Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Short One

Since my post on Monday was long, I thought I'd just write a quick one today.

Here's some quotes I found, followed by my take.

"Anyone could write a novel, given six weeks, pen, paper, and no telephone or wife."

Evelyn Waugh

Now substitute wife with husband and children, pen and paper with laptop, no telephone with the internet and you might have something there.

"What creates a writer is huge, psychological dysfunction."

Kathy Lette

I used to firmly believe that I could never be a writer, because nothing interesting or psychologically bad ever happened to me.

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back in."

Oscar Wilde

Even the greats revise, even it it's just one comma at a time.

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can.'

Jane Austen

AMEN - but that's just me.

"Better to write twaddle, anything, than nothing at all."

Katherine Mansfield

Except replace the word twaddle with the word crap, and that's one of my favorite sayings. One I say over and over in my head as I'm writing a first draft, although I'm not entirely sure what twaddle means.

Okay maybe it wasn't as short as I thought it was going to be.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Now I have a story to tell…

Saturday started out warm and ended with a blaze.

My husband and I got up and went for a walk in the cool spring morning. We enjoyed the luxury of being able to leave our kids at home and stroll along the river, through the bushes, and into ravines. When we got home, we quickly got started on finishing the two walls of our house that we had left to paint. Within two hours we completed the job, wondering why we hadn’t done it earlier.

We left my oldest son at home and went to a BBQ to celebrate my son’s gold medal performance at provincials last weekend. We ate, the kids played basketball, and we enjoyed the conversations that come with a group of adults sitting on a porch on a nice spring day.

After that event we come home, put our house back together and cleaned the rest of the house because we had most of my family coming for dinner after church the next day (23 people).

As I was putting some clothes away my husband says, “What time are we suppose to leave for your work party?”

“6:00pm,” I answer then went on the computer and realized that it is ten to six.

I quickly threw on a dress and boots, and we drove downtown to a fancy event, with ladies dressed in ballroom gowns, and men adorned in fancy suits. We mingled while snatching appetizers off passing servers trays. The evening was uneventful and after eating an appealing meal, we came home at 11:00 to my daughter asleep on the couch and my two boys playing video games.

Knowing I had a house full of people coming, I dragged out my mom’s large crockpot, placed four roasts in it and covered them with onions and BBQ sauce. Simple beef on a bun was on the menu. I struggled a bit to figure out how to get the pot going, but finally after feeling some some heat, I set it 200 degrees, (at least that's what I thought). Being exhausted, I went to bed.

At approximately 3:40am, give or take a minute, I awoke to a burnt smell coming from the kitchen. I threw back the covers, rushed to the source and discovered a room full of smoke, all coming from the crockpot. I pulled it away from the back splash and discovered a brown stain covering two tiles. I grabbed a cloth to wipe it away, but the blazing heat radiated through my thin washcloth and burned the tip of my middle right finger. Right away I ran it under cold water, while trying to unplug the smoky pot with my other hand.

I took the burnt to a crisp roasts out and placed them on a plate, then filled the blacken pan with hot soapy water, all while holding onto a bag full of ice cubes. Then I turned to the tile, still brown, and began scrubbing with my other hand, I rubbed the tile for half an hour using cold water to cool it down and VIM to scrub off the burnt stain. It was so bad that I dug into the grout.

With everything somewhat cleaned, I grabbed more ice, sat in front of the TV holding my ice and watched paid programs for one hour, all the while thinking how am I going to feed 23 people with four burnt roasts.

I worried about it when I finally went to bed and I worried about in the morning as the stench of burnt beef permeated our house. I took out some sliced turkey I had thrown into my cart at Costco the day before, on the off chance that I might need it, but would it be enough. I fretted about the meal not being good, and people not being happy, but in the end everything was fine. I had more than enough food, everyone was well feed and besides a few, I’m bored comments after the cousins left, the dinner was great.

It just goes to prove that sometimes we worry for nothing. We think nothing will work out, but lots of times our worries are for nothing and now I have a story to tell. Albeit, a long one, but still a story. (sorry for the echo of the word nothing)

PS: the pot was actually set at 400 degrees, so if I hadn't woken up I'm pretty sure we would have had a fire.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Always end on a positive note...

What kind of sort bothers me once in a while.

- the fact that I'm not someone who can eat what they want and not gain weight.

- that when I comment on a blog and push close just as I notice that I needed a word verification, but I've already presed the X and the blog is gone, forcing me to go back and redo my comment. But you're all worth it.

- that our ladder has been sitting in our kitchen for almost two months because we still have two more walls to paint before we're done.

- that it can be 0 degrees celsius (32 F) on one day and then 16 (61 F) the next. Let's pick the warm temperature and stick with it.

- that I can't exist on five hours of sleep anymore.

- that I can't seem to wear eye make up without my eyes hurting.

- that I'm going back into the revising stage, leaving my current WIP to flounder for a time.

- that I'm really over using the word "just" right now.

What I'm grateful for, happy about and all around puts me in a good mood.

- that my painting is almost done.

- that I'm going on vacation in a week.

- that I can run, even if it isn't very fast right now.

- that I have a wonderful husband and great kids.

- that there's nothing better than my daughter's laugh.

- that I'm revising again with a little more understanding of what needs to be fixed.

- that I have great critque partners.

- that I get to sleep in on Saturday.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Owning the bruising

One of my soccer coaches once told me that if you don't have any bruises at the end of a game then you didn't play hard enough. I have to say I've had my share of bruises on the soccer pitch. I once had one that went from ankle all the way to my knee after getting kicked in the shin. Last summer I had a nasty one on my arm and to end this indoor season, I got this one.

To me, a bruise signifies that you played hard, and I have to say I’m kind of proud of them.

Why would I endure such pain you might ask? That’s simple, for the love of being in the game.

Although we don’t typically get physically bruised in our quest to be a published author, our egos and hopes often take an emotional beating. There aren’t many of us who don’t shed a tear over a harsh critique or feel frustrated after a rejection.

But we need to do look at these things as badges indicating that we are in the game, because there’s a lot of people out there who want to play, but don’t.

I went to listen to an author once who told a story about how a few of her friends started a competition to see who could be the rejection queen. In the end, she got her publishing contract and so did her friends.

Yes it would be nice not to bruise, and maybe somewhere out there is someone who got an agent on their first query, but just think how good of a story you’ll have when someone asks, “How did you get published?”

So just keep on bruising.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wasted Childhood

The past two weekend have been golden.

Last weekend, my oldest son won gold with his high school team for zones, (basically all the schools in a 100 km radius). This weekend my other son won gold for Provincials. That means his basketball team was the best in the whole province of Alberta for B1 division. To make it even more exciting. In the final game, he had a chance to win the game with two foul shots and 3 seconds left, but he missed them both. He was devastated, but he made the winning basket in overtime to win the game. Very fun.

Once the excitement was over, I started to reflect on what I had accomplished as a child, and I hate to admit that it wasn't much, other than giving my parents a hard time. I wish I would have been more focused and ambitious. Instead, I was comfortable with just coasting along in life. I didn't strive to be the best at anything.

I often wonder where that drive in people comes from. Sometimes I see glimpses of it in myself, but not as often as I would like. I think I need to steal someone's, or burrow, because stealing is bad.

So if you have some extra drive and ambition could you please leave a little on this blog. I'm sure you can spare just a bit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knowing and learning

The other day I sat down with my oldest son and we were going through his course selections for next year. He had picked all his core subjects and was looking at his options. He looked at Spanish and said, "I'd like to know a different language, but I don't want to have to learn it."

How often have we wanted something, but didn't necessarily want to put the work in to achieve it.

I would love to lose weight, but I don't want to have to exercise everyday.

I would love to be able to have a great corner kick or be able to juggle the ball 30 times in a row. (soccer terminology), but I don't want to spend the hours it would take to achieve that.

I would love to be able to write great plots, develop fantastic characters, and have witty dialogue.

Sometimes I would like to know how to do this without learning how to do them. I think it will just come to me naturally and you know what. It doesn't. I need to read books on point of view, passive voice, etc. I need to be reading books in the genre I write in. I need to write...

It sounds simple, but writing takes work. It takes learning, practice, and most of all patience. Most of my sentences are not perfect the first go around. Sometimes the plot doesn't work the first time and we write ourselves into a corner, but if we don't do it, if we don't try then we'll never succeed.

Right now I'm working on a better hook for my query. I've thought about it all week, but it wasn't until I actually tried to write the words down that I could play with the order or the word choice. I needed to see it on paper. I can't do that very well in your head. It's like a math question. I write it down before I have a chance to solve it.

So that's my challenge to myself. Read about how to write, read books, and write.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I watch Survivor. I don't love it, but I have to say that I love Boston Rob. The other week he came down with the flu and passed out. Later he said to the camera that he had a touch of the flu and a bit of crybabyitis.

I think I had a bit of that this weekend. I wallowed in my self-pity and cried, "Wo is me" to anyone who would listen, which really wasn't anyone. Now that I've had a few days to pull myself out of a rut, things look better. How did I do this you may ask? I went for walks.

As a teenager that's all I ever did when things were bugging me. So I went for a walk on Sunday, Monday and today. After some sunshine and fresh air, I feel much better.

Has anything really changed. No, but now I realize that's okay.

On a funnier note we asked our children if they wanted to either go on vacation for spring break, or build a bathroom in the basement. My daughter in her true wisdom says, "Bathrooms last forever, but vacations last, for like, what, ten days."

So what would you do bathroom or vacation? And if you choose vacation and lived in north west US or Canada, where would you go?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dark clouds

Feeling a little dejected at the moment, so I'm going to take a break from my regular Monday post until I can get my head out of the dark clouds that seems to be circling. Hopefully the warm weather on Tuesday will lift my spirits.

Sorry to be such a downer.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Over the past few years I've been very susceptible to eye infections. My eye lids get droppy, bad stuff builds up in the corners, and I have to go without make up. It's very scary. Not the infection, but how I look without eye liner. I've been to see a few specialists, but nothing major is wrong so that's good.

On Tuesday I had my eyes dilated. I'd like to think that I was cute and looked like this.

But I looked more like this, a little freaky.

My eyes were super sensitive, all writing was blurry, and I had to wear sunglasses afterward for about three hours. So I wore my sunglasses as I shopped in Costco and had my sister with me to read the labels since I couldn't tell if the capris I was looking at were a large or a medium.
Why did I tell you this? For no particular reason except now you got to know me just a little bit more and to maybe give you a chuckle as you picture me walking around Costco with sunglasses like some kind of diva.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saying your Open and how it relates to contests

When I play soccer, I'm always reluctant to yell out that I'm open because then the other team comes and guards you. It's much better if your teammates look up and see that your open and pass you the ball without having to say anything.

It's the same thing with contests. Most contests require you to advertise, but this is like saying to your competition, come and take away my chance to score. Frankly I'd rather that no one else knew about the contest, because then I'd have a better chance to win. I know you've all thought the same thing.

Anyway there is an awesome contest going on with tons of books, signed and not, plus a forty page critique by a living and breathing agent. How awesome is that, see why I didn't want to tell you.

Go to Elana's blog for the books and Suzette and Bethany's blog for books and critique.

Please note: For those who are new to the blog, my above comments were completely sarcastic, or were they?

Monday, March 8, 2010

A personal response

Lately instead of writing and editing my own words, I've been helpin my 14 year old son write and edit his. His English homework load has been crazy and I've noticed an interesting trend. Every assignment comes with the question, how can you relate to this story. The teacher wants the students to compare the story to what is happening in their own live regardless of whether it's a short story about a boy who is killed because he's in a gang or a comic about a fifteen year old boy who doesn't understand his parents. They are talking a lot about identity right now and have been watching My So Called Life, which for a boy is pure torture. Even though the themes relate to his life, he doesn't want to say in an essay that he's felt alone or has been bullied or hates his parents, which he doesn't. Sometimes he finds himself making stuff up because he doesn't want the teacher to know personal stuff about him.

I've been pretty closed off most of my life. I only share personal stories with those who are nearest and deariest to me. I find it a little intrusive for a teacher to expect their students to have to share things about their lives that are maybe personal.

I know as writers we need to expose the emotions of our characters and sometimes I struggle with that because I close mine off a lot. Maybe these exercises would be good for me to do.

How about you do you think teachers should be asking for personal stories from their students and how they can relate to bullying, gangs and identity? And do you have an hard time expressing the emotions of your characters or am I the only one.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Being in the Game

It's been a hard year for my soccer team. Out of sixteen games we've won 2, tied one and lost the rest. In the beginning it was hard, and not just because we were losing, but because we weren't even in the game. Sometimes we wouldn't even muster a shot on net. To say it was discouraging would be an understatement. The second half of the season got better. We kept the goals against down, and even though we didn't score most games, we gave some teams a good scare. Now that we're almost done (1 game to go), as a team we've decided that's all we really want – is to be in the game.

I know agents are busy, probably more than busy, extremely busy (sorry for my use of an adverb). I know that receiving a polite form rejection is the best they can do and all we should expect, but knowing and wanting are two different things.

To be honest with, and you may not believe me, but I don't mind the rejections. I know not every agent is going to love what I wrote, although I often dream that they do. What I find I crave is more. I want to know why they decided to pass. Was the story not interesting enough? Were the characters not vivid? Was the writing bad?

To reiterate, I know agents can't respond to queries personally, but I just want to know if I'm even close. Did they hesitate to send that rejection. Did they think twice? Like my soccer team, I want to know if I'm I even in the game.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writing is...

Writing is what happens in between cooking, cleaning, getting kids to school, work, exercise, grocery shopping etc.

Writing can be hard. When it's hard, it's the worst thing ever.

Writing can be easy. When it easy, it's the best thing ever.

Writing takes time, lots of it.

Writing needs life long dedication.

Writing is at it's best when someone loves what you wrote.

Writing is hoping not to see anymore red marks.

Writing means potentially losing your hair, having bags under your eyes and gaining ten pounds.

Writing takes believing. Believing you will reach your potential, you will get better, that someone out there will like what you wrote.

Writing is wishin' and hopin' and prayin'.

Writing needs Patience.
Feel free to add your own.