Saturday, 16 July 2016

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” — Alan Cohen

Summer brings visitors. We are thrilled that people take the time to come see us. They enrich our lives with laughter and joy. We relish the time we spend with them, sharing old memories and making new ones. But, time is slipping through my fingers and I'm not able to hold onto it long enough to write anything substantial. And, I need to write. Not just because it brings me pleasure and a sense of accomplishment, but because agents are currently reading Cutting to the Chase.

Mags' story is connected to Lizzy's. And, Becky's tale is linked with theirs. It is looking like Stu also requires his own pages. While this is not a series—one is not dependent upon another to unfold logically—they are definitely intertwined. I would like to be able to offer these stories should I be fortunate enough to get "the call". More importantly, I feel a desire, a drive, to chase these stories to the ground, flesh them out and make them more than scattered scenes and theoretical novels. Mags' is well on its way. I need to finish it and move on to the others. And, I want to enjoy our stream of guests.

So, dear readers, it is time for a blog hiatus. Writer friends, I'll continue to haunt your sites and our wonderful writers' forums: RWA, TRW, SCBWI, CompuServe B & W. But, I know many of you keep track of Keev and I through the blog and I do apologize. Know that we are doing well here on the coast, love this new life that we're beginning to accept as the norm, and are busy embracing friends old and new.

I will return by the end of August and, should something exciting happen with Cutting to the Chase before then, I promise to share it here…and, well, everywhere. J Until then, be kind to yourself and others, and celebrate all the wonderful moments that summer seems to bring.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

“Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.” ― Aaron Swartz


I'm currently reading this YA novel about an overweight teen, her dysfunctional family and their participation in a reality show. My verdict is still out on it. While I like her spirit and sass, there are moments that her sense of humour is a little off for me. More stereotypical guy humour than girl. I'm also having a difficult time with many of the descriptions of her weight. She is 5' 6", 192 lbs—not a petite girl by any means but the author paints images of morbid obesity. Instead, I just keep driving, my elbows resting atop the rolls of blubber that billow out from the sides below my bra like squishy armrests. But, as much as these things jar me from the story, I will not bring my judgement gavel down until the end.

This gem is by Carolyn Jewel (See what I did there? J). I have it on my iPad Kindle and read it while on the elliptical, which is every other day. A sign that it is thoroughly enjoyable is that I am almost, I repeat almost, disappointed when my half hour is up.

One of my go-to books for writing, I pulled this back out to strengthen my description in one of the scenes I was writing. I ended up going through the whole book again. It's a terrific way to consolidate some of the learning. I should put it under my pillow and see if I can absorb some of its simple genius.

I ordered several books from this gardener on Salt Spring Island. The first one has been tremendously helpful with my summer gardening. I am playing with continuing through the winter. You know, just because I can. Yep, that's a dig at you, cold Ontario.
Tucked in amongst the reading above are forays into teen magazines through Texture. (Canadians, if you don't have Texture and you like magazines, you should seriously consider subscribing.) While I am truly reading these for research purposes, I must say it's rather fun. Almost makes me want to be young again. I repeat, almost.

What are you reading these days?

Friday, 1 July 2016

Take a step back, evaluate what is important, and enjoy life. —Teri Garr

Happy Canada Day! Now known, in our home, as Happy We-Bought-A-Home-on-Vancouver-Island Day! It is surreal that a whole year has passed since we arrived in British Columbia and signed on the dotted line. It seems like forever ago, and it seems like only yesterday, that Keev and I and the two furbabies jammed as much as we could into the RAV and headed across the country on a wing and a prayer, hoping that we were making the right decision. 

So, it is right that I take stock of my life on this day. Two years ago, around this same time, I said goodbye to a profession I thoroughly enjoyed. I committed to writing as a career and have no regrets. Perhaps a lingering love for the job I left behind turned my creative mind towards Lizzy's and, now Mags', story. All I know is YA is a genre I'm passionate about, both in reading and writing. It's not entirely surprising considering I worked with teen novels when teaching and consulting. I also delved extensively into the genre when I taught for York University, working with teachers to engage adolescents through the marriage of drama and literature.

While I have not queried as widely as many I know, I am well into the process. I am pleased that about 20% have requested my full manuscript and several others have asked for partials. A better response than some of my writer friends have had, not as good a response as others I know. Regardless, for me it is affirming. I only submitted to those agents I would feel good working with, based on their online presence and/or interviews. To have any of them express interest is a boost to this writer's morale. I have no idea where this writing road leads, but I am enjoying the journey. So, check, my mind is well stimulated.

This home we landed a year ago is a pastoral paradise. I thought I was a city girl but it turns out the young country girl in me was ready to resume her position. I like being outdoors, working in the yard, weeding the garden, and taking long walks. Even when writing, I am positioned to look out the window at farm fields and the mountains. All of the exercise and fresh air is balanced by a calm, a peace that has settled within me. Amazing. So, check, I am in a healthy place both physically and mentally.

Our neighbours are not just the best neighbours anyone could ask for, they've also quickly become our friends. It is exciting to have new people to get to know, new stories to hear and new experiences to share. On the flip side of that, dear friends from Ontario and Montreal have visited. We laughed, reminisced…maybe drank a little too much wine… and felt the bittersweet melancholy of saying farewell to people we love. But, we are fortunate as there are folks who live on the island who beat us here. People who shared our old lives and are now a regular part of our new lives, and are also very dear to us. They always take the time to visit with us when they truck up and down the island. So, check, socially and emotionally, the friendship trough is filled to the brim.

And, of course, there's Keev and the furbabies. Always, first and foremost, forever, Keev and the furbabies. Check, my heart is full.

My inventory is complete. Life is good, the old and the new blending seamlessly to create a life full of contentment. Now, I must go join my friends on the deck and raise a glass of bubbly to celebrate. Happy We-Bought-A-Home-on-Vancouver-Island…er…I mean…Happy Canada Day!


The best little cross-country travellers.