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Thursday, November 30, 2006

HNT - Pat The Marky

I'm reading a lot of children's literature to my son lately, and rather enjoying it. There are some books, however, even tremendously popular books that make me pause and think again about what they are.

There's this cute series of books called "Pat The Bunny" that my son really enjoys -- there's this adorable little bunny critter featured in all of them and the books are produced with a bit of fluff sticking out of the book inviting you to pat his tummy. It's cute, and fun. And of course, there's physical stimulation where the child can actually feel as if they might be petting a bunny. (Some of the great touch and feel books I've read to Alexander cover a variety of textures and are great ways for a parent to share, discuss and explore basic textural concepts such as smooth, rough, wrinkly, shiny with a child)

But I just can't get past the very rude location of the fluff on the bunny's tummy. I actually find it a bit disturbing. But it does make me wonder what an adult version of such a series of books might look like -- all that I know is it's not so cute, not so pretty . . . behold, Pat The Marky . . .



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Was Coffeeing While Writing This

An interesting topic came up in The Writing Show's November newsletter. Paula B pondered the "to verb or not to verb" concept in relation to the "verb everything" trend that seems to be taking over.

Verbing (see I'm doing it right there), is taking a noun and mutating it into a verb -- it's often just as simple as adding "ing" to the word. One of the more popular examples of what Paula is talking about is the phrase "googling" -- To google something generally means to look it up online by typing the keywords into google.com (or google.ca if you prefer) and hitting the search button.

While I abuse the English language regularly (you often hurt those you love the most), I like to think of myself of in-line with language purists. I mean, my blood pressure rises when I see simple things like people using "their" and "there" incorrectly or more commonly the misuse of "your" and "you're" -- never mind the complete lack of basic grammatic principles in email and other online-based forums where one can string words together.

But there's something admirable and a bit thrilling about seeing a language mutate, develop and evolve. I can imagine sitting down with my grand-kids one day and saying: "Yes, my little ones, I was there when the term "googling" was first coined. And I remember clearly those days when the Bushification of the American dollar kept the Canadian dollar at its all-time high for years after George Dubya left office." (Bushification might very well be an economic term we use in the distant future in place of such words as "decimation" or "destruction" -- it's much more exciting than Reganomics)

While I'm poking fun at the whole concept, I do have to admit that seeing a language evolve (or devolve as the purist side of my mind wants to say) is terrifying. To that end, I have to look for positive things in it. Here's one. I can also see "verbing" nouns to allow the ability to describe multiple actions in a single word. Such as the phrase: "I was coffeeing while writing this." To coffee can be either the act of making coffee or the act of drinking coffee -- in this particular case, both. So a benefit is that I was able to communicate a simple act of what I was doing in as little words as possible.

That's a good thing isn't it? Well, the phrase does lose clarity -- what, exactly am I doing, making it or drinking it? Hmm, the part of me that loves words, that loves the way they can roll together and create an entire scene, convey an emotion, stir up memories, portray a character and incite a reaction in the reader -- that part of me, the one that takes pleasure in seeing an elegantly crafted sentence of words strung together creating that beauty, well, it recoils in fear at that thought.

However, one thing does give me hope -- the thought that language use and misuse fluctuates like the tide, (or even like the back and forth ramblings of my blog posts), but words abide.

Monday, November 27, 2006

NaNo Oh Oh!

So it's November 27th and I'm far below the word count that I'm supposed to be at for NaNoWriMo.



At this point, I've got a daily goal of 14525 for the next 3 days if I want to hit the 50,000 mark. Short of calling in sick at work and completely avoiding my family altogether for the next few days (two things I'm not very likely to do), I won't be making my goal.

But I'm not disappointed. Because I'm happy with the 6000+ words that I've written for the novel so far. I'm moving along slowly, re-discovering some secondary characters and settings and enjoying the creation of the scenes. And I'd rather have 6000 words that I'm comfortable with than 50,000 words that were just one word placed after another and which I'd have to toss during a future re-write.

Yes, it may sound like I'm comfortable in my failure or turning my nose up at sour grapes -- but at the end of the day so far I've got 6426 more words than I had at the beginning of the month, which brings my total word count for "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" to about 30,000 words.

I'm a "the novel is half-full" kind of guy.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wonderful Review of North of Infinity II

I was delighted to see a wonderful review of North of Infinity II by Elizabeth A. Allen at Tangent Online.

“I will make no bones about it North of Infinity II, edited by Mark Leslie, is the second best anthology I’ve read this year.”

“This Canadian collection deserves a place in your “To Read” pile.”

- Elizabeth A. Allen, Tangent Online review Nov 2006


But more delightful than the praise about the anthology as a whole was the way in which Allen went through and talked about what she liked about many of the stories within the anthology, even taking the time to spotlight stories by up and coming writers who are not likely to be known in science-fiction circles. She did a wonderful job of sharing the uniqueness of each tale without taking anything away from a potential reader. Nicely done.

It's easy for me, as the person who selected the stories for the anthology to be proud of them, and believe that they are all great tales by severely talented writers. It's another to have a reviewer recognize the strengths of the writers whose stories I have selected.

I feel like a proud father when someone else out there compliments his children. (Of course, I'm flattering myself when considering the stories by the contributors to NOI 2 adopted children of mine -- but that is a bit of what it feels like) I'm actually honoured to have the opportunity to collect and showcase the writing of such incredibly gifted writers, and delighted that these writers were willing to be a part of this anthology and make it the stellar collection that is it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

HNT - 6 Weird Things Tag

I was recently tagged by Regal in the "6 weird things about you" tag, so I thought I'd incorporate it into this week's HNT.

According to the rules…each player of this game starts with the “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

1) I like to wear novelty ties. Among them, skulls and ghosts are my favourite, but book ties, cartoon character ties and ties with joke images and text are also right up there.
2) I also like to wear novelty underwear. Surprisingly, spooky images are my favourites here also
3) Speaking of clothing, I love to dress up in costumes - I have not outgrown that at all. (And I hate the fact that I have to wait for Halloween to come around for me to finally fit in in this regard)
4) Speaking of not growing up, I haven't grown out of my love of playing with toys (just witness the whole "Darth Tater" thing I spent 6 months of HNT having fun with as recent proof)
5) I spend an unhealthy amount of time making goofy faces in the mirror (witness below my attempt to mimic Eric Idle of Monty Python playing a Frenchman)
6) I wear my wife's antiperspirant/deodorant. Not to be silly, but just because it works better than the men's version.

And since I don't always play by the rules, I'm not going to tag 6 more folks, but instead allow those who WANT to play, to tag themselves off me (sounds kinky, doesn't it?) -- just let me know in the comments that you're playing along so I can go read your 6 weird things.

I'd also like to wish my friends south of the Canadian border a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend -- (Weekend? Oh who are we all kidding, Thanksgiving is pretty much a FULL WEEK in the U.S. -- I'm jealous, here in Canada we only get one day off, and our Thanksgiving was already a month ago. Can anyone save me some leftover turkey?)


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Missing

I was visiting my hometown of Levack this past weekend and was disturbed to see on the front page of The Sudbury Star, a picture of an old childhood friend, Jeff Mason alongside an article entitled: Concern growing for missing man.

Jeff was last heard from on November 15th, and early on the morning of November 16th, his home in Dowling was broken into and set fire to. Around the same time, his car was found abandoned and set ablaze in nearby Sudbury.

Nobody has heard from Jeff other than a voice mail message left on that Tuesday and a single bank transaction on the Wednesday.

Sudbury Rainbow Crimestoppers is now offering a $2000 reward for information leading to the location of Jeff. For the sake of Jeff and his family, I hope that he IS safe somewhere.

But while in Levack, I heard a rumour that the fires might have something to do with the Hell's Angels. For Jeff's sake I hope those rumours are just that. Because if there's any truth to them, it's likely that the only place they'll find my old childhood chum is buried in an anonymous grave somewhere. Every time that Francine and I drove past the home on Highway 144, charred and abandoned and surrounded by yellow police tape, my heart sank, and emotions ran high.

I've been thinking a lot about Jeff and about the fun we had as kids growing up in Levack, playing street hockey, riding our bikes, building log fort cabins in the woods behind his house on First Avenue. I was also reminiscing with another buddy who was even closer to Jeff when they were young, laughing about one of his first memories of Jeff as the snotty faced younger brother with the wild long blond hair, chasing his older sister all the way to school because he wanted to kiss her goodbye.

I remember spending a lot of time laughing with Jeff when we were younger. And then, in our high school years we slowly drifted apart. Sure, we occasionally saw each other and did share some laughs and fun, but over time, the day to day interactions were less and less frequent as we grew in separate ways. Isn't it strange the way someone that was so much a part of your life and daily activities can one day be moving in a different direction than you. I sometimes find myself marveling in sadness at the thought.

Some of my last memories of Jeff are when I was working at a summer job at Alo-Tech in Onaping -- this was back in the summer of either 1990 or 1991. I was working as an assistant lacky/go-fer, low on the food chain with the actual qualified guys like Jeff who were certified welders. I think that was the last time I'd ever had a conversation with Jeff, in this atmosphere of hard work and fun masculine ribbing, and I'll never forget the proud smile on his face as he showed me his recently acquired welding certification. A smile not unlike the one that the newspaper is printing in the articles in the search for Jeff. Jeff has aged well, grew up to become a handsome man, and I imagine that he still enjoyed laughing with his family and friends just as much as when we were kids.

So I'm saying a quick prayer for Jeff's well-being, and hoping against hope that his family will find him safe and sound, far from harm, far from the dark rumours of the bad people who might have had something in for him. And as I think and pray for Jeff, I'm hearing him call me "Lefebvre" in the derogatory way we started calling each other by our last names some time during our high school years, and as I think of him I'm finding myself speaking the words aloud: "God be with you, Mason."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

HNT - One Hand Typing

I haven't blogged much lately -- nor have I gone visiting my usual bloggy friends, either. I've been a bad blogger.

I'd like to say it's because I'm spending several hours per day working on my latest novel. But I can't, because I've also been a naughty writer. Here I've gone and signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with a goal to write 50,000 words in the month of November -- and I'm only about 3500 words into my novel so far at the mid-way point.



Yikes!

You can listen to a very recent interview with me by Writing Show host Paula B here. It's the second part of a reality series Paula is doing on her wonderful Writing Show podcast -- she's following me as I try to achieve my goal of finishing the novel "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" -- it's a rather fun interview in which we discuss such things as how I learned about the coppery taste of blood, how I spent Halloween as well as the truth about my kindergarten-like attention span.


So, due to the fact that I shouldn't be posting Half-Nekkid pictures but should be working on my Half-Nekkid novel, I present a picture of one hand typing.



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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hug-eee!

Alexander's vocabulary has suddenly exploded. For months he's been using a nice comfortable group of a couple of dozen words, but within the last week he has ventured into new territory. It's like he's sifting through the dictionary when we're not looking.

One of the cutest was the other night when we were about to partake in our bath-time/bed-time ritual. (Usually there's some settling down time, a bath, warm milk, a snack, then stories, then sleepy-time). As I was trying to get him to come upstairs for his bath, he stood in the kitchen saying "Hug-eee! Hug-eee!" Since he likes group hugs (being sandwiches between Fran and myself in a family hug), that's what we thought he was saying. So we gave him a group hug. But he then said "Milk" (okay, it was actually "Milke" - I love the way some of his words come off with an "e" sound on the end of them, as if he's speaking some Chaucerian Olde English language) -- it was then we realized he was saying he was hungry. He now uses that word when it's time for lunch, breakfast, supper, or one of the dozens of snacks he has every day.

And yesterday, of course, when we were heading off to vote and I was telling him about the importance of exercising our democratic rights and our civic duties, he kept saying "Vote!" -- of course, in fitting with political gesturing, it was a foggy night, and so he was also saying "Foggy" -- he was most proud of the way in which that word rolled off his tongue.

I'm continuing to look forward to what new batch of words he's saying when I get home from work tonight. Or tonightee, as Alexander would likely say.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Evolving Creatures



As a horror writer, I haven't yet written a vampire story -- at least, not a vampire story that would be recognizable as using the traditional vampire mythology. Then, again, what is traditional mythology tends to change as different writers approach the classic horror creatures and add their own spin to it. My own werewolf character in the work-in-progress "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" is a blend of various werewolf mythologies that I've read over the years and include my own interpretation of the grander essence of werewolf.

And there's this unfinished novel that I started years ago about a vampire who walks around during the day. My theory was that a specific person's body chemistry might react with the vampire blood and cause a mutation.

That's why I'm curious to see this new DVD by Kevin VanHook called Slayer which involves a new species of vampires discovered in a South American jungle that are deadly by night AND day.

And if that isn't interesting enough, it co-stars Lynda Carter -- yes, the legendary Wonder Woman, yet another woman whom I grew up having a huge childhood crush on and who has aged very gracefully I might add. (Okay, I'll admit it, I never outgrew that crush -- I just outgrew the "suspension of disbelief" about the whole business where she flew around in this invisible airplane and that nobody could ever spot her suspended in thin air in a seated position)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

HNT - Me & You & A Ghost Named Boo

All of the Halloween stuff has been put away, but there's one special little guy who has stayed out. He's this cute little ghost puppet named Boo. (He was a gift two Halloween's ago from some neighbours) Alexander simply adores him and is as attached to him as he is to his Winnie The Pooh. Winnie and Boo are must haves for bedtime and for longer car trips.


Since Alexander is suffering from a nasty head-cold the past couple of days, Boo often helps to cheer him up. (Boo usually yells out "Boo" and then scares himself and runs away -- Alexander kills himself laughing when Boo does that. Silly ghost) So if you see a bit of a runny nose on Alex in these pictures, it's from his cold. And no, I don't have a fat lip -- it's a lipstick smear -- yes, proof that Francine still kisses me; and that I walk around without knowing it's there.


And for you folks out there who have been around the block long enough to remember the song from the 70's, yes, the title for this post WAS a rip-off of an old song called "Me And You And A Dog Named Boo" by Lobo. Feel old?


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NaNo Update #1

I'm well under way on my goal to write 50,000 words of a novel this month. The daily goal is to write 1667 words per day. So far, 8 days into the project, (where I should be at 13,336 words) I'm at a whopping 2500 words.


But I like to think of myself as the tortoise who wins the race . . . I'm just easing into it, getting solid rest, working up my ability to sprint to the finish. Yeah, that's the story.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Quotes From Dad Of The Year

This weekend, as Alexander and I were putting away the Halloween decorations, I was wondering what someone overhearing the father and son bonding moment would have thought when they heard me say the following:

"Alexander, please pick up these bones and this skull and put them in that coffin."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

HNT - Halloween Isn't Over In My Heart!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Halloween is over -- it's so two days ago. But it's not over in my heart. I'm not yet ready to let it go.

And since I'm typing this up near midnight alone in a hotel room half of the country away from my loved ones, I thought it might be fun to share a selection of some of my favourite "leading up to Halloween" moments, with Francine and Alexander . . . these ones from a fun-filled day spent at Lindley's in Ancaster, going on a hay ride, visiting the pumpkin patch, running through the corn maze, enjoying some locally baked treats and of course, hamming it up for the camera.























I know I only left early Wed morning and I'll be back home Friday by midnight . . . but God do I ever miss them!

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