When did 2017 go away and what did I do a whole year?
Well, I don’t really know… I worked. Drove up to the gate of Area 51. Solved a lot
of limits and derivatives. Cooked. Watched some Supernatural, some X-Files, a
lot of Ancient Aliens, read a few books, but far fewer than I would’ve hoped
for, and basically didn’t write one proper word of fiction. (I thought about it
a lot, about this story that I still hope to write one day.)
Overall I just had this overwhelming feeling of being swept
off my feet by… by whom? Was it Time? Was it Life sneaking up on me? I don’t
If I had to pick one great thing that happened this year, it
would be my cat Blues being well again. If you read my post from one year ago,
maybe you remember that he was very sick, his kidneys almost gone, and given
not even two months to live. Two weeks ago his blood test results came normal.
Is this a miracle, or what? It is, I think, and something else too. I’ll tell
you how I think that Blues got well. In the New Year. Until then, be well.
Happy New Year!
I wish everybody, big and small, a blessed, healthy 2017. Be kind to you and to those around you. Dream. Hope. Laugh. Dance.
(And if nothing else works, we could always follow the advice of my favorite angel, Castiel.)
On a more serious note, if you have a good thought to spare, please send it to this little fellow.
This is Blues, the child of a cat and a child of mine. He is four years old. He is the sweetest, gentlest, cutest, cuddliest cat I've ever met. In November, we have discovered that his kidneys are not well. Over Christmas, he's been in the hospital, on IVs. Now he's at home and doing much better. Here he is, asleep on my lap after he ate plenty of shrimp to celebrate the New Year.
(You can see where the fur was shaved for the catheter. His skin is grey where his fur is grey and pink where the fur is white...)
This, they say, is not a curable disease. The prognosis, they say, is guarded. Well, I intend to prove them wrong. Other people have done it. I do believe that there is more to all life on this Earth than we are generally taught there is. I do believe that we are all linked in ways much deeper than we could probably imagine. And if we do touch that deeper level then amazing, wonderful "miracles" could happen.
Blues seriously needs all the positive energy and all the good vibes he can get. So, please, do send some his way from the kindness of your heart.
oh, no, it’s not that I don’t like Autumn
I find her quite aesthetically pleasing—
a painter of inimitable talent
concocter of tart perfumes
and sweet essences
a virtuoso of rustlings
but I think I can see
beyond her masks
of reds and golds
a cruel magician casting
the last illusion of bounty
the great hope of renewal
for our fearful souls
before it’s all gone
in the anticlimactic finale of
a flamboyant show
and all that’s left is
just the end
It's been a day with a lot of walking in downtown Reykjavik from the Old Harbour, to the church Hallgrímskirkja, to the Saga Museum, up and down the few more popular streets. We even saw Owen Wilson! (No picture of him, unfortunately!) He was with three guys, he looked taller than I thought he was (and that Imdb says he is) and it looked like he was looking for a bar or restaurant...
I have a few other pictures though...
Reykjavik, as seen from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja...
Goose meat salad for lunch...
Later, a hot dog (pylsur in Icelandic) from the stand in the Old Harbour. People like Bill Clinton and members of Metallica have eaten here. Hot dogs in Iceland are quite good. They're made of lamb meat and "the works" means with fresh onions, fried onions, ketchup, sweet mustard, and remoladi, a mayonnaise based sauce with relish. Very tasty!
No internet last night.... but yesterday was a perfect day around the Snaefellnes Peninsula, and up the mountain too. Today, it was lava fields and lava tubes.... and then, finally, Reykjavik.
It's been an otherworldly trip and sadness is nibbling at my heart because it'll soon be over... But, hey, I have a full day tomorrow in Reykjavik and since the days are so long here in summer, I'll make the most out of it.
Here are some highlights from yesterday and today.
Up the Snaefellsjökull of Center of the Earth fame...
Hraunfossar, a series of waterfalls made up of rivulets streaming from the Hallmundarhraun lava field over a distance of about 900 metres. The lava field was formed in an eruption from long ago, from one of the volcanoes under the Langjökull glacier...
Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik...
Nice Irish pub in Reykjavik... I wish I could say I was inside, but I couldn't have left my daughter's on the sidewalk...
This is for my blogging friend, deep poet of the real and great editor, The Walking Man. I wish to you with all my heart that you see this dream come true. It might have to be by other means than by foot or by boat, but I truly hope that it will be.
This is the Arctic Circle Monument on Grímsey, an island situated on the Arctic Circle, 41 kilometres off the North coast of Iceland. The island is 5.3 square kilometres, 5.5 kilometres long, volcanic rock surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, covered in low grasses and amazing flowers. It is home to around 80 people, courageous fishermen and their families -and one million birds...
Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods, is nicknamed by locals "The Beauty", as opposed to Dettifoss, "The Beast." Its name has to do with the conversion of Iceland to Christianity in the year 1000, when all the old Nordic gods were thrown in the water as a symbolic act of conversion.
Heading north into Akureyri and Tröllaskagi, the Troll Peninsula...
Krap, funny (for us) name for very yummy Icelandic slush...
Trolls in Akureyri...
Almost midnight in Ólafsfjördur... with focus on the ground and on the sky...
It's past midnight and there's no need to turn on the lights in the house we're renting. I'm not sleepy at all, but I have to go to bed... tomorrow it's the Artic Circle... Good night!
Internet connection was very week last night... so I couldn't do much... We spent the night in a small cabin on a farmer's land... At past 11:30 pm, it was full light outside, strange birds were chirping, horses were munching on thick, crisp grass, and across green fields, pretty close, three glaciers were looming...
I was going to leave you with this image of ice age old ice washed up on the beach at Jökulsárlón...
Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the Earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm
You probably recognized this as the message found by Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew, Axel, in a runic manuscript of an Icelandic saga, which led them to their fantastical adventure to Iceland and beyond.
Well, doing just that has been one of my childhood’s daydreams. And I put a lot of work into it at the time; books of geology, speleology, paleontology, maps, detailed plans, supplies lists… Don’t laugh!
I can’t believe that on Monday night - tomorrow- I’ll be flying to Reykjavik. Better late than never, right? Actually, what made the trip happen now is Icelandair putting up direct flights from Montreal to Reykjavik. So here I went again with maps, and books, and supplies like hiking boots, and waterproof jackets, and head lamps. We’ve rented a car and will be driving around the island. The car is a 4x4 so that we can also drive on the unpaved highland roads. Car insurance covers damage caused by volcanic ash…
Now, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to descend into the crater of Snæfellsjökull and, even if I could, I won’t find the famous entrance there… but I’ll certainly keep out an eye for others… And for elves…
Going to Iceland is pretty high, if not top, on my bucket list. I’m feeling kinda overwhelmed right now, even before getting there. I’ll see how the wi-fi situation is on the road and the extent of what I can do with my tablet, but I’ll try to post a picture here every day.
I’m writing a story —or shall I boldly call it a novel?— that’s been giving me a lot of trouble. All the stuff I’ve written before has seemed to flow easily. Things made sense; POV, voice, choice of scenes, etc. all seemed to come to me (relatively) with no trouble. Mind you, except for the short stories, most of it is just lying around, not at the bottom of a drawer, but in a (forgotten) folder on my computer. Well, this time, scenes came to me easily too, but that was about it. A lot of scenes. Actually, too many of them; too many things needed to happen at the same time, too many characters to introduce, 3rd person limited POV, 1st person POV, etc. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I was not happy with it and I was beginning to panic. I realized at that point, that I needed an outline. Yet, I simply cannot write an outline. If there’s an element of the story that I have to put on paper because I think I might not remember it, then it’s as good as lost. The story is all in my head. The ideas that I cannot cram in my head are as good as gone even if I record them in one way or another. However, I did my homework diligently. I searched the web for good outlining methods, I even bought a book and followed its suggestions step by step. I'm sure it's a good book. It didn’t work. Then, I fell upon this site: Write Like Rowling and everything changed. Because this article, “Story Structure of Sorcerer’s Stone”, which by itself is quite interesting and very useful, led me to Larry Brooks’s Story Fix. Chances are you’re already familiar with it, or at least heard of it. Larry Brooks has also written a book, "Story Engineering”, but the website gives detailed explanations and great examples, by deconstructing well-known and successful novels. Story structure. The four parts: the Setup, the Response, the Attack, the Resolution. The first plot point, the midpoint, the second plot point, the pinch points, the hook… The exact place where each of them should be in your story. The meaning and the role of each part, how much and how little to give to the reader at each step. And so on. Very cool stuff that makes a lot of sense. Try it for yourself. Maybe you're already using it, knowingly or not. So now I think I can say that I’m on track and that I have a very good map. There’s still plenty of freedom of exploring on the road, but the landmarks are there... And Summer has begun today, which is a good thing...
Roland Yeomans is here today to introduce his latest book, The Not-so-Innocents Abroad
—about asteampunk honeymoon like no other…
I like the title. For me it
holds the promise of some wicked humour on top of all the wonder and
I expect from a renewed encounter with Captain Samuel McCord.
I haven’t read it yet, but… steampunk? Vampires? An alien Empress among us? Seems more than cool.
Here’s Roland to tell you more about it: -------------------------------------------------------------
WHERE IS THE WONDER? by Roland Yeomans
The wonder in the books we read seems to be lacking … at
least it does to me.
Yes, it is Friday the 13th: the perfect time for
another stop on my infamous “Don’t You
Hate Book Tours?” Book Tour.
I believe the reason we hate book tours is the same reason we
are underwhelmed by many books hawked in them:
SAME OLD, SAME OLD
Same interchangeable plots with the same interchangeable
Was WWI won by one person?Was WWII?No, those wars were won
by countless sacrifices of thousands of common soldiers fighting the good
Aren’t you tired of THE FATED HEROINE who is the sole lynch
pin upon which victory depends?
The world just doesn’t work that way.
The best books and fiction draw from the way the world really
(Image belongs to
Marvel, of course)
Great movie with a
And then, there is the dreaded Mary Sue craze currently
sweeping the books and movies.
Take the latest STAR WARS movie: A FAMILIAR HOPE.
It was bad enough all the plots points of IV were plopped onto the script of the new
They made Luke into a Mary Sue: Rey.She could fix anything.She could out-fly veteran fighter
pilots.She could use the Jedi Mind
trick first time out.She out-fought
Darth Whiney Boy the first time she held a lightsaber.
“The only person you are destined to become is
the person you decide to be.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The best fantasies are the ones that tell of the
insignificant person trying her damnedest to survive in a surreal world that
doesn’t much care if she lives or dies.
Take the contemporary, urban mythology of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in which characters from
ancient religions are hiding out in modern America. Or even the weird
fever-dreams of China Miéville that
combine bizarre creatures with Victorian technology.
In these modern times, where most of us sit at computers or
face a bland commute, fantasy books offer a chance to break out of mundane moments.
Give your readers a prose window into a world of wonders, and
you will succeed in selling your books.
I’m supposed to be selling MY book just released in
I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson because he appears in my book,
detailing the honeymoon voyage of a cursed Texas Ranger newly wed to an Empress
of an alien race.
The Xanadu, the
world’s first Air-Steamship, is setting sail for a Steampunk adventure the likes
of which you have never read:
It is 1867 in an America a layer of existence from this one.
General Sherman was denied his march through Georgia by
forces beyond his ken. Abraham Lincoln was never assassinated though he wishes
he had been killed instead of his beloved Mary.
The battered Indian tribes of America have a strange refuge
courtesy of the cursed Texas Ranger, Captain Samuel McCord.
A global war of vampire kingdoms is going on beneath the
noses of the living world — and it is interfering with the honeymoon of the
alien empress, Meilori Shinseen.
She ruled the Aztecs when a political execution took place on
Golgotha and channeled her frustration in repairing her starcraft by erecting
Joining the newlyweds are Mark Twain, 11 year old Nikola
Tesla, his faithful black cat, Macak, Horace Greely, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ada
Byron, daughter of Lord Byron, and the mysterious Greek physician, Lucanus.
Lurking in the shadows, hoping to kill them, is the insane
Abraham Lincoln, the crippled General Sherman, the vampires, Abigail Adams and
Benjamin Franklin, Empress Theodora, ruler of the Unholy Roman Empire, and the
vengeful Captain Nemo, following in his Nautilus.
What are you waiting for?Go to its Amazon page and try its LOOK INSIDE feature, and then buy it
for your very own! Hey, what are you doing still looking at this page?