Reviews Taken and Given

I’d like to acknowledge two new reviews for The Unwritten Girl that have come down the pipe. The first one is a tough but fair piece by well-read blogger Brett Lamb. His character, Sharky, gives the review and I get high marks for the depth of the initial chapters, although he thought that the plot thread of Theo’s mental illness was sort of dropped in later chapters.

You want to know my advice for Bow? Ditch the fantasy and take the real-world story from the first chapters and explore that. That’s where the meat is; the proof is in the pudding!

Xmas is coming and you can buy the book online at Amazon. A good gift for brats 10-12 who have an insatiable appetite for fantasy fiction wrapped in a thick, juicy slab of precious Victorian-styled sentimentality. Stick it in their stockings and get them to shut up for a few hours.

Fair enough. It may interest Brett to know that the story went through several revisions during the five years between first draft and publication. One of the last items to tackle was strengthening and tightening the motivations around Rosemary’s reluctance to see characters suffer, and the family history, especially around Theo’s mental breakdown during high school. In some ways, these elements of the early chapters were the last parts of the book written. With this in mind, I hope he finds Fathom Five an improvement. But I’m pleased that, bottom line, he liked the story.

The same day, I received the September/October issue of What If Magazine, Canada’s fiction magazine by teens for teens. It includes a lengthy review of The Unwritten Girl that’s highly complimentary.

The Unwritten Girl is a wonderful blend of humour, fantasy and action. James Bow has created an original storyline and crafted it into a great story.

“James Bow is a young author to watch and to read. This is his first novel and we certainly hope it’s not his last.

I’m told that this issue received a Canada Council grant to be placed in school libraries across Canada, so this publicity should help. Many thanks to both Brett Lamb and What If Magazine for the attention and the kind words.

Geek Out!

Yes, I admit it, I’m a geek. I love new technology. And this week, I’ve been enjoying myself on my brand, spanking new black MacBook.


Boys with their toys, eh? And this after I chuckled over those Apple Geeks who were essentially paying $140 for a lick of paint. What can I say? I am a sucker for Apple’s style.

This MacBook technically replaces the lime iMac that we bought for Erin back in November 1999, although that computer will remain as the house’s de facto server. Last year, I bought a 12 inch G4 iBook, leaving the hated Microsoft Windows behind. I liked it. I liked being able to write while sitting in front of the television or watching Vivian. And we found that Erin and I sometimes strugled with sharing it.

Technically this MacBook belongs to her, but Erin graciously accepted the hand-me-down offer of the iBook after it became quite clear that I was going to pout. Not that this says good things about me, but we’re both happy with the arrangement, and Erin still loves me — in spite of… or perhaps because of my idiosynchrasies. The best wife any husband could ever hope to have.

Anyway, as it seems to be in fashion to post ceremonial pictures of the unpacking of the Apple, here’s mine:


Package shipped FedEx from China, September 22. Arrives via Anchorage, Memphis and Mississauga on September 26.


Box within a box comes with nifty handle.


The high quality of Apple’s packaging is one reason we never threw away the box the lime iMac came in, years after it ceased to be useful. But this box has already been consigned as a plaything for Vivian.


Another view of the box.


Opening the box reveals interesting (but, sadly, non-recyclable styrofoam packaging.


Moving aside the top layer of styrofoam reveals the power cord, the Apple remote (for iTunes and the DVD player) and the computer itself, snug in a styrofoam sleave.


Removing the black MacBook from its sleeve, opening it up reveals the keyboard and a protective styrofoam sheet over the high-gloss screen.


Black MacBook poses alongside white iBook. It’s lurve! Okay, no it’s not.


Vivian plays with the non-functional Tandy T4700CT laptop, my first. It has no CD drive and runs Windows 95. And about 1/1000th the disk space. We also have a 1996-era IBM ThinkPad somewhere which may have originally sold for $10000, but which we got for about $100. More Vivian photographs can be found here.

So, how does the MacBook fare, three days later? I still like it, a lot. It seems like I made a good decision holding off until the early bugs were worked out (although finances dictated that far more than prudence). The black model comes with an upgraded duo core Intel CPU (2 GHz), a DVD burner, an 80Gb harddrive and 512 Mb of RAM, which I upgraded to 1 Gb.

The old iBook significantly outperformed my older Windows desktop, but I couldn’t help but notice that memory-hogging programs like Firefox, Thunderbird and NeoOffice dragged things down when they were all open together. The additional RAM solves that problem and speeds things up nicely. If Erin is to enjoy her laptop, though, I’m going to have to spring to upgrade her RAM.

I like the new keyboard because of its tactile feedback. I can continue to type as fast as I ever did, although it’s clear that the reviews are mixed on this one. My only gripes are that it runs a little hot, and the edge of the wrist-rests are quite sharp, and bite into the skin. The magnetic clasp is neat, and the MacBook seems to close more solidly than the iBook does these days. The magnetic power cord is also neat, and it doesn’t take much to pull it out (thus, in theory, saving the MacBook from spills). In fact, an eleven-month-old girl who knows she shouldn’t grab and suck on the cord can easily pull it out.

I admit we splurged a bit to get this laptop, but we’re both happy with the purchase.

Fathom Five Contract Signing

About a year and a month and a couple of weeks to the day that I signed the contract for The Unwritten Girl, the contract for Fathom Five arrived. Almost exactly the same as the original contract. I had no problem signing it.


My second book is one step closer to reality.

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