Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Happy ROW80 Check In! Plus Stickers, Outlander-related Photos, and Amazon Reviews...

Look what I got the other day:


That's the first time I've gotten such a notification; happy that it was for Talli!

Last week Google featured a cute Doodle for Edward Gorey's birthday:


I've noted three Doodles in the past, the ones for Agatha Christie, the Royal Wedding, and Mark Twain. Which ones have you enjoyed?

So, ROW80. Druid's Moon is, how shall I put this... getting there. I feel like I'm pulling a sled. Every time I turn around, I find it's tipped over on its side again. I have to right it, and resume dragging it along behind me.

On the one hand, I've finished the on-screen edits! Only a couple weekends behind schedule.

On the other hand, I still have edits on paper for the first few chapters to enter, plus a few more dialects to check/fix (I've got at least one character with a Cornish accent), and some spells and curses to write!

I also need to find an example of an archaeological discovery involving Merlin, from the past hundred years or so...

Speaking of archaeology, the other day I visited the Chateau Ramezay museum here in Montreal. I hadn't been there before! The 300 year old house is directly across from City Hall:


There are a number of interesting artefacts, some of old Montreal, some of which reminded me of the Outlander series...

Here's the house...

A list of the owners over the years

Bit of description of the house...

Dickens! He visited Montreal on a lecture tour

Mr Jean Talon

A little information about him. The thing is, we have a Jean Talon market, and a Jean Talon metro station, but I'd never thought of him as a real person before...

Views of Montreal, this one looking towards the harbour and the mountain

This one looking down on the town from the mountain

And another one looking towards the town and the mountain - how empty and green it was!


Two shots of Alfred E Neuman!
Really. They had a mini-exhibit on smallpox and other diseases that the earliest townsfolk had to face, all the way up to the beginning of the 20th Century. I was surprised to see Alfred's face on an old calendar!
Turns out it wasn't always a MAD Magazine image, but a very common face used to advertise all sorts of things.

A pretend-apothecary wall - reminds me of Claire Fraser shopping in Edinburgh...

Benedict Arnold. I have a feeling he's going to be in the next book in the Outlander series, too...

I don't really know much about this battle, even though it happened just over the river from Montreal

Ramezay himself is seated at the table...


Some Highland artefacts

Dagger and letter from a Mr. Murray...

Dagger and powder horn

Old car! It bears the first licence plate in Quebec, painted on the back: Q1

And this guy I liked because he's a 19th Century sailor.
This must be what the Count of Monte Cristo looked like while he was still a lowly sailor.
I'm still only halfway through Volume I. It's slow going, reading the original French...

And finally... this isn't an artefact, but the photo I forgot to share over the weekend, of some of my prizes. Exciting!


Also there's these:


Stickers! I love stickers. Except for scrapbooking, though, I don't quite know what to do with them. So I thought I could at least share them with you.

Have you ever been notified that your review helped someone? Which historical periods are you interested in? Don't you love stickers?

Sunday, 24 February 2013

More Mini Reviews, Contests, a Book Idea, and a Republic for Authors

More mini reviews!

A Calendar of Tales by Neil Gaiman - this is the collection of short stories he wrote following the Twitter question fest, and now there's a call out for art inspired by the stories - submit your photographs, drawings, paintings, sculptures, what have you.

I might try to take a couple of photographs, since I can't seem to find any already taken that are good enough. Not even of ducks!

Oh yes the review - I love these short stories. Not only are they compact and full of wonder (thus giving me a serious case of insecure writer), they also spark ideas. I probably won't enter the art contest in the end, but I do hope to try writing my own stories - either based on the prompts Neil chose, or on different ones entirely (there are hundreds to choose from!).

Jenny sent me a copy of Teresa Reasor's Highland Moonlight, and Timeless the other day - so much fun to receive an unexpected Highland romance! Thanks to Teresa for these fun reads.

Speaking of Scotland and gifts, I've gotten three more! Gifts, that is.

Ages ago, Penguin hosted a survey; I don't even remember what the theme was, but if you completed it, you were allowed to choose one book from a list. Mine came last week - The Forest Laird by Jack Whyte, the the first book in his Guardians series:


Last week I also read When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak, the latest book in her Whiskey Creek series. I picked it up at random, actually when I was at the post office inside the drugstore, and they had one of those spin-y book racks; who can resist a book rack?

Then suddenly last week in my email there was an update from Novak, with a mini-contest: answer ten questions about When Summer Comes, and you can win a t-shirt! Not just any shirt but an Amos Bros Auto Body shirt, the Amos Brothers being one of the families in Whiskey Creek featured in the stories. Fun!

The best gift was Linda Grimes' Valentines' Contest. I won some yummy Lindt chocolate (sorry, all gone!), and an ARC of her book In a Fix.


Such a good book! I'd say it's in the vein of the Stephanie Plum books, but that'll give you the wrong idea. Wait, here's the blurb:

"Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she's able to take on her clients' appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don't want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.

This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable... that is, until Ciel's island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client's about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she's been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client's intended.

Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems."

See what I mean? Ciel's not all non-stop snarkiness and jokes; she's a real person. And I was very excited by the resolution at the end - no, I'm not really giving anything away, but let me just say that, by contrast, the Morelli vs Ranger thing gets kinda... well, I just want Stephanie to choose already!

On the other hand, I can't wait to read the sequel to In a Fix, and if Ciel has any doubts about her choice, I'd urge her to explore all her options. Both the men in her life - even the Swedish agent she's temporarily linked with - are extremely attractive. I loved understanding the snippets of Swedish. Oh yes, the story's exciting too!

One last book review - I can't link to this book, and you won't be able to read it. No, I'm not being difficult; the book has a print run of two, and my sister and I have the only copies!

My mother's the author; it's called "My Family's Voyages".  I mention it mainly because I think my mother had a brilliant idea - she put together a book of various trips taken by us and other family members over the years, including her first trip on an airplane, in the 1950s, my father's trip to Paris from Istanbul by train, also in the 50s, and my grandparents' sea voyage from New York to France in the 1960s.

Each trip is written in story fashion, and complemented by photos and copies of the tickets and passenger lists (for the boat, anyway). One of my favourites is my grandmother's aunt's trip on foot from her village to the village of her parents', in the middle of nowhere in Northern Turkey. This was in the 1920s or thereabouts, and she was pregnant at the time, and also had her two-year-old daughter with her. I wish I could go back in time and hover over the woods where she walked for hours and hours. It must have been so peaceful! Or were there dangers? Did she carry a knife, I wonder?

Meanwhile, if you're a fan of the Vine Leaves journal, take a look at this amazing contest:


All you have to do to enter is submit a poem or short piece of no more than 800 words. I wonder if I've got anything short enough?

For other fun stuff, take a look at these two sites: Random Acts of Reading have another instalment of Books in the Wild, this one featuring cats! I loved the desk cat:


I've got my own bookworms at home, and tweeted about them the other day:


By the way, Barbara Rogan is designing a Republic for Authors! So far the consensus is that our national currency will be chocolate. I suggested that we have an endless library, with guest speakers. I'm looking forward to visits from Gaiman and King and...

I also voted for a Banish Self Doubt Festival, to be held every time one of us is feeling low. I'd like to move there as soon as this round of ROW80 is over - or even before that! I'm hoping to be finished edits on Druid's Moon this week. Wish me luck! No, not luck, but willpower and dedication.

What would you suggest for our Writers' Republic? And have you won some fun stuff lately?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mini Book Reviews, Joe Hill-type Lists, and ROW80

Here I thought I was going overboard, because I make To Do lists all the time, and have an Excel sheet for agents, and save all my emails and so on. Well, look at this:


Joe Hill keeps more lists than I do!

I don't watch enough movies to make that worth documenting, and I hardly exercise (I just walk a lot and try to take the stairs). Also, I like things tidy, and the more I use a notebook, the messier it's likely to get. Once I've completed half the tasks on a To Do list, I love trashing it and starting over with a fresh clean list - even if I copy over half the same items.

One of the random items on my list is a time capsule letter I have to write. By hand. My nephew just celebrated his first birthday, and my sister is asking family and friends to write him a letter. She's going to save them all for when he's older, maybe graduating from high school or turning 21.

I'm supposed to be a writer, no? I have no idea what to put in the letter!

Does anyone have suggestions for advice or topics of interest?

As for the sort of writing I can do, edits on Druid's Moon haven't moved much since the weekend, because of the new - and wonderful! - reading-during-the-week schedule. I already feel much more relaxed, and inspired. I shared a snip as part of our February Exercise on the Forum, if anyone would like to look.

I'm going to take a leaf out of Zan Marie's book and share some mini-reviews!

Mary Ann Alice by Brian Doyle


"Mary Ann Alice McCrank was named for the pretty church bell in the steeple of St. Martin's Church in Martindale. She has the soul of a poet, and Mickey McGuire Jr. is in love with her. Mary Ann Alice is passionately interested in many things, especially the geology of her part of the world -- the Gatineau River country near Ottawa. Her teacher, Patchy Drizzle, shares her enthusiasm for rocks and fossils, many of which can be found along the river and in caves in the famous Paugan Falls. But a new project to dam the river at nearby Low places the rocks, fossils, and falls -- as well as many farms -- in danger. But the dam must go ahead -- and, as with much technological change, it will bring both benefits and hardships to the community."

That Amazon description doesn't do justice to how sweet this story is, and what a strong voice Mary Ann Alice has. I wish there was more than one sequel to this story! Doyle does have many other books set in the same Ontario neighbourhood, though, and I'm looking forward to reading them.


Stephen King

I reread two short stories by Stephen King, The Man Who Loved Flowers and Night Surf, mainly because I didn't like them the first time I read them many years ago. The first one is well-written, just inordinately sad. But Night Surf is... unfinished. Or at least that's how it feels. It's short, and there's hardly time to care for the characters before the story abruptly ends, without much of a resolution. But given that it's set sort of within the world of the beginning of The Stand, perhaps that's exactly what King intended.


One of King's newer novels, on the other hand, 11/22/63, is absolutely brilliant. I'd recommend it to everyone!


When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak


This one's a sweet romance, and I like the setting of Whiskey Creek. It's always fun to catch up on characters from other books in a series, when they appear as secondary characters in a new novel. The ending felt sort of rushed, though, especially because the conflict from the beginning was resolved off-stage and the conflict at the end not only resolved off-stage but told as a flashback!


All My Life Before Me, the diary of C. S. Lewis from 1922-27
(while he was still at university, and ending just at the moment where he met J. R. R. Tolkien)


Finally! After 15 years! Yes, it took me that long to read this book. I kept starting, and putting it aside, and never sat down to read it in one sitting. Not that it's not interesting. No, I think part of the reason I read it in bits and pieces at odd snatches of time is the longing it evokes. I want so badly to live in the UK in the 1920s that it hurts sometimes.


The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

I read the Folio Society version of Brat Farrar, and The Franchise Affair:

 

"At four o'clock on a spring afternoon, Robert Blair is thinking of going home. The last post has gone and for a lawyer in a small market town, the chances of further requests for wills, conveyancing or investment advice are remote. But when the telephone rings, Blair's life changes irrevocably. Marion Sharpe and her mother, two eminently respectable ladies who live at the Franchise, a large isolated house on the outskirts of town, stand accused of the abduction and imprisonment of a 15-year-old girl, and are asking Blair to defend them – a difficult task when the evidence against the women seems compelling. What is Blair to believe? Is the girl fabricating the whole affair? Or are the Sharpe women not quite as innocent as they maintain?
The Franchise Affair was based on a real case – the abduction of Elizabeth Canning in the 18th century-but given a modern setting. Tey's masterful and chilling mystery first appeared in this Folio edition in 2001."

Linked to Tey, Polly Adams, Douglas Adams' daughter, is hosting a Culture Coach on tumblr!

What is Culture Coach?: "I've never seen those films that everyone has seen. Is that classic artist you're talking about more Van Halen or Van Gogh? My list of 'things I mean to get around to reading' is so offensively long that it needs to be on the list itself. I’ll do that at some point, I say. About EVERYTHING. Including jogging.
'If only I had a personal trainer. I would be motivated to do everything if I had a personal trainer. I need a personal trainer. I need a personal trainer for culture... I need a Culture Coach!'"

Only a few days ago, Neil Gaiman offered suggestions for the latest Culture Coach, and happened to recommend Tey! So you don't have to take only my word for how wonderful she is.



And finally... if you haven't already visited the Cabinet of Curiosities, you're missing out on some great short stories! I loved The Cake Made Out of Teeth by Claire Legrand!

Which books would you recommend?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels Blog Tour! and ROW80

Row80 is going well! I'm still editing Druid's Moon on screen, and also managed to read another research book this week, all about Celtic myths (the fact that it was fun reading made it easier, of course). Recently inspired by fellow writers on the Forum, since we're all at relatively the same stage with our novels, and each pushing to finish within the next couple of months!

Meanwhile, I'm posting on Saturday instead of Sunday this week because I've got a treat for you: It's the Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels Blog Tour!


"Just Your Average Teenage Mer-Girl

The only thing that terrifies Jade more than the ocean is dancing at the Fall Formal. Because Jade has two left feet—er, flippers. Who knew being a high school freshman is even more awkward than being a plus-size aqua-phobic mer-girl? At least her only drama is of the human variety...

Or not.

The Mermish Council has just declared that all land-dwelling mers but return to the ocean. Pronto. But there’s no way Jade is going to let her mom, or Luke, her…boyfriend? mer-guy-friend?, disappear into the deep, dark ocean. Again. After all, a girl’s got to have a date to her first dance.

If Jade can stop mer-mageddon, finding a plus-size dress that doesn’t look like a shower curtain should be a piece of cake."

This is the third story in the Real Mermaids series:

I've reviewed the earlier chronicles of Jade's adventures before, and she was nice enough to share her recipe for Chocolate Mug Cake with Raspberries and Whipped Cream!

I also got to interview Hélène!

She was very gracious, answering some of my random questions:

Where do you do most of your writing? What do you need to help you write?

I have young kids so thank goodness for my laptop because it lets me write anywhere, anytime. I've written at the kitchen counter while waiting for water to boil, at the pool during swimming lessons, or on the back deck while the kids jump on the trampoline. Have laptop: will travel.


Day-to-day, what is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The thing I have to remember the most is to be nicer to my authorly self. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to get X amount of work done in X amount of time and while I think there is a certain amount of discipline necessary to be a productive writer, I need to remember that sometimes it's better to slow down, pontificate, and let things simmer.

[I should heed this advice!]


Do you have stories that might never see light of day?

Plenty! I have about four novels, four chapter books, and a dozen or so picture books that will probably never be published. For the most part that's probably a good thing but there are one or two of that bunch I'd love to see in print.


Which is the most embarrassing song, book, movie or TV show that you love?

Song: When a Man Loves a Woman (any version)
TV: Bachelor/Bachelorette (any version) Real Housewives (any city)
I can't believe I just admitted that. How embarrassing. *blush*


Tea or coffee?

Coffee but decaf and black.


What's your earliest memory related to writing?

When I was in first grade I was obsessed with being able to write super-long words so I would search through our set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas for the longest words I could find. I got to the 'C's and found Czechoslovakia and practiced it over and over until I could write it by heart.


Do you have a favourite writing-related quote?

"One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better." ― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life


What do you do when you're not writing?

I love to walk and usually clock about 30-40 kilometers each week. I'm also a busy mom so baking, hiking, crafting and hanging out with my family pretty much fills in the rest of my 'free' time.


What was the first image or scene that inspired Jade's story?

The first scene I imagined and wrote was of a girl standing in a dressing room trying on bathing suits. What if that girl couldn't find one that fit? What if she started her first period at that very awkward time? What if that very moment set off a hormonal chain reaction that would eventually lead up to her turning into a mermaid?
Writing involves a lot of 'what ifs'.


Do you think there’ll ever be a story line where the rest of the town or the media find out about Jade? They came so close in the third book!

I'm not sure! That would certainly complicate matters, wouldn't it? ;-)


When you wrote the first book, did you already know that many other citizens of Port Toulouse are merfolk? Or was it a surprise to you as well as Jade?

I knew other mers probably existed in the town but because of their secretive nature it would take something big to 'out' them. The mer characters revealed themselves to me as I wrote each subsequent book so I hope they are as surprising to my readers as they were to me when I discovered their secret natures.

Thanks so much Hélène! I love that writing quote, I hadn't seen it before.

Find Hélène here: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Speaking of Twitter, Hélène recently posted a link to some lovely mermaid gloves! I'm hoping to start this project soon, and will share it on my knitting blog.

Which Middle Grade or Young Adult books have you enjoyed recently?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Joy Campbell's Love the Second Time Around and the Indelibles Indie-Kissing Blogfests! (Plus ROW80 Slows Down, New Schedule, and Stephen King)

Up until yesterday I was still feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the projects I've committed to - not necessarily because there are so many, but because I never feel as though I'm editing quickly enough.

Also despite the fact that I somehow took the entire weekend off (if I can spare time for that, why can't I catch up with other things?); besides family events, all I did all weekend was read - no, devour - Stephen King's 11/22/63. A wonderful, absorbing book. King, as always, is a master of characterisation.

Of course one of my first thoughts once I'd finished reading, after my tears had abated, was 'why do I bother???' But that, of course, is not how I should be feeling. I knew that right away, so I tried to focus on what I can do, to make sure my stories evoke similar reactions in my eventual readers. One of the first things I thought of is that I really love my characters, so I've got to make sure the writing shines enough that readers will love them too!

Back to the overwhelmed feeling. Part of the problem is this:


What is that? you ask... It's the pile of STUFF I accumulated last week: books to read, printed books and scenes to read and beta, my own half-edited MS and current notebook of notes, a couple of newspaper clippings of interesting vacation sites, finished books with notes about items to blog or investigate, and I think there's even a knitting project at the very top!

My computer was underneath all that. I had to tidy and re-allocate some items to other piles just to get at it. And this happens every week! (Part of the problem of course is that I have no office or properly organized library...)

All this to say, I have come to the point where I'm changing the much ballyhooed schedule. Here's what the New Save-My-Sanity-and-Reduce-the-TBR-pile Schedule looks like (neverminding the 9-5 job, and knitting at lunch times, and seeing friends and family):

MON Read
TUE Read
WED Read
THURS Read
FRI Blog (both Sunday and Wednesday posts, and comments, and the Forum, and all other internet stuff!)
SAT Edit (must get up early!), knit at night
SUN Edit (again getting up early)

The sooner I finish editing Druid's Moon, write the query letter and synopsis, and go out on queries, the sooner I can start drafting something new! Writing comes easily, and every day, while editing takes discipline... Although I'd still like to spend NaNoEdMo month in March editing a couple of short stories.

Has anyone else been feeling overwhelmed? What have you decided to do?

Let's move on to fun stuff!

The first page of Druid's Moon is up for critique at Adam's this week!

Joy Campbell has a new book out! Here's what to do if you'd like to participate and vote on the winners:

"Thanks for helping me celebrate the release of Retribution. Love...The Second Time Around is what the novel is all about, so submit your most interesting stories of people taking another shot at a relationship.
FUN FACTS!
There is no restriction as it pertains to form or genre. Stories can be fact or fiction. Use your imagination, make them attention-grabbing.
Somewhere in there, you must tell the reader why the couple broke up and why they feel compelled to get back together. This can be done from any of your characters' point-of-view.
The word cap is 500.
Indicate on your blog post, by the relevant badge, whether you're in the fact or fiction category."

I'm in the fiction category!
Also, mine is a couple hundred words over the limit, so I'll understand if judges want to skip or skim or avoid altogether. Just hope you all like the story!

I'm actually submitting it as part of another blogfest as well (no judging in this one): The Indelibles' Indie-Kissing blogfest!


Though my scene doesn't have an actual kiss, it does lead to the possibility of one. It's set in the 17th Century and before I share it, a brief note: I had to Google to find out the opposite of a cuckold; the word is cuckquean, and refers to a woman with an adulterous husband.

Hope everyone has a wonderful love-filled weekend and that you all have fun with these blogfests!

After the Ball by Deniz Bevan

"Well, that went rather splendidly. Congratulations my dear."

"If you say so." She swept away from him on the landing, and entered her dressing room. The door was open, maids scurrying in and out, and he followed her, of course.

"Why, Catherine, whatever is the matter?"

She did not even toss him a glare, keeping her head bowed as she lifted her arms for Jenny to unhook her side laces. The housemaid finished laying the fire and curtsied her way out.

She could hear Charles, rattling the bottles and combs on her vanity, waiting, and she kept her face averted so Jenny would not see her tears. As if the maids needed more to gossip about, after all she'd overheard tonight.

Cool air rushed across her body as she stepped out of the heavy folds of her gown. "That's fine, Jenny, thank you."

For a moment her maid's eyes widened, but then she schooled her features, and curtsied. "Yes, mum. Will there be anything else, mum?"

"No, not tonight. I wish to be called later tomorrow morning."

"Yes, mum. Certainly, mum."

Another curtsy – tarnation, the world was an endless round of formality! – and then the capped head bobbed out.

Charles whirled on her even as the door closed.

"Catherine!" He stopped then, and his eyes travelled from her head to her feet, and back, taking in her half-dressed, dishevelled state. "Here, let me help you."

He took up a brush from the vanity and pushed her over to the chaise longue. She let him, not trusting her voice. The fire hadn't had time to warm the room yet – curse those dilly dallying, gossiping slatterns! – and the floor boards were cold beneath her silk stockings.

She pulled at her gloves as Charles tugged the ribbons and pins one by one from her hair. The heap of decorations grew beside her on the cushion. Feathers and bows, gloves and scarves – his wig.

She looked up. His hair straggled about his ears; even greyer than when she'd last seen him. "Shall I help you remove some of your trappings, then?"

"Not yet. Turn around."

She did as he said, and he began brushing her hair in long, even strokes, his other hand following the brush with each sweep. The fire crackled, but the only heat came from his body, pressing against her back.

"Has someone upset you, my love?" He asked at last, breaking the silence.

"No one important."

"You overheard something?" He tucked an errant curl behind her ear.

"Yes. They're gossiping again downstairs."

"Oh, I see." The brush stilled. "About –"

"Yes."

"You needn't pay any mind to what the servants say."

"Hmp." She pulled away, and gave him the glare she'd been saving. "As if what they say doesn't travel halfway across the kingdom. And it's not just the servants – the entire court sees fit to speculate on my barrenness."

"Why, Catherine –"

She stood and gave him eye for an eye. "Speculate! If only they'd speculate and have done! Every one of those men believes they have the answer. And every cuckquean of a wife agrees. I'll bet the mistresses are even more vociferous."

"Catherine!" He tossed aside the brush and set his hands on her shoulders. "What has gotten you into this state?"

"You don’t hear it." She pushed at his chest with both hands. "No one tells you to your face that you ought to set aside the Queen. I have to answer to them all."

"That's not true, and you know it." He grabbed her hands in his. "Come, dear, they've gossiped before. You know I will not leave you no matter –"

"No matter that I'm useless? What about the others?" She wrenched out of his clasp and sat down, yanking off her stockings, hiding her face again. There, she'd done what no wife – no Queen – ought ever to do, cuckquean or not.

"Others?" It came out as a croak.

"All the others." She threw the balled up stockings at his feet. "The mistresses, the mothers. What are they like, those children? Do they know? Do they call you Papa? Do you play –" Her throat closed up and she buried her face in her hands.

She heard the air rush out of his lungs. He always puffed out his cheeks like that. She tortured herself, imagining a troupe of faceless women observing him do the same.

The cushions sank beside her and the brush and hand returned to her hair. She wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand, straightening and turning her back on him. He was counting strokes from where he'd stopped his brushing before. Eighty, eighty-one, eighty-two...

"What if we weren't King and Queen?" she whispered. "What if we were commoners?"

"It still would not matter to me," he replied. "I might breed dogs, or horses. I might be a scholar or a playwright. It would be enough that you and I should be together."

"And as King?"

"Don't ask me questions I cannot answer, Catherine. Ninety-seven... ninety-eight... ninety-nine... one hundred. Let's go to bed."

Sunday, 10 February 2013

ROW80, Characters Reacting to the Paranormal, Pottermore, and Dr Seuss Art

Oh hello. I had a deadline today, didn't I?

Promised to have all the on-screen edits of Druid's Moon completed. (Also blog comments and advance A-Z posts to catch up on, plus a couple of writing projects...)

So what have I been doing? Not sure... I have been editing, just not devoting as much time to it as I should. Yes, despite the schedule. I'm thinking that something has to go...

I enjoy Twitter quite a lot, and have gotten used to not checking every minute of it now that I'm following so many more people than when I started. I thought about blogging only once a week, but I like blogging! And I love interacting with all of you. It's nice to have a forum for longer, more elaborate discussions and thoughts.

Speaking of forums, I'm still active in the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. We've been having some great monthly writing exercises lately.

All in all, I'm thinking it's got to be Facebook that I drop... I've already fallen out of the Pinterest habit, and I love tumblr but it's easy to explore that in half-hour spurts once a month. Actually, speaking of tumblr, Maureen Johnson has been posting each day leading up to her book release and she had an interesting post the other day about extending the moment of surprise in a book featuring ghoulies and ghosties and other things that go bump in the night:

"I tried to have that realization roll over [the main character] a few times. I wanted to extend her acceptance curve a bit. I wanted there to be a bit more, 'Wait, what? Ghosts? WHAT?' What happens to her mind when the initial shock wears off?"

I agree with this idea a lot. Druid's Moon is my first paranormal, but I also had Austin going back in time in my MG The Face of a Lion, and in both stories the characters responded with a little more "what's going on?!" than "oh, paranormal/fantasy stuff. cool."

Each in their own way, of course. Austin, after his initial surprise, is eager to follow Kedi. Lyne, on the other hand... she doesn't want to be responsible for rescuing Fred, and she resents being thrown into the role of Beauty. Especially since he knows so much about the legend/curse, and she was never told a thing from her mother, about the tradition that's been passed down her family.

Back to the Facebook issue. It's got to go. Not least because, beyond the usual to do lists and hobbies and reading and interests, there are longer term projects I've got to make time for (like replacing ALL the copyrighted photos in my oldest blog posts with Creative Commons ones. Like maybe adding tags to all those blog posts (would you believe I have never tagged a single blog post?!). Like adding new tabs to the blog. Like updating the catalogue of my library. And - oh, my brain hurts... I wish I was one of those people that could get by on five or six hours of sleep).

I've already stopped playing Farmville, and I'd gotten to the point where I had about 50 of my 500+ friends labelled as close friends - did you know that if you do that, FB will send that person's updates to your email? All I have to do is scroll through my email, and only sign in to FB if I feel like replying to a particular post. Now I've whittled the list down to about 30 people, and most of those don't post very often. Still, sometimes I feel badly that I'm missing out on stuff from other friends and family members. And let's not even get into Google+...



Has anyone else tried to play this? I'm halfway through Book 2 at the moment, and while it's lots of fun, I certainly do not have time to devote to it. If you haven't played, it's basically an interactive journey through every chapter of every Harry Potter book. The best part, of course, is coming across the occasional original tidbit that J. K. Rowling wrote specifically for the site. I love finding out new facts and backstory about the characters.

I signed up for my first-ever movie-related blogfest!


Hosted by ninja captain Alex! Hope to see you all there!

Also, did anyone else know about this? Apparently, Dr Seuss had other art. Secret art, that he shared only with his family but wanted the public to see after he'd passed away. And now prints of it are for sale...

Love the lions strolling through the top one...

I especially want that wave... (please ignore the non-edited screenshot with scroll bars visible)

And this one is for Claire Legrand! I'd like a copy too...

Which Dr Seuss art do you like?

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