Monday, March 30, 2009


One of the children at the library introduced me to Poppit. Do not click on the link unless you want to lose days.

Pond scum can be skimmed from the surface to reveal clear fresh water beneath the slime. Scum of the earth oozes up from somewhere well below the surface. It's better to date pond scum.

Writing a scene that has its origins in an actual event is much harder than it would seem. It took me awhile but I think I've managed to detach from reality(stop snickering) and start Sturla's Sweater with two wonderful characters who are unique in their own right. They are not Stashaholic and I with younger bodies.

These are three of the things that have amused me while I looked at new names for Kelli. You were all most helpful in that department, even emailing me privately with links and suggestions. Nothing clicked. Absolutely nothing. Because she's Kelli. That's her name. It's been her name for years as she formed and grew in my mind.

Round 12,893 of Poppit and I realized that was the solution. Her name is Kelli. I'll make it the derivative of something Icelandic, or a nickname, then give her a Latina birth name in honour of her mother's roots. Just another connection that was stolen from her.

The moral of the story - follow the distractions. It frees your brain up to work out a solution.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Families are the foundations on which we all grow. Embrace them, reject them; there's no getting away from their influence.

Bracken has turned his back on his family. Kelli has been ripped from hers.
He grew up surrounded by family at every turn, beneath every leaf, inside every tree. His entire life was practically incestuous.

Kelli, on the other hand, was adopted when she was three years old. She has a dim recollection of the petite, accented brunette who ruled her life with love and precision. After her mother's death, Kelli lost everything that was familiar. Including her name.

I'm stuck while I try to find the right name that is completely Icelandic, sounds nothing like Kelli and yet suits her.


Sunday, March 15, 2009


A lot of people mistake meanness for honesty. As in "You're already fat. Wearing orange just makes it worse. You look like a short fat pumpkin." No one has said that to me but I've certainly heard it enough. It goes along with, "You're barely literate enough to write your own name. What makes you think you could write a book?" Again, not something that's been said to me.

It would be so much nicer, and just as honest to say, "I like the way you look in red. It really brings out the colour of your eyes." or "There's a great writing course being offered at the community college. At the very least you could make some good connections there." Wait a minute, I have heard the latter. Hmmm.

Rude is not a necessary component for honesty. It's not manipulation to make someone feel good about accepting your opinion. I like bold up-front characters who can be counted on to tell the truth. They call a spade a spade. (I usually call it a shovel but that may be a regional thing.) They're colourful, dynamic characters who really liven a piece up.

How one shares their opinion is one of the many little clues to people's personality. If your character is "painfully honest" be careful with that. Those are difficult people to be around over a long period of time. There's an edge to them that should manifest in other ways. I was toying with giving that trait to one of my characters but hesitate because it's uncomfortable for me to write harsh edicts - which is why I should do it.

Writing outside my comfort zone might make the community college writing course unnecessary.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


A hero is the protagonist, or main character, who overcomes immense challenges to win the girl and save the world; whether it's on the gridiron, the court, the field, or even out in space. He must beat the bad guy, defeat the obstacles and push on no matter how bleak the outcome appears. He is the hero. That is what he does.

Hero is a word you hear everywhere. Sports figures are heroes. So are entertainers, scientists and businessmen. Anyone whose actions change the lives of others is a hero. Cops, firefighters and soldiers are obvious subjects for romance writers. The men come with their own mythology and code. They define heroism.

It's a word I've heard a lot this week. Three more Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday - Warrant Officer Dennis Brown, Cpl. Dany Fortin and Cpl. Kenneth O'Quinn. The image of WO Brown's widow, Mishelle standing tall and proud as she called her husband, "My hero" has been all over the news media. A true military wife, she was as prepared as she could be for this eventuality. Her husband believed that he had no other choice in life than to protect and defend those who needed him to do so. In his civilian life he was a special constable with the Niagara Regional Police. In the military he was a reservist with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment.

Growing up military, the loss of every soldier is personal. We belong to a community that exists outside of borders, isn't hampered by distance or geography. It's a community that stands together, shoulder to shoulder and back to back, against all threats. While I've never agreed with a lot of where our troops go, they are my family.

When the call came, the men rallied to their fallen brother. They flew in from all corners of the globe to surround his family, his friends and each other. They took care to see he was carried home with respect and compassion. They gathered their grief close and banded together. Four van loads of men drove from the regiment to Trenton so that he came home to familiar faces. Fellow officers were on hand to ensure the police escort was made of guys he knew. People lined the Highway of Heroes to thank the three men for their service to our country.

Heroes. All of them. The people, faces twisted in anguish and grief, who put aside their politics to pay tribute to the three men. The men with red-rimmed eyes and rigid jaws who locked arms to carry the body of their friend. The mothers who stood tall and proud with roses and flags as they welcomed their sons home. The boys who held the salute while their young eyes followed their father's casket. The wives and girlfriends in their bright red scarves determined to stand strong; the friends and families who held tight despite the pain that overwhelmed them all; the ones who stood for hours in high winds to honour the men who passed below.

If heroes overcome adversity to win the day, each and everyone of those people did so this week. And will continue when Dennis finishes his journey home and is laid to rest.

Non Nobis Sed Patriae
Not for ourselves but for our country

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I've never been a fan of improv or jazz. The structure is too chaotic for me. Last night, I went to see my friend Jim Slominski jam with his buddies in Fa Crowned. To be quite honest, I thought it just sounded like a lot of loud noise when I first walked in. Once I'd been there awhile, and had relaxed, I was able to hear the way the three men played off each other. One would take off one musical direction then the others would follow, sometimes racing past. It was exciting to listen to the interplay. I was glad I adjusted my listening and could enjoy their style.

Reading can often be the same. We pick up a book with certain expectations of an author. When they aren't met, disappointment sets in. Jennifer Crusie is discussing this very thing right now.

It's all subjective. We don't all like the same things. Add to that the fact that people read for different reasons; comfort, entertainment, educational. I have books from multiple genres for a variety of moods. It's the same for music.

There's a trend to find something that works then clone the living hell out of it. Even as a writer, I look to what's popular - style, voice and subject matter. I rarely fit in that category but I've always looked to include elements that people are comfortable with.

The reality is that all of the innovation in the world won't see the light of day if it doesn't appeal to someone. It has to sell somewhere. And it's a real balancing act between originality and popularity. It's important to take chances so that we don't stagnate. Not just creatively but in every aspect of our lives.

Fortunately, I stepped away from my preferences last night and found something new. I'm going to do the same thing with an author tomorrow. Just grab something that doesn't fit into my usual pile of familiar reads. I'm certain it will make me a better writer.