Saturday, December 17, 2016

Holly-Jolly Holiday Tableware

Because at heart we all adore those impractical, once-a-year dishes, right?

First up, from Limoges: for all your morning coffee or afternoon tea guests, or to treat your senses for a perfect, solitary cup of your favourite hot beverage:


 To go with elegantly modern or Art Deco decor, here's a whole line of Meissen 'Wave Pur' with holly, all the way down to napkin rings like this one. What shade of napkin would you use with this?
And this fruit bowl. Who says you have to fill with fruit? Why not mini-muffins or dainty liqueur truffles?

For a slightly more robust - or rambunctious - party, picture still-warm spiced muffins on this pretty plate from Portmeiron, Wales .

  There's a whole line of it, including teapot. Great for a hearty after-sleighride event. 

Happy Holiday Dreaming!

 For up-to-the-minute news about Maddie and my other writings, find me on Facebook or Twitter

Friday, November 11, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Release Nugget: WAKING ANASTASIA by Tim Reynolds

 A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Today I welcome Calgary fantasy author Tim Reynolds. He's been called Canada's modern-day Aesop by Barbara Budd on CBC's 'As It Happens'. He's a finalist for the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. He has a twisted way with a keyboard and a knack for yarn-spinning. WAKING ANASTASIA is his third book, following on the urban fantasy BROKEN SHIELD and the collection THE DEATH OF GOD AND OTHER STORIES.

Here's his nugget of wisdom:

My latest novel, WAKING ANASTASIA, had a unique inception. First it was a dream, then a screenplay, and finally, the novel.

Trust me when I say that this isn’t the usual route to publication. 99% of writers skip at least the screenplay part of the process, and here’s why…

Think of a finished novel like Michelangelo’s David. Your first draft is akin to Mike going to the Carrara marble quarries and selecting the perfect block of marble, looking for density, purity, and colour. You, the writer, select your words with the same care, and when the first draft is done it’s a weighty, unwieldy thing, hardly art, more like a block of words full of potential.

But as you edit, tweak, and refine your story, it’s like chipping away at the block of marble, taking what’s not necessary to leave behind the perfectly paced, brilliantly envisioned story, polished to a sheen and ready for the world to see.
Now, imagine if you will, starting with a skeleton instead of a block. Compared to a novel, that’s what a screenplay is. The skeleton contains the dialogue, and the locations, but none of the details. What a screenplay describes as “EXT. DAY. SUNNY. URBAN PARK” could take two pages of a novel to describe the sounds and scents, and maybe the colour of the Frisbee that lands at the heroine’s feet. I found that to flesh out “EXT. DAY…” to become “scuffed neon orange disc” throughout the entire manuscript is as tedious as adding marble to the skeleton would be to create David by gluing on instead of chipping away. I’d love to say I’ll never do it again, but I still have five more terrific screenplays begging to become novels. Kill me now.


Why should being murdered keep a girl from living it up a little?

When Jerry Powell inherits a torn, bloodstained book of poetry he has no idea that it contains the soul of Anastasia Romanova; but when he accidentally awakens her ghost, he discovers that death hasn’t dulled her sense of mischief and joy for life.

Between driving across the continent to start a new job in a new city, fending off a shady Russian antiquities collector, and ignoring his worsening migraines, Jerry doesn’t have time to cope with his undead royal houseguest.

Unfortunately for him, time isn’t on Jerry’s side.

 WAKING ANASTASIA officially launches November 8th at Owls Nest Books (815A 49th Avenue SW)

Edited to add this message I just saw from Tim:  Just got word that my story "Tamarack & the Stone", which was a finalist for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, got an Honourable Mention in the 4th Quarter of 2016!  Congratulations, Tim!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Release Nugget: TOUR DE MORT by Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock

A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Since their retirement from the University of Alberta, Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock have collaborated on three prior Danutia Dranchuk mystery novels, each of which touches on some aspect of the social conscience that is a vital part of both these BC writers. Their fourth book, TOUR DE MORT, comes out November 4th, 2017.

Publishing the Hard Way
As someone whose first three novels were traditionally published, I had a lot to learn when circumstances nudged co-author Chris Bullock and me into self-publishing TOUR DE MORT.
We are not technically adept enough to do everything for ourselves, so we chose a hybrid self-publishing service that conducts almost all transactions electronically. This system created poor communication with those involved in production, especially in design.
TOUR DE MORT is a fictional version of the first Cops for Cancer ride down Vancouver Island. So I searched stock images until I found a suitable cycling photo. Then came the five-month design process.
* I submit author photo and bios, blurb, reviewer comments and cover image electronically to our Account Manager, having noted on a form that the cover should seem ominous, foreboding.

* First proofs: Cyclist appears in full on the front; the cropped image on the back looks more menacing. Yes! I say in a sticky note on the PDF (my only means of communicating with the Designer). Put that on the front.

* Second proofs: Cropped image on the front, but still not menacing enough. Add red streaks leading towards a puddle of blood, I suggest.

* Third (and supposedly last) proofs: Red streaks have no relation to the bike’s path; a red blob looks like it’s been slapped against a wall. Our Account Manager at first ignores my complaint. We pay extra for a fourth round.

* Fourth proofs: The cover image as you see it. Hurray!

* Our softcover copies arrive. About the Authors (on the hardcover dust flap) has disappeared. Our new Account Manager investigates. The Designer’s email about possible ways of accommodating this material hadn’t been passed on to us.

Missing in this process is an experienced, knowledgeable publisher keeping an eye out. Long live traditional publishing!

About the book:

Sinister "accidents" threaten the Tour de Rock, a thousand-kilometre cycle ride to raise money for children's cancer. Spurred on by her young nephew's leukemia, RCMP Corporal Danutia Dranchuk has signed up as a rider but soon finds herself investigating. Events take a startling turn when people close to Danutia become caught up in a web of speculation and murder that she seems powerless to untangle.

Learn more about Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tyche Books Halloween Triple Launch

On October 27th, Tyche Books held a combined Halloween and launch party at Owls Nest Books, featuring three of its authors who have appeared on this blog in the past week: Eileen Bell, Kevin Cockle, and Axel Howerton. 

Here are are some quick shots of the doings, courtesy of Kevin Jepson.

THE JOKER wasn't laughing during Axel Howerton's reading

Owls Nest Events Coordinator Sarah was busy as a bee all night.

Me practicing my ferocious glare

Voodoo priest guards Princess Leia from Han Solo, who is babysitting Chewie's youngest but on Endor. I'm not sure whose side the gypsy was on, or the witch.
All the crazies in costume. Thanks, Tyche Books and Owls Nest Books, for a great evening, and good luck to the three featured authors: Axel Howerton, Kevin Cockle, and Eileen Bell.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Release Nugget: Kevin Cockle's SPAWNING GROUND

A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Today's new release is a debut novel, Spawning Ground by Kevin Cockle. He's got seventeen short stories out there, a screenplay, and an Aurora nomination. Spawning Ground is his first novel, and here's one thing he learned during the writing:

“Spawning Ground” being my first novel, the list of things I learned in the process of writing it is pretty long.  That I could write long-form narrative at all.  That you need to trust your writing: can’t be second-guessing every sentence and word choice if you’re going to finish.  But technically, if there’s one tangible step I took that I’d do again - and that might be of use to others - it’s the fact that I wrote SG as a screenplay first.

Movies are external and visual - novels are about the interior lives of characters - but still: a screenplay is basically a structured outline.  “Spawning Ground” started out as a short story (very interior; no act structure) which I wound up optioning to a local film company.  Adapting a short story for a feature film was a really useful exercise in terms of structure and narrative, which was important, since I was trying to create a compact genre thriller.  Characters and neat speculative ideas weren’t going to be enough: the thing had to have momentum; readers needed to have reasons to turn pages.  Plus it’s a lot easier to tweak and re-write a screenplay than it is a novel.  The logistics just made sense.

Having the screenplay in front of me made the writing of the novel a matter of disciplined execution.  No staring at a blank page and trying to think of something: the actual creative work had all been done.  I knew where I was going, which made getting there a lot easier.  The whole process made me more professional in approach than I otherwise would have been.  And it worked, which is the main thing.

About Spawning Ground

Genetic perfection has a price: a brutal Darwinian contest of strength and cunning to determine which bloodlines will continue, and dominate.

When Sarah Wheeler’s Spawning Contest is rigged, her breeding and training will be put to the ultimate test.

 Find out more about Kevin

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tiara Tuesday: I see STARS!

#1 The Diadem of the Stars (Diadema das Estrelas), in the Portuguese Crown Jewels

Originally commissioned by Queen Consort Maria Pia of Savoy in 1863 from the workshop of  Estêvão de Sousa - and taking a full 3 years to complete - it is made of gold, silver, and colourless and pink diamonds.  

Its companion necklace of stars, seen here, is missing the silver but beautiful nonetheless. 

#2  A 21st-century Tiara of Stars

This tiara was worn in 2002 by Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti from Argentina, when she married Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. He's now King, as his mother, Queen Beatrice, abdicated in his favour in 2013, making the wearer Queen Maxima.

The tiara is a combination piece: the base belongs to the Netherlands' Pearl Button Tiara, and the diamond stars belonged to Queen Emma, given to her as brooches when she married King Willem III in 1879.

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