Monday, September 29, 2008

18 years ago today...

Sean and I were married. Hard to believe - the time has gone so quickly.
In honour of our 20 years together (we started dating in 1988) I put together this video:
From Movies

Clicking on it will take you to the picasaweb page where you can toggle the box in the lower right corner of the video to play around with size/smoothness. You might want to pause it after it first starts to let it load fully, so you're not buffering and playing it at the same time - it's jerky unless you have a super fast connection. Click to play once it's loaded.

It actually shows up best on the Facebook version, but I can't share that version publicly (they're working on that feature).


Sunday, September 28, 2008

One year ago today...

we moved into the house! Wow, how quickly time has flown. I remember the months of waiting and watching while the house was built, how slowly it seemed to go. And now we've been in for twice that time.

Last weekend we finally got grass seed down, after hours of hand raking all the rocks/sticks Sean didn't get up with his dad's tractor:

We're really hoping that at least some of the seed takes as it would be nice to see grass rather than dirt when driving up to the house and looking out the living room window :)

Hope you're all having a great weekend!


Currently Reading: What Casanova Told Me by Susan Swan
Link of the Day: Elizabeth Chadwick on William Marshal's eldest daughter Mahelt

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Fellow CBC listeners will recognize that name.

For those who don't listen to the CBC (I know Americans do listen to it on the net), I recommend you tune in.

As a writer, this radio series set in Afghanistan, is a great example of how to create and bring to life compelling, complex characters. For non-writers, it's a fantastic story of men and women fighting against the odds in a war into which they were thrust, half a world away.

I've been listening since Season 1 (Season 3 started a couple of weeks ago). First with half an ear while I did other things and now, most of the time, with all my attention. The writers have drawn me into their story. As a radio drama it works differently from tv (well, I know that's obvious, but bear with me) - you listen to the voices to differentiate characters, but you also hear rather than see the action and in many ways it's even more vivid than watching it on tv. A novel writer can learn much from this - the ways to stir emotion. At the end of more than one episode I've been crying.

I'd hoped that they'd do a podcast of each episode after it airs, but instead the CBC has now released CDs of the first two seasons for those who want to catch up.

Anyone interested can catch it Wednesday nights at 11pm and Thursday mornings at 11:30 am.

I rarely talk politics on this blog (for obvious reasons), but I will say this - I might not agree with the war on some levels, but I am in FULL SUPPORT of ALL those fighting both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those women and men are doing a job I can't even imagine taking on. Listening to Afghanada has brought that home to me in no uncertain terms. Granted, I did used to work for the military (I was a Buyer's Assistant at the head office of the retail store chain on the Canadian bases/air wings) - in fact, my first temp job involved writing up orders for shoes for to be sent overseas during the months before the Gulf War.


Currently Reading: What Casanova Told Me by Susan Swan
Link of the Day: 100 Awesome Blogs for History Junkies

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Big Read

I got this from fellow Canuck Cindy. Here's her intro - it was written so concisely, I figured I wouldn't mess with it:

Seems The Big Read, sponsored by the BBC, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list. How do you fare?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (This was a tough one for me as I've read a fair amount of it, yet really not enough to bold it)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (like Cindy, I haven't actually read them ALL, but enough of them - I did a Shakespeare course at university and read at least 26 plays that year + others in high school)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (I'm pretty sure I've read this one)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

My score was a 27. And it's an interesting list. Both for what is on it and what isn't. I mean, why that particular Blyton title? One of the few I haven't read. Similarly I've read Hard Times by Dickens, yet it's not on there. And NO Canadian literature appears - grrrrr. I'd have included things like:
  1. Josephine B series - Sandra Gulland
  2. A Brief History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
  3. The Odyssey - Homer
  4. The Aeneid - Virgil
  5. Beowulf
  6. Dr. Faustus - Christopher Marlowe
  7. River Thieves - Michael Crummey
  8. Paradise Lost - Milton
  9. Little House series - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  10. Lives of Girls and Women - Alice Munro
  11. A Jest of God- Margaret Lawrence
  12. The Stone Angel - Margaret Lawrence
  13. Bonheur d'occasion - Gabriel Roi
  14. l'Etranger - Camus
  15. Candide - Voltaire
  16. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy
  17. The Old Wives Tale - Arnold Bennett
  18. l'École des femmes - Molière
  19. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Rebecca Wells
  20. Watermelon - Marian Keyes
  21. Sailing to Sarantium- Guy Gavriel Kay
  22. Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies - I admit, I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my TBR list along withVirginia Woolff's A Room of One's Own.

Care to do the same with my list as well?


Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm feeling a little happier this week re my writing. Not only have I done some good research on one of my stories, but I've managed a fair amount of editing on the ms I want to submit soon. Not only that, but I've done some reading for one of my critique partners (no hardship - it's a compelling story) AND worked on one of the contest entries I'm judging right now. Phew. And the week isn't quite over :)

Also, Sean and I got another row of split rounds into our firewood pile on Wednesday morning:

Sean had fun with his tractor:

So, how about you? How was YOUR week?


Currently Reading: Playing James by Sarah Mason
Link of the Day: William Goodwin's Diaries - kept by a 18th/19th century surgeon in Suffolk - a fantastic primary resource

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brief check-in

I'm still here. Working on job apps and also doing research for one of my books. Not much else new to report. More soon - I'll drop by various blogs as I have time.


About to Start Reading: The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How I Write...

Ok - so I know I said I wouldn't be blogging much, but I figured the following was easy and fun. Melissa posted this great meme on her blog the other day.

What is your genre(s)?
Historical, time travel and contemporary romance. I've completed two HRs, one TT and am working on a contemp.

How many books are you working on now?
Um, three. With several more lined up.

Are you a linear or a chunk writer?
Like Melissa I'm a linear writer. Chunks just don't work for me. I'm also a plotter.

What POV are you partial to?
Third person. It comes naturally to me - usually the hero, heroine and villain have a voice, though in my contemp, it's only the hero and heroine.

What tense do you use?

What theme keeps cropping up in your books?
I'll just echo Melissa's answer as it's equally applicable and put very succintly: "Forgiveness and acceptance. Forgiving yourself and others and accepting yourself and others."

How many days a week do you write?
Most days, in one way or another. Not enough on my novels right now, but I do try my best.

What time of day do you get your best writing done?
Mid to late afternoon is ideal for me. First thing in the morning doesn't work as my brain doesn't seem to function properly then - at least to be creative. My body is up, but my mind isn't awake fully till around 10 am.

Who are your mentors?
Currently, a couple of author friends. From the past, three of my high school English teachers and a couple of history/art history teachers.

Who are your favorite authors to read?
There's not enough room to list them all, but here are a few: Elizabeth Chadwick, Sandra Gulland, Sharon Kay Penman, Anya Seton, Tracy Chevalier, Rosalind Laker, Jo Beverly, Claire Delacroix, Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly and many, many others.

So - how do YOU write?


Dearth of posts...

I'm posting less and even reading other blogs less frequently for a variety of reasons. The job hunt continues + I'm now considering going back to school. All this takes up time - applying for jobs, tailoring my resume for each one, researching school options and consolidating the info. All this leaves me with far less time to just play on the internet :( I do sign into Facebook at least once a day as it's kind of a one-stop place and easy to scan for updates etc.

Oh, and I'm also trying to up my exercise quotient by dragging my sorry a** down to the elliptical trainer early in the morning. Not my favourite time to work out, but it needs to be done and generally once I get started I'm ok, then I can shower and get on with my day.

And, I'm trying to keep up with my writing.

So, if I'm scarce for the next little while, that's why. Not that it appears many people are dropping by here anyway, a result, I realize, of my less than frequent presence here.


Currently Reading: Playing James by Sarah Mason
Link of the Day: Medical Heritage of Great Britain

Friday, September 05, 2008

On friendship...

Over the last couple of years I've read a lot of women's fiction. The plots of the majority of these books revolve around friendship. At this point, I find I really enjoy reading about the ways in which people bond and how they share the good and the bad in life.

In August the bonds of friendship were made more clear than ever to me when two close friends of mine visited us here on the Coast. One of them I hadn't seen in more than two years and yet it felt as though no time at all had gone by. Granted, we've known each other now for, gulp, 28 years, so it really shouldn't come as any surprise. Still, it was wonderful to stand on my in-laws' deck the evening the arrived and sip wine as we watched the kids play in the water and just chat without even really having to think about what to say. The conversation just flowed.

The same thing happened again two weeks later when my other friend came to stay. We became friends through a bizarre happenstance related to our shared love of reading and writing historical fiction, but it turned out we already knew each other in passing.

I firmly believe that people come into our lives at the times we need them to, that certain people are fated to meet. That first friend and I were also at university together, both met our husbands there and stayed friends when grad school etc took us in different directions. When she and her husband moved back to Ottawa in the mid-90s, we picked up easily and though we didn't see each other all that frequently, we all remained close. At high school we found we had certain things in common (well, except for the fact she was brilliant at math and science and I, well, let's just say we didn't share many classes in the upper grades *g*) and our husbands share a love of machinery and we all love to ski. But it goes deeper than that, in some intangible way. We connect and have shared each others ups and downs over the years.

It's much the same with my second friend. Yet she and I had obviously been brought together for a reason - our fathers both died of cancer within six weeks of each other in 2001. We helped each other through that and through several more difficult experiences. Though we often go for more than a year without being physically in each other's company, the connection remains. And so it was two weeks ago. I believe we only stopped talking while we were sleeping *g*.

The nature of friendship is one that still mystifies me. I've met people with who, theoretically, I should get along really well, yet that click never quite happens. OTOH, I've become close to others who might seem diametrically opposed to me on the surface, yet underneath we discover a common bond.

In the end, I think it goes back to what Anne of Green Gables gushed about so endearingly when she met Diana Barry - kindred spirits. Those with who we feel instantly at home and to who we feel we can confide anything and know it will be safe. I've been blessed in my life with several other kindred spirits than the two mentioned above, most of whom I don't see often enough. Yet I know it doesn't matter, that when we do see each other, we'll pick up exactly where we left off.

The same applies to some of you who I've met only through blogland - you've proven to be true kindred spirits, no matter our medium of communication. And I'm so happy we met.

Do you too ponder these kinds of intangibles? Or am I just being way too introspective?


Currently Reading: Flora's Lot by Katie Fforde
Link of the Day: Carrie Lofty's Craft page - with a great article on "Picking and Choosing History"

I really will blog soon...

I'm just trying to do lots of little things right now and need to set aside specific time for my blog on friendship.

Here's a video I made of our trip last month over to Vancouver Island - please be patient once you click on the link - it does take a minute or so to load once you get to the Picasaweb album:

From Movies

Ok - video sounds a little glamorous - it's a slideshow set to music, but I still think it's cool. Picasa 3 has so cool new features *g*.



Currently Reading: Flora's Lot by Katie Fforde