Month: September 2013

My E-reader Dilemma

Well not mine, exactly.

Kid 1 doesn’t read this blog, so I feel safe posting about it here – I’m thinking about getting her an e-reader for Christmas. Probably a Kobo. And because I know Kid 1, a very sturdy case.

Before I go further I’ll say that I only read on my iPad now – I think I’ve only read one physical fiction book all year. And I read three times as much as I did before I got the iPad.

My hesitation comes from this: will that deprive her of the tactile experience of a paper book, and how will that alter her reading experience? There’s certainly something to be said for browsing the library, reading the backs of books you might have never considered, wondering if you’d like them, that’s lost with an e-reader. There just doesn’t seem to be a good way to browse at random with one – sure the sites will suggest books I might like, but I want to know about the ones I’ve never heard of or that are outside my usual preferences. Now I just go on recommendations from friends and books from authors I already like.

That said, I think Kid 1 could benefit from the breadth of books available online that even our fantastic library system can’t match. I also don’t see us stopping our regular library trips, and her school greatly encourages reading as well.

Anyone out there buy their grade-school-aged kid an e-reader and have feedback on the experience?

The Future of Publishing

Caught you attention with that, didn’t I?

Before I elaborate, a preface: I am possibly the world’s worst texter. My missives are all over DYAC. I’ve reached a certain level of infamy amongst my friends and family. In real life I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to spelling and grammar, but when I’m using my phone and tapping away at the speed of light on that tiny screen, all rules go out the window.

A typical example. (Me on the right)

A typical example (me on the left). Who can tell me what I was trying to say?

More nonsense. More profanity.

More nonsense. More profanity.

But tonight my errant thumbs may have stumbled upon a new way for authors to bring their works to the wider world:

Me on the right this time. The Oracle said I would be published, so it's gotta be true, right?

Me on the right this time. The Oracle said I would be published, so it’s gotta be true, right?

I mean, at least for SFF, right? But until those elves start accepting queries through normal means, I suppose I’ll keep trying to achieve publication the traditional way. But who knows what the future will hold?

(all opinions on elves, elf- and self-publishing are my own. I admire and applaud those who have the wherewithal to self-publish books either about or not about elves, and take on all the work that’s involved. It’s just not for me.)



This is going to be a bit of a ramble.

Every year, starting in about June and ending in October, writing gets shoved to a back burner and I focus on putting by enough food to feed my family for the next year. From freezing fresh fruit by the caseload to canning, pickling and dehydrating, the goal is to make it through the lean months of winter with a wide variety of food. Some of it I grow myself, most of it I source from local farms and markets.

Canning season starts with asparagus, pickled in brine with my own blend of spices. It usually ends with apples and squash, both sauced. Once the last of the kale and chard has been picked and the herbs hung from the rafters in the basement to dry, the garden gets put to bed and I start making soups and stocks to warm us on chilly days.

I’m committed to keeping as much of our diet local as possible, but you can’t get fresh Alberta-grown apricots or pears in February, so I have to get enough for the year in summer, and find a way to preserve them. The amount of produce that moves through my kitchen during these months is astonishing, when you add it up. 210lbs of tomatoes. 100lbs of apples. 40lbs of corn. 80lbs of strawberries. 60lbs of blueberries. You get the idea.

This is what it gets turned into.

This is what it gets turned into.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it on the blog before, but due to food sensitivities I can’t have dairy, gluten, eggs or almonds. This means virtually all processed foods are out for me, and I make everything from scratch. Without having all this stuff put by in the summer when prices are cheapest, I think my dietary restrictions would bring our grocery bill up to an amount that rivals our mortgage. And as a working mom it simplifies my life a thousandfold. Getting home from work at 6pm means I only have a short time to get dinner on the the table, so having safe and tasty spaghetti sauce ready to heat means all I have to do is cook the rice pasta.

But this is a blog about writing, right? Why the hell am I talking about canning? Well, because I see a lot of parallels between my path as a writer and my path as a canner. With both, I started out small and kind of fiddled around for awhile, trying different things out, reading lots of books, making lots of mistakes. With each new project I got a little bit better, started trying out different techniques and now I feel I’m rather good at both.

My now-not-so-secret desire is to one day write my own canning cookbook, featuring my original recipes, which will cause canning and writing to intersect even more directly in my life. It’s a few years off, but I’m starting to think about it, compile all my recipes and work on the ones that still need improvement. In the meantime, publishing my fiction is where most of my efforts are going to lie.

At the end of it all, whether I’m gazing at the hundreds of jars I’ve filled over the past few months, or reading the final page of my many-times-edited novel, the feeling I get from both is the same – accomplishment and a quiet sort of satisfaction. It’s worth all the work, the late nights, the tears, the bitter disappointments. It’s something I can be proud of.

Purple Haze

It came today. It came today!

Giddy. I'm giddy.

Giddy. I’m giddy.

That. That, my friends, is a Remington Portable No. 3. IN TWO-TONE PURPLE.

You can’t see the purpleyness of it in that pic so here’s a better one.

This one is from 1930. The colour scheme is officially called Orchid.

This one is from 1930. The colour scheme is officially called Orchid.

And from the side, so you can see the lighter lavender:

Lovely and worn in exactly the right way. This machine has been used and loved.

Lovely and worn in exactly the right way. This machine has been used and loved.

The first time I ever saw the purple Remington Portable, I knew it would be on my must-have list. Purple is my very favourite colour. But they seem to be astonishingly hard to find – not surprising, since they’re 80+ years old, and not many were made with these colours. I thought I’d never find one for myself, to the point where I was considering powder coating another typewriter of mine purple instead. But it would never be a Remington. It’s very simply a thing of beauty.

Then this one came along. Like so many of my favourites, I found it by chance on eBay. I wasn’t even seriously looking at listings; we had just gotten home from a long weekend of camping and I was browsing, seeing which auctions were ending soonest. And this came up – 40 minutes to go, still priced at what I thought was a steal. I’d never seen one for sale before. My heart was actually pounding, but I had to act all casual and off-handedly mention to my very understanding, if possibly typewriter-weary husband that there was something I might bid on, if the price stayed reasonable. I think he was going to start to say maybe not, but when he saw the pic I clearly saw the resignation in his eyes. There was no question this one was going to be mine. And after an agonizing 40 minutes, when I placed my sneaky last-second bid with moments to go, I was the proud owner of this lovely machine.

The two weeks it took to arrive from Michigan felt like months. And then when I got home from work today, there was a large package propped up on my front step. “Is it the purple typewriter?” Kid 2 shouted. Both of them clamoured all over me while I opened the box, then the travel case. And seriously, we all gasped in unison. For the next 45 minutes, during which I was supposed to be making supper, we instead fiddled with it, got the carriage unlocked, moved the margin settings, and typed out a short note.

It works perfectly. It’s 83 years old and every single key strikes smoothly and without hesitation. It might be my best-working machine of them all (and this makes ten). I’m not sure if I’m ready to say I love it the very best – Pinkie Pie, my Royal Quiet De Luxe, my two cursives (Ivy the Olympia SM4, still a work in progress, and a Royal Aristocrat, which will get its own post soon) and another you-won’t-believe-it machine are all near and dear to my heart, but it’s a strong contender.

It’s the only one I’ve taken into my bed, though. I’m writing this blog post right before I turn in and it’s laying beside me in the spot where my husband should be. Not joking.

I feel like the only thing it’s missing is a purple ribbon to complete the colour scheme. So that’ll be my next eBay purchase, and then I really need to put my account to bed for awhile.

Unless an Olivetti Valentine comes up at a good price…

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

Good Idea, Or…

Sending queries on Friday the 13th. Very bad idea? I’ve had a pretty fantastic day so far… in fact there could have been a lot of disasters, but everything’s gone off without a hitch.

I’ve got Grimes and Alt-J cued up and the firepit’s lit. The evening air is warm and the beer is cold. I’m going to try my luck.