Friday, February 15, 2013

Skip Counting

Today is my 30th birthday.  Some ask if I feel old.  Some feel compelled to remind me that I am in fact still very young.  Apparently, 30 is the new 25.  But the one thought that keeps popping into my head:

Where did the last decade go?

In the last ten years I
  • married my best friend
  • moved six times
  • completed University
  • bought my first car
  • bought my first house
  • delivered three beautiful babies, and savoured each moment of growth and discovery
  • spent two years teaching early elementary
  • wrote my first novel
  • published several short stories
  • made new friends
  • cherished the friends still walking alongside me
  • read hundreds of books
  • worked hard to grow spiritually
  • renovated a bedroom
  • learned never to renovate another bedroom
  • fell in love with Arizona
  • developed a greater appreciation for road trips
  • overcame my abhorrence for 'spicy' foods and learned to appreciate the exquisite sensory experience that is salsa
  • decided with final surety that under no circumstances will I ever skydive.
This list seems exhaustive.  In fact, just reading over it, I feel in a degree the weight of the years.  And yet...

I don't really feel old.  When I was 20, I thought I was old.  Now, as the years pick up speed, I realize how young I truly am.  There are times when I feel infinitely flawed.  There are times I am sure I will never overcome my own faulty dispositions.  There are times I feel I will always fall short of the finish line.

But the last ten years are more than just points on a bullet list.  Those points must be interwoven with the natural insecurities and uncertainties of youth, but knitted together with the love, the joy, the sorrow, the discoveries, the unknown.  Life is more than a list of accomplishments.  And 30 is just a number.

So do I feel old?  I creak more, tire quicker, and court forgetfulness.  I'm certainly not 20.  But I also don't feel old.

In fact, in many ways, I feel that life is still just getting going. 

So here's to the next 10 years...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fairchild Giveaway Winner

Rafflecopter randomly selected a winner from among the entries, and the winner is....

Don't forget to check out Jaima Fixsen's great new book, Fairchild, and thanks for participating in my giveaway.

Monday, February 4, 2013

When You Believe

There is something very magical about stumbling upon a gem of a book.  There is something unforgettable about the chance to be involved in the evolution of one.

One of my best friends, and critique partner, Jaima Fixsen, just published her first book. 

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this book.  Not waiting for the chance to read it (I've already had that unique privilege).  No - waiting for the chance to share it!  Because, when you believe in something, you want to stand and shout it from the roof tops.  You want to pepper the streets with pamphlets and flyers.  You want to tell every stranger you meet on the street.

However, that's not exactly standard author behavior, so I shall censure myself, subdue my excitement, and pass on the good news with more socially acceptable composure.

Here it is folks, now available on Amazon:

By Jaima Fixsen

Truth or dare?
Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. It's not a big problem, unless you are one.
Unfortunately, Sophy is.
Sick of her outcast role, she escapes her father’s house, only to fall from her horse during a spring storm. Injured, soaked, and shivering, she stumbles to a stranger’s door—Tom, a blunt edged merchant from a family of vulgar upstarts. Mistaking Sophy for the genuine article, he takes her in.
Sophy can’t resist twisting the truth. Soon she’s caught in her own snare—and it might just be a noose.

If you love a good, clean, funny, endearing, regency romance, go check out this book.  If you are a Jane Austen, Eva Ibbotson, Shannon Hale or Julianne Donaldson fan, go check out this book.  Jaima has the first three chapters on her blog, and you can read them on Amazon.  I've also invited Jaima to do a guest post later this week.

But I'm not finished yet.  Because when you believe in something, you want to give your all to help it take flight.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Own Little Corner

January can be tough.  The cold, the snow, the boxing up of Christmas.  The New Years resolutions made, then shortly thereafter abandoned.  So what better way to ring in the new year, than new books?  I've been hoarding Chapters gift certificates (the Canadian version of B&N) for a year now, and combined with the one I received in my stocking this Christmas, I hit the jackpot (literally.  I paid $5 total for all of these books!):

There's Donna Hay's cookbook: Off the Shelf (making the most of the staples in your pantry, including some very useful guides to things such as different types of pastas, rice, oils, herbs, etc.).  Also Character & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card (which I daresay may become this year's editing bible - Yes, it's that good!).  Also Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn (a novel in letters that's and clever and punny as its title).  And I couldn't not buy the two Alan Bradley books for sale (he's quickly crawling up my favorite author list), both The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.  As a dedicated dystopian writer and avid dystopian reader, I figured I should stop waiting for the 273 individuals ahead of me on the library wait list and just buy the dang Veronica Roth books (Divergent and Insurgent).  Plus, I love them.  And, with editing on both my mind and writing agenda, it was time for my own copy of The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White.  Lastly, a Kate Morton book that was on sale for $5 (The House At Riverton).  If you haven't read The Forgotten Garden, you should.  It's good.

No sooner had I lovely un-swaddled them from their careful packaging, and nostalgically cracked them open to catch a whiff of that new book smell, then I lovingly cradled them on 'the shelf'.  This my friends, is my bookshelf.  As you can see, it is dangerously close to overflowing.  Hallelujah for eBooks!  And as I stood there gazing in wonder at 'the shelf', that song from the Cinderella musicale popped into my head.  Do you know which one I mean?  And seized in a fit of excitement, I grabbed my camera.  I wanted to share the moment.  I wanted to share... "my own little corner, with my own littler chair, where I can be whatever I want to be..."

My angels (Willow Tree ornaments are my favorite, but I'm a sucker for most angels.)

A little reminder.  Both be inspired by the high quality fiction that surrounds me (Yes, I own Twilight.  Yes, I enjoyed it.  What can I say?), and act to inspire others with the stories that I weave.  That's the dream, at least.

And speaking of dreams, a little reminder, that for all the sweat and tears and heartache and agony, once in a while, they do come true.

Do you have your own little corner?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Love December

I'm sitting here sipping eggnog mixed with milk, the Christmas tree lights twinkling, the snowflakes falling silently outside, soft music playing in the next room, and thinking....Ahhh.

I love December!

And guess what - I did it!  I finished NaNoWriMo 2012, and I did it a day early!  This past year of really focusing on my writing has paid off.  Not only did I find the first draft process easier this time around, but the story ideas flowed more naturally, and my internal editor was more manageable.

So now it's on to the busyness that consumes December, with next year's writing resolutions at the forefront of my mind.  I have some ideas for where I want both my writing and my blogging to go in the next while, but you'll have to wait till January to find out more.

So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and see you in January 2013.

P.S.  How was your NaNo experience this year?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Edenbrooke...Best Romantic Novel of the Year?

I know this blog appears to have been on Hiatus.  I am sad to admit I've let it slide these past few months, but happy to share that I've not been idle with my writing.  I spent a good part of my free time in the summer working on short story fiction that I entered into a couple of contests.  I've since been working on editing my first first draft (that's still so exciting to say!) and plotting, outlining and then plodding through NaNoWriMo 2012.  I'm at 40,000 words with less than a week to go.  Wish me luck!

As for the hiatus - part of it was busy life circumstances, and part was a need for a break to think about the value/vision/purpose of this blog.  Or rather re-think it.  I think I have an idea of how I want to shape this space as my author platform, but I'll go into more detail in the new year, so stay tuned...

In the meantime, I found another book I can adore, and have shelved with the best books of 2012.  Coincidentally, it is currently a semi-finalist with the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards on Goodreads.  If you read it, and loved it, go vote!

What is this books I speak of?

I was picking up my daughter from school a few weeks ago when a friend of mine approached. She handed me a copy of a book called "Edenbrooke" and said, "You have to read this. I just read it twice in two days. I've never done that before." I've always trusted the literary tastes of my friend, and so I dove right in.

Edenbrooke was written by the delightful new author Julianne Donaldson, and published by Shadow Mountain. The blurb for the story (as taken from the back of the book):

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

I recently contacted Julianne and asked her to answer a few questions about her own unique writing and publication journey. I am so grateful that she agreed to answer, and here is what she had to say:

1. When and why did you start writing?

I started writing when I was young because I love to tell stories. As an adult, I would write stories here and there but never seriously thought about being published until I started having children. As a stay-at-home mom, I found within myself a yearning to create something outside of my home and family--something that belonged just to me--something that wouldn't come undone overnight (like the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the diapering, etc.). I started small, with poems and ideas for picture books. Then I started dreaming bigger and bigger until I had written Edenbrooke.

2. How did you get the idea for Edenbrooke?
Edenbrooke didn't come to me as an "idea." I don't think it's an "idea" type of book. If I try to describe it, I usually end up saying inane things like "It's about a girl who lives in England in the 1800's who grows up and falls in love at a grand estate." No big ideas there. So writing Edenbrooke was not really writing around an idea, but taking a journey of emotional exploration. I escaped into a finer world than my own, where no children existed and money was not an issue. And in my escape, I tried to recreate what it felt like to grow up and fall in love.

3. What was the hardest part about writing your novel?
The hardest part about writing my novel was finishing it. I spent hundreds of pages writing threads of plot that I didn't know how to tie together. Huge gaps existed in the middle of my story that I didn't know how to fill. And the perfectionist side of me rebelled every time I attempted to call the story "done." The best thing I did for myself as a writer was attend a writer's conference, where I learned how to overcome those trouble spots. And sheer determination did the rest.

4. What future plans do you have for your writing?
I loved writing Edenbrooke, but after I finished it I vowed I would never write another historical fiction. It is so limiting to write in that genre, and I think it takes a lot of patience and attention to detail to do it well. I am, writing another historical fiction. My fans convinced me to give it another go, and I am currently working on Blackmoore, which is set in England in the same time period as Edenbrooke, but features a whole new cast of characters and problems. As I have been writing Blackmoore, I have sworn up and down that I will never write another historical--yet, I am obviously a person who can be persuaded to change her mind. So I guess I will take things one book at a time. I do know that there are a lot of stories I want to tell. And I have a real science fiction streak in me that will probably make itself heard sooner rather than later.
I invite you to go check out her blog. If you haven't heard of Edenbrooke, I urge you to go get a copy. I loved it so much, I bought my own, and you can bet I'll be reading it again.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Junk in the Trunk

I have a rule:  If I've had it for more than a year without touching or needing it: toss it.

In life, stuff accumulates.  With children, stuff accumulates.  I've often found myself calling it junk, but in truth, most of it is not, by proper definition 'junky' (though to be honest I've accumulated enough of that as well).  I've tried to rewire my thinking and remind myself that it is stuff.

That being said, stuff, like junk, can accumulate quickly and leave a home feeling cluttered.  At moments like these, it helps to dejunk - get rid of the clutter.  Hence, the rule.  The key to the rule?  The one that makes it most effective - time.

The last few weeks I have been working on the novel I finished writing in May.  I haven't really touched it since than, and I'm realizing what a blessing that has been.  I'm approaching my project with fresh eyes and a clear perspective, and its much easier to recognize the 'junk', or the 'stuff' that I don't need.  The first night, I deleted 15, 000 words (don't worry, I have many a back up copy in case I change my mind - but I doubt I will).  My story suddenly feels less cluttered.

The key ingredient - time.  I shelved my project - I gave it space.

That isn't to say it was forgotten.  In fact, I've though quite extensively about it over the past four months, making notes, plotting possible revision ideas, talking with crit friends, reading books about the craft of writing.  And I've kept my writing muscle flexed by working on side projects - a couple of short stories I entered into contests, my NaNoWriMo plot for November.  All the while, my novel sizzled in the background.

Do you have junk in the trunk?  How do you know what to toss, and what to keep?
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