Monthly Archives: August 2013

#WANAFriday: Fall Bucket List

maple leaf

Copyright Siri Paulson, 2011

Welcome to another edition of #WANAFriday! This week’s topic is:

Fall bucket list — what experiences do you want to have / what do you want to spend time doing this fall?

A quick preface is in order here. I hate being cold, and my body knows that the arrival of fall means winter is not far behind. Add to that the fact that I grew up on the Canadian prairies, where fall was only about six weeks long. Now I live in Toronto, where it lasts at least two months, and often longer. Yet I still spend fall thinking about the cold days ahead, instead of enjoying the glorious days of the season I’m in.

So every year about this time, I remind myself to dig in and enjoy fall. Some things I plan to do:

  1. Pay attention as the leaves change colour.
  2. Drink pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin soup and…all things pumpkin, really. And apple cider.
  3. Revel in the crisp — but not yet cold — air after the long, hot summer.
  4. Savour the tomatoes and other vegetables from my garden.
  5. Go for some long walks before the weather turns cold and I start my winter hibernation.

As far as concrete goals for this season, I’m going to:

1. Figure out what I’m doing for NaNoWriMo.

I’ll probably write a brand-new novel — which means picking an idea first — but there’s a chance I’ll do a complete rewrite of a previous NaNo. Either way, I’ve got lots of planning to do.

(See my post Should You Do NaNoWriMo?)

2. Get as far as I can on the novel I’m editing before NaNo.

I don’t want to say “finish this draft”, because I’m feeling my way through this edit and I don’t know how long it will take. But I will give it my best shot.

Other #WANAfriday participants this week

Ellen Gregory (who, being Australian, is talking about spring)

Kim Griffin

Liv Rancourt

Your turn! What’s on your bucket list this season?

 

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Visiting the Red Fort in New Delhi

The outer walls of the Red Fort

The outer walls of the Red Fort

In this installment of my Adventures in Asia series, we’re exploring the Red Fort, built on the order of Shah Jahan — better known as the emperor who built the Taj Mahal.

The fort was built during the heyday of the Mughal Empire, a Muslim empire that controlled much of India from the 16th to early 19th centuries. They built a lot of forts, palaces, and tombs that still stand today, even though Muslims have been reduced to a minority in present-day India.

If you go, rent an audioguide — it will not only walk you through the various structures in the fort but also give you a good overview of the history.

The Red Fort, or Lal Qila, overlooks the Yamuna River. Its imposing red sandstone walls are enclosed by a moat (now dry). Once you make your way through the series of massive gates, you’ll see that the complex wasn’t just a fort, but also a palace.

(Lots of photos after the jump!)

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Convention Report: Fan Expo 2013

A model of an AT-AT from Star Wars. Photo by Louise Kiner.

A model of an AT-AT from Star Wars. Photo by Louise Kiner.

This weekend I took in my second Fan Expo — for those of you not in Toronto, think a smaller version of San Diego Comic-Con.

(If you’re still confused, there’s a primer here. Short version: it’s a convention for science fiction fans, with a lot of TV and film actors doing talks and signing autographs. And so much more than that — read on…)

I went only on Sunday, so I missed the biggest day (Saturday) but also got to skip the worst of the crowds, and there was still plenty to see.

(Warning: lots more photos behind the jump!)

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#WANAFriday: What Did You Love About Going Back to School?

I’m late for this week’s installment of #WANAFriday — forgive me! But I couldn’t pass up the current topic:

What was your favorite thing about going back to school?

Since I’m a writer, my answer will come as no surprise. I loved getting new school supplies. I had my favourite brand of lined paper. I was very picky about pens — they had to write just so, the smoother the better, although I made an exception for the pens that came with four colours in one (perfect for colour-coded Social Studies notes, you see). I loved just about any kind of highlighters and Post-It notes, even though I didn’t use them much.

Of course, this love has carried on. I’ve never gotten into high-end pens, like some writers, but I still have favourite pens. I’ve developed a definite preference for certain kinds of notebooks (while I drool over fancy bound diaries, the kind I prefer for story notes is a 9X7″ Mead brand — coil-bound, stiff cardboard back, thick lined paper that feels nice to write on). And in my day job I get to use Post-It notes all the time, which makes my inner 12-year-old very happy.

Be sure to check out what other #WANAFriday participants have to say about this week’s topic:

Dianna Bell

Kim Griffin

Liv Rancourt

Your turn! What was your favourite thing about going back to school?

Confessions of a Wannabe Writer

Guys, I have a confession to make.

I’ve been putting out inspirational posts like 10 Ways to Follow Your Passion Without Quitting Your Day Job and After the Vacation: A Conversation with the Inner Critic.

But the truth is, my baby writing career is stalled like you wouldn’t believe.

I get home from work and the last thing I want to do is write or edit…even though I’ve been dreaming all day about how productive I’ll be when I get home. So I chat with my family, putter around on the Internet, and maybe squeeze out half an hour some nights, an hour if I’m lucky. Too many nights I get nothing done at all. I’m not a morning person, so I don’t write before work, and lunch hours disappear awfully fast.

My priorities are all wrong. I spend more time blogging and working on Turtleduck Press stuff than I do writing or editing my own stories. More time reading blogs than reading novels. I think Chuck Wendig has something to say about that. (See what I mean about reading blogs?)

Now, it’s true that I’ve had a busy and distracting couple of years. I bought my first house, went through another major life event that was all-consuming for months, and planned and executed a massive trip.

But all those things are finished and I’ve been back at work for a month and a half now, long enough to have gotten over the hump and back into the groove. Except…I struggled with these same problems before all the distracting stuff happened. It’s no surprise that they’re back.

I’m tired of not writing. Of taking weeks to edit a chapter because I’m only devoting a handful of hours a week to the thing I want to do most in all the world. (Don’t I?) Of still not having even one edited, polished novel ready to go out on submission, or out on Amazon, or out into the world somehow.

I feel like a poser. A master of self-sabotage. A wannabe doomed to failure because I don’t want my dream enough to work for it.

I don’t have any answers.

Help.

Your turn! Am I the only one who feels this way?

 

If You Liked… Temeraire

Naomi Novik Blood of Tyrants coverAmazon can give you recommendations, but it can’t tell you why or zero in on specific aspects of a book. To do that, you need a human (for now, anyway). So here we go…

Last week saw the release of the latest book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, Blood of Tyrants. (If you’re not familiar with Temeraire, here it is in a nutshell: Napoleonic Wars with dragons.) To celebrate, I’m devoting this “If you liked…” post to Naomi Novik.

If you liked…

  • The dragons. I will assume you’ve read Anne McCaffrey. (If not, get thee to a bookstore immediately and look for Dragonflight!) Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett does something a bit different — their dragons are clockwork, in an alternate Russia, bordering an alternate China. On my TBR list are Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton and Dragon’s Keep (YA) by Janet Lee Carey.
  • The Regency setting. Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede are fabulous. A teenaged street urchin meets a street magician who’s more than what he seems. Shenanigans ensue. (YA, but don’t let that stop you!) On my TBR list: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal.
  • The social graces (but not necessarily the Regency part). The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson is set in ancient Japan, a time and place as strongly bound by etiquette as Regency England. Melusine by Sarah Monette is a secondary-world story, but it’s still largely about court graces and politics. I believe Tooth and Claw qualifies here as well, along with Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner.
  • The ships. I’ve seen the Temeraire books described as owing much to the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian, but somehow I missed reading these…odd, given my childhood love of books about the sea and Arthur Ransome in particular. On to my TBR list they go….
  • The human-animal bond. Temeraire is highly intelligent, but he doesn’t think like a human. Still, the bond between him and Laurence is one of my favourite things about these books. For a bond where the animals are much more animal-like, I’ll put in another plug for A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette (yes, again) and Elizabeth Bear.

Your turn! What can you recommend for people who enjoyed Temeraire?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy If You Liked… A Game of Thrones and If You Liked… Neil Gaiman.

 

WANA Friday: Reading

I’m combining two blog memes today.

First, there’s #WANAFriday, where a group of bloggers post on the same topic and share links to facilitate blog-hopping to read everyone’s takes on the subject. This week’s assignment is:

Take this first line from Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani and run with it: “This will be a good weekend for reading.”

Second, there’s WWW Wednesday, stolen from Erin Zarro (okay, it’s not Wednesday, but I’m stealing it anyway). The meme consists of three questions about what you’re reading. So here we go…

1) What book (s) are you reading right now?

I’m reading a fantasy novel called A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear. I’ll have to do a proper review later, but for now I’ll just say that this is, hands-down, the best novel I’ve read this year. In fact, I just finished it last week…but I loved it so much that I started over at the beginning. I’m halfway through the second read.

(Fun fact: The only other book I’ve done that with, at least in recent years, is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.)

2) What book (s) have you finished recently?

Besides A Companion to Wolves? *grins*

  • Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. YA steampunk adventure story featuring an airship cabin boy, a girl scientist, and air pirates. You might recognize the author — he’s better known for Silverwing.
  • Specials by Scott Westerfeld. The third book in Westerfeld’s Uglies series (YA SF), and a most satisfying installment. More about that here.
  • The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey. A multi-stranded, lyrically written fantasy story about a harem of women exiled to the desert.

3) What books will you be reading soon?

I’ve got about 30 books on my TBR shelf (well, two of them are ebooks), but here are a few of the most likely candidates for “next up”:

    • Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (SF)
    • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (YA fantasy)
    • Cetaganda by Lois Mcmaster Bujold (SF — Vorkosigan Saga)
    • Mainspring by Jay Lake (steampunk)

(My shelf also has plenty of adult fantasy, but I like to mix it up, and since I’m reading fantasy right now, some other subgenre will get its turn next. Probably.)

Chances are pretty good you’ll hear about one or more of these on the blog.

Other WANA Friday participants this week:

Ellen Gregory

Kim Griffin

Janice Heck

ETA: Cora Ramos

Your turn! What are you reading?

Happy Friday, and I’ll see you back here on Monday!