Life is Better on a Bike

In My Head, by Vincent Bourilhon

In My Head, by Vincent Bourilhon

Last week’s post about buying a female bike seat was a little more provocative than usual for me.

I meant every word, and was pleased by all the comments readers offered on their thoughts about colour-coding and gender stereotypes.

But I was angry when I wrote that post, and anger isn’t an emotion I’m used to associating with biking.

Because I love it.  I love it for being green, fast, cheap,  and good for me.  Although not necessarily in that order.

I often tell people that unemployment and its resultant frugality made me a cyclist back in 2006, but impatience kept me doing it, and the environmental benefits are just one of several other bonuses that have made biking an important part of my life.

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Pink Stinks: On Colour-Coding, Bike Saddles & Gendered Consumer Targets

Pink toy aisle

Back in the medieval times, blue was considered a colour for girls.

This is due to the shawl of the Virgin Mary having been that colour.  Blue was considered to denote the womanly virtues of obedience, penitence, devotion, and grace.

Pink, meanwhile, in belonging to the red family, was viewed a colour most appropriate for boys, presumably due to the redness of all the blood they’d be spilling as future knights and fighting men.

I mention this not to argue that pink isn’t truly as feminine a colour as it’s portrayed present-day, but rather to demonstrate that the practice of colour-coding by gender is by no means a modern phenomenon.

Although perhaps the opposition some feel towards it is.

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Writing Historical Fiction: A How-NOT-To

It sucks to be three out of four of these guys.
(The Bayeux Tapestry, 11th Century.)

I never set out to write a historical fiction novel.

If you go back far enough, it can be argued I never set out to write a novel period, for I never believed I’d be able to sustain a story for that length.

But once it did occur to me that I had a novel-length tale to tell, I didn’t expect for it to be a historical one.

As a result of this lack of foresight, the way I’ve gone about writing this novel (technically novels, for there’s two of them; so much for not thinking I could sustain a long story) is definitely not something I’d recommend.

There’s no one right way to write a novel, but what I’ve done may well be the one wrong way to write HF.  Don’t believe me?  Behold my list of what NOT to do, all of which I did, to my detriment.

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Inspired By Ireland: The post I should’ve written on St. Patrick’s Day

I admit to having been a total kill-joy last Monday, writing about Lent on St. Patrick’s Day.

Son of the Shadows cover

This week’s post will make up for that.

Even though St. Paddy’s Day isn’t a significant event in my life (likely because usually I’m in the throes of Lent at the time), the mystique of Ireland was a powerful inspiration for me in the early days of my novel-in-progress.

Not because the story itself has anything to do with Ireland (it’s set in medieval England), but instead due to some of the books I was reading and music I was listening to at the time: two fabulous works whose recommendation is a far more pleasant St. Patrick’s Day greeting (however overdue) than my blathering on about giving up indulgences and society falling apart.

 

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Lent: Not Just For Catholics, Not Only About Saying Sorry

Countdown calendar

So today, on St. Patrick’s Day – a day of parades, parties, and green beer in North America – I’ve decided to write about Lent.

I’m not Catholic, or even especially religious. Yet Lent is a ritual I practice regularly.

For those even less religious than I, Lent is the 40-day period preceding Easter and running roughshod right over St. Paddy’s Day during which, among other things, it’s customary for people to temporarily give up on indulgent habits.

It’s a period of penitence, self-denial, and reflection corresponding with the 40 days Jesus Christ spent alone in the desert prior to the start of his ministry, fasting and enduring temptation from the Devil.

The purpose of Lent is to prepare Christians to rejoice at the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

As I mentioned above, I’m not especially religious.

And yet, in recent years, for Lent I’ve given up,

  • Bagels
  • Chocolate
  • All desserts
  • Needless complaining

And this year, movies and Netflix.

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Why I (Literally) Went Medieval on My Writing

There’s a restaurant in Toronto called Medieval Times.

When I was a kid, I would see commercials for it on TV. The gimmick of this restaurant is that it’s set up like a large medieval hall in which patrons are entertained by knights sword fighting and jousting on real horses, all while eating medieval-esque fare without cutlery and drinking out of giant goblets.

To my child self, it looked like the most awesome thing ever. Whenever the commercial (which was more like a movie trailer) came on, I’d stop whatever I was doing and imagine myself going to the restaurant.

Unfortunately, because I was living in Nova Scotia, I never got to go.  I still haven’t been to this day.

Now, I’m writing a novel set in medieval England.

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They Say It’s Your (Writing) Birthday

Grumpy Cat's birthday greeting

I’ve now missed my writing birthday for two years in a row.

I don’t even know if a writing birthday is something other writers commonly observe, or if it’s my own unique brand of writerly madness.

Even the exact date of my writing birthday is uncertain.  I mark it from the day I commenced my first (incomplete, shelved) novel, which was sometime in early February, 2002.

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Two Writers Debate: Pantsing vs. Plotting

Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.

Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.

Only two approaches to writing exist: Good and Bad. Write good. Debate over!

Hold on a sec. That’s not what this post is about. This post is a point-counterpoint between two WordPress bloggers arguing the merits of two distinct writing methods, pantsing (freeform writing) and plotting (writing from an outline).

Read on as right-brained, right-coast writer Eric John Baker argues in favor of pantsing (at least we hope that’s what happens… he is making it up as he goes, after all), followed by left-brained, left-coast writer Janna G. Noelle making a case for plotting, probably with all kinds of charts and graphs and stuff.

No matter how ugly and violent it gets, they promise to return you home in time for tea and biscuits!

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Every Concert Has That Moment (the Imagine Dragons Concert was No Exception)

From the recent Imagine Dragons concert in Vancouver. I thought this was the moment I'd been waiting for, but the best was yet to come.

From the recent Imagine Dragons concert in Vancouver. I thought this was the moment I’d been waiting for, but the best was yet to come.

I never paid much attention to the Imagine Dragons before the Grammy Awards on January 26.

I was well familiar with their radio-friendly first single, Radioactive, but also knew they were very popular with the kids in the youth programs I work in.

Which right there put me off of them, for surely my musical tastes were more discerning than those of a 12-year-old.

Then the Grammys happened.  I don’t own a TV, but followed the progress on Twitter and the official Grammys website.  When Radioactive won Best Rock Performance, it made me curious in spite of myself about what the rest of their debut album, Night Visions, sounded like.

In a word: great.

In a few more words, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular, and likewise why their fan base is of such diverse ages.

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How to Read 12 Books in a Year (with minimal change your regular reading habits)

Cat readingThere are people out there who read like fifty books a year.

This post is not for them.

(Indeed, I wish one of them would write their own post to teach me to read more.)

Reading is my oldest pastime, yet the older I get, the less time I seem to have for it.

I don’t ever want to stop reading books.  But life is busy and full of countless distractions, not the least of which include writing, socializing, finally watching Homeland on Netflix (seriously, have you seen that show?!), and of course working – by far the biggest occupier of my time.

Last year for New Year’s, I resolved to read 12 books for the year. A book a month-ish, as I took to calling it given the overlap of some calendar months that occurred.

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