Friday, August 26, 2011

Bring Your Deck Chair - It's A Party!

 It's hard to believe that it's almost the end of summer.  Up here on the Canadian prairie that means fall-frosted nights are not too far away.  I'm  a summer girl and it almost killed me to read a blog about Christmas the other day.  Someone was actually longing for snow!  Although I have to say that someone also lives in Arizona.

The end of August is rather a special time, new beginnings, endings and savoring those last hot summer nights.  As much as I don't look forward to crisp fall evenings, I do love the languid hot days that always seem to foreshadow fall.

What will you miss most about summer?

Not sure - rather just not think about it?  How about an end of summer bash?  Yep, that's what's going on over at The Romance Studio from now until the end of the weekend.  It's a party with a ton of authors and readers all combined with some great prizes.

The prizes?  A nook and books, books, books among other things.

Click here to head on over to my post at The Romance Studio and enter a comment for a chance to win a nook or a book by any number of authors or...

Check out additional prizes by clicking here.

Go straight to The Romance Studio End of Summer Party by clicking here.  The party goes all weekend. 

Enjoy and good luck!

By the way - if my luck holds, the last contest give away I participated in, a commenter from my blog won!  Is there a bit of the luck of the Irish still hanging around?  Maybe - and it's not just my little Irish boy(read dog) that I'm talking about.   

Once Upon a Time...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dinosaurs - Not Quite A Stroll On A Beach

Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work's the curse of the drinking classes.

~Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde did have an interesting spin on things.

Just outside the village of Patricia
So here I am on the road.  I'm on vacation or am I?  I'm still thinking about this story or that and guilt at having fled from my computer for days at a stretch is like sand in my shoes or maybe that's flip flops, easily brushed aside.  

I'm in the land of the dinosaurs, Alberta's badlands - Dinosaur Provincial Park.  

It's a quaint drive through ranch land with scrub brush giving subtle indicators of what's to come.  The villages along this particular route seem to all reference women in one way or another; Princess, Patricia, Duchess, Rosemary, Countess and Millicent.  It's an interesting and so far, unanswered phenomena.  I have any number of theories but then I imagine you might too.  Maybe some of you even know the truth of the naming system - if so, please comment.  I'd sure love to know but meantime my imagination will just chug away eventually shifting into overdrive.  But I digress.  Back to the road - on the way to Dinosaur Park, dinosaur with no hint of Jurassic - I hope.

On the road to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
The last turn heading for the park might make the reptile squeamish turn right around and head out.  Yes, I know the dinosaurs are dead but... 

Slow Down for Snakes?

You know my rule on wildlife, I'll slow down for anything but I've never expected snakes.  Of course, it is a hot day and any self-respecting snake will have long ago hunted down shade - I hope.

Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is definitely well worth the drive.  The rough prairie scrub breaks open to a vast, time-etched valley.  It's beautiful and yet eerie  especially if you think of it in the context of what it actually is - a giant reptilian cemetery.  Okay, maybe slightly macabre but the valley is still littered with dinosaur bones and  paleontologists come from around the world in the summer months to participate in various digs.  Warnings are posted here and there that some areas are preserved and/or off limits, along with warnings to leave all bones and fossils where they lay.  But those aren't the only warnings, there's also warnings to watch out for living creatures; black widows, scorpions and rattle snakes.   

No worries there - I'm not venturing off the path. 

 Creepy crawlies aside, it's not often in my day to day life that I'm reminded of the ice age or the extinction of the dinosaurs.  But when you stand on the precipice of the valley it's like you've rushed back in time to a place you can barely imagine.  The valley is a testament to it all, a reminder of the power of nature and that once the earth looked nothing like it does now.  Way back when, when dinosaurs walked the earth.

It was the perfect detour that only created a small zig instead of a zag across a secondary highway and into another world.  The place to kick anyone's imagination into overdrive.

Did I find a fossil or even a bone - nope.  But I did locate a piece of wood that looked amazingly like a leg bone.  That is, if you used your imagination.

Any zigs in your day?


Friday, August 12, 2011

What Was Written Can Be Unwritten

I was looking at a first draft of a story.  Words - all those beautiful letters and still my favourite key on the keyboard has become delete!

Delete - no! 

They're beautiful words I remind myself, as I always do, and you wrote them.  They should not be deleted.

Maybe, possibly, they're the best combination of words that the universe has ever seen.  I caress them by repeating them through a number of variations.  Yep, proven - no one could have written it better.

Wait - no serious, wait a few weeks. Do they age well?

Maybe age reveals their flaws.  Maybe this isn't the best sentence, paragraph, page, chapter ever written.  Maybe someone, anyone could have written it better.  Maybe that conversation between characters was completely unnecessary.  Maybe the heroine's last sentence now screams ridiculous.  Maybe that villain has become a familiar cutout and you can almost see that penciled in black mustache that curls like a misguided shoelace on either side of his lips. 

What fool wrote those words?  You know you did because you loved them at the time.  And maybe you still do.  But maybe...   they're not the vintage that's ready to age like fine wine in the cask or survive under an editorial hand.

Delete those words.  Do it!  Because usually that's when everything comes together and when the magic happens.  Delete - and not just a cut and save for later - some characters shouldn't live to see daylight, and not because they're vampires, and some words were just never meant to exist together on the same page.  There are other words waiting, better words that anyone would want to read, words that make characters you'd want to know.

Delete - some days it's your best friend. 


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Screw The Naysayers

Fan fiction is what got me thinking about them - the naysayers. 

It was my niece who introduced me to the world of fan fiction.  I love finding new writing worlds and while not new, this was new to me.  From the genre to the lingo, I was out of my comfort zone and loving every minute.

Now why was I there.  Okay, now I get to do the bragging auntie thing.  But my very cool niece has turned out to be a bit of a writer.  Not that I hadn't known of her attempts before but this is the first time she's come clean and gone public.  So I checked out her profile and read her four stories.  The kid has voice - impressed!

But more impressed with the fact that she'd braved public censor.  She took her four stories and put them out to the world and was thrilled about getting reviews.   Even the one that mentioned that maybe there might be a little too much dialogue in story one.  Now I know most authors would be muttering under their breath that maybe that reviewer had no idea what they were talking about.  They more than likely would not be jumping in delight that someone had taken the time to read their story at all.  I know I wouldn't.  But that's what I heard - wow - I have a review.  Or, as I interpreted it - someone took the time to read my story!

Seems when we get immersed in the world of writing we forget the joy in sharing our stories.  We forget, published or not, that they're not perfect and that some will like them, some will love them and some will be indifferent or plain hate what we wrote.  And sometimes, when the stories aren't going out there like we want them to, when the reception falls flat, we start painting things more black than they really are.  That's when you start considering hurling stones back at all and sundry that have given their no in one form or another.  Small stones really - maybe only a pebble or two, enough for bruising or a small ouch. 

Naysayers - whether it's that relative that can't believe anyone would believe that writing is anything more than a hobby, to the newspaper editor that ignored your last press release or the publisher that rejected your latest story, they're all balled up in that black cocoon that we'll call the naysayers.

Screw the naysayers!  They're only there for one reason and one reason only.  To make you a better writer!  You'll learn from them.  But first you have to learn to bounce.  That's why you're buckled in for this trip.  There's a lot of bouncing through the ruts and curves the naysayers create.  You've got to hunker down, write until your fingers bleed and surround yourself with people who believe the dream as much as you do.  Then, become just a little hard of hearing.

And when you finally hit your version of success, make sure you thank a naysayer or two.  For without them - really, would you have made it?