Friday, October 31, 2008

A slow NaNo start...

I really wish today was November 1, so I could start with a bang, but it's not. Tomorrow we're going into Vancouver, so other than in the ferry line-up, I won't be able to write. But with me NaNo is never an every day thing, because much as I love writing, and I do, I won't give up the other things in life that make me happy, like spending the day with Sean, just to say I won. In the end, my writing is still secondary to my life with those I love. And I'm not ashamed in the least to say that.


Currently Reading: The Intelligencer by Leslie Silbert
Link of the Day: RévolutionFranç

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Practise really does make...

ok, well, not Perfect, but it certainly improves almost anything we do, including writing. Of course, we all know that, but with writing it's sometimes hard to SEE the improvement. Sometimes it takes seeing it work in other areas to believe in its efficacy.

As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of Nia. This month marks two years since I began regular Nia classes. (Stay with me now, this DOES connect to my first paragraph *g*). I loved it almost right away, but one of the few moves I really didn't like at all was the shimmy. Why? Because I couldn't shimmy to save my life - I'm not kidding, I looked like an idiot trying to make my shoulders do something they'd never done before. And at 40+, they really weren't keen on learning something new and different.

My mother-in-law told me to just keep at it, keep trying that shimmy and eventually, my body would adapt and I'd be able to do the move with at least some measure of competence. So I did, much as I really hated it and was relieved when we did less shimmy-intensive routines. For at least a year, I swore I'd never get it and that I might as well give up.

During my second year of Nia, however, I noticed a change. It was subtle at first, just a little bit of movement. Then one day we came to a shimmy section of a routine and I realized I was doing it properly, not brilliantly, mind, but well enough that someone watching would know I was shimmying. It was so cool. Now I really enjoy the routines when we shimmy, all the more so because it was something I worked so hard at and finally saw the results.

In our writing, I believe it happens the same way. We write and write and write, sometimes never feeling like we're making progress, as though our dialogue is still stiff, our narrative awkward and our pacing all wrong. We work hard at it, get critiques, read craft books and study the writing of others. And keep on writing. And then suddenly, it jells and those reading our work see it as well.

Granted, most of us never achieve writing perfection, but just like me and my shimmy, we do reach another level, after months/years of very subtle changes as a result of our constant effort and study. Changes we can't see on a day to day basis, but changes that are there nonetheless.

So, the next time you read your work and think it's crap, remember me and my shimmy.

In Other News
Today I'm sending off my application to the Library Information & Technology Diploma Programme at Langara College in Vancouver. Yep, that's right, I'm hoping to go back to school in January, as I'm applying to the Flexiple Participation Option, which means I'll do everything online. I had thought of the MLIS programme at the University of British Columbia, but nothing there is available online and the thought of commuting, even two or three days a week was pretty daunting. This way (if I get in) I can keep working at the Sechelt Public Library - I'm one of several casual Public Services Assistants hired recently. So far I'm just loving my job and wishing I'd made this career choice 20 years ago. However, I can't change the past, so I'm at least trying to change the future by applying to the programme and working over the next few years to earn that diploma.

Does this mean I'm going to give up my writing or my attempts to get published? No way. I often work better when I have more on my plate, though at certain times I imagine my mss might suffer a little. But writing has been a part of my life for so long that I feel confident in my ability to fit it in, even when things get busy. My characters generally give me no choice.

In view of all the above, I've decided I might as well attempt NaNo again this year, to help jump start me on one of my stories that I've pretty much completely revamped. I had a chapter or so written, but decided a few months ago to change much of the backstory and plot (encouraged to do so by my hero/heroine), so this will give me the opportunity to get going and see what happens.

So - anything new and exciting with you? If you've gone back to school, did you enjoy it?


Currently Reading: The Intelligencer by Leslie Silbert
Link of the Day: Wonders and Marvels

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cute cat pic to start the week...

From Chloe and Cleo - October 2008

I just managed to capture this with my camera before Cleo jumped down. It's only when they tussle up there that I get really nervous!

Off to work soon - I have a writing related post lined up in my head, just have to find the time to get it out and onto the blog *g*.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

This week...

I worked on Monday and Tuesday. So far, I'm loving my job - so much to learn and lots of interesting people to meet :) My co-workers are all great too - next week I work three days and I'm really looking forward to getting back there.

I did, however, at some point over the last few days, catch a cold. Fortunately, the symptoms didn't start till after work on Tuesday. I've spent the last couple of days drinking gallons of herbal tea, researching final details for the ms I hope to submit soon and reading Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea. It was really hard to put down and I finished it earlier this evening. I'll post a review of it soon.

Next week I hope to do a couple of writing related posts.


Currently Reading: What Casanova Told Me by Susan Swan
Link of the Day: "Historical Fiction -
Masters of Past" by Sarah L. Johnson

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn weekends on the Coast...

The past two weekends have been gorgeous. Here's a photo I took last Sunday - you can see the grass is starting to grow:

From Blog Photos

This weekend we spent much of our time outside. On Wednesday, burning season opened (the period during which landowners can legally burn brush/deadfall - within limits *g*), so we took advantage of the glorious weather (sunny and about 10º C, to build a fire and haul stuff to it for burning. We had it going pretty well yesterday, so well in fact that the core stayed hot, hot, hot overnight - this is what we saw this morning when we stepped out onto the porch:

From Blog Photos

And our grass is now visible, even in early morning light:

From Blog Photos

Meanwhile, on the clearing next door to ours, the mist had settled in:

From Blog Photos

Inside the house, the cats have been up to the usual - being cute:

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

and occasionally (especially in Cleo's case) a bit naughty:

From Blog Photos

I'm working tomorrow and Tuesday. Tomorrow is my first full day shift - should be fun as it's also the first day EVER the Sechelt library will be open on a Monday!

How about you - how was your weekend? Did you do anything interesting?


Currently Reading: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Link of the Day: Old Roads of Scotland

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Book Review: Every Secret Thing...

Last night I finished this fantastic book, written by Emma Cole (awa Susanna Kearsley). I'm a big fan of SK's books, so when I saw she'd branched out into suspense fiction, I immediately checked my library and was thrilled to find they had a copy.

Journalist Kate Murray is surprised when a man approaches her on a London street, saying they need to meet and talk about a long-ago murder. She's even more surprised when he tells her she has her grandmother's eyes. Minutes later, he is dead, the victim of a hit-and-run.

Spurred into action, Kate decides she must find out what murder he was referring to and how he knew her grandmother. But after the old man's nephew, then her own grandmother are killed, she realizes things are more complicated than she'd thought. On the run and in disguise, she heads to Portugal, where the man's past lies, tied up with the British Secret Service and war-time espionage.

I LOVED this book. It was one of those I didn't want to end. The mystery is deftly plotted, with plenty of twists and turns while Ms. Cole's multi-dimensional characters, past and present, keep the plot moving at a swift pace without sacrificing depth. War-time New York and Lisbon are brought to life with just the right amount of period detail. The contemporary settings, including Toronto and Whitby, ring equally true.

Kate is a believable heroine, well-motivated and easy to cheer for as she unravels the past while trying to keep herself alive. Deacon, her mysterious informant, is gradually revealed as a man of integrity and loyalty, one who made a supreme sacrifice for the woman he loved.

I think what impressed me most, though, was the way the author dropped subtle hints throughout the story. Some of them I picked up on, others I didn't. It was a fascinating read, trying to keep up with the various threads and waiting for the next clue to be revealed. At one point near the end, a big coincidence threatened to pull me out of the story, only to be explained in a unique and plausible manner, another testament to the writer's talent.

The movement from present to the past and back was handled deftly, told through the eyes of several different characters. A lesser author might not have been able to handle such a device, but Ms. Cole succeeded brilliantly. Each was distinct and added key elements to the plot.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves mysteries, stories set in WWII or just a damn good read. A copy will most certainly find its way onto my Keeper Shelf, alongside my other SK titles. In fact,
I'm now reading the latest book by Ms. Cole's alter-ego. The opening chapters of The Winter Sea promise another enthralling read from this talented Canadian author.


Currently Reading: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Link of the Day: History of Camp X

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving....

to all my fellow Canucks :) Hope you're having a lovely holiday weekend.

It's raining here today, but that's ok. I've lots to be thankful for.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thanks for all the feedback!!!

I really, really appreciate all the comments and suggestions. Back soon with new posts. My life is busy right now as I adjust to a p/t job and preparing to submit an application to a library studies programme.


Currently Reading: Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole
Link of the Day: Versailles and More

Monday, October 06, 2008

Generating blog traffic - honest feedback needed...

I have to admit I feel I'm at a crossroads here. Do I close down this blog or not? I'm not really clear if people are reading and not commenting, or just not coming by anymore. If it's the former, has my blogging style changed so much? Am I not talking about interesting stuff? Just curious.

I fully realize that blogs probably have a natural life, and maybe this one has reached its end.

OTOH, is there something I blogged about in the past you'd like to see more of?

My skin is pretty tough, so please be honest :)


Currently Reading: Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole
Link of the Day: My friend Sharon is on the Nov cover of RT Bookclub!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Watching the debates...

I don't normally discuss politics here, and won't actually get into too much detail on my personal political views, but last night I had a great time flipping between the two debates.

For my American readers - Canada is in the middle of a Federal Election campaign, though, unlike yours, it's only about five weeks *g*. Our leaders debated in English last night (the French debate was on Wednesday) and I'm still so undecided, I decided to watch. But I've also been following the American campaign and admit this is the first time I've ever tuned into the VP debate.

Sean was out, so I made dinner and got comfy on our bed and set the remote up so I could switch back and forth with just one button. The styles were very different - in Canada we had a moderator, but the questions were ones video taped from voters. And, for the first time, instead of using podiums on a stage, the leaders were seated round a table. I liked the less formal setting, but I gather not everyone did.

The contrast with the very formal, American process was interesing, yet somehow made it all the more compelling to try to keep up with both. I'm one of those middle-of-the-road people when it comes to politics. I'm aware of the issues and certainly have a general idea of who is who and what they stand for (if anything), but I don't generally read a lot of the newspaper stories, blogs etc.

Years ago, I was involved in the Queen's University Model Parliament, along with my friend Lucy. Though I admit at least part of the appeal of that was the fantatstic parties *g*. Still, it taught me a lot, way more than I learned in the one PoliSci class I took.

But then I got rather jaded, and tuned out to an extent. The issues surrounding both these current elections has, however, regenerated my interest. Hence my channel bopping last night, between both the debates AND the post mortem process. Another Model Parliament crony is now a major pollster, so I tuned into the channel where he was commentating, as well as our two news networks AND CNN. Meanwhile I also read reaction to the Biden/Palin debate online.

Talk about multi-tasking! But it was a fascinating evening. And I now remember why politics, in all its forms, drew me in in the first place.

How about you? Have you been following the current campaigns?


Currently Reading: Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole
Link of the Day: 18th Century London