Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The Blog Hop is closed, and now we must select five winners. All of the submissions are wonderfully written, and I fear we have a daunting task ahead.

A BIG thank you, to those of you who have entered! Please make sure to read each submission and follow these excellent bloggers/writers. To read the submissions, follow this link.

Winners will be announced February 7th. Good Luck to you all!

A special thank you to my fellow Blog Hop cohorts, Lillie McFerrin, Angela Goff and Daniel Swensen. Please make sure to check out each of their blogs. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hello, Friday!

This song is my theme for today. Enjoy!

Fully Alive by Flyleaf

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blog Hop Time!

I'm teaming up with Lillie McFerrin, Angela Goff, and Daniel Swensen for a fabulous blog hop to celebrate all of our amazing followers and writing cohorts!

Photo credit: Luis Beltran

Here's the deal:
Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) using the photo above as your inspiration. Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes. Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of the prizes listed below. The linky will close January 30th. Lillie, Angela, Daniel, and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

1st: Fifty page critique by Lillie McFerrin
2nd: Twenty-Five page critique by Angie Richmond
3rd: Fifteen page critique by Angela Goff
4th: Ten page critique by Daniel Swensen
5th: A copy of Steven King’s On Writing

Copy and paste the linky code below with your entry. Spread the word! We look forward to reading your take on this amazing photo!

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<script type="text/javascript">
                document.write('<script type="text/javascript" src=http://www.inlinkz.com/cs.php?id=116954&' + new Date().getTime() + '"><\/script>');</script>
<!-- end InLinkz script -->

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Song for the Soul

Keane is one of my favourite bands. I was fortunate enough to see them live and to this day, it still remains the best concert I've ever attended. His voice is as true in person as it is recorded (as you will see below) The actual music video is a bit peculiar, so I've decided to go with the live version instead. Bedshaped is one of my fav songs and I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction


Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction. This week's inspiration word is: Radiance

The sign on the side of the road announced - with half-hearted, paint-peeling enthusiasm - that the town was named Radiance. Finlay drove through slowly, hoping to catch a glimpse of its glowing beauty. Its buildings were drab grey and yellowing white, its grass browning and turning to dust right before his eyes. The people wore expressionless faces, and various shades of dull-coloured clothing, oblivious to the irony that surrounded them. If this was their idea of Radiance, Finlay wondered what lackluster looked like to them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sanctuary, thy name is LIBRARY!

Some people shop. Others head to the gym to tone up those muscles or lose those pesky pounds. Some gather friends for a good chinwag. But when the clock strikes 12:00 p.m. I head to the library. I grab whatever novel I'm reading, a pen and my notebook and leave the world behind in search of solitude. The library has become my sanctuary. A place I can escape the demands work places upon me. It's here I spend my lunch hour, every day.

Winnipeg's Millennium Library
I work about 10 minutes away from the largest library in my city. The Millennium Library boasts four floors of books, resources, computers, meeting rooms, study areas and comfy chairs. The entire south side of the building is constructed of glass and allows the beautiful sun to shine in. (We get a lot of sun in Winnipeg.) It's a book lover's paradise. A writer's dream too!

I always head to the third floor where the Local History Room is kept. The books inside this space hold all the details of our city's past. They are often fragile old books that require white gloves to be touched. The third floor is also home to newspapers - local, international and archived - magazines, and the microfiche machines that I can't believe are still in use.

It's a spacious and quiet floor, perfect for me. I nestle into my favourite grey chair and make myself at home. Usually I read. Sometimes I write. I always enjoy the atmosphere and the sun shining upon my face. Hundreds of people enjoying the written word in all its forms. It's magical!

I'm not sure when my fascination with libraries took root. As a child I remember going on occasion to check out a resource for a school project. It was still exciting to see all those books in one place, but only as an adult do appreciate it.

When I travel - which isn't all that often - I like to check out the libraries. So far I have visited Vancouver's Central Library and the British Library in London, England.

Vancouver's Central Library.
File:Vancouver Public Library (interior).jpg
Inside the main entrance.

The Central Library in Vancouver is amazing. Not only is this building beautiful, it has seven levels! SEVEN! There are a variety of neat shops to explore before going into the main library. I've been to Vancouver a few times and each visit I make sure to stop by and walk the countless rows of books. It's just wonderful for me to see all of Vancouver's citizens making use of such a fabulous space!

GEEK ALERT! The following will really reveal what a nerd I am.

When my husband, Brandon and I booked our trip to London this past May, one of the very first places I listed as a Must-See was the British Library. I planned one whole day around stopping into see the rows of books. Images of old leather-bound, first additions, swimming in my head. Oh man, was I excited! I dragged Brandon through the streets of London to see this treasure. Okay I didn't really have to drag him, he was pretty stoked as well. We're both geeks. 

When we arrived I was ready to bust through the doors screaming "I'm here! I made it! Let me see all the amazing books!"

Well, it didn't quite go as planned. 

In the entrance was a visitor booth. We stepped up to get a map or something so we would make the most of our time there. Now, I'm not sure if we were duped or what, but the guy plainly told us there was nothing to see. All the books were held in storage facilities beneath the library. In order to see a book, you had to put a request in and since we were not members, well...nothing to see here.

We turned around, our shoulders slumped in disappointment, and made our way to the only place where there was something to see - the gift shop.

Brandon. Can you see his disappointment?!
It was a very nice gift shop, but just not the same. We did take a couple of pictures of the outside.  The red bricks mark out the storage units below the surface where the books are held. Okay, this is what the Dude told us, I have no idea if he was just yanking our chain. He did say that every so often you'll come across a metal "brick" which is where the fire department would insert a hose if - Heaven forbid - the books caught fire inside. *GASP* I hope they never have to use them.
Funky sculpture at the British Library

I've often thought of taking a library job. A chance to spend my days in my sanctuary is pretty tempting. I think they frown upon their employees spending all their work hours reading and writing. Go figure!

I'll just keep my daily jaunts to the library as my escape. My sanctuary. A place where my creative self can exist for an hour out of my work day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction

Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction
This week's inspiration word is "Your Choice" So I chose : Jubilant
The first flakes of the season floated down from the grey clouds, landing on the brownish grass and forming a thin blanket of white. Astrid watched from her bedroom window, dreaming of all the snowmen, snow angels and snow forts she'd soon be making. Visions of snowball fights, sledding and sucking on delicious icicles - smooth yet sharp enough to harm - raced through her mind in flashes and bursts. She wiped away the fog her excited breath had caused against the cold glass. Her mother's warning about icicles hanging from the car crossed her mind; Those are too dirty, stick with the clean ones, though Astrid wasn't sure how to tell the difference. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Never growing up. Not EVER!

I am fairly certain I'm just a kid trapped in a 32 year old's body. It's sad, but true. Well, sad for the poor kid strutting around in an increasingly weight-gaining, back-aching, joint-creaking body. But that's a whole other post.

All the really cool things that got my little heart fluttering with excitement back then, still hold all the magic for me. There are WAY more cool things out there now, then when I was a kid though.

* Cue the old lady in a rocker*

In my day we played with sticks and rocks and we liked it!

Okay, that may  be a bit of an exaggeration. I had cool stuff, of course I did, but today's children have a plethora of really cool stuff to choose from. It's what keeps me from growing up. I like cool stuff, more than just a little and I want to play with it! *stamps foot angrily*

Thankfully I am married to a man who also suffers from the Peter Pan Syndrome. This post was inspired by a gift he recently gave me.

Drum roll please.......
This gorgeous and super fun book is all mine! There is nothing about it I don't love. Unless you count that fact that it's too short. Books are always  too short.

Now you see me!
Let's get this out of the way early. I haven't actually read the Spiderwick series. I saw the movie, which I'm willing to bet wasn't nearly as interesting as the books. (Are movies ever as good? Maybe a few.) But you see, that doesn't even matter to me. What I love about this book is all the really cool stuff inside.
Now you don't!
There are maps to pull out, secret flaps to lift and hidden notes to read. The colourful pictures and the creative way it's all jumbled together is more than enough to stimulate even the most adult-like mind.

How could you not love this book? Every time I flip through the pages I want to run out into my backyard and build a fort. Perhaps a treehouse, if only I had a tree large enough to hold two grown adults (I'm sure the hubby would want to hang out too.)

Soon I shall be a mistress of the wand!
This isn't the only book I've come across lately that makes me want to squee! I also purchased A Practical Guide to Wizardry, because you just never know when that will come in handy. Heaven forbid I am thrown into a situation where I must wield a wand or cast a spell, then where would I be?

I also purchased a book on weapons which has all the cool stuff like Spiderwick. I call this research  for my new WIP - a fantasy novel with epic battles and...errr...stuff to be determined.
Okay I realize this post has been overloaded with pictures - I apologize profusely - but I'm a visual person and pictures make me happy!

If I had books like these when I was a kid, I am more than certain I would have received my Hogwarts letter. Sadly, they were never this cool. The only one I even remember - with some fondness - was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I freakin' loved that book! All the kids in my class did. I wanted so badly to:

a) Be able to draw like Jess.
b) Be as cool and free-spirited as Leslie.
c) Have a rope to swing across the creek to Terabithia.
d) Have a creek near my house in which to swing said rope.

I also wanted to be a spy for a short period of time. I can't even recall the book that inspired me to creep around my grandparents house, spying on all their neighbours through the windows. Plus, they had a back lane where the older kids lingered...SCORE! But I digress.

If Bridge to Terabithia had a pop-up-find-the-secrets book, I would have gone insane with excitement. I would still go insane now! Right after I built my fort and read it, oh I don't know, a million times! Read until insanity hits - that's my plan.

A new Unresolution for 2012 has just formed: No longer will I let the shackles of adulthood keep me from buying all the really cool children's books I want. This year I will give into my inner child and have some fun! Hell, I might even build me that fort - once the snow melts of course.
What makes your inner child go SQUEE!?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction

Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction. This week's inspiration word is : Hunger*

She came to the library often enough that the librarian knew her by face; her smile was warm and inviting, like the library itself. The countless rows filled with countless books, all keeping their secrets locked tight within their pages. Her stomach growled and her heart ached, both hungry for that which they did not possess. She wondered what it was like to be full of food and words. To visit the library for more than just to escape the weather.

*This was a really difficult word for me. Hope it's not as crap as I think it is.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who Are You?

Photo Credit: Jeroen van Oostrom
No I'm not referring to the catchy song by The Who, or the popular TV drama CSI. I'm talking writing, what else?

The most successful writers know that writing convincing characters is the key to successful novels. Think back to your favorites...go on, I'll wait......Ready? Okay good!

I bet it's the characters you fell in love with, am I right? Huh, HUH? Yeah it was, and why is this? Because they feel real. So real, that it's as if you know them, or at the very least wish you did. Or maybe they were jerks and got you all angry but hey, it still worked right? They became 'real' enough to hate.

It's why developing our characters is so important. So how do we develop them? Same way we would get to know people in 'real life', you ask them, who are you? If we don't know them, how can we expect our readers to know them?

I'm working/reading my way through a really interesting and informative writing book called The Creative Writing Coursebook. In essence, it's a collection of writing advice and exercises written by forty authors, all wrapped into one neat little package. Pretty awesome!  One of the exercises is to list 10 items, off the top of your head, then create a character based on these items. It's what they carry with them that tells the story of who they are. Are you with me? Good!

I'm making a conscious effort to implement this technique with my writing. When they reveal something about themselves to me, I make sure to write it down. I'm accumulating cheat sheets for future reference. It also helps me keep all those details straight. It's more than just their hair and eye colour, important as these details are, it's the small things that define their personality that I'm focused on. If my villain is the kind of guy that can't live without a picture of his dead puppy, well, I better keep that in mind.

Now I'm not saying I would do this for every  character that pops up and says hello  in my novel - though it would probably help me understand them all better - but I think my main characters deserve a chance to tell me who they are. 

My heroine has a necklace that she always wears. It was her mother's and it ties her to the woman she never knew. See? That's a pretty important detail! She carries it with her, and it tells her story.

We all carry things with us. It's what makes us, well, us. Below is a list of what I currently have in my bag. I've learned that a normal purse just isn't enough space to carry my personality. That, or I'm just a pack horse (or worse... a hoarder *shudder*). Whatever my *cough* excuse is, here's my list:

* 2 Books - A Games of Thrones by George R.R. Martin & Little, Big by John Crowley
* Writing notebook (which is held together with duct tape now)
* Excel peppermint gum
* Wallet
* Receipt for an editing course I registered for
* Bus pass for January
* House/car keys
* 1 Red pen
* 1 Blue pen
* 3 Tubes of Blistex (apparently I have VERY chapped lips)
* Security pass for my office
* iPod
* 1 Black pen (I guess I need one of each colour?)
* 1 Bobby pin
* Spearmint lip gloss (in case the 3 Blistex run out?!?)
* Hair elastic
* Cell phone
* Newspaper article on Diana Gabaldon's newest book The Scottish Prisoner (The review wasn't all that great, but I'm still going to read the book because she is AWESOME!)

And now, what you really came here for....THE WHO!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some new BLING for the Blog! Versatile Blogger Award

The wonderfully talented and incredibly fun, Anna Meade over at Yearning for Wonderland has bestowed upon me, my second Versatile Blogger Award. I am extremely humbled that one person would think enough of my blog to award me this, not to mention two separate people. While I graciously accept this award with enough modesty and decorum to make Ms. Jane Austen herself proud, I'm really partaking in the largest internal happy dance you have ever seen. Or rather not seen, but trust me, it's HUGE!

So here are the rules:

1. In a post on your, blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, Add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Selecting 15 bloggers is never an easy task. This list is not inclusive of all the wonderful bloggers I follow. Forgive me if your name does not appear below,  it's there in spirit. 

Without further delay, the 15 bloggers I selected for The Versatile Blogger Award. (No particular order)

Some of these blogs I've been following for awhile, others I've just recently tapped into, but all are FANTASTIC people. They have twitter accounts, so please make sure to follow them there too. Congratulations to all the bloggers! 

Oh yes, the 7 random things about me. Here we go...

1) I have a gnome that sits on my desk and tells me it's okay that my first draft sucks. He's a great cheerleader and encourages me to KEEP WRITING!

2) I have been known, at times, to burst into spontaneous bouts of singing and dancing, usually occuring in my kitchen. I may have mentioned this before :P

3) While I no longer have any pets, in the past I have own and loved 4 cats, 2 dogs, 2 birds and too many goldfish.

4) Viggo Mortensen is my hero. Anyone who can act, write, paint, photograph, sing, and start his own publishing company - all successfully - deserves my praise. Did I mention he's multilingual? Yeah! The Dude is AWESOME, with a capital AWESOME! ....and a side of awesome. Just sayin'.

5) I love blankets. I've got a pretty cool collection started so far. <shameless plug to follow> Check out the Pyjama Club tab on my blog to see my post on blankets.

6) I have 4 tattoos and 3 piercings (not including my ears).

7) When my granny passed away almost 7 years ago, I adopted her love of butterflies. One of my tattoos is a butterfly tribute to her. 

Well, that's it folks. A bit more info on moi. I want to thank Anna again for this award and her friendship!