Saturday, March 1, 2014

Be the egg encrusted fork!


Writing a novel is like doing the dishes. 

Just when you think they’re done, just when the last of the grimy sudsy water gets sucked down the drain, just when you’ve wiped dry your water logged hands – someone shows up with an egg encrusted fork they found in the basement. You can either choose to ignore it or you stop up the sink, run the water, get some suds going, plunge your prune-like hands in, and start all over again. 

A manuscript is like that. It’s never done until it’s between two covers. 

While you’re still doing the dishes, writing the novel – you be the egg encrusted fork to your writing. 

That problem that you know is there, but want to ignore - that's the last fork.  

Don’t just put it in the sink and forget about. You pick off that egg with your nail, scrub it with the little scrunchy-wash pad thingy, and wipe it clean. 

Sure you feel like leaving it in the sink, for next time, for someone else to clean up. Like a member of your critique group. Like the agent or editor you don’t yet have. 

No one is going to get the gunk out between the prongs of your manuscript but you.

Be the egg encrusted fork to your writing. 

Just when you think your manuscript is done, put your mechanical pencil on the line and apply everything you’ve learned in every book, in every workshop, and in every blue pencil session. 

Apply what you’re learned about tension on every page, showing – not telling, realistic dialogue, flawed, yet human characters, plot, setting, pacing, grammar, and scrub - scrub until we the reader, not only don’t see any encrusted egg, we never knew it was there.

That’s your job as a writer. 

Doing the dishes … get someone else to do them!   

  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Unicorns, Rainbows, & Cupcakes or Where I get my inspiration!


Maybe it's because I write middle-grade mysteries about scientists creating giant frogs (Dead Frog on the Porch) or a slightly crazed-Scottish-Shakespeare-quoting owner of the bird sanctuary who's killing birds (Dead Bird through the Cat Door). 

But as a writer, the question I get asked most often is: 'where do you get your inspiration?'

Once asked this question I usual gaze skywards searching for a double rainbow and mumble something about unicorns, rainbows, and cupcakes. 

Or I give the cliched answer that I draw inspiration from everything around me. Which isn't really a cliche if you think about it. 

Is it just me? 

Am I surrounded by weird, unusual and unique things or do I just notice them? 

Take this for example. It's a sign at the local electronic recycling place. 

Seriously people, you can't recycle your children!
So, what does this even mean? No recycling of children - that's pretty clear. But microwaves are excepted - so if you put your child in the microwave, they'll make an exception and you'll be able to recycle them?! Maybe they mean microwaves are 'accepted.' 

As I unsurreptitiously took the photo the manager asked if I needed any help. (No, but clearly you do if people are dropping off their kids to be recycled). I told him that I was taking a picture of the sign because it was funny. He assured me that it was true and that kids climb into the recycling bin. Then I tried to clarify the 'accepted'/'excepted' issue and he told me he didn't know anything about that. 

Tru dat.    

Then we have my newest pet - no care and feeding - you just have to squeeze it until it's head (or other body parts) threaten to explode. My nephew, knowing how quirky I am, knew it would be the perfect Christmas present. 

Purple Squishy Dude

Who wouldn't be inspired by this purple squishy dude who I can squeeze, stretch out and manipulate to my tactile heart's content!  

He loves my books! 

And he glows in the dark!
Okay, get a load of this sign at a local pet store: 


Okay, walk me through this. You're sitting at home with your favourite boa constrictor, you figure she needs a little outing and you think, I know, let's go to the pet store. So, you wrap her around your shoulders like a reptile stole, you hop in the car and head out. 

Really?! People! Behave! 

Final one. On the window of a local hamburger restaurant:

Hmmmmm bacon! 
This one is self-explanatory. I guess I won't be applying since I'm a cat person and probably a flake as well! 

Inspiration is everywhere - you just have to notice it! 

Unicorns, rainbows, and cupcakes!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dear Blog: I'm Sorry!



Alright, it's been a while! I'm sorry. I know I've been neglecting you. I've been busy finishing the latest draft of my contemporary young/adult manuscript. What's that blog? You're busy too, everyone is busy, but you're still here for me. Alright, that's fair. Stings a bit, but fair.

What's that blog? If only you'd been a better blog, maybe I wouldn't have neglected you so badly for so long - crikey, I still have a Christmas blog post up!

No blog - it's not you it's me. This one is all on me. Don't blame yourself. I'll try harder to update you regularly.

What's that blog? "No! Try not. Do, or do not. there is no try." ~ YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. 

Oh, you are seriously not quoting Yoda to me are you blog? Is that where this is going, you're going to lay a Yoda wisdom guilt trip on me? We'll that's it! I'm not even saving you in draft - I'm posting this as is.

(Some time later after a chai tea).

So, I'm back in full blog-on fashion. I am in the throes of re-writing hades and will be posting some of my writer friends thoughts on rewriting. And, yes, I'll be nicer to my blog and followers! Thanks for sticking around during my brief hiatus! 



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Merry Christmas Flash Mobs


Merry Christmas to all my bloggowers who celebrate Christmas. Happy Wednesday to those who don't! Here's hoping everyone will have a nice break over the holiday season (to do some writing and eat chocolate).

As you know I'm all about the flash mob. I've said it before and I'll say it again, pleeeeeze someone, somewhere invite me to participate in a flash mob. I'm waiting for an invitation (I dance gangsta y'all!). 

What do I like about flash mobs? They make people happy - simple enough! The people who participate and the people who watch - all happy. 

Here are three flash mobs to enjoy. 

The first one is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela for showing us that we can change the world. 





The second is legendary and I'm sure you've seen it (if you haven't you must live in a cave and haven't heard that aliens invented the world wide interweb). It is a classic flash mob - random people, dressed randomly (not like performers) in a random location (mall food courts seem to be popular) who break into song (and often dance) perform, and then go about their business like nothing has happened - that's a flash mob!  



This is a Canadian flash mob (in les deux langues official no less), gotta love those Canadians eh?! The security guard is running a little schtick in the beginning when he tries to stop it before assuming his rightful place on stage as the lead singer. 






Looking forward to a productive and peaceful 2014 for one and all! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meditation and Writing



Shout out to Young Alberta Book Society (YABS) members in Calgary as we present another YABS-Confab.  

This time it's about meditation and writing or as I like to say: we're going to get our Ommm on!
Maureen Bush will talk about meditation, with a brief introduction to how to do it, and then talk about how it supports writing. 

Note: Carolyn Fisher and I asked Maureen to talk about this as we know that she meditates. She says that she is a serious meditator, but not a meditation instructor.

Tuesday, November 26, 


6:45 pm, Louise Riley Library. 

We only have the space until 8:30, thus the early start time.

The program room is in a separate building, at the far end of the main parking lot.

The room is free, but the library requires we each have a Calgary library card. If you do not, please let Maureen know, so we can work around it.

She'll bring a meditation cushion so she can demonstrate while sitting on one. 


Feel free to bring a cushion or sit in a chair. 

Comfortable clothing and a relaxed attitude a must! 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

It must be book launch season!

There are a few distinct seasons in Canada - Fall: ushered in by Thanksgiving with awesome amounts of turkey, stuffing and the near famous Skor Cheesecake my niece and I make! 
Well, that went fast! 

My demented halloween cat! 
That is followed quickly by halloween at which time I affix my demented halloween cat decorations to the side of my house and my small neighbours show up on my step and ask if I have any sidewalk chalk decorating needs that they can fulfill.  
Then the leaves begin to fall and as the nights grow longer and your facebook events tab is filled up with events you know it is the start of another season in Canada: book launch season! 

Here is a recent snap of my to be read shelf (don't show them the other shelf where you started a pile of books you've borrowed from your y/a author friends Jan and don't talk about the books you continue to take out of the library!) You'll see lots of titles written by my local writing peeps and many more. 
Heaving with words ... to be read! 

Which is why I had to institute the rule that I can't buy more books unless they are written by my friends (or are for research purposes). 

Well, I have no shortage of friends who write books so there is no fear of that shelf being clear for a long time! 

Here's a short list of my writing peeps launches coming up, in this, the season of launches.   

Saturday October 26th at 2pm at the Memorial Park Library - Join Calgary's contributors to SHY: AN ANTHOLOGY, for poetry and essays and a semi-raucous celebration of shyness. Hosted by editors Rona Altrows and Naomi Lewis. Readers will include Micheline Maylor, Aritha van Herk, Weyman Chan, Sydney Sharpe, Natalie Simpson, Lori D. Roadhouse, Vivian Hansen, Madelaine Wong, Debbie Bateman, Cassy Welburn, and Stuart Ian McKay. 

November 14, 2013 at Owl’s Nest Books, 815A – 49 Avenue SW Calgary Inge Trueman will launch A Root Beer Season 7:00 – 8:30PM. There will be wine and coffee and assorted goodies for nibbling, and to help you soar into a nostalgic past, there will, of course, be root beer!

Then there's the annual 
Literary Vaudeville: Loud in the Library - Sara Tilley
Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 7:00am
Special Guest: Sara Tilley, Host: Ken CameronWriters: Rita Bozi, Ken Cameron, Kris Demeanor, Naomi K. Lewis, and Marika Smythe
Memorial Park Library, downstairs (1221 2 St SW)
Plus too many launches to list here - check the events page of your local independent book store for more launches! Coming to a book store near you!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What is this mobile device I see before me?!


I be presenting y'all! 


This is a joint Young Alberta Book Society (YABS) and Society of Children's Book Writing and Illustrating (SCBWI West) event and it's free to members and non-members!

Social Media for the Social Media Scardie Cat (or as Shakespeare put it: What is this mobile device I see before me?!) 

Okay, maybe Shakespeare never said that, but if all the new mobile computing devices and social media make you feel like an Elizabethan dinosaur then this workshop will help. 

You know how there are no dumb questions? Well, this is the place to bring them. Questions like: how do I change my profile picture or upload a different picture to Facebook? I've created a video which is in you tube, how do I post it on my Facebook status update and share it? How do I comment on someone's Facebook status update? 

Who are all these people and why do they want to be my friend all of a sudden? How do I 'share' something on Facebook or twitter and why would I do that? What's twitter? What's a blog? I don't want to have a web site, can I still have a web presence? (yes, is the short answer). 

My grandchild dropped the f-bomb in his Facebook status update, should I tell his mom? (well, that's your call). 

Why are there so many crazy cat videos on the web (that is unanswerable and defies all logic). 

If you are intimidated by technology and think WTF means Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, LOL means lots of love, and apps are what you eat before a meal, then this workshop is for you.      

Bring all those questions and more. It will be interactive, so bring your devices (iPad, iPhone, laptop etc.,) your passwords, we'll supply the Wi-Fi and we'll give you some crazy mad social media skillz!  

Thursday, September 26  7:00 - 8:30  North Pointe Boston Pizza, 388 Country Hills Blvd. Please RSVP pmcdowell@shaw.ca Non-members are always welcome.