Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Steampunk and Stamps and Badges Galore!

Aare we halfway through this round of ROW80 yet?

I feel as though I've hit the middle point, mainly because I have some scenes to type up, which rather dissipated the editing-on-screen flow I had going. By which I mean, I missed editing night on Monday. I knit instead, so if I edit on Thursday, it'll all balance out.

I love my schedule and want to stick to it; this was a case of letting my head cold (sick again? since when does this happen to me?) act as a procrastination excuse, when I'd already had the entire weekend off to do nothing but read.

There's never enough time for reading!

I just donated to save Perrot's Folly, a Tolkien landmark in Birmingham. I've driven past this building, but I'm hoping that by the time of my next visit to the UK, it'll be open to the public:


Lookit! Steampunk wallpaper! I like this one because of the tentacle, reminiscent of the 'mistress' in my story Druid's Moon:


Does anyone else get lots of promotional mail? Ever since I started blogging regularly, and writing a few more book reviews than usual, I've gotten one or two emails a day promoting book releases, art exhibitions, speakers' tours, and so on. A handful are interesting and a very few actually lead me to ask for a copy of the book being promoted (I got one about the latest MAD Magazine collection and immediately replied saying I was interested, but never got a copy of the book).

Every once in a while I get weird stuff (like a promotion for an author who is, apparently, 'in Russia like Neil Gaiman is in the US', an an exhibition on recycled plastic made into supposedly designer bags and shoes).

And the other day, I got one from the US Postal Service:


In the email, they say: "Today, the U.S. Postal Service introduced the Global Forever First-Class Mail International stamp. Priced at $1.10 each and offered in a pane of 20, the Global stamp offers a single price for any First-Class Mail International 1-ounce letter to any country in the world. The Global stamp also may be used to mail a 2-ounce letter to Canada. ... The stamp showcases the beauty of planet Earth with an artistic rendering — a composite of images created from satellite and 3D computer technology data. In this image, the Atlantic Ocean is flanked by North and South America, Africa and parts of Europe. Art director William J. Gicker selected this depiction of Earth by Italian artist Leonello Calvetti. Greg Breeding designed the stamp."

I like the idea a lot. If I lived in the States, I'd send postcards to friends worldwide!

I quoted Heinlein in my last post on what human beings should be able to do, and so I figured now's a good time to revisit my science badges. The original badges are on the Science Creative Quarterly site.

The closest I've come to geeky arts and crafts was knitting more than one Doctor Who scarf

I try, within the limits of my own knowledge

I add this badge, even though I haven't set fire to things in a good way. Burned a friend's sweater with a Bunsen burner once. And I'm not allowed to own a toaster oven any more.

Does studying medical history count? Fascinating stuff.

Mostly because of the Kraken-type creature in Druid's Moon

Love my New Yorker rejection card!

Who doesn't know what a tadpole is? Or looks like?

I try. Especially lately, as I've been following Coldest Journey on Twitter. Antarctica is so interesting!

Speaking of donations, actually, here's the blurb for Coldest Journey: "Sir Ranulph Fiennes is leading a team of explorers to conquer the last great polar challenge: crossing Antarctica in winter. Their remarkable attempt aims to raise $10m for Seeing is Believing with match-funding from Standard Chartered, provide crucial scientific data and form the basis of an invaluable education programme." And finally:

My sister has a telescope! And fellow Forumite Ron sometimes shares photos from his telescope.

Which badges would you earn from the Science Creative Quarterly?

I wish I could have done the re-introducing myself blogfest, but I'm still catching up on all the fascinating blog posts I missed while ill. More links coming soon!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Heinlein on the Competent Man, and New Books by Jessica Bell and Malachy McCourt

Learning something new every day is so much fun!

I've learned a few new words from reading lots of Josephine Tey this past week. Love her Englishness and mystery and the gentle wittiness of her characters.

And thanks to India Drummond's recent post on learning, I've discovered that a moment is actually a real unit of time; a medieval unit equal to 90 seconds!

India also quoted Heinlein: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."

In keeping with my how many books from which countries have I read question, let's see what I've got from the above list:

I can: write a sonnet (with help from Stephen Fry), balance accounts, take and give orders, cooperate and act alone (this sounds like a cover letter for a job application), solve equations (as long as it's algebra and not calculus), analyze a new problem, programme a computer (er, maybe?), and cook a tasty meal.

I've not had a chance, but would like to: change a diaper, butcher a hog, conn a ship (whatever that means), design a building (does LEGO count?), build a wall, and pitch manure.

I have never, and hope I don't need to: plan an invasion, set a bone (unless I was a doctor, but here I'm imagining a field of injured following the planned invasion), comfort the dying (as in, I don't want anyone close to me to die any time soon, and that's why I don't plan invasions), fight efficiently (though I hope I could, if an invasion ever came to pass), and die gallantly (well, we'll see about that one someday).

What else would you add to this remarkable list?

I hadn't known the competent man was a bit of a trope - I'm very surprised that Jamie Fraser isn't on that list!

In other new items, there are two new books coming out!

Through Irish Eyes, A visual companion to Angela McCourt's Ireland, with a foreword by his brother, Malachy McCourt:


And then there's the awesome Jessica Bell!
~~~

Ever wondered how a five-year-old girl perceives the world? Then you definitely need to get your hands on THE BOOK, a novella by Jessica Bell.

Check out these awesome reviews:
"Jessica Bell’s surprising risks with language capture a child’s clear vision in a world of adult heartbreak. Indelible. Courageous." ~Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger's Glasses and Enchantment

"THE BOOK is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It's going to rip your blood pump out of your chest, kick it around like a football, and then shove it back inside you, leaving you with a potently reinvigorated faith in humanity. A curiously captivating read that somehow manages to encapsulate the length and breadth of love and family in one slim volume." ~Josh Donellan, author of Zeb and the Great Ruckus

Here's the blurb:
This book is not The Book. The Book is in this book. And The Book in this book is both the goodie and the baddie.

Bonnie is five. She wants to bury The Book because it is a demon that should go to hell. Penny, Bonnie’s mother, does bury The Book, but every day she digs it up and writes in it. John, Bonnie’s father, doesn’t live with them anymore. But he still likes to write in it from time to time. Ted, Bonnie’s stepfather, would like to write in The Book, but Penny won’t allow it.

To Bonnie, The Book is sadness.
To Penny, The Book is liberation.
To John, The Book is forgiveness.
To Ted, The Book is envy.
But The Book in this book isn’t what it seems at all.

If there was one thing in this world you wished you could hold in your hand, what would it be? The world bets it would be The Book.

Intrigued?

Available at all major retailers in e-book and paperback, including Amazon US and Amazon UK.
~~~

I'm chugging along on my ROW80 goals. Next up is typing up a few scenes that were missing, which I wrote last month, and editing them as I type. I sent off a couple more queries...

I can't wait until I'm at a stage - hopefully by the end of the year - when I have (*counts on fingers*) four edited novels, one edited novella, and a couple of edited short stories. Then I can query in earnest!

And I leave you with images! I've blabbed about Shari Blaukopf's drawings before (especially during our snowstorm); recently she featured a lovely panorama of Montreal:


And then there's this one from the local paper, taken during our week of c. -35C (Yes. It was absolutely icebox):


Hope everyone's having a warm week!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Burns' Night, Montreal by Night, and Jay Lake at Night

One of the first poems I memorised was Robert Burns' A Red, Red Rose:

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

I've memorised a few because I loved them so much; this one was initially memorised for school, though I do like it. I can't remember why this poem, though. Did I choose it? Did a teacher pick it for me? Later on I had to learn Blake's Tyger Tyger, as well. Which poems have you memorised and how did you select them?

This Friday is Burns' Day, the 254th anniversary of the poet's birth. Raise a dram or toast a haggis!

The other day, the BBC reported that a Scottish researcher who discovered seven Burns manuscripts - including letters between the poet and his close friends - in 2010 inside a study of Burns' works, will present the findings of his research at Glasgow University's Burns Conference. I've always wanted to discover letters or other writings from my favourite authors. Imagine buying one of Tolkien's houses and finding something behind the wallpaper or elsewhere? I've daydreamed about visiting, in England, a random car boot sale (like a garage sale, but located in a field or parking lot, with everyone selling their wares from the trunks of their cars) and finding Canadian artist and author Emily Carr's lost journal from her time in a sanatorium in England.

Meanwhile, on the first night of the return of hockey, astronaut Commander Hadfield tweeted this amazing photo of Montreal at night:


My house is kind of in the middle left...

Also meanwhile, I'm still playing catch up. Lots of editing still to do (ROW80!), to meet my 10 February goal, and lots of bloggers still to visit, including:

Tiffany Allee, who has new books out!

Carole Anne Carr, who's going to release her latest book, Snakeskin and Failed Feathers, as an e-serial before its publication!

Carrie Anne Brownian, who talks typography! Whenever I get really bored by the available choices, or I need that extra bit of motivation to edit, I switch to Tolkien font:


And... Author Jay Lake! I haven't read any of his stuff yet. But I got involved, as I do many things recently, one night on Twitter when Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill and others were talking about the Acts of Whimsy fundraiser to help fund Lake's advanced cancer treatment/genetic testing.

About two minutes after my donation went through (I really want to hear Neil Gaiman cover a Magnetic Fields song on ukulele), PayPal started a kerfuffle by denying Lake access to the funds. Eventually, it all worked out. In the process, I discovered a new author and got to see all kinds of acts of whimsy, including Scalzi singing a "lost" Bob Dylan song. I've only read one Scalzi story so far, Old Man's War, which I'd heartily recommend, and which leads me to, once again, cry out "So many books, not enough time!"

But I'm reading Helene Boudreau's Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels at the moment (review and interview coming soon!) and loving it, and rereading the fifth book of the History of Middle-earth and wishing, all over again, that I lived in England in the 1920s/30s.

What books have you been making time for?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

International Stories, Linking Fun, and Hot Chocolate!

Link love!

I missed out on so much blogging while I was sick that I've got a backlog of visits and commenting to do. I thought I'd take you with me...

First up, the Word Wenches - authors Jo Beverley, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott/Andrea Penrose, Anne Gracie, Susan Fraser King/Sarah Gabriel, Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice, and Joanna Bourne - answer the question: "Do you get angsty and anxious at any part of the writing process? And, if you do, does it make you more productive?"

I love Jo Bourne's line: "The only cure for the pain of writing is writing."

Lots of cover art reveals recently, including India Drummond and Melanie Macek! Have you seen any others? Please share!

The fifth issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal is out!

Has anyone ever applied to Clarion West?:


I thought I was going to, but now I'm not sure any of my current stories qualify. Unfortunately.

I posted about our snowstorm the other day; now we're having a North Pole blast. Temperatures ranging from -15 to -40 degrees Celsius (sometimes counting the wind chill factor, sometimes not) all week. The only thing to do is have some real hot chocolate, courtesy of Outlander Kitchen:


ROW80: I might need something to spike my hot chocolate, as I continue editing. Progressing, but slowly. I'd like to be finished all the on-screen editing by 10 February, so I'll have to add a third editing day to my weekly schedule - likely on a weekend. Which is dangerous, because turning on the computer means the possibility of accessing the internet... Need a little dose of Write or Die!

Meanwhile, The Reading Life has a very ambitious project: to read at least one short story each from 196 countries worldwide! She just completed number 20, with an Orhan Pamuk short story, translated from Turkish. I haven't read that story yet, but I'll add it to the list!

Meanwhile, here are the countries she's read stories from so far: Georgia - Canada - United States - Republic of Korea - Antigua and Barbuda - Haiti - Trinidad and Tobago - Ukraine - Cameroon - Botswana - Sudan - Dominica - Israel - Syria - Ethiopia - Zimbabwe - Peru - Chile - South Africa - Turkey

I've read stories from Canada, the US, and Turkey. That's kind of sad. I thought there'd be at least one Israeli or South African author in there. I'm deliberately not counting Tolkien, of course... There are other countries I've read stories - and novels and poems - from though, so I shouldn't feel too guilty: Germany, Sweden, Senegal, Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Japan, Colombia, Finland, France, and... well, there might be a few others, but I can't recall.

Not counting North America or the UK, what's your favourite story from a different country?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Row80, Slow Recovery, and Charlie Sheen's Bottomless Coffee Mug (I think there's a connection there)

Oh, hello.

*looks around blearily*

I think I've forgotten how to blog.

Between the nearly full week of illness, coming as it did following the holidays, during which I had a lot of wonderfully scheduled-in-advance posts, and the trying to keep to my editing schedule despite the illness, I've lost the knack of blabbing on the blog.

Though I am pleased to report that the editing is progressing on Druid's Moon. Haltingly in some cases - I might have hit the dreaded middle - but soon the Beast shall be revealed to Beauty, and then there will be lots of dialogue and interaction and "what do we do now" conversations to play with. Then the finale, and then the denouement (which I don't think I've written yet!). Hoping to be ready to write the synopsis by end-February.

About the only thing I could hold up while ill (didn't even read until the third day, I was that weak) was my iPod, so I was on Twitter quite a bit. Yes, there were cat photos. Thank you for all your comments on my last post! So nice to have your good wishes. I'm looking forward to visiting everyone and catching up!

One lovely thing that happened while I was ill is that I was accepted for something I'd applied for a few weeks ago: the CANSCAIP Creator-in-Residence Manuscript Blue Pencil. It's a little different that the usual mentorship programme, since there were only twelve spots offered, and at no charge! The only thing is, CANSCAIP is the children's authors' association, and I submitted my MG/YA. Now I have to take off my romance (and paranormal) editing hat and put on my children's author hat - and return to a story I haven't quite looked at in a few years. I just know it's not as good as it could be!

But then, what do I know, really? I haven't had coffee in six days... I miss it so much I'm bringing back this image from an old blog post on mugs:


Yup, that's Charlie on the old Two and a Half Men. Judging by the blog post I got the image from, I'm not the only one interested in those bottomless mugs. At least, they seem bottomless when you're watching the show: He always uses the same one, there's always fresh coffee in the pot, and when he's not drinking alcohol, he's sipping coffee. Yum yum!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Am I Still Ill?

Ladies and Gentlemen, this blog is brought to you - late and without the usual plethora of links - by what Janet Reid is calling The Galloping Crud and what Maureen Johnson calls the Plague of 2013.

All this is happening on Twitter, which I access on my iPod; about the only thing I'm strong enough to hold up. Seriously. Couldn't even raise a book until last night. Been watching a lot of Big Bang Theory and Frasier reruns.

I apologise for my continued absence in comments and on your blogs, and hope I'll be back in top form soon - and that none of you that hasn't already done so (in which case I extend chicken soup) catches this terribleness. Stay hydrated!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New York City! and ROW80

New York City! At Christmas!

Er, sort of. I was there the week before Christmas, but it was my first time in NYC in December, and I finally got to see the Rockefeller tree:
Tree from a distance

Tree and skating rink

Other lights

Funny how in real life - as opposed to movies - the skating rink looks so small. But the tree and the lights are lovely, as is the countdown on the Saks Fifth Avenue building. Then it was on to St. Patrick's Cathedral:

Cathedral nave

Creche

Later I wandered through the lobby of another building that had an entire village along the floor space:

Village

Churchill exhibit behind the village

Churchill closeup

Cornerstone bar, which reminded me of the Arctic Monkeys song.

The next morning I visited the New York Public Library, where they had a Dickens exhibit on:

Dickens poster above the steps

Dickens' character used to advertise whisky

I've featured Buchanan whisky on the blog before

Dickens' compass

On Dickens' notebook

Dickens' handwriting!

From there I went to the Morgan Library, where there were many fascinating items. On the way, I saw this:

For some reason, there was a rat.

Samuel Johnson's dictionary! Sausage!

Thomas Hardy on animal welfare

Postcard from Thomas Hardy

A Gutenberg Bible! I stood in front of it for quite some time.

Handwritten letter by Beatrix Potter.

I also took a photo of a handwritten copy of Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat, but it came out all blurry. Mostly because, as usual, I was sneaking a lot of these photographs in, without using a flash. Why oh why isn't photography allowed in museums? All these items are under glass anyway, so what possible difference could it make? The library itself is one to envy:

Morgan library shelves

Books behind radiator cover-like barriers

Morgan's study

Drool...

More books, on levels. More drooling.

Actually, my hotel room had a library too! And there was a cat exhibit at a nearby Barnes and Noble:

Cats!

Saw Seinfeld's black and white cookie at the airport:
Look to the cookie!

Here's the wee aircraft I flew on:

And here are New York's lights from behind the wing:

I miss New York already.

As for ROW80 goals, the editing is going well! I have a clearer idea now of the progress I hope to achieve on Druid's Moon in this round: I'd like to finish editing and write my synopsis before NaNoEdMo in March, during which I'll print it all out and re-edit on paper, before calling it ready for betas. And still querying Out of the Water, with no luck (not that I try very hard. Maybe a couple of agents per month).

Also, I just took the Jeopardy online contestant test. 50 questions, with 15 seconds to type your answer for each. Now that was a panic-filled few minutes. Even stuff you know flies from your head when you're under pressure. I did get the Queequeg question, though, thanks to Joe Hill's BigReadAlong of Moby Dick!

What was the last test you took?

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 http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2016/12/annual-books-read-statistics-2016.html
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2015/12/annual-books-read-statistics.html
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2014/12/books-read-in-2014-review.html
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html