Back but exhausted

Yup, this is the same place as last Friday’s photo, just three years later, and at night. Cool how the Eternal Flame suddenly has color, isn’t it?

I have a lot to blog about – tons of pictures, though not many of them from the conference itself, dang it all.

Why?

Unfortunately, I decided to take Gizmo Guy’s ‘spare’ digital camera with me, instead of the one I usually use. I THOUGHT it would be better since it’s smaller than mine – actually fits inside my purse – and has a higher pixel count. BIG BIG mistake. I took lots of pictures but most of the ones at the conference did not turn out well. They’re grainy and awful even though the flash went off. My pictures of Molly O’Keefe and Kelley Armstrong? If either lady are looking for pictures of themselves that make them look like they belong in a paranormal world, they can contact me. Poor Kelley’s photo makes her look like a … well, I’m not sure, but her eyes sure are freaky. Almost vampirish.

See what I mean? Grainy. Orange. Yuck. Unfortunately most of my pictures of the speakers turned out that way. And the other ones I took of Ottawa itself? Most of them are blurry because the danged camera is so small, the slightest breath shakes the camera and blurs the image. Lesson learned, I’m never taking Gizmo Guy’s spare camera again.

Anyway, I promised Julia I’d get some pictures of Jo Beverly for her. The one below is of Jo giving the key note speech during the luncheon on Saturday. Ms. Beverly is witty and droll, just like I’d always pictured her. Guess it’s that English sensibility that I’m used to.


Here’s a better one for you, Julia, since you asked. And yes, I told her all about you.

I’m still ploughing through my email – the hotel charged $10 + tax a day for internet connection. And caused me a huge panic when my laptop decided to keep rebooting. I’d been worrying all week about having to pitch and decided to get up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning to prepare. Naturally enough that’s when my laptop decided to ‘f-up’. So I panicked and whined from 4 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. when Gizmo Guy finally realized the wireless thingy was screwing up looking for a wireless connection that didn’t exist. Once I flipped off the wireless button, it was okay.

So I’ll post more photos tomorrow (of the ones that turned out) Some that I took at the conference, and some that Gizmo Guy took of Ottawa itself. Yesterday we saw a Mountie Wedding on the steps of Parliament Hill – lots of hunky guys in red uniforms surrounding a beautiful bride. Today GG took photos of the 31st annual National Police Officers and Peace Officers Memorial Day.

And I’ll also post pictures of our two favorite places to eat. That are at total opposite ends of the spectrum.

Canadian talent …

Today I took a run up to Peterborough on a secret mission that was accomplished in about forty minutes, but since I drove in with Gizmo Guy who was there on business I had to hang around the rest of the day. So I picked up a copy of No Humans Involved by TRW’s own Kelley Armstrong.

Jaime, who knows a thing or two about showbiz, is on a television shoot in Los Angeles when weird things start to happen. As a woman whose special talent is raising the dead, her threshold for weirdness is pretty high: she’s used to not only seeing dead people but hearing them speak to her in very emphatic terms. But for the first time in her life – as invisible hands brush her skin, unintelligible fragments of words are whispered into her ears, and beings move just at the corner of her eye – she knows what humans mean when they talk about being haunted.

She is determined to get to the bottom of these manifestations, but as she sets out to solve the mystery she has no idea how scary her investigation will get. As she digs into the dark underside of Los Angeles, she’ll need as much Otherworld help as she can get in order to survive, calling on her personal angel, Eve, and Hope, the well-meaning chaos demon. Jeremy, the alpha werewolf, is also by her side offering protection. And, Jaime hopes, maybe a little more than that.

Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Necromancers, werewolves, ghosts – and frauds as well. It was one of those lovely reading experiences where the world went on around me unnoticed while I immersed myself in Kelley’s world. My favorite type of read. Now I’ll have to re-read it and dissect how she did it and hopefully be able to learn something from this New York Times bestselling author.

A few days ago, I’d pre-ordered JR Ward’s upcoming Black Dagger Brotherhood and in order to take advantage of free shipping I also ordered an oldie of Lynsay Sands’ Love Bites, and her newest in the Argeneau series Vampire Interrupted. They both arrived in the mail yesterday. Which meant I immediately sat down in my lazy-boy and curled up with a cup of tea and devoured both books. The latest in the Argeneau series, Vampire Interrupted is about the matriarch of the Argeneau family – Marguerite – who at the age of 700 and some odd years has embarked on a new career .

After seven hundred years of life, Marguerite Argeneau finally has a career. Well, the start of one, anyway. She’s training to be a private investigator, and her first assignment is to find an immortal’s mother. It seemed simple enough, until Marguerite wakes up one evening to find herself at the wrong end of a sword. Now she realizes she’s in way over her head.

Julius Notte wants to protect Marguerite, and not because someone just tried to take her head off. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s his lifemate and he’s determined to woo her. It’s been over five hundred years since he last courted a woman, but surely the techniques haven’t changed. Now if only he can keep her alive – so to speak – so they can have that happily-ever-after.

The identity of the mother turns out to be a neat twist, though it does take a certain amount of suspension of belief – but I love books that make me stop and say “Whoa – I wasn’t expecting that!”

But all this reading means I’ve done no writing since … um … Thursday. I really need to get back to that query letter and synopsis of Private Property. Which are drafted out but still …

Will winter NEVER end?

As are most Canadians this year (and probably a lot from the northern US as well), I am sick to death of snow. We seem to have had a standard pattern of a day of snow, a day of recovery, a day of melting, then the whole thing repeats itself. The picture to the right is Gizmo Guy shovelling last November. The banks on either side of the car are now as high as the cars. They’d probably be to the top of the first roof if we hadn’t had those melting periods.

Is anyone else fed up of seeing these notices?

A STORM IS CURRENTLY OVER ALABAMA AND WILL PUSH NORTHWARD TODAY GIVING SIGNIFICANT SNOW TO MOST OF SOUTHERN ONTARIO. IT APPEARS THAT THE SNOW WILL COME IN TWO DOSES. THE FIRST ROUND WILL BEGIN AS EARLY AS THIS AFTERNOON FOR SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO AND NIAGARA THEN LATER TODAY IN EASTERN ONTARIO. WE MAY HAVE A BRIEF REPRIEVE OVERNIGHT INTO SATURDAY MORNING WHERE SNOW MAY BECOME LIGHT AND MORE INTERMITTENT. .(some snipped).

Is anyone else ready to shake their fist at the sky and say “Hey, Mother Nature – We are freakin’ fed up with snow!”

Oh, sure, it looks pretty. Yes, I know, it is needed to fill up the lakes and rivers and wells and reservoirs. But, two nights ago, Gizmo Guy stomped into the house – growling. Yes, growling! Gizmo Guy never growls. Thanks to the huge pile of snow left by the plough, he couldn’t get into the driveway. I pleaded illness and managed to squirm my way out of shovelling, so he grabbed the boys to help him shovel. And thanks to constantly bottoming out on the drifts up at Mom’s place, my car has lost part of its exhaust system. So the mechanic who will have to repair my car is smiling, as is any one in the drug industry profiting from the aching muscles caused by moving all that frickin’ white stuff.

So come on, Mother Nature! Enough is enough!

THE HEAVIEST SNOWFALL IS THEN EXPECTED IN THE SECOND ROUND BEGINNING MIDDAY SATURDAY IN THE SOUTHWEST AND IN THE AFTERNOON OVER EASTERN ONTARIO.THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE SATURDAY AFTERNOON INTO THE EVENING.WILL LIKELY BE UPGRADED TO A WINTER STORM WARNING DUE TO ADDITIONAL SNOWFALL AND BLOWING SNOW AS THE SECOND ROUND APPROACHES. STORM TOTALS MAY BE 20 TO 30 CENTIMETRES ALONG AND EAST OF A LINE FROM LONG POINT TO THE GOLDEN HORSESHOE THEN TO PETAWAWA. THERE IS POTENTIAL FOR 30 TO 50 CENTIMETRES OF SNOW OVER THE NIAGARA PENINSULA AND PARTS OF EASTERN ONTARIO.

I missed last month’s TRW meeting because of snow. Now tomorrow’s annual critique session where my first five pages are supposed to be critiqued by Kelley Armstrong is under threat of a double system moving in. They’re calling for at least 25 centimeters of snow (that’s about a foot for those metrically challenged.) The meeting will go on for those able to attend, but already I’m seeing emails from those of us outside of TO cancelling out.

BEHIND THIS SYSTEM STRONG NORTHERLY WINDS TO 70 KM/H ARE POSSIBLE. ON SATURDAY STRONG WINDS COMBINED WITH FRESH SNOW WILL CAUSE BLOWING SNOW TO LOWER VISIBILITIES AND CREATE DANGEROUS DRIVING CONDITIONS. WHITEOUT CONDITIONS FROM HEAVY SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW ARE POSSIBLE SO TRAVELLERS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO CHANGE THEIR PLANS ACCORDINGLY. (snipped the rest)

I’ve been working hard all week editing those first five pages. In fact what I now have barely resembles that I started with. Oh, it’s better. It’s got visceral emotion, more showing, less telling. I’m happy with it and I needed it to get done anyway but now I may not get to yet another meeting because of another freakin’ snowstorm. Come on, Mother Nature, cut us some slack! How often do you get to have your work critiqued by a NY Times best selling author?

Patriotic Stress Busters

I wrote 0 words today. And I don’t care at this point. I spent almost 7 hours on the phone today before I threw my hands up in the air and screamed “I give up, you’re on your own!” At which point I dashed out to the mall and indulged myself in my equivalent to chocolate stress reliever – books. I’d intended to buy only #7 in Lynsay Sand’s Argeneau series, but discovered that #8 was out as well. And then I pounced on a copy of Michele Ann Young’s No Regrets when I saw it. And snatched up the last copy of Kelley Armstrong’s Exit Strategy. I couldn’t just walk by them, now could I? Especially when they’d been on my ‘To Be Bought’ list for a quite a while. Then when I got home and looked at my pile, I realized I’d unconsciously bought all Canadian authors. Bonus!

Not so good was realizing that they were charging the Canadian marked price instead of the American price a lot of places are now that the Canadian dollar is at par. Now I’m wondering if I should go back and argue with them. Or was it only Walmart that was offering books at the American sticker price? (it makes $3 a book difference after all – that adds up)

Anyway I spent all afternoon, and this evening reading – all right, let’s go with the chocolate analogy since it really describes how I read – devouring two of those books. The last two in Lynsay Sand’s Argeneau series. I love Lynsay’s sense of humour, and even more that her heroes — and occasionally her heroines — are Canadian. Most books are even set in Toronto, although Bastien’s and Vincent’s stories, and part of Lucern’s ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS Single White Vampire are set in the States. Personally I find her stories intriguing as she peppers little Canadianisms into her stories that make me chuckle because I’ve often had similar conversations with critique partners. And these two books didn’t disappoint me – they’ll join the rest on my keeper shelf.

Book #7 in the series The Accidental Vampire followed a character that had only been mentioned in the previous books of the series — Victor, Vincent’s father, is an ancient hunter of Rogue Immortals, as the vampires prefer to refer to themselves. He is sent to investigate what immortal placed a personal ad in a mortal newspaper seeking a male vampire companion, something completely against the immortals’ laws of not bringing human attention to their race. When he arrives, he discovers that the vampire in question has no idea of the laws of the immortal world, or even how immortality works. Elvi Black is surprised to discover her friends – in fact the whole town – have conspired to find her a mate that will live forever, just like her. Imagine Victor’s surprise to discover he’s that mate.

In Vampires are Forever, Inez Urso had met Thomas Argeneau a few months before and thought him to be a laid-back surfer-dude-wannabe. But after Thomas Argeneau, one of the youngest members of the Argeneau clan follows his cousin’s Bastien’s advice and bites Inez, he discovers he can’t read her mind – or wipe her memories so she won’t reveal to the rest of the mortal world he’s a vampire. And a sure sign that he’s found his lifemate – if he can convince her he’s not a soulless bloodsucking demon, that is. Amongst settings in London, Amsterdam and York as the characters search for Thomas’ missing aunt, Lynsay took a character that had been previously a rather shallow character and gave Thomas depth – a compassionate, sensitive hero. And made her heroine Inez a real spitfire who is confident in the boardroom, but not so confident in social situations.

I love books I can curl up in my easy chair with and lose myself in and the Argeneau series delivered – just what I needed to perk me up after a stressful, and futile, day.

So depending on how strong my willpower is, and how high or low my mood is, I may do no writing tomorrow either but immerse myself in another day’s reading.

Twice lucky!

I went to TRW’s monthly meeting which was an all day affair today since they’d brought in Margie Lawson to teach her Empowering Character Emotions Master Class. Wow, talk about inspiring! I learned about Anaphora – a device I’ve been using but never knew what it was called. I learned about how to make every ‘he smiled’ or ‘she frowned’ have more of an emotional impact. I learned about backloading to make my writing kick-ass.

And now you’ve just learned what Anaphora is too ;)

During the day I bought a couple of tickets for the draws for baskets the volunteers put together as prizes. I’d bought three tickets when I first arrived, then at the last call for tickets late that afternoon, some little voice told me to buy some more. Squeee! One of the second batch of tickets won!

I have another copy of Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Leopard Prince, an autographed copy of Julianne MacLean’s Surrender to a Scoundrel, two disks of erotica e-books by Bridget Midway – Foolish Games, and Chances. Also in the basket were a jar of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, an Orange Spice Cake scented tin candle, a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, an aromatherapy ‘scratch and sniff’ book, and Tada! A free one hour deep muscle massage by fellow TRW member and one of my critique partners, Dar! (Who promises not to leave me with DOMS – which has nothing to do with any sexual games!)

And as an added surprise, Amy Ruttan slid me a brand spanking new 6 Degrees of Sexy T-shirt that I’d admired on her at last month’s meeting. Thanks, Amy! We went to lunch at a restaurant across the street where I got to talk with a fellow classmate – and New York Times Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. Is it ever inspiring to find a successful published author who is still willing to rub shoulders with us lesser folk. Who was willing to offer her advice regarding my writing.

Then we went over to the Stage Door in the Novotel Hotel where we got to talk with our fellow classmates. Among them were multi-published authors Kelley Armstrong, Molly O’Keefe, Michele Ann Young, Teresa Roblin, Kate Freiman, Kim Howe, Wylie Kinson and newly published Amy Ruttan and Savannah Chase. Margie graciously took time to speak with everyone and answer our questions. Before she hit me in the arm when I said ‘if I get published’ and told me I had to think ‘when I get published.’ Yes, she’s right. I have to think positively.

All told it was a great day.