Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Make Anything!, Edit for ROW80, Spudzi and ComicCon!, and a New Artist

What would you make if you were enrolled in a class called How to Make (Almost) Anything?

I'm not sure if you have to follow the curriculum, or are allowed to design your own projects.

I'd love to learn, oh! so many things, especially how to:

1. put together a basic computer

2. develop film

3. custom build a cabinet or any other wooden furniture

4. brew wine and beer (ok, I realise they're not about to teach this at a university...)

And so on, maybe even learning how to bind a book. The closest I've come is, for editing purposes, printing my novels two-pages-per-sheet and hole punching them to fit a five inch binder (I ought to take photos). They sort of feel like very hardcover big books.

Happy to say I'm still loving my new schedule, though, and am on track for ROW80, editing every Monday and Wednesday night. There are parts of the story that aren't so bad! They'll be even better once I move everything around; this story seems to have been drafted in a more disjointed fashion than most.

Meanwhile, discoveries!

1. If you missed the Phoenix ComicCon (and I don't often mention ComicCons because I'm still miffed that I discovered Neil Gaiman too late to meet him at the Montreal ComicCon a few years ago), author Sam Sykes has an awesome run down of the event, told from the point of view of the Mr Potato Head stand-in for John Scalzi. He's got everything in there - Daleks, Diana Gabaldon, Wil Wheaton, K9 - and a TARDIS!

2. A gorgeous blog, created by a local artist: Shari Blaukopf's Sketchbook features a new drawing or painting every day! Here's a fun one from a recent visit to the Montreal Redpath Museum:

triceratops, by Shari Blakuopf

3. Thanks to Fraeya, I just learned that I've got 300+ books on my teetering To Read pile (counting the 180 listed on the left of this blog). I need help! Or more time off work.

What have you discovered lately?

Look out for me on Misha's blog tomorrow, where I'll be talking about querying. I sent out a handful more queries for Rosa's story last week, and I'm still using the letter that Matthew was so helpful with!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pide, Poetry, and Putting Authors Together

Pidepidepidepide... Pide!

My favourite food ever.

Just look at it:
(image taken from The Turkish Muse)

Now, imagine a bit of salad on the side, some freshly squeezed lemon... Maybe a couple of hot peppers...

Yes, these are the images and flavours that distract me from editing. I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. A couple more weeks, three more chapters, and then! Then I can return to drafting, once I've made a list of all the missing scenes.

Those are my ROW80 goals for Ayten's story at any rate. Rosa is still out on queries, poor girl. Please send her some pink lights!

For those of you who are at the beta reader/critique group stage - do you need readers? Kate Kaynak is hosting a beta match!

In other distractions, I discovered a lovely poem the other day, by Scottish poet Stephen Watts:

A Very Little Light by Stephen Watts

   Uma pequenina luz - Jorge de Sena

Simply for the breath of staying alive
   I should talk to you,
simply to pass some words across a table
      as bread or oil,
and not have them die in me. Or
            die in you.
         And as I
measure by measure slowly toss the crisp
herbs of speech over towards your face,
a very little light will come into my eyes,
   a very little light
will glow out at you and enter your eyes
and will be returned to me and calm our
   mouths against duplicity.
And when all the bitter fratricides are
   piled up about us
this little light, this tiny flame out on the
         waste patch,
this wind-shaped tent that is your eye
      with its slow torch,
this flickered heart with its ventricles
         that beat and pump,
will provoke in us a bonfire and the will
            to live,
and even from the embers there will glow
      a little light, a very little
            shining light,
as we pass some words across the table,
      simply for the breath of
         staying alive.

 -- from the collection The Blue Bag (Aark Arts, 2004, ISBN 1899179925)

Here's Watts reading his Praise Poem for North Uist. And here are some scenes from Uist, Scotland itself:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

AFP, ROW80, and J. K. Rowling

Despite my love of music and bands, and being wed to a musician, I know next to nothing about the business aspects of music. I've made it my business to learn as much as I can about self-publishing, and about how books are created after they leave the writer's hands (if they're lucky/savvy enough to launch), but music?

Er, you put a song on the net, right?

However, just as I've got authors I turn to for guidance in the traditional scheme of things (hi, Barbara Rogan!) and self-published authors I follow who are paving the way (hi, Kait Nolan!), if I ever needed to know about music and how to do things right, I would turn to Amanda Palmer [NeilcoughGaiman].

Here's Amanda's post about her new Kickstarter project, which is how she's raising money for her next album and tour (and oh so much more - would you like a party at your house?). She's doing everything right - and it's taking hours and hours of work.

Which leads me to today's ROW80 update. The editing is progressing at its usually rate - slow, but steady. But from now on I resolve to stop comparing myself to anyone else.

It took a year and a half to write, edit, beta and re-edit Out of the Water, and so far I've queried ten agents in five months. That's my pace, it seems, so fine. By that light, the fact that I've only been working on Rome, Rhymes and Risk since the last NaNo is - peanuts! I've got months and months to whip the story into shape; why am I aiming to send it to betas by the end of the summer?

Meanwhile, chiming in on the state of publishing as it continues to evolve, here's an essay by the ever-erudite Marilynne Robinson: The Situation in American Writing.

And I've got a handful more photos! This was in Edinburgh...


The Elephant House, where Rowling used to write

Waterstone's bookstore window
(the smaller poster to the right was for the Stratford-upon-Avon literary festival)

Have you made any writing resolutions lately?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Dover Castle, Award!, ROW80, and Romance Reviews

Thanks so much to Trisha at WORD + STUFF for the Great Comments Award!

What the award's about: People who leave great comments on our blogs!

What I have to do: Award it to people who are great commenters on my blog. I love it when fellow bloggers drop by!

Who I'm passing the award on to: Trisha had the great idea to check the comments widget, to see who comments the most. I went ahead and installed the widget but it doesn't show anything...

So instead of fiddling with it, I'll just pass on the award to everyone that's been by this week!

While I was exploring widgets, I also added a 'most popular' posts widget and discovered that my current top three posts are:

Character questionnaire for Rosa in 1492
Severus Snape
Unusual Research Topics

I'm glad two of them are related to my stories!

Speaking of which... I've been keeping to my new schedule and ROW80 goals, and editing on Monday and Wednesday nights. I can't wait to finish this round and return to drafting, so I can fill in all the missing scenes. But this step is definitely necessary, for me to see what the overall arcs of Ayten's look like.

And speaking of romance stories, I've got news: our 100 Romances Blog is accepting new reviewers. Come join the reading fun!

In other news: Remember the Campaign Challenges ebook, released after Rach Harrie's Third Campaign? The final tally for the donations received for the Help Harry Help Others cancer research fund is 200 dollars!

And now, Dover Castle! Hilary featured this castle during the A-Z Challenge, and I was lucky enough to visit it last month. Bear in mind that these are extremely random shots.

For instance, I don't know anyone who reads all the instructional placards in a museum; I tend to skim them, and take photos of those that remind me of times, places and people that I'm already interested in. For instance, I don't see how reading something as beginner-level as this:
can give you any kind of idea of the history of Canada and the United States, as opposed to, say, reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

On the other hand, I take photos of placards like this:
and this:
mainly to remind myself of what it is I'm looking at,
when I go back through all our photos of landmarks such as:
the Roman lighthouse
and the Anglo-Saxon church.
Then there're random photos like this one, of wartime slogans:
See where it says "when in doubt, brew-up"? The first thing I thought of was that scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry, Ron and Hermione are consoling Hagrid:

"Harry and Hermione looked at Ron to help them. 'Er--shall I make a cup of tea?' said Ron.
Harry stared at him. 'It's what my mum does whenever someone's upset,' Ron muttered, shrugging."

Dover castlegrounds has everything:
the aforementioned Roman lighthouse and Anglo-Saxon church, a maze of tunnels underneath the hill used most recently during WWII (Churchill!) (and even as a hospital some years after!),
and of course the castle itself:

Of course, being me, I'm all interested in Charles II and the connections to his queen:

But there was also Elvis! Meeting the Queen's Regiment in Germany, 1959:

Inside the castle, there's a wonderfully authentic hall:

and I got to play the scribe:

The next day we were in Ramsgate; this is Dover from Ramsgate, a 40km distance:

While were in Dover, we took the train over to Pluckley, apparently the most haunted village in England.
It's also where The Darling Buds of May was filmed, and we had a drink at the pub near the train station:

On the way, we picked up a bag of chips/crisps:
There's a note on the back about the village where the crisps are made, Biddenden:
"The lovely Wealden village of Biddenden is famous for the legend of the conjoined Biddenden Maids, born in 1100, who established a charity to help the poor that continues to this day."

I finally had a chance to look up the tale, and while the charity has indeed been around for 400 years, the legend may not be true, according to Wikipedia: "Although the annual distribution of food and drink is known to have taken place since at least 1605, no records exist of the story of the sisters prior to 1770."

Panoramic shot of Dover!

I hope everyone's enjoying these posts. I've got higher resolution images if anyone would like to see them.

The more I share here, the less inclined I am to start work on a scrapbook. Do you find it easier to share photos online nowadays, or do you still prefer printed snapshots?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Blists Hill Victorian Town, Carole Anne Carr, A New Schedule, and Eagles!

Victorian fun at Blists Hill, Ironbridge, Shropshire.

But first, some ROW80. The editing is moving, but slowly. However, I have a new schedule!

I know we all say this now and then, but this time I'm really feeling excited about it - mainly because I've scheduled in more reading time, and some free time.

Not counting errands, querying, visiting with family and friends and the occasional 5 a 7, and besides the 9-5 job (I read on the commute and knit at lunch), I've come up with this:
Mondays - edit (currently working on edits for Ayten's story, Rome, Rhymes and Risk)
Tuesdays - blog/Forum
Wednesdays - edit
Thursdays - scrapbook
Fridays - read (yay!) and housekeep (sigh)
Saturdays - blog (which is great, because now when we visit with family and friends I don't have to feel guilty being away from the internet, as I did when I thought I should be editing on Saturdays)
Sundays - free day! (on the condition that I don't go online, since if I do that, I could well be editing)

This should see Rome, Rhymes and Risk edited by the first week of June, then I can spend June entering the changes, July editing on paper once more and filling in scenes, August typing all that up, and... Sending the story to betas by the end of August.

I know what you're going to say - The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / gang aft agley. But you never know! This might just be the schedule that gets me motivated. Writing is easy; editing is hard.

That said, I've got a few more articles on Bizim Anadolu if you'd like to read about Montreal!

And don't forget the eagles! The Raptor Resource Project has webcams on "newly hatched owlets in the Valmont Great Horned owl nest, three eaglets in Decorah, four Peregrine falcon eggs at Great Spirit Bluff, Canada goose eggs at Eaglecrest, and Turkey Vultures back in Missouri."

The project "monitors raptor populations, provides and improves nest boxes and nest sites, works with other organizations on behalf of birds of prey, and develops innovations in wildlife viewing and education that bring people closer to the natural world."

Meanwhile, back to the Victorian town. Those of you who know Carole Anne Carr might be excited to hear that Blists Hill is the setting for two of her middle grade novels, Candle Dark, and the forthcoming second book in the series.

Here are a handful of photos from my visit last month:

A random tower on the Silkin Way

A dentist's surgery - reminded me of the teeth pulling scenes in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

Speaking of Outlander, here's a printing press that might resemble Jamie Fraser's.

And here's the printer's shop where I learned the origin of the phrase 'to come a cropper'

I thought this couple was very sweet

Interesting land measurement terms...

Street theatre does Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Not necessarily Victorian, but I find cricket very confusing. Even more so after a drink or two!

Have you travelled back in time recently?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

ROW80 Update, and Walking the Tolkien Trail

My first update for this round of A Round of Words in 80 Days...

My overarching goal was/is to finish editing - on paper - Rome, Rhymes and Risk.

I had all these grandiose plans of editing while on vacation that, unsurprisingly, didn't pan out. I've gotten only chapters 1 and 2 edited so far.

The main trouble - or, if you look at it from the other side of the glass, main excitement - is that the story is only about 60,000 words, and could use lots more new scenes, to flesh out the middle bits and, er, finish the ending. The final scene is a bit wobbly at the moment.

Okay, let's be blunt: the final scene doesn't even exist, and the last chapter leading up to the final scene has absolutely nothing going on.

So between now and 31 May, I'd like to finish all the edits on paper. Then, until the end of this round on 21 June, I'd like to return to my get-up-at-5-am-to-write routine. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, here's part one of the vacation photos: our walk along The Tolkien Trail in Hurst Green, Lancashire.

Actually, first of all, here are two photos of the church in Warwick, where Tolkien was married:

It was a few days later, having gone up to Edinburgh and the Yorkshire Dales and back, that we arrived in Hurst Green. It was late in the evening, so we settled at the inn, and had a drink or two before bed:

View from the breakfast room the next morning:

Hurst Green village centre, the start of the walk:

Heading out:

Stoneyhurst College, which Tolkien visited during the 40s and 50s, when his son John was evacuated there and his other son Michael taught there. "As well as its links to J.R.R Tolkien, other literary figures associated with the college include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a former pupil), the poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins (a former member of staff) and contemporary novelist Patrick McGrath":

An interesting carving near the grounds of the college:

The view from Tom Bombadil's house (possibly, according to the trail guide):

The historical border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, across the river Hodder:

Me, in a Tolkienesque tree:

Looking back at Stoneyhurst College:

Through a farmer's field:

Where the Hodder meets the Ribble:

Where the Calder and Ribble meet, and the Brandywine, or Bucklebury, Ferry used to be:

If that's where the Brandywine Ferry was, then this would be looking back towards Farmer Maggot's farm:

Some miles beyond Maggot's lies the end of the walk. I'm not sure what Tolkien would have found on returning to the village from a trek across the hills and fields, but nowadays there's an Eagle and Child pub (named after the Bird and Baby at Oxford, I suppose):

Join me in the beer garden!

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