16 Butterflies (and a Turtle)

As we head into the holiday season, I thought I’d share some favourite posts from the past. This was originally posted on 12 February, 2o18…

Recently I paid a visit to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory (Ontario, Canada) and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the perfect respite from the freezing weather, it was a magical experience being surrounded by butterflies (many more than 16). I highly recommend it. I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took…

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Basking in the sunshine

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You’d never guess what this butterfly looks like with its wings open….

Continue reading “16 Butterflies (and a Turtle)”

The Ultimate Book Tag

cold coffee in glass near typewriter
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

As we head into the holiday season, it seems like a good time to post something fun. I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings. Feel free to share on your own blog (leave me a comment to let me know if you do). Enjoy…

1.Do you get sick while reading in the car?

Unfortunately, yes. I can’t even look at a text on my phone without feeling queasy. It doesn’t help with reading, but I do recommend ginger for the nausea, if you’re also prone to car sickness.

2.Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you?

James Joyce. I can’t think of another author like him.

3.Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.

This is a bizarre question, like asking someone to choose between ice cream or a painting of Elvis on black velvet. Are the two even related?

I’m going with Harry Potter, but since HP needs no defending, here are 3 reasons why everyone should forget about Twilight already:

1. It was written by someone who doesn’t like vampires and has no interest in them, other than the ones she writes about. Never read a book by someone who has no respect for the subject.

2. It presents stalking and abuse as “romance.”

3. It’s not so much a story, as propaganda for the author’s religious and moral beliefs. Do yourself a favour and read something else.

4.Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books…)?

If I bring a book along, I usually just hold it (unless it’s small enough to fit in my purse). If I do bring a larger bag to accommodate a book, I’ll also usually put my purse in there (easier than picking out just the stuff I need), maybe a bottle of water, my hairbrush, a camera–whatever I think I’ll need while I’m out.

5.Do you smell your books?

Not really; I think I’m immune to book smell.

6.Books with or without little illustrations?

Illustrations are always fun, but not necessary.

7.What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

A lot of books I read as a kid. I’ve recently re-read some of them and have been  disappointed (Gordon Korman, I’m looking at you).

8.Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!

I’m not sure how funny this is, but growing up, I didn’t have a lot of access to books at home other than the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I’m that old), Greek history books, and a few of my older sister’s novels. So one of the books I would read (more than once) was the Donny Osmond Mystery (Donny Disappears!)

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The really funny part might be that I still have it.

9.What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

A Dover Edition of Daisy Miller by Henry James (Dover Editions all tend to be slim).

10.What is the thickest book on your shelf?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.

11.Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?

I’m currently published. Find out more about my dark fantasy novel, Love Lies Bleeding, and my free ebook, Blood Magic, here.

12.When did you get into reading?

I’ve loved reading and books longer than I can remember. When I started kindergarten, my first question to the teacher was when were we going to the library. The kindergartners normally didn’t use the school library, but I was so excited to see the books that they ended up making special arrangements for my class.

13. What is your favorite classic book?

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.

14. In school what was your best subject?

English. I basically took every English class my high school offered, and then majored in English Lit in Uni.

15.If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?

I might try reading it again, but if I really hated it I’d probably just keep it on my shelf as a reminder of the person who gave it to me.

16.What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?

I think it’s great when people branch out and read new things instead of different variations on a favourite theme. That being said, I do recommend the (non-YA) Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It has magic, a dystopian future, shifters, witches, vampires, and a kick-ass female main character.

17.What is your favourite word?

Meander. I love both the rhythm of it and the meaning. Susurrate is also a good one.

18.Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?

Who doesn’t love applying labels to themselves? Just call me a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.

19.Vampires or Fairies? Why?

Vampires, always. I like fairies, but fangs beat wings.

20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?

Shapeshifters interest me more. Angels can be okay if done right.

21.Spirits or Werewolves? Why?

Werewolves. Spirits are fine as minor characters, but as a main they’d be unsatisfying to read about and impossible to relate to.

22.Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?

Forbidden love, I guess. Love triangles always make me question why they don’t just try a poly relationship.

23.AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Action packed, tyvm. I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly, but I find Jane Austen-style romances tedious. Maybe it’s the lack of Osmond brothers 😉

Anything to add? Let me know in the comments…

 

10 Stunning Writers’ Homes

I love old houses (old buildings in general, actually). While I can appreciate the practical benefits of a new house, they leave me, well, bored. Old houses have style. They have personality. They have soul. Throw in a resident writer and you’ve got a house worth living in (or at least visiting). Here are 10 writers’ houses that are worth checking out…

WH Thomas Hardy

Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England: The cottage where Thomas Hardy was born. I love the thatched roof and garden.

WH Agatha Christie

Galmpton, Devon, England: Greenway Estate, home to Agatha Christie, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2004. Christie set several of her novels in the area.

WH Eugene Oneill

Danville, California, USA: Eugene O’Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Tao House.

WH Virginia Woolf

Rodmell, East Sussex, England: Not only is Monk’s House where Virginia Woolf worked on Mrs. Dalloway, it was also where she hosted the Bloomsbury Group.

WH Emily Dickinson

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA: With a house like this, I can understand why Emily Dickinson was a recluse. The poet didn’t spend her entire life at the Homestead, but she was born here, and after moving back as a young woman spent the rest of her life here.

WH Alphonse Daudet

Draveil (former village of Champrosay), France: Can I just go ahead and move into Alphonse Daudet’s home, located a few kilometres south of Paris? Daudet finished Letters from My Windmill here, and also held famous weekly gatherings of the luminaries of the French arts scene (Zola, Proust & Rodin were among the regulars).

WH George Sand

Nohant, Indre, France: More gorgeous French style at George Sand’s home. Sand wrote many of her books here, as well as hosting artists, musicians, and writers (Frédéric Chopin lived, and composed, here for several years). The house has been classified as a National Historic Monument of France.

WH Mark Twain

Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this house’s billiards room, which also doubled as his study.

WH Edith Wharton

Lenox, Massachusetts, USA: Edith Wharton’s grand home, The Mount, was where she wrote most of her novels, and where she presumably implemented the advice from her first book (co-authored with Ogden Codman), The Decoration of Houses. 

WH Louisa May Alcott

Concord, Massachusetts, USA: Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women.

What’s your favourite writer’s home? Share in the comments…

Further Reading:

Orchard House

The Mount

The Mark Twain House and Museum

George Sand House

Alphonse Daudet House

Emily Dickinson Museum

Monk’s House

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Thomas Hardy Cottage

Architectural Digest

KQED Arts

New England Historical Society

Air France

Boston Globe

10 Ways to Get Your Creativity Flowing

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everyone has times when they need to be creative (even those of you who swear you were born without the creativity gene). Whether you’re trying to turn random ingredients into dinner, or are writing an epic novel, creativity is part of life. But there are times when the creative energy seems to burn out and your perspective on your current project has gone stale. If you need help getting the inspiration flowing again, here are ten things you can try to renew your creativity…

Don’t Force It: No matter how often people claim to work best under pressure, stress doesn’t produce quality results. Unless you’re aiming for quantity rather than quality, trash those arbitrary goals (1000 words every day!), take a deep breath, and relax. Don’t be afraid to walk away for a bit (whether it’s for a five-minute break, an hour-long nap, or to start a new project entirely), if you need to. It’s amazing how well the ideas come when you’re not forcing them.

Try Something New: When your comfort zone feels tapped out, it can help to look for inspiration elsewhere. If you’re a painter, try listening to (or playing) music. If you’re a writer, bake something. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something out of your ordinary. Creativity begets creativity, and being creative in a new way can spur you on in your usual field.

Take a Walk: Interrupting desk (or wherever you do your best work) time with a walk may seem counter-intuitive, but a Stanford study found that a person walking, whether on a treadmill or out in the world, “produced twice as many creative responses” as someone sitting. The benefits continued even after the walk was over. The next time you need to brainstorm, consider doing it on the move.

Travel: Ideally this will involve foreign shores and exotic cultures, but it doesn’t have to. Go as far as you can, even if that’s just a few streets over. Check out a part of town you’ve never been to. Try a restaurant that serves a kind of food you’ve never had. Meet new people. Go exploring. Be open to new adventures and see how far you go, even if the actual distance is short.

Be Inventive: Try this exercise: take everyday items and come up with as many unusual uses for them as you can. What else can you do with hair ties, forks, or a shoe, for example? Imagine yourself in different situations (desert island, post-apocalyptic…) trying to make the most use of everything in a world with few resources. This re-inventing of common items is a form of creative thinking that can then lead to more creative breakthroughs.

Get Inspired: Enjoying other people’s work and ideas can prove inspiring. Spend time in museums, art galleries, and libraries, going to concerts, taking classes, reading new or favourite authors, or poring over your favourite websites and magazines. Even people watching can be a great source of inspiration.

Create Without a Plan: When you’re stuck, start making something, even if it’s “just” doodles or stream-of-consciousness journal entries or putting together fabrics you like. As you create aimlessly, ideas will start coming to you and you’ll likely be inspired to complete an old project or start something new.

Be Prepared: Ideas can happen anywhere, and often when you’re in the middle of something else. Make sure to always have with you a way to record all your ideas: a sketchbook, notepad, app–whatever works for you. If you have to, drop whatever else you’re doing to get everything down while it’s fresh (the Muse doesn’t linger and you will not remember later, no matter what you tell yourself!)

Work Somewhere New: A change of scenery can sometimes be all you need to light a spark. If any part of your work is portable, try taking it to a park, coffee shop, or anywhere else that appeals to you. Or try rearranging/redecorating your office/work space.

Change Your Perspective: Consider your project as though you’re someone totally different (whether someone specific, or just a generic “character”). How would that person approach the project? What might they see that you don’t, and what would they do about that? See your work through their eyes.

Have you tried any of these techniques? What did you think of them? Do you have any other suggestions to add? Please share in the comments 🙂