Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Catching Up

I'm going to catch up today! You folks really are awesome out there - it always amazes me when you think of me when you're passing along your awards :)

Lola Sharp passed the Quillfeather award my way. If you need your spirits lifted, drop on by Lola's blog - it always works!

Lorel Clayton passed the Beautiful Blogger to me. Lorel has great advice on all aspects of the writing process. Make sure you click on over!

The lovely Mary Brebner awarded me the Sunshine Award. It's always nice to have more Sunshine! Mary's got a new address for her blog, if you don't have yours updated yet, this link will take you there!

Nicole Ducleroir and Medeia Sharif both awarded me the Super Comments award. Thanks so much! Both of these ladies are wonderful, bright people. You'll definitely enjoy stopping by their blogs too.

I've been avoiding (yes, like the plague) posting more "interesting" things about myself. But I feel guilty every time I see someone else has actually done it. So, here we go ...

1. I have a love/hate relationship with my house plants. They look great, I enjoy them, but they just keep growing! I don't have unlimited space in my house where plants can thrive, and I can't have big pots. So instead of repotting them, or slicing off some roots and putting them back in the same pot (which never works), I keep them until they're too big, toss them and start again.

2. We couldn't have pets when the kids were little - we were never home with all of their sports/activities and our jobs. We finally bought fish. The only thing the kids learned about was death. *sigh*

3. In spite of that we're all huge animal lovers. One of these days I plan to go on a photography safari in Africa & then a whale watching expedition.

4. I have nightmares every night. Vivid ones. I still remember some of them from when I was a kid.

5. The Shining was the first/last horror book I read. I read it in highschool and didn't sleep well for a very, very long time. (see #4)

6. At just over 5 feet tall, many of my students are taller than me - and I currently teach 10 & 11 year olds. I don't mind it at all. I've always liked being short. At home, I just call "Tall Person needed" and someone comes to help. :)

7. Despite #6, I won the VIP award for volleyball in highschool. :)

Today, I'll pass these awards along to the following great people. As always, these are 'no pressure' awards. Choose your favourite and do with it as you will. I hope everyone will check out these links - if not, you're missing out on some very fine bloggers & friends!

Jackee at Winded Words
Julie Dao at Silver Lining
Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries
CJ Redwine at The Last Word
Dawn Simone at Plotting & Scheming
Karen Denise at I'm Always Write
Mary McDonald at The Write Stuff

Okay, I'm caught up!! Now if only my To Be Read pile could be handled so easily. Or the house cleaning. Or the laundry. Or...

So what are you trying to catch up on?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Think or Wonder?

There are two kinds of writers: those who make you think and those who make you wonder.
- Brian Aldiss

Do you agree? I'm still deciding. Some authors definitely make me think. Others make me wonder. But isn't it possible to do both at the same time? I think it is, but, just for fun, let's assume it's not.

Which would you prefer?

I would choose wonder. In a heartbeat.

Don't get me wrong, I want to make people think. As a teacher, I try really hard (and even succeed sometimes!) to get kids to think. I'm not a teacher who uses worksheets or text books. I pose puzzles and questions and problems and ask the kids to solve them. Using any strategies they prefer. Showcasing their own learning styles and intelligences. Working in groups, brainstorming, taking risks in order to stretch their brains. Thinking is good!


I totally agree with the Albert Einstein quote I mentioned in the last post - Imagination is more important than knowledge.

For me, it's wonder that brings success, wonder that leads to discussions, questions and possibilities. Wonder not only breeds fantasy and scifi, but all the other genres as well.

Most of you know I've worked with many kids who live & somehow do more than survive in very difficult situations. Wonder is a survival tool for them. It lets them thrive against the odds.

On the other hand, we need words and books to make us think... *sigh*

So, which kind of writer are you? Will your story make me think or wonder?
I've been negligent with my blog awards again! Jackee over at Winded Words awarded me the Sunshine Award! Thanks Jackee - a little bit of sunshine is just what I need. :)

Yvonne Osborne at The Organic Writer and Julie Dao at Silver Lining both awarded me the Prolific Blogger Award. Thanks ladies!

All three of these bloggers have uplifting, enjoyable blogs - you won't regret visiting any of them! Enjoy :) I'll get to the rest next post. This one is already too long!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Little Bit of This...

First off a huge CONGRATULATIONS to blog buddy Caroline Starr Rose who has recently announced a book deal! Woohoo! Her novel May B. will be published in the fall of 2011 by Tricycle Press - an imprint of Random House. Wow!! Congrats Caroline -- It's so exciting to have news like this to spread. :)

Second, I'm playing around with a few blog templates. When I started trying out this and that on the weekend, it didn't go well. To say the least. The laptop sort of/almost/kinda/maybe cried. At the very least it got weak-kneed and wobbly. Several times.

Then it got worse. *sigh*

For a while there I wondered if I could possibly crash the entire www. *double sigh*

Anyway, the laptop will accept some new templates, but only if I download them. And then I have to battle a bit to change them. Some of the widgets disappear completely - some change formats. Others, well I'm not quite sure yet.

So, you'll possibly be seeing several new templates over the next little while. I'm looking for one that will actually let me make all the promised format changes. For instance on this one (assuming it's the same as when I typed this...) I can't do anything with the links/buttons on the top row. They're completely useless. With other ones my comments don't link, the widgets show up on top of each other, I can't log out...

So, I may go back to the old one just to save the hassle, but it's spring - time to do a little sprucing up :) In the meantime, I hope you enjoy variety!

Third, I've received a few awards over the last few days. I'll spread them out over the next few posts. I'd like to thank Tara over at Feel of Something New and Talli Roland. Both these ladies passed the Sugar Doll award along my way. Totally appropriate because they are both so very sweet! If you haven't made their acquaintance, hurry on over to their blogs :)

I'm going to pass this one along to a few of the sweetest people out there. If you haven't visited their blogs yet, you're sure missing out!!

Jenny Martin at Book Binge
Wendy Morrell aka Quillfeather at Wendy Morrell's Musings from Down Under
Cat Woods at Words from the Woods
L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick
Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress
Roz Morris at Nail Your Novel
Tamika at the Write Worship

That's it for today. I'm off to play with my templates again. Have you had any luck changing templates? Please tell me I'm not the only one who has difficulty with what should be a simple task!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Through Me

When KD Lang sang her amazing version of Hallelujah at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, one of the comments I heard was, "I felt like she was not only singing to me, she was singing through me. She filled me up to overflowing." Wow. What a compliment!

As a writer, I'd like to do that one day. Write so someone feels like I've written to them, through them. Filled them up to overflowing.

Again, wow.

I think some books have done that for me. In all different genres, at all different points in my life. The Hobbit was life-changing for me. It was the first fantasy I'd read. It opened up... well, everything. About the same time I discovered Star Trek reruns on TV. Between the two, entire worlds (literally!) opened up. My imagination opened with them.

As a teen, I remember reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school. Another wow for me. Book burning, wall sized interactive TV sets, loss of imagination and intelligence.

Then I read Flowers for Algernon - which I always call Charly. My heart broke. The author's control over the language amazed me. Charly's growth and deterioration throughout the book shattered me. How could they? How could he bear it?

Shakespeare. Even though I found Hamlet a wimpy dolt, the power of his 'To be or not to be' soliloquy riveted me. The deep thoughts. The beautiful cadence of the words to express such sadness, such worry. Then the power of one over the mob in Julius Caesar. The agony of Othello. The trickery of Iago.

Anne McCaffrey & her world of Pern and her ship who sings. Nora Roberts/JD Robb and the incredibly human characters she creates - full of such passion and depth. Suzanne Brockmann and her wonderfully diverse band of troubleshooters - where love, loyalty & justice are the most powerful weapons against hate.

Finally the power of few words fills me. At least when those words carry weight.

  • Be the change you want to see in the world. - Gandhi

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Imagination is more powerful than knowledge. - Albert Einstein

  • It's kind of fun to do the impossible. - Walt Disney

So, what books fill you up? What authors write not only to you, but through you?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Dance!

I just finished typing the last chapter of the Steampunk novel I've been working on! Big time happy dance! I'd started the last 3 or 4 chapters 4 or 5 different times, but nothing felt right. I kept saving the files, then deleting everything I'd added and trying again. And again.

Finally had a bit of a light-bulb moment and realized I needed to delete one more chapter. It's where things had gone from exciting to bleh. And nobody wants bleh, especially at the end of their novel.

Once I deleted it and started from there, it more or less flew out of my fingers.

One of the sub-plots tied itself up in a nice pretty bow for me. And even though it's not a bright, shining, happy-ever-after ending, I like it.

It's happy enough - don't think my personality would allow anything else - but it's not saccharine sweet. They're battered, bruised, exhausted. But they've fixed the big problem and things are finally looking up for them.

I think the impetus for the ending came from knowing I had a whole hour to write this afternoon. In a row!! You have no idea how rare that is. It's actually been almost an hour and a half now. This never happens. Ever!

I know there's still tons of work to do - lots of revising/editing to come, but I'm still happy dancing. This is a much stronger first draft than my last one. I don't have nearly as many useless words. The pace is better. So, I'm feeling good about diving back in to do some polishing.

Do you ever have troubles with your endings? How have you resolved them? Did you plow on through or go back and delete?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogging Buddy News!

There's a great new blog popping up in the blogosphere! 4 amazing writers have put together The Secret Archives of the Alliterati. These are great folks and the blog looks like a lot of fun. They've put together a unique prize package too. Let me know if you follow them from here :) Check out their initial post to see why!

Another blog buddy, Karen Denise over at I'm Always Write... But Often Wrong tagged me for the following game. Karen has a great sense of humour and she's a lot of fun to follow!

  • I like spring break! I can do bloggy things during the day :)
  • I like my teaching job & "my" kids
  • I like animals and considered becoming a biologist to study animals. My first choices were whales, wolves and gorillas
  • I like teddy bears of all kinds
  • I like the Space Channel
  • I like sunshine
  • I like so many kinds of music
  • I like baking

  • I love my family - I have the best kids & hubby ever!
  • Today is a glorious, sunshin day - seriously it's the middle of March and the snow is almost gone!! In Canada - Northern Ontario no less!

  • I hate when my kids are hurt
  • I hate watching people I love suffer with illness
  • I hate racism and prejudice
  • I hate meanness and small-mindedness
  • I hate child abuse in all its many forms
  • I hate rotten celebrity role models
  • I hate when money is more important than people

  • I (secretly) like brussel sprouts!
  • I love writing. Creating new people and forcing them to suffer through all kinds of torture is so much fun! :)
On another happy note, I've received a few more awards from even more great blogging buddies.  Shelley over at Stories in the Ordinary awarded me the Creative Writer Award. Shelley's fun perspective on life makes her a great bloggy friend.

Susan Gourley/Kelley over at Susan Says awarded me the Sunshine Award. Susan has published some great books and her blog is full of fun advice.

Helen Ginger over at Straight From Hel awarded me the Prolific Blogger Award. Helen's blog is chock-full of great industry tips.

The delightful Suzette & Bethany over at Shooting Stars awarded me the Butterfly Award. You have to meet these ladies is you haven't already done so!

Thanks to all! I'm going to pass along these awards to a few more bloggers who are new to me. Once again, these are no pressure awards. Choose whichever award you like - or play the tag game at the top. Have fun!

Tiana Lei at Spilled Ink
Rosalind Adam at Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain
Shelley at Stories in the Ordinary
Kathi Oram Peterson at Kathi's Writing Nook
Erica at write.laugh.play
E. Elle at The Writer's Funhouse
Marisa Birns at Out of Order Alice
Shawna Weeks at The Forever Blog

Have a great day everyone - I'm going outside to walk in the sunshine. And maybe rake a little too - I can see grass!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Imaginary Buddies

Tommy and Tammy lived through the door in the sign post. It was a door they could freely exit and enter, but it didn't work for me. I could get glimpses of their world, but I could never enter it. They could come through at will, and were great playmates.

I'm not sure where Suzy lived, but she was my friend too. She was much more adventurous than I was and I loved hearing her tales. Her friends were forest creatures and faeries.

Of course looking back, I know my three friends were imaginary. I think I knew it even then. But my older sister, who also happened to be my best friend, had gone to school and I was lonely. I was shy and spent a lot of time with these buddies. I can still picture them today, even the sign post world.

I also realized about then that those picture books and chapter books contained even more worlds for me to explore, more places I could visit. They had more friends who would keep me company while my sister was at school. Of course, the books were easy for a long time, but the seeds were planted.

I think these early friends opened a lot of doors for me. My sister never had them. She also doesn't read fiction. Is there a connection? Was I more receptive to the worlds of imagination because of my loneliness? Or would I have been a reader and writer regardless?

So, I want to know. Do people who invent/discover imaginary friends go on to be readers and writers? What's your experience? Any imaginary/invisible buddies in your life?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Thanks so much again for all your kind words and thoughts in the last post. Everyone's moving forward, but it's obviously going to be a long road for his family.

Back to business...

Way back in February, Patricia Stotley was kind enough to award me the Prolific Blogger Award. Love the image! If you haven't met Patricia yet, you have to pop on over - she's a great lady!

Dawn Simon over at Plotting and Scheming awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Dawn is lots of fun and you'll enjoy visiting with her and her ideas.

VR Barkowski and Laurel at Laurel's Leaves both awarded me the Sugar Doll award. You guys are so SWEET. Sorry. Couldn't resist. Plus, it's true.

Sorry it took me so long to thank you ladies! I definitely appreciate your kindness :)

I`m going to reserve the right to pass these along later - it`s report card season & I`m a little squirrelly at the moment.

So, going along with the direction of my thoughts when I hear "Sugar Doll", I`m going to ask you what your favourite sugar-filled treat is. And do your characters like the same treat?

I like chocolate and caramel together - even though I rarely buy a chocolate bar, I could eat a Caramilk at any point of any day. :)

My characters on the other hand live in Steampunk England and rarely think much about food. Their favourite treat is not having to cook and getting to buy hot food fresh from the market.

So, how about you? Any Caramilk fans out there?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tragedy & Kindness

It's been a very difficult week here. Last weekend one of the young people in our family's circle of friends was killed in a tragic accident. No drinking or drugs. An accident. Nobody's fault. But he's still gone. His life cut short before he even finished high school.

This is where the kindness kicks in. Teens amaze me. They often get such bad coverage in the media. I teach younger kids, but I know a lot of teens (including my kids and their friends). Kids across our city came together and did some pretty incredible things in honour of this young man. Many of them brought me to tears. Strength, honour, compassion, love and kindness.

These are the teens we write for. These are the teens we write about. These are the kids who come together, who help out the family, who are creative and compassionate even in their grief. They've written tributes, messages, poetry and songs. They've helped each other even as they've felt lost themselves.

When we write YA, we have to remember the depth of feelings of this age group. To portray them honestly, we have to include their capacity for love and kindness. Their resiliency.

Our hope.

If you've got one, give a teen a hug today.