Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

NaNoWrimo is over for another year. I didn't realize the effect of these 6 a.m. mornings. While I admit weekend mornings are my time to write, 6:00 a.m. is a tad early even for me. And this morning one look in the mirror and the red eye syndrome made me take a step back. Sleep, I need sleep! But I'm happy to report that I also reached my personal goal of 60,000 words!

It's been wild and crazy and my fingers hurt but I did it! And even Rourke is exhausted. I think I just heard him begin to snore from his new place of importance, a two blanket bed behind my chair.


Friday, November 28, 2008

NaNoWrimo - We Did It!

Today is the day I broke through the 50,000 word barrier and made NaNoWrimo 2008!! 
Whoo Hoo!!!!

Now if we can just replicate today's word count, 60,000 words by the end of the month may be doable.

To add to the good feel of the day, I found a new penny in my boot after today's dog walk. Hmmm - anyone believe in omens or just good luck charms? Or maybe we just make our own luck.

Either way - how was the luck in your day?


Promises Along the Way

Promises are sometimes hard to keep. Even promises to your self and sometimes, especially those. The other day I thought I could write 60,000 words by the end of this month. Now, I'm considering if this is possible with 15,000 words to go. I'm not saying I'm not going to be able to make 60,000 words by the end of Sunday but the possibility is looking more and more distant. There's been some bad days, good days really, but socializing on a time budget takes a big chunk of writing time. So it's 7:30 a.m. and the internet is about to go to the off position!

I may need all hands on deck and a little help to accomplish this goal. So I've upgraded the music to Tchaikovsky - time to call in the big guys!

What do you do when the goal seems to exceed time and will?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Juggling Paper

You know how it is when you've gotten so involved with something that the clutter surrounding that project begins to obscure everything?

Suddenly the path you were moving so confidently forward on has become filmed with - well stuff. That's what became of my office recently. Actually this is a recurring event rather like the seasons. The culprit? Besides the current WIP - Paper.

Too much paper. That's normal for a writer isn't it? I mean there's all those scraps of notes, the research, the remnants of stories past. But now there appears to be just too much. When my elbow rests on the keys and nudges gently against a newspaper that I must respond too - something is out of whack. Too much paper, too many projects, too many files. Research on one book that must be kept indefinitely, a list of contacts, a pile of bookmarks, it goes on and on. While trying to juggle a full day that combines family with a full-time job and writing I forgot to pay attention to the clutter. Or maybe I forgot to file! Could it be that simple? Whatever the reason - my peace is rattled. It's too much. It has to go!

Because now there's a herd in my path. Okay, not really. The picture is from Cambodia earlier this year and then there literally was almost a herd in the path.

And that's how I feel as NaNoWrimo winds down for another year. Tired, almost exultant and cluttered, and the clutter has fallen on the path.

So the garbage bag is out and the file drawer is open.

What do you do when a project threatens to swallow you alive?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to Normal - Almost!

Well, the interview is over and it was fun. Thanks Jeff! The draw is just nicely completed and an e-mail is off to the winner. It was a fun day. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and especially to those who commented.

NaNoWrimo is in its last week and my word count is on track. Except for one thing, I've decided in the waning days of this contest to surpass 50,000 words and make it a personal goal to hit 60,000 this month. Can I do it? I'm tracking my daily count on the sidebar - follow along and maybe even cheer me on.

After all, I'm serious. No, seriously I am! There aren't many days and now with ideas churning in my head it's all about speed and accuracy. As a pianist, I'll tell you a trick. When you mean business, you trim your nails. Why? Better traction on the keys - computer keys, piano keys - let's get down to business!

Here's to smiles in your day!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Win the book - Meet the Author - Jeff Rivera

Jeff Rivera has a unique and incredible story from childhood poverty to self-publishing and onward with that same self-published book to commercial publishing success! It is quite the journey. "Forever My Lady" is firstly a romance and secondly the result of the determination of one man to succeed. Today I'm excited to present an interview with Jeff Rivera and offer a chance for every reader of this blog to win a copy of Jeff's book "Forever My Lady". How do you win? Enter a comment any time before the end of today, November 23 and you'll be entered to win. I'll make a random draw at the end of the day and contact the winner! Good luck everyone!

And now let's meet Jeff:

Ryshia: “Forever My Lady” is a romance. Do you see your career as a romance author?

Jeff: I see a career as someone who writes emotional roller coasters, some of those will be romance, some will be young adult but all of them will make you feel, will move you emotionally. That's always my goal as an author.

Ryshia: From self-published to Warner, that’s quite a journey, what was the most memorable moment?

Jeff: The most memorable moment was getting "the" call from my agent at the time about Warner wanting to acquire Forever My Lady. It truly was a dream come true, still is.

Ryshia: Many latinos are claiming " Forever My Lady " as their story. How does that feel to you as an author?

Jeff: I am so inspired by the early fans of Forever My Lady. I mean it means a lot to hear people all over the world say that the story moved them to tears or that they could relate to it or that in some way it influenced their life. It’s strange in a way because these are just fictitious characters but even for me they have become real.

Ryshia: “Forever My Lady’s " main characters are two Mexican Americans. How is it that as a Black American you were able to write about the Latino or Chicano experience?

Jeff: I think most of my Latino and Chicano friends have branded me an Honorary Latino. Haha! I know it sounds strange to some people because of how proud I am of my heritage as a Black American but there’s a part of me that feels like I have some kind of past life connection to Latinos or something, I don’t know what it is. I feel very connected to them.

Ryshia: The publishing industry speaks of books sticking in a market and you’ve obviously had amazing success, and stuck. What bit of marketing advice would you give to authors to make their book stick?

Jeff: The biggest advice I would say is first write a phenomenal book (whatever that means to you) but a phenomenal book not based on your opinion or your best friend or your mom but hundreds of people you don't even know. Secondly, keep promoting even if it takes years, keep going, think of yourself as a brand and stop thinking of your book as "your baby" and thirdly, keep writing, keep putting book after book out there especially if it's part of a series.

Ryshia: What are you working on now and when can your readers expect your next book?

Jeff: I'm working on the sequel to Forever My Lady now and some young adult books that I'm very excited about. As far as when the sequel will come out? I don't like to put any dates out there but hopefully soon.

Ryshia: If your dream of flying in a private jet came true and you could only go to one place, where would it be?

Jeff: That is a a really good question. Let me think about that for a second ... I'd say, why not Australia where I could have the time of my life exploring the country with very close friends and close family members.

Ryshia: Where can readers buy " Forever My Lady "?

Jeff: Definitely my website:, or their local bookstore.

The scoop on "Forever My Lady":

For Dio Rodriguz, manhood means keeping his barrio rep stone-old - and striking back before others hit him first. The only thing he lets himself care about is Jennifer. The quiet, dark-eyed girl who believed in him when no one else would. But when a drive-by shooting forces him into a prison boot camp and lands Jennifer in the hospital Dio must learn a different kind of courage to survive. Against lies, violence, and heartbreaking betrayal. Dio has one last chance to turn it all around - fight for his new life...and prove his love for Jennifer is real.

Excerpt from "Forever My Lady"


Dio looked at his homie Spooky’s grip on his jacket. Most of his boys called Dio “Playboy” because all the ladies loved him, but those who had known him since he was a kid called him by his real name, Dio.

He took another hit off his joint. He’d given up smoking over a year ago, had to, but on this day he was more nervous than he had ever been in his life.

Thunder rumbled and rain poured, making it impossible to see. Thunder scared Dio, always had. Dio fought to keep from shaking. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow. He tried to hide his fear. His mind was set. He had to do it. Dio yanked his arm away from Spooky and pushed the
door open.

“Just keep the car runnin’, ése.”

Spooky was a big guy, tattoos up and down his arm and a glass eye. He normally would have just kept Dio from leaving at all, but he knew nothing could stop him. Nothing at all.

Dio jumped out of the car. It was a ’57 Chevy, complete with chrome wheels, slick red, with a chili-pepper-hot Mexican jaina painted across the hood. Dio had painted that picture himself. It was dope.

He slammed the door shut and looked up at the cathedral in front of him. Lightning illuminated its majestic towers, windows with an eerie stained glass. He’d spent many a night imagining this would be where he’d marry her. They’d have a huge wedding with members of their families
flying in from all over the world just to watch this event, this marriage he thought was so destined to be. He’d put his everything into this dream, his one and only dream, and now as
he yanked the heavy oak doors open, his heart pounded like a subwoofer.

He dried his soaked clothes with his hand and scratched his shoes on the mat so as not to squeak across the old wood floor. The church was jam-packed, mostly with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, but some blacks. Probably his familia, Dio thought. How could she even think about marrying some pinche negro?

Good luck everyone!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Give Away

November 23 I'll be hosting right here on this blog, author Jeff Rivera. He is the author of "Forever My Lady". Stop by my blog any time during the day and meet Jeff, enter a comment for a chance to win a copy of his book, "Forever My Lady."


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life and Fiction

The streets are still dark and early morning frost clings to the sidewalks and streets. At this hour of the morning I imagine many to-work-drives are silent. Or maybe the conversation revolves around social activities, kids, the day's schedule. I imagine most conversations don't go something like this:

"So," I begin addressing hubbie who is a bit of a political junkie. "What do you think would happen if an ambassador was shot and killed by one of the military in a military dictatorship?" I'm referring to a "small" plot complication in my current WIP (work in progress).


The street lights are pooling glints of light onto the cold chipped pavement. With snow pushing impatiently on the horizon, we're on a rapid slide to winter snow and thousands of miles away from the balmy warmth of Asia where current WIP is set.

"If it was the British Embassy how would Britain react?" I ask because the country in question was once a British Colony and is now a military dictatorship.

"You can't do that," says my previously silent spouse. Probably fearing my next move will be to phone an Embassy. And he's not far off, although I thought I'd e-mail.

"Why not?"

"Aren't you going a little big?" he asks but it's really more of a statement.

And there's some truth in that.

In life and in fiction - How big is too big? And when is it just too much?


Sunday, November 16, 2008


Last night in a quaint little restaurant tucked into a row of some of the oldest buildings in Regina, a watermelon martini was the celebratory marker for reaching the midway count. Some days one needs a reward for reaching a word count, for pushing through that point in a story when the characters have not quite come into their own. Yesterday, they briefly both emerged and then slid back into the clay and left me, the writer on my own. That happens sometimes. Today, Jon emerged again and happily began orchestrating the story, trouble is he decided to rearrange a few already written bits until they were to his satisfaction. Today, the story has become Jon's. I imagine tomorrow, he and the heroine, Lira will be fighting over it. In the meantime, I am still savoring the thought of that delightful watermelon martini.

Here's to milestones!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Motivation and Joss Sticks

Today I only have the early morning to write. And the words were chugging slowly. Then it came to me - how to get motivated. Out of no where, like most inspiration does - the solution arrived.

Joss sticks.

For a story set in Asia, I needed the scent of Asia. For today - anyway. And the scent that so richly ties me to Asia is the smell of joss sticks. The incense that is burned in temples and shrines across much of Asia. My joss sticks are not quite as remarkable and they're definitely not temple quality, and maybe they're not really a joss stick at all. But the scent is there. I found them, if you can believe it, in a 7-Eleven in Bangkok.

But despite my incense's lowly beginnings, it got my writing going this morning. With the smell of incense wafting through the air my main characters, Jon and Lira, came to life as the ink began to flow. And better yet, they began to make demands. Now we're getting somewhere!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There's Always An Excuse

It's an interesting experiment this daily tally of words I've been locked into since joining NaNoWrimo. It's a sort of writing scoreboard. I see there are days where I have written nothing. Some of those days I literally did, write nothing that is. Instead, I took care of the other segments of my life; the family, friends, full-time job, the family dog... There's a potential crisis looming everywhere - LOL!

But mostly those zero writing days were days where I dealt with the business side of writing. The promoting and marketing, the mundane filing, the spreadsheets that need updates, the research that needs organizing. The list is endless, merciless and necessary.

But what I've really learned from keeping track of my daily word count is - that if I set a goal - I can meet it. Why? Because the obstacles have become clear and now I can work around them. So 50,000 words on November 30 - we're going to do it!

So, what are your goals this month?

Remembrance Day

John McCrae (1915)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The 11th month, the 11th day, the 11 hour. Armistice day began with hope and joy. Now it is a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed and those who continue to sacrifice. A day of respect honour and hope.

In one minute of silence at 11:00, and every day, we will remember!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Novel - What Does It Take

How fast can you write a novel's first draft? NaNoWrimo pushes you to find out.


You know, that novel writing contest I spoke of in an earlier post. Writing with a full-time job is always a challenge. To be effective you must be aware of how much time other obligations take from your so-called free time and write extra on other days. You soon notice how much things like social events with friends, Christmas shopping, holidays and other things impact your writing. But when you're trying to get 50,000 words in a months - well let's say you really notice!

Last weekend it all started out great but I soon learned that I should have pushed harder while I could. Why? Because these last few days writing output has slowed to a crawl as the time allotted for writing jostles with unexpected obligations.

How was your week?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Guest Blogger Gives Us - Bali

A friend and fellow writer, just recently returned from Bali and offered to share some of her experiences. And, after I read her post I only wanted to get on a plane and experience it all for myself. Instead, I will share it with you.

by: Katherine Neuman

When I remember Bali, my thoughts will settle on that first sensation of heaviness. The heat, the scents, the quiet. Far from being oppressive or draining, it was a heaviness that made me breath deeper, move more deliberately and surrender the tension that I’d packed to Asia along with a totally inappropriate wardrobe.

The heat. We were told it was hot for mid-October. The rainy season was starting and one day we watched some amazing lightening storms and rainfall roll in from the Indian Ocean in the early hours of morning. But the days were hot and humid and made for cotton and linen and silk, not the spandex and lycra that seemed to be stitched in small percentages into just about every piece of clothing I own. Ryshia has promised to counsel me on adding to my new “tropic travel” wardrobe.

The scents. If there was one thing that signalled foreign and exotic above all others it was the smells. Incense and frangipani – they say that smell is a memory trigger and that will be my Bali prompt – the smell of incense and frangipani. Incense burning in every offering at the entrance to every door. Frangipani flowers falling from above and infused in the cold towels offered before every meal.

The quiet. The tourist areas we visited were bustling and loud. The traffic (which I’ll speak more about later) was chaotic. But everything seemed muted and I think much of that had to do with the gentleness of the Balinese people. The Hindu religion that the vast majority of the people of Bali practice revolves around the eternal, daily and everpresent need for balance between good and evil. The symbols of this quest for balance – peace – are everywhere – you literally need to watch every step or you’ll walk over them. Everyone we met was grounded in their spirituality in a way that you don’t come across often in Canada – and the gentleness in voice and manner of the people was memorable.

I miss it already and I can see why people return again and again to Bali. There is a heaviness but it is such a welcome weight.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaNoWrimo from Saskatchewan

I signed up for Nanowrimo this year.   I thought it was the perfect way to get that rough draft completed.  

For those of you who might not know what Nanowrimo is - it's a contest where writers from around the world join together in communal craziness to write 50,000 words in one month.  It happens every year through November.  What do you win?  Well nothing really.  A chance to be listed as a winner and that's about it.  But more importantly, it's a chance to be pushed to make those writing goals.  Because now there's a whole world of pressure.

My tally so far - 3,062 words and the day is still young!