Sunday, November 08, 2009

Review - Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

Let me begin this review by saying that over the last two decades or so, I've not read much Arthurian fiction (unlike my husband) - mostly because I hate the ending of the story, however, I could not pass up the opportunity to review the middle book of Helen Hollick's Arthurian trilogy, Pendragon's Banner. And I'm very glad I did. Ms. Hollick's fresh take on the story has all the familiar elements, along with some new twists.

Set three years after Arthur has been declared king, Pendragon's Banner focusses on his efforts to maintain his rule, in the face of treachery and plotting by Morgause and the jealousy of those over who he now rules. Rebellion flares in different parts of the kingdom and Arthur must find a way to defeat his enemies without losing the love and loyalty of Gwenhyfar.

I will admit it took me a few chapters to become fully engaged in the story, but once I was, I had to keep reading. Ms. Hollick's pacing is ideal, her writing vivid and engrossing as she draws you back through the ages to an era of violence, danger and lust for power. Her world-building is subtle, yet effective, with well-placed historical details and just the right combination of modern and period language without descending into the dreaded gadzookery.

Her characters are full of life and well-drawn, real people rather than stereotypes. Arthur especially impressed me, being such a difficult character to write. A legend based on a historical character, he is the hero of the story, yet still a man - balancing the two sides cannot be easy, yet I was able to cheer for him because he was first and foremost a man of his era. A good man, yes, but no saint, one who had to make difficult decisions and face the consequences. His love for Gwenhyfar is genuine, yet true to his era, he does not remain faithful to her.

Gwenhyfar too is a complex character, a woman in love, a mother, a sister and a queen. Through difficult circumstances she must play each role with care and Ms. Hollick's portrayal is both deft and convincing. I had little trouble believing in the different sides to Arthur's consort and genuinely enjoy her role as both his greatest supporter and biggest challenger.

The secondary characters are equally convincing, even Morgause who is truly evil. In the hands of a less sure author she could have degenerated into the female equivalent of the moustache-twirling villain, yet she does not, a sure sign of skilled characterization. The only character who did not really resonate for me was Morgaine, and that may be because her time to shine will come in Book Three.

What affected me the most was the intensity of the story. At times I did have to put the book down (though it still only took me about six evenings to finish) because I was so overwhelmed I could not continue. It's often said you don't ever want a reader to put a book down, but I think, as both a reader and a writer, that it's a testament to the writer's talent if the reader becomes so involved emotionally that they need to take a break. Even more telling is that when I finished this book, I wanted to read the third as well, regardless of my aforestated misgivings about reading Arthur's story.

So if you're looking for a new series about King Arthur, I highly recommend you pick up that by Ms. Hollick. I doubt you'll be disappointed.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Deborah Cooke - Writer in Residence

Toronto Public Library Writer in Residence - Deborah Cooke

Author extraordinaire, Deborah Cooke - aka Claire Delacroix/Claire Cross, is currently the Writer in Residence at the Toronto Public Library. This programme includes an online component in the form of a blog, where Deb posts three times a week, looking at various aspects of the romance industry and writing romance fiction.

Deb is an accomplished lecturer and a talented and prolific writer in a variety of genres. Little wonder, then, that the TPL invited her to be part of their programme. The blog topic for today is "Hitting the Mark" - be sure to drop by and read it, along with the earlier posts.


Currently Reading: Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Comfort reads...

Sorry I've been absent again. Not only did I have to fight off a major sinus infection, but I also started school again just after Labour Day. Busy busy.

That said, we did take a couple of days last weekend in Vancouver and when we arrived home Saturday evening I was tired, but really wanted something to read. However NOTHING I could find, either from the library or from my own library, appealed. Then I remembered the boxes of children's books in the basement and knew EXACTLY what I wanted to read. A Chalet School book. Yep, you heard me - a children's book.

So off I went to the basement and dug out the box with all my Chalet School books (I own more than half the series) and chose one of my all-time favourites - Rivals of the Chalet School. Soon I was ensconsed in my recliner, happily reading away. It was exactly what I needed. A comfort read.

Do you have those? Books you can pull out that may not challenge you mentally but somehow are just right for the mood you're in, especially if you're tired? If so, please let me know :) I'd love to hear about them.


Currently Reading: Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tortured heroes...

I got to thinking about this yesterday after watching several fan videos featuring Guy of Gisborne from the BBC Robin Hood series. Ok - I just read the character's background on the site and don't entirely agree with it. He is many of the things they say, but like many tortured heroes, underneath he's a good guy who has been caught up in the quest for power and position. The one person who has offered it to him just happens to be a sh*t, so Guy suppresses much of his good side in order to earn the rewards the Sheriff offers.

Still, he never entirely succeeds and over the first two seasons he goes behind the Sheriff's back several times, tempering or countermanding his orders. His relationship with Marian is far more compelling than her relationship with Robin. As the series progressed, my sympathies shifted from Robin to Guy. Then the writers ruined things in the finale of Season 2, writing a scene for Guy that completely ignores the good side of his character. I'll watch series three to see if they can redeem him at all. But they did the character a serious disservice. In fact, for the first time EVER, I was tempted to delve into the world of fan fiction and rewrite the end of that episode.

Tortured heroes are compelling and I wish I could write them better. From the very beginning I've been told my heroes are too nice. I think this is because I have no real affinity for the stereotypical Alpha hero. But watching Guy, I can see the appeal of the tortured hero. I'm not sure I could ever write someone quite as dark as him, but he certainly has an edge that my heroes are missing and I might just use him as inspiration.

How about you? Do you like tortured heroes? How dark can they be before they're beyond redemption? Is there any crime that will exclude them from hero material?

And for those of you who have never seen this show, here's a video montage of Guy and Marian:

Interestingly enough, there are very few Marian and Robin montages, so obviously I'm not the only one who thought the writers failed in their attempt to make Robin the romantic hero of the series.


Currently Reading: The Glassblower of Murano

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Has it really been more than a month...

since I posted here??? Wow, time sure does fly! Over the last few weeks I finished off my summer course, hosted my sister and her children here for a fantastic week of family fun, went back to work, got trained on the new software at work and enjoyed a visit with my friend Claire and her gorgeous dog, Wally.

Phew! No wonder I haven't had time for blogging! The summer has gone so quickly - it's hard to believe it's almost over. We've loved our hot, sunny weather, though hope for some more rain so we can have at least a couple of campfires before the days just get too short.

As for the campaign to Stop BC Library Cuts, well, it met with some success, but alas, funding was still cut by 22%. Yep, at a time when more and more people need the varied services offered by their local public library, the libraries themselves will receive less money from the provincial government, forcing cuts in key areas. However, times have been tough before, so we have to hope that as the economy improves, the situation will change by the time next year rolls around.

In just over a week I go back to school for another two courses - Cataloguing and Information Retrieval Tools & Techniques. Should be interesting :) I do have some hours at the library in September, but they're mostly Saturday ones. Though I don't welcome this reduction in work hours, it will ensure I have plenty of time to concentrate on my studies, so that is a definite silver lining.

Wildlife sightings this summer include deer, ducks, a blue heron, a large lone bear and a mama bear with two cubs.

So, how has your summer been? Been anywhere? Done anything?


Currently Reading: A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin
Link of the Day: Letter reveals another explorer destined for Newfoundland in 1499

Sunday, July 26, 2009

STOP BC Library Cuts....

The British Columbia government is considering cutting funding to the province's public libraries. Yep, that's right - in a time of recession when people need the library facilities even MORE, the Liberal government in its wisdom (can you hear the sarcasm?) has proposed massive cuts to funding, effectively pulling the plug on public libraries. Please remember, library patrons use the facilities for more than just books and DVDs/videos/CDs/magazines (which many can no longer afford to buy), but for accessing job boards online and career books in the collection, email (so they can apply for jobs) and word processors to create/update CVs.

I personally have already been affected by local funding issues - my hours have been drastically reduced till at least the end of the year, but if Mr. Campbell has his way, I may not have a job at all!

Even without my personal stake in this, I would be as passionate about STOPPING BC LIBRARY CUTS. A regular public library user from the age of four, I can't even imagine how many families will be negatively affected. School libraries have already felt the pinch, with, I gather, the reasoning that their patrons can use their local public library. So where will all those patrons turn if Mr. Campbell and his cronies gets their way?!

If you live in British Columbia, please, please, please stop by the site, read the material there, sign the petition and consider contacting your MLA to voice your thoughts on this very important topic. If you live elsewhere, the same thing may be happening, so check with your local library to see if they have info about similar campaigns to stop the decimation of our public library systems.

Thanks for listening.


Link of the Day: Public Libraries brace for cuts as grant program reviewed
Link of the Day # 2:
Public Library Use Surges During Recession

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Playing catch-up again...

Yes, I disappeared again. Not only from here, but from Facebook and Twitter as well. My mum came to visit and we were busy most of the time. Now I'm catching up on school work!

Back soon with regular posts. Here, though, are a couple of recent pics:

My delphinium in bloom

Yellow rose on the Green Wall in Roberts Creek

Our turtle dome

That's it for now. Must get out to the deck and start my school work - I love summer!


Currently Reading: The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia
Link of the Day: Romance Writer in Residence (TPL) Deborah Cook - aka Claire Delacroix/Claire Cross

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Canada Day!!!

Today we celebrate our nation's birthday :)

It's a gorgeous day here on the Coast. Sean and I started off with an all-Canadian breakfast - pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup. Yum.

We don't have any specific plans for the rest of the day - Sean will do some more work on his wood shed (he's building one) and I'm going to do some more school work. But I imagine come the afternoon/evening there will be beer and a bbq on the deck, followed by a small campfire (now our forest fire index is down to low again).

How are you spending your Canada Day? Or, for American readers - what plans do you have for this Saturday?


Currently Reading: The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia

Sunday, June 28, 2009

And if you LOVE English history....

you'll also like this post from Amy over at Passages to the Past. It lists a number of the books on English history being released over the next few months *sigh*. Check out the books in her sidebar too. I probably should STOP visiting PtoP *g*, but OTOH, now I work in the library I guess I should be aware of recent releases, right? (she say, blinking innocently).

Happy Sunday!


Currently Reading: The Love Academy by Belinda Jones

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Attn: Historical Fiction Fans...

Over at Amy's Passages to the Past blog is holding a Book Giveaway contest for Susan Holloway Scott's latest novel (about Charles II and the Duchess of Portsmouth), The French Mistress.

There's still plenty of time to enter and Susan's books never disappoint, so be sure to surf on over for your chance to win :)


Currently Reading: The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rewriting from a different point of view....

I think I may FINALLY have hit on what's wrong with the opening to my completed FR story. Originally, I opened it in my heroine's pov - at some point, I changed that to my hero's. I've rewritten those first few lines COUNTLESS times since, eliciting advice, rewriting again and yet somehow it's never quite worked. And now I think I know why - because C├ęcile is meant to speak first and continue speaking till about half-way through the opening scene when Adrian originally took over.

Hand slaps to forehead. Fortunately I still have the old opening. Lots of it will have changed, but the basics are there, so I don't have to start from scratch completely. Something tells me it will end up being a complete rewrite, but there's something comforting about beginning the process with words on the page. We'll see. I just have to squeeze this rewrite in. It WILL happen as none of my characters are taking this school excuse lying down any more. They're demanding my attention.

Overall, I feel a huge weight has lifted as far as this story is concerned. It's something so simple, something I know I can do.

Have you had a writing epiphany lately? Care to share?


Currently Reading: The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips
Link of the Day: Holly Tucker's Early Modern History Resources

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Evening walk at Davis Bay...

Sean was home early enough from covering a local council meeting to suggest a walk down at Davis Bay :) I grabbed my camera and tripod and off we went.

It was beautiful down there - tide was either on its way in our out (can't say for sure), but the water was calm and the temperature just perfect. We walked along to the first major bend, then set up the tripod, so I could take a pic of the sun going down:

Here's a view looking the other way - you can see the colour on the logs - so beautiful and I love that my DSLR can pick up such subtleties:

Alongside the path are gorgeous flower beds, so I turned on my macro feature:

As we wandered back towards the car, we noticed a mama duck with ducklings in tow (yet another occasion I longed for a telephoto lens):

The colour in the sky looking towards the south end of Vancouver Island was beautiful too:

Look how peaceful the water was - we truly do live in paradise here:

Hope you enjoyed this brief interlude :)


Currently Reading: Lessons in Heartbreak by Cathy Kelly

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A cool resource for historical writers...

I found this link through a list for the course I'm taking this summer (Creating and Managing Digital Collections)

It's the Historical Thesaurus of English, hosted at the University of Glasgow.

Even writers of contemporaries may still find it useful :)

In other news...

I'm very busy with school right now - will be back with you as time allows.


Currently Reading: The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

School libraries...

I remember how much time I spent in my school library, from the time I was a wee one in elementary school, through middle school, when I was a student volunteer and then in high school where I spent lots of time doing research. So this story upset me a lot. And it's happening here in Canada too. I can't believe school boards are so short-sighted they can't see that school librarians are absolutely necessary. Mrs. Shore and Mr. Dalton (elementary and middle school librarians) stand out in my mind to this day. Mrs. Shore was very strict with us and taught us the correct way to handle books, as well as the ins and outs of the Dewey Decimal system etc. while Mr. Dalton gave us more and more reponsibilities over the two years I was one of his volunteers, giving me my first real taste of how things ran behind the scenes in a library.

As the reporter rightly points out, there are many adults who don't know how to use the library, so how are they going to teach their children? And with so many parents having to work full-time, even if they are familiar with the library system, will they have the time to introduce their children to it? We had a regular library class with Mrs. Shore throughout my elementary school years. And Mr. D was always available to help. I can't imagine how school boards expect children to gain the knowledge they require without help for a librarian, especially in smaller towns where the public library might also be suffering from cutbacks to its hours.

What do you think of this? Do you have fond memories of any of your school librarians?

In other news, we were away in Tofino last week - it was a wonderful mini-vacation. I'll post a small piece about it here soon and give a full report over on my Windshield Chronicles blog as time allows.


Currently Reading: Once in a Lifetime by Cathy Kelly
Link of the Day: Historical Thesaurus of English

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Wives, by Margaret Forster...

I highly recommend this book for all romance writers. Why? Because the life stories told in its pages are true romances - not in the HEA sense, but the "true love" sense. One in particular, that of Mary Moffatt Livingstone (wife of he of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" fame), touched me deeply. To most people she was an ugly, fat, squat woman who dressed poorly and was awkward in society, but to her husband, she was the woman he loved deeply, who was his mainstay, whether they were together or apart while he was off on his travels. Her premature death devastated him, as much for the loss of her company and love as his guilt over the circumstances.

Ms. Forster wrote about the changing nature of the role of wife, from the mid-19th to late 20th centuries, considering what exactly makes a "good wife"by interweaving the tales of several women who, depending on one's definition of "good" were both good and bad wives. I'm 2/3 of the way through the book now and am enjoying it immensely- the writing flows naturally and the adventures I've read so far are awe-inspiring.

Have you found inspiration for your writing in unusual places?


Currently Reading: Good Wives: Mary, Fanny, Jennie & Me 1845-2001

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Margaret Forster...

I've been glomming her books over the last few months. I started with Diary of an Ordinary Woman, followed by The Memory Box and then Lady's Maid. Today I started one of her non-fiction books, Good Wives: Mary, Fanny, Jennie & Me 1845-2001.

A British writer of fiction (contemporary and historical) and non-fiction, she has a keen sense of story, characterization and pacing. Her books pull me right in and keep me turning the pages. I was up till almost 2 am on Saturday finishing Lady's Maid, which fictionalizes the life of the woman who served as maid and companion to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, both before and after her marriage. I look forward to finding a copy of Forster's bio of EBB as well.

Her voice, no matter what genre she writes, is clear and captivating. Reading her prose is a real treat and I'm learning a lot as a result.

So if you're looking for a good book to read, check your local library or bookstore and see if any of hers are in available - I doubt you'll be sorry.

Have you made any interesting, glom-worthy author discoveries recently?


Currently Reading: Good Wives: Mary, Fannie, Jennie & Me 1845-2001 by Margaret Forster

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Juggling life and characters...

As most of you know, my life lately has been crazy busy. I'm still working on juggling everything. And now my characters have added yet another element to it all. I have three stories on the go right now, all in various stages. For so long my historical characters have generally won the battle for my attention, but lately my contemporary characters, Emma and Ian, have been dominating my thoughts. It's very strange - the drive to finish their story is now extremely strong. Whenever I have a spare moment I think about them, their problems and how they'll find their HEA.

Even writing in a modern voice was difficult for me at first, so I'm very confused as to why it's now becoming more natural. And why the historical is receeding a bit.

For those of you who write both historical and contemporary - do you have this issue? If so, how do you deal with it?

It's not that I mind writing for Emma and Ian, it's just I'm not used to living so much in this world when I write.

Any advice is welcome :)


Monday, May 18, 2009

Manuscript Makeover...

I recently borrowed this book by Elizabeth Lyon, via ILL and have now ordered a copy. A necessity these days - can't just buy reference books sight unseen.

BUT, wow, this book looks fantastic and extremely helpful, both to revise AND for writing an ms from the beginning. Its layout - here's the Table of Contents - is logical and makes it easy to zero in on the areas with which you need help. She discusses all the usual writing elements, but approaches things in a unique way.

In Voice, for instance, she introduces the technique of "riff-writing", in which you "...expand your imagination around a particular problem or need -- to lengthen a section, to add images, or to develop more characterization, for instance. You then take the riffs and fold them into your story." (p. 10) There follows a point by point guide to the technique, followed by an example.

One of the other features I really like is the series of checklists she includes in each section, in many cases including Advantages/Disadvantages of the writing element on which she's focussing.

It's not so much a book you read cover to cover, like some writing books, but one into which you can dip as you have need, though reading whole sections at a time is certainly easy enough as her style is conversational and absorbing.

I'm so glad my friend Beth at work was able to bring this book in through ILL for me. I'll put in a plug for those of you who have access to a public library to take advantage of this service. Here in BC we have a system where we can order items from any participating library in the province. You can search for and place a request for a book yourself OR call or visit your library to make the request. For those items not available through Outlook, the search can be expanded across Canada or even, from time to time, into the US.

Ok - I'll now return to the main point of this post. Manuscript Makeover is subtitled "Revision Techniques no Fiction Writer can Afford to Ignore" - and I believe it lives up to this tagline :)

Happy Victoria Day to all my Canadian friends!


Currently Reading: The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele
Link of the Day: Women's History Primary Source Documents

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm still here, really....

and just can't believe how little time I've had to blog lately. So much has been going on and I've barely had time to breathe.

To recap:

1) I finished my first two Library and Information Technology courses just over a week ago (did well, so I'm happy). My next course (Digital Collections) starts on Monday - it's the only one I'm taking this term.

2) I'm still employed at the Sechelt Public Library and loving it :) It's so cool to be able to greet patrons by name, have a general idea of their reading interests and apply what I'm learning in school in a hands-on way.

3) On Easter weekend we went up to Whistler to see and ski with a cousin of mine I hadn't seen in 30+ years. She was there with her family and it was sooooo cool! We had a fantastic time and it turns out she and I have a lot in common - she's interested in family history, history and books (ok, so our whole family is into books). She even works as a tour guide at a heritage home in the area where she lives. How neat is that? The following week they came up here to the Coast to see our place and spend the night befor heading back to the UK.

4) Though my writing has taken a bit of a back seat, I'm still working on at least two of my mss. I make notes, especially while I'm on the elliptical and hope to get back to actual writing in May.

5) Our family is expecting another addition soon - nephew # 4! So I'm madly knitting a hat and hoping it's finished by the time he arrives. Started it only last week as I've been so busy with school work most evenings in the winter, I didn't spend any time knitting.

6) I had to make the tough decision NOT to attend RWA National in DC this summer. It's a matter of timing - in that, with school AND my job, I just really can't afford the week in time it would take to go. I'm rather disappointed as my critique partners will all be there and I'd hoped to share a room with them. But that's life.

7) We actually have some grass growing out on our septic field - so far it's pretty sparse, but it's a start. And we hoping to get some more gardening done this summer. Almost all my perennials made it through, though it appears the Evening Primrose was a victim of our harsher than normal winter (as in longer, colder and snowier). OTOH, the daffodils we transplanted (courtesy of my m-i-l) all flowered - yay!

8) Of interest to fellow hockey fans - Go Canucks!! We're driving around with our Canucks flag flapping in the breeze :) Round Two starts tomorrow.

I think that's about it.

I'll try to make the rounds of everyone's blogs as time allows. Right now I'm tethered to my desktop computer while waiting for a new power adaptor for the laptop to arrive from Dell. I've been spoiled by my laptop and the ability to surf from anywhere in the house, so have gotten out of the habit of spending loads of time in my office, though I still use it to do school work.

Hope you're all keeping well :)


Currently Reading: Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil
Link of the Day: Library Link of the Day

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back with you soon....

Just turned in my final exam for this term and am in recovery mode. Will post something new very soon. Lots to say :)


Currently Reading: The Last of the Great Romantics by Claudia Carroll

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Some photos...

Sorry, everyone - it's been crazy busy here and blogging is the last thing on my mind right now. Here are some photos I took last weekend. My friend Claire was visiting with her lovely Irish wolfhound Wally. On Sunday morning we went down to nearby Georgia Beach (Wally loves the beach) - it was a gorgeous day, so my camera was busy:

Georgia Beach looking over to the Island
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Splashing wave
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Water, foam and stone
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Beach art
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Feathers on driftwood
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Beach treasures
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Wally watching the water
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Sean with beach glass finds
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Close-up of feathers on driftwood
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009

Looking towards Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains
From Best of Georgia Beach - March 29, 2009


Currently Reading: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Catching up...again...

A prolonged absence, I know. Just so much school work to do AND I've had lots of shifts at the library lately, with two regular p/t staff away. NOT that I'm complaining - I enjoy my work - though my feet aren't so happy about it *g*. But that's cause I insist on wearing pretty shoes.

My writing these days is pretty minimal, though I do spend time thinking about my stories and making brief notes etc. School is finished at the end of March, and summer term doesn't start till May, so I'll have some time in April to do some significant writing. And I'm only taking one course this summer (assuming I get into it as enrollment is limited), so I'll have more time then as well.

Ok - must get off to work now. Hope you're all doing well - I'll try to visit blogs as I have time.


Currently Reading:
Link of the Day:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Revelation while on the elliptical trainer...

Yep, it happened again. I was singing along to The Trouble With Love and one of my stories (the contemp, set here on the West Coast) immediately came into my mind. As I listened to the words, I knew they were perfect for my hero and just let the ideas flow, not trying to force them. The plot has been stalled for a while and I think part of the problem is I keep trying to MAKE things happen, rather than allowing the story to tell itself.

So anyway, I'm singing along, and the idea came to me! Even ties into the conflict and everything :) I didn't have any paper handy, but was close enough to the end of my workout that I didn't lose my train of thought. As soon as I was done, I hopped off and walked the three steps to the notepad (yep, so near and yet so far) and jotted down the idea before it slipped through my brain.


Don't you just LOVE when inspiration strikes and a plot element is revealed?!


Currently Reading: Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster
Link of the Day: - fantastic photos of here on the Coast

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

She was one of my childhood heroines. Very cool to see this exhibit about her, brought to my attention by the weekly newsletter of the Librarians' Internet Index:

Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker


Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Words and attitudes...

Back to writing topics. I'm judging a contest right now and am just so appalled by the number of out of period words and attitudes I've encountered in one of the entries. It just floors me that a writer could not even consider that possibly using very modern-sounding language will pull the reader right out of the story. The modern attitudes are a little more understandable, I guess, as some readers don't mind them at all, while others (ok, me) find them really annoying.

Am I just being overly picky? Do out of place/time words bother you? I'm not saying we should try to reproduce the language of the period, only avoid those that really just don't belong. It's not like it's hard to find out - there are so many good sources out there, starting with, and continuing with Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (9th and 10th editions, IIRC), the Complete Oxford English Dictionary - available in the reference sections in many libraries and online through many libraries as well, as well as William Brohaugh's English Through the Ages.

Ok - rant over.

In other news, I worked extra shifts last week, got a tad frustrated with the demo software in one of my courses and had a fantastic weekend with Sean, including a night out at a local pub, watching a friend of ours and his band play. Another busy week coming up :)

And last, but not least, I was thrilled to note all the new growth on many of the perenials in my front bed! It's so cool to see things growing in February (with apologies to my family/friends in the Central and Eastern Canada) - even our little arbutus is showing signs of coming back to life (we thought it had died).

So, how has your life been lately?


Currently Reading: Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster
Link of the Day: Everything You Know About English is Wrong

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekly check-in

This past week has been jam-packed. I worked Monday and Tuesday, spent Tuesday evening to Thursday afternoon with my close friend Laura, who was visiting from Ottawa (she's a travel writer and had been at a conference here on the Coast), then Thursday evening and Friday catching up on school work. Sean and I spent the weekend together, including having a lovely Valentine's celebration and going for a long walk this afternoon.

I took some cool pics while out and about with Laura on Wednesday:

Tomorrow, Sean and I will celebrate 21 years together. You can see the video I put together last year for our 18th wedding anniversary (click on View HQ video).

How about you? Did you have a good week?


Currently Reading: The Glass of Time by Michael Cox
Link of the Day: La Vida Local

Sunday, February 08, 2009

And another week has zipped by...

One which saw me tied to the computer working on a major school assigment (a really cool one, so no complaints) or at the library, working.

No real time this week for the ms. Somehow I HAVE to find a way to work in more time for it. It's getting quite frustrating. But I know I can't expect to perfect a system only six weeks into school, so I'm trying not to get too stressed about it.

My assignment required me to make an inventory of all the "records" I know of, relating to me and my life and recording their location. It was quite a task, given that I have a family archive as well as a personal one. And I'm rather a pack rat, so my personal one is quite extensive. But it's also incredibly valuable exercise to undertake.

And I just realized that in many ways it's helpful to my writing, in that by putting down in black and white a record of my life, I can apply a similar technique when getting to know my characters. IOW, create a fictional life record for them.

It's so cool when my two worlds inform each other :)

How about you - are you a pack rat? Or do you travel light? (so to speak)


Currently Reading: The Glass of Time by Michael Cox
Link of the Day: Heritage Preservation Starter Kit from

Sunday, February 01, 2009


my blog, that is :) Do you like the new theme?

Hope everyone's week went well. I was battling an ear infection, but am better now since getting drops from the doctor the other day.

We were also lucky enough to skate on our little pond again - even went out one evening with head lamps on. Lots of fun.

Much of my week went into school work again - I had a big assignment due for one of my courses, as well as a smaller one (for the same course). Plus two shifts at the library. I'm definitely feeling really comfortable there now and started my extra duties this week, which was kinda cool. I have three shifts this week, including a full day Saturday.

Not much else to report right now.
Here's a cool pic I took a week ago:

Back again soon :)


Currently Reading:
The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
Link of the Day:
Library School Days - my Library Tech blog

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What I've been up to...

Work, school work, a little bit of writing and as much exercise as I can fit in. That's pretty much it. I'm enjoying school so much, but it does mean many hours at the computer or reading. I did, however, find time on Wednesday evening to read over the ms I was working on for Nano and and do some preliminary editing. Figured it was a good way to reconnect with my characters and get the story juices flowing again. Then when I was on the elliptical yesterday, the characters from my contemp story started bugging me to get back to them too. So I'm going to have to find a way to do that.

On Wednesday morning I did take an hour out to go down to the beach nearby and take some pictures of the fog with my new digital SLR camera (Christmas gift from my mum and in-laws). Here are a few of them:
Pier at Davis Bay

Wave breaking on the beach


Row of boats

The fog finally lifted on Friday, after many many days. We were lucky up where we live to have sun a lot of the time, but for several days, we too were socked in. That's about it from here.

So, what's new with you?


Currently Reading: The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch

Cool thing to try...

Hmmm, apparently I must use a lot of big words!

blog readability test


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quick update...

Hi everyone - so sorry for the prolonged absence. It's been a busy few weeks and not likely to get any less hectic. I'm still getting regular shifts at the library (yay!) and now am working on two online courses in my library tech programme. We have regular assignments and lots of reading, so my little nose is on the grindstone.

Which brings me to the topic of balance. As writers, we all know how important balance is - our characters can't be too perfect or too evil, we need to mix narrative with dialogue and all the other elements, like plot, setting etc have to work together, with no single one being too dominant. In our own lives, balance is important as well - I'm finding that out now. It's so tempting to just spend every waking moment on my course work as I'm really enjoying it, but I know I can't just abandon my family, friends and writing. It's just a matter of finding the right balance.

What do you do to keep all the elements in your life working smoothly?


Currently Reading: Just finished A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick (review coming soon - check out the video on the book page to which I've linked)
Link of the Day: My Library Tech Blog

Monday, January 05, 2009

I'll be back soon...

It's been an eventful couple of weeks with little time to sit at the computer. Things were crazy at work today as well and I start my courses tomorrow. Hopefully I'll post more in the coming days.

Happy New Year!