Flip that Skirt, the action version

February 3rd, 2023Posted by Nancy


And here’s the link to the next video. I do indeed get to flip my skirt around a lot during my portion of the dance. We’re already planning our next one, which will likely be a few verses of the sevillanas folk dance – unless we get distracted by some shiny new piece. That happens.

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Flip that skirt!

January 27th, 2023Posted by Nancy

After the latest flamenco video session, we did our usual selfies and photos routine. Jonathan said “flip your skirt” – so I did.

Flamenco skirt flip fun.

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January 22nd, 2023Posted by Nancy

My collage project based on the Witch Novel

Last Monday, sitting in Balzac’s Coffee Shop on Market Street across from Gemma Files, I finished the shitty first draft of the the Witch Novel. Cue the celebratory noisemakers and confetti. (Sadly, there was no champagne for me as I’m doing dry January.)

I know shitty first drafts are the thing but I struggle with them. My first drafts of my first three novels were all good. I had to rewrite a few sections and add some elements my publisher felt were missing but that was it. No matter how many times I tell myself that this shitty first draft is just fine, it’s a thing, it’s normal, I still find it very demoralizing.

Of course, what I thought was shitty one year seems quite competent when I read it the next year (which happens when one takes seven years to write a draft) so either I’m too hard on myself in the past or my standards have slipped in the present.

My plan is to leave the Witch Novel alone until March and then print all 296 pages of it to start the review and revisions. In the meantime, I’ll go back to the Glass World Thing and see if I can figure out how to make it work.

In the meantime, Yay me! And in February, there will be champagne.

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Me. Dancing. In a Video. Again

January 8th, 2023Posted by Nancy

Just before Christmas, I worked on a second video with two other students from the Arte Flamenco school. They both look fabulous and me, well, I did ok. It’s nerve-wracking in a different way than live performance is, especially if you’re going after two other performers. We’re aiming to get a third one done by the end of January.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t seem to want to let me embed it, but you can check it out at the link below. I’m in Episodes Seven and Four.


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What I Read, 2022 Edition

January 3rd, 2023Posted by Nancy

This year’s total, give or take, was 126 (not counting some rereads and some physical books for which I can’t use the library’s lending history as a substitute for my lousy memory). Of these, 60% were fiction and 40% non-fiction.

My favourites for the year as listed below.


Strong-minded Old (and oldish) Women, mostly nuns and witches

Learwife, J. R. Thorpe

You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce

Matrix , by Lauren Groff

Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Italian Classics

Lampedusa, by Steven Price – which is about the writing of

The Leopard, by Guiseppe di Lampedusa

Comfort Reads

A Psalm for the Wild-Built, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, and To be Taught, if Fortunate, all by Becky Chambers

Sarah Hall (her own category)

Burntcoat and Sudden Traveler

Fascinating Structure

Trust, by Hernan Diaz

Extravagant Language and Imagination

Popisho, by Leone Ross

Bad Fairies

Siren Queen, by Nghi Vo


War (I had clearly read a Twitter thread of recommended war books)

With the Old Breed, by E.B. Sledge

Street Without Joy, by Bernard B. Fall

Recent Russian History

Second-Hand Time, by Sveltana Alexievich

The Future Is History, by Masha Gessen

Sheer Outrageous Fun (Sex, Music, Novels, Alcohol, Broadway, Bad Marriages and more)

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers, by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green

The World Is an Amazing Place

An Immense World: How Animal Senses reveal the hidden realms around us, by Ed Yong

Artists are Assholes

Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, An Address Book, A Life, by Brigitte Benkemoun

Grief and Love

Lost & Found, by Kathryn Schulz

The Past Is More Complicated than You Think

Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings, by Neil Price

Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs, by Camilla Townsend

You are More Complicated Than You Think

Being You: A New Science of Consciousness, by Anil Seth

Book I hated the Most

What we Owe the Future, by William MacAskill

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Dancing Fool, Part 2

December 18th, 2022Posted by Nancy

Filmed our second flamenco video last night. I feel as if I made a different mistake on each take but that’s dancing, I guess. I’ll post the video once the best take (i.e. the one each of us made the minimum of mistakes in) is chosen and edited. In the meantime, here is the obligatory selfie and action pose.

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NaNoWriMo update and What I’ve Read

November 30th, 2022Posted by Nancy

First up, Nanowrimo. I set the usual goal of 10,000 words and managed 10,095 despite being away for a few days. The usual caveats apply: I don’t know what I’m doing, half of the words will/should be cut, blah, blah, blah. My goal for December is to nail down the mechanics of the ending and, with luck, actually write it. Then I should have an acceptably shitty first draft done.

On to less fraught topics – what I’ve been reading since the cottage trip. Here are some of my favourites.


Lampedusa, Steven Price. I loved this book, which is a fictionalized account of Guiseppe di Lampedusa’s life while he’s writing his classic novel The Leopard. Beautiful prose, fascinating characters, the angst of writing, the angst of life. It’s wonderful.

The Leopard, Guiseppe di Lampedusa. Well, of course, I had to then read the book itself. I quite liked it, despite some initial trepidation. It’s beautifully written and slyly funny. I found myself reading particularly droll passages aloud to my husband, which is always a good sign.

Siren Queen, Nghi Vo. Silver Screen Hollywood as run by the fey. Maybe. I was particularly impressed by how subtly she revealed the existence of magic and the nature of the bargains made by the studios for power.

Learwife, J.R. Thorpe. The string of “my God, this is soooo good” continued with this one. I was so blown away by the prose that I actually had write some of the most incredible passages down for inspiration. The narrator is bitter, clever, raw, cruel, loving, and altogether unforgettable. I admit that I also have a weakness for cantankerous old women in convents, so this was definitely my thing.

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes, Cat Sebastian. On a lighter note, this historical romance romp was pure pleasure.

You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce. Yet another cantankerous narrator and great prose. A successful but reclusive writer disappears and two years later her heirs must read the memoir she leaves them and decide if they want their inheritance. Were all violent, tragic deaths in her past the result of her lifelong relationship with the fey or is she just mentally ill? Another one that impressed me.


SHY: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers, Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green. Composer of ‘Once Upon a Mattress’. Writer of ‘Freaky Friday’. Daughter of famed Broadway composer Richard Rodgers. Funny and honest, Mary spills the dirt on bad parents, lovers (good and bad), husbands (good and bad), music (a bit of both), sex, life in the New York theatre world. With appearances by Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Carol Burnett, Leonard Bernstein, and anyone who was anyone at that time. Collaborator Green weighs in with footnotes to provide more information and sometimes corrections.

An Immense World, Ed Yong. I told everyone I met to read this. It explores the senses that animals use to understand the world and how they compare to our own. Completely fascinating and a timely reminder that the world is a complex and marvelous place that we need to protect.

What We Owe The Future, William MacAskill. After reading an article about Effective Altruism and Longtermism, I figured I should try this book to get a better understanding of it. I remain unconvinced that the happiness of billions of people who could in theory exist in the future (in computers! in space! Hey, it’s the Singularity!) is more important than the lives of people who exist right now. Also, the argument that wild animals live short lives of danger and hardship (gee, Will, did you ask them? Or ask Ed Yong?) and therefore we shouldn’t worry about them because they’re not adding to the net happiness of the universe is ridiculous.

Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina, Bernard B. Fall. Sometimes books show up from my library reserves and I’ve completely forgotten why I put them on the list in the first place. This was one of those books, but it turned out to be a fascinating book from the 1970s about the disaster of the French war in Vietnam and how the Americans promptly made all of the same mistakes. I’m pretty sure I got the recommendation from Twitter, which is another reason I’ll miss it if it implodes.

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Rocks and Shoals

November 20th, 2022Posted by Nancy

Or perhaps the mid-month slump. I’m on target for my NaNoWriMo goals but definitely feeling like I’m tap dancing like crazy and waving my jazz hands in an attempt to conjure up something meaningful to write.

To take the dance from metaphor to reality, I’m also working on my piece for the next flamenco video and my footwork is … to be blunt … quite awful.

And it snowed.


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Taking the Plunge

October 30th, 2022Posted by Nancy

Warning signs at Peggy’s Cove

I’m starting NaNoWriMo this year by … going away for a few days. Aiming for 10,000 words and a possible end of the first shitty draft of The Witch Novel.

Going to try to avoid the black rocks to prevent being drowned by the waters of despair. We’ll see how it goes.

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Progress Update

October 9th, 2022Posted by Nancy

I’ll no doubt curse myself by actually writing this but what the hell, let’s live dangerously.

I’ve had a reasonably productive year (for varying definitions of productive). I alternate writing months with planning, plotting, exercise months and just came off writing 5,000 words for September. I’ll sign up for Nanowrimo for November, with a target of 10,000 words. If everything goes according to plan, I should end up at almost 40,000 words this year.

The Witch Novel is very close to having a complete, if shitty, first draft. I know that shitty first drafts are a thing but until COLD HILLSIDE, I’d never actually written one. I still find it depressing and it’s hard to soldier on when you feel as if everything you write is possibly the worst combination of letters ever penned by human hand. That being said, and acknowledging that there are still several VERY large problems to be solved, the shitty first draft could actually be finished by the end of the year.

The Glass World Novel, Take Two, has progressed somewhat this year as well, though most of the scenes are past/flashback ones, which always leads me to question exactly which story I think I’m telling. I’ve already abandoned the contemporary romantic version for the alternative 1920s/1950s magical version so I’m not sure I’ve got a lot of variations left to try. Maybe a short story…

Of course, once the first draft is done, it’s time for revisions. I am NOT going to be rewriting the entire thing from scratch (as suggested in Matthew Bell’s REFUSE TO BE DONE). Nope, nope, nope, not happening. Let’s hope.

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