...though still death-related, if you want to get technical....
I found this very cool site outlining 100-year old aerial shots of Stonehenge HERE.
Taken from a tethered balloon, it's interesting to contrast these early shots from above with what Stonehenge looks like today.
Aerial photography is apparently an excellent way to find subterranean archeological sites, as you can see HERE on this National Geographic page.
Keep an eye out as you fly over the English countryside -- you may spot a tomb from above!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
...though still death-related, if you want to get technical....
Woke up this morning ruminating on death. I'm killing off a character in my latest novel, and [as usual] it ain't easy.
It got me thinking about the quality of death, particularly fictional death. Now, my Potter Protest notwithstanding, I have always been a HUGE admirer of J.K. Rowling. I love her imagination, her use of language and the brilliant mythologies woven through the Harry Potter stories.
However, [speaking purely as a reader, here] I have to say the final book of the series was a massive disappointment for me.
Yes, I think the story suffered from poor editing by the end, but that was likely a result of what I like to call 'Stephen King syndrome' -- when an author is SO hugely successful, it seems the editors begin to take a hands-off policy, as if every word is pure gold. Not really the fault of the author, unless they start believing their own press.
But in this case, what bothered me the most was the gratuity of the deaths of several major characters. Now, in reality, of course, death is often random, senseless and can occur in ways that seem meaningless and empty. I guess my question here is whether fictional death should mirror reality in that way. I hated to see characters in a story I loved more or less randomly killed off.
[But it was a war! That's what happens in war -- even in stories, you idiot! --- This parenthetical voice, by the way, is the devil's advocate who sits in my brain, poking me with her pitchfork and shrilling.---]
Okay, okay. I don't want to get too specific here, as I'd hate to spoil anyone's reading of the final HP book. So let's take this back to what I see as my responsibility as a writer.
I always begin a new story on the premise that I am making a promise to my readers. This is why I write fiction. I make a promise that somehow, no matter how bleak the subject matter, there is always some reason for hope.
Veering back into someone else's purview for a moment, I offer as an example THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. Now this story is just about as bleak a taste of post-apocalyptic fiction as they come. But it is not nihilism. There is still, even with all the death and devastation McCarthy puts his characters to, a single ray of hope at the end.
Characters die in stories. Even fairy tales. But fiction allows for the freedom to grant my characters some meaning in death.
Least I can do.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Oh, I know I said I wouldn't, but heck...I just came across my second bear this week. And this one, my intrepid son caught on film.
Here's the baby, in the tree...peeking through the branches. He was calling his mama, and MY baby, having already had a conversation with the mama tonight, managed to squeeze off a few shots.
Here he is in full voice, tongue out -- and trust me when I say, a baby black bear calling his mama, very clearly says: ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-snort-snort-ma-ma-ma-snort-waaaaaahhhhh.
That's your bear elocution lesson for the day.
This guy rolled up the driveway yesterday, took a look around, and left. Much less fanfare than the baby above...
...but I got a clearer shot of him, too. Check out those whiskers!
Back to the book.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
...for a few days to meet a deadline.
I've got a book to write (thankfully, most of it is written, but it Needs Finishing Badly.)
My blog posts have been scattershot (at best) lately, and sweet Darby has not blogged at all since before I left for the UK.
But all will be well soon....as long as I meet this deadline!
I have tons of news and upcoming events galore, but will save it all for a few days.
For those of you (and you are legion) to whom I owe email -- my apologies. I will be reconnecting shortly.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Just read a very interesting article on Anne Thompson's blog for Variety magazine. Today she writes about one of the speeches given at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which is just underway.
The speech was given by Endgame Entertainment chairman James Stern.
Here's an excerpt:
Thousands of films got made last year in a world that had room for just hundreds.
A friend describes this problem as a simple equation: Access to capital + low barriers to entry = glut of subprime movies. Subprime? Excess inventory? Sounds like we’re upside-down on the mortgage and it’s time to mail in the keys.
An astonishing 9,293 films were submitted to Sundance last year. Of those nearly 10,000, only 218 were screened. Of the lucky handful to get bought, so far only three have been released theatrically.
It’s pretty obvious: Indies are in a world of hurt.
Now, James is talking about independent films, of course. But hmmm...thinks I. Where else is this applicable?
The world of books and writing is going through a sea change. The delivery of information to the consumer is no longer as predictable as your daily paper. Heck, your daily paper is not as predictable as your daily paper! It's a little frightening to be a part of this change -- and pretty exciting, too. Who knows where the word will go next?
I'm a strong believer in story -- I guess I have to be. I've said in this space before that I believe books and the stories that fill them will survive. But I am as interested as the next reader to see what form we'll all be reading in ten years.
If you'd like to read the rest of James Stern's speech, you can find it HERE.
And while you're reading, I'll just sneak off to try and write a book as worthy of publication as I can make it!
Lee Edward Fodi launches his latest Kendra Kandlestar novel tomorrow at Cameron Rec Centre in Burnaby.
Where: 9520 Cameron Street, Burnaby -- Spruce Room
(near the Lougheed Mall)
When: 5-7:00 pm, Sunday, June 21.
Come celebrate summer solstice with
Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard From Greeve
Full details here: http://tinyurl.com/lg7n4j
or here if you prefer.
See you there!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW gets 4 stars and a great review from Mena at KIdsWWWrite, a terrific on-line site for kids 16 and under to read and write reviews.
" I found the way the Darby goes “through a window” to travel an original idea among so many time travel books. "
Read the whole review HERE.
Just read about this yesterday via Cory Doctorow at boingboing. I've sent off an email to see where to send the books -- deadline is approaching quickly.
As soon as I get more info, I'll post it here.
I'm going to donate a bunch of copies of A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW, and whatever other new titles I have hanging around.
If you are interested in donating a book or two, too -- check out the site above for more details. You don't have to be an author, and if you are in Ontario, it's as simple as dropping the books off at an OPP station.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The author who created my Silas Ermineskin's namesake won a George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement award last night.
Read about it HERE.
(My Silas Ermineskin ... as if he needs an introduction around here.)
[W.P.'s Silas and other characters...]
I'm sure if it's completely obvious, but I am a devoted reader of his work. I first read The Fencepost Chronicles when I was very young, and have read and enjoyed each and every one of W.P. Kinsella's books since.
I love his writing advice: "Get to the point and stop when you are done."
Congratulations -- enormously deserved!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I am so burnt from this day, I have only the energy for a dog blog.
Silas came and posed for me betweens swims at Ambleside yesterday.
Read up on all the doings behind the Surrey International Writers' Conference here.
Registration for Fall, 2009 is now open!
Monday, June 08, 2009
Only poking my undead head in here to point you in the direction of www.siwc.ca , as the Surrey International Writers' Conference, 2009 is about to go live. Wednesday at noon is the plan.
Much round-the-clock website preparation, snowdrifts of email between zombie coordinator and innocent presenters, excessive strain placed on Web Wizard Dale...but I think we might just do it.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Unlike the [mostly fuzzy, and occasionally beaky] faces posted yesterday, these demonstrate more of the famous British stiff upper lip....
To begin, a Trafalgar Lion, of course.
Keeping a stern watch over the streets of London town.
Can you see the face in this monument to Scots hero William Wallace?
A noble London lion -- NOT at Trafalgar!
In search of Moriarty -- Sherlock, on Baker Street, of course.
One of the dragons protecting the square-mile of the actual City of London, now home to the financial district.
Robert the Bruce, against an impossibly blue Scottish sky outside Stirling Castle.
A pair of serene stone Salisbury hares...
A pair of friendly potheads. [And we thought we'd left them all behind in British Columbia....]
An unfortunate sinner, forever cast in stone on the side of Salisbury Cathedral, literally choking on his own evil.
A sunny Celtic face [as seen through Roman eyes] deep inside the hidden depths of Bath.
A family emblem in the form of a grasshopper -- atop a London landmark.
More evil incarnate, this time bat-winged, once again decorating Salisbury's ancient cathedral.
Mother and child, both looking a little thin on top, as the wood they are made of disintegrates with time.
And a final British lion, this one famously gracing the Great Hall of the British Museum.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Home safely, but still reeling with the need for sleep, and the heat around this joint is not helping. No more jetlag allowed after tonight...I have a story that needs finishing and a conference that is shifting into high gear.
But first, I want to bid a final farewell to the denizens of the UK who so warmly welcomed a pair of intrepid travellers....
This lady took personal responsibility for providing all the cheese and Wiltshire cream I scoffed with my scones and jam.
Enjoying silflay near the West Kent longbarrow.
A proud young mother floated past in the pond in London's Hyde Park, with her four babies tucked neatly along-side.
I found this guy making a statement of his own on the sign pointing to Old Sarum, near Salisbury.
Back in London, we watched this guy strut his stuff on the grass at the Tower. Not really playing fair, this guardian has his wings clipped, ensuring the Tower will never fall.
This fine fellow hopped over my feet in the grass at Avebury.
The true rulers of the kingdom, found everywhere in vast numbers, expert at seeking crumbs where no bird has gone before.
I was rewarded with this pointed glance when I pushed my way through the trees beyond Wood henge to find out just who was making all the noise...
And, of course, the experience was only complete after a long conversation with this Heiland Coo...bit of a tough go with the accent, I have to admit.
Tomorrow, some of the other --perhaps a trifle less animated -- faces of the trip.
Monday, June 01, 2009
I've been to this city before, of course, but strangely enough, I found my heart still here, waiting for me upon my return. (The view from atop Arthur's Seat looking out over the firth.)
This time around my visit is too brief, but I managed to get in a few of my old haunts -- the ruined chapel on Arthur's Seat that once gave me inspiration for my latest novel when I first saw it many years ago.
The very windy, brilliant peak of same. Corstorphine Road, Fleshmarket Close, Cockburn Street ...
....and the castle, of course.
Drove through Glencoe yesterday -- a place of astonishing beauty I'd never seen before. I am quite sure my few pictures did not do it justice, but will post as soon as I can.
[Ed. note: I post this on a very slow internet connection for which I am paying an exorbitant rate (why is it that free wi-fi seems to work so much better and faster?), so I will post a link soon to a better selection of photos on my Flickr page.]