Surprise Getaway

I’m registered for a course tomorrow on the Canadian Publishing industry. It’s being taught by a former president of Penguin Books Canada at a somewhat distant university. However, naturally enough for living in Canada, the forecast is for freezing rain anywhere north of Toronto – and of course, they specifically named the city where the university is. So when Gizmo Guy and I were discussing it this morning, and since he has to be in the same city tomorrow and Wednesday, GG suggested that perhaps it would be wise to reserve a hotel room and drive up tonight.

Woohoo! A night away from the boys – the first in YEARS! So we splurged a bit and reserved a room with a king sized bed and a — this is a first for me which is rather pathetic at my age — a double-sized whirlpool tub. Wonder if I can claim it as a ‘research’ expense ;)

Now THAT’s snow …

Update on the Mid Winter Kick in the Pants Challenge: My weekly goal was 4,000 words, and I hit over 6,000 words. Woohoo. I’m going to see if I can increase it this week even though I know I’m definitely not going to be able to write on Tuesday.

And now for a real chuckle, here’s a video a friend send me. When I lived with my parents, they lived in a snowbelt area, but we never got the snow they got here (it’s Colorado by the way – the comment say they got 54 inches in 48 hours.) Our dogs used to do this in the clover fields in the far back of our property – all you could see every once in a while was their ears flying as they’d jump up to figure out where they were. But I love watching this dog tunneling through the snow.

Blog Birthday

Exactly one year ago today, I posted my first blog. Exactly one year ago this month, I joined the RWA after attending the Toronto Romance Writers Romance 101 course taught by Margaret Moore earlier in the month. And realized I’d come home. I’d finally found a writers’ group that could help me realize my dream of getting serious about my writing – my New Year’s resolution of 2007. There I met some incredibly supportive ladies – Christine d’Abo, Wylie Kinson, Amy Ruttan and Savannah Chase among just a few of whom I consider friends. Not to mention the squee moments when I realize that other members include Kelley Armstrong, Margaret Moore, Michelle Rowen, and Eve Silver. The world of blogging and life within the RWA has introduced me to far-flung friends – Marley Delarose, and Red Garnier, and Julia, and Kim Smith and there’s so many more.

Over the year I’ve taken courses – too many actually. Aside from the research courses I’ve taken, I’ve also taken craft courses: Mary Buckham’s Sex Between the Pages – an excellent course, Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS course, another one I highly recommend and will use from now on. I’ve taken courses on plotting, and pacing, and beginnings. On GMC and pitching. On engaging a reader through emotions. On how to write erotica. I’ve taken so many I realized I needed to stop for a breather and find my own voice again.

And somewhere in amongst all those courses, I’ve finished three manuscripts – one a full length historical that I’ve left in its first draft as I decide its future; one short-novel-length erotica that I’ve edited, re-edited and polished ’til it shone; and a short 15K erotic novella that was equally polished that will continue to be sent out until it finds a home.

My first blog talked about how I was jumping into the deep end in taking my writing to the next level. And boy, I had no idea how prophetic that would be. I didn’t just dabble my toes in the shallow end just attending the TRW meetings. No, I climbed up the high diving platform and took the jump of my life. For in July I found myself boarding a jet and flying to Dallas to attend the mother of all conferences – the RWA conference where I met authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon and JR Ward, Cathy Maxwell, Stephanie Laurens, Kathryn Smith, and and and – oh, it was overwhelmingly fantastic. And while I was there, in the leap of a lifetime, I actually pitched one of my manuscripts to an editor and got a request – I’m still awaiting its fate. Talk about being in over my head!

So it’s been a wild ride this year … hopefully in the next year it’ll only get better.


Amy Ruttan very kindly roared at me today. And I loved it!

(I really needed it, this week’s been tough – however I more than exceeded my goals for Christine d’Abo‘s Mid-Winter Kick in the Pants challenge. I set my weekly goal as 4,000 words and today I hit 6,000 and there’s still a couple of days to go. Go me!)

Anyway, on to the award…

I have to name three reasons that make a book stay on my ‘keeper’ shelf. This was tougher than I thought … so I actually looked at the books on my keeper shelf. All three things below combine to make a book a keeper. Take away any one, and it may not stay on the shelf.

1) World building – a place I can lose myself in, identify with. From strange worlds like the exquisitely in-depth world JRR Tolkien created with Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Silmarillion and CS Lewis’s Narnia to JR Ward’s vampiric world (And let’s not forget to mention our own Christine’s space world in her Bond series!) World building is even important in contemporary worlds like Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Heaven Texas and historical worlds like those Jo Beverly creates. They are all places I felt I could step into and become a part of.

2) Unforgettable Characters – especially heroes who I feel I could cuddle up with, especially if they’re sword-wielding defenders who would protect me from those nasty villains in the fantastical worlds I love who never belittle a woman – she walks beside, not behind him. Jamie Fraser, Aragorn, Bobby Tom Denton, and Rhage. Heroines that I identify with – not wimpy but not overly kick-ass either (in fact I’m really turned off by those heroines which are becoming so over-the-top in how they shoot or kick or … whatever. Those type make me roll my eyes and close the book.) Villains who are not smarmy or unbelievably unredeemably evil – a good villain is someone you know, someone you trust but has this deep dark hidden side who really believes in what he’s doing – at any cost. (yes, I’ve met several of them in real life – they’re the scary ones.)

3) This one is the hardest to explain. I just know it when I read it. I look for a ‘Concept’ that make me think “Huh, that’s possible” even when it’s not (or at least hopefully not). John Wyndham’s post-atomic war The Chrysalids. And Arthur C. Clarke’s end-of-the-world Childhood’s End. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I began to write that it all circles back to character and what drives them. But in the books I just cited, it’s more than just the characters. It’s the concept that stuck in my mind. Okay, sure, Jamie Fraser is a reason all his own to read Outlander, but with all three books, something about the concept behind the stories made me think ‘Wow, what would I be thinking/doing if I were in that position? What if that really happened?’ And it doesn’t have to be a sci-fi or a paranormal. Concept can apply to even the modern mainstream, because it has to weave through the plotline and be believable, tying the world and the characters to their ultimate end. And no, that doesn’t always mean a HEA ending.

Ooops forgot to tag someone – I’d be interested in seeing what makes Marley Delarose and BlueSue and Julia put a book on their keeper shelf.

Ways to Distract you

Yesterday I wrote 1300 words on my story, and so far today I’ve written 1400. So I am on my way to this week’s goal of 4000. (I won’t think about how Gizmo Guy managed to write 5,000 words on his manuscript yesterday – grrr, show off!)

I would have written more (she says knowing it’s an excuse) but Guitar Hero sat down and talked to me for a while, and being a good mother I couldn’t tell him to shove off. Oh, all right, yes, I could have, but I didn’t. One reason was that he showed me this site. The Face of the Future – a program by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland transforms the picture you upload into a variety of cultures. For some reason it works better with guys than women – or at least it worked better with Gizmo Guy and Guitar Hero’s pictures than it did with my own.

So the picture to the left is what I uploaded – the normal picture of Guitar Hero taken last year. Then I chose what culture to transform him to – Afro-Caribbean, Asian – East, Asian-West, Baby, Child, Teenager, Young Adult, Older Adult, Boticelli, Manga, Ape man, etc. Some of the results are hilarious.

Take a look at some of the results below:

Here’s a Manga version:

Here’s what he’d look like as an old man:

And here’s what he’d look like as an El Greco portrait:

Yes, it’s a time waster, but I had fun. And I’m still writing so my day’s not been completely lost.

(Just for fun, here’s me as a Manga character…)