I know we're not done with it yet but it seems as though January has been going on forever and as I haven't been hanging out on the blog much recently I thought I'd do a bit of a wrap up of the month so far. As of January 19th Toronto already had more snow than it had all last winter and for the most part it's been cold, too cold for my liking (what can I say, I'm a lightweight when it comes to chilly temperatures!). But it didn't start out that way. New Year's Day the temperature reached a whopping 11 degrees Celsius in the Toronto area. Honestly, it felt like spring was on the way and we went for a long walk and pretended April was right around the corner.

N ew Year's goodies left in the trees on January 1st, 2011There was some residual evidence from the holidays left down by the river though. Goodies left in the trees and a party balloon that I was impressed to find intact by the path. Get a load of the mist coming off the melting river in the distance. There was a moment when I wondered if we were in imminent danger of being attacked by a werewolf or something...and then I realized they only tend to do that when it's dark.

balloon down by the river, January 1, 2011

Unfortunately, the warm weather was not to last and since New Year's Day I've been spending a lot of time working on my new YA novel, hanging out in movie theatres and rewatching period dramas on DVD.

The King's Speech was just as enjoyable the second time around (thanks to inspirational subject matter and performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush that remain remarkably fresh even when you know the ins and outs of the story). The new Mike Leigh movie Another Year blew me away (I'm in continual awe of Leigh's profound understanding of ordinary people) and made me want to hang out with Jim Broadbent's and Ruth Sheen's characters until the end of time. I swear if the Doctor ever runs into Tom and Gerri he'll park the Tardis permanently on their street and never bother with time travel again, just be happy to hang out in their living room or help them with their gardening.

Another Year plus The Doctor

Made in Dagenham was funny, smart and inspirational and deserves a much bigger audience than its gotten so far. Black Swan was unnerving but thankfully slightly less disturbing than Requiem for a Dream (another Aronofsky effort). I was very glad to see Rabbit Hole reach my local suburban AMC. It's one of the most truthful movies about grief that I've seen. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart offer raw, multi-layered performances as parents who have lost their young son to a car accident but try to deal with the loss in their own individual ways. There are no Hollywood plot points here or easy answers, just a faithful portrait of what loss can do to people, bringing unexpected people together and pushing others apart.

Last weekend we also hung out in the Royal Ontario Museum (which I'm a big fan of) for several hours. Upon leaving I took my gloves off for just long enough to snap this snowy picture. Pretty...but cold.

ROM, Toronto

If, like me, you live in Canada there's a good chance you have a copy of the Milk calendar and if, like me, you're a fan of veggies I heartily recommend the calendar's Hodgepodge recipe (which you can also find online by clicking the link). We tried it last weekend (photo proof below) and I'm not a big foodie but just look at it. Yum.


Continuing on with the countdown to April 1st we're at sixty-seven days remaining. In the meantime, stay warm!

is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Borders, and Chapters.Indigo. There's no cover or info for it up yet so it's kind of a shadowy presence but I hope that soonish I'll be able to post a sample chapter here and, of course, the cover!

Sky girl

It feels like a long time until the release date of September 27th but I sure don't want to whip through spring and summer so that's probably a good thing. I am, however, perfectly ready to see the back of winter and am counting down to April 1st, a date when I can reasonably hope snow and the coldest temperatures of winter are in the past.

When I was a kid I'm sure I imagined that by 2011 we'd be looping around town on jetpacks and have established outposts on other planets. One of the things I used to really enjoy about the Star Trek: The Next Generation series was that in the 24th century on earth, at least, human wars and human need were a thing of the past. I hope this is the direction we're headed in, although we seem to have fallen a bit behind schedule on the matter of jetpacks and outposts!

Anyway, with the more immediate future in mind here's a list of things (in no particular order) I'm hoping for in 2011. Some of these are more likely to happen than others but I'm wishing for them all.

2011 Wishes

* That Steve Carell changes his mind about leaving The Office because I'm going to miss Michael Scott way to much to keep watching the show without him. Please, Steve, Staaaaaay! Dunder Mifflin won't be Dunder Mifflin without you.

* That governments and industries around the world get serious about preventing global warming. All us citizens of the globe play a part here but to truly make any headway on this issue we need the people with the power onboard and the clock is ticking down.

* That scholars discover a previously unreleased sequel to Elizabeth Gaskell's 1855 novel, North and South, because I'm dying to know what happens to Margaret Hale and John Thornton (and I'm sure there are a huge crowd of people out there who feel the same way). Said sequel should promptly be adapted into a delightful but rousing BBC miniseries with parts for Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage (from the original North & South cast) as well as Alex Kingston, Paul Bettany, James McAvoy and Mia Wasikowska.

Middle Ground: a sequel to North & South

* That Canadian citizens finally make up their mind to kick Prime Minister Stephen Harper (or should I say Stephane Harperoux?) to the curb and get ourselves a forward-thinking PM who realizes the future isn't going to look like the colour of dirty oil. I'm hoping this happens toute de suite because I don't know that my soul can survive watching Stephen choke out any more Who covers. I mean, if we have to endure a singing Prime Minister, even J-Roc would be an improvement. How 'bout it J-Roc, want to join the Liberal party?

* That my third book The Lighter Side of Life and Death gets made into a charming feature film that feels like a burst of sunshine. Because this is a wish-list I'll go ahead that and wish for my dream-cast and director too. You can read full details about both on the My Book, The Movie blog.

* At the moment I know quite a few writers that should by all rights (because these are super-talented people!) have wonderful book deals for their projects. Most of these folks are YA or MG writers and I'm rooting for them all—whispering to the universe (because sometimes it needs that kind of nudge) that this should be their year.

* Of course I usually have a book on the go myself and there are two that I would love to sell this year: my current WIP (a YA novel) and Book X (an adult novel), which I have an ardent crush on and which is still buzzing around in my head. So if you would like to whisper a suggestion in the universe's ear on my behalf I'd be very grateful indeed.

* That the citizens of Ireland, a nation which has been through the shredder recently, don't allow their government to rob the country of its potential by cutting off their fellow citizens at the knees. Nixing jobs and cutting health, education and social welfare funding will only hobble the country further. These are the kind of mean-spirited solutions which punish the people at the bottom of the economic ladder (and more of us are there every day) rather than those who caused the economic crash in the first place. I wish the same wish for citizens of the U.K. and everywhere else governments are trying to put the boot in in the name of austerity.

A brave new year to everyone!
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