Friday Five

Five random things that helped make this a good week . . .

Jordan DaneAuthor Jordan Dane posted yesterday at The Kill Zone authors blog on five key ways to make your  characters memorable. It came at the perfect time for me (or the girls in the basement, at least) as I struggle with a flat opening to my latest WIP (a revision of last year’s Nanowrimo novel). The comments are just as valuable as her post, and she was kind enough to follow-up with more advice on Twitter. That’s some good author karma there, and you know she just made my TBR pile.

I watched this and laughed my ass off:

I love P!nk and I love you, Mr. Hart. Here’s to another 24 years!

Grooms see their brides for the first time...hanky required. (Photo Album - Imgur)And then I saw this photo album of grooms (thanks to a Twitter-tip from author Barbara O’Neal) at the first moment they see their brides. Awwww. That’s enough to crack even my hard shell. I think I’ll make Mr. Hart something that doesn’t come out of a box tonight in honor of our anniversary two weeks ago.

Reached new levels of cooperation with the wonderful Ms. G who teaches my equally wonderful six-year-old son, who has Asperger’s syndrome. Nice to have an ally in the endless battles with the school bureaucrats and policy-makers who grow further out of touch every day with the needs of kids and those trying to teach them.

One or two . . .  or three . . .  of these are in my near future. Tonight, after the little demons ones are nestled snug in their beds,  it’ll be me in my basement office, marg in hand, spilling ink and having fun. Ah, the zany life of a writer.

TGIF, my friends.


Road trip!

This has been my home-away-from-home the last couple of weeks. My mother-in-law’s 30-year old Fleetwood Prowler travel trailer.

Sure the accommodations were a little  dated, but just right for our family’s first camping adventure (especially its tent-averse matriarch).

I’d hoped to get some writing done, but aside from some unavoidable work for one of my copywriting clients, I left my laptop in my bag.

Yes, I unplugged. And it was good.

I took this photo at Fintry Provincial Park, halfway between Kelowna and Vernon on Okanagan Lake. BC’s provincial parks are wonderful–especially when the season is not yet in full swing and you have them pretty much to yourselves.

I’ll post some more pics of this amazing place and some of the other stops on our road trip soon.

Stocking the Kindle

I’m way behind in my goal to read 52 books this year. Back in the day, I’d read three times that number. (Oh to have that pre-offspring time back again.)

In a couple of weeks, I’m hitting the road with my mother-in-law’s ancient, but serviceable, trailer for our first-ever family camping trip. (Yes I know purists say camping=tenting. I say tenting=dirt.) I plan to curl up on the roomy sofa in the old rig and catch up on my quota.

So I’ve been stocking up my Kindle. Here are my latest additions:

CRAZY PEOPLEThe stories in this collection were the impetus for bestseller Jennifer Crusie’s novel Crazy For You (2000). I loved Crusie’s earliest romances best, so I can’t wait to read this.

Writers will also be interested in the appendices. In A, Crusie shares how 26 sentences become a full short story. B is a 50% shorter version of one of the stories that ran in Redbook Magazine. C and D show the proposal version of Chapter One that St. Martin’s bought the book on and the version that made it into print.

Sure to be a good writing lesson as well as a good read.

I also picked up two freebies this month* that I’m excited to read.

TRIAL JUNKIESTrial Junkies is a mystery/thriller by Robert Gregory Browne, a writer who first hit my radar via the Murderati author blog. This is his first foray into self-publishing after five thrillers with publishers like Dutton and St. Martin’s.

The Bro-Magnet (A Nice Guy Romance) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted is one I read some buzz about online and decided to try. The premise sounds fun. Baratz-Logsted is another author venturing into self-publishing after 22 books on the traditional path.

I also paid $18.13 for The Measure of A Man. A literary novel! I felt strong-armed. It’s too much. (I hardly ever bought hardcovers either.) But it’s my book club’s selection and the wait for this Governor General Award nominee at the library is lengthy. Hope it’s worth it. The first chapter excerpt won me over against my will.

What’s new on your e-reader or bookshelf?

* I feel vaguely guilty for downloading freebies. The truth is, I think I’m spending less on books since getting my Kindle. Which is good in one way, but not so good from my perspective as a writer. I enjoy supporting authors. Do you find all the freebies are making you spend less on books, too?

Fairies and wee things

Excuse this saccharine digression from the normal fare here. This post has nothing to do with writing, though now that I think of it, wouldn’t this make the best writing retreat?

I just pinned this photo to my “Offspring” Pinterest board. We made this fairy house for a friend of my daughter’s.

They loved it, but I actually had very selfish motives. I’ve wanted to make one for my little girl for eons and needed a practice run. Now that I’ve figured out techniques and what I do and don’t like, I’ll make another one for S.

Two confessions. The first is my serious fetish for teeny-tiny things, which you’ve likely guessed by now. The second is that my ever-capable husband did the coolest stuff like the little door and windows. Isn’t it the cutest thing?

(My daughter’s will have a bookcase of course.)

The world outside my window

This is what I’m seeing outside my window today. A shock, although a lovely one, after the balmy weather we’ve been enjoying the last few days. Already, the snow has painted the trees in the ravine next to our house in thick brushstrokes of white.

The dawn viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' for fellow garden geeks) I planted last spring looked like this yesterday.

 I’m enjoying the view, but fretting over the burgeoning life in the garden.

Today it looks like this. Hang in there little shrub!

This has nothing whatsoever to do with writing. But at the very least it proves I am still here, though the blog has been sadly neglected.

December was a write-off, and not in a good way. My output was zero pages. I’m blaming it on being burnt out after a crazy nano, and the rush of holidays, but we all know that’s just an excuse.

I had every intention of revising the nano book once I settled into the new year, but a new story was niggling at me. I decided to get it down on paper and return to the nano book, but I ended up banging out 20,000 or so words, some of which might actually be salvageable.

Then demands with the day job forced me to put everything aside for a couple of weeks. Met my last deadline yesterday, and I’m ready to get back to it.  My DH will be back at work after a few weeks between contracts so I’ll have the house to myself again for a blessed five and a half hours a day.

No more excuses!

Is there an echo in here?


Me and blogging——————————>

Yes, I’m dipping my toes* in the blog waters. What now? What do you say when no one is listening?

What if I sound stupid? I’ve started a million journals (mainly to feed a serious stationery addiction) and abandoned every single one because I cannot stand how self-absorbed I sound when I go back and read pages.  I will carefully cut out pages so I can start over with a fresh entry that will surely sound less whiney and more insightful.

So what am I doing starting a blog?

Because I’ve also started and abandoned roughly 20 books. That’s how many I count in my virtual “bottom drawer” file. Others have been deleted in frustration and despair, never to be counted. I have probably double that number of one page story treatments.

What derails me? Who knows. Laziness, lack of discipline, fear…..?

I hope the practice of regular blogging will help me become more disciplined and committed with my fiction writing.

I also want to explore the whole world of social media from a more participatory perspective to inform my work as a copywriter.

I’ve been making a living as a copywriter for 10+ years. That’s a long time telling other people’s stories (sometimes in other people’s voices).

My biggest insecuries now are . . .  Do I have any stories left of my own to tell? And what if being a good writer isn’t good enough? What if I’ve semi-mastered the craft but lack the gift of storytelling?

That brings us back to the The End again. If  I don’t get there I’ll never know the answers to those questions.

* Confession: those are not my toes.