Welcome to Suzanne’s blog, Tuesday Café

Suzanne StenglAuthor Suzanne Stengl writes whimsical, heartwarming romance and cozy mysteries. When she needs a break from her keyboard, she swims lengths at the Y, skis at Sunshine Village and hikes in the Rockies. She’s also a pretty good line dancer . . . and a very poor euchre player.

Checking in

Well look at this. It’s the end of June and I’ve been delinquent with my blog. But I have been busy.

First of all, I am writing a lot. It’s a Christmas book, set in a blizzard. And last week, Calgary was 30+ Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). So it was difficult trying to imagine coldness.

imagining coldness for a Christmas story

imagining coldness for a Christmas story

We’ve got a bit of rain predicted now so the temperature is more tolerable. I’m humming Christmas Carols as I go through my day, and the story is working itself out.

The second reason for my absence: I’ve been working on another blog.

It’s for my primary hero, hubby Rolf. He’s just finished bicycling around Lake Michigan. Along the way, he took pictures on his phone, typed a story out on that tiny keyboard and sent it to me. I put it into WordPress. You can have a look if you’re interested: www.rolfstengl.com

bicycling around Lake MichiganHe’s back in Calgary now. I picked him up at the airport on Friday night. We had a Welcome Home BBQ on Saturday and it’s great to have him home.

And the third reason for my absence? I think it has something to do with not having a specific day of the week to be here.

Remember when I used to call this blog Tuesday Café and I actually showed up every Tuesday? I did that for a solid 4 years and then last March,  I decided to be more flexible. I also changed the name of the blog to the Chimes Café but most people still refer to it as Tuesday Café – whether or not I blog on the Tuesday. I supposed it doesn’t matter. Tuesday is a name. It’s doesn’t mean I can’t post on a Sunday if there’s something I want to say on a Sunday.

So I’ve decided to be Tuesday Café again and to try to post every Tuesday. I still might not be here every single Tuesday, but it’s a goal.  

So that’s where I’m at. I hope your summer is what you want it to be – calm and relaxing, or off the beaten path and adventurous.  

I prefer a summer of calm and relaxing.

I prefer a summer of calm and relaxing.

imagining cold from iStockphoto #000019131823
bicycle gears and chain from thinkstockphotos #83113308
coffee from iStockphoto #000024767120

 

My balcony garden

getting readyI took out my collection of pots and then made a trip to Sunnyside Greenhouse. Along with a huge bag of potting soil, I bought nasturtiums, geraniums, lobelia, pansies, violas, petunias, dusty miller, zinnias and a Gerbera daisy.

In an afternoon, I created this—an outdoor “writing room”. 

my balcony gardenA place to sit and think and compose, with fresh air, sunshine, colour and sweet smells. I love it. And, it seems, so do the squirrels.

Calgary’s Tallest Building

"The Bow" is Calgary's tallest building.On Wednesday, Rolf and I visited Calgary’s tallest building. “The Bow” is the headquarters for Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy. Our D-I-L Liz works for Cenovus so she got us Visitor Passes and showed us around.

Suzanne and Liz

Suzanne and Liz

The building is named for the Bow River which runs through Calgary.

The Bow River as seen from the 54th floor of "The Bow"

The Bow River as seen from the 54th floor of “The Bow”

Not only is the Bow the tallest building in Calgary at 237 metres ( about 779 feet), it’s the second tallest building in Canada. There are much taller buildings in the world. At the moment, the tallest is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 828 metres ( about 2,717 feet).  This is the building that Tom Cruise scaled in Ghost Protocol.

You can watch the scene here:

But the Bow is the tallest building I have ever been inside. Three weeks ago, I was on the observation deck of the Calgary Tower with Debra Dixon. You see “The Bow” behind us here.

The first 24 floors are for Cenovus and above that are the offices for Encana. There are also three indoor gardens – each six storeys high. Cenovus has one at the 24th level, Encana has one at the 42nd level and there is a shared garden at level 54.

indoor gardens at The Bow

indoor gardens at The Bow

The building was completed in 2012. Its position and shape give it the maximum amount of sunshine. Solar heat is collected in the atrium and redistributed, making the building more energy efficient.

collecting sunshine

collecting sunshine

The crescent shape of the building deflects the prevailing winds, which allows for a lighter structure.

And what a view!

looking south to the Calgary Tower

looking south to the Calgary Tower

looking west to the Rocky Mountains

looking west to the Rocky Mountains

In front of the building is a 12 metre (39 foot) sculpture officially called “Wonderland”  but everyone refers to it as The Head.

The Head

The Head

A full-time security guard is on duty to keep people from climbing The Head, but it’s okay to go inside it.

inside “The Head”

inside “The Head”

Suzanne StenglHave you been up high lately? How was your view?

The Bow – full height from bigstockphoto # bigstockphoto.com #76038542

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre AffairThis is what the cover of the book looks like—with all the tatters built in to the design. At least, this is what my edition looks like, there are others.

The story is fresh and fun and especially entertaining to a writer. It’s about a woman named Thursday Next who is a detective—a Literatec—in a seemingly ordinary world.

Except, it’s not really ordinary. It’s an Alternate World—one where the Crimean War has been happening for 131 years, and where the characters have names like Paige Turner and Jack Schitt and Braxton Hicks. And where the ending to the novel Jane Eyre is one you have not read.

Thursday has an Uncle Mycroft who is an inventor. Once he invented a 2B pencil with a built-in spell-checker. Now he has Bookworms that have encoded within their DNA all the dictionaries of the English language. And thesauruses too. Or rather, thesauri. He calls them HyperBookworms.

With the help of the Bookworms, he creates a Prose Portal where his wife (Polly) gets stuck inside a Wordsworth poem. Meanwhile an evil genius is stealing the great original manuscripts of the world, including Jane Eyre.

Jasper Fforde has an incredible imagination, a smooth writing style and a plot that sweeps you along. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read. To read a sample, go here.

So far, there are seven books in the Thursday Next series and they include: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of our Thursdays is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot.

I’ll be moving on to the second book in the series now.

Have you read any of the Thursday Next series? Did you have fun?

Debra Dixon Workshop

It was one of those amazing weekends. On Saturday May 2, 2015, the Calgary Association of the RWA held its Spring Workshop with guest speaker Debra Dixon. Debra is a writer and a publisher at BelleBooks.

Debra landed in Calgary on Friday. That night, the CARWA Board of Directors took her to the Sky 360 revolving restaurant at the Calgary Tower. Since I am the Membership Chair for the group, I was invited. And Amy Jo Fleming was invited since she was the critique winner. We enjoyed a lively conversation as we dined on menu items like Foie Gras and Goat Cheese Mousse, Wild Board Striploin and Wild Game Meatloaf Wellington. Then we headed up to the observation deck where we tested the glass floor.

Here’s the whole group.

CARWA Board of Directors

standing L to R: Amy Jo Fleming, Treasurer Brenda Sinclair, Debra Dixon, President Shelley Kassian, Secretary Katie O’Connor, VP Communications Win Day, VP Programs Ellen Jorgensen. Kneeling: Membership Chair Suzanne Stengl

The next morning, I arrived at the Valley Ridge Golf Club at about 8:30. The workshop started with breakfast at 9:00. That’s a great way to get attendees there on time. Debra began her presentation at 10:00 sharp.

We learned about the Goal Motivation Conflict chart, Dominant Impressions and Tag Lines. The Valley Ridge Golf Club served up a delicious buffet lunch at 12:30 and we recommenced an hour later with Debra presenting her take on the Hero’s Journey.

About four o’clock, we started a “finding your voice” exercise and Debra passed the microphone around the room for members to read samples of their work.

After the formal workshop finished,  about a dozen of us moved over to the onsite restaurant, Mulligan’s. Debra and Amy Jo stayed in the workshop room to review Amy Jo’s critique submission. And then they joined us at Mulligan’s. There was food and drink and Debra answered more questions and gave us more writing advice.

B. C. Deeks and I were the last to leave—about 8:30 pm. A twelve hour day and completely worth it. I’m still going over my notes and processing all this information.

If you can’t get to a Debra Dixon workshop, you must buy her book: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is one of the most helpful resources a writer can have on the bookshelf.