Monday, August 31, 2009

My House is Clean

There is nothing like a dearth of story ideas to get one's house clean.

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

Book Blogs, Bits and Bobs

Number 53 for the year is Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins.

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

Music and dogs

Working on: Jewell
Reading: Too Good To Be True - Kristan Higgins. Am snatching moments to read a few chapters here and there, sigh!


Today I'm over at The Pink Heart Society talking about soundtracks and memory. Come on over!


And we are back from the vet. Poor puplet had to go in first thing for a urinalysis and lo and behold she has a slight UTI. So antibiotics for that. Then the vet told me (and I suspected) that her incontinence issue had to do with hormones as it is very common, esp in breeding dogs. So she's on the doggie equivalent of HRT. An easy fix, once the UTI is cleared up. Most of all she's enjoying getting her pills in peanut butter. She LOVES peanut butter.


She really is a good girl, and within 2 weeks she'll be down to 1 pill a week. No sweat.

Otherwise I'm working away, unfortunately I have to delete most of what I wrote yesterday as I started the scene in the wrong place.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Pricey Afternoon

Working on: Jewell
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

Jewell

I thought I'd share a few pics that I put in my folder for the new book, which for the time being I've christened Jewell for lack of a better working title. Jewell is the name of the town where the story is set, with all sorts of little places in the surrounding area lending color.



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.

Back in the Saddle

Working on: Single Title
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

Prepping for Bill

Working on: see blog title
Listening to: nada - husband on biz call
Reading: Too Good To Be True, Kristan Higgins



We've had our share of company over the summer but the next guest is really one I could do without (not our dinner guest for tonight, though, he's lovely).

This one is Hurricane Bill.

Last year we had a couple of storm watches and we actually didn't get hit too bad - a couple of trees down in the neighbourhood but the Bay of Fundy area got it worse. And no one knows for sure what impact Bill will have - whether or not he'll decide to visit, or spin his way out into open water. It's pretty certain though that we're in for a good dose of rain and some high winds - and even if it's not the 120 km an hour, if it ends up being even 70 or 80 we can have power issues.

SO, today I am making sure we have drinking water, laundry done and gas for the generator as well as charged cell phones just in case. Tomorrow afternoon we'll move plants etc. inside and clear off the deck. Then we just wait to see what happens. I for one am just glad that the husband is home this weekend.


I have a couple more books to log as well - numbers 51 and 52 of the year. The first is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I have mixed feelings about this book. In ways I thought it was brilliant and in other ways thought it could have been better organized.

I think it was mostly that the “theory” bits of what makes success are somewhat veiled….you know, like when you read a paper or essay and you have a topic sentence? I could have used more topic sentences. LOL It was largely anecdotal which was entertaining, but when I finished I couldn’t really sit down and say, “Well, these are the principles of success.”

I did however find a glimmer of cohesiveness on page 267. If there is an underlying theory throughout, it’s this: “Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” Success is made by decisions and effort.

You know I almost prefer David Foster’s memoir to this. One of his quotes was to look at everything as an opportunity. Even things that don’t seem like it. It’s about taking a situation and finding a way to work it to your advantage. Gladwell seems to agree, and we're not talking huge opportunities. We're talking little ones, that feed to new ones, and so on.

Perhaps the greatest thing I took away from it? Parenting skills. LOL. And I’ll be giving it to the dh to read. He really only reads non-fiction and a lot of leadership and communication stuff. I think the section on the airline industry will pique his interest. I knew when I read it that I’d already seen the MayDay episodes featuring those crashes and he is huge on Human Factors.
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.

IQ and wealth are not everything. Instead, he makes a very compelling argument for the powers of culture and nature vs. nurture.

And under it all is the one thing that MUST happen - and that's hard work. And that's something we can ALL do. Great equalizer, huh! :-)



The next book is The Pact by Jodi Picoult. It's my first book from her and it was really good. If I have any complaints it's that the "then" portion - moving back and forth to the history of Chris and Emily - was distracting. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure I had to see it for the story to make sense. I know it was all to show the connection and how their lives were intertwined in such a crazy way, but I do know I found myself wanting to skim through some of that stuff to the now.

Also - there were some ends left open. And even as I recognize that it might be the point - that when someone dies you might not be able to get the answers, it is unsettling. In one area of Emily's life, things were hinted at but never truly explained. And I really wanted her mother, Melanie, to get some help. Grief does funny things to people and it definitely brought out the worst in her. She became unhinged and I thought her husband should have either demanded she get help, or leave if she didn't.

I won't say anymore and give away the story, but I would definitely read another of her books.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Haliburton House

Working on: day off
Listening to: the air conditioner
Reading: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell

Today I took the day off, watered the grass and fed the cats at the neighbours (along with the kids), and we packed a picnic and hit the road again.

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.



As much as I enjoyed the parlours and such I have to say my favourite room was the kitchen downstairs. There is the very large hearth and then a collection of implements used including candle molds, a butter churn, spinning wheel, loom, and butter presses which were lovely patterns. There was a cheese press and several other "gadgets" of the time.



The woman working there did tell us there are ghost rumours to the house. She told us this before we went upstairs to the attic. At the top of the third floor stairs, there is a section without windows so it was very, very dark. I got the willies. The girls did too but soldiered on up the ladder to the very top, empty but awash with sunlight. This picture is of the Master Bedroom which was HUGE and quite lovely.

I don't know about you, but a Haliburton sitting in his wing chair is slightly less daunting than a Haliburton in a third floor vacant dark room.
We ate a picnic lunch outside next to a huge chestnut tree and I had a nice chat with the two ladies working. Then the girls and I decided we'd try Shand House. Unfortunately there are precisely three parking spots and all were taken. There is no street parking either, so we decided to wait for another day. Windsor is only about 40 minutes, so I know there will be occasion to go back and possibly to visit Fort Edward at the same time. Who knows. Maybe we'll even do it next week. Or maybe we'll head somewhere else on the coast where it's cooler, although rumour has it the temps should be more moderate.

Whenever I feel guilty for not working, I remember that school goes back in so soon and we won't have these opportunities again for a while.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Big Five-Oh

Working on - prep for new book
Listening to: nothing
Reading: The Pact, Jodi Picoult

I'm still reading The Pact - about half through, actually, because I took a break to read something else. First though, I am logging book 49 for the year which was The Voyage of the Dawntreader by CS Lewis. I am logging the Narnia series because it's been so long since I read them I am discovering them all over again. I think it was our favorite so far of the series - and we only have The Silver Chair and The Last Battle left.

The girls and I have moved on to A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle - third in her Wrinkle in Time Quintet.


And the book that is my big five-oh is Kept For Her Baby - by my dear friend Kate Walker.

I'll be honest. Sometimes I love Presents and sometimes I just...don't. But every now and then a story comes along that sticks with me and this one will. As someone who suffered from Post Partum Depression, I really felt for the heroine. And while the hero, Ricardo, was ruthless we also saw a side of him that understood why. I mean he's a man with a baby, fiercely protective and hurt. And yet he sees the signs that Lucy was ill and he is willing to hear her out. He has the capacity for generosity and kindness. And you can't blame a man for being hesitant when his absentee wife suddenly shows up again - of course you're going to think it's for the money, all things considered.

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.


My sister was here briefly today for a cool down swim before hitting the road again....which was cool. I worked all morning though on prep and am stuck trying to find a name for my fictional town. I have it narrowed down to four choices.

I still need a name for my heroine though. She is being elusive!

Right now I'm off to read on the deck before it is time to get dinner!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another year older

I turned another year older yesterday (and major thanks to all the well wishers on facebook...holy smokes!) and it was a great day. Since I hit the send button on Sold on Thursday afternoon, I took the day off.
I got up and had breakfast and checked e-mail and worked out, talked to my mum and my mother in law and then as I changed the girls packed our picnic. About 10:30 we were ready to go - first stop a much needed cup of coffee, next the bank, and thirdly the bottle depot where we cashed in our summer's worth of bottles.

Then we drove on to the Uniacke Estate which is a museum and our bottle money paid the admission (which, for a museum, was so cheap. Under ten bucks for the three of us.).

The day was GORGEOUS by the way and so the first thing we did was tour the house. The house was built in 1815 by Nova Scotia attorney general Richard Uniacke as his SUMMER home. It was owned by the family until 1949, and everything in it belonged to the family. Nothing was brought in as a representative piece of what they would have had - it's the real deal. Paintings, furniture, clothing...it's all genuine. And STUNNING.


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.
You enter to a wide hall, which would have been used for entertaining when they had several guests that wouldn't all fit into the rather large dining room. The dining room was on the immediate right, and when Uniacke went shopping in London for furniture for Government House, he also was smart and did some personal ordering as well. Most of the furniture in the house is crafted by George Adams and is solid mahogany. The dining table and chairs is breathtaking, and note the Wedgwood table settings. I am crushed my pictures of the cabinets filled with tea sets didn't turn out - I will have to go back. Paul did say that they had, of course, several different patterns and one was another Wedgwood pattern of 100 table settings. Can you imagine?



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.

There was a room for the upstairs maid, which now contains a glassed in area where you can see Martha's wedding dress, another beautiful dress, bonnet, shoes, and Richard's waistcoat. Next to that is a bedroom where one of the children lived - a spinster. The master bedroom was beside it and again, stunning furniture. In all the rooms even the pitchers and bowls were beautiful. The master bedroom set is also mahogany. The spool work on the four posters is amazing.


There is a closed door - that was the quarantine room. If you got sick - into isolation you go.
There used to be a widow's walk upstairs, but it was later closed in and is more of a sunroom now - the semicircular window you see at the top is that room.
The house itself is situated on the Old Post Road - what used to be the main road running between Halifax and Windsor. Uniacke built the house so that he could see the comings and goings and also to impress that traffic. In the end, he'd bought or been granted so much land that he had nearly 12,000 acres.


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.

It probably doesn't sound very exciting, but it was the best day. So relaxing and rejuvenating - and that is worth more than any presents!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's going in today...

Working on: Polishing pass for Sold
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

A busy little bee

Working on: polishing pass for Sold
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

Friday

Working on: edits for Sold - almost done!
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

Tick tock

Working on: Edits for Sold
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

Blake Snyder


I opened my e-mail to 2 messages - one from my critique partner and one from another author both letting me know that Blake Snyder died yesterday of an apparent heart attack. He was 52.


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.

He'll be missed.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Review for The Rancher's Runaway Princess

Working on: Edits for Sold To the Highest Bidder
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."




I also got the UK cover for my November book, which in the UK is titled simply "Mistletoe and Marriage" (without the Montana). I'm not quite sure what I think yet.

Now I'm off to get to those edits.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Natal Day

Today is Natal Day in Nova Scotia which means last night we had fireworks after swimming and eating and drinking the best pina coladas EVER.

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.