20 July 2007

I really need to start packing...

This will be my last post for a week or two, as I'm going on holiday tomorrow. I'm going to the Netherlands for a few days, and then to Belgium for a family reunion.

Hopefully I'll come back with a suitcase full of books and plotbunnies ;) And maybe a real snippet... I started writing a scene today that I've had in my head ever since December. I never got around to actually writing it because I prefer to write in chronological order, and the scene is a rewrite of one of the first chapters. But at the moment I'm so sick of that battle at Vetera that I just started on this anyway.

See you in August.

What's better than a pile of books?

Two piles of books, of course! Especially when said books are waiting for you when you come home from a particularly awful day at work (I spent seven hours packing pork chops, and I didn't get much sleep either because I had to be up at six. Bloody morning shifts).

Pile number one consists of various books I ordered some weeks ago. Not all of them have arrived yet so it'll be even higher. Mwahaha.

The second pile is the books I got from Rosina for the writing meme :)

Incidentally, does anyone know of any meme contests where you can win a bookshelf? 'Cause I need one.

18 July 2007

Just a random post about my trip to Trondheim

Today was supposed to be my first day off in about two weeks. Then at 8 AM the boss called and asked if I could come to work. No way. Day off means day off, and besides, we'd already ordered tickets for the cinema. So I hung up and went back to bed, lol, and got another couple of hours of sleep before the bus left.

Before the movie we had some time to kill (and some money to spend, at least that's what I told myself) so we did our usual bookstore round. I was a bit disappointed by Norli today. They normally have a lot of different books, including a decent amount of historical fiction, but today their shelves were almost empty. But I did get a lovely illustrated copy of the Divine Comedy at Avalon, plus the usual cheap paperbacks at Ark. There my cousin also managed to freak out a shop assistant by asking him all sorts of questions about Shakespeare, the Canterbury Tales and if they had a cheap paperback version of the Divine Comedy. Apparently the guy had never heard of Dante.

All in all I got 11 books, none of which fit on the shelves unless I start throwing schoolbooks out (might just do that... who cares about physics?). And I already have tons of unread books. So why do I keep buying more? Good question.

I also spent a small fortune on ice-cream and chocolate. There's a little shop in the city centre where they sell Belgian chocolate, Dutch liquorice and about fifty different types of tea... I love that shop. I love it almost as much as the bookstores ;)

The Order of the Phoenix was surprisingly good, actually. Much better than the other four Harry Potter movies. Luna Lovegood was brilliant, Bellatrix was creepily insane, and Umbridge was fantastic - I wanted to strangle her from the moment she first appeared on screen, lol. There were obviously some changes but they were mostly minor, and at least they didn't add scenes. What annoyed me most was that it seemed so rushed (as usual) and neither Voldemort & co nor the Ministry's influence seemed very threatening. I would've liked to see the students (and teachers) put up some more resistance to Umbridge - they left out the Portable Swamp, and the best line of the entire book, "Give her hell from us, Peeves", wasn't included either as there was no Peeves. There weren't any Quidditch scenes either, but as they are pretty much the same each movie I didn't mind much.

And I'm a bit annoyed because the local bookstore won't have a midnight launch for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I guess I'll just have to get up really early on Saturday and be there when they do open. Maybe I'll grab a sleeping bag and sleep outside the door, lol.

17 July 2007

Writing and Uni

10 k down, another 50 to go. The words are coming out fast enough, but not much has happened. I'm still writing that little battle at Xanten where the Batavians decide to flood the surrounding lands to annoy the Romans. It's not a very big battle (Tacitus only needs about a page to describe it) but with all the preparations it's taken me the greater part of 10 k. And it's not finished yet, mwahahaha. I'm having fun writing this. Geravan gets to lead a cavalry charge against Romans who are stuck in a swamp.

You might get a real snippet soon. But you might also get another totally random Monty Python-inspired snippet. I just realised yesterday that Civilis could've brought the siege of Castra Vetera to an end much quicker if he had built a large wooden rabbit...

And now something a little more serious. I've got one year left of high school, and then... I dunno. Well, I'll be going to Uni obviously, but I don't know what and I don't know where. I'd like to do something language and/or history-related, but I've also thought about medicine or something to do with sustainable development. The only thing I know for sure at the moment is that I don't want to study law or economics, and that I don't want to work at the meat & deli for the rest of my life. A whole lamb was brought in a couple of days ago. Well, not completely whole. It was headless and had been skinned and gutted, but apart from that it was whole. It's hanging from a peg somewhere, dripping blood. Ugh.

But that's beside the point. I've had a look around on various Uni websites and got a few brochures but I think they've made me even more confused. I know that I don't want to study in Norway, because decent chocolate is way too expensive and there's a serious lack of 2000-year-old crumbling stone walls.
I'll probably go to the Netherlands. It's got Roman ruins, people know who the Batavians are, chocolate is ridiculously cheap there, it's got good bookstores, I speak the language (though I think I need to brush up on my grammar & spelling), and I can go and visit grandma and have a decent dinner there whenever I'm sick of instant noodles.
The cons? School fees! What the bloody hell is the point with school fees anyway? Shouldn't all forms of education be free so that the brightest students go to Uni instead of the richest ones?
Okay, so Dutch Uni fees aren't that bad - "only" 1600 € or so a year. I still think it's a lot (in Norway it's free like it should be) but it's not too bad compared to the UK. The Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic course at Cambridge looks rather interesting but it costs more than 3000 £ a year, if you are from the UK or the EU (which I guess I am, being from the Netherlands and all) and even more if you're not. I guess there are scholarships you could apply for but I'm not sure which scholarships I can get, seeing as I have two nationalities. A standard Norwegian scholarship is bigger than a Dutch one, but on the other hand you have to pay back half of the Norwegian one once you're finished with Uni. Or something. I haven't quite figured it out yet. I'll do that once I know what I'll study.

But, like I said, I might very well move to the Netherlands next year. I've found three Uni courses which particularly interest me:

Vergelijkende Indo-Europese taalwetenschap, Leiden: Indo-European languages. Sounds quite fun. Pros? I'll have an advantage because I know Norwegian and a little Old Norse. Languages rock, and if I choose this I'll be learning, let's see, Greek, Sanskrit, Gothic and Hittite, plus I can choose from another eighty or so languages that they have courses in. Yaay.
Cons? Maybe a bit too language-orientated. I'd like a bit of history too. There probably won't be any ancient crumbling stone walls to study. Unless they have inscriptions. Plus I dunno what the chances of getting a job are...

Oudheidkunde, Amsterdam: Ancient studies. Plenty of pros: It's ancient history, archaeology and languages all in one. Plus there's quite a bit of focus on the Batavians... I can learn Latin from scratch, and if I combine Latin with ancient studies I could become a Latin teacher, and apparently that means I'm pretty much guaranteed a job.
Also, according to my brochure, Jona Lendering studied this, and I love his website livius.org
Any cons? It's only got ancient history, nothing about the Middle Ages. So, no Vikings. No Anglo-Saxon. No Old Norse. And, well, it's in Amsterdam, lol. I don't really like Amsterdam. Utrecht is much nicer ;)

Keltische talen en cultuur, Utrecht: Celtic languages & culture. I'll learn Old Irish and Welsh, and I'll learn about Celtic mythology, which I love (especially Cuchulainn).
Pros? It's got history, languages and mythology. It's in Utrecht (aka Traiectum) where I was born, so I know the city and where the bookstores are. And the student corporation has sword fighting courses, lol.
Cons? No Batavians, and not many Romans either, except Caesar in Gaul. And I don't know what sort of job I can expect to get if I study this.

Wow... a post without pics. Can't have that, can we? Let's see what I have in My Pictures...

Ah. The Temple of Apollo, Rhodes. I was there two years ago.
It's old, it's crumbling, and it's made of stone. It was also bloody hot that day (and every other day during that holiday)

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, Uni. Like I said, I am not sure yet what I want to do. It might be one of those three I just described, or something else somewhere else (just not Norway). Either way I should get a move on. Because I'm a foreign student I have to hand in my application much earlier and I still have to get all my report cards translated.

Sheesh. This thing went off and posted itself. Well, I was almost finished anyway. I just have to add that I can't wait till Harry Potter 7 comes out on Saturday. I spoke to my cousin today - she works at the bookstore - and she says they already got a box full. Locked up somewhere, obviously. And we're off to see Order of the Phoenix in Trondheim tomorrow. Of course we'll be visiting a bookstore or two (or four) first. And payday isn't until the end of the month.

15 July 2007

No dragon hunt

My cousin's ill, so the camping trip has been postponed to August (at the best) or next year (at the worst). I'm not too disappointed 'cause it's raining buckets, and it gives me time to write. I was a bit tired after working for six days so I thought I'd have a cup of coffee (which I only drink when I'm exhausted and have to stay awake) and write the entire night. Well, I did make coffee, but I also added cocoa powder, cinnamon, grapes and tabasco. It tasted absolutely disgusting but it also kept me wiiiide awake, so I was still writing at 3 AM.

Instead of continuing with the battle I've been working on, I wrote a sort of parody of the scene where Civilis is holding his 'The Romans suck'-speech...

A quick cast list perhaps? Civilis is the leader of the revolt; Geravan is the MC; Thiadulf is his brother; Bago is Random Nostalgic Batavian #1; and Brinno is the leader of the Cananefates who isn't even supposed to be there.

I watched Monty Python's Life of Brian a few days ago, look here if you need to refresh your memory.


Civilis got slowly to his feet and the noise subsided almost at once. The flickering light of the fire threw his face into sharp relief and made his one eye look even more sinister than usual. Geravan held his breath and stared at him along with everyone else. It was a while before Civilis began to speak, and when he did his voice was barely audible over the crackling of the fire and the sound of the wind through the trees, so that they had to strain their ears to catch his words.

‘They say there is an alliance between us and the Romans. The bravest and strongest of our men serve in their army and fight their wars, and in return we are held in honour, or so they say. We have sworn oaths of loyalty to Rome and given them our allegiance. We do not pay taxes. And the Romans say it is a fair deal.’ His voice was slowly rising to a crescendo. ‘But Rome’s greed is insatiable. They say they are generous when they allow us to rule our own lands, but why should we need Rome’s permission to rule what is rightfully ours? And now they a conscripting our sons and brothers and fathers by force. We give them a warrior, and they demand two more. They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had! And not just from us, but from our fathers, and from our fathers’ fathers!’

‘Aye, and from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers!’ old Bago put in.


‘And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers!’ Bago continued. Civilis frowned in annoyance. ‘Yes, Bago. Don’t labour the point. What I mean to say is this: We have kept our oaths. We have given them everything we have, and what have they ever given us in return?’

‘The aqueduct,’ Thiadulf said.


‘The aqueduct.’

‘Oh, yes. That’s true.’ Civilis looked slightly taken aback. ‘They did give us that, yes.’

‘And the sanitation,’ the ninja next to Geravan said loudly. There was a murmur of agreement from the crowd, and Bago nodded and wrinkled his nose in disgust at the same time. ‘Aye, the sanitation, Civilis. Remember what the city used to be like?’

‘All right, all right,’ Civilis said sourly. ‘I’ll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.’

‘And the roads.’ Brinno gestured at the narrow winding path that led to the little clearing where they had assembled. ‘They’re better than anything we could ever make.’

‘Well, yes, obviously. The roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the aqueduct, sanitation and the roads-’


‘We don’t need that here. There's plenty of rain.’

‘But if there’s a drought...’

‘Medicine,’ said Thiadulf, rolling up the sleeve of his tunic so that they could see the white scar on his upper arm. ‘Neatest row of stitches I’ve ever seen.’

‘Education,’ said somebody else.

Civilis threw up his hands. ‘All right, fair enough. But-’

‘The wine,’ Geravan said to an outburst of laughter.

‘Aye, that’s something we’d really miss, Civilis, if the Romans left.’

Civilis clenched his fists together and was breathing angrily through his nose, but nobody paid any attention to him.

‘Public baths.’

‘And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Civilis,’ said Bago earnestly.

Brinno grinned. ‘Aye, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.’

‘All right!’ Civilis had to shout to make himself heard over the laughter. ‘But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

‘Brought peace?’ Thiadulf suggested.

‘Peace? Oh, shut up!


Now I'm just waiting for the Batavian People's Front to make an appearance. Or maybe Geravan could write 'Romans go home' all over Cerialis' tent.

But first I'm off to my aunt's, who has invited us over for dinner. It'll be my first decent meal in over a week. Yaay!

11 July 2007


Apparently I've won second place for Rosina Lippi's meme contest, so I'm getting a pile of books! Yaay!

Also, the writing challenge is going quite well. I've got almost 5000 words already. It's not as much as I would've liked though. I write best around midnight, but I have to work morning shifts almost every day this week (I'm starting at 7 AM tomorrow *groans*) so I can't stay up too late. I won't be writing much this weekend either because I'm going camping in the forest with my cousin. We're going to hunt dragons, lol.

9 July 2007

Here we go again...

I was rather looking forward to a quiet summer. A bit of reading, a bit of painting, a couple of walks in the forest with my sketchbook, perhaps a few bicycle trips down to the fjord to go swimming... Then Gabriele goes off and posts about Alison Kent's writing challenge: between 60 and 100 K in 70 days. I signed up in a moment of insanity, so now I'll be spending the next two months down in the basement typing till my fingers fall off.

And you know what? I love it. Nothing beats writing a conversation between a ninja and a Roman general at 2 AM while your on your twenty-second cup of tea and have to be up at seven the next morning.

I did NaNo last year and it was much easier than I thought; at the end of November I had about 64 k. Then I had school, homework, badminton training, art school and various chores. Now it's just work five or six days a week, and I have seventy days to write instead of thirty. Well, I do have one or two things to do, like finding out what I'm going to do after high school. I'll probably spend a few hours reading all sorts of Uni websites and panicking, but then I can kill a few annoying walk-ins to calm my nerves afterwards.

I've decided to leave the plotbunny for November and just continue with the Batavian revolt. I really want to finish the first draft this summer, so this writing challenge is perfect because it gives me a nice deadline. There are just a couple of months left of the revolt. I wrote the battle of Trier last week, and at the moment Civilis is at Xanten busy flooding the surrounding lands to make things difficult for the Romans (you can read more here)

The writing challenge started yesterday (Sunday 8. July). Before that, when I went to bed on Saturday, my word count was... Let's see...

Which means I need to have at least 238 328 words at 20. September. Ha. Piece of cake.

Now that I said that I really can't fail...

8 July 2007

Home alone

Well, almost. My parents and little brother are off to France and they've left the house to me and my older brother. He's just returned from a year in the army (just for the record, in Norway military service is compulsory. For males at least *grins*) and he's much easier to be around than my little brother.
It's great to finally have some peace and quiet. I can play music very loudly without anyone complaining (ha! So much for "quiet" :P) and I can stick my post-its on every wall in the house. I've got the computer for myself so I can write as much as I like (or I could if I didn't have to work six days a week) and nobody's telling me to go to bed early. Well, so much for the pros. The cons are of course mowing the lawn and cooking and washing. Not that we've done much cooking, mind you. Yesterday we couldn't be bothered to cook a decent dinner because we didn't want to do the washing up afterwards, so we ate military rations, and today I had frozen spinach straight from the packet (I like frozen vegetables). Somehow I don't think the next two weeks will be very different. My brother has the cooking skills of a baked potato and I'm too lazy to do anything except reading and writing. I might start jogging again next week. My ankle is pretty much back to normal again.

And I'll probably write about another ballad soon. But, for the moment I'm more interested in finding out exactly how the ice-cream machine works...

6 July 2007

Bookstores are evil...

And the people who run them are omniscient, I swear. They know I have a job now, so they expect me to spend all my money on books. I began to have suspicions two weeks ago, when play.com suddenly decided to have a summer sale, which included a good many historical fiction books. Now, I am completely certain. The bookstores are plotting against me. I was browsing around just now after I got home from work, and what should I find but another sale - this time it's books about the Roman Empire. So, of course, I want to buy a few. Only I shouldn't. I know I shouldn't. I have to save some money so I can pay those pesky Uni fees and whatnot next year. And, I already have bought a few books last week (alright, I bought about ten. Sue me).
But, on the other hand, I've worked five hours overtime this week, so I can spend that money on books, right? Right?

Yeah, I think I'll do that...

3 July 2007

Another meme

The second meme in three days, wow. This one's from Rosina Lippi, and you can read the rules here. You have to list five reasons the best writers come from, well, somewhere. So, here we go:

Five reasons why the best writers come from Camelot:

  1. A normal day consists of quests, tournaments, battling monsters, evil knights, evil bewitched knights, evil illegitimate sons, evil half-sisters… No lack of inspiration, in other words.
  2. The Round Table is an excellent writing desk. You can lay all your research books and loose notes on it and there’s still room for the teapot, your supply of chocolate and the cat. No more rummaging through drawers for the outline of chapter eight.
  3. We’re famous for our swords and heroic deeds. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, so logically, our books must be legendary.
  4. There are 150 of us around the Round Table, all armed and dangerous. Nobody dares mess with us or insult our books.
  5. Merlin can deal with evil publishers.

Tied to the Tracks
by Rosina Lippi. July 3, 2007. ISBN: 0425215326

"[This] is a hilarious, smart, sexy novel with a heart of gold." -- Susan Wiggs

"[Lippi] turns her buoyant creative talents to the romantic comedy genre with an effervescent tale of a trio of offbeat Yankee filmmakers plunked down deep in the heart of Dixie." -- Booklist

Read an excerpt. (Adobe Reader required)| Watch the book trailer

You can find Tied to the Tracks at Amazon , Barnes & Nobel, Borders, Powells, or at your local independent bookseller.

This meme has been entered in the Tied to the Tracks contest, originating on Rosina Lippi's Storytelling2 weblog. If you'd like to enter the BUCKS & BOOKS meme contest, get the rules here.

1 July 2007

A meme, a squirrel, and something which might be an eagle

A fun meme I found on Gabriele's blog. Three events, two births and one holiday...

14 April is my birthday, so here we go.

43 BC - Battle of Forum Gallorum. Mark Anthony, besieging Julius Caesar's assassin Decimus Junius Brutus in Mutina, defeats the forces of the consul Pansa, who is killed.
69 - Vitellius, commander of the Rhine armies, defeats Emperor Otho in the Battle of Bedriacum (sometimes called Cremona) and seizes the throne. Otho killed himself two days later.
1912 - The British ocean liner RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage at 11:40 P.M., sinking with the loss of over 1,500 lives at about 2:20 a.m. the following morning.

1578 - Philip III of Spain (d. 1621)
1629 - Christiaan Huygens, Dutch mathematician, astronomer and physicist (d. 1695)

Astrological New Year - celebrated as new year in South and South East Asia. Namely by Bengalis, Burmese, Cambodians, Laotians, Malayalese, Punjabis, Sinhalese, Tamils and Thais.

And, it's also National Day of Climate Action in the US :)

Now, that squirrel. I was outside on the veranda yesterday, reading, when something caught my eye. There was a squirrel in one of the trees, and it sat completely still, just looking at me with its beady little eyes. I don't really like squirrels.

The eagle was much cooler, but I don't have a picture of it, not a good one at least. I've been to that viewpoint in the forest almost every day this past week, and each time I've seen a big bird, which I'm pretty sure is an eagle. It has flown quite close to me a couple of times, but never long enough for me to take out my camera. I've tried waiting for it, but it's practically impossible to sit still outside for more than five minutes because the mosquitoes will eat you alive if you do.
I was planning on going up there again today with a mosquito net, but instead there was a thunderstorm:

There hasn't been a thunderstorm here for ages, so I rather enjoyed it.