Saturday, 31 July 2010

Contests and Projects and Freebies, Oh My!

Yes indeedy, it's fun time!

What makes you smile? That's the question asked by the London Science Museum. Take part in the project by leaving a comment on Marsha Moore's blog. My answer was my five-year-old nephew getting excited about something so that he jumps around, waving his arms, exactly like characters do in cartoons. I'd always wondered why no one did that in real life, and now I know; kids do!

Jayne, over in the UK, has sent out her first query and is holding her first ever contest to celebrate. She's got some gorgeous prizes on offer, right after my own heart, from vintage children's books to vintage Agatha Christie to other lovely items. Hop on over and enter!

Kait Nolan's Forsaken by Shadow, available at Amazon and elsewhere, is now in serial form on her own website. Check out the first part, here and tune in every Friday to read the rest.

I've got a snip too! This is taken from the house party going on at Cherry Hill, Georgia - er, I mean, the forum. It has absolutely nothing to do with the real time frames of either Rose's story or the one Rochester's in (he belongs to a fellow author), but I had a happy time writing it a short while ago. What with the swimming and all, I doubt there's any way I can rework it into the real novel, but I might try...

Rose was so excited by the coolness of the lake and the freedom of moving her limbs under water - she might be in a skimpy bathing suit but no one could see her below her neck anyway - that she had ignored Jack and the others. Harry had showed her something called a backstroke and she was still practicing that when he let go and she realised she was floating on her own. She had a moment's panic, clutching her spectacles to keep from losing them, and then strong arms were about her, bringing her up to the surface once more.
She leaned back into the hands supporting her and wiped her hair out of her eyes.
"Thank you," she started to say, and then realised who was holding her. His blond curls were even longer about his shoulders now that they were wet, almost the length of her own hair. His eyes were a grey blue, clear as the lakewater at the edge of the shore. They were looking at her now not with hate or fear, or even their usual friendliness, but with a directness she'd never seen before. Not even in Joseph's eyes.
"Thank you," she said more forcefully and kicked her legs a little, to show she was able to swim on her own now. He smiled at her, but did not remove his hands from her shoulders.
"I'll show you the breaststroke, if you like. But you might have to remove your spectacles."
"But I won't be able to see!"
"You needn't worry about that; I'll be close enough. Perhaps you could remove those?" He added, pointing at her bright yellow armbands.
"Don't I need them to float?" She asked, too late realising how ridiculous that sounded, since neither he nor anyone else in the water was wearing them. He did not laugh, but waited, treading water, as she tried to float and remove them at the same time. He took them from her and set them bobbing on the water, slipping her spectacles into one of them.
"You won't lose them, will you? I'm not sure if Constantinople has spectacle makers."
"I'll keep one eye on them and one eye on you." Was he teasing her? She couldn't see anything of his features but the light shining from his eyes. "And if they should come to misfortune, rest assured that I'll have our royal goldsmith fashion you another set."
"Thank you," she said again, floating on her back. It was easier to stare up at the sky, rather than try to focus on objects around her that she couldn't see.
Or Rochester, whose chest and arms were now an indistinct mass of pale skin, but whose hands, with their long elegant fingers, became clearer as he brought them down onto her shoulders. Silently, by touch, he guided her into position and glided alongside her as he moved her arms, and then once she'd learned that, he placed two fingers on her chin and turned her head this way and that as they moved forward. His touch was cool from the water, but soft. She kept her eyes closed, to save herself from squinting at him and scrunching up her face. She must look inelegant enough with her clumsy swimming, without contorting her features in a vain attempt to focus.
"You're quite graceful," he murmured in her ear. It was quiet all around them. Far off, birds called and the others laughed and splashed, but they seemed to be miles distant, far removed from the peaceful water where she floated next to Rochester.
"You're only being polite. I'm kicking up water all over the place."
"No, no, you're doing very well for someone who's never been swimming before. Much better than my first time."
"Oh? How old were you?"
He floated even closer, pulling her back against him, his hands wrapped about her. "Only five. I was picked up and thrown in the pond to float or drown. I floated, but only by flailing my arms and legs about like a windmill."
She laughed, and he hugged her close.
Startled, she brought her legs down, and realised they were closer to shore now; her feet touched bottom. She stood up and brushed her finger on the bridge of her nose. No spectacles.
"Can you not see my face at all?" He asked her.
"No, you're simply a pale blur with two dots of grey, I'm afraid."
"How about now?" He asked, very quietly, his face barely an inch from hers.
"A little," she whispered.
"And now?" His lips were on hers even as he spoke.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Ten (or so) for Thursday: Questionnaires

Questions from Inside the Actor's Studio!

We recently had a staff exercise at work, part of which involved answering some of the questions that James Lipton asks:

1. What is your favorite word?


2. What is your least favorite word?

Like (when used in Valley Girl sentences such as "I was, like, at my boyfriend's house and, like, we were, like, making out? He took off my bra, and then, like, his parents, like, came home?!)

5. What sound or noise do you love?

The Aegean sea crashing on the sand near my grandmother’s house

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

TV commercials

7. What is your favourite curse word?

Fish wrinkles!

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Veterinarian or sailor (on a sailboat)

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Anything involving public speaking

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“This way to the TARDIS...”

(I’d like to see what European cities and other places on Earth looked like hundreds and thousands of years ago, and explore the universe, and the Time And Relative Dimension In Space machine on Doctor Who would be perfect for that sort of travel)

Also, author Talli Roland recently asked what would be on your list if you could have an extreme writing makeover?

I'd like to stop cringing before I plunge into edits of my own work.

I'd love to have more confidence, so that I don't wince anytime someone reads my work out loud.

I'd like to be better at verbally selling my stories and be more helpful and direct in providing explanations when people ask questions like "why don't you just publish it yourself?" and "I bet I could be a writer too, how do I start?"

I'd love to have more discipline and need less sleep, so that I could get up every day at 5 am and go write!

I'd like to get paid for typing up my handwritten drafts; I don't think I'll ever stop using pen and paper, but typing up all those scenes takes twice as long for some reason. If I was getting paid for it I would devote more time per day to typing.

Which leads me to, I'd love to be published and earning money from my books so that I could focus all day, every day on writing, typing, promotion, all the fun stuff!

How about you?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Summer Reading Club

Of all unexpected things, my bank is hosting a summer reading club for children and teenagers! They've actually been doing this for a few years now; this year's theme is Destination Jungle and features, among other authors, the incomparable Jean Little, Rudyard Kipling, Farley Mowat, Iain Lawrence and Barbara Haworth-Attard. If you live in Canada - and possibly the North-East United States - spread the word and get your local library and schools involved.
Also, the Why Don't Boys Read YA controversy is still smouldering over on Hannah's blog.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Why Don't Boys Read YA - and Concert Photos

Part way through the 51 day marathon and my word counts per day have dropped to about 400 instead of 600. But, look at me! It's 8 am on a Saturday and I'm already up, ready to begin typing all the 1000s of words that are filling up three notebooks. Just in time to enter the Teen Novel Contest from Wyvern Publications, that I found out about from Aubrie.

Meanwhile, 19 year old author of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, Hannah, discusses why boys don't read YA; they skip from MG to regular adult books. Now, I'm against this sort of labelling in the first place (having read The Lord of the Rings, A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte's Web and a host of other books all in about the same year, when I was 10-11), but it's the way the industry seems to work now (even if individual readers might not) and I go along with it while querying.

Hannah suggests that one of the reasons for this might be that YA novels stereotype boys into wimpy, nerdy, goody-two-shoes types. The novel I'm querying for at the moment, The Face of A Lion, might be more MG than YA; protagonist Austin is 12 going on 13, but he's neither a nerd nor a wimp and certainly not a gay foil for some strong willed female! He (and Kedi with him) runs the show and the two females both turn out to be villains. Maybe I should age him by a year or so and start marketing it as "a new non wimpy YA for boys"!

On a lighter note - you know, rather than repeating the same old question "why haven't I landed an agent yet?" - here are some shots from the Crowded House concert last week, at which I stood in nearly the same spot in front of the stage as the last time I saw Neil Finn (solo). Brilliant!

Also, I've made more YouTube playlists, this time for The Divine Comedy, who are touring and, as usual, never coming to Montreal.

Here's the one for A Short Album About Love:

In other music news, The Fallstars have a new song out!

Monday, 19 July 2010

51 Day Marathon Day 21

Blogfest of Death still going on below!

Meanwhile, I'm almost at the half way point of my 51 day marathon and I've been writing nearly every day. Had a bit of a lag this weekend - lots of family and friend visits - but still 30 days to go. As soon as I get all the handwritten scenes typed up I'll up my word count widget; should be at 55,000 words at least. Only 20,000 more to go until revisions start - and then perhaps some celebrations (read: contests) might be in order... Or maybe I'll even host a blogfest of my own; Tessa's has been great fun!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Death Scene Blogfest Today

Here's mine, short and more of a foreshadowing of death. This scene takes place in Constantinople in early spring, 1493, between the protagonist Rose and one of her travelling companions and closest friends, Baha.


Baha's breath rattled in and out of his lungs, his chest rising and falling beneath Rose's hand until he raised himself on one elbow to cough into his handkerchief. He lay back, and the rattling resumed. Rose returned her hand to his chest, clasping his fingers where they rested directly below his heart. He looked at her, then away, and she tried not to notice how white his skin had grown, how red his eyes were. The coughing would start again soon; best to ask him while she had the chance.

"Baha? Should I tell your family about – that you –"

"No!" It was only a whisper, but forceful for all that. He opened one eye and narrowed it at her. "They did not wish to see me when I returned to Stamboul, and will certainly not care to see me now that I am leaving again – for good." He held the handkerchief to his mouth with both hands and shut his eye.

"I'm sure that's not true!" She tightened her fingers on his, digging her nails in to make him open his eyes and look at her. "They're bound to feel differently if they find out you're ill."

"I'm not merely ill, Rose." His voice cracked on her name, so that his whisper came out a croak. "They knew I had the consumption when I returned, I told them. I'm sure they must have realised that the disease will have progressed to this point. Anyway, I don't wish to argue with you."

"I’m not trying to argue with you, I just think –"

"Then stop, please. My head feels too heavy for this sort of talk."

Without another word, Rose scraped back her chair and left his side.


See all the other posts here, including Tessa's own hilarious take on A Day in the Life of Death.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Book Giveaway Winner!

Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose - the best new book I've read so far this summer! - free copy contest is now over. And the second Advance Reader Copy goes to...

Frodo looking over the candidates:

I'll grab this one!

Yup, this is it...

And the winner is...

Raven! Congratulations!
Please email me your address and I'll get the book out to you on Monday.

Meanwhile, don't forget to tune in Sunday for *cue ominous music* the Death Scene Blogfest!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I Write Like...

Which author do you write like? Christi posted a link to an interesting test, wherein you plug in some of your text - from a blog post or your MS - and it analyses your writing.
I posted the entire text of this blog post, including the introduction and the snip from Out of the Water and...

I write like
J. K. Rowling

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Not a bad result! I wonder if they have Tolkien in there? I'll try some different texts and see who else I get.

Meanwhile, the good folks at Random Acts of Reading are giving away books! All you have to do is sign up to read their fun and informative posts. Enter here.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Rule of Twenty

Going swimmingly! The 51 day marathon, that is. I only missed yesterday, but I'll blame the heat/humidity wave, and catch up tonight. I've been putting poor Rose through the ringer emotionally, with death scenes (in anticipation of Tessa's blogfest) and confrontations galore.

Out of the Water and The Face of A Lion are very nearly my twentieth stories, a bit of trivia I mention due to Nathan Bransford's recent reference to the Rule of Twenty referred to on Upstart Crow Literary.

The rule is this: It is only when one reaches the twentieth or so idea that one starts entering the realm of the truly original idea.

The full list looks something like this:

1 aldo - a young boy's adventures, about three "chapters" worth - chapters in quotation marks since the whole thing was written when I was about seven and barely filled a grade school exercise book

2 life in the fridge - literally, this was a conversation piece between the various fruits and vegetables in a fridge

3 the teapot - I won't give away the spoiler; the full story is here.

4 cliffhanger dialogue - a one page conversation between a dying man and his friend

5 lavender - the story of a girl who runs away to the mountains of British Columbia and rescues a bear

6 the orphanage in australia - exactly that; it was meant to be some sort of romance but with a woman rescuing a couple of kids rather than a male-female tale

7 the three convicts - actually, two convicts and a cop, travelling between prisons across an American desert, with one or the other handcuffed together

8 elaine - a whimsical piece based around the titles of the songs on the first album by The Tea Party

9 the man who'd never seen the sun - a philosophical, metaphorical play

10 katherine and what's his name - a story that exists only in plot form. Plot outlines and character sketches appeal to my mania for organization and list making but the one time I tried to bring it into my writing I was stuck with the plot and the sketches and the story still hasn't been written. I've even forgotten the male protagonist's name, but I know he was an architect. The female was Katherine Randall (and this was *before* I read Outlander!) but I don't remember her job. I think it was supposed to be a love triangle story...

11 A Short Album About Love - play based on the Divine Comedy album of the same name

12a and 12b Per and Marie - my first two complete novels, romances based on the duo Roxette...

13 An Arnavutkoy Spring - historical romance set in Istanbul, 1910

14 He Ain't Heavy - short story, featuring Charles and Oliver

15 Don't Stand So Close To Me - biographical screenplay

16 Radio Nowhere - an idea I had for the Scholastic Dear Canada series, set in the 1930s

17 post apocalyptic travel - a vague glimmer of an idea only

18 post apocalyptic drama in dome - a dream, described here

19 the spanish love story - another dream!

20a The Face of A Lion - Austin and Kedi's story!

20b Coliseum - working title for the sequel to Austin's story

21 Out of the Water - Rose's story

Which number are you on?

PS Am I the only one who listens to the opening credits of All Creatures Great and Small and sighs for another era and another land?

Don't forget to enter the contest to win a copy of Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Forbidden Rose Contest Deadline Extended!

As Pam has so delightfully described it, right now it's so hot that walking outside is "like being smothered slowly by a really fat guy while standing in a vat of soup."

Which is not an excuse by any means - I *have* kept up with my 51 day marathon! Anywhere from 100 to 500 words per day, which sounds so measly except when you figure that they're all handwritten and I'm going to need another marathon session just to sit before the pc and type them all up. But I'm inching closer to the finish line of the first draft.

The sticky humidity has, however, led me to conclude that it's best to extend the deadline for my contest until next Friday. Congratulations to gamistress66 for winning the copy of The Forbidden Rose on All The World's Our Page, and if you haven't been over there to read the 20 questions with the author, Joanna Bourne, hie thee now.

My contest deadline extension means you now have until next Friday to enter. Win a signed Advance Reader's Copy of The Forbidden Rose by commenting here!

Meanwhile, if you'd like something short and funny to take your mind off the humidity (or rain or what have you), head over to Inky Fool and thence to the Lyttle Lytton contest, featuring the best of the worst one line novel openings, such as:

"'You are the greatest human in the world,' the dragon told the boy who desperately wanted to be a dragon, too" by Adam Contini


"This is a mystery about a murder I committed" by Lachlan Redfern.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Winner Number One Is...

Dum dum dum...

Here are the list of names:

Frodo looks over the candidates:

Shall I choose this one?

I have made my decision:

The first winner of an Advance Reader's Copy of The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne is...


Congratulations, Aubrie. Please drop me an email with your address and I'll send out your book right away.

Everyone else - and newcomers - still have a chance to win. Sign up here for the second copy. Drawing next Friday!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Happy Canada Day - Also 51 Day Marathon Day 3

Happy Canada Day!

Fifty day marathon has become the fifty-one day marathon; thanks to Zan Marie for following me!

I wrote about 500 words on Tuesday, another 400 or so yesterday and hope to write at least as many today, plus type up all the words floating about on bits and pieces of paper - all 4000 of them at this point.

Meanwhile, here's a bit of a web tour:

Visit Audible for some free downloads of audio books - including Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Unless I'm knitting or scrapbooking at the same time I have a hard time being read to - I'd much rather read a book myself and am less likely to get distracted that way - but I've been listening to Davina Porter reading Outlander for the past half hour and am laughing out loud (and alternately shaking my head the Claire's blissfully ignorant comments on Black Jack Randall). I'm just at the part where she sees Jamie's ghost...

Celebrate Canada Day on fellow Canadian Talli Rowland's blog.

Visit Nathan Bransford's blog and discuss your writing tics.

Drop by All The World's Our Page tomorrow for 20 questions with Joanna Bourne - and don't forget to enter my contest below to win a copy of her latest novel The Forbidden Rose - first drawing tomorrow evening!

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