Month: June 2013


I’m kind of bored tonight. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that anagrams have much to do with writing, but they’re still fun. There aren’t too many interesting ones with just my first and last name, but when you throw in my middle name, you get gems like:

– redescribe moth loins (not being an entomologist, I think I’ll pass)
– herbicide rots melons (no shit?!?)
– lost herbicide sermon (maybe if they hadn’t lost it, they’d know it would rot their melons…)
– herbicide snot morsel (I don’t know how to respond to this)
– incredible mesh torso (This is quite possibly my superhero name)
– incredible shoe storm (The current condition of my closet)
– incredible moth sores (Possibly located on their loins?)
– recombined loser shit (Ouch.)
– smooth line describer (A career with endless potential!)
– describe hotel minors (“Well, officer, one of them had a skateboard…)
– describe mother’s loin (Umm, no thank you.)
– bisected rhino morsel (It’s what’s for dinner.)
– bicolored semen shirt (I really should do some laundry.)
– moldier obscene shirt (I really should do some laundry.)
– Hitler’s bodice sermon (One of his more famous speeches)
– more bristlecone dish! (It’s what’s for dessert.)
– broiled ostrich semen (a sauce for the bristlecone dish)
– retch inside bloomers (if any of the above don’t appeal to you)
– become hired nostrils (now that’s useful career advice)
– become doltish rinser (not so sound advice)
– biochemist nerd loser (awwww…)
– bitchier models snore (I however, don’t)
– embolic shit endorser (buy yours today!)
– chiseled tin sombrero (it hangs above my incredible shoe storm)
– horrible incest demos (tickets at your local Ticketmaster)
– stone crib demolisher (trust me, I’m doing you a favour)
– horns bleed eroticism (oh my.)
– coiled hermits’ boners (oh my.)
– mini roosters belched (not your usual wake-up on the farm)
– merino bedclothes, sir! (they sound so comfortable!)
– most credible heroins (if I ever become a drug dealer, this is how I’ll describe my product on my business cards)
– bile directs hormones (I’ve always wondered where they came from)
– their bosoms reclined (mine are still pretty perky though)
– coltish reindeer mobs (downright dangerous, frankly)
– shoot Berliner medics (but only if they overcharge)
– boil censored hermits (since we’re already maiming people)
– Berlin dooms heretics (officially not a nice place to live, what with all the shooting and boiling)
– morbid, chestier Olsen (I think that’s Mary-Kate)
– mindless robotic here (hey, it’s my day off)
– hire demonic lobsters (they’re good for dirty work)
– cheerio, blond misters! (and to everyone else reading)

courtesy of

An Important Reminder

Because everyone was at Chapter 1, once.

The Flood

I had another typewriter post formulating, but currently my city of 1 million+ is under a state of emergency due to extensive flooding and approximately one tenth of the population is under mandatory evacuation. A power outage is imminent and our water treatment plant is under severe strain. My family and I are safe and dry and have lots of drinking water and food so I don’t anticipate too much hardship, but I have friends who have lost virtually everything and my heart aches for my beautiful city and its people.

You can follow the latest on twitter by searching #yycflood or #abflood. There are some phenomenal photos and videos of the extent of the destruction.

I commend the first responders for all their hard work as well as the many people who have opened their homes to friends and strangers alike. Out of the approximately 100,000 people who were evacuated, only about 1,500 required emergency shelters. That’s amazing. And so far no injuries or deaths have been confirmed which is nothing short of miraculous, although I understand that up to four people may be missing.

Donations can be made to the Red Cross here if you’re so inclined.

Keep safe and dry, Calgary.

Meet Pinkie Pie

A pink Royal Quiet De Luxe from 1956.

A pink Royal Quiet De Luxe from 1956.

So from pretty much the very first moment I started collecting typewriters, a Royal Quiet De Luxe has been tops on my list. The mod styling, the features, the bright colours – it’s everything I want in a typewriter. At the time I thought red was the one I had to have, but now that I have Pinkie, I realize the error of my ways, because she’s absolutely perfect for me.

I bought her on eBay, and she came to me covered in gunk from tape and a weird white powdery-sticky residue. I spent an entire evening cleaning her up, but now she’s in near-perfect condition. The R key sticks a bit, but I think it’s nothing a bit of degreaser won’t fix, and other than needing a new ribbon, she’s ready to roll.

I am completely in love with this one.

Want to learn more about my typewriters? Check them out here.


I did something extraordinarily dorky in Portland a couple days ago.

Maybe you’ve heard of Powell’s City of Books – it’s certainly one of the largest bookstores in the United States, and in the opinion of many, the best. I love the idea of having the used and new books shelved together, and the fact that you need a map of the store to find your way around.

Anyway, we spent a couple hours in Powell’s, browsing, and bought a rather large bag full of books. With reverence we entered the Rare Book Room and I almost bought a first-edition, first-print-run Nancy Drew book (sadly, with the amount I’ve spent on typewriters in the last month, it wasn’t in the budget).

But that’s not the dorky part. Eventually I made my way into the fiction section, and I went and found the place on the shelf (two places actually, since I couldn’t decide if they’d put me in fantasy or paranormal romance) where my books will be someday. Even though it’s up to sheer alphabetical chance, the company of authors around that spot was pretty first-class. And I had this moment with the shelf and I told it that someday I’d come back and my book would be in Powell’s and that would mean that I’d accomplished what I’d wanted to.

And then I bought some shadow puppets for my kids and cried in a corner because I missed them.

I found my spot on the shelf. That spot is my spot. Maybe by the time I get back to Powell’s, it won’t be empty any more.


I crossed the 100,000-word mark on the first draft of The Unseeing the other day. Woooo!

It was a nice feeling to check my word count and see six digits for the first time. I’m past my uninspired funk and I think I’m about 5,000 words away from the ending. Between here and there I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen though – my outline has been stubbornly vague and my head isn’t filling in the blanks either.

However I’m heading on an extended road trip tomorrow – 9 days of exploring the Pacific Northwest and northern California – and I’m sure all that time in the car will lend to some daydreaming and idea sifting. It’s our tenth wedding anniversary this month! Also the first time we’ve gone away without the kids – our last trip alone together was to Paris almost seven years ago, when I was pregnant with Kid 1. I ended up setting the books I’m currently writing in that city after I fell in love with it – I wonder if Portland or Seattle will become the inspiration for a new story?

And if you’re into that sort of thing, stay tuned for some exciting typewriter posts. I have four to pick up at a shipping drop point once we cross the border, and have been busy restoring another one at home for the past week. I don’t know if I want to introduce them one at a time, or all together, but the blog is going to get a little typewriter-heavy in the next while.

Lastly, I decided that rather than knocking down walls in my house to make space for a small office for myself, I’m going to build myself a little outbuilding in our backyard, insulate it and make it my writing headquarters. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin next month.

Big achievements accomplished, and big things on the horizon! These days it feels like everything’s coming up Nicole.

On Being a Writer When You Have Young Children

Way long ago, when I was a young person fresh out of college, I started thinking about perhaps writing a book. That quickly turned into ‘perhaps writing a book someday.‘ For I had a full-time job and a blooming freelance career, plus an active social life and was newly wed to boot. Where on earth would I find the time to write an entire novel?

Fast-forward a couple years. “When are you going to start writing that book?” people would ask me. “Oh, someday,” I’d reply. “Maybe when I have kids and I’m on maternity leave. I’ll have lots of free time then. A whole year of no work!” My dad bought me a software program and said there was no time like the present. I fiddled around with it, plugged in a few ideas, but never got past a few quick character sketches and a two-paragraph outline.

Fast-forward a couple more years. I’m holding my newborn daughter in my arms. Time to start writing that book, right? After all, I’m collecting government benefits for the next twelve months. I don’t have to work!

Who reading this is laughing right now? A baby’s a hell of a lot more work than a 9-5 job. Somewhere along the way, I had a second kid to double the fun. He was even more of a handful than the first. New plan: I would start writing that book when my kids were in school. Finally, all that time during the day would be mine to do with as I please.

Fast-forward to today. Kid 1 is currently in school, and Kid 2 starts in September. I’m back at work part-time in the meantime and have less free time than I have ever had in my life. And yet in the last year and a half, I’ve written two books and am almost finished the first draft of my third. Here’s how.

  1. Sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to find time to write, when your days are busy with work and/or the needs of the offspring? I gave up virtually all television, as well as other hobbies I enjoyed, like knitting and sewing, that would usually fill the time after the kids went to bed. For some people, that time is best found in the morning. I’m not coherent before 10am, so that’s a non-starter for me. I’m at my best after 9pm and so now that’s when I write. Sometimes I stay up too late so I can finish a scene, and Kid 2 winds up watching TV in the morning because I can’t peel my eyes open. He doesn’t seem to mind, as long as he doesn’t miss play gym.
  2. Stealing time. The kids are playing in the yard for half an hour or watching a movie on a rainy afternoon? That could mean a few hundred words. To hell with less important things like “making dinner” or “vacuuming.”
  3. Free childcare. About once a week, we go to Ikea after I pick up my daughter from kindergarten, have $2 lunches and then I drop the kids off at their supervised play area for an hour, go back up to the restaurant to get myself a plate of fries and gravy and use that time to write. There’s also an indoor play structure at one of the markets in my city, next to a food court, and we often go there when it’s not nice outside. The kids play, we all get a smoothie, and I sit, quasi-supervise them, and write. And as often as possible I’ll trade childcare days with friends. I take their kids for the day one week, and they take mine the next. That means five or six hours – after a nice lunch with my husband, some of it always gets eaten up by non-child-friendly errands, but I make sure there’s writing time too. All this can eke out three or four hours a week. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up.
  4. Dating my laptop. I have one night a week where I take my laptop out for coffee and my husband puts the kids to bed. My favourte cafe is also one of the ones that’s open late, and I park myself at a table and stay until they dim the lights and start mopping the floors. On a good night, I can knock off 3,000 words or more. I actually get more done those nights than when I write at home.
  5. Vacations. The last time I took the kids out to visit my parents, I wrote more in one week than I had the last two months combined. Maybe this one should go under free childcare.
  6. I saved the most important one for last. A supportive partner. None of those things listed above would be possible without my very understanding husband who has entirely taken over some household things so I have a bit more time in the evenings.

I think the point is if you’re really committed, obstacles that previously seemed insurmountable, like having kids/a job/two jobs/two jobs and kids, can be overcome. I might only have the chance to write a few hundred words a day, some days. A lot of days, I write nothing at all, and that’s okay. But having kids shouldn’t be an excuse not to write.