Thursday, August 29, 2013

Love Letters of the Angels of Death

As many of you may know, my darling sister-in-law, Jennifer Quist, recently got a novel published.  Love Letters of the Angels of Death is a seriously great title.  Aren't you already sold?  Here's the synopsis:

A breathtaking literary debut, Love Letters of the Angels of Death begins as a young couple discover the remains of his mother in her mobile home. The rest of the family fall back, leaving them to reckon with the messy, unexpected death. By the time the burial is over, they understand this will always be their role: to liaise with death on behalf of people they love. They are living angels of death. All the major events in their lives – births, medical emergencies, a move to a northern boomtown, the theft of a veteran’s headstone – are viewed from this ambivalent angle. In this shadowy place, their lives unfold: fleeting moments, ordinary occasions, yet on the brink of otherworldliness. In spare, heart-stopping prose, the transient joys, fears, hopes and heartbreaks of love, marriage, and parenthood are revealed through the lens of the eternal, unfolding within the course of natural life. This is a novel for everyone who has ever been happily married -- and for everyone who would like to be.

I have only read bits and pieces of this novel.  The style is very whimsical and poetic.  Tonight is her launch party.  She's going to read the first chapter.  As a fellow novelist I'm delighted to offer her my congratulations.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tissue Paper Flowers

Today I’m going to tell you about a craft project I did lately. 

A long time ago I was given a tall silk plant for my wedding.  It was really nice, until a few years ago, when my kids decided that the leaves made good blankets for tiny Hello Kitties.  Then they showed me their work.  I was like, ‘Great … Let’s turn the tree that way so the bald spot doesn’t show.’  Some of them may have learned the lesson, but others didn’t and last winter, it finally lost too many leaves – even to put in a corner.   Its level of mutilation had reached the level where I believed I had to throw it away.  But, remember my post about the eco-center?  Yeah, I didn’t get around to it. 

Then I got this genius idea to strip all the leaves and branches and to see if I could do anything else with it.  I had this idea in my head that I should take some of the branches I trimmed back off my trees that grow outside and graft them into the existing poles.  Then I could hang origami cranes off it or something light like that.  But I didn’t get that far. 

I was getting ready for a party and making those enormous tissue paper flowers.   One and one just clicked.  Instead of finding some inconvenient place to hang them I should just attach them onto the tops of my dead tree.  This was the end result.

There’s irony in this.  My children couldn’t leave the sturdy silk leaves alone; however, the fragile tissue paper has not been touched.  It’s been weeks since I put it together.  I gave it a life expectancy of about twenty minutes (after the party was over).  It’s still fine.  I put it in my dining room.  It really brightens the place up – like a Dr. Seuss book.  

P.S. Party decoration $2.00.  How sweet is that?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Some of My Favourites



The one benefit of writing online without getting paid is that you’re much more likely to receive fan mail.  I’ve received thousands of fan mail-type messages over the years and some of them have really stuck with me.  I know it’s narcissistic to post them, but if you weren’t expecting narcissism, why did you come to my blog?  I normally keep my blog to 500 words so I won’t be posting entire letters, just bits.  My fans have been so good to me.

“The progression from normality to myth was well-paced and what should have been a labyrinth of a plot became a pleasantly guided tour.” – DerbyGigs for Vampire Kiss on fanfiction.net.

“I really enjoyed reading this amazing trilogy and I must commend you on always having these original, crazy and wild ideas! In my opinion, it's good that you have never fallen into one of those cliché traps. You always maintain the originality and oddness of every story that you write.” – thepinkmartini for Dragon’s Moon, Mystic Wings, and Mark of a Goddess on fanfiction.net.

“I must say, you have such a wonderful, unique way of capturing a scene and giving just enough detail to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. Your grasp of the characters is excellent. Your stories have such an intriguing quality that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. A sprinkle of the bizarre and fascinating. I'm a huge fan!” – Del’Mareve for Whenever You Want on fictionpress.com, fanfiction.net and sparkatale.com.

“I have to hand it to you for having a very unique plot, which is incredibly hard to do. It was a spin on that fairytale I haven't ever seen, and the mix of mad cow disease, slavery, power tools and helicopters was a total riot. Very cohesive, too. You did a great job and I appreciate the hard work you put into it. It's no life changing epic or jewel of character exploration, but it was a solid, entertaining read. Bravo!” – Pia Bartolini for Rose Red: Model 85001 on fanfiction.net.

“I simply adore this story and everything about it. The sheer thought that went into this blows me away. There is not a loose end [out of] place. Every single detail and aspect of this story, whether it be the characters or the plot, has been thought out and planned perfectly. Thanks for a fantastic read.” – CelestialSolitudine for Vampire Kiss on fanfiction.net.

“This story was beautiful. You write with such skill and subtlety - I love how even the seemingly insignificant details, like the trash on the lawn, become important to the development of the story and your characters. You struck the right balance of loneliness and desperation with a sense of hope and happiness toward the end. Congratulations on writing something truly beautiful.” – MartinisMyGoldfish for Blog Entries of the Brokenhearted on fictionpress.com.

Thank you, excellent readers, I actually ran out of room.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Reading



This summer, I bought two books.  One of them I bought from Amazon and had delivered to my house.  The other one I bought for a $1.25 at the dollar store.  Guess which one I liked better?

The book I bought from Amazon was Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella (as in Sophie Can-sell-a lot of books!  Ha!  Well, I thought it was funny).  Anyway, I have normally been a fan of hers but I couldn’t finish reading this one.  It seemed like it was all about whether or not you should have sex before you get married.  Not to be intensely snotty, but I thought she wrote books for adults and haven’t adults already figured out their answer to this question?  So, I was intensely bored and … I didn’t have an ounce of sympathy for any of the characters.  Not a big deal.  Now I have to go through the trouble of pawning it before the Wee Book Inn stops accepting hardbacks.

The other book I bought at the dollar store.  I picked it up and was immediately inspired.  It was by a lady named Christina Spence (the happy slob (she’s from Calgary – woo!)) who wrote a book on housekeeping called No Hassle Housecleaning.  I’ve been reading a little from that book every day and my house has been looking better and better for it.  I mean, I have used all sorts of methods to get my house clean and keep it clean, but she’s so optimistic and cheery and her advice has really been working for me.

I think I should just forget about reading fiction.  I know that’s hideously hypocritical coming from a novelist who writes fiction, but I get so much more out of non-fiction.  L.M. Montgomery often references people in her books who think fiction is a waste of time and they are characters you are meant to like - like the hero (Barney Snaith … I love Barney Snaith!), which shows I’m not barking mad.  And there’s also Morton Harket (A-ha) who, when asked what he listened to on the radio answered that he didn’t listen to the radio, because ‘he needed that space for other thoughts.’  I could go on. 

The thing is I do really well with do-it-yourself books.  I’ve had numerous success stories, but I don’t have that kind of positive repercussion when I read a novel.  A lot of times when I read a novel, I know where the writer is coming from.  I know how they did their research and where they got the information they’re using.  Often times, I make my guesses and then read the acknowledgement section afterwards to have my suspicions verified.  I find authors very transparent these days.  And sometimes I’m really sad about it.  I used to read all the time and I found it very exciting. 

On the upswing, I hate cleaning my house less, so that’s good news.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Quarter Life Crisis



So, I took a break last week.  I didn’t update Whenever You Want.  I sat around and moped.  Actually, I wish I could say I sat around and moped.  I didn’t.  I got so busy that I forgot all about Thursday updates and then when I sat down to do it on Friday my hubby asked what I was doing.  “Thursday updates!” I said cheerfully.  “It’s Friday,” he said.  All the blood ran out of my face.  “Well, what’s the point now?  Wah!”  It went something like that.  Yeah, I was so busy, I missed a day.  Anyhoo, here’s today’s update.

So, I keep hearing people talk about their ‘quarter life crisis.’  Luckily, it’s not anything I hear out of any of my acquaintance’s mouths.  A mid-life crisis seems to be when you’re around 47 and you realize that you’re half way done your life and either a) you haven’t done anything; or b) you don’t want to admit that you’ll die so you start acting like an idiot teenager so you can feel like you’ve turned the clock back. 

I’ve decided that a quarter life crisis has more to do with your looks then your lifespan.  You’re 25 and you realize you only have ten more years of being cute and then you’ll start to get crows’ feet and laugh lines.  And you won’t be able to play a teenager on the Disney Channel anymore. 

Personally, I think these people are strangely misguided.  They think they stop being cute at 35ish (maybe 45 with surgery).  I disagree.  I think people stop being cute after their baby teeth start to fall out.  So, the window of chibi cuteness is from about age one to six.  But then you have the humiliation of being in a diaper.  So, let’s say you get potty trained on your third birthday (a little optimistic there).  That makes four years, maybe three, of being cute. 

So, to celebrate hideous adulthood, I would like to provide a list of adult pleasures that have absolutely nothing to do with looks.

1.      Having a drivers’ license.  Even if the cop shouts, “Agh!  What is that thing?” when you roll down your window, he can’t give you a ticket for being funny looking.
2.      Being employed.  You may not have a lot of money, but at least you get to decide what’s done with it.  You get to pick your own cheap apartment.  Do you want the one with the dishwasher that has the chalk outline and blood stain on the living room rug or the one with bars on the windows the size of postage stamps and no blood stain?
3.      Remote control control.  Yes, you get to decide what to watch.  No one is making you watch that documentary on fleas.  You decided that for yourself.
4.      No more gym class.  I know, too easy.

I could go on.  But I’d rather go outside and weed.  You don’t have to be cute to weed.