What’s Up Wednesday? Two video chats…

August 20, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Well, I finished ‘Luck of the Draw,’ by Piers Anthony, read the last graphic novel in ‘Angel & Faith Season nine’, and started a new Discworld book from the library, “Lords and Ladies.”

I also continued to listen to plenty of Escape Pod and Podcastle stories, started “Annals of the Heechee” on Audible, and I fit some short stories and some of “Command Decision” by Elizabeth Moon in there. Loving the reading this summer!

What I’m writing:

Finished the first draft of the Xeroxxing Xylophone story. Started another round of revisions on ‘Gotta Have That Look’, based on the feedback I got from Young Gunns back in June.

What inspires me right now:

Video chats with other writers! I’ve got two scheduled this evening. First there’s the official Odyssey Salon with Jeanne Cavelos, and then I’m doing a Google Hangouts critique circle with two of my Team Ambitious friends from Odyssey class of 2013. Also – Fan Expo is coming! Really excited about that.

What else I’ve been up to:

Did some portrait sketching stuff on Sunday. I’ll have to get those pages scanned and post them soon. Upgraded my computer at work to Windows 8, and ordered a refurbished Dell laptop from Best Buy.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

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What’s Up Wednesday? Lazy Summer Days?

August 13, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

I’ve been listening to some great podcast stories from ‘Escape Pod’ and got “Luck of the Draw” (the Xanth book) from the library on the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot. I also got “Warm Bodies” from the library, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read it through. I’ve skimmed through a lot of it comparing with my memories of the movie. The library also has a downloadable audio version of “Warm Bodies”, and I may give that a try.

And I read a few Analog stories on my Nexus, both via the library Zinio archives, and my own Kindle issues. Today I started the last arc of Angel and Faith, season 9.

What I’m writing:

Well, I started a story for the Xeroxxing Xylophone idea, having fun with it so far! I know I need to get started with revision stuff, but–well, see above under lazy. 😉

What inspires me right now:

Actually figuring out a secret identity long before it gets revealed in the book I’m reading, hehe.

What else I’ve been up to:

Hanging out with my mom a little, cooking and catching up to the last levels update in ‘Angry Birds Epic.’ Pimping the Nexus tablet out with VPN setup and Remote Desktop apps, so that if a work emergency comes up while I’m in Toronto for Fan Expo, I can use the Nexus to solve the problem. The hero travels light, whoohoo. 🙂

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


What’s Up Wednesday? So Excited!

May 28, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! I may be going on WUW hiatus for a bit, but I’m here right now!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Started on one of my Christmas books (finally!) It’s Diana Wynne Jones’ “Dark Lord of Derkholm”, and it’s a lot of fun so far. The premise is that the people of a fantasy land are being forced to put on ‘adventure holidays’ for tourists and they’re tired of playing evil wizards and throwing giant battles and so on. Also been reading more stories out of Analog, including one that seems oddly familiar, “Sadness” by Timons Esaias. And I’ve been listening to some Spiderwick Chronicles I borrowed from the library, and the new Dresden Files book from Audible!

What I’m writing:

Finished revising ‘Gotta Have That Look’ for the Young Gunns workshop, and since then I haven’t been writing anything of my own, just trying to get as many of my critiques done as I can before I leave on Sunday.

What inspires me right now:

All of the great stuff I’ve been reading and critiquing, looking forward to the Storywonk ‘Cabin in the Woods’ commentary as soon as I’ve got some time to breathe, and… Kansas!

What else I’ve been up to:

Packing, shopping, trying to organize an expense tracking system. I finally got around to buying the soundtrack for “Roar of the Greasepaint Smell of the Crowd” off iTunes. When I was in middle school, the drama department made it the school play, and my Dad actually found the vinyl album and I listened to it before auditioning, but I didn’t get in. (It’s kinduv a sucky play to put on in school, since there are only a handful of actors on stage.) But when I was converting favorites from the vinyl collection to MP3, we couldn’t find that record.

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What’s Up Wednesday? The week we don’t talk about the weather

May 21, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! It’s been a while since I joined in, went on WUW hiatus for the A-Z challenge, but it’s great to be back.

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Finished “Discworld: Witches Abroad,” loved the ending. can’t quite figure out why they’d put a sample chapter from “Night Watch” at the end, considering that that’s 15 books further on in the series, but oh well. Also finished listening to ‘Neuromancer’ and borrowed some Spiderwick Chronicles audio from the library, and I’m back to reading stories from Asimov’s magazine on my Nexus.

What I’m writing:

Finished revising ‘Time Bubble Blues’ for the Young Gunns workshop, and I have a few extra days before the deadline (I’d mixed up the date in my head,) so I’m putting those to work revising ‘Gotta Have That Look.’

What inspires me right now:

Young Gunns is only a week and a half away! I’ve also been loving catching up on a little ‘Revenge’ on TV, and expanding my Monastery playlist.

What else I’ve been up to:

Dealing with a headache on Sunday, which ate up some of the revision time I’d been hoping for. Shopping and some other preparations to leave the country in June. Trying to figure out how much a Samsung Chromebook and an Alphasmart Dana can talk to each other without a Windows machine interpreting in between. (Answer: not perfectly, but not too badly either.)

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


What’s Up Wednesday? Summer’s comin’…

May 14, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! It’s been a while since I joined in, went on WUW hiatus for the A-Z challenge, but it’s great to be back.

TreeWhat I’m reading:

I finally got “Discworld: Witches Abroad” from the library, and I’m loving it! (It took a few weeks for them to get the hold ready, with glitches on the website catalog and a copy gone missing at the Central Library.) The best part, so far, is how Pratchett is not just ‘playing’ with fairy tale tropes, but weaving the very fact that they’re tropes into the overarching plot and the Big Bad’s magic. (Short version, the stories have power to enact themselves, and she’s guiding them to ensure an ending where she rules the country.)

Also: Still listening to ‘Neuromancer’, getting to the end and loving the ride even though I feel like I’m not following 100% of what’s going on. Finished “The Handmaid’s Tale” (loved the ending at Denay, Nunavut) and read more stories from Daily Science Fiction.

What I’m writing:

More revising, especially on Time Bubble Blues, where the bones of the new draft are finished and I’m working on polishing up scenes. Due date for getting my stories sent off to my Young Gunns classmates is coming up soon!

What inspires me right now:

Vampire Diaries, hanging out with fellow writers online (like at the Odyssey Salon, come check it out!) and the long weekend coming up! Three days without work to finish revising my stories… 😉

What else I’ve been up to:

Got the air conditioner ready for summer, just picked up new toner for the printer, which is very important considering all the printing out I’ll need to do. Finished my round 1 of novel excerpt critiques for TNEO, really excited about that. Still playing lots of Angry Birds…

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


What’s Up Wednesday? Mayday is behind us

May 7, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! It’s been a while since I joined in, went on WUW hiatus for the A-Z challenge, but it’s great to be back.

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Short stories from F&SF, Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction. I’ve also been loving listening to ‘Neuromancer’ — thank you Hamilton Public Library for making it available as a digital audio download! And speaking of the library, I just found out that “Witches Abroad” is finally ready for pickup, after weeks of waiting on the hold. (Apparently they lost one copy of the book at the central branch, but the other got returned from a borrower in Dundas.)

I’ve also been listening to “The Handmaid’s Tale” here and there, nearly finished and I love how the narrator gets sidetracked picking at her own language, trying to understand how the roots of idioms affect how people use them. And still squeezing in some Escape Pod stories; read “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” the first time on podcast and loved it!

What I’m writing:

Back to revising, mostly the new outline for “Time Bubble Blues”, though I need to make some changes to “Gotta Have That Look” as well. I’ve also got a lot of critiques to finish for the ‘Never-Ending Odyssey’ workshop.

What inspires me right now:

Having time to write on the bus, and the sunny warm weather. Still loving the Chromebook, which is good. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, which I’ve been marathoning on this past week and I’m up to the crossover storyline with the Captain America movie! Hmm… can I call my Angry Birds inspiring too? 😉

What else I’ve been up to:

Work, making time to be with family, trying to spring-clean the kitchen, particularly so that the air conditioner guy has room to work there. Booked my flight to Kansas and back for the Young Gunns workshop in June!

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


So much to read, and listen to–so little time!

January 25, 2014

I’ve been doing some planning for my reading of 2014 lately. So far, in the new year, I’ve read ‘Discworld: Reaper Man’ from the library, listened to a Vampire Diaries digital audiobook also from the local library, read quite a bit from my Kindle magazines, including the conclusion of the ‘Lockstep’ serial in Analog.

One thing I definitely want to get back to is making sure that I’m well read on the classics of SF. Two and a half years ago, after going to the Young Gunns workshop for the first time, I realized that I had some catch-up reading to do and downloaded several Audible books from the CSSF Institute curriculum for SF teachers. It took me over a year to finish the last of those five books, and I’ve added a few other books from the list, like Childhood’s End, The Puppet Masters, and The Time Machine, but I haven’t tried to tackle it systematically since. Until now.

For my first Audible picks of the year, I took the original ‘Dune’, which I never read, and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I also picked a couple audiobooks that weren’t on the CSSF list: “Thuvia Maid of Mars”, which I tried reading on my phone last year because I liked the original Barsoom trilogy so much, but couldn’t motivate myself to continue, and “Sandman Slim”, a recommendation that’s been sitting on my wish list since last summer; one of a trio of suggestions for fans of Harry Dresden, actually. The Iron Druid and Kate Daniels books have worked out, so why not give Slim a try?

I’m also hoping to listen to ‘Neuromancer’ soon; I didn’t grab that one from Audible because it’s available for downloading from the library, whoo-hoo! Which brings me to some other reading lists I’ve been working on; series that I’ve enjoyed and wish to continue, like the Spiderwick Chronicles, Heechee Saga, Jeeves, Culture, John De Chancie’s Castle Perilous books; and authors who don’t have specific series I’m in the middle of but I know I want to read more of, including Neil Gaiman, Sophie Kinsella, Lani Diane Rich, Wil Wheaton, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, and Robert Heinlein. I’ve gone through a lot of these with the library catalog, figuring out which books I could borrow and in what formats.

Then there’s the books I’ve already got on my ‘to read’ piles: I got several paperbacks for my birthday and christmas, including Elizabeth Moon, the latest Iron Druid, and two Diana Wynne Jones. Also some Sherlock Holmes on this list, a Song of Ice and Fire, and the collaborated Myth-Adventures…

As if all this weren’t enough, I’ve finally taken Elizabeth Twist’s advice to check out the Escape Artists story podcasts. Now, I have eighty-some MP3 fantasy and SF stories sitting on my hard drive, and I’m not even sure where to start first. Thanks a lot, Elizabeth! 😉

So, what about you? Is there anything particular you’re looking forward to reading (either print or audio) in 2014?


My local library and Adobe Digital Editions: a decent combination!

May 8, 2013

I’ve started to get into the habit of checking the Hamilton Public Library catalog when there’s a book I’m interested in that I don’t have a copy of, (and that isn’t in the public domain,) because it’s a good way of trimming the budget for buying books. A few weeks ago, after Storywonk announced Sophie Kinsella’s “The Undomestic Goddess” as their Book Club pick for April, I hit the online catalog and was surprised to find that it was listed as a library ebook.

Now, I’ve wanted for a while to try checking an ebook out of the library, but had never found an ebook listed that I was actually interested in. So I took a closer look. There were two ebook copies in the Hamilton system, both checked out, but no outstanding holds, so I placed a hold of my own, and the website assured me that I’d get an email notification when a copy became available.

And I didn’t hear back for a while, to the point where I was starting to get worried that I was misreading the part where the website said “Library copies: 2” and there weren’t any ebooks at all. In the meantime, Storywonk Sunday went on hiatus and postponed the Book Club discussion to May 26th. Finally, Monday morning, I woke up and found out that there was a notification in my email that it was finally ready to check out, two and a half weeks after I placed the hold. These titles can be checked out for 1 to 3 weeks, (with no early return because there’s no way to make sure that every reading device has deactivated the authorization codes,) and I think it’s a bit odd that both copies were checked out just a few days before I searched, but I’m not complaining.

So far, I’m impressed with the process of borrowing and reading an ebook. The library offered 3 different borrowing option with this title: Read the rest of this entry »


Feeling the heat

May 22, 2011

Well, the weather finally warmed up for the long weekend. And my apartment has been getting hot.

This has been a regular thing for my apartment. It has two rooms facing west to the park, and tends to trap summer heat. Air conditioning has been a bit of a recurring tribulation too. The second summer after I moved in, I bought a window air conditioner at Canadian Tire, put it into my kitchen, took it out and put it in its box when the weather cooled down – and the next summer, my friends, family, and I absolutely could not figure out a way of putting it back into that window without the fool thing falling out. My apartment has oddly shaped windows. I ended up selling that window unit for something like 20% of what I bought it for around the end of that third summer.

I think the same year, I bought a model of air conditioner that sits inside the room, with a hose that connects it out the window, and a little plastic tank to collect the water that’s condensed out of the air, so that when the tank is full the air conditioner shuts off. It’s a nifty little machine, and can also run as a dehumidifier, fan, or an electric heater in the winter, but it doesn’t really have that much ‘oomph’ as an air conditioner, especially since the hot air has to run through the hose. So my apartment would still get pretty warm in the hot spells, even with that air conditioner running non-stop.

But I got along that way for many years. I actually got a lot of good writing done during the summer from avoiding being in my apartment – I’d take the Alphasmart Dana, go down to the Red Hill library and write all Saturday, and two evenings a week. I set my all-time personal daily best at the library, 10,000 words split between four or five different stories.

But eventually that got a bit ridiculous, and I decided that I was going to get a new window air conditioner for the kitchen, and possibly enlist the help of a handyman to help get it in. I was mentioning that to Paul, the guy who runs the laundromat downstairs, and he mentioned that he knew a guy who did that kind of work, and gave me the friend’s number. I called the guy up, he said that he was refurbishing a good used window model air conditioner that might work with my place, and so he set it up and installed it at a bargain price. I’ve been leaving it in the kitchen, (because it’s basically built into the window with plywood,) and plugging the tiny drafts as they come up with foam or paper towel or anything else that’s handy.

So, last year at around this time, I tried turning on the air conditioner, and noticed that I wasn’t getting a rush of cold air, or indeed a blast of any air at all. There was a sound, so I figured that something was working, but it wasn’t the fan. Did a bit of tidying up in the kitchen just on principle, called Don up, and he came over on the Monday of the Victoria day long weekend, tweaked the fan motor, mentioned that I should be cleaning the filters, and I paid him a little for his time. Well enough.

Pretty much the same thing happened this year, except that I made sure to clean the filters before trying to turn the power on. Don’s coming by at 9 am tomorrow.

Also, I managed to accidentally break something in the other air conditioner’s hose attachment last fall when I was packing it up, so that though everything else on that unit is working fine, I cannot actually get the hose to stay in the window, and thus cannot actually expel the hot air from my apartment. Sigh. My mom has a similar model air conditioner that I may be able to borrow parts from, or I may show the broken hose and fitting to Don tomorrow and see if he can think of anything better to do for it.

At least I shouldn’t need to worry much about the heat after tonight.


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