Sunday, November 30, 2008


It takes many forms. Right now as I revise one book and pre-write the next, I'm letting my brain free flow. I'm working on some knitting and crocheting because the textures open my mind up in a way that is beyond visual. I don't create patterns or stitches but the twist and turn of the yarn around the needle reminds me of story lines. Right now I'm using yarn that has a plethora of knots in each ball. I'm forced to stop, untie the knot then weave the ends in as I pick the shawl back up. As you know, I prefer to write in layers, clean up the loose ends when I'm finished. It's the same for yarn work. It's a personality trait, I'm sure. It's made me look a bit more closely at the two writing projects to see what I can work in as I go along.

Casey as a writing project is also moving along. I'm writing in the journal more often and with a deeper slant than merely reciting his therapy. The poor boy has one challenge after another and I can't help but learn from his response to all of it. There is no quit in Casey. As I'm the one jumping into the hot tub with him every day and holding his fifty plus pounds above the water slightly so that he doesn't touch bottom(puppies grow inches overnight)I'm directly affected by his determination. And it adds to mine. We've had to get quite creative to keep him in the hot tub that is not big enough to accommodate his length. I'll post pictures next time we take some. We're quite the sight. We're going to increase his acupuncture treatments as cutting back coincided with a step backward in his progress.

He's still such a happy pup. Full of energy and joy.

I have my hands full of creativity these days. And I am incredibly grateful for it all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Just when I figure out Bracken and Kelli's theme is betrayal, I get back the critiques on Alex and Nea's. I sent it out to several readers before I submitted to the editor. I want Hell to Pay to be the best possible piece of writing it can because the characters deserve that. And after the fifty-eighth read-through I'm no longer objective.

In the meantime I critiqued two full manuscripts for other writers. It's hard to shut off editor brain and read simply for joy sometimes. Every nuance and word choice is studied like it contains the recipe for gold. Characters are put through rigid examinations worthy of parole board hearings. The entire process can take as long as writing the original draft.

Three of the four readers who had Alex and Nea have returned them along with comments. Thank goodness they all liked the story. The most interesting aspect of the suggestions were how each person interpreted the story-telling. Two loved a particular technique and the third was lukewarm. I'm revisiting that to see if I can keep the elements the two loved while strengthening it to excite the third reader. It's all about what serves the story best. It's not like I can enter into a dialogue with each individual reader once it's published and explain what I meant in that scene.

Constructive criticism is invaluable. It's great to reach the reader and involve them within the story but when that fails to happen, the criticism is one more tool for unearthing the gold.

Writing, like life, is a never-ending journey full of adventure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I had a burst of brain storming this week. I know where the story starts and where it ends. I know who both characters are and what they want. I even know how they oppose each other. The old Gift of the Magi conflict. I'm really psyched about these two. When Bracken stepped out of the forest into the scene with Nea and her mother in Hell to Pay, I knew his story was next.

I still don't have my setting. While I was location scouting in my brain, I got tangled up in some entertainment. When I followed them the plot took shape.

It started with Gerard Butler. As you all know, an interest in that fine actor led me to the brilliant documentary, Wrath of Gods. That film hooked me up Jon Gustafsson's blog Live from the Arctic Circle.

I've been playing over there for months, losing track of time in his photographs and running through his blogroll. None of it is research. It's all been for fun. I've been particularly fascinated with the genetics link, deCODEme. You might not know anything about yourself or personal history yet your DNA can reveal all. And what it reveals could save your life.

While I was researching Bracken ferns last week, I was focused on its environment and physical properties. Almost every hit on google mentioned it's carcinogenic component. Hmmm, aren't fiddleheads a delicacy? Seems a bit of a contradiction to me. More research is required.

Meanwhile, I've always known that Kelli was adopted. Last week I discovered it had something to do with her nymph ancestors who posed a very real threat to her.(still working on that part) So much so that her father had her sent to live with friends of his above the treeline - in Iceland. I wasn't trying to use Iceland as a jumping off place for the story but it made so much sense. Once I accepted that premise it naturally followed that she work for the genetics company as she knows nothing about her heritage. When she learns the truth about her origins, at the beginning of the book, she leaves all that is familiar (still not sure where she ends up) to search for her own truths.

All of this was running around in my head, bumping into ideas and themes but nothing stuck. Until I was driving home from work, listening to a CD by an artist I discovered through Jon's blog - Damien Rice. The song? Rootless Tree And with that all the pieces fell into place. Now it's just a matter of sitting down and writing it.

I celebrated by completing the circle to watch Mr. Butler in his latest flick, RockNRolla. Life is good.

Thanks Jon.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


My friend Stashaholic is visiting. It's a wild weekend of wool. We're playing with a variety of fibre then spinning it on spindles. Very old fashioned.

She brought me a book about natural dyeing to use as a reference for a book I'm writing about a spinner. I'm not writing a book about a spinner. According to a dream she had I will be. I would have laughed except that as I played with the fibre and loaded the spindle I lost myself in the interplay between the two. Colours and textures changed in the spin and I could feel a character take shape.

We're on disc four of Most Haunted Season One. It's hilarious yet creepy at times. I could so set a book in that environment. So far there hasn't been a single haunted spinning wheel but lots of hooded figures. Last time Stashaholic was here we watched Wrath of Gods countless times so she could get a still shot of Sturla's sweater. She hasn't recreated the pattern yet but I'm sure that's simply a matter of time.

It's never a dull moment around here. My brain is circling closer and closer to the conflict between Kelli and Bracken. Both of their internal conflicts are shaping up. No one is a spinner in that book either, but they're both very tactile so we'll see how that works out.

You never know how one creative act affects another. Happy spinning to you all.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Never Surrender

When I was in film I wanted to make a movie that would change people's lives. Not a giant blockbuster that would bring me fame and fortune but a quiet little flick that had a profound impact on individuals. And I did it with my second documentary which is a good thing because making that film changed my life in a variety of ways; one of which was that I had to get out of that business due to health reasons.

It was a half-hour documentary about multiple sclerosis that came out at a time when the disease was terrifyingly misunderstood. The drug treatments were as debilitating as the disease itself and a diagnosis led people to despair. The film was entitled Never Surrender and showed three individuals and their families who were living successfully with the disease. Don't google it. You won't find it. The section with the state-of-the-art testing is hopelessly out-of-date and the film is no longer available.

I met one of my closest friends while making Never Surrender. I met a really cool band,just starting out, who agreed to provide music for the soundtrack. As their career grew so did their involvement with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. There were no websites, no google,no positive resources and very little awareness of the disease. My film came along at the perfect moment. It garnered a lot attention, won awards. But most importantly, it gave people reason to believe they could manage the disease and go on to live full productive lives. I still have letters from people thanking me for that.

So when I was diagnosed this week with a plethora of ailments I couldn't help but think of Never Surrender. The attitude behind that film came in handy. I've read up on things, talked to people I know who manage the ailments and done a fair amount of research. There are so many more resources today than when we made that film. And what influenced my outlook wasn't a film at all.

It was a book that had nothing to do with any of those things. It was a work of fiction about a woman whose coping skills were so self-destructive I knew that I'm doing well. I'm older, wiser and my situation is neither dire nor severe. It simply happened to be the book I was reading this week. Yet it changed my perspective.

I want to write fiction that changes people's lives...