Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New Blogs!, Ongoing Blog Blitz, and ROW80 Round Three Final Check In

It's the end of another round of A Round of Words in 80 Days!

If I sound excited, it's because I've actually been consistent this round; typed a few hundred words each day, and even did some formatting on the Alfred Russel Wallace letters I've been transcribing. I just need to double check all the words I wasn't able to decipher at first glance and then I can send off this batch.

Caught up on a teensy bit of blog visiting too, especially voting on the WRiTE Club final. And here are two interesting (brand new!) blogs:

The Nature of my Memories: lovely flowers and nostalgia

Desserts and Drawings: one drawing and one yummy recipe per week

Plus the Blog Blitz, hosted by DL Hammons, is still going strong!

"...what would it be like if the support, encouraging nature, and community spirit of the blogosphere were ever focused on a single blogger? ... Sign up on the [linky list], 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!"

Part two of the figurative language writer's exercise is up on the Forum; here's the short version of my scene, featuring characters from Larksong:

From the aviary, the chittering of the birds suddenly rose. He pictured Alice as she'd been yesterday, straight as a goal post, with that elegant thin-limbed stance. Her shoulders back, and both palms held tirelessly high in the air, as the birds swooped in and out, taking seeds from her hands.
A wild image came to him, of himself grabbing her about the waist from behind, birds and seeds scattering every which way as he buried a kiss deep in her neck.
"What in blazes?" he muttered, and turned away from the house. "Pull yourself together, man!" He tried to focus once more on the building opposite and the finances of his country club daydream. Yet the image of Alice in the aviary, flushed by his kisses, would not leave him.

The full scene is over at the Forum, if you'd like more of George and Alice.

Do you use figurative language often or sparingly?

Which blogs would you recommend for the Blog Blitz?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Writer's Exercises, ROW80, and Deadly Contact by Lara Lacombe

Quick post today as I'm hoping to start catching up on comments. Thanks to everyone who's come by lately!

The current round of A Round of Words in 80 Days is nearly over. I've done steady work on my typing; over 5000 words of Larksong already typed up. I can see where a lot of editing will be required, though (sigh).

Hoping to use a scene from that story during the second part of the September writer's exercise on the Forum. Here's what we did for part one:
"We’re going to use some figurative language.
First select the subject.
1. A celestial object: sun, moon, stars, comet, rocket, etc.
2. A geographical feature: mountains, meadows, canyons, dunes, desert, etc.
3. A body of water: ocean, lake, river, waterfall, puddle, etc.
4. Growing things: trees, forest, garden, weeds, cactus, etc.
5. An animal: Oh boy. Pick one
6. A gem: Again, pick one.
Now comes the fun part. Begin by brainstorming. What does your chosen word remind you of? Let’s say you picked the sea. Is it like a cauldron, a playful child, a wicked woman, a temptress, a mirror, and so on. Think about movement and mood. Does it dash, crash, rumble, or hypnotize, soothe, whisper?"

Here are the three sentences I came up with:

The squeak of a small child at night, like a kitten with a full belly who mews for yet one drop more.

She was all hard like the lines of a crystal, but whenever I came to her, each facet softened and blurred and I saw her rainbows.

Sleep came over him as I watched, wavering, as moonlight does over the still surface of sea waters cradled in an Aegean cove.

As you can see, similes and metaphors are difficult to use! Original ones in published works always catch my eye; it's such a wonderful way to be inventive as a writer.

Speaking of the forum, I just read a great book by a fellow Forumite: Deadly Contact by Lara Lacombe.

"It's a race against time—and a fatal outbreak—in this thriller of a debut
In one passionate night Special Agent James Reynolds and scientist Kelly Jarvis went from friends to lovers. Then Kelly walked away with only an apology. Now James is charged with solving a bioterrorist attack—and Dr. Jarvis works at the suspected lab.
Is Kelly an accomplice or a victim? Just what are her secrets that drove her from James's bed? Soon one thing becomes clear: The ghosts of her past have nothing on the terrorists targeting her and Washington, D.C. Another threat bathes the city in red alert, and now there are lives at stake, in addition to hearts..."

Fast-paced and smooth, this story had me eagerly moving from one chapter to the next. I loved the way the characters started as friends and the slow unravelling of their deeper emotions for each other. And it's always exciting when a story has the reader go "I never expected that!"
Highly recommended!

Which books have kept you in suspense lately?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Big C Bloghop, Thanksgiving in Geneva, ROW80, and a Song

Happy thanksgiving!

No, it's not a joke. Yesterday was the Jeûne genevois holiday here in Geneva, the fasting day which is a holiday in all of Switzerland but falls on a different day in Geneva.

The tradition began back in the 16th Century, apparently, as a way to show solidarity with the suffering of the Huguenots in France. Wikipedia doesn't say why, and I haven't delved further, but it appears to be a somewhat recent tradition to have plum pie on this day. Sounds yummy to me!

It's interesting to think of all the titbits and trivia I've learned since we first moved here. I wrote a brief article on them all for the Turkish newspaper Bizim Anadolu.

I'm posting early for the Big C Bloghop, hosted by the wonderful Michael di Gesu.

The goal of this bloghop is to compile an anthology to help towards Melissa's treatment. "For this anthology post on Sept 15 a story about cancer. We are trying for comical, uplifting, inspirational... Let's give cancer a big kick in the pants! All posts will be included in the anthology so please edit it as best you can. Thanks All!!!"

I don't have one specific story, just a lot of warm memories of friends and family. It's scary, in a way, how many people we each know that have been and are affected by cancer. I like to say affected instead of afflicted because I try to see something positive in every situation. I'm on my annual reread of The Lord of the Rings and there's a great line by Sam, quoting his father: "Where there's life there's hope...and need of vittles."
Speaking of food reminds me of one specific memory: a great aunt who was diagnosed with cancer the summer of our wedding and told she didn't have much of a chance... She just congratulated us over Skype the other day on our ten-year anniversary!
I hope that was short and sweet. Sending Melissa lots of {{hugs}}

And now for a brief interlude, a song about good times:

I'm excited, too, because I've gotten some steady ROW80 work done, typing a few hundred words per day of last year's NaNo story. I won't think yet about all the editing it'll require... Hope you hop over to Michael's and join in the anthology!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group, New Brenda Novak, and a Snip

Can't believe it's September already! Where does the time go?

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day today!

We make all these schedules at the start of the year and then...well, real life does happen. But that's one reason the Round of Words in Eighty Days goal setting is so flexible. As founder Kait Nolan says, it's the writing challenge that knows you have a life!

Another aspect of real life is that sometimes your muse can fade. At that point the goals you've set can either hold you to task or make you feel doibly guilty that you can't achieve them without any inspiration.

One thing I might try, since real life is keeping me from editing (and a few of my other goals), is to not feel so guilty if I start drafting another story!

I've got two or three ideas I'd like to explore but I've been putting it off, thinking I shouldn't be drafting new stories while so many others need editing. But that's very self-limiting, isn't it? If I've got time and space to write (especially since I draft with paper and pen, and what could be more portable?), then why not go ahead?

No need to feel insecure!

In fact, I've already written a very brief scene of a dystopian idea, as part of the August exercise on the Forum:
"I've lost control."
What'd you say?" Sam glanced up from across the table, then shut his book and slid it to one side, obviously more than ready to give up the pretense that they were studying.
Summer hadn't realised she'd spoken aloud. She lowered her eyes to her own book and muttered, "I've lost an earring."
She'd been fingering her earlobe, running a hand on her collar, but forced herself to stop and wait a second. No sense drawing undue attention from the nearby tables. Someone might pick up the earring-microphone and hear a crackle of static.
The cameras saw everything and there'd be no missing the reaction on the face of someone who thought they were trying to help a fellow student and discovered a spy instead.
She didn't dare meet Sam's gaze, but copied a line from the text into her notebook, turned a page in the text, and made a tiny annotation in the left hand column, as though marking her place for the next study session.
This single bit of carelessness could cost her entire mission. If she couldn't recover her link to control, she'd have to rig up another method of contact. Otherwise she'd be trapped in the Domed City.
There weren't enough teams available for control to spare a search and rescue mission for idiots who couldn't even keep their communication devices screwed in.

Twisting in her seat, to face the nearest camera full on, Summer finally looked at Sam. She was pleased to see he'd kept up an act too. He was slumped over his closed text, doodling in his notebook, the very image of the lazy boyfriend who'd rather be out partying than studying and who certainly hadn't heard a word she'd said.
"I've lost my earring," she repeated, enunciating for the benefit of the watchers behind the cameras. "Help me look."
She dove under the table. If the device wasn't here, or caught on her clothes, or up in her dorm -- any place she'd been in the last hour -- that meant only one thing.
It had fallen when they'd snuck out to explore The Staring House.
Not fallen; she wouldn't lie to herself. She had lost her only contact with control. They wouldn't send a search party, but they'd deploy a replacement team as soon as possible in order not to jeopardise the mission, and then her failure would be discovered.
She refused to allow that to happen. And she would not let herself be captured, at least not without leaving behind more information than the team before her had been able to gather.
Communication with control or no, there was no other choice.
The Staring House must be infiltrated.

I'm also in the middle of another exciting Brenda Novak book, this one a standalone historical romance: A Matter of Grave Concern:

"When Maximillian Wilder joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but he has to gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could bring.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene and protect her, no matter the risk to his plan . . . or his heart."

Hope everyone's having a less insecure day! I'll try to visit many of you but might not have enough time to comment everywhere...

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