Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let It Snow

let the sweetest joy grow
in your heart
let it warm your thoughts
and your words
let it smile for the ones
you love
be healthy, be merry, be wise

Merry Christmas!

Cardinal in Snow from Desktop Nexus

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Books, Books, Books and a TV Series

Let me tell you what books I’ve been reading recently.

2010 has been for me a better reading year than many previous ones. I have a notebook where I keep lists of books read every year and for 2010 the number keeps going up.

It’s true that I cheated a little bit by reading quite a few comic books but, hey, I love them! I can’t get enough of Sardine in Outer Space, the little pirate girl who brings justice to a Universe that Supermuscleman tries to control with evil, of Ariol, the little blue donkey who goes to school and, well, behaves like all school children, or Tom-Tom and Nana, the Dubouchon family kids who wreak delicious havoc at every opportunity.

Back to books, another one of my favourites, of which I’ve read as many as I could get my hands on, is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton, the pedantic gentlemouse with a huge heart and the most daring adventures. I love, love, love him! The original is Italian, but there are English and French translations available. I totally prefer the French which somehow is much funnier. I read them with my daughters and we laugh outright every time.

And then come the so-called YA books. To everyone who, at this point, might be worried about me, I say this: It’s not a return to childhood or to the teenage/young adulthood years; the thing is I’ve never left them (does this worry you even more?) and I knew it all along.

Lately I’ve been visiting quite a lot The Book Smugglers, a site where two talented young women review books in the most thoughtful and thorough manner. Their reviews are a pleasure to read and I’ve come to trust them. That’s where I’ve discovered the next two books that I want to tell you about.

“Nevermore” by Kelly Creagh has received an enthusiastic praise from The Book Smugglers. They are right in every bit.

From the cover: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

For a Poe lover, like I am, this book is a double treat. First, there is the (love) story, beautifully written, full of suspense, and then there is the fantastic world of Edgar Allan Poe, of which I can never get enough...

On the other hand, “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick has been highly criticised by The Book Smugglers and I (have to) agree with most of those points. Yet...

From the cover:

A sacred oath, a fallen angel, a forbidden love…This darkly romantic story features our heroine, Nora Grey, a seemingly normal teenage girl with her own shadowy connection to the Nephilim, and super-alluring bad boy, Patch, now her deskmate in biology class. Together they find themselves at the centre of a centuries-old feud between a fallen angel and a Nephilim…Forced to sit next to Patch in science class, Nora attempts to resist his flirting, though gradually falls for him against her better judgment. Meanwhile creepy things are going on with a mysterious stalker following her car, breaking into her house and attacking her best friend, Vi. Nora suspects Patch, but there are other suspects too – not least a new boy who has transferred from a different college after being wrongly accused of murdering his girlfriend. And he seems to have taken a shine to Nora…Love certainly is dangerous…and someone is going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice for it.

Yet... there is something about it... It’s true that the heroine constantly and obviously puts herself in perilous situations including her relationship with bad boy extraordinaire Patch, the Fallen Angel. It’s true that that relationship seems more than a little abusive, from the stalking to the mental intrusions, and normally anybody would run away from it, but… but… but… I don’t know… I more than liked it. Her style is fluid, vivid, the story captivating – I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, “Crescendo.”

In fact, both of these books I couldn’t put down and had to force myself to put them down because I didn’t want to finish them so quickly. I also think their covers are absolutely gorgeous.

One evening I lingered a few minutes in front of the TV – a rare thing for me – and it happened that I switched channels to HBO where they were showing True Blood. At the end of those few minutes I was totally and irrevocably hooked. The pleasure I took in watching whatever I could from the series (I’m planning on buying it on DVD pretty soon) made me look for the books by Charlaine Harris. I turned to my good friend Amazon.

I devoured the first two books, “Dead Until Dark” and “Living Dead in Dallas”, and I’m halfway through “Club Dead”. I think they are great and I love the voice of Sookie Stackhouse. I love the dark humour, and the irony, and the self-irony. I love the South, and the feel of its deep mysteries and of its decadence. Yes, the supernatural seems quite at the right place there. I know that others see it as parable for this or that, as anything can be anything, but I like it for what it is, plain and simple. I like the “very bad things.” And, of course, I love Eric Northman…

Last but far from least, I read “According to Jane” by Marilyn Brant, who blogs at Brant Flakes.

It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From nowhere comes a quiet 'tsk' of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there. Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go - sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham. Still, everyone has something to learn about love - perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending.

I must tell you that this is not my type of literature. I would probably not go into a bookstore or to my favourite store, Amazon, and buy a novel of “women’s literature.” I bought this book because I’ve come to know Marilyn from her blog and I’d like to think that we’ve become blogging friends. The book was a wonderful discovery, starting from Marilyn’s writing that is Ellie’s voice, through the unexpected love-making scenes, to bad boy Sam Blaine who is absolutely adorable. In short, I loved it.

So what’s next on my list?
"Cold in the Light" by Charles Gramlich (this is on my nightstand)
"The Monstrumologist" by Rick Yancey(this is in Santa’s bag)
"Across the Universe" by Beth Revis (this will be released on January 4th of 2011)
and I might linger a bit more among other vampires...

Hopefully, I'll tell you about them in January.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

About a Little Thief

At first, I thought, Why bother? Why waste my time and my energy on such a pathetic thing? And then I thought, well, to warn my friends who write poetry and others who might read this of this character. And, hopefully, to shame him or her even a little bit so that next time he or she’ll think twice before taking what belongs to others.

Well, Nevine wrote about it in a much more elaborate way. In short, Joss of Lovely and Forever has taken one of her poems. It’s too bad because Lovely and Forever is a nice name and has a nice design. I read Nevine's post and went to visit the culprit’s blog. Big surprise! (Or maybe not so big…) His “Beloved Memory” of November 25th, is a slightly modified copy of my “Beloved Delusion.”

So, if two of those poems are taken from others, wouldn’t it be normal to assume that all the others also are? Perhaps... Go and check it out, maybe you’ll find one of your poems there…

Not only has Joss done this but, once caught, he or she doesn’t even have the decency to immediately remove those posts. I asked Joss to do so but, unfortunately, I was ignored. (It seems that Nevine’s has finally been removed by Google. That’s great news!!!)

I wrote something else here initially, but an e-mail from my friend Rick has changed my mind. Thank you, Rick. I don't know what the motives behind many of our actions are and digging into someone's soul could be dangerous and hurtful. So I will say only this: I hope Joss can rebuild Lovely and Forever in his or her own way.

P.S. I keep modifying this post, a word here or there.

Joss, come say "hello" in a comment to show that you've seen this and I'll say that what you borrowed from me is my Christmas gift to you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Ball

For your enjoyment, here are a few of the participants at this year's Great Pumpkin Ball at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

Happy, Sweet, Spooky Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thinking of Poe, in October

what more apt than to think
of the gloomy house of Usher
about to fall
when the thunder rolled through the door
earthquake more than thunder
there was no tapping at the door
only a dismal feeling tapping at my heart
that made me wonder
if something had stirred in the air
or in the ground
or maybe it was just the thunder
but I opened the door –

Night flew inside

I have no bust of Pallas
only this deserted table of decay
where we once
sat together
and a red masque
and the extinguished candles of my soul

so that’s where I sat with the Night
and that’s where we sit
for evermore

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Magic of Lanterns

Every October of this blog I have written and posted here two or three Halloween pieces - poems and little stories that some of you have read.

I don’t feel like doing it this year. This is partly because I’m reluctant to take away from the little time and energy I have for my novel. Most of all, though, it is a consequence of what happened to Rick Moore, whose story was shamelessly stolen. And his was in a published anthology...

So, although it makes me happy to know that good people, like my blog friends, are reading my work here, I’m appalled at the thought that others might have vile intentions with it... What has been posted stays... but with a bad aftertaste... For they too are my children, aren’t they? I’d hate to know that somewhere they’re treated badly...

However, I must honour the season, for I love it. Thus, I give you some pictures I took on Sunday in the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The Chinese Garden was alight with the magic of lanterns... This year’s theme was Like a Painting, inspired by a traditional Chinese painting, Qing Ming Shang He Tu. An artist from the Song Dynasty painted it in 1127 on a 5.28-metre silk scroll. It depicts the lives of the inhabitants of the city of Bianjing on the day of the Qing Ming festival, when the Chinese honour their ancestors.

And while we stroll among the lanterns, we can always think of some traditional Chinese ghost stories...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tall Ships in Montreal

We’ve had some distinguished guests in Montreal this weekend, the Roald Amundsen, the Bounty, the Pride of Baltimore II, the Lynx, and the Unicorn. Five tall ships from the yesteryear called at the Old Port, on the Saint-Lawrence river, from September 16th to the 19th.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous on Saturday so we decided to go downtown and enjoy the day.

Unfortunately, there was no way of visiting the ships without waiting the better part of the day in slow-moving lines. Besides, the real attraction was not in rubbing elbows with visitors with digital cameras in their hands.

Unless you get to really sail on them (which can be done, as I found out on the Internet), their polished woods, their lovely worn decks are much more likely to reveal their beauty and their secrets to the imagination.

I love ships because I love the sea. Tall ships, in particular, make me think of unbound adventures, of the mysteries of the high seas, of Captain Blood and Captain Jack Sparrow (The Bounty was used in “The Pirates of the Caribbean”), of the Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, of everything that allows the spirit and the mind to soar unhindered.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Scenes From a Marsh

Come, take my hand,

I’ll walk you into
this sweet silence –

to taste it, you only have

to smell the sun,
to drink the air,

to see the warmth...

Don’t worry,
these wooden planks have

just the right amount
of... creakiness

to bring another stirring
to our souls.

We cannot
disturb this peace.

Eternity breathes

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beloved Delusion

I almost got it, yeah,
I almost nailed it, framed it,
encased it in the purest amber,
whatever you want to call it,
preserved it
like the thickest, sweetest
raspberry jam,
yeah, that feeling of absolute joy,
of unconditional optimism,
that tiny sparkle that would
make for a splendid sunny day
or a glorious evening
with no ending in sight
a perpetual spring
a real flower that never withers
a love like a phoenix
a dog that never dies
Mum and Dad always being there
in warm flesh
the voices of my children
always singing and laughing

And then, puff, I lost it

I thought I had devised the method
to recall it at will
to summon it against
the coming darkness
to take just a spoonful of it
and chase away the taste of tears
I thought I was clever
I thought I had the philosopher’s stone

I was wrong

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thinking of a Dead Fish on the Shores of Lake Erie

I stood there in the summer wind
Expecting to fall
In the grips of philosophy,
Where some life-altering
Revelation would hit me,
Would tumble me to tears.
Nothing more than the wind came.
I was saving ladybugs,
Caught in the fine seaweed,
Like rubies on emerald velvet,
From the flood of each tiny wave
And all the seagulls slept
And all the ducks.
The same shy surf that lapped at my shoes,
Played with the dead fish
And made it look as if it still swam.
Maybe it was swimming,
In the distant dream
Of another water.
There was a lazy, unassuming peace
In watching that fish
On the shores of Lake Erie.

Monday, June 07, 2010


Once you have left a place, it is very difficult to return to it, whether it is a physical place, a point in time, or a playground of your mind. I find that something that was there initially, a state of well-being, your happy childhood, the town of your first great love can never be revived by revisiting them. It’s better to leave them alone, to let them live in that untouched realm of memory where they will always be unchanged, lest you will suffer disappointment.

I was tempted to do the same thing with this blog.

I cannot. I feel I have put too much of my soul in it to just abandon it to obnoxious spamming. I feel I am in its debt too much, and mostly in the debt of the friends I’ve met through it, for what I have learned in the craft of writing. I feel that I miss these friends and the beauty they bring forth with their words.

Therefore, I am (sort of) back. (SzélsöFa, thank you for the nudge!!!) My time is – as I tried to explain a while ago – still extremely limited, or even more, if that is possible. In whatever scraps of spare time I can gather, I am writing my novel and I love it. But, I’ll clean a bit the cobwebs in this house too, put some fresh flowers in the windows… every now and then…

I haven’t had blogging on my mind for a very long time. I discovered that you must have it on your mind, to see stuff around you that you can put on the blog. For now, I give you some pics I took around my house earlier this spring and hope to see you soon…

Monday, March 22, 2010


The other day, I was reading the New York Times review of Audrey Niffenegger’s “Her Fearful Symmetry.” I like the book and I haven’t finished it yet – it’s one of the several books I’m reading now – and the review is a good one.

I was quite intrigued by the reviewer describing the book as a “high-concept tour de force, with the flashiness that the term implies.”

I didn’t think of this right away, but then I asked myself what “high-concept” meant. I had no idea.

Of course, I turned to Google and immediately found plenty on the topic.

An article by James Bonnet, a long time writer for television and film, starts with the sentence “In Hollywood and New York, the concept is king.” And later, he writes: “a high concept is an intriguing idea that can be stated in a few words and is easily understood by all.”

This is how most of the articles that I’ve found define high-concept: an idea that is immediately accessible and appealing to many people, something that is relatable, familiar, and universal yet has a unique, interesting twist. In addition, a high-concept novel usually has a catchy title that tells the reader exactly what the novel is.

James Bonnet lists four elements that might help one build this high-concept story:
- the fascinating subject – a subject that is in itself intriguing;
- the great title – a title that also reveals the genre of the story thus whetting the reader’s appetite for the feelings associated with that genre;
- the inciting action – the onset or the cause of the problem;
- the hook - a unique aspect of the problem that suggests intriguing possibilities.

All this got me thinking…

How about you? Do you keep such elements in mind when writing your stories? Do you plan them accordingly? Does your novel have the characteristics of high-concept?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

All The Lovely Snowflakes

Look at all these snowflakes
Out of the blue
Out of nowhere
These fluffy pancakes
Slapping our cheeks
These spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream
Catapulted by mischievous angels
Into our once perfect hair
We’re under attack
By this snow squall
The car is just there
No, I will not wait for you to bring it over
Let us run for it
Cold, cold the kiss of snow
On my décolletage, on my bare back
This little black dress is too little
Hot, hot your hand over mine
Your black dinner jacket
Has white epaulets
When you drape it, oh, so chivalrously,
Over my wet shoulders
What about this puddle?
It’s like an ocean
With melting icebergs in it
My stilettos will not float
Are you gonna carry me over it?
Ah, yes you are
And I’m using this moment
When you’re such a gentleman
When you’re defenceless
To kiss your ear wildly
To eat this heavy candyfloss
From your face
My eyes closed
While we’re laughing, laughing
(I hope you won’t drop me in the puddle)
Under all these lovely snowflakes