Saturday, 25 June 2016

Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart. —Karel ńĆapek, The Gardener's Year

I am gardening now. Well, actually since late January. Most of the flowers in pots and all of the vegetables were started from seed. For many that may seem uneventful and mundane. For me it has been an engaging process with satisfying moments and frustrating challenges.

Research preceded everything. I read about my new climate and new soil, trying to understand how that impacts which plants to choose and how to grow them. Then I seeded and waited patiently for sprouts. With the sprouts came the realization that I still did not know enough, so I went to some workshops offered by a local garden centre, and I read some more.

I nurtured those fledglings and they began to grow into full blown plants. I again came to the conclusion that I did not know enough, that to bring them to the soil successfully, I needed to increase my skill set. So, YouTube became my best friend. Amazing how time flies when watching potting, planting, cutting, and securing. After my knowledge trough was full, I pushed on to the next level and started my gardens in earnest.

Some things wilted, some things are being eaten. I had to chase away the charming quail who were far too interested in my seedlings. I am at war with the slugs and the earwigs and have, thanks again to YouTube, concocted my own yeast brew in homemade traps. It is working but it is an ongoing process. Weeds are growing as successfully as the plants and I have to stay on top of those to ensure they do not choke out the good stuff.

But, I have harvested many things already—asparagus, radishes, snow peas, peas, new potatoes and lettuce. My tomatoes are beginning to ripen and small peppers are forming. Other things, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and beans, are coming along nicely.

It is an ongoing series of learn, work, and wait. And, it is oh so satisfying when things come to fruition. It's a lot like writing. J

Flowers from seed for the balcony.


Snow peas

Second crop of radishes and carrots


Lettuce and garlic

Fresh salads are a daily staple now.

Friday, 17 June 2016

GUEST POST: Writers, Have You Rocked The Vault?

writershelpingwriters_logo_300x300px_finalThere's nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we're striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.

A big part of achieving this is showing the character's surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?

Well, there's some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Not to be boxed in, to be able to transcend boundaries: for an artist, it's essential.—Shahzia Sikander

I'm not quite sure anymore how to define myself as a writer. Two years ago I would have told you I write historical fiction and historical romance. I began eight years ago with research-heavy historical fiction and loved it. Still love it. Then, I dabbled in historical romance, writing three novellas before writing my first Regency romance. What a romp! Lizzy's voice began as a whisper during that novel and I opened myself up to telling her story. It has led me to Mags' story and an outline for two other characters from Lizzy's tale. So, I spend most of my time writing young adult. Does that make me a YA writer?
This has been on my mind as I query and include links to my Twitter feed and the blog. The look and feel of the blog was designed to reflect my earlier writing. My bio, while revamped somewhat over the years, reflects the diversity of my writing choices. My blog entries are eclectic, truly rambling between writing thoughts and sharing moments of my personal life. They are inextricably wound. Will this mishmash of images be a deterrent to an agent? Do I look like someone who waffles, who lacks direction?

To this end, I decided to start a YA blog. It's a work in progress and any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated. It is a place where I hope to eventually add me, the YA author. Which brings me back to the original conundrum. Am I now a YA writer? The adage write what you know is certainly applicable for this genre. My career centered around the lives of kids and teens. I have listened to, cried for and rejoiced with the Lizzys, the Mags, and the Beckys. I am lost in their worlds once again and it feels a bit like coming home.

But, while I am not a person who lacks direction, I am a person who seeks stimulation, variety and change. I am still writing scenes for my Regency novels—I have two more mapped out. I am still chasing historical tidbits down rabbit holes and making notes for the sequel to Raven's Path, dabbling at writing it from time to time. When I hit a wall in my YA, I find turning to these pieces takes away anxiety and frees up my creativity again. Ultimately, that leads me back to my YA.

So, although I have finally come to the conclusion that I am, indeed, a writer, I fret and fuss about definitions and parameters. Do I need to? Must I be boxed into a genre, defined by it? Am I shooting myself in the foot by advertising that I write this…and that…oh, and, that too? Does it show versatility and unlimited potential or do I just look a tad aimless?

I suppose none of it matters at the moment. Perhaps, it will when I have representation and a book in the offing. Until then, I'm fairly certain, I will remain, metaphorically and concretely, rambling Rose.
Jack-of-all-trades in a box. J