 24 hours to enter Karen G's Blog Party BBQ!

Forty days till Linda Gerber's Trance is released! For great contests, visit her blog now.

And now... something long :-) What are your reading habits? Courtesy of Michelle!

1. Favourite childhood book?
Turkish fairy tales and folk tales

2. What are you reading right now?
Lots of books on Ottoman History, rereading An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, and just finished Lord Rochester’s Monkey by Graham Greene

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Ah, none, but my Amazon wishlists are loooong (here and here)

4. Bad book habit?
I make notes in pen and pencil...

5. What do you currently have checked out from the library?
Well, I’ve got lots borrowed from friends, such as a few Philippa Gregory books

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Not yet...

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Many at once!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Nope! Links and link…

10 Ways To Know A Story Was Written By Me - and Blog Party Continues

oo hoo! Fabulous Blog Party / BBQ / Labour Day Weekend Fest going on over at Karen G's. Sign up and visit lots of blogs to 'find a bunch of awesome new followers'!

A propos of the word awesome, click here to join The Society for the Appreciation of the English Awesomesauce, aka Lord John Grey. I've even made a badge :-)

And Kait's next installment of Forsaken by Shadow is up, here!

And now, to business. Writerly, business that is. Susan's got a great post on 10 Ways to Know A Story Was Written By Me.

Here are the rules:

"Fellow authors, spread the meme:

1. Write a blog post about ten ways you know a story was written by you.
2a. Then comment on this post with the link to your post!
2b. Or just write your answers as comments, below. But that’s less fun.
Like chain mail, but with blog posts. Easy as that."
Here are my 10 Ways:

10. There's a Tolkien reference in there.

9. Someone quotes a line of poetry at some point.

8. Formal dialogue saturates the …

Labour Day Weekend BBQ Blog Party!

h boy! Party time!

The Labour Day Weekend BBQ Blog Party starts today, here at Karen G's. Head on over to her site for the official rules.

uestion: are you a chunk writer or a linear writer? And if you're a chunk writer, like me, do you leap back and forth all over the story, or write in order. And, if you write in order, do you look back? Or are you surrounded by fog and shadows as you move forward?

ub crawl! If you'll be in Montreal on 21 September, why not join the Mordecai Richler Pub Crawl?

"You will visit two Crescent Street watering holes that were once among the favourite haunts of the writer who gave us classics like The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, St. Urbain's Horseman, and Barney's Version.

At each location, several guest speakers - including [Montreal] Gazette cartoonist Terry Mosher aka Aislin, Gazette columnist Bill Brownstein, Giller Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch, and the author's son Noah Richler - will share stories about the celebrate…

Teaser Thursday

ot this one from VR Barkowski, and it links back to Should be Reading, though I'm doing Thursday instead of Tuesday. (Love that Gryffindor-esque drop cap!)

Everyone's welcome to join; the rules are:

Open your current read to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (DO NOT INCLUDE SPOILERS! Make sure not to give too much away!)
Share the title & author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
Mine's a little different because I'm reading a few books at the moment (list below), so I've elected to post a teaser from a non-fiction one. Also, Im posting one sentence only, cos I happened on a looong one:

"In twenty years the Genoese were swept from the Black Sea, leaving their ship designs and their naval titles fixed in the Ottoman mind, so that an Ottoman admiral was called Kapudan Pasha, and the Ottoman navy constructed galleons with heavy cannon after the Genoese model, a…