Category Archives: Uncategorized

Health Update and Book Sale!

First, a health update: My wrists are still causing trouble, two weeks after this all started. I’ll know more tomorrow, I hope, but in the meantime I’ve been trying to minimize non-job-related computer use. (My job involves being on the computer all day, most days, so that doesn’t help….)

Funny how I spend so much time avoiding writing, and now that I’m avoiding it for health reasons, I’m getting really antsy to start writing again. Oh, brain, why must you be so weird?

In the meantime I’ve been busy with story intake instead of output, if you get my drift. I zoomed through Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown in a week (that’s pretty fast for me these days) and am now making my way through Justin Cronin’s The Passage (which is taking me longer, because that sucker is huge). And I’ve settled down for — finally — some dedicated watching of Doctor Who. So it’s definitely not all bad.

Turtleduck Press book sale 2014

Second, the happy news — Turtleduck Press is having a book sale! All of our books are 99 cents from now until October 7. For details and recommendations, drop by the book sale announcement on our site.

I happen to think everything we’ve published is pretty cool, but if you’d like to support me in particular, pick up our latest anthologyUnder Her Protection — or one of our other anthologies. I have stories in each of them, but if you like…

…Gothic steampunk about mad cellists, read my story in The Best of Turtleduck Press, Volume I

…post-apocalyptic steampunk with crash-landing dirigibles, check out Seasons Eternal (which also has a cool premise for the anthology as a whole: each of the authors wrote a story about a different season on a planet where the seasons have stopped turning)

…secondary-world fantasy based on Inuit mythology, try Winter’s Night (all winter-themed stories — and hey, Christmas is coming! *ducks barrage of rotten fruit*)

Enjoy!

We’re back!

First, an apology for the long blog silence! Nothing terrible has happened. I just had other things to do with my time over an all-too-short summer, so I went on an unscheduled hiatus. I’m back now and eager to get back into blogging on a regular basis. Look for a report on this year’s FanExpo (Toronto’s Comic-Con) on Monday!

Second, my fellow Turtleduck Press authors and I are doing a blog tour to promote our anthology Under Her Protection: Stories of Women to the Rescue:

  • Aussie fantasy writer Ellen Gregory let me take over her blog with a Q&A about the making of the anthology
  • Another fellow writer, Dianna Bell, featured us on her blog not once but twice — first with an introduction by Turtleduck Press author Erin Zarro and second with a review by Dianna.

Thank you to Ellen and Dianna for helping us spread the word! Stay tuned for more stops on the tour…

Third, I’m over at Turtleduck Press this week talking about gardening (*ahem* again).

And best wishes to all of you for the new year ahead! Okay, I know it’s not January. I haven’t been in school for ages, but I still think of September as the start of the year, and I bet a lot of you do too.

Your turn! How has your summer been? What are you looking forward to this fall? (Translate seasonal references as required…)

 

ROW80: End of Round 2

Aaand that’s it for this Round of Words in 80 days! The next one begins July 7, so until then I will not be updating on Sundays. Instead, maybe I’ll start blogging on a day that is *gasp* not Sunday, about things other than what’s going on with me.

With that said, here’s this week’s recap…

Writing

My short story is now on its third edit. I got the rest of the critiques back on Thursday, so I’m working to incorporate the best of the suggestions and make the story more awesome. This is the last round of content edits — in a few days I’m sending it off for copyediting. A few final tweaks, and it’ll be ready for release as part of the new Turtleduck Press anthology on August 1!

In between, I’ve been doing critiques, and will be busy with that for a while. But I’m not standing still on my own writing — I’m going to submit a story to a contest before the end of June, and we’ll see where that goes.

Exercise

This week I did:

  • 7.3 km (4.5 miles) of walking in 3 sessions
  • 1 session of stair-climbing

Umm…oh dear.

I did discover that my favourite science fiction and fantasy bookstore, Bakka Phoenix, is close enough to my office for a lunch hour walk there and back, if I don’t dawdle too much among the lovely, lovely books. Not only that, but the walk itself is pleasant, with wide sidewalks and lots of shade. I foresee a problem.

Home Improvement

Still waiting to get the shrubs in — they’ll be delivered tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ve bought some patio furniture, which is also getting delivered this week. Still haven’t gone for a load of perennials…tomorrow night, I hope.

In other words, our backyard is going to look a whole lot better in the next week!

The vegetable garden is coming along nicely. We’ve started eating the greens and herbs — arugula, chicory, basil, mint, cilantro — and let me tell you, it feels pretty neat. It’ll be a while until we are harvesting vegetables (northern gardening, you know…), but I’m seeing tiny green tomatoes, and flowers on the bell peppers and acorn squash. Another month or so and things will be very exciting around here.

ROW80 Recap

To go back to the beginning for a minute…

This round my goals included:

  • weekly reports on my Year of Making My Living Space Better
  • weekly reports on exercise progress
  • 1.5 hours a week of writing (broadly defined to include editing and outlining)

The first two goals were easy, and probably helped with mindfulness. The third? I missed it on 3 weeks and hit it on 8 weeks, including several where I blew the goal away — there were two weeks where I hit 6 hours, and three weeks where I passed 3 hours. I set that goal deliberately low, so I’m pleased to have crushed it on multiple weeks.

According to ROW80 rules, you get a break between rounds, so I’m not going to set any goals for between now and July 7. I’ll be busy critiquing anyway. But once those critiques are done, watch out!

And you, my faithful readers…watch this space for a larger variety of blog posts in the coming weeks. I hope you’ll stick around.

Your turn! If you were doing ROW80, how did this round go? If not, well, we’re almost halfway through the year…how is this year going for you?

 

Shrubs, Shorts, and Soccer

Can’t believe this ROW80 is almost over! I’m only checking in once a week, so that means only one more check-in after today. How’d that happen?

So here’s my penultimate update. (Ha. It’s not every day that you get to use the word penultimate….)

Writing

That short story I finished last week has come back from its first two readers with good reviews (and good suggestions for improvement). I’m running it by my critique group this week, so I’ll shortly have lots more good suggestions to think about and incorporate as appropriate.

Other than that, the rest of this month will be all about critiquing other people’s stuff — I have several lined up. That’ll keep me busy on the writing front. I don’t expect to get much further on my own stuff until July, but maybe I’ll blog more to compensate. That storytelling addiction, you know….

Exercise

This week I did:

  • 1 hour of yoga
  • 2 hours of contra dancing
  • 1 general workout session (half an hour)
  • 2 sessions of stair-climbing
  • 7.1 km (4.4 miles) of walking (3 sessions)
  • and a little bit of gardening, not really enough to count

Okay, still not where I need to be for hiking in the Rockies, but better than last week, and getting closer!

Home Improvement

We finally bought shrubs! Hydrangeas, yellow “carpet” roses, blue hibiscus, and a white pearl bush. And one tree, a Japanese maple — LOVE those, can’t quite believe I get to own one. Still awaiting delivery from the garden centre, though, so it’ll be another week or so before they get in the ground. I can’t wait. I’ve spent so much time over the last few weeks looking at gorgeous plants, it’ll be great to finally have some.

We also planted a few more vegetables:

  • raspberries (two kinds, red and black) — they won’t produce fruit this year though
  • hot peppers
  • and more bell peppers (apparently MIL didn’t realize we had four plants already…good thing we all like bell peppers!)

Grow, little vegetables, grow! Yes, I’ve started talking to my plants. I guess I’ve got the gardening bug, haven’t I?

Now I’m mulling over perennials, with the help of the landscaping program. Any recommendations? I like blue and purple, and maybe something to complement the dark red leaves of the Japanese maple….

In other news, it’s World Cup season (soccer to us North Americans, AKA football in the rest of the world). In our neighbourhood, that means much honking and cheering. I’m not much of a sports fan — hell, Canada doesn’t even have a team playing — but I can always tell when the game’s over and who won!

Finally, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Mine is no longer with us, so last year I wrote this for him: Watching Movies With My Dad. If you’re near your dad, and on good terms with him, give him a hug for me?

How about you? Are you watching the World Cup? What’s your favourite tree? Where is your dad today?

ROW80: All the Things are Moving

Here’s this week’s ROW80 update!

Writing

This week I was racing to finish a short story, and it’s done! 6 hours this week, which is a rarity these days. The second draft is 6500 words, up 1500 from the first draft, and I’m finally happy with it.

It’s slated to be published in a new Turtleduck Press anthology. A few people will be reading it this month, but the rest of you will have to wait until the anthology is published on August 1. *evil grin*

Exercise

I’m continuing to ease back into my exercise regime, such as it is. This week I did 1 hour of yoga, one session of stair climbing, and some gardening, and walked 4.6 km (not counting the bits of walking I do during my commute, 5 or 10 minutes at a time).

I’ve gotta step it up, though. My goal is to go hiking in the Rockies in August with my (fitter) siblings, and I’m a long way from being fit enough for that. Two months to go….

Home Improvement

This week I’ve been doing a lot of research on shrubs and trees (because, uh, that’s how I roll). We have several garden beds that are blank slates, which is a bit daunting because I’ve never tried flower gardening before. So I bought some books, visited a garden centre and took notes, bought a landscaping program to play with help with designing, and have been doing a ton of Internet research.

(Researching plants, it turns out, is like fractals — it opens out infinitely. I know Internet research is like that normally, but this is even more so. Why? Because you do all this research, finally pick a plant that you like and that seems to fit your needs, and then you discover that it has 10 million varieties of different sizes, colours, and growing habits, so you have to research all those too. Or is that just me?)

 

We still have no actual plants in the ground, but that should change shortly. Once we’ve got the shrubs in, then we can get on to the perennials…!

Here’s what we’ve put in the vegetable garden:

  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • acorn squash
  • basil
  • several other herbs (not sure exactly what, my MIL planted them)
  • zucchini (seeds)
  • carrots (seeds)
  • cucumber (seeds — just planted today)
  • arugula (seeds — accidentally planted the zucchini over top, but the arugula have a head start and are already coming up…)

…and we still have a bit more space, so we might add a few more things before calling it quits.

How was your week?

 

Gardening and Gaiman

Just a few quick notes today.

First, I’m part of a monthly book club on Twitter. This month we’re reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which has just come out in paperback. (In previous months we’ve read Patricia C. Wrede’s Thirteenth Child and Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock.) We start the read-along and discussion on June 20, and you’re invited — just use the hashtag #20reads!

Second, I’m over at Turtleduck Press talking about my latest “ooh, shiny” obsession. Last year, you may remember, it was vegetable gardening. Well, that’s still there, but now I’ve added…drumroll please…flowers. A snippet:

I have to admit I didn’t anticipate this when the subject of buying a house first came up between my life partner and me. At the time we were living in a generic high-rise apartment building. I envisioned purchasing a lovely old house with history and personality, with enough space for us each to claim a separate office room. Location was important. Public transit was important.

A garden didn’t really enter into our priorities, or even our thoughts, beyond “oh yeah, we’ll have to mow our lawn.”

We ended up with all those things, PLUS a large urban yard with nothing in it. 1250 square feet of fertile soil*, almost twice the size of the one-bedroom apartment we’d lived in for years. Blank slate, wheeeeeee!

Read the rest at Turtleduck Press.

Editorial note: And then it became a giant field of weeds until two weeks ago when we finally caved and put down sod over most of it, but never mind that. We still have more garden than we know what to do with….

Your turn! What’s up with you?

 

Back in the Saddle

Hi all! I’m back from my vacation / Internet hiatus (more about that soon…) and eager to get back into regular writing, blogging, and other ROW80 goals.

Here’s what’s been going on…

Writing

In my last post, I talked about blowing a deadline and being badly stalled. Home renos and trip planning didn’t help. I’m pulling out of that slump now, but I don’t have momentum yet. Here’s hoping the renewed creativity continues!

To be more specific: I spent 6 hours writing last week while on a working holiday, and wrote most of a 5000-word short story. Finally! That’s the first thing I’ve finished since, oh, January. (To be fair, since then I’ve done part of a novel edit and made several attempts at a different short story.)

This past week I went back to work, so my writing time logged has dropped again. I hit just over 3 hours, finished the story and started the second draft.

Exercise

Vacation for me often means exercise is sporadic. I went swimming a couple of times, but that’s about it.

In the week since I’ve been back, though, I’ve done 30 minutes of yoga, some gardening, a whole afternoon and evening of contra dancing, and more gardening. Back on track!

Renovations

The deck/shed combo is finished! It looks great. Now to fill it with patio furniture and hanging plants and and and… That’s it for renovations this year, thank goodness.

My attention is now turning to the front and back yards. We have new sod, a vegetable patch, and several new plots — where we’ll be growing flowers for the first time ever (we’ve only been homeowners for two years). This past week we filled up 4/5 of the vegetable plot. We’ll be doing the rest in the coming week, and then it’s on to the flowers!

How was your May? What are your goals for June?