Writing Prompt – 5 Pictures

At our writer’s group meeting last night, we did a freewrite, which we haven’t done in a while, but we’ve been meaning to get back to. “Freewriting” means taking a prompt and writing immediately for a set amount of time–no planning, no stopping, no editing, just see what happens. If you haven’t tried it, do so! It’s fun.

The 5 Pictures idea is one where I pull out five (or so) images from a huge stack I’ve cut from magazines over a number of years. Writers can choose whichever one they want to write about, and the way we do it, no-one is under any obligation to share what they’ve written when the time is up. Usually people want to share, which is great and makes the exercise even more fun as we read our pieces aloud afterwards, but there’s no pressure. I think the knowledge that there’s no expectation of sharing makes it easier for people to let go and write.

Anyway, I rather liked mine from last night, although when I randomly pulled this picture from the pile my first thought was, “boring!” In the end, though, this was the one that spoke to me. We wrote for ten minutes, which is not long to tell a whole story, but I think I pulled it off…

“What They Don’t Know”

House-hunting with Marta is a bitch.

“Nothing too big,” she admonished, “because how many bathrooms can one person be expected to keep clean?”

I closed the browser tabs for all the places over 5000 square feet.

“And lots of windows,” she added, smoothing her dark locks.

“With wide windowsills,” I said, “for you to sit on.”

“Goes without saying, but yes.” She stuck her pink tongue out at me impudently.

“Neighbors?” I asked.

She gave me a green-eyed stare at that.

“Right,” I said. “No neighbors too close.” I closed more browser tabs.

“And you know how I feel about dogs,” she said, stretching over to look at the laptop screen.

“Well, the density of canine population isn’t usually part of the property listing,” I reminded her. “We might have to take our chances.”

Marta sighed languidly. “Of course, you’re right, darling. We’ll just have to ask the agent when we go for a viewing.”

I stroked the silky fur on the back of my wife’s neck. “I assume you’ll be in human form for that?”

She butted her head against mine with a rumbling purr bubbling up like laughter. “Darling,” she said. “Who in their right mind would sell a house to a shape shifter? But what they don’t know…”

Friday Desk Report 2-17-2017

The return of the Friday Desk Report! And look at that fabulously almost-symmetrical date.

So, there hasn’t been a Friday Desk Report for a while, mainly because for the past couple of months they all would have read something like, “Tried to work on the novel edits this week in between bouts of feeling utterly depressed with the world. Drowned my sorrows in Guild Wars 2. Also, winter.” I mean, how many times would you want to read that?

But here’s the good news: there’s actually news. I turned in the novel manuscript! I turned in the short story! I edited and submitted another story! So things have really picked up again around the old desk. With luck, it will continue. I have a few new projects pestering me for some attention, and some older ones lined up in the “go back to” queue. Time to open up my year-out project planning spreadsheet and fill in some things for the next few months.

I’ve also been asked to give a WFNS workshop this spring, which is exciting. We’re calling it “Exploring Speculative Fiction,” and I’m looking forward to spending a day talking genre with folks writing and hoping to write specfic stories. So over the next few weeks some of my desk time will be spent putting the workshop together.

I’ve also been busy Saving The World Through Knitting. Well, okay, not *quite* saving the world. But making a small difference. So far I’ve knit ten hats from my yarn stash, which will be sent to an organization that distributes such items to refugees in need. I’m finding it a very useful strategy in coping with stress, distress, and the darkness demons of the winter months. (In the course of this project I’ve also become addicted attached to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I expect I’ll be writing some new mysteries this year…)

Review: Night Owls

Night Owls
Night Owls by Lauren M. Roy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up initially because a writer friend mentioned it, and it sounded interesting. I enjoyed the author’s handling of the vampire ethos and her introduction of other unique elements into the world of the story. The characters are well-drawn and interesting, and the story surprised me several times. Would definitely read another in this series. Great paranormal/urban fantasy reading!

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Two Weeks of Winter

Well, yes, on the East Coast of Canada, we certainly get more than two weeks of winter. Winter meanders in sometime mid-November, hunkers down, and usually has to be forcibly evicted sometime in May. Occasionally it will pack its bags in April, if we’re really lucky.

But the past two weeks have been…worse than usual. Last week my high-school-aged son had three snow days…this week he’s had four. He’s not complaining, and I’ll admit it–I’ve enjoyed being able to sleep later than usual. But–wow. I’m not sure what the two-week accumulation has been, but in one day we had 70+ cm (that’s around 28 inches for my non-metric friends), so you can imagine that the two-week total is considerable. My office window sits at ground level, and it’s a good thing I have an OTT Light on my desk, because sunshine’s been in short supply.

My office window on Valentine’s Day. Not much light creeping through that snow drift!

We had more last night, although a mere few centimetres. And the forecast for the next few days…only flurries!

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief

The Occasional Diamond Thief
The Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of those books that, once I started it, I found it difficult to put down. The main character is intriguing as she finds her path between right and wrong, driven by the events of her past, her relationship with her family, and the secret behind it all. Along with that, though, it’s a great science fiction adventure tale told across fully believable worlds and civilizations. A great read for YA or adult lovers of character-driven science fiction.

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Review: The Star Thief

The Star Thief
The Star Thief by Jamie Grey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this fast-paced novel–a blend of thriller and military scifi, with dashes of romance and humour thrown in for good measure. The characters are interesting and varied, and the strong plotline carries the story and keeps the reader turning pages. Lots of twists and turns, with much at stake for both the main character and the larger world. If you like science fiction adventure with a well-drawn female lead you should enjoy this one!

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Review: A Witch’s Kitchen

A Witch's Kitchen
A Witch’s Kitchen by Dianna Sanchez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was enchanted by this sweet and funny book, about a young witch who thinks she has no ability at witchcraft. Her apparent failings only hide her true talents, however! Along with being entertained (it was a hard-to-stop-for-the-night read), I was also appreciative of a more serious core that underpinned the story without intruding itself–it really spoke to me about finding and appreciating who we really are. But the overall feel of the book is light and fun, the characters are well-drawn, and the reading pace is quick. I’ll be delighted to introduce some of the young readers at the school library to it! Highly recommended for both young and adult fantasy lovers.

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Review: 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide

2017 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide
2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide by Maggie Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly I’m a bit biased, since I have a story in this anthology. However, I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories in the volume. Loads of intriguing tales and adventures that will have a wide appeal to readers of all ages and genders, covering a wide variety of subgenres of science fiction. I highly recommend this anthology for everyone who enjoys diverse stories of SF adventure and exploration.

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Review: C is for Chimera

C is for Chimera
C is for Chimera by Rhonda Parrish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This imaginative anthology offers such a wide variety of stories, themes, and ideas that it’s practically impossible to choose favourites. While the chimera is a unifying thread throughout the stories, the authors deal with the theme in stunningly different ways and interpretations. Although the flavour overall was a little darker than I might normally choose, I still enjoyed the stories and found them thought-provoking, and there is a broad mix of tone in the volume. If you like short speculative fiction you will not come away from this anthology disappointed.

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