Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Book review:
by Jerry Weinberg
Imagine a world where people are dying from toxic pollutants in the atmosphere -Where people are being abused and used as pawns to feed the greed of the machine –Where the highest level of the corporate ladder are completely ignorant to the needs of its people.  This is life on the planet of Precursor.  Serious change is needed, but only one girl has the guts to act.  Libra uses her vast knowledge of chemical science to terrorize the system and induce a need for change in the citizens of her planet.  She begins by attacking a factory and halting the further spewing of pollution.  In so doing, she has sealed her fate.
Mistress of Molecules is a satirical look on what we are doing to our own planet.  Libra sets the example of how we should act to save our own corrupt planet.  Would it take a terrorist plot by a secret society to wake us up to our own human needs?  Would we support their actions or would we oppose and punish such drastic actions.  This book will determine what side you are on.
The writing style is amazing and unique.  The author has created a very believable and honest world on the planet of Precursor.  A world that reflects our own future if we don’t take measures of prevention. 
If future readers are willing to ignore some grammar mistakes, the story is a fascinating one.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My first Winner!

Since there was only three people who entered my give away of Blood Song.  It wasn't hard to win.  So Antje, this one goes to you.  Congrats!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I did it with four days to spare!

I just finished my first full length young adult, sci-fi novel.  Now I need to seriously revise it.  Then I need to sleep.  I thank you all for your support.  I hope my critique group is ready for all of the homework comming their way!  On another note, my book give away is also ending in four days so don't forget to enter.  It is for the graphic novel, Blood Song.  If you bring a friend I'll let you enter twice!

 Here is a snippet of my unedited novel.  It is titled "The Shifters"  dadadaaaaa.


When I got to my room I was the only one there.  I had taken the most risky but shortest route back so I wasn’t surprised.  First thing I did was call my parents. 
A groggy voice answered and I winced knowing I had woken them up.  As I spat out my story I began packing a backpack.  I was getting out of here.
“Halina? What on earth are you calling for?  It’s 1:30!”
“Sorry Mom, it’s an emergency!  Remember what you said about Spencer?  He wasn’t the only student who has disappeared!  There are more...”  I stopped.  There was someone out in the hallway.  Thank goodness someone else made it back.  The door knob turned...
“Halina what are you saying?  Is it not safe for you?  Halina?”  I could hear my mom’s voice in the receiver, but I had pulled the phone away from my ear and dropped it on the bed.  The person at the door was not one of my friends.  It was a man in a long black cloak.  It was Principal Arter.
 ***
I backed up until my legs hit the side of my bed.  The window was open and seemed to be my only escape.  If I could only get around the bed before...
“Miss Pawlak.  It seems you’re in a heep of trouble young lady.”  Arter’s jowls shook ,  his huge lips protruding over his long teeth.  His hands were hidden in his cloak.  He could be holding anything under there; pointing anything at me.  “Where are the others? Mr. Hassan, Mr. Peters, Miss Kurauchi and Miss Thatcher?”
“I don’t know...” I side stepped the foot of the bed, then froze as three more hooded figured blocked the door.  An unknown voice rose from beneath a hood,” We have secured Miss Kurauchi.”
“Excellent.”
No!  Not Jan!  I tried to keep my composure.  Then I remembered the plug in my pocket.  The plug I wasn’t supposed to use except in an emergency.  I had told my mom it was an emergency.  My mom!  Was she still on the line?  The principal grabbed my arm so I started yelling at the phone.
“Mom!  They’re kidnapping me!  Send Help!”   Arter ‘s eyes bugged out and he realeased me to dash to the phone.  He grabbed it off the bed to hang it up.  This was my chance.  I plunged forward grabbing the edge of the window sill.  I shoved my head though the opening and came face to face with Yusef as he was climbing up the trellis.  I almost kissed him, he was so close. He knew the trouble I was in and silently mouthed my name.   I shook my head warning him to remain quiet.  If I hadn’t stalled I could have made it out, but hands grabbed my legs pulled me backwards.  I strained to keep hold of the ledge.  Yusef grabbed my arms trying to pull me towards him.
“No!” I shouted, looking into his fearful eyes.  I wasn’t going to let him get caught too.  Someone had to escape to tell our parents; to put a stop to this.  Yusef squeezed his eyes shut but he did not let go.  I was being ripped in half.
“Miss Pawlak!” Arter was growling, ”Let go immedeatly!”
Yusef remained quietly struggling.  He looked desperate to help me.
“Let go...” I winced.  His footing on the trellis was slipping.  He lost his grip and fell to the ground. My hands holding the window sill tore the muscles in my fingers until I had to let go.  I was dragged backwards by my legs onto the floor.  ...  dadadaaa 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Response to CBC

CBC RadioOne recently had an arguement against the purpose of National Novel Writing Month. I thought you might want the perspective from an author who is participating in NANoWriMo.  This is  the first year I am participating and it will be the first novel that I have completed.  If it wasn't for NaNoWriMo it would have taken me another year to finnish.  I have taken this goal very seriously.  In preparation I have read over 100 books, and done multiple plot outlines.  When I am finnished I expect it will take me a year to complete the editing process.  It is very clear to me that a book written in such haste will need tonnes of revamping and polishing before it is submitted.  the NaNo program has been nothing but a good influence to me.
In response to the problem of too many writters and not enough readers, You said that 86% of people say they would like to write a novel while only a mear 60% of people have actually read a novel in the last year.  I think that survey was a bit tainted.  You can't include the 86 % of people who INTEND on writing if you don't also include people who INTEND on reading a book.  I'm sure that number would be around 99%.   If an author writes, but doesn't read then they most likely aren't going to get published.  If I can read 100 books to every one that I write, I can't see how the supply is not meeting the demand.  Maybe we could start a National Novel Reading Month for those of you who have never tried it.
You said writing is a waste of time because 30 days of writing could only produce crap.  I could be wasting my time, it's true, but I feel amazed and proud of my great accomplishment.  Is that how you feel when you waste your time?
yours truely, keep an eye out for my debut novel, Halli Lilburn

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My first Publication!




I am happy to announce that three of my poems will appear in the winter issue of the grey sparrow journal.
It doesn't come out until January, but I'm just so excited that I couldn't wait to tell you all. From now on I can call myself a published author. Yeah!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My First Give Away!!


So I have a wonderful Ya/adult graphic novel titled Blood Song a silent ballad.  by Eric Drooker from dark horse books.  It is a novel of pictures; no words.  This makes it interesting because the story is left to the imagineation.  I've (read?) looked at a couple of books like this and enjoyed interpreting visual symbolism.  Blood Song is the story of a young girls tragic journey to escape the violent death of her family, yet still maitain her innocent perspective.  The graphics are stark with blunt lines and cool shades.  As an artist, I love finding art that creates such an epic story.  Sooooooo.  If you are interested in receiving a brand new copy of Blood Song here is your challange.  Become a follower on The Epitome,  Send me a comment about your favorite graphic novels before Nov. 30th.  You'll get the book by Christmas!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Challenge!


This BLOG could potentially take up alot of my time.  In fact, my whole life if I let it.  I am so glad to see the world of books alive and well, but we all don't need to preach to the converted.  What about the brainwashed, videogame- fried juve's out there who have never heard of Jane Austen? How do we save those sorry souls?  What kind of visions can we spur in those static minds?  Can a site like this interest the uninterested?  Can it bring in new blood?  Or are we simply wiggling inside our little cocoon, headless of the butterfly that cannot get out.
I have a challenge, nay, a mission.  To baptize the heathen by metomorphing their pagan ways and giving them wings!  We are not just WORMS! We, as writers, readers, and artists have an obligation to close our laptops speak out!   Our fellow bloggers do not need another follower, we do not need ourselves, the world needs us!  We do not need to create for each other another review that we have already heard; we need to create for them!  For the ones who won't read unless we make it worth their while.  What can we do? Well, I'll give you my answer: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the graphic novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. 
Now, I will explain.  When I see the laughter, or groans of disgusted bursting out of a teenager's mouth as he reads, I know my mission is complete.  When I see girls and boys putting down their cell phones, I-pods and DS's and talking to each other, writing notes about their latest literary encounter I know we have witnessed success.
So pen to paper my comrades!  Let us find a weapon against introversion, digital overdose and social melancholy.  A weapon mightier than the sword, mightier than the flat screen, mightier than the internet!  A weapon that will perk the interest of even the lowest of the digital gamers and pull them out of their comas and introduce them to their long lost emotions.  Make them laugh, make them cry, make them love you, make them hate you!  Make them follow you into hell and back and all because of what you give them; the written word.
My brothers and sisters, I plea with you.  Forget copy right.  Forget your query letters.  Forget your book reviews and give us something to READ.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My notes from the latest SCBWI conference in Cowtown.


This was a great conference!  The editors were friendly and funny. This might be review for most writers, but I needed to hear it.
Have an outline or story analysis.  This is an effective tool to identify trouble spots and streamline your narrative. Knowing your story is important.  If you don’t know it, no one will.  Test your ideas before you commit to it.  Create a scene outline through a graph, index cards or whatever is useful to you.  Identify gaps and fill them in.  Brainstorm: what is the worst thing that could happen to your characters?  How can you make this the best thing?  How can I prevent them from getting it?  As an author you have the permission to be mean to your characters. A typical novel has 40-60 scenes.  A picture book has 5-10.  Always make more scenes than you need, then cut out the boring ones
Find your story’s turning points.  These are meaningful decisions that must involve consequences.  A complication arises that interferes with the protagonist reaching his goal.  The protagonist has to change his expectations and overcome the complication.  There should be one of these in each chapter, while a major complication involves the whole book.  90% of the scenes in your story should contain a turning point.
Always follow classic structure.  This is defined as:
Act One; introduction.  Hook the reader on the first line.  Your protagonist needs to realize they know what they want, but it takes an irreversible action to accomplish the goal.
Act Two; progressive complications until they reach the most difficult challenge.  This is the climax.
Act Three; resolution
This may sound cliché, but it is effective.  It reflects the human problem.  Avoid using a prologue.  Use your exposition as ammunition (always include action within description)
Analyse your characters.  Find out what they are thinking BEFORE you find out what they are saying.  A few suggestions for character development are:
Interview your character. Get to know them as real people.  Find a picture of them.  Create a profile. Include these descriptions: physical appearance, (Try not to describe this.  Show it, but don’t spell it out) environmental factors, and core beliefs and values.   What is their definition of safety?  How do they see themselves?  How do others see them? Find out how they would react to situations.  What are their outside influences?  What is their level of independence?  Readers who are children are character driven.  They want to sympathize with the character and cheer for them.  Your character is the centerpiece.  They are the essence of humanity - the struggle to live.  Make them archtypes, not stereotypes.  They are imperfect.  Perfect is boring and unrealistic.  Different is interesting.  Give them a lot of stress and see how they react.
Create relationship triangles.  How do three characters interact with each other?  Keep it consistent.  Use other characters to contrast their personalities.  Go beyond the obvious.  Begin with children interacting with children, not children interacting with adults.  Children typically don’t express their emotions to adults.  Kids want to feel independent.  Don’t be cutesy, it is condescending.
Analyze your Setting.  The primary purpose of the setting is to reflect your main character.  Does the setting change alongside your character?  Does it embellish the relationships within you characters?  Are your scenes linear or circular?  Does the character return to the same setting as the beginning and how has he changed?  IE. Harry Potter.  After an entire year at Hogwarts he returns to the Dersly’s house.  The house is the same, but he is completely changed.
Analyze your dialogue.  Show - don’t tell.  Sound natural, but not repetitious.  Sound clear unless to illustrate a point. Find a unique voice influences by their environment.  Avoid having all of you characters talk the way you do.  Read their dialogue out loud. Move the scene along without explaining everything.  Readers can fill in the gaps.  Speech tags should clarify whose speaking without being overused.  They should include actions and feelings to control the unspoken messages.  The power of communication is not in the telling, but in the understanding.  Don’t compromise your morals as a writer by having a character speak below your values.  If you don’t want them to swear, make up different curse words.
Edit yourself.  Get it written out first, edit later.  Give yourself space from your work. Edit for:
Clarity – NO SPELLING MISTAKES!  Does it make sense logically? Does it make sense chronologically?   Does it flow easily when you read it out loud?  Don’t put two concepts in the same sentence.  Don’t be too complicated.  .  Don’t insert information in the wrong places.  Be subtle by condensing exposition.
Content- Does it stay interesting throughout?  Do characters stay consistent?  Beware of using a moral; let your readers extract it.  Beware of rhyming, it is too competitive.
 Language - Use active language.  Use metaphors over similes.  Don’t address the audience.  Don’t explain it, just live it.  Don’t use passive language.  Watch out for repetition!  Don’t be afraid of dating yourself.  An average self life for any publication is six months.
 Formatting – Check word count. Titles should be no longer than 5 words.  Do not use too many codes. (use a program that has macros)  Use proper key strokes for hard returns, indenting etc.  Do not manually format your work, otherwise the editor has to undo it all. Including DOLCH sight lists and spelling words for certain grades always looks good in a query letter.  If you are doing a picture book, include subtext for the illustrator.  Making a mock up is a great organizational tool, but don’t submit it.
Get multiple opinions and critiques.  If it is not worth rewriting, a critique/editor wouldn’t tell you how to fix it.  Make sure your character or title has not already been used for other publications.  You do not want the competition.  Compare it to other books in the same genre.  What makes yours better?

For further resources look up www.liveyourdreamworkshops.com

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Victoria. S: SPEAK (a voice).

Victoria. S: SPEAK (a voice).: "SPEAK changed my life. It saved me. After SPEAK I felt as if I could actually breathe...live. I don't support or believe in banning books. ..."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today I joined the community library board.  I get to work at the library once a week.  By far, the best part is that I get to buy the books!  And we have lots of money that we just have to spend.  So I need some help from you choosing books.  Read any good books lately?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I remember writing in high school; it was junk.  Every submission I sent was rejected.  That is why I am so amazed by young people with such natural talent for writing.  Hannah Moskowitz was 18 when she published this book.  There are three things that really stand out for me: Point of View -  She writes from a teenage boy's perspective and she does a bang on job.  No stereotypes, no exaggerations, just real life. Dialogue - I'm not taking about what the characters say, it's what they don't say. Getting the unspoken messages across should be impossible, but Hannah can do it.
The Human Condition - Nobody relates to a perfect hero.  Everyone relates to a hero who struggles through the whole book only to realize he's not the hero.   I'll warn you, there are A LOT of swears in this book.  It adds dimension to the characters, but you may find it a bit over the top.  Besides her books, Hannah has some amazing eye openers on her blog.  Look her up.http://hannahmosk.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gilmour Photography 365: Day 30

Gilmour Photography 365: Day 30: "Summer DaysSummer as a child seemed to last forever. Now as an adult They go by too quickly. This summer has been cooler then normal and th..."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I've been planning a journey
across the sea
far away
I hum the  exotic tune
Here I live and I don't wait impatiently
for the sea will come to me
and far away
is in my eyes.
Phyllis Sweetwater

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ixanathe

My daughter wanted a bed time story about a Queen whom she called Ixanathe.  I have been telling them stories about her in the form of legends.  Here is one of them.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Sometimes i think i enjoy taking pictures of my garden more than eating it.  Especially if I'm growing flowers.

Monday, July 19, 2010


down, down keep my anger down.

a dream I had


“Mom working late again?”  a deep voice startled them.  Petra whirled around.
“Mr.  Buchard.  Hi.”
“Please call me Fraser.  That Mr, stuff is a bit creepy.”
Petra and Shane looked at each other with puzzled expressions.  Weird guy for an adult.  Fraser was still dressed in his RCMP uniform and was leading his bike around to his side of the fourplex.  His clean cut, utility persona seemed like a facade.  Like he just did it for the job.  Still, it really worked for him Petra thought.  Stereotypically tall dark and hansome.  She smiled sheepishly.
”Why don’t you guys give me a couple of minutes to change and I’ll come over and make you something.” Fraser leaned his bike against the side of the house and unbuckled his helmet.
“Oh no, we’ll be fine.” Petra put her arm around her little brother but he shrugged it off.  Fraser peered into her unsteady eyes, “yeah right.  All I have smelled coming from your place is mac and cheese and romin.  I’m sure I can put together something better than that.  Be right back”
When Fraser had disappeared Shane turned to his sister, “What’s Romin?”  he asked.
“Dunno.  I think he means Ichiban.”
Sure enough in less than ten minutes Fraser was in kakis and a black t-shirt rummaging through their fridge, “ What have we got to work with here?  Does your Mom own a wok?”
“A  what?”
“I’ll take that as a no.”


Fraser rummaged through the cupboards and seemed satisfied with what he found.  In moments he had the smell of teriyaki stir fry wafting through the house.  Petra was just setting the table when her mother walked in the door.
“What is that smell?” she asked as Fraser came into the dining room wearing a towel apron and a paper chef hat that Shane had made him.
“Oh, good evening Ruby, I hope you don’t mind...”
“I guess not...” Ruby seemed to have nothing more to say.
AS she removed her coat and purse, stuffing them into the hall closet, he approached her more timidly, ”I don’t have to stay.” Petra stopped to listen, a stack of plates in her hands.
“Oh no, that’s fine.  How could I not let you stay when you cooked supper? “  She narrowed her eyes at her kids as if trying to determine how they had been treated.  Petra had seen this look so many times.  Her mother was always scrutinizing situations that could cause potential danger to her kids.  What would protect them ?  What would keep them safe?  She must not trust him.  Maybe Fraser could feel her wariness too.  “I don’t have to stay.” He repeated.  She turned her gaze up to him.  “Please do.  We would love to have you.”  Her voice didn’t sound convincing.
The table was small with room only for one person on each side.  It had been awhile since that fourth side had been occupied.  The vacant chair was adjacent to Ruby’s.  Shane was on her other side and Petra across from her.  Petra watched as Fraser slowly sat down and looked at her as if about to ask, why don’t you sit by your mom?  Petra ever so slightly shook her head at him to warn him not to ask.  Bringing up Brody was sure to ruin the evening.   So she tried to find a light topic of conversation, focusing on Shane’s upcoming judo tournament.
“I used to take judo.  It comes in really handy as an RCMP.  Maybe you’ll be an officer when you grow up.”  He heard Ruby wince.  “Or not, if your mom doesn’t approve.”
“Mom doesn’t really like cops.”  Shane said.
Petra quickly avoided the awkward situation by changing the subject again, “Mom’s been drafting patterns for wedding dresses.  She’s going to teach me how to sew.  I’m going to sew my own wedding dress.”  Fraser kind of choked on his food.
Shane elbowed her, ”You’re too young to get married.”
What girl didn’t think about getting married Petra thought, but out loud she said,” Well it’s not for right now stupid.” She went back to her food.  She waited for her mom to reprimand her for using the “S” word but she hadn’t seemed to notice.  Her attention was on something else.
“Fraser?” Mom inquired, but there was no response.  He began banging on his chest and Petra realized he was really choking.  Nobody had noticed for at least a minute.   Mom stood up on alert like she always was.  “Fraser!” she yelled but he couldn’t talk.  He started turning red.  She knocked her chair over getting to him and slipped her arms under his ribcage.  Petra was motionless.
“Petra, get the phone.”  Mom called as she began thrusting her fists into his abdomen.  He was just too tall, she wouldn’t be strong enough, ”Petra!”  but Shane had jumped up and dialled 9-1-1.  He began babbling to the operator.
“What can I do?” Petra squeeked her hands  in front of her holding air.
“Catch him!” her mom stumbled with the weight of him as he passed out.  His body began tipping over and Petra could only move fast enough to used herself as a cushion as he crashed on top of her.  Shane started jumping up and down on the spot, yelling his address into the receiver.
“Roll him over.”  Petra pulled his face off of her torso and held his head in her hands.   Mom, still panting from exersion, started scraping her fingers inside his mouth.
“Ew” Petra whispered, grossed out.   She thought touching a man would be a thrill, but this was all wrong.  Plus he looked much older up close and about to die.  Her mom who usually panicked in emergencies seemed to be holding it together.  Suddenly she launched sideways with her elbow slamming  onto his chest.  Nothing.  She did it again and dug her fingers further down his throat.  There was something there.  Good thing she had long nails.  She pulled out a strip of steak.  Fraser gaged.
“Wake up!” Mom yelled at him, slapping him on one cheek them the other.  She put her ear to his mouth.  Petra could hear him breathing and his eyes were fluttering.  She looked at her heroic mother expecting a smile on her face.  What she saw was heartache.  Petra was sure he would have come to on his own but her mother slapped him again.  Hard.
“Ow.”  Fraser brought his hands up to his throat and face, coughing and gagging.  He rolled into a fetal position, squeezing his eyes shut.
“He’s awake!” Shane was yelling into the phone.   Fraser looked up, becoming aware of his surroundings.  He saw the tipped over chair and Mom slumped to the floor.  “I’m sorry.  What happened?  I didn’t know eating at your house would kill me.”  He laughed and coughed.  Petra looked at her mother recognizing  the dark emotion on her face.  Had she slapped him out of frustration?  Because he was another police officer who couldn’t find Brody?
 When no one laughed He said, “ I’m sorry.”  again. 
“Mom saved you!”  Shane came leaping over to him, “You passed out and fell on Petra!”
Petra’s cheeks blazed with embarrassment.  She looked down at her hands where his head had been.  For some reason she thought this would turn her off from men for a long time.
“Thank you.” He said to her, but she didn’t look up, ”and thank you.” He said to her mom who kind of smiled.  Noone moved off of the floor until they heard the ambulance coming down the street.