Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

Okay, I know the last time I posted I wasn't exactly full of Christmas cheer. But here we are, it's Christmas Eve and not only am I ready for the "Big Day" I'm also working on a novel about it set in the wonderful little town I've created over the past three years in other novels. Those novels have been works in progress for far too long. This year, 2011, is the year I finally put them all to rest and work my sorry butt off to have them published. There, it's out there. The Bookstore Lady and Date with a Dead Guy will see their last edits early next year. As for Book Three which is titled Padded Walls, I'm still working on it and have Book Four started as of the beginning of December. It doesn't have a title or even a real story line yet, it's more of a meandering at present.

I have so many projects sitting on shelves which do need to see the light of day. Now is the time to get my act together and start getting things published.

On the bright note, the Headwaters Writers' Guild book is on shelves as of Dec 18th. It is called A Walk in Fields of Gold and retails for $14.95 with $4.95 of that going to purchase books for the children's library of the Headwaters Health Care Facility (our hospital). Our way of giving back to our community and encouraging young readers.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two Weeks Before Christmas...

I've been having a hard time getting into the whole Christmas spirit this year. We live 2000 miles away from our family and have no visitors this year. Not to mention we've had no snow until now.
Today, Dec 12, we've been blessed.
First of all, it started to snow today. Everything is white and fresh.
Secondly, I hosted the HWG Christmas Luncheon while my husband went to a karate seminar.

Not all of the HWG group was here, but the ones to joined the party had a wonderful time. Plenty of food. Great conversation. And my cats. I was worried about the cats causing problems but they were wonderful. Oscar slept the entire time, Jazz made his rounds as a social butterfly. He checked out all of our guests - heads and feet - and seemed to approve of them all. Tonight, Jazz was asleep on the foot of my son's bed. Exhausted from the festivities. So were the kids!

As writers, we all had a similar complaint. Not enough time/too busy to write. Although today gave some of us a lot of inspiration. The company, the snow and the food.

We did get to see the proof of our book A Walk in Fields of Gold which should be in our cold little hands later this week. A step toward getting more work published.

I've made the same New Year's Resolution for the past several years: to have my own book published.
This year, 2010, I've had stories published in two anthologies, A Walk in Fields of Gold and Stories of Prayer and Faith, and photographs published in Escarpment Views and more lyrics recorded on my dad's albums.

In 2011, I'm making an even bigger push to get my own novels published.
One baby step at a time, I'm making my dream of being a "real writer" come true.
Stay tuned to track my progress!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Great Procrastinator

If there's one thing I'm great it, it's procrastinating.
It's true.
If I weren't so darn good at it I'd already be published several times over, my house would be spotless and my kids would have the cleanest, most hole-free clothes on the block.
Alas, this is one area in which I excel.

Then I get those phases where I see a job that needs to be done and get it done before I have the opportunity to put it off. No seizing the chance to procrastinate - I jump before the dust can settle and get things done. In general, I'm not exactly a go-getter. Nope, not me. But the more I sit back, the more nothing gets accomplished.

Query letters don't write themselves. Novels don't edit themselves. (Although the kids are learning to cook and clean.) In short, no one else will do it for me. At the end of the day, it's ME who has to put on my "game face" and do what must be done if I ever want my novels to grace the shelves of Coles, Chapters and Amazon. I am the only person who cares if my work is ever published.

Every little triumph I have, whether it be publishing a photograph or short story in a magazine, a story or poem in an anthology or a full-length novel in bookform or on-line is added to my list of accomplishments. Every year, that list grows a little bit longer. This year alone, I am part of two anthologies - the second due for release by Christmas (I hope!) called A Walk in Fields of Gold.

Procrastination gets you nowhere.

Rolling up your shirtsleeves and working hard to make your dreams come true can get you much farther.
I know I'm a month ahead of schedule, but I have two Resolutions for 2011.
Number 1: I'm working harder than ever to get my novels published. I have two that are ready aside from a great hook and cover letter.
Number 2: I'm taking better care of ME next year. It's hard keep on top of things when you feel like someone ran you over with a team of sled dogs.

To be honest, I was going to post Chapter One of Date with a Dead Guy but...I procrastinated.
I'll get right on that. Soon. Maybe.

Keep on Writing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Edits and Re-writes...

I've spent a lot of time this week - between trying to get rid of a sinus infection, doing the laundry and going to work - editing. The working title of the book is "Date With a Dead Guy." I started it right after I finished "The Bookstore Lady" (less of a mouthful than The Bookstore Lady's Secret Life) a couple of years ago. Both books have been written, edited, re-written and edited again until I'm starting to hate them both.

But, alas, I don't. They are my babies after all.

As I type, "Date With a Dead Guy" is being printed off so I can give it one last good reading before I submit it to a couple of friends to read. Regardless of their comments, I also need to rework my query letter and come up with a darn good tag-line. You know those lines. They're the one's that hook readers and shoppers alike. Every product on the market today has a phrase that every consumer associates with it. We all know them by heart - ever sing the Oscar Mayer wiener song? - even if sometimes we can't quite remember what product they're for.

Next week, I'll post a chapter from "Date With a Dead Guy."

This week, I have a lot of work to do and an agent to find.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marge's First Novel

Okay, I admit it, I watch The Simpsons. I was one of the skeptics who said they'd never last, but they have and I am a fan. My favourite episode has to be the one I saw the other night. Marge meets a writer at the public library and asks what kind of training you need to be a writer. The woman tells her that she needs to take courses. She'd taken one at the local continuing education program that lasted a whole hour and was now a published romance author.

Marge dives in and writes a romance based around a painting in her livingroom of Moby Dick and "what she knows." The instant she completes it and sends it to a publisher, they love it and print it. Of course, we all know this is for the sake of a 30 minute cartoon. The fallout from neighbours speculating on who characters are based on leads to a confrontation between Homer and Flanders on top of a cliff beside the ocean.

I don't think any of my novels will end in any confrontations between friends, family or neighbours, but it was a fun view of someone who wants to be a writer. Marge demanded her time to write from her family and stuck to it until she had a manuscript. She sent it in without hesitation. Lucky her, the first person she sent it to loved it and sold it all over town. She didn't even have to research agents or publishers, nor did she have to face rejection.

We don't live in a cartoon world.
We get rejections.
We get readers and editors who tell us "this doesn't work, make me love it."

For every writer who gets their "first" novel published, there are several practice manuscripts in the closet that could say otherwise and a stack of rejections to keep them company.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween. Heeere's Johnny!

We had our writing meeting of the Headwaters Writers' Guild today and I was inspired to write a short Halloween story that I HAD to post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks to Richard for the many prompt suggestions I used.

"How many times do I have to tell you 'Never run with a sharp cleaver!'" Johnny's mother yelled at him for the tenth time that day.

"For heaven's sake, ma," he said. "I know what I'm doing. I've been a butcher for thirteen years now."

Ma stood in the doorway and glared. The colour combination of her outfit was hideous, but none of her customers seemed to mind. Particularly not the ones she led to the back room into Johnny's lair.

"I'm a psychic," she said. "Don't you think I know what's going to happen?"

Johnny rolled his eyes. "Then how come you can never predict the Super Bowl?"

Ma waved him away. Her gaze fell on the severed hand that still clutched a red rose. "Will you finish cleaning up in here already? I have a ten-thirty appointment and the last thing worn out housewives want to see in my shop is disembodied body parts unless--"

He groaned. "Unless they're bat wings or newt eyes or snake fangs. I know, I know."

The bells of the front door chimed and Ma straightened her black wig. Her own hair hadn't been black since Trudeau was in office. She shot him one last warning glance and disappeared through the black curtain.

Johnny grinned and finished tidying up the workroom. This would be the final guest he would have in the back room of this shop. After tonight, he and Ma would take their act out on the road.

The smell of incense greeted his nose and he held in a sneeze. He hated the stuff, but it added to the aura of the fortuneteller's store front and masked the smell of the blood. Ma murmured to the customer out front. A woman, he knew. Johnny could recite the entire routine in his head. "You will come into money. You will meet a tall, dark, handsome man." The normal schtick. He had thirty minutes from the time their guest sat down until his debut in the waiting area.

Today, however, he was tired of the usual routine. He longed to get on the road and see a different part of the country. For today, Johnny decided, he would go into the room through the black velvet curtain rather than around the building and through the front door. Ma would be angry, but she'd get over it.

A red light flashed above the doorway. It was a signal that he and Ma had hooked up between her seat at the table and the back room. An emergency beacon in case anything went wrong. Johnny watched the light flash once then twice before it remained dark.

"Now what?" he asked the silent room. "Is she in trouble or not?"

He picked up the cleaver and crept toward the black velvet cloth. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed a long-stemmed red rose and pulled aside the curtain. "Here's Johnny!" he said.

A scream shattered the stillness of the night. His mother's eyes were wild. "Run, Johnny, run!"

"Don't bother, Johnny." The well-dressed woman across the table from Ma turned her gun on him. "You're under arrest."

Johnny dropped the cleaver. "Some psychic you are."

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho...

It's been a busy couple of months for me. We've been short staffed at my "day job" so I haven't had a lot of time to write or submit. What precious time I have had, has been spent editing. I am lucky to have some great readers/editors in the Headwaters Writer's Guild who have been nudging me along with my work.

I had a boost of inspiration this weekend by an email from Wynterblue Publishing. They host a 24 hour contest every month with different prompts to get your juices flowing. If you are a member, they are free to enter. If not, they ask for $5. Being a member, I decided to get on board and write a 1,500 word short story. I even entered it.

This got me on a roll this weekend. I also submitted a short story called "Tula's Miracle" to Glimmertrain.
AND another short called "Ball of Beige Wool" to the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Contest out of the Kitchener Public Library. The Wynterblue contest may be closed by now, but the other two go on until the end of October for Glimmertrain (they always have contests brewing) and the end of November for KPL.
Feel free to join me!

Now that I've got the contest stuff out of my hair, I'm back to editing and working on two new stories, one of which is for my kids and their patience with me is running out quickly.

This week will be another busy work week, but I know I've gotten some submissions in and that makes me feel a lot more like a writer than I've been feeling lately.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's raining, it's pouring...

There's a gentle rain that has been falling all night. Much nicer to wake up to than the frost on the lawn yesterday. Frost is too closely related to snow for my taste! I find rain to be good for my writing. I'm forced to stay indoors and at my computer since I can't be out working in the yard or walking. (Although I could get the laundry done if I wanted.)

Today, however, I am using the rain to my benefit. Editing and writing top the list.
I attended a Brian Henry writing workshop Oct 2 to learn more about writing for children and young adults. From that workshop, I have been inspired to do two things. 1) Edit the two or three YA book I have tucked in a closet and 2) start to write a book for my two younger boys.

The editing part is causing less stress than having to create a new chapter every night! At least the boys are having fun listening to it and giving me more and more ideas. I take note of the suggestions and use the ones that will fit the storyline. So far I've discovered two things: my kids have great imaginations and (thanks to me and Gordon Korman) they are terrified of going to summer camp! Good thing it's autumn.

Fall is a great time for reaping ideas, squirreling them away and using them up all winter.
Happy squirreling!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ridding myself of the deadwood

After a wonderful vacation, which included a lot of driving, I came home to nearly a hundred emails - most of which I deleted. From those emails, I got the sense that I was being sent things that I shouldn't have been sent. Disagreements between other people that I was being indirectly involved in. I decided to lighten my load and rid myself of two volunteer positions that were dragging me down and taking away from my creative time and energy effectively giving me Writer's Block. One of these positions, I was unclear about cutting ties from until today.

Earlier today I was in the local library and stumbled across a copy of Psychic by Sylvia Browne. I read it in pretty much one sitting. One passage she wrote particularly jumped out at me:
As sometimes happens when I'm overwhelmed, I begin sinking into a deep depression. Since I know that's not uncommon, it's worth mentioning that I later learned to call it a "psychic attack." Please don't let that conjure up an image of me on a rampage through Cleveland with a machine gun. The term refers to an attack on the psyche when we involuntarily begin hearing and believing all the negative, debilitating, confidence-shattering "tapes" that play over and over and over again in our minds when we're exhausted, ill, and/or far too busy for our own good. The tapes are the insults and insulting thoughts aimed at us by the dark entities we've let into our lives.
She goes on to say that everyone has those same tapes playing in our heads and they all sound remarkably alike.

This paragraph struck a chord with me. I've been miserable and suffering "psychic attacks" for a long time now. From both volunteer posts which have nearly driven me to drink and a friendship that I've been struggling to free myself from. As fate would have it, one of the volunteer jobs came to an end of its own accord. The other I was driven out from out of sheer frustration. And the friend is moving. To help life return to a better balance, I have a permanent post at my job which lets me work two days a week and spend the other three pursuing my dreams of being a writer.

Sometimes Writer's Block, isn't a block at all. It's a sign that something has to give to make room for the creative self.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer and Fall Resolutions

Wow, what a crazy summer! Between taking my oldest to Sudbury for the 2010 Ontario Summer Games, working, keeping my kids amused and trying hard to get some writing done, summer is nearly gone. The leaves are starting to fall for heaven's sake!

On the plus side, Fall brings me more time to write. My work schedule will be more routine this year and the kids will all be at school. At our HWG meeting Sunday, someone asked how many books I've written. I couldn't give her an exact number. I ballparked it at ten. Sounds about right. This year, however, they are almost ready to go.

Ready for what? Ready to be polished and queried. I have one that is ready, The Secret Life of the Bookstore Lady. The next book in that "series" is called Date with a Dead Guy. It still needs some edits and a good query letter. Once it's older sister is gone, it'll be close behind. The third book, Padded Walls, I have to take another look at. When they do get published, I will be indebted to my wonderful editor Laura LaRocca forever!

But before I get into all the intensive edits and rewrites, I'm taking a vacation.
My brain is distracted by a new story that won't leave me alone. This one takes place in the southern US where I plan to go soon. Nothing like a little research! I'll give you more details later and maybe even post a chapter.

In the meantime, if you are on Facebook, check out the new HWG site! My friend RichardGoodship set it up and it's already getting a few members. Just search for Headwaters Writers Guild and you'll find us!

Enjoy what's left of summer!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Roads We Travel and Towns we Build

I'm going to Sudbury this week for the Ontario Youth Summer Games. My oldest son is competing and I am taking the opportunity to do some research. One of my novels has a section that takes place in Sudbury and, so far, I've been stuck researching vicariously via the internet and maps. Now I get the opportunity to go there and see it for myself.

There is something to be said for accuracy. When you create your own little town, like I have for my series, you can build and remove whatever you want. When you use a real city or town, like Sudbury, you have to remain true to what is there. Of course, if you want to use your creative license to build an imaginary building on an empty lot that's your own perogative.

Creating a whole new world for your characters isn't always easy. I've had to map it out since more than one book takes place there. And I still make mistakes! For towns in the real world, Google Earth and Google Maps can be your best friends. (Aside from going there in person.)

Have fun playing and building new worlds as well as new characters. Look what it did for J.K. Rowling.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hearing Voices

I haven't had a lot of time to write anything over the past week. My job in the real world has a bad habit of caging the little voices that compel me to write and stifling them. I have to force myself to think in a linear fashion, not in my usual whirlwind of creativity. The job I currently have, however, introduces me to characters that even I could not make up. When my friends say those "characters" are stereotypes, I beg to argue. I've met them! They're real.



Do I really hear voices? Technically, no. But I do get whole scenes, lines and even stories flashing through my head. Some are gone before I can write them down, but others haunt me until I do and insist they be given their own life.



Remember way back when to a show called "The Facts of Life"? Mindy Cohn's character Natalie Green was a writer and insisted that she needed to work a variety of jobs in order to get to meet people and gain experience in the "real world". The one that comes to mind is when she drove a hearse. I can't say I have ever driven a hearse, but I have held a variety of jobs and met a variety of people.

Watching and talking to people is one of the best ways to find characters. Or to make composites of characters. It's like mixing paint. You take one part of Aunt Minnie, two parts of your good friend Sandy and a dab of Uncle Sal and get my wonderful character named Mimsy Lexington. Okay, just and example. I really don't know who Mimsy is a composite of, but she's a fun character to get to play with!

Characters appear everywhere and in everyone. Your boss, your spouse, your kids, the old lady who lives across the back alley and keeps rabbits in her garage . . . even parts of yourself that you would rather no one know about. The one who hears the voices.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's in a Name?

Our latest discussion in the HWG was about naming our fictional characters. I am a big fan of baby naming books and grabbing names that I hear out in the real world. Much like I grab tidbits of conversations or incidents that happen to use in stories.

I have to admit, I tend not to use trendy names, mostly timeless ones. Victoria is one of my YA characters, her cousin's name is Cameo. Lucy is my leading lady in Date with a Dead Guy, her leading man is Jad (short for Jaidev).

Kathryn Dean once gave me a critique on a chapter from The Bookstore Lady's Secret Life (also known at Take the Money and Run). Her main focus was on the name I had chosen for one particular character. The character's name was Jewish and I'm not. She starts off as an evil person which Kathryn was afraid could make me look anti-Semetic. Okay, I gave into that one even though the character had her own issues and perfectly good reasons for being nasty. (For the record, in the end she turned out to be a good person once her troubles were behind her.)

Another person who gave me a critique on the same book told me that one character's name was too close to a popular actor's name. It was, but the thought had never crossed my mind. Funny part was, he was the nasty woman's husband!

We did an interesting exercise in our HWG meeting yesterday. Richard gave us slips of paper with names on them and we had to make a character description and a bit of a plot around them. The first name I got was Robert. Robert Redford. That was where my imagination took me and stalled. I traded names and got Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Manley...stuck again. I didn't get any writing done until everyone else read their pieces. What did I end up with? Another Stereotype.

"Elizabeth had been groomed from the time she was a baby to be perfect. Her hair and makeup were flawless before she left the house each day for her job at Theodore, Eugene and Finch. Daddy always wanted her to be a lawyer. Mother tried to steer her into acting. Becoming a lawyer for actors was her version of middle ground.
On a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive, Elizabeth is taken hostage by Bill, a former client. He drives her across the country and she learns that perfect isn't always good enough."

And so ends our lesson on naming characters. I have a new story to write!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Bucket List

I celebrated my birthday this weekend surrounded by family and friends. Last night, I sat up late watching The Bucket List and crying my eyes out at the end. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson were amazing. If you are not familiar with it, the movie is about two men dying from cancer. The Bucket List is the list of things they want to do before the die.

What possessed me to watch something so morbid on my birthday?

Actually, I found it very uplifting and inspiring.

I have my own Bucket List. Most of it is not written down anywhere but on my heart. At the top of my list, is selling my paintings and publishing my novels. Last night before the movie, I did some painting. I am going to be part of a large show put on my the Orangeville Art Group in October and need to complete 5 paintings. So far, I have 4 and 1 nearly done. I finished two last night, fuelled by a glass of wine and birthday cake! That alone gave me a sense of accomplishment and peace. The same feeling I get when I write a novel and send it to my friends to edit.

Each thing I do is one more entry on my Bucket List that I can cross off. I
One less thing that I won't look back on with regret.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perspective

Over the past week I have been shocked by the resignation of two members of two different groups I belong to. One was a long-time member who is disillusioned by the changes in a group he has been with for years. The second was a recent member who was insulted in outrageous fashion. Both are people that I highly admire and respect. Now they are gone.

Life is such a matter of perspective. The whole glass half-empty/half-full thing.
Monday was a glass half-empty day for me. Everything that could go wrong, definitely did:
The cat sprayed in the front entrance (ruining my 15 year old son's favourite fedora), then vomited all over the floor. On top of grocery shopping and floor and wall washing, a brand new bottle of fuschia nail polish broke all over my tiled kitchen floor. That was all before I went to work at noon. Work was ridiculously busy and nothing but problems. I came home to find out about the two resignations - at the same time. Then took the kids to a 2 hour karate class.

Looking back, however, I had missed all the blessings in the day.
We went shopping for a new hat for my son. He found one he liked even better for 1/3 of the price of the old one. The new bottle of nail polish was also on sale. I stopped at my friend's work for my youngest son to use the bathroom and she treated me to a cold drink. Not to mention that she usually doesn't work at that time and I hadn't seen her in a month. Work was filled with a lot of laughter when I told them all my woes and we laughed about what could possibly top off my day. Nothing seemed as bad as finding the soaked hat and vomit on the floor and I got to spend time with friends.

The best part of the day was coming home later and printing off a copy of my new YA manuscript called The Mural for my friend to edit. It was a reminder that no matter how bad things get, there is always a silver lining somewhere. Even if you have to strain to see it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Company's Coming...

I am taking a week off to do some hiking and sightseeing with my brother and his wife. They arrive tonight from Alberta. When they arrive, I will be somewhere in a canola field doing a photoshoot.

You read that right. The Headwaters Writers' Guild is finally kicking our anthology production into high gear. Stories have been submitted and are being edited. Our group photographer is going to be busy doing a group photo shoot this afternoon as well as taking headshots on July 11. We'll see what comes back from that!

My biggest problem with the photo shoot is that I don't know what to wear. Something that stands out against bright yellow and something not too light because the breeze is cool today and . . . who knew I'd be having these sorts of issues before my own novels are even published!

After today, the kids are done school for the summer. I hope to get in lots of hiking and a bit of camping between work and editing. No new novels for me this summer. Editing only. Ideas can come and visit, but will be relegated to the file cabinet. Really. Well, unless they are really good ideas and sweep me off my feet and into another world. Then we'll talk.

Have a great summer, I'll be in touch....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Great Use for Writing Prompts

I have a new dust collector for my bookshelf. Okay, it's really not a dust collector.

I am pleased to announce that the rough copy for my YA novel The Mural is done aside from a quick revision before my junior and senior (I use that word very loosely) get their mitts on it. As with the three other novels I've written in the past three years, it was sewn together from several prompts written in my writer's group. As well as vignettes I've written while my kids were doing karate classes.

Writing prompts are wonderful things to get your imagination stirring so you can add to novels or just write to create something new. This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Writing Reteat out at Eramosa Eden. It was fun to play word games and practice the art of alliteration - using repetitive initial sounds in adjacent words. In other words, writing a short story or paragraph in which as many words as possible start with the same letter or sound.

I have to admit, I was not very keen on the concept at first, but found it a good exercise in seeing how many different words you know that use that sound or letter. Who knew you could make an entire paragraph using words that begin with U? I do now and I'm very impressed that Clare could!

Now that I'm done procrastinating, it's back to revising. I'd like to print my new novel off for revision before the kids are out of school next week.
Keep Writing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clearing out the Clutter

A total change in routine today got me started cleaning. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those hoarders you see on television, but I do have my share of clutter. Mostly because I'm one of those people who was taught never to waste. I always have a crafty use for things, even though my kids no longer want to do crafts. I always have a great idea for an empty bottle or broken glass. (It's the artist in me, what can I say?) But the time has come, my husband said, to relieve ourselves of many things.

This morning I cleaned off the catch all in the kitchen (aka our cupboards), next will be the bookshelves in the livingroom and office. I have a habit of hanging onto books I love and ones I have yet to read. To most people that's a normal thing, to some people it's more clutter. But I refuse to get rid of my autographed collection.

The one thing I am passionate about (aside from my own assortment of manuscripts, photos and binders) is the books my friends and acquaintances have written. Aside from my kids, they are my pride and joy. People may thing I am bragging when I say "I know someone who wrote a book about..." but I'm not. I'm genuinely proud of their efforts and that they put that part of themselves out there for everyone to read. I gladly show them off, just as I hope someone will for me one day when I get my work published.

I have learned a great deal over the past three years as a part of the Headwaters Writers' Guild. I have met people who excel at editing, dialogue, description. I have met others who have determination oozing out their ears. And I have found the support I have lacked for most of my life. That support gives one focus.

Focus can help to decrease your clutter. How? Because you know what you want and you know how to get it and you won't let things stop you. Clutter stops you. Clutter makes you sit and stare and wish it away. When it is gone, you can concentrate on the page and not the baskets of laundry or stack of dirty dishes or the mound of papers on your desk that taunt you.

This morning, I am getting rid of the clutter around me and dusting.
This afternoon, I plan to write without distraction.
Well, unless I think of something else that needs to be done....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tying up Loose Ends

I've had a busy week cleaning up the things that I need to have done before the kids are done school for the summer. I'm almost caught up. This afternoon, I even have some time to write. This morning I spent with a friend and her mom who is here from Vancouver. Nothing but giggles all the way around. Especially after getting nearly lost in Shelburne.

I love this time of year. The kids suddenly have more field trips, which makes for some great photos and interesting happenings. My garden is in constant need of care, but I love walking barefoot in the grass to tend to it all. The rain over the past two days has made the colours of the flowers even more vibrant. My artist eye is in overdrive - and the imagination is soaring with possibilities.

Now that the "duties" of school volunteer are almost at an end for a couple of months, I can relax and put some of those energies into more creative pursuits: camping, biking, hiking and day trips. There is always something exciting around every corner. Like a swarm of dragonflies that flew in front of my van one day.

Enjoy each day. Don't let the moments get away.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guest Writer on C. Patrick Schulze Blog June 1, 2010

Today marks my first stint as a guest blogger on someone else's blog! Very cool. The Headwaters Writer's Guild are guests on C. Patrick Schulze's blog this week. Yesterday was Jayne Self's turn, today is MINE! Wednesday it will be Laura LaRocca, Thursday is Richard Goodship, and Friday should be Gloria Nye.

I was nervous about submitting my article, but, now that it's up there, it's pretty exciting!
There is a rating at the bottom of each of our blogs. Whichever one of us is rated higher gets a book on Manuscript Submission. Glad to say that it's merely a fun thing and no feelings will be hurt during this rating.

Hope you get to check it out!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plein Air Workshop May 30, 2010

Just got back from a wonderful day of painting, sun and meeting new friends. Today I took my first plein air workshop with George Perdue (www.georgeperdue.com) out at R.A. Gallery near Shelburne. What an amazing experience!

R.A. Gallery offered us the use of their many acres of property, their pond and old barn ruins to paint. We all rose to the challenge. Which is not to say that I will be posting my paintings. Well, maybe one, but I will post a few photos once I download them.

George is a patient instructor and a wealth of information. I have admired his work since moving to Orangeville 5 years ago when I saw a painting of his hanging in Mochaberry. A screen door with a view to a kitchen. I was in love. Having the opportunity to paint with him was the icing on the cake! He was very encouraging and plans to invite us all out to paint again one day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Head Stuffed with Fluff meets with Perfectionism

My last three weeks have been spent fighting a horrible cold then sinus infection. Today I have the pleasure (?) of watching my fourteen-year-old with it. The feeling of having nothing in your head but pillow stuffing is not helpful to writing or painting. The ideas get lost somewhere among all the fibers and come out as garbled words.

Thankfully, I am feeling better and able to tolerate him being bored out of his head and not able to focus on one thing for longer than thirty-three and a half seconds. I am also able to write again. I was finding it easier to use a pen and paper rather than my computer since it was easier on the eyes.

I have found that there is a very different connection to your work when you do not do it via electronics. My mind, heart and hand make a better team when they have a firm grip on a pen and I can scratch the ink onto paper. The click of the keyboard is satisfying too, but not in the same way. There seems to be a greater need for perfection on a computer - especially since it can auto-correct mistakes.

I don't want to be corrected when I am busy putting thoughts to the page.
I don't want to be told I'm wrong for each pen or finger stroke.
As artist and writers, we deal enough with our inner critic on a daily basis. Why do we have to listen to it when the ideas flow and thoughts are being spewed forth?

For one day, turn off your critic - as well as your spell check - and let the thoughts wander where they may. You might be surprised.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Launch at BookLore April 26, 2010




April 26 was the second of our book launches for Stories of Prayers and Faith. We had so much fun that Gloria suggested we do a second book. The few authors in the book that were there heartily agreed. No one has just one story to tell.




We are gearing up for our next book launch at Chapters in Guelph on May 15, 2010 from 1-3pm.


What an exciting thing to be a part of!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meet The Authors Day at Eramosa Eden


What a beautiful day we had yesterday. The weather was sunny and warm, the company was interesting and amazing, and my copy of Stories of Prayers and Faith is filled with signatures of other authors. All of the people we met yesterday were interesting and the story in the book was not their only attempt at writing. Some, like Laura Masciangelo, have pubished books or articles.

Laura and her partner Brian were a lot of fun. She adored my kids (who adored the cats and didn't pay much attention to the adults) and gave them an autographed copy of her book to read.

Gloria and Alberta provided food and a fabulous setting for the meeting. The rest of us made our own entertainment and made some new friends. I am looking forward to re-reading the book now that I have faces to put with the stories. It will give the pieces a whole dimension they did not have before.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Meet the Author day, especially Gloria and Alberta Nye.
This is the beginning of more interesting things for every one of us.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Slow and Steady wins the Taste Buds


I'm used to writing novels and painting pictures one small step at a time. Sometimes it's agonizing to know what the finished product will look like, but your hand can only move so fast. I had the pleasure last night of walking my fourteen-year-old son through cooking a three course meal. As I am prone to do, he chose recipes that were way over his beginner head. That didn't deter him.


He made up his shopping list and did the shopping (with a little help but that was mostly to pay!). Yesterday afternoon, he and I got out all the things he would need to make this meal. I have to admit I was a bit sceptical. He chose four interesting recipes: Cheese Bites, Parmesan Potatoes, Drumstick Cake, and Ginger-Orange Glazed Chicken. The cake he made Saturday. On Sunday, for 2 1/2 hours, he minced garlic and ginger, zested oranges, chopped potatoes and created a masterpiece.


Slowly and surely, all the bits and pieces came together to create a meal that even the pickiest eater in our house enjoyed. My son proud as he should have been. He even impressed his uncle, a chef.


So why am I talking about cooking in a blog devoted to writing and art? Cooking, as my friend Laura reminds me, is an art. One step at a time, you take something that might be nothing on it's own, but when blended or sauteed or mixed it can become something wonderful. Just like words and paint.


My son says he wants to be a lawyer or a teacher. After this weekend, he may consider a new vocation.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stories of Prayer and Faith

I took two copies of Stories of Prayer and Faith to work with me yesterday. I sold 3! A lot of my co-workers are very excited about it as well so I had to order a few more copies. I also passed along the information that there will be a book launch at Book Lore here in Orangeville on April 12 at 7pm. There will be another one at Eramosa Eden on April 18. That one is more of a "Meet the Authors" gathering. No matter, I'm looking forward to both!

Today is gloomy and I have company for a few days, but I'm looking forward to getting outside in my yard. It's a wonderful treat to walk around the dewy grass in the summer in bare feet and take pictures of the magnificent flowers that bloom around me. It's okay, my neighbours understand that I'm one of "those". The artsy types who does strange things. This summer it will involve multi-coloured wine bottles on the back deck in the sunshine. Could make for a cool book cover or just some amazing pictures.

This weekend, I'm bringing more paintings for display in town. This time at the local hospital. I'm not sure which ones I'm bringing yet. I still have to wire them and give them a dusting off. They've been hanging in my livingroom since November. I'm thinking I may bring some abstract art this time. Be daring and different.

Sometimes being a writer or an artist, we have to strive to try new things or we blend in with the crowd and no one notices us. That's not always a bad thing but does it help us to grow as an artist if we don't take the chance?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beware the Ides of March...

It's been a weird week in my house. My mom came out for March Break so we spent a few days going day trips and shopping. Part way into her visit, Uncle John passed away. He's my husband's uncle. We've become very close to him since he and his daughter are the only family we have in Ontario. It has been difficult for our kids (and us) to grasp the idea that he is gone - especially for my 8 year old who always calls him Grandpa John.

In the midst of all the chaos, I chose to go to my writing group meeting last Sunday. I haven't had time to write during the past two weeks so it was hard to get my pen moving across the page again. My mind was elsewhere, but I did get something I can use for my new book. I also got my first copies of Stories of Prayer and Faith from Gloria. They are already spoken for by family. Even the more unsupportive members. My husband has been showing it to everyone he's Skyped since Sunday.

Yesterday I was reading A Writer's Workbook by Caroline Sharp. One paragraph jumped out at me that I found comforting in the midst of chaos:
"A writer writes. That's just about it. A writer writes all the time, not because they have to, but because that is who they are, and they can't really envision their life any other way."
"Creative people need to be still with themselves. That is the best way to know yourself and your opinions - and figure out how to express them."

Keep on writing even through the rain. Soon the sun will shine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Fever

Spring fever hit me hard this year. Not that we've had an awful winter by any means. I've only had to shovel snow a handful of times (so far), but the warmth of the sun, the melting snow, and company coming has forced me to do things I normally put off until April or May. Like washing walls. Climbing walls. That sort of thing.

I even put a summer painting in the library and look forward to bringing my mom to see it on public display over the next couple of days. I'll make sure to post a picture!

March Break starts this week. The kids will be home, we'll be doing some day trips and not doing so much writing or editing. That's what I've been doing this week. Sending out submissions, getting more rejections for my box, and editing. Keep on Swimming. Dory from Finding Nemo is my idol.

I was abducted by a girlfriend this morning. I was going out to take a long walk. She picked me up and we took a long drive instead. Huge cup of coffee, a road trip, and thou. It was much needed for both of us. I loved every second of it. Okay, so the blog for my writing group was later getting online. And I wasn't exactly prepared for a daytrip, but isn't that what life is about?

Sometimes you just have to be a little flexible and go in whatever direction the wind takes you. That's what I'm learning lately. Life is too short. Splash in the puddles. Go camping and not worry about showering until your stench makes the flowers droop. (Okay, that only happened once. Swimming helps.)

Right now I am surrounded by people with cancer. They have all lived long, rich lives.
I am taking a class about Life Story writing and have a couple of questions: When you look back on your life, will you be writing about how successful you were in business or in life? How will your loved ones remember you?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Paintings are moving!!!

Finally a little bit of sunshine in a cold, snowy week.

As a part of the Orangeville Art Group, two of my paintings will be on temporary display at the Orangeville Public Library downtown starting Saturday February 27, 2010 until summer. Not sure which ones are going to be there just yet - that will be a surprise. I'll be sure to take a picture when they are put up!

Also got an email from Gloria to say the final proof is in the works and our new book will be out soon! It was so exciting to see a real copy of it. There will also be a book launch at BookLore on a future date. Will let you know when!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stories of Prayer and Faith proof

We had a Headwaters Writers' Guild meeting today and were happy to see our friend Gloria Nye in attendence. She brought a proof copy of Stories of Prayer and Faith with her. This is the book Nancy Rorke and I have short stories in that will be coming out this spring. Gloria has worked very hard to get the stories together, organized and edited to death.
She is also one of the women who run Eramosa Eden where our writing group does its Writers' Retreat every spring.

Thank you for all of your hard work, Gloria, the book is wonderful!

I'll be posting more about the writing group and out latest meeting on the group website, feel free to check us out using the link!

You can also check out Eramosa Eden which is near Guelph. A great place for a retreat or just to get away.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

About the Coral Turtle

This painting was created in one of my art courses. The turtle came from Cuba years ago and is one of my favourite pieces. It was a gift from an aunt. My art teacher was skeptical when I showed her what I wanted to paint but I did it anyway. (I'm just a little bit headstrong some days!) It's one of my favourite pieces.

People tell you not to get attached to your work. I guess that makes it easier to sell it and do things that you wouldn't normally do without getting frustrated in trying to be "perfect." That's why I paint and write. The Universe will lead you to create. The work you create can be edited or tinkered with until you've had enough of it. I read a quote somewhere that a writer sent a book to be published to "kill it" - to get it out of their grasp and resist the urge to tinker and play with it anymore. I've reached that point several times and submitted two of my novels repeatedly.

Does that mean my novels are bad? No. I have people read them who love them.
Does that mean I need to give up? No. I need to keep putting them out there and hope to reach the right person.
Does that mean I can't be frustrated? Hell no! I get as frustrated as anyone. But life goes on.
You get a rejection, you keep submitting.
I imagine once I my file box with rejections I might think differently and self-publish.
That seems to be how a lot of writers lately "get published". Not all of them should be. I read a prime example of that the other day.

Let me be clear: Self-publishing is not an evil thing but for heaven's sake people, if you are going to do it yourself EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!!! Get ten other people who know about good writing to read it and tell you if it's a good novel - not just a good story. Any one can tell a good story. Not everyone can make it readable.
That's why God created Editors!

Keep Creating!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Month, New Motivation

It's been a while since I posted last. I have used that time productively in editing Take the Money and Run and honing my query letter and synopsis. I have also had to take breaks in my writing to go to my "real" job. Always a source of inspiriation. Who knew that being a part-time bank teller was akin to being a bartender but without the alcohol (most of the time)? That will be an entire book on its own someday.

Did a few more submissions yesterday just to test the waters with my new chapter one. Same story just reworded and revamped. Maybe it will catch more interest.

In the meantime, here is a little poem I wrote for you to gnaw on...

Butterfly
I am a chrysallis
Quivering in my cocoon
Waiting to be.
There are many things
I am inside
Artist, writer, singer,
Butterfly
I anticipate the day
My wings will be strong
And I'll be free
To fly, to express,
To soar.

Keep warm and keep your dream alive...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When it Rains it Pours...

Today it's raining but that's not what I mean by when it rains it pours.
I've gone through a drought lately of having few shifts at work and lots of time to write. That was when I focused on finishing my novel Padded Walls. This month, I've gotten more shifts and have been busy with my volunteer work to the point that I seriously considered letting something slide. Unfortunately it was my writing. But not editing. My son, aka Junior Editor, is currently reading a new version of Take the Money and Run.

Today was the meeting for the HWG and I had nothing to read. I mean, I have lots to read but nothing I felt like reading to the group. It was like a mental block. My goal for the next meeting is to have something to read to the group. That simple. And to make sure I take lots of notes so I can keep up the blog! I'm getting better at that.

I also had my first meeting with the executive of the OAG. I am the chief liason with the local high schools. My first mission will be to meet the heads of the Fine Arts Departments and offer a scholarship to the two top graduates. As well, we are seeking students to participate in the Really Big Show in October. I also have to get some of my own artwork ready for then. It will be a fun thing to be involved with. A gala evening as well as a weekend art show.

This week though, Junior Editor write exams. He and I will spend some time picking paint for his room, going for lunch, and shopping at the local art shop. We'll also meet friends for breakfast next week when he has a PD Day. Now that he's in high school, time seems to go so fast. It won't be long until he moves on to bigger and better things of his own. I want to enjoy the time with him while I can.

And help him get ready for life as a grown up. Whenever I become one....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Busy

For me keeping busy never seems to be an issue. I always have a ton of creative or other things to work on. If it's not the housework, laundry, etc, it's the writing, painting or my part-time job. Even come evening when I'm supposed to relax, my hands are busy with crossword puzzles or making notes for the next day.

So how does someone like me relax? According to my massage therapist, I don't. I need to do more things for myself and spend some time doing things that ease the knots in my neck. For example, the other day I went cross country skiing with one of my kids. Sure I felt like I was going to die going up those hills and today I have some achy muscles but it was a good pain. I sweated so much my clothes were soggy when we got home.

My other form of relaxation is reading. I love to read but the more I learn about writing, the more I find I start to critique people like Janet Evanovich, Dean Koontz, and all the others who grace my shelves. I find myself studying their words instead of just enjoying them. Then I rap my knuckles and read on. Enjoyment, not tearing down their work, should be my focus.

I have a good friend who does a lot of editing for me and I edit for her. I have to say she's much better at it than I am so far! I have to start off with a thorough reading before I actually edit and I know she does the same. To see how well it flows for one then to nitpick. It's can be therapeutic to pick other people's work apart. Especially when you know they won't take your criticisms the wrong way.

When I get her edits. I take it with a sense of grace. Punch a punching bag a couple of times and curse under my breath. Then I go on and edit. Suddenly I find I like my novel a whole lot more once the nitpicking things have been pointed out. And I can relax....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year, New Challenges

As I wrote in my last blog, I joined the Orangeville Art Group this year. Yesterday, I not only got two of my paintings hung in one of their 3 local displays but I got a new job to do. I'll find out more details at our meeting on Tuesday but it involves contacting three local high schools and finding new art and artists to encourage. The other jobs they had available at the moment were President and Vice President. I figured those were challenges I wasn't quite ready for yet!

Today the Headwaters Writers Group met at our new location. The local library decided that for writers to meet and write on their premises, we would have to pay to rent the room like everyone else. We decided we could do better. And we did. One of our members got us a room at a local church which, ironically, is named after Lord Tweedsmuir whose real name is John Buchan. John's most famous literary work is The Thirty-Nine Steps, which was later turned into an Alfred Hitchcock movie. That knowledge made the church feel a lot more like home!

Some of the things I've decided to accomplish this year are:
1) Finish and submit the first of my three novels. Well, it is finished but needed some work, which is what I've been doing lately. Making it longer and stronger.

2) work on the other two novels so that when I do get attention from an agent or publisher, I'll have a lot to offer.

3) work on and complete one painting per month. That doesn't sound like much but when you already have kids, work, volunteer work, etc . . . it's an extra challenge but one I need.

4) work on my dad's memoirs and make them something publishable. That will take a lot longer than the novels will!

Watch for more paintings to appear. More excitement as my writing gets more attention. And check out some of my links. There is a lot of stuff going on in 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

It's been a long and interesting Christmas break but now I'm ready to get back to work. I plan to work on some editing of one of my novels and hope to begin resubmitting work later this year.

The anthology I have a short story in will also be out this year. I'm excited. My writing project I actually get paid for! It won't be the last. I promise.

I have joined the Orangeville Art Group this year to kick things up a notch. I'm looking forward to their guidance and support to help me become a better artist. Of course, making new friends is always a plus!