Aside

A cocoa and marshmallow moment without the cocoa or marshmallows

There are some things we return to over and over no matter what age we are. It’s our comfort, our go tos, our ahhh time.

cozy_by_littleulvar-d5sjtn5

(photo credit: http://littleulvar.deviantart.com/art/cozy-350285009)

At the top of my list of comfort activities is reading Gay Gavriel Kay. I’ve been saving his latest novel for a time when I really needed it, and that time arrived a couple of days ago.

As a child I believed in magic and secret groves and fairies and witches and warlocks and lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

I still do.

And when I read Kay I’m reminded of that.

His latest novel, River of Stars, is mesmerizing.

River_of_Stars

I devour novels, about every 3 days I’m reading something new. 7 days if it’s long or requires me to be gentle with it. This one will be a much much longer read. More like how I eat chocolate. I savour tiny morsels; a chocolate can last months (literally!) often until my husband can’t take it anymore and eats it when I’m not looking.

I can feel the dedication that Kay put into River of Stars, each sentence is like a breath.

As a writer, I’m astounded by his story telling capabilities.

This story is told across people in time, rather than across time itself. There are characters we meet only briefly, being in their POV for a couple of pages and no more, never to return again. And yet, there is no frustration in this, no sense of being cheated, because we have witnessed the character’s defining moment in the story and there is no need for more from them. They have shifted the current, and that was all they needed to do.

I don’t underline prose in my books. I don’t fold pages. I was tempted to do so, but realized I would highlight too much to be of any benefit. This is one I’ll return to again and again, if only to hear the lyrics within its pages.

Do you have a go-to author or novel(s)?

Did I write that? Well, I certainly can’t read it!

Not so long ago, someone asked me an unusual question: Since I spent so many hours a week writing on the computer, did I not miss seeing my own handwriting?

“I write by hand all the time,” I replied. “The trick is being able to read back what I wrote.”

I do write by hand all the time. Every day. Some days pass that I do more writing by hand than on the computer. Every note, every thought, every nuance–big and small, every detail, and every time I need to figure something out (which, trust me, is on a continuous basis) I handle by writing on paper. The only thing I do on the computer is the actual writing of the novel, which for me, is a small fraction of the whole process.

I have notebooks, spiral bound books, loose leaf papers, index cards, multi-colored index cards, sticky notes of almost every colour found in the rainbow, and a giant roll of plain paper that I use to map out time frames that I stick to my wall as needed. To top that off, I have a variety of coloured pens, highlighters, and pencils.

Unfortunately for my family, I tend to work in the dining room. It has great lighting, good acoustics (for my blaring music), is kinda on its own so the through-traffic is not that bad, and looks onto the backyard (with a window bench were I can sit and ruminate–yes, I do a lot of that too). This just means that I’m the only one who gets to enjoy this room, as most of the time it’s taken up with all the said paperwork, plus much more, including reference books, cups of water, a multitude of mugs holding tea and coffee at various stages, a tissue box, and the occasional remnant of a snack.

Before anyone asks, no, I won’t take a picture. Maybe one day when it’s cleaned out.

I don’t miss seeing my handwriting. In fact, sometimes the sight of it drives me mad! Especially when I have no inkling as to what in the world my scribbling means.

How about you: Do you every write by hand? Or do you do all your thinking in your head or on the computer? And most importantly, if you do write by hand–can you read your own writing? 

A lucky coin

I’ll share a little story I found unexpectedly in a book that Santa delivered to my daughter this year:

 

Our story began over a century ago when seventeen-year-old Egmont Harald Peterson found a coin in the street. 

coin

 

He was on his way to buy a flyswatter, a small hand-operated printing machine that he then set up in his tiny apartment.

The coin brought him such good luck that today Egmont has offices in over 30 countries around the world. And that lucky coin in still kept at the company’s head office in Denmark.

 

This little success story was stuck in among the publication credits of a gorgeous children’s book entitled, A Flower in the Snow, a story about the joys of discovery, its loss, and re-discovery.

 

Sometimes it pays to read publication credits :).a flower in the snow

 

A flower in the snow.

A lucky coin.

I wish you each find your own in the New Year, and always.

Attitude check please

We are all writers (well most of us anyway) here, so I can be perfectly candid when I speak of the love/hate relationship that seems to come with the creative territory.

Those exhilarating moments when we just know–know–that we are doing what we were meant to be doing. When we sit, and are overtaken, and the story pours forth. Those moments when we are high, soaring, and nothing can pull us down.

And bam–we fall. And it hurts. And we want to go and hide in the dark and rip our manuscript into shreds after taking a big fat sharpy and blackening out every horrible word. And then, slowly, we begin to rub our behind, and think, okay, I can do this. Why am I being so hard on myself? There’s always a solution, a way out. I can fix my manuscript, I can make it work.

So, folks, I’m crawling out of my deep dark hole, and as I was mixing my granola–yes, I homemake it, there’s almost nothing that pleases me more than the scent of cinnamon, oats, and vanilla–a sure way to tantalize me out of hibernation, I realized that one of the things I like most about writing is the fact that the learning never ends. That I can be an eternal student. I will never ever get bored, because there will always be something more.

Yes, I’m having to replot a large portion of my manuscript–which is the event that send me hiding in my deep dark hole–but I see the problem. Now I will find a solution.

I have learned.

And this, my creative friends, is nothing to wallow in self-pity about.

 

 

Really, it’s not very romantic at all…or is it?

I was spotted by some mommies when I was sitting with my laptop writing in one of our local coffee shops.

 

“Ohhhhh,” they said. “Look at you. You have the best job ever!”

I couldn’t stop myself–laughter poured out of me, until both ladies were looking at each other, questioning my sanity I could only suppose.

You see, people–non-writers that is–have a romantic notion of what it is to be a writer. They see me curled up alone at a table. My hair piled up in a high bun, a thick scarf wrapped tightly around my shoulders and neck, a large latte in front of me. They see comfort, coziness, self-indulgence. They imagine me spending my days idly writing to my heart’s content while the real world continues on with its demands.

They don’t see me screaming inside because I’ve rewritten a scene a hundred times minimum and it’s still not quite right. Or lying awake at night figuring out plot structures that have been evading me for what feels like eternity. Or when I get super grumpy (on an almost daily basis) because there is just not enough waking hours for me to accomplish what I aim to, because–yes, the demands of the real world still affect writers. And they don’t see me wondering what the &*^&* I’m doing this for–because it’s not like any money is involved. So, in a sense, it’s not a job at all.

They only see me doing exactly what I want.

And do you know what? They’re right.

I get to disappear into a world, one that lets me explore it fully. Nowhere else do I get to go inside people’s heads and know them as I do my characters. Nowhere else do I get to stop and look around, and decide what’s best, and what obstacles are needed. And nowhere else do I get to play with words and story.

I stopped laughing and said,

“It’s hard. Writing is not easy. But, yes, it’s the best job ever.”

 

Where did that come from?

When I first began this blog one of things that often came up was where stories come from. So many interesting ideas and theories were proposed. Too many to name, but things as simple as observation and as complex as genetic memory came up. Lately, it’s been on my mind again–maybe because I read this post here, by Pat–so I thought I’d bring it up, have a little fun!

One of things one of us mentioned was along the lines of this: that stories are threads out there, threads that we walk into without even realizing. I kind of imagine them like dandelion fluff, exploding, floating and landing and germinating in an endless cycle.

Many many agreed with this feeling. Stories, people, places, they just pop into our head and demand to be written. The problem is most of the time we need to ignore these stories due to time constraints. We pick and choose, listening to the strongest tale, the one that only we can tell, and let the others drift away for someone else to grab.

So, last night after I did my 30 minutes of editing, I watched Big Bang Theory–laughed–said goodnight to hubby and went to bed. I can’t fall asleep without reading, so I read the latest silliness (more on that another day) I have downloaded and fell asleep after reading this: One of the MC’s husband was shot and killed in an armed robbery at a corner store. The story was given to us by a neighbor explaining that the only person she knows who was ever killed was the father of X who goes to preschool with her son.

This morning my son comes to me and says he had a bad dream in the night. He’s still young, his nightmares usually involve people breaking his Lego and whatnot. I asked him to tell me about it. He said this: I was in the grocery store with dad and there was a robber and he started to shoot and because I was holding dad’s hand he got shot instead of me.

So there you have it folks.

Are stories floating around out there waiting for us to grab them?

 

E-book giveaway on Kindle Select

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Based on historical events, “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie” draws the reader to the dark side of Vatican politics, where unbridled ambition leads to treachery, revenge and murder.
In early May 2005, the gruesome murders of two archbishops , one in Switzerland, the other in Italy, trigger a worldwide shockwave of indignation and outrage .
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Dulac’s search for the killers takes him from the hushed corridors of the Vatican and the quiet luxury of a British Marchioness’s château, to the dank prison cells of Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. Struggling through personal trauma and finally piercing the Vatican Curia’s notorious Code of Silence, Dulac uncovers an astounding, unlikely conspiracy of dirty money, blackmail and state-backed terrorism. He’s just realized the enormity of what he’s discovered when a hit-man strafes the windshield of his Renault…
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