Friday, December 24, 2010

Good Wishes

Whether your weekend activities include eating turkey and unwrapping presents, or going to the movies and eating Chinese food - have a wonderful weekend.

From me and my family here in British Columbia to you and yours wherever you are in the world - peace, joy and (maybe) one small dragon.

I wish this was here - but we'll be having a green Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thirties Thursday

This post was first published on April 21, 2010.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor have fascinated me for years. Was theirs a love story? A tragedy? Giving my thoughts on that would be a very long post in itself - and one I'm not sure too many of you would be interested in!

Regardless, the Duke showered his lady-love with jewels, starting when he was the Prince of Wales, continuing on when he was King Edward VIII, and then during their more than 30 year-long marriage as Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Feast your eyes on a few examples.

This diamond and emerald bracelet is circa 1935.

The Duchess's engagement ring with a 19.77 carat emerald. The band was engraved "We are now ours" and the date October 27, 1936 - the day of her divorce hearing. "WE" was their way of describing their union - taking the first letter from both their first names.

They were married in France on June 3, 1937. This pearl necklace and earrings set were a wedding present sent by the Duke's mother, Queen Mary. The Duchess and the Queen never met. The Duke bought the pearl pendant later, which the Duchess usually wore attached to the necklace.

In 1940, the Duke had Cartier create this flamingo brooch.

This 206.82 carat sapphire pendent is another Cartier creation requested by the Duke in 1951.
The Duke died in 1972, the Duchess in 1986. They are buried side by side at Frogmore, in the grounds of Windsor Castle. As stipulated in her will, all her jewelry was sold at auction with the proceeds going to a French hospital.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Recipe for Writing (take 2)

There isn't a this...

when it comes to this...

But allow yourself some this...

and soon you'll discover a bowlful of this...

Add a bit of this...

and perhaps a dash of this...

Stir in a setting like this...

or this...

or even this...
(this is where I was for 2 days this summer)

and add some spice with this...

or even this...

When you feel like this...

Remember there's this...

Just follow your own this...

and before you know it, you'll be writing this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 Ways to Finish that Danged First Draft (take 2)

As I'm going to be taking a blogation for the rest of the week, I'm re-running some of my most popular posts. This one is from August. Happy shortest day of the year, everyone!

10. Stop fixating on your word count. Just write your story.

9. Resist the urge to hit that shiny delete button.

8. Remind yourself it's your decision when to put your story in front of someone else's eyes. Until then, it's just you.

7. Have a daily goal. I usually write one or two scenes.

6. Don't compare your output to anyone else's.

5. Remember speed does not necessarily equal quality. On the other hand, slowness does not necessarily ensure quality either.

4. If you notice yourself smiling while you're writing, it's probably a good sign.'re thinking about cookies.

3. Expect your characters to say and do things you're not expecting. They generally know best.

2. Ignore the lure of your colourful secondary characters. One or two will insist they need a larger role. They're usually wrong.

1. No one said it was easy. If it was, everyone who says "I'd like to be a writer" would actually be one. Screw your courage to the sticking point and persevere.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Time for a Giggle

'Tis the Monday before Christmas and also my second eldest daughter's birthday. That speeding blur you might have seen out of the corner of your eye was me, rushing about trying to get everything done.

However, sometimes, you just need to take a minute (or in this case 8 or so minutes) and laugh. This Rowan Atkinson skit is a classic; and, I thought, an appropriate choice for me, with my background, to make.

More fun tomorrow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun Friday

My Fun Friday post from a few weeks ago seemed to be well-received by many of you. Since my hunger for popularity is endless, here's a few more pictures of odd houses. I admit a slight longing for the one that's perched on top of the mountain.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thirties Thursday

There is nothing that takes a nation's attention away from dire economic times than the excitement and anticipation of a royal wedding. Once the engagement is announced, the papers are filled with pictures of the happy couple and speculation begins about the wedding dress.

The groom is tall, handsome and popular. The bride; tall, dark, as beautiful as she is intelligent. Everyone agrees that they are a well-matched couple, sharing the same interests and liking the same activities.

The engagement ring is a seven carat emerald-cut sapphire, shouldered by diamonds, mounted in platinum. Wedding souveniers; tea towels, mugs, etc. all bearing the couple's pictures sell briskly in the shops.

The location is announced: Westminster Abbey.

Finally, the wedding day arrives. The bride leaves Buckingham Palace (having moved there before her wedding) in a state carriage. Cheered by the crowds gathered on the sidewalks, she arrives at Westminster Abbey and alights from the carriage. The first glimpses of the wedding dress are showered in an explosion of flash-bulbs from the awaiting photographers. The dress is all that the fashion experts have been predicting; a shimmering silver and white brocade embodying within its design the English rose. The sheath-like dress with a draped neckline and long sleeves lengthens in a train at the back. On her head she wears one of the wedding presents; a magnificent fringe tiara from which flows a long white tulle veil. She carries a bouquet of white lilies.

The groom is dressed in his naval uniform, complete with the sash and star of the Order of the Garter and is supported (as the best man is called in royal weddings) by his brother.

After the wedding, the couple returns to Buckingham Palace in the Glass Coach (named as such because of its large windows) for the wedding breakfast (as is traditional) and their appearance on the balcony elicits large cheers from the flag-waving crowds.

Have you just read a small piece of fiction? Am I speculating about the royal wedding scheduled for next year?

No; it is Thirties Thursday, after all.

This wedding took place November 29, 1934 and was the wedding of George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. George was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary. His elder brother was Edward, Prince of Wales and his next brother was Albert, Duke of York.

2 years and 1 month later they would be known to history as the Duke of Windsor and King George VI.

But, what's a wedding without pictures? Here are two:

The wedding party. In the back row, King George V is first on the left, Queen Mary is second on the right. Sitting below King George is Princess Elizabeth of York - the Queen at age 8.

The bride, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

That's the Way It Goes

Hark! What's that I...

It's an...


I've got to act like this...

and find a...

Oh dear....

I know...

I'll look in the kitchen...

Oh dear....

First, I'll just do this...

and I'll quickly do this...

and...just how long has it been since I've done this?

And...why am I getting accusing looks from the...

oh dear....

Which reminds me...

Oh dear...

I'd better go and do a quick this...

But before I go, I'll throw in a load of this...


What was I doing?

Right! My...

What was it again?

Oh dear....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Signs You're Having One of THOSE Days

10. You're humming along to the beat of the cursor. Entire songs are being hummed; perhaps even entire operas. No writing, just humming.

9. Your fingers have been frozen over the keyboard for so long they're starting to cramp.

8. In an attempt to jump start your brain, you've asked (out loud is best) "What happens next?" Your brain has replied, "I'll have to get back to you on that one."

7. You glance at your notes for the next scene and realize you already wrote that scene 10 pages ago. Oh...and 50 pages before that, too.

6. That cold cup of coffee sitting on your desk? It was steaming hot when you put it down. Guess what, Sherlock? Time has passed.

5. You are sure, in your heart of hearts, that you will never write again. It's done.

4. You decide to pop about the blogosphere for inspiration. Everyone is chirping on about how they just finished their newest project, or how well their latest book is selling, or how they've got so many ideas they're having to make lists to keep them straight. Reading these posts does not lighten your mood. (see #5)

3. You decide a change of scene will help; a brisk walk in fresh air will revitalize your imagination. You go outside. You slip on your walkway and land in a puddle. Now, not only are you not writing, you're also cold and wet. Score.

2. A warm bath will solve your problems. Warm baths cure all ills. Guess what? Your hot water tank isn't working. And...there are no towels.

1. Your blog post is a list just like this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wanted: One Elf

Do you remember the story about the poor shoemaker and the elves? The one where the shoemaker had elves who came in at night and made up his shoes and gradually the shoemaker was able to become successful and to show his gratitude he made shoes and clothes for the elves?

I need an elf.

Maybe, I need several elves.

One elf could finish my holiday baking and replenish those homemade chocolates that seem to evaporate within minutes of me putting them into their tin.

Another elf could scramble out to the stores and finish my shopping. I'll supply the list.

Yet another elf could wrap the presents. I've got the paper. Wait. I've got some paper. Oh, shopping elf? I need to add something to your list.

And, if it's at all possible, the services of a writing elf would be appreciated. The only caveat is this elf must be a mind-reader, since I know what I want to write but I just don't seem to have enough time to write it.

Four elves. Seriously.

I can sew.