Tuesday, 24 April 2018


Today is World Book Day (WBD), and it's celebrated in many countries and languages. Created by the United Nations to promote reading, publishing and copyright, WBD provides a particular opportunity to think about, enjoy and share books.

Many people love to read. Many people don't like to read at all. Many, many others rarely or never get the chance to read.

I am one of the lucky ones because I learned to read as a little girl. I remember the Dick and Jane stories that got me started and, as I write this, can feel the pleasure of sounding out the words. A bonus for me was that my oldest brother is named Dick, and my middle name is Jayne (I allowed myself to ignore the "y" in my name), so somehow the books felt even more like mine.

I remember consciously feeling the pleasure of the words, stories and pictures. As I got older, that love extended to Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and great stacks of biographies and autobiographies I'd cheerfully lug home from the library. (Don't get me started on how much I love libraries.)

At this stage of my life I recognize factors that I didn't as a child. In university I did a project called "Sexism in Children's Literature." It was rampant. A few years ago, I gave my Early Childhood Educator students an assignment to look for sexism in children's books. Some things have changed on that front, but we have a long way to go in our still-male-dominated societies.

I've also come to see how racially slanted many books are. The images that meet us in most magazines and advertisements still sport mainly white faces. The stories reflect primarily white experiences. Of course, many stories are universal in their themes of struggle, love, victory and strength, and it's good that this is so.

Yet the contexts for those experiences are so different for so many. Fortunately, more and more people of all races, genders, abilities and ages have access to the publishing world and to the writing that is produced.

How can you help move us all along? Write. Read. Tell the stories you live and imagine. This way, we all learn and grow.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Snow day!

Today I was slated to go to my very part-time job at one of the local newspapers. I work in production (mainly proofreading), and I love this little gig. I enjoy the people I work with, and on my breaks I run into friends I don't often see otherwise. I worked at this paper years ago, having done proofreading, cutting and pasting (back when that was the only method available), writing and even selling ads. But after a while of doing the last job I suggested to the owner/friend that he might want to find someone else to sell ads; I was simply no good at "encouraging" people to buy ads if I sensed the slightest hesitation. No saleswoman, me.

Yet today is such a welcome respite! Not from the Monday job but for a day to write and stay in my comfy clothes and...just...not go out unless I feel like it. When I knew last night that my co-worker would take my shift (she lives in the same town as the office), I felt a little thrill of excitement and nostalgia.

When my sons were in public school, my job was in education, so if they had a snow day I did, too. It was like the best gift for all of us to get to stay home and just hang out...usually in our pajamas until at least noon. Maybe even right up until bedtime. Snow pants can be worn over pjs, you know.

We might watch a (very rare) daytime movie, read to each other (usually Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings) or just doodle. One of the boys is an artist, so he loved having hours to draw without interruption. At some point we might throw on our outside gear and go play in the fresh new snow. Then back inside for hot chocolate. With marshmallows, if we were lucky.

It was a sad school year when we didn't get at least one snow day. And even though I work from home, and even though I enjoy my Monday gig at the newspaper, today is a special treat day for me to hunker down and get a few things done that were going to have to be squeezed into the rest of the week. Best of all I get to simply meander through this snowy bonus day.

I am blessed, indeed.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


I am inspired, if that word can possibly be used in this context, by the completely ridiculous nature of the weather in my part of the world. It's snowing. It's April 11. That, my friends, is ridiculous. It's supposed to be daffodils and jonquils time, boots&jacket-in-the-basement time, bright-colours-of-spring time. Instead, my boots and jacket are nowhere near the basement, and I don't see any pretty colours out there at all.

So, having muttered, "Ridiculous!" a couple of times to no one at all, I decided to abort the original #WordWednesday mission for today and look up the origin of the word I was muttering.

I didn't learn anything terribly exciting (and, so, therefore, you won't, either), but at least writing this has kept my mind and hands busy. SO! What do we know about this amusing little word? Well, it goes back as far as the 1540s, so at least it has a venerable history. It was spelled ridyculouse at the time, having hatched from the Latin ridiculus, meaning "laughable, funny, absurd."

Absurd and not remotely funny. Ridiculous.

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Punny for Your Thoughts

According to the brilliant Alfred Hitchcock, "Puns are the highest form of literature."

I'm not sure I'd go that far, but puns are certainly a clever, entertaining and stimulating form of literature. They invite us to dig around for subtle meanings, sounds, rhythms and broader implications. This is good for our brains. The fact that the result is fun adds greatly to the benefits of these word clowns.

As many people know, Archie Bunker was a master punster (thanks to his own wit and that of his writers). Here's one of his that no one (especially Edith) would argue with: "My doctor tells me I got a communications disease."

A more current form of word play that I enjoy are the #Hashtag Games on Twitter. Here are two of my favourite ones that involve punning:

#Vegetable Quotes
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a yam.
The pen is mightier than the gourd.

#Home Improvement Movie
Look Who'd Caulking

I like puns because they make me slow down, root around in my vocabulary and try to send out a zinger that will make somebody chuckle. It doesn't always work. Sometimes puns just bring on a groan of agony at their lameness. But even a groan is more fun than nothing. To add to that, I really love it when somebody can throw one out at exactly the right moment. That's just so choice!

And since having fun with words is a big part of what I'm about...well, it goes without saying that a good pun will always get me either grinning or groaning in depreciation.

Friday, 23 March 2018

What is a Story 101

The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat's mat is a story.
                                                                                                                      – John le Carre

This is such a perfect, straightforward illustration of what a story needs in order to be engaging -- in fact, to be a story at all because a story is "a factual or fictional account of an event or series of events."

A story requires at least one character, a setting, conflict and resolution (or the intentional absence of resolution).

So in Le Carre's example we have:

* two cats
* two mats (inside or outside, doesn't matter at the moment. We might find that out later, or we might not.)
* one cat takes over the other cat's territory (or is given permission or is even forced/tricked for some reason we don't yet know)
* We have no idea how this story will be resolved, but that's the fun of writing....and of reading, of course.

The writer gets to mess around with the character(s), their world, their problem...and then all of that leads to some resolution.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

#WordWednesday...sort of

I learned this morning that today is #NationalWriteYourStoryDay, so I suggested to my Twitter and Facebook followers to do just that. I suggested they not worry about grammar and punctuation at first -- just get the ideas and words on the page. There's time to fix it up later.

And then I got busy doing other things and planning the next task that needed my attention -- all important and valuable for my writing and my writing business.

And then I read a blog post. It's called "Stephen King's 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer," by Jon Morrow. Excellent, helpful article about writing and blogging.

And then it hit me.

I was reading about writing and preaching about writing and planning stuff about writing and editing someone else's writing...but I wasn't writing. Not really.

There's a manuscript with my name on it, making its way around the Query Universe. It has add-on stuff that needs attention so it's ready when some wondrous agent contacts me to read more.

Two partial books are languishing in the "back drawer" of my laptop. They could use work.

OR I could also take my own advice and Write My Story. Today. It won't be long, since it's just a quick recap of one aspect of my life. Then I'll get back to the other things.

My Story
I don't remember actually learning to print, but I do remember starting to learn cursive writing. It fascinated me to link those separate little letters together and make them roll along together. My hand liked it, too. Writing in cursive felt so...smooth...and natural.

Then somewhere along the way, pretty early on, I discovered I also liked writing reports for school. I loved going to the library, piling big books on my table (satisfying smack that made the librarian scowl) and mining them for information. The pictures sucked me in, the words took me to interesting places. The feel of the books in my arm anchored me and told me I existed.

Fast forward many years, through several jobs where writing was only a sidebar to the "real" work. Into teaching and the pleasure of writing out lessons and helping students balance the agonies of trying to please a teacher more than themselves. Raising children and reading books to one another, helping them learn printing and cursive and a love of stories and books.

And now, here I am, grateful that writing is no longer just a sidebar, but the main event in my daily life.

-- The End --

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


Tomorrow is International Women's Day (IWD). This day has been observed since the early 1900s, originally with an emphasis on job equity for women. One word that came from the modern women's movement is even older than IWD.

Did you know that the honorific "Ms." was first used in the 1600s? It was derived from "Mistress," which was a formal form of address, like Mister. Neither term indicated marital status at that time. The short form fell out of favour for the next 300 years.

Then in 1901 the following proposal was printed in a Massachusetts newspaper, The Republican:

There is a void in the English language which, with some diffidence, we undertake to fill. Everyone has been put in an embarrassing position by ignorance of the status of some woman. To call a maiden Mrs is only a shade worse than to insult a matron with the inferior title Miss. Yet it is not always easy to know the facts...

Now, clearly, what is needed is a more comprehensive term which does homage to the sex without expressing any views as to their domestic situation, and what could be simpler or more logical than the retention of what the two doubtful terms have in common. The abbreviation "Ms" is simple, it is easy to write, and the person concerned can translate it properly according to circumstances. For oral use it might be rendered as "Mizz," which would be a close parallel to the practice long universal in many bucolic regions, where a slurred Mis' does duty for Miss and Mrs alike.

This "new" honorific came and went in the English lexicon, sprouting up in 1951, 1952 and again in 1961, when Sheila Michaels was advocating for a title for women who did not "belong" to a man. Her efforts were largely ignored. In 1969 Gloria Steinem heard about the term from a friend who had listened to a radio interview, and in February 1972, Ms. magazine hit the newsstands.

After another decade or so of the term's patchy acceptance and use, at last we seem to have agreed that both women and men can be addressed without reference to their marital status. We now have two terms that eliminate both the guesswork about marital status and the suggestion that it's even relevant in most non-personal interactions.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Query, Query Query

I am currently in the process of sending query letters to agents for my fifth book, which is my first novel. I need a different agent than I had in the early days, which sometimes happens.

Agents are approached multiple times every day, week after week, by people (like me) who feel they have the next best-seller. Because the publishing industry is so crowded with writers and publishing options and social media demands, agents need to be selective if they are going to survive the thousands of hours they spend reading people's material. Plus they have existing client-authors who need support, too.

Enter the query letter.

Query letters are not remotely a new thing, but they are certainly the first crucial step in getting published today. Writing queries has practically been called a genre in its own right, probably because it's a huge process with a particular purpose.

I've maintained the best sense of humour and humility I can during this current round of queries, which looks like this:

  • research to find agents and make a long list of possibilities
  • research to shortlist that long list
  • research to become acquainted with those shortlisted agents and agencies
    • what authors and books they represent
    • how I feel about their social media posts, photograph and way of describing themselves
  • create a table that includes who they are, what they want & how they want it, when they do and do not want it, if and when they responded
  • simultaneously, or before, also research query letters
    • how to write them
    • how not to write them
    • what winning queries look like
  • write what feels like fifty query letters that actually survive the trash bin
    • send several versions to very patient and supportive friends and family members
    • check to make sure one's skin is thick enough to listen to what they say
  • further hone the query letter for general purposes
  • read the manuscript what feels like fifty times to find the best sample, as per agents' expectations, and check each time for typos and better word choices...ad infinitum
  • hold one's breath and decide, agonizingly, which agent(s) to query first (Just do it, for Pete's sake!!)
  • tweak the query to match the agent's requirements
  • tweak the writing sample to match the agent's requirements
  • gasp for breath after hitting Send
  • somehow don't faint from exhaustion
Repeat. Probably numerous times.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Building a Workshop - by Committee, No Less

Photo: Peter Baumgarten of Creative Island Photography
Yesterday I had the fun of planning a workshop with two women I knew only a little before we started. But after a couple of hours together on a late February afternoon, we are all looking forward to doing this workshop. With snow and ice surrounding us outside, it was a pleasure to imagine a mid-March meander through the bush, followed by moments of reflection indoors to write.

Sarah Earley, of  4elements Living Arts, and Danielle Bourgault, an herbalist who also works at Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, joined me at my kitchen table to brainstorm the upcoming Write into Herbs & Teas. This workshop will combine an exploration of local plants with writing responses to the experience of harvesting and tasting them.

We tossed around ideas and approaches. What might Danielle  teach the participants about some of the many local herbs and teas she knows. Give them the scientific angle? The spiritual-emotional? How to pick the herbs, make the teas?

"Do it all!" Sarah and I enthused.

These two women have such interesting skills, intelligence and good will that the planning was a breeze. We had fun and sparked off each other in a trusting, cohesive way, while I marveled to myself that this might possibly be the easiest planning session of which I've ever been a part. The workshop itself, on March 10, will be a joy.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


The phrase "to plight one's troth" has in recent times usually meant a vow to marry, but it actually means any promise or pledge. Troth and truth were once the same word, meaning faithfulness, loyalty and honesty.

The first known use of the phrase was by Chaucer in the 13th century. In his "The Pardoner's Tale," three friends have plighted their troths "to live and die for one another like brethren born..." Things went awry, as things sometimes do, but as with plighting any troth, at the time of utterance the pledge binds.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018


Recently I shared two posts on Facebook that gave us a good laugh at some old words that the post-writers at Vintage News and History Hustle suggest we bring back. Those posts reminded me of the book I read a couple of months ago, Ellery Queen's Poetic Justice, a collection of "23 stories of crime, mystery, and detection by world-famous poets from Geoffrey Chaucer to Dylan Thomas." Queen published this unique book in 1967, with stories ranging from Chaucer's late 1300s excerpt from "The Pardoner's Tale" to Thomas' mid-1950s story, "The Old Woman Upstairs."

The stories were variously entertaining, boring and really good. But the language itself was consistently rich! From the convoluted structures of some to many delightful words I'd never heard before, to the beautiful rhythms of master writers, this book was the proverbial treasure trove. Here are a few of the gems.

From "The Three Strangers" by Thomas Hardy come two great pairs of words, the second of which explains the first but is just about as rich: "When the shepherd and his family who tenanted the house were pitied for their sufferings from the exposure, they said that upon the whole they were less inconvenienced by 'wuzzles and flames' (hoarses and phlegms) than when they had lived by the stream of a snug neighbouring valley."

Edgar Allan Poe's description of young working men reminded me of what you might see in any large city today: "There were the junior clerks of flash houses – young gentlemen with tight coats, bright boots, well- oiled hair, and supercilious lips…a certain dapperness of carriage, which may be termed deskism for want of a better word..."

One term used by G. K. Chesterton in "The Blast of the Book" (an intriguing title if ever I heard one) could not be found even when I consulted the oracle – a.k.a. Google. Chesterton wrote, "Professor Openshaw, a lean figure with palleonine hair and hypnotic blue eyes…" Palleonine. No one seems to know what it means, so I used my brilliant deductive reasoning to decide that looking up "palleo" might give me a clue. It did. Palleo is an old word that seems to have roamed all over Europe in ancient times and means "pale" or "to lose colour." So I think we can assume that Chesterton's Professor Openshaw had very light blonde hair to go along with his mesmerizing blue eyes.

So whether or not you have palleonine hair, or whether or not you have a flair for deskism, I sincerely hope you will not suffer from wuzzles and flames for the rest of this winter.

Friday, 2 February 2018

I write against violence. I write against fascism. I write against one person dominating another. -- Timothy Findley 

When I read this quote it prompted me to consider my own writing. Why do I write what I do? Do I write for something? Against something?

In considering my current novel, Like Raisins in Scone (working title), it's clear to me that I am writing against "violence…and…one person dominating another," as Findley said. The story does its best to look at the early days of Indian residential schools in Canada and to explore what that world was like for those children and the people charged with their keeping.

What I discovered while writing it was that all the terrible things that went on in residential schools in all places and all times affected anyone whose life touched those schools -- the children, obviously and most egregiously, their families and communities in different but equally devastating ways. We know this now, thanks to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and all the research and seeking that preceded it. What has followed the TRC's mandate has brought many such atrocities to light and to a wider audience. These revelations are long past due.

In recent years I have heard several Indigenous leaders and writers say things like, "We are all treaty people." and "Everyone in Canada is affected by residential schools and their legacy." Such statements opened my eyes to new ideas. They broadened my thinking and invited the discoveries I made while writing my book.

I discovered through my research and through getting to know my characters more fully, that many staff were almost as trapped as the children. Instantly I must say that this is not an excuse for cruelty or the institutions that supported it…but I have come to realize that it is true nonetheless. Many nuns and priests took vows of obedience believing in their god and their church. Some naturally entered their new lives with already-bent hearts and minds, but some did not. What a challenge it must have been for them to find themselves living in remote places, ordered and encouraged to inflict strict punishments on "those" children. Other. Ungodly. Dirty. This is what many staff people, and the communities that raised them, believed.

But what of those who found themselves in these schools with no way out? At the mercy of the orders that trained and programmed them, they went where they were sent. They stayed because they were told to. They survived because they were human, and to some, releasing their inner brute was not what they wanted. They had to learn to survive in an environment that taught cruelty, suspicion and separateness.

I realized during my research and writing that just as some guards in prisons and Nazi prison camps and orphanages around the world have always found ways to offer whatever small kindnesses and relief they could, it was logical that some in residential schools would have done the same. My initial plea to the universe that someone, sometime, was kind to the children was answered in the form of Sister Mary Victor.

I learned that there were, in fact, other real historical figures who advocated for the children in Indian schools – matrons, teachers, writers, at least one physician. I'm sure there were others my research did not reveal.

Like Raisins in Scone is not an apology for white people or the churches or governments. It is an exploration of what can happen to twist a human being, how urges are managed and mismanaged. How human beings react and respond when they are themselves trapped in circumstances beyond their control. It is an examination and indictment of Indian residential schools, to be sure, but it also offers an opportunity to explore the mindset of individuals and reflect on how a society helps to shape those individuals…for good or ill.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


You have probably noticed the similarity between the words "coddle" and "cuddle." I always assumed that they came from the same source. They didn't. Even though they look and sound so similar and have similar meanings, they actually derive from two different linguistic sources. Naturally, I'm going to tell you more about that.

Since about 1600, the word coddle has had two meanings, the first of which I did not know. It means to simmer in water. The second meaning is the familiar one, to pamper or treat like a baby or invalid. I surmise that the second meaning might derive from the idea of the gentle simmering – gentle treatment. Coddle probably comes from the Anglo-French (c. 1300) caudle, a warm drink for invalids. Its ultimate source is the Latin calidium which is related to other words today, such as the English calorie, Spanish caliente (hot) and probably French chaud (hot).

Coddle's linguistic doppelganger, cuddle, means to lie close or nestle together and has been found as far back as 1520. It's probably a variation on the obscure words cull or coll, meaning to embrace, or possibly the Middle English word couthelen, from couth, which means known and, hence, comfortable with. Cuddle may actually be related to collar, the source of which is the Latin collare.

The backwards search goes further, but we all get the idea. Coddle and cuddle are not related. Oh, well.

Sunday, 28 January 2018


Recently I've been thinking about what sparked my lifelong love of words and of creativity in general. Part of the answer is my parents. Though there was nothing idyllic about our family life, with various forms of dysfunction forming the framework of my childhood, we four kids were also fortunate to have those troubles balanced by our parents' positive qualities. Our mother was always either painting in oils, sewing, knitting, braiding rugs, writing little poems, or hosting lovely luncheons for her friends. She showed us by example how to pursue what feeds us, no matter what else is going on.

As a kid, I never thought of our father as being creative, although he beautifully restored numerous antiques that graced our home, a talent I now definitely recognize as being creative. I do remember when he encouraged me to be confident in myself and be willing to stand out from the crowd. Those are traits that are certainly needed by anyone who wishes to try new ventures or show her work in any forum.

Though I had to reach mid-life before I began to recognize the value of that foundation, it's not surprising that for as long as I can remember I have engaged in several of the same pursuits as my mother. And I have also built on the lessons taught by my father. Slowly I've learned to strengthen a courageous approach to my writing and love of fibre and to try new things, knowing I could well do a less-than-great job of it. For some reason, I usually have been willing to try and, often, not make a complete hash of it.

Add to that foundation the brilliant structure comprised of my children and the joy/challenge of parenting them. I always did, and continue to, learn so much from them about courage and adventure and imagination! As the main character in my most recent book says, "Children are the architects of joy."

One other crucial spark for my creativity is the place where I have made my home for the past 41 years – Manitoulin Island. Perhaps it's partly because my ancestors came from the Welsh island of Anglesey that I felt such an affinity for this place from the first hour of my arrival. Perhaps it's because the Great Spirit fills and is the air we breathe here and the fine friends and family I enjoy. Perhaps it's the rolling and rugged land that embraces the many bodies of water.

In countless natural ways these many sparks have fed each other, building into flames of creativity that feed me. Whether I make something for my own pleasure or someone else's, I'm grateful for the connectedness that weaves imagination, inventiveness and community together.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Writing Quotation

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. - PhilipPullman

Wednesday, 24 January 2018


Today I am bringing to the light a couple of well matched but obscure pairs of words you might not have known existed. I certainly didn't until I stumbled upon them one dark and stormy night...well, not really, but here they are just the same:

This long-lost -- but not technically extinct -- cousin to warmth has survived since about the 1540s. And, yes, just as warmth suggests a cozy intermediate temperature, coolth suggests an equally pleasant degree of, well, coolness. Several well-known authors have used the term -- J. R. R. Tolkien and Ezra Pound, to name two.

The other obscure half of a pair is the opposite of placebo. We know that a placebo is a non-medicinal ingredient that has no physical benefit but makes someone feel better just the same, probably because that's the expected outcome. A nocebo, on the other hand, is an actual medicinal ingredient (inactive or otherwise) which makes people feel worse...because they expect to.

So, there you go. Perfect pairings are eternal, whether we still recognize them or not.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Writing Quotation

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat. A sense of wrong…,a homesickness, a lovesickness."

"Any real act of creation is first an act of destruction. Picasso said it, and it's true. We don't build on the old, we tear it down. And start fresh."

"You tear down all that's familiar, comfortable," said Gamache. "It must be scary." When the old poet was quiet he asked, "Is that the lump in the throat?"
-- Louise Penny, The Long Way Home, page 153

Wednesday, 17 January 2018


Having started texting just a few years ago, I admit to two things right here and now -- one, I love texting as a practical and non-invasive form of communication, as long as I can keep the texts fairly short, and, two, my big fingers make some mildly entertaining (and also mundane) mistakes. Occasionally the errors might even be slightly embarrassing if I weren't a compulsive (though occasionally lazy) proofreader.

So, for example because my fingers can't seem to tell the difference between the u and the i on my phone's keyboard, I have often typed "thong" when I meant to type "thing." For example, I was asked once about something that had nothing to do with underwear or summer footwear, but I typed, "What sort of thong did you mean?"

My fingers frequently type tje for the, os for is, ot for to, and U for I...yiu get tje udea. :-P

My favourite texting error lately was that I typed "goliday" for "holiday" – a rather charming error, if ever there was one.

As a last little point, I am often truly impressed when my phone can discern that when I typed, "This os tje time tp see what i dobwith thing and othwt wotss." it knew I meant, "This is the time to see what I do with thing and other words." Pretty impressive, really.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Writing Quotation

Where do you begin telling someone their world is not the only one?
 - Lee Maracle

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


natatorium: One of my brothers sent around a photograph the other day...of a natatorium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now, to my knowledge, I'd never heard that word before. Turns out that in the early 1900s, a number of large cities were building these indoor pools for their citizens. Natatoria were whole buildings that contained not only the large pool and, often, second floor galleries, but also showers and change rooms.

Originally, at least in Milwaukee, the natatoria were built to give citizens access to bathing and showering facilities, since very few people had such luxuries in their homes. Cleanliness was clearly deemed to be of great importance and had only in recent decades been tied to diminishing disease. Unfortunately, they didn't figure out right away that starting out with dirty water or admitting people in all states of health and ill health did not contribute much to improving disease statistics.

In any event, natatoria became quite popular and eventually changed into a source of recreation than cleanliness. Though many of the original buildings gradually closed or were re-purposed, the idea of communal swimming pools has never since then left us.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


I'm kind of done with end-of-2017 and new year things, so let's get right into it. You might know by now that I like made-up words, some of my favourites being: carbage bag, cutism, drunkle and bargage bin.

Given my history, I now introduce another word that isn't actually a word…but which I think ought to be. It's fun to say and includes intriguing possibilities. This gem is "malodiferous." First of all, this is obviously about something bad and probably smelly and is much more fun to say than the actual word, malodorous. Somehow my word took on the ending of another actual word, maliferous, which means "rare, unwholesome or bringing/producing evil." A match made in heaven, don't you agree? Possibilities abound for my hybrid.

For example, in a steamy, Merlin-ish heart-throbber romance novel, you might come upon
Lancealittle charging in to rescue Againevere from the horridly malodiferous dragon onslaught…or…rat-hordes…or…some such. Then there is the modern-day image of terrifying, malodiferous tombs beneath a once-great city, where post-apocalyptic refugees languish in a squalor to which they have had to become inured. One might even try on the idea of easy-to-imagine malodiferous, slimy swamp creatures or malodiferous corpses waging battle against humans. Oh, wait. That's been done. They're called zombies.

But do you see? Malodiferous could do so much for modern literature. Watch for it at your favourite bookstore.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

National Science Fiction Day

Today is National Science Fiction Day because January 2 is Isaac Asimov's birthday.

I started reading science fiction in my early 20s, and I read most of the great ones that had been written up to that time. They broke barriers in my theretofore middle-class upbringing, provoking new ideas and offering satisfying possibilities for my youthful rebellions.

At the same time, an exciting, unique show came on the air. It was called StarTrek, and my friends and I were completely captivated! I even scheduled my university classes around its weekly broadcast because there was no way I was going to miss a single episode. We would all gather at my apartment, long hair and bell bottoms filling the room. I'd make a platter piled high with peanut butter and banana sandwiches...and we'd sit entranced throughout.

Throughout the years I've read other science fiction, sometimes also re-reading a few of the classics. From the perspective of a middle-aged woman now, it's been interesting to see my reactions to them, compared to my younger self's reactions. In any event, I still think that sci-fi is one of the great genres, and I'm so glad I was exposed to it at a young age.