Showing posts from April, 2014

Z is for... Zzzzzzz (and the Whisky Trench Riders)

is for zzzzzzz...

We've reached the end of the A to Z Challenge! Congratulations to all the participants; I think we all deserve a long nap, like the kitty in the drop cap.

I shouldn't, though - I've got ROW80 goals to live up to! I'm still hoping to do a full day's writing marathon, and there are some great Ask Me Anything questions over at the Forum that I can use on my characters.

Of course, it's not over till its over. I've got lots of blog visits to make and so many lovely comments to reply to! Thanks to everyone who came by.

I don't quite miss Canada yet -- but I'm happy to promote it whenever I can! I hope you enjoy my latest YouTube playlist, featuring an awesome Canadian band:

Now it's naptime!

Y is for... Wish You Were Here

is for wish You were here!

I'd love to be able to host a writers' retreat (like Jessica Bell's awesome Homeric retreat in Greece coming up in August) or some other blog-y get together here in Geneva, but as it's not possible at the moment, I've got a prompt for you all!

The instructions go like this: "In Fortunately, the Milk by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, things get rather odd on a father's trip to buy milk for his children. He soon finds himself transported through time and space on an extraordinary adventure where the fate of the universe depends on him, a time-traveling Stegosaurus (in a hot air balloon), and, fortunately, the milk. Some may call this a "tall tale" in which someone tells an exaggerated story to keep an audience's interest. Whether you believe the father or not, use the story as inspiration to write your own tall tale in the space below. Let your imagination run wild, and be sure to make it as detailed as possible so …

X is for... Cliches

is for cliches. I'm not sure why the letter X made me think of the word cliche, but I've got one heck of a cliche for you:

Chocolates from Switzerland!

And if you don't like or can't have chocolate, how about some cheese?

And if you don't like or can't have cheese... I'm sure there's a cold drink of some sort I can offer you!

W is for... Writing I Ought to be Doing

is for writing I ought to be doing.

I suppose it's understandable that I haven't had time for writing or editing, but I still feel guilty (especially when checking in for ROW80)! I still mean to attempt the NaNoWriMo all day marathon, which officially took place a couple of weeks ago, but which I'll try tomorrow or next Saturday. It would be easiest to start drafting a new story, of course, but what I ought to do is focus on editing or, failing that, typing up last year's NaNo novel. Meanwhile, I heard about a couple of new agents entering the field, and queried them with one of the completed novels, so fingers crossed!

Author Malcolm Campbell was recently part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour, which featured four questions. Here are my answers:

What am I working on?

At the moment, day job and house-setting-up. I should be editing Druid's Moon some more, and typing up last year's NaNo story Larksong. I've also got some knitting projects I'd like to s…

V is for... Medeia Sharif's Snip, Snip ReVenge

is for Medeia Sharif's latest release (I'll be featuring a review soon!) -- and she's got a giveaway too!

SNIP, SNIP REVENGE by Medeia Sharif
YA Contemporary, Evernight Teen
Release Date April 25, 2014
Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. The fastest barber in Miami Beach has made her look practically bald. 

With all her pretty hair gone, Tabby doesn’t believe she fits the feminine role she’s auditioning for. Michael is still interested in her, but he’s playing it cool. Heather has taken to bullying her online, which is easier to do with Tabby’s ugly haircut. Tabby spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until all of her problems deepen. After messing up, she sets to make things right.
Author Bi…

U is for... Upcoming Book Releases

is for upcoming book releases!

We moved into our own place in Geneva last week, so now that I have a real address, I'm excited to order new books!

Here they are in no particular order:

Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon

This is the eighth book in the Outlander series, and Diana's got a lovely explanation of the cover image, which is an octothorpe (hashtag!):

As you can see, she's been sharing lots of excerpts and spoilers, and also has a link detailing release dates in countries outside of North America. Visit for info!

Beowulf, translated by J. R. R. Tolkien
"Beowulf is is the longest epic poem in Old English, and is dated to the early 11th century. It survives in a single manuscript, housed at the British Library, and has inspired countless retellings of the myth - recently and famously by the late Seamus Heaney, whose translation won him the Whitbread book of year award in 1999.

Tolkien himself called the story 'laden with hi…

T is for... Tolkien

is for J. R. R. Tolkien, of course!

Couldn't go through the A to Z without mentioning him once. Over one hundred years ago, in 1911, before he'd begun to write most if not all of his legends and stories, Tolkien went on a hiking tour in Switzerland.

Now a company called Alpenwild is featuring recreations of Tolkien's trip:

Lots of places claim to be the "real" Middle-earth, though of course it all depends on which part of Middle-earth you're seeking to experience. Hurst Green in Lancashire, which I visited two years ago, is undoubtedly close to what The Shire must be like.

Lauterbrunnen, meanwhile, where Tolkien walked in 1911, might just be the inspiration for Rivendell.

Here are three pictures that Tolkien drew of Rivendell:

from The One Ring
from Tolkien Gateway
from M Gray's page
And here are some Google screenshots of Lauterbrunnen:

I'd like to take the Tolkien tour myself someday, though it's rather far from Geneva (says the one who's come…

S is for... Speaking Four Languages

is for speaking four languages!

Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Terms used by locals, and not usually used outside of Switzerland, are known as Helvetisms. Apparently some of these words have been borrowed by others over the years, and heimweh, or homesickness (in German) is one of them, first used by Swiss soldiers posted far afield:

Source: Oxford English Dictionary I love that first quotation and its reference to distemper, referred to on the German Wikipedia page as "'Schweizerkrankheit' - morbus helveticus."
An interesting new word for me was bise:

Source: Oxford English Dictionary
We felt this wind for the first time the other day, and I could see its rippling effects on the lake, which is otherwise usually clear as glass.

Meanwhile, peacocks and peahens on the United Nations grounds!

Have you heard the call of the peacock? How would you describe it? Some people say it sounds like a cat, but that doesn't quite fit.

R is for... Renverse, and Other Coffee and Desserts

is for renversé. And other coffees, and desserts.

All writers need coffee, and I love coffee with hot milk - I could drink the stuff all day.

Here they call it a renverse because... Well, here's the explanation from the Nespresso (a Swiss brand!) site:
"CAPPUCCINO, LATTE, FLAT WHITE, MACCHIATO – WITH OR WITHOUT CREAM, SPRINKLED WITH CHOCOLATE, A DASH OF VANILLA OR PINCH OF CINNAMON... BARISTAS IN EVERY CORNER OF THE WORLD, HUNCHED OVER GLEAMING MACHINES, HAVE A GIFT FOR INVENTING ORIGINAL COFFEE RECIPES. Every culture has its own speciality: from the Portuguese galão – one part espresso to three parts hot milk, served in a glass – to the Hong Kong style yuanyang – three parts Arabica, plus seven parts milky tea. Amidst all these subtly different national drinks, where does Switzerland fit in? Alongside Nespresso, milk is a national treasure. It goes without saying that these two Swiss perfections are made for one another. Even better, Switzerland has long boasted a tradition…

Q is for... Questions

is for Questions!

So far I've had four questions:

Who is Louis Favre?

His was the first statue I saw when we arrived, in the park across from our hotel:

I didn't search too hard, as his Wikipedia entry was fascinating enough. Favre was an engineer who took on the Gotthard Rail tunnel project in the 19th century, building a tunnel through the Gotthard massif to connect Switzerland and Italy:
"The project was, for the time, a vast undertaking, verging on folly according to many critics. Construction of the tunnel was accompanied by very considerable loss of life and escalation of cost, arising out of the novelty of the endeavour and the most insurmountable difficulties which presented themselves." He died in the tunnel before it was completed. Apparently the tunnel is currently undergoing renovations. As far as I can tell, the oldest rail line is the Brenner line and (again according to Wikipedia) "is the only transalpine rail route without a major tunnel."


P is for... Ariana Park

is for Ariana Park, the park on the grounds of the United Nations.

"The park was originally owned by the Revilliod de Rive family whose last descendant bequeathed it to the City of Geneva. ...

One of the bequest's conditions was that peacocks should roam freely on its grounds. It is not unusual to see peacocks dancing in full splendor in the Palais grounds. Most of the birds that visitors can see today are peafowl donated to UNOG in 1997 by a zoo in Japan. Others were a gift from the Permanent Mission of India. The birds are fed and cared for by the park's gardeners. ...

The grounds of the Palais des Nations house three nineteenth century villas: La Fenêtre, Le Bocage and La Pelouse, dating from 1820, 1823 and 1853 respectively. These villas were originally private residences. ...

On 9 June 2009, the United Nations Office at Geneva [was] awarded the prestigious "Nature Reserve Certificate" by the Swiss non-profit organization "Fondation Nature and Economi…