Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Outlander

O is for Outlander.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.


Today's book is one set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.



I've noted before that if it wasn't for Outlander my life would be very different:
A great book affects you not only at an emotional level - when you can't let go of the characters - or at a mental level - when you learn new words and information at every reread - but at a life level.
It's a stack of dominoes - if I hadn't read Outlander, I wouldn't have joined the (awesome!) Compuserve Books and Writers Community (and its group of wonderful readers and writers!). If I hadn't joined the Forum, I wouldn't have started taking my writing seriously. Imagine, I used to finish a story or novel and just leave it by the wayside. Now I've got two fully edited novels - one out on queries! - and I'm in the process of overhauling [four more]. If I hadn't started taking my writing seriously, I wouldn't be blogging, and I wouldn't have met all you wonderful people!
Yay for Diana Gabaldon!

The "somewhere I've always wanted to visit" aspect is, of course, Scotland. Later books in the series are set in France and North America, but I've been lucky enough to visit most of those settings (especially France and the Carolinas in the United States). In Scotland though, I've been to Edinburgh twice, yet have never been further north.

Let's see... I'd like to take a distillery tour, roam the Highlands, explore the islands, drop by the Walkers Shortbread factory, attend a Runrig or Idlewild concert or two...

My Runrig playlist

My Idlewild playlist

With the Outlander musical, and now the new Outlander series on Starz (with its evocative score, especially the title music, which always makes me cry) -- not to mention the awesome Outlander Kitchen -- there's an Outlander to suit (nay, overload) all five senses.

And that's not including all the knitting possibilities!

While I'm visiting the United Kingdom, I'd also love to attend the Hay-on-Wye literary festival.


 (love these press photos from the website!)

This year's edition will feature talks by Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Graham Swift, Elif Safak, Irvine Welsh, Rose Tremain, and Stephen Fry, among others. Wish I could go!

Which festivals would you like to attend?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Knitting: Geek Knits!

K is for knitting!

For this year's A to Z Challenge I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.


The full A to Z is over on the writing and reading blog, The Girdle of Melian.

But one of the categories fits a knitting book that's on my wishlist: A book published this year:



Featuring all sorts of authors, actors, and other geeks:
"Are you ready to embrace your inner geek? This fun and fashionable compendium of knitting patterns definitely leans toward the Dark Side--but who says the Dark Side can't be chic and colorful, too? With projects ranging from easy to advanced, there's something here for everyone: sci-fi geeks, dice rollers, and fantasy enthusiasts alike. And if you're less into the culture and just need something unique to hold your comic book collection, author Joan of Dark has that covered, too.
Inside you'll find fun and funky projects modeled by some very familiar faces, including René Auberjonois of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and his Blue Box Scarf, John Carpenter and his Asylum Comic Book Cover, and George R. R. Martin with his trusty knitted Dire Wolf!"

Now I just need to find some time to knit...

Which new books are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tolkien Reading Day

Announcing...

Tolkien Reading Day, hosted by the Tolkien Society!

This year's theme is friendship, and the Society's page features videos from various scholars reading some of their favourite passages on that theme. Some of them are my favourites too, and I've always loved Leaf by Niggle.

During the 2012 A to Z Challenge I blogged about my favourite books and quoted one of the lines I love ("'and my companion, who, alas! is overcome with weariness' - here he gave the other a dig with his foot"), which also happens to relate to friendship. Those moments of levity are always heartwarming. Here's another of my favourites:

"Merry smiled. 'Well then,' he said, 'if Strider will provide what is needed, I will smoke and think. I had some of Saruman's best in my pack, but what became of it in the battle, I am sure I don't know.'
'Master Meriadoc,' said Aragorn, 'if you think that I have passed through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken. If your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will leave you to reflect on the history of tongues. And so now must I. For I have not slept in such a bed as this, since I rode from Dunharrow, nor eaten since the dark before dawn.'
Merry seized his hand and kissed it. 'I am frightfully sorry,' he said. 'Go at once! Ever since that night at Bree we have been a nuisance to you. But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.'
'I know that well, or I would not deal with you in the same way,' said Aragorn. 'May the Shire live for ever unwithered!' And kissing Merry he went out, and Gandalf went with him.
Pippin remained behind. ‘Was there ever any one like him?' he said. 'Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related. My dear ass, your pack is lying by your bed, and you had it on your back when I met you. He saw it all the time, of course. And anyway I have some stuff of my own. Come on now! Longbottom Leaf it is. Fill up while I run and see about some food. And then let's be easy for a bit. Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights.'
'No,' said Merry. 'I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them.'"

Nothing to do with knitting of course! I currently have two unfinished projects, and more babies on the way (not mine!) that I'd love to knit for.

Please share your favourite baby item patterns!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Year-end Review

Year-end review, this time of my knitting projects!

Now this is sad. Looking back, I see that without counting the A to Z Challenge, I posted only three times on my neglected knitting blog (Now I'm 26 posts away from 200 overall).

The first was a recap of my knitting in 2013, the second was a happy announcement, and the third featured gifts and an update.

Happily, however, this does not mean I neglected the hobby itself! I completed two baby blankets and started work on two Outlander-inspired projects, one of which I finished last week! I haven't uploaded my photo yet - mine's in black and pink - but this is sort of what it looks like, though much thicker:


I looked at two patterns, the gathering and the sassenach, before deciding that I knit too tightly for such patterns. I did a 2*2 rib on circular needles, which made for a very cosy cowl.

I've already started another, along with a sweater for myself!

It's been a while since I shared famous people who knit, or literary references to knitting. I still collect them! I came across this one a while ago on Twitter:

Knitting Tim Burgess of The Charlatans (who have a new album out!)

Speaking of projects, I haven't moved ahead on my A Round of Words in 80 Days goals. That's what happens when you bring home office work on the weekend... But I'll take this opportunity to list my main knitting and other hobby goals for the year:

1. Finish knitting three more cowls
2. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for our grandparents
4. Bake more!


Which hobbies are you focusing on this year?

Please share your favourite baking recipes!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Projects in Progress, and Gifts!

Quick post! Let's see how quickly I can get this up during a certain someone's naptime... I've been sharing photos on Twitter but it's best to collate them here.

Works Completed and In Progress, and Gifts!
A crocheted set from one of her aunts - there are also a hat and booties!

Another auntie's lovely monogrammed gift!

Giftie #1 from another Auntie -- and apparently there's more to come!

One of the blankets I made

And another blanket -- the weather's still too warm to be using these

Outlander-inspired knitting in progress.
I have other less-thick wool to try this cowl pattern with after I've completed this one.

Hope everyone's having fun with their projects!
If you have any other Outlander-themed patterns, please share!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Exciting News!

Funny thing about social media -- posting announcements across various platforms when a major event takes place. (Which makes me wonder, why do we say "change my status update" instead of "update my status"?)

Harking back to my Belated Announcement...A joyful development from last week!:



Not quite the usual A Round of Words in 80 Days update I suppose...

Hope everyone else has had an exciting week!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for... Zzzzzzz (and the Whisky Trench Riders)

Z is for zzzzzzz...

We've reached the end of the A to Z Challenge! Congratulations to all the participants; I think we all deserve a long nap, like the kitty in the drop cap.

I shouldn't, though - I've got ROW80 goals to live up to! I'm still hoping to do a full day's writing marathon, and there are some great Ask Me Anything questions over at the Forum that I can use on my characters.

Of course, it's not over till its over. I've got lots of blog visits to make and so many lovely comments to reply to! Thanks to everyone who came by.

I don't quite miss Canada yet -- but I'm happy to promote it whenever I can! I hope you enjoy my latest YouTube playlist, featuring an awesome Canadian band:



Now it's naptime!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for... Wish You Were Here

Y is for wish You were here!

I'd love to be able to host a writers' retreat (like Jessica Bell's awesome Homeric retreat in Greece coming up in August) or some other blog-y get together here in Geneva, but as it's not possible at the moment, I've got a prompt for you all!



The instructions go like this: "In Fortunately, the Milk by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, things get rather odd on a father's trip to buy milk for his children. He soon finds himself transported through time and space on an extraordinary adventure where the fate of the universe depends on him, a time-traveling Stegosaurus (in a hot air balloon), and, fortunately, the milk. Some may call this a "tall tale" in which someone tells an exaggerated story to keep an audience's interest. Whether you believe the father or not, use the story as inspiration to write your own tall tale in the space below. Let your imagination run wild, and be sure to make it as detailed as possible so that it is all the more convincing. Then create an illustration to bring your story to life."

Use it to begin a tall tale or an illustration or anything you'd like!

You can find the original on the Mouse Circus Neil Gaiman site.

In other news, I think Irvine Welsh is going to be attending the Geneva International Book Fair this weekend! Stay tuned for further developments...

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for... Cliches

X is for cliches. I'm not sure why the letter X made me think of the word cliche, but I've got one heck of a cliche for you:

Chocolates from Switzerland!













And if you don't like or can't have chocolate, how about some cheese?



And if you don't like or can't have cheese... I'm sure there's a cold drink of some sort I can offer you!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for... Writing I Ought to be Doing

W is for writing I ought to be doing.

I suppose it's understandable that I haven't had time for writing or editing, but I still feel guilty (especially when checking in for ROW80)! I still mean to attempt the NaNoWriMo all day marathon, which officially took place a couple of weeks ago, but which I'll try tomorrow or next Saturday. It would be easiest to start drafting a new story, of course, but what I ought to do is focus on editing or, failing that, typing up last year's NaNo novel. Meanwhile, I heard about a couple of new agents entering the field, and queried them with one of the completed novels, so fingers crossed!

Author Malcolm Campbell was recently part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour, which featured four questions. Here are my answers:

What am I working on?

At the moment, day job and house-setting-up. I should be editing Druid's Moon some more, and typing up last year's NaNo story Larksong. I've also got some knitting projects I'd like to start!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My three historical romances differ in their settings, I think. I haven't come across many novels set in the 1470s or 1490s that don't feature royals or nobles of some kind. My characters are everyday folk!

And my paranormal (Druid's Moon) is different mostly in that it's 'contained' - there's no grand worldbuilding. Just a menacing paranormal creature (a Kraken-type creature) that's haunted a family for centuries.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what comes! Usually it's an image, such as for The Face of A Lion: I had an image come in my head of a boy and a cat walking down a dusty road, and the sea was rising behind them. I knew it meant they were walking back into time. And so I started writing to find out what happened...
Other times it's dreams; that's how I got into the world of Larksong, which is my first story set in the 1910s. Or the dystopian that's still milling about in the back of my mind...

How does my writing process work?

When everything's on schedule it's kind of like this: Draft story during NaNo. Type up story over the next month or so, editing as I go. Copy from PlainText on iPad into Scrivener on the pc, separate into chapters and scenes, and print story. This is the stage I'm currently at with Captive of the Sea. The next step should be editing on paper, then entering all those changes. In between I participate on the Compuserve Forum, sharing snips and doing exercises and the like (and having fun at houseparties!). Then comes sharing the story with betas, more editing, fine tuning, writing the query and synopsis, and finally, within a year if I've been organised, querying!

Sometimes you just have to stand still for a while...like this guy:


How does your writing process work?