Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Setting down intentions

People ask me why I blog. I do it for the community that it offers - especially needed now that I live in an isolated part of the world. The conversations between like-minded folk - the ideas that may ping during these conversations, the support of people who may be trying to do similar things (get things published, make it through the day to day of a creative who needs to work too) and the silliness that might relieve such times - this is what I blog for. More importantly though, I blog for myself. Not because I'm a selfish narcissist, but because I will find out what I want to do next by writing and I am more likely to do what I set out to do if I share that with others.

One of my favorite blogger pals is Tami Hart, who blogs under the title Confessions of a Watery Tart. We not only correspond through comments but have critiqued manuscripts for each other and gone through innumerable writing challenges including a couple of NaNoWriMos and a few more BuNoWriMos. She also likes to make her goals public and because she revealed her most recent plan today - I am nudged into doing the same.

As any of you who have kept up with this site, in all its ups and downs, know - I've been in a bit of a dip lately. I won't go into the why - I've already stated the reasons in previous posts - but I'm fighting my way through it and feel a bit of the heaviness lifting of late. I think a plan will really help lift the rest of that dark cloud so here goes:

Because I leave on a three week road trip next Saturday (two destinations, one child's camping wedding, three or more ferries, 2,500 kilometers, one fella and a blow-up mattress) I will implement this plan on Sept. 1st. That is the natural start to my year at any rate - 12 years of schooling set that up and it is still in my cells as Brand New Clean Notebook Head. So here goes:

Writing Goals:

  1. Continue query process for Bright Angel until the book is sold. That means I will send out about 2 packages a week. I will tend the ones sent out and see how things are going. This doesn't take too much time at this point as I have a pretty good package assembled - it just needs to be jigged for each new query sent.
  2. Continue work on Crooked Knife. Finish first draft by October 15th. Begin second draft immediately after and have the final draft done by December 15th. Think this is doable. It is pretty clean so far - so won't need as many drafts as Bright Angel did. 
  3. Look at each of my writing projects (one literary fiction novel and two mysteries) and see whether to revise, throw out, or begin pitching to publishers.
Health and Well-being Goals:
  1. Continue with modified anti-inflammatory diet. (dieting for a reduction in arthritis pain) 
  2. Practice classical stretch (essentrics exercise program) for a half-hour a day.
  3.  Meditate and continue Ngondro.
  4. Walk for at least a half-hour a day.

Odd but Positive Goals:
  1. Do a Flower Folk drawing most days.
  2. Go on a social media break one day out of every week, one week out of every month, and one month out of every year.
  3. Sketch daily.
Okily Dokily - that's it for me. Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I've updated my update! I realized it isn't helpful to whine on the web so I decided to cut it out. I haven't a moment to write a completely new piece (work and writing has me boxed), so I'm just going to fiddle this one a bit.


Querying Bright Angel:

The query process goes on. I've had a bit of encouragement but won't report on it until something gels one way or t'other. I know this is a long haul and I'm at the beginning of it.
So far I have six packages out.

Crooked Knife:

Hmmm... yep, a bit slower than I'd like after my zoom through of 55 thousand words but it is going somewhere - and I have a fresh crop of frustration to feed it with. This book is set in Sheshatshiu, a reserve in Labrador (where I work and next door to where I live). Unless you've been living under a rock you will know that these are tough times for indigenous communities in Canada. Youth suicide is on the rise, addictions are rampant and those are just the symptoms. The disease? Colonization.  At any rate - plenty of fuel for a mystery set on a reserve.

Other random things

 I just found out from a fellow blogger, Karen Walker, that she is putting together an anthology on aging. I am definitely going to submit a piece to that!  Here is a link to her description of it on her blog  Author Karen Walker...Following the Whispers .  If you are over fifty and would like the opportunity to submit a piece check it out.

Flower Folk

 For the last 50 days or so I was posting a drawing a day with a one or two line story. I'm keeping that up in my sketchbook but not posting. I call them Flower Folk - contemplating life one petal at a time. People seem to like them and I'm arranging to have some printed as cards. I'll include one here so you know I'm still alive and creating.

.Sheldon knew the flowers understood him in ways
 his mother and Aunt Edna couldn't begin to.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What up?

I haven't been here in awhile. First it was getting over April. That took all of May apparently (except for the first Wednesday). Then I went to Cuba for the first week in June and came home needing to recover from that. And now I'm wandering slowly back.

The thing is that it is very hard for me to relax. Very hard. The first day I went in the water in Cuba I told Ron that I planned to swim 21 times while we were there. Why did I do that? Why couldn't I just swim and go 'wow, that is so nice. think I'll do that some more, if I feel like it'? Because I'm mental and I think I have to be constantly improving myself with no time off at all. I get home from my work - which is very stressful mind - and immediately go and meditate, then draw for an hour, then do some writing. In between all of that I might make or help with dinner, I'll definitely do the dishes and I will probably skype or call a few people (my kids, my pals, a client...). Then a bath (where I read) and bed.

By the third day in Cuba I felt unwound. It was great. I didn't draw. I didn't meditate (well once or twice). I didn't write or journal or anything. I slept, swam, ate, and all over again.

Before I left I had planned to get at least some query packages for Bright Angel out to publishers and agents - but I didn't. I had this big block about it after working for a month on the query letter etc... This weekend I broke through that. There is a package out to one publisher and one agent. I'll send some more this coming weekend. The deal I made with myself is that I am allowed (!!!) to write on my newest wip - Crooked Knife - if I send out a package. So I jumped back into that, which was heavenly. Once I have five or six packages out I'll feel free to concentrate on CF but I'm still refining one page synopses and making sure my first fifty or so pages are pristine. I have a book that I created that helps me track my submissions. I know this is a long long game and I won't remember who I sent to unless I keep meticulous track and it has to be hard copy for me. Every single publisher or agent that I'm querying has a slightly different set of submission rules. Some insist on hard copy, some insist on email with no attachments or email with certain attachments. Some want just the letter thanks, some want big chunks of your ms. I am really trying to follow the rules but I must say it feels kind of like the Toronto airport - all of these young people in uniform rolling their eyes and scolding you for not being born knowing which line to stand in.

Ah well.

How are you all doing? I'm going to come and visit you now.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A to Zed -a reflection

I enjoy doing this else why would I?  I get out of it, like everything else, close to what I put in. I don't do it to gain new readers, which at the moment is not my aim. I take part for a few reasons - like going to a yearly party -I like to see how others are faring. I also like the challenge part of it - though truth told, I don't find it all that arduous.  Reminds me of when I did the Dublin Marathon and the organizers of our charitable group (Canadian Arthritis ) said it would be the most important thing we ever did - it would change our lives!! It would!! No it wouldn't.  Having babies, meeting Buddhist teachers, falling in love, finishing a play - all of these events and others would outweigh walking around a gorgeous flat city all day. Just saying. Perspective people. 80 thousand folks just lost their homes when Fort McMurray burned to the bedrock - now that's a challenge.

So - l liked seeing my pals, and I liked meeting the challenge.  What else did I like? My theme turned out great. Finding  35 women who inspired me ( l doubled up some) was great and explaining how they inspired me got me inspired all over again. And seeing what others came up with -what rocked their metaphorical boat - well, that inspired me too. And let's not forget that I was writing. Writing is great, especially when I've been deep in queryville.

So there you go!
I'll hook up to the linky as soon as l can.

Oh and here is a list of my women:

Louisa May Alcott 
Emily Carr 
Emily Dickinson and Annie Dillard
Elizabeth 1
Pamela Frankau and Elena Ferrente
Sue Goyette and Artemisia Gentileschi 
Zora Neale Hurston 
I (as in me)
Pauline Johnson 
Frida Kahlo
Ursula K. Le Guin
Lucy Maude Montgomery and Joni Mitchell 
Florence Nightingale 
Georgia O'Keefe and Mary Oliver
Pema Chodron and Nancy Porter-Steele 
Harriet Quimby 
R is for my best friend 
Sappho, Stevie Smith and Anne Sexton 
Sojourner Truth
Jane Urquhart 
Sarah Vaughan 
Rebecca West and Virginia Woolff 
Xue Tao
Yoko Ono
Andrea Zittel

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The IWSG is now in session

The first Wednesday of each month is the meeting of the IWSG. Do click on the link and visit other insecure types!

Write this way. No...I mean right this way. Or do I? I'm so deep in query do-dah that I second-guess every last word I write. I thought it would be different this time but it isn't. It is much like making sourdough bread for the first time. I read and watch everything I can on the subject. I decide that one person has all the answers and follow them slavishly until the devil suggests a short-cut - then I'm on it. If the starter doesn't bubble or the prose sing I'm back reading, watching, changing up my plan. Luckily, this time around, I have a mentor who has been very successful with his own queries and is happy to guide me, thick though I am, through the process.

I got caught on the single page formulaic query letter when I tried to actually synopsize the novel. Okay, okay, I know that isn't a word but it should be. Someone has to make up new words and Shakespeare is dead. Anywhoozie, I'm off that track and keeping the synopsis for those who want that. It is a Byzantine path to publication, with more form and convention than dancing the gavotte (you crossword fanatics will know this one).  You have to entice the agent or publisher without being coy and using the voice your novel is in. It has to be third person, present tense, and don't forget to drop in, ever so casually, that you met them at a workshop twelve years ago, and you were so impressed. Oh, best not - they'll think "12 years ago! What a slow writer! Don't want them in my stable." One misstep and your query letter (and the first fifteen pages of your ms) are in the round file.

So...you're thinking...she's not nearly so chipper as she was last month. Ha! How the chipper are chopped. But, like Dory, I will just keep swimming. Or writing. Or revising. Or submitting.Image result for Dory images

Later, my friends.