Wednesday, 27 March 2013

New Releases and Giveaways from Laurel Garver and JL Campbell! A-Z is Coming! Camp NaNoWriMo is Almost Here!

Got some awesomesauce for you today!

This is my last post before the A-Z, as I'll be skipping Sunday. I've only got eight advance A-Z posts scheduled so far; thought I'd have 'em all done by now, but I ended this round of ROW80 with a bang - edited a short story and had it betaed in time to enter a competition! Now it's back to editing Druid's Moon in the next round.

I've joined Camp NaNoWriMo, so my fellow campers can spur me on!

Kait has a great challenge at the end of this ROW80 round: "I'm challenging you to change your outlook. Become, at least when dealing with your writing, someone who looks at the glass half full. At the end of each day, give yourself a pat on the back for what you DID do, even if it was just picking a new character name or plotting the next scene. Set yourself up for the positive, reinforce yourself for DOING. I promise it'll make it easier to condition yourself to work better, harder, faster."

She also had a question in a recent post on Nora Roberts: "How to strike that balance between authenticity and interesting and avoiding boredom"?

I'm excited for the Blogging From A-Z Challenge! Everyone's got such interesting themes! Michael, for one, is showcasing fellow bloggers' books!

My theme will be Twitter favourites: I went through all the tweets I'd favourited since joining Twitter a few months ago, from Commander Hadfield's photos from space, to band-related stuff, to book launches, to strange esoteric images and fun and intriguing randomness, and sorted the best ones in alphabetical order. Lots of fun stuff ahead.

There are, at the moment, 1397 of us participating in A-Z this year! Wow. Do you think you'll have a chance to visit everyone? I might try... But I'm also one of Matthew's Questionable Monks!

The other monks are the wonderful:


By the way, DL's first blogblitz went spectacularly! We all hopped over to PK Hrezo's - drop by if you haven't had a chance yet!

And now that I've rambled on a bit... I'm opening the floor to Laurel for an announcement!

Muddy-Fingered Midnights:
poems from the bright days and dark nights of the soul

This thirty-poem collection is an eclectic mix of light and dark, playful and spiritual, lyric and narrative free verse. In an intricate dance of sound play, it explores how our perceptions shape our interactions with the world. Here child heroes emerge on playgrounds and in chicken coops, teens grapple with grief and taste first love, adults waver between isolation and engaged connection. It is a book about creative life, our capacity to wound and heal, and the unlikely places we find love, beauty, and grace.

“In Muddy-Fingered Midnights, Garver seamlessly integrates unpredictable rhyme and alliteration to undergird the themes and strange beauty of these poems. The collection explores moments of cowardice and melting purity, ‘my only fruit / a cool ooze / that bubbles up / on blistering days,’  yet holds strongly onto faith as much as ‘Yankee girl grit.’ Even in dark times that are ‘glassy with misery,’ there’s a hidden reflection in the pane: hope.”

—Jessica Bell, co-founder of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and author of Fabric, semi-finalist, Goodreads Readers’ Choice Awards 2012: Best Poetry.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, Joy Campbell has a special visitor here today!

Howdy. I'm glad you've stopped in. My name is Christine and although I'm only eleven, I'm what some adults might call precocious. A lot has happened in my life, some of it bad, but like my dad used to say, good things can result from the bad stuff that happens to us.

To help me celebrate overcoming my challenges, a great gang of authors have teamed up and will be giving away copies of their books. Sweet, yes?

For a chance to win a pair of the books listed, you can do anything included on the Rafflecopter below or on Facebook. However, for those who'd like to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Voucher, hop on over to the Jamaican Kid Lit Blog to enter for that.

Anyway, I tend to talk a lot, so before I carried away, here's my story:

Raised in a hotbed of arguments and fights, eleven-year-old Christine Simms is the victim of her mother's cruelty. A domestic dispute ends in tragedy, sending the family into a tailspin.

A shocking discovery sends Christine on a quest to find the stranger who left her behind in Jamaica. Determined to unravel the mystery of her birth, Christine uses every tool at her disposal and treads with courage where no child should.

Thanks so much for dropping in! I hope you win the novels of your choice. I should tell you that you get to choose books based on how the Rafflecopter does the drawing of the winners. So, if your name comes up first, you get to say which pack you want.

Available in ebook format at Amazon.

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican, who is always on the hunt for story-making material. She writes romantic suspense, women's fiction and young adult novels. She is the also the author of Contraband, Dissolution, Distraction, Don't Get Mad...Get Even, Giving up the Dream, Retribution and Hardware (written under the pen name Jayda McTyson). Visit her on the web at Joy L. Campbell.

Are you participating in the A-Z?
How was your ROW80?
Wishing you all good luck on the two giveaways above!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Tolkien Reading Day, New Neil Gaiman Story, and Cover Spy London

Hey look!

A new, free, story from Neil Gaiman! On the Guardian page! It's called Down to a Sunless Sea, and reminds me of Bruce Springsteen's version of Mrs McGrath:

I was clearing out some old emails (I actually deleted a few, imagine that!) and came across a link to this tumblr page (from back before I had my own): Cover Spy London - covers of books being read by commuters on the London Tube!

Fellow writer news - Theresa Milstein has a short piece in Twisted Endings!

Tomorrow is the first day of the new year - if you live in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth, that is. For the rest of us, it's Tolkien Reading Day!

(that map and the bottom righthand image aren't his, obviously)

The theme of this year's reading day is Tolkien's landscapes. The best Tolkien landscape I've seen is Hurst Green, where I walked the Tolkien Trail.

What better way to explore a Tolkien landscape than on Radagast's Rhosgobel rabbit sleigh?

No, I'm not kidding. I made fun of this when reviewing The Hobbit the movie, but have since stumbled across this wonderful essay from a dogsledder, all about the plausibility of Radagast's sled, and sled-pulling animals in general. Even featuring a cat in a harness...

The Tolkien Society has a "reading pack" with suggestions for games and leading questions and so on. You needn't even read only Tolkien - anything about trees or Oxford or WWI and WWII or something else related to Tolkien will do, I'm sure. I just got a copy of Simon Tolkien's latest book, for instance!

As for landscapes, though, if I had to choose an illustrator besides Tolkien, I'd go with Pauline Baynes:

(Yes, some of those are Narnia images. Odd Google search...)

At the moment I'm on my yearly reread of The Lord of the Rings, and I'm also rereading the Twelve Books of Middle Earth; on Book Five at the moment, which features The Lost Road (a sort of travel-through-time story) and etymologies of Elvish words and names. Just this weekend I read the chapters featuring the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil; I love the forest as a foreshadowing of Fangorn, and its 'contained' wildness as a barrier between the orderly, well-tilled, comfortable Shire, and the wild world outside. Interesting that Bombadil, too, has a self-determined contained dominion, over which he is Master, even though he's been in Middle-earth - and presumably visited a wider landscape - since the beginning.

I switched ROW80 gears this week, as I'm busy editing a short story for the Sunlounger competition! I hope I can finish tweaking in time. And keep an eye out for a visit from Laurel coming on Wednesday!

What will you read for Tolkien Reading Day? Have you entered any competitions lately?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

New MG Story! and Photos of the Final Snow in Montreal

Look! A fun new book by Alan Silberberg!

I read Silberberg's cute and funny Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze a couple of years ago; right around when my niece Summer was born. Got her a copy of the book just cos one of the character shares her name - can't wait till she's old enough to read it!

Watch out for DL's Blog Blitz!

"Sign up on the linky list below, making sure to record your email address, and you’ll instantly become a member of the Blog Blitz Team. Then from time to time, I will select a deserving blog (that must be part of the Blitz Team) and a specific date. I will then email the team members that information and on that date we all will go out of our way to visit that blog and leave an encouraging comment on their most recent post. I'm talking about hopefully a 100+ comments appearing out of the blue in one day!"

DABWAHA voting starts tomorrow! I was confused by this award at first, but it's all spelled out here. Vote for your favourite romance books!

Do you think spring might be coming? I hope it's soon... We're still living in winter wonderland over here:

Not nighttime - this is early in the morning!

Another, prettier, morning. Canada flag way in the background on the left!

Well, okay, it was still cold

View from a friend's apartment, over the St Lawrence River!

All that ice...

Trees are still bare...

They do keep the river open for shipping, though.
Back in the day, you used to be able to sled across it!

Huddling car...

Almost looks like the trees during the 1998 ice storm...

White sky - more snow on the way

It might be clearing up... Nah, maybe not

Waiting on a train

Ice and snow

Ye Olde Train Station Sign

Poor tree, weighted by snow...

Of course, while it's still cold, it's a good time to stay indoors and edit! Which is what I've been doing. Only one week left in this round of ROW80! Then for the next one, I'll start entering all the changes I made - yet again - on paper to Druid's Moon.

What's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest! (lots of British films) and Excited ROW80 Check In

Gearing up for the Top Ten Movie Countdown blogfest, hosted by Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh! (I knit a Doctor Who scarf for mini-Alex, look!):

The blogfest officially starts tomorrow - can't wait to see what the other 150 participants have chosen!

I find it harder to list movies than books as I don't watch as many as I read... And then I'm also wary of forgetting some important ones and doing a headslap as I make the rounds of other participants!

Let's see... I think I'll go with movies that have made the strongest impression on me, rather than classics and such.

Loveliest, sweetest movie ever.
I give it top billing in honour of the 190th St Patrick's Day parade of Montreal!

From Ireland, across the sea, to Wales!
I watched this movie and The Corn Is Green back to back one summer day, closeted inside a room for hours, mesmerised. When I finally emerged, stumbling into the sunshine outside, I felt like I'd returned from a long time travel journey.

Another Welsh one.
I've blabbed before about my love for Solomon and Gaenor - a heart-wrenching movie. It was 11 years ago this very day that I saw it for the first time!

Do you know, after the first time I saw the part where Elliott finds E. T. all white and ill, I've never once been able to watch that part again. I always close my eyes!

I love every song on this soundtrack!

I had to mention a Python one. Especially since I can quote most of it...
"That's not my nose, it's a false one!"
"There are some who call me... Tim."
"It is the rabbit!"
And so forth...

Deliciously creepy.
I think it was my first Ewan McGregor film. Yes, before Trainspotting.
I love their apartment!

I'm slipping this in here.
It really is a movie, but I'm also going to have it stand for every British show I love to watch over and over, from Blackadder to Red Dwarf to Doctor Who to The Young Ones to Bottom to Fawlty Towers to Absolutely Fabulous to The Vicar of Dibley ("Get a move on you strange and insane idiot!") to...
Well, you get the gist.

Do you know, this is one of the very few movies that really captures the essence of a book?
I finally read Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool a few months ago, and asked: have you ever had a book on your wishlist for twenty years?
Trivia: this was Jessica Tandy's last film before she passed away.

I love Natalie Portman in this.
She's exactly like a character I have in mind for a screenplay I'll write someday, based partly on a true story...

Honourable mentions to Chariots of Fire, wherein I heard Jerusalem for the first time, and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

As for ROW80 - the editing has been going swimmingly. I have to confess, this is the first time in my life I've sat down to do a full read-through of one of my books, and managed to read half of it without getting bored or distracted or disgusted by the hopelessness of it all (not counting novels I wrote in high school, when I wasn't so concerned with editing). I was gripped! Finally, I think I'm getting somewhere with this. I only hope my editing skills get even stronger.

Watch out for DL's Blog Blitz!

"Sign up on the linky list below, making sure to record your email address, and you’ll instantly become a member of the Blog Blitz Team. Then from time to time, I will select a deserving blog (that must be part of the Blitz Team) and a specific date. I will then email the team members that information and on that date we all will go out of our way to visit that blog and leave an encouraging comment on their most recent post. I'm talking about hopefully a 100+ comments appearing out of the blue in one day!"

Hope everyone has a great week of watching and writing!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Giveaway Winner, Stacey Wallace Benefiel's New Book, and Changing up ROW80 Goals Again!

And the winner is...

Justine Dell's been on a blog tour to promote her new book and visited here last week! The winner of her giveaway on my blog is:


Here's an interesting question:

How would you explain certain books to difficult parents?

Speaking of books, Stacey Wallace Benefiel has a new one out!

And if you're still querying, like me, Jo Bourne has - as usual - some great tips:

"'My story is about several main characters. Which one do I build my query letter around?'

I have answers for about anything.

An ensemble cast of four, heigh-ho

So let's say your story follows four characters' intertwined lives. You want to know which of these four stories to emphasize in your query letter.

The really short answer is -- Any of them.
Your query letter can approach the manuscript using any main character as your focal point.
I don't say you necessarily can talk about this manuscript mainly from the experience of the dog, but close.

If you have a strong instinct to cast the query using the story of LolaJo instead of Kindle, Edward, or Framis, then do so.
Nobody knows the story better than you.

I like the rest of her advice because it applies not just to query writing but overall editing:

Actually, speaking of querying (changing up ROW80 goals again!), I've made a momentous decision, thanks to help from fellow Forumites: I'm putting querying for Out of the Water on hold, and concentrating full-time on Druid's Moon. Then I might switch to typing up and editing Santiago and Magdalena's story. There are some basic reasons why Out of the Water isn't exactly working, mainly having to do with how long the story needs to be and how long it isn't right now - which makes the opening a little less emotional and character-connected than it could be. And of course the opening is what most people see...

Have you made any big writing decisions lately?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Roald Dahl's Matilda, and the Sinkholes of Life

Look at this! Talli shared it on FB the other day:

It's Matilda's 25th anniversary!

If you've got grade school kids, there's a contest they can enter:


ROW80 - editing is moving slowly. I didn't do much except a bit of research during the week, but have begun another read through of Druid's Moon this weekend.

Now then, do you have a sinkhole in your life? Real Simple editor Kristin van Ogtrop blogged about sinkholes the other day:

I've got a few myself:

1. Sinkhole next to the couch. Where all the daily papers go in one big teetering pile: books, bank statements, to do lists, printed ebooks, brochures, bits and pieces on research and craft, latest knitting project, Folio Society and Tolkien Society newsletters, Wallace letter printouts, and so on.

2. Sinkhole within the To Do list. This is the part of the list where the truly long term projects flounder, such as projects for the house, writing for the Tolkien Society newsletter, and applying for a part time job I don't need (but which would be so much fun!) at Timeout Magazine Istanbul, as well as plot bunnies that scamper way down in the deeps of the list.

3. Sinkhole in the fridge. Behold the tupperware of mystery! Contains: leftovers from last week. Who wants to find out whether they're still edible? Hold your nose...

4. Skinkhole in the two closets in the house. Eventually, someday, I'm going to tidy all the books and CDs and VHS tapes in the garage into nice tidy bins, bring up some of the books we miss and bring down others, reorganize the library, bring down the bins taking up space in the closets and generally tidy up ALL THE THINGS (CDs, scrapbooking supplies, musical instruments, photo albums, etc.).

I have to say, this is one of my favourite sleep aids. Try it: lie there and begin the mental process of sorting and moving and repackaging and purging. I guarantee by the time you reach the second room you'll be fast asleep!

5. Sinkhole in my wishlists and playlists. I have wishlists scattered across two Amazon and three separate email accounts. Not to mention how far behind I've gotten in my library cataloguing (all the ones I have catalogued are down at the bottom of the blog in those LibraryThing widgets).

Rant: What makes the wishlists and YouTube playlists a sinkhole is the truly annoying habit that Amazon and YouTube have of deleting books and videos at random. I understand that some books go out of print or stock and that videos are removed by users or for copyright purposes. But why must they delete the name of the book or song when they remove the actual link? Leave the name so that I can remember what it was! Grr.

6. Sinkhole in my blog. Contains: copyrighted photos that need to be replaced (I've made a list of all the posts requiring this operation), tags that don't exist, extra tabs I'd like to add with writing snips and so on, and lots of fellow bloggers whose blogs I haven't had a chance to visit in a couple of weeks.

And, finally, here's my version of the last one Kristin had:

7. Sinkhole in my head. Way down in the bottom must be the second half of all the song lyrics and poems I only know the beginnings of, the location of the high school diaries I know I had when we moved into this house but can't find now, the endings to all the mystery novels I've read and reread, the Off Switch for Procrastination, and the ability to knit while reading. Among many other feats!

Where are the sinkholes in your life?

Going to be drawing winners from Justine Dell's book launch post on Wednesday!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Justine Dell's Book Birthday Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Justine Dell is here to celebrate the release of her novel All-American Girl!

At the age of thirty, with two failed marriages and a tanking writing career, Samantha Moore deals with the world with the only tool she has left: anger. And she's tired of it. When her grandmother's near-death sends her rushing back home to Vermont, she hopes for the chance to overcome the rage ruling her life.

Once she's home, Lance Cummings becomes a constant source of indigestion. Lance is a single father who learned first-hand the devastating effects of a damaging relationship. He sees through Samantha's nasty temper - straight to her cry for help. He wants to help her, but he also wants to know why Samantha ran from him - and their future - twelve years before.

Taking care of her Grams, dealing with an alcoholic brother, and getting Lance to remove his annoyingly attractive nose from her business is draining on Samantha. And she's only got three weeks to finish her stagnated novel or her publisher will drop her. No pressure. To top it off, pretending to hate the man she actually loves makes each day in Vermont harder than the last. Especially when Lance turns up the heat.

Here's the trailer:

And here's Justine:

Romance is such a beautiful, thoughtful thing. Writing stories about two people reconnecting after so many years is my favorite. There's a history there you can build on and grow into something truly special. In All-American Girl, the history between Lance and Sam is sweet, but it's what shattered them both. Take a look at how our hero, Lance, feels about meeting Samantha again after all those years passed:

My Dearest Sam,

From the moment you walked out of my life as a teenager, until the moment you walked back in the other day - ten years later - everything changed.

I grew up and learned to take responsibilities like a man. I gained a wonderful son, and learned very hard lessons along the way. I thought of you often, wondering what happened to us. I remember the day you saved my life - my sanity - and helped me see the me I wanted to be. I let sight of that fall away when you left, but your grandmother was there to help me through the rough times. I wish it would have been you.

I can see you are different now, too. That haunted look you carry around in your eyes makes me wish I could take all your pain away. But you won't let me in. I don't know who or what hurt you during your time away, but I hope with time you will let me help mend those scars. And you can help me mend the ones you left on my heart when you left.

A decade makes a lifetime of differences. You and I are proof of that. Hopefully those differences bring us closer together, instead of tearing us apart for good.

Yours Forever,


Aww, he's so sweet. If you would like to read an excerpt of All-American Girl and enter to win a signed paperback copy and some yummy Vermont Maple Candy, visit this page on my blog.

Justine lives in the Midwest, happily catering to her family, which consists of a horse-obsessed teenage daughter, four dogs, and a husband who is too good to be true. She's never moved from her hometown, but hopes to grow old in a much warmer climate. During the day she works a normal job with college students who try their best to keep her young. They've done a good job thus far. At night, said teenage daughter and her horse require mounds of love and attention. The weekends belong solely to her and her writing. That's when she morphs into a sticky bug, unable to leave the confines of her computer chair. She started writing four years ago after seeing a movie that set off a chain reaction she couldn't have stopped if she'd wanted. It's not a hobby for her; it's an obsession. One she loves and one she loves to share. Her debut book, Recaptured Dreams and her newest release, All-American Girl, are available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Omnific, and wherever else books are sold. Find Justine on Twitter and Facebook.

Congratulations, Justine! Thanks for dropping by!

Justine's giving away a copy of the ebook of All-American Girl, as well as an All-American Girl postcard and Vermont Maple Candy at each blog tour stop! Just leave a comment below - and then you can also enter her own giveaway on her blog: a Rafflecopter giveaway

As for ROW80, not much has changed since Sunday, actually, since I'm knee deep in a beta read for an author friend!

Adding to the list of wips I shared, I'm also still thinking of trying my hand at my own Calendar of Tales, based on Neil Gaiman's prompts. If I was any kind of artist, I'd love to submit illustrations! There are way too many to go through, but Neil tumblrs a few now and again, and I quite like this one for October:

Jamie was talking the other day about the awesomeness that is the Neverwhere radio show, and now Neil's shared an image of the cast of characters:

I'm so excited for this! I just might need to drink some of Serpentine's restorative!

What are you excited for this week?

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