Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lots of Photos! and ROW80 Final

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last couple of posts! I'm coming 'round to visit you all soon.

Real life has been rather hectic which is why... even though it's the end of another Round of Words in 80 Days, I haven't met my goal yet. Still have a few days left in June in which to do so -- I want to take part in the June exercise on the writers' forum.

I can't pretend it's all been real life, though. I spent four days reading, after this happened:



You don't have to have read the first seven (!) Outlander books to enjoy Written in My Own Heart's Blood, and I highly recommend this latest one. It's a brilliant example of seamless storytelling, filled with emotional highs and lows, pathos and humour, and wonderfully involved family relationships. Plus adventure, battles, romance, intrigue and time travel -- and more.

I've got lots of photos today!

Peacock supervises deer at the Geneva botanical gardens
First time I've ever seen European deer!

Flamingoes at the botanical gardens

One of the botanical gardens greenhouses

And inside... cacti!

Geneva music festival

A street in the old town

Place de Neuve during the music festival

Day trip to Lausanne, headquarters of the International Olympic Committee

View of Lausanne rooftops. Lausanne is a very very hilly town.

Intriguing sculpture
We didn't cross the street to read about him, because we'd just climbed our fifth steep city street under a hot sun
34 degrees Celsius!

The best thing to do was stop for lunch -- and we happened to find a Canadian restaurant!

Tour de l'Ale, remnant of the medieval fortifications of Lausanne

English church in Lausanne

Isn't that a lovely door?

Port d'Ouchy in Lausanne
I Googled Ouchy just now, to see where the name comes from, but couldn't find an answer
Instead, I learned that Ouchy was where the First Treaty of Lausanne was signed, concluding the year-long war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire, in 1912!

Back in Geneva... where there are free public pianos set up all over the city

Here's one near the Broken Chair outside the United Nations

Gift from Portugal to Geneva

Hope you've taken some interesting day trips lately, too!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

L. M. Montgomery, Reading Habits, and a Story Snip

Varied reading habits...

It's funny how sometimes I'll read a book by an author, love it, and then never read a book by that author again (ever, or at least for many years). Sometimes I don't even seek out the sequel of a book, even if I've adored the first one. I'm not sure what makes me do that, when other times I'll race to devour everything by a newly-discovered favourite author (*cough*NeilGaiman*coughcough*) or at least read and reread every book of a particular series.

Every once in a while it's because other books by an author turn out to be a disappointment.

One example that comes to mind is the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery. I love those books. I reread them all the time. I even complained about a recent reissue that failed to include both Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside.

At some point last year I re-realised that there were other Montgomery books out there. I think I read Kilmeny of the Orchard ages ago, but hadn't explored some of the other series. I ordered copies of Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat from a secondhand bookstore, and started reading the first one...and I still haven't finished it. It was just so dull! There's my confession.

On the other hand, as part of its reissue of the Anne of Green Gables books this past spring, Sourcebooks are also issuing a series of "Forgotten Classics" by L. M. Montgomery, including The Blue Castle, A Tangled Web, Jane of Lantern Hill, Pat of Silver Bush, Mistress Pat and Magic for Marigold. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of Jane of Lantern Hill!



Such a sweet tale! Jane's a likeable, endearing heroine, and I really wish there was a sequel to this book featuring an older Jane. She doesn't get into quite the scrapes that Anne does, but has a few adventures of her own - including leading an escaped circus lion through the village and back to its owners. I love the easy bantering relationship between her and her father, and through them was reminded of an aspect of Canadian literature I haven't explored very well - habitant poetry, written by early French-Canadian settlers.

And at one point, Jane uses one of my favourite odd words - snoots.



I just realised the OED doesn't quite cover the definition that I know and have seen used - to give snoots, which is to stick one's nose in the air at someone.

The trouble with reading these books is they make me long for a historical Canada I'll never be able to see, all neighbourly farming villages, long trips by train, stately houses on broad Toronto streets, extended Prince Edward Island coastlines... Come to think of it, all those things are still around. You just have to look past the modern high rises and greater population, and they're all still there.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who's loved the Anne books, or everyone who'd like a glimpse into early Canadian life.

Meanwhile, though I haven't done much for ROW80 this week, I found an old snip... In my W post in April, I mentioned my story The Face of A Lion: I had an image come in my head of a boy and a cat walking down a dusty road, and the sea was rising behind them. I knew it meant they were walking back into time. And so I started writing to find out what happened...

Here's a snip from Chapter Two. Austin met the cat yesterday, and now the cat has come to remind him of his promise:
It seemed only moments later that he heard someone calling his name. He started up in surprise, blinking. The cat, who had been purring about his head, rolled neatly off his chest to sit on the mattress, still gazing, steadfast, into his eyes. His black nose was only an inch away.
The voice was there – just as he had heard it the day before.
"Have you thought anymore about what I asked you?"
Austin was certain now that it was the cat's voice, and underneath the words he heard again a low rumble, almost as though he was purring while speaking. Yet the cat's mouth was hardly open at all.
"Yes?" The cat laid a paw on his shoulder, expectant, claws sheathed.
He sat up straighter, having recovered breath enough to whisper. "Yes! But I don't know anything about – about –"
"No matter. There will be time enough on the way to tell you everything. Wear the simplest clothes that you have."
The cat jumped off the bed and turned toward the half-open door. "Be ready when I come tomorrow at dawn."
"Wait!" Austin called. "What do you mean 'be ready'? What should I bring? Where are we going? I don't even know your name!"
The cat slowly brought his head round to stare at him once more. "It's Kedi. Kedi Venter Pipire of Camulodunon, which the Romans altered to Camulodunum. But you can call me Kedi. And not where but when."
Kedi turned away and swished his tail back and forth as he left the room.

Hope you enjoyed it!

If you'd like to share short snips from your own WiPs, please do so in the comments!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Anniversaries and Commemorations - Tetris, Rik Mayall, the Wars

A week of anniversaries and commemorations.

6 June was the thirtieth anniversary of Tetris! I remember playing the game on a desktop pc in 1992 or thereabouts. We had one 3.5" disk with Tetris on it, one with PacMan and two (because one didn't have enough memory!) with a set of games called California Games, which included things like hackey sack and BMX. Oh yes, and another disk with J-Bird and two with Dark Castle -- an awesome game that I was never very good at. I watched my dad and my sister play. They were good at Kingdom of Kroz too, but I loved Moraff's Revenge. I think I even have a semi updated version of Moraff's Revenge on the laptop I'm using right now. Yet I always go back to Tetris. At one point I had the highest score in the family. My grandmother, meanwhile, beat us all at PacMan.

Every once in a while I take a break and play for a while over at Free Tetris, but it's not the same colours and music that I remember. And I'm not allowed breaks at the moment as I haven't made time for my ROW80 goals at all!

And now something sad - Rik Mayall has passed away.

You might remember him from such classic shows as:

The Young Ones



Bottom



Blackadder



And speaking of the wars - I learned two new things this week thanks to History Needs You (Historian, Edutainer and Broadcaster Matthew Ward, and Manager, Editor and Writer Gill Fraser Lee):

The explosion of the Messines mines during World War I:


The Mulberry Harbours, immense piers and landings constructed in only a few days (after trials in Scotland and Wales) to aid the DDay landings:


Other commemorations - the latest book in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, is out! I am avoiding any and all mentions for fear of possible spoilers, until my copy is delivered. It's hard not to open tantalisingly titled threads on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, or messages from the Yahoo mailing lists... If you have it, don't say anything!

And bloggers! I've gotten so many lovely comments this past month - I've got to drop by and visit you all!

What are you commemorating this week?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

All About Reading: BookADay Meme, ROW80 and IWSG

Look at this fun meme!

The Borough Press is doing a #bookaday celebration on Twitter:



I'm not going to attempt to answer them all in one post, but will list here the ones that come to mind first. The answer to #1 is all of them! I reread a lot of the books I read as a child.

#3 One with a blue cover:

Why, Outlander, of course!

#4 Least favourite book by favourite author

England, England by Julian Barnes.

#6 The one I always give as a gift

That's an easy one: I always give away Forumites' books! Diana Gabaldon, Jo Bourne, ZanMarie Steadham, Kristen Callihan...and many more wonderful authors!

#7 Forgot I owned it

I have an ongoing problem with Lynne Reid Banks' The Indian in the Cupboard. I've read the first one, and I have one of the others, which I think I've read, but I keep buying that one by accident at book fairs, instead of the one I'm missing, which comes in between that one and the first book. So silly!

#19 Still can't stop talking about it and #29 The one I have reread most often

Both the same: The Lord of the Rings -- nearly 25 years of rereads and still going strong!

Speaking of reading, I've fallen behind again in A Round of Words in 80 Days.


I have a good excuse though: I've been busy with beta reads. I'm hoping to participate in the June exercise on the Forum, which is all about how to ensure your characters behave in unpredictable ways.

Today is Insecure Writer's Support Group Day!


Again speaking of reading, I'm thinking that as writers, one of the greatest things we can do is support literacy.

There's an awesome Kickstarter going on right now:

Bring Reading Rainbow back!

The details are all on the project page, but essentially it's all about helping to lower the 1 in 4 illiteracy rate in the United States by making Reading Rainbow available (in many cases for free) to classrooms and various media platforms across the country. And there are lots of fun rewards!

A couple of weeks ago I read the first book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series for the first time. The planet in these books is balanced on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle.

And then I walked past the Woodrow Wilson monument at work...


...and suddenly noticed a detail I hadn't seen before:

Four turtles!

I can't resist sharing more sunshine-y photos:

Local produce on display at the 19th Century market held
to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Geneva's joining the Swiss Confederation

19th Century Empress of Austria (again sideways! but I swear I rotated the photo!)

Here is where the Empress was assassinated (she was on a boat)

Pretty!

Smelled lovely too

Lakeside on a sunny day



Swan family

Hope you're having a sunshine-y week!
What books would you choose for the BookADay meme?

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2016/12/annual-books-read-statistics-2016.html
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2015/12/annual-books-read-statistics.html
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2014/12/books-read-in-2014-review.html
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html