Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cobblestone Road

My son has a couple of late assignments to work on over the Christmas holidays. He's procratinated, mostly because he doesn't "agree with" the assignments so he refuses to do them. In trying to deal with his procratination and encourage him to get them done so he doesn't have to repeat the course and derail his future plans I compared the assignments to stones on a cobblestone road.

"Every task you do in your life takes you one stone closer to the end of the road. Whether you like each stone or not, it gets you one step closer to your goal."

The goal, for him, is to one day enter law school.
For me, the goal is to write and publish books.
Whatever road we choose, there are undesirable stones we must step on in order to get there. I hate writing synopses and outlines, but that what helps me get my books to agents and publishers and out into the world. I also hate doing laundry, but that, incredibly, is another necessary stone in life.

I look back at my dad who had brain surgery nearly 20 years ago and see how many stones he passed by completely in order to walk and speak properly again. He's still not 100%, mostly because the people who could have helped him the most were banished from his life, but partly because of choices he made and the path he did take. According to him, he is perfect.

Perfection is a delusion.

He's not perfect, nor am I. I will never be perfect. I dont' desire to be perfect, that is not my path.
My path, cobblestones and all, is to be the best writer, mother, wife, daughter and friend I can be. I am not perfect, I make mistakes, I jump over stones and try to alter my path by choosing options I wouldn't normally choose. But at the end of the day, we need to come back and deal with some of the stones in our path that we've overlooked. Not to make us "perfect" but to make sure we leave no stone unturned and untouched. They are all part of our journey.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Artist's Way

I've been very fortunate to be involved with hosting an Artist's Way workshop over the past few weeks. When I say hosting, I mean it's in my house and a fellow writer and I faciliated the meetings. We have a small, comfortable group that has become very close and realized that we have more support for our art than we'd anticipated.

Support as a writer, artist, human being is the most we can ask for.
Support from our loved ones, our friends and family, is necessary to grow and develop our creativity.
As odd as it sounds, support from ourselves is vital.

Ourselves? Why wouldn't we support ourselves?

Interestingly enough, a lot of us have tuned in those voices that tell us WE CAN'T.
The voices of people we love and admire and respect that say WE'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

That's what Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way teaches us.
She tells us to tune out those voices. Don't trust that critic, the monster in the back of our heads that tells us we aren't worthy.
WE ARE WORTHY. WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH. WE ARE ENOUGH.

I've done The Artist's Way exercises before. Years ago when I first moved to town and knew no one, had no support and didn't believe in myself or my abilities. I found it one of the best things I could have every done to feed my creativity and support my Inner Artist. That Inner Artist now thrives. She writes prolifically, creates amazing needlepoint ornaments and longs to finish editing the current novel to spend some time painting.

My current spin through The Artist's Way is a reminder that I still need to nurture and support myself. Feeding that Inner Artist with play dates like colouring, walking around town to see the Christmas lights or something as simple as soaking in a bubble bath all of these things ignite my creativity and allow me to write. Or draw. Or paint.

In short, to create.
Happy Creating!!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Novella coming out soon!

Great news!
After a long wait and a few glitches, my novella Murder on Manitou will be released by Wynterblue Publishing via Amazon very soon! Be sure to watch for release date!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Something to think about...

The following was written as part of a prompt at an HWG writing meeting:

We have an aversion to loss of control, as much as we love it. In writing, our goal is to form images with the written word and allow the flow of those words to stream from our pens like water from a tap. But taps still control.

We edit, we doubt, we scratch out our thoughts mercilessly and do rewrite after rewrite.
We seek perfection.
We seek control.

We are afraid of writing, even those of us who love it and live it. Yet we seek to let go and let the words, the universe, the stream of unconscious mind say its piece. When we do finally give up, we find great things appear. Thoughts we never would have thought. Associations that had never occured to us. Intuitions that have sought out an eager fountain to flow from. Thoughts that have travelled the universe seeking to be released and not controlled. We become better for giving them voice.

While the words we write may never become famous or find their way to the rest of the world, they have been given voice and were heard by us.

Even if only by us alone.

  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time for Reassessing

This fall has been a whirl wind of misfortune, reassessments and renovating.
Lately in my life there have been four women facing the prospect of breast cancer. Cancer of any kind is enough to make you stop short and take a look at your life. Especially when there are children involved. In all four cases, there are.

One of the members of the Headwaters Writers' Guild, Alberta Nye, has produced a wonderfully touching movie called "So I'm Dying...Now What?" about a woman named Margaret Hackman. Margaret had tumours in her liver, stomach and brain. She knew she was terminal and respectfully declined treatment. What she did instead was live. Margaret flew a plane, snowshoed around her yard, became a Canadian citizen and became an inspiration to everyone around her. She asked Alberta to document her final months so she could leave behind a legacy of sorts. The final movie, being premiered in Guelph on November 5th, is a moving portrait of bravery. To find out more please go to Alberta's website http://www.spiritvalleypictures.com/.

In the meantime, since I have nothing better to do, I am working with my friend Nancy to bring forth an Artist's Way workshop. The Artist's Way is a life changing book written by Julia Cameron. I worked through it when I first moved 2,000 miles across Canada and it helped to change my life and improve my outlook. Now I'll do it to refocus my energies and make sure I write every day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy...

This has been a very busy month!
First of all, my husband did two karate gradings in the past two weekends and will get his first degree black belt sometime in the near future. We're all very excited that part of life is behind us. We hardly saw him for six months! At least he's home just in time to celebrate our wedding anniversary on Oct 6th.

Secondly, I've taken my Reiki Level II and, on top of all the other things I do all week, plan to start offering sessions. This came about after I was asked three times yesterday how much I charge and if I had business cards. The Universe is so subtle sometimes, isn't it?

Thirdly, my edits and information is due within the next couple of weeks for my agent Dawn Dowdle. I've gotten some great e-mails from her lately about what her writers are accomplishing and am very excited to get The Bookstore Lady on its way to her.

Number four, I've volunteered, as I do every year, to assist with the yearly fall Dance-a-thon at my kids' school. I spent the past two nights making posters that my kids are convinced are works of art! I'll have to post them just for the fun of it. Looking forward to the end of October when we actually get to have the dance.

And last, but not least, I've been doing physiotherapy for me knee and finally able to walk without pain!That alone is worth celebrating. My therapist is great and I'm looking forward to seeing Michelle for a massage tomorrow once all of this editing and polishing of my novel is behind me!

As busy as the month has been, it's all things that are going to be worth it in the long run. I love my physiotherapist's take on it: "This is a marathon, not a sprint." While he means it about my therapy. I'll take it as a life lesson.

"Life is a marathon, not a sprint."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keep on Swimming, Keep on Swimming...

I loved the movie "Finding Nemo." One of the reason's I loved it was the character Dory played by Ellen Degeneris and her unforgettable line when things got tough, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming."
Truth be told, that line alone has helped me through a lot of things in my life. It's a constant reminder to not give up.

Lately I've haven't been doing a lot of writing, mostly editing, working and doing physio. I fell and hurt my knee last fall and it hasn't healed properly so now I'm getting help to strenthen it and facing an MRI and possible surgery. My advice: Next time you fall and feel a twinge in your knee, get it looked at asap!

As much as I love hiking and yardwork, slowing down has made me less reluctant to sit at the computer and get my work done. It's also given me time to join in on Wynterblue Publishing's monthly 24 contest, a 24-hour short story contest. I love it. What a great way to spread the creative wings! I was also thrilled to find that I'd been chosen as a runner up in August! More motivation to try it again in September! Check them out at http://www.wynter.ca/

Off to work again. You can bet I'll be humming my mantra for the entire day.
"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."
Have a great day!



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept 11, 2011

Today marks an infamous day in history. The tenth anniversary of 9/11.
After watching hours of footage all morning, I had to get away from the media that had made it all real again.
I spent the afternoon with the HWG discussing writing and getting away from the "real world" for a while.
It was my turn to lead today and one of the prompts I had given the others was "We have an aversion to loss of control, as much as we love it." Below is what I wrote, raw and untouched:

We have an aversion to loss of control, as much as we love it. In writing, our goal is to form images with the written word and allow the flow of those words to stream from our pens like water from a tap. But taps still control.

We edit, we doubt, we scratch out our thoughts mercilessly and do rewrite after rewrite.
We seek perfection.
We seek control.
We are afraid of writing, even those of us who love it.
Live it.
Yet we seek to let go and let the words, the universe, the stream of unconscious mind say its piece. And when we do finally give up, we find great things appear. Thoughts we never would have thought.
Associations that had never occured to us.
Intuitions that have sought out an eager fountain to flow from.
Thoughts that have travelled the universe seeking to be released and not controlled.
And we become better for giving them voice.
While the words we write may never become famous or find their way to the rest of the world, they have been given voice and were heard by us.
Even if only by us alone.

Keep on writing!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unsettling Morning

I'm a little bit rattled today. Just found out a friend of my husband's had a major seizure yesterday while hiking with a friend. He nearly fell down a cliff into a river. Thankfully, an off-duty firefighter heard his friend's calls for help and he was taken - nearly two hours later - to hospital where he's been heavily sedated since.

For me, this brings up lots of memories of dealing with my dad's epilepsy and some of the seizures he had. Once he dumped a drink on our cat. Another time, he ate a feather. Yet another time, he tried to skin our dog alive. Then there were the times he tried to jump out of a moving car and when he nearly shot my brother. Not things a kid wants to remember so vividly.

I've tried to get him to write his memoirs about these incidents and how he finally came to have brain surgery. Trust me, what he ended up writing would have caused more law suits than they would have helped anyone with epilepsy. I think this will end up being a team endeavor in the end.

For now, however, I am sending prayers and hugs to our friend suffering in hospital and feeling just a little bit hollow today.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Interesting Interview

About a week ago, David Chesterton, a dear friend who is a fabulous artist and writer, asked if I'd be adverse to talking to a writer from In the Hills Magazine. Anthony Carnovale was writing an article about local writers and had asked who David knew. I got an email from Anthony a couple days ago and met with him this morning.

Anthony Carnovale is a high school teacher who "teaches to eat and lives to write." He has a great blog at http://anthonycarnovale.wordpress.com/  We talked about the article he is writing as well as how to promote writing in our small town and get more kids involved and giving them an option aside from grafitti and vandalizing our streets. His first book focused on bullying and has gained attention from local high schools.

Meeting Anthony made me excited to get back to writing. Summer, with vacations and keeping the kids busy, hasn't been conducive to getting a lot of writing done. Fall, which is usually my New Year, looks brighter and more flexible. I am able to schedule writing time and push aside some of the usual obligations that creep in and clog up my calendar. For this fall, my priority will be polishing and submitting my novel The Bookstore Lady to my agent. Priority number two is editing on the next novel Date with a Dead Guy.

What will I do between editing, working and raising the kids? What I always do.
I write.





Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Unveiling

Okay, folks, here it is! My new website is up and running for the whole world to see. All that is left to add is some artwork! My artwork!

Not a lot to write about this week. I've been busy helping a friend paint and getting in some walks with the kids. I've had very little opportunity to write - aside from a few lines here and there. Today being Sunday, I think I may have to sit down and work on a work-in-progress. My real editing will begin once the kids go back to school and I have the house to myself. Peace. Quiet. In the meantime, I'll putter with other things.

I'm planning to take a course or two this fall, depending on what I can get into, and taking my Reiki Level II at the end of September. I also plan to return to Headwaters Writers' Guild meetings as of Aug 28. I am looking forward to getting back to prompt writing, which is how I wrote a few of my books. One prompt at a time.

In case you've been looking for us, I understand the HWG website is temporarily down. We are rebuilding to become better than ever!
Enjoy the rest of your summer!




Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Break from Reality

I haven't updated my blog lately since I've been away on vacation and away from wi-fi and all chances to access the internet. I missed it for the first few days. After a week, it was kind of a blessing. No writing, no emails, no phone calls...

What I did do was take my mind off everything but the important things - my family. We spent the past two and a half weeks hiking, visiting literally hundreds of family members at three different reunions, and taking pictures until my batteries all died. Great times, great sights, great memories.


This is one of my favourite photos. My husband took it of me sitting on the top of Bear's Hump in Waterton National Park. After all the problems with my leg and back over the past few months, my goal was to climb the trail - 1km straight up the side of a mountain. I won't lie, it was bloody hard. It took a lot of focus and pushing, but I made it! I went and bought a cozy sweatshirt to celebrate.

We arrived home Saturday night and ordered pizza then I lay in bed, snuggled with the cats who'd missed us horribly, and planned out what I need to do the next two months to get my book ready for my agent Dawn. It's not a short list. I have a lot of things to prepare for my writing career, but, like climbing Bear's Hump, all I need to do is focus and push myself to get it all done.

Then maybe I'll get myself another sweatshirt...


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moving Forward while Looking Back

I'm one of those people who can't normally walk and chew gum at the same time. Easy remedy, I don't chew gum. Seriously. But I'm also one of those people who tend to look backward while trying to move ahead. More than once, I've walked into a wall. Literally.

I had my birthday this week, 43 years of walking into walls and being unable to chew gum.
But I can write. Lots of times, I am guilty of looking back at old manuscripts and thinking "But I liked it then, why should I change it?" Growth, for one. Every year of our lives we grow. Not just physically--vertically or horizontally--but in more subtle ways. Maturing, becoming more discerning and we find that as we age, we may outgrow things we once took for granted. Friendships change, careers change even our outlook on life changes.

The one thing I have noticed about my past is that I have very few photos of myself, which was made very clear when my agent asked for one. I really had to search. I'm the one who takes pictures, not the one mugging for the camera. In my quest for publication and "getting my book out there" this will have to change and I'll have to do some mugging.

Another thing I have to change: I need to build a website.
That will come in the fall once I have "more time" so stay tuned!






Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Becoming Real

As a break from kids, editing and such, I went out tonight in search of two of my least favorite things: a new bathingsuit and shoes. That's right. I hate shoes. Shocking, me being a woman and all. I'm not sure what the hang up is. I keep the shoes that I like right up until they fall off my feet. Literally. The flipflops I'm currently wearing have been chewed by my cat, squished from many miles of walking and have lost what little bling they had. Frankly, they're disgusting. But I love them.

Novels, for better or worse, I have a tendency to keep around as long as my shoes. I try them on, like them and play with them until they either fall apart or . . . or they go off to an agent to be published. Today, I'm playing. Creating character lists and picking up on little things--quirks or omissions--that I hadn't noticed before. I'm also working on a more coherent synopsis and, last but not least, the novel itself.

The Bookstore Lady began as a silly dream about a cat four years ago. Slowly, writing meeting by writing meeting, I have created a novel that I have reincarnated so many times I've lost track. I still love it, for better or worse, and believe in both the story and the characters I created. I have enjoyed working with my characters so much that they already appear in three more novels. Possibly a fourth. Stay tuned for more on that!

Tomorrow, I'll be back at the grind. Editing, working on the things I need to send my agent and trying to find the elusive bathingsuit that doesn't make me look like a wanna-be teenager or a woman twice my age.

Have a great summer!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Have an Agent!!!

It's true!
It's been an interesting week. I got the offer of representation from her on Sunday morning then sent off the contract late this afternoon. In the meantime, I'd talked to a couple of friends for guidance as far as the contract and what to watch out for and . . . I signed. Not that this week was an easy path. I went against the advice of a couple people and decided to dive in and take a chance.

The agent I signed with is Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency.

The funny part is, I knew her reader and intern Joy long before I knew anything about Dawn. Joy and I were part of an online critique group for several months before she joined Dawn. Coincidentally, I had asked Joy for an edit of The Bookstore Lady before I'd even sent the query! Dawn had seen both versions and decided she liked what I was doing with it.

To Joy and Dawn: I'm looking forward to working with you both.

To my Devil's Advocates: Thank you for your love, strength and support. You make me a better writer and a better person!

To everyone else: Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Last Regatta


This past Saturday marked the end of the rowing season for my son. We were in Barrie for, what looked like a rainy day of racing. We arrived at 7:30am to clouds and wind. The water was choppy, but not as bad as they had rowed on all week in practice. Nick was nervous, but ready to race. The picture above, was taken an hour before any racers had to be on the lake.

The first race for Nick was a four-man. The crew pushed hard and placed third. They are a good, strong team and I hope they'll be able to competer together again next year.

The second race for him, was in a two-man scull. Two rowers, two oars each. It was their second time in a two-man, their first time in a race boat. They did their best and, while not placing, they didn't flip which is apparently very easy to do in a race boat with strong winds.

His third race was after lunch when the brief rain shower we got subsided and the lake was calm.
This was a Senior Boys 8 (and Nick who is still a junior). It was far from the best row of their lives. One seat broke off, one foot board broke off, two different rowers "caught crabs" (when they are out of time with the others and their oar get caught beneath the water) and one rower was badly injured by a stuck oar. The name of the boat is "The Bus" and the kids spent the rest of the day contemplating ways to have it disappear and be replaced.

One of the most obvious things that occured to us, as parents, as the day went on was that unless one of our teams were racing, you'd never know there were boats on the lake.At the Island Lake Rowing Club, we have two schools that train in tandem and support each other even when they compete against each other. When neither of our teams were on the water, there was no cheering.

So, you may ask. What does this all have to do with writing? Painting? Anything?

My son and his teammates inspire me.
No matter what the odds against them, they don't give up. They are out on the lake at 6:30am every morning for the entire rowing season ready to give it their all.

As writers, we have a dream. We all want to be published and need to make the same kind of committment that these kids do.
We need to show up.
We need to give it our all.
We need to support our fellow writers.
And, last of all, we need to not worry about how we place at the end of the race.
After all, it is the journey to get there that makes us stronger people and stronger writers.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Reality Check

Sometimes, you just need to do something completely for yourself. Today, for example, I'm currently lounging (yes, lounging) on the front porch in the afterglow of a great massage. The massage therapist I see is brutal and has no qualms with both causing and ending my pain. Since I've already spent the better part of the last two months with hip and knee pain due to a fall last October, the extra pain I endured to rid myself of the "knots" and misalignment is nothing.

This morning, it was an early run to Walmart then to the chiropractor before I met a friend for lunch. I love meeting friends to hang out, catch up and spend time away from the "real world" for a while. Most weeks, I don't do that enough. If given the opportunity, I'll glue my butt to the chair and edit or live someone else's live vicariously in a novel I'm writing.

As writers, we can often overlook the fact that we not only need to create great stories and polish our grammar, we also need inspiration. That inspiration may come from within, but, more often than not, it comes from the work we do, the sights we see, and the people we interact with.
Like the honeybee flying around my yard trying to get through the fence.
Or the school girl running home, bursting with news to tell her parents.

A friend in my writing group once said that I could write about anything and everything.
And I have.
And I'll keep on writing about anything and everything until I can no longer hold a pen and have to dictate to my great-grandchildren.
That's just how I'm wired.

Keep Writing!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Author vs. Writer

At the meeting of the Headwaters Writer's Guild today, Nancy added a prompt to the several Judy had sent. Nancy's prompt was simply: What's the difference between a writer and an author?

I have thought about this question before. In the past, I've always considered myself to be a writer, never as an author because I wasn't published. The label "author" seemed like a stuffy title, a glorified name for someone who writes and is widely published.

In reality, "writer" and "author" are one in the same. An author, according to Webster's Dictionary, is "one who writes or composes a literary work."  A writer is "one who writes, especially as a business or occupation."

I am an author and a writer. As funny as that sounds, knowing that makes me feel important. True, it doesn't help me get my novels out there faster, but it makes me hopeful.

Lately I've been grounded. An injury I sustained last fall has resurfaced and I find I am in pain frequently, unable to do my usual gardening or even walking and bike riding with my kids. No, I'm not seeking sympathy. I am dealing with it and hope to be back to normal before summer. What it has taught me, however, is patience.

I have a stack of unpublished, unedited novels taking up space in my "office" that I would like to polish and submit. Life has taken me away from spending one-on-one time with them lately, but I'm trying to change that. Being stuck on the couch for a while (if I don't take it slow and easy, I suffer!), I have more opportunity to focus my energies on them. One simply needs "filling out" and the other is in the polishing phase.

Coming back to the whole "writer" vs "author" concept. I think a writer is someone who writes for the sheer enjoyment of creating. An author, is someone who takes that enjoyment a step farther, writing, polishing and sharing their work with the world.

I'd like to think of myself as an author, coming to a bookstore near you...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Pain Drain

I'm in a lot of pain this week. I fell and hurt my knee last fall and twisted my body. Now I'm paying for it.
The gloomy, rainy weather we've had lately doesn't help, nor does stress, but I'm tolerating it and dealing with it. Hopefully, the aches and mucscle spasms will be a distant memory soon!

Sometimes pain can block us, mentally and creatively, and things that we normally do and take for granted seem like Herculean tasks. Even writing. It's not as much the writing, actually, as sitting comfortably and not feeling like daggers are stabbing your joints. Pain is one more distraction that can lead to writer's block if you let it.

I have a day off today (thank you rain!) and am trying to use it to edit. My tools are all assembled and my rough copy is open to the right page, but...procrastination has set in. Briefly. I had a couple of blogs to attend to. I know that I only have three hours of peace before the little people come home from school.

Pain be damned! I have a pillow at my back. The laptop at a good height and a bottle of water on standby. All I need now is to get off the Internet and work before the next load of laundry is done...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Still going...

My past two weeks have been spent editing and doing a bit of a re-write of Date with a Dead Guy. Not that I didn't like the story or anything, but I had an epiphany after a rough day at work and decided to change the point of view. I took my third-person narrative and turned it into first-person. So far, I'm about half way there. I've edited the original, but need to flesh the resulting story out to polish it. How do I feel about altering my baby that way? I love it. I always had problems with the original and find the new version much stronger.

The other novel I'm working on is The Bookstore Lady. The story's been through many changes, but it is getting stronger. Before long, both novels will be making the rounds of agents and publishers one more time.

I had lunch with a few friends the other day. One of them asked how many books I've written. I was actually at a loss. More than two, less than twenty. Some I'm working on now to polish and submit for publication. Not an easy feat with three kids, a job, housework, volunteer responsibilities and laundry.
There's always laundry. 

Writing the novels is the easy part. I love putting new story lines and characters onto paper and falling in love with them all. I love the sounds of pen scratching paper, keys clicking while I type and the voices in my head.
Creating new worlds and putting the things I know or think on paper...priceless.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Passages of Time


As tends to happen in spring, things grow. Along with the flowers and weeds, my family responsibilities are taking me away from both writing and the group for a while - at least until late summer or fall. One of the remarkable things dragging me off this spring is watching my oldest son compete in several regattas with the Island Lake Rowing Club. He is a second-year (junior) rower and today I had the pleasure of watching (from VERY close up in a coach boat) his strength and determination while he and his teammates, who are juniors, race a boat load of seniors. True, the younger team had a 20 second head start, but they gritted their teeth and actually tied the older team. A first for them this season.

What amazed me the most about being on the lake was that time stood still. The swallows still swooped, the boats still moved and the water still jostled us, but it seemed like we were out there for hours when it was only one hour. It seemed like we had circumnavigated the globe at top speed, yet it was only a few kilometres. How deceiving.

Writing is a lot like that. How many days have I written dozens of pages only to discover it's only been an hour since I sat down? There are times when things go smoothly and the words flow like honey from our fingers. Of course, there are many other days when we push so hard that we hit the wall. I saw an example of that today as well. One of the rowers pushed himself so hard that he literally collapsed. Those are the days that we need to, as the rower did, sit back, take a deep breath and wait for our second wind.

As I watch my children grow, I am amazed by their differences, their similarities and their passions. I am blessed to join them on part of their journey and, in turn, learn a lot more about the world. I help them learn what they need to learn, refine their skills and make sure they get to practice on time. I find that the less I push, the easier it is to get through to them and help guide them.

With my stories, I write, I research, edit and polish. Each one is different from the last. Each one causes its own grief and pleasure. When I stop pushing is when the words and energy flows. I find that in order to write a good story, I need to relax the hunched shoulders and focus on nothing - which is usually easier said than done.

So, fellow writers, the way I see it is our mission is not to push until we drop from exhaustion. It is to release the stories and ideas from our minds, not coaxing or coercing them into life, but letting them live. Like children.


To all of the Moms out there.
Happy Mother's Day!
Hang in there and keep writing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Surprise!

I've been working on The Bookstore Lady, getting edits done so I can submit it again. I've had some wonderful friends giving me some input and they all made some great suggestions. Today, in itself, was draining. I was at home with 2 sick kids, mourning the loss of an uncle and dealing with some issues in my writing group. Submitting a novel was the lowest item on my list, until...

Until I received an email from an agent I'd queried in March 2010. For some reason, a lot of queries she'd been sent were dumped into her junk mail box. She recently found mine and promised to read it over. Since I'd made so many changes in the past year, I replied to her and sent the changes, hoping that I was not out of line. I guess I'll find out in a few weeks when she gets back to me.

I have to admit, that made me feel a bit better and gave me hope when the whole day was full of thunderstorms and frustration. Some days all it takes to get our creativity and energy flowing again is a bolt from the blue.

Or an email you never thought you'd receive.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Day in the Life of my Cleanse

Okay, I won't bore you by regaling an entire day. Between work and other things going on in my life, you'd be asleep in thirty seconds or less! One thing I have noticed is that each Chakra seems to take centre stage on the days related to the cleanse. For example, the other day was a Navel Chakra day which relates to finding your place and asserting yourself in a group. Exactly what I had to do.

Looking at the calendar, I had to make the decision to step away from my writing group for the next few months due to my schedule and the fact that I get overwhelmed when I don't get time to write or paint. Add to this some on-going aggravation and wanting to move ahead with my own work.

Today is Good Friday. Good for me because it's a day off work, but a day to write. I've spent some time editing The Bookstore Lady. Yeah! I haven't been able to get to it for a couple of weeks because of work and other things. It's nice to be able to sit and play. I also have to get my edits done for Murder on Manitou. Before you know it, they'll be due at the publisher's office and going to print! How cool is that?

Have a wonderful Easter filled with family, food and - of course - chocolate!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Feelings of Inadequacy

There are days - and I'm sure every writer has them - where I feel like I should just have one big bon fire and forget the whole notion of being a writer. That generally lasts about ten minutes, an hour tops. It used to last a lot longer, but I've found there has been a shift in my whole manner of thinking and being since learning Reiki. I am learning not to carry the negative thoughts and make them my truth.

Having a Reiki attunement opens your mind and your heart to possibilities. It makes it easier to understand and accept the ebbs and flows of creative energy and how to break free from "writer's block." Personally, I've never had a problem with being blocked creatively. My biggest problem is time.

Days, for me, are usually filled with work, the kids and their activities, as well as looking after the house and all meals. I'm notorious for writing in a notebook while cooking spaghetti or brushing my teeth. I intentionally come home during my lunch hours so I can write or edit - or just relax and read a good book.

This week, my goal is to do an edit on The Bookstore Lady, a book that I've often thought of burning, but recently got some great advice about. I'm giving it a chance to live. The funny thing, is a lot of the things my friend suggested, were things I'd had gut feelings about, but never changed. Lack of time, lack of energy, lack of courage...pick an excuse, any excuse.

I'm done with excuses.
I'm giving myself two weeks to get it up to where it should be and submit it.
So what am I doing on my blog? My novel awaits...




Sunday, April 10, 2011

And now for something a little different....

This weekend I tried something new - aside from riding bikes with the kids, which I haven't done in nearly 20 years! Today I attended a Reiki workshop and obtained my Reiki I certification. I came home feeling tired, yet energized. It was a cloudy, stormy day, yet three of us made it for the class and were treated to Attunements, clearings and a wonderful pot of soup our Reiki Master had made.

What an amazing feeling to awaken your own energy and healing power that I'd always thought I had. With all of the stuff we learned, I'm a little overwhelmed. The fun part was that before we left, Helena asked us to choose an angel card. Mine was "Study," which was interesting since I've been studying not only my writing, but books on Reiki as well. It told me not to be impatient and study before I dive in. Kind of applicable to both of my interests lately.

With the end of our workshop, so began our 21 Days of Cleansing where the energy cycles through all seven chakras three times. We are now able to use our healing powers on others and - after three months - will be able to go for our Reiki II course.

I can hardly wait!





Sunday, April 3, 2011

This is a test....

Last weekend I tried something I hadn't done before. I entered a 24 hour story writing contest that is held monthly by Wynterblue Publishing out of North Bay, Ontario. While I had checked out the prompts and the rules previously, I'd never actually entered. Silly me. I took on the challenge and dove in head first. What did I come out with? Two short stories that totally surprised me. More murder mysteries. For anyone interested, feel free to check them out!  I'll post one after the short list of winners is posted.




Friday, March 25, 2011

March Break Trip

It took me a few tries to get this shot just the way I wanted it. This was taken while my family and I walked along the streets in Montreal. I loved that it was a reflection of the old buildings in the new and how true it is for us as writers and artists. No matter what we dream up, create or write, there is always someone who has come before and, possibly, created something similar. But.

But they will never create the exact duplicate.

We are all individuals and even when two people sit side-by-side painting the same object, or folding similar pieces of paper into the same pattern, they will never be the same. Our perceptions, our choices of colours and of words and even of paper, is what makes us unique.

What a boring world it would be if we weren't.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kame and Kettle Art Show

I've been busy the past few days between waiting around for electricians and editing Murder on Manitou, my soon-to-be released novella by Wynterblue Publishing in November 2011. Today, however, I took a break to attend an art show.

This wasn't just any art show. This was the 20th Anniversary of the Kame & Kettle Art Group here in Orangeville, more special to my heart because a few of its members are friends of mine. My kids weren't exactly thrilled at the whole idea of going at first, but once they saw some of the paintings, they were hooked. Congratulations to Darlene Hassall, Andrea Trace, Emilia Perri, all ladies I've had the pleasure of painting with in the past. The show was fabulous and I came away with tons of inspiration and new artists to admire. It was nice to hear them ask, "Where are your pieces? When are you going to join us?" Very flattering!

The best part about the whole show was that we were able to buy a catalogue of all the pieces we'd seen and Alex got the autograph of the lady whose work he admired most - Darlene. It was nice to see old friends and feel inspired to not only write, but get back to painting when I get the chance.

Happy March Break!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Dream One Step Closer to Reality

In February, I announced that I'd won the Murder in Ink contest run by Wynterblue Publishing out of North Bay, Ontario. Since then, I've learned a few more details. One is that my book "Murder on Manitou" will be published in November 2011 so I am currently editing and polishing. There will be an awards banquet as well as workshops taking place in North Bay November 18, 19 and 20th. I'll be sure to post more details as I hear them or you can check out http://www.wynter.ca/. Wynterblue also offers some great contests that run all year.

I've been doing some spring cleaning in an attempt to find homes for the novels I've written that are currently gathering dust on my bookshelf. I've had three great friends reading The Bookstore Lady to help me polish it for submission. The whole idea of soon having one novel in print is motivating me to push forward. I have also entered a couple of other contests lately: the Toronto Star Short Story Contest and the WOW (Women on Writing) Winter Contest. I'll let you know if anything comes from these.

Time to get to some editing.
Keep Writing!





Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are Those your Muffins?

This was the prompt I got at today's writing meeting. What I'm about to write here is rough, but I do plan to use a similar version in one of my novels. Enjoy!

"Are those your muffins, pudding?" the toothless man asked, the tips of his grimy fingers aimed at my shopping basket.

I walked around him, in no mood to talk to anyone, and fled down the aisle at a brisk pace. I'd become absorbed in reading the labels of tea boxes when the scents of body odour and alcohol assaulted my nose and stung my eyes.

"Are those your muffins?" he asked again. This time his finger tapped the plastic lid right above a large blueberry.

"Please leave me alone." I took several steps backward then darted toward the deli, my last stop before I could go home for the evening and crawl into bed with my Ben and Jerry's ice cream and a bag of cookies. Chocolate chunk, not chocolate chip. This was one seriously brutal day and I needed all the soothing I could get.

How dare the world treat me this way? Fired from a job I needed, but hated. A parking ticket for stopping to drop off library books. And, to top it all off, dateless on a Friday night while my boyfriend was out of town. Self-pity followed me up and down the aisles, helping me fill the basket to brimming.

The old man found me in line at the checkout, his aroma so pungent that everyone stepped aside in his wake. "Are those your muffins?"

"Yes, those are my muffins! Now leave me alone!"

He blinked his watery blue eyes. "Sorry, pudding, I just wanted to tell you that they were moldy and you'd get sick." He handed me a different package. "Take these instead."

As he swam away in my tears, I left behind the Ben and Jerry's and took home the tea, the mold-free muffins, and left my self-pity at the checkout.

All it took was one stranger to care.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

What a wonderful Valentine's Day.
This morning at 9am, I found out I'd won Wynterblue Publishing's Murder In Ink contest! (Click on the Wynterblue link to the right to see the notice!) What a wonderful way to start a Monday. I'll post all the details when I find out more! Validation that I AM a writer! Even better, by the time I came home for lunch, it was all over Facebook courtesy of my friend and beta reader Laura. What a treat to find all kinds of messages from my friends.
After work, I came home to hugs from my kids then my husband came home with Thai takeout and wine.

I know, I shouldn't NEED validation. I am a writer. I always have been a writer, but it's nice to have the pat on the back after all of the rejections. My favourite line in one of my own novels is by Lucy Stephens who yells as her husband drives away, "Just because I'm a writer, doesn't mean I thrive on rejection."  (Date With a Dead Guy).

To all of my writing friends - published or not - I have one piece of advice. Don't Give Up.
Keep writing,
Diane

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Fresh Perspective

Last night I received the news a lady I'd volunteered with and been friends with for the past few years had passed away. We were the tag team who cooked hot dogs for 400 elementary students and she'd unofficially dubbed me the "Weinie Queenie," threatening to make me a tiara with a hot dog on top. I would never again cook hot dogs in the oven without thinking of all the fun we had during Hot Dog Day.

What saddens me the most about losing Janet, is that she has two children the same ages of my two youngest. Her daughter will become a teenager this year without a mother to guide her. Janet was only 47 years old, full of enthusiasm, drive and a great sense of humour. Lying in bed last night, I though about her and about what would happen to my own family should anything happen to me. Then my thoughts turned to the dreams she would never make happen.

I have wanted to be a writer ever since I could write. My dream is to have the manuscripts stacked on my bookshelf turned into real books that other people will read. Riches and fame aren't the goal. They never have been. Putting out books and stories that people will read and enjoy are my ultimate goal. I want to provoke thought and make people smile and forget their own problems for a while.

Thinking of Janet will bring tears to my eyes for a long time to come, but in her honour, I will forge on and make my own dreams come true with her as my inspiration.
God speed, Janet. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Renovations

If you've visited my blog before, you'll notice a slight colour difference. I've changed it from bright green to brown. Not a sign of depression, I assure you. Merely an update. I've been painting walls in my house and decided to paint the wall of my blog as well.

Had a great meeting of the HWG again today. Very intriguing prompts which led me to channel Edgar Allen Poe and write a something so creepy it made my hands sweat! Never had that happen before. Couldn't stop writing it either, which does happen lots, but nothing so heart pounding as this one. I promise to give it an edit and post it soon. Let's just say it features a special ghost and an unsuspecting guest.

The weather here in Southern Ontario has been rather bizarre this winter. Today we're huddling in a -17 degree Celcius chill. It will get up to 2 degrees come Tuesday. All this cold (not to mention the blackouts we've been having because of it) has one wonderful side effect. It makes me want to huddle with a candle, paper and pen and write. Seriously write. Lately, I've been so focused on editing novels with the intent of submitting to agents and publishers that I've neglected the creative side and it has been rebelling.

No more.

Balance is key.

Write, read, edit.

And keep warm...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Year, but not new goals

Happy New Year to you all.
I haven't made Resolutions per se. My goals are perpetual. Get my books published and make more ME time. Neither is easy to do with three kids and a job, but I'm managing.

I am currently in the editing-like-crazy mode as far as two of my novels are concerned. Book 1: The Bookstore Lady and Book 2: Date with a Dead Guy will be making the rounds again this year. Ah, the polishing phase.
By the end of January, I WILL be ready to resume the hunt for an agent/publisher and move on to edits of Book 3: Padded Walls and writing Book 4: ????.

I had a wonderful time at our Headwaters Writers' Guild meeting yesterday. I was leading and decided to simplify the prompt for once. Usually we end up with anywhere from 5-10 items to choose from. I gave everyone one, which extended into two due to the conversations we were having.
1) Why do you write?
2) Who are you?
The responses people gave were incredible. Similar, yet from such totally different perspective that it was invigorating to hear them all. I came home last night and settled right down to write.

Usually I do most of my writing during the week while I'm not at work and the kids are at school. Last week I was sidelined while my youngest had the flu. Did get time to brainstorm and do some research though. Sometimes you just have to take the moments that you can. For example, I'm writing this while at home on my lunch break!

Hope you all have a happy and productive 2011.