Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are You A Resolutioner?

'Tis the season to make resolutions ... but I never make them. Ever. Although not for the same reasons as Calvin!

I've been cruising around the Internet and reading all about the wonderful resolutions people make. Some folks are even talking about how they achieved their resolutions...which means they actually wrote down their resolutions, remembered them, worked at them and evaluated their progress. Wow. I'm SO impressed.

But I still won't be making any resolutions this year. I used to feel guilty for not making them. But I may have figured out why resolutions don't work for me. Most of the resolutioners seem to be list makers too. Probably even outliners. *shudder* Their desks might even be organized without using piles on top of it. Maybe. :)

My brain doesn't work that way. I don't think in lists. I don't approach tasks from the details out. Big pictures come first for me. Details come later on. I've got more of a global brain rather than a linear brain. I do strive to be better, to do better, but it doesn't happen via resolutions.

That's my excuse reason and I'm sticking to it! So, are you a resolutioner or not? Does it work for you?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly!

Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest!!

The wondeful Jen Daiker at Unedited and the lovely Melissa at Through the Looking Glass are hosting the Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest! Love it :) Check out their links for the guidelines and a list of all the participants!

I thought I'd share a few photos of our tree and a few favourite ornaments first...

after all, we are Canadian, eh? :)

I've been looking for a really good recipe for chocolate fudge and haven't found one I love yet. Until yesterday. I found this one online for Mackinac Island fudge. Delicious! And easy too.

There are tons of recipes out there for Nanaimo bars, but this is the one I like the best. I have to make 3 batches at least - and that doesn't last too long once family and friends come to visit.

Base: In a heavy sauce pot, melt 1/2 cup butter. Add in 5 tbsp cocoa, 1 slighly beaten egg, 1/4 cup sugar & 1 tsp vanilla. Take off heat and mix in 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs. Press into an 8" square baking pan.

Filling: Cream together 1/4 cup butter (softened), 2 tbsp custard powder, 3 tbsp milk. (I use a mixer for this whole step.) Add in 2 cups icing sugar and mix until smooth. Spread over the base.

Let it sit for at least an hour.

Topping: Melt 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate or 4 oz of chocolate chips. I use the microwave. Add in enough butter and stir until it melts and is pourable. :) Spread this over the filling and refrigerate for a bit until it's easy to cut. Probably an hour or so.

So, there you go! A couple of my favourites. Maybe next year I'll be able to get permission to share our favourite family recipe for Scottish toffee - but for now I'm afraid I'm sworn to secrecy!

I hope to visit a lot of the other posts, but it will take me a few days - between school and family and hockey games to attend it's going to be a busy couple of days!

I hope everyone enjoys the very best of the holiday season. Take care of you and yours. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope this time of year brings you peace and joy. Take time to enjoy your families, friends and yourselves! Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Well, so far my December has been...

this (minus the high heels!)

and this,

and this,

and this

and this too.
I can't wait for more of this,

and this,

especially this,

and maybe even this...

So, how's your December going?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Order Magic

Do you remember getting those book orders when you were in elementary school? They were 4 or 6 pages long and offered you a wide variety of books to buy. To me it was magic. A catalogue of books...a short catalogue, but a catalogue nonetheless!

We didn't grow up in a house with lots of money - but we never knew it. My folks knew reading was important to me. Books were more than objects - more like friends.

I still have several of the books I ordered back then - they're in my classroom today. The kids get a kick out of it when I show them that I've kept them.

I, obviously, continue to give out book orders at school. I go through the pages and discuss what I know of the books. Not all of the kids in the school I teach at can afford books, but they love to look and dream too. And they know if they really want one of the books in the order, I'll buy it for the classroom. :)

Today my latest box of books arrived. For the class, we had 3 graphic novels, 3 novels, 2 historical books and 1 science book. The kids get so excited when we get new books! Lots of ooohs and aahhhs. I have to use a jar with all the students' names in it to help me choose the kids who get to read them first. They get snapped up so quickly! Love it!

Do you remember getting those book orders? Were they magic for you too? :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dribs and Drabs

It's been a busy week  - lots of goodies going on.

Shannon McMahon has an anonymous critique going on her blog Somewhere Between Fact and Fiction. It's a great idea and I know she'd be thrilled if some new friends popped on over to help out with some insights. Check it out!

Talli Roland's blogsplash was a huge success! The Hating Game reached #24 on Amazon in the UK and #460 on Amazon in the US. Those are incredible numbers!! Congratulations Talli!

In other news, we were hit by almost a foot of snow last night - and we're expecting another 6 inches or more tonight. It all came in a few hours, so the plows weren't able to keep up. The roads were a mess, but we all made it to school and work! Winter is definitely here!

Janet Summer Johnson awarded me the Creative Blogger Award way back. Thanks Janet! Life has been nutbar crazy & that's my excuse for not thanking you before this! If you haven't visited Janet yet, check out the link - you won't regret it!!

Jessica Ann Hill awarded me the Magical Blog Award more recently! She's a terrific new friend! I love the photo on the award - la Tour Eiffel lit up is gorgeous! Check out her blog for lots of fun. :) Thanks Jessica!

So, have you been hit by snow yet? I know my Aussie and Kiwi friends are in the midst of summer and I'm more than a little jealous after all that shoveling!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Talli Roland's The Hating Game

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at and by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Sounds like a great book, doesn't it? Click on a link and help Talli make a Splash!! I know I am :)

I started Talli's book last night and it is a fun read! Love the characters!! :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Survived Nano!

... barely. :)

Well November is winding down and I survived! This is always a nutty month for teachers. Report cards go home - this requires a lot of work on our part. We also had a new computer program to work with this year so that added to the chaos. I takes about an hour per kid per report card usually. Probably a little more this year with the new program. Doesn't sound like much until you add in the fact that most of us have more than 30 kids in the classroom - this year I've got 33 - and that we do all of this outside of regular work hours. :)

So I managed to fit in reports and finish the 50k words for NaNo. The family didn't even starve - although I did rely on pizza or subs a few times. :)

I'm not finished with the story yet - probably another 15k to go at this point. I think I'll finish it up and then head on back to that rewrite. I wasn't planning on doing NaNo until the last minute - Nov 1st actually - so I'm a little surprised the story had the legs to get here. Some of it's even not horrible...I think. Maybe I should reserve judgment until I do those revisions - hopefully in February or March.

Now life will revert to the normal kind of chaos. I've been AWFUL at visiting blogs this month. Hopefully December will be better. Although it IS December and we all know what that's like... Cross your fingers!

How did your November go? What did I miss?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gotta Love Google & Lisa Gail Green!

The other day (while Stephen Tremp was visiting here), the lovely Lisa Gail Green at Paranormal Point of View was deciding what paranormal creature I might be. Lisa's a terrific blogger and friend. Pop on over and say Hi! You won't regret it!


I think writers must have the most bizarre and eclectic mix of Google searches of all people on the planet. Just today I searched 'freeze branding for cattle', 'ammunition belts', 'PTSD recovery', 'Blackfoot swear words', 'nfl jerseys', 'cerebral palsy therapy' and 'gang symbols'.

Anyone monitoring my Google searches might wonder just what kind of life I'm living. Some people might wonder if I needed a little help. Or how many personalities I've got going on.

Writers would just nod and smile. Then they'd put together the pieces to figure out the genre of my current wip. :)

(BTW, the Blackfoot group apparently never used curse words and there aren't any in any of the sites I found. How cool is that? Gotta love the Internet!)

So, what's your Google list look like lately? Any weird and wacky combinations in your searches?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Breakthrough author Stephen Tremp

Lucky me! Lucky you! Stephen Tremp from Breakthrough Blogs is here today. He's on a blog tour talking about his novel Breakthrough and all kinds of writerly stuff. You're going to love what he has to say today. I mean, he's even tied in Steampunk! How cool is that?? :)

Steampunk is a recent sensation and is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction that often incorporates elements of fantasy. The setting is usually late 1800s Victorian Britain. Futuristic inventions and innovations are powered by steam and introduce conflict that help drive the stories and often lead to alternate historical paths. Steampunk generally tends to be less dystopian than its literary cousin cyberpunk.

H. G. Welles and Jules Verne were masters of using fictional machines that took their audiences on a magical mystery tour without having to leave the comforts of their home. These writers were far ahead of their time.

Today we see an emerging genre similar to Steampunk called Near Future Sci-fi. Instead of using futuristic steam powered machines in the present setting, we see potential breakthroughs in physics, technology, biochemistry, and nanotechnology leading the way. Near-future science fiction is set in the present day or in the next few years. Elements of the setting should be familiar to the reader, and the technology may be current or in development. Stories about theoretical physics, nanotechnology, genetics, and techno thrillers often fall into this category.

Example: Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes as they are commonly known. In a nutshell, wormholes are theorized and predicted portals though the space-time continuum. The term ‘wormhole’ gets its inspiration from the idea of a worm traversing from one side of an apple to the other side. The idea is that if a worm could tunnel through the apple to the other side, then a shortcut would be established. In the same sense, a wormhole through the space-time continuum could theoretically allow matter, including people, to be transported through a hole from one point to another such as Los Angeles to Boston. For now, wormholes are filed under theoretical physics as a proposed theory, something physicists believe may be true about our universe but have yet to prove it in a laboratory under rigorous conditions.

Hollywood likes to fantasize and sensationalize wormhole concepts and place the setting in the future, develop strange characters with pointy ears, and (gulp) use wormholes for time travel, which simply is not a practical or realistic use of wormholes. But they make for a good story nonetheless.

However, using a wormhole to punch through the fabric of space (length, width, and height) is far more realistic. In fact, governments, militaries, universities, large global conglomerates, and the guy working in his garage have committed larges sums of time and resources to discovering a breakthrough in practically using wormholes to travel through space, even if it’s a short distance such as from one side of the laboratory to the other side. We know space is already curved. If space can be folded like a piece of paper, then punching a hole through the two pieces can make a shortcut, or a wormhole.

Wormholes (also called Star Gates and Jump Points in fiction) are seen everyday in children’s TV programs such as Pokeman, Dragon Tales, Dinosaur Train, and Fairly Odd Parents and shows like Stargate, Sliders, and the Star Trek series among countless other shows. They’re also in popular movies such as Déjà Vu (Denzel Washington), Jumper (very cool movie), the Terminator series, and Contact (Jodie Foster). After a cursory glance of my kids DVDs I see two movies with wormholes: Princess and the Frog and Meet the Robinsons.

My book Breakthrough, the first in a trilogy, begins with a breakthrough in wormholes at M.I.T. in Cambridge, MA. It is used as a means to assassinate powerful global figures. However, wormholes are merely the key that opens Pandora’s Box. In the second and third installments titled Opening and Escalation, wormholes open the door for more unexpected discoveries and breakthroughs in theoretical physics that will threaten the world and life as we know it. This is a series of technology gone too far, discoveries and breakthroughs mankind is simply not ready to steward. Can Chase Manhattan and his friends destroy this technology before mankind destroys themselves? Stay tuned …..

Please join me tomorrow as I visit Matthew Rush at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment as we ask: do you use morals, ethics, and social matters in your stories to convey lessons learned. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough . You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs .

If you feel this blog is worthy, go ahead and make my day. Retweet it

Told you it would be a great post! Thanks so much for visiting, Stephen! I'm looking forward to the rest of the tour! :)

Wormholes create so many possibilities! I can think of a few occasions where I'd like to use one! How about you?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Standing Strong and True

I came across this song the other day and I had to share. It's a group of Canadian country artists who've put together a song to honour our veterans. Our Remembrance Day is Thursday November 11 and this song is perfect.

I showed it to the kids in my class and they loved it. They're going to be singing it at our service on Thursday.

Powerful stuff.
"Love one another, that stranger is your brother. Leave a footprint everywhere you go."
"Standing strong and true, on guard for me and you."

I know it's a few days early, and I'm not sure when other countries celebrate and thank their veterans and their troops, but I wanted to share.

"Bless the true believers who stand and fight for freedom."

The men and women who enlist have my eternal gratitude and respect. They give so much more than most of us realize to help make the world a better place. Thank you all.

"I pray the past can teach us all before another hero falls."

Monday, November 1, 2010


So, 5 minutes ago, I was all set to start my NaNo rewrite. I opened my older file. I pulled up my outline. I even opened the vocabulary list I created to keep track of all the steampunk words I created.

I wrote my first sentence.

It wasn't my rewrite. It's not even steampunk!! It's for a story idea I had ages and ages ago. All I've got is the setting and main character and what her struggle is. Not even a name. Certainly no outline. Or anything helpful.


But that's the story that popped out. *Double sigh*

So, now I have to decide. Do I work on the rewrite I've prepped for or do I go with this new story that apparently REALLY wants to get out? I hate decisions. Especially when I really didn't intend on making one. I thought I was set.

Maybe I'll work on this one tonight and see how it goes. Then I can put off that decision until tomorrow!

Have your plans ever been hijacked (or highjacked??) by a new idea? How'd it work out for you???

Friday, October 29, 2010

Long Leggedy Beasties

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
I remember my folks saying this old Scottish prayer to us around Hallowe'en. It always sent delightful shivers up and down my spine. I've always been a bit of a wimp, not too many brave bones in my body!

But Hallowe'en doesn't have to be all scary. We can always add a little Steampunk! That makes everything better!

Seriously, who doesn't love a good steampumpkin?? :) Happy Hallowe'en everyone!

So, do you like the things that go bump in the night?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hidden Depths

Don't you love this poster?? We always hear that 90% of the iceberg is below the surface, but there's nothing quite like a picture to help us really see it.

While I've been in Revision Hell (thanks for the name for this oh-so-lovely place, Lola!) I've been thinking a bit about icebergs. And characters. And their backstories.

I try to imitate that 'berg - keep most of the info about the characters in my head and out of the novel. I firmly believe I've got to know a whole lot about my characters. I let them walk around in my head for a long time before I write. But the audience doesn't need to know everything.

There's a balance. I'm trying to achieve it. In my case, I have to add MORE, I've kept too much to myself.

I'm hoping to do a better job of finding that balance than these guys... :)

So, what's your story on your characters' histories? Do you have to go back in to add or delete?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CassStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?
Are you excited yet??? You should be! This is the blurb for Alex J Cavanaugh's CassaStar. It's being released TODAY!
Need some convincing? How about this review?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal
Being compared to Heinlein and Star Wars? Holy WOW! Not bad for a first novel!
Now check out the trailer...

So, obviously you're now convinced. This is a Must Have book. Where can you get it? I just happen to have some handy-dandy links for you...

Barnes & Noble
Powell's Books

CassaStar is also available as an ebook for the Nook, Kindle, iBookstore and others!

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Currently he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
October 19, 2010 Science fiction/adventure/space opera
ISBN 9780981621067 Dancing Lemur Press LLC

So, what are you waiting for?

Friday, October 15, 2010


I do believe I live in a small corner of Paradise. I thought I'd share a few images for those of you not surrounded by glorious fall leaves. Sadly, I didn't think to take pictures until most of the leaves had lost their lustre and fallen, but the thought was there! So here you go -- past their peak, but still gorgeous!

How's that for inspiration? :) Next year I'll try to remember to take some when the leaves are at their best!

What's the best thing about your corner of Paradise?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Catching Up & Breaking Rules!

I'm going to blame September for it taking me such a ridiculous amount of time to thank the following folks for their awards. September is nuts for teachers. We had our classes settled, then there was a reorganization due to numbers in the lower grade and about half my class moved on to the next teacher and I got a bunch more from the previous teacher. And of course ended up with several more than I started with. :)

So, that's my reason. I'm sticking to it.

First off thanks so much to the wonderful Jen Daiker over at unedited for the Crazy Love Award.
Then the lovely Anne Tyler Lord over at Don't Fence Me In awarded me both the One Lovely Blogger & the Versatile Blogger Award.  Anne is a sweetheart - she's so thoughtful and helpful on her blog!

Rebecca at Sonshine Thoughts awarded me the Supportive Commenter Award. Don't you just love the boots? I need to get me a pair of those for the school yard! Rebecca has such a sunny personality, the award matches her perfectly!
The charming Karen Walker at Following the Whispers awarded me the Circle of Friends award. Karen is such a good friend to so many people. I'm honoured she passed it my way.
The talented Yvonne over at Welcome to My World of Poetry sent the You Rock! award my way. Coming from Yvonne, this is a high honour. Yvonne is one of the kindest people you'll meet in the bloggy-verse!
Arlee Bird over at Tossing it Out sent the Super Commenter Award my way. This one makes me smile every time - gotta love that frog! The smile, not the frog, reminds me of Lee!
The supersweet Erica at Laugh.Write.Play sent the Weird/Strange Award my way. I love it! I've never aspired for normal and I'm so glad it's been noted publicly! :)

The always generous Mason Canyon over at Thoughts in Progress and the wonderful Rayna at Coffee Rings Everywhere both sent the Literacy Builder award my way. If I'm being honest, their kind words had me smiling for hours!
For this award I'm to tell you my 5 favourite words. I adore words (obviously). My favourites change with great regularity. For today they are: discombobulated, wonky, portalizer, hope and wonder. Portalizer is one of my own. Hopefully one day I'll have a book published and you'll be able to find out what it is! :)

Thanks again to all of these wonderful people for thinking of me when they passed on their awards. I'm going to be ornery today and balk (2 more good words!) at the other instructions. I still have a meme to do, but my camera is broken. (I'm full of excuses today!) I'll get it posted when I can. Promise!

So what rules have you broken today? Any good ones?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And Again

I had some really insightful feedback recently that set me back on my heels for a bit. It took me weeks to absorb it and to let it run around in my conscious and subconscious brains.

I felt ready last weekend to look again at my story and consider the feedback. It was dead on target. Addressing the issues raised by the critiquers requires a lot of work. A LOT of work. Which is probably why I had to let it sift around in my brain for so long. :)

I've got a problem in the core of the plot. It's based on a coincidence. Blech. Coincidences happen all the time in real life, but not in fiction. I'd known it was there, but it worked so well for the story, I thought I could pretend it would be okay. Silly me.

So, now I think I'm ready to dive back in. Again.

Except this time I'll be starting from scratch. Almost. I've got a lot in my head (characters, setting, much of the plot), but I need to move out on a 45 degree angle. So most of what I've written won't make it into the rewrite. Did I mention it would require a lot of work?? :)

Have you ever started from scratch with the same story? Any advice? I think I could use some!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Few things are more frustrating to me than hearing about people banning books or threatening to ban books. First of all it's the age of the Internet. Do these people seriously think they can control all the information people are accessing by banning a book from schools or libraries? Seriously?

One of my favourite parts of hearing about people trying to ban a book is the inevitable backlash. They always seem to underestimate this. It's fun to watch the sales of the threatened book soar. I'm sure Speak's sales have been pretty good over the past week or so! :)

This ALA list of banned and threatened books blows my mind. I have about 30 of these in my Grade 5/6 classroom. Some of these books are among my favourite books of all time! Everyone needs to read The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird. Those books are full of ideas, love, honesty, integrity, passion, strength, the beauty of the human spirit. They teach invaluable lessons about the Power of One. They remind me of the wonderful quote by Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

I've read several books from this list aloud to my students over the years. The Giver is always a favourite. As are Harry Potter, Julie of the Wolves, A Wrinkle in Time, Killing Mr. Griffin, Bridge to Terabithia and The Face on the Milk Carton. If I taught older students, Fahrenheit 451 would definitely be on my list. Bradbury's brilliance needs to be shared.
The last thing we need to do is limit our students' experiences and choices. We need to teach them to think for themselves, to analyze, evaluate and critique. Taking away their right to choose teaches them nothing.
Sometimes people want to ban books because they feel the topics are inappropriate for the age of the target audience. I wonder how many people of the target age they really know and are really able to speak with. Kids deal with a lot. And a lot of it on their own. They already think and wonder. Why would we not allow them to read about these issues, learn new ways to approach and deal with problems? Why would we want them to think they're alone?
What's your favourite book that's been banned or threatened?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment

Elana, Jen & Alex - the blogging trifecta - came up with the idea for the Great Blogging Experiment. They want to prove that each and every one of us will come up with a unique perspective on one topic. The topic for this challenge is Writing Compelling Characters. So here goes...

For me, reading is about the people I meet inside the covers of the book, so writing had better be the same. I'm a very emotional person - probably not a big revelation there. :) I want... actually I need an emotional connection with a character. Otherwise why bother reading? Why bother writing?

So how to do that?

I like to write in 3rd person and tend to alternate the scenes between the male and female leads. Each gets his/her own scenes from his/her pov. Both characters get to reveal their thoughts and feelings. We get to know them both from within themselves and from the view of the other main character. I think -- okay, I hope this helps the readers to really know and care about the characters.

Of course throwing them into life-threatening perils and twisted plots helps as well :)

And if all that fails, I'll just write about these great Steampunk Disney characters. That's gotta work!

How do you make your characters compelling?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest

Alex Cavanaugh is doing it again! The Dirty Dozen Movie Blogfest was such a hit, he's hosting one now for Top Ten TV Shows. Again I couldn't resist. There are so many great TV shows I've enjoyed over the years. Top Ten though is HARD! After (not so) much internal debate, here we go...

11. My bonus pick. Okay it's not in the rules but I needed at least 1 more pic! Bablyon 5 was another close one, but for my bonus pic I'll go with Sliders - so many fun alternate dimensions.

10. Stargate Atlantis/SG1 - Love the gate! Love the blend of characters & emotions on these shows - so much great humour! And who doesn't love a good wraith or replicator?

9. X-Files. I didn't catch this show the first time around. I thought it would be too scary because I am a bit of a wimp. I have nightmares pretty much every night anyway, I didn't want to make them worse. But Scully & Mulder drew me in. There are so many great concepts in this show - so many possibilities. Love it!

8. American Idol & Canadian Idol. Yeah, I know - doesn't really match the rest of the shows on the list. But I love music - always have. I can't handle the audition rounds very well, but I love the Hollywood section where they have to work in groups. I love harmonies and when these kids do them well, it's amazing! :)
7. Bones - I'd read several of Kathy Reichs books and fallen in love with her characters Tempe and Ryan well before the TV show started. I like how the books and show have gone in slightly different directions but stay true to each other. Having the author involved probably makes that a little easier. :)
6. Star Trek: The Original Series. This series had to go on the list because it's the series that I think inspired me to write. One day I stumbled across the show in reruns. No one in my family enjoyed any kind of science fiction or fantasy so this was my first exposure. I got sucked in immediately. Loved Spock! Fascinating. :) I spent hours, usually at night when I should have been sleeping, creating scripts in my head. I kept at it until the settings, dialogue and blocking were all how I'd want them. I never wrote them down, but I probably created dozens of scripts over the years.
5. Star Trek TNG - The Next Generation really caught my imagination too. The cast was more modern and I thought the Data character was brilliant. Casting a comedian as a straight-faced, 'non'-emotional android was so smart!
4. Fringe - Fringe Science is so much fun. More alternate universes - more weird science and endless possibilities! Walter is awesome :)

3. Torchwood - Wow! Awesome. Dark, flawed, complex characters with all kinds of troubles and issues trying to keep the world safe. Fantastic.

2. Battlestar Gallactica. This remake was SO different from the original. Starbuck's a girl! I love the characters and the whole Cylon concept. Slave races will never be content to remain slaves forever.

1. Firefly - I actually didn't catch this when it was on TV either. Joss Whedon is a master. This show is set in the future in space, but it's more like the Wild West frontier. Okay, that sounds cheesy. It's actually brilliant and well worth a watch!
So, there you go. Definitely skewed towards the sci-fi end of the realm. Gotta thank my science-fiction-hating family for that one. We only had one TV for most of my growing up years, but I always got to watch Star Trek - although everyone else always found things they wanted to do elsewhere. It was great!
Thanks Alex! Make sure you check out his site :) (I've got meetings after school today - but I'll try to get around to a lot of the posts in the evening!)
So, what's your #1, absolute favourite TV series of all-time?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why do Writers Write?

Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.

- Thomas Berger
I love this quote!
Isn't it a wonderful image? I get such a great visual of a writer pounding away on a keyboard with clouds and clouds of images filling the air. The clouds for me are filled with hazy characters in all kinds of situations. Some peaceful, some suspenseful, some happy and some terrifying.
And we take those hazy images in the clouds and pour them onto paper. That sounds easy. It most certainly isn't!
It's the possiblities in the quote that make me smile. The fact that we can and do make so much from nothing at all. Like all of the arts, writing is incredibly creative -- and incredibly exhausting. I think this quote showcases our compulsions with a little bit of humour as well.
What's one of your favourite quotes about writing?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Read Alouds

I recently finished Ric Riordan's The Lightning Thief. Fantastic book! I'm teaching Grade 5/6 this year - 10 & 11 year olds. I think this book will make a fabulous read aloud for them.

I also read Ranger's Apprentice Book 1: Ruins of Gorlon this summer. Another great choice for read aloud!

No matter what grade I teach, I always read aloud to the kids for pleasure. Each class has their own favourites and I've had students come and talk to me years later about their favourite books. In grade 8 I usually read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and I've had so many kids come back to tell me they continued to read her stuff.

When I read The Outsiders, there's never a dry eye in the house when Johnny dies. Total silence. Heartbreak. Devastation. And every single kid will look for another book to give them a similar emotional impact.

This past year the favourite book by far was The Giver. Sometimes it's Underground to Canada, Maniac Magee, Hatchet, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Invitation to the Game or...

None of my teachers ever read a book out loud when I was in school and I think those teachers missed a great opportunity. Kids are so engaged when I'm reading - they love that time of day. It's one of the best ways to create readers and writers. And thinkers.

Did your teachers read aloud to you? Did you enjoy it? What was your favourite book?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Steampunk Haiku???

Stephanie Thornton over at Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel is hosting a Haiku blogfest. Here's her description of the event:

I know a lot of you like blogfests, but don't have time to write a 500 word piece or you don't want to post excerpts from your WIP. I feel your pain. Some of you like to write poetry, but like me, you don't think you're very good at it. But haikus are a piece of cake, just three lines with 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively. Easy peasy!

"Easy peasy," she says. Ha!
I've written and taught my fair share of poetry over the years. I enjoy poetry. I even have favourite poets -- Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee, Shel Silverstein, Robert Frost. Three of those poets write rhyming poetry - 2 write silly, fun rhyming poetry. One writes thought-provoking free verse ranging from serious to bizarre.
None of them write haiku. I've never taught the haiku form of poetry. I've never written a haiku.
But Stephanie's a sweetie and she was very convincing. So I clicked on the linky thingy. And proceeded to forget about it. Until now. After much fiddling I've created 3 that represent my book & the characters. Duck out now if you like - I'll never tell :)
So after all that rambling and avoiding and procrastinating, here are my haiku...
Orphaned and alone
Searching the streets for answers
Finding them and worse
Nico's mentor's dead
Killers still want what he made
He won't let them win
In Steampunk England
Tinkerings to assist them
Looking for killers

None of them give the exact feel of the book, but each of them highlights a small part. Not quite what I was hoping for, but at least I didn't come up blank!

So how are your haiku skills? Do you write them? Any haiku horror stories from the past to share?? :)
Don't forget to click on Stephanie's link to visit all of the other entries!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Google Reader Schedule

Like many of you, I follow a lot of blogs - somewhere close to the 300 mark at the moment (not counting agent/publishing blogs). I try really hard to keep up with most of your posts, but it's not easy. You all know this!

With school right around the corner, I've decided I need a better system than using my blog roll. If I start at the top of the blog roll, I may miss some of the older ones, and I may miss some people altogether.

So I played around with Google Reader a bit. I'm not always intuitive with new software - it takes me a while to become comfortable with a program. I needed to Google a couple of websites for help, but I think I've got it organzied now. *crossing fingers and toes*

I created a folder for each day of the week and then I went through each blog on my list and assigned it a specific day. In a really creative move, I started with the first blog and assigned it to Sunday, the next to Monday... Of course after I finally finished, I found a few new blogs to follow and had to remember how to assign them to a folder :)

So... long story short, each of your blogs is in a folder. Each day I'll use that folder and read and comment on those blogs. If I have time, I'll visit more, but this way I'll get to everyone at least once a week.  This is NOT an ideal system, but for now, it's the best I've got. So I apologize in advance for missing some of your posts, but I think it will make it more manageable. If you don't see me for a bit, check in and let me know. There's a rather giant possibility I didn't do this perfectly!

How do you manage to connect with all the blogs you follow?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lucky Summer!

I've had a really good run of luck this summer. I've won several prizes from the blogs of fellow writers. It's such a thrill to come home & find out I've won a prize, and then even more exciting when the prize arrives at my house. Definitely a great way to brighten up a busy June, July & August! I thought I'd share pics of my winnings - not to drive you crazy with envy - but to point you in the direction of some very generous and fabulous bloggers. Check out their links - these are some mighty fine people!

From Shannon Whitney Messenger over at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, I received a signed ARC of Archvillain by Barry Lyga & some assorted Barry Lyga swag. AWESOME! My kids at school are going to love this book! If I let them get their hands on it that is... :)

Next from Courtney over at Southern Princess sent me a book from the Book Depository - just because she was happy Elena Johnson got herself a book deal! What a sweetie! I chose The Ruins of Gorlon - the first in the Ranger's Apprentice series. This one will be a great read aloud for my classroom.

Then Lindsay (aka Isabella) at Adventures in Writing had a 100 followers contest. I won that too! The lovely Lindsay sent me a copy of Hex Hall, a great notebook and chocolate!! And, yes, the chocolate package is completely full in the photo, why do you ask?? :)

And that wasn't all! Martina & Marissa at Adventures in Children's Publishing had a terrific contest to find some Underappreciated YA novels. I was one of the winners there as well! They wrapped all the goodies in the cutest pink polka-dot gift bags. I won a copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater! The ladies were kind enough to include blody lotion, balt salts and chocolate. The chocolate must have disappeared somehow - I can't seem to find it for the photo. Hmmm. That's odd. :)

The wonderful TK Richardson over at My Writing Masquerade had a blog party celebrating the release of her novel Return the Heart. I won a prize package filled with goodies: a bright yellow mini tote bag, Lindor truffles, breakfast coffee, a cupcake scented candle, a journal from World Market and a Root Beer scented pencil!

Then I won a copy of Carolyn Brown's I Love This Bar over at Mason Canyon's Thoughts in Progress. If you haven't visited Mason's site, you really need to hurry over asap. Mason has tons and tons of terrific give-aways.

Then Renae Mercado at The Siren's Song had her first ever contest. The prizes were an ARC of Immortal Beloved, Pretty Little Liars and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I won that one too!!!

Elana Johnson had a contest to celebrate the fantabulous WriteOnCon. I won The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk - one of the presenters at the Conference!! Woohoo! :) Another great book for me and my students!

On the same day, Lisa Jackson's Without Mercy arrived in my mailbox. I won this one at Donna's Book Pub - she had an interview with Lisa & I was lucky enough to win the book! Awesome :)

That's Part 1. Yes there are more, but I won't drag this post on any longer. :) Remember to check out these fabulous bloggers - you won't regret it!

How's your luck been lately??

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Tantrums

I just renewed my library books online and it brought to mind a story my mom loves to tell. :)

When I was 4 & my sister was 5, my mom took us to the library. I don't remember this visit, but she tells me I fell in love. Books, books and more books. Everywhere I looked. I already loved books by that point and apparently couldn't get enough of the place.

So we got to the counter and the lady said my sister could have her very own library card. My sister. Just my sister.

Don't know if it's still the case, but back then the magic number to have your own card was 5. I was 4.

That would be when I had my first ever melt down. Total melt down. Sobbing, limp body, heels kicking the floor, full blown tantrum. My mom was mortified. Supposedly I was pretty much the happy-go-lucky, placid baby and kid - smiling & pleasant all the time.

Until I couldn't have a library card.

Can you see the library lady caving? She did. I got my card. :)

Not a great lesson for a kid. I think if it had been my kid I'd have refused the card. But neither my sister or I ever did this kind of thing & I don't think my mom had a clue how to handle it - she just wanted to get OUT! Can't say I blame her. Apparently I only ever had 1 other melt-down (over puppets - another story) in my childhood, so thankfully it didn't scar me, or teach me tantrums got me goodies. I seem to have turned out okay. :)

But I got my card! And I've visited that very same library every 3 or 4 weeks ever since then.

So how about you? Any book tantrums to share?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

People Watching

I think all writers are people watchers. It's so entertaining and enlightening. Plus it's fun!

While at the Roger's Cup tennis tournament last week, I spent a lot of time watching people: fans, people dragged to the event by fans, people attending so they could be seen, security, players, volunteers, ball kids, umpires, vendors...

I don't know if most people realize how much is revealed about their personality in the little things they do. They don't realize writers lurk in every crowd and watch.

Clothing says so much about a person. Many people wore the most inappropriate outfits imaginable to the event. The temperatures ran in the high 30s (Celsius or 90 - 100+ Fahrenheit) before you poured 10 000 people into a bowl and watched them stew and simmer for 12 hours. Probably not the best place for 3 piece suits or silk blouses and skirts. Or terry cloth dresses. Or polyester pant suits. Sweat stains make the most interesting patterns.

One poor lady cried when she stood up and saw the large diamond shaped sweat pattern on the front of her dress and then realized the front looked much better than the back.

We sat beside one young man who'd brought a girl he was trying desperately to impress. He was so excited to be there with her. He babbled. A lot! He bombarded her with information about the players, the game and the rules. Way more than a tennis newbie needed (or wanted) to know. It might not have been as bad if he'd known his facts. He enthusiastically tossed out incorrect info that had every tennis fan around him stiffening then smiling. He was excited, eager to impress and kind of adorable. I hope he got another date. :)

One man had the most interesting hair on his forearms - long, curly, almost prehensile.

One lady wouldn't stand up or move her legs to let the ready-to-pop pregnant lady pass. She had to climb over the woman!

A security guard stopped people from getting to close to the players with only the slightest movements - a tilt of the head, a lift of an eyebrow, a movement of the finger. Awesome presence!

Some fans wore crazy costumes supporting their favourite players - including wigs (did I mention the heat!).

One of the ice cream sellers probably used up more energy than the players. He ran up and down those stairs continuously. He was so careful to never get in anyone's view, to never move during the play. He made eye contact with his audience, smiled, responded politely to everyone. He probably made more money than all the other sellers combined.

A family sat behind us for one session - parents and 3 boys. The youngest was about 7 & his favourite player was Rafael Nadal. The little guy cheered loudly and at the right times. But when the game got tense, he'd whisper, "Give him hell, Rafa." Then he'd ask his older brother if his parents had heard him. :)

Some of what I observed this week will provide me with quirks or actions for upcoming characters. So even if I didn't have a computer I was working on my writing. After all, it's not just what we do, it's who we are. :)

Those are a few of my favourite people from the past week. Who are the most interesting people you've watched lately?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Love Means Nothing

'Love Means Nothing' --- isn't that a great marketing slogan for a tennis tournament? Love it (pun intended...sorry :)).

Anyway... that's the slogan for the Roger's Cup tennis tournament in Toronto this week. I spent some of the past week down in Toronto enjoying the tournament and with no Internet access. In fact I didn't have a computer with me at all - no writing, no email, no blogging, no Twitter. We were at the stadium for over 12 hours each day and the tennis was SO good, I didn't even miss it :)

I had my Kindle with me for the ride down and back and it was fabulous! I often sit cross-legged or with my feet up on the dash when I'm in the car and I set the Kindle in my lap. I liked not having to use 2 hands (or even 1 hand!) to hold open a book and it was very easy to read in the sun. I finished Nowhere to Hide by Terry O'Dell. FANTASTIC!! It's a great romantic suspense story - check it out :)

I missed most of WriteOnCon and I'll be catching up on the website for all the goodies I missed there.

So, did I miss anything else?

What's another favourite marketing slogan that makes you smile?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Drama Blog Fest

If you somehow missed the news, DL Hammons is hosting the High Drama Blog Fest today. Check out his blog Cruising Altitude to find the list of bloggers participating.

I enjoy visiting blogfests, but don't usually join them because of the time factor. I don't get much writing time as is, and would rather focus on my ms for the most part. But it's summer time and DL's lead up posts were so much fun I couldn't resist. :)

I decided to write a piece specifically for the blogfest rather than use a piece from my ms. So here we go...

Fog curled through the brush. Hopefully it would conceal her. Had he seen her or found her tracks? She leaned back against the tree, fought her breathing under control. She couldn’t let nerves betray her presence.

Not many people had true patience. They didn’t wait. Couldn’t stay still. He did and could so she had to as well.

Maybe she should run, take her chances. But he’d hear her. It hadn’t rained in weeks. Orange, red and yellow alarms littered the ground.

Staying still didn’t get her to safety though. She needed to move. Remaining meant certain death.

When she couldn’t take it anymore, she eased up from her crouch, loosened muscles without shifting her feet. Her dark jacket and jeans had been a fortunate choice, she should blend in with the shadows. Her eyes moved continually as she leaned forward and peeked around the tree.

Nothing. She waited, but didn’t shift her weight. Patience.

One careful step. Wait. Another.

She traveled for twenty minutes before she heard a branch snap and froze. A bird? Squirrel? Or him?

The way her luck had gone? Him.

Keeping her weight squarely over her feet, she slowly lowered into a runner’s stance. Carefully she placed one hand on the ground for balance. She eased her head to the right. The sound had been behind her. Nothing moved in the shadows, but the light was fading rapidly.

A cold ring of steel touched her neck. She forced back the fury and kept very still. As long as she lived, there was hope.

“Where’d you bury him?”

She smiled, hope indeed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“One chance, Laura.”

“You’re a cop. You’re not going to shoot me.”

He cracked the safety back. “He was nine. Where’s the grave?”

Always hope. “What’s it worth?”

“Same as you. Nothing.”


Her skull erupted, then nothing at all.

Thanks for dropping by! Remember to click on DL's link and check out the other entries :)