Category Archives: Newfoundland

ROW80 Update: Party Closet Edition

We went on a family adventure to Fogo Island yesterday. I’ll have more pictures and stuff tomorrow, but for now I just have to share one thing.

I found the party closet.

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Tell me that doesn’t sound like a good time right there. It’s on the ferry between Farewell and Change Islands/Fogo. If this is everything you’ve ever wanted out of life, YOU’RE WELCOME.

(And guys? It’s not flame-resistant apparel. It’s a FIREMAN’S OUTFIT.)

Anyway.

Things are going well with my little schedule plan. Sort of. I’m doing really well with the whole “get up early” part. It’s just the “get right to work” thing that’s making me stumble.

I keep getting distracted by the “checking sales and rankings” thing and the “should I be doing some kind of promotion” thing and the “I wonder what my friends are up to on Facebook OMG THAT’S SO WACKY” thing.

I’ll get there. I will.

I’m making progress on Torn, and it’s SO much more epic than the last draft was. I kind of dropped the ball on a romance sub-plot in drafts one and two, and that’s really blossoming now. I’ve figured out a few things that smooth out rough patches in the plot, I’m taking characters to places they’re not too happy about, and I’ve got a whole lot of surprises for anyone who loved Bound.

I’m so excited!

Speaking of Bound, the book in the #1 position had the decency to run out of time for new release eligibility*, so Bound is (at the time of this posting) the #1 Hot New Release in Amazon’s YA Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery category! It’s on the charts in a few others, but that’s my big, happy excitement for the day. I also woke up to a beautifully written review, so that was WICKED GOOD.

Mini-goals for this week: Finish up this one character’s scenes, move on to Aren’s (which should be my biggest challenge, because DUDE. Ugh. I love him, but this is a tough story to balance in terms of not letting him get too emo). Contact a few book reviewers if I can get my nerve up. Get on that blog post for tomorrow. Maybe do a few more promo pics, though I’m not sure how much good they actually do. Finish reading last week’s WIPpet Wednesday posts. Read other blogs.

But the priority is writing.

And also housework.

Ick.

 

*I’m pretty sure it was out-selling my book by 10 to 1, so this really was the only way I was going to get there.

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Memorial Day

I didn’t have time to prepare a Memorial Day post for this year, but everything I wrote last year still stands. We haven’t forgotten.

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(Not to depress anyone on this lovely and otherwise-celebratory-in-Canada day, but history is important, guys…)

Happy Canada Day! Well, mostly… see, when you live in Newfoundland, July 1 is a bittersweet holiday (and not just because so many people still swear that joining Canada was a mistake– not today’s topic, don’t worry). No, it’s because in Newfoundland, July 1 is also Memorial Day, the day set aside to remember the lives lost at the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, France, on July 1, 1916.

It’s not an insignificant number. The Newfoundland Regiment (then hailing from a tiny dominion of the British empire, not from Canada) was destroyed: more than 650 casualties, most within 15-20 minutes of leaving the trenches. Anywhere you read about the Newfoundland Regiment and this battle, the terms “nearly annihilated,” “almost wiped out” or “decimated” are sure to appear.

War is awesome, isn’t it?

But Great Big Sea tells…

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I Feel Like This is My Fault.

Remember when I was talking about how everything is brown, and spring is coming, and yadda yadda?

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HAHAHAHAHA!

No.


Anticipation (ROW80 Update)

The sun came out yesterday. This isn’t big news, I guess. The sun tends to do that every once in a while, even during April showers season in Newfoundland. But blue skies still manage to take me by surprise sometimes, especially when I don’t get a headache to warn me that they’re coming. Yesterday was one of those times.

And what did the sun shine down on? Brown. Relentless, monotonous, winter-coloured brown. Dead grass. Bare branches. Dirt. Even the evergreens we have around here have a brownish tone to them, though they’re called black spruce. No flowers yet. No buds on the trees bursting into green life.

Oh, but the rocks are grey. Kind of brownish grey, but still. We have a lot of them to break up the scenery.

Honestly, it’s a depressing time of year. There’s no pretty snow anymore to cover up the bare earth and last year’s leaf litter, but life hasn’t caught up to the change in the seasons. It’s just… blah.

It’s hard to see the end. Though I know in my mind that spring (real spring, not calendar spring) will come eventually, it’s difficult to truly believe that. It seems like the aggressive brownness is eternal and inescapable. My facebook friends have pictures of green lawns and flowers. I have brown.

But yesterday I chose to look at it differently. There’s beauty in every season, even those that are difficult or dull as housework.

Yes, the world is brown. The plants look dead. In fact, most of them are dead.

But the world is waiting, isn’t it? This is the part where Nature holds her breath, waiting for just the right moment to explode back into life and growth and wonder. No, spring isn’t here like it is in other places. Our lawns are brown, it’s too early to plant gardens because of frost, and most of the birds haven’t returned. But it’s not an empty or useless time. It’s the season of anticipation and preparation for every amazing, beautiful thing that will be here.

It will start small, with fuzzy little buds on branches and an escalation of the twitterings in the trees that I only started to notice yesterday. Small patches of green will appear on lawns and spread, overtaking the brown.* We’ll have to watch out for mama and baby moosies on the roads– they’re still brown, but in a far less depressing way. Flowers will come, some day.

But for now, the world waits and prepares.

Yes, I’m procrastinating.

ROW80 Update

Speaking of preparation, I’m waist-deep in it, wading through edits, exercising the superpowers granted to all writers (time travel, the ability to change the past and alter the fabric of fictional people’s reality, that stuff). It’s going well, but there’s still plenty to do. Having my own space to work is doing wonders for my ability to focus, even if my office doesn’t have walls. I’m discovering new angles and moments in my story that are making it better and more delicious** than it was before. I still struggle with doubts, but who doesn’t? And at least I’m moving forward, slowly but surely.

If you want specifics, I’m on chapter 12, after massive struggles with re-writing chunks of chapters eight and eleven. Coming up on more revisions as I simplify a few things and complicate others, trying to balance tension with backstory, action with dialogue… y’know. FUN STUFF.

In other news, a new friend and I have decided that “backstory” should be a curse word. I say it now when I stub my toe or drop stuff. So every five minutes or so.

I’m also beta reading a fantastic book. I wish I had time to get through that more quickly, but I’m getting there.

So there we go. I’m enjoying this process. It’s a little like May at times– it’s a hard slog, kind of dull after I’ve read this one story dozens of times already, and at times it feels like I’m not moving forward at all thanks to the need to go back and change history (which takes ages). But I am making progress, just as spring is. The difference is that I can’t sit and wait for this to happen. I have to work, and every bit of hard work and every irritating detail I don’t let myself skip is building to something grand.

In other news, this is why anyone who’s ever said “I could write a better book than _____, EASY” should actually try it. This stuff’s hard, yo. Rewarding, beautiful, but oh so challenging.

So there you go. UPDATED.

OH– and in other news, I’m a super huge dork, a bad friendquaintance, and a fool. A FOOL, I SAY. I signed up for a cover reveal, got the post set up, scheduled it to go live on May 1… and forgot to make sure the post wasn’t set to draft. Thanks to my absence from the WordPress-ular area, I didn’t notice until this morning. So PLEASE, stop by and give Adrian J. Smith and her book For By Grace some love on the post which has now posted. Here. HERE. Please.

 

 

*Well… not on MY lawn, because it’s just dirt now. But elsewhere. 🙂

**Books are brain candy. You know they are.


G is for Geocentre

The Johnson GeoCentre is one of my favourite spots to visit in St John’s, especially on cold or rainy days when Cape Spear and Signal Hill just aren’t going to happen. Packed with exhibits about the natural history of the area, film presentations, interactive activities, and other fun stuff, this is a place you can kill hours in… at least, you can if you don’t have kids hanging off of you saying crazy things like “BUT I’M HUUUUNGRY! I WANT TO GO TO THE MAAAAALLLLLLL.”

I thought for “G” I’d share a few pictures of our most recent visit (with links to more info on their site).

 

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^The ceiling of the underground entrance hall is a 3D model of our solar system. Pretty nifty.

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^The ExxonMobil Oil and Gas Gallery is… well, pretty much an ad for the oil industry. But it’s interesting.

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The Titanic Story exhibit is both fascinating and depressing. As you follow the story, it becomes clear just how many people screwed up, goofed off, or just didn’t care, all of which led to this disaster. TEAMWORK.

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The list of every passenger on the Titanic fills a binder. The greyed-out names didn’t survive.

 

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^The 3D Earth & Space Theatre shows a rotating schedule of films that are both fun and educational. The octopus one was our favourite on this trip. Also, the glasses make you look SUPER COOL!

 

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^Uranus is gassy. Go figure.

The folks in charge are always adding to my favourite part of the GeoCentre, the BIG EXHIBIT HALL. I didn’t take photos of everything, because there’s just too much. Geology, natural and human history of the planet and Newfoundland, new exhibits on space and space travel… and several films narrated by Gordon Pinsent, who’s just the most adorablest.

 

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^This chunk of gneiss from Labrador is almost as old as the Earth itself, and I TOUCHED IT.

 

 

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^For anyone curious about the blue feldspar in my Gempunk experiment: Labradorite. See also: the necklace in my sidebar pic. 🙂

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^The outdoor exhibits are loads of fun, but the weather just didn’t want to cooperate on this visit.

So there you go. When you come to Newfoundland to visit me (and I know you will), you’ll want to check out the GeoCentre when you’re in St. John’s. 🙂

For more information, here’s their website.

For more A-Z blog challenge, go THISAWAY.


Gros Morne Magic

Remember how I’ve said there’s magic around here?* Apparently Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism agrees wholeheartedly. Here’s the new TV spot:

I haven’t been to Gros Morne yet, but I’ll get there some day. I think this is some of the most beautiful senery in the world.

*(Not to mention the dragons…)


How I Met the Thorny Devil (and Escaped Unscathed)

That’s right. I encountered something called a Thorny Devil. It was large, and leggy. I interrupted it when it was trying to boff its unwilling mate, and I lived to tell the tale. All of which is to say that I went to the Newfoundland Insectarium with my mother and kids, and it was amazing. Care to join us for a tour? Good.

Confession: I wasn’t planning a blog post while we were there, I was just having fun. So if the photos are somewhat lacking, you know why. If you’d like to see more and better photos with less of me in them, click here for the official photo gallery.

The insectarium is in Deer Lake, NL, otherwise known as Too Dang Far From My House. This was only my second chance to visit, but I’m hoping for another trip next summer.

Because did I mention AMAZING?

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You walk in, and there are a couple of displays in glass cubes– one of beautiful beetles (beetiful beautles?) and one of butterflies. Then it’s OMGHOLYCRAPGIFTSHOP! But that’s not why we’re here. No, get your face off of the glass, you’re leaving nose-prints. You can stop on the way out.

Some of you (heck, most of you) might not like many bugs, but you probably don’t mind butterflies so much, so here’s hoping they’re what shows up in your WordPress Reader previews. The butterfly house is our first stop. It’s warm, it’s so humid that your camera lens fogs up, and it’s downright magical.

This little guy was totally flirting with me.

This little guy was totally flirting with me.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Lowden, because this guy wouldn't sit still for me.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Lowden, because this little beauty wouldn’t sit still for me.

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There were TONS of butterflies, because they’d got a late (accidental) shipment. Yay!

So then, up the stairs. Alllll the way up to the second level, where we find the main display level. Most of the insects up there are dead and mounted, but there’s a fascinating glassed-in bee colony, where you can watch the little buzzers doing their dances.

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The mounted displays are incredible… I wish I’d thought to get more pictures. Next time! There are butterflies and moths, beetles with massive “horns” and jaws, stick bugs and jewellery made from insects…

(Sorry- my computer refuses to turn this picture the right way around and save it. Curse you, Picasa!)

(Sorry- my computer refuses to turn this picture the right way around and save it. Curse you, Picasa!)

Oh, and some live insects, too.

We were fortunate to be the only people visiting, so we had a chance to speak to a few of the people who work there, and one of them offered to let us hold the stick bugs.

There, you can see some of the butterfly displays behind me.

There, you can see some of the mounted displays behind me.

That little guy was so light, I could hardly feel him on my hand, and he just kind of laid there like… well, like a stick. Good job, little bug!

The next ones he (the guy, not the stick bug) took out were called “Thorny Devils,” which apparently are also known as Marijuana bugs for the scent they produce when they’re agitated. They’re a lot scarier-looking than the skinny little stick insects, but the guy got one out, so I asked if I could hold it.

BIG bug. Heavy bug. Kinda creepy, very interesting. I’m not going to lie and say I was completely comfortable with this girl’s scratchy little claws digging into my skin and her boyfriend waving his feelers at me (yes, I held both) but I’m glad I did it.

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That’s right, I can hold one of those, but a little house centipede makes me freeze and squeal like an injured puppy. THAT, apparently, is where I draw the line.

Side note: this one (the big female) was missing a leg, which led to a discussion of how insect matings aren’t generally gentle or consensual. I said, “Like ducks?” This was the first time I ever surprised and impressed someone with that bit of knowledge (he was just going to say, “like ducks.”) I don’t expect this to ever happen again, but hey, it was special. IT WAS A MOMENT, YOU GUYS.

This level also houses the leaf-cutter ant colony, which I find fascinating. See those green dots on the log in the middle? Those are ants carrying cut-up leaves back to their colony, where they feed it to the fungus they then harvest and eat.

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Guys, THE ANTS ARE FARMERS.

Wow.

You know, I kind of don’t want to post pictures of the tarantulas, since we’re having so much fun here, and I know some of you don’t like spiders. Hmm… I’ll tell you what: no hard feelings if you want to leave now and go back down to that lovely gift shop to wait for the rest of us. I’m heading upstairs to see the Very Large and Hairy Arachnids, which are kept on the third floor for the benefit of those who don’t want to see them. For those of you leaving us now, thanks for coming along!

Stop by the comments (um… just scroll down REALLYREALLYFAST) and tell me about the scariest thing you did this week, whether it actually frightened you, or just stretched you outside of your comfort zone. Heck, even if it’s just looking at the pictures down there, tell me about it!

For those of you brave enough to take a peek, scroll down…

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“Hellooooooo, ladies!”

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They have eight live tarantulas in all… if you’re into that.

Thanks for coming along! Hope you had fun. If you’re ever in Western Newfoundland, I highly recommend a live visit. For more information, including seasonal closures and hours, click here!


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