Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Dragon's Loyalty Award, Seven Interesting Things, ROW80 Check In

M. J. has given us an award!

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host M.J. Joachim has awarded all A to Z Challenge Minions, Assistants, and Helpers with the Dragon's Loyalty Award!


1. Display the award and thank the person that nominated you. Thank you, M. J.!

2. Present this award to 15 other bloggers, making sure to link to their blogs, and visit them to let them know you're sharing the award with them. I'm going to fudge this a bit and link to my last week's post below, where I featured all sorts of intriguing bloggers to visit - each one of them gets this award! And so do all the commenters! And Nicole!, who was kind enough to let her minions know about the award.

3. Write seven interesting things about yourself in your blog post when you accept the award. The last time I shared seven random facts, I noted that: "I can knit but I haven't made socks yet. Even Jamie and Ian [from Outlander] can make socks!"

Not only have I knit socks since then, I've even made a pair of kilt hose!

Let's see if I can think of seven new things...

1. I think the best pizza is at Talk of the Town in Glens Falls, NY

2. For a while now I've been volunteering with the Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project

3. In March I'll be participating in the Self Lovin' Blog Hop hosted by Tara! Come join us and tell us all about something that you're good at.

4. I love Twitter. Recently discovered this blog post by Dorky Mum explaining why Twitter is awesome. It's basically an extra room in your house with an ongoing party that you're always invited to.

5. I've only ever played golf once (but I'd like to go again!). I've never gone downhill skiing. I've never jumped off a diving board.

6. Another "only once": I've only ever once gambled at a casino. I lost ten dollars and stopped there. I was more upset by the fact that some stranger wouldn't get off the Wheel of Fortune slot machine I wanted to try!

7. I have this photo saved on my desktop with the title "DO THIS":

Brief ROW80 update - I've chosen which Canadian literary magazine I'd like to submit my vignette to: The Fiddlehead. Apparently their turnaround time for submissions is three to nine months! I do hope I hear back sooner rather than later, because of course if it's rejected, I'd like to continue submitting elsewhere.

What's the longest you've ever waited to hear from a publisher/magazine/agent?

Have you received any interesting awards lately?

Hope everyone's going to be doing A to Z!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

ROW80 Check in, Badges, and Links to Some Great Blogs!

Link happy!

I was catching up on a lot of blog comments this past week (and still have a few more blogs to visit!) so I thought I'd share with you a few of the interesting, intriguing, exciting blogs I've been dropping by:

Carol's got two great craft-related posts, one on Writing Sequences of Events, and the other on Ordering Your Words

In other craft posts, Jo Bourne had a great one recently on setting and the city a story is based in

Forgotten Bookmarks features just that - the cards, leaves, recipes, photographs, notes, poems, etc. that people have left behind in books over the years. Plus she has a giveaway of a vintage books collection every Friday!

Nathan Bransford asks whether you'd like to be a full time writer or keep your day job.

Sara and Lara and ZanMarie shared some lovely photos of the southern snowstorms!

Margo's got a great list of Reasons Why I Love Being a Book Reader/Blogger - I agree with them all!

Ayak at Ayak's Turkish Delight has been recently blogging about her efforts to rescue and treat stray dogs in Turkey

I'm echoing something Alex posted today:
"Our good friend Roland Yeomans is undergoing surgery today for cancer. Please keep him in your prayers this week. Since Roland is also struggling with the funds for this surgery, Sean McLachlan suggested a Buy-A-Thon for his books. I've read several of Roland's books and highly recommend following the adventures of one Victor Standish. Visit Roland's author page on Amazon to see a complete listing of his eBooks and audio books. If you've never read any of Roland's work, now is a great time to do so!"
On the writing front, Jemi, and Victoria J. Coe while visiting Theresa's blog, have been talking about the writing process and how it can feel s l o w at times (but there's hope!)

Sam Sykes has an intriguing discussion about fantasy books being given non-traditional-fantasy covers in a possible attempt to lure different readers

An intriguing new faith-centred blog, Ragged Stranger! And two similar blogs, one centred on Tolkien: Liturgiae Causa, and one that sometimes features Tolkien-related essays: Ironical Coincidings

A hug from Michael! He recently sent me some yummy coffee beans:


Have you read Linda Grimes' novels about the adventures of Ciel Halligan? What are you waiting for? And, say, her blog is full of camels!

And Claire's got a round up of World War I related events and items to follow (link added by me):
"Centenary commemorations are rolling out all over the world in 2014, and the incredible volume of information, the sheer number of projects underway, and the massive quantity of time, emotion and research being contributed is just overwhelming.
I'd love to list off all the many things that are going on, but I can hardly keep up with them. If you're not already on Twitter, I'd strongly recommend joining up there and jumping into the conversation, because it's all happening. Here are just a few of the things I've been involved in recently, big and small."
Sheri's drawn up a Writer's Creed!

"All you have to do is add your name and link to the linky list HERE and snatch the CREED badge.
Post it wherever you know you'll need a reminder of support and encouragement to keep on writing."

In other badge news, Nicole's created a badge for those of us who are her minions for the A-Z Challenge!

I actually have a theme idea, but it's all dependent on factors outside of my control. If certain events come to pass, I'll have a great theme!

...and the winner of Hélène Boudreau's Real Mermaids Don't Sell Seashells...according to the random number Jack! Please email me, Jack!

ROW80 is progressing slowly. I've gotten a gift certificate for our local bookstore so I get to splurge on some Canadian literary magazines!

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this:

Neil Gaiman as Badger, from The Wind in the Willows:

It doesn't even look like Neil!

I'd love to attend this exhibition!

Which intriguing blogs have you visited lately?
Will you be joining us for the A-Z Challenge? Got a theme yet?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Latest in the Real Mermaids Series - Giveaway! and Character Faces for ROW80


But first, we have two winners of Tara's giveaway of Hands-on Therapy: Ella and Brigitte! Congratulations! Please email me your Amazon Kindle contact info.

And now, mermaids!

Teenage girls have to deal with a lot of tough firsts. First zit. First crush. First... mermaid's tail?

In the fourth installment of Hélène Boudreau's breezy, fun and "unputdownable" Real Mermaids series, our favorite mer-girl Jade can't think of a better way to celebrate peace in the underwater mer-world than with a tropical vacation in the Bahamas with her family and BFF.

Soon, Jade is enjoying the tropical sunshine, all-you-can-eat buffet, and island day trips. But when Jade gets lost in the island's famous waterfront Straw Market, something doesn't feel quite right. A body splashes into the water as a cruise ship enters the harbour and a teen boy selling conches from his boat behind the market knows more than he's willing to admit.

With no body, no leads, and no other witnesses, though, the local police don't seem too concerned. Maybe Jade's imagination has been acting up on her, just like Cori said, considering everything she's been through in the past few months. But with Mom and Dad off on a honeymoon excursion it wouldn't hurt to check things out, would it?

Little do Jade and Cori realize, they are about to uncover more secrets about the splashing body, dangerous cruise ship cargo, and more questions than answers lurking in the nearby Caribbean waters.
"Absolutely fresh and sweet, a quirky coming of age story complete with first periods and bumbling unputdownable adventure, part Judy Blume, part Hans Christian Anderson, and 100% delightful, this fun, fresh tale (tail?) will have girls begging for a sequel..." –The YA-5

"[T]he author keeps suspense high and her prose moving while tapping straight into young teens' angst about friends, enemies and boys." –Kirkus

I love this series and can't wait to get my hands on this latest installment. And look! There's even a handy chart on how to create your own mer-name:

Plus, guess what? Anyone who'd like to win a copy of the book just has to comment below!

Meanwhile, for my ROW80 update this week, I'm going to be a bit sneaky. Haven't actually gotten any new words on paper, but have been thinking about the stories, and I realised it's been a while since I updated my characters' faces file.

Without further ado...

The Face of A Lion

(I have been trying to track the source of this photo, discovered in Real Simple magazine, for years.)


Out of the Water

(this photo was taken by Ara Güler.
The surroundings are completely anachronistic (picture Baha carrying an easel, not a mattress!)
but the pose and expression are just right.)

(this is actually Edwin Long's The Marriage Market, 19th Century.
I discovered the image on The Orientalist Gallery.)

Brother Arcturus
(this is actually Anthony Van Dyck's Portrait of the Sculptor Duquesnoy, 1627-29)

Rosa's father is in there too, but he also has a story of his own:

Captive of the Sea

(ahem. Some of you might recognise him as Mike Wolfe from American Pickers.
What can I say? It's that expression on his face, it's pure Santiago.)

(this is from the Elegance series by Rob Hefferan)

Rome, Rhymes, and Risk

(um, yes, that is Canadiens defenceman Tomas Plekanec. Why?)
(actually, Devran also looks a bit like actor Tom Ellis.)

(another image from The Orientalist Gallery)

They also look like this when they're together:
(Solomon and Gaenor is one of my favourite films.)

Druid's Moon

(this guy is French Formula 1 racer Romain Grosjean.
I saw his photo in the paper and thought, "Frederick! Since when do you race cars?")

(this is a screenshot from some survey that I took.
I was halfway through when this image appeared on my screen. I was very excited!)


This is completely the wrong face, but the outfit and stance feel right. I still haven't quite located a photo of George's face.

I don't have a picture of Alice! Well, I do. I have a gorgeous shot of a couple on the beach that looks exactly like Alice and George once they've openly admitted to their love for each other, but unfortunately it was a photo that an author shared of her parents (from close to Alice and George's time period) and I haven't yet asked permission to share it here. Sorry, Alice!

And finally, there's this image, which makes me feel like I'm inside a story every time I look at it.
It's Daniel Ridgway Knight's Rural Courtship, but when I saved it on my desktop, I called it "nothing changes, huh?"

Have you read any mermaid themed books recently?

Do you have faces for your characters? Sometimes I wish I could draw/sketch mine!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Tara's Visiting Today! Also ROW80, Blog Blitz, ISWG, Ninja Captain Alex's Giveaway, and Mini Book Reviews

Got a visitor today!

Happy to have Tara here, talking about her new book and other writing related chat:

Thank you so much for having me, Deniz, but also for all of your support over the last handful of years. It means an awful lot.

Hands-On Therapy
After yet another failed attempt at meeting a worthwhile man, in-charge businesswoman Marie Reid drunk dials a so-called sex therapist. Not one to back down from a challenge, she keeps the meeting even after sobering up and vaguely recalling some reference to spanking. When the guy shows up with endless blue eyes, sexy bare feet, and a commanding demeanor that literally wets her appetite, Marie’s reluctance vanishes in a wave of lust. But submitting to just a few deliciously sinful nights of hands-on therapy has her already falling for her very hands-off counselor.

What's your earliest memory related to writing?

The year the space shuttle Challenger exploded my 6th grade English teacher assigned the class to write a poem about the tragedy. She entered mine in a state-wide competition and it got 3rd place. That's my earliest "big" memory I guess. I was writing poetry and song lyrics before that.

Who inspired you to write?

I wouldn't say any one particular author since I admire so many in so many different genres, but my mother's love of reading was passed to me so I suppose in a round about way my mom did. And all of my incredible friends from the Books and Writer's Compuserve forum inspire me on an almost daily basis, and have been for five years.

Which scenes are hardest for you to write?

Sex scenes. There are times I'm rearranging the pantry or folding laundry, or doing some other inane chore, and I realize I was smack in the middle of a sex scene a few moments before and have no recollection of making a conscious decision to get up and do something else! I think highly charged emotional scenes overall have that effect on me, but sex scenes in particular definitely take the top spot.

What's the weirdest thing you've researched?

Good grief, the list is so long I can't even think of anything specific. I also do this for my day job, which means my history is pinging multiple bright lights off every watch list out there, lol!

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

All of my stories, with the exception of Hands-On Therapy, have come from dreams. I dream vividly, and lucidly, and wake up with pretty much the main characters and the basic story arc. They almost always have names already, too. If they don't, I start writing and usually just type a name out automatically. This is how my secondary characters typically get their names, too. I think changing names causes the biggest rebellion from my characters.

How's the indie/self-publishing journey been so far? Do you have any advice for others who might be attempting that route?

I've been happy with it. Formatting was far easier than I thought it would be on Amazon. And once a friend emailed with a tip for Nook that was easy, too. I have yet to figure out Kobo so I'm not sure when I will get my book up there! The support I've received here in the writer blogosphere, from forumites (see Compuserve reference), and from my best friends has been amazing. And the personal feedback I've received on the actual book so far has been astounding.

As far as advice for self-pubbing... I'm going to beat the dead horse: professional editing. It makes all the difference. If you can't afford it, use your CP's and betas to their fullest. For example, I know you are fantastic with both overall arc and grammar, so I save your beta for the last round to make sure I fixed my story arc/continuity issues and also to help me catch those pesky missing words, comma splices (of which I am a ninja master), etc. I have another beta who is phenomenal at the both small and big picture content so she gets it in the first round to save me some embarrassment from the next group reading the original trash.
[Aww, thanks Tara! *blush* I'll put in a plug for the Compuserve forum too - that place is wonderful!]

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

Wow, there's a long list. I will cop to liking Barry Manilow. How's that for embarrassing?

T.L. Watson is a South Floridian transplanted to North Carolina, a wife, a lucky mom of twins, and a lover of Happily Ever After. She writes romances that range from sticky sweet to spicy, and beyond. She can usually be found scribbling hieroglyphics on the wall of her Word cave, and doesn't like chocolate, so in case of emergency lure her out with pumpkin lattes.

Blog | Purchase Links: Amazon Nook

Win a copy of Hands-on Therapy!

I've read two other great books this past week, both widely different to each other but fun and intriguing in their own way.

The first was Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter: 101 Stories about Bad Weather, Good Times, and Great Sports.

Very appropriate for the freezing cold weather we've been having lately! Featuring all sorts of essays and remembrances from various Canadians, including NHLer Vincent Lecavalier (a local boy!).

The second book was Dr. Anthony Martignetti's follow-up to Lunatic Heroes:

Beloved Demons stretches slightly further in time, chronicling early teenage and then early university-era memories. In some parts it's darker than the previous book, and yet not (can't get much more heart-wrenching than Swamp, featuring Bullfrog). But for those of you who have beloved pets, you'll love the two chapters on the love between a man and his dog (you know when you reach that point where you see your pet's face everywhere? A hippo in a National Geographic - looks like Sam!) and on a cat named (sometimes) Java (sometimes) Mocha. The eBook version comes out on Valentine's Day!

Today is also Insecure Writers' Support Group Day! Check out the IWSG Facebook page here.

I've blabbing about three promotions that'll help us celebrate fellow authors.

The first is the upcoming A to Z Challenge!

Have you signed up yet? There are over 500 of us so far. Visit the A to Z blog to meet the hosts and co-hosts and sign up on the linky list.

And help spread the word! Ninja Captain Alex is hosting a giveaway for when he reaches 2000 followers.

Leave a comment on his post here. Meanwhile, all this week CassaFire will be 99 cents on both Amazon and Alex's publisher's page!

Finally, there's our Blog Blitzes, hosted by DL Hammons!

Sign up on the linky list to become a member of the Blog Blitz team. Every once in a while DL picks a blog - and you can recommend blogs too! - and on the appointed day we all visit that blogger and leave a comment on the most recent post. I've seen bloggers get close to 200 comments in one day - what an awesome feeling that must be!

As for ROW80, my main update is that I've been moving forward on the submission front. I'd like to try submitting my SIWC-shortlisted story to magazines, and I'm going to focus on Canadian magazines for now. Got a list of ten options, and now comes the fun part - reading a couple of their latest issues to see which one might be a good fit for my story!

Which new releases are you celebrating this week?
Hope your writing projects are going well!

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