Category Archives: Random Musings

Spring is Sprung and all that

Crocuses 022110

I spent the afternoon in my garden, digging soil and working my brain around a marketing plan and my ever-growing to do list. I figure if I had to think, this was a great way to let my mind percolate while doing something useful.

I don’t know about you, but I do my best thinking when I’m doing something physical and mindless.

In today’s case it was digging up a garden and raking my back lawn – oh and earning my first blister of the season. This time last year was when the idea started forming for NaNo2009. I thought a lot about it while gardening. Even though today I was thinking more about the business end of things, my self-therapy worked just as well.

My mind is clear and my shoulders ache a bit, but it’s a good ache. The kind that speaks of a job well done and a task accomplished.

Tomorrow is Monday and it’s full steam ahead.

Have a good week – Sue

The best way to start a day

I love it when a problem that’s been plaguing me is solved with my first waking thought. I like it even better when I can remember that thought once I’m actually awake.

This week’s problem has been my current novel. It’s based on the experience I had back in High School when I went off to a summer French Immersion camp. My issue was that I can’t remember everything. I know what I do remember is tainted by my perspectives at the time and therefore isn’t completely accurate. So I’m trying to make it fiction, while retaining a lot of what happened.

I thought I’d try writing it as diary. Yeah, that didn’t work out nearly as well as I’d hoped. And writing it as a straight story seems to be rather bland. My brilliant idea this morning was to write it as a flashback, think the movie ‘Then and Now’ circa 1995. As of today, my novel opens with current day with me, the main character, enroute to see her old flame. It seems to have a lot more spunk in this format.

Whew! There are a lot of people wanting to see the finished product, most of who were there at the Immersion program with me. Talk about performance anxiety.

I got a really great start on the new format when my brother/housemate warned me that he was going to fire up his welder. As a safety precaution, I shut down my computers just in case there is a surge and stuff fried. Instead of doing the battery thing with my laptop, I followed him outside and raked the front lawn.

Side Note – It was 10*C in the shade this afternoon. I think I got a bit of a sunburn… and yes – the Winter Olympic Games are happening not far from my house.

I finished the lawn just before blisters had a chance to form 🙂

Tonight I feel a bit achy, but not nearly as bad as I did last year when I started gardening. Anyone who says the Wii Fit doesn’t work is full of it.

While it might not be as effective as spending time at the gym, it’s definitely better than sitting on my a$$ all day getting fat. (actually, I’ve dropped another inch of my waist and two off my hips since I’ve started using it. Not bad for mid winter when most of us usually gain weight).

That game with the little bird where you have to flap your arms to get from one perch to another is wonderful preparation for lawn raking. I highly recommend it 🙂 and the yoga is awesome for stretching afterward, I’m hardly stiff at all.

Olympic fever and writing

I was downtown for the opening ceremonies and again last night. What a rush.

Olympic Torch Lights at False Creek Robson Square during a light show

Gone is the blase, laid-back, to-cool-to-care vibe that Vancouver usually has. In it’s place is a genuine excitement and pride like I’ve never seen before.

We’re Canadians, it’s not normally our way to brag. We know we’re good, even though normally you’d have to coax the admission out of us and watch us turn red with embarrassment for admitting such a thing out loud.

As of last night we have two golds, won on home soil. We’re happy campers.

On opening night, the air was filled with hope, anticipation and pride. Last night it was exuberance (we’d just trounced Norway in men’s hockey and won our second gold on the slopes of Cypress). Masses of people filled the streets but I don’t think I saw anyone frowning. Most of us gazed around in awe. Vancouver was lit up and shining in her finest projected pixels and laser light accessories.

The best part is I have fodder for characters to write about, from the straw-masked protester mournfully hollering, “bring out your dead” to the cheers of people around me when their home countries entered the stadium and the crowd in the middle of Robson street gathered around once of the umpteen million television monitors watching men’s figure skating cheering on our Canadian guy after he finished his routine.

I have many glowing hearts to use in future novels.

Gathering Reference Material

I spent most of this morning going through some of my reference books sorting out which ones I’d recommend to other people and why.

I’ve been writing and researching a long time and figure it’s selfish to parcel out bits of knowledge when the books are right there for others to read.

Instead of listing them all here, I have added a page to my website to keep them easily accessible. There is a link on the sidebar to them as well so you don’t have to keep going back to search for this specific blog. Some days I’m thoughtful like that :).

If you have any books that you’d like to suggest, please let me know. Send me the title and the author and why you like it. If you think it’s a particularly great book, write a review and I’ll guest blog it on the PaperBox Books blog (with your permission of course).

Check out my new recommended reading page at http://www.suenelsonbuckley.ca/recommended-reading.html

oops – Bad Buckley

It’s been a busy, and not always productive week. I’ve sat down with the intention to blog several times in the past few days.

Many times I’ve been destracted by shiny things and soon as my butt hit the chair and there have been a few days where the most intelligent thing I could think to say was “Trees pretty fire bad” (a Buffy reference for those who might recognize it.

Coffee in had I think it’s time to get back on the wagon.

I’m excited to be doing the Toasted Cheese writing prompts this morning. I’ve been busy with meetings and suriving a craftily planned guilt trip and haven’t had the chance to put pen to paper and get my story out.

Ok, and I’ll admit it’s proving to be much more difficult to write than I thought it would be and I’m procrastinating.

This morning I’ll write and then once I get a proposal written this afternoon, I’ll write some more. What better thing to do on Valentine’s day to do that write a story about teenage angst. After all, it’s always true love when you’re 15.

Have a great Valentine’s Day, even if you’re single, remember to give yourself some love. You are awesome!

(and don’t forget tomorrow is an even bigger celebration – it’s half price chocolate day !!!!)

When ego gets in the way

Ever notice that when you have a great story in your head – you don’t have time to write it? Then, when you manage to carve out time in your hectic schedule just to write, you spend these precious moments without a lucid thought in your brain or worse, you’ve convinced yourself that the awesome idea you had was really just crap and not worth exploring.

I do the same thing when I want to buy clothes. I see all kinds of great additions to my wardrobe when I have no money or lack the time to try them on and then when I go shopping I can’t find a dang thing that matches. (Alas I never have this problem when it comes to buying electronics… *sigh* – I have way too many geeky toys.)

Anyway, back to my story, or it would be back to my story except I don’t have time to write today. Which of course means the characters are doing amazing things in my head right now and tomorrow night, when I have a writing appointment with myself (don’t laugh, it’s a great strategy), once I’m able to document the exciting lives of my hero and heroine, they’ll all just sit there, like bumps on a log no matter how much I poke and prod then to move.

So what’s a writer to do?

The best advice ever given to me was “Write through the crap.

Picture the writing part of your brain like a faucet that hasn’t been used in a while. Some days you have to let it run a few minutes before the water runs clear. Sediment settles in the pipes and if it’s been a really long time there might even be a few spiderwebs. The less it’s been used, the longer it needs to run, before anything usable comes out.

So open your blank page and give yourself permission to write crap. Use writing prompts if you find they help. Write about your day or the annoying little ache you feel because you’re not living up to the high standard you’ve set for yourself. It doesn’t matter what makes it to the page. The important thing is that you write. Write everyday, even if it’s just a paragraph or two, so the rust doesn’t have time to settle and that itsy-bitsy spider doesn’t have time to gain a foothold.

Take some pressure from your shoulders. Accept that you will never be able to sit down at a computer and spew out perfect prose, at least not consistently. We all have our moments of pure brilliance, but they are few and far between. If you join your characters on the log to sit and wait for the next burst of inspiration, you’ll be ill prepared, out of practice and will royally botch up any muse that comes your way.

Take a page from the athletes. They don’t just stand at the starting line hoping they’ll win. They’ve been practicing, learning theory, visualizing their victory… so why aren’t you?

I’m not alone in this opinion. I’ve attended several writing conferences and networking events and I’ll tell you, no matter what the genre, or how established the author, they all have horror stories about when they were ready to throw in the towel and give up. None of them talk about how easy it is to write well.

So why do we insist on assuming it is?

Holy waxed fruit Batman

Since being a writer means sitting on your butt a lot, I decided last year to really start watching what I ate. Ever since university extra-pounds and I have had an on/off relationship. I’d like to break up with them once and for all.

So far it seems to be working. I’ve dropped 35 pounds since the beginning of March. (Gained a few over the holidays, but they’re gone again thank goodness)

Since I’m working from home, I have the luxury of making a good breakfast. My latest kick has been hot oatmeal – the semi real stuff not the sugar laden little packets. I throw some raisins and bananas in the water as I bring it to a boil then add the oatmeal for 3-5 minutes (the real good stuff takes longer to cook). I stir in some cinnamon and top it off with a teaspoon of dark honey.

Well this week, instead of buying bananas, I decided to switch over to apples, I hadn’t had a store bought apple in a while. (we have an apple tree in your yard). Instead of peeling it, I ran it under the tap water. For some reason I chose hot and was amazed, and not a little disgusted, to see stuff melting off the surface of my apple. It was the the wax they put on to preserve the apple, I assume. YUCK

After I was done and wiped the rest of the ook away, the apple felt better. The surface wasn’t as sticky. I popped the a slice into my mouth and it tasted almost as good as the apples that grow in my garden.

I’ve been reading a lot about nutrition lately and exploring some alternative perspectives. Once of the books I’ve just finished reading is Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition. There isn’t a lot of information in there that we don’t already know. But the way it’s presented is clinical but also very comforting. Especially if you have a risk of cancer, or have already been diagnosed. My family history increases my risk, but let’s face it, just breathing these days is a sure fire way to get cancer.

Pen versus keyboard

My editing is done for the day and I’m ready to start writing. Much to my surprise, I reached for my notebook even though I’m sitting right in front of my computer.

It made me pause and wonder, “What the hell?”

I took a sip of tea and looked out the window, pondering my action. Then it hit me. This novel is like a diary and since it happened when I was 15, it makes perfect sense that it would flow better with a pen and paper.

As I type this statement into my computer, a new thought pops up – what if I write the entire story as a diary. You can’t see the grin on my face, but I assure you it’s huge.

Whee – I’ve feel like I’ve just figured it out.

ok- enough blogging for today… there is a diary to write.

*Sue retreats to her bed to sit, propped up against her pillows in proper, diary writing posture.*

Plotting

I’m a pantser. Someone who usually writes by the seat of her pants.

I need only a vague idea for a story before beginning. Some days it works better for me than others. Two of my collegues and I are currently developing a series of writing workshops and one of them discusses the merits of pantsing versus plotting.

It was discovered that most of us fall somewhere in between. While I’m not going to give away our entire session. It’s interesting to see how we vary back and forth between the two processes.

With Kiere, the manuscript I wrote last November, I tried to do my usual pantsing. It caused me several problems. As I moved forward theough the story, my background setting changed considerably from one section to the next. Now when I go back to edit, I’ll have to nail down the background description and make sure ever scene follows through so I don’t confuse my reader.

Now I’m writing a semi-autobiographical story based on when I was a teenager. Details are sketchy and my memory gaps are larger than I’d care to admit to. While talking to my boyfriend from back then, it turns out my memory is also very selective. Who knew?

What I am discovering is that I’ve got to plot out this story even though I know what happened. My background characters are a mix of the people who were there (to protect the innocent or is it the guilty). I have to keep my modifications straight and remember what personality facets I’ve attributed to who.

This is turning out to be a greater challenge than I’d originally thought, but I’m truly enjoying the process… even though I have to plot 🙂

Trying to be patient

Perry said it best, “It’s like waiting for Christmas except you don’t know what day it will arrive.”

Yes, we’re still waiting for our books to ship out to the big distributors. It’s coming, there were glitches and I’m glad I’m not the one who had to fix them. But we have another tentative date for Barnes & Noble and the rest should follow soon afterward. It’s still faster than doing it ourselves and it get’s us into a better ‘area’ so-to-speak. (update – B&N shipped over night – now too see how ling it takes to get the books through their inhouse process)

Books sales have been happening even without the big guys, so I’m happy about that. And there are more books to come.

I spent most of yesterday reviewing the edits done so far on my next book to be published. It was originally written during NaNo2008.

I’m a pantser, so I started off November with only the names of my of four teenage main characters and knew one of them was an alien. Within the first chapter, I learned two were aliens and that they were living on earth to hide from the bad guys… who of course show up and cause all sorts of mayhem.

My goal is to have this book ready for final edits and uploading by the end of February.

Back to work.