Archive for September, 2008

The Body Guide

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Here’s a cool medical reference site, The Body Guide. Thanks to CJ Lyons for posting the link to the Crimescenewriters email loop.

The site allows you to choose between a male or female nekkid (aside from fig leaves) body. From the left, you select which body structure you need for your research, then hold your mouse over the Adam or Eve figure to I.D. the structure name. Navigation links on the right provide details and more illustrations. If you ever need to differentiate between the lumbosacral plexi and the sympathetic trunk in your WIP, this is the site to help you.

Now, quick, who can tell me which bodily system to highlight to remove the fig leaf from Adam’s body? First person to answer correctly wins Perv of the Week.


Monday, September 29th, 2008

Any Dexter fans out there? What did you think of last night’s Season 3 opening episode? It’s on my PVR, so don’t give away any episode spoilers before I’ve had a chance to watch it. But I would like to know if you watch Dexter, why does the series appeal to you? Do you think Dexter is a sympathetic character? Or do you just find him fascinating (as I do)? (Not to mention perfectly cast…)

Conversely, have you tried watching an episode or two and turned away in disgust?

I didn’t discover Dexter until partway through the first season. A family member received Season One as a Xmas gift last year, so I watched the entire season in a couple of sittings and tried my best NOT to watch any episodes of Season Two as they were airing, because I wanted to watch the season all at once again. I accomplished this treat a couple of weeks ago. Now, I find the character of Dexter intensely fascinating and complex. However, at the end of the second season I found myself wondering where they could possibly take Season 3 that would maintain Dexter as an interesting and somewhat sympathetic character. So many questions about his past were answered in Seasons 1 and 2. So what does he do now? Just go on his merry, slashing way?

I accidentally stumbled upon this news story about Season 3. Warning, the news story contains the following spoiler, which I’ve quoted in white font, so if YOU WANT TO READ IT, highlight it. If you don’t want to read it, DON’T HIGHLIGHT IT!!

This season, Dexter will make a mistake: He will kill someone who is innocent. The vigilante killer, the avenger of miscarried justice, will be forced to confront his own culpability. That moral crisis will precipitate a potential emotional meltdown, according to Clyde Phillips, Dexter’s head writer and executive producer.

Hmm, velly interesting. I like it! Except for the one unfortunate occurrence in the spoiler, of course. What I like even better is that Jimmy Smits is appearing in Season 3. Yes, it looks like it’s gearing up to be another great season of Dexter. Too bad I can’t seem to find the series on my HD channel (this is Canada, remember, and we don’t get Showtime). I’m hooked on the series enough that I’m willing to do something I rarely do—watch a non-HD channel. Our TV is humongoid, and non-HD just isn’t the same….

Vote for Kate!

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I returned from several days of no Internet connection to discover that Red Sage is holding an election-themed contest. Right now, they’re conducting the “Primaries.” Here’s more information, from the Red Sage blog:

Election hype got you down?

Well, here’s a full slate of candidates we can all support!

Vote in this month’s “Primary” for your favorite story from Secrets or Red Sage Presents. We’ll be showcasing some of the candidates here on our blog, so check back for platforms and polling results!

Next month, we’ll shift out of the Primary and into the Election! Watch this space for details!

Everyone who votes will be entered into a drawing to win a free download of a Red Sage Presents story of their choice!

Here’s how to cast your vote. Send an email to eRedSage at with “Primary Vote” in the subject line. In the body of your email, name your favorite Secrets or Red Sage Presents story. That’s it! No lines, no confusing touch screens or punch cards, and best of all — this is campaign literature you actually want to read!

So which story should you vote for? Any one you want! However, if you want my opinion (and who doesn’t?), cast your vote for Good Vibrations in Secrets Volume 21: PRIMAL HEAT, by the illustrious Kate St. James, who, as we all know (or should), is a wonderful writer and so close to my heart that she (almost) feels like part of me!

Vote for Kate! Vote for Kate now! Vote for Kate NOW!!!

Kate wants votes. Kate needs votes. Kate craves votes.

In case you need that voting information again:

Here’s how to cast your vote. Send an email to eRedSage at with “Primary Vote” in the subject line. In the body of your email, name your favorite Secrets or Red Sage Presents story. That’s it!

Good luck! (Vote for Kate St. James)

(Vote for Kate St. James)

(Vote for Kate St. James)

(That’s Good Vibrations in Secrets 21)

(Good Vibrations)

(in Secrets 21)

Vote for Kate!

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut…

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

I haven’t had access to my computer for a few days now. Well, I have access NOW, but I haven’t for a few days. I did have access to My Liege’s laptop, however, and, silly me, I thought I could check my blog through that. But guess what? I forgot my user name for WordPress! So while I have been reading the comments to my thankfully pre-scheduled blog posts, I haven’t been able to comment back. And my WordPress username is so ultra-simple, it’s not funny. Let’s hope I have it firmly implanted in my brain now.

What’s everyone been up to while I’ve been off in Stupid-Stupid Land?

Paper Jam

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Yep, usually happens when you’re printing out something that has to get to the post office now!!

The Big Read

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Found this on Maureen McGowan’s blog (who found it on Sara Hantz’s blog—hi, Sara!). Seems The Big Read, sponsored by the BBC, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list. How do you fare?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible (Yes, I’ve read the whole damn thing—whoops, sorry on the damn. After taking a university course in the The Bible as Literature, I figured I should. I didn’t read anything else while I read the Bible. It took me 9 or 10 months to read THE WHOLE THING).
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M. Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Okay, not the Complete Works. I’ve read ALL the Histories, but believe I got stuck halfway through the Comedies. Which is too bad, because I like his Tragedies the best—having also read several Shakespeare plays for various English classes over the years—and I didn’t make it to that volume. I tried the same routine as with the Bible—not allowing myself to read anything else until I read The Complete Works. I stopped reading anything at all, so I had to dash that plan.) (At this point I should admit I have a collection of the Hundred Greatest Books Ever Written, which is how I got stuck intending to read three volumes in a row of Shakespeare). (I read the Bible before I had kids).
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens (I may have read this and forgotten—I forget a lot of the books I’ve read, a side effect of Reading Too Much).
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Not that I remember any of it—another side effect of Reading Too Much).
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (May Have Read It, Don’t Remember, See Caveat Above)
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker (I have it, but have I read it?)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (can’t remember – I have it, but have I read it?)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

If I’m counting right, I’ve read at least 51 of the books on this list. Let me note that I’ve read dozens of books not on this list, but should be. Only one Margaret Atwood listing? No John Irving? What kind of list is this?

Okay, I majored in English, too. That accounts for a handful of the list. The rest I read because I am demented. You try reading ALL of Moby Dick, and not no abridged version, neither. You read that whale encyclopedia in the middle. We’ll see how sane you are after that!

Can You Kindle?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that Borrowing Alex is now available in a Kindle edition. And, if I have, I should mention it again.

Do you Kindle? If you do, what do you think of the Amazon e-reader? Care to rave, rant, pout?

I don’t have a Kindle. But then why would I? Last I checked (as of this typing), Canadian Amazon doesn’t even sell the Kindle. I wonder why not?

If you’re Canadian and if you had the option to buy a Kindle, would you?

If you’re American and you have a Kindle and you love it, tell me why. Is the Kindle your first e-reader? If you’ve owned other e-readers, how is the Kindle better/worse/different? Should Canadians feel jealous that we can’t Kindle?

If you’re American and you don’t have a Kindle, do you want one? Why or why not? Wonder if Oprah gave them to all my blog readers for free, then would you want one? (Note, Oprah has no plans that I know of to supply my blog readers with Kindles, it’s just a theoretical question—sheesh, relax!)

Alas, Head Over Heels does not yet boast a Kindle edition. The Amber Quill Press website lists five—count ’em five!—other electronic editions and Amazon of course (of course!!) sells the trade paperback edition, but no :::sob::: Kindle. Should I worry? What, me?

Nah, I won’t worry. But I can dream.

Dance Off!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Channel-surfing a few days ago, I discovered that So You Think You Can Dance has a spin-off: SYTYCD Canada. Yippee! I adore So You Think You Can Dance. After watching a couple of seasons of Dancing with the Stars and then trying SYTYCD, this spring I didn’t have the slightest urge to watch even one single full episode of Stars, but I watched the entire season of SYTYCD. You see, I decided there was only room in my life for ONE TV reality dance show, and so I had to choose (sorry, Stars, I didn’t choose you).

Why did I choose SYTYCD? Because, to me, it feels more real. I love knowing that, for the most part, these are real dancers with big dreams who just need a break. Sound familiar? It does if you’re a writer. I love watching the dancers realize their gifts…and their limitations. I love seeing them break out of the pack to prove that they do so have what it takes—like Twitch and Joshua from the last season of SYTYCD (although I did love Will and Kherington…very sad when both were voted off). And now I don’t have to get my dance-show fix from Dancing with the Stars, because CTV has seen fit to indulge me with So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Yes, I even get to hear Mary Murphy scream.

How about you? Do you watch reality TV? Are you a fan of Dancing with the Stars and/or So You Think Can Dance? Which show do you like better? Why? Are you jealous that I get to watch another season of SYTYCD while you’re stuck watching another season of Stars?

Project Family Room

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Or, as I like to call it, Extreme House Makeover, Canadian-Style.

  • Imagine that you and your husband have nine kids aged 1-24, some with special needs and some adopted.
  • Imagine you’d do anything for these children, including opening your home time and again to another soul in need.
  • Imagine that you’d adapted your house as much as you could, including changing the living room into a bedroom for some of the children, but space is still at a premium.
  • Imagine you finally decided to approach a builder about a renovation. Say, a family room?
  • Imagine the builder decides to rally community volunteer and financial resources to surprise you, your husband, and your kids with not only a new family room, but an entirely new house?

Sounds like a familiar TV show, doesn’t it?

Except it’s not.

It’s Project Family Room.

Here is my buddy Crys’s house getting demolished in early September:


And it all falls down!

Not to worry, it’s getting built back up again. From the Project Family Room website:

The new house will be a 2-storey plus finished basement, for a total of 3650 sq ft. The main floor will be wheel-chair accessible. There will be 7 bedrooms, an office/guest room, an attached double garage, and enough space for a really big dining table! Their property will also be fully landscaped.


Recently, I asked Crys to describe her feelings about this incredibly generous and humbling experience. I could paraphrase what she said, but her words are so much more eloquent than what I could up with:

Cindy, absolutely nothing surprises me now. Having something this big and wonderful has given us a new perspective on everything.  When you agree to let someone knock down your home, you really do realize how connected you are to other people. Dozens of people helped us move our things to a donated rental house, and once there, we discovered that the house we left was not home, we were a home. The first time I went down to where our house used to be, I stood peering into the hole where our basement once was. The bushes rustled and my neighbour pushed through them. She sighed and confessed that seeing the house vanish in a matter of days had sobered her. We think our homes are solid and a place of refuge and we take that for granted. I know I needed this shake up.

Our place of refuge is our community, our family, our God. The rest crumbles quickly.

She went on to tell me more about the volunteers involved:

There are hundreds of people involved in Project Family Room. Only some of them are builders, contractors and suppliers. Most of them are people like you, who reach out and celebrate with us, care for us and give the best they have. People who have the ability to see clearly something that has not yet been created, and then see a way they can share in the creation. 

We only hope we are able to live up to the vision, that our new home will be full, welcoming and blessed. Give me a call in January and I’ll put the coffee on!

Crys, I think I’ll take you up on that!

Donations to Project Family Room are gratefully accepted. Please visit the website for more information, to view pictures, or cheer them on.

Friday Notes

Friday, September 12th, 2008

The writing has gone well this week. Those two already-drafted scenes I mentioned moving up in my WIP? Turns out the first one didn’t work, but the second one meshed well after revisions. I’m giving it the final touches today. (Well, nearly the final touches. Because I re-read chapters as I’m writing, I confess I edit them again. But it’s my process, and it works for me, so there).

I’ve moved the first of the two drafted scenes back in the manuscript again. By moving it up, I realized later that I was trying to rush a secondary story line. A dream about my manuscript turning out 20,000 words below target alerted me to what was going on. 😉 Well, that and re-reading the new chapter that resulted from playing Musical Scenes. It just didn’t sit right. So back to the drawing board, and I came up with a new scene featuring the same POV character at an earlier point in her story arc. As soon as I drafted the new scene, I knew I’d done the right thing, so I dove headlong into revisions. The POV character for this scene is a secondary—the hero’s mother—but her story arc and subplot is every bit as important to her. Therefore, it’s important to me.

It’s challenging, working with secondary story lines. I’m constantly weighing if I’m devoting too much manuscript space to secondary viewpoints, or not enough. However, because I’m an organic writer, I find the best way to judge is to go on “how I feel.” If it “feels right,” then it probably is. And, if it isn’t, I can always revise later.

I find that rarely do I revise later, though. I edit later, but once a drafted scene has been revised for the first time, it becomes part of the core of my story and the next scenes arise from it. That’s what I mean when I say I’m an organic writer. And it’s also why, as much as I appreciate having previously fast-drafted scenes for a huge chunk of this book, the resulting time put into the manuscript isn’t much different. In other words, I’m not writing any faster. However, I do have a clearer idea of where I’m going than I usually do, so there have been benefits, too.

How has your writing gone this week?