Tag Archives: writer

O Canada: 7 Things I Love About Canada

Happy Canada Day (plus one) to all of you!

maple leaf

Copyright Siri Paulson, 2011

I’ll be the first to tell you that Canada isn’t perfect. In fact, we Canadians sometimes have an inferiority complex. But we also tend to forget how great a country we live in, or at least we forget to stop and celebrate it.

Here, then, are just a few of the things I love about Canada and Canadians…

7. The way we say “sorry” constantly. I bumped into you? Sorry. You bumped into me? Sorry. I swear we say it more often than “eh”.

6. The cleanliness of our cities and streetscapes. Having travelled widely, I can tell you…it’s unusual. Some places don’t have traffic lights, or clear sidewalks, or garbage-free streets. I’m grateful that we do.

5. Our quiet national pride and patriotism. We’re not much for flying flags and strutting our stuff, but if you ask us? We’ll tell you that we believe in this country of ours.

4. Our diversity, and our commitment to being an accepting nation. Here’s one very small anecdote: Yesterday there was a street party in my neighbourhood because Argentina won their match at the World Cup. Last week Mexico and Brazil both won matches the same afternoon, so we had TWO street parties, alternating, for blocks. Yes, multiculturalism is our thing. We’re also cool with different religions and different sexual orientations, and that makes me proud too.

3. Our health care. And our other social services. Again, these are far from perfect, but when we look at some of the alternatives…we’re grateful.

2. Our wide-open natural spaces, from the prairies to the forests to the mountains to the tundra…and the ways we have found to (mostly) use them without destroying them.

1. Our people. Canadians are known for being nice. We take pride in it. And hey, as a defining national characteristic, that’s not bad!

 

Your turn! What do you love about Canada? If you don’t live here, what’s your impression of Canada?

 

Lucky Seven — A Writing Snippet

I promised yesterday that I would start blogging about things other than ROW80 updates. Here, to kick things off, is a blog hop.

I’ve been tagged by the Aussie writer Ellen Gregory to post a short snippet from my work in progress — 7 lines from page 7.

My current work in progress is the short story I’ve mentioned. It’s for the upcoming Turtleduck Press anthology — a quartet of fantasy stories with romance, all variations on the theme of women rescuing men. (And I do mean rescuing. Some of the women even have swords. But of course there are many ways to be strong and these stories explore several of them.)

I’m still editing my contribution, but here are 7 sentences from page 7 of the present draft…

(A little context: the main character is a maidservant in a raja’s palace, and has volunteered to go and work for an insane inventor who lives in a mountaintop fort.)

I woke the next morning, in the little room I had chosen behind the kitchen, to the smell of cooking vegetable curry. At first I thought I was back in the palace. Then I remembered, and sat up with a start. Was there another servant here?

When I walked into the kitchen, the madman was cooking flatbread over the fire, just as though he were a servant himself, and not a…a palace exile or whatever he was. Except that he wore a pair of thick leather gloves. His hands must be too sensitive for such work.

If that piqued your interest, stay tuned for more about the anthology and where you can buy it in just over a month from now…

And now, back to the blog hop. The rules of the Lucky Seven game are:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP… Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines—as they are!
  • Tag 7 people to do the same

I’m not going to tag people, because I’m lazy some writers don’t like sharing works in progress (WIPs). If you’d like to play, consider yourself tagged, and please leave a comment so I know to visit your blog and read your snippet!

 

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?