Monday, August 31, 2009
I'm in the position of having to come up with some ideas for my editor, and at the beginning of the weekend my brain just HURT. I was trying to assimilate some things and then come up with a high concept and NOTHING was gelling. At one point, I thought, "I've got to stop thinking about work." I have learned from experience that sometimes when you're looking for answers, the best thing to do is STOP looking and do something else. I can't tell you how many times a story problem has been resolved during a jacuzzi bath or watching a movie.
So I stopped thinking, and I got up Saturday and launched into housework. I know. Extreme measures, but there you go.
So, over the course of Saturday and Sunday I got:
The house clean
3 loads of laundry done
Made homemade lasagna for supper
Mended 2 shirts, one pair of sleep pants, one pair of yoga pants, and hemmed 2 pairs of pyjama pants
Cleaned out the drawers in the kitchen desk
Made apple crumble
Finished a knitting project
Read Fiona Harper's Blind-Date Baby (fabulous book, loved it and reached for the tissues while feeling completely inadequate as a writer)
And I have a couple of story ideas that might fly, once I talk to my editor.
Oh well, if nothing else, I'm in good shape on the domestic front.
Friday, August 28, 2009
You know, this isn't generally my regular reading fare. I got it in DC as part of the freebies given out and since I'm reading a lot of contemporary single title, I didn't let it languish long in the old TBR. Kristan writes first person, chick litty stories and while I started it and enjoyed it, I didn't get super excited about it. I laughed at parts but was it the kind of book that got me excited?
Then I hit the last third or so, and I got hungry to read read read and see how it was all going to come together.
And imagine my surprise (and pleasure) when I hit somewhere around page 340 and I was sniffling and wiping my eyes.
I got frustrated with Grace, and with her sister Margaret, but that was the intent, because it made the growth arcs at the end a really good, big payoff.
Would I read another of Kristan's? You bet.
In other news, I am quitting at noon today as the husband is home. We are all going to the chip truck for fish and chips - it's nearly the end of the season and last chance. Then it's grocery shopping. Mother Hubbard's Cupboard is getting bare in a few spots, so we're replenishing.
I'm a bit stalled on chapter 2 of Jewell, in part because I'm waiting on news and in part because everyone is home and in part because I feel unsure. I will say that school begins next week and I'm looking forward to a few weeks of quiet and regular schedule. Hopefully then I'll bust through and things will flow a little better rather than fighting for words.
Have a good weekend...it's fallish outside so I predict cleaning and baking and all manner of fall organization and nesting bits. I do this every autumn. I feel I must store for the winter, apparently.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Reading: Too Good To Be True, Kristan Higgins
Yesterday afternoon turned a little pricey. We had to take the dog to the vet (she has to go back tomorrow morning). No emergency, but a recurring problem that is requiring a few tests and more than likely medication. I'm lucky that my sister is normally our vet, but she's five hours away. It's fine for the routine stuff - we just plan it around a visit. But when things crop up, we have to go local. While we were waiting, another Duck Toller came in and we oohed and aahed over her. She was lovely.
Once I paid for that, it was on to the music store where we sorted out the eldest with her clarinet rental for the school year. It's her first year in a band program so we also ended up with a box of reeds, cleaning kit, a music stand and instruction book. Then there was also the piano lesson book as she is nearly finished her current level. OUCH.
All in all it was a bit of sticker shock in the end.
The first of the school year is always a little bit of bleeding through the wallet. New shoes, school supplies, a few clothes...fees and what not. I tell you, I don't know how bigger families do it. The two of them are quite enough! LOL
I'm off to finish up a few odd jobs, then it's writing, and then if it's dry enough this afternoon, mowing the grass for the day's exercise. If I use the push mower it takes me about 2 hours.
Monday, August 24, 2009
First of all, let me introduce you to Joshua Collins. Josh runs a whale watch tour boat out of Jewell. He didn't always. He has a whole past that happened away from his home town. But life can change on a dime, and now he's back home again, plagued by well-meaning family and feeling a little under the microscope. Still - keeping life laid back and day by day is just how he likes it.
It doesn't hurt that he's nurturing a broken heart, either.
So you can imagine how meeting Elizabeth Howard might turn his life upside down, especially...well, never mind especially why. Hopefully you'll get to read about that part somewhere down the road.
Elizabeth is more a type A personality. She's always been an achiever with an eye on what she wants, and she usually gets it too. Like Josh, her life has been touched by loss, but it's a discovery in her mother's attic that completely turns her life upside down. That discovery leads her to Jewell, Maine, where she's taken a temporary job in a local doctor's office (yes, she's a doc). It leads her straight to Josh Collins too.
Jewell itself is a typical coastal town, with colorful buildings, a rich history, and moderate tourism in the summer - not quite as touristy as say Bar Harbor or Kennebunkport or even Camden. It's got the local lobster fishery in addition to other industry including one now-defunct textile mill. Oh, and it's got secrets too. At least one or two.
Elizabeth is renting a cottage at Fiddler's Cove...this is her view in the morning, once the fog has burnt off. A bit isolated, but the view is worth it, don't you think?
Then there's the old Sea Captain's home, which is currently owned by the mayor of the town. This home has been around since the mid-19th century and oh the stories it could tell.
There's also Selkie's Island, and I'm thinking Josh and Elizabeth will get there in his boat, Jewell's Constant. You never know what might happen at the lighthouse.
All in all, I'm really excited to be writing it and peeling back the layers of their stories.
Reading: Too Good To Be True - Kristan Higgins
I've left out the listening to because honestly, when the kids are home, there is usually some other form of media on and it just competes and jangles my nerves. Next week, when kids are back in school, the book soundtrack will come into play.
Hurricane Bill came and went, bringing scads of rain (officially 57 mm in the city, not sure how much here) and not quite as much wind as was forecast, thankfully. We kept our power. In fact, the worst of the wind happened after 2 p.m. and into the early evening, after the rain had mostly stopped. It was then that we lost the tops off of two trees in our front yard and we are not sure what happened in the woods behind our house - I expect closer examination will show branches down. But it definitely wasn't as bad as predicted.
Today I am starting the writing on the single title, which is at the moment title-less. That will drive me batty. I will have to come up with something, even if it is just a working title. But I have to get started. It is time to buckle down.
I'll be blogging this week very likely on how that develops - working titles, casting, themes....
And a week from Wednesday, school starts. :-)
Friday, August 21, 2009
I am reminded of something on Kate Hardy's blog not long ago, and choosing to feed the positive. In one case a man had opportunities but he chose to feed the negative, and so the opportunities were wasted. Someone else had opportunities and capitalized on them, and went on to be a household name.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This time it was to Windsor, and Haliburton House.
Thomas Chandler Haliburton is a Canadian icon, really. Throughout his lifetime he was a lawyer, judge, businessman, writer, and Member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly (our provincial governing body). The house was built in the 1830's and has had several owners who made additions and modifications, so what is there now isn't strictly Haliburton's. But there are some family items, and the "main" part of the house is what he would have lived in. It is not overly big for someone who raised eight children in it. It is certainly bigger than what it looks though, thanks to all the additions. It is lovely and has some interesting pieces.
I was enthralled by the bits of china displayed and the mismatched "Loyalist" china which was from various Loyalist families. Also spectacular was the bookcase. Not all the books were Haliburton's, but they were all extremely old. There were copies of Haliburton's very famous "The Clockmaker" which starred his well-known character Sam Slick. The book made Haliburton as famous as Twain for a while. I also saw copies of The Poems of Longfellow, Tennyson, and Godey's Book.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
My favorite part of his character is near the end and I don't want to give it away but he is very vulnerable at that point.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
We had a fantastic guide by the name of Paul who had so much detail; my frustration came from wanting to remember so much and knowing I never would.
The gentlemen would enjoy cigars and the women would retire to the parlour across the hall. It is my kind of room. The colour is similar to what we have in our foyer and kitchen, very warm and lovely, with wine draperies. A pianoforte graces the middle of the room, as well as a writing desk that was made from 5 types of wood and given as a gift to one of the children who was a pastor and remained in Halifax to administer to the sick during the cholera epidemic whle most of the well-to-do retired to the country. The chairs on either side of the pianoforte were a gift from the Duke of Kent. Uniacke did rub elbows, didn't he!
The room was guarded grandly by a grandfather clock, still in perfect working order, that is over 200 years old.
Down the hall is the library, and the glorious musty smell of books made me think of my friend The Babe Magnet (aka Stephen Wade). I was in heaven. The Common Book of Prayer was there on a shelf below Fordyce's Sermons - all original. Paul snagged one copy off a shelf after donning gloves and it was from 1771, the linen paper still in great condition.
Across the hall was the guest room, a four poster bed meticulously carved from mahogany and a stocked apothecary chest present as well. In between those rooms was the door with its doorknocker of Bacchus. Wine and good times - yes, I got that sense. The Uniackes were people that knew how to enjoy themselves.
Upstairs were the bedrooms, three of which all connected - a large room that was used by Uniacke's daughter who became a widow a year after her marriage, and two more that were children's rooms. Check out the beautiful chest. I saw it and my jaw dropped. Beautiful pieces, in fantastic shape. It's also an Adams piece from London.
After a trip to the downstairs kitchens (the hearth is there, the rest is a tea room/gift shop) the girls and I had a picnic outside and then did a few of the shorter walking trails. The house is built next to a lake. Several of the outbuildings remain, though some are now gone. The barn and carriage house are there, and in its hey day also had a guest house, caretaker's house, boathouse, etc. The walking trails are open all year free of charge, and another day I think we'll all go back and take the dog.
We got home shortly before 3, and after I mowed the front lawn, it was float in the pool time. Gorgeous gorgeous afternoon all told. The dh got home around 4:30, bringing birthday cake and offering to do the barbequing for supper. After we ate, all of us went for about a 45 minute walk in that lovely mellow summer evening light.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Listening to: some disaster show on Discovery in the next room
Reading: Jodi Picoult, The Pact
Last night, I began watching The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency. The opener was 2 hours but the rest of the episodes are an hour. I really enjoyed it, so will probably watch another few episodes tonight. My tv watching of late has been a lot of HBO and other series I can watch on demand. I tried Nurse Jackie (I wanted to see Peter Facinelli to be honest) but I couldn't get into it. It was hard to relate to a heroine who was probably a good person etc. but was screwing around and doing drugs while working as a head nurse, having a couple of kids and a husband who for all intents and purposes treated her well. I know that character development probably has a deeper purpose, but for me, that's not a sympathetic heroine. So I stopped watching. There's flawed and then there's...messed up.
I AM however adoring True Blood and the dh and I have finished Season 1 and are up to episode 4 of Season 2.
Today my friend is helping me celebrate my birthday a day early and bringing over dinner for me and the girls - the dh and her dh are out sailing together until tomorrow. It means anything I'm going to do has to be done before 6 p.m.
And most of all, I have made the girls a deal. This book WILL go in to my agent today. And that means tomorrow we are going to head out for a few hours to Mount Uniacke Estate to explore the house and grounds.
It's not getting done on its own - so off I go.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Listening to: A/C, tv...is summer vacation over yet?
Reading: The Pact, Jodi Picoult
I haven't blogged since last Friday; unusual as I usually pop in with short messages. I kind of wondered why and then I realized that:
Saturday was spent cleaning, doing laundry, and mowing the grass. Sunday we took the dog to the park for a swim in the a.m. and we had company in the afternoon and for dinner. Monday we got up to a dreary day so in 45 minutes we'd thrown things for overnight in backpacks and headed to my inlaws.
Since my FIL's surgery, my MIL has been working her bum off. But they had some mowers go kaput as well as some eavestrough that broke and so my husband the handy man packed his tools and off we went. First things first - before it rained we cleaned out the gutters, and then he and his dad went to buy some new lengths of trough and fixed the downspout. Then they went to the farm equipment place and got a new belt for one of the mowers and he fixed that before supper. After supper he replaced the screen in their sliding door. I had taken some salads etc. in the cooler which we had with supper, and I was basically on cleanup and provided the odd "hold this" hand.
Yesterday morning he was busy again - adjusting the clothes line stand, fixing the push mower, the door on the rabbit pen and then clearing out some brush from some trees that were cut earlier in the summer. I helped with the breakfast mess and then the girls, my MIL and I went across the road to a neighbour's. She makes candles and while the kids all visited together, I came out with candles - oatmeal raisin cookie for me and each of the girls got one - my youngest went for Bubblicious and eldest for Sweet Pea and Me (yummy). After lunch I did up the dishes and not long after we were on the road again. Home at suppertime.
Last night I watched a few things and got them off the PVR while sewing in the ends on one scarf and continuing knitting on another. I don't know if it is the cooler evenings or what, but the air has a fall feel and I'm getting that back to school organizational/nesting urge. Or maybe things have been so crazy I'm simply dying to get back into a sort of schedule and feeling like I've gotten something accomplished!
So that was where my last four days went. It was good and I had fun, but now it is settling down to work for the next few days and desperately needing to get some things accomplished.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Listening to: birds outside
Reading: Whitethorn Woods, Maeve Binchy
Last night the dh and I finished watching season 1 of True Blood. I love this series and damned if they don't end every single episode on a cliffhanger. We've been up far too late over the last few weeks just so we could see how that ending moment gets resolved...and always ended up getting hooked on watching the whole episode. There are 7 epis of season 2 up (we are doing it with On Demand) so soon we will be done. After that I may watch the Ladies Detective Agency.
Why is it, by the way, that by this time of the summer, kids start arguing? 8:15 in the morning and I've had to take the wii away for the whole day. Instead I've inflicted them with....workbooks. After that it will be emptying the dishwasher and quiet reading. Not to mention making their beds. That's right. I Am The Hammer. The last 2 or 3 days have seen an increase of bickering. Argh!
Part of the problem is that they were SO busy for the first 3 1/2 weeks of summer that now, with things quieter, they have more time on their hands. Next week I hope to remedy that a little bit - the dh is going sailing with a neighbour for a few days and I am planning on taking the girls to Mount Uniacke Estate one of those days weather permitting. We also may spend a few days at the in-laws, giving them a hand and hanging out. The FIL is doing much better since his surgery but they do have a huge amount of land to keep up. My goal is to get Sold to my agent before we go, and then spend that time doing some reading before I launch in to my next project.
I did finish a book the other night- Lynn Raye Harris's debut Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge. I really enjoyed it - the hero was quite ruthless but I understood all along why - and that he was using it as a shield against some real pain. For the most part the heroine stood up to him too. Their past history made the continuing physical relationship plausible, because they were both remembering how it had been between them before. Hot. And also loving. Even as the relationship in the present was sometimes volatile and always intense, they got glimpses of the "old" Alejandro and Rebecca at times and it made it difficult to resist.
Anyway I thought it a very strong debut.
Now, I'm back to finishing up Sold...doing laundry...and probably making a short grocery run as we're out of milk!
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Listening to: mixed CD
Reading: Whitethorn Woods, Maeve Binchy
The news yesterday about Blake Snyder affected me so deeply in part because our family lost a friend earlier this year quite suddenly, and very close to the same age. It does feel very much like a life cut short. And the older I get, the more news like this feels closer to home. My siblings are in their late 40's and early 50's. It makes a person think.
I checked back in my saved e-mail and sure enough, I had saved those communications from Blake right after I'd read Save The Cat. I believe I had mentioned what a big hit he had been in San Francisco at RWA Nationals last year, and this is part of his response to me:
"Yes, I had a ball at RWA wow what a great time and what a wonderful group of proactive, optimisitic writers! I wish my screenwriter buddies were half as upbeat!"
The thing is, what leaks through in every word he wrote to me is enthusiasm. He was a man who was doing what he loved. He was excited about it. Heck, in his last post on his blog only hours before his death, his first words were "I love writers." He loved writing, and craft, and sharing that love with other people that just GOT IT. His door was open, even to strangers like me, telling me to keep in touch and e-mail anytime. We shared a few thoughts about the Romance genre and his future project, Save The Cat Falls In Love. I'll bet there are tons of other romance writers out there with similar stories too...those that met him and dropped him an e-mail to say thanks, or those that, like me, read Save The Cat and loved it.
I can hear my critique partner's words to me back in April...when our friend died and only a few days later we learned my minister back in Calgary had also passed. Both in their prime of life. One only a month away from early retirement. She said that the only think you can do is live. Time will keep passing...it's what you do with it that matters.
I am so fortunate to be doing a job I adore...I hesitate to even call it a job, although some days it definitely feels like it. Writing isn't a job, it's a way of life. And I'm lucky enough that I get paid to do it. I get to live out my dream every day, with fantastic kids, a loving husband, surrounded by grass and trees and nice neighbours.
But there is a lot I haven't done, and that is what strikes me so much about Blake. And Rick. And Linda. It is the force calling tick tock. It is the bit reminding me to look after myself as best I can. To live every moment. To take pleasure in the small things. There are things left to come that I'm not done with - seeing my girls graduate, get married, making me a grandma (hopefully in that order). Writing more books. Traveling with my husband. Death isn't what scares me. It's not living.
Some of those things I can't rush, so I just have to hope and pray I get the chance to see them. The rest - well, in the words of Eminem:
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
I will admit, I had to wipe my eyes at the news. Not because Blake and I were such chums; the sum total of our contact was me dropping him an e-mail after reading Save The Cat and a few responses back and forth about the parallels between screenwriting and romance writing. But I'm so affected because this was a man in the prime of his life, enthusiastic, smart, generous to share his knowledge, working on new projects - and we as a writing community have lost that. And it's a big loss. Save The Cat is my favourite book on writing, and we all could have used a little more Blake. He had a lot to share.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Listening to: The Man from Snowy River in the next room
Reading: Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge by Lynn Raye Harris
My niece is visiting and keeping my kids fairly occupied and has claimed I am also off the hook for making dinner this evening. That means I should have a fairly good work day, knocking off mid-afternoon for a swim as the weather is very summery and lovely.
A review has surfaced from Fallen Angels Reviews for The Rancher's Runaway Princess. You can read it here, but the highlights are: "Donna Alward tugs the heartstrings of the reader with The Rancher’s Runaway Princess...This is an emotional story that brought me to tears one minute and had me laughing out loud the next."
Now I'm off to get to those edits.
Monday, August 03, 2009
But today I have spent on admin, and this is my very last post I'm writing!
In brief - I'm catching up on book blogs and reel reviews.
First the movies - when company was here they had a hankering for comedy so we watched The House Bunny, which was funnier than I expected, and Zak and Miri Make a Porno which was in my opinion absolutely a waste of two hours. Maybe it wasn't that long. It FELT like it. And the girls have watched Kitt Kettridge so many times I have seen it by extension. It's lovely, a very warm and feel-good family movie.
Bookwise, I've finished Halifax at War, A Wind In The Door with the girls, Suddenly One Summer by Barbara Freethy which was excellent. I'm currently reading Just Friends? by Allison Leigh, and Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge by Lynn Raye Harris.
Now I'm actually off to read! I haven't been able to do that enough lately.