Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016!

I was about to write a last minute gloomy (almost) poem about the stealthiness with which 2016 has sneaked past me, when I found this in my inbox...

I got a good laugh out of it. Go see for yourself at Atlas Obscura...

Maybe to squeeze the last minute out of 2016 would be tempting... but, no...  I'd rather say Enough of it!

I'm actually looking forward to 2017, not in excitement, but with timid hope.

And so I say, Goodbye, 2016...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Day of Autumn 2016

 image belongs to Under the Treetops

oh, no, it’s not that I don’t like Autumn
I find her quite aesthetically pleasing—
a painter of inimitable talent
concocter of tart perfumes
and sweet essences
a virtuoso of rustlings
and caws—
but I think I can see
beyond her masks
of reds and golds
a cruel magician casting
the last illusion of bounty
the great hope of renewal
for our fearful souls
before it’s all gone
in the anticlimactic finale of
a flamboyant show
and all that’s left is
just the end

Friday, July 08, 2016

Iceland - Day 11

It's been a day with a lot of walking in downtown Reykjavik from the Old Harbour, to the church Hallgrímskirkja, to the Saga Museum, up and down the few more popular streets. We even saw Owen Wilson! (No picture of him, unfortunately!) He was with three guys, he looked taller than I thought he was (and that Imdb says he is) and it looked like he was looking for a bar or restaurant...

I have a few other pictures though...

Reykjavik, as seen from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja...

Goose meat salad for lunch...

Later, a hot dog (pylsur in Icelandic) from the stand in the Old Harbour. People like Bill Clinton and members of Metallica have eaten here. Hot dogs in Iceland are quite good. They're made of lamb meat and "the works" means with fresh onions, fried onions, ketchup, sweet mustard, and remoladi, a mayonnaise based sauce with relish. Very tasty!

Tomorrow we're flying home...

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Iceland - Days 9 & 10

No internet last night.... but yesterday was a perfect day around the Snaefellnes Peninsula, and up the mountain too. Today, it was lava fields and lava tubes.... and then, finally, Reykjavik.

It's been an otherworldly trip and sadness is nibbling at my heart because it'll soon be over... But, hey, I have a full day tomorrow in Reykjavik and since the days are so long here in summer, I'll make the most out of it.

Here are some highlights from yesterday and today.

Up the Snaefellsjökull of Center of the Earth fame...

Hraunfossar, a series of waterfalls made up of rivulets streaming from the Hallmundarhraun lava field over a distance of about 900 metres. The lava field was formed in an eruption from long ago, from one of the volcanoes under the Langjökull glacier...

Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik...

Nice Irish pub in Reykjavik... I wish I could say I was inside, but I couldn't have left my daughter's on the sidewalk...

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Iceland - Day 8

A peaceful, beautiful, perfectly sunny day, driving the North Fjords among sheep, the blue ocean, and colourful houses...

We had great coffee here...

Monday, July 04, 2016

Iceland - Day 7

This is for my blogging friend, deep poet of the real and great editor, The Walking Man. I wish to you with all my heart that you see this dream come true. It might have to be by other means than by foot or by boat, but I truly hope that it will be.

This is the Arctic Circle Monument on Grímsey, an island situated on the Arctic Circle, 41 kilometres off the North coast of Iceland. The island is 5.3 square kilometres, 5.5 kilometres long, volcanic rock surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, covered in low grasses and amazing flowers. It is home to around 80 people, courageous fishermen and their families -and one million birds...

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Iceland - Day 6

Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods, is nicknamed by locals "The Beauty", as opposed to Dettifoss, "The Beast." Its name has to do with the conversion of Iceland to Christianity in the year 1000, when all the old Nordic gods were thrown in the water as a symbolic act of conversion.

Heading north into Akureyri and Tröllaskagi, the Troll Peninsula...

Krap, funny (for us) name for very yummy Icelandic slush...

Trolls in Akureyri...

Almost midnight in Ólafsfjördur... with focus on the ground and on the sky...

It's past midnight and there's no need to turn on the lights in the house we're renting. I'm not sleepy at all, but I have to go to bed... tomorrow it's the Artic Circle... Good night!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Iceland - Day 5

We drove through an eerie lunar landscape, to reach Dettifoss, Europe's largest waterfall by volume (500 cubic meters per second)...

...then through more alien landscapes (perhaps like Venus) to Hverir, with boiling mud and steam...

to the Krafla volcano crater, now filled with water...

An entire day closest to what it would be like on other planets...

Friday, July 01, 2016

Iceland - Days 3 and 4

Internet connection was very week last night... so I couldn't do much... We spent the night in a small cabin on a farmer's land... At past 11:30 pm, it was full light outside, strange birds were chirping, horses were munching on thick, crisp grass, and across green fields, pretty close, three glaciers were looming...

I was going to leave you with this image of ice age old ice washed up on the beach at Jökulsárlón...

Here are a few more from day 4...

Said cabins...

A Viking village...

Boats at Djúpivogur...

Bless bless! (Bye bye! in Icelandic)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Iceland - Day 2

Lava fields... lupin fields... waterfalls... glaciers... black sand beaches... a hallucinating landscape with a distinct end of the world feeling...

The entrance to Raufarholshellir Noas lava tube... a mouth of the Earth... 

A wild lupin field, blue and fragrant, just below Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that stopped all air traffic to and from Europe a few years ago...

Skógafoss waterfall...

The sun at 11 pm... with Myrdalsjökull in the far background... the Katla volcano inside the glacier erupts on average every 40-60 years... last time in 1918...

Reynisfjara beach... black basaltic sand and the wild cold waves of the Atlantic...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Iceland - Day 1

There is something about Gullfoss waterfall that is fascinating and profoundly disturbing... more than height or volume of water...'s imagining in what depths it goes... and what it would be like to follow it there...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the Earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm

You probably recognized this as the message found by Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew, Axel, in a runic manuscript of an Icelandic saga, which led them to their fantastical adventure to Iceland and beyond.

Well, doing just that has been one of my childhood’s daydreams. And I put a lot of work into it at the time; books of geology, speleology, paleontology, maps, detailed plans, supplies lists… Don’t laugh!

I can’t believe that on Monday night - tomorrow-  I’ll be flying to Reykjavik. Better late than never, right? Actually, what made the trip happen now is Icelandair putting up direct flights from Montreal to Reykjavik. So here I went again with maps, and books, and supplies like hiking boots, and waterproof jackets, and head lamps. We’ve rented a car and will be driving around the island. The car is a 4x4 so that we can also drive on the unpaved highland roads. Car insurance covers damage caused by volcanic ash…

Now, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to descend into the crater of Snæfellsjökull and, even if I could, I won’t find the famous entrance there… but I’ll certainly keep out an eye for others… And for elves…

Going to Iceland is pretty high, if not top, on my bucket list. I’m feeling kinda overwhelmed right now, even before getting there. I’ll see how the wi-fi situation is on the road and the extent of what I can do with my tablet, but I’ll try to post a picture here every day.

Bless bless!

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Map of the Way Forward

I’m writing a story —or shall I boldly call it a novel?— that’s been giving me a lot of trouble.

All the stuff I’ve written before has seemed to flow easily. Things made sense; POV, voice, choice of scenes, etc. all seemed to come to me (relatively) with no trouble. Mind you, except for the short stories, most of it is just lying around, not at the bottom of a drawer, but in a (forgotten) folder on my computer.

Well, this time, scenes came to me easily too, but that was about it. A lot of scenes. Actually, too many of them; too many things needed to happen at the same time, too many characters to introduce, 3rd person limited POV, 1st person POV, etc. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I was not happy with it and I was beginning to panic.

I realized at that point, that I needed an outline. Yet, I simply cannot write an outline. If there’s an element of the story that I have to put on paper because I think I might not remember it, then it’s as good as lost. The story is all in my head. The ideas that I cannot cram in my head are as good as gone even if I record them in one way or another.

However, I did my homework diligently. I searched the web for good outlining methods, I even bought a book and followed its suggestions step by step. I'm sure it's a good book. It didn’t work.

Then, I fell upon this site: Write Like Rowling  and everything changed. Because this article, “Story Structure of Sorcerer’s Stone”, which by itself is quite interesting and very useful, led me to Larry Brooks’s Story Fix.

Chances are you’re already familiar with it, or at least heard of it. Larry Brooks has also written a book, "Story Engineering”, but the website gives detailed explanations and great examples, by deconstructing well-known and successful novels.

Story structure. The four parts: the Setup, the Response, the Attack, the Resolution. The first plot point, the midpoint, the second plot point, the pinch points, the hook… The exact place where each of them should be in your story. The meaning and the role of each part, how much and how little to give to the reader at each step. And so on. Very cool stuff that makes a lot of sense. Try it for yourself. Maybe you're already using it, knowingly or not.

So now I think I can say that I’m on track and that I have a very good map. There’s still plenty of freedom of exploring on the road, but the landmarks are there...

And Summer has begun today, which is a good thing...

Thursday, June 02, 2016


inverted grapes
flirting with the sky
-already drunk
with the promise
of summer

Friday, May 13, 2016

Guest Post: Where is the Wonder? by Roland Yeomans

Roland Yeomans is here today to introduce his latest book, The Not-so-Innocents Abroad —about a steampunk honeymoon like no other…

I like the title. For me it holds the promise of some wicked humour on top of all the wonder and excitement I expect from a renewed encounter with Captain Samuel McCord.

I haven’t read it yet, but… steampunk? Vampires? An alien Empress among us? Seems more than cool.

Here’s Roland to tell you more about it:

WHERE IS THE WONDER? by Roland Yeomans

The wonder in the books we read seems to be lacking … at least it does to me.
Yes, it is Friday the 13th: the perfect time for another stop on my infamous “Don’t You Hate Book Tours?” Book Tour.

I believe the reason we hate book tours is the same reason we are underwhelmed by many books hawked in them:
Same interchangeable plots with the same interchangeable characters
Was WWI won by one person?  Was WWII?  No, those wars were won by countless sacrifices of thousands of common soldiers fighting the good fight.
Aren’t you tired of THE FATED HEROINE who is the sole lynch pin upon which victory depends?
The world just doesn’t work that way.
The best books and fiction draw from the way the world really works.

 (Image belongs to Marvel, of course)
Great movie with a well-crafted script.
And then, there is the dreaded Mary Sue craze currently sweeping the books and movies.
Take the latest STAR WARS movie: A FAMILIAR HOPE. 
It was bad enough all the plots points of  IV were plopped onto the script of the new movie.
They made Luke into a Mary Sue: Rey.  She could fix anything.  She could out-fly veteran fighter pilots.  She could use the Jedi Mind trick first time out.  She out-fought Darth Whiney Boy the first time she held a lightsaber.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”  
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best fantasies are the ones that tell of the insignificant person trying her damnedest to survive in a surreal world that doesn’t much care if she lives or dies.
Take the contemporary, urban mythology of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in which characters from ancient religions are hiding out in modern America. Or even the weird fever-dreams of China Miéville that combine bizarre creatures with Victorian technology.
In these modern times, where most of us sit at computers or face a bland commute, fantasy books offer a chance to break out of mundane moments.
Give your readers a prose window into a world of wonders, and you will succeed in selling your books.
Oh, wait!
I’m supposed to be selling MY  book just released in Kindle format!

I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson because he appears in my book, detailing the honeymoon voyage of a cursed Texas Ranger newly wed to an Empress of an alien race.
The Xanadu, the world’s first Air-Steamship, is setting sail for a Steampunk adventure the likes of which you have never read:
It is 1867 in an America a layer of existence from this one.
General Sherman was denied his march through Georgia by forces beyond his ken. Abraham Lincoln was never assassinated though he wishes he had been killed instead of his beloved Mary.
The battered Indian tribes of America have a strange refuge courtesy of the cursed Texas Ranger, Captain Samuel McCord.
A global war of vampire kingdoms is going on beneath the noses of the living world — and it is interfering with the honeymoon of the alien empress, Meilori Shinseen.
She ruled the Aztecs when a political execution took place on Golgotha and channeled her frustration in repairing her starcraft by erecting the Sphinx. 
Joining the newlyweds are Mark Twain, 11 year old Nikola Tesla, his faithful black cat, Macak, Horace Greely, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ada Byron, daughter of Lord Byron, and the mysterious Greek physician, Lucanus.
Lurking in the shadows, hoping to kill them, is the insane Abraham Lincoln, the crippled General Sherman, the vampires, Abigail Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Empress Theodora, ruler of the Unholy Roman Empire, and the vengeful Captain Nemo, following in his Nautilus.
What are you waiting for?  Go to its Amazon page and try its LOOK INSIDE feature, and then buy it for your very own! 
Hey, what are you doing still looking at this page? 


Well, if you're still looking at this page... Roland Yeomans has written 35 books. He lives in Louisiana and is a weaver of dreams. Visit him at his blog, Writing in the Crosshairs, or at his Amazon page. 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Why Not

what a thorough disappointment
this absence of magic
this mundaneness

Even if they existed
the vampires, the angels
what makes you think
you’d be their darling
and not their victim?

even so... even so...

you know what I mean
I’m talking about real magic
not the stupefying wonder of a
or the heartbreaking beauty
of Für Elise

how about some faeries, some werewolves
some wish-fulfilling genies
even the ones who trick you
if you’re no expert
at formulating wishes

why are we condemned to dullness
in this miraculous universe?

Isn’t the Universe magical enough for you?
Every single amoeba, every single star?

yes... yes... but...

if there exist such magical things
as cells splitting
into new cells
and helium burning up there
in the sky
why not also portals to other dimensions?
why not time travel?
yes, why not time travel?
why not...

Chick with a Quill turns 9 years old today...

Monday, February 08, 2016


you see
there are these things that we see
or things that we think we see
things that we’ve been taught to see
every day things
every life things 
meant to be
comforting in their mundaneness
and then

there are the things that we don’t see
things that hide in the cracks
of this thing
that we call reality
the real things
harsh things
not meant to be reached
crushing in their alienness
that only in dreams
we can glimpse


Friday, January 01, 2016

Hello, 2016!

So, we stepped over that imaginary threshold between years...

Are we different? Certainly, one year older than on January 1st, 2015... Maybe, a little more hopeful for new beginnings... Energized, perhaps, ready for new projects or to renew projects (that is, if we're over that hangover...). I think I was writing once on this blog how each month feels different to me and January feels a bit scary... A door opening into a wide, open space where... well, who knows what awaits there... (something like in "At the Mountains of Madness"...)

Resolutions, anyone?

Mine are to:
  • laugh more
  • write more
  • exercise more
  • pay more attention
  • worry less 
  • procrastinate less
  • play Hay Day less (I don't know about that)
 To all those who read these words -and to every living being in this world- I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year! May you be blessed with love and bring love to the ones in your life. May you give kindness and receive kindness. Thank you for being here. Happy New Year!