Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Wishes

Simple post. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas (a happy holiday season if Christmas is not your thing). I hope you find yourselves, and your families, happy and healthy throughout the new year (anything else is gravy).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wii Recall Headlines

The problems with the straps on the Wii controllers (they break and since the controllers use motion-sensing technology and are moved like a tennis racket or a bowling ball during play, when they break, they fly off and often break something in the room or injure someone) is causing headaches for Nintendo but I am getting a great kick out of the headlines:

A Wii Bit of a Problem (The Edmonton Sun)

Wii Gets Out of Hand (Chicago Sun-Times)

Nintendo Wii-call, er, recall (Chicago Tribune)

For Wii Players, a Swing and an Unexpected Hit (The Washington Post)

A Wii Too Thin (The Mercury News)

Nintendo to replace not so magic wand (The Scotsman)

Wii Will replace faulty wriststraps, says Nintendo (The Times)

When game controllers attack (CNet News)

NZers should not be affected by the Wii-motes (Scoop Independent News)

For much, much more on this (and the problem of Wii injuries), visit

* A new addition from the MUSE online (not really about the recall, but I loved the headline): I Can't Stop Playing with my Wii

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas parties and shopping

Phew. My last Christmas function is done. There were four to attend just this weekend. Well, Saturday night wasn't a Christmas function but a stagette. You know, the kind that leaves your head fuzzy the next morning and leaves pounding messages in your head. Still, I managed, with much coffee, to defuzz enough to attend the last Christmas function of the weekend. It was an open house my friends had so that was relaxed. Sam was fairly content there and I got to meet a few new people, mostly writers and talk a bit of shop.

I am very close to getting my Christmas shopping done. Hubby is on vacation this week, and is already gone out this morning to attend to his shopping. His shopping involves getting gifts for me from a list I have compiled (including what store and aisle such things are available). My shopping is, well, everything else. My list included a large, ruled moleskine but I got a great deal on ebay and just purchased a large and pocket ruled together as a package. With a most reasonable shipping rate, I think I got a great deal, Since it won't be here for Christmas, it can't really be a prezzy (at least that is my opinion). Some books are on my list as well: The Hour of Bad Decisions by Russell Wangersky and The Town that Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J Harvey, to name two.

Speaking of books, Chapters and Coles has a book called Seldom by Dawn Rae Downton on clearance for $4.99. I haven't read this book yet but everyone I know who has read it, loves it. It is set in outport Newfoundland and is based on the story of Downton's mother and the horrorific abuse her childhood home was filled with, as well as how tragic outport life could be in those days. Sounds like a fun Christmas read, doesn't it? Like I said, everyone I know who read it, has raved about it. The funny thing is that I haven't heard a peep about it in and around St. John's where I keep my ear to the ground about all things literary, yet, when I go out home, you can sit around a table and have almost everyone there say how much they loved the book. My husband read Percy Janes' House of Hate after reading Seldom. He said (about House of Hate's Saul Stone), "I don't see what's so bad about this guy. He's nothing compared to the guy in Seldom." The character of the wife (Downton's grandmother) is originally from Ladle Cove where hubby is from (and where you can throw a rock and hit Aspen Cove, where I am from) so I am sure that is some of the appeal--the familiar places and names. Anyway, I think it is a great chance to pick up an overlooked book at a great bargain so check it out (unless you are on my Christmas list, in which case Santa may be bringing it as part of your gift).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Inkygirl Rocks

I've said it before, and will say it again, I love Inkygirl, and Will Write for Chocolate. Anything Debbie Ridpath Ohi, does is fantastic. I've been a fan of hers since the days of Inkspot (ah, how I miss that). I highly recommend making these sites a regular stop if you are a writer or just enjoy writerly things.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Circular Road Gingerbread House

A gingerbread house created by Barry Parsons from St. John's is up for the grand prize of a trip for four to Disneyland in the 2006 Wilton Gingerbread House Contest. It is a replica of a heritage home on Cicrular Road and is a gorgeous looking house (and very scrumptous looking as well). You can see it and vote for it here. It is called Circular Road Christmas. Just click Choose Me underneath the picture and then click on the left to make your vote count.

I still think the one that my son decorated with his two little friends, Rebecca and Emma, is more beautiful, albeit a bit more "abstract" in its design. But since I can't vote for that one, Circular Road Christmas got my vote.

Monday, December 11, 2006


"I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action. ... We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time. I believe putting resources into improving the lives of poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns."

That is from a speech by Economist Muhammad Yunus, winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. He was given the award yesterday for his work in microcredit. Now, if you're like me, you heard about this back in October, when it was first announced, heard the words "economist" and "microcredit" and "bank" and thought oh, yeah, that sounds complicated, how nice but I'm not going to look into this any further. But, maybe you are even more like me (scary, hey) and watch Jon Stewart's The Daily Show where Yunus was a guest. I almost turned it off when he came on but stayed with it for a couple of minutes which was all it took to grab my attention.

This guy is cool and this idea is revolutionary and, contrary to what you might think, very simple. That is the beauty of it. It is insanely simple. Give very small loans to very poor people so they can start very small businesses so they can look after themselves and their families. It is targeted mostly to women (not saying that is why it works so well but, well, it probably is the reason it works so well). And it is based on trust. Yes, you read right. Trust. Not collateral or contracts. A microcredit bank gives $100.00 to a woman so she can buy materials to make baskets and then she sells the baskets, feeds her family and pays back the $100.00 in installments.

Here are some statements from the website of Yunus's Grameen Bank:

Grameen Bank:
  • "has over 2 million borrowers and works in 35,000 villages throughout the country" [of Bangladesh]
  • "actively seeks out the most deprived in Bangladeshi society: beggars, illiterates, widows"
  • "claims a loan repayment rate of 99 per cent"(!!!)

"Grameen is being copied in 52 countries." "The United States alone has over 500 Grameen spin-offs."

Isn't it amazing? There are critics too and everything is not rosy for every user of microcredit but what a difference it can make in the lives of the people most in need in the world. If you would like to read more about this, visit the Grameen Bank website and read excerpts from Professor Yunus's Nobel acceptance speech.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Leanne Kean

Went to a Christmas party last night where Leanne Kean was singing. I thought she did an awesome job and really enjoyed her voice. I stopped to tell her so afterward and asked her if she has a CD out. She said she has one coming out on December 20th. Keep an eye and an ear out for this young talent (you may remember her from Canadian Idol--she sang the Take My Breath Away duet with Craig Sharpe).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Everybody was Googlefighting

Sometimes when writing, conundrums arise. Duelling dictionaries compete about the correct spelling of a certain word. Is email hypenated or not? Is a certain word used with a hypen or as one word or as two (dictionaries can be surprisingly inconsistent with this). Or maybe you're wondering are more people talking about the Sony Playstation 3 or the Nintendo Wii? Do more people care about Paris Hilton or Britney Spears? Or, as one long-running debate over drinks has raged on for some of my friends and I, is it "hell in a handbasket" or "hell in a handbag" (handbag, pheshaw, Rod, you silly man)?

If you have wondered these things, then Googlefight is for you. You just go to Googlefight, type in the two words or phrases you are wondering about, and let them fight it out. Googlefight will tell you how many Google results come up for each one. Once you start, it can get a little addictive and before you know it, there are lots of things you can think of to googlefight over.

Even if you don't have any burning debates for Googlefight, you can still have fun there. You can check out the The classics, the burning questions from today's society, like god versus satan (phew); Funny fights, like my girlfriend versus Pamela Anderson; Fight of the Month, such as happy 2006 versus unhappy 2006; and the Last 20 fights.

So, don't get angry, don't get violent, and if you're gonna fight about something, Googlefight.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

WANL Used Book Sale

The Writers’ Alliance invites you to a
Jingly Jolly
Giant Used Book Sale

In support of the Literary Arts Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, WANL is holding a used book sale on Saturday, December 9, 10am - 2pm, main floor, Arts and Culture Centre. Purchase used books, meet used writers, enjoy some holiday eggnog (the ‘nog, we promise, will be fresh).

The Literary Arts Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (NFNL) is a charitable organization founded in 2005 to support the production of, and appreciation for, literary arts in this province. NFNL provides funding for the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards and the Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Even more honours for NL writers

I can barely keep up with these.

Congratulations to Michael Crummey who is the winner of this year’s Heritage and History Award for his book, The Wreckage, from Doubleday Canada.

Also, Kenneth J Harvey's Inside has received yet another best book honour. The National Post selected Inside as one of best books of fiction published in 2006, following the same recognition by The Globe & Mail and Quill & Quire.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Editing avoidance

Oh, how I hate editing. As I always say, you have to get the clay on the table before you can make it into something recognizable but then there's that part of it--the moulding of the clay, the finishing of the product. I like getting the clay on the table. I like not having to worry how to spell something or if that cursed comma should stay or go (I have lots of books on grammar and punctuation and have studied them all but the comma still escapes me). I like not having to know what year they stopped making the original VW Rabbit or in what year the first minivan rolled off the line. I like being able to write without dealing with the details, with the knowing this part can wait until later. But then later comes.

You work on creating something for months, maybe even years, then there it is. Complete. Now, you must take a few moments to admire it (actually, you should take at least a couple of weeks, preferably longer, to distance yourself from it before you begin editing), then you must look harshly at it. You must tear it to shreds and be ruthless. The timeline is not right and that character who shows up in the bar all the time, you know, the one you love? He has to go. Cut him out. He is gone. Yes, he has great lines and yes he is funny but you must excise him from the book. But maybe if I changed him so... a meek voice inside you says and the mean editor in you says no, he has to go. No maybes. He must go. And that whole storyline about the broken leg, that is not working so that has to go too. And the comma there, get rid of it. No, wait, I think it should go back. No, it has to go. It definitely has to go. And there are dangling things throughout your whole manuscript and the character's name makes her sound prissy and unsympathetic. And you just used "has to go" five times in this one paragraph. See, how awful and painful it is?

I dislike editing so much that I would do almost anything to avoid it. If I know you and love you and you need an extra organ I could possibly provide, now is the time to ask. I have even been known to do *gasp* housework in order not to ponder the fate of a semicolon. Yes, it is true. I will vacuum, scrub the bathroom, dust, even take out the garbage if I could stay away from having to face up to the fact that no one can go from Toronto to Newfoundland to New York and back to Toronto and do all the things I gave the poor man to do in one day, unless he has the ability to slow down time or a private space shuttle. That has to be changed and it is a rather large change.

But the good news (or the bad news if you are my husband and like the occasional clean looking house) is that I now have something else to help keep me from editing. I have a blog. That means commas can stay in flux and the man with the impossible time crunch will have to repeat his traumatic day until I can finish this post. Oh, and I think I'll make stew today too. It's a good stew day. Oh, and I noticed some dust bunnies under the bed and I need to find the gift wrap I had left over from last year and the faucet in the bathroom needs a new washer and...


Monday, December 04, 2006

Starbucks, pot luck and strident women

As Trudy* posted in her blog, yesterday I had the great pleasure to be part of her post Nanowrimo celebration at Starbucks. Six female writers of different backgrounds and with different lives, yet you could not shut us up. Not a momentary lapse in the conversation, not a dull moment, just lots to talk about and great conversation. We found out that there is a strange connection between writers and engineers and also that if there is a story about a divorce and a questionable "friend" in said divorce case, six writers sitting around drinking caffeinated products can come up with some pretty cool plotlines about it. I felt so comfortable talking with all of them. Everyone seemed to feel the same. so, we have decided to make it a regular thing which is something I am looking forward to. I think we are going call ourselves the Society of Strident Women (although hubby laughs at the idea of me being considered strident) and I look forward to our next meeting.

Also while at Starbucks, Kenneth J Harvey took the time to come over and talk to me. He told me not worry about calling him Kevin that first time we met and we chatted for a bit. I thought it was so kind of him to take the time to do that.

After hanging out with these women in the afternoon, I had an hour to drive home, get changed and go out for an evening with a different group of women. The moms (and grandmothers and caretakers) from my son's playgroup got together for parents' night (no men there though) where we had pot luck, had a gift exchange and then played our own version of Pictionary which is always such a laugh (when it with a bunch of hilarious women enjoying some time together without the kids).

So yesterday was a day of hanging out with smart, funny women and I loved it.

*Speaking of Trudy, she is one of the contributors to a book to be launched this evening at Bianca's from 5-7 p.m. The book is entitled A Charm Against the Pain: An Anthology of All New Writing From Newfoundland. There will be readings from various contributors, including Trudy so please try to get there if you can.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Costco cancelled

So, if you were a person who went to Costco to get my book signed by me yesterday, I apologize that I was not there, even though it had nothing to do with me. It is true that I considered cancelling so I would not have to drive from CBS to the east end of St. John's in the freezing rain. But hey, I said I'd be there and I keep my promises. Then, after a morning of conversations with Michelle from Jesperson Publishing (my publisher) trying to decide whether or not I should cancel, I get one more call from her just as I am heading out the door for the signing. Turns out Costco St. John's cancelled the signing (and all signings until after Christmas, I believe) because they are just too busy for book signings. Costco had not informed us of this and, in fact, I would not have known at all if Michelle had not called Costco to ensure everything was set up for the signing. Someone from Costco then called Michelle back and said "didn't anyone tell you?" She called me and was happy she reached me before I got on the highway.

Me, angry? No. It is Christmas time and very busy at Costco and there was obviously a mix-up somewhere so, that is that. Now, if I had driven all that way in the freezing rain and then found out...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Costco signing and the weather

After a few days of blogging about other things, I now turn back to me and my novel, this much is true. Tomorrow, the second of December, I will be signing books at Costco between 1 and 3. It's the first Satuday of December and Costco has been extremely busy as of late so I think there is nothing to stop it from being a very success...what? What weather? Really? 5 to 10 cm of snow? Oh, just in the morning. The snow will probably have stopped by then and it won't bother us anyway. This is not Vancouver where they're not used to it. 5 to 10 cm is nothing.

So, I think it will be great. I just hope the weather doesn't put a damper on the Mount Pearl Santa Claus Parade tomorrow morning. After that it will be smooth sail...what? Freezing rain? And then it will turn to rain? Oh, sure, that will just be a short time of freeezing rain. No worries. Really? They don't know how long the freezing rain will last and it could last for up to four hours? But that would be all afternoon. There's a tree lighting ceremony in CBS at 4. I hope it is not freezing rain for that. And the Dickens Christmas Carol is being performed tomorrow night too and I planned to go. Oh well, you know the weather around here. No one knows for sure what it will be like. It could be sunny. I predict, it being the Avalon Peninsula, that we will get lots of rain tomorrow and that's about it. So, I hope to see you at Costco and if you're there, shake the rain off your umbrella, drop by and say hi. We can talk about the weather.