Showing posts from 2008

Next Step

I finished editing!!!

And now... I've got to tackle the electronic MS, entering all those edits, fixing dialogue, typing up linking bits... oh, and, um, writing the last couple of pages.

6 pages per day - I should be able to do this, but if willpower fails, there's always the Mission girls!

The goal is to finish by 1 February, since I've got about 10 beta readers lined up! I gave the first chapter to friends and family back in August - the chapter's changed since then, thankfully, since I got no feedback whatsoever... Non-writers!

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programme

Three days and eighteen pages left to go on the editing, and I'm getting a little discouraged... Seems I really ran out of steam in the last few chapters - lots of loose ends to tie up and dialogue to fix and description to add.
I love Austin and Kedi and their story but I wish... I'm not sure. Time alone with a computer? More hours in the day?
Whatever it is, though, I'd like to figure it out before the new year (remember the Charlie Brown when Lucy enters Linus in the New Year pageant? and Linus gets all stressed? I tried to find a link of some sort but Google didn't turn anything up this time...) comes in - and then institute a regimen of some sort (sorry, had to use that word - just caught someone trying to use it but saying regiment instead, without understanding the difference) and then stick to it.
Sven is still going strong, so he might provide some incentive...

That's What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown


Oh, Okay, I'll Play Too

Blogs and mailing lists I follow are all into the Bookworm Meme (find the nearest book, open it to page 56, and read the 5th sentence (why page 56?)).
*looks around*
Ha! The day I finally decide to play I'm at the office with no books and I don't even have my commuting book with me cos I'm editing my own novel on the train... Here you go...

From The Face of A Lion (the fifth sentence is kinda short. Therefore I'm just going to give you the whole of page 56):

"But why me?"
"All those who are chosen for such tasks ask that very same question. It is a mark of your humility that you should wonder at your own capabilities." Kedi's whiskers still tickled his knee. "The presence of such humility, couple with a dedication to the task before you, is precisely why you are suited so completely to this undertaking. Parua scintilla saepe magnam flamum excitat - a small spark often ignites a great flame."
Kedi's words swam in his head. As far as he co…

Books Read in 2008 Part VI

Forgot two more!
Sweet and Savoury Bites - an Australian baking book - and Tartans, both birthday presents :-)
Now I can make lamingtons! Thanks Sim! If you had a blog I could tag you...

Books Read in 2008 Part V

Addendum 2:

Of course, none of the statistics below take into account any of the beta reading I've done, of my own novel or others' novels... Not to mention Letters from Home, monthly exercises, and so on, over at the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum, the best writers' hangout on the web!

Books Read in 2008 Part IV

Two books that are missing from the list:
Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp
Cost of Freedom by Carol Spradling
I don't know what happened to Britannia Mews; I read it back in August, so must have forgotten to add it to the list... Cost of Freedom I just started!
So that makes 104 books over 50 weeks if I finish the Pink Fairy Book this weekend...

Books Read in 2008 Part III


Books read: 101

Average over 50 weeks: about 2 books per week

Authors read: 69 plus a few compendiums (Folio Forewords, Stories Before Tolkien, Australian Short Stories, Stitch 'n' Bitch, Dear Canada, Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization, Panorama of the Classical World)

Most by one author: apparently it's the Alex Rider series at 5 books; next come Emily Carr and Dorothy Sayers at 4 books each

Caveat: I would have read more by Joanna Bourne and Marilynne Robinson but they've only published 2 and 3 to date, respectively

Oldest book: hmm, oldest published or oldest author? that is, Aesop's the oldest author, followed by Pliny, but the oldest original book (ie not a reprint) was Sayers, followed by Fante and Steinbeck (yay! for second hand bookshops!)

Newest book: well, many of them are reprints so it's hard to tell... Actually, it must be Joanna Bourne and Marilynne Robinson's latest, since they were released this year and I bought them straight a…

Books Read in 2008 Part II

Here are all the books I read in the past year (I wish I'd kept this sort of list from the age of 10 or so...):

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling (lovely!)
Hundreds and Thousands by Emily Carr (lovely; lots of good advice on creativity, among other tidbits; yesterday was the 137th anniversary of Emily Carr's birth; I wish I could have been her friend))
Ask the Dust by John Fante (Has anyone else read this? What'd y'all think? It wasn't as much fun as Full of Life)
StitchnBitch Nation (Birthday Gift from Helen! Sooo many patterns to choose from!)
Hindsight by Barbara Rogan (read it! read it!) (
Stories by John Buchan (the Folio edition; our erstwhile Governor General!)
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck (still very relevant!)
First Folio (collection of forewords from 15 Folio Society books)
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski (short story; very affecting)
Borders by Thomas King …

Books Read in 2008 Part I

Here are the books I probably won't finish before the new year:
Life by Richard Fortey (a history of the first 4 billion years of life on Earth)
The Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Agape Flower by Ilyas Halil (translation from Turkish)
Altin Yaldizli Adam by... I forgot
Der Ruf der Trommel (Drums of Autumn) by Diana Gabaldon (reading at intervals)
Yabanci (Outlander in Turkish) by Diana Gabaldon (ditto)
The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry (ditto)
Paradise Lost by John Milton (ditto)
The Divine Comedy: Hell by Dante translated by Dorothy Sayers (ditto)

I might finish The Pink Fairy Book, but the others, especially the Turkish ones, there's no chance. I haven't touched 'em in weeks!

Well That Was Depressing...

I can't believe I have to rewrite my opening. Meanwhile, here are some photos of the weather we've been having:

The view from work, last week:

Walking to the train station the next morning:

At the train station:

Trees at the train station:

A couple of days later I was on this street:

And I saw some late geese!:

As well as a frozen magnolia:

Change to Come

Nathan's chosen his winner in the paragraph contest, and commented on three trends he's seen in the 1300+ submissions. Check out pattern two:

"2) Small, finely rendered observation. This is followed by the particular shape of the moon or the wisps of grass and the particular temperature that still night or perfect sunset that lulls us into a sense of place and setting. And then we linger in that scene still longer to see one more even more finely rendered detail, and still another, leading us to the very thing the author seeks. That is, until the shocking statement."

That's me all over.
Well, guess that means I'll be completely revising my opening...

Craft Fair, New Wool

The 53rd Salon des metiers d'art du Quebec is going on right now across the street from where I work, featuring all sorts of handmade candles, soaps, leather goods, clothing, woodwork and so on. Usually there are at least two or three booths selling handknit products; one such booth this year was also selling their own wool. Of course I bought some :-)

The wool comes from the sheep on the Icelaine farm, south of Trois-Rivieres, in a part of Quebec that features a large number of interesting saints' names:

The sheep are all named:

I would love to visit this farm someday. The closest I got was the two skeins of white and two skeins of brown-black wool I purchased. The latter two became this scarf, which I finished over the weekend:

Close up of basket weave:

Here's My Paragraph

If anyone wants to take a look, the first paragraph or so from The Face of A Lion:

Austin met the cat during his first week in Kuşadası.
Bored with helping his parents clean their villa, he set out to explore the town. Every few minutes he had to climb onto the stone wall edging the street – there were never any sidewalks in this country – when a car or bus full of tourists whizzed past on the narrow road, a stench of diesel fumes floating behind. He peered through the exhaust and added up the houses he had passed. His mum had said there were forty houses in the original village. Something had to be wrong somewhere, because he’d counted every house for the past ten blocks and already reached sixty, and there were still a few streets before he reached the ice cream shop –
An unearthly howl filled the air, drowning out the disappearing rumble of the car. It came again, close at hand, and Austin ran to the crossroads.

Comment Number 543

That's me! Right after the paragraph about a kill and right before another YA...
Nathan Bransford, blogging agent extraordinaire is hosting his 2nd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge and the deadline is tomorrow - enter while you can!


I haven't done much real work on the novel in the past couple of months. I've been watching Jenny's progress as she ploughs through revisions on her way to the Golden Heart submission deadline - yay Jenny! for finishing. But I've been caught up with other projects, such as knitting, and general laziness, and the weight of guilt was beginning to make my shoulders sag.

So when Rachel announced over on the Forum that this month's goals should be "specific [and] measurable" I jumped at the chance to finally get my fingers in gear.

I announced that I would calculate a specific number of pages to edit per day. The Face of A Lion currently stands at 200 pages (in my own quirky formatting (proper page margins, but Arial size 10 instead of TNR size 12)).

200/30 days = 6 pages a day!

That's it! I can do that! No matter how lazy I am!

And I proved it to myself too - sat down and red-penned my way through 12 pages last night. Which means I can take New Year's Eve …

I Am A...

Got this from Nina:

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

What Holiday Food Are You?

A Fun Christmas Survey

I got tagged by Carol! And I ditto the tag on the M:A ladies...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags - with lots of tissue

2. Real tree or artificial? Real, but we haven't gotten once since that first year, because of Frodo and Sam and the whole still-cleaning-pine-needles-in-June thing...

3. When do you put up the tree? Well it would be 1 December, but see 2)

4. When do you take the tree down? – Hmm, after Twelfth Night, I suppose

5. What do you do with your tree after you take it down? See, here's the thing, I'm not sure I support all this cutting down of trees stuff anyway...

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Carol got an Etch-A-Sketch! Mine was probably Lego

7. Hardest person to buy for? Nieces and nephews - they already have everything and they're too young to read

8. Easiest person to buy for? My sister - always so many options!

9. Do you have a nativity scene? A small carved one

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Both - so many people overseas!

11. Worst Christma…

The Face of A Lion Update

I'm about two pages away from being able to scrawl The End on the manuscript! Also, since I already started editing before it was completely finalised, I'm roughly halfway through that as well - on Chapter 20 of about 35.
Yet for the past couple of weeks I've been finding it hard to get motivated - or disciplined, whichever you prefer - and have mostly been futsing around with my research notes and typing up already-written scenes and printing it all out to see what it looks like.

If anyone knows of a YA contest or even a short-story contest for YA or middle grade writing, please let me know! I need some flint and tinder to spark up my kindling.

Meanwhile, I've been reading quite a bit (so what else is new?) but as December comes in tomorrow, I've *got* to finish all the books that I'm still in the middle of, in order to do a year-end review of my Books Read list (see sidebar). I wish I had kept these lists from about age 10, but it's also exciting plan a look…

The Only Tea I Drink

besides Earl Grey, of course :-)

Cats of Istanbul

Courtesy of Snail's Tales:
Part One
Part Two

6 Strange/Quirky Things About Me...

I tagged myself off Linda's blog! Now I'm tagging you!

1. There are way too many quotes in my head. No, not poetry, unfortunately, but The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Red Dwarf, Fawlty Towers, etc.

2. I just don't like tea. I mean, I don't mind it, and I love the idea of it, but give me a latte any day.

3. I memorise numbers. I can't do much with them, but I remember them all, old phone numbers, combinations, etc. Also, if I have a list of things to remember for a test, or as part of a To Do pile, I can remember them all if only I remember how many items there were.

4. Currently, I've got 6 knitting projects, 1 nearly-complete novel, 1 complete but unedited novel and 3-10 new writing projects on the go. And yet I'm a total time-waster...

5. I can bend my pinky finger all the way back to touch the top of my hand.

6. National anthems make me cry :-)

Best Cruise Ever!

Birthday Slacker

Between my birthday yesterday and a very busy work week, I've barely done anything but catch up beta reading and post fly-by comments on certain blogs, the forum and our accountability circle. Not to mention poor Sven, who's probably wondering what became of all my high-falutin goals.
My only goal for the rest of this week is therefore to write at least one scene. Maybe two. There's a great post about that today on Sven's page.
And to catch up on all the pontificating going on, including this great thread over at the accountability circle...
Also waiting for news from Australia :-)

Round Four is On!

Sven's back! Round four of the Seventy Days of Sweat started yesterday - I'm meant to be writing and/or editing at least 850 words per day. Here's hoping the Accountability Circle helps keep me on track!

In other news, Jo's website is up! Visit her here.

So Many Google Books...

...So Little Time is the title of a recent post by Snail's Tales, about how many interesting books there are on Google Books, and how there's just not time enough to read them all.

I can't read books on the computer, my eyes glaze over and I get distracted; instead, my method is to print them, four pages per sheet and double sided, which sometimes causes squinting, but at least I can curl up on the sofa or in bed or carry them on the train, etc. Most importantly, I can make notes in the margins; sometimes these 19th Century books have some squiggly sentence structure and some equally squiggly ideas.

Here are a few that are on my To Read pile:

A Scots Grammar of Turkish:

Tom Brown at Oxford by Thomas Hughes, sequel to Tom Brown's Schooldays, which is sadly out of print:

Journal of A Tour in the Levant, in three volumes:

Trickster Travels:

A guide to single women from 1936 (this one is not out of print, but I'd like to read the original edition):

A book of classic English fa…

99 Bottles of... What is That?

Which one of these doesn't belong?

On the left is some well-preserved Ballantine's and on the right some aged Buchanan's. But what's that in the middle? Why, it's Coroner's Whisky! That's right, Sodden Death - topped with a skull and crossbones. Here is a close-up:

Following which, we have an exhibit of some old glass bottles, featuring Pepsi-Cola:

And an old bottle of...

Yes, it's wine. Gaziantep Burç (horoscope/zodiac sign) Wine from Turkey. Unlike the Ballantine's and Buchanan's, this bottle was empty, and so could not be tasted. Somehow I doubt it would have aged half as well, however.

Continuing the dusty theme, but returning to writing, here is one final item. I wish I had bought this and brought it home:

70 Days of Sweat Round Four!

It's ba-ack! Starting 10 November. I really need Sven to get me into gear, and back into Austin's world...

Cats of Istanbul, Part 1

Over at Snail's Tales, featuring yours truly :-)

Mission Accountability

So far so squat! Really! My goals for the week on Mission Accountability were to finish my travel essay for Bizim Anadolu and write some scenes. What I've actually done:
Wrote the first paragraph of the essay twice!
Applied for a new post at work and taken an exam for it where I cranked out a 300 word essay in 20 minutes. Good grief. I think I'll start using an egg timer for my own writing...
Sorted through my 2000 vacation photos (darn these digital cameras!) to find scrapbook-worthy ones to print - I still have 1000 and my goal is 200!
But seriously. Today at lunch I must finish a draft of the essay. That leaves Thursday/Friday lunch hours to write for the novel - with the egg timer! - and nighttime for sorting photos.
I haven't been in Austin's world for almost three weeks, though I think of him every day. I can't wait to dive back in and see how he's doing!

Sunshine Peeking Through the Clouds Over the Bosphorus


A Nasreddin Hoca Tale

A short tale featuring Nasreddin Hoca, as coloured by me, age 10:


One day, Hoca ran into a gossipy neighbour, who remarked, "There's a tray of baklava going by."
Hoca snapped, "what do I care?" (or "what's it to me?")
"But I think it's going to your house."
"Well then, what do you care?" (or "what's it to you?")

The Adventures of Snail's Tales

Snail mishaps:

Hat Photo For Stephanie

I mentioned my latest knitting project to Stephanie and then promised I'd post a photo of it, so here goes:

Hat Still on Needles:

Finished Hat!:

What Did You Not Get Done This Weekend?

The weekend is not over yet! But I've spent all morning on coffee, the paper, tidying up, playing with Frodo and Sam, and watching classic Simpsons episodes. Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor of Real Simple (best magazine ever!), on her Adventures in Chaos blog, ponders the very same issue... I had a list as long as my left arm and leg of what I wanted to accomplish this weekend, but when it comes down to it, nothing really seems to grab my interest. I do have some beta-reading to do, and will try to write at least one scene - those are the important items. As for the rest... I've got a cocktail party tonight! And I'll post a few more photos from Turkey, and of the hat I knitted while on vacation/not writing.

Where İ Am and Why İ'm Not Writing

İ Am Here:

But İ'm hoping that Jen's Accountability Circle will soon have me back on track...

Two Photos from Turkey


Changes Abound...

Despite being on vacation (!) I've been plugging away at writing the missing scenes, and hope to have a snip or two (teasers!) up soon; as well as updates on our visit to NYC and my trip to Turkey. Just gotta finishing packing...

Books, etc.

The book ban is officially over! As soon as I mail off my cheque to Folio, that is. Unfortunately, this does not mean I'm going to rush out and buy piles of books tomorrow. The Folio books were a one-off deal to keep my membership in, and until I make a serious dent in the Books By the Bedside pile, I'm going to try my darndest not to buy new ones.

That being said, this week is Banned Books Week - go out and buy/read a copy of Little Black Sambo or anything by Lois Lowry, Robert Cormier, Mark Twain, etc.

Meanwhile, I've had an interesting summer of not buying books - I've gotten free books instead! Let's see... I picked up both The Far Side Gallery 3 and Britannia Mews from those "free books" boxes people put on their lawns, I got a Peter Hoeg book that I haven't read yet from my uncle and a Robin Pilcher (son of Rosamunde Pilcher) and a Maeve Binchy from friends at work.

And of course I've been relying on Google Books a lot.

However, the best event b…

Hélène's New Book!

Helene's new book is coming out!

And to celebrate, she's gaving a star-studded contest on her blog, and on facebook.

Enter every week and if you linked to the contest through this blog, please mention it!

A Limerick About Me!

Courtesy Jim Delaney, from the wonderful Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form:

Copy Editor

All my craft isn't mine: I devote it
To my fellows. A good (kindly note it)
Copy editor knows
How to fix up the prose
So the author might think that he wrote it.

"I've been up since 5.30 you know!" OR What Should I Do?!

Sort of. Monday and Tuesday I was up at 5 and got masses of revision done before leaving for work.

But it's really hard to get up that early on only 6 hours of sleep! I couldn't do it this morning, especially since I was having a really interesting dream about... something that involved paper anyway :-)

So now, with about 50 manuscript pages left to go, I'm stuck again. And the number of unfinished scenes is much higher than I thought and keeps growing.

Without abrogating my previous goals (especially that of having a complete, final MS by the end of November), I am facing a dilemma:

Do I keep plugging away at revisions or do I stop and return to creation mode and write up all the scenes that are missing?

The quote in the title, by the way, comes from Basil Fawlty :-)

Statistics for The Face of A Lion

Got this from Jen:

Word Count: 77000, but that's including some notes here and there.

Scenes: Scenes? Each Chapter is almost one scene, so about 35.

Characters On The Chopping Block: Haven't cut anyone yet. No one's died either. Hmmm...

Scenes On The Chopping Block: Not entire scenes (or maybe I can't remember) but definitely lots of commentary and strange reactions and people who don't belong in certain places...

Total word count loss? Not sure... it averages, you see. I cut two paragraphs, but then I add in a missing scene...

Scenes Left To Write: Too many. About ten.

Scenes Left To Revise: About 15 Chapters. Then I have to re-read the entire MS *again*.

My Next Move: Finish this week's edits, i.e. the 15 Chapters. Then print the MS and deal with all the highlighted bits (research to check, words to tweak, etc.), then type in (i.e. create) all the missing scenes, then print the MS and read it ALL!

Estimated Time of Delivery (to Betas): My original goal (from c. June…

I Love the English Language

Susan over at the Books and Writers Community posted a short poem using the words "baited breath" in an ingenious fashion; she got the poem from the World Wide Words site, which has a page devoted to weird words.

My uncle at Snail's Tales, when I forwarded the list to him, replied:

Here is a challenge: write as long a sentence as you can using as many words as you can from this list.

I took him up on it right away - oh the joy of playing with words! - and herewith please find my sentence (I didn't use any Q, U or X words, and used only those words with which I was familair on sight, and did not need to run to the dictionary for. There were quite a few words that seemed familiar, but which I wasn't really sure how to use. All the words from the list have an initial capital):

Abigail and her Attercop Absquatulated with my Bezoar, the Blackguards, and it was utter Balderdash because they were Bankrupt so I couldn’t Blackmail them, the Blatherskites, and I was so filled …

I Need An Intern

I used to need one to complete my catalogue of books, but I finally got that done myself (see bottom of the blog). I had no idea that Elance existed! I found out about it on this great blog.

Tasks I still need an intern for:

Type up all of the scraps and scribbles where I've written my dreams

Add the 200+ books I've gotten since I finished the catalogue

Create a filing cabinet with organized lables for all the articles/webpages/clippings/brochures/etc. I've collected over the years

Go through all the piles of "saved stuff" and extract every Folio catalogue, then make a comprehensive list of all the Folio books I want

Create a database to store every piece of advice/recipe/good idea/remember to look up/song quotes/poetry quotes/etc. I've ever collected

Make a master list of Books/Albums/Singles/DVDs I want

Find a use for all the 10-inch bits of wool I have left

Once I choose photos to be printed, have the photos printed, have some enlarged, and frame everything in the …


If you Google The Face of A Lion, you won't see this blog on the first page, or even on the second page. Why not? You'd think I'd have mentioned the novel's title often enough, no?

How's the Editing Going?

Today's my first day using the Google Chrome browser. It is noticeably faster, and I like the "Paste and Go" option in the address bar. However, trying to access the settings involves a little bit of hunting - I tried to log into Blogger and it said my cookie settings were too high - well, I haven't changed those settings on Explorer in months, and Chrome is supposed to be picking up on that. Plus, I just entered a new post two hours ago without any problems; who changed my settings in that time? Ah well, small quibbles.

Onto editing. Yes, I've been editing for about three hours, including the time I spent with E. L. Konigsburg :-) I'm now exactly halfway through The Face of A Lion, which stands at 189 manuscript pages, with about five scenes left to fill in and much imagery to explore and dialogues to tweak.

I've started to wonder why this process seems so endless - in "real" terms, it hasn't been that long; I started the novel sometime betwe…

I Was Supposed to Spend the Entire Afternoon Editing...

...but I just spent the past hour re-reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. If you haven't read this book yet, what are you waiting for? Go! Go!

My Favourite Pen

Some writers use computers. Some use typewriters, some use pencils.

And some of us use pens. We love our pens. We blog about our pens. If I had a typewriter from about 80 years ago, I would probably use it. But until I find or am gifted with such an item...:

As I say, until then, I will continue to use pens for all drafts and copy edits. Shorthand works best in pen and, though it's a pain to have to type scenes up later on, the process introduces an additional round of edits - those done while entering madly scribbled drafts in a slightly more polished form to the word processor (is "enter to" a verb?).

Now the moment you've all been waiting for: this is my favourite pen. The Pilot G-TEC-C4. The finest nib, the smoothest ink flow, the cleanest lines...

Plus it's available in every colour of the rainbow, and then some. The one and only drawback is that only the red, black, blue, purple and sometimes green pens are available here. The other colours, including my fa…

Lancaster Ontario - Cooper Marsh OR Abject Ignorance...

Yesterday was a real summer day, sunny and warm with a gentle breeze. We spent the morning wandering through the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area near Lancaster, Ontario, and the afternoon at the pub.

Despite the distant hum of highway traffic in the distance, the walkways over the marsh and through the woods were quiet and peaceful, with only an occasional bird-call or cricket-chirp from the bushes and trees. Frogs rested in the deep grass. Here's one, the picture of relaxation:

Most places in the province of Quebec are named after saints; the most obscure and unidentifiable saints possible. For instance:

Saint Telesphore:

Saint Zotique and Saint Polycarpe:

Saint Clet:

Telesphore sounds especially mysterious to me; I hope he was an astronomer of some kind.

And now we come to the real moment of ignorance; if anyone can tell me what these trees are, I would be grateful and would try to lodge this information permanently in my brain.

First tree:

Second tree:

Third tree:

Fourth tree (birch?):

And …