Chasing Inspiration

Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye, Dear Friend

Denali, our dog of almost 14 years, has been quite sick for the last few months with cancer and advancing arthritis in his spine. Today we said a tearful and painful goodbye to our baby. It was time to take him to the vet to have him put to sleep. He hadn't been eating in almost a week, could barely walk due to the arthritis in his spine and yesterday he vomited blood.

Our vet told us that we would know when it was time. He would tell us either by not eating anymore or by stopping his interaction with us. Well, right to the end he continued to interact with us. He kept trying to follow one of us around the house, wanted to be pet or brushed and, if he was sleeping when we happened to leave a room, would seek us out. My little shadow, that was Denali.

So, because nothing we did would entice him to eat and because of the blood incident yesterday, we called the vet today and we let him go. The husband cried. I cried. Denali perked up and decided he wanted treats. I was having second thoughts because he wasn't acting like he wanted to leave us. But it was time. His quality of life had declined and the cancer was starting to do strange things to his body. His fur was falling out in clumps and we couldn't get rid of the dander no matter how we washed him.

I'm at home now, still sad and trying to not cry. My MIL is visiting and I really don't want to break down in front of her. All I think about is my baby, lying on the floor on a blanket at the vet's office, not breathing. He looked so peaceful, reminding me that he's not in pain any more. That he's somewhere playing and running and barking and smiling his sweet puppy smile. And he's happy.

But oh how the house feels empty without him. We got home from the vet and I had to stop myself from expecting to see his sweet doggie face smiling up at me from his pillow by the sliding doors, welcoming me home. I'm going to have many moments like that I'm afraid. I love him so much.

I'm going to miss you deeply and dearly, Denali. You were my first dog, and you were my best friend. And I never told you that enough but somehow you always knew you were loved and you loved us back eagerly and without judgment. Thank you for being mine for the last 14 years. You blessed me in too many ways for me to count. Goodbye, my dear dear friend.

I'll probably post some Denali stories and memories over the coming weeks. When someone, or something, touches your life you grieve when they are gone. Part of the grieving is sharing their stories. Denali's stories just may need to be told so I apologize ahead of time if it becomes boring or monotonous to you, dear reader and friend.

Hug your loved ones today, and include your pets in those hugs if you have any that are near and dear to you. Sometimes life is too damn short.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cool Things

My new PDA has Wi-Fi. I'm wrighting this post from a coffee shop on my PDA. lt's slow and not as nice as a computer. But it's cheaper than V-Cast or internet via Treo or Blackberry. I love technology!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Final NaNo Update & Other News

Well, NaNo ended, gosh, two weeks ago. I topped out at 40,000 words. I'm still working on the story, though.

What I learned:

I learned that when life is going my way, I can write a damned fast first draft. A first draft full of plot holes and character inconsistencies, but a fast rough draft nonetheless. When life isn't going my way, I can still write a fast first draft. And I can write nearly daily without pooping out.

I also learned that when I let the story flow, the story goes a long way. I just have to get out of it's way while it's forming.

That a rough draft in a month is not impossible. Challenging, yes, but not impossible

What's Next:

I have to recover and get ready for Christmas. The MIL is visiting. Arriving next week in fact. Which means I need to have 5 months of the cheque book reconciled, the guest room cleaned out, the bathroom and kitchen scrubbed, and somehow inject myself with a good attitude.

Why a good attitude? Because we've been sick for two weeks, work is scary busy with no end in sight, and my poor car was hit. Totally the other person's fault. It's drivable and it's old enough we aren't as worried about the body damage as we are any damage to the suspension. *sigh* It always seems to pour at our house. Especially when I really really want to get into the story.

Eh, what doesn't kill us is fodder for our writing, right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaNo update

I had 5 uninterrupted days to write. And I did write. But when I went back and looked at my word count, my total was just shy of 5,000 words. Which totally bites.

I want to say I suck and that I'm just throwing in the towel. But I promised myself I would get to 50 thousand words. I would finish. I wouldn't just walk away, no matter how bad the story was or how things turned out.

So, I'm plugging forward. I may not make my goal by midnight on Friday, but I will make it. And you never know, I may get a huge boost of inspiration and hit 50,000 words by midnight on Friday. Anything is possible.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Paranormal Inspirational What?

I was talking to author Patti O'Shea a few months ago and as I was asking her questions about paranormal romance, I blurted out that this story is an inspirational paranormal. She didn't bat an eye but it made me pause and think for a moment. Can paranormal stories and inspirational stories share real-estate in the same book? The answer may surprise you.

According to www.dictionary.com, paranormal means:
of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena.
Supernatural phenomena. Without scientific explanation. Interesting, is it not? Most people attribute paranormal story lines with ghosts, psychics, shapeshifters (were-creatures), vampires, witches, and the like. But if I take the definition of paranormal at face value, it includes anything that can't be explained scientifically. Which means, when  my heroine senses things about characters around her through the spiritual gift of discernment, that makes my inspirational type novel have paranormal overtones. Right?

Well, not if you talk to anyone in the inspirational markets. You don't want to go there. However, I can talk about my book being an inspirational with strong supernatural elements.

It's all in how you present the story. The story itself doesn't change if I call it a paranormal romance or an inspirational romance with supernatural elements. It's still the same story. But how it's presented will cause people to think of the story in a certain way. And depending on the slice of the market I'm after will depend on how I want editors, agents, even readers to think of it.

I'm not ready to go after anyone with the story yet, so once NaNo is over, I'm going to jump back into this story and finish it. But as I write, it's not a bad idea to be thinking about who might be attracted to such a story. Be it a paranormal with spiritual elements or an inspirational with supernatural elements. *grin*

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm alone for Thanksgiving this year. The boy's family decided to visit his sister in the mountains of Colorado. I was going to go but a couple of weeks ago we decided the dog was in no condition to travel and we don't kennel him so I got to stay home. This is not a bad thing. Aside from the fact that I can eat pancakes for dinner if I want to, it's nice to have some solitude once in a while. Around here, I don't get it often enough.

I actually got together with friends for Thanksgiving dinner at noon and a viewing of Ratatouille. I love that movie! I love almost anything Pixar comes up with. It was a good time with good food (I bought and brought the smoked turkey, yum!) good wine and great company. Then I came home and shoveled off the deck and the driveway because no sooner does the boy go out of town and the weather decides to turn to snow. Makes for nice ambiance, but a nervous dog who wants to be carried on and off the deck. Um, he's 60 pounds so no way am I carrying him anywhere.

All in all, a good day. I'm settling in with some leftover pumpkin pie, CSI will be on in a little bit and I think spiked hot chocolate will go well with murder and mayhem.

How are you spending your Thanksgiving? I hope it is with the ones you love!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NaNo...Losing Track

I have no clue how far into NaNo I am. I lost count of days a while ago. I do know that I'm halfway through the word count. And I'm losing steam. I have no desire to write. Some of that may be because I'm all alone for Thanksgiving (the family went to Colorado to visit the boy's sister). Could also be because my dog has cancer and almost debilitating arthritis and there's not much we can do but keep him comfy until he tells us his time is over. Could be because I have written long and hard for over two weeks and my head is numb.

No matter what the reason, I have decided to take a few days off. I haven't written a word since Sunday. Tomorrow I'm going to pick it up again and plug along. I want to make my goal. I want to hit 50,000 words. Since I'm off until next Monday, I have given myself only three things to accomplish - aside from basic home maintenance. *grin*

I am going to update and balance the cheque book.

I am going to clean the home office.

I am going to write every day and hope to get at least 10,000 words in. Minimum.

Think I can do it? Let me know. I need all the support I can get. LOL!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

NaNo Day 8

Today was hard. The story didn't flow. The characters weren't as vivid and alive as they have been all week. And I really didn't like the direction the story was heading. It feels contrived.

I reminded myself that this is a rough first draft and once it's completed I get to slice it and dice it any way I want to make the story really work and be truly mine. So if the characters are going off in a direction that I'm not happy with, that's okay. Let them get it it out of their system. And who knows. Maybe they know something I don't.

My total word count for today was 1,657. Which brings my 8 day total to 13,467.

I wrote for about an hour. Damn, I'm getting fast! LOL

Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NaNo Day 7 Update!

I'm done for the day and I manged to write 3,274 words today. Phew! I don't know if I can keep this pace for long, but it's nice to be able to get so much in!

My total word count so far is 11,810.

NaNo Day 7

Well, yesterday was a bust. I was sick, so no writing. I feel like I'm in a constant state of catch up. I'm still sick today, but feeling like I can concentrate so I'm going to write some at some point. First, I really want a DQ Blizzard. Popular opinion is that you save the treats for after the writing as a reward. That's never really worked for me. The reward for writing is seeing the words on the page and the story form so I can believe that I'm getting that much closer to actually having a book that I can query the hell out of, lol! I'm still dreaming of that day when I can quit the day job and make my living from writing and perhaps teaching/coaching writing. Or other things.

I was reminded this last month that I'm a damn fine teacher/trainer and that I love getting up and helping people improve some facet of their lives. I'm good at it. I enjoy it. I really should get off my butt and look for jobs in this area. I've had some ideas floating around for a while. I need to shake off the fear and just see what happens when I submit my proposals.

How this relates to NaNoWriMo or writing in general? It's easier to write when life is in a positive place. When something in your life isn't positive, you owe it to yourself to understand why and then figure out what to do about it. November isn't just going to be my novel writing month, it's going to be my "Figure out what to do with your career" month. Or, at the very least, the start of it.

Happy writing!

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaNo Day 5

So far, so good. I didn't write this weekend. I know, I know. What was I thinking? I was thinking that it was really nice to enjoy the last warm days of the season and that it was really wet giving the dog a bath.

Not to worry. Today I was on a role and able to write about 20 pages. Yes, 20 lovely pages, each containing roughly 250 words. Which brings my page count to 8020 words in the last 5 days! And it didn't take me forever. I wrote for about 3 hours. Well, I instant messaged, did some online research and wrote for 3 hours.

This means I can write faster than I think I can. Which is amazing! If I can write for an hour a day and make 5 pages consistently, I could potentially write more than one book a year. Whoop!

Of course, I'm trying to not get ahead of myself and to just keep writing this book. No clear plot yet, but I'm really enjoying the two main characters. We'll see where the month takes me.

Happy writing!

ETA: Well, I got caught up in the story and am now up to a 5 day total of 8535 words! The last 500 words written in the last 30 minutes. Phew!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NaNoWriMo - 2007 Style

There is this phenomenon that strikes writers - from the novice to the published - that strikes every November. This phenomenon is called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And to do so with a story idea that you haven't plotted or outlined or researched to death.

I've done this in past years and have always become side tracked with life. In other words, I wasn't really committed and didn't truly believe that this great idea would work for me. It was a nice thought, but more fantasy than reality.

Well, this year is different. On November 1st I picked a story idea out of my "ideas" folder, sat down at the computer for about 90 minutes and the result was 1800 words. I wrote for another 90 minutes yesterday which equaled just over 1600 words. Not too shabby.

My goal - to write every day a word count of about 1600 words. Or about 6 -1/2 pages. I'm going to try to blog daily this month as well. If nothing else, it will be to publicly declare where I'm at with the NaNoWriMo challenge. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

As if Squirrels Weren't Bad Enough

Woodpeckers have decided the side of the house under the soffits are perfect for pecking and for finding bugs. They love to peck. All. Fricking. Day. Long! We're in the middle of renovations so there isn't siding up under the soffits. And there isn't Tyveck up either. Just exposed paneling. Which would be fine. Except for the damn woodpeckers. UGH!

You know, I'll be lucky if I have a house standing by the time this winter is over. And it's not even really winter yet. Just a wet fall. Reason number 2594 that you should pay someone to do the work for you when you renovate.

Check back soon. You never know. I may have a family of deer moved in by then. With the squirrels and the woodpeckers, anything is fricking possible. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Invasion of the Suburban Rats

Red squirrels are the embodiment of evil. Especially when they chew through the soffits of your home and get into the attic and the new loft that you are building.

I have come to this conclusion because two red squirrels have done exactly that. We have two huge black walnut trees near the house. The walnuts attract all manner of squirrels. Which is fine. The dog usually runs them off. Well, the dog is getting hold and can't run the way he used to. Or hear the way he used to. So the squirrels figure they can move on in and make themselves right at home. I don't mind them outside, but in my house? No!

The boy brought home a live trap and we trapped a squirrel yesterday. He has been released back into the wild. Far away from our house. The boy and my dad (who is visiting with my mom), fixed three different holes that led into the house. Of course, there was no way of making sure a squirrel wasn't still trapped in the house, so the live trap was reset. And the boy and I went to work.

I got a call from my mom, frantic because she can't stand rodents, telling me the trap had been sprung and yes, there was a second squirrel running around, rattling the bars and trying to escape it's confinement. Could I please come home to deal with it?

I got home, the squirrel and trap are outside waiting for the boy to pick up. I decided to do some looking around the house for any nuts the little rodents might have squirrel away (pun intended). Sure enough, three one-gallon buckets worth of walnuts were hidden through out the new and unfinished loft. And I found another gallon bucket's worth in the basement along with two boxes of linens that now have to be tossed because the squirrels have desecrated them. I'm talking chewed through, used as bathroom material, disgusting.

My fingers are crossed that this is the last of the squirrels, for this year at least. I really, really, really do not want rodents in my house again. Especially not urban rats like these. *sigh*

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Writing Excercise

Barbara Samuel, a wonderful author who I had the pleasure of taking an online class with last year, posted the following exercise on an email loop.:
You can begin to uncover and discover what you want by doing a simple, timed writing exercise. Set your timer for 15 minutes and write without stopping, starting every sentence with the words “I want.” Writing without stopping for a set period of time enables your inner voice to override your inner censor and helps to unearth buried dreams. It also creates a feeling of relief in the mind, heart, and body.

Sometimes the simple act of expressing a want actually releases it, while other yearnings retain their energy, asking us to pay attention. When we pay attention to what we want, we are that much closer to getting it.

I did this exercise for myself and the resulting few paragraphs were very insightful. I discovered that I want to be absolved of making renovation decisions but have my vision for this house in tact. I want a Dairy Queen blizzard. Yum! I want to let go of fear. I want to let go of self recriminations. I want my poor dog to live forever. There are so many things I want.

I'm not going to get all my wants. That's life. But there is something about saying what you want and letting your fingers go that centers you and helps you to cut through the crap and get to the heart of what matters.

I encourage you to set your kitchen timer, sit at the computer or pick up a pen and paper and write for 15 minutes about what you want. Just keep writing. Don't stop to read, edit or evaluate. When the timer goes off, listen to that still soft voice inside you as you read through the list again. It may take some time, but you'll get to the heart of what you really want. Trust me. I'm slowly getting there myself.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Controlled Chaos of Simply Madness?

I've had a hard week. And it's only Tuesday. I don't know if it's because I'm burning myself out at the day job or if it's because we're renovating and I'm not "seeing" how we're going to ever get a bathroom back or if it's because my dog, who is 13-1/2 is having all those old age things happen to him all at once. Or because I have fibromyalgia and everything is finally getting to me. Then there's the issue with my iPod, but that should be minor since it's still under warranty.

No matter what the cause, I have no desire to do anything beyond sit and read. Not good. Especially since I need to:
  1. balance the cheque book
  2. reconcile said cheque book for May and June
  3. clean the "office" space at home which is mostly filing and tossing with some bill paying thrown in
  4. clean the kitchen - hard to do when the water to the house is turned off
  5. email the authors in my RWA chapter who have late August or early September releases
  6. update the master attendee list for my volunteer training work at my church
  7. get information on counter tops and ceiling fans for said renovations
  8. and figure out what it is I'm forgetting to do
  9. oh, and find time to write (duh)
Okay. I think I figured it out. The reason I'm so fricking out of sorts is because there is too much to do. I think it's time for me to start a chore chart at home and give myself gold stars when I finish all these things that are expected of me. And since I'm spending too much time on the computer playing or too much time on the deck reading, I should probably pull out my timer and give myself little spots of time to play in between my chores.

Sounds good in theory. When I work with my coaching clients we would develop a plan based on what motivates them. The sad thing for me, I don't know what's going to motivate me out of this funk. However, I do like the idea of the chore chart. Well, a modified chart that will help me to figure out what are my "must accomplish" and what are my "nice to haves". I think I might even assign certain tasks to days so I don't feel like I have to get it all done at once. That's another thing that's making me freak out. It's so much and the perfectionist in me wants it all done TODAY! I have news for myself. It's not going to happen. Permission to break tasks down. Permission to take some time to get things done.

Deep breath. I have a plan. The madness is still there in all it's looming glory. But I have a plan. I'm off to go through my in-box and then a 15 minute reading break. Ah, the simple things.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from the RWA National Conference

Wow. Seriously, wow.

The conference was great. I've attended a few - DC in 2000, New Orleans in 2001, NYC in 2003. But there was something about the energy at the Dallas RWA conference that really got to me this year. Maybe it was that I had the best roommates a girl could ask for. Maybe it was because I got to stalk...I mean support several of my favorite authors - JR Ward, Jill Shalvis, Roxanne St. Claire, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn to name a few.

I think it was also that this is my first time going since I received PRO status from RWA. PRO status means I have finished at least one manuscript and I have submitted it. I have finished 4 manuscripts, and have many unfinished ones in vary stages of decay around the house. I have submitted and I have been rejected. But you know something, this year the message sunk in that it can take a long time to become published, but if this is truly a passion or something I'm compelled to do, to keep writing and to keep learning and keep submitting. What's the worst that can happen? I'm rejected, again. Been there, and it didn't sting as much as I thought it might. So, really, it's not that bad.

I've been writing stories all my life. I've been seriously writing novels for the last 4 years. I hears stories of some huge name authors who wrote and submitted for 10 + years before they were picked up by a publisher. I heard tales of authors who were doing well and then suddenly they couldn't get a writing contract to save their lives. It's a fickle business, but if you want it badly enough, you will persevere and you will eventually publish. Eventually.

Yes, it was a great conference and I'm very glad I went this year. Next year it's in San Francisco and I'm not sure i'll be abel to attend. We'll see. Cuz you just never know what's going to happen. *grin*

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soul Song by Marjorie M. Liu

Marjorie M. Liu does it again with her latest installment to the Dirk & Steele saga. I was fortunate enough to participate in her publisher's Buzz program for this book. Dorchester draws names from a list of eager volunteers and sends out ARCs (advanced reader copies) to the lucky readers. The readers are to read the book and post their positive reviews on various websites. I'm a little behind on my end of the bargain, mostly because I didn't receive the book until Monday and I couldn't start really reading it until Wednesday due to work business. Enough about me. Let's talk about Soul Song.

If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Liu's Dirk & Steele series, you need to know a little background. Dirk & Steele is a "detective" agency that employs people with extraordinary capabilities. Some are shape shifters (yes, you read that. Not were-creatures but people who can shift into the shape and being of an animal. Long story, read the books!). Some are telekinetic, psychic, pre-cognitive, fire starters, telepathic, etc. They are fighting for the good of mankind against a growing evil. I won't say more here. You need to read the books. Yes, they are paranormal, but they are also romance and adventure and intrigue. Think X-Men meet Remington Steele. Only better than both because there's a dash of mythical creatures, a dose of magic and always lurking are the evil bad guys. *grin*

Soul Song is the 6th book in this series. The heroine of the story, Kitala Belle, is a world renown violinist who works magic when she plays. Music is a part of her, right down to her soul. Her curse, something she hasn't shared with anyone but her grandmother, is the ability to see when another person is going to come to a violent end. This gift of "sight" is a curse to her because there is nothing she can do to stop it. She can only see. Kit is a strong woman, and as such a strong heroine. Though she is resistant of her own brand of magic, she allows herself to grow through the circumstances she finds herself in and with a strength born in love, she is able to be more than she ever expected herself to be.

M'Cal is an amazing hero. Humble and strong and talented and sensitive and yet not clich├ęd, he mesmerized me from the first page. Here is a man who is afraid he has lost the very best of himself yet discovers through his encounter with Kit that all that is good and strong within him has only been sleeping. M'Cal is a merman, a prince of the sea. He was exiled to walk on land, and fell under the compulsion of a witch who would use him and his gift of song to not just manipulate people but to steal their souls.

Together, Kitala and M'Cal join hearts, magic and souls to over come an evil so pure it threatens to take over the world.

Soul Song is rich in story and rich in themes. It also happens to take place in one of my old haunting grounds - Vancouver, British Columbia. Cities, and islands, and Orcas, oh my! Seriously though, the backdrop for this story couldn't be any richer. And because M'Cal is a merman, yes, there are orca pods and seals and other creatures of the deep. I love water, the ocean specifically. Liu does a wonderful job of capturing the mystery and majesty of the ocean in her tale without the story becoming bogged down by marine life.

Some of the themes in the book are love, trust and belief, but it's also about sacrifice. Without saying anything that would give the story away, one of the themes in the book is about loving enough to sacrifice for that love, even if that means letting go. It is a powerful theme that when combined with this amazing love story and a superb action adventure takes wings.

Soul Song is a ride worth taking. Lyrical and compelling it combines the best of action/adventure and romance and blends these two elements with an artistic touch, adding believable elements of magic and "other". Marjorie, thank you for following your muse and giving us this story. We so appreciate it!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Visual DNA

I tried to get this to post here, cuz it's visually stunning. But for some reason Blogger doesn't like the html. So instead, here is a link to the profile I created on the Visual DNA site - http://friends.imagini.net/@466051-8811

And here is the page with what I was going to post - http://friends.imagini.net/widget.php

If you are feeling adventurous, check it out. It's really quite lovely. *grin*

Monday, June 25, 2007

Meme from Patti O'Shea

I got this from Patti O'Shea's blog. Fun times, and a great way to blow off the act of writing. Cuz I need more excuses in my life to not write. Anyway, since I'm reading the Dark Hunter series, Greek mythology seems to be a good fit. Well, enjoy!

Your Score: Orpheus


33% Extroversion, 66% Intuition, 100% Emotiveness, 85% Perceptiveness




You are an artist, an aesthete, a sensitive, and someone who has never really let go of that childlike innocence. To you, all of life has a sense of wonder in it, and the story of Orpheus was written about someone just like you.



When the Argo passed the island of the Sirens, Orpheus played a song more beautiful than the Sirens to prevent the crew from becoming enticed. When his wife died, he ventured into the underworld to charm Hades but, in his naivete, he looked back becoming trapped there.



You can capture your unique world view and relate it to others with the skill of a master storyteller. Your sensitivity and creativity make you a treasure to the human race, but your thin-skinned nature and innocence can cause you a lot of disenchantment and pain. What's doubly unfortunate is that, if you try to lose those traits, you never will, and everyone will be able to tell that you're putting up an artificial shell to prevent yourself from being hurt.



Famous people like you: Hemingway, Shakespeare, Mr. Rogers, Melville, Nick Tosches

Stay clear of: Icarus, Hermes, Atlas




Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Just Sex...

Susan Kay Law, author of some amazing Americana Historical romances, recently moved from those beloved stories set in the American frontier to write a story that had been whispering to her for some time - a contemporary women's fiction novel.

Women's fiction is a category of genre fiction that is written by women for women that focus on the journey of a woman and is very relational in nature. Susie's first foray into women's fiction focuses on a woman who discovers her husband has been having affairs through most of his marriage. Life as she knows it can never be the same again. Especially because her husband believes that these affairs of his were "just sex" and had nothing to do with her. Through marriage counseling, he encourages her to have an affair of her own, to experience that it is just sex and that they can have an open marriage and still remain fully committed to each other.

Ellen finds herself trying to figure out what happens now. Does she forgive and forget for the sake of the children? Does she leave him? Does she go off and an have that fling? And how the heck would she go about doing that anyway? She's got a teen age daughter, for crying out loud! Besides, she has no radar to indicate if a man is married or not. And the last thing she wants to do is hurt another woman. Maybe it would be easier to just let life stay right where it is. But is easier better?

This story is Ellen's journey and I loved ever word. At times laced with Susie's trademark humor and at times poignant and aching, this story is about choices and how those choices can open or close possibilities. It's also about being true to who you are, once you discover who you are beneath who others expect you to be. It is lovingly written and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who believes in happy endings at the end of soul-wrenching self-discovery.

Kudos, Susie! I can't wait to see what you write next. *grin*

Friday, June 15, 2007

What Is Romance To You?

This question was asked on a bulletin board I visit from time to time for author Susan Wiggs. It was an insightful, and brave, gentleman who asked the question. It generated some interesting responses. And since I write romance in some shape or form, I thought I would ask the same question here.

What is romance?

Since I'm asking the question, I'll share my answer.

For me romance isn't something you have to plan. And it's definately not something you do. Romance are those perfect moments where souls connect and the world somehow stands still for a little while. It's not connected to a place or a time or an object. Romance is about a state of being.

Acting romantic is about doing. It's the planning a "romantic" dinner or date and then executing on it. It's the grand gesture of a diamond ring, a trip, a pledge. Being romantic is tied to a place or an event or an object. It is not necessarily tied to a state of being. Is the romantic dinner/date full of romance? For me, it is only if it includes one of those unplanned moments.

I married a man who doesn't act romantic. He doesn't buy flowers or chocolate or whisk me away at a moment's notice. He doesn't find sunsets romantic, though he does find them wonderful things to look at. He's just not romantic. I used to mind this because I had built up this expectation that these acts are romance and without them we couldn't be romantic with each other.

It took me a little while, but I finally realized that my husband embraces romance. When we have those moments where our souls touch and the world receeds and it's just us in that moment completely loving and understanding each other, he does and says the things that my heart and mind need. And I fall a little bit more in love with him. There aren't flowers, chocolates, candles, sunsets, etc during those moments. In fact, recently there's usually sheetrock dust and construction debris and a whiney dog surrounding our moments. But because the moment is about our souls, the surroundings and trappings don't seem to matter.

That's romance. At least to me. Sure, I like the romantic guestures and trappings, but they are fleeting. The romance my husband and I share, it lasts. And that's more meaningful to me.

Now it's your turn...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Hindi-Bindi Club


I have been waiting for this book forever! I've known Monica Pradhan since 1999. She was a member of Midwest Fiction Writers, which is a local RWA chapter here in MN. I served along side her on the chapter board for a year and I learned a lot from her about determination and striving toward making your passion a reality. Monica may not know this, but she's one of the reasons I never gave up writing during the dark days. I still have dark days, but they aren't so dark because of her. We didn't become tight but were always friendly with each other. I wish I could have gotten to know her better. Monica is one of these people that others are drawn toward. She's genuine and gentle and real and caring and has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen. She is truly amazing.

Monica wrote three Silhouette Intimate Moments novels under the the pen name Monica McLean. They are great books if you can find them. Meaty stories with great characters and compelling writing. All are out of print but can be found at used book stores or used on sites like http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ Here's a list:


  • The Cinderella Bride
  • Just A Wedding Away
  • The Nanny's Secret

I have really enjoyed The Hindi-Bindi Club. Growing up I had friends who had immigrated from various parts of India to Canada. I never understood their parents' struggles and history growing up and found myself in later years trying to learn more about the different cultures and events. This book allowed me to live through some of the struggles in a real and engaging way. It's regenerated my thirst to learn more and for this I'm grateful. Don't assume that this book was meant to teach someone about India and the East meets West struggles and oddities. It's not. It's about people first and foremost. Mothers and daughters and their relationships through the lense of American and Indian cultures. It is, in essence, a beautful relationship story and a story of choices and journey. I didn't want it to end.

If you haven't read it, I encourage you to. It's a wonderfully accessible book that is entertaining and heart wrenching and thought provoking.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In This Moment

I belong to an online writers group where we share motivation and encouragement. One of the exercises we have periodically is to write about who we are and where we are at emotionally, intellecutally, physically, spiritually in this moment. I wrote today and I had to post it here. It's about fear. It doesn't have epiphanies or lofty answers or answers at all really. It's just me, in this moment. Honest and vulnerable. The type of thoughts I would normally keep in a journal tucked out of sight. But part of being authentic is being honest and vulnerable. I ask my coaching clients to become this way with me. The least I can do is rip open the vein and bleed a little myself. I encourage you to do the same. It's not comfortable. And it can sometimes be messy. But it's real and true. And I want that for all of you - the ability to be real and true.

In This Moment....

In this moment I am surrounded by my demons. A gut-wrenching, stomach-twisting, brain-paralysing fear that I will never write. That I will never finish. That I will never accomplish my dream. That my passion is misplaced. That it's all an illusion created by a dissatisfied soul. That I am lazy. That I am rebelling against the better angels of my nature. That 9-to-5 is what I am born to do. All I am born to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

In this moment I stare at the sunflowers I have positioned to the right of my computer at work. In this shades-of-grey cubicle, they offer sunshine and whisper to me incoherent words of hope. I stare at them and I am grounded, if only for a little while. Until the demons start to seduce me again.

In this moment I crave silence in my soul. So I can hear my thoughts. So I can find my voice again and speak. So I can have peace. So I can know that peace does exist and isn't a wistful wish tossed up to a falling star.

In this moment I hear the clack of keyboards, of good, dutiful worker drones pushing through their call lists, connecting with applicants who desire higher education. I hear muted conversations and nasal cackles. I feel alone in the middle of business and not a little lost. I want to jump up from my cubicle and yell and convince someone that there's more than these glass walls and shades-of-grey cubes and pointless conversations trying to sell the idea of knowledge. I want to toss my project lists to the four winds and dance on my manager's grave. I want to shuck this life of other's expectations and conformity and politics and perceptions.

At the same time, i feel naive in this want because no matter where I go or what I do, the world is made up of shades of grey and politics and perceptions. Visionaries are lost by those who are afraid of different. 9-to-5 means shackles but it also means regular pay. Security in exchange for freedom. I'm torn. I'm tired. I'm afraid.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My Life In Music

I got this from a friend over on Live Journal. I've done it before but it's fun and, well, I haven't posted in a while...again. Sigh.

I put this on my LJ and then I did it over again for this blog. The results were quite interesting. Not exactly the music I would have picked and I did skip the classical music because I don't have it loaded onto iTunes in a manner that let's me see the composer. So, now that I've done this, it's your turn!

IF YOUR LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend your cool...


Opening Credits: The Big Money - Rush

Waking Up: Cherry Red Wine - Johnny Lang

First Day At School: Sure Enough - Amy Grant

Falling In Love: Wild Child - Enya

Fight Song: California Justice - Five for Fighting

Breaking Up: Running On Faith - Eric Clapton

Prom: Animate - Rush

Life: The Old Apartment - Barenaked Ladies

Work: Bring on the Day - Charlotte Martin (quite apt, actually)

Mental Breakdown: Rainbow's Cadillac - Bruce Hornsby

Driving: 5:15 - The Who

Flashback: I'm No Angel - Dido

Getting Back Together: Love Can Move Mountains - Celine Dion

Wedding: Lemon (Jeep Mix) - U2

Birth of Child: Bright Lights - Matchbox 20

Final Battle: Hurt Before - The Corrs

Death Scene: The Dreaming Tree - Dave Matthews Band

Funeral Song: One Tree Hill - U2

End Credits: Carrion - Fiona Apple

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yikes! It's been a while

I'm a very bad blogger! It's been two weeks since I've posted. No wonder no one reads this thing, lol. What can I say, life gets busy. Sigh. Not a real excuse, but true nonetheless.

8 random things...

I found this over at Marjorie M. Liu's blog! Good times.
  1. I'm double jointed in my thumbs. I can bend them behind my hands. Yes, it's gross to see but a neat trick to entertain and gross out the kiddies.
  2. I love sushi and sashimi. Love it! Would it eat it every day if I could afford to and had a decent place here.
  3. I had two short stories published in regional magazines in Canada when I was in high school. They were bad. Very bad.
  4. Gollom was my favorite character in Lord of the Rings. He made me cry.
  5. When I was young and visiting my grandparents' farm, I used to play with garter snakes
  6. I have fibromyalgia. It sucks.
  7. I have yet to find a John Irving book I've really enjoyed reading.
  8. Sunflowers, pansies, Calla lilies and orchids are my favorite flowers. Tho I also enjoy Peruvian Lilies as well. If my husband wants to charm me, a bouquet of wild flowers will make me smile.

I'm not tagging anyone else, but if you want to post eight random things about yourself and link back here, go for it.

News & Updates

The RWA National conference is quickly approaching. I have my ticket, I'm registered. Now I just need to make sure I've saved enough for the room, food and a little fun. I was hoping to have my book finished enough to go after an editor or agent appointment but the book is being very difficult and I'm still in first draft land. I may still try to snag an appointment, but if not, there are a lot of workshops that look very good. I think the timing for me to attend this year is perfect!

We are embarking on the next phase of renovations. Two years ago we added a half story to the house. Over last year we re-did the heating/air conditioning duct work in most of the house, installed a new furnace and air conditioner, insulated, wired for lights and outlets, and put up wall board (dry wall, gyp-rock) in the new loft, roughed in stairs to the basement and up to the new loft, and did some work outside with the soffits and such. This year we are gutting the middle of the house. The two bedrooms will have some minor work done, but the pantry, bathroom, third bedroom/office will be gutted and reconfigured. This week I had to pack up my home office. We're moving all the things we don't need for the next year to the basement and setting up the office temporarily in the living room. I'll post a picture when we're done moving the office. Last night we set up some temporary shelves on the wall above where the computer desk is going. This way my writing books and coaching books will be close at hand.

I spent last week going through files, and piles of paper and computer programs and crap. I tossed a lot. I kept a lot. It's a draw as to which pile won. The hubby was hoping the toss pile would be larger. I think was being a little contrary and keeping more than I really needed to.

I'm also purging my books. I have between 20-30 bankers boxes of books - text books from college, self-help books, religious books, cook books, sewing project books, regional interest books, biographies, literary fiction, romance, mystery, thrillers, movie tie-ins, research books, more romance, paranormal & fantasy, books on counseling theories, life coaching books, books on organization/time management, women's fiction, inspirational fiction, historical fiction, more romance... the list goes on.

I've read most of these books, but I have about 100 or so in my house that I haven't. We're going to move the books to the bedroom - still in their boxes - but I decided that I really should look through the boxes since most of them haven't been opened since we moved 5 years ago. Now I'm inventorying the books, numbering the boxes and discovering that there are a lot of books I have no intention of ever reading. So, these books are going to be donated somewhere. The hubby is happy about this. He doesn't understand my need to surround myself with books. Which is fine. As long as I store them neatly and I don't spend my entire paycheck on them, he and I can live in a sort of harmony. *grin*

It's actually freeing to be letting go of things. It makes room for new experiences. It takes away the clutter. It feels like I'm starting fresh. I know that eventually those empty boxes will be filled again with books and that at some time down the road I'll be purging books again, but today when I look at those boxes I see room in my life for new stories and new information. And I like that feeling.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why the Fox Network Sucks

Once in a while a gifted storyteller is given the opportunity to produce his concepts on TV. Tim Minear is one of those storytellers. He had a concept for Drive and he pitched and pitched and finally Fox decided to take a chance. Only Fox didn't do the show justice and after only 4 episodes, Drive is now being pulled, with the last 2 episodes that have been filmed airing this summer some time. This is not new for the innovative Minear. Fox has not been a good dance partner for him. Stupid Fox!

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the second time Fox has done this to me. And not surprisingly, both shows have Nathan Fillion and Tim Minear in common. Damn! The husband and I love this show so far. Apparently we and a few critics are the only ones.

Drive Yoinked from Fox Schedule (Updated)

I heart this show! I also heart Nathan Fillion, but he's not the central character so it's not just for him that I tune in. I love ensemble shows. I love shows that slowly reveal who the characters are and leave you wanting more. I don't mind far fetched ideas and things that step out of reality. Prison Break and Lost, anyone? What I don't like is Fox who continues to yank my favorite innovative shows. Give it a chance, people! GAH!

In my opinion, Fox is losing out. Seriously losing out. Just like they did by treating Firefly with the lack of care they did and yanking it within 3 months. There is now a cult-like following for Firefly (yes, I'm part of that cult. What can I say. Space Cowboy Dramedies are my thing. And who can not like Nathan "Mal" Fillion? I mean, really people!)

So, Nathan and Tim, if you're googling your names and come across my blog, know that you have one fan of Drive out there. I'll miss you and I hope that somewhere out there we find out if Alex Tully saves his wife and if Wendy Patrakis is able to not only finish the race but ditch her abusive mo-fo of a husband and save her baby. And if Rob and Ellie will survive their marriage after the deceit and if Rob will actually be court marshaled for deserting. I really, really want to know!

And if, by chance, you are able to take this show and move it to another network who will treat you like the genius you are, please let it not be a cable network or at least have the shows online. Some of us don't do cable. But as long as the episodes hit DVD with commentaries, I'll forgive you almost anything, Tim. Best of luck in the future! Oh, and stay away from Fox. They'll just continue to toy with your emotions. It's not healthy, Tim. Not healthy at all.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

How Much of It Is Me?

I'm reading a book by John Eldredge of Ransomed Hearts Ministries titled Waking The Dead. For those of you reading my blog who aren't spiritual or religious, this book may not be of interest, though I challenge you to pick it up if for no other reason but to see how others look at our world. For those of you who do have a faith in God in some form or another, this book may challenge some things you were taught in Sunday School. In a good way.

Why bring up a religious/spiritual book on a blog about writing? Because as I'm reading through this book and having my beliefs and thoughts challenged, I find myself wondering how much of the story I'm working on will be changed or challenged because I as a person am changed or challenged. How much of my story is a reflection of me and how much is a "just the story?" In the past I would have said that the tenets of the story itself wouldn't change, but perhaps how the characters respond to their situations may sway somewhat.

However, as I approached my story this afternoon, I found myself looking at some of the threads I intended to weave into my story and struggled with them. So I did what I usually do when I hit a block, I called my husband into the room and attempted to look at things for an intellectual, logical standpoint. My husband is good at this. Must be that engineering mind of his.

We discussed and we debated and in the end I threw my hands in the air and said with disgust, "It's all John Eldredge's fault!" That earned a puzzled look and a sneer from the boy. I knew I had to explain. In reading Waking The Dead I've been examining some things about my beliefs. Not a bad thing for a person to do. I think we should always be examining ourselves and our beliefs. It's an act of growth. However, some of those beliefs are beliefs that have been seeping into my story. Now that I'm challenging them, I'm torn between keeping things the same and static or rewriting the story to change with me. The later would allow me to follow my happy path but perhaps not bring a true representation of myself to the story. The former would throw the entire journey of the characters off and the book would become a whole new story. One I'm not feeling compelled to tell.

So you see my dilemma. How much of this story is me? And how much is just the story? How much should a work of fiction mirror the beliefs and values of the author?

I don't have an answer. But I did pull a coaching technique out of my bag of tricks and instead of pushing too far into this mess I seem to be creating for myself, I'm going to do some character interviews to learn more about Mallory & Jason and the rest of the cast. I have a feeling they need to tell me something that will pull my struggle together with their story.

Why oh why does writing have to be so hard? Oh, but you know I love it! *grin*

Friday, April 13, 2007

Are Writers Born or Made?

Tess Gerritsen, one of my favorite medical suspence authors, tackles the age old question on whether writes are born or made. In her blog she states her belief that our ability to tell a story is formed by the age of 12. And that there are some people who have that natural timing and sense of the dramatic that lends itself to good storytelling. And other people who just don't. She also mentions that, in her opinion, many people who aren't able to put a compelling tale on paper are often the same people who don't read.

In a sense, Tess is saying that it's part nurture and part nature. And that people continue to develop their ability to spin a good tale because they continue to expose themselves to books and stories, both written and those told in the oral tradition. They were read to as children or listened to audio books or some of the master storytellers of the radio age. They were enveloped in a world of words.

In an interview, urban fantasy wonder, Jim Butcher stated that he didn't know the first thing about telling a story when he decided to write and become a published author. The first book of his famed Dresden Files series was written for a writing class he was taking. He worked hard at building his skills and at getting his work out there. I don't know if he would argue that he is not a natural born storyteller, but I have a feeling he is one who has always enjoyed stories in some form or another.

There are a lot of authors out there who work hard to tell a story. They pour over every word, every turn of phrase and several drafts, and months, later they have something they give to their publisher. There are other authors who seem to have their stories beamed to them from somewhere in outer space. They see the story and they write it down seemingly effortlessly. I try to not envy those writers. I do, but I try not to.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I have some scenes and some characters who seem to jump out of my head and onto the page and tell me what to write. Then I have other scenes or characters where I sweat to get even a sentence on the page. I have always told stories. I am often found with a book in my hand. But the act of crafting a full length novel is arduous and sometimes even tortuous. So, why do I do it? Because I have this burning need churning in my gut to tell these stories. I'm not longer satisfied to be the only person who knows these characters and their worlds exist. My fingers itch to connect with a keyboard and the pictures and voices in my mind aren't satisfied to exist only in my imagination.

Am I a product of nurture vs. nature? I would say both. I think I have a natural knack for telling stories. But I need to continue to learn about the art and craft of it, not to mention the entire business end of things. And I need to continue to write. Even if I have talent, I won't get published if I can't get the story on the page and tell it in a compelling and marketable way.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Music To Write By

Every time I start a new book I begin to pull together songs that fit the characters, the setting and the tone of the book. I didn't do this initially with Tho I Walk. And I have suffered.



I wasn't clicking with the story on an emotional level for a long time. And when I don't connect emotionally, I write in fits and starts. This makes for choppy writing and a really lame writing schedule. I almost threw the story out in order to start another one that's starting to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Darn stories, they won't leave me alone for a minute! *grin*



This story has the potential to be a really good story if I keep with it, so I decided to spend some time with my draft, such as it is, and try to figure out what was holding me back. Other than my own fear that I'm really going to screw it up, that is.



As I got half way through my draft it dawned on me that I hadn't put together my soundtrack for this book. Not one song had made it's way into a playlist on my iPod for this book. Oh, at times I would hear a song and think about the characters. Once in the car with my husband I heard a song that summed up the themes of my book, but neither one of us had any idea who sang it so it's lost to me forever.



This week I started going through my iTunes to see what I had that resonated. I also started a section in my story notebook for potential songs or what types of emotions I'm looking for in songs. Here's my list so far:
  • How Can We See That Far -- by Amy Grant
  • Will You Be There (In the Morning) -- by Heart
  • Woman in Chains -- by Tears for Fears
  • My Sacrifice -- by Creed
  • Eye To Eye -- by Amy Grant
  • Easy Tonight -- by Five for Fighting
  • Borrowed Heaven -- by The Corrs
  • Come To Jesus -- by Mindy Smith
  • Unwell -- by Matchbox 20
  • Because of You -- by Kelly Clarkson
  • September When it Comes -- by Roseanne Cash and Johnny Cash
  • My Lover's Gone -- by Dido
  • Most of the Three Musketeers Soundtrack (minus the theme song)
  • A Little More -- by Jennifer Knapp
I'm still working on adding the right songs and some of these may disappear. But as I write I'm starting to feel the emotional impact of this story in my gut. Finally.


Do you make soundtracks for your life? What song or orchestral piece best describes this time in your life?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Push Me. Pull You.

I don't know how many of you have ever seen the original Dr. Doolittle movie. The 1967 version with Rex Harrison and Samantha Eggar. I used to watch it every time it played on TV. I'm too young to have seen it when it was first released in theaters.

Anyway, there's this animal, that looks like a two-headed llama called a pushmi-pullyu (pronounced "push-me-pull-you"). Strange, strange animal. It was actually an antelope in the books. When it tried to move, each "head" would move in the opposite direction. Which made it very difficult for the animal to move anywhere at all.

Today, I feel like my husband and I are a pushmi-pullyu. I'm a very global person. That's a kind way of saying I get distracted and have a driven need to look at things from a 100,000 miles up instead of down at the detail level. I also tend to multi-task. A lot. My husband is more logical. He does things in a logical and precise order and manner. He's not inflexible. He just doesn't understand that I forgot to charge my PDA, so I'm charging it right now, while I blog, so I can have a charged PDA to go shopping with. I made my grocery list (on my PDA) and I don't want to run out of battery power.

I also pulled together some books to mail out, some books to return to the library, went through a pile of papers for recycling, cleaned out the mystery containers from the fridge and emailed a few friends. So it's not like I'm sitting around just playing on the computer when I should be running errands.

But because I didn't do any of these tasks in a logical manner, he doesn't see what I've accomplished. He sees that on my to-do list I have groceries, library and post office. I said I was going to go run thede errands 20 minutes ago, but here I am on the computer and my errands aren't completed. All one can see is me blogging. But really, I'm waiting for my PDA to sync and charge up enough so I can use it while I'm out.

Pushmi-pullyu. We want to accomplish the same goals - get the chores and errands done before dinner tonight so we can relax. But we're going at it in different ways. And aggravating the heck out of each other in the process. I can choose to get upset, yell, cry, slam the door on my way out. Instead, I'm going to try calm and rational discussion. And to remember that we're trying to get to the same place. And that there's value in seeing how someone else gets to that goal. I'm not always right. Shocking, I know. *grin*

Okay, kids. It's time to push myself out the door. Have a great Easter weekend. I'll talk to y'all next week.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Typical Day

Someone asked me what a typical writing day for me is like. My short answer, anything but typical.

I wish I had a schedule where I could have set times to write. Sadly, I need to hold down a day job. I'm out of the house by 6:30am and at the office sometime around 7am. Since I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination (just ask the boy), I don't do any writing in the morning. I try to carve out my lunch hour for writing or online research, but invariably I get caught up in work meetings or the necessary networking required to build those interpersonal connections that allow you to really leverage your resources. You see, at work I'm a project manager/business analyst. This means I need to be in the "know" and to have contacts throughout the organization. Lunches are the main way I keep up.

So, on those days when I don't get a lunch break (which are most days), I end up not getting a lot of writing time in during the day. I make up for it by carrying a notebook with me that I write in scene snippets or ideas as I wait for meetings, stand in line at the coffee shop, or generally have a spare moment. Once a week I go through this notebook and harvest those ideas that stick.

After work I have several responsibilities. I am a wife and I need to take care of those things that make marriage run smoother. Things like preparing dinner, taking care of the household finances, cleaning, and being there for my husband. The boy is in school earning yet another degree. This one is in mechanical engineering. He works full time while he's going to school and we are renovating/gutting our house. So, he does most of the grunt work and I do the traditional wifely things. Eventually we'll get back to a more egalitarian division of responsibilities, but in the mean time, there's a lot for me to do.

Some nights I also have appointments with couples I coach. I'm a life/relationship/creativity coach in my copious spare time. *snort* I love it! It's what my degree in counseling psychology was for. However, I don't make enough money doing this to ditch the day job. Some day, though. Some day.

I am also very involved in our church, which means that there are nights or weekends when I'm spending time presenting a training, planning for children's education, or organizing work days. As you can see, when the work day is done, I have many other things that demand my time. If it wasn't for my palm pilot and keyboard or my notebook, I would never get any writing in!

So when do I write? Well, I write when I have moments of spare time. I write on the weekends, a lot. I get up at the same time I usually do during the week and I write in the mornings. I set up the laptop at night and write while the hubby and I sit on the couch and watch reruns. I write on Friday afternoons when I'm finished running errands. I have cut down on my reading time so I can write before bed. I have learned to write anywhere. Literally. I have written on the bus, in the car, during weddings, in meetings, waiting in line at the grocery store, in quiet corners at boring parties, in the emergency room. Anywhere.

I have also learned that I cannot wait for the muse to strike or the time to be right. There will always be something that will try to get in the way of my writing. An emergency will come up when I have a block of time set aside for the story. I will over book myself because I can't say no. The hubby will need my assistance to hang drywall. So I've learned to look for opportunities, keep my writing tools with me at all times, and to write fast.

That's a key I've picked up from two prolific authors - MaryJanice Davidson and Susan Mallery. Both have said that they write 120+ words per minute which allows them to write a lot in a short period of time. If I'm going to maximize the time, I need to write fast. I can go back and fix things later, but the ideas flying around in my head need to get on the page before I lose them.

That's my typical day - cramming writing in whenever I have a chance as I juggle all the other hats I wear. I dream of the day I have hours every day to write. That's the goal. But for today, I practice being nimble.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It Wasn't Me, Officer!

There are about 6 police cars parked in or near my driveway. The good news, they didn't come looking for me, my husband or the dog. The bad news, they were chasing someone in a vehicle who tore up our driveway, stopped short of hitting the garage and bolted. So I'm locked inside my house with my cell phone and the dog and my husband is outside assisting the police as they look for whoever it is who tore up the driveway and abandoned their car.

Things like this don't happen to me. I'm a law-abiding citizen. Okay, for the most part I'm law abiding. But still, the bad guys generally leave me alone and the police have no reason to talk to me except to raise money for their charity events. It's kind of freaky to realize that some potentially dangerous person may be lurking outside my relatively safe home. And that if the police don't find him, he may come back. Oh, not to mention that car in my driveway blocking the garage. I hope they move that soon.

Since I'm a writer, I find myself thinking more about the "what ifs" then about my general safety. I figure, the police are still outside, the doors are locked and I'm going to be okay. My mind is actually going down the path of what if a person was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was mistaken for a wanted criminal. What if he was chased by the police into a residential setting. And what if he abandoned his car and took solace in a house not too far away. And what if that turned into a hostage situation, accidentally of course. And what if the police were actually in on this to protect one of their own. And what if the woman who lives in the house knew some of the truth and believed this stranger who is trying to get away. And what if...

I love what if exercises. I probably won't ever write that story above, but thinking about the what ifs get the mind pumping and the creative juices flowing. Not to mention it keeps my mind off the blinking red and blue lights in my driveway. The real story is some guy in the apartments down the street was evicted, showed up to the apartment up to no good, the cops were called, he has a suspended license so they were going to do whatever it is police do in that situation, he tried to flee, drove into our driveway thinking it was an alley, saw the garage so abandoned his car and fled. The police are impounding his car and issuing a war rent. He could be a drug dealer, a wife beater, a gambler, or just a jerk. Who knows. But it doesn't make for exciting or titillating fiction. What ifs are so much more interesting, don't you think?

Friday, March 16, 2007

300

Wow.

That's all I can say about the movie based on Frank Miller's interpretations of King Leonidus of Sparta and the famous b
attle of Thermopylae in which he and a contigent of 300 Spartan soldier and 1600 Thesbian and Thebians stood against a much greater horde of warriors and slaves of King Xerxes of Persia. I had read about the battle during one of my high school history classes back in the 80s, before Frank Miller wrote his graphic novels about the subject. School would have been a lot more interesting with graphic novels depicting historical events, don't you think? Sadly, my knowledge was based on dry text book accounts and the battle was barely a blip on the radar. Which is really too bad, because there are so many life lessons to be gleened and so many parallels to be made.

And it's quite funny how history repeats itself. I'm not going to get all political on my blog, because that's not the intent of my little corner of the internet. But I will say, it's interesting just how tenacious free men are when they fight for their land, their beliefs and their future. Very interesting.

Back to the movie - it was stunning. And not just because the men spent most of the time in leather short shorts and sweeping capes. The backdrops were stunning. The cinematography was amazing and the music was an incredible blend of sweeping lyrical threads and pumping metal beats. The storytelling was top notch and unlike Sin City, you didn't need to be familiar with the story in order to enjoy the movie. Also unlike Sin City, there are lessons built into the movie. I don't know if they were purposely inserted into the story or if they are just a by-product of history. Either way, I was moved, and not just by the very fit Spartans.

There is something for everyone. Epic storytelling. A fiesty heroine. A truly heroic hero. Battles. Blood. Bonding. Brotherhood. Honor. Really bad bad guys. Love. And betrayal.

If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to do so. And as you watch, think for a moment about what it means to be free. And the price attached to that freedom.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy Birthday To...

Me!

Yup, today is my birthday. My 36th to be exact. And I'm okay with that. There's nothing wrong with turning a year older. In fact, there's something wonderful about knowing there's a new year ahead. A new adventure. A fresh start. A time for reflection and celebration.

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions. Birthdays are more a time of reflection for me. I look at my goals and determine how far I am from reaching them, decide if those goals are still valid, and write up a new goal statement for the upcoming year. This year is my year to really push the writing. To take some chances. To let this excitement over the story really bubble up and spill over into other areas of my life.

It's also my year to put the pain of past rejections behind me and to start submitting again. I'm done with excuses this year. I'm not too busy, this manuscrip is not shitty, and I have come a long way from my first novel. That's not to say I'll sell anything this year. Writing is so subjective. But I can't reach my goal of being a multi-published author if I don't let my work leave the house.

So this year, I'm pushing my boundaries. And hopefully in more than just writing. But I'll start there. *grin*

Saturday, March 03, 2007

So, What Are You Writing Now?

 The more people who know I write, the more I find myself fending off this question. I don't often talk about the particulars of my stories. I find I'm almost afraid to talk about these fledgling works in process because in the talking I may lose the magic.

The second book I ever wrote was a wonderful story. It had danger, love, dirty little secrets, passion, location...well everything. But the more I talked about it, the less I wanted to write it. And so the story sits, a rough draft, a great idea, but not finished. Oh, the tenets of the story are there and it wouldn't take too much work to fill it out and get it out the door.

But I lost interest.

This is why I don't talk much about my stories while I'm writing the first draft. Not even my good writing friends hear much beyond the basics. I have a casual critique partner who reads the rough draft and then tells me how wonderful it is (it being the bones of the story, because trust me, there will be a ton of work after this draft is done). Ah, the joy of an "unbiased" fan. *grin* Still, I don't talk to her about the story. She doesn't know anything more than the pages I give her. She keeps notes and at the end, or when I'm stuck, she'll pull them out and go over things with me. It's a great system.

So what do I do when someone asks me what I'm writing now? I smile kindly and tell them I'm working on a story of love and redemption and hope. Which pretty much covers any plot I may actually write. When pressed, I may give some details like:
  • It's a story set in Minnesota
  • The hero and heroine are on paths of discovery - he with his faith, she with her past
  • It's a little bit other, a little bit dark and a little bit romantic
  • There will be a happy ending
Not much, but enough to satisfy the question. I hope.

I'm on this journey with my characters. I don't know any further into their story than what I put on the page. Oh, I may have ideas of scenes in the future. And I may have a hunch as to where the story is heading. But for me, the joy of writing is in the journey. I map out things, I figure out who my characters are and where they are coming from and where they are going t land. But if I talk about my story too much, those happy discoveries are discovered too early and when I sit to write that sense of adventure is gone. I lose my steam and my drive.

So, if you're one of those people who have have ever asked my what I'm writing now, sorry if it seemed like I brushed you off. I didn't mean it that way. I was simply trying to save the journey so Mallory and Jason can have the story the deserve from me. If things go in the right direction, perhaps you will be able read this story for yourself someday. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Reading Can Be Useful

I'm avoiding the written page - and balancing my cheque book. On one of the web boards I frequent I found the following. It brought a smile to my face. I hope it brings a smile to yours.

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "Isn't that obvious?")
"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.
"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."
"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.
"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.
"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."
"Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think .

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Today Debut's An Amazing Author

It's a wonderful feeling to be able to support a dear friend on her journey to fulfilling her dreams.

I've known Farrah Rochon for many years. I met her on an author bulletin board and in person when I was in New Orleans for the 2001 RWA conference. She has such heart and such drive and she has been both a support and an inspiration to me on my own journey. You see, during this time Farrah and I have shared a common dream - to publish our novels. We would "meet" online to discuss our work and to prod each other on. We have both gone on to write several manuscripts.

Farrah has reached that next step that all aspiring writers hope to reach. She wrote the best damned book she could write at the time and she queried several agents and editors. One agent was smart enough to see amazing talent when it landed on his desk and he signed Farrah last year. Not long after, Farrah sold her first book, Deliver Me, to Dorchester Publishing and today it is officially released and on the bookshelves! Go Farrah!

I have a copy of the book in my hot little hands and while I haven't read past the first few chapters, I can tell you that the book is amazing!I Here is a summary of the book for you:

After being dumped by her boyfriend and passed over for yet another promotion, Monica Gardner moves to New Orleans, determined to make a name for herself as the new attending ER physician at Methodist Memorial Hospital. As for men--she's through with them. But when given the chance to chair the hospital's annual charity banquet, Monica must elicit the help of gorgeous Ob-gyn Elijah Holmes.

Eli will do anything to thwart his matchmaking Mama's plan to reunite him with his high school girlfriend. So, when the sexy new ER doc asks for his help in planning this year's charity banquet, Eli devises the perfect scheme: He'll help put on the best banquet the hospital has ever seen, if Monica poses as his new girlfriend. But when Eli finds himself falling in love, he realizes convincing Monica of his true feelings may be his greatest delivery yet.


So run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore...or head over to Amazon...and snatch up the debut contemporary romance novel by Farrah Rochon! And if you'd like to learn a bit more about Farrah, you can visit her website at:http://www.farrahrochon.com/

And Farrah, if you happen to catch this, I am so proud of you! You have struggled and you have questioned, but you never gave up and you did what needed to be done. I'm so happy to have been a small part of your journey and pray that God blesses you richly and beyond measure! You, my friend, deserve nothing less.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's Freaking Cold Outside!

I'm not used to the cold anymore.

That may sound strange to those of you who know me and know I live in Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes, mosquitoes, and icy winters. The last few years have been mild. We haven't dipped much below freezing and we haven't had much in the way of snow. Even this winter proved to be balmy, with January temperatures in the low 40's and the sun shining more often than not.

Then the cold came. That wonderful arctic chill that settled upon the Midwest, bringing with it bone-chilling winds and temperatures in the negative numbers. In a word, brrrrrr! Even my dog, who is part husky, is not immune to the cold. He usually loves to lay in the snow for hours on end, but this dip in temperatures has him hopping from foot to foot, begging to be let in mere minutes after we have let him outside to do his doggie thing. Poor baby!

I almost skipped church today so I could snuggle longer in my warm bed. I was to teach Sunday School so I decided to dress in layers, make the husband warm up the car and make a mad dash between house to car then car to church building. I swear my breath was freezing and dropping to the ground with tiny tinkling sounds every time I exhaled.

It's freaking cold here, people! I can't even focus on writing right now because my book takes place in late summer, early fall and I can't imagine ever being warm again. Ever. I know March will come and with it will come spring, or at least the promise of spring. But that's not soon enough. If the weather doesn't at least warm up to the 20's, I'm afraid we'll have to move. That will make the hubby happy. In case you didn't catch it, that last sentence was dripping with sarcasm. My husband loves MN. I think it's because he was born here. Me, I relocated after I married him. I'm from Canada, which you would think would make me immune to the sub-zero chills.

Um, no. I moved south (from the Calgary area of Alberta) to get away from the cold. The weather there is hovering just below freezing. And it's sunny. And at any moment a warn Chinook wind could blow down from the mountains, melting the snow and raising temperatures significantly. *sigh* But I live in freezing-my-butt-off Minnesota. And I'm here for the foreseeable future so I guess I better get used to it. And haul that down parka out of storage, because if the forecast is to be believed, MN is going to be the arctic for at least another couple of weeks.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Living By A Thread

Ever feel like you're hanging by a thread and that at any moment the thread is going to break and you're going to come crashing down? I feel that way with my current story. And to be honest, I'm getting quite the rush out of it!

This story started with a tiny kernal of an idea. A what if. I love "What If's" because they get me thinking about my world a little differently. There's nothing like looking at the world just a little differently. But I digress.

So, the story started with this little idea. What if there was a woman who left her home town because of a tragedy, hoping to never return but is forced to come back? What if when she gets back, her world is turned upside down because what she thought to be true wasn't?

Well, that's how the idea started. It's not how it's going. Well, the heroine left town after tragedy and is now forced to come back, but it's not for the reasons I dreamt up.

This is why I love writing! It takes me through all these twists and turns and I never end up somewhere I've been before. Oh, it's frustrating too because I don't control the story even though I like to think I do. Somewhere in my fertile imagination the story is growing and unfolding but it only comes to my conciousness little pieces at a time. It's like hanging by this thread, swinging around and seeing if the direction I'm going is strong enough for the thread to hold my weight. Sometimes the thread unravels or snaps and I fall back to the previous thread. That hurts.

But other times, the thread holds strong and I climb up it, learning more and more about the characters who demand my attention and their worlds. It's fascinating. But I also know that any time, the entire story could come crashing down around me and I'll be forced to start back at square one. That's my fear. And probably where I'm getting the rush right now. Because as of today, I've only had one itsy bitsy thread snap. Everything else has been golden! Well, for now. No sense jinxing the thing, right?

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Story Strikes Back

The husband and I were attending the wedding of a friend of ours on Saturday. It was a lovely affair - candles, fresh-cut evergreens as garlands, beautiful music and heartfelt vows. We were honored to be witnesses to this monumental step in the lives of our friends.

About a third of the way through the hour long service, I started hearing voices in my head. My characters were not going to give me a break! I had been giving them all sorts of attention over the Christmas week, reaching an all time high of 30 pages in one week. I thought I was doing fairly well and deserved a break from the book. The characters had other ideas.

They were so insistent, so compelling, that I had to pull a notebook out of my purse and in the middle of the special music and scripture reading, start writing the beginnings of a new scene. My husband looked over at me and frowned, a little put out that I was paying attention to "them" again. Poor guy. He didn't make a fuss, especially when I put the notebook down to hear the actual exchange of vows and rings.

It was a little off putting to have the book be so much on my mind while I was at this wedding. I really did try to stuff the information back, tried to convince my characters that they were going to have my full attention later that evening, if they would just let me have these few hours with my friends. I guess I had ignored them a bit too much over the last few months, only giving them my time when I had exhausted all other distractions in my life. So they keep nattering at me until I gave in, thus reassuring them that I am invested in telling their story.

Since Saturday, they have been a little calmer, waiting until I'm at the computer before they start sharing with me the next piece of their journeys. I'm happy they are being a bit more gentle with me. But I expect they will demand my attention at some inopportune time in the not so distant future. The voices in my head are funny that way.