Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Finding the Right Background





My dark fantasies delve into a variety of historical backgrounds: current and past. The distant past intrigues me, yet pinpointing a particular time that provides a proper setting is important.

What will the primary characters do there? How will they fit in? What challenges will they encounter? What is so important for them to be there? These questions do not readily occur to me until I have several partial chapters drafted.

My ideas just pop into my head at any given moment of the day. I jot them down on a pad I carry specifically for this purpose. Later I look at them individually or in a group to see if anything further develops. Sometimes it does; other times no. If not, I put the ideas aside for another day.

As I work on describing a particular scene another idea that fits with the story will come unbidden. My editor in the States, when going over my first manuscript, was amazed at all the things I had come up with. He was curious where they came from. I told him "they just come".

There have been times when I ponder over a particular scene or a proposed conflict. I have found when using a technique from my meditation exercises, i.e. by focusing on intention one receives what they are asking for. I have an inner feeling to go to a certain location. Usually, either the library or the discount bin at Indigo. By going to the area where the topic is most likely to be found, the book is often there. Just waiting for me to come and pick it up. The Biblical saying: "Ask and ye shall receive," works for me. Well, where my writing is concerned it does.

I had a conflict idea for the third manuscript about certain characters becoming lost on unchartered seas. This idea has been hanging around for several years now, and I considered what I knew about sailing from the past ... not much, except for the historical and swash buckling sagas or the "Master & Commander" stories.

Several weeks ago I went to Indigo to pick up a book by Ann Daum, "The Prairie In Her Eyes", and while doing so, wondered what I might do about my unchartered sea idea. A perusal of the discount bins in the non-fiction history section revealed it: the book that explains the reason why my main character goes out onto unchartered seas. A perfect reason with intriguing historical speculation.





Photo Credit: Gord McKenna CC=nc-nd-flickr - Active Pass south of Victoria, B.C. with Olympic Mountains in the background.



Wednesday, 8 June 2016















Scottish Highland Cattle are one of the variety of animals kept at the High Park Zoo in Toronto, Ontario. This zoo is open to the public at no cost.

Its interesting to note the fence around the tree to protect it from the cattle.




Photo Credit: BEMartin2013

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Ida, Always

A few days ago, I happened across a children’s store, Mastermind Toys, on Dundas Street West in Toronto during a walk and popped inside to see what they had. In the book section the cover of this picture book was there among others enticing the reader to pick it up, first. Ida is a cousin’s name in my family, and that initially prompted me to pick up the book. Followed by the cute cover.

Ida, Always is a warm, comfortable story about friendship between two polar bears in a large city park: Gus and Ida. Their friendship enables them to face the illness Ida has and that she is not going to recover. Even after Ida is gone, Gus comes to understand that she is still with him: in his memories of their activities together.

Well before the end of the book, I was struck with emotion from similar encounters of my own experiences. Its an excellent book, done in a manner to enable young children to understand the grieving process.

This is a picture book for ages 4 to 8. Once again, Google and Blogger have not worked together to allow me to load an image of the book cover.

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers



Available:

Chapters Indigo

Amazon.ca

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke





“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

“He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion… and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.”

This novel is about a coming of age story for a young girl who has been raised and tutored by an android. It is also a romance with the usual elements of finding, losing and then rediscovery albeit with a twist.

Cat’s relationships reveal her outlook on the life: of being a selfish, conceited and impulsive character. Her interaction with Finn was one of trust with friendship coming later when she went to him in times of need. Some of those occurrences redefined Finn’s terms of service.

Finn’s personality is revealed in glimpses as he appears at various intervals. He is stoic, direct and mysterious. Although Finn insists he doesn’t have any feelings they are quite apparent to the reader. He has no smell, his movements and speech are slightly mechanical. Yet, there are those times when Finn vibrates that provide speculation.

Artificial intelligence has been developed in the robots and androids until it is recognized as a type of consciousness – thus, begins their demands for rights. Finn leaves his position at the Novak’s residence and begins employment and life on the moon at the research station.

As Cat continues her life without Finn, she struggles with the demands of society and happiness. Her behaviour remains the same, with no concern for the other person. It’s a sad state that her character does not improve with the passage of time or by the end of the novel.

My apologies to Angry Robot Books for not uploading a photo, but Blogger was unresponsive.


Book format: trade paperback, 400 pages

Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of Osprey Publishing

Author website: Cassandra Rose Clarke

Available:

ISBN 978 0-85766-265-1

Amazon.com >

chapters.indigo.ca

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Kettle Valley Rail Trail


















The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is an abandoned railway bed that winds through central British Columbia between Midway and Hope. The 600km route offers the cyclist or hiker unique trail experiences: tunnels, trestles moving through mountain forests and a small desert. With the many camping facilities along the trail allows for extended trips or weekends.

Myra Canyon near Kelowna, B.C. has a series of 18 trestles on this portion of the picturesque trail. It may pose a challenge for those with fear of heights.


KettlevalleyRailway.ca

Photo Credit: wikipedia

Monday, 26 October 2015

Graydon Hall Park

This 5.3 hectare (13 acres) park is located at 215 Graydon Hall Drive, North York on a plateau near Don Mills Road and the 401. It can be reached by the 122 Graydon Hall bus which stops on either the west or east side of the road.





One hundred acres of farmland was purchased by the successful businessman, Rupert Bain, and transformed into the Graydon Hall estate. Graydon Hall, itself, was completed in 1936 at a cost of $250,000, an extraordinary sum for the time. This was followed by landscaping, and a 9-hole golf course, terraced pools in a garden area at the rear of the mansion. Bain was an avid polo player and a master of hounds at the Eglinton Hunt Club.

A large part of the Graydon Hall manor property was sold to EP Taylor on which he built stables, kennels, polo field, and race track in 1950. In 1951, the mansion house and grounds were sold to Nelson Morgan Davis to Intercity Forwarders. In 1952, Bain died of a cerebral hemorrhage after a riding accident.


Near the sign to the park is a pathway that goes behind the mansion along the southern edge of it.



The path leads past thick wooded and brush filled areas.





Leading to the rear of the mansion is a break off path through close underbrush.



After a short walk over a lush well kept lawn between two rows of trees bordered by low stone walls is an iron fence protecting the grounds of the Graydon Hall Manor.




Research: Sheridan Nurseries: One Hundred Years of People, Plans and Plants. By Edward Butts, Karl Stennson. Pp 100- http://www.torontoneighbourhoods.net/neighbourhoods/north-york/graydon

Photo Credit: BEMartin2015

Monday, 20 July 2015

On the weekend, a friend took me out to a farm near Caledon, north-west of Toronto to pick strawberries for an hour or so. As a child I had gone to the Okanogan in British Columbia to pick apples and pears from the trees in the orchard fields.





It wasn't much different. Instead of walking into the orchard to find the trees laden with ripe pears and apples, the farm provided a tractor and wagon with benches to take the pickers out to the fields, about 800 yards from the gate.






The scene and trip reminded me of John Steinback's novel "The Grapes of Wrath".



The berry picking went well, as there were plenty of ripe strawberries to be had in the numerous rows. In less than an hour, we had a full basket, and it was back to the gate to weigh in. The cost was $2.50/lb, with the basket coming to $15.00.


Also, at the farm were an assortment of pens of farm animals: a donkey (looked more like a burro as it was smaller than any donkey I had seen before), two goats, and some horses. I apologize for the photo of the goat who wasn't very co-operative as she was more interested in eating the grass at the edge of the fence and any strawberries children happened to drop specifically for her.





As for the strawberries when I got home, were a nice treat -- I must say they are alot better than the store bought ones. Perhaps a bit smaller, but juicier with more flavour.

Photo Credits: ©BEMartin2015