Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Trumps Christmas

I'm sorry and I'm not apologizing, not really. I love Halloween over Christmas any day of the year. My inner child blooms on October 31. This year I decided to downsize which really, in a strange way was upsizing. I have less decorations but their size increased proportionately to their numbers.
On the upside, that eight foot skeleton drew children from the other side of the street. Never before in my known Halloween history has that happened. Sort of a case of less is more and this time around bigger is better.

Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saskatchewan Now, Then and Future

The silence breathes gusts of prairie winds across the highway. That's the beauty of Saskatchewan - now, in this moment. The silence. The emptiness. At least the silence and emptiness when you exit
one of its major centres.

Sparsely populated is a reality for Saskatchewan and one that has been exploited by the politicians and the economists. We need more people - we need to grow the economy is their endless cry. But right now, I look around me as we travel down the highway and I see space and room - room to breath, room to think, room to be. There are vast stretches of land where the only thing to see is cultivated fields and if you're really lucky, the occasional reminders of unmarred prairie. Truthfully, it makes a drive boring as we whip by at speeds never considered 100 years ago. But, from a standing point, with camera in hand, it's incredible, majestic and 100 years from now it will be rare. Here's to the wide open spaces of Saskatchewan!

And to add to the beauty, on last weekend's trip to Calgary we saw a wolf. She trotted down the ditch in her majestic grey splendor. And on the way home, a coyote loped a solitary figure in a vast, empty field.

And that's Saskatchewan today and I know ten years from now what I have said may just be a note in history - that other things will replace those vast fields and lone wolves. And those other things will be just as good, just different.


What's Your Passion?

Even when writing isn't your full-time job it can be a lonely business. Truly, most people understand that you're writing a book or that you published a book. What they don't get is your need to keep on writing books, publishing books, writing, writing, writing. That's why there's nothing better than associating with other writers. They get it!

That's the thing about writing, it's all encompassing. Writers can talk to anyone interested in writing for hours. Don't even think what happens when you get a group of them in a room. But the energy in that room is amazing!

So, although it's a bit of a drive - we headed out - Regina to Calgary for a writing workshop. The weekend had a bit for everyone. What better way to start a writing weekend but with something totally non-writing related! With hubbie and friend in tow we went to a wine tasting on Friday night. And it wasn't just wine - there was food, tequila, scotch and beer. It was inspiring to talk to the people representing each product and hear the enthusiasm, and share in the energy that made a concrete and steel structure come alive. There was a buzz inside that building and it wasn't just from the modest alcohol samples.

It's always enjoyable to talk to people passionate about their craft and that weekend I had two such evenings. On Saturday I was at a writing workshop where I met up with members of my writing chapter who I see once or twice a year. It's always a joy to reunite with writers, some of whom I now call friend, talk shop with others and meet new members who all share that same love, writing. There's nothing that makes you want to take pen in hand and write like associating with others that have the same "affliction." So we shared a common passion and made the walls come alive with the energy of it all.

What's your passion?


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Change the Music

The last few days the new WIP (work in progress) has been giving me trouble. It didn't want to progress, the characters remained stuck, refusing to emerge from the one-dimensional cardboard state to which they had been born. Worse, the characters didn't seem to like me or even each other.

What kind of romance is that?

Not that this is totally out of the norm. The thrilling flash of inspiration that starts a story, for me, soon becomes work. That is, until the day, in the early chapters, that the characters emerge as three dimensional creatures and begin to choreograph the action. That's when the fun begins!

"Trouble Follows" was at that place but the characters refused to budge. Hiding in one-dimensional safety they were becoming a frustrating lot. Like little kids in the candy section of a grocery store, they were stamping their feet and refusing to cooperate.

Today, progress!

What did I change? Well, I changed the music. That's right. I write to music and I was using the same music that had survived through two WIPs. I can't help it. I didn't change it because mostly I didn't hear the music. It's only background noise - at least that's what I thought. But today, out went the old CD's and now, The Beatles White Album and others have replaced Nirvana, Mozart et al and that seems to be the charm.

Like everything else in life if the old tried and true doesn't work, maybe it's just that - old and it's time to change.

When you hit life's road bump do you ever change the music?


Friday, October 10, 2008

Rewind - Hong Kong

October is usually the month for changing seasons, when the cold drafts begin to seep into everything as we try to acclimatize for the relentless march into winter. This month was a tad different. This year, October has become the month to travel. And Asia appears to be the destination. My favourite shop keeper, the owner of the infamous Green Spot in Regina, is off to Hong Kong and followed closely by a good friend of mine to
hat same destination. And, as I mentioned earlier, another good friend of mine is also in Asia. But with two people I know in Hong Kong I thought it was time for a rerun - if TV can replay our favourites again and again, so can I - at least once.
So here's to Hong Kong:

Memories of Hong Kong

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Hiking Map of Sarawak

I laughed when I saw the link. It's amazing where research for a story will take you . I remember now that Saturday morning squinting over a map of Sarawak, Malaysia as I atempted to figure out how my characters would get out of the Borneo jungle. Not that long ago, there I was figuring out east and west, and the hike's correlation to a river. There's even a waterfall that was a little bit of creative cartography. Go figure! An imaginary waterfall but when not a mapper be, one's imagination has to play just a little along side reality.

So the Borneo jungle complete with Aidan, Garrett and crew are off to the wide world to learn their fate. Last Man Standing is finished, for now. And while I await the world of publishing, it's off to new stories and new adventures.

Maybe, that's why I felt the nostalgia of last night and tonight. New projects are exciting but there's always sadness at letting go of the old.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Memories of Singapore

As I write this post a good friend is about to head to Singapore and she's promised me a post or two.

In the meantime her pending journey has brought back memories of my trip to Singapore.

It was just after Christmas 1999 and it was there that I learned how good peppered crab can be. Eaten at a plastic picnic table in an open air market with the tropical night settled warm and balmy around you and a cold beer to wash it all down.

It was the first place I had seen women carry an umbrella to keep the tropical sun from their face or people queue up in precise lines as they waited for a cab. Despite the sign instructing the lineup - in Saskatchewan, that just wouldn't happen.

Singapore was exotic with orchid gardens and "a" boa constrictor, it was orderly, and as one of the few city-states - it was fascinating.

Without travel there'd be no spice.

What are your travel memories?

Monday, October 6, 2008

One of those days!

Ever had one of those days? But today good things happened in the middle of many false starts. I changed watches only to discover after I arrived at my office, sans key to same office, that the battery was dead. I came home to find the luncheon meat for today's sandwich languishing in bacteria collecting splendor on the counter. Not to add that the day was gray and cold - rain dancing on the edge of snow.

But still the day wasn't bad. I got an unexpected e-mail asking when a reader could anticipate another book. That kind of e-mail can only make you smile or outright giggle with pleasure. Then I got an assignment at work that just made me grin.

A strange day that trailed bleak weather, turned out, in the end - to be good.

Never judge a day by the weather.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goal + Plan = Success

Today I thought about this month's goals. Why you ask? What sort of anal compulsive behavior is that?

I know - I'm not a goal person - well, I wasn't and I'm not particularly organized. But I've learned one thing along the way, if you want to get somewhere - make a goal. Of course, once you have a goal you need a plan. Some goals are easy and plans are one or two steps. Some goals are more complex and the plans span longer time frames. For a writer goals and plans are necessary. Unless you have contracts in hand, and even then, there isn't anyone standing over your shoulder giving you a to do list for the day. Often you're working under deadlines that no one but you will follow up on. So if you want that book finished by the end of the year or the rough draft of that story done by the end of the month - you best set a goal and make a plan. And that will ensure you get there.

A plan found us in Beijing the beginning of this year. A lack of plan to totally account for weather found myself a tad chilled.

Goals without a plan are no guarantee of success. Sometimes it's never too late to plan. A quickly drafted plan chased the cold away in time to see the Great Wall of China.

And you - how do you plan?