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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Nope. No ink on me.

 

Not because I don’t like tattoos or even that I have much of an opinion about them either way. Admittedly, there have been times when they’ve piqued my interest and times when I’ve been awkwardly surprised. There are some people I can’t imagine without them and some who have shocked me by uncovering that discreet little place and exposing their clandestine art.

 

I don’t have tattoos for the same reasons naming characters in my stories stops me cold. How can I be sure I’ve picked the right one? How do I know I’ll like it forever? What if, at the half way mark, my character turns around and tells me they hate it? Where is the guarantee I won’t regret it the minute ten thousand copies have been printed? What if the name I’ve chosen doesn’t translate well to the big screen? Yes, I’m in an optimistic mood. So, sue me.

 

There is something to a name. A name can change who we are and shape who we would have become. If we’d been called something else, none of the conversations or interactions we’ve had because of our name would’ve happened, ultimately altering our very being. A name influences the way people relate to us—change your name and the personality you know so well is gone.

 

How I was able to name my children, without once regretting my choices, is a mystery to me. (Must be something to do with that same hormone that keeps us from pegging our kids to the clothesline when they’ve been screaming for twenty-four plus hours.)

 

It’s a big responsibility, naming a being, whether they be breathing or fictional. It takes heart and soul, conviction and commitment. It takes longing, vision and love.

 

I think I’ve just decided what I’m doing for my 90th birthday.

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I have created what I believe to be the greatest query letter ever. I’ve been writing it for days, tweaking this and changing that. I’ve spent a lot of time researching what turns an agent off and what can get your painstakingly invoked words ruthlessly chucked into a slush pile.

 

And you know, most of it is common sense.

 

I mean, I may be slightly off my rocker and tilted to one side, but I would like to think that because we’re writers, we would know what to write. “Don’t tell us you’ve just finished a novel—why else would you be writing us?” or “Never say your book is the next Harry Potter—this makes us think it just might be, well, the next Harry Potter and usually, we’re pretty freaking disappointed.” should be obvious things to avoid, but it seems this is not so. Disappointingly, enough of us are sending in malarkey like this to justify experts having to produce Querying for the Dumbass instructions.

 

But my query—my query is clever and quirky. The words run together like butter down the side of a hot mound of mashed potato and come to a cohesive finish at the bottom in a supple pool of slick and creamy amalgamation.

 

You have to admit that even if you don’t like mashed potatoes, you’d read a letter like that, right?

 

And that’s the idea. Whether or not you have creds to list, achievements to boast or stats to rattle, your letter is supposed to sell you—your wits, your worth, your words.

 

So prove you’re a writer and use them wisely.

 

Now, if only I had a novel to go along with my cracker of a query.

never-half-ass-two-things-whole-ass-one-thing

 

 

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Is it possible to develop ADD later in life? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening to me.

 

I—Cannot—Focus.

 

Sure, I’ve been a putterer for as long as I can remember, skipping from one task to the next, but at the end of the day, my long list was always complete. I accomplished what I set out to do and went to bed each night, content and satisfied.

 

No longer the case.

 

Just to give you an idea, in the past two days, I have opened up six new Word docs with the intention of courting you with six different subjects and currently, each one displays about three sentences. There are twenty-three tabs open in my web browser. I can’t seem to make it to the laundry room because I have to walk through the family room to get there and well, let’s just say there’s always cause for pause in that area. I head towards the kitchen with the intent of baking cupcakes, but notice the granite counter top feels gritty, so I clean the entire kitchen instead. A vacuum out the cutlery drawer and wipe down all twenty-six cupboard doors kind of cleaning where, eventually, I look down to see the folds in my yellow rubber gloves crested in moonlight and I find myself totally alone, wondering why everyone is in bed already.

 

I don’t know what it is. I’ve started four books and can’t read more than a page in any one of them. I stand in front of my outdated pine bookcases and ponder how much better they will look when I finally paint them, only to get lost in the paperwork they house, which is never, ever finished…and thus, neither are the shelves.

 

Anyway, squirrel.

 

I got together with a friend last night. She helped me not only to hunker down and finish something, but to get a little of that Christmas Spirit I find so hard to muster, flowing. Here is the productive result of our focused girl’s night…

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I’ve developed a zealous addiction to ice cream. I can also be persuaded with Gelato or frozen yogurt—anything cold and creamy really, and most any kind. It doesn’t need to be expensive or of a certain name. It doesn’t have to be healthy or organic and I admit, with a coy smile and fluttering lashes, that it doesn’t even have to be particularly good.

 

There’s just something about it. Tiny spoonfuls. Over-sized globs. I don’t discriminate. Textured with nuts, smattered with chunks, smothered in swirling trails of smooth liqueurs—I’ll try them all.

 

Oh yes, I’ve always liked ice cream. As a kid I’d run after the creepy van or sit cross-legged on the sidewalk, scrawling my name in chalky bubbles, waiting for a poor schmuck to come by, pedaling a freezer full. I’d gleefully shell out way too much of my hard-earned pocket change for a Phantom or a Drumstick, and when I lived in the UK, I’d drool over 99’s and Raspberry Ripple. I savored bright afternoons watching Ernie stack his spherical scoops while I lazily traced designs in our blue, sun-warmed, shag rug.

 

But lately, it’s more than that. It’s like someone’s trying to tell me something. I just don’t know what. Maybe it’s that I’m getting too old for ice cream. That my time to enjoy it is running out. That soon it will make my teeth twinge and my stomach ache—that diabetes and high cholesterol are right around the corner and I should slow down. Or it might just be telling me I should go after more of what I enjoy .

Maybe it’s as simple as that.

Ernie-icecream

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It can be tough to keep going. Everyone has reasons—some physical, some mental, some…imaginary.

 

You’ve given it your all, done all you can and you’re tired.

 

Maybe you’ve been trying to lose weight, but can’t seem to shed more than a pound or two, perhaps you’re training for a new job and things simply aren’t clicking, you might have been blogging for years and a high-profile publicist has somehow failed to swoop in and make you a star, maybe every query you’ve ever sent has ended up in the slush pile or it might just be that the expensive tooth whitening system you succumbed to buying just isn’t delivering those shocking pearly whites.

 

Unfortunately, I get it. I am very familiar with the rigorous tear down of the emotional psyche. No surprise there. Why do you think it occurs to me to write posts like this?

 

So last Sunday, I watched my daughter play yet another soccer game. She’s a good little player. Usually the oldest and almost always the smallest. She’s phenomenal with ball control, but sometimes doesn’t have the physical strength to match the other players. She was on a team at 4 and 5 years old, but quit shortly after for whatever reason of the day she gave back then, probably a blister, but decided to start up again two years ago. She’s almost 14. She’s playing with girls who never quit. Girls who have been playing since they were 3, 4 and 5 years old. Needless to say, it has taken her some time to build enough confidence to do more than run the ball for more than a few feet or make a quick pass to another teammate.

 

But Sunday was a great day. The weather was invigorating—cold and crisp with the odd burst of energizing sun. We played on a beautiful landscape adjacent to the prestigious grounds of UBC. The team played particularly well and incredibly hard. We were treated to all kinds of fancy footwork and the opportunities to cheer were plentiful.

 

And cheer we did.

 

Especially when my determined little girl seized the chance to strategically chip the ball up over the goalie’s head and score for her first time on a Rep level team.

 

Everyone needs a goal. What’s yours?

Not from Sunday, but a good one, nonetheless. (Photo cred goes to Kori Balaberda)

Not from Sunday, but a good one, nonetheless. Ava is the one in all black. (Photo cred goes to Kori Balaberda)

 

 

 

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I was born without fingernails. Eh, not really, but I bet I nabbed your attention and at least a split second of your sympathy. Admit it. You were picturing me thumping away at this keyboard with my nubby little fingers and their fleshy raw tips. Truth be told, I did come with fingernails. They were just nothing to speak of…or to show anyone for that matter. Ridged and wavy, they were thinner than paper and peeled easier than the fine layer of skin that flakes off after a blistery sunburn.

 

I was forever ashamed of them. Always finding reasons to have the tips of my fingers curled into the shelter of my palms or my hands hidden deep inside my pockets. Yes, there are worse things. Much worse things and we all know shoddy fingernails aren’t among them, but hey, they’re good blog material. (We won’t mention that that is probably a matter of opinion)

 

After trying vitamins, supplements and various potions over the years, I’d given up on my nails. They were what they were and when that wasn’t appropriate, at times like holidays or Christmas parties, I learned to cover them with esthetically pleasing plastic.

 

Alas, I’m veering off the path of this posting.

 

As you know, I managed to transfer 798 of you over to my new .org site and I’d really like to know how you feel about that. I need to know because maybe that will help me figure out how I feel. Right now, I’m not too sure. I was really looking forward to seeing you use the new plug-in “Comment Luv” (not allowed on .com) and to just having more freedom for things like that in general, but I’m second-guessing myself. Help me out. Let me know.

 

When I asked my “Wordpress Happy Engineer” Sam (we’ll call him Sam because well, that’s actually his name) if transferring you back is an option, he said that can be confusing for you guys and that multiple transfers lead to unhappy followers. I should mention that he also said that if I came to the conclusion that that’s what’s best for all of us, he’d do it in a heartbeat.

 

As for my nails, I decided that giving up wasn’t an option. That they still mattered. So I chose to try one last thing. And guess what? It worked. My nails became, by some miracle, long and strong. I’ve even had to cut them back or file them down a few times. I seriously can’t believe it.

 

I take it as proof that we need to keep trying new things. There’s something out there that will work for everyone. We just can’t give up.

 

MY nails!

MY nails!

 

 

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“This is the worst writing ever,” my husband says one lazy morning as we were lying in bed watching “Message in a Bottle” on the tube.

 

“You’re calling Nicholas Sparks the worst writer?”

 

It was that moment when Robin Wright is walking away from Kevin Costner and he says; “I don’t want to lose you,” and she replies; “Then don’t,” and keeps right on walking.

 

“Okay,” I prop myself up on one elbow. “But you know he’s like, extremely successful, right? He’s published seventeen novels and one super awesome non-fiction book.”

 

“Yeah, but this is garbage. It’s written for women. It’s just what women want to hear.”

 

I won’t lie. I get what he’s hinting at. Even I could almost smell the cheese while watching that movie, but does that mean it’s the worst writing ever?

 

Nicholas Sparks is clearly a massive success. Almost half of his books have been adapted to film and there aren’t many people out there who don’t know his name. So, the question comes to mind – if he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, does that make him an awful writer? Ugh, did I just say that out loud? Not a question. Never even should’ve come up because the answer is an emphatic no. We all write in different styles and different genres and there’s always going to be that doubt. Will people like it? Will anyone think it’s stupid? If Nicholas Sparks can’t woo absolutely everyone, how will I?

 

You don’t need to.

 

Don’t listen. Keep writing. Be you. As much as I, as a general rule, feel that saying preachy stuff like “be your authentic stuff” is redundant, I think in this case it holds some meaning. Don’t change your voice because you think it may not appeal to an entire world. Doing so will lead you away from where you’re meant to end up and you will not be happy. And what is true success when all is said and done? Happiness.

 

Nick Sparks is a former full scholarship athlete so I’m sure being razzed about writing girly stories isn’t new to him. I’m also pretty sure he’s darn glad he didn’t stop.

 

After all, everybody has different tastes, but most people appreciate a little cheese with their whine.

 

*Message in a Bottle opened at #1 on the Valentine Days weekend of 1999 with an estimated $16.7 million. It grossed $52.8 million domestically with an additional $66 million overseas to a total of $118.8 million worldwide.[1] – courtesy of Wikipedia

 

*”Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, with over 97 million copies sold worldwide, in more than 50 languages, including over 65 million copies in the United States alone.”   – a snippet from Nicholas Sparks’ Biography.

 

Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle

 

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