Pitch Wars

I entered my first writing contest last week, Pitch Wars. And wow, what an experience. I don’t normally participate much on Twitter, but these past few days, I just couldn’t help myself from checking out the Pitch Wars feed. It’s amazing to see the buzz and excitement in the writing community.

I entered my YA novel, Hunter High, which is a horror/humour/mystery mash-up, with a sprinkle of romance. I had such a blast writing this book because it’s completely different than what I do professionally (educational content for kids). I didn’t have to worry about curriculum connections, age appropriateness, etc. I threw down words like blood, brain-bashing and hell with ease.

I’m not a psycho. Seriously. I just like horror.

Woe is May

This past month hasn’t been the best for reading books or updating my blog, which is pretty obvious, considering my last entry was April 18th. Between in-house work, freelance, and trying to write the second draft of my YA book… Enough excuses. Shame on me. Seriously. So, books.

I’ve Read:

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
A hilarious and touching YA story featuring a “freakishly huge” boy and his friend who’s super tiny and super smart. Sharp and funny dialogue. I loved both characters, but why, oh why, must someone die?

Good Bones and Simple Murders, by Margaret Atwood
A collection of short stories that demand to be read again. She says so much in so few words.

Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
A quick read. Interesting enough story. Great illustrations.

I’m Reading:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Totally enamoured with this book. I’ve had it on reserve for months, and it finally came in on Saturday.

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
My “classic” book for the month. Enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I think I had convinced myself it would be stuffy and a slog to get through. Not in the least.

Frankenstein

Finally re-read Frankenstein, and I’m now left wondering, did I even read it in the first place?! I felt like I was experiencing a brand-new book, which I’m definitely not complaining about, but wow, I had no recollection of a lot of the story. Granted, I read it over 20 years ago, but still, I thought I’d remember more of such a classic.

Anyway, poor memory forgotten, the book affected me. Frankenstein made my blood boil practically every time he opened his mouth. He failed to take responsibility. Buddy, you were the cause of everything. I could go on and on about his selfishness, hubris, and obsessiveness, but he doesn’t warrant my time.

Now the monster, my heart broke for him–(even though, yes, he did murder people, though it was society’s reaction to his physical form that made him evil)–that whole year when he spied on the family, when he learned to speak and read, when he hoped that the blind man would accept him. But it never happened because the man’s son appeared and promptly started beating the monster with a stick. Argh…

Buffy and Angel

Because Trevor and I went Androids hunting on Thursday (it took three comic book shops to get the remaining issues), I couldn’t help but keep an eye out for the rest of Buffy Season 8. True, I hadn’t been jazzed with the comics overall because it became too over-the-top-not-the-Buffy-universe-I-knew about halfway through the series, but in my mind it seemed silly to own 36 issues and not the last four, so I bought them. (It’s okay; they’re not books!)

And? The story redeemed itself in the last two issues. It brought it back to the Buffy I loved, and since I read that the first issue of Season 9 will be out in September, I’m sucked back in again. How did they do that? I bet it’s partially because Joss and the writers knew that a lot of fans were peeved with the way things went off the rails (not that fans have to like everything), and they decided to bring the story back to its roots. Whatever the reason, I’m happy.

What also makes me happy is that I found out that a new Angel/Faith comic will be published in September, too, which makes complete sense considering the events of the last couple of Buffy comics. Covers are below.

Back to Blogging

Well, this blog can’t be just about our BC adventures anymore; that was last summer’s trip. Sniff.

Enough crying. I’ll see those mountains sometime soon. I wanted to get into the daily habit of writing again; it’s been years since I wrote personal stuff that was just about me and not work-related writing. Talk to most working writers, and you’ll find out that the last thing we want to do is sit down after a day’s work and write for ourselves. Alas, my “own” writing the past several years is almost non-existent.

So this blog will be a mishmash of topics: my thoughts on freelance writing, books, and personal finance. Yeah, how’d that last one get in there? Well, I love reading about money, budgeting, finance, etc. My best friend calls me a cheapskate at heart (I used to complain about paying 5 bucks to get into a high school dance, but hey, that’s a lot when you only made $20/week babysitting!). I like to think of myself as financially aware.

Anyway, one other aim of this blog is to keep me on track with my 2011 “no-buying-books” rule. Those of you who know me, I know what you’re thinking—this will be impossible for Tara to do. I almost agree—my fingers itch when I merely walk by a bookstore; I can’t help but go in and browse. Oh, how I love the feeling of turning pages.

The thing is, Trevor and I have so many unread books around the house, it’s ridiculous, and yet I still buy more. So, my plan is to read those books, use the library, and borrow off of anyone who is willing to lend.

The only wrench in this plan is that, just today, I received a $25 Chapters gift card as a “goodbye you’re leaving present.” Okay, I’ll bend the rules: someone gives me a gift card, I can use it to buy books.” That’s the only time. :)

We’re Back!

We made it. After 11,000 odd kms, we’re home. And yes, I got a serious case of blog fatigue while in Vancouver. Well, my brother and sister were with us and there always seemed to be something fun to do. No time for writing entries.

Trevor’s put up some new pics to the link from a few posts ago. If anyone is still reading, take a look.

Tofino Roundup

It’s been a busy few days. We’re in Vancouver city right now, and I just realized that I never posted much about Tofino. So here goes…

Basically, it felt like a whirlwind. Well, actually the entire trip has felt that way so far. I think it’s because we’re constantly on the move. We stayed in Tofino for 3 nights – did a bunch of rainforest hikes. One of the coolest ones was at the Cathedral Grove in Port Alberni, which is actually on the way to Tofino. It’s weird – all the rainforest trails have boardwalks, and we’re used to hiking on actual…ground. However, I understand that the boardwalks are there in order to preserve the rainforest. You don’t want humans stomping on precious plants and insects.

It was Trevor’s turn to peek around a tree:

We checked out South Beach one day. The tides were really low, so we were able to hunt for critters. That’s what I’m doing below. Later in the day, this whole area was covered in water.

Then, we went to Long Beach, which is 16 km long. It’s a mecca for surfers. Trevor tried to get some photos of them; they’re just tiny spots on the waves.

Trevor also snapped a photo of me reading the Tofino Times. It was cold on the beach, though some teenage girls were wearing bikini tops!

Tons of huge logs get washed up on the beach when the tide comes in. There were signs everywhere warning you to be careful! You might get squashed between logs if you’re caught unaware.

We kept hearing about how brilliant the sunset was all over Tofino, but you think we could see it? We missed it one night because I don’t know what we were doing, and the next night we were at the prime-sunset-viewing-spot 45 minutes before the scheduled sun setting, but it was cloudy. Just as the sky was beginning to turn reddish orange, the sun ducked behind some clouds.

Here’s me trying to stay warm while we wait for the sun to set:

This was our best sunset sighting. Neat silhouette, though.

Oh, Trevor really wanted to go kayaking to Meares Mountain to see a 2,000-year-old tree, so we signed up for a tour. We would’ve just rented kayaks on our own, but we didn’t know exactly how to get to Meares Island, so guided tour it was.

The problem was that the company had one- and two-person kayaks, and Trevor and I hadn’t decided if we were going to go single or not. There ended up being an odd number of people in our group, with one young woman looking panicked at the thought of kayaking on her own, so I offered to go with her. It was okay and everything, but I definitely want my own kayak in the future; you can set your own pace and don’t have to worry about taking a five-second break, or worry about not keeping up with the group because the other person is taking a 60-second break.

Meares Island was cool enough, but Trevor and I have decided we won’t do the group thing again; you can’t take your time wandering around. There was a guide in front setting a fast pace and a guide at the back making sure we weren’t dawdling. There was barely any time to snap a decent photo. It was hard to spy wildlife and neat plants because you basically had to stare down at the old rickety boardwalk. One lady actually went through a board!

Vancouver Island, Baby!

On Tuesday evening, we finally made it as far west as we planned to drive (and ferry) – Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. Highway 4 on the Island is twisty. Trevor was driving, and while he wasn’t white-knuckling it, he felt he really had to concentrate.

We rolled into the town of 1,500 or so around 7 p.m., and cruised down the main drag, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for the B&B we were booked into.

We found it off the main road (after a few turnarounds and a stint on a dead-end road getting directions from the B&B host). And get this, the B&B has its own private pebble beach! Amazing. We can walk off the deck, through a short expanse of rainforest, and be sitting on the beach in about five minutes. We can’t believe it.

The inside of the B&B is beyond amazing, too. The owner is an artist who carved all sorts of designs into the wooden beams, walls, stairs, etc. of the house. Some of the supporting beams are actually massive tree trunks. The photo below gives you a good idea of what I mean. (This photo is from the Hertel’s Beach website.)

This is the main floor, not where us guests stay, but we do get to have breakfast here.

The agenda for the next few days is hiking various trails in the Pacific Rim National Park, a thin strip of land that runs along Vancouver Island’s southwestern coast. We can’t wait to explore all the beaches, rainforests, and little islands. We hope to catch sight of some whales, or maybe sea lions.

We also plan to head to Tofino, check out the town, and watch the surfers catch some waves. We won’t be surfing , though. The only way we’re getting in the water is in a kayak, which will be happening on Thursday, when we paddle over to Meares Island to check out a 2,000-year-old tree. Holy cow.