Wednesday, January 31, 2007

West Helly-Aa and more...

We had some fun down on the beach last night. More on that below.

During the day I worked some more on plotting/character for When the Heart Believes. There are niggling little things I'm having trouble resolving, so I spent a lot of time free-writing about characters, plot ideas etc. Especially the beginning. I've had two beginnings now and scrapped them both. I THINK I might have one now that will work, though there are still some plot points that need to be finalized. And I have to hope I'm not stretching the bounds of believability with the circumstances leading up to the opening. Rene made a good point about Beginnings the other day, so I had that in mind yesterday as I worked.

Yesterday evening, however, Sean and I went down to the beach to take part in the third annual West Helly-Aa - a variation on the Shetland tradition of Up Helly-Aa
- a rite during which the old year is sent packing and the light is welcomed by burning a replica Viking longship.

Here's the boat, before the ceremony started:

Sean and me with the boat - not the most attractive photo of us, but y'all can see our costumes. I'm technically out of period, but considering the temp down on the beach was about 5º C, I figured velvet was warmer than linen and sacrificed authenticity for warmth *g*:

Circle of lit torches - I took this from down on the beach:

The procession of torches:

ends at the boat:

where it's lit on fire:

We left reasonably early on as Sean had to get back here to go to bed for his early shift. Still, it was great fun and we look forward to participating again next year :-)


Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Also Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Link of the Day: Interview with Claire Delacroix/Claire Cross

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday catch-up...

We had a busy weekend, with a visit from family and me knitting like a fiend. See the knitting result below:

Yep, it's my first mitten!!! Kit - thanks so much for mentioning the pattern :-)

Last week I queried three agents - we'll see what happens with that. I'll maybe submit to a couple of others this week.

Re: Writers Project Organizer - yeah, I know I can download freeware, but this has other good features and I like to support indie software engineers. The programme is at a really decent price right now PLUS when I ran into problems, the developer worked with me to get it right and even updated the programme as a final fix. This kind of service we never see from major software companies.

Also up this week is definitely getting back into When the Heart Believes. I'm been putting that off too long and MUST start working on it again.

And now, kitty pics (click on the thumbnails to see them full-sized):


Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: Craft and Nothing But Craft at Romantic Inks

Friday, January 26, 2007

Addicted to knitting...

Had I known just HOW addictive knitting can be, I'd never have started again! I have to keep away from the knit store, or I'm tempted to buy more needles and yarn. Succumbed yesterday after Kit told me about a cool pattern for mittens. Now I've started them too. And I found a book with a cool pattern for a Beginner Sweater made with Paton's Divine (I'm going to go with Regal Red). Though I bought the book, I resisted the urge to buy the yarn for now. Must finish other projects first. Really. I HAVE to.

On the writing front, I submitted my partial to another agency yesterday. And am trying out a cool programme for tracking my mss and their submissions. It's different than either WWP or PFN in that you log info about your mss AND add in info about Agents/Publishers. It's totally cool. Plus it has a 30 Day Demo - no restrictions! And right now, the price is right.

Ok, goal for today is to submit again. And go through my notebook for WTHB to get back into it. I woke very early after a nightmare. This on top of an already broken night of sleep, so we'll see how well I do. At least the sun is shining today, which does help :-)

Happy weekend, everyone!


Just About Finished Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Link of the Day: Watch the trailer for Night of the Huntress by Kathryn Smith

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A new blog...

well, it's new to me, anyway. And I've joined it :-)

It's called Unusual Historicals - for writers, pubbed and unpubbed, who set their stories in less conventional places and periods.


Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Also Currently Reading: still trying to decide between the two books I mentioned yesterday
Link of the Day: About Unusual Historicals

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

And it's off again...

yep, my proposal is now with another agent. After a quick rejection last week, I figured I'd better turn it around before I lost my nerve. This time I submitted to an agency that allows you to upload a file with the first three chapters directly to their website, along with query/synopsis. We'll see what happens now. I've had favourable feedback on my actual writing from enough published authors to know that it's not the issue - I just have to hope my story captures the agent's interest.

There are a couple of others out there that allow for the same thing, so I'll probably send it out a couple more times this week. As it is, I spent much of the morning cleaning up some more nitpicky things I missed the first million times I went over it. I know, Rene, I risk over-writing, but these little details jumped right out at me - a couple were timeline things, so really had to be fixed before it went out.

On the weekend we went to see The Good Shepherd - wow, what a fantastic movie :-) And yesterday I finished Claire Cross's One More Time (scroll down to find the details). As always happens when I read her stuff, the story grabbed me right away and kept me reading. I highly recommend it!!

I'll be busy for the next little while. Not only have I taken over as newsletter editor for RWA Online, but I'm teaching a course next month at Hearts Through History. On top of that, I have to seriously get back into When the Heart Believes. No more foolin' around.

That's it for now! I'm going to have to go hit the treadmill soon - can't slack off there either. Hope everyone is having a good day :-) Oh, and if you want to see what our property looks like now, see my House Building Blog for pics from the last few weeks (there are several posts).


Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
About to Start Reading: Either Dark Angels by Karleen Koen or The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Link of the Day: Kathryn Smith on Creating Characters - and don't forget to pick up a copy of Kathryn's latest release, Night of the Huntress

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tagged by Rene...

Rene tagged me for a book meme:

1. Grab the book closest to you.

2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence.

3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.

4. Include the title and the author's name.

5. Tag 3 people

"Who are we writing about? A mountain climber? Are we writing about a policeman?"

Debra Dixon - Goal, Motivation & Conflict: The Building Blocks to Good Fiction - p. 123.

I'm tagging Annette, Kelly and the Doubtful Muse.


Currently Reading: One More Time by Claire Cross
Also Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Link of the Day: Tracy Chevalier on The Lady and the Unicorn

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Quick Update...

Thanks for all the sympathy and comments over the last few days :-) Much appreciated :-)

My shoulder is still pretty sore. Typing isn't so much the problem, it's using the mouse and I discovered early on that Dragon NS isn't great at taking voice commands for the computer. So I'm still trying to be good and devoting my limited computer time to work associated with my mss. I received a mercifully quick form rejection from the first query I sent out, so am now putting together partials for those agents who allow you to send a query letter + chaps directly to them via a website form. Those should go out Monday or Tuesday.

It's a beautiful day here, so we're walking over to the property in a few minutes to take measurements for the site plan. The driveway is now in and the foundation hole mostly excavated!!! Pics to come soon.

Hope everyone's weekend is going well :-)


Currently Reading: One More Time by Claire Cross
Also Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Link of the Day: The Gab Wagon (group blog - lots of fun)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Half frozen shoulder

My shoulder is bad again. A combination of "mouse shoulder" and the wrench I gave it last summer when I fell while hiking over on Bowen. Can't spend much time at the computer or knit :-( Yesterday I did more GH reading instead. Nothing spectacular yet. Oh well.

I've noticed my blog stats (and comments) are way down. Guess I'm not visiting other blogs as much, so that's probably part of it. Oh well - at this point, I'm not going to worry about it. Way more in this world to worry about than a drop-off in blog comments *g*.

In playing at Photobucket the other day, I found I could create a slide show with some of the pics from our walk through the woods the other day. Enjoy!


Currently Reading: One More Time by Claire Cross
Also Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thanks for the feedback :-)...

and the congrats on my blurb. It was really helpful and supportive!!! Now I just have to send it out *g*. I worked on my letters when I could snatch computer time over the weekend, so there's little left to do. Though this morning I have business-related errands to run. We'll see what transpires this afternoon - it may be tomorrow before the first e-query goes out.

On Friday I managed more proofreading as well. The story is still grabbing me, though I do worry about those scenes that I love so much - are they my darlings that need to be killed? You know what I mean - scenes the WRITER thinks are so great, but in reality, they do little for the ms itself. OTOH, I've asked all the questions I need to for the scenes and they DO serve a purpose, so for now, they're staying. *g*

Yesterday we walked over to our property. It was a PERFECT winter day - sunny, crisp and no wind. Teva came with us and had a whale of a time bounding over logs etc - even through a creek on the way home. I took pics along the way. Our culvert is going in today - yay! And there's more excitement coming this week, but I'm staying quiet for right now, just in case it doesn't pan out due to weather.

Not much else to report from the weekend. We enjoyed Hockey Day in Canada - all the right teams won (ok, the Habs could've won - I'm not too picky when it comes to games between Ottawa and Montreal as I'm a fan of both teams). The Vancouver vs Toronto game was the highlight of the day, though :-)

Ok - on with my day. I'm already showered and sipping coffee. In honour of the New Year I set my alarm a half hour earlier to try to get a better start to the day. It didn't work too well last week, but I think my body is adjusting. Even better this morning, I woke just past six, so had time to snuggle with the kitties before getting up.

Hope your Monday is good :-)


Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Currently Knitting: a hat for Sean
Link of the Day: MIT OpenCourseWare - History

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Updated blurb...

Yep, I think I finally got it right. Took quite a while though. If you're interested, read the new version of the blurb on my WTHR webpage. I'm open to feedback. Or leave a comment below :-)

The letter is almost done too - I'll leave it alone till tomorrow, then tweak it again if it needs it.

Last night I did some more proofreading. It was hard to actually get down to it (I'd rather have been knitting), BUT I also knew that once I opened the computer file, I'd get pulled right in and I did. Though I did have to take time out to a) play with Cleo and b) rescue Chloe from on top of the corner shelf (she was ready to jump down BEHIND it, stupid cat).

Yesterday afternoon we walked over to see how the big burn was going. All the good lumber has been sorted, so now there's just the slash to burn. We could see the fire from our little cabin:

It was even more spectacular in person. We also inspected the trees blown down during the big storm on Tuesday. I'll try to get some pics of those today - one or two snapped right off! This also gives you an idea of where our house will be :-)

Ok - back to work now!


Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blaire
About to Start Reading: One More Time by Claire Cross
Link of the Day: Write On Vancouver - GVC RWA's upcoming conference
Bonus Link of the Day: News about Historical Romance from Kristin Nelson

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yet more wacky weather...

We had another huge windstorm here yesterday - it only last a couple of hours, but was very destructive. Our power went out again twice, but not for too, too long. Just to be safe, though, I planned for a one-pot dinner that could be cooked on the propane stove *g*.

Needless to say, this wreaked havoc with my writing. I couldn't trust the power to stay on, so shut my computer down and turned off the power bar. Friends of hours had their hard drive fried during one of the recent storms and even with the surge protection power bar, I prefer to play things safe. However, before all h*** broke loose, I did some more work on my query letter and more agent research.

Soooo, tonight, I'm hoping to get back to my proofing. I'm doing it on screen as I don't want to waste paper and ink at this stage printing out yet another copy of my ms. It's been so long since I've read the entire ms, that typos etc jump out at me pretty quickly, even on my monitor.

Also, I'm considering entering my TT novel in the Hearts Through History Romance Through the Ages contest. It did reasonably well in the 04 GH - the scores weren't horrible - so I'm curious to see what judges who are allowed to give feedback say. It's in pretty good shape, as I revised it in Sep/Oct after receiving the ms back from a friend (non-writer, but very, very discerning reader). Will have to see if it will fit in the budget.

Anyone out there in blogland planning on entering a contest this year?


Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Currently Knitting: a hat for Sean
Link of the Day: Soldiers' Wives by Claire Thornton (background to her novel Raven's Honour)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Catching up...

It's been a busy few days up here on the Coast. So let's go day by day...

I reworked my query blurb, trying to make it more unique. Not sure if it's quite there yet, so I'm going to work on it again today, now it's rested for a few days.

A shopping day in Vancouver. My mother-in-law and I went in, despite the less than stellar forecast (snow, wind and rain) and hit a few stores, including a great consignment one in North Van. We both met with some success and headed home again on the 5:30 ferry, exhausted but happy. We were, however, nowhere near BC Place when the domed roof ripped and collapsed.
Arrived home to find pizza, wine and friends over to watch the hockey :-) All in all, a perfect day!

Up early, so we could eat porridge before heading over to the building site to meet with the engineer and builder. The soil test for the septic went well (yay!) and the builder declared the site a good one, with few foreseeable problems. The logging is finished and the cleanup from that about halfway finished. I've posted more pics of it over on my other blog.

Then it was back home for chores here, an episode (or two *g*) of Deadwood and dinner.

More chores, errands, Deadwood and reading by the fire. I finished The Greatest Knight. Wow - as always, I was taken back into the past and held there. The story is fantastic. I knew the barebones of William Marshal's life, but not a lot about his time in the service of The Young King. I stretched out my reading of the book for as long as possible, not wanting to reach the end as I was enjoying all the characters so much, but just after 9 last night, I turned the final page. Believe The Scarlet Lion will be on sale here soon, so I'll be ordering it from the local indie :-)

This week I have to get back into all my writing/proofing. No more excuses! Next week the queries to agents must start going out. I've procrastinated too long on this and have to just get on with the process now the holidays are officially over (Twelfth Night was on Saturday *g*).

Anyone else have big plans for this week?


Currently Reading: The Scot, The Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
About to Start Reading: One More Time by Claire Cross
Link of the Day: Blog of The Stingy Scholar

Thursday, January 04, 2007

My clean desk...

here are a couple of photos of it:

In one you can see Cleo in one of her favourite spots - from there she can look out the window AND curl up and sleep in great comfort. Which is what she's doing now *g*.

The cleaning took me most of yesterday, but things are more organized.

However NOW, after reading Kristin Nelson's post at Romancing the Blog the other day, I'm going to rewrite my hook/blurb. I've a feeling mine sounds a tad too generic. I thought it was great she broke things down by genre. So, to work, to work.

Can you believe it's Thursday already?


Currently Reading: The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Also Currently Reading: The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair
Link of the Day: Free Online History Courses at the Open University

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Getting back into the groove...

is proving a little more difficult than I thought. I need to get organized and find that part of the story that really got me into it in the first place. Plus, I have to follow through with my intention to work in the evenings. I didn't last night when I most definitely should have. After all, proofing isn't the most onerous task and as it's been a while since I've looked at my complete French Rev ms, the typos and missing words certainly jump out at me when I find them.

I'm pretty certain the mess on my desk is partly responsible, so I'm going to work on that today. Sean has been very patient about it, bless him, but it's time to clean things up. Do you find that when your writing environment is disorganized that you have problems with motivation?


Currently Reading: The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Also Currently Reading: Daughters of Ireland by Janet Todd
Link of the Day: Adams Museum in Deadwood

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!!

Happy New Year!!! Yep, it's 2007. Wow, hardly seems like any time since we welcomed 2000 and already the decade is well past half over. Sean has declared this year "The Year of the House". Speaking of which, I've updated my other blog with photos of the cleared lot.

We spent all weekend with our niece, which was wonderful. She and I spent some time together Sunday afternoon checking out the lake, watching the guys play ball hockey and feeding the llamas. It will seem very quiet around here without her.

Other than that, not much new. Sean received Deadwood: Season One for Christmas and we started watching it this afternoon after our niece left for home. Already we've been through three episodes - it's pretty addictive. The writing is amazing - Kelly, have you seen it? Looks like it's right up your alley. If not, put that DVD collection on your b-day list :-) What I didn't know before watching one of the Special Features (which are awesome, btw) is that the show is based on a real town by the same name. I had just assumed it was a composite of similar towns from the era as opposed to a real place brought to life. Very cool. Now obviously I don't know enough of the real history to know how accurate it is, but it has enough verisimilitude to pull me right in and take me back in time. And Ian McShane is wonderful as they guy everyone loves to hate.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get back to work this week. Have not, as yet, set my goals for the year. Have to sit and think about it and try to be as realistic as possible, what with everything else that will be happening. OTOH, getting an agent this year sure would be nice. Hmmmm.


Currently Reading: The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Also Currently Reading: Daughters of Ireland - The Rebellious Kingsborough Sisters and the Making of a Modern Nation by Janet Todd
Link of the Day: More Deadwood History