Showing posts from 2011

30 Things I Want To Do, Coda

xactly two years ago I posted a list of 30 Things I Want To Do.

I thought it might be fun to revisit the list and see if I've done any of those things or if I even still want to do some of the items...

1. Find an agent for my novels! [this is still top of the list!]

2. Pick out and decorate a real Christmas tree [hmm... Talli Roland picked out a real tree this year! But not me...]

3. Visit all 50 states (15 down, 35 to go) [27 to go! I've seen 8 new States in the past two years]

4. Drive from London to Istanbul (taking the Dover-Calais ferry, not the Chunnel, natch) [definitely still on the list, this one]

5. Actually finish reading all the books I own (see 180 list below) [I'm working on it, I swear!]

6. Have a proper English library [yea, this will take some time]

7. Spend some time being a boat and fishing person [someday...]

8. Snowshoe [someday soon?]

9. Travel more in Europe. Actually use all the German and Welsh and Swedish and Russian and Spanish I've learned […

Review, Giveaway, Typewriter and A Second Book in the Wild

y latest review is up over at the 100 Romances Blog! This time I'm talking about When Harriet Came Home by Coleen Kwan.

Pam had a post the other day about sounds that have disappeared, which you can hear over at the NPR site for lost sounds. I still long for an old-fashioned typewriter, but I've heard there's only one store left in New York City that sells ribbons for such typewriters. I suspect they stay open thanks to Woody Allen, who has been using the same typewriter for 50 years. Lucky guy.

Julie Dao's having a giveaway to celebrate 400 followers! And one of her prizes is a copy of Outlander, so if you haven't yet started Diana Gabaldon's series, now's your chance. I mean, just look how happy her books make us:

That's Aven holding her copy of The Scottish Prisoner (part two of my Books in the Wild, inspired by Random Acts of Reading). Got a book in the wild? Send it on to me or Random Acts!

Shakespeare and Company, a New Paranormal Romance, and a Bookshop Cat

isited Shakespeare and Company ages ago, so I'm afraid I have no photos, unless I dig them out from an album and scan them. I've only been there twice; the first time I bought the history of the bookstore, and the second time, a couple of copies of Julian Barnes books I already had (no point really, but for some reason back then I liked owning different editions of books I enjoyed).

The founder of Shakespeare and Company has now passed away. Publishers Weekly featured a nice memorial the other day.

"George Whitman's death indeed marks the end of an era on the Paris bookselling scene. Even in an age when online retailers and e-books seem to hold sway in the book industry, though, Shakespeare & Co. surely will thrive, continuing to draw customers to the little bookshop near the Seine, with its slightly-dilapidated façade, the cute little courtyard in front filled during store hours with bookcarts, the wishing well in the center of the main floor, and especially the …

The Ring Goes South

ndulge me a little.

It was this time many many years ago that the Fellowship of the Ring set out from the Last Homely House.

In honour of that anniversary - I'm a little behind on this, but I only recently discovered that Ian McKellen was blogging during the filming of The Lord of the Rings - I'd like to quote a little of Ian McKellen on the nature of Gandalf:

"I have never felt that these commercialisations of his image impinged on Gandalf himself. When I'm asked to sign Gandalf as well as my own name by importunate autograph hunters, I explain that Gandalf doesn't give autographs and I remember how Alistair Sim always refused, often really upsetting the juvenile with her album. If anyone persists I also explain that Gandalf isn't here with us. Last week I went on to say that Gandalf doesn't exist! Although of course he does.

Gandalf is a spirit, laid down in Tolkien's novels with love and respect. The wizard and his creator had more in common than a b…

Bodleian Treasures on the Last Day Before Reading Week

at chasing its own tail...

Well, not quite. But I am scrambling to print out Ayten's story for future editing, clear emails, reply to all lovely commenters, organize the piles of paper I've accumulated in the past month or so, and arrange the To Be Read stacks.

Reading Week starts tomorrow. Mmm, blankets and cocoa and books...

Part of the piles of paper involves random writing tips that I collect, including this, from an older Nathan Bransford post on John Green's Looking for Alaska:

"Every single interaction between Pudge and Alaska advances their relationship in a series of incremental steps that swing between positive and negative emotion, with each interaction more intense than the last. ... The variance between up and down moments creates suspense as the reader wonders which way it's going to end up going, and since we feel each up and down more acutely than the last, the reader becomes increasingly invested in the relationship. Each time the line swings up to…

Best ROW80 Update Ever - I've Finished Editing!


As of this weekend, I've finished ALL the editing for Out of the Water, Rosa and Baha's story.

That's it! It's over! No more tweaking or tinkering! Now the querying starts...

Sort of. I'm going to collate a few query letters this week, but only start sending them out in January. Here's my pitch:

Eighteen-year-old Rosa becomes separated from her family as they flee their Spanish homeland – and the Inquisition. Now her life is in the hands of a stranger, Baha, an artist from the Ottoman Empire. He is her one hope of reaching Constantinople and reuniting with her family. As they travel together, Rosa's drive to find her loved ones is matched by a deepening desire for the man at her side.

Despite her family's refusal to accept her marriage to a man of a different faith, when janissaries arrest her father and brother, Rosa and Baha risk everything to rescue them. Together they will prove that their love can withstand their differences... if the Grand Vizi…

How Do You Select Contest Winners?

ow do you choose your contest winners?

I realised that, while I posted the winner of my 300 Followers (yay!) giveaway on Wednesday, I forgot to show exactly how Zan Marie won.

So here you have the patented Deniz method of random selection:

Numbers corresponding to the entrants are written on scraps of paper and displayed for the benefit of Sam:

What do I do with them? he wonders
Perhaps if I keep staring...
Frodo offers to help
Let me first investigate these small bits...
Then I'm going to stare in a pensive fashion
And, here it is. This is the one.
There you have it. Foolproof!
Regular writerly posting will resume Sunday!

Giveaway Winner and Reading a Book is Like the Star Trek Revolving Door

here's an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that features a revolving door on a planet in the middle of nowhere.

The characters step through the door and enter a Vegas-style hotel called The Royale – darkness and void behind them, and light and music and people on the inside.

That's what reading is like. (Never mind that, on the show, they're trying desperately to escape.)

Some books you read as you revolve in the door, and you come out the other side having gone nowhere.

Other books bring you into a sort of vestibule, and you hang out in the lobby for a while.

Then there are the real books, the good books. You take one step into that revolving door and a wind of language shoots you forward and you stumble into an entire world, filled with laughter and tears and a host of people you're so glad, so proud to be with. That same wind had better return and push you back out the door or you'll never leave.

It's a breathtaking rush, that feeling of dropping in a…

ROW80 Update, Book Links and a Book in the Wild!

ropped off the internet for a day and a half while I was reading this:

Reading Diana Gabaldon's books is not only an exciting, touching, moving (funny and sad) experience, but also a great way, if one is an author, to fill up one's well of words and rhythm.

That said, I've got three big projects on the go at the moment: finishing the edits to Out of the Water; typing up the last few scenes of Ayten's story and adding some more; and completing the revision of my plot bunny story.

As for links, Adam Heine recently posted a comparative list of his novels and milestones. I've got too many to list here, and probably wouldn't remember the details accurately enough. But I did come across hilarious-to-read-now statistics I posted last August (2010) in reference to Out of the Water:

WIP Title: Out of the Water
Author: Deniz Bevan
Genre: YA historical, set in 1492
Stage: First draft, book 1
(53,000/ 70,000 words complete)

It was a month or so later that the book's g…

300 Followers Giveaway!

ow that I've done the reading pile and the writing to do list...

What about some new books?

Singing Dragon Books in the United Kingdom is re-releasing Evelyn Eaton's last and finest novel, Go Ask the River, on December 15 - just in time for the anniversary of Eaton's 109th birthday. More information here, including a review from the now-defunct Montreal Star.

Carol's playing a Finish This Story game! Head over and add your sentence.

My latest review - of Jana Richards' The Girl Most Likely - is up at the 100 Romances Blog.

Get your books in now! The One Hundred Romances Project will cease taking review requests for 2011 publications at the end of this week. Submit requests by midnight tomorrow, or wait for us to re-open to submissions for 2012 publications in January.

Resia Stone's latest, Baba's Kitchen: Ukrainian Soul Food with Stories From the Village is out now! Here's Baba herself:

"Why is call Ukrainian Soul Food? Yizha dusha, soul food, is p…

Insecure Writers' Support Group and Houseparties and 300 Followers

ur Insecure Writers' Support Group meets again!

Welcome, all writers.

Today let's revisit the best cure for writer's block I know:

The writers' houseparty!
Last year, I wrote a guest post on Kait Nolan's blog, describing what these houseparties are:
Houseparties are a great way to thrust your characters out of their familiar worlds and learn things about them that you may not have known before. Writing for a houseparty is just like writing your first draft – fast paced and fluid, with no second guessing; anything goes at a houseparty, from magic to skipping between time periods, to anachronistic events and language, to romantic interludes...Links to all of the previous parties are here.

I mention all this as we've just had another party! This time the setting was the Madcap Mansion. Anything goes at these parties, you know.

Having raced, out of breath, to the finish line at NaNo, it felt great to reconnect with Ayten and Devran on a less structured level. After t…

Traditions and Resolutions and Little Christmas

welve days of Christmas. No, I won't start singing about a partridge. This is a literary twelve days!

The final task in the Literary Resolutions for 2011 is to: Buy books, give books, talk about books, and spread your love of literature throughout the holidays.

I can't think of anything more fun, and actually, it fits right in with my own goals, as seen in the post below.

Also, Nadja's hosting a Twelve Days of Christmas gift list starting on 10 December. Be sure to stop by!

One of my favourite Christmas stories, besides the Christmas story itself, is Agnes Sligh Turnbull's Little Christmas.

I read it for the first time ages ago in an issue of Reader's Digest from the 1960s, and only recently found out that it's actually a longer novel. The story as I read it (I have a feeling Reader's Digest excised quite a bit) is very sweet, about a couple and their two children who come together for the holidays and the family dramas that ensue - until the mother recreat…

The Teetering, Toppling To Read Pile

ooks, books, and more books.

I have a plan. It involves lots of hard work on editing and preparing queries for Out of the Water, and printing and doing at least one read through of Verse, Venice and Viziers (which still needs a title change, as they're in Rome not Venice).

All of that will be done from now until 22 December. And then!

Ah, yes, and then. I'll be off work from then until 3 January. And the plan is: To Read. To plough through the To Read piles. To devour books at the rate I used to before I devoted time to my own.

See what I'm up against:
180 Books to read by 2015 (list on the left)
The pile in the closet:

The three piles and shelf by the bed, including rereads:

The pile at work:

And there are at least twenty other random books scattered about the house.
Here's one more! Our Campaign Challenges book is now in print, and available on Amazon! All proceeds go to Help Harry Help Others to fund research on brain cancer.

I Survived NaNo - Or Did I?

ou know when you're in a language class and the teacher asks you a question that you simply don't have the vocabulary for?

You fill the air with words, so that instead of saying something as brief as "my grandfather lived in France" you start blabbing.

"My relatives on my father's side two generations back used to reside in France." You use 'backside' instead of 'back' and the wrong conjugation of the verb reside. And if you don't cut yourself off, you sink into even deeper mires of wordiness.

That's what the last week of NaNoWriMo felt like for me. There were certain scenes I knew I needed, but every time I drafted them they came out shorter than intended. I know the book will grow when I go back to add everything that's missing from the drafts (namely any and all description and dialogue tags - the thing looks like an overblown screenplay at the moment), but for now I feel like I've staggered across the finish line, and…

Talli Roland's Build A Man

ound of Words check in - I had a dry Friday and got a few hundred words yesterday. Trying to write as much as I can in order to devote the last few days of NaNo to typing them all up.

Meanwhile, though, I've been reading - finally got around to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, and I've also just read Talli Roland's Build A Man, out now on Kindle.

(cover image by India Drummond!)
"How far would you go to create the perfect partner?

Slave to the rich, rude and deluded, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she's a high-flying tabloid reporter. Unfortunately, every pitch she sends out disappears like her clients' liposuctioned fat, never to be seen again. Then she meets Jeremy Ritchie -- the hang-dog man determined to be Britain's Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between -- giving Serenity a story no editor could resist.

With London's biggest tabloid on board and her very ow…