Tuesday, September 28, 2010

E-Silence - A Resume - And a Deadline

I've been off-line for a few days.  I'm not sure if that's ever happened before.  But there it is - a total disconnect and I can't say whether it was refreshing or not - what it felt was strange.  But a combination of good weather after weeks of bad, other obligations and a bout of summer flu led to the whole event.  But now I'm back.

So in the e-silence what did I learn?  Well, first off I learned that when a deadline is a month away that isn't that far off, a month goes by in no time - October 1 is the end of this week!  I decided weeks ago that maybe it wasn't a bad idea to apply for a writer's grant.  I've never applied before and as a last minute decision, I've missed the pre-planning sessions.  Not to let that stop me.  I'll just apply my own interpretation to the application process.  Yeah, we all know how that works out.

Anyway, on to the next dilemma - I need a resume.  A writing resume - who would have thought.  That meant hours of going through my files, e-trails and other odds and ends.  Three hours go by and I have finally cobbled a rough draft together and move on to the polish.

In all this I learned many things - but one that stands out.  If you're serious about something, anything - in this instance a writing career, start recording your progress now.  It's not that easy to discover the  name of that instructor who taught that fantastic course on - insert any number of question marks here or the link to that online magazine that was the first that actually paid for your work.  The information was filed ages ago on a computer now defunct - I guess that would be another lesson.

It's been an arduous tour of collecting remnants of facts but finally it is all pieced together.  It's rather like a photo album dusted off and gleaming that reminds me that in the chaos of being published, struggling for a foothold and taking another tentative step that there's more.  There were all the bumps and curves, the successes, the amazing people that have reached out and helped at the most unexpected times - the resume has unraveled it all.

Not to use cliches - never mind I will - I couldn't see the forest for the trees.  The small steps sometimes become so numerous that you can't see where you may have traveled or if you made any progress at all.  The process of creating a resume made it all clear.  Even if I'm not where I want to be - I've come a long way.

So to de-stress - I'm looking forward to one of my fave things - a made for TV disaster flick.  What can I say, we all have our vices.  Yours?

For All Time
Ryshia on Twitter

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Ending and a Beginning

You'd think for someone who has been talking about Halloween since August, that the first day of fall wouldn't be much of a push.  But it is.  Despite what the weather has been saying for weeks, I can't believe that summer is officially over and today fall is here.

Fall can be unpredictable on the prairies and already the weather has been inclement enough to hint around the edges of an early snow.  It's rained here more days this summer than I can keep track of and that's not usual.  If it's one thing we can boast - it's hours of sunshine.  So this year I'm feeling slightly jilted that fall is already here when summer arrived for such brief moments. 

When I was a kid there was a mystery and excitement to fall.  It was a time of new beginnings, motivations and commitment.  That was the time when school began and everything was new; new wardrobe, new books, new everything.  It was easy to forget the long lazy days of summer that were quietly left behind.  But now it's different.  I'm an adult with no need of new fall clothes, no new books or pens, just the same basement office and the same commitment I made to write each day that I made earlier this year as spring merged into summer.

With nothing new - it would be easy to keep trudging along the same path.  But something has changed.  Call it an attitude that correlates with the calendar but this morning I'm shrugging off the lethargy of summer's lost promise.  Fall has always been the time when excuses are shelved, and goals are brought out and dusted off or new directions plotted.  Today it's time to move forward and get it done, make up for the lack of a new fall wardrobe and replace it with a summer version - for that research trip!

Life is an adventure and the ending of one season and the start of another that is full of unpredictability adds an edge.  Today I can feel the anticipation in the air.  The past is over and just like when we were kids - the future stretches ahead.

The magic is there.  It's only a matter of finding it.  This fall I'm shifting gears doing things a bit different from travel to promotion to a daily exercise routine.  But all that is fodder for another post.  In the meantime - today's walk will take a new direction, a path never traveled and a fresh look at the season we call autumn.

And you?

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has genius, power 
and magic in it, Begin it now. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

For All Time
Ryshia on Twitter

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dogs, Cats And Vets

So here I am again, yesterday morning to be exact, in the vet's office.  Now there's nothing seriously wrong with my pooch, just a case of itchy skin that none of my home remedies seemed to cure.   So off we went Friday morning hoping for the "first come/first served" vet's office to be having a light day.  No such luck.   A simple visit ended up to be hours long and most of that wait time.  But while we were there it was a window to the world.

First off in the crowded waiting room there was one seat left between a woman sniffling with a summer cold and a man rocking a kitten.  So, I'm adverse to summer colds and allergic to cats but I figure it shouldn't be that long of a wait.

Next bit of bad news occurs when I realize that there are only two vets and one looks like she may have just graduated vet college and then only if someone advanced her through school on the rapid acceleration program.  New, young and dedicated - each patient seemed to be getting a minimum of a forty minute visit.  So I settled in, after all I'd made the drive, got up early and battled the traffic - no point going home and doing it all again on another day.

Parked with only a fish tank between me and my cat allergy I watched the micro-environment play out - people and their animals - people and people and everything in between.  Beside me, the man rocked his sleeping kitten and every once in a while he would kiss it.  Others chatted back and forth with endless stories about their dogs and the calmness of the kitten surrounded on all sides by dogs and followed that up with a micro-analysis of dog interaction.  On my other side the woman continued to sniffle and proudly proclaim how delightful the antics of her puppy were.  It was disturbingly close to listening to the ravings of a parent on the abilities of their toddler. 

Then Animal Protection arrived with a ceased cat.  And everyone in the room was for a brief time, silent as if reflecting on the luck that had their animals doted and cared for and the misfortune of so many animals.  Or in this case, maybe relief at the possible turn of fortune of one lone cat.

Things returned to light-hearted talk fairly quickly as a woman and man arrived with their basset hound.  The woman was a laugher - she laughed about everyone and everything - continually.  She also had the biggest dog in the room who was terrified of everything.  So with a basset hound scurrying for her lap and safety - she laughed and gave it a bear hug. 

A woman arrived with her baby in a baby carrier which she parked on the floor.  Her cat was in a carrier that she placed on a chair - let's not even go there.  Fortunately after a time, when the baby began to fuss, she took her from the carrier and began to pace the floor which caused howls of laughter from the basset hound laugher who seemed to be under the impression that every dog in the room was fascinated with the baby.  I didn't bother to tell her that mine was sleeping and the puppy seemed more interested in smelling what I would consider off-limits areas of the other dogs' anatomies.

Then the pregnant woman arrived and a discussion began about morning sickness between her and the previously quiet kitten man.  She looks slightly green but, while her dog hid under the chair, she didn't seem inclined to head to the nearby washroom.  With a cold on one side, the allergy inducing cute as a button kitten on the other side and right next to that someone threatening to upheave their morning's breakfast - it was  looking bad all around.  The laughing woman continued to do what she seemed to do best - laugh.  In the meantime, my head has begun to pound - would anyone ask why at this point?  That's when my nose began to twitch and I sneezed - it was over - the allergy had set in.  Meantime the woman with the cold is replaced by a young man and a half-grown rottweiler with whom he has an ongoing wrangling match as the pup insists he wants to visit, fight, play, anything - he just wants at the other dogs.

Fortunately, after over an hour wait, we were called just as a noxious and horribly familiar odor settled into the room.  Someone had relieved themselves - dog or baby I'm not sure.  I scurried after the vet and the inner sanctuary.  The door closed behind me.  The vet - bless her, gave me the option as she filled the prescription of either waiting in the examining room or going back to what she called "that madhouse."  I chose the former.  And even with the door closed I could hear the laughter lacing through the barks of the many still waiting.

When I left - the laughter followed me and I passed the man still cuddling his kitten that I learned was only there for her shots.  I think he gave her a kiss as I passed by.  I'm not sure what to make of it all but it certainly was a gold fish bowl view of human behavior.

The seeds of a character are everywhere.  Today alone was enough for a book.  Any characters in your day?

For All Time
Ryshia On Twitter

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Win the Lottery or Buy an Alarm Clock?

If you don't take something seriously then all you have left is luck.  I don't know about you but I haven't been winning any lotteries lately so I'm not depending too heavily on luck.  Instead I depend on my alarm clock.  Writing isn't an easy business but it's a fantastic hobby.  Trouble is, I don't want another hobby.  I've got the remnants of those tucked in various nooks and drawers.  No writing for me is a business and it's work.  Every morning.  I've been easier on myself since the weather got cooler - 6:30 a.m. instead of 6:00 - hey, it's not much of a break but it's something. 

Discipline is the tool that gets us to the job on time, as does the threat of firing if we don't arrive.  The same for a writer, just a slightly different spin.  There's no boss hovering over the cubicle.  But the next contract won't happen if the book isn't written.  Nor will it happen if the next book isn't written well.  And while I'd like to think my characters arrive at their destination through no will of mine - or literally by chance, I know that's not the case. I've got to choreograph and direct the action.  And no one else is going to do it for me.

It's like that with anything in life.  You want to take your career in another direction, another level.  It takes discipline to get there because no one cares more than you whether you succeed or not.  It takes discipline to keep pushing forward - to succeed.

But enough talk about discipline and time to put it into action, I have some writing to do.  But before I take off and do what I set the alarm clock for the question is - who has the discipline and/or talent to create this fantastic skull face?  Hey, Halloween is around the corner and you can only talk about discipline for so long. 

And in case that's not for you, here's some more pre-Halloween fun - if you should feel so disposed click on Boo-ography.

Or did you have a thought or two about the discipline of chance?   Or are you just plain lucky?

Halloween Contest - For All Time
Ryshia On Twitter

Friday, September 10, 2010

Use It Or Lose It

Colour codes, page backgrounds, lines on a page - HTML Code, ugh.    To think many years ago I was offered a position in web design.  Fast forward to today's aspirin inducing wrestle with exactly what I might have made a living at "once upon a time".   I've been reduced to coding that resembles the old typewriter hunt and peck - only in this case add a google.  Is it a case of use it or lose it? 

It's true that we can have many hobbies or skills in our life but many are forgotten as they are replaced with something new.  Sure there are the interests that we use and take through life and then there are the, what I will call, transients.  For me that would be:  scrapbooking, violin, shopping (yes I once loved shopping! - and don't say shopping isn't a skill I can hear people queuing up in line to dispute that fact).  That was just a short list but I'm sure I could think of many more but why bore you with details when you might still be floundering over the interest in violin.

I've found that those "past" interests come back to remind me that they're still around and I might need them.  Take scrapbooking, just last fall all those supplies came to good use when I put together a family album as a gift.  Shopping - well I'll get to that.  Today, it's web design.  I have a program that feels rather proprietary as it seems to laughingly work against me.  For every command I insert it neatly erases on save.  With Halloween around the corner, I hesitate to think that it might have a mind of it's own.  And shopping - there is the large Halloween store that is, or will open shortly, that I'm excited about.  Somehow, Halloween shopping isn't really shopping at all.

When we think of the future we think of new but maybe much of the future is just a rework of the past.  Do we just recycle old interests and call them new?

The nice thing about being a writer is that past interests, future interests, current interests - they can all find a use somewhere in a story or two.   Take wine-making - a former hobby that takes up more space than most in the basement, there's a place for it in the current story. 

Any old hobbies returning to haunt you?

For All Time - Halloween Contest

Monday, September 6, 2010

Calling All Early Morning Shoppers

I have to admit I usually don't venture out of the house very early in the morning.  That's my time to write and I'm doing just that until either an emergency crops up or the dog appears begging mournfully, as only a dog can, for his walk.  Today, however I was shopping.  By 9:30 I was out there with the hordes who were holding the same sale flier tightly in their hands.  I went early to beat the crowd - guess I was out of synch.  Could be because I'm not a shopper and therefore I don't know the rules.  Shopping to me is something that must be done so that I don't starve or run naked in the streets.

So I learned some interesting things.  Apparently shopping is an outing for some people.  Take the two elderly ladies that held up the line while having an avid discussion with the sales clerk, their attention occasionally veering from the cash register to another bauble in their line of vision forcing one or both to drop their wallet and check out the new diversion.  But instead of becoming impatient the others in the line took it with good humour, one woman even turned around and began telling me about her decision to go grey.   Allergic to hair dye, she was now officially grey.   No, I didn't ask any of this - it was voluntarily offered along with my switch from one line to the other in the hope of leaving sooner.  Instead I got a conversation that passed the time.

Onward - Dollarama - one of the many dollar stores that have sprung up over the last decade and one stop shopping for all things craft related.  Everything for a buck or two.  A must for promoting the latest contest For All Time.  But that's another story.

You never know who or what you might find in the aisles of one of these dollar stores.  So with only one cup of coffee under my belt I encountered the woman looking for winter hats.  I'm not sure how I stumbled on her, the winter things must have been tucked in with something else as I usually dodge winter apparel and Christmas decorations (yes those are out too), right up until the very last minute.  There was an odd way that she was turning the knitted hat over in her hands that drew my attention to her.  Unfortunately, my brief flash of interest was intercepted and soon I was a co-conspirator in the quest to determine if the knit hat indeed was tainted with an incurable smell.  Don't ask - let's just say I moved on to the next aisle fairly quickly.

There I discovered a mother with two young sons who were using the aisle as a race trace.  The faster they ran, the more focused she became on her shopping.  When the boys began to shout and one had the other in a headlock it was time to call that aisle quits, leave the woman to her parental duties, and move on. 

So that was the beginning of my day.  It was different and refreshing.  Definitely not my norm.  A brief voyage into another world somehow makes things so much fresher as I return home to expand on the new world developing nicely in the latest story. 
 So I was left to consider whether shopping really is a pain or could it evolve into an anticipated excursion leading to any number of unexpected encounters.  Shopping whether by choice or necessity is something we all spend a good chunk of time at - have you met any interesting characters shopping?  Care to share? 

For All Time - A Halloween Contest

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Is there Fire behind that Smoke

So the other day I planned on a very productive writing day.  That's always the first clue that something is going to go radically wrong.  It doesn't always.  But today it did.  Coffee in hand, computer on and ready - that's when it happened - I got the call.  Not the call that I'd published anything but the OMG you won't believe what happened.

Who would have expected.  A fire overnight had left a friend's house severely smoke damaged and needless to say her nerves a bit jangled.  Characters were forgotten.  My latest heroine's sentence left dangling somewhere in space. 

Mostly fiction is an exaggeration of life but sometimes life surprises us.  And not always pleasantly.  This time round, while the event was traumatic - no one was injured and that's the main thing.  In fiction that's not always the case otherwise there would be no dramatic tension.  It's an element I'd prefer to keep between the pages of a book. 

So today I'm back to fiction and adding drama to the lives of my character.  A bit of drama, smoke if you will, has them scurrying around looking for the fire just like the fire fighters how many nights ago. Without the fire there's only smoke.  Whether its a subtle danger lurking in the background combined with a mismatched pair continually thrown together or something more dramatic like a mad man and a live explosive or two - something tangible has to move the story.  Without that threat of doom, of a problem and no resolution, is there a reason to turn the pages? 

As for life - I'd be happy if it remained peaceful and that includes the weather.  A beautiful late summer day, a day on the deck and a book to read.  The drama safely contained within the pages.  What are the odds? 

Any drama in your day?

For All Time - Contest

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Today, September 1, is the official start of a whole new look.  Okay, a new title for my blog.  I couldn't bring myself to change things up that much, not a complete make over - not yet.  So for now the blog has a new title, Passport to Romance has become

Drum roll...

Once Upon a Time...  

Why the change?  I wanted something that is flexible enough to grow with me as a writer.  That, and it's a bit quirky - and I like that. 

So to celebrate - here's the deal - I've been running the For All Time contest on my website - a chance to win some classic Halloween fare - movies including Dracula - the Legacy Collection and a book or two.  Details here:  There's a number of ways to enter listed there but send me an e-mail at with Once Upon A Time in the subject line and you get another entry in the contest and a chance to up the probability of a win. 

Need more?  For anyone who enters with the subject line Once Upon A Time - In addition to the extra entry, I'll do a separate draw for an e-copy of my first novel "From the Dust" a romance set in depression era Saskatchewan.

That's the deal but here's the catch - you  have to get the e-mail to me before  Friday, September 3 at 11:59 p.m. CST.  That's it - simple - an extra entry and a chance to win another prize. 

Good Luck!  And from Once Upon a Time - Good Night!