Saturday, June 17, 2017

June update

My goal this year is to publish The Ashes of Home before the end of the year, hopefully in November.

There’s a lot of work still to do before then. I’ve got a group of critiquers looking at the novel in depth, but this is a long process. I don’t expect they’ll be done before the end of August, which leaves little time for final edits and multiple read-throughs.

Then I need to get the whole thing in the hands of the book designer, which from past experience will take a few weeks of back and forth before getting back the final product.

All this stacks up in terms of timelines, many pieces of which are outside my control. But I think it’s still do-able.

One thing I’m doing differently this time around is getting a head start on the cover art. Previously I went to the book designer with only rough drafts to discuss, which meant a month or two elapsed time slotted into the process while I produced the final artwork. This time I am being a bit bolder and settling on the artwork ahead of time.

I posted some drafts back in January, and the overwhelming consensus was for design #2, so that is what I’m going with. While the critiquing process is ticking quietly along, the artwork is starting to take shape.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

A tabletop exercise

I recently posted pics of our refurbished deck - a big upheaval this Spring that we are glad to have completed. Trouble is, we still weren’t properly able to take advantage of it during the week or so of fine weather at the end of last month.

We had an 8-seater table with a tiled top. Very nice to look at - when it was new - but over the years many of the tiles had cracked and were lifting. We checked reviews after the fact and found this to be a common problem with this design.

We were already thinking of renewing the top at some point. It was also very heavy, and we decided there was no way we were lifting it down off the deck and back up again. So this was clearly the time to strip off the tiles, making it light enough to move while they worked on the deck, with the intention of re-tiling afterwards.

Part 1 of the plan didn’t yield the result we expected. Instead of leaving a nice base underneath, the base (some sort of resin reinforced with wire mesh) was also cracked and came away with the tiles.

We were left with nothing more than a bare metal frame. Easy to move out of the way. Not so good for eating off.

After much agonizing over possibilities and cooking up alternative plans, I eventually came up with a design and spent last weekend busy with saw, plane, and wood screws.

Our outdoor living space is now officially back in action!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Another blog

I’m still keeping this main blog going for general life and writing topics as & when the mood takes me, but I’m finding it beneficial to separate out some things into their own more focused blogs rather than mix everything in here.

I already mentioned my recipe blog, Rumble in the Tumble. After daily postings in April, this one is slowing down because we revisit favorite recipes every few weeks and I’m only posting here when we do something I’ve not already described.

Just for fun, I’ve recently been playing with another concept entirely. It’s called Land of the Rising Dumb, and takes a gentle poke at a certain administration, ‘cos - hey - you’ve really just gotta have a laugh sometimes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

All decked out for summer

Last summer we realized that we would soon need to do something with our deck. Spanning the garage and wrapping around the living room and kitchen to the front and rear, the deck is a vital part of our living space for at least half the year.

Trouble is, the railing was starting to sag alarmingly to the point where I wouldn’t have wanted to put any weight on it, and there were a few places where there was a noticeable bounce under foot. Not good.

So we resolved to put things to rights this Spring before the fine weather kicked in. A builder friend managed to squeeze us in between jobs - and in between spells of rain that dragged the process out a lot longer than it might have taken, but we’re there now and very pleased with the results.

The most nerve-wracking part of the operation was having the garage open to the weather while they ripped off the old decking and put down new plywood. We had to clear the place out beforehand and do our best to shield the freezer and shelves the that remained. Here’s how they left it that first evening. Luckily the next 24 hours stayed dry and the garage was covered again by the time the next showers hit.



And here is the finished work. We’d debated going for aluminum railings (zero maintenance) but opted for cedar in the end, and we are both happy with that decision. They were able to salvage the glass panels that were in place originally and put everything back very much like it was.



Yes, that’s our barbecue sitting lonely in the corner. I had to take off one side shelf to maneuver it through the door and into the kitchen while they worked. There was no way we were going to get it down the stairs, remembering the battle we had years ago getting it up there in the first place.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Emerging local authors

Now into its third year, the Greater Victoria Public Library is again celebrating emerging local authors with a special collection.

On Thursday evening I attended the launch of this year’s collection, showcasing over 100 local authors who are recently published, either independently or through a small press.

The library courtyard was crowded with authors and guests. It’s only when you see people and books assembled like this that you realize what a thriving occupation writing is.

Yes, Tiamat’s Nest is one of the books in this year’s collection. See here for more details about the GVPL Emerging Local Authors program.



Friday, April 21, 2017

A few foodie favorites

With everyone in the family in full time work or education, time in the evenings and weekends is at a premium and a little planning goes a long way.

We always plan a weekly menu, and get all the necessary groceries in one go for the week ahead. Sometimes the hardest part is simply coming up with a menu plan and trying to keep it interesting. We love a variety of foods and flavors and are ready to try new things from time to time, but under pressure of time it's only natural that most of our meals are tried and trusted family favorites.

Even so, we try to mix it up and we often find ourselves wracking our brains, thinking "We need a rice dish here" or "Haven't had fish for a while", and trying to recall dishes to tempt the tastebuds.

Just as an experiment, I've started another blog called Rumble in the tumble where I'm keeping a daily record of recipes as we go. My thinking was to keep a note of meals, using the labels to index by main ingredients to help jog tired memories. We'll see how that goes, but meanwhile if anything over there encourages you to try something new it will have been worthwhile.

Just a word of warning - don't expect full-blown recipes with measurements and precise instructions, or anything fancy like that. I mostly just dive in saying "fry this" and "boil that". Quantities are up for grabs, and depend how many you're cooking for. This is seat-of-the-pants cookery.

On the plus side, it's all very simple and forgiving stuff. We like simple :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Downs and ups

I know I’ve posted before about how life seems to go through up and down swings. The last couple of months have felt like unusually hard work, with very intense spells at work, illnesses, and (something I didn’t mention) we had one of our cats put down a week ago.

So it was great to have that party last weekend that Megan had spent so long preparing for before her appendix operation.

During the week, Ali and Megan had been visiting a pet shop for supplies for the aquarium and came back with two kittens. Meet Loki and Luna:



Last night I gave a talk at the library on Writer’s Block, something I’ve been preparing for weeks now. I’ve been running through my presentation in my head for ages, so when it was done it felt like a huge weight off my mind.

And to round off the good things in the past week, Megan today spoke with a teacher at Vancouver Island University and learned that she’s been accepted to join the baking program there in September. This is fantastic news because she’s been enjoying the culinary program at school this semester and has finally found something she wants to do. But of course there’s been a lot of pressure through the application process, and she had to recover enough from her recent operation to sit an assessment this week.
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