Saturday, 30 October 2010

Hallowe'en Haunts and Giveaways



Creepy contests galore:

Win a copy of Deborah Kerbel's ghost story Lure and Marina Cohen's Ghost Ride, here.

Join Theresa's Hallowe'en Haunting here.

Don't forget my less-creepy middle grade giveaway, here.

And the latest instalment of Kait Nolan's Forsaken by Shadow is out.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Inspiration and Neighbourhood Authors!

My best time to write is usually when I'm meant to be doing something else - working or falling asleep or in the car and on the way to meet people. Have you ever stopped in the middle of a group of friends or family and said "excuse me, I just need to write for a moment?"

Perhaps that sort of thing is easier to pull off nowadays, as most people won't question you if you whip out your phone and start tapping away.

The other day, Jessica asked:

"You know those moments when you get a sudden wave of "Oh my God I need to write! Now!" and your skin goes all tingly? What triggers those for you?"

Reading does this to me every time. A snatch of lyricism, a deftly turned phrase, the sort of word you can roll on your tongue (like my favourite, wariangle); all of these can spark an idea.

Sometimes it's an image; Austin's story began when I had a vision of a boy walking the dusty road from Kusadasi to Ephesus, the sea following behind. What would make the sea rise like that? I wondered. I knew that the sea was much further inland many years ago. So if the boy was walking backward through time...

Which means that - work aside - during NaNo, I've got to keep reading as much as possible, to keep those exciting words swimming arond in my head.

What better way to do that than by discovering new authors, right in my own backyard?

The local chapter of CANSCAIP featured a meet-the-author event at their monthly meeting last night and we were fortunate to have not one but seven authors and illustrators there, including Jill Murray (featured in my postcards! post), Alan Silberberg and PJ Bracegirdle.

I picked up Bracegirdle's first book in The Joy of Spooking series and am already halfway through. Love the omniscient voice, the eerie atmosphere, and especially the word choices. Very Dahl-ish and evocative.

Just the sort of thing to spark my own creativity on the last weekend before NaNo! I've overhauled all the scenes in Out of the Water and realised exactly how much is missing, and not only the ones I listed in the previous post. The entire beginning needs a rewrite, though this morning I was too busy sending Rosa to see the Sultan...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

Look how many whip hands it takes!

Back in 2007, I took November off. I'd already done the 70 Days of Sweat. In 2008, I was back to following Sven. All of that to finish one novel, The Face of A Lion.

Last year was my first National Novel Writing Month year, and I told myself it was more about "developing consistent writing habits" given that I failed abysmally at meeting the 50,000 word goal. Even more hilarious, I thought I'd have my SFD finished by the end of 2009 - ridiculous, considering everything that's happened to my protagonist since then, which I hadn't foreseen at all.

And how things change! Now that I've finally cracked my comfort zone (read: gone back to my first love, romance), NaNo seems like a piece of cake. After all, I wrote 39,400 (in less than two weeks) for the Cherry Hill Writers Houseparty in July, over 40,000 words for the novel in August-September, and 44,682 words (in two weeks) for the Constantinople Houseparty.

I keep telling myself I only need 10 scenes to finish Out of the Water. Only 15 scenes. Okay, 25. Well, 25 scenes at about 2,000 words each is the NaNo challenge!

Compared to last year, I'm this close to finishing the first draft. Here, in no particular order, are the scenes I need:
Rosa's post-earthquake rounds with Brother Arcturus

stumbling across the slave market and rescuing a young girl

Rosa preparing to dress as a boy and petition the Sultan

Rosa's audience with the Sultan

the wedding

more details about Rosa and Senora Isabela (an antagonist)

post-meeting with French knights

conversation with her Jewish family re their settling in France

Rosa and B discussing their pasts

backstory/flashback re Santiago

burial of Tia Rita

visiting the hamam for the first time

visiting the hamam on her own for the first time (hears of how anyone might petition the Sultan)

assisting Brother Arcturus at almsgiving (at the monastery)

further details on Santiago's voyage with Columbus, when he returns

proper descriptions of first impressions of Constantinople
how they find a ship at Marseille
That's only 17, but I know that nearly half the scenes I've already written have a "need end" tacked on to them! And then there's the matter of The End itself - whether Rosa's lover/husband passes away or not...

Maybe by the end of NaNoWriMo I'll have an answer to that!

Don't forget to enter my Middle Grade Contest - just leave a comment here.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Dear Lucky Agent Contest for YA Writers and Who's Your Literary BFF?

Just for writers of YA, the seventh Dear Lucky Agent contest is here!

"The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry."

Further submission guidelines and the e-mail address to mail your entry to are here.

Rachel Bertsche had a guest post on Nathan Bransford's blog asking which literary character would you like to be best friends with?

I agree with her on the members of The Babysitter's Club girls, Hermione and Jo March; I'd also love to be friends with Anne Shirley, Prince Caspian, and Anna Solden of Jean Little's From Anna. I'd like to know Luthien as well, not to mention Lord John Grey and Peter Wimsey. Then there's Calvin and Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, James Qwilleran of the Cat Who books... It seems that rather than a best friend, I'd like an entire group!

Two notes:

Part 13 of Kait Nolan's Forsaken By Shadow is here.

Don't forget to enter my middle grade contest - just a leave a comment and win free books!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Middle Grade Contest!

Lucky me! I've won three contests in the past month or so:

An Advance Reader's Copy of Trance by Linda Gerber (review here)
An autographed copy of Facing Fire by kc dyer (main character Darby is visiting Diana Gabaldon's blog today)
A copy of Getting the Words Right, by Theodore A. Rees Cheney from Andrea - and a box of chocolate!

In honour of this I'm having a mini middle grade contest featuring two books by one of my favourite Canadian authors, Jean Little.

It's easy - all you have to do is be a follower and leave a comment!

It's international - as long as you have an address that FedEx, UPS or TNT deliver to, then you can enter! So, no Antarctican research stations, I'm afraid...

Here are the two books up for grabs:

Spring Begins in March


One To Grow On

Good luck!

Here're two links, just for fun:

Word of the day: mooreeffoc

Advice of the day: "Do take care that every guest room is supplied with writing materials, a reading lamp and a few carefully selected books." (courtesy of How To Be A Good Wife from the turn of last century; also featuring suggestions on How To Be A Good Husband)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Event! - Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers

Here's an exciting new event for anyone who's in and around Montreal next week:

Yes Oui CANSCAIP hosts "A Harvest of New Books"
Wednesday, 27 October, 7 p.m.
Montreal West Town Hall (50 Westminster South in Montreal West)

Local children's book authors Nancy Gow, Jennifer Lloyd, P.J. Bracegirdle, Jill Murray, Alan Silberberg and local children's book illustrators Susan Mitchell and Yayo (Diego Herrera) will speak about their latest books. Their titles will be on sale at the event and attendees will be able to have them autographed.

This event is free and open to the public.

RSVP to Carol-Ann Hoyte, Yes Oui CANSCAIP co-representative, at

Yes Oui CANSCAIP is the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers.


Nancy Gow is a picture book author whose first book, Ten Big Toes and A Prince's Nose, just came out this month.

Jennifer Lloyd has written three picture books. Her latest book is Ella's Umbrellas.

P.J. Bracegirdle has written two middle-grade novels for children. His latest book is Unearthly Asylum, the second book in The Joy of Spooking trilogy. The first book in the series is Fiendish Deeds. He also wrote the picture book, Comet Can't Wait for Christmas, which his wife, Susan Mitchell, illustrated.

Jill Murray has written two novels for teens. Her latest book is Rhythm and Blues. Bring It On was her first book.

Alan Silberberg has written two middle-grade novels for children. His latest book is Milo: Brain Freeze and Sticky Notes. Pond Scum was his first book.

Susan Mitchell has illustrated several books. Her latest titles include Too Many Fairies, Paula Deen's Cookbook for the Lunchbox Set, Paula Deen's My First Cookbook, My Mom and Me, and My Dad and Me.

Yayo (Diego Herrera) has illustrated several books. His latest titles include The Hug and The King Who Barked.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Constantinople Houseparty - in Figures

Drum roll, please!

The writers' houseparty on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum - the ninth such party to date - is wrapping up as we speak.

With only an epilogue or two left to be written, the facts and figures are as follows:

Setting: Constantinople, 12 June 1493

Here is the house:

Unofficial Warmup Party:

Authors: 4

Characters: 20

Days: 5

Word Count: 31,900

Official Houseparty:

Days: 9

Authors: 16

Characters: 50 (plus at least 5-10 others by name and a raft of servants, djinn, etc.)

Word Count: 172,000

My total word count across two weeks is 44,000! Somewhere in between I also managed to type up all of the handwritten scenes for the novel, which now stands at 85,000 words.

I feel like taking a long break - maybe reading another The Cat Who... book - and am worried about going back to the wip. Houseparties are so fast and exciting and fun; what if the novel seems dull after this?

Thank you to Adderbury, Claire, Susan, Helen, Jenny, Shaylin, Zan Marie, Jill, Tara, ennubi, Cathy, Marilyn, Jenn, Anne-Marie, and Esme for a magical time - see you in a few months on Legend!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Characters' Faces


It's always exciting to unexpectedly come across an image and realise, that's him! And look, there she is!

I've been fortunate to find photos that match most of my characters.

From The Face of A Lion, here's Kedi:

Again from The Face of A Lion, here's Austin Alan Cunnick, first portrayed back in the day:

From Out of the Water, here's the mc, Rosa Magdalena Romero de Toledo, from The Orientalist Gallery:

Painting: The Marriage Market by Edwin Long (1829-91).

Her clothing is all wrong, of course, and Rosa doesn't carry baskets like that, but the face is hers.

From Out of the Water, Brother Arcturus the Cistercian:

Painting: Portrait of the Sculptor Duquesnoy by Anthony Van Dyck (1627-29).

Arcturus doesn't walk around with a sculpted head, of course, but again, it's the face that grabbed me.

From Out of the Water, Rosa's love:

I originally posted an altered version of this photo a few days ago, but I think Tara's right (thanks Tara!); anachronisms aside, the original photo shows more of his personality somehow. The photo was taken by Ara Güler.

The only one I'm missing to date is Rosa's father, Santiago.

(Don't forget, Part 12 of 24 of Forsaken by Shadow is up!)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Short Post - I'm in Constantinople!

Why I haven't posted in a couple of days...

I'm knee deep in thousands of brand new words. No, not for the current novel or as part of edits, but for the houseparty at the Compuserve Books and Writers Community!

This is the ninth party to date; the parties are always intense, and perfect playing grounds for insights into your characters. The current party has been even more hectic for me, as I - well, my characters Rosa, Arcturus and Santiago - have been the hosts.

The party is set in 1493, in Constantinople. Yesterday and today, for instance, we were madly running around the Covered Bazaar, collecting items for an alchemical potion, rescuing those who were kidnapped, having love affairs, dealing with paranormal doppelgangers...

Check out all the fun, here.

And the fabulous Tahereh is hosting a super easy super free contest; no work involved, just a reward if you win. Sign up now!

Continuing on from the Masters post, here are some poets - Tennyson, Thomas and others - reading their poetry.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Fifteen Minutes of Fame for My Novel!

It's confetti time!

The Face of A Lion - my middle grade novel about Austin and his adventures through time with a talking cat - has gotten its fifteen minutes of fame:

I've won this month's Middle Grade/Young Adult category of OUT OF THE SLUSHPILE, Novel Journey's Fifteen Minutes of Fame Contest!

Visit the site here and read the intro to the novel.

In this case, fifteen minutes equals six months that my first page will be up for all to see!

At the same time, my query letter for The Face of A Lion is on critique over at Disgruntled Bear's site.

Querying, Round 2, may now officially begin!

Meanwhile, the Writers' Houseparty - set in Constantinople 1493 - is in full swing; come by and read, or drop your characters in.

And in other novel news, Darby Christopher, heroine of kc dyer's A Walk Through a Window and the latest story Facing Fire, is visiting with Hélène Boudreau - author of Acadian Star and Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings - today.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Contests Contests Contests - and Review of Trance by Linda Gerber

Contests! Freebies! How can you go wrong?

You've still got lots of time to enter the Tarot, Sex, Writing and Neil Gaiman Giveaway!

I've won two contests in the past month! First Andrea's - thanks Andrea! - then Linda Gerber's Trance giveaway - thanks Linda!

Prizes are still up for grabs during Linda's final countdown party to the release of Trance, featuring a blog hop with 35 authors.

I got my prize ARC of Trance only a couple of days ago and breathlessly read it cover to cover. The story takes place over only a few days, and features Ashlyn Greenfield, an otherwise normal teenager, who just happens to have visions. When the trance comes over her, she only sees parts and pieces of an event that will take place - but she knows that someone will die, someone she's recently become very close to; a boy named Jake. Without her sister, though, who left home a few months ago and is determined not to be found by Ashlyn, she is missing half the clues she needs to warn Jake and try to prevent the accident. How will she warn him, though, when he might not want to speak to her ever again once he finds out about her visions?

A paranormal, a romance, a thriller, Trance has it all! If you enjoyed Death By Bikini, Death by Latte, and Death By Denim, Linda Gerber has done it again in Trance, with entirely new characters; fast paced and exciting, you just can't put this one down.

Don't forget the Constantinople Houseparty - there's still time to join!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Would You Like To Travel - In Time -To Constantinople?

Why, of course! you reply...

Well, then, grab your heros and heroines and villains and hangers-on by the hand and bring them to the Constantinople Houseparty on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community!

The first post features links to the Invitations and Character Introductions thread, the thread providing descriptions of the setting, and the 'warm-up' party, featuring the adventures that certain characters had on the way to Constantinople, as well as the original announcement, featuring guidelines and links to previous parties.

Don't worry if you haven't read any of this stuff, just jump right in!

All you really need to know to play is that the party is set in a villa type house (called a yalı) in Constantinople on 12 June 1493 - the summer solstice - and is hosted by Rosa (age 18) and Brother Arcturus (age 28), as well as Rosa's father Santiago (c. 40). The house overlooks the Bosphorus, and the party - a masquerade - begins around 5 pm, at the time of the evening call to prayer.

As we begin play... there are nine characters currently at the yalı, and six in the desert, on a caravan route to Constantinople, as well as two lost on a ship in the Marmara or Aegean. We join those at the yalı first...

In other news, the latest installment of Forsaken by Shadow is here. Thanks to Nathan Bransford for pointing me to the hilarious if Hogwarts had Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare/YouTube...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Learning From the Masters

I might have mentioned this before, but the BBC have put up archival footage of interviews with authors, including Tolkien, Maugham, Wodehouse, Graves and a host of others. The Tolkien one is full of university kids blabbing but in between there are some lovely snips of Tolkien talking about languages, allegory vs application and kicking the sponge out of his bath when he got an idea, as well as the theory that all stories are about death - here he quotes Simone de Beauvoir and says that these lines are the "keystring" of The Lord of the Rings:

There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.

Maugham discusses his top ten novels:
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (the most "entertaining" author)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (the most "admirable" author)
Le Rouge et le Noir by Stendhal
Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky (the most "odious" author)
War and Peace by Tolstoy

Malcolm Muggeridge says he would have left out Moby Dick, which he found a bit of a bore; Maugham says that unless it's a very very short novel there's usually always some part that is a bore.
Oddly enough, he says there's no connection between what people like and what they write; which is the opposite of C S Lewis' assertion. Then they discuss whether the novel is dead or not; this interview is from 1954! Plus ca change...

Of the above novels I've only read Wuthering Heights, and didn't enjoy it. I've read other works by Flaubert and Dickens, Austen and Dostoevsky. I haven't read La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Proust either, which Maugham says is the best novel of their time; he couldn't include Proust instead of Fielding due to copyright issues.

Wodehouse, meanwhile, talks about sex. Also, I hadn't known that he'd been interred by the Germans during the war. Also, he thinks there are fewer comedy authors because humour only comes through in times that are stable; how was the world of 1958 less stable than wartime, I wonder?
He compares writing to solving a crossword puzzle and says he doesn't believe in letting his authors take charge - he's a plotter!

Graves says it's his Scotch ancestry that keeps him steady, and talks about homosexuality at boys' boarding schools and how it's not an experience that has blighted him. He also says he wrote I, Claudius because they offered him 4000$ and he needed the money!?!? And he compares writing a poem to a cloud that descends on you, and a problem that needs to be solved.
He and Muggeridge mention how the population will explode by 2036 and then laugh, saying "that won't affect us, then". Meanwhile the "chap" who owned all his copyrights was in prison in Switzerland! Finally, near the end of the interview, Graves says he writes poems because he "damn well must".

I could listen to these elderly British men speak all day... And they're all pipe or roll-your-own smokers! In that I like pipes, though I don't smoke one myself.

On the other hand, here's a female British poet, Sadie Smith, talking about her writing process and reading her painful poem Not Waving But Drowning. And here's Elif Safak, talking about storytelling.

On my own writing front, the other day I found this photo by Ara Guler; this is what my male protagonist looks like, after I've erased the anachronistic cigarette from his lips:

Here's the story of how he came to leave home (Constantinople) in 1480:

I was taught to read and write as a child. The ulema of the mosque to which my school was attached came to inspect our class one day. They saw my written work and praised my penmanship, sent their words of acclaim to my father.
My father was proud, and encouraged me in calligraphy. I was only too pleased to have impressed him. I worked diligently at transcribing and perfected the shapes of my letters; with ink, with lead, with chalk, anything I could lay my hands on. Soon I progressed to miniatures.
One day, some years later, I heard something fascinating. Two of the masters at school were discussing a foreigner, a man named Bellini. It seems the Sultan – praise his name – had commissioned something called a portrait. I gathered from the conversation that this was an image, a likeness of the Padisah, and was bewildered as to why the Shadow of God upon Earth should deliberately flout the word of Allah by having an icon made of himself. Only the infidels worshipped icons, so I had been taught. Yet my masters related the event as though it was an everyday occurrence. I dared not ask them about it for fear I’d be reprimanded for eavesdropping.
Yet the idea stayed with me, and one day, I used my paints to sketch a portrait of my father. I was surprised at how easy it was to effect his likeness, down to the very expression on his face when pleased about something.
Unfortunately, he entered the room at the very moment when I was standing back, admiring my work. His face looked nothing like the portrait I had made. He tore the parchment in half and flayed me then and there.
Yet I did not cease to paint. I hid my experiments from then on, but was eager to study as much of the art as I could.
I left home.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Party Like It's 1493!

Hear ye, hear ye!

Invitations are up for the Constantinople Houseparty over at the forum, which I first blogged about over at Kait's last week.

Come, bring your characters, and play! As we speak, Rosa is preparing for her influx of guests, King Charles II is in a caravan, on his way from Damascus, Klara and George have arrived early from 1915, and Kedi the Cat has brought Austin in from 2010, in time to meet Horus, the King's messenger falcon...

Also, only a few days left before Linda Gerber's Trance is released. Join her and all her guest authors at the blog party.

Plus, Darby Christopher's story continues! If you enjoyed kc dyer's first book in the Darby series, A Walk Through A Window, enter the contest to win a copy of the next book, Facing Fire.

And another instalment of Forsaken by Shadow is out.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

How Has Your Writing Changed Over the Years?

Rejectionist over the years, here! That is, the Rejectionist is hosting a blogfest about uncovering some of the funniest, most embarrassing excerpts from writers' old diaries and journals. As all my diaries are in bins in the garage, I thought I'd show how my poetry and prose writing has changed (evolved?) over the years:

Deniz, Age 5: A story about a cow, which went something like this: "Where was All? He did not know where All was. Aldo could not find All the cow. He searched and searched. He went up with a jet and All was with the moon."

Deniz, Age 10: The Kitchen Mystery

Deniz, Age 15: Trying too hard to be an adult, I started a story about two handcuffed convicts and a sheriff travelling through the California desert. Never mind the two long romances I had, featuring scenes like the one where the hero and heroine have a food fight... at the supermarket...

Deniz, Age 20: Depressing stories about girls going out at night and failed relationships. I had a lovely one-page story called Eyes of the Sky but can't for the life of me find an electronic copy at the moment. This was the tail end of the thesaurus era, where I'd write a line like "the red sun sank into the dark blue sea" and then translate it into: "The crimson orb was lowered beneath the indigo billows" (blogged about here).

Deniz, Age 25: A lot of 'tell' and barely enough 'show' in my half-finished novel An Arnavutkoy Spring. Not to mention that I did no research whatsoever; for a story set in Istanbul in the 1910s I had hairdos from the 60s, clothing from the 50s and language from the 80s. I even threw in a reference to The Beatles! Come to think of it, perhaps I meant it to be set in the 60s after all. Only what does this line mean: "He eyed her easily, but without malice"?

Deniz, Age 30: A snip from Out of the Water, featuring Rosa, a Spanish girl and her lover, an Ottoman man, who's ill with consumption. On one of his better days, they've taken a walk above the neighbourhood of Galata, in Constantinople, 1493:

"Let's sit down a little before we return," he suggested. "I'd like to look out, for a while, over the city."

She held him up as they climbed a short rise, and he sank to the foot of the nearest tree, his breath wheezing in and out of his lungs. 'It was too much, we should have stayed at home,' she meant to say, but checked herself. He was tired of her nagging, he'd said as much that morning. Their last days needn't be filled with an endless string of meaningless words.

"Don't cry, Rosa." He took her hand as she sat next to him, leaning back against the ridged trunk of the pine behind them. "You'll cloud up your vision and I want to show you the city."

She took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. A boat sculled out from the walls of the palace, ferrying across to Kadikoy. At this distance, all she could see was the turbans on the heads of the men seated inside.

"You've never seen Konstantinye in the spring or summer," he continued softly. "Just wait. It'll be even more beautiful than it is now. There'll be birds in every tree, flowers in all the orchards. The sea turns crystal clear, no longer choppy and grey, and dolphins come to play in the strait."

"I know," she said. "I have seen it - in your painting, the one you gave away to the vezir."

"You remember that one?" He fell silent, but he was smiling, and she knew she'd pleased him.

"I saw Leander's Tower first, with you, before we even came here," she said. Far ahead, across the hills and water, the Tower gleamed in the sunlight, a stalwart grey rock with its tiny flag at its height. Like the ship's flags, fluttering in the breeze, as she had stood by him on deck, watching him paint the tower from memory, telling her the story of the maiden trapped inside and the lover that had died, battling the waves and currents to reach her.

"I swam the distance once." His cheek was laid against hers. "From Lighthouse Point to the tower. Not at night, or in a storm of course, but at dawn. The sun came out behind me as I reached the tower and I thought I saw a figure moving in the highest window."

"The maiden?"

"It might have been; I didn't want to look too closely, and find that it was only a seagull." His fingers trailed along her arm, up and down, up and down. Now it was she who trembled. "Look over there, Rosa." He cupped her cheek with his hand, turned her head inland. "Beyond the last walls, d'you see that haze over the trees?"

"Yes." She was warmed through and through, by sunlight, by his breath on her neck. How close they were, as though they'd become one low hung branch, springing out of the pine at their backs.

"There's a spring there that they call the Life-giving Spring in Greek. In Turkish it's Balikli, after the fishes in the water. There's some old story, connected with the Emperor Justinian, which I never found out. But we used to picnic there, my family and I, when I was a child."

"I can't picture you as a child," she said and he laughed.

His laughter turned to coughing and he pulled away, tugging his handkerchief out of his sleeve, averting his face.

She waited, watching the boat come nearer and nearer to Leander's Tower, until her vision blurred and she no longer saw anything.

"I told you not to cry, Rosa," he whispered, face next to hers once more. "We're not finished yet." He wiped her eyes with his thumbs and she could see into his eyes, his forehead on hers. "I haven't shown you the fortress, or told you about the hills." His hands came up, into her hair, and his lips touched hers.

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • 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 Fellowship of the Ring: J.R.R. Tolkien, Catholicism and the Use of Allegory by David Lord Alton (essay)
  • The Oxen by Thomas Hardy
  • The Casuarina Tree by Somerset Maugham
  • The Rose and the Yew Tree by Agatha Christie (Mary Westmacott)
  • The Wedding Night by Ida Craddock
  • No Safe House by Linwood Barclay
  • The Cybil War by Betsy Byars
  • No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
  • SOS by Agatha Christie (short story)
  • The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
  • Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern
  • The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh
  • 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron
  • The Story Toolkit: Your Step-by-Step Guide To Stories That Sell by Susan Bischoff
  • The Devil and Miss Jones by Kate Walker
  • SIWC contest winner (short story)
  • Wish I Might by Kait Nolan
  • Bells by Edgar Allan Poe (poem)
  • The Skye Boat Song
  • Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Long Run by Neil Gaiman (poem)
  • secret beta read! (JM)
  • If I Didn't Care by Kait Nolan
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (annual reread)
  • Wedding Days: Letters from Ethiopia, India, and the South Pacific by Monica Byrne
  • Strange Street by Ann Powell (reread)
  • The Hangman by Louise Penny (short story; reread)
  • A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (reread)
  • The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (reread)
  • The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (reread)
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (reread)
  • The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (reread)
  • A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (reread)
  • Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (reread)
  • The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (reread)
  • The Murder Stone by Louise Penny (reread)
  • The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny (reread)
  • Dead Cold by Louise Penny (reread)
  • Still Life by Louise Penny (reread)
  • A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
  • Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Still Into You by Roni Loren
  • Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Remember Me (beta read of short story)
  • Palace Pets busy book
  • Smurfs busy book
  • The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • The Murder Game by Julie Apple
  • To Get Me To You by Kait Nolan
  • Know Me Well by Kait Nolan
  • Smurfs storybook in playmat/figurine collection
  • The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • A Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman (reread)
  • Robert Munsch Mini-Treasury One: The Paper Bag Princess, Angela's Airplane, 50 Below Zero, A Promise Is A Promise, and Pigs (reread first two)
  • On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread except for all the expanded edition bits)
  • Elephant and Piggie - Elephants Can't Dance by Mo Willems
  • Elephant and Piggie - Let's Go For A Drive by Mo Willems
  • Elephant and Piggie - There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems
  • Overdose of Death/The Patriotic Murders by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Once Upon A Coffee by Kait Nolan
  • Turn My World Around by Kait Nolan
  • Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • "I Give You My Body...": How I Write Sex Scenes by Diana Gabaldon
  • Fractured by Catherine McKenzie
  • The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
  • Maigret Chez les Flamands by Georges Simenon
  • Prince Wild-fire by G. K. Chesterton
  • Birthday Girls by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer
  • The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
  • No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien
  • BOSS: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - The Illustrated History, by Gillian G. Gaar
  • Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach
  • The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak
  • Lethal Lies by Lara Lacombe
  • The Mansfield Rescue by Beth Cornelison (skimmed)
  • beta read!
  • Killer Exposure by Lara Lacombe
  • What Makes My Cat Purr (board book)
  • Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (love this!)
  • Things That Go (board book)
  • Peppa Pig Visits the Hospital
  • Peppa Pig and Friends
  • Ox-Tales anthology
  • Colton Baby Homecoming by Lara Lacombe
  • Traumphysik by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • The Cookie Jar by Stephen King (short story)
  • short story by R. W. (unpublished)
  • The Rose on the Ash-Heap by Owen Barfield
  • English People by Owen Barfield
  • "Come Sing ye Light Fairy Things Tripping so Gay": Victorian Fairies and the Early Work of J.R.R. Tolkien by Dimitra Fimi (essay)
  • Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by J. K. Rowling
  • A Closed World: On By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Emily St John Mandel (essay)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • The Summing Up by Somerset Maugham (reread)
  • The New Adventures of William Tell by Anthony Horowitz
  • Gambled Away anthology featuring Jo Bourne, Rose Lerner, etc.
  • The Dust That Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres
  • The Bog Girl by Karen Russell (short story)
  • Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
  • The Favour by Clare O'Dea (short story)
  • Wizarding History by J. K. Rowling (short pieces on Pottermore)
  • Jack Palmer by Amanda Palmer (essay on
  • All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes
  • One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • various issues of Amon Hen
  • How do artists make a living? An ongoing, almost impossible quest by Monica Byrne (essay)
  • The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy (poem)
  • Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham
  • Kill Me Quick by Meja Mwangi
  • A Pocketful of Rye by Agatha Christie
  • Little Miss Twins by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Mr Rush by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Mr Funny by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • Where the Exiles Wander: A Celebration of Horror by R. B.
  • How to Write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina (essay)
  • A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert Gertrude Bell (compiled by Georgina Howell)
  • Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome
  • Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A River Town by Thomas Keneally
  • Free Fall by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • New Europe by Michael Palin
  • Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
  • The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie (possibly a reread)
  • Husli the Dwarf
  • Winter Birds
  • Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (reread)
  • Wish I Might by Kait Nolan (novella)
  • A Walk in the Countryside A B C (National Trust and Nosy Crow Books)
  • My First Touch and Trace 1 2 3
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  • A Secret Vice by J. R. R. Tolkien (edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins)
  • A Pocket For Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • The Narrow Corner by Somerset Maugham
  • Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham
  • Le gout d'Istanbul (anthology) (skimmed)
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • Blue Nowruz by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
  • secret beta read!
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain
  • The Mewlips by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • Just for This Moment by Kait Nolan
  • To Err is Human -- To Float, Divine by Woody Allen (short story)
  • the collected works of Beatrix Potter (Folio Society edition, over 30 books)
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman) (only half read)
  • At Home by Bill Bryson
  • Millions of Cats by W Gag
  • Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
  • Discovering You by Brenda Novak
  • Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson
  • Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
  • Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame
  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  • The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
  • They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
  • The Creatures of Number 37 by John Watts
  • The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter (reread)
  • A Mother's Confession by Amanda Palmer (lyrics and liner notes)
  • Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
  • Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, in A Tolkien Compass
  • Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay (poem)
  • For my Wife, Navid by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • An Evening in Tavrobel by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • The Lonely Isle by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • Bilbo's Last Song by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem)
  • Ancrene Riwle, preface, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley (poem)
  • Absence of Mind by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Peoples of Middle-earth - Book 12 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Young Magicians edited by Lin Carter (anthology; includes two poems by J. R. R. Tolkien and all of rumble rumble rumble rumble drum belaboured by C. S. Lewis, referred to in The Last Battle)
  • Black and White Ogre Country by Hilary Tolkien
  • The Devil's Coach Horses by J. R. R. Tolkien (essay)
  • Guido's Gondola by Renee Riva and Steve Bjorkman
  • Save Our Public Universities by Marilynne Robinson (essay in Harper's Magazine)
  • Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh
  • Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
  • Career by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Human life in this century by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Willow by Anna Akhmatova (poem)
  • Sonnet LXVI by Shakespeare
  • Sir Walter Raleigh to His Son (poem)
  • Fair Jenny by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • MacPherson's Farewell by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • World's End, the collected Sandman No. 8 by Neil Gaiman
  • O Wert Thou In The Cauld Blast by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • The War of the Jewels - Book 11 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Rolling English Road by G. K. Chesterton (poem)
  • The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
  • A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four by Thomas Hardy
  • The Hierophant by Lee-Ann Dalton (short story)
  • The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (reread)
  • Lonely Planet guide to Switzerland
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  • beta read!
  • Ode on Venice by Lord Byron (poem)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Lucky by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Trouble by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Homage to Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway (short story; reread but I really don't remember it after 20 years)
  • The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (reread)
  • Sing a Long Children's Songs
  • Emily's First Christmas
  • Up At the Villa by Somerset Maugham (novella)
  • Telling Stories by Tim Burgess
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Marble Collector by Cecilia Ahern
  • Sophie's Throughway by Jules Smith
  • Baby Animals (Little Golden Books)
  • The House That Jack Built (Little Golden Books)
  • Scuffy the Tugboat (Little Golden Books)
  • The Saggy Baggy Elephant (Little Golden Books)
  • Morgoth's Ring - Book 10 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Who's A Pest by Crosby Bonsall
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • The Case of the Hungry Stranger by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • extracts from the diary of John Evelyn (Volume 1 of 2)
  • extracts from Lord Byron's letters about Villa Diodati
  • Pippin the Christmas Pig by Jean Little
  • Ite Missa Est by Anthony Martignetti
  • The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Red Angel by G. K. Chesterton (essay)
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
  • The Boy Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was by the Brothers Grimm
  • The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • Preludes by Wordsworth (extracts read aloud)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves
  • Dance Me A Dream by Kait Nolan (ARC)
  • Once Upon A Coffee by Kait Nolan
  • England and Switzerland, 1802 by William Wordsworth (poem)
  • Once Upon A New Year's Eve by Kait Nolan
  • short story by Becky Morgan (
  • Blood In Blood Out by Brenda Novak (short story)
  • That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch (short story)
  • Distraction by J. L. Campbell
  • Humble Bundle Peanuts collection (strips by Charles Schulz)
  • Peanuts Volumes I to VI (bought via Humble Bundle; very disappointing as it's mostly new strips -- how is that even allowed?!)
  • Sandals and Sangria by Talli Roland (short story)
  • Over the Hump by Talli Roland (short story)
  • issues of Journal of Inklings Studies and Amon Hen and Mallorn (Tolkien Society)
  • Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier
  • Babar and his Family by Laurent de Brunhoff
  • Illusions Lost by Byron A. Maddox (short story)
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • Lost My Name book for Emily (
  • Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne
  • When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne (reread)
  • Neil Gaiman comics on Sequential app
  • Moranology by Caitlin Moran
  • 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