Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Harry Potter Blogfest, Steve Fuller's The Sickness and a Mini Misha Meme

Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin? Which house would you be sorted into and who would be your mates if you were at Hogwarts?

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, / Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald, / Or young with scabby knees
Our heads could do with filling, / With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air, / Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing, / Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest, / And learn until our brains all rot."

My off the cuff answer was going to be Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood; one Gryffindor, one Ravenclaw, a nice mix of brave, brainy, mysterious and exciting.

But then I started thinking... I don't have to choose students from Harry's generation, do I?

I kind of wonder what it might be like to talk for a while with Snape, maybe visit Hogsmeade with him a couple of times. And I've always had a crush on Lupin. I wonder if he ever got close to anyone besides his two best friends (not counting Pettigrew)? Until Tonks, that is.

Then again, it might be rather interesting to go further back and be friends with McGonagall.

Oh the possibilities! Tonks, Fred, George...

Sorry, got a bit distracted there, rereading bits of the books and also one long interview after another with J.K. Rowling.

So then, if I've got to pick only two... I have to do it. I'll choose Severus Snape and Remus Lupin.

Sorry, Neville and Luna! I just think I could be a sort of Lily stand-in; only instead of James, I'd be interested in Remus. I'm not sure how that might play out, because since I'm not Lily, I might live longer than her, and it would be rather strange to continue to be friends - or at least someone he talks to every once in a while - with Snape in the later years. Would it make things harder for him, having a somewhat close friend when he's so busy 'occlumensing' everyone out of his mind and life? Would I have to train to be a brilliant Occlumens myself, so that Voldemort never got wind of our friendship?

And what of Lupin? Was there anyone before Tonks and the Order of the Phoenix that knew of his condition? How close did he manage to get to others? All those years when he was nearly down and out, taking odd jobs wherever he could, it would be nice to think he had a few friends he could rely on.

That was great fun to think through; thanks for a wonderful Harry Potter blogfest, Michael! (Follow the linky to see everyone else's choice of mates!)


Steve Fuller's novel The Sickness was released last year, but what with one thing and another, I've only just gotten around to finishing it. A suspenseful psychological thriller, it's written in a time jump style that works quite well; the reader is pulled along and guided at every step of the way, though the plot might leap forward a few months or step back over a year. The main character - well, one of them at any rate (I won't give everything away!) - is a man caught in the deathly spiral of an addiction, and the story spins on his hope for redemption yet eventual, and inevitable, unravelling.

Or does it? A host of other characters come into play, each with their own histories and motivations, and one of the most important isn't introduced until near the end; Detective Bruce Kraft, who will feature in Fuller's next novel, The Ripple, coming out next Monday. If you like a dark thriller/mystery, this one's for you.


Misha's got a neat question and answer session on - hop over and fill in the blanks.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

X is for Kisses... Writers' Marathon Tomorrow!

X. x x x x.

As in kisses. As in romance.

Roni and Kristen and Talli had some great posts this past week on battling the romance stigmastanding up for the romance genre and defending chick lit.

I don't always read romance - it's not my preferred type of book to pick up at random, and romance novels usually aren't ones that I list among my all time favourites. Yet I look for romantic elements in every story I read and sigh happily whenever they're done well. Most especially, I've been writing in that genre for years now (with a few forays into literary, MG/YA, poetry and others) and it's the one genre that seems to get my muse working at a steady pace.

On that note, I may disappear from now until Michael's Harry Potter blogfest, as I plan to have a marathon editing session tomorrow. Nothing but me and the manuscript and a coloured pen. And coffee, oh yes please.

Meanwhile, Karen has a brilliant list of thirteen things we love about Lord John Grey.

Kait Nolan's celebrating the first anniversary of the release of Forsaken by Shadow and Claire Legrand has just signed a two-book deal.

Congratulations to both!

And before I forget... I haven't plugged Pop Sensation in a while, a place where the funniest, oddest, weirdest, most ill conceived paperbacks of a bygone era are put up for (mostly) ridicule. The latest one has some hilarious commentary - go on over and laugh!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The End of A Round of Words in 80 Days - What. I. Did.

Usually on the end run of a marathon or challenge I'd be there in the trenches logging hours and hours of writing or editing (as I did with NaNoWriMo last year (though not the year before!)).

This time around, though, I'm doing overtime at work, so the last week of A Round of Words in 80 Days is a washout. Nearly - I woke up this morning with a fully formed scene and scribbled it out on the train ride in. It's so easy, suddenly, to write, when I'm supposed to be editing.

On the other hand... the weekend looms large with no plans. I hope to print out the entire ms of Out of the Water, hole up in a coffee shop (hopefully they have decent music playing) away from everyone and the internet, and:

1. rewrite chapter 1
2. condense all of the scenes between the time Rosa and Baha have their first, ahem, encounter, and the time they get married/arrive in Constantinople
3. line edit the last 90 pages
On the other hand, as Kait says, ROW80 is all about what we did accomplish, and I definitely did a lot more editing than I might have without a challenge to keep me in check - half the novel is in way better shape than it was back in January. Lots of smaller scenes were edited even further so that I could share them on my blog or on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. I've, currently, a fairly long scene of romance and tension up on the Compuserve site, if anyone would like to take a peek.

The novel has bloomed this past 80 days, from c. 120,000 words to nearly 150,000. I hope that this will make the next round of edits easier, as I have so much room to cut words. I snipped off nearly a hundred in the past week or so as I trawled through and deleted many of the -ly adverbs, and the word 'only' from as many places as possible. Discovered in the process that I sure use the word 'family' a lot!

All of this has left me in good shape, I think, for Round 2 of ROW80. This time around, I'd like to focus more on the research side of things, so that I can remove all the pesky square brackets ("she added [wood chips] to the [brazier] and sat on the [divan] to remove her [salvar]"). It's always the small details that require the most research: how much time does it take to sail from Thessalonika to Constantinople? What kind of boots would a 15th Century Spanish girl wear? What do you call a waiter in a taverna in Ottoman Greece? How big/small is a cabin on a caravel? How do you wash wooden or pewter dishes? And so on...

Other stuff:

My review of The Wrong Target by Sherry Gloag is up on the One Hundred Romances Project.

Lots of exciting items to bid on over at Write Hope - all proceeds go to Save The Children's emergency relief fund for Japan.

Michael has a Harry Potter blogfest on next week! Which two characters would be your best mates if you attended Hogwarts?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Second Crusader Challenge and Sundry Items

Favourite song of the moment:

Rach has posted the Second Crusader Challenge:

"Write a flash fiction story (in any format) in 100 words or less, excluding the title. Begin the story with the words, "The goldfish bowl teetered" These four words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional, and not part of the judging criteria), see if you can write the story in your own genre (eg if you're a horror writer, write a horror story; a romance writer, a romance story, etc)."

I can't usually work on more than one project at a time. So, since my brain is currently filled with Out of the Water, my historical romance set in 1492, and I was looking for a way to bring an animal on board (!), I'm going to do the challenge from main character Rosa's point of view. Here, in 99 words, are Rosa and Baha, sharing a stolen moment on board ship...

The goldfish bowl teetered as a sudden heave of the ship tossed her backward. Baha's hand shot out, fingers covering hers as he resettled the bowl on her knees. Her fish didn't seem hurt, placidly swimming from side to side.

Baha twined his fingers in her hair, trailing kisses along her temple. She lifted her chin, seeking his lips with hers, and he tightened his hold on her across the bowl.

Back the ship canted, and water sloshed onto their arms.

He rose to his feet. "I'm sorry, Senorita, to have led you this far. It won't happen again."
Does the above count toward my Round of Words in 80 Days goals? It did involve some editing to bring the word count down... I did actually do a lot of editing yesterday, and am on page 105 of 194. There's no way I'll finish editing before the end of the challenge, however, especially not with all the overtime I'll be doing at work this week. When oh when will the story be ready for betas?

By summertime, I hope...

In other news:

My review of Melissa Bradley's Byzantine Provocateur is up!

Theresa's having an awesome 500 followers contest!

The Paris Review features a free short story by Marilynne Robinson!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Penetrating Questions

Linda Grimes posed some great questions the other day.

1. If you had to be turned into a vampire, a zombie, a werewolf, or a ghost, which would you choose?

My first instinct is to say ghost. But then, might you not pine away, living in a sort of purgatory? Vampire might be interesting - I wonder how I would handle immortality?

2. If you had to come back in your next life as a plant, what plant would you be?

A long-lived, hoary old oak tree with many twisty limbs. Perhaps an oak that sheltered a king.

3. If you were a painting, what type would you be?

Something intricate, something soft, something with hidden layers. Perhaps a Durer or an Emily Carr.

4. Let's get elemental. You're fire. Are you: A) a conflagration, huge and bright, but quickly extinguished, or B) a banked and smoldering ember, not giving off a lot of light, but sticking around and providing warmth for a while?

Definitely an ember. A burning coal in the depths...

5. When it comes to cleaning up life's emotional messes, are you a broom (sweep them aside), a mop (wash them away with water; i.e., tears), or a vacuum cleaner (suck them all up until you find a convenient time and place to empty out)?

Mop for sure. A nice cleansing cry does wonders!

6. If you could remotely program other people's cell phones with a special ringtone to let them know it was you calling, what would it be?

The one I have now on my phone is the recorded sound of my cat yelling at me. "Now!"
Guess I'd stick with that.

And the most penetrating question of all... how am I doing on the Round of Words in 80 Days? Not well at all. Hardly any editing on Out of the Water in the past few days, though I have been thinking of Rosa and Baha all the time.

Wish me luck for the week's end!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Reading Weekend Summary, Blackadder and an Upcoming Book Release

Reading weekend is over!

I wrote a couple of hundred words, thought of three essential plot points (Round of Words in 80 Days check in!) and read the following:

After the Night by Linda Howard (skimmed the last half, as it got predictable)
Pirate's Price by Darlene Marshall (lots of fun! get it from Amber Quill Press)
Byzantine Provocateur by Melissa Bradley (erotic! look for my review coming soon to the One Hundred Romances Project blog)
Jean Little and Kit Pearson's stories in Dear Canada: Hoping for Home
The Panorama of the Renaissance by Margaret Aston (Folio Society edition)
The Cat Who Moved A Mountain by Lilian Jackson Braun
a number of stanzas from the 14th Century The Book of Good Love

And our book club meeting was discussing Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key. Next up, Steve Martin's An Object of Beauty.

International Blackadder Status Day is on Tuesday! Should I post "so what was the chicken impression in aid of?" or "fortune vomits on my eiderdown once more"? Decisions, decisions...

In awesome news, Kristen Callihan has a book deal! "Kristen Callihan's debut historical paranormal romance WEST OF THE MOON, hounded by society's dark rumors, a cursed lord must chose to lose his soul and surrender to "the beast" within him to protect the beauty he loves from an unstoppable killer to Alex Logan at Grand Central Publishing, in a nice two-book deal by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World) Publication slatted for January 2012."

I can't wait for the rest of the world to read this book. Congratulations Kristen!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Book Buying Ban or Reading Weekend?

Ouit buying books? Moi?
Impossible you say? Well, I've actually imposed a book buying ban on myself before.

Just look at the level I've reached this time around:

1 master list of books to buy, plus another list in my work email and in my personal email
2 amazon wishlists, on and
3 piles of books on my bedside table, plus two teetering piles on the floor
4 or so books read - hardly a dent - in the list of 180 books to read by 2015 (on the left hand side of the blog, a bit further down)
5 binders filled with research photocopies, printed books off Google and printed e-books (um, no, I don't have a Kindle. 1,500 book capacity? I'd fill it in a few months!)

Despite all that, I'm not ready to impose a ban yet. Instead, I'm having a reading weekend starting this evening, fittingly on a weekend where I've got a book club meeting. Also a family birthday, but you can't tell family you're reading and can't attend, can you? Maybe if you were this guy you could... I feel like acting that when I'm writing, sometimes.

Hmm, where to start? With the research? Some of the Cat Who books I haven't read yet? Something from the 180 books list?

When C S Lewis did this, he had a whole week in which to read. I've got two days and an evening - but hey, Tolkien Reading Day is coming up! I could get a head start on some poetry. Or there's always rereading John Bellairs, who passed away 20 years ago Wednesday.

Speaking of Wednesday, here's a giveaway I forgot to mention - a gorgeous post and contest at From the House of Edward.

(And so much for the snow clearing on Wednesday. We had yet another storm yesterday.)

Thank you Tanya for the lovely award!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Today's Blog Tour - Contests and Giveaways and Nathan on Indie

Nathan Bransford has an amazing post about indie publishing, followed up by today's post which showcases some of the better comments to the first one. All of the points he raises sway me toward indie publishing.

As if I hadn't already been swayed by the likes of Susan Bischoff and Kait Nolan. Kait's having a sale on Forsaken By Shadow to celebrate the book's one year anniversary on 25 March!

My only trouble is that I doubt I can make the time at the moment for marketing, book cover designing, and so on. Perhaps if I can wrangle part time work in the future, then I can consider it. But for now...

Are you a winner on Talli Roland's release party yet? Congratulations on the paperback release of The Hating Game, Talli!

Lynette Labelle - who's teaching the class Hook, Line and Sinker: How to hook readers and reel them in ("Do you know how to hook your readers? I mean, really hook them. Do you immediately think it’s all about the first paragraph? WRONG! Well…sort of.") in April - is hosting a contest in which you can win a critique of your first 500 words or query letter.

Melissa Bradley has a new book out - set in Istanbul! Just got my copy today.

Those are the blogs we have for you today. Now if you'll excuse me, snow clearing is happening on my street and I must go watch.

As for my own writing... I didn't even turn the computer on yesterday! Must have been repeat-lag from Monday night when, on a whim, I started doing a search of all the -ly words in my novel.

How many times do you use the word only?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

ROW80 and Weekend Word Wars, Awards and Giveaways!

Weekend word war, hosted by Hélène Boudreau! The war played out on Facebook - Hélène was trying to reach a certain number of words in her "SEAquel" to Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings, and I...

I was rather consistent about editing - did not log on to the internet at all until sunset on Saturday! But I'm supposed to be editing. Instead, I was writing... Arguably still necessary, as I've been filling in all the scenes that were missing from the draft. And I've got another idea for a scene to write tonight, in which the hero realises he must marry the heroine. Only none of this seems to involve the actual cutting of words, which is what editing is supposed to accomplish, no?

Need a day with no distractions, the printed ms, and a red pen.

Thank you to Michelle for the Stylish Blogger Award! I posted seven things about myself last week, so today I'll go with my goals for the last 13 days of the Round of Words in 80 Days:

1 Cut at least 10,000 words from the novel
2 Finalise a scene for the March exercise on the Compuserve Forum
3 Finish the wedding night scene between the hero and heroine
4 Revise the scene where the heroine confronts the hero's father
5 Revise the opening (for the tenth time!)
6 Name my captain, and decide whether he's Spanish, French or Scottish
7 Name some of the other tertiary characters
Lisa's having a 200 Follower Giveaway!

Talli's having a The Hating Game is out in paperback giveaway!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Alan Silberberg, Turkey's Blogger Ban and the Whisky Trench Riders

Now then. I've not broached anything political on this blog before, but in the middle of Rach's Crusade, and all the fun I'm having reading everyone's writing blogs and research blogs and blogfest post blogs, and being so pleased that so many of you follow me, I've learned from Ayak that there's a ban on blogs in Turkey. Specifically, blogs hosted by Blogger.

Why this isn't getting more attention, I'm not sure. I know YouTube is banned in Turkey, and it boggles my mind that the population is more willing to seek workarounds (as all my friends there do) than actually protesting the ban.

What's frustrating is that my feeble brain seems unable to understand the legality behind this. According to World Bulletin, the site has been banned "following complaints by digital satellite platform Digiturk in Turkey, reported. ...after Digiturk filed a complaint against the website on the grounds that it violated the company's broadcasting rights of Turkey's top football division. Speaking in Germany [Özeren] said the decision is a legal process between Google and Digiturk and only Google can solve the problem. ...'But within the two days at most, we expect the decision to have reached all providers. If the situation leading to the decision to ban the website is eliminated and Google appeals to the court, then the process may end.'"

It seems to be innocent users that suffer - can they not fight it out in court without cancelling the site?

In better news, Alan Silberberg's Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze (which I reviewed back in November) is out now in the UK, under the title Milo and the Restart Button. Check out his most recent interview, upon winning the SCBWI 2010 Sid Fleischman Humor Award.

And the Whisky Trench Riders have posted two new songs!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Hodge Podge - Anyone Doing NaNoEdMo?

Very all over the place sort of day today.

I got sidetracked in the morning by scene ideas for a story I'm not supposed to be working on until not only the current novel but its sequel is complete.

Then I got derailed by posting about my cats on the Compuserve Forum. And I still have two beta reads and two book review reads to get through, at least by the end of the week.

But enough about my lollygagging. Happy Saint David's Day! Is anyone else doing NaNoEdMo this year?

As I was editing like mad this past weekend, I discovered another WineLit snip! This one's short enough to include here...

From Out of the Water, the wedding night scene:

She was drowsing over the pages when a knock came at her door. She shook herself awake and crawled out of her bunk, holding the lantern aloft as she opened the door a crack.

"May I come in, Peri?"

She stepped back and he came through, bolting the door behind him.

"I have some wine," he offered, holding up a half-filled bottle. "The captain won a crate in a game of cards, apparently, and has been passing it around to all the hands not on duty. But I'd rather share it with you."

She buried her face in the cupboard, searching for glasses, thankful for the dimness that hid her blushing cheeks.

He poured her a glass and watched as she sipped it.

"It's very sweet," she suggested, not knowing what else to say. Shadows played across his face from the lantern light on the table, darkening his eyes to two black pools that threatened to drown her.

"It's meant to be drunk with biscuits," he advised, filling his own glass and sitting beside her on the bunk. "I'm afraid there was none left."

His body was very warm, the touch of his knee on hers like a shock of lightning, rattling her to the core. The wine sloshed in her glass as she raised it for another sip.

"Lantern light becomes you, my wife," he said gently.

She had no reply to that either, and hid her face in her cup. The wine coated her tongue and floated up her nose.

"Are you afraid of the dragon, Peri?"

"No," she whispered. "Not if you're my dragon now."

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