Friday, 9 December 2016

“Capture your dreams and your life becomes full. You can, because you think you can.” – Nikita Koloff


I read publishing announcements regularly. On blogs, on Twitter and in trade papers. Some are dry industry notices that emphasize the deal and not the author. But, many are direct from writers both new and seasoned. I rejoice for all of them, but I relish the debut author announcements. They are always effusive. Filled with squees, happy dances and smiley emoticons, they make me smile. And, they encourage me to keep dreaming.

Well, today it is my turn to broadcast good news. I am happy…no, thrilled…to share that my contemporary young adult novel, Cutting to the Chase, is being published by Evernight Teen! Needless to say I have been squeeing, dancing happily and sending out a few smiley faces of my own. It is all signed, sealed and delivered with a projected publishing date of February 2017.

I am optimistic that publication is not the end of the road for this writer's journey but, instead, a fork with more choices to contemplate. To that end, I need to get seriously busy. I am working on building my YA image and author site here. There is promo to consider to support what the publisher plans. And, Mags' story will not write itself. If readers enjoy Lizzy's tale, they might want to hear more about Mags. She'd better be ready and waiting in the wings.

So, I am going to take a small hiatus from the blog. Between what I need to accomplish in writing and the festive season, something needs to give. Besides, you folks will be busy too. And, if you miss me and want a little fix, either follow me on Twitter or Instagram. Or, even easier, scroll down two posts and watch me sing Hallelujah. J

I will return in the new year. Until then, be good to yourself. And continue to dream. Dream daringly. Dream big. Then chase those dreams down. I'm living proof that if you dream it and think you can do it, you can.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, 2 December 2016

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. —Maya Angelou


Years ago, Keev and I joined five friends on a houseboat on the Trent Severn Waterway in Ontario. It was a week filled with eating and drinking, playing tourist and enjoying the quiet beauty of inlets along the river. One day, we awoke to rain splattering the bedroom window. A bit disappointed but undaunted, we headed out to join the others in the main living area. A typical laughter-filled breakfast started the day but, as the morning wore on, we saw no sign of the heavy rain stopping. That meant no walks, no lounging in the sun, no swimming. We grew quieter and felt a little down. That's when one of our friends announced, "I think it's a soup day!"

Now, that sentence in isolation sounds a bit odd. But, it was stated with such an air of confidence and expectation that we bought into it. Together we made soup and, while the weather remained the same, the mood lightened. Afterward, we curled up around the boat, napping, reading or chatting. And it felt cozy, not claustrophobic. All because our friend changed the tone by declaring it a soup day.

Soup has always been at the centre of my husband's life. In true French-Canadian style, he grew up with a pot of soup on the stove for his daily lunch. It's a tradition he loves, and we have now fallen into the routine of enjoying a noon-hour bowl of soup. And, none of that canned stuff. He makes it from scratch, and I look forward to his creations.

It has been a wetter fall than usual on the island. Not wanting our moods to reflect the gloom, we decided to have a pre-emptive soup "pick-me-up." But, since soup making is a regular occurrence in our house, we wanted to do something different. Recently, a friend in the neighbourhood had mentioned that she would like to try my husband's lentil soup. So, we brought the ingredients to her house. Keev made the soup while we watched. It was a wonderful afternoon of laughter and talk and, yes, wine. J

It poured that afternoon and we didn't care. We couldn't have been more content.

In life we often cannot control what happens to us, only how we respond. Our houseboat friend, wise beyond her years, understood that. When it rains in your life, choose to make it a soup day!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Act the way you'd like to be and soon you'll be the way you act. —Leonard Cohen


Like many, I continue to contemplate what is happening in our world and wonder what we can do to make things better. I honestly do believe that it starts in our own backyard. If each of us took time to care for those in our communities, then, like the heat that radiates from of a ray of sunshine, everyone would feel the warmth. We all need to know that someone cares, that we matter in this life, that we are loved.

I have always enjoyed Leonard Cohen's songs. They brought peace and solace to me in times of stress. I was saddened to hear of his passing, but I know that he lived a life of his choosing and has left his mark. That is more than many of us can claim.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of performing Hallelujah. It was with the wonderful Madcap Players, the troupe that my husband and I were a part of for so many treasured years. And, in true Madcap fashion, I rewrote the lyrics to suit a Christmas show. Embedded in that rewrite is my belief that we make a difference with our everyday actions.

With the Christmas season approaching, I decided to share it here. If you sing solo, or in a choir or know someone who does, please share the lyrics. Encourage everyone to reach beyond December's good wishes and generosity. Idealistic? Perhaps. But simple and doable. Let's all make a concerted effort, throughout the year, to make our world everything that it can be, everything it should be.

         (Lyrics below)


Hallelujah

Christmas is upon us now
We bow our heads and take a vow
To live the good that really
should flow through us
We toss a coin
We give a gift
To charity we'll give a lift
We raise our heads exalting Hallelujah
Hallelujah , Hallelujah
Hallelujah , Hallelujah

Gestures grand and warmly meant
We do our best to prevent
A sad or hungry Christmas Day
for anyone
But Christmas comes
just once a year
Too many days they live in fear
Each day survived they bless with Hallelujah
Hallelujah , Hallelujah
Hallelujah , Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above
Who gave us strength and gave us love
But what's the point if we don't
really use it
Make each day
a Christmas day
Help someone along their way
Then we'd all have cause to shout out Hallelujah
Hallelujah , Hallelujah
Hallelujah , Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah , Hallelujah

 

Friday, 11 November 2016

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. —Denis Waitley

I have not managed to get much writing done this week. Along with millions of others, my attention and thoughts have been focussed on, and ultimately derailed by, what happened in the United States.

I followed the American election closely for the first time in my life. It was difficult not to be drawn in by its reality-TV-like presentation. Filled with grandstanding, released "secrets" and jaw-dropping rhetoric, it was impossible to look away. And, it had become exhausting. So, happy that the show was coming to an end, anxious for a hate-mongering candidate to be shown the door and convinced that there was no way such a vitriolic person could represent the hearts and minds of the American people, I tuned in on Tuesday night.

Anticipation fell into disbelief which was ultimately swallowed by despair. I cried. I honestly wept. My heart broke for my American friends. Having read the man's 3 am Twitter rants, knowing that he's now going to be in a position to direct America's benevolence or its wrath, my mind worried for our world. And, then my anger bubbled. How stupid were the American people? And, that's where I got stuck for a few days.
As the cloud of emotion lifts, I see my anger as representative of the same ugly sentiments I am condemning in that vote. I am painting a nation of people with a single stroke. And America, like Canada, is anything but a single colour, a single texture, a single style. I can't pretend to understand the motivation of folks who would put a man who has clearly demonstrated throughout his life that he is not a decent human being in such an important position. But I cannot condemn a nation either. A country is populated by people, and people are fallible.

I do know that as Americans sort through their decision, there is much to ponder. They must figure out what has gone so wrong in their country that a man with questionable business acumen, a man with no political experience (Seriously, entry level position is the Oval Office?) and, most importantly, a man who is so proudly lacking in moral values can become president. I also believe that we, as a country, should also be looking around. If we scratch the surface of Canada, what lies beneath? I'd like to think nothing equivalent to what we've seen in the States of late, but then that's what many Americans wanted to believe too.

What can we do to ensure our country remains the idealistic vision we hold of it? What can Americans do to rebuild their optimism in each other and in their future? It starts with kindness and generosity. Extend it to all you meet. Pay it forward, pass it on. Don't wait for the phoenix to rise from the ashes. Build the fire, fan the flames of decency and goodness and light the world. 


 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

There's no such thing as downtime for your brain. —Jeffrey Kluger

I was going to skip posting anything this week but, since I know many of you actually check in each weekend, I thought it unfair to just leave it blank. Images of you returning repeatedly, only to find the now stale GIFS from my previous post, are nudging me to at least leave an imprint here so that you can move on with your weekend. Busy days sneaking in yard work between raindrops, digging deep into revision and writing new words have kept my mind occupied. So, I'm fried. Spent. Depleted.

So, move on. Don't come back 'til next week. And, have a terrific weekend!


One of our recent visitors.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Why do you jump in a roller coaster? You want a thrill. —Fede Alvarez

Last weekend I attended the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It is a roller coaster of stimulation filled with the requisite ups and downs. Rather than wax eloquent about the emotive ascent and descent of such an event, I thought I'd give you a visual representation of the ride.

      1. Anticipation began before I left the platform.

2. Travelling to the conference was a slow climb, but it sped up
    when I met folks I've known online for years, as well as
    saw writer friends from last year.

                                                           3. The rush of reaching the pinnacle was rubbing
                                                               shoulders with published authors. (Yes, I could have
                                                               had books signed. Do I regret not doing it? A bit, but I
                                                               was busy. See #2!)                

 
4. Throughout the ride, I partook in a little of this...
5. ...a lot of this...
 
                                                                      6. ...and, a ton of this.                                              
 
7. I hit a bump saying goodbye.
8. But soared with joy at seeing my loved ones
who waited patiently at home.
 
                                                                       9. I hit bottom at withdrawal and depression.
10. Oh, wait, bottom was stalking Twitter. Why? Cuz of #9.
I was looking to share that feeling of being lost, to know that I'm not insane,
 that this is a normal reaction. Right? Right?
 
                                     11. In a few days, I returned to the platform. Accepting that the ride  
                                           was over, I reconnected with everyday life. I reviewed notes,
                                           which led to renewed inspiration, and I got back to writing.
 
12. And, now I sit, looking at the track in anticipation of #SIWC17 because, well, I'm a writer. Why wouldn't I want to take the ride again?
 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them. —Lucy Maud Montgomery


Anticipation: a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen; the act of preparing for something. —Merriam-Webster
That about sums it up for me at the moment. While the winds howl and the rain pelts, I am all smiles and laughter. For, next week, I am off to the Surrey International Writers' Conference. For the uninitiated, it is a cornucopia of stimulation, a full-out feast of inspiration and word crafting for writers.

My four day foray into the joyous muddle of writing and publishing begins with journey by float plane. Weather permitting, I will be taking my first itty-bitty plane ride. I am ridiculously excited by this. Not even the fact that I must minimize my luggage is putting a damper on my eagerness to see the islands from above. Not to mention, rather than a two-hour ferry ride, I will be on the mainland in twenty minutes. Nothing against the ferry service—it is comfortable and scenic—but, seriously? Twenty minutes?

I am taking a master class the day before the conference starts. The thought of this class has me doing a happy dance and, for those who know me or who have followed this blog for any length of time, you will recognize immediately why this particular class has me hopping up and down. It is "Writing Sex Scenes" with…wait for it…Diana Gabaldon! For folks who don't know why I am giddy over this, let me give you a brief summary. Diana wrote my all-time favourite series that begins with Outlander. It re-ignited not just my joy of reading for pleasure but my love of writing too, essentially sending me down this path of wordsmithing that I so enjoy. Outlander also led me to a forum where Diana is very active, supporting readers and writers alike. She has encouraged me and given me feedback, often at times when I despaired of moving forward in my writing. I met her briefly in Fergus. A highlight for me. Now, I get to learn from her in person. And, between the forum and having read her books, including the latest e-book, I Give You My Body, there is no doubt in mind that she is a master of the craft.
That forum I've mentioned? It has been a gold mine for me over the last eight or so years. Populated by published and wanna-be-published writers, it is a supportive environment where I have been encouraged to grow and learn. I consider many people on it my friends, even though I have not met many of them. That is about to change. An unprecedented number are flying in from around the world for this conference. At last count, I believe, we were at 40. Included in this number are two of my beta readers for Raven's Path—one from Germany and the other from California. I never thought I'd get to meet them and thank them personally for taking the time to read a novel and give feedback to a stranger.

Of course, I am also looking forward to the myriad of workshops and talks. Last year, I was entertained as well as enlightened. I laughed and cried and the cogs in my writer's brain got so well-oiled, they began to spin. Inspired, I came home and wrote Cutting to the Chase in a month. It literally spilled onto the page.

So, dear readers, these are the things that currently fill me with anticipation. I will not be blogging next week, but know that I will be immersed in my writer's world, embraced by friends old and new, and nurtured by the seasoned guard of authors who so kindly feed my soul.

http://www.siwc.ca/