*sigh*

Realized last night just how long it’s been since I blogged. After this stunning realization what did I do? closed the window and did something else…. Bad Buckley.

Lots has happened over the past few months.

New job, new books (mine and our author’s). In July, I went home for my brother’s wedding and a mini road-trip with one of my best friends, Tim.

The wedding rocked. I’m glad to welcome my new sister and her two children into our family and to be accepted into theirs too. Tim and I had a great road trip. It was a learning experience for both of us… and despite Tim’s dire predictions, we were still speaking to each other by the time we got back home.

Leaving New Brunswick to come back to BC has been really hard over this past year since Dad died. I’ve done it three times now, and it’s getting easier, but I still fell guilty every time I step onto that plane to come back out West.

Looks like my next few trips won’t be quite so long though – Seattle with Wil and friends in a couple of weeks and Banff to meet up with Robin and her family for their March break.

Okay – now that you’re all caught up the next blog will be all about the writing – I promise.

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Distruction is the Lazy Man’s Way

This isn’t just about the recent riots in Vancouver, it a general observation. Although, the riots prompted me to talk about it.

Have you ever noticed how the destructive folks cite a noble cause to justify their actions. Violence to combat homelessness, computer viruses to bring down Microsoft – the list goes on.

To me these are lazy solutions.

You want to stop homelessness, devote your energy to helping. Don’t cause even more money to be spent on the thing you hate (like the Olympics) which only diverts funds away from the cause you’re supposed to be championing.

You hate Microsoft and want to take it down, then build a better system and make it free. Kill their money flow and they’ll disappear.

I saw a saying etched into one of my desk chairs back at university that has stuck with me over the years, “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.”

For those truly committed to their causes, maybe it’s time to rethink strategies.

Post Game/Riot Observations

Initially, I wasn’t going to join the throng, but after a few days of pondering I thought I’d weigh in on my insights.

They are not accusatory. I’m hoping they may help Vancouver save face a little and perhaps help plan better for next time. Hindsight of course is 20/20.

I was downtown for four of the final round games and in Surrey for two of them. Although, I’ll admit I didn’t stay in the fan zone in Surrey, I passed by it just before and just after the game. Admittedly it was much smaller, and didn’t have nearly the threat potential as downtown.

Mayor Gregor Robertson had it right. Having a fan zone was a better alternative to having thousands of fans wandering the streets during game time.

The initial set up of having three separate fan zones needed tweaking. The merchants along Granville were blocked that first Saturday. I loved it when they created the giant zone surrounding the Vancouver Public Library.

The police and security controlled the crowd as they came in bags were good-naturedly searched and there was enough of an incline to enable people to sit down and allow those behind to see. Cops were on patrol and even the older security guards were shown respect. When we won there were high fives and hugs all around. When we lost there were a lot of shrugs and ‘next game’s.

It was what you’d expect from a Canadian fan zone.

Game 7 was different. Thanks to the media, there was an expectation of a riot. Most of the kids you see in the pictures were barely walking in ’94. Had the ’94 riot been downplayed, the idea of rioting probably wouldn’t have entered their heads.

On the night of Game 7, my roommate arrived in the fan zone around 4pm. At that time bags were still being searched and the entry points were controlled by security. By the time I arrived at 5pm. There was no security and the gates had been removed. Word spread quickly to anyone still heading downtown… bring booze.

The next thing I noticed was that the large screen at the bottom of Georgia had been moved. Instead of being centered in the middle of the street had been set-up over to the side. It caused a lot of aggression within the crowd. Instead of the blind spot being over in the relatively small area of the library courtyard, it was almost the entire centre of Georgia Street which affected a lot more viewers.

People were pushing their their way through the already packed crowd trying to get to where they could see the screen. Some were very aggressive which only heightened the frustration in the folks they shoved aside.

Alcohol was everywhere. Very little of it was beer.

One of the groups in front of me was a bunch of university/college students. Well dressed, excited and eager for the game. They each had 2 bottles in their hands. One of ‘water’ and another of pop. It took me a minute to realize the water bottles were filled with vodka. By the 2nd period, the water bottles were finished and they were drinking out of pint bottles which latecomers had brought. One started guzzling out of a quart bottle. I was actually relieved when one of them started smoking pot. It seemed to calm them and the crowd around them (and yes probably me too).

Even before the puck dropped at the start of the game, I was hearing comments like, “I can’t wait to see the riot.” and “It’s going to be so cool.” Mostly from kids who would never on their own started a riot but were eager to watch one happen. I’ll bet if you asked them before the game if they would participate, they would have said no. We just want to watch. Never thinking for a second they’d fall victim to mob-mentality.

The only police presence I saw was the police checking open bottles as we left Granville Station and the cops directing traffic.

Let’s flash back to the big party on Granville that first Saturday. There were no check points either, but the cops were visible. They had rooftop cameras and strode through the crowd in groups of 8. There were several pour-outs and a few incidents but the crowd was well behaved. The police were visible, and by traveled in large groups they were sending a clear message. Do NOT start.

I have to ask why wasn’t this done for Game 7. Bigger crowds, should have meant a bigger preventative measure. I’m not naive enough to think that this would have prevented a riot. There were people who came downtown equipped to start chaos. The difference would have been that there would have been more separation between the fan zone and the riot zone.

Those 20-somethings I heard all excited about the riot would have gone home disappointed about the game. They would have been sober and if a riot broke out on the next block, they would likely have thought twice about joining in.

And I know, it’s easy for me to talk after the fact. I wasn’t involved in the prevention/ emergency measures decision making process and have no access to the manpower data that the VPD and the RCMP had to work with.

But, I do know the preventative measures that worked for the previous games were not carried through to Game 7.

My advice for next time is plan for the crowd.

There weren’t enough screens or speakers. Next time pay attention to the numbers. There were estimates of how many folks they were expecting so it follows if you’re expecting a bigger crowd don’t try to squeeze them into a space too small to accommodate. Next time block-off more streets, add more screens to make sure everyone can see. This will increase the enjoyment for the crowd, decrease their frustrations – and as a bonus it will also increase the number of entry and exit points to make for a smoother disbursement of the crowd when the event is finished.

Stick to the no alcohol policy. It worked. I love having a beer while watching a game. But If I’m going to a public place, I have no problem sacrificing the beer to be part of the crowd. From the size of the well behaved crowed during previous games, I wasn’t the only one with this attitude.

 

I am extremely proud of the way the real fans and Vancouverites gathered downtown to clean up a mess they didn’t make. I’m pleased that the media stopped calling the rioters ‘fans’ This is a very necessary distinction. And I hope that they report responsibly next time and not focus on the sensational riot but remind potential participants how devastating it was to Vancouver and the livelihoods of the people who reside here. How social media swooped in to help capture the looters and the sentences they faced.

I hope they remind the next group of young people that the goal isn’t to join in and have a bigger riot but to avoid having one all together.

And for the record, I’m probably more of a Canucks fan now than I was when the series started. Even though our boys didn’t play well enough to win the cup, they behaved like true sportsman. I’m very proud of them and their accomplishments.

The Making of Hiding in Plain Sight

My new novel, ‘Hiding in Plain Sight‘ hit the virtual shelves almost a month ago. So far I’m thrilled with the response it’s been getting.

This is the first novel I’ve written specifically for a young adult audience. I was amazed at how comfortable this genre is for me. I guess that means that I haven’t completely grown up yet (which is a good thing in my humble opinion)

So, where did I get the idea for this book?

The first draft of this novel was written during NaNoWriMo 2009. At the stroke of 12 on November 1st I had four names and I knew one of the characters was an alien.

That’s it, That’s all.

My goal was to write a 50,000 word first draft by the end of the month. On November 30th, I had 55,000 words yet was nowhere near the end of my story. I stalled and procrastinated for another 6 months before I was forced into finishing it by a friend and fellow writer who wouldn’t let me alone until it was done (Thanks by the way). When I finished the first edit and send the final chapters off to my proof-readers we discovered that I’d made a fatal faux-pas – my ending happened without my main character. I had to re-write it, ditch the beautiful reconciliation scene and add in more action. The new version, I’m happy to say is much better.

As you can probably tell, I’m not much of a plotter. I break out in hives if I try to figure out what’s going to happen too far in advance. Sometimes I write my characters into a corner, but usually that just makes for a more interesting story as I write them back out again. For Hiding in Plain Sight, I was halfway through the first chapter when I realized that the whole family was from another planet and it wasn’t until later that I learned there were bad aliens coming to get them.

Why did I decide to use Saint John, New Brunswick as the setting?

Saint John is my hometown and I just pictured my characters there. I cheated a bit and had Hilary live in the house beside the one I grew up in. So when Ben moved in next door, he moved into my house. Alex, his little sister, has my old bedroom. Shannon lives in the the first house at the head of the subdivision across the street.

I say I cheated because I used a location I knew well. It meant that I didn’t have to put much effort into designing the setting, I simply pulled from my memories.

My characters went to Saint John High School, just like me. A lot has changed since I went there so I picked the brains of one of the SJHS teachers, who incidentally graduated with me. He updated me on the things that have changed since then and what hadn’t. A huge shout out to Peter Larsen. He was a huge help. FYI – if I got any of the details wrong, it’s my bad not his.

Where did I get the names for my characters?

My main character names are an ‘I never forgot you’ to my ex-husband’s nieces and nephew. I left when they were still really small, they probably don’t even remember me. But losing the ability to be part of their lives and watch them grow up was one of the hardest adjustments to make in the aftermath of my divorce.

The alien names were just jumbles of letters until something looked pronounceable. The name for the bad guys, the Hurliingen, is actually a misspelling of the Dutch word for pirate.

After writing this novel, I have a whole new appreciation for Tolkien and his ability to a) create so many names and b) keep them all straight. During my editing process I discovered at least three spellings for Myonus and four for the Hurliingen. I am in awe of any writer who has mastered this task.

If I’ve made you curious (I hope) and you’re interested in buying the Hiding in Plain Sight to read for yourself (crosses fingers) go to http://paperboxbooks.com

PaperBox Books is an indie e-publisher. Check out all of their books for sale.

Mom, men and monster to-do lists

Mom arrives here on Wednesday for a week. We lost Dad last August, so this is her first solo venture outside of my hometown without him.

Instead of holing up in her house like a weak widow, she’s staying with me on her way back from New Zealand. She’s been there for almost a month visiting her sister and nephews. She’s been able to see places and things my grandmother (her mother) described when she talked about growing up in New Zealand. I’ve talked to Mom on Skype a few times and she’s having a ball. She’s spending her last weekend in Rotorua, checking out all the geothermic pools and catching a Maori Haungi (feast) and live show.

I’m so proud of her.

In other news, I’ve turfed my guy. It wasn’t working out and I’m pleased that I recognized the path we were taking and decided to leave instead of doing my usual ‘hold on til the last hope and get crushed in the process’ thing. So “Yay me.”

This week it seems I’ve been attacked by the to-do list from hell. Every time I look at it I swear it’s doubled in size. As fast as I knock one thing off it, three more appear.

It’s not fair.

Especially since it’s sunny outside and I want to go play in my gardens, which technically are on the list, just not a priority this weekend.

Why did I want to be an adult again?

Canucks and Novel Sales

So have I mentioned lately I love my new job?

Last night I rode in a limo to Rogers Arena (while drinking champagne) to watch the Canucks play from one of the hospitality suites. We lost… boo, but the great food and open bar helped salve our wounds.

The best sign I saw from the fans was held by a cute little guy who was around 8 or 9. It read, “If you need to rest your players for the playoffs, I’ve got my gear in the car.” I loved it.

Book Sales for Hiding in Plain Sight have so far outstripped all three versions of Jake.

It’s been a bit nerve wracking too. Because my new novel is set in my home town with scenes taking place in my old high school, it is not just strangers who have read it. People I grew up with have been checking it out. I want to bit my nails every time someone else says they’re reading it. Luckily no one has pointed out any setting errors 🙂

Hiding in Plain Sight

I am a happy girl, my new novel is up and already selling (and it hasn’t even hit half of our distributers yet).

Hiding in Plain Sight is the first young adult novel I’ve written specifically for the young adult genre. My other published YA novel, The Trouble with Jake, was originally written as an adult romance and the re-written for a younger audience.

Hiding in Plain Sight is set in the neighbourhood I grew up in with scenes taking place in my old High School. Here’s a bit about the story:

Hilary is excited when a new family moves in next door. It doesn’t hurt that they have a gorgeous son. But even his good looks and classic car can’t distract her from the strange things she starts to see.

Ben and his family are from the planet Myonus. They barely escaped when the Hurliingen tried to take-over their planet’s government. But, even on Earth, they aren’t safe. Ben and his kid sister, Alex, have something the Hurliingen need to squash the rebellion and complete their conquest.

The Hurliingen are coming to get Ben and Alex, can Hilary help stop them?

Hiding in Plain Sight is already available on Amazon for their Kindle and through Smashwords for all other formats including the Nook, KoBo, Sony e-Reader and iPad.

New Novel is Coming

Whew – I’ve been editing my butt off over the past few weeks… well months really. Hiding in Plain Sight is finally uploaded and will be available through Smashwords and Amazon by the end of this week. I’m almost too exhausted to be excited… almost 🙂

I thought that doing this book would be a lot easier than the two versions of ‘Jake‘ but I was wrong. I guess with all I learned from the first go ’round, I’m even pickier now. Happily, I think it made for a better story. Let’s hope you agree!

Now I think I deserve to sit back with a glass of wine and relax.

Alas, no such luck, now it’s on to marketing and housecleaning (my Mom gets here Thursday for an overnight stay enroute to visit New Zealand)

End of February… really?

How the heck did this month go by so quickly?

Seriously, it was the first of the month only a few days ago. I guess it’s true when they say time flies when you’re having fun…. and it’s been VERY fun.

I will finish the edits for ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ today. It’s taken me longer than expected to do it so while I’m a bit bummed at the delay, I’ve very pleased with the results. The feedback from my proofreaders has been awesome and I’ve made some tweaks that really make it better. A huge thank you to you all.

Work has been spectacular. I made a joke to a couple of my friends that they’d have to bring someone in to do the grunt work for me because I’ve stepped in and been able to do some bigger things than what I was hired to do. It’s happened, well at least they’ve been making arrangements for someone to cover the front while I take care of a project with a tight deadline.

The people are fantastic and the feedback I’ve received from one of the people who hired me is that he’s hearing great things about me. They’re very pleased with the way I just see what needs to be done and do it. (Now if I could just apply that to my housekeeping skills…)

The guy is still around. It’s been over two months and we’re still having fun. Actually I just got off the phone with him. He makes me happy.

Last fall, after NaNoWriMo was done, I said to my friend that I was going to start dating again. My schedule had been too busy for far too long and I wanted someone just for me. He asked me what I was looking for and I said someone strong, independent, who will respect me and take care with me yet not smother me because I still have a busy life and an insane schedule.

There must be something to that whole theory of ‘tell the universe what you want and it will get it for you’.

I met my guy less than a month later. He runs his own business, with several employees and he has children who he spends a lot of time with. He loved to laugh and is appreciative of the good things in his life – which is a really important facet of personality for me. We don’t get to see each other a lot, but we keep in contact every day.

It works, it’s wonderful and it’s exactly what I wanted. I like it

Now to cuddle up on my recliner and get this book finished so we can upload it for sale.

Go Sue GO!

the battle for the bridesmaid dress

Rule # 1 = don’t go into a store when you are hungry or have the munchies
Rule #2 – see Rule #1
Rule #3 – yeah you guessed it

This is why I’m sitting here looking at cherry licorice, Valentine jellybeans and 2 cans of Pringles – #dietfail!

picture of the bridesmaid dress

The beautiful dress I want to look beautiful in

And yes, I have a beautiful bridesmaid dress to wear in July. It’s not really designed for someone like me, who has extra curves, so I’m working on getting rid of them – well I was until my recent junk food purchase debacle.

I’ll get back on the wagon as soon as this bout of junk food is done.

To aid my battle of the bulge, I dug out my hand weights, now I just have to use them… and start doing crunches. At least my new job keeps me away from the kitchen where I can make something to eat whenever I got the munchies. Unfortunately there is a bakery in the next building so every time the front door to the office opens, the scent of freshly baked bread comes wafting in – it’s so not fair.

I’m close to finishing the final edits on my novel. I have to send it to Perry this weekend to start her proofread. It will be up for sale by the end of the month. Whee! and then I have to decide what to work on next. Do I start another editing project or write a new story.

I think maybe I’ll do some short stories and get some of my notes together from my SNBCS Social Media training sessions and create some e-books. Some of my clients have encouraged me so I think it’s a good plan.

and the guy. I figured you’d want an update there too. He’s awesome. We both have been insanely busy so it was a week of text messages and the occasional phone call. This morning we hung out and he cooked for me (BTW he’s a great cook). Then I got to meet some of his friends. They’re a fun crew.

I hold that you can tell a lot of things about a person by the people he hangs out with and how he treats them. The guy is good people.