Monday, March 27, 2006


Time here is still very tight. So here are some links to follow instead :-)

- Tightie Wrighties at Writer Unboxed

- Too Much Information at Characters Journey

- Research links from Nienke

- Thoughts from Annette on Holding Back

- Janna on Story Evolution - Part 1 and Part 2

- Agent Kristin's top ten ways to ensure your query is rejected

- last, but not least - a new blog for lovers of historical fiction - Reading the Past, maintained by my friend and HNR editor, Sarah Johnson.


Currently Reading: Woman to Woman by Cathy Kelly

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So apparently, cats can eat ribbons without serious...

consequences. This morning I discovered that that Chloe had eaten the ribbon and passed it successfully. Needless to say I'm very relieved.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Another quick post...

Hi everyone,

Things here are going okay, but we're really busy. I spent the weekend cleaning my office - it's amazing how much junk I found. on Saturday night we went to see Beowulf and Grendel - it was really really great.

Other than that, not much is new - except that new cat toy, the one with the toys on ribbons, turned out to be not so good. It seems one of the cats decided to pull a ribbon to pieces and maybe eat it. So now we're waiting and watching them - that's what the vet said to do.

Our actual move is taking place at the end of April, but there will likely be a lot have back and forth between then and now.

See you all again soon.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Quick post...

Hey everyone - I won't be around much for the next little while. We're starting to pack in earnest now, plus take care of all the admin details involved in moving. Must save my wrists as much as possible. Will likely peek in on blogs when I have a chance, but may not have time to leave comments. Will miss you all!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cute morning cat photo...

I came upstairs this morning and found this:


They really are cute together. The box Chloe is sitting on contains a part for the truck. Sean didn't have time to install it before leaving for BC, so he left the box there for Chloe to sit on *g*.

And if you look closely you can see that Cleo is sitting IN Sean's hat *vbg*.

In writing news yesterday I got my two reviews done (including the one for the book that didn't impress me overly much) plus some more storyboarding for WTHB. Also managed to get out for a short walk, even though it was raining. As I said to Sean when he called last night - "I figured I'd better get used to walks in the rain!" I stopped at the mailbox on the way back and found the latest issue of The Historical Novels Review, with my review of Nicola Cornick's One Night of Scandal.

He gets home tonight - yay!!!! I don't mind some time on my own, but at this point, I've had enough.

And that's about it for me for this morning. Hope to have time to do my Marie Curie post later on.


Link of the day: Etymology Online
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Monday, March 13, 2006

Some sage advice from Kristin Nelson...

see her latest post, in which she talks about contest wins. More and more I see this from editors and agents. Contests are fine, but don't get too wrapped up in them - especially in believing they're the best way to get published.

Admittedly I never have been too active on the contest circuit. I've entered a few regular contests, plus the GH twice. But for the most part I do work on finishing the whole novel, not just polishing my first three chapters.

Thing is, though, we still can't know that every agent/editor holds Kristin's opinion, so I guess we all have to decide for ourselves on how often and which contests to enter. And, of course, for newer writers with little access to critique partners, contests are a great way to get feedback - keeping in mind, of course, that there are rogue judges out there.

Speaking of judging, I've got to do some starting this week. I try so hard to be as fair and constructive as I can. The last thing I'd ever want to do is discourage someone from writing. Plus, I've received some great advice via contests and want to return the favour :-)

Yesterday didn't turn out to be as productive as I'd hoped. Everything took longer than I expected and when my mum left, my 4:30 am wake-up had pretty much caught up with me. Today I have to write my reviews, then run a couple more errands (things I forgot to pick up yesterday *sigh*).

We watched P&P3 last night and Wow - I just LOVE this movie. It's not been more than a couple of months since I saw it in the theatre, yet I want to watch it again and again.

In cat news - I spoil them horribly. Here's the latest toy I picked up for them. It's fantastic! They both went right for it. Cleo just finished playing with it and has now gone back to sleep beside me. She has this real thing for interactive play right now, but it was getting more and more frustating having to throw toys every two minutes. Now I keep the Jester wand with me and can play with that at my desk, then do the throwing/running/chasing thing in the evening :-)

Well, I'd best stop babbling now and get on with writing my reviews. There are only two, so it should take me too long once I buckle down and get going.

Oops - one more thing: Responding to comments

Nienke - Yep, M S-C was amazing. Haven't had time to write that post yet, but watch for it soon :-)

Kelly - LOL, if avoiding housework means being the chick from Les Mis, then I should definitely be her - I HATE housework!!


Currently Reading: Still nothing yet - am feeling in a chick-lit mood and that means a trip to the bookstore - always dangerous!
Link of the Day: Author Kathryn Smith's Bookshelf

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday quiz

I got this from Silma.

You are Arwen from Lord of the Rings. You are kind and brave, to choose mortal life with the one you love over immortality without him.

What romantic heroine are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ok, so I should be working, but it took longer than I thought a) to do errands and b) to clean up before my mum gets here. And she'll be here soon.

So I'm websurfing instead to stay awake.


Not in much of a blogging mood today...

It's warm and rainy here - the kitties are asleep on my desk. I spent some time over at my History Pages - adding more articles.

Yesterday was beautiful - so lovely that I set off for Starbucks just past 9am on foot, clutching my second review book. Finished it in a comfy chair, sipping on a latte. Then I trotted over to Staples and bought myself a month by month desk calendar - the really big size that serves as a deskpad. Why? Because I feel the need to manually storyboard and after looking at all the other options, this one seemed the least expensive and most practical. I just rip the pages off, flip them over and voilà - I have a perfect blank page with the gridlines showing through enough for guidance :-)

Must run some errands, then I'm going to come back and do some more work. I had friends over for tea yesterday, so talked writing instead of actually doing much *g*.

And that's about it from here for today.


Currently Reading: Nothing, am between books and trying to decide what I'm in the mood for
Link of the Day: Women's History Month is here again
Bonus Link of the Day: Marie Sklodowska Curie - in honour of the aforementioned Women's History Month - I'll blog next week about Marie and the reason I chose to link to her first (ok, I know, I'm starting late for WHM, but, better late than never!!)

Friday, March 10, 2006

A timewaster - yeah, like I need another one, but...

it looks fun :-) I found it over at Anna's blog.

last cigarette: Never
last beverage: Black coffee
last kiss: Monday. (Husband is away), unless you count the many nuzzles from the cats
last movie seen: The Fantastic Four at home; Narnia in the cinema.
last phone call: Sean - our evening catch-up
last cd played: A Sky of Honey - Disc 2 of Kate Bush's Aerial
last bubble bath: September 29, 2004 - in the Vancouver Fairmont Hotel
last time you cried: Just over a week ago

8 have you evers:
have you ever dated one of your best friends: I'm married to him.
have you ever skinny dipped: Yep!
have you ever kissed somebody and regretted it: Yes
have you ever fallen in love: Yes
have you ever lost someone you loved: Yes.
have you ever been depressed: Oh, yes.
have you ever been drunk and thrown up: Yes. Not lately, though.

7 states you've been to (in my case, from Canada):
1. New York
2. Utah
3. Colorado
4. Florida
5. Washington
6. Oregon
7. Nevada

6 things you've done today:
1. Fed Chloe and Cleo
2. Cleaned and dressed
3. Fetched in newspaper
4. Hit "Start" on the coffee-maker
5. Checked e-mails
6. Eaten breakfast

5 favorite things in no order:
1. Husband
2. Food/Wine
3. Riding pillion on the motorcycle
4. Our cats
5. Lunch with friends

4 people you can tell [almost] anything to:
1. Husband
2. Kate
3. Laura
4. My critique group (ok, I know I cheated - so sue me!)

3 wishes:
1. Get published
2. Get pregnant
3. Get a new house

2 things you want to do before you die:
1. Go to Scotland
2. Take up piano playing again

1 thing you regret:
1. Hmm, that guy at one of the Queen's Liberal Party parties

There's no tagging in this meme - if it looks like fun, go for it!

In other news
I spent much of yesterday working on notes from those articles I read on Wednesday and applying them to my story. Learned some cool things about Henri and Madeleine as a result. Ok, ok - I also played with yet another piece of writing software - Writer's Deskbook. It's a great companion for WWP - they serve different functions and it's a great organizer. I can export books to and from it, so they can serve as back-ups for each other if one goes wonky.

Have more business stuff to take care of today (reconciling bank accounts - woo hoo!!), then must go buy more fruit and also pick up food for the
cats (turns out I couldn't have become a total hermit, as I've no canned food left for Chloe!)

I'm also going to get some more work done this aft on my ms.

Responding to comments
Janna - yep, I know what you mean. It's so easy to get sucked into how-to articles and forget to actually write!

Rene - hope you find something useful there

Melissa - here's hoping you get some writing done this weekend. And thanks for the good vibes for my knee. It's getting better each day :-)

Happy Friday, everyone :-)


Currently Reading: Book for review (more than half-read now, yay!)
Link of the Day: The History of London Bridge (found in this week's issue of the Librarians' Internet Index newsletter)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A day for cocooning...

The freezing rain just started, so I'm not going ANYWHERE. Bad enough I tripped, fell and hurt my knee on dry pavement last Sunday - no way I'm setting foot out of the house when there's a layer of ice covering everything.

I did go for a walk yesterday, my sore knee notwithstanding. Figured I'd best get out or risk turning into a hermit *g*. With Sean away and my fridge/cupboards well stocked, I literally could stay in till he gets home. Probably not such a hot idea though.

So, after doing my business stuff, entering the hand-written notes I'd made on Tuesday and doing a little more brainstorming, I trotted off to a local Starbucks (there are two within a 15 min walk of the house) and ordered a hot chocolate. Then I pulled out a series of articles from a site called Why Stories Work (found via Donna Caubarraux's fantastic Writing Tips listserv) I'd printed off and set down to reading them.

Wow!!! I'd scanned a couple before printing, but reading them in-depth just blew me away. There's some amazing advice in those on internal and external goals and more food for thought in the ones on Setting and Plot. I made notes, rewrote bits of particularly helpful passages and gave some serious thought to my own ms. Then I drained my cup, packed up and headed to the grocery story before going home again, my mind still processing the new info.

I decided at that point I'd let things percolate for a while, instead of trying to apply it all right away. So instead of working last night, I put away laundry while watching Criminal Minds and L&O :-)

Re: Quote from Miss Snark
Glad y'all enjoyed it!!! It's one of the most inpirational things I've read in a while. And so true. If you don't love what you write, how can you expect anyone else to?

Re: my blog template
Thanks Rene - anything you can come up with would be great. And Melissa, I've no idea what's up with Blogger - let's hope it's fixed soon. So far, so good today.

Re: red walls
Kelly - thanks! We love the colour. It makes the room so warm and cozy. Funny thing - my sis and her dh painted a wall in their family room almost the exact same colour *g*.

Hope everyone has a good day. And if you're anywhere in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec - watch out for that freezing rain!!


Currently Reading: Book for Review
Link of the Day: Why Stories Work

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Words to live by from Miss Snark

I found this FANTASTIC quote from Miss Snark, the Literary Agent in her recent post:

Miss Snark steps up to the plate armour:

"Here's the thing. You have to write the thing that fills you with passion. You have to write something you love the way you love your children: all the time, even when you want to murder them. You have to write something you love so much it doesn't even cross your mind to ask 'am I wasting my time' because to NOT write it would be wasting your heart."

Words to live by indeed!

Teresa (now returning to work on her own ms)

Blog template help needed!!

Help - anyone who understands CSS better than me. I've no idea WHY there is suddenly no space between my blog posts. I swear I didn't change anything, yet NOTHING I do to fix it (with my limited CSS skills) seems to help. So if you can help, please let me know. Feel free to look at my code.



Early Wednesday blog...

Yep - I'm up early today. Have actually been awake since 5:30, but that's ok, since I was asleep before 11:30. When Sean's away, I usually only sleep about six solid hours.

I snapped two cute pics of the cats yesterday (ok, more than two, but am only posting a couple *g*).

As you can see - Chloe loves the back of the couch. I found her there yesterday evening - thought she was upstairs and was surprised when I glanced into the living room to see her lounging. Sorry about the photo quality - it was a little dark in the room.

Earlier in the day, I came upstairs to find Cleo looking adorable. Of course I ran for the camera and she stayed put (often she moves). It was great to see her back in that cage again. After her freak-out last week, she'd only sit ON it, not in it. I was worried she had decided it was a bad thing and we'd find her really freaky in it when we move. But obviously she thinks it's a cozy spot again.

Writing News
I got some work done yesterday!!! Including Dialogue Sheets for my characters, a character list and worked on generating scene ideas. I'm having trouble with a sagging middle, so I listed short-term goals for Henri and Madeleine and did some more research on what precisely was happening in Paris when they were there. Came up with some good ideas and made some more notes. A lot of that was done on the love seat last night. Once again I did some free writing - just talking to myself about the story and some of the problems I'm encountering.

Responding to Comments

From Monday:
Mel - hope you're sleeping well after the upheaval in your life!

Kelly - it was the same for me - I pretty much went to sleep in one position and woke up in it. Only difference was a change in cats cuddled up beside me *g*.

From Tuesday:
Rene - yep, that whole forumla thing really does seem to be playing into things these days. I guess it's a matter of finding something fresh that isn't too fresh.

Tess - sorry to frighten you! To be honest, it scares me too. I've reviewed all these books - what will people do if MY books suddenly appear on shelves. Yikes. But yeah, I'll be fair but truthful in my review.

Janna - you're right. No comparisons. And I always find with difficult reviews, that they're easier to write when I've let things sit for a few days.

Hmm, well that appears to be it for today. I've got business stuff to attend to, then it will be back to work on the ms. Maybe I'll tackle the Story Evolution today - I can't keep putting that one off!!


Currently Reading: Book for review
Link of the Day: Resources for Writers of Regency Fiction (maintained by Joanna Waugh)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

So I finished one of my review books yesterday and...

wow. Hmm, not really sure what to say.

I know reading is subjective, but had I judged this in a contest, my scores wouldn't have been great. And yet, it's been published by a major house with a prominent editor and agented by someone really well-known and respected. I found THAT out at the end. Now, this just floored me. Am I THAT far out of touch? If this is what it takes to get published, well then, I'll never have it happen for me.

It makes me question a) the industry itself, b) my own judgement and c) my own writing.

But then again, I also know, all reading is subjective. I have to stop comparing myself to others and do what feels right for me. NOR should I feel intimidated about giving a less than glowing review because of the agent and editor supporting this novel. As always, I'll be as fair as possible - I don't savage books. But nor will I pussyfoot around and pretend I liked it when, frankly, I grew more and more frustated as I read. If it weren't for the fact I'd damage the wall of a house that I'll only be in for another few weeks, I'd have launched the book. That, and doing so would've scared the cats.

Anyway, I need to stop whining and get on with my OWN work.


Currently Reading: Another book for review
Link of the Day: Weymouth, Dorset (one of my fave places as a child - check out the link to Osmington)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bleary-eyed Monday blog...

Hi everyone,

Yep, I was up watching the Oscars - out at a wee get-together with friends. Came home pretty tired, but woke up just past three and couldn't get back to sleep *deep sigh*. The last week has been pretty rough as far as sleep goes. Oh well - eventually I get so exhausted my body just takes over.

We had a busy weekend. The party for Sean was great - lots of people showed up and there was much talk and laughter. Everything was kept casual.

Saturday we took a while to recover, then went downtown to get the truck (we'd taken a cab home). Fortunately the weather was beautiful, so I enjoyed the drive home along the water.

Yesterday we did brunch with my mum, chores here at home, then went out for the Oscars.

This week I have to work hard and read hard. Have to make some real progress on my ms PLUS finish one review book and read the next one (reviews are due in just over a week!)

Kitten seems fine. She's still a tad skittish, but overall, her normal self again. Which is a big relief. Considering the upheavel she'll go through in just a few more weeks, we don't need her to be all freaky.

We have our new internet account, but the FastDialUp feature is giving me problems. Arrggggh. If anyone out there in blogland (fellow Canadians) is familiar with Telus, let me know if this really is reliable! It worked yesterday, but now won't let me on. We still have our DSL connection, so I'm not cut off, but still....

Well, I'd best get on and do some real work. Have spent the morning noodling away on blogs etc. Now if I could just find toothpicks for my eyes *g*.


Currently Reading: Book for review
Link of the Day: Sunshine Coast, BC

Friday, March 03, 2006

Allow me to indulge...

in photos of my NewsGuy. These were taken this morning:

I really like the second one down!!


Yet more adventures for Cleo the kitten

She actually did pretty well yesterday - calmed down enough to decide the blue blanket is her friend again and to be able to run at least half-way down or up the stairs (though she has to stop and check around the corner before proceeding *g*). Even when a neighbouring cat came to visit through the front window, she was fine... THEN... (you had to know there was a then), just as I was settling down to watch John and Jillian do their final skate on Skating with Celebrities, I heard a noise behind me. Twisting round on the love seat I could just see a little kitten face staring down at me - from the mantel. Right beside the wedding portrait of Sean and me.

Now, anyone with cats can imagine what happened next. Yep - Cleo teetered on the edge of the mantel, brushing against the photo and plunged towards the floor, the photo close behind her. It smashed a second after she landed. And a pretty spectacular smash it was - sending the wee kittie scrambling towards the kitchen and the safety of the basement. From upstairs I heard two more thuds, as both Sean and Chloe came running to see what had happened.

Spent the next few minutes with dustpan, broom and vacuum - missing John and Jillian as I'd flicked over to The Office, just as the disaster unfolded. By the time I got back to it, they were just about to announce the winners. And as I missed the second skate, I really have no idea if Lloyd and Kristy really did skate the best.

I managed to coax Cleo back upstairs where she slinked around again, eyes wide, before settling on the table just beside the front door. She, her mousie and I went up to bed a while later. Though she's still nervous this morning, it's nowhere near as bad as it was, so if she can manage NOT to break anything for the next few days, I think she'll be fine. Of course, she's already tried scaling the side of one of my bookshelves this morning - a perch from where I plucked her, hanging by her claws, before she could cause more mayhem.

I did get some more brainstorming done yesterday - am working on my closing scene notes. It's here that things get a little confusing, because it's where this story line converges, up to a point, with that of my previous ms, What the Heart Remembers. The timelines run concurrently. When I started WTHR, I'd no idea that the brother of my heroine would demand his own story - but there you are. He disappears in Cécile's story and in his own, we find out where he was and what he was doing.

On Wednesday, I followed Lynn's link back to Alicia's site and her Outline Your Novel in 30 Mins article. Had read it before, but didn't think to use the questions for this story till Lynn reminded me - thanks Lynn! I found a timer feature on my computer (thanks Corel) and, aside from one phone call, managed to complete the exercise uninterrrupted. And it was worth it - gave me some more great stuff to work with - stream of consciousness things I might not have figured out as quickly.

In the end, though, I chose to spend much of my afternoon yesterday with Sean - he's going away next week, so I figure I'll have plenty of time to work on my ms then - would rather be with him. While out on a walk, we picked up a copy of P&P3 - yay!!! I'm sure my mum can be persuaded (no pun intended) to come over and watch it with me and have dinner.

This morning is Sean's last morning doing the news for our local CBC affiliate *sniff*. It will seem so weird not to hear him on the radio each day after so many months. But we're moving on to other things - it's still a little sad, though. He's been there over 10 years - we're having drinks later with some of the gang, which'll be nice. And, of course, he's sure to be back on the radio out in BC :-)

One last thing - I'm going to blog over at Ainsley Park about writers and historical accuracy. Found something in the book I'm reading for review that just had me shaking my head.


Currently Reading: Book for Review
Also Currently Reading: Pandora's Breeches by Patricia Fara
Link of the Day: English Titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries by Jo Beverley

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A series of misadventures, or...

Cleo's Bad Day

Yesterday started off normally, but at about 10am, Cleo frightened herself pretty badly. I'm still not quite certain what happened, as I was out of the room, but from what I could tell, Cleo jumped in an empty box on our spare bed and ended up tipping it off the bed. When I got into the room, she was staring at the box, then suddenly jumped really high and literally bounced across the bed, across the hall and into our bedroom. And there she basically went to ground. Slinked all over the place, jumping every few feet. Wouldn't let me near her, poor little thing. I looked at the box and under the bed, but couldn't see anything. Eventually she let me hold her, so I stayed with her a few minutes, then drew the curtains and closed the door, thinking she just needed some peace and quiet to calm down.

But an hour later, she was still as bad. So I let her wander around a little more, but when it was clear she was still horribly frightened, I went into the bedroom and lay down on the bed, figuring she needed some comfort. Sure enough, within five mins she was stretched out on my legs and finally went to sleep. So I stayed there till Sean got home, about a half hour later. She was frightened of him at first, but did calm down a little. But she wouldn't stay with him during his post-work nap - the blue blanket, the one she loves, now seems to scare her.

She followed me to the bathroom, then down the stairs. I put her on the desk with Chloe - she snuggled up to her and Chloe washed her thoroughly and they fell asleep together. At this point I thought all was well, but when we got back from the gym, she was still pretty skittish. Not quite as bad, but not herself.

However, after eating dinner and wandering around the house some more, she seemed way more comfortable. I thought she was ok and took her up to see Sean - she climbed onto his shoulders and wouldn't get off! I was cooking dinner, so left them upstairs. Now as it was Shrove Tuesday, we were having pancakes and bacon for dinner. I decided to do the bacon in the oven, but it wasn't cooking quickly enough, so I turned on the broiler. Of course it cooked really well then. And created a lot of smoke. Which escaped the oven when I took the pan out. And triggered the smoke detector. Under which, you guessed it, Sean was standing with Cleo on his shoulders.

Naturally she completely freaked. We were running around trying to get doors and windows open. I opened the deck door, only to discover the screen stuck open, so quickly shut it again - figuring if Cleo got out, we'd never see her again. The stupid smoke detector was still making its nasty noise (at least we know it works!), so Sean opened the deck door and forced the screen shut. At last the noise stopped, but by this point Cleo had fled to the basement. Sean found her there later, on my desk - we'd left the heater on.

For the rest of the evening she was ok as long as she was in the basement. Even wanted a game of chase (which involves me throwing assorted toys and her deciding which ones she'll chase and which she won't) - then I threw the mouse and it landed on a bookshelf. She jumped to get it and brought a pile of books down on herself. More freaking out *sigh*.

She came upstairs with me and slinked about for a while, then spent the rest of the evening on top of things - her cage, me, the entertainment unit, Sean's speakers. As long as she was up high, she seemed fine. I took her up to bed with me and she settled fairly quickly.

Now, the most we can figure is a) she was actually trapped under the box before I found her and had flipped it back off herself, but not quickly enough or b) she gave herself an electric shock - our house is really dry right now. Or maybe both.

Either way, she's still freaky this morning. Slept all night with me and seemed fine at first, but not quite herself. I'm figuring we'll give her more time to realize whatever scared her really isn't going to happen again (and I'll try not to cook anything that might set off the smoke detector!!), but if she's still skittish on the weekend, I guess we'll have to take her into the vet.

On the upside, she's still hungry and eating well, and when she's not feeling threatened, she's fine. I'm wondering if the earthquake really scared her as well, and all these other things have compounded the problem. Hmmmm.

So, anyone else here have this happen with their cat?