Friday, December 30, 2011

Please welcome Author Ben Nuttall-Smith


-How/why did you start to write? 

I composed my first song before starting kindergarten, well over 70 years ago and began scribbling poetry in my teens. (My mother did not like the song. Dear Mommy pretends to be 21.) Serious writing began following my retirement from teaching in 1993. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, I retired to a “handyman’s delight” on the Sunshine Coast and began the healing process by gardening, renovating, and writing a memoir about survival (and eventually healing) from childhood sexual abuse.

-How did you become an author?

After countless rejection slips from publishers all over Canada, I published my memoir and a first book of poetry with a publish-on-demand company. I kept writing, moved back to the Lower Mainland and joined the Canadian Authors’ Association. Then I joined the Federation of BC Writers and began serving on both boards, helping other writers.
On a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2002, I was hit by a car on a sidewalk and spent six weeks sitting daily in the Zocalo, painting, reading and writing. I composed a book of poetry about the poor people of Oaxaca City and an epic poem about Quétzalcoatl, the mysterious bearded god of the Mexican people. Over the next seven years, that poem grew into two more trips to Mexico and a great deal of research about American First Nations before the advent of European conquests. The resulting novel, Blood, Feathers & Holy Men, was picked up by Libros Libertad and published in January 2011. That publication was due to a stroke of karma. I met Manolis, the publisher, while trying to help a fellow writer through the Federation of BC Writers.
Libros Libertad will release my second novel, Secrets Kept / Secrets Told, in January 2012. That novel is a rewrite of my earlier memoir.

-What was your first published piece?

I had the occasional article and bits of poetry published in small-run magazines and newspapers over many years. While living in Sechelt, I wrote weekly articles for the Royal Canadian Legion and for the local press.

-What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

At 17, I joined the Royal Canadian navy. Then I ran through a series of jobs before returning to school as an adult student and eventually becoming a teacher. I taught Music, Art, Theatre and English for over 30 years. The entire story unfolds through the eyes of Paddy Milne in my upcoming novel.

-What inspires you? 

            On a summer day, I’ll sit in a shady area, pen in hand, and observe people and my surroundings. How do those surroundings make me feel? Can I see beyond the ragged clothing, the grimy face and the rasping voice? Where has this person been? What misfortune led him or her to this lowly state? Can I see beauty where there is only ugliness and pain?
            I appreciate the splendour of nature, the sparkle in people’s eyes. Encounters, visions and stories of misfortune affect me deeply. But, to write a story or a poem takes a concerted effort and daily discipline.

-Please share one of your successful marketing techniques.

I carry cards with photo, address, email and web information. The back describes current publication(s). I also printed a flyer describing my book(s). Then I attend readings and literary events, writers’ conferences and network with fellow scribblers through various writing organizations including The Writers Union of Canada. I offer workshops wherever appropriate, which give me exposure to sell books. I make sure to have books with me wherever I go and recently sold a book while waiting for a haircut.

-Parting words

Writing, a lonely obsession, takes place in a cave. Shameless self-promotion is out in the open and time-consuming. Balancing the two is almost impossible. With all that, we must never stop reading. Reading keeps the gears lubricated. I’m forever buying books from fellow authors, reading manuscripts, and trying to keep up.

Ben Nuttall-Smith
2642 MvBride Ave
Crescent Beach, B.C.
Canada, V4A 3G1
1-604-535-2977

Website

Available January 5th
Buy link

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blog review

2011 was a good year. I had tons of fun on this blog meeting new people, sharing knitting patterns and writing.
Here are some of my personal highlights.
I meet over 50 authors (featured on my Interviews with Authors page)
I shared over twenty knitting patterns (found on my Patterns shared page)
I wrote short stories and... (Available here)
More to come in 2012
***
Next post:  Please welcome Ben Nuttell-Smith

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Writing game 4

This is a co-operative group storytelling activity.
The play:  The first person writes or says a word. The next person supplies another word. Continue until a story is formed.
Variation: 
Participation:  A die is rolled to determine who goes first.
The play:  Players take turns rolling the die to determine the number of words they need to add to the story.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Knitters, come shopping with me

Yarn shopping on Mayne Island...




(photos taken at Meadowmist Farm on Mayne Island)

Meadowmist Farm

Hatakeyarns




(photos taken at Dragonfly Gallery on Mayne Island)
Dragonfly Gallery
***
Next post:  Writing game 4

Friday, December 23, 2011

Please welcome Mary Woodbury of Moon Willow Press

My new small publishing company in Port Moody is Moon Willow Press. I am an environmentalist involved in the local community on several projects, including speaking up against oil sands pipelines running through culturally sacred and ecologically bio-diverse areas in the northern half of our province as well acting as a steward for the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet.



I am committed to producing provocative books that use sustainable print materials, and for this reason print only on FSC-certified or post-consumer paper. I  also donate a portion of sales to tree planters in the world who are working in areas such as Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Malawi that suffer from deforestation. My press is partnered with Eco-Libris and Green Press Initiative.



I have written a toolkit for green publishing, which is free at www.moonwillowpress.com site. In my first year of publishing, I also have two titles that are just e-books: The Little Big Town is a young reader's story about a rough transition experienced by a young girl who moves from a large city to a small, rural area. A collection of short stories, Smoke Ghosts & Other Outré Tales, is a fascinating and imaginative collection of travel vignettes.



This year's print titles (also on Kindle) are a fiction literary road novel, Infernal Drums; an eco-poetry collection, The Sacred River of Consciousness; and the novel The Lottery Winner. Two titles are slated for 2012 so far, a science-fiction title calling for the preservation and resurrection of the great forests of the earth, The Philodentrist Heresy, and an as yet untitled novel about a group of people adapting to a world devastated by climate change.


I also run a nature/science blog, Ecologue, which is at the press's website.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Writing Workshop

I received this in my email inbox...

WORKSHOP ON HOW TO BE YOUR OWN PUBLICIST!  SPREAD THE WORD!

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is offering the Professional Development Workshop HOW TO BE YOUR OWN PUBLICIST in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and Victoria, in February and March of 2012. The workshops take place from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. For those who can’t attend in one of the participating cities, a 3-hour webinar will be offered, distilling the highlights of the workshop.  

Authors Elizabeth Ruth and Ann Douglas will present on traditional but innovative book marketing strategies as well as new media opportunities for writers.  Kelly Duffin, Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada, will update participants on the latest evolutions in the publishing landscape.

Whether you are an aspiring writer wanting to develop your audience before publication; an emerging writer who needs to stay visible; or long-published and looking for new tips and techniques, this full-day workshop is for you.

Participants will leave the workshop having gained the know-how and confidence to creatively promote their own future works, and an expanded, inspired sense of what it means to be a writer in the current publishing context.

Most workshops of this calibre charge hundreds of dollars. The price of this symposium is $89.00 and covers costs, including lunch, $75 for members of The Writers’ Union of Canada. For registration information please go to www.writersunion.ca/registration.pdf.  Please circulate this information to writers you think might be interested in coming to this event. Space is limited so register today.

Many thanks for your time and attention.

Kelly Duffin
Executive Director

The Writers’ Union of Canada acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage for these Professional Development workshops.

Yule (a poem, a chant, a prayer)

Something is happening,
Something is growing,
Something is bubbling up within you,

Something unstoppable,
Something undeniable,
Something perpetual,

Something...

Embrace it.

'Meditate upon the sun, on the hidden energies lying dormant in winter, not only in the earth but within ourselves. Think of birth not as the start of life but as its continuance.' from Wicca:  A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
***
Next post:  Mary Woodbury writes a guest post about Moon Willow Press

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Writing game 3

Preparation:  Choose a book (well-known or not)
Play:  One player reads the opening paragraph out loud to all the players. Each player writes a short story inspired by this paragraph.
Variation: Glean your inspiration from a photo

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Please click this link

I just received this email in my inbox

Subject: your 'Giant' Help can make a big difference - PLEASE pass this on

When you watch this video you’ll see our annual 2011 Teddy Bear Toss  that took place here Dec. 9/11.
The Teddy Bear Toss has become a hugely successful event and benefits great causes. (And, if you’ve never seen --or been -- to our Giant’s Teddy Bear Toss game –  watch this & smile -- just like the 12,000+ fans in the rink did the other night.)
**So, PLEASE share this video with everyone you can – if we all can help this clip reach 50,000 views before Christmas day, the Vancouver Giants & White Spot Restaurants will make a $10,000 Donation to the CKNW Orphan’s Fund & the Province’s Empy Stocking Fund. 
Merry Christmas and thanks for helping!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Please welcome Author George Szanto


How/why did you start to write?
I’ve been writing since I was 5. It seemed natural to create the kinds of material others had produced for me, so I contributed too

How did you become an author?
As opposed why I started to write? Same thing, except that in the 6th grade I gave my teacher a short story, which she then read to the class. And I got a new respect from my fellow students.

What was your first published piece?
Too long ago to remember. I wrote plays as well, and they were performed early on

Where was it published?
All my plays were published by Playwrights Canada Press.

How long ago?
Eons. The first play was  published in 1972. My first books, one of essays and one of short stories, were published in 1977

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
Mostly I taught and travelled. Everything I’ve done has been grist for the writing mill
Please share one of your successful marketing techniques
Pushing my publisher as hard as I can

Parting words
Please check out my website, www.georgeszanto.com

Most recent release:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Something new at WinterCraft gallery

On Monday, December 12th,




I took a ferry from Mayne Island over the sea to...

WinterCraft
in Mahon Hall
on 114 Rainbow Road
on Salt Spring Island

There I saw...
















Holiday shopping until Sunday, December 18th.
***
Next post:  Please welcome Author George Szanto

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

of interest to admires of books and art

I received this interesting link in my email inbox and I'm passing it on to you--because I think you might be interested in these Mysterious Paper Sculptures

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing game 2

Preparation:  Each player brings a small item from home (the stranger the more fun). Place all items in a pillow case.
Play:  Each player must draw one item out of the pillow case and tell a story about it.
Variation:  Have a theme for the story exchange such as clothing. Each player must bring a hat, belt, top, etc.
Have you played this game? Please share your experience.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Craft show or craft gallery

Craft gallery
On Saturday, on this blog, I posted a link to a virtual tour of WinterCraft--an art/craft gallery on Salt Spring Island. (Scroll down the blog entry directly under this one.)

Craft show
Yesterday (Sunday), I sold my creations at a craft show here on Mayne Island. The Agricultural Society Hall was packed with treasures large and small. I shared a table with my friends Amber Harvey and Susan Snider.


(Much thanks to my booth neighbour for taking this picture.)

What, you may be curious to know, is the difference between selling at craft show or being a participating artisan in a gallery and which do I prefer?
Well, much like self-publishing or working with a publisher, at a craft show it's all me. I make the inventory; I display the inventory; I make the sale.
In a craft gallery, I work with a team. My only responsibilty is to make the inventory.
What works best for me is selling my creations through a gallery.
Although, it is (always) fun socializing with Susan and Amber.
***
Next post:  Writing game 2

Saturday, December 10, 2011

WinterCraft gallery on Youtube

Here's the link
WinterCraft is open 10 - 5 pm daily through Sunday, December 18th
"Oh, I saw so many beautiful items. When is the next ferry to Salt Spring?" I said--after watching

Friday, December 9, 2011

Please welcome Author Anne R. Allen

 Anne R. Allen is the author of five comic mysteries debuting in 2011 with two publishers: Popcorn Press and Mark Williams international Digital Publishing. FOOD OF LOVE, originally published in the UK in 2003 by Babash-Ryan, made its US debut in September 2011. THE BEST REVENGE, also first published by Babash Ryan, (2005) will be relaunched by Popcorn in December 2011.

Anne’s titles with MWiDP include: THE GATSBY GAME (October 2011) GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY (October 2011) and SHERWOOD, LTD (December 2011.) These titles will also be available in paper from Popcorn Press. She is also working on a self-help guide for writers with PAY IT FORWARD author Catherine Ryan Hyde. Anne has a popular blog for writers at http://annerallen.blogspot.com, where she blogs with NYT bestselling author, Ruth Harris.


-How/why did you start to write?

I think I’ve been writing since I could first hold a crayon. I named all the people in my coloring books and made up stories about them. I loved stories about witches and dark things, so I always ran out of the black crayons first.

When I was about six, my mom built me a puppet theatre, and I wrote plays and put them on in the back yard. Then I graduated to writing plays for my friends and my Brownie troop.

And I guess I never stopped.

-How did you become an author?

As I said, I’ve always been a writer, but I guess when I first thought of myself as an actual author was when I got my first novel published as a serial in a local California entertainment weekly. It was crazy—I contracted to write one chapter of exactly 700 words every week. (It had to fit opposite the astrology column.) Every episode had to incorporate the news of the week. I got paid $50 an episode. But hey, I was an “author”—getting paid and everything.

-What was your first published piece?

My very first published piece was a poem I wrote in seventh grade. It was a very dark revenge sonnet about watching all the cool kids burn up in a fire while I stood outside and laughed at them. I was very Goth at age 12.

-Where was it published?

It was published in our school literary magazine, which was had the suitably pretentious name of Finnegan’s Awakening.  It was edited by an upperclassman who later went on to become a well known screenwriter and essayist: Michael Ventura. (One of his most memorable films was Roadie, starring Meatloaf.) He’s the first person who ever told me I could write. The beginning of a life-long crush.

-How long ago?

Uh-oh. Do I have to say? Seventh grade was, um, long ago and far away.

-What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I spent twenty five years in theatre and film, acting and directing. And yes, the two are perfectly matched. Preparing for a role is very like creating a character. You learn that every character in every scene must have a goal or a motivation. I specialized in comic cameos, so I also learned that even the most minor character can have an interesting character arc.

I also supported myself by working in bookstores. As you can imagine, that taught me a whole lot about the publishing marketplace.

-What inspires you?

Everything and anything. But I guess I’m most inspired by the absurd. Life is absurd. It’s wildly silly and funny. I love to point out ironies and show people how to laugh at themselves. I often base my villains on versions of myself—or the way I imagine other people might see me.

-Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

I wish I knew if it was really successful or not, but I devote a good deal of time to social media, especially my blog, which is pretty popular. I got 11,000 hits last week (a record.) I blog mostly about writing and publishing, so I’m speaking to other writers, but since most of my novels are about the publishing business, I figure that’s good marketing. But my books have only been for sale since October and I don’t have any sales figures from my publishers yet, so I don’t know if it’s working.

-Parting words

My latest comic mystery, Sherwood Ltd, is due in mid-December and is a sequel to Ghostwriters in the Sky, which came out on Oct 31st. Sherwood is based on my adventures living and working in a wild and crazy erotica publishing house in the English Midlands, near the real Sherwood Forest. I had a wonderful time fictionalizing the charming town and its eccentric inhabitants and putting my heroine, Camilla Randall there to solve a murder mystery.



GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY (Romantic comedy/mystery: Mark Williams international Digital Publishing, October 2011) After her celebrity ex-husband’s ironic joke about her “kinky sex habits” is misquoted in a tabloid, New York etiquette columnist Camilla Randall’s life unravels in bad late night jokes. Nearly broke and down to her last Herme s scarf, she accepts an invitation to a Z-list Writers’ Conference in the wine-and-cowboy town of Santa Ynez, California, where, unfortunately, a cross-dressing dominatrix plies her trade by impersonating Camilla. When a ghostwriter’s plot to blackmail celebrities with faked evidence leads to murder, Camilla must team up with the dominatrix to stop the killer.

Buy Links




SHERWOOD, LTD. (Romantic comedy/mystery: Mark Williams international Digital Publishing, November 2011) Suddenly-homeless American manners expert Camilla Randall becomes a 21st century Maid Marian—living rough near the real Sherwood Forest with a band of outlaw English erotica publishers—led by a charming, self-styled Robin Hood who unfortunately may intend to kill her. When Camilla is invited to publish a book of her columns with UK publisher Peter Sherwood, she lands in a gritty criminal world—far from the Merrie Olde England she envisions. The staff are ex-cons and the erotica is kinky. Hungry and penniless, she camps in a Wendy House built from pallets of porn while battling an epic flood, a mendacious American Renfaire wench, and the mysterious killer who may be Peter himself.

Buy Links

 

Food of Love (romantic comedy/thriller)—Someone’s trying to kill the Princess—because she got fat? Unfortunately, they have a nuclear bomb.

Buy Links:




The Gatsby Game (romantic comedy/mystery)—Based on a real unsolved Hollywood mystery. Chick Lit noir. The nanny didn’t do it!

Buy Links:






Coming in December from Popcorn Press (ebook and paper): The Best Revenge: A suddenly-broke NYC celebutante runs off to California with nothing but her Delorean and her designer furs, looking for her long-lost gay best friend.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Letters to Saint Nicholas

LETTERS

Time was...
my mail rested comfortably in Site 21, Compartment 4

waiting for me to collect it.

Recently...
shiny, new mailboxes appeared

and I was informed that my mailing address had changed to
291 Wood Dale Drive
Mayne Island, BC
V0N 2J2

TO
SAINT NICHOLAS
On December4, The Vivaldi Chamber Choir

accompanied by a CBC announcer

travelled to Mayne Island.
In St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, they entertained with a gentle blend of book readings and music--a performance they called 'In Search of Saint Nicholas'. All who attended where charmed.
(Please excuse my photos--the result of my attempt to be discreet.)

AND Sunday, December 11 I will be participating in craft show. Please attend 10 am to 2 pm at the Agricultural Society Hall. I will report back.
***
Next post:  Please welcome Author Anne R. Allen

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Sweater Curse chapter 1, page 6

I'm pleased to offer you, page-by-page, the first three chapters of The Sweater Curse, each Wednesday...


The Sweater Curse

Chapter One (page six)

She noticed the unwanted increases as well. "Look, your scarf is growing wide, elskan min."

"What did I do?"

"Well, I think you may have knit into one stitch twice, or you may have mistaken the front loop for a stitch."

"Can you fix it?"

"Yes," she said. "What we have to do is rip all the stitches back."

"All of them?" I questioned disappointedly.

"Yes, unfortunately, but just think of how much more knitting fun you will have." She used a safety pin to mark the last perfect row. "Rip." She handed me my knitting. It became a game. I slipped all the stitches off the needle, and as I pulled the yarn, the stitches disappeared faster and faster.

"You worked magic. All the rows have vanished." She collected all the stitches, placing them back on the needle. Then I re-knit them.

Knitting wove us together.

Chapter One (page five)

The first item I knitted was a garter-stitch scarf. My aunt cast on twenty-stitches and handed me the needles. When I finished knitting, I gave it to her to cast off.

After examining my work, she declared, "Your stitches are well formed. Your tension perfect."

I was so proud. "Now what?" I asked, eagerly.

"Now, I will teach you the purl stitch," she said, demonstrating.

"It looks so tricky."

"At first, it does seem hard, but it will get easier. I know, I'll tell you a little story about Pall." Pall was my youngest cousin. "It will help you remember the steps. One day, Pall was full of Loki's mischief, he walked around the garden." My aunt put the tip of the working needle behind the yarn. "Came in the back door." She thrust the tip working needle into the loop. "Danced around the kitchen." Brought the yarn over the tip of the working needle, between the two needles. The working needle was brought down into the new stitch. "Finally, he hopped out the window." New stitch formed, she pulled the old stitch off the carrier needle.

She worked a few more rows, and then it was my turn. Once again I practiced, and eventually, used both the knit and purl stitches to make a hat for my doll.

"To shape the hat, you will need to learn how to decrease," she said. "Decreasing only sounds difficult. All you do is knit two stitches together."

My education continued until I could cast on and off, knit, purl, decrease and increase with ease. Occassionally, I would make mistakes. My aunt was the first to spot the disappearing and reappearing stitches.

"Ah, Loki's mischief." She chuckled. "After every couple of rows, you should count your stitches. You want the number to remain the same."

Following her advice, I was disappointed to discover I'd lost five stitches. "How did that happen?" I asked.

"See the ladder of holes, elskan min? I think a stitch has hopped off. Here, let me catch him for you." She used her crochet book to collect the stitch and carefully worked it, row-by-row, up to the needle.

Chapter One (page four)

She coiled yarn around each nail. Then she took a knitting needle and began to knit stitches from the loom. She pushed her red plastic needle between the loop and the nail, slipped yarn into the gap, folded the loop over the yarn, and a stitch was formed. Her dance was slow at first, but increased in speed with each row.

Her tenth row completed, she gave me the needles. "Your turn elskan min."

I grasped the needle as she had, like a pencil. My aunt worked the needle into the loop effortlessly. Well, it wasn't effortless for me. Finally, out of frustration, I ceased the loop, pulled it forward, and slipped the needle into it. I fought and won my first stitch. Progress was difficult, but I refused to fail, and eventually my determination was rewarded as performing the stops became smoother.

Only a few rows later, I mastered the technique.

The loom was a simple gift, but it introduced me to my life-long passion. I quickly moved from the loom to knitting needles.

Mastering the craft was easy and fun. For, you see, not only did I have a natural aptitude, but also an experienced teacher.

"When we begin a row, one of the needles has loops of yarn, or stitches, around it. The other needle is bare. We will call the needle with the stitches the carrier. The other needle we will call the worker. To knit, put the tip of the working needle into the center of the stitch." I closely watched my aunt. "Now wrap the yarn around the working needle. Pull the yarn through the loop. When you have a stitch on the working needle, pull one stitch off the carrier needle. Continue until the carrier needle is bare." She transferred the loops from one needle to the other. "This stitch is called knit. If you do a lot of them all together, the stitch pattern is called garter."

"Hey, now the carrier needle has become the working needle, and the working needle has become the carrier."

"Very good, elskan min." She beamed.


Chapter One (page three)

you. She is a poorly educated farmer's wife. Your future is far brighter," Mother would say of my aunt.

I didn't share Mother's prejudice. For me, my aunt created a home, something Mother could have never done.

Surprisingly, Mother did allow my aunt to teach me to knit. I'm not sure why.

Perhaps, due to my amma's--my grandma's--local fame as a crafter, she thought it was my rightful inheritance. Or more likely she desired to prepare my hands for the life of a surgeon.

Even though she granted this concession, she still maintained, "Crafts are for the common folk. Art is far more worthy of your time and energies."

I indulged her by spending some of my time drawing. To her delight, I developed some talent, but drawing didn't hold my interest. Knitting did.

Some of my earliest memories are of my aunt engaged in the craft. I stood transfixed as her needles magically coiled the yarn into a myriad of items:  sweaters, blankets, toquest, and mittens. She picked up her knitting, and it slipped on her hand like a glove, the yarn wrapping around the grove on her right index finger.

***

Days  before my sixth birthday, I heard the steady pounding of my uncle's hammer issuing forth from the barn. What is he making? The question buzzed in my brain like a mosquito, but I didn't investigate. Instead, I waited patiently. Soon my uncle emerged holding a board of nails.

"Happy birthday." He grinned and handed me my gift.

Uncle Stein wasn't a finish carpenter. He was a farmer. The things he made didn't look fancy, but they worked.

I held something, but what it was intrigued me. I lay the board down on the table beside my aunt. "They look like telephone poles," I observed, tapping the flat top of each nail with my finger.

"Good eye, elskan min, my dear," Auntie Oli said. "This is a knitting loom. Here, watch. I'll show you how to use it."

Chapter One (page two)

All farming communities are perpetually in need of doctors. Mother remained busy morning, noon, and night. She was the only doctor for the entire municipality, so if she couldn't heal you, you were out of luck.

When Mother flew off to save the day like some kind of superhero, it was my Auntie Oli who folded me into her brood.

"I had boy after boy, but then you came. Finally, our family was blessed by an adorable baby girl," My aunt's words cradled me in love. "You looked like such a little angel in the dress I made for you. Do you remember the doll I gave you? You took such good care of it."

Life was good, until Mother came home. She'd strip me of the dress and the doll and replaced them with jeans and a toy truck, declaring, "My daughter will not be repressed. She will not be marginalized." It was her raging battle cry.

Mother anthem:  "I am woman. Hear me roar." She regarded my childhood as some type of feminist, conscious-raising experiment. She preached, "Beauty says nothing of the beautiful. Physical attributes are simply a blending of genes. It is intellect which is the true judge of a woman. You must invest time in cultivating it. Be careful what you learn and from whom, for it will mark you for the rest of your life. And you don't want to be marked by them. Oh, how I hate this farm! It's so dirty, smelly; it's disgusting."

I wondered why she worked in a rural hospital.

Did she view herself as a savior, either due to her skills as a doctor or for her beliefs as a feminist? Maybe she saw herself as a martyr who would endure wretched conditions, sacrificing self to save bodies and minds.

"I was born, raised, and educated in West Vancouver, British Columbia. The McNamaras are a prestigious family. Your grandpapa, Doctor Alexander McNamara, is well-respected among his peers." Even though she directed this message at me, she ensured others heard.
***
"She's fit to cook your meals, make your bed, do your laundry, take care of you, but remember, dear, she isn't your equal. I don't wish her to mark



Chapter One (page one)

The earliest impressions my mind retains are a patchwork of senses: the smell of bread baking, the wet tongue of a farm dog, and the crunch of autumn leaves. These memories are seductive, I could get lost in them.

I must focus on cold hard facts.
Place of birth:  Blondous, Manitoba
Date of birth:  April 14th, 1988.
I was born into a world of big hair, padded shoulders, and disco. Freaky.
Two years after my birth, we entered a new decade the 90's. At twelve, we were in a new century--the twenty-first.
Dead at the age of twenty-five.

Blondous is a dot on some maps. Other maps don't even bother. It's located in the center of the province between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, in an area known as the Interlake. Blondous was named and settled by Icelandic immigrants. They were forced to leave Iceland, because the land they loved could no longer sustain them. In naming their new community, they attempted to bring their culture with them. In these scrub trees among the rock-filled land, they dreamed of Iceland.

I was born in the W.C. Blondous Memorial Hospital. It was the same rural hospital where Mother doctored. Oh, those poor nurses! How taxing it must have been tending to her when she was pregnant.
"Yes, Doctor."
"Of course, Doctor."
"Right away, Doctor."
Mother kept them hopping.

Prologue

This isn't Heaven. It isn't Hell. And I'm not alive.

Picture this:  a bus stop, tons of people packed into the small space, all waiting to continue their journey. Many buses stop here. Some passengers get off, others get on. Young children with sickly white complexions huddle together in the shelter. Teenagers with rope burns around their necks get off the bus. Old men with bullet holes climb on.

Throughout this confusion, the only constant is me. I remain alone.

Why?

I don't know, but I must find the reason. I must examine my life to discover the momentary lapse. The wrong I've committed. The task I've neglected. It's my only means of escape.

Buy link

***
Next post:  Letters to Saint Nicholas

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A decadent Christmas

Feeling a little cold?
Well, warm up with these authors of sizzling hot stories.
http://30daysofdecadence.blogspot.com

Writing games 1

One way to continue to enjoy an activity is to keep it fun. Combining this belief with the knowledge that this is the season of friends and family gatherings, I've decided to present a series of writing games--one game per every Tuesday in December.

Today's game:  Words
Material:  pens and index cards (or small slips of paper)
Preparation:  Distribute a index cards and a pen to each player. Players write one word on each card--nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions. Consult to ensure there are no duplications.
Play:  Use these words to form sentences, paragraphs, scenes or short stories.
The first player places a word on the table. The next player adds another word and so on until all the words are used or the story is told.

Variation
Preparation:  Put the words in a big pile, face down in the centre of the table. Each player choose a set number of words (ten?) Players may trade words or return unusable words to the pile and draw replacements.
Play:  Working independently, each player forms a sentence using their collection of words.

If you play this game, please leave a comment regarding your experience.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Elf hat pattern shared

Baby hat

knitting needles:  4.50 mm/US 7/UK7
Yarn:  worsted weight main and contrasting colour
Tension:  4 stitches x 6 rows = one inch

4 x 4 rib
Row:  knit four, purl four--to end of row
Repeat row for pattern

Stockinette stitch
Row 1:  knit--to end of row
Row 2:  purl--to end of row
Repeat row for pattern


Cast on 56 stitches with main colour
Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 2 inches
Work in Stockinette stitch with contrasting colour for two rows
Alternate between main and contrasting colours every second row
Decrease two stitches at the beginning and end of row every second row
When hat measures 10 inches and 6 stitches remain, slip stitches onto a double point needle
Work I-cord for six inches
Using a darning needle, pull thread through stitches and secure
Add fringe

I hope these instructions are clear. If not, please let me know. I appreciate this opportunity to improve my writing.
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