When I first got on the Internet in 1998 our package with Compuserve gave us a mere five hours a month online.

Five. Hours.

I was living in Dublin at the time and I can't remember which sites Paddy and I used to check out in those five hours (clearly, not many!) but I do recall how cool it was to be able to email friends and family back home in Canada and that as crazy as it seems, at the time those five hours felt like enough.

Now I find I sometimes almost miss having such limited Internet access because as well as being a terrific tool the Internet can also be a horrendous time and energy sink. For someone who writes as slowly as I do that's especially problematic.

Internet Lite mode aheadI'm not sure how other authors manage to juggle writing with maintaining some sort of Internet presence but for me, well, the more places I feel like I have to be online, the less actual writing I tend to get done. So for the next while, possibly even up till Christmas, I'm going to be in Internet Lite mode to work on a new novel. This means I won't be around my usual net neighbourhoods much. Quite probably I'll disappear entirely for weeks at a time, although I'll still answer email...just very slowly.

Anyway, this new novel (which currently consists of a mere 13 pages) will be Book XI but it's in the top secret stage. My feeling on books in progress is that they're in an incredibly delicate state during which if I even look at them the wrong way they begin to unravel and/or run away and hide and/or disintegrate like vampires exposed to daylight). So for now, pretty well all I can say is that Book XI is another YA book (Book X, which I finished in July, is actually my first adult novel and I have a huge crush on it but it won't let me talk about it yet either; damn it's coy!).

So, yeah, I'm a little short on book info at the moment but some day I hope I can share more details on both Book X and Book XI.

Despite what I said about being in Internet Lite mode there are a few places you'll definitely be able to find me next month and early December because I'm doing a blog tour (with book and swag giveaways) put together by YA blogger extraordinaire Kari of The Teen {Book} Scene. The blog dates and topics are below. If you're not in Internet Lite mode yourself then I hope you'll stop by and say hi somewhere along the way.

Monday, November 22: Michelle at See Michelle Read
(Character Interview - Mason from Lighter Side)
Tuesday, November 23: Kelsey at The Book Scout
(Review: Light Side of Life and Death)
Wednesday, November 24: Corrine at Lost for Words
(Author Interview)
Thursday, November 25: Jessica at A Fanatic's Book Blog
(Review: I Know It's Over)
Friday, November 26: Lindsay at Just Another Book Addict
(Character Interview - Finn from One Lonely Degree)

Monday, November 29:
Kate at I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
(Character Interview - Nick from I Know It's Over)
Tuesday, November 30: Kari at A Good Addiction
(Review: One Lonely Degree)
Wednesday, December 1: Christie at The Fiction Enthusiast
(Author Interview)
Thursday, December 2: Corrine at Lost For Words
(Review: Lighter Side of Life and Death)
Friday, December 3: Faye at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
(Character Interview - Jersy from One Lonely Degree)

Before I go I also want to recommend some wonderful YA novels I've read recently—Lure by Deborah Kerbel, Gentlemen by Michael Northrop and Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick. And I'm currently throwing all my self-discipline into resisting the temptation to read the first five chapters of Courtney Summer's December release, Fall for Anything, online because I don't want to deal with what I imagine the staggering withdrawal effects of having to stop at the end of chapter five would be. However, come December 21st you gotta know that's what I'll have my eyes glued to!

Lure by Deborah Kerbel, Gentlemen by Michael Northrop, Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
Bye for now...
Continuing on from yesterday, here are some more autumn photos I've taken recently, these ones locally.

Strong autumn sunshine

Fall flowers - still hanging on!

Woodpecker taking a break

More fall flowers

And these are probably technically weeds but still pretty

A nice burst of  colour

Hanging chained skeleton

On the road, fall style

Skeleton hands reaching up from someone's lawn

Yesterday we went for an autumn drive up to Erin and Orangeville, both lovely Ontario towns. There's a collection of tree carving sculptures (43 in total) in Orangeville. You can see pictures of a few of them below, along with images of fall decorations, city landmarks etc.

Orangeville tree carving


Orangeville tree carving

Orangeville church

Orangeville church


The run-up to Halloween is an apt time for a 50% off skull tattoos sale!

Tattoo skull sale, Orangeville

Orangeville storefront

Posters asking for information on Sonia Varaschin's murderer were hanging in the doorways of many Orangeville businesses. If you have any information please contact the designated tip line at (519) 941-2522, extension 2211.

Have you seen this car or boot? The OPP and the Orangeville Police Service are investigating the murder of Sonia Varaschin.


Orangeville opera house

Orangeville tree carving

Skeleton making himself at home inside The Winchester Arms:

Inside The Winchester Arms, Oakville

Orangeville tree carving

Main Street, Erin

Erin Main Street

Erin shop front

Just off the main street, taking it easy with a bottle of chardonnay after a hard day's work:

 Halloween decorations, Erin side street

Wisdom from an Erin bakery:

Erin Bakery: The best things in life are not things

Have you ever seen the Tin Man look this cute?

Tin Man on rollerskates, Erin Main Street

I wouldn't have suspected crocodiles lurking in an Ontario river so was grateful for the warning sign.

Danger Crocodiles. No swimming.

But I couldn't comprehend the other sign.

Here's a close-up which appears to say that little girls shouldn't eat ice cream in the middle of the river. Maybe that relates back to the crocodiles too?

The weight scrawled on this pumpkin was a whopping 734 lbs. Here, I'm pondering how to lift it:

Me & a 734 pound pumpkin

There have been quite a few things I wanted to blog about lately but couldn't seem to set the time aside for. However, one thing I absolutely didn't want to miss out on was this message of hope from Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns to GLBT youth—and the thirteen-year-old boy he used to be.

I think these messages (You can check out many more It Gets Better videos on the YouTube channel.) serve two purposes. The first is to communicate to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people (who are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, according to a Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey) that life does get better—much better, that they'll find acceptance, build full, satisfying lives and leave the bullies behind in the dust.

The second message here (as we read between the lines) is that the bullies who are abusive to GLBT youth are small, frightened people at heart who will either be left behind or evolve and grow into better people themselves. We can't tolerate the actions of bullies of any age. They need to know we won't. Not in our schools, our shopping malls, our streets, our homes. Every person who broadcasts an it gets better message also contributes to the growing societal belief that it is completely unacceptable to stand against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The more we hear this, the more often we discuss the issue and make our views known the less bullying in general there will be. Children aren't born to be bullies. They learn it from us and it's time to teach them something else.

On a slightly different topic (I say slightly because Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is quite the bully himself), I'm sure Stephen Harper was stunned at Canada's failure to obtain a UN security council seat. Who knew that other countries actually pay attention to a country's foreign policy when voting on these matters! Yes, other countries have noticed that our foreign policy has been exceedingly sucky lately, just like our environmental policies. In fact, we suck so much that many of us don't notice just how much Canada sucks except when other countries tell us so.
"It is hard to see what human rights principles guide Canada when it alone of all Western nations allows one of its own to continue to be held in Guantanamo or when its government is willing to padlock Parliament to avoid scrutiny of the country’s treatment of Afghan detainees."
Yep, we suck so, so much that sometimes it appears that our human rights record is being inspired by China! Just ask G20 protester Alex Hundert...or no, don't because he's not allowed to talk to the press due to bail conditions he was coerced into signing while at a Toronto East Detention. Allegedly, officers there threatened to keep Alex in solitary confinement for the rest of his trial unless he signed them...and still he initially refused. Alan Young, a law professor at Osgoode Hall, characterizes this aspect of Hundert's bail conditions as, "basically putting a gag order on a citizen of Canada, when it’s not clear that the gag order is at all necessary to protect public order."

Oh Canada, what the hell has happened to you?

Finally, I want to mention that at long last I was able to watch Nowhere Boy, a biopic about John Lennon's teen years. I first saw the trailer over a year ago and have been waiting and waiting for this to hit North American screens. In some ways (I devoured John Lennon biographies as a teenager) this felt like a movie I've been waiting over half my life to see.

Having said all, that it's obvious I had really high hopes for this film but Nowhere Boy exceeded them. The facts about John Lennon's messy childhood are well known but I wasn't prepared for the complex and highly emotional treatment Nowhere Boy offers us. For the last half hour or so I just felt like bawling my eyes out. Cool as the trailer is, it makes the movie mostly look fun. And I'm not saying there's a shortage of crazy antics and barbed quips in Nowhere Boy because there's plenty of that too but this film is much deeper than that and Aaron Johnson (who was fantastic in Kick Ass) absolutely shines his heart out here. I was in awe of his performance. Major kudos to director Sam Taylor-Wood and star Aaron Johnson for making a beautiful movie about John Lennon's beginnings.

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
—John Lennon
I know that not all of you will be surprised by what I'm about to say—that some of my fellow Canadians have suspected for quite awhile now that there's something not quite right about our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. He possesses a startling amount of contempt for democracy, the arts, and the unemployed and the poor and doesn't even feel the need to conceal it. He also continually displays a complete lack of regard for the environment.

All of this makes sense when you know the truth, which is that Stephen Harper is a prince of darkness who will feed on Canadian democracy until it's no more. At that stage, one of his trusted minions will ship him off in a crate to some other apathetic country that doesn't have the will to defy him. As a vampire, Stephen requires no oxygen or water and is therefore not concerned with environmental damage caused by the mining of the Alberta Tar Sands or the cutting down of the Boreal Forest. This also explains why he doesn't support the long-gun registry. Unless you use silver bullets, firearms are no threat to him.

In fact, Stephen Harper's real name is Stephane Harperoux. Baron Stephane Harperoux left France at the onset of the French revolution in 1789 and has been feeding on democracy around the globe ever since. It's likely that his true identity would have been discovered much sooner if not for the extremely uncharismatic persona Stephane's adopted (most notable in his staid haircut and monotone voice).

But now, with Halloween coming up, you have the opportunity to personally validate my claims about Stephane Harperoux because every October 31st at the stroke of midnight there is one full minute during which Harperoux is powerless to conceal his true identity. At that time you will observe something like the photograph below, one I snapped at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa last Halloween before security ushered me out of the Prime Minister's residence in Ottawa.

I attempted to free Harperoux's cats before exiting the scene but they showed no interest in leaving. I hear Stephane actually treats them rather well and shows more respect for them than he does for his fellow Canadians. I urge you all to give this matter serious thought. Harperoux may well take good care of the nation's cats but the rest of us are not in good hands!

Stephen Harper, Prince of Darkness

As an aside, I realize this news about Stephen Harper may disturb some people who have bought into popular culture's depiction of vampires as attractive and mesmerizing. Life might be like a box of chocolates but it's not like True Blood, The Vampire Diaries orTwilight!

Vive la liberté! Let's ditch this bloodsucker.

And so it's October, well and truly autumn. I can't deny it. And I wouldn't mind (because it's a chocolatey, pretty month and in Canada it's also the one during which we celebrate Thanksgiving) except that October is followed by November and before you know it the cold's deep in your bones, daylight is in short supply, the sleet is slippery on the streets and sidewalks and you wish you could hibernate until spring.

With this in mind, I have a proposal for the universe. We need to rethink the calendar year. It's too cold for waaaay too long up here and that just isn't working (it's no accident that Vancouver, one of our warmest cities, is the one that's always topping those world's best city lists). Here's what I'm thinking our new calendar year should consist of:

January's a pretty rubbish month and February, though short, is brutal. March, well that's mostly just more of the same January and Februrary blahs. April is when things start to get good so we may as well just start the new year with that, don't you think?
May: is the ULTIMATE month. Full of promise, so many beautiful things blooming and temperatures growing mild. May is a month that I think deserves more room. We could have three months of May and still not be sick of it. So I propose that we devote a quarter of the year to this wonderful month.

June: if we're dropping January through March there's more room for June—a lovely, summery month before much icky humidity has a chance to settle in. Let's have back to back Junes.
July: Full throttle summer goodness! Let July burn brightly but only once before we pass into August and the dog days of summer.
August: The last true month of summer. Time to seize the day.
September: Film fest time in Toronto, yay! A great time to get back to school (or writing projects!) in earnest. Break out that jean jacket.
October: Gorgeous fall colours, some slightly chilly temperatures, ghosts, goblins, zombies, miniature chocolate bars and turkey with all the trimmings. Here's a month that's both fun and a little different. We could double the good times by slipping in two of these instead of November.
December: we need to keep this month in the calendar for Christmas but also because it feels natural that two months of October would culminate in something colder. And having experienced some cold dark days we will appreciate April's renewal all the more.

October goodness

Anyway, I'm thinking I should take my revised calendar plan to the Dalai Lama. Seems to me he's in pretty good with the universe and could get something done about this. If it works out I'll let you know. Companies that put out calendars could be a little put out initially, I know, but in time I think the majority of Canadians would be much happier. Just cast your eyes westward to check out how milder temperatures year round could work for the rest of us. And in the meantime, enjoy some October music from the eighties (best decade ever—if the Dalai Lama comes through for me with this revised calendar I might get him to have a look at a proposal that we give the eighties another chance.

Secret Oktober, Duran Duran

October, U2:

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