Tuesday, 29 June 2010

50 Followers - 50 Days Marathon begins NOW

Yes! Thanks to Scorpio and Barbara for following me - I'm now at 50 followers!

Thus begins the 50 followers celebration 50 day marathon, first mentioned here. Here are the rules, for myself and for any that care to join me!

1. Write every day, at least 150 words
2. Blog about it every day (this is to force me/you to check in)
3. Link to this post on your blog if you're so inclined
4. Have fun!

PS don't forget to enter the contest below to win a copy of Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose.

PPS add author Jill Murray (Ethiopia FAQ & fun facts) on Facebook and ask her to send you a postcard from Ethiopia!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Two Contests and a New Blogfest

Zip down to the post below and, if you haven't yet done so, sign up to win a copy of Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose! Thanks again to Jo for mentioning my contest on her blog.

I've also entered the Vive La France contest - a great way to keep up with Nicole's lovely, yummy posts on French wine, food, markets, you name it.

Tessa's hosting a blogfest in July - a death scene blogfest! I finally realised that, yes, I do have a character that dies, even though I don't want him to. But there's no cure for TB in 1492, so pass away he must. Join the blogfest here, and post your own scene on 18 July. This means you, Claire!!!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Contest! Win a Copy of Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose!

Joanna Bourne's latest, The Forbidden Rose, is out!

For those of you who don't have your very own copies yet - or are waiting for another reader to return the library copy - you're in luck, because I've got two copies to give away. I won three Advance Reader Copies on Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research and, while I'm devouring my own copy, the other two are up for grabs!

Jo had a recent blog post on her dog, and that inspired the rules for this contest:

Leave a comment telling me either:

a) the names of the two donkeys in The Forbidden Rose


b) about your own furry/scaly/prickly writing companion.

A comment earns one entry in the draw for the winner, blogging about the contest earns another entry, and Facebooking earns another entry. But you've got to come back and let me know you've done all these things, and link to them, if possible. You can Tweet about the contest too but, er, I'm not on Twitter yet, so unless it rolls over onto your blog or Facebook page, I probably won't see it.

There'll be two drawings, one on Friday 2 July and the other the Friday after. In keeping with the animal theme, the drawing - from a pile of scattered paper with names on it - will be performed by Frodo!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ten for Thursday - What's in Your Bag?

Talli's tagged everyone on her bag meme, which she got from Sangu.

Clearly, Talli hangs on to the same bag for much longer than I do, which is to be commended - it's fun to find stuff you'd forgotten you had! Unfortunately, I get very restless with bags, purses, backpacks, what-have-you and switch 'em up constantly, necessitating a clean up every time.

I've had the current one for about a month. It's nice and large, so I'll probably get tired of it before the end of the summer, cos large bags prompt me to carry at least two books, the notebook with the latest scenes from Out of the Water (Rose's story!), printed snips of others' writing to read and comment on, and other heavy items (papers add up to a lot of weight!).

So let's see what's in the Mary Poppins'-bag like space (besides tree-derived products)...

1. A coin purse that contains memory sticks and keys, as well as a lovely bookmark made by Claire, but no coins.

2. Alpaca fibre! Just waiting for me to learn how to spin. Courtesy of Tracy at Flocks by Knight Alpaca farm. Photos of Lucky Pierre, whose fibre I have, coming soon to my knitting blog.

3. Mini playing cards that I won at an arcade!

4. A lovely friendship card with a sweet poem from my best friend Nina.

5. Movie ticket stubs that I've been saving to try and reclaim the points online. The last tickets are from Crazy Heart.

6. Guitar picks: one from Nashville, one given by Supergrass, and one generic pick that I've had since I was 14 (that's a lot of purses to be switched around in).

7. Hmm, a lot of these seem to be paper anyway! I can't escape the stuff. In that case, our next item is nine American dollar bills - leftover from vacation.

8. A pile of extra batteries for the camera I'm never without.

9. Coconut oil from Fiji (nah, I didn't get to go there... it's from a colleague).

10. England bracelets from Helen! Since Turkey didn't even qualify for the World Cup...

What's in your bag?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Many thanks to Tessa for the versatile blogger award!

Here's the task that goes with it:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
Thanks Tessa!

2. Share 7 things about yourself.
a) I'm on vacation! Well, back now, but still on vacation in my mind.
b) Our two cats are 6 and 7 years old - I want them to live to 40 to beat the oldest cat on record.
c) I don't like tequila.
d) If I could (i.e. wasn't afraid of big loud machines) I'd be a carpenter. Besides being a writer, of course.
e) These days, old movies are the only ones I really enjoy (things like Fletch Lives, Grumpy Old Men, The Great Outdoors, that sort of thing)
f) My favourite language is Welsh.
g) I love bluegrass!

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently (recently being a relative term) discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
a) Kait!
b) Karen!
c) Marsha!
d) India!
e) Nicole!
f) Aubrie!
g) Pam!
h) ZanMarie!
i) Stephanie!
j) Helen!
k) Tara!
l) Claire!
m) Jen!
n) Rachel!
o) Kristen!

If I've forgotten anyone, then they're all in the blogroll to the left.

4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.
Will do!

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Writing Journey

A little while ago Rachel had a detailed post about her writing journey, and the various things she's learned about herself and her writing.

It made me think of what I might have learned, not necessarily since I began writing, but at least in the past few years, when I've begun considering writing not just as a hobby but as something I can actually pursue with a view to publication.

And the first realisation this led to was that I had never before edited my own work. I thought a few rewrites equalled editing, and for some reason was content to finish a novel - and leave it! Now, I can spend a year or so writing and almost twice as long editing and revising and reviewing and rereading, until I know the story backwards and forwards and can still find places to cut or rewrite.

Like Rachel, I also have scenes I'm sure I've written, only to find that they exist in barely legible notes. Never mind the time I was reading a book and had already-written scenes stuck in between the pages - and the book was stolen! That still stings.

Also, that laziness is no excuse. Or squeamishness about reading my own writing. If I want to see it between covers I have to read it in as level headed and objective fashion as possible.

That I constantly need to look for novel ways to push myself to hunker down and write. I can't stick to any kind of routine - at least not while I have the full time job - so I've got to take what I can, when I can. Like writing during pub quizzes, when everyone else goes out for a cigarette. Or snatching at inspiration whenever it comes.

That I've *got* to tell this story, no matter how long it takes - which is the drive that keeps us all writing, I suppose, in a very good way.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

And We Have A Title!

There. Having written the heading for this post, I'm sitting here wracking my brains for the umpteenth time. I've gotten tired of referring to Rose's story variously as "Rose, 1492", "the story that takes place in Spain, 1492" and "Rose's story". It's time I gave her a proper title, and...

Here it is:

Out of the Water

Edited to add a link to this tiny post I wrote, back when I was trying to come up with the title for The Face of A Lion, since I thought it was cute.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A Post-apocalyptic Story


was one of my favourite characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was the quintessential trickster of fairy stories, random and unpredictable, which is what made him frightening.

Writing in general is an unpredictable endeavour - one never knows where story ideas will come from. Our vacation put a huge dent in my plans for Write Your A** Off Day. On the other hand, I had a dream about a brand new story, which I might not even start writing for at least a few months, so here is the synopsis version:

Following a nuclear incident, with few people left on the globe, a group of scientists get together in a specific place and create a dome in which to safely house the remaining humans in that area. Many of them die while working on the dome, until only two brothers are left. One becomes the evil dictator of life within the dome, while the other, because he has a young daughter, lies low and tries to raise her as well as he can.
People continue to trickle in to the dome, in varying stages of ill health. A few years later the daughter, now almost in her twenties, has an affair with one of these newcomers, who dies soon after. She discovers she's pregnant, and is working up the courage to tell her father, when he reveals that he's dying and that the dictator is her uncle, and she'll have to go live with him.
Rather than face such a fate, she turns to her best friend and asks him to marry her. Her father dies in peace, knowing she will be cared for by a husband who loves her. When the dictator finds out that his brother has died, he sends for his niece, whereupon she tells her new husband why she married him. He's upset most because she used him, and didn't trust him to stick by her if she had revealed her pregnancy.
They visit the dictator together, and are placed under lock and key in his vast fort, where they uncover more of his evil plans, and work to stop him before he can do is worst.

They succeed, and they all live happily ever after. In my dream, there was a lot of water, and chases, and other action sequences that were lots of fun to watch. Someday if I write the story, I hope they'll be just as fun to read!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company - the Paris bookshop where James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway hung out, among others - is launching a literary journal and a best novella contest (thanks to Nathan Bransford for the link). Their literary festival is this weekend, just in time for Write Your A** Off Day today - 3000 words or as many as you can do!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A Website for Middle Grade Authors

How could you not love a blog that promotes middle grade authors and whose title evokes author E. L. Konigsburg? Not only that, they're giving away a quarter peck minus three (that is, nine) books, of which I've read Acadian Star by Helene Boudreau; if all the others are as good as hers, I hope I win the draw!

(The peck reference comes from the fact that I bought 1/4 peck of peaches from a roadside stand yesterday and found out that a peck is roughly 48 peaches, about 8 quarts worth. Imperial measurements are fun, but metric is so much easier to understand!)

Monday, 7 June 2010

New Snip - Action Sequence

Nathan's hosted another contest, where he asked for "the most compelling chase and/or action and/or suspenseful sequence".

Here's the snip I posted, in which Rose deliberately sets fire to a house where agents of the Inquisition are holding members of her family:

She edged as close to the field as she dared, sliding her feet one by one across the matted layer of wet leaves. She stopped with one foot actually on the grassy verge, crushing a fragrant clump of stray [mint], peering from one corner of the manor to the other, straining to recognise Arcturus’ face in the fireglow. If the flames did not reach the house at all, they would never have a chance to run with Tante Rita and the others.
No one among the inquisitors besides Armando and the two men who had brought her there would recognise her. If she could pass among them pretending to be a woman from the town... yet everyone, regardless of whether they had seen her before or not, would remark on her tattered clothing, her unkempt hair, and if they called attention to her outlandish nature, appearing at that hour of the night, then the entire endeavour – and Arcturus – would be exposed. Unless...
Rose whipped around and plunged into the trees, heedless of the noise she made as she crashed through the limbs and branches of trees in her way. She followed the line of the field until she came to the nearest burning shrub, then yanked off her shawl and laid it on the flames. As soon as the fire was well and truly caught she tugged the shawl off the snagging thorns – sparing a passing regret for the loss of her mother’s delicate embroidery – and, holding up the burning cloth high above her head, ran screaming out of the forest.
“Help! Help! Fire! I’m on fire!”
She ran across the field, careening slightly to left and right in order to seem truly dazed, and plunged in among the bucket brigade.
“Help!” She yelled in the ear of one startled man, and before he could grab her, to offer whatever help he might have thought of, she slipped out of the line and ran toward the huddle behind the house, lashing her shawl about her as she went, so that dry stalks and hanging herb clusters caught the sparks, and flames began to lick slowly up the trellises along the walls.
“Help! Help!” She yelled, standing between Arcturus and Tante Rita. Armando was on the other side of the group, staring at her with a puzzled frown. Afraid he would recognise her at any moment, Rose threw the shawl as hard as she could, considering she had only two flame-free corners left to hold onto, directly at him. The flaming cloth landed at his feet.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Character Questionnaire - Rose in 1492, with Google Images


I haven’t played a game in a while, so here’s a Google Game I got from Roni.

Only I’m going to play not for myself but on Rose’s behalf!

Favourite beverage: Now that she’s in Constantinople and it’s winter, it’s sahlep, a milky puddingy sort of yumminess

Hometown: Palos de la Frontera, Spain, up the road a couple of hours from this beach

but now she lives in Constantinople

Favourite TV show: Since there’s no TV in 1492, here's Rose’s favourite entertainment - watching her friend Baha, who’s an artist, mixing his paints. Or, wandering minstrels!

Occupation: Housewife (for now) (painting by Francois Bonvin 1817-1887)

Favourite car: No cars in 1492 either, so here's her first vehicle - an oxcart!

Favourite dish: Chicken and rice. Here's a recipe for Jewish Chicken from a medieval Andalusian cookbook:

A Jewish Dish of Chicken
Clean the chicken and take out its entrails, cut off the extremities of its thighs and wings and the neck, and salt the chicken and leave it. Take these extremities and the neck and the entrails, and put them in a pot with fine spices and all the flavorings and cilantro juice, onion juice, whole pine-nuts, a little vinegar and a little murri, good oil, citron leaves, and stalks of fennel. Put this over a moderate fire and when it is done and the greater part of the sauce has gone, cover the contents of the pot with three eggs, grated breadcrumbs and fine flour, crush the liver, add it to this crust and cook carefully until the liver and the crust are cooked and wrinkled. Then take the chicken and roast it carefully, and strike it with two eggs, oil and murri, and do not stop greasing [basting] the chicken inside and out with this until it is browned and roasted. Then take a second little pot and put in two spoonfuls of oil and half a spoonful of murri, half a spoonful of vinegar and two spoons of aromatic rosewater, onion juice, spices and flavorings. Put this on the fire so that it cooks gently, and when it has cooked, cut up ...[about two words missing]... and leave it until it is absorbed. Then ladle it into a dish [and pour the rest of the sauce on it, and cut up an egg and sprinkle with spices, and ladle the preceding almonds into another dish], and garnish it too with eggyolks; sprinkle it with fine spices and present both dishes, God willing.
[Bracketed matter in Arabic but not in Huici Miranda's translation.]
Celebrity Rose resembles: I've been thinking about this and can't seem to find a proper answer. Natalie Portman without the pout, perhaps. Or Natalie Wood:

Celebrity on her “to do” list: She’d like to visit the Sultan's harem... (I found this image of the painting by Rudolf Ernst on the gorgeous blog Orientalist Gallery)

And she might get a chance to meet Leonardo da Vinci

Favourite childhood toy: Wooden blocks

Any random picture: Here are the ships that Columbus sailed on; it was on one of these that Rose's real father told her the truth about her parentage and religion

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 http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2016/12/annual-books-read-statistics-2016.html
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2015/12/annual-books-read-statistics.html
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2014/12/books-read-in-2014-review.html
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html