Winter’s Back!

The spring has seemed to be slow in arriving, and now it’s done a major step backwards. We were warned by The Weather Network that this was coming, but it’s still surreal now that it’s here.

Here’s a time-lapse that Ian took out the front window during dinner tonight:

Then, after we watchedΒ Kung Fu Hustle, Tammy realized that one of our bags of yard waste had blown down the street. I, being the dutiful husband, made sure to commemorate the event.

In other news, Miranda volunteered at the Calgary Young Writers’ Conference today. Maybe if we’re lucky, she’ll post something describing it.

In other, other news, I finished my Camp Nanowrimo book today. I actually typed “The End”. That’s the end of the first draft, anyways. I also painted the wall that got torn up when the alarm system was replaced. I decided to go with an echo of the green accent wall. I think it looks pretty good.

The new accent wall


Actually Writing in a Coffee Shop

It’s April and that means it’s time for Camp Nanowrimo. I don’t always participate, but when I have a specific writing or editing goal, I do. This month I am working on finishing my latest novel, but with the amount of travel and other things on my plate I have forgone my typewriters. I have almost exclusively using my iPad Pro with the Brydge keyboard. I have tried using my MacBook Pro with BBEdit, but the keyboard on the MacBook really doesn’t work well for me. To the point that I’m glad that this isn’t my own computer and I will be able to give it back someday.

Not using a typewriter means that I am more portable and can sit down in a Starbucks and start working. And that’s what I’m doing. Miranda’s prowling the Indigo books and I’m at a table with a grande dark roast coffee. It’s a strange feeling. Sort of exposed and yet private at the same time.

I still love my typewriters. I am more productive with them than using a laptop or iPad like this. But it is a nice change of pace.

Spring Break Comes to an End

It has seemed like a long week off, which I believe to be a good thing, but all good things must come to an end. This past week, I have taken vacation at the same time as the kids, so it’s been good family time off. Tammy had to work four evenings last week, but we’ve had the days together. Tammy has been working out every day with the kids. They’ve been doing Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I have to applaud them. They have kept at it, and I’d say even Ian is enthusiastic about it. I joined them today (more on that below). We had a good Earth Hour. It is an excuse to power down as a family and spend time together in the candlelight. We had a good long family talk in the living room and didn’t turn the lights back on until well after the hour was up.

We didn’t really go anywhere on this time off, except yesterday when Tammy and the kids went to T&T Supermarket. There they managed to find lots of oriental treats like miso, mochi and super hot ramen noodles (that was Ian’s pick). We had some of the ramen today at lunch and even with the sauce at 1/4 strength it was about all they could handle. I did a bit at 1/2 strength and it was not popular. 😁

The super weather that we had the week I was in Virden has dampened somewhat, but it was enough to kill our skiing season. When we went to Nakiska on Thursday, we found that the Bronze chairlift was not in operation. I guess the very bottom of the hill was melting beyond saving. That was the first time that we’d been surprised like that: I don’t think either Tammy or I were anticipating that. Tammy got a drive out to Nakiska and not much else. I, on the other hand, had the best run of my life. I was carving my heel edge like I had never done before.

There’s the feeling that spring is around the corner, but everything is still dead and grey-brown. I had my first Bow Cyclist Ride on Saturday (the loop out to Cochrane for coffee), but I think riding will still be intermittent for a bit yet. We had our first BBQ of the season: some burgers.

Today was the last day before back to school for the kids and back to work for me. Tammy is now off for the next two weeks in between semesters at college. Too bad the timing wasn’t better. We “celebrated” with a movie day. We rented The Dead Zone and then Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse off of iTunes. Then we all did a cardio workout to get the blood working. There is just barely enough room in the bonus room for all of us in there. Then the last movie was Solo: A Star Wars Story off of Netflix. My opinion was that they were all good movies, if very different. The Dead Zone was Tammy’s choice, and I think it was the best surprise of the day. We were zipping through iTunes and Tammy spotted it.

My next weeks are going to be very full at work, with a trip to Vancouver on Tuesday, then Edmonton mid-month and Regina early in May. There are other engagements in between and there will be documents to write. I’ve managed to put most of that out of my mind for the week, but I note that as of right now, I have 128 unread emails for work. With that and four meetings tomorrow, I doubt I will have time for much else. Somehow I will have to reserve the time and energy for Camp Nanowrimo. I have got everything in line for finishing my latest novel this month. I have been editing since January and everything is in good shape.

A Shift Back To Winter

Since the bit of snow that we got on Christmas Day, the weather in Calgary has been unseasonably warm and dry. Even our street, which often has hard-packed ice that lingers well into the spring, was clear. It got to the point where we all went for bike rides on Sunday the 13th. I went for a 47-km solo ride, and Tammy and the kids rode 10 km to the library and back.

Yours truly enjoying a mid-winter ride

But this week, the temperatures dove down under freezing and it snowed yesterday. Before the snow was an ice fog, which always leaves the trees in a beautiful state.

Ice crystals on tree branches

Today it’s -17 out there. It’s supposed to be back above zero tomorrow, but we’ll wait and see.Β I’m off to Halifax next week. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with my air travel.

Miranda’s class went to Bowness High School for a field trip yesterday. She has put her application in to Sir Winston Churchill High School for the International Baccalaureate program for next year, but if that doesn’t pan out, she will attend Bowness. She was impressed by the various programs there, so it’s good that she is excited about Plan B.

In other news, I have jumped back into writing/editing mode. I have three novels that make up a long story, which I started in November 2015 withΒ All Too Human, then followed up in 2016 withΒ Outpost Tyranny and I partly completed between 2017 and 2018 with Who Writes the History Books. WWTHB is probably about 30,000 words from completion, but I decided to go back and revisit everything up to now to ensure continuity and to fix any outstanding edits. I am enjoying that process, and what I’ve done is created a PDF copy of the novels, and I am using the PDF Viewer app on my iPad with the Apple Pencil to make red-pen markup that I will incorporate later. It’s allowing me to scribble quick notes instead of worrying about getting everything perfect. Once I get to where I left off in 2018, I think I will be ready to push through the last part of the book.

This is exciting for me, because it’s been a long time coming, and I can envision the end.


NaNoWriMo 2018 Ends

It’s been a struggle for the last week, making my word count while I was in Regina, but Tammy, Miranda, Ian and I have made it to the end of November.

I got a little over 61,000 words closer to finishing my novel, Tammy managed to make 50,000, and Miranda has written almost 15,000 words of a mix of poetry and fiction. Ian made his goal of 4,500 words and then some. He ran out of steam about mid-month but I am tremendously proud of him for doing as much as he did.Β Yes, choosing a particular month to write like crazy is a silly thing, but written words can be beautiful, powerful things. There are stories inside of everybody.

I want to outline the rest of my novel tomorrow, and I guess I have a date with Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2019. In the meantime, I’m thinking about contributing to a writing anthology: Cold Hard Type. Not quite sure yet, but it might be fun to do over the winter months before starting the editing process.

Now, off to the Esri Canada Christmas party!


Hello From Regina

It’s been over a month, but I’m back on the road again. This time, I am spending three days with the fine folks at SaskEnergy in Regina. This is the third time I have worked with them and my colleague, Claire, has worked with them before, too. So I guess for the night before a workshop, last night was pretty calm. Three days is a lot of time, so we won’t have to rush as much as usual.

I flew in at 6:30. It’s minus seven this morning and there’s a chance of snow. It’s wintry here without being frigid. According to the cabbie, last week it was -25. That’s lucky we’re here this week instead!

Not much else to report as yet. The kids FaceTimed me last night which was awesome. It’s the last few days of NaNoWriMo and Tammy was only starting her writing when I spoke to her when she got home from work. I passed the 50,000 mark on Sunday, butΒ The End is still in the medium distance. I will write some each night until I get home. Then I might spend the last night of November outlining the end of the novel so that when I pick it up again, I will remember how it’s supposed to end.

Off to get breakfast.

Updated Thursday Evening at 4:48 Central

I’m in the airport sitting across from Claire. She’s flying home to Edmonton at 6:00 and my flight isn’t until 7:25. It’s been a very busy and long set of days here, but good. Last night, we walked out to supper at Victoria’s Tavern. The dinner was good, and downtown Regina looked good with lights in the cold.

McCallum Hill Centre

Today has been very low cloud. Not fog: but it might as well have been. We’re at the airport now, but there’s a decent chance one or both of our flights will be cancelled. While we were sitting here, an Air Canada flight tried to land and was unable to, so it was diverted to Calgary. They might be back later, but not until about 8:30 if the weather improves. There’s no guarantee that either of our flights will be able to land, either.

Updated 5:07

My flight is now delayed 10 minutes. No big deal, right? But that can’t be the start of a positive trend.

Updated 5:47

My flight has not been delayed further. Claire’s plane landed, which is an excellent sign for her. Also promising for me.

Updated 6:21

Claire’s flight has left. That’s the good news. The bad news is that my delay just jumped up. My original flight time was 7:25, and is now 7:50. Don’t know why, but it probably has to do with the inbound flight being delayed to arriving at 7:15. Given that the flight is about an hour from Calgary to Regina, that probably means that the inbound flight is in the air. Hopefully the inbound flight can land, eh?

Updated 6:49

There is a different flight to Calgary: an Air Canada flight leaving at 7:05. It landed successfully and I just heard last call for boarding, so it will be leaving soon. Perhaps there is a good chance that I will depart successfully.

Updated 8:02

I am on the plane and ready to take off. Yay!

NaNoWriMo Excitement

It’s nine days into the month, and would you believe that we are all going strong? You can track Tammy’s, Miranda’s and my word counts on our NaNoWriMo page, but Ian is doing the Young Writers’ Program, and we can’t make a word widget for him.

But he’s been the most exciting one of us! He was reluctant to do it, but I got him set up with the older iPad and the keyboard cover and his Google docs and he started typing away. He started running out of gas after day 2: his original idea of writing about his predictions for an upcoming iPhone SE2 ran its course. He talked to me about it and I suggested to him that he needed to have something happen. Have himself in the story, and have our cat Squeaker be a character like Snowy in the Tintin comics who sarcastically commented on things. The next thing you know, Ian’s excitedly writing each night and tonight he really went all out. His target word count each day is 150 words.

Well, tonight he wrote 386.

Ian’s word count by day so far. Grey bars are 150 words.

I’m very proud of him. It’s great to see him having fun with this. That’s what it’s supposed to be about.

NaNoWriMo #11

Last night we kicked off our eleventh edition of participating in National Novel Writing Month! And when I say “we”, I meanΒ everybody. I was pounding away at my IBM Selectric III, Tammy was pecking at her MacBook Air, Miranda was typing next to me on the Mac Mini in the dining room, and Ian was at his desk with the iPad 4 and the Bluetooth keyboard cover.

That is awesome on so many levels, but selfishly it meant that I didn’t have to wait until the kids were off to bed before starting my writing. In fact, I was finished my 1,885 words before the kids’ bedtime.

This is a momentous Nano for me: I will be writing the second part of the last book in a trilogy that then is itself a set of prequels to the novel that I have been trying to write since I was 18. I am pretty darn excited about that.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Draws to a Close

Tammy and I have both won NaNoWriMo for our tenth years.

I spent the month writing a third book in a trilogy that I started in 2014. I am not finished, but I expect to finish it in Camp NaNoWriMo 2018. My Selectric ribbon died 3/4 of the way down my last page for this year, and I didn’t have a spare, so I fed the page into my Underwood and finished it there.

Tammy only gave me the vaguest outline of what she was writing this year. I do hope that her gaggle of women on a bicycle tour made it to their destination…

Ten years. Man. I still remember our conversations back in 2008, when I mentioned Nano to Tammy for the first time, having read about it on They’d reviewed Scrivener, an application that was tailor-made for novel writing (and we now own: Tammy uses it to write her novels, and I use it to edit). Days before November started, and it was like we were each double-dog-daring the other to commit to it.

So glad we did.



November Starts With A Bang

Often, our annual Halloween post is followed on very quickly by a post on November first, touting the start of NaNoWriMo and Movember. But this year there was so much going on that it has slipped all the way to the fifth.

The biggest thing was that I had a business trip to Parkland County. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal: it’s just west of Edmonton. I rent a car, I drive for three and a half hours, and hey-presto. But winter decided to arrive on Halloween night, and I had to cope with snow and frigid temperatures. Randi, the project manager, sent me this the night before:

I know you know this but if the road report is poor and you don’t feel comfortable making the drive up in the morning, please err on the side of caution.Β  If you choose not to come, please let me know and I will communicate with the customer in the morning.Β  We can reschedule!

You know when seasoned Prairie folk are worried, that it’s worth paying attention. But in the end, I did make the drive there and back. Saw lots of cars in the ditch and some on their roofs. I didn’t really get a chance to explore the county, but here’s a picture of the view from my hotel room.

The view from the Holiday Inn Express

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