Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tolkien Reading Day


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 this guy:

How does your writing process work?

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for... Medeia Sharif's Snip, Snip ReVenge

V is for Medeia Sharif's latest release (I'll be featuring a review soon!) -- and she's got a giveaway too!

SNIP, SNIP REVENGE by Medeia Sharif
YA Contemporary, Evernight Teen
Release Date April 25, 2014

Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. The fastest barber in Miami Beach has made her look practically bald. 

With all her pretty hair gone, Tabby doesn’t believe she fits the feminine role she’s auditioning for. Michael is still interested in her, but he’s playing it cool. Heather has taken to bullying her online, which is easier to do with Tabby’s ugly haircut. Tabby spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until all of her problems deepen. After messing up, she sets to make things right.

Author Bio
I’m a Kurdish-American author who was born in New York City, and I presently call Miami my home. I received my master’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. After becoming a voracious reader in high school and a relentless writer dabbling in many genres in college, I found my niche writing for young people. Today I'm a MG and YA writer published through various presses. In addition to being a writer, I'm a middle school English teacher. My memberships include Mensa, ALAN, and SCBWI.

Find Medeia

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Join Medeia's giveaway to celebrate the release of her latest novel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Medeia!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for... Upcoming Book Releases

U is for upcoming book releases!

We moved into our own place in Geneva last week, so now that I have a real address, I'm excited to order new books!

Here they are in no particular order:

Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon

This is the eighth book in the Outlander series, and Diana's got a lovely explanation of the cover image, which is an octothorpe (hashtag!):

As you can see, she's been sharing lots of excerpts and spoilers, and also has a link detailing release dates in countries outside of North America. Visit for info!

Beowulf, translated by J. R. R. Tolkien

"Beowulf is is the longest epic poem in Old English, and is dated to the early 11th century. It survives in a single manuscript, housed at the British Library, and has inspired countless retellings of the myth - recently and famously by the late Seamus Heaney, whose translation won him the Whitbread book of year award in 1999.

Tolkien himself called the story 'laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination', saying that 'the whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real'.

Although the author completed his own translation in 1926, he 'seems never to have considered its publication', said Christopher Tolkien today, announcing the Tolkien estate's new deal with HarperCollins to publish Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary on 22 May. The book, edited by Christopher Tolkien, will also include the series of lectures Tolkien gave at Oxford about the poem in the 1930s, as well as the author's 'marvellous tale', Sellic Spell.

Tolkien's 'creative attention to detail' in his lectures gives rise to a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision', said his son. 'It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel's terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.'

Tolkien also closely considers the dragon which would slay Beowulf, writing of how the beast was 'snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup' – an image reminiscent of his own thief Bilbo Baggins, sneaking into the lair of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit – but, said his son, the author 'rebuts the notion that this is 'a mere treasure story … just another dragon tale''.

'He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is 'the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history' that raises it to another level,' said Christopher Tolkien.


Beowulf opens 'Hwæt w GrDena in gar-dagum / Þod-cyninga þrym gefrnon, / H p æþelingas ellen fremedon', lines which were translated by Heaney as 'So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by / and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness. / We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.'

The opening, Hwæt, has long foxed scholars, with translations ranging from Heaney's 'so' to 'lo', 'hark', 'behold', 'attend' and 'listen'. HarperCollins would not comment on how Tolkien approached Beowulf's famous opening, but all will be revealed come May."

Announcement in The Guardian

One of the reasons I love copy editing is that it touches other aspects of my personality, such as my love of books, of archives, of fact-checking, of finding sources, and of having (or at least being aware of) the completeness of collections. By which I mean, I'd love to be Christopher Tolkien's assistant! Or a curator at one of the other universities that keep Tolkien's papers.

I'm sure I'd seen a reference to his Beowulf translation somewhere before, but I hadn't realised it was complete enough to be published!

Although I was very sad to have to put most of our library into storage before we moved to Geneva, I heard about the Tolkien translation in time, and brought Seamus Heaney's translation with me. That's the last version I've read; there were others at school but I don't remember those very well. Can't wait to see Tolkien's version!

The next book is an anthology of creepy short stories for middle grade readers:

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Claire Legrand, Stefan Bachmann,

They've been featuring stories on their blog for the past year, and I can guarantee that they're deliciously creepy! Visit the Cabinet of Curiosities to explore...

The final book is the first book I've ever heard about on Twitter that I immediately knew I wanted. Of course, it wasn't a promotional post, merely another Lois Lowry fan on Twitter who shared the cover image.

The Brown Reader: 50 Writers Remember College Hill

Just look at the list of contributors! I highlighted the two I'm most excited about, Lois Lowry and Marilynne Robinson!:

Which new releases are you looking forward to?