Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.  Let the scent of orange and clove drift through your memories of Christmases past.

Keep your eyes closed.  Inhale deeper.  Warm butter, a hint of cinnamon. Perhaps a dash of ginger gives way to the scent of mustard, croissants and sausage.

Old Christmas tunes fill the air. Cheerful music about St Stephen, dragons and lambs all together on the most Holy Night. And in the distance the sound of children laughing in the snow, the sharp sting of snowflakes falling into young eyes searching the sky for their source.

The crinkle of wrapping paper, hastily torn and tossed aside. The clunk of heavy boxes, the whirr of robots and shouts of joy.

Then quiet as the baby lies beneath the tree, one tiny hand reaching towards the nearest twinkling light.

Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward man.

And love for all.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


The tang of citrus mingles with the scent of sandelwood just over my shoulder. I can feel your breath warm against my neck.  Your strong arm snakes around my waist and pulls me into the safety of your embrace.

My belly quivers as your hand slides up and over the taut peak of my breast. Just a quick skim that catches my breath then your fingers trail up my throat.  You tip my chin back and I open my eyes.

The shadowed blue of your gaze is filled with hate.

You know. Everything.

I open my lips to beg forgiveness. Your hand covers my mouth.

Pinches my nose.

I struggle for breath. My limbs flail.  My gaze seeks yours, locks on while I search for any spark of the man who loved me. Who betrayed me before I returned the favour.

There is a frozen landscape of rage between us. My hands and feet grow cold. A mist covers my vision. My ears filled with the thunderous sound of an avalanche headed my way.

You shove me to the ground. My body is a shell of its former strength, inert and motionless on the ground where it fell.  Jagged shards of oxygen stab their way to my lungs.

"Death is too good for you."  I hear your footsteps leave the room then stop. The sound of a body dropping to the floor is followed by a wail of grief so primal it makes my body shake in fear fills the house.

You have found her.

I look at the spray of blood across my legs and skirt.  I smile.

Monday, December 07, 2015

An abundance of cushions

A fork, a radio, full moon and a dump truck  all flashed through my mind the other night. I'm not getting a lot of sleep but lying in bed, words flow like bioluminescence.  I don't have the energy to write them all down but they soothe me to sleep. Eventually.

Sometimes they prompt scenes.  This one started out as radio silence spoke volumes but morphed into something a bit more adventurous.

The brilliance of the full moon in August shone a spotlight on the dump truck parked beneath the bedroom window. Filled to the brim with an old battered couch and an abundance of cushions buried beneath tattered clothes, a broken radio and a drawer of cutlery missing all the forks, the truck looked as out-of-place as a rocketship in a lion's pen. The window on the far left of the second storey opened with a screech and muttered curse.  One bare leg thrust through the opening to be quickly followed by a second leg then the rest of the body.  With a rolling dive that would make Greg Louganis proud, the gangly teenager landed in the back of the dump trunk. After a brief fist pump, he folded his skinny arms and legs around his body and sank beneath the cushions.

With a soft crunch over branches on the back lawn the dump truck made its way to its next destination. To pick up the next runaway. It pulled onto the county road, just another working vehicle transporting its cargo to the space station down the road. There the contents would be sorted into trash to be burned and organic materials for biodiesel. The teenager's dream of space travel would be realized.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Silver linings

Last Wednesday was hands down one of the worst days of my life. Every phone call, text and email was bad news. The worst was the one informing me that my dad had to have a triple bypass and aortic valve replacement. The rest of it was noise thwarting my plans to enjoy life. I'm not proud of my scorched earth reaction to the other things. It was mostly a case of needing to remove any and all negativity from my mindset. I accidentally deleted three people from my contacts. My phone has rebelled every day, randomly calling some people and hanging up on others. It's all a bit juvenile and ridiculous.

I haven't had much time for writing. My brain processes via nigmares and odd dreams while I nap. Sleep has been impossible. I write regardless of mood, emotion or opportunity. I write as a way to process. I write to entertain, to teach and to learn. Its what I do, I write.

At the moment, I'm buried beneath words of all flavours, texture and colour. The image that returns time and again is that of a dark stormycloud hurling lightning, hail and booming sound waves of doom at my house. Through the flashes of light, I see streaks of silver. Dad is in the best hospital for this kind of surgery, I have friends who support me with midnight hospital runs, nutritious soup, yummy ginger snaps, the ability to tear down my garage. It will be sad to lose the garage but we did our best to save it. The city won't allow us to replace and no engineer will sign off on repair. The insurance cheque will give us a much needed cushion.

While the sleep is elusive, the nightmares I experienced before my dad's heart attack are gone.  I've pulled a muscle lifting my mom as well as all the cleaning and organizing I've done. Odd thing, I heard and felt something crack in my hand when I was replacing the kitchen taps. My exercises are less painful now.  Typing can't be far off.

Otis (70 year old black man in 25 year old white boy's body) took me out for hot chocolate the other day and reminded me that a strong connection does not always equate into romance, nor should it.  He also reminded me the power of magic and love.  Several of my friends are finding people who bring out the best in them. I don't begrudge a single one of them happiness. Realizing that has been a boon.

That one day of horrible news hasn't destroyed my core belief that if you look you will always  find a silver lining. It's a bit Pollyanna of me but I'm more than fine with that.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Importance of stories

Since the beginning of humankind, we have gathered to share stories. It was a way to pass time by the fire, a way to teach each other the lessons of life, that fire burns, woolly mammoths are dangerous but provide food, shelter and clothing.  Stories connect us, unite us with shared memories, in laughter, love and acceptance.

Sometimes stories scare us.  They allow us to react in a controlled environment when the real monsters are too horrible to comprehend. We bleed off the fear and feel triumphant when we can defeat the monsters beneath the bed.

Stories inspire us with tales of love and devotion. They remind us there are good moments in the midst of bad.  That love often shines a light in the darkness.

There are big stories that touch millions like the Parisian man reassuring his son that love and kindness are more important, even stronger, than the bad men. Tigers pouncing on pumpkins make us laugh and elephants painting landscapes with their trunks inspire us to fill the world with colour.

There are the smaller stories, the ones your don't share with anyone else. A gentle touch on the back of the hand, a first kiss perfect beyond expectation or description, a smile that fills your heart because you alone could tease it free. The quiet of the night broken by the sound of soft breathing. The sweet scent of a child's hair as they slumber in your arms. Those are stories of love, of trust, of possibility and all the more precious for being held close to our chests, shielded from the rest of the world.

We need those stories. In times of stress, whether global or personal, they distract us, comfort us, inspire us.   Stories add colour, texture and depth to our lives in every way imaginable.  We are richer both in the telling and the hearing.

Thank you for your stories.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing is an exploration

It's been a roller coaster of a week.  I'm house-sitting at one of my go-to writer retreats.  This is the place I come to knock out five to seven thousand words over a couple of days. I'm starting a new story. I'm here for a week.

Writing is painful.  Literally causes a great deal of pain in my hand.  Physio this week was not only frustrating but discouraging.  Restricted use of my right hand continues. I've tried wearing bracelets and rings to remind myself to type one-handed. Yes, the pain should be an obvious deterrent.  When creativity flows, I ignore everything but getting the thoughts out. I pay for it later.

My editor came back with some BIG changes for the first book in the four-part trilogy.  Science has minimized or even solved some of the global crises I used as the basis for the hero's Quest. Several emails were followed by an hour long discussion on how to attack the rewrite.  I've had a few days to consider all the options and have found one that works for both of us. I'm anxious to fix it before I start the new book.

It is better to fix the mistakes of the past so that you can go forward with confidence.

Two books have helped me this week. A quick skim-through of An astronaut's guide to life to refresh my memory led to the new catchphrase, "What would Chris Hadfield do?" Dealing with life and death issues in space means he can't freak out and decide things are too hard.  Sometimes things break.  "Work the problem" is how NASA handles the unexpected.  Considering how much they train for every conceivable thing that could go wrong, that there is an unexpected is amazing. But inconceivable happens.

The other book I'm reading is a YA about the need we have to label everyone.   Openly Straight is fiction.  A young gay man chooses to move across the country and not tell anyone he is gay because that was the only way anyone saw him back home. His English teacher assigns semester long personal essays that follow E.L. Doctorow's edict that "Writing is an exploration.  You start from nothing and learn as you go."

Reading, thinking and the occasional jotting of notes will get me through this phase. Therapy will eventually strengthen my hand enough to get back to typing. In the meantime, I really need to mentally go through the manuscript and work out the best way to move forward with the original story and characters in a way that is less dated.

Sounds like a great way to work the problem.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Music notes lifted from the keys to swirl around the yard like dying leaves on the Autumn breeze.

Colours collided in vibrant hues of orange, purple and gold.

Splashes of rain bounced off the dead soil.

Her eyelids flickered as his distinct scent tickled her into awareness, teased her up out of the dream about him.

The crash of the kitchen door.  A scream cut off abruptly.  Coppery scent of fresh blood.  Senses chasing her through her dreams turned nightmares.  Demons and ghosts with talons made of bone and the cold stare of Death.

Images piling on top of her, suffocating her, drowning her. Pain, the scalding hot pain of realization, speared her chest, robbed her breath.  Her body shuddered as her eyes opened wide.  Terror shoved adrenaline through her veins while gaze sought out answers. A silent room. An empty room

She willed her limbs into quiet.  Took a deep breath to restore vital oxygen to her panicked brain.  Nightmares. Only nightmares.  She turned her head towards his pillow, to the comfort of his scent, the reassurance that only he could provide.

Moonlight through the window exposed the sharp steel of the blade that lay upon the red stained pillow.  The scream lodged in her throat as the gloved hand reached down to silence her forever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Did you ever hear a piece of music so perfect you wanted to climb inside the notes and be surrounded by the exquisite beauty?  And no matter where you go in life or what happens after you carry that feeling inside you, being part of the music and it being part of you. You and the music make the world so much more through that exchange. Kisses are music.
Sing to me.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Strange fascinations

I feel for my physiotherapist.  I am incapable of silence when in the company of others.  This is a bit of a surprise to me.  Regardless, I ask him tons of questions about physiotherapy, ultrasound, treatments, changes in medicine over the last twenty years and how they affect his practice. I ask about patient patterns, industry growth and improved understanding of the human body when it comes to physiology, kinesiology and psychiatry.

I have always been curious about science and medicine. Both of my grandmothers were nurses, my brother and nephew were both born with a malabsorption issue and my family has had all sorts of life-altering diseases.  The more I've understood the better equipped I've been to helping them out whenever possible.

Books have been the gateway to knowledge for as long as I can remember.  Fairy tales and nursery rhymes hid life lessons from an earlier times.  My dad encouraged me to understand the symbolism and parable in each.

The thing is that no matter how much I learn, it's the tip of the iceberg to what I can still learn. Books tell me so much but trained professionals and experts can teach me so much more.  I ask a few questions then listen to the answers.

It's not just my physiotherapist I subject to my interrogations.  Friends, family, strangers on the Internet are all fascinating subjects for me to interview.  I explore the vastness of space and the microcosm of biology, the complexities of human behaviour and the simplicity of faith, the cruelty of fate and the kindness of whimsy.

I don't think fascination with life and all it holds is limited to me. I think it's a very strong foundation of most writer personalities. It gives depth and interest to our characters, our worlds and our stories.

What's your strange fascination?

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I've been busy working on the business side of writing. That's not my skill set. I write.  However, I've consulted with several people who are in total control of their writing careers, as well as people who excel in the various departments.

There are some changes coming to the blog. Some changes coming to my writing routine.  Most importantly, there are some changes coming to the story-in-hand process.  I am torn between terror and excitement. Fitting as I write both romance and horror.

As soon as the new stuff is up, I'll let you all know.  Excuse me while I go freak out.  Change is scary. But vital.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


A friend recently asked why I write fiction - like it's a choice.  There are stories in my head at all times. Like two people getting seats at a hockey game, each wearing jerseys from the opposing team. If they are teams that have been rivals since the  beginning of the league even better. My brain automatically writes  the rest of the story. Maybe there's a mutual attraction. Maybe they agree to let the children choose a team for themselves.

Or a wedding photographer meets a bridesmaid at several different weddings. To him it's just a lucrative job. He's divorced and determined to never risk his heart again.  She's a hopeless romantic.

The stockboy has been stalking the cheerleader for weeks. One night he approaches her behind the store where they both work. She stabs him in the eye with her car key.

I could probably think of twenty more scenarios without even trying.  Better on the page than rolling around inside my head.

Why do you read fiction?

Sunday, October 04, 2015


The good news is we're reasonably sure we know why I was dizzy all summer - migraine. Apparently there's a migraine who's only symptom is dizziness. Figures. I now have four types of migraine on any given day.

This is interfering with my writing - and may account for my fascination with horror.

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction as well as fiction these days.  Losing myself in the worlds of others is a good way to actually find what's important to me, or answers to my own world. Dolphin research, missing indigenous women, depression lies and wonderful romances where the heroes rescue animals and the heroines catch the bad guys reaffirm how fortunate I am in the life I chose. When having a bad day, like putting the car in the wrong gear and moving the garage back two feet as a result, perspective is much appreciated. Things can always be worse. Sometimes, they can be a bit better but honestly, it's a good life.

That's been the primary takeaway from all that reading.  No matter how horrible the tragedies most of those people have faced, they have this amazing spirit, a determination to make their lives better as well as the lives of those around them.  Even the dolphins who seem to have wonderful lives swimming in the seven seas can teach us about community and supporting one another.  They assist each other in times of crisis and of joy.

I have a strong community of friends both online and in my daily existence.  Several suffer with migraines and have been helpful with tips for preventing them. Others live with depression and have given me a great deal of insight into what they experience so that I can support rather than judge their choices.  My insurance adjuster is funny as hell so that's helped, as have all the people I've dealt with throughout the process.

My writing buddy insists all of the above is fodder for the mill and she's right.  You just know I'm going to use some of it in a story somewhere.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Light and shadow

My friend and I abandoned an awesome art show for a few hours on Sunday to go play at Edwards Gardens.  It's not exactly Central Park but it is an oasis in the city.  We were a tad disappointed that so many other people felt the same way.  We had a creepy photo shoot in mind.  Not exactly something you can do without an explanation - or a plethora of horrified looks.

Exhibit A

There's a nice little gazebo. Dark and spider filled, it suited our needs nicely. We took a couple shots but the headless one is my favourite.  I think it was helped by the bulky white sweater I was wearing. It tricked the camera's aperature. Yay!

Exhibit B

I love shadows and all the wonderful things you can do with them. I particularly enjoyed the irony of using lush green grass as our back drop.  I call it Norman Bates meets Whistler's Mother.  The purse over my shoulder changed my shape so that I looked considerably older and wider than normal.  Still, I like it.

Exhibit C

Hmmm, I don't seem to have any photos of the tree that fascinated me with the way the leaves and light played together.  I do have one dark photo of me watching it all.I'm in shadow and holding my hair out of my eyes so I can see better.  Check out the creepy shadow on my arm. The tree is eating me!

In the end I decided against the committment it would require to lie at the bottom of the broken stairs beneath the police tape.  Besides, I prefer to throw the bodies down there, not be one myself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I had a good conversation on Twitter about writer's inspiration.  I realized that I'm drawn towards horror stories in the Autumn. The obvious correlation to Halloween isn't the only reason. Most of it comes from the scent of decay in the air.  Leaves turn to mould, apples rot on the ground, the by-product of wine grapes presses down on the air with its sour notes.  Mildew permeates everything.

It's also the time of Fall fairs with their carnivals and clowns.  "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."  I always associated that quote with Road Dahl and Ray Bradbury because they had such wicked observations of the nature of man.  I missed out on MacBeth by moving to another province midway through high school.

Yet, Autumn is my favourite season. The smell of wood smoke riding the cool breeze reminds me of Hansel and Gretel. Cotton candy and taffy apples or even apple cider to fill the blood with the sugar rush that makes me feel invincible, daring, confident I'll return unscathed from the dark basement.

It's the time of year when rats scurry from lodging to lodging for the perfect damp place to hide out the winter months.  Squirrels throw the empty walnut shells from the tree.  My yard is littered with the remnants of their gorging feasts. Claw marks decorate the outer blocks of our foundation.

Yet, I love it all. I love the smells, the colours of leaves as they age then float to the ground. I love the myriad textures of the ground as it cools and retains moisture.  Holes appear where before there was solid ground.  The rat-a-tat pop of shells hitting the deck and the angry chatter of squirrels squabbling over the late harvest.  So many flavours dance upon my tongue; pumpkin, peach, wine, fresh corn, squash, rich dark concord grapes.  Autumn is a feast for the senses.

Fear underscores it all. Fear that there won't be enough food. That we're aging faster than we like. That the ground will flood. That the crops won't return next spring.  That there are things waiting in the dark more terrifying than we can imagine.

We like the fear because it shows we care.  We are attached to the return of all we need.  And we believe it all will.  It always has.

There's no reason to think it won't again.

But we enjoy the thrill of fear, regardless.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Safety platform

Last week, I went back to the literal train bridge.  I took a break from writing, work, and other commitments. It was hard not to think of my last post.  I educated my friend about those safety platforms and we decided they would be very useful to have in all aspects of our life.

I don't like to quit. Diets are the only thing I truly abandon and even those get revisited on occasion. I do often switch up one activity for another when I'm frustrated over the lack of progress.  More often than not the progress is held up by my preconceived notions.

I'm about to start a fourth book in the previously mis-named trilogy.  My heroine has amazing conflict and arc. The hero is pretty cool but his conflict and arc are so minor in comparison. I'm trying to decide if that can be twisted to maximum advantage (how can he possibly understand her if he can't relate?) or if I should gut him somehow.

I have retreated to the safety platform, in this case creating a wedding gift, while I ponder which train to follow.  Outrunning them seems unnecessary when I can take my time and see where they're headed instead.

Which train would you follow?

PS - I feel a bit like Sheldon Cooper and his obsession with trains

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Train bridge aka Not my best title

Some friends were just talking about household repairs and the lengths some vendors will go to in order to move equipment.  It made me think about all the times that we're so focused on one route that we cannot see the others.  So I wrote "Sometimes it's better to get off the tracks rather than try to out-run the train".

That made me think about my writing. Over the years I've become more flexible about changing genders or characters to better suit the story. I've re-written plots because characters solved the entire issue on page three (sometimes they are much smarter than I am).  I've changed titles repeatedly to get the exact sense in three words or less.  As a writer I am considerably more flexible than I am as a person. Mind you, that took a lot of time. My critique partners will tell you I clung to my ideas even when the entire group thought I'd gone off in the wrong direction.  My paths are rarely direct.  In writing or life.

As a business person, I know nothing. My instinct tells me one thing but my experience is the opposite.  I have enlisted the advice and guidance of business people from other fields. My former accountant thought writing was an absolute waste of my time from a financial point of view. That opinion has been repeated by everyone I've consulted. None of their opinion has anything to do with my writing quality but everything to do with the competition and business model for publishing.  Indie or self-publishing has made the above both better and worse. There are a lot more options for the writer to take control of their career.  No one I've talked to who is doing it is able to support themselves financially from writing alone.

I have a good job doing something I love. I also love writing. I jumped off the tracks for two years and didn't write much. I definitely didn't pursue it as a career.  But the manuscripts have stacked up.  Their stories want to be heard.  So I'm running down the track again.  The train behind me is gaining speed.  Fortunately, there is a bump out alongside the track, a safe place to stand when the train barrels past.

I'm going to stand there and read up on more options. I'm sure another train will  be along any minute if I want to run in front of it. Or I could wait until the track is quiet and sprint down the bridge then.

If you're not sure where I mean, look straight above the left swan's head and you'll see the little cut-out on the top of the train bridge.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

When is a kiss sexual assault?

I primarily write romance. It may have some paranormal elements to it but at the end of the day it is a romance that ends on a happy note.

When my characters meet they are invariably strangers.  Their first kiss is monumental. It is part of both character and plot.  It rarely follows the "Can I kiss you?" scenario.  They read each other's signals.

Then I read this article about a reporter who was kissed on-air by a strange man.  Full disclosure, the author of the article, Michael Hollett, is my cousin, not that our relationship has any bearing on the discussion.  I am aware of the backlash he encountered because he posted about it on Facebook. Michael has always stood behind his beliefs, solidly and without wavering. I know that because we're family and it's been a part of his personality from before I was born.

All the family stuff aside, the article, and Michael's stance, made me think about how easy it is to justify assault through non-verbal cues.  I read far more romance than I write. I interact with human beings every day at work and at home. I've been witness to, and experienced, sexual assault. In most of the cases I can personally attest to, both literary and actual, the aggressor "mis-read" the victim's body language. In a lot of cases, they didn't care.

Is the skin flushed from fear or arousal? Are the eyes dilated from apprehension or pleasure? Is the breathing ragged from panic or anticipation?  Those are the cues we use to determine whether our physical attention is wanted.  It is so easy to read those signals based on our own desires and expectations.

Honestly, I've never considered the first kiss scene where the hero, or heroine, suddenly presses their lips against the heroine's, or hero's, lips to be sexual assault. You know going into the story that these people are going to meet, fall in love, triumph over conflict and live happily ever after. In real life, that is most definitely not the case.

Are romance novels at fault for that mis-communication? Not any more than video games are responsible for the increase in gun crimes at movie theatres.  There are correlations but most of us know the difference between reality and fiction.

Still, I've given the kiss as sexual assault a lot of thought.  A lot of thought. Just because we never viewed something a specific way before doesn't mean we shouldn't start.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Random thoughts because it's a Wednesday

I have a notebook full of story ideas and half scenes.  Anything on television from news to game shows is fodder for story.  I had a brilliant idea the other day based on a science show my nephew and I were watching. We discussed it briefly but I failed to write it down.  I asked him about it yesterday.  His response, "You said what if something like that was really true and the thing did another thing and that happened." Really?  "Yes. It was a good idea." Except neither one of us remembers anything specific.

Notebooks. They can save you from hours of speculation that never leads anywhere.

Or maybe it was just the idea that people thought their house was haunted because things went missing or reappeared in the wrong places.  Turns out it's just a cat. No real twist to anyone who has ever shared space with a cat. They're brutal for stealing items and hiding them. I lived with a crow who was tidier than a cat. Crows store all their treasure in their nest, not beneath the fridge or inside your shoe. And why on earth do they think a shoe is excellent cache for a mouse.  We use those shoes every day.

My mind makes weird connections. I might just write a story that puts several of them together. But first the pseudonym.  And remembering the idea where the news was true and the thing did another thing and that happened. Then the parrot laughed. Because he knows how foolish human brains can be.

Friday, August 07, 2015


Greetings, my friends.  The trilogy has a name - The Tiger's Eye series. Yes, series. Because while brainstorming the three books I kept coming back to one character from the third in the trilogy that was never planned. The first was a standalone.  Then a character caught my attention. Then another one. And now a fourth. She got short-thrift in the third book and the goddess noticed. So she issued a challenge that the shy character is going to have to steel her spine in order to meet.

I have to finish two origin stories first. One for a secret project (who knew I could keep a secret?) and one for the horror story. It's the epilogue that shows how the painting became so disturbing.  Because the final scene was so horrific, I have to make the creation scene compelling but also equally intense.  The research has been too much for me to stomach so my nephew approached a neighbour who is also a hunter.  It's always good to have help.

I need a pseudonym for the horror story.  It's not like anything else I write.  I don't want to confuse readers who are used to the voice you read over here.  DNe suggested I look at contemporaries of Edgar Allen Poe and see what tweaks my creative radar.  Of course, I immediately thought of Raven. It's a good name. It's not creepy though the poem is suspenseful.

What really holds me back though is an excellent short story writer I follow on Twitter - Jesse Raven  His writing style is so tight and suspenseful.  I look forward to his upcoming compilation.  Go check out his website. You'll see why I need a different name. Ravens may flock together but one usually stands out and Jesse is it.

So the search for pseudonym continues.  I could possibly keep one half of Keziah Fenton. I'm not sure which half.  It's a quest. I love those.

What says horror name to you?  Remember, Stephen King is already taken.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Trilogy title

Woohoo! I just finished the revisions on the NC paranormal romance, Putting Down Roots. It now joins Heaven Coming Down and Hell to Pay in the complete trilogy. 

It's exciting to finally be down a project that's taken ten years from the original sentence in the first book to the final sentence in the third. I had no idea I was starting a trilogy when the idea came to me.  And all because a cocky man I knew at the time said that he could solve all of the world's problems if he had the same time and resources as God.  

I need a name for the trilogy. The first is a quest to save the world, features gods and demons. The second is a challenge to save one man’s soul from the demon’s daughter and the third is about nymphs and humans curing cancer while falling in love. The central theme in all three books is man's interference with nature. All the characters from the first two appear in the final showdown with the evil nymph at the end of the third book. 

Do you have any ideas on what I can call the trilogy?

PS - I am doubly proud of myself for finishing it while still suffering from vertigo.  If something means enough to you, you will find a way

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Still spinning

Being dizzy 75% of the day makes one cranky. That's my experience, at least.  I miss reading and writing.  I've jotted things in my notebook when the world isn't going by quite so quickly but the days of spending hours at my desk seem but a distant memory.  Steps are being taken to resolve this.

In the meantime, I've learned the following:

Sitting on the ground is a good position for not only weeding but throwing a ball. Be sure to sit on the grass so that when you fall over, it's a cushy landing.

The reason the wild petunia isn't doing so well is the neighbour's volunteer black walnut. If you lie on your back and stare up between the leaves, the sky looks like it's been serrated.  Also, that tree grew very tall very fast.

Mulberries hold fast to the tree branches during a wind storm but leap from their stems if you're trying to pick them. Also, a robin can ride out the wind if the berries are plentiful.

Cats like to sleep in the window.  They also like to chirp at the foraging squirrel.  A closed window is best at these times.

Every manner of vegetation will grow in the cracks of the sidewalk.

If you lie on the floor, the birds will fly from their cage to walk all over you.  The cat stands back as beaks are sharp.  Also, freckles look a lot like seeds. Beaks are very sharp when the freckle holds fast to the skin.  Beak wounds heal quickly with the aid of coconut oil.

Closing your eyes to slow the spinning of the earth occasionally results in naps.

Reading a printed page is much easier on the senses than a screen.  No new book scent on the screen.

All of the above can be used as research in one capacity or another. It's all fodder. Fodder!

Stay balanced, my friends

Friday, June 19, 2015

It's always something

Vertigo, my friends. It's my second go-around in as many months. I'm am tired of the world spinning past me.  I've been moving my body to minimize the speed at which things fly past my fast when I am no longer in motion.

That is not conducive to writing. Or reading, for that matter. Hence, the complete and total lack of creativity. That made the writing retreat an odd experience. Fortunately, I am blessed and was able to have many conversations and brainstorming sessions.  I have notes made in the moments when the spinning was less severe.

Do you suppose the fact that the new project is about spinning wool had any bearing on my inability to stand still? Spinning, spun, fell.  At least, I have some great ideas. And sheep photos. We were staying in a town whose university mascot is a ram. Lots and lots of ram paraphanalia. So my mind was definitely on the new project.

What do you do when you are unable to work on a project?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May updates

Rootless Trees is done its first draft!! I've been sitting on it waiting for feedback from my critique partner. I really struggled with the last two scenes.  There were a lot of loose ends to tidy.  Even in sewing or knitting, I hate doing the loose ends.  You have to take time to ensure they are woven in well enough that they don't unravel, nor are seen by the eye (untrained or expert).

I'm very pleased with the horror story. It needed about five sentences for revisions. Unfortunately, that leaves it at novella length. My plan for that manuscript needed another 20,000 words. That would destroy the rhythm of the story. More pondering.

So on to the Icelandic sweater story.  I need a reason the two friends will fall out. It needs to be big enough and real enough to cause a rift that can only be mended by some serious growth on the part of the two heroines.  No one dies. No one gets divorced. Those are my two rules.  These women have been friends for over twenty years. They can say anything to each other.  But one of them has to cross a line, no matter how unreasonable it is, for the other to fall out with her. I'm just not sure which line or which one crosses it.  Other than that, I have an outline and am pleased.

At this point, I can write the opening as well as get to know the characters. I'm sure the break will reveal itself. In the meantime, the feedback for Rootless Trees was good so I can take it from there.

In other news, my beautiful mulberry tree has been cut back drastically. Two gutters and a house corner were pummeled by the two main branches that curved over the porch. I don't have pictures of the handsome man on my roof taking care to damage the tree as little as possible. He managed to save three main branches, enough for a couple of jars of mulberry jam.   I'll spare you the photos.  It hurts my heart to stand at my desk and look out the window.  One thin branch continues to reach up towards my office and occasionally wave.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Letting go

Just two scenes left to write. Two scenes.  I know exactly what's going to happen. So why is it taking so long to actually write all the words that are needed?

One theory is that I don't want the book to end. It's the third in a trilogy and I really like these characters. They've all been with me in one form or another for seventeen years.  The original idea came out of a conversation with a male friend who thought he knew everything.  Once the characters showed themselves they became as real to me as any imaginary friends. They're independent of my will. I know that sounds a little bit nuts but other writers feel the same way about their characters.

Another theory as to my delay in finishing these two scenes is the need to send them off in a really big way.  I keep trying to improve on the grandiosity of the final scene. That's in conflict with the tone of the story. Yes, there's magic. Yes, they're changing the world and curing cancer. But their personalities would dwell on the moment rather than the larger picture. They are intimate scenes about two characters and how their interaction affects each other.  Saving the world is the by-product.

Do you ever hold off finishing a story (reading or writing) because you're not quite ready to let the characters go off into the world without you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Musical inspiration

The current manuscript is tentatively Season of Renewal which doesn't have earth in it either. I originally called it Rootless Trees.  I like that title as they both are floundering without connections other than the ones they make together in this new land.  That is a very angry song by Damien Rice.   It's come in handy a few times as I worked on various scenes.

There are multiple versions of this song. The most haunting is the one with Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan.  I won't post a link as I cannot find the official version that used to be on Damien's website.  The angry version is much faster and full of power.  Google them on youtube.

What I like most about this song is the varied nuances in each and every rendition.  And I use them all in the story.  Because sometimes being a rootless tree can free you up to find your heart's true home.

Titles - not as easy as one would suppose.

Monday, March 30, 2015


I'm wrapping up the third book in a trilogy.  The first was titled Heaven Coming Down, followed by Hell to Pay.  The last one should have Earth in the title. It was called Rootless Trees because both hero and heroine are transplanted but the truth is the book is about regrowth after the forest fire sweeps through and razes everything to the ground.  I like Earth's Renewal but it doesn't have the same rhythm of the other two titles.

I've spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at quotes and sayings about trees.  This is one of my favourites -

What did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky? 
- Pablo Neruda

It won't work for my title so I need your help.  Do you have any suggestions?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Welcome, Spring

Yikes, over a month since my last post. Things have been busy.

My nieces took part in a Bear Bear photo shoot. We had so much fun it was ridiculous. Then it was decided that Bear Bear had to be returned to the Lost and Found and could not be played with by us. His brief taste of fame was over. I am still compiling the stories. I'm looking into a way to illustrate them.

After five months of living beside each other, Amadala moved into Yoda's cage yesterday. I had nothing to do with it. They decided on their own that they were ready for cohabitation. It is a nice big dwelling and the cage door is open most of the time. Neither bird is afraid to peck the cat. He has the wounds to prove it. Regardless, they are not left unsupervised.

My plan to finish Bracken's story by the end of March was knocked off course by external forces. Now that I have a handle on those, back to writing. I'm pleased with how it's coming along.

One last thing - the end of winter does not mean it's short weather. Not yet. Soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writing and knitting and bears, oh my

I've been busy with Bear Bear and nieces and editing and finishing projects. I should have photos and stories to share shortly.  The only thing I've actually completed is the sweater I started knitting during the Winter Olympics a year ago. I had to stop because of the elbow injury.  Now that's as good as it's going to get(considerably better than it was) I'm incorporating more of my activities back into my life.

I've also done a fair amount of shoveling. Not Boston marathons of shoveling but enough every day that my upper body is starting to look good. Mother Nature is a very effective trainer, and less expensive than a gym membership.  I am one of the happy minority enjoying this winter.

What's new in your neck of the woods? (and why do we call it that?)

Thursday, February 05, 2015

#How librarians spend their breaks

This is the short story I wrote when we found a little bear in the lost and found at work.  It is the first in a series of adventure for the lost bear my coworker named.
We're promoting it every where in the hope that his family sees his photo and claims him.  

Bear Bear was scared. His family was lost. This place was nice. Bright. Smelled like books.
He liked books. But his family wasn't here. The lady behind the counter picked him up from the couch and put him on the cabinet. He could see everyone who came into this sunny place. The lady talked to him. She was nice. She petted him and told him she would help him find his family.
But first he needed a bath.
Not a bath! A bath would ruin his stuffing. He didn't have much stuffing left. His family had loved it right out of him.
The nice lady said bears had to be clean to stay at the library.
He was at the library! His family loved the library. There were stories and games and movies and lots of fun things to do while he waited for them to come back.
Bear Bear decided a bath would be okay. He would have a bath and sit on the cabinet and wait. His family would come back and see him up there.
The library was a safe place to wait. Maybe he could read a good book while he waited.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Switching things up

They say if you're stuck writing one thing you should dive into something completely out of your comfort zone.  I didn't write for almost two years. I futzed at stuff but nothing that moved stories forward.  It was a bleak time.

Then I wrote a horror story and words flowed. The images that flickered behind my eyes were so powerful I had to record them.  It was cathartic in a lot of ways.  I'd been processing so much grief and rage that it was easy to understand not only the motivation but emotions of those characters.

When I was done that story I felt better about myself as both a writer and a human being.  It's a good piece. It needs some tweaking and I'll get to that sooner rather than later.

The horror story made it possible for me to go back to writing romance. I not only believed in the power of love again,but that I had something interesting to say about it.  The demons that had held me back from writing had been exorcised as part of writing the horror story.

Last week, someone left their little stuffed bear at work.  So far I've written three stories about that little bear. More importantly, I've finished the rough draft of the novel-in-progress and am on track to finish the Hit by a Truck edits by the end of the month.  I've been writing so much I've neglected the blog. Most of what I'm doing is the old pen and paper edits.  I even took them to the doctor's office yesterday and worked away on the exam table.  Why do they make you change into a thin cotton gown then wait 20 minutes for the doctor to appear?  No problem, that was 20 minutes I put to good use.

What's the most interesting way you've heard of people switching gears for a project?

Monday, January 12, 2015


Hozier. Great music and wonderfully inspirational.  I am on the penultimate scene of the first draft.  I warm up with a bit of singing along, then dance around till the ideas starting flowing and away I go.

I've been reading a lot the last couple of weeks. We always gift each other with books for the holidays. For some reason this year mine were science based.  Then yesterday we went to see Imitation Game about Alan Turing. It was heart-breaking, brilliant and incredible to realize how much the world has changed, how much it has not and how fortunate we are to recognize both facts.

My friends and I went out afterwards to discuss the movie and life.  Again, a bit of science discussion that helped me realize that despite it being a subject in which I did not do well at school, my brain absorbs so much more than for which it's given credit.  While describing something completely unrelated to the movie or my story, it hit me.  The end of my book was right there in front of my face all this time.

I went to sleep with the ending in mind. I work up with it still there. When I came home from work today, Hozier and I made beautiful music together and I wrote.

Sometimes you need something unrelated to show you what you already know.

I hope this year is full of wonderful surprises, scientific or otherwise, for all of us.