Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Guest Review of Amara Royce's Never Too Late, Super Sweet Award, and a Snip for ROW80 and the kcdyer Project August Check Ins!

Got a guest review today!

Amara Royce's Never Too Late is out now!

"Expect the unexpected, especially in a room filled with books...

Honoria Duchamp is well aware that men often consider widows easy prey for the role of mistress. What else could explain the attentions of handsome Lord Devin, and his visits to her bookshop? The much younger Viscount has even shown interest in the printing press with which she creates pamphlets on London’s basest injustices. Yet his chief interest appears to be in her...

Coerced to investigate Nora's controversial pamphlets, Devin expected to find a bookish matron. Instead, he is taken with Nora's womanly beauty, sharp intellect, and quick wit. Soon, what begins as an unwelcome task becomes a pleasure, and Devin's job becomes more dangerous -- for them both. For Nora has no idea of the vicious element she's crossed. Now Devin will risk his reputation to protect her -- and much more to win her love..."

And here is my friend Sarah Meral's review:

Amara Royce's debut Never Too Late was released in May this year, at first only as an e-book. Recently it has also become available in print. Amara was so kind to send me a print copy to Germany, since we can only get the e-book version here yet (and I prefer print books :-)).

The heroine of Never Too Late, Honoria, has a book store. I love that! As a book lover I would love to be surrounded by books the whole day :-) She is a strong woman, who faces danger to help and save others. She has a big heart. And she also has a great sense of humour ("show of daughter's teeth"), even when it sometimes only shows through her internals.

The Hero, Lord Alexander Devin, like Honoria cares for others, especially his family and he does everything to protect them.

The secondary characters are all wonderful, too. Especially Lady Devin, who is a colourful and lovely Lady. She is supportive and has a mind of her own.

In my opinion, it is the small details that make this book special. All chapters that feature Honoria's point of view at least once have "Evan's principles" at the beginning. These principles are short sentences explaining basic rules for business, but at the same time giving great advice for other situations [g] And the heroine isn't a young and unmarried girl, but older and widowed.

I love about the book, not only that the hero and heroine don't know each other's secrets, but that we readers have to guess as well :-) As readers, we are given more precise clues for the hero's secrets, but there are clues to Honoria's secrets from the beginning as well.
If you love historical books with strong heroes and heroines, this is a must read :-) 

Get your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eKensington Books, and other e-booksellers!

Cupcakes for all!

Glynis was passing out the Super Sweet Blog Award the other day, and now I'm passing it on to you! Who doesn't love a cupcake or two?

Here are the questions that go with it:

1. Cookies or Cake?

Cookies, I think. I only really like my mother's cheesecake!

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate! Of course. The darker the better.

3. Favourite sweet treat?

Really dark chocolate. Really high quality chocolate mousse or a chocolate eclair. With fruit!

4. When do you crave sweet things the most?

After one of those dinners that leaves you feeling satisfied and just full enough that you have room for dessert. What hobbits call the "filling in the corners" stage.

5. Sweet nickname?

I had a good friend once who called me Den-Den.

Mmm... I feel like licking icing now...

As for ROW80, I've been doing well! Submitted two queries and signed up for another check in, which ran only for the month of August, over at author kc dyer's blog. The best part about Project August is kc's incentives - she's donating books in the name of those who complete their projects to the Thistalah Memorial Library in Bella Bella, British Columbia!

Speaking of kc dyer, I entered the Surrey International Writers' Conference writing contest the other day.

There are four separate categories and there's still lots of time to enter:

SIWC Storyteller's Award: short stories 2,500 — 5,000 words
SIWC Non-fiction Award: maximum length 1,500 words
SiWC Writing For Young People Award: maximum length 1,500 words
SIWC Poetry Award: one poem per submission: 100 lines max.

That was the short story I finished. But I've also started typing up the prequel to Out of the Water, featuring Rosa's parents Santiago and Magdalena back when they first fell in love. This one's called Captive of the Sea, and the first line is:

I was born on King Arthur's grave.

Here's a wee snip from Chapter One:

"Santiago was a few streets away from the docks when he saw her.

She was on her father's arm. Rather, he hung on to hers. Through the curls of mist winding up from the river, Santiago watched them from across the street. Her slight figure, angular and awkward with new-maidenhood, yet with a burgeoning softness that promised a womanly fullness to come, was bent nearly double under the weight of the older man who stumbled alongside.

She hadn't sat with them in that back room at her father's warehouse, nor spoken more than two words in that soft enchanting lilt. He did not know whether she would be grateful for his help or resent his interference, but it was too late to wonder when he was already crossing the road, throwing his shoulders back and blinking hard in an effort to clear his drunken fog.

"Good evening, Master, milady." He made a leg.

She met his glance with an expression of pure defiance, eyes snapping in the flickering light of his torch. Her father was not in the habit, then, of drinking himself senseless."

What stories are you working on?

Any Labour Day weekend plans?

Oh, and look: an interview with the Whisky Trench Riders!

Any interesting new album releases you're looking forward to?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Summertime! Shakespeare, Farm-fresh Goodies, Train Tracks, and Outdoor Edits


Which means Shakespeare in the Park!

In this case, A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was all the more meaningful to me because I've just read the Sandman version for the first time.


Titania and her handmaiden

It's always exciting to see and hear lines you know so well ("if we shadows have offended...") performed live.

Summertime also means outdoor editing! This was me finishing up edits on Druid's Moon a few weeks ago:

And farm-fresh food! We get ours from Arlington Gardens

Meanwhile, at the train station the other day, I noticed something odd:

Dominion tracks

"Oh Mackie!"
I wonder what that means?

ROW80 typing going slowly, but well. I love rediscovering characters; I hadn't read a word of this story since finishing it during last year's NaNo.

Hope you're having a lovely summer!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Neil Gaiman in Montreal and Interview With Margaret Buffie on the Twentieth Anniversary of Who Is Frances Rain


Event 1: Neil Gaiman's book tour stop in Montreal last Wednesday!

Event 2: 20th anniversary of Margaret Buffie's Who Is Frances Rain?!

Neil's event - one of only three in Canada as part of his last North American book tour - was sold out!

Luckily, I'd gotten our tickets the day they went on sale from Librairie Drawn and Quarterly.

There were no assigned seats, so the line outside the Rialto Theatre started early, snaking around the corner and down the next block. Luckily, my friends and I ended up directly outside the door of Cafe Matina, and had a drink while we waited. I wondered if Neil had tried the sushi from the restaurant across the street.

The cafe owner came to the door and looked out in bewilderment at the line. He asked us what we were waiting for, and said he'd never seen a line like that for any previous event at the theatre!

The theatre itself was lovely, as was the surrounding neighbourhood, full of gorgeous architecture from the 20s and 30s (some sadly derelict), but that's a post for another day.

happy Neil!

Neil's talk and readings were - in a word - delightful. As someone who struggles with public speaking, and also as an author who cringes to hear her own words read aloud, watching and listening to Neil was both entertaining (for the talk itself) and an education. His timing and pitch are spot on. And his stories are so much fun!

At one point he even told us "you don't have to cheer everything!" He'd just begun a story featuring his hair and Shirley MacLaine and his wife, so I called out "but it's Amanda!" Doubt he heard me though. (I'd been secretly hoping she might come to Montreal with him, in between her own gigs.)

He read half of a chapter of The Ocean at the End of the Lane and, even though I had just reread the book the day before the event, the story still felt brand new. I heard words I couldn't even remember reading and the dialogue was... let's just say I'm really looking forward to the audiobook. It's not often you come across a story that works equally well on the page/inner ear and on the outer ear.

After the reading he answered a few audience questions, about his hair, about Doctor Who, about his writing process (a lot of tea and glaring), about daydreaming (what if a werewolf... bit a goldfish?), and so on.

He also mentioned a semi-secret project about myth retellings. So of course I started wondering whether there'd be any Turkish myths or folklore involved. There's so much that I'd love to see him mine - the Dede Korkut stories, Nasreddin Hoca's wisdom, Karagöz and Hacivat shadow theatre, Keloğlan tales... I was always fascinated by the Zümrüt Anka bird, which apparently comes from the Persian Simurgh.

Then he read from his upcoming book Fortunately, the Milk and I was very very happy to know I'd already pre-ordered it. Let's just say, I've got my Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews sorted this year. Although there's really no age limit for books like these.

Then came the signing!

The Rialto handled this part wonderfully, I thought: they drew lots for the order in which we joined the line, so you could stay seated until your section (fifth balcony! row twelve on the floor! booth one!) was called.

find Neil!

Compared to some of Neil's other tour stops, we weren't as intense, I believe. Only (!) 800 or so in line, and I didn't hear that he need to ice his hand afterwards. They did hussle us along however. I understand he needs to get through lots of us, but it was a bit disconcerting the way they had him sign your books and then stand beside him for the photo, which meant that often he was already signing the next person's book while in a photo with you.

I'm glad I talked to Theresa beforehand, because she clued me in to The Graveyard Book tidbit - instead of just signing your name, Neil "engraves" it on a tombstone. I brought my UK copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane which has the lovely little pail on the inside cover and, as I found out to my delight, Neil likes to draw ghosts coming out of the pail!

Isn't it wonderful how cheerful he always is? Thank you for a brilliant evening, Neil!

On to event 2!

One of my favourite books is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year!

Who is Frances Rain? by Margaret Buffie

I'm very pleased to be hosting Margaret Buffie herself here today! I asked her all sorts of random questions and she obliged me...

On Writing

Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing in my second floor office in my home. The house was built in 1910, and I love to look out at the old elms along the street as I work and think about the history of my city. I also write at my lake cottage.

What do you need to help you write?

I start with a pencil and lined notebook for the first few chapters. Then I go to my computer. I also set up music to create the mood for each different storyline. Hard to explain. But it works for me. Add many cups of tea and I'm good.

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

I have many ideas that I doubt will get published. I have two "adult" manuscripts from years ago that I still "intend to work on" but I find I'm always working on a YA novel first. One of them is on the second burner as I write this newest YA. Actually I am kind of writing both at once... new idea for me, but fun...

What's your earliest memory related to writing?

I was in grade four and I had written a story for my much adored teacher, Miss Day. I was walking beside her during recess and she said to me, "You know, Margaret, I think you may be a writer one day." I'm sure she was just being sweet, but I believed her.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I spend a lot of time with my family. I am also an artist and a photographer – and I love to cook. (And of course I read a lot!)

Which of your characters is most like you?

Mmm. Tough one. I know I put a part of me into every character. I "feel" as if I am that character while I am writing their story. In Who is Frances Rain?, for instance, I am part of all three modern characters – Lizzie, her mom and her gran. But I am not Frances Rain. I would never be as independent and brave as she was. But I admire her tremendously, because she paid a big price for her independence.

Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

I think what makes them believable is my deep connection with them. To me they are very real as I explore their stories.
Names are very important to me. The name Frances, for instance, means "free" which suits my character to a "T". I chose Lizzie McGill for the main character, because that was my grandmother's name. Every name I choose is carefully picked. I also avoid trendy "modern" names and stick to names that are more traditional, yet powerful. (To me.)

Reading-related questions

Who is your favourite literary character not your own?

My favourite literary character is Barbara Pym's character Mildred Lathsbury in Excellent Women. Mildred has always observed life from a distance, but the new people who arrive to live in her house somehow change how she looks at everything. I also love another of her characters, Jane, in Jane and Prudence. Jane is so honest, messy, intuitive and funny. I adore her. I also love Inspector Maigret who is the creation of French writer Georges Simenon. His second best character in that amazing series is Paris!

Who is your favourite author?

I have many. But when the chips are down, I bet you can guess who it is. Yep. Barbara Pym! She's brilliant.

Who inspired you to write?

Me! (And Miss Day...) But I didn't start writing until my late thirties. Up to then I was a visual artist. No one even knew I was writing except my husband and daughter. I was reading YA books along with my daughter and loving so many of them, that soon, I was reading many on my own. An idea for my own novel kind of dropped into my lap – and I decided to try writing it. Fell in love with the whole process. Kept going. Haven't stopped yet!

Do you have a favourite writing-related quote?

I saw this quote by Barbara Kingsolver once, in a book of quotes, and I copied it and put it up on my bulletin board, because it is exactly how I feel about my own writing.
"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."

On Research

Do you do all your own research or have others help you?

I do all my own research.

What's the weirdest thing you've researched?

"Box privies" – or outdoor toilets that did not have a hole in the ground at all! Ack! They were supposed to be cleared out by city workers which was not regularly done. These were still in use in the early 1900's on city streets in Canada, and the fetid waste and hoards of flies were the cause of much illness and death in the poorest areas of those cities.

On Frances Rain

Have you ever considered writing a sequel to the story, perhaps something that happens to a child of Lizzie's?

I have been asked this question often by readers. I did consider it, but I simply don't have a story to tell...yet.

Do you still feel close to the story and characters?

Yes, very much. Maybe that's why I felt that this story was "complete" because when it was finished I felt I could move on to something different.

Was the story written in linear fashion?

In way yes .. and in a way no. I wrote the first few chapters pretty quickly. Then the story ground to a halt. It became clear to me that I had no idea how to take this story where I wanted it to go. So I decided to do a plan or general outline of it and test some ideas. This fluid outline changed many times as the story evolved. But I kept reworking it. A few times I changed the plan here and there to the point where I had to go back and rework sections of the manuscript. I still work this way. I think it keeps the story fresh - and open to change.

What was the first image or scene that inspired this story?

I was cleaning up a small island near our lake cabin, so my daughter and her cousin's kids could play on it safely. There was a very old refuse dump on it and I became an archeologist in a way as I sifted through it. I found some gorgeous bottles, medical and old fruit syrup types etc. and a lot of broken china. But I did find an old heavy mug still intact with debris in it. When I dropped the little pile onto my lap, I found an object wrapped in shattered pieces of oil cloth. Out dropped a pair of wire glasses. I held them to my eyes and looked across the water, and wondered what it would be like to see a canoe paddling toward me from out of the past. I still have the glasses and the mug. (And the bottles and other things I found.) I knew there was the remains of a trapper's cabin across the lake under a small circle of trees and I wondered if the glasses belonged to him. But what if the trapper was a woman in my story? That was the kernel of the idea for Who is Frances Rain?

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?

For me organizing the story is always the biggest challenge. But once I wrestled Who is Frances Rain? back on track - so that I was able to have my characters say what they really wanted to say; to develop the story; and present the setting almost as another character - it became a complete joy to write.

Is there anything you would change in Lizzie's story if you could?

No. Nothing. I could probably write it a bit better today, I suppose, but it is what it is and I am very proud of it.

What are some of the most memorable events that have happened to you as a result of this story?

The first memorable thing that happened was that Who is Frances Rain? was nominated for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year award – and was the runner up in that – and it also got great reviews. But best of all, shortly after, it was also nominated for the Young Adult Canadian Book Award by the same group and it won!

[How wonderful!]

Another memorable event and a very nasty one for me, happened just after I had finished a reading to a class in Montreal during Children's Book week (put on by The Canadian Book Centre) a year or so after "Frances Rain" was published. A reporter called there, asking how I felt about bring banned from an Ottawa school, where my next reading was to take place a few days later.

This kicked off a news event of sorts across Canada's newspapers. The Ottawa principal began to slur my name calling me a "difficult" author and that I had "demanded" unreasonable things etc. He had not read the book, of course, (these people rarely do) because his librarian highlighted words and scenes and dialogue for him that she decided might make it a problem. As I had never spoken to anyone from the school at all, his comments were completely false. I did have one supporter besides my family – a public librarian from Montreal who stood by me all the way - and I will always be grateful for her support.

When I came back to Winnipeg, another librarian from a local school, who had asked me to do a reading there, read the "banning" news in the papers, and showed them to her principal. He, of course, also did not read the book. I was consequently "uninvited" from his school. When challenged by local media, this second principal also blamed me, saying I was "difficult." Of course, I had had no personal contact with either him or the librarian. Ironically, the article about the censoring of my novel was written up in a Canadian children's lit periodical a few months later and they talked about the events - adding comments from the principal in Ottawa. However, no one from that periodical thought to talk to me! I protested in writing, and they then asked me to write about my experience. Which I did!

[I hadn't heard any of this before! Lucky for me that I had no trouble getting my hands on a copy in our school library!]

If this story was made into a film (and I wish it would be!), who would you have as the leading actors?

It was actually discussed – once with Anna Paquin as a possible Lizzie. She is now a grown adult of course! Sadly the people involved in the US negotiations could not come to an agreement with my publisher regarding the contract. However My Mother's Ghost was ultimately the book that was made into a film. Maybe someday Frances Rain will live on the screen. I would have to see who would suit the roll in the future, as young actors grow up so quickly!

For more information and excerpts, please visit Margaret Buffie's blog.

Both Neil and Margaret mention tea as part of their writing process! Have I been doing it all wrong all these years with my latte obsession?

Brief ROW80 update - I've decided which project to work on next! I'll be typing up Captive of the Sea. That way, I can save drafting the 1913 Canada story for this year's NaNo.

Have you been to any book tour stops lately?

Is there a special book whose anniversary you're celebrating?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Many Book Reviews, ISWG - Award for You All!, ROW80, Montreal, and Tolkien's Eagles

Mini reviews!

This past weekend, I had a reading weekend, which invariably spilled over into the last couple of days:

I also had two books in other formats - Brenda Novak's When We Touch novella as a printed pdf, and the NetGalley ARC of Cynthia Voigt's Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things.

Without further ado, reviews!:

A few months ago I started working my way through all E. L. Konigsburg books I hadn't read yet. I think I only have two or three left to go!

As is the case with all her books, this one tackled a difficult theme and didn't sugar coat its language. I wonder what would happen if any other author tried to write a story with such straightforward dialogue and uneasy resolutions today. In a nutshell, the story is about a young girl who goes to live with her aunt in Florida for the summer and becomes embroiled in a town battle over free speech, freedom of expression (basically, whether anyone can choose to wear a t-back/thong bathing suit in public and not just on the beach), and freedom to NOT speak, or to choose another side altogether. I'd like to be able to write this succinctly on such important topics.

I'm really liking Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series! When We Touch is the first one, I think, and I should have read it before reading all the others because it explains a lot of the side-references to the characters in this story made by characters in the later ones. If you haven't gotten into the series yet, this is a quick read and a great introduction!

Like Medeia, I got the ARC of Cynthia Voigt's latest book through NetGalley. I miss Voigt! Tree by Leaf was the first book of hers that I read, many years ago. I remember I liked the writing a lot, but was kind of confused by the story. I was eleven! I think it's time for a reread.

As for Mister Max, I used to love this kind of book when I was younger, and my preferences haven't changed! The convoluted descriptions of places and people, the air of mystery, the delightful tramping back and forth through city streets and in and out of parks and bakeries and manor houses, the gradual unfolding of secrets, I love all of it. Very excited to know that this is the first of a trilogy.

Aside: It's also the second ever book I've read in e-format, this time on the iPad. Still not a fan, especially of having to watch where I put my fingers in case I accidentally swipe to the next page, of trying to figure out this "location" business (a few times I came back to the story and the chapter started on the left hand side where before it had been on the right, and I hadn't changed the font size! At least a real book stays put and doesn't leap around!), or of adjusting the light depending on whether I was in bed, in the living room, or standing in full sun at the train station.

Now for the two mysteries:

Barbara Rogan has a new book out!

"A Dangerous Fiction is a romp of a publishing mystery that introduces Jo Donovan, literary agent-cum-detective.
Jo Donovan always manages to come out on top. From the backwoods of Appalachia, she forged a hard path to life among the literati in New York City. At thirty-five, she's the widow of the renowned author Hugo Donovan and the owner of one of the best literary agencies in town. Jo is living the life she dreamed of but it's all about to fall apart.
When a would-be client turns stalker, Jo is more angry than shaken until her clients come under attack. Meanwhile, a biography of Hugo Donovan is in the works and the author's digging threatens to destroy the foundations of Jo's carefully constructed life. As the web of suspicion grows wider and her stalker ups the ante, she's persuaded by her client and friend-FBI profiler-turned-bestselling-thriller writer-to go to the police. There Jo finds herself face-to-face with an old flame: the handsome Tommy Cullen, now NYPD detective; and suddenly life gets even more complicated."
As usually happens, this blurb barely scratches the surface of what the book is really about. There's a lot in here on relationships, finding meaning in life and work, and creating stories - not just stories fashioned by writers, but the stories that everyone tells about their pasts. Without giving away too much, I liked the way the book ended with a hope-for-the-future outlook (even with someone from her past), as Jo finally turned away from musing on past events and people (some more lamented than others). Happy to hear there will be a sequel!

I read Gone Girl mostly because of the look my mother-in-law and sister-in-law gave me when I asked to borrow it. Now, if anyone asks me, I get a similar sour look on my face. I went into all my reasons for not liking Gone Girl over on the Forum. But a few months on from that experience, I have a solution!:

If you'd like to read a thrilling unreliable-narrator mystery, with taut writing, pitch-perfect dialogue, intriguing nuances, no cop-out ending, and a sprinkle of real romance, then read A Dangerous Fiction!

After that I read The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith.

I love this author's characterisation. The mystery was a satisfying one too. I also quite liked the way the final revelation was handled - not the detective expounding to a group, a la Poirot; not the criminal confessing his dastardly methods; and not a third person summary. Instead, the detective told the criminal exactly what he had done and how he had done it, all in dialogue. "You took... you then went... you hid..." Interesting!

As with Rogan's book, I thought I knew the murderer's identity, but was pleasantly and creepily surprised to discover how wrong I was. Some people criticise this author for an overuse of adverbs but it never seems to bother me, in this author's books at least.

Okay, okay, everyone knows by now that "this author" is none other than J. K. Rowling. Goodreads held a contest a little while ago where they chose one fan question out of many and Rowling answered it at length. Here's the beginning of her answer:

Read the rest on Goodreads.

I also finished my reread of the sixth book in the History of Middle Earth series, and started the seventh. These two volumes cover Tolkien's drafts, notes, maps, and sketches during the initial years of writing The Lord of the Rings. Fascinating stuff. It's amazing how many name changes and character development ideas he went through (Aragorn as a hobbit called Trotter with wooden shoes!), how long it took him to work through certain ideas (Treebeard as a captor or friend), and how little time he had to write when he actually sat down to do so (especially after the War started). Gives me hope for my own stories!

In the process, I've been keeping an eye out for any notes on the eagle question in The Lord of the Rings. I haven't - yet - come across any mention of the Eagles in the drafts for The Council of Elrond chapter, but I have thought of something else: it's not just a matter of reaching the borders of Mordor (somehow undetected) and then summoning the Eagles to carry Frodo to Mt. Doom.

The Eagles wouldn't be mentioned at the Council because, taking Rivendell as the starting point - as the Company had to do - there is no way the Eagles could or would traverse all the way from there to Mt. Doom: they would treat the ring as Bombadil might if they were asked to carry it or, if they were simply carrying Frodo carrying the Ring, they'd be spotted long before reaching the borders of Mordor. Basically, the Eagles could not be asked or even considered for the same reason that "escaping" to the West with the Ring is so quickly dismissed - Sauron will be watching for such a simple/obvious action. It's only through stealth, and taking "the path of folly" that there is any hope. And, of course, given how the story progresses, Frodo and Sam (and Gollum) are alone on the borders, and cannot themselves summon the Eagles. By the time Faramir has a chance to even mention the matter to Gandalf, Frodo and Sam are beyond aid of that sort.

But I digress.

Finally, out of all the books in that pile, I started rereading Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

He's in Montreal tonight (squee!)! And by the way, if you're looking for a lovely board book for a young reader, I'd highly recommend Gaiman's The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish.

If all those books aren't inspiring enough for us insecure writers (today is IWSG day!), then here's an award for you all that I picked up from Lara!:

As for ROW80... I've sent off Druid's Moon and the short story, "Where There's Life". Wish me luck!

Now I'm trying to decide - type up a completed novel, or start drafting a brand new one? I might also work on a mission statement. Susan Kaye Quinn's got some great tips for why authors need one and how to craft yours.

Two of my openings were featured on editor Lynnette Labelle's Are You Hooked? What do you think?

And fellow Forumite Claire Gregory had her sentence singled out by Janet Reid in a contest last week! Congratulations, Claire! Say, Claire and Kristen Callihan and the other authors at All the World's Our Page are currently featuring an interview with Barbara Rogan!

A propos of nothing, there's a park near my house that has a Human Rights Walk, where I discovered something new:

Trudeau park entrance

Human Rights Walk entrance

Aung San Suu Kyi inspired a U2 song!

Stephen Leacock street

Speaking of Montreal, artist Shari Blaukopf has featured some lovely sketches of the city in the past few weeks! And Montreal author Monique Polak had a great post the other day about secrets in storytelling.

And, in very exciting news, Rach Harrie's Writers' Platform Building Campaign is back! Sign up for the fifth edition begins 1 September!

Are you going to sign up to the campaign?

What have you been reading lately?

What's going on in your city?

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