Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Division Report: June 30, 2013

Greetings and salutations, visitors to  I hope all of my readers in Canada are enjoying their Canada Day long weekend (the actual holiday happened to fall on a Monday this year.) My apologies in advance if this edition of The Division Report appears disjointed. I am writing this on less than four hours sleep. Why so few hours, you ask? There is a reason for that, and I will get into it right now.

Every Day I'm Editing: I've been in a mad rush to get Barbadian Backlash re-edited before I start writing for Camp NaNoWriMo in about another 13 hours (at the time of writing). Realising my time was running out, I conducted an all-night editing session where I edited what used to be the final 6 chapters and condensed them into 5. I finished my task just before 4:15 a.m. Toronto time this morning. The end result of this whole endeavour has transformed the original 26-chapter, 51,000-word manuscript into a 19-chapter, 43,200-word product. To say I'm running on fumes right now would be an understatement; however, I'm thankful it is over for now. In the upcoming weeks I will put a call out to enlist a couple of beta readers for "Celdom II;" however, I'm not sure if I will need to send them a copy of Scarlet Siege (a.k.a. "Celdom I") beforehand, so they could get an idea of how the series has progressed. I would take a break, and commence editing Rouge Numbered Week ("Celdom III") after I was well-rested. But, as I previously mentioned, the start of Camp is nigh, so that will have to be put on hold for the time being.

The Write Stuff: One would think with my marathon editing session, I wouldn't have time to do anything else this week. Those people would be wrong.  In honour of the National holiday taking place tomorrow, this past Wednesday I composed a flash fiction entitled, "Meet Me On The Hill." It's about a young English-speaking woman who asks a Québec-accented male she met at a coffee shop earlier in the day out on a date to see the Canada Day fireworks on Parliament Hill. I wrote it to symbolize the two official languages coming together in the Nation's Capital to celebrate our country's 146th birthday. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Reading is Fun-damental: Truth be told, when I wasn't editing my second book, or writing a 500-word story, I spent the past 9 days finishing up the 3 books I had on the go. It seemed like a daunting task, but I wanted to make sure my schedule was clear come one second after midnight July 1st.

The first book was 100 Grey Cups: This is Our Game by Stephen Brunt, a sports columnist for The Globe and Mail. The book detailed the vast history of what has become a week-long celebration for the Canadian Football League's championship game. Released before the 100th edition of the game was played last November in Toronto, the book is filled with stories about how the event has evolved from a humble game first played on a field in Rosedale in 1909 to what some fans refer to as "The Grand National Drunk." While the book is a good read for those interested in the history of the uniquely-Canadian game, I found the book cumbersome, as stories are rehashed at different intervals of the book. The second half of the tome consisted of a mini-record book for the championship and a lengthy index for all of the people, places, and events referenced. While I commend Brunt for the inclusion of the records, I found a couple of them were misreported (a fact checker would have been beneficial). The index, in my opinion, was unnecessary. I felt a more detailed recount of recent games would have been an asset. Still, if you're a CFL fan, it's a good book to own, but only if it's on sale. My rating: 3.5/5

The second book I read was The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach (and Other Annoying People) by co-authors Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry. The first thing I found with the book was it had the same set-up as The Best of Down Goes Brown by Sean McIndoe, a book I loved. It was a collection of short chapters detailing the personality traits of the people the two authors have met (and occasionally, their own husbands). While I see the book as an attempt at humour, after the first 25 chapters it became repetitive, and I began to lose interest. While McIndoe's book left me in stitches, Allison and Perry's came across like a complete bitchfest; definitely not one I would recommend. My rating: 3/5

The final book was written by a dear friend of mine, Christa Simpson, entitled Twisted. It's the debut offering from a trilogy of contemporary adult novels involving two friends who have been in the midst of an on-again/off-again relationship. The action is full of steamy sexiness, as the two main characters attempt to rekindle the smouldering embers that exist between them. I will confess I was disheartened by the ending; however, knowing there are two more books to come, Simpson has piqued my interest to see what lies ahead for the two leads. My rating: 5/5

That's it for another edition of The Division Report. To my fellow Canadians, I wish you all a happy and safe Canada Day tomorrow, and for my fans residing south of the 49th parallel, I would like to bid them a Happy Fourth of July this coming Thursday. One thing to remember, people: while I know it's a time to celebrate your respective countries, please be safe. If you've been drinking, don't drive, and take the necessary precautions if you're setting off your own fireworks. Next week's edition of The Division Report will be delayed as I'm scheduled to be out of town visiting my family, and I won't have internet access where I'm headed. I'll see you all in seven, and happy writing!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Flash fiction: "Meet Me On The Hill"

In honour of my home country's birthday taking place this coming Monday, I've written a flash fiction  to celebrate the occasion. Enjoy!


“Did he stand me up? I hope I didn’t make a fool of myself for asking him to meet me here.”

The late evening sun was setting behind the crowd who had gathered, and she still hadn’t found him. Sandra paced the sidewalk outside the gates hoping he would show up. It was on a whim she asked the handsome stranger out to see the show tonight.  Sandra wouldn’t have asked him to join her tonight in the first place. She wasn’t the type of young woman who would propose a date with someone she met in a coffee shop a few hours earlier, but the seating in the Tim Horton’s on Bank Street was hard to come by. With the holiday, there weren’t many places open to begin with.

This morning, Sandra was sitting at a table enjoying her usual medium double-double when he walked up to her, and asked if the seat across from her was taken.  She didn’t notice him at first, his Francophone accent sounded like most of the others from the Gatineau side of the river. However, when she looked up, Sandra was transfixed by the young male who sat across from her. His trimmed black hair and brown eyes pierced into her soul.  She would learn of his name, Patrick, and engaged in some friendly banter.  The young woman, with flowing blonde hair and emerald green eyes was mesmerized by his charm.

Sandra learned that Patrick was visiting family in Ottawa from the Westmount region of Montréal; one of the rare English-speaking neighbourhoods in the Québec metropolis, and decided to step out for a cup of coffee. Fate would draw him to her, and she wanted to get to know him better.  However, Patrick would be returning home the next day, so if Sandra wanted a shot, she had to act quickly. She ran through her mind what the two of them could do for an impromptu date. Then, it came to her. “Meet me at Parliament Hill, so we can watch the fireworks together?” she requested of the Québécois.  Patrick seemed hesitant at first, but would do his best to show up.

The front lawn was becoming crowded and Sandra worried her whim was all for not. Suddenly, she heard the dulcet tones of Patrick’s voice.  It must have been a relief to see him when she bounded into his arms for a tender embrace.  The pair made their way onto the grounds to take in the concert leading up to the big finale. The skies over the Peace Tower lit up in a kaleidoscope of colour. Sandra nuzzled into Patrick’s arm, and prayed the night would never end.

Two people came together on that Canada Day night in the Nation’s Capital; one English, one French; a symbol of the unity our country possesses, and a relationship that has spanned 146 years, and continues to do so to this day.  Happy Canada Day to everyone from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia to the Territories.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Division Report: June 21, 2013

Happy Summer Solstice, readers. I hope you're all enjoying the first day of summer wherever you are... well, unless you're in the Southern Hemisphere; then, you're probably trying to stay warm. It's time for another edition of The Division Report, a look back at the week that was in my writing exploits.

Every Day I'm Editing: Progress has been slow on this front. I have been able to go through a couple more chapters on Barbadian Backlash (a.k.a "Celdom II"), and am currently sitting at just a tad under 39% complete on this latest round of revisions. I'm still waiting to hear back from my betas regarding Scarlet Siege, in hopes I can proceed with either more edits, or the eventual re-release of my first book. In the meantime, I plan on redoing the cover for Siege this coming weekend. So, if you see me in midtown Toronto Saturday afternoon with a camera in my hands, that's what I'll be up to.

Reading is Fun-damental: I'm continuing to read my dear friend, Christa Simpson's, first book in her Twisted series. At this point, I'm almost halfway finished, and there's some interesting developments transpiring between the main character and her friend/love interest/roommate. There is a flashback to the main character's past in Chapter 11, that I admit came out of left field, but it adds depth to her. I'm loving it so far, and can't wait to see what happens next between Edwin and Abigail.

At the same time, I've figured out the solution to a little issue I was having with my Kobo e-reader (turns out it was the external memory card I plugged in, but didn't really need at the present), so I've resumed reading the two books I was trying to start on it. The first is written by sports columnist for The Globe and Mail, Stephen Brunt, detailing the rich history of the Canadian Football League's championship game, the Grey Cup. It came out in time for the 100th edition of the championship game, played here in Toronto, last November. (And admittedly, was the backdrop for "Celdom III", Rouge Numbered Week.)  It's a look back to an event that started on a muddy field in the Toronto's Rosedale community in 1909, and has grown into a week-long party celebrated by football fans from coast-to-coast. I'm currently 2/5 finished reading this tome, and am looking forward to the rest of it.

The second book I'm currently reading on my Kobo is a humour book entitled, The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach (and Other Annoying People), co-written by Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry.  It's a book done in the same style as Sean McIndoe's The Best of Down Goes Brown, where it's a collection of short chapters, which could easily have been blog entries. The book takes a look at the co-authors' wacky neighbours and spouses in ways that make you either roll your eyes at the people they're describing, or possibly smack some common sense into them. It's an entertaining read so far, and like Brunt's book, I'm 2/5 complete in this.

Needless to say, I'll be busy with reading for the next while.

The Write Stuff: Unfortunately, with all of this reading, my writing has taken a backseat for the time being. I will be commencing work on my first ever active (and hopefully, successfully completed) project outside of the Gary Celdom detective series on July 1st. As mentioned previously, it will be a romance novel about Amanda Bellamy, a female ad executive in Toronto who inherits her uncle Gerald's wheat farm in Saskatchewan; much to the chagrin of her cousin, Rebecca. While on the farm, she falls for one of its workers, Hank Acker, and they commence a rather steamy relationship. All the while, Rebecca is challenging Gerald's Will for possession of the farm.

With the project starting within the next week-and-a-half, allow me to announce the name of the project, and my pen name, taken in honour of my recently departed great aunt...

My first romance book under the name of C.D. Melley will be entitled, The Prairie Fire Within.

I look forward to working on this new project, but at the same time, the wheels are continuing to turn for Gary and company. After talking with a friend of mine currently living in Southern California, I came up with an idea for "Celdom V." I won't be starting work on it until sometime next year (I still have to get through editing "Backlash" and "RNW"; along with, writing and editing "Prairie Fire", and the proposed "Celdom IV" and "Melley II" books before then.); however, it is a project I'm looking forward to in earnest.

That's all for another week. I hope you all enjoy the first weekend of summer, and if you are out enjoying the sun's rays, don't forget the sunscreen. There's nothing worse than a burnt reader.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Division Report: June 14, 2013

My apologies for missing last week. I had to make an emergency trip 70 miles away from home last Friday to tend to family matters. It's been a rough week in the aftermath, but that's not to say I have forgotten about my writing duties. Here's what I've been up to during the past week-and-a-half...

Reading in Fun-damental: During my time away, I was able to finish reading Sean McIndoe's The Best of Down Goes Brown. I found it a hilarious romp involving the National Hockey League. McIndoe takes real life events within the league, and amongst some of its players, and puts his own comedic spin on it. If you, or someone you know is a sports fan, and has a love for "the fastest game on ice," I highly recommend it. Rating: 5/5

Since then, I have started reading Twisted by my good friend, Christa Simpson. This is my next reading foray into the romance genre, and it's an interesting read so far. At the present, I'm about 14% through the book, and am interested in seeing where the story leads.

Everyday I'm Editing: The latest round of re-edits on Barbadian Backlash are coming slow, but sure. When I originally penned the book, it clocked in at 51,100 words spanning 26 chapters. At the present, 3,000 words have been chopped and it sits as a 21-chapter tome. I've only gone through nine of the original chapters so far, so I still have a ways to go before I send it out to the betas. I'm hoping through these rewrites, I'll turn it into a stronger story.

The Write Stuff: While one would think I wouldn't have been able to write much with everything going on, I did pen two flash fiction stories in the past eleven days. The first was a submission for a Halloween-themed short story contest. The challenge was the story had to be no more than 300 words, and those who know me (*waving to my Hired Editor who has been eluding my search party*) know having to try to condense my prose is not an easy task. However, I was able to meet the parameters, and enter my submission. I will find out in a couple of weeks if my entry is one of the ones selected. If it is, "A Spectre's Soliloquy" will appear on printed napkins in selected coffee houses this October. Should it not make the cut, I will share it with you, my loyal readers. I'm just not sure if I should post it as soon as I find out, or wait until closer to All Hallow's Eve.

My other piece of flash fiction is one I posted right here yesterday. With the July edition of Camp NaNoWriMo starting in two-and-a-half weeks, I decided to knock off a little "write rust" and whipped up a little 550-word story entitled "Chance Meeting in Cowtown." It's about two Calgary residents who come together by fate, and plant the seed for an eventual relationship. Who knows? If my proposed romance novel project this July is successful, I might parlay "Chance Meeting" into my pen name persona's second book.

That's all for now from my writing desk. I want to give a shout out to all of my new followers on Facebook and Twitter. My apologies to the Twitter followers if I send out non-writing tweets. It's a combination personal-professional account. Speaking of which, if you're on either (or both) social media platforms, my Facebook Author page can be found at: and I can be found on Twitter @Dief_Highlander. Until next week, happy writing!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Flash Fiction: Chance Meeting in Cowtown

It was a tepid Saturday afternoon along the Bow River. Craig Kennedy was riding his bike along the city’s bike path, as the May sun shone down on those taking advantage of the urban outdoors.  It had been a crazy spring weather-wise; however, in a city like Calgary, one can never know what Mother Nature brings from one moment to the next. One moment it could be snowing and the mercury hovers five degrees below freezing; the next it could be warm enough to don a light jacket. The warming Chinook winds which blow across the Albertan Foothills are appreciated, but unpredictable in planning one’s attire.

Craig was travelling at an easy pace to take in the tranquility just north of the city’s busy downtown core when he noticed a woman in distress. He rode off the path onto the grass, and investigated the situation.

“Are you alright?” he asked.                                 

“Not really. I was running just off the path, and my foot caught a divot. I think I twisted my ankle.”

Craig cautiously looked at the woman’s right foot, and surveyed the situation. He noticed a slight discolouring around the ankle joint, but it didn’t look like there was any serious damage.

He concluded, “It doesn’t look too bad, but it is something you need to get checked out. Are you able to stand at all?”

The woman leaned against Craig for support, as he helped her back to her feet.  Her hand took hold of his muscular bicep, and she liked what she felt. While he did work out, Craig tried to keep his mass to a lean appearance. He didn’t believe in looking like a hulking bodybuilder, opting for strength over bulk. However, whenever he exercised, he made sure to target his key areas. A hidden contrast to the bike shorts and light jacket he wore.

The woman apologized, “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.”

“Craig, Craig Kennedy. And, you are...?”

“Olivia Rumsey. Thanks for your help, Craig.”

“It’s not a problem. There’s a walk-in clinic over at 12th Avenue and 4th Street SW. Do you think you’re able to make it over there?”

“Not on my own power. Is there any way you can help me get over there?”

Craig reached for his smartphone, “I’ll call us a cab since they won’t let me take my bike on the bus.”

An hour later, Olivia hobbled out the clinic on crutches with a bandage wrapped around her ankle. The whole time, Craig waited with her while she was being treated. He hailed another cab and accompanied her to her condo in the East Village. Craig had to catch himself from staring at Olivia the whole time he was with her. She stood a demure 5-foot-5 with her blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, contrasted by a pair of green eyes which sparkled like emeralds. She dwarfed Craig by a mere six inches, but height was irrelevant. She was thankful for his kindheartedness. Olivia offered to repay Craig for his good deed, but he refused any monetary compensation. However, after some convincing, she did make him agree to a coffee date once her ankle healed. It was a chance meeting between the two individuals along the banks of the Bow River, but one that was the beginning of a long relationship.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Division Report: June 3, 2013

My humblest apologies to my readers for being late with this past Friday's edition of The Division Report. Things always tend to get crazy here at the homestead (which is actually a hi-rise apartment) around the end of the month. That being said, here's what has been going on for the past... well, week-and-a-half.

Reading is Fun-damental: As noted in my last edition, I was in the process of beta-reading an excerpt of an upcoming novel by my dear friend, C.S. Janey. She writes contemporary romance -- a genre I'll be personally experimenting with in the near future. I'll explain my reasoning a little later. C.S. forwarded me the first nine chapters of her work-in-progress, and I must confess it is quite steamy. I intend to give a full review once I've read the finished project, but rest assured, I've liked what I've seen so far.

Everyday I'm Editing: I've slowly been making the re-edits on the latest draft of the second book in my "Gary Celdom Case Journals" series, Barbadian Backlash. As of present, I have been able to condense the first five chapters into three. I'm finding it difficult to determine where to begin and end the revised chapters as I attempt to develop a flowing pace to this work. (Miss Hired Editor, I could use some help right about now.) I am hoping to have the revised draft completed by the end of August, so I could have it sent to a few beta-readers in time for the fall foliage, and I could commence the edits for Gary's third book, Rouge Numbered Week.

The Write Stuff: Alas, I fell short of my intended goal of having my short story, tentatively entitled Dark Secret, completed by the end of May. As of writing this report, I have tallied 700 words on the piece. I will continue to plod through it in hopes I will have it finished by the end of June, for once Canada Day (July 1st), rolls around I will embark on a new literary adventure.

As I alluded to earlier, and last week, I am going to break from my usual detective/mystery genre, and commence work on a romance novel. I will be penning this as part of the July 2013 session of "Camp NaNoWriMo." The proposed work will be a tale of a young female advertising executive who's established her career in the big city. However, her life changes when her uncle passes away, and she inherits her wheat farm in rural Saskatchewan; much to the chagrin of her cousin who wants the farm to be sold. During a visit to her inherited business, our heroine meets one of the farmhands, and he sends her desires into overdrive. Can our heroine make the necessary adjustments in order to continue to make the farm profitable, and not be overwhelmed by the surroundings?

That's it for this belated edition of The Division Report. I'll return in just a few days time with the next edition.