Is there envy or jealousy within the writing community?

On our recent oceanside holiday we had regular nightly visitors. Along with twilight came the geese, in several gaggles of varying numbers.

Geese Arriving

They didn’t come ashore, but found convenient logs on which they claimed a spot to settle for the night.

Geese Settling

Their attitude toward one another was fascinating. In flight, it’s known that the lead bird of the typical V-formation will bear the brunt of the wind resistance, with all the others gaining benefit of the upwash from the bird ahead. The front position is rotated periodically to share the flight fatigue among the others in the flock. It’s an aerodynamic thing.

But when it came to sharing a resting spot on that log, some of the more dominant members weren’t as cooperative.

This one, for instance. I don’t know what the criteria was for a comfortable nighttime perch — most of the others spaced themselves out —  but he challenged any bird that approached the log he had claimed. He wanted it all for himself. His attitude eventually was his undoing, when his antics started the log rolling. It became a birling competition… goose versus log. Guess who lost?

Lucy Goose

This is MY spot!

 

 

Goose Shove Off

Shove off, bud!

Ackkk!

Ackkk!

Oops!!! Can someone lend a hand... um, a wing, please?

Oops!!! Can someone lend a hand… um, a wing, please?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greed, selfishness and envy are very unpleasant emotions, often more so for the person experiencing them than the one to whom they might be directed. In the writer’s world there are many opportunities for the green-eyed monster to raise its nasty head. Between blog awards, contest wins, new contracts, best seller list placements, sales numbers and book awards, someone is always mounting a pinnacle of success ahead of others who look on, regretting that it isn’t them.

And yet… and yet, I’ve found there is very little jealousy evident. Oh, I don’t mean there’s no wishing, but at the same time most writers I’ve encountered seem genuinely happy about the successes of their peers. Any announcement of special achievement is met with collective happy dancing and abundant congratulations. Maybe it’s because we’re all well aware of the steep climb everyone has endured on the journey.

There is an expansive community within the writers’ circle, one enriched by camaraderie and support. That goose could learn a thing or two from them.

Have you had any experience with envy or jealousy during your pursuit of publication? How did you deal with it?

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Swimming Goose

Writing ‘ho-hum’ fiction

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Vancouver is the city of my birth. Its population today is much larger than it was all those years ago, but even then I considered it big. Still, my parents never hesitated to let me roam our neighbourhood to play with friends in the evening darkness, or as a young teenager to take a city bus into the downtown core by myself for weekly dance and baton lessons.

It wasn’t that crime didn’t exist. I recall hearing of a body being found in a wooded vacant lot next to my primary school — a lot in which most of us regularly played hide-and-seek games during recess and lunch hours. I was in Grade Three, and for the remainder of that school year there were more than the usual reminders not to talk to strangers. The P.A.C. had the lot cleared as a precaution, but the murder was seen as an exception… an isolated event.

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As I returned to the mainland from Vancouver Island via ferry earlier this week, the setting sun bathed the city in a rosy glow. But no amount of ‘viewing through rose coloured glasses’ can eliminate the statistics that prove how much it has changed over the years. It is now an area of about 2.3 million inhabitants — the third most populated metropolitan area in Canada. While it ranks as one of the top places worldwide for livability, there are also more homicides — to date in 2013 34 of them in the metro Vancouver area — as well as organized crime and drug-related gang activities.

It’s a beautiful city, but high-density living in the twenty-first century has its drawbacks. Many Vancouverites lock their doors even when they are at home, accompany children to and from all their activities, and never go for walks alone in secluded areas, especially at night. Although people don’t live in fear, nevertheless suspicion and caution are frequent bywords of our time. “You can’t be too careful.”

This week I was passing through Vancouver on my way home. I no longer live in the city, but when I consider how much things have changed in half a century, I understand why people are drawn to historical novels, seeing them in an almost nostalgic light. There has always been crime in the world, but we tend to believe earlier generations enjoyed a simpler, safer lifestyle.

Which brings me to my writing application. You knew there would be one, right? My genre isn’t historical fiction, although I occasionally enjoy reading it. Whatever I read, I respect authors who thoroughly research the eras in which their stories take place and whose characters and setting feel authentic.

Unfortunately there are some who are writing contemporary fiction, only because it’s what they know. They might believe no research is necessary, but in my opinion contemporary fiction requires a broad knowledge of present-day lifestyles. For instance, with over fifty percent of Vancouver’s residents having a first language other than English, it is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada.  Even when our personal lives might be limited in experience and exposure, our characters may need thorough researching to be realistic in today’s society.

If we aren’t careful, writing “what we know” could tell our readers we’re lazy writers!

Do you read or write contemporary fiction? What keeps some stories from coming across as ‘ho-hum’?

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Friday Findings…

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Another week concludes, bringing us closer to the end of summer. I haven’t taken a significant blogging hiatus yet this year, but after helping one part of our family with their house-hunting and then their moving experience this month, and getting ready to help another move in two weeks, I think a little break is in order during the continuing chaos. I’ll try to pop in occasionally with some photography posts, but you may not hear much from me here over the next little while.

But whether it’s here or somewhere else, you can always count on lots happening around the internet and blogosphere. For instance, here are some of today’s findings that I found interesting…

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With his sixth novel, HEART FAILURE, soon to be released, there’s a Facebook announcement from Richard Mabry that his first medical mystery, CODE BLUE, is free today on Kindle, http://tinyurl.com/jwe8be6, Nook, http://tinyurl.com/kovls2a, and ebook, http://tinyurl.com/k943z5d. What a perfect time to get introduced to his “Prescription for Trouble” series. Even if you’re reading this too late to get it free, I think you’d enjoy picking up his ‘medical suspense with heart’ books.

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Valerie Comer and Angela Breidenbach use an engaging way to announce the contract signings for their September 2014 release of their two novellas in CHRISTMAS TIARA, that mixes “tiara talk with farm lit and Christmas” — check out their video here.

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Here’s an earlier-this-week blog post from Laura Best with the final cover reveal for her next novel, FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING, which will be releasing at the end of September.

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From Sue Harrison, a post reflecting on her week of virtual book touring, which celebrated the recent release of her six Alaska books in eBook format. There’s also a brand new video introduction to Sue that I’m sure you’d enjoy. You’ll find it here.

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Also found a couple FB posts by Sheila Seiler Lagrand alluding to an upcoming Christmas collection called THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. “Kathi Macias is our ringleader,” says Sheila. “We each will contribute a story in which all the action takes place on a single one of the twelve days leading up to Christmas. Each of the twelve stories will be released individually as an e-book.” Keep your eyes open for this one.

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Denise Jaden’s “Friday Four” post today presented the cover for her February 2014 release, FAST FICTION:

“Fast Fiction is a quick, inspirational, step-by-step and day-by-day guide to writing a structurally sound and engaging first draft in the shortest amount of time possible. It provides a great starting point for writers as they ditch time-wasters, detour frustration, and overcome self-doubt, and it helps them decide where to go with their story and how to get there quickly, with results. Told in the empathetic and accessible voice of an author who can provide an insider’s look at her own craft and publishing experiences, Fast Fiction provides readers with their own writing coach as they embark on a quick, fun, and challenging 30 days to a first draft.”

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Take a break to listen to this hand-clapping, toe-tapping music video via a link posted by Donna Pyle, founder of Artesian Ministries. She says, “Such a cool, original way to make traditional music fresh for the next generation.”

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I’m told C.J. Box’s just released mystery, THE HIGHWAY, is a goosebump-raising change of pace from his Joe Pickett series. I’ve been a fan of his mystery stories right from the beginning. Now I’m not sure which to read first, THE HIGHWAY or BREAKING POINT, his latest Joe Pickett book.

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And for my fellow pet owners, a FB link via Sandra Heska King, with news of a dog and cat food recall:

Both Iams and Eukanuba brand dry dog and cat food are being recalled. Both have the “best by” dates within the first two weeks of November 2014 and could be tainted with Salmonella.

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There! With all that shared, hubby, dog and I are back to helping fill and empty packing boxes while enjoying the company of children and grandchildren. What are YOU up to this weekend?

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In which some things get turned upside down!

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Upside down (trailing) Calibrachoa ‘Sweet Bells’

We had an election in British Columbia yesterday. I’m not one to follow politics doggedly, but I do take the responsibility of voting seriously. I voted, then through the evening watched television coverage of the incoming results.

Going into this election the provincial Liberals were expected to lose. In the end, although it appears she lost in her own riding by a narrow margin, Premier Christy Clark led her party to a resounding win. From the National Post online:
“The Liberals defied common wisdom and months of abysmal polling numbers to win British Columbia’s election Tuesday, a shocking turnaround for a party and a premier who entered the campaign with many observers writing the government’s obituary…B.C.’s Liberal party defied prognosticators and pundits Tuesday to win a fourth consecutive election, an upset that will confound so-called experts for months.”

In his election night speech, defeated NDP leader Adrian Dix said, “Elections belong to the voters, and the voters decided.”

Nobody could have predicted this election’s outcome, although in retrospect there were indications that people hesitated to risk a repeat of the economic downturns experienced during the NDP’s past terms in power. Christy Clark’s persuasive focus on our need for a strong economy carried her party past Dix’s promises of generous spending, to an inevitable conclusion. For whatever reason, nobody saw it coming.

Of course there’s a writing application here. (You knew there would be, didn’t you?) Public reaction to this political upset makes me think of reading suspense novels, mysteries or thrillers, with their unpredictable endings. I love being surprised by an ending, as long as the author has dropped subtle clues along the way. The plot may turn the characters’ lives upside down, but when I flip back to earlier scenes I need to find the logic behind the story’s resolution.

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Are you the kind of reader who likes to peek at the last few pages first, to find out how a story ends? Or do you prefer to be surprised? On the other topic, do you vote in your province’s, state’s or country’s elections?

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Taking a risk; making a start

Climbing StairsYou know the feeling. That breathless, gasping ache for air as you force one foot ahead of the other, climbing one more step, and one more, and one more… desperate to reach the top.

It may have been a challenge, a climb, a race, a chase. Or maybe you were recovering from surgery and pushing yourself just one more step was part of your therapy.  Whatever the case, the first step had to be taken, then another. Without making a start, there was no way to reach the top.

Yesterday I came across this poster on Facebook* and was reminded of how often we don’t make progress because we never quite muster the momentum that’s needed. We never succeed because we can’t accept the risk of failure. We never finish because we don’t start.

Taking small steps

Writers face this every day. There are those who would like to write a novel but aren’t sure they can create 90,000 consecutive words. Or they have too many ideas and don’t know how to round them up into a cohesive story. Others have written their stories but aren’t able to share them with editors or agents, or even other writers, for fear they aren’t good enough. Some published authors fear their initial success is a fluke and whatever else they write won’t measure up, so they don’t try again.

I’ll bet you can think of times you’ve hesitated, turned aside from pursuing a goal or a dream for what seemed like a very legitimate reason. Did you ever return to it… eventually make the effort… or did you accept it wasn’t meant to be?

It’s never too late to try again. If the original dream is beyond reach, you can always modify the goal.

“Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”

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“I don’t so much mind looking back on having lost the election,
or having been denied a role in the play, or having had my novel repeatedly rejected,
or having been turned down for a date,
or recalling laughter at my expense when I attempted some silly challenge.
Those things simply prove that I lived life.
What I do mind, however, is looking back on the lost opportunities
where imagined concerns kept me from even trying, lose or win.
I’ve learned that there is no regret in a brave attempt. Only in cowering to fear.”

Richelle E. Goodrich

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“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us –
yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Psalm 90:17 – NIV

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“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished
by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Dale Carnegie
Quotes and Fantasy

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Seen in passing…

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April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

William Shakespeare

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Why is it that everything looks good on a sunny day? Yesterday DH and I travelled across the Lower Mainland for a family visit, and while he drove, I pointed my camera at anything that caught my attention. And almost everything did. In this mini-travelogue I’m sharing the many sights that made me smile and count blessings.

The approach to Golden Ears Bridge over the Fraser River was heralded on both sides with massive eagle sculptures…

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Four smaller golden eagle sculptures adorned both ends of the bridge…

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On the other side, masses of daffodils lined the roadway for several kilometres…

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… and  fresh new greens graced the views in every direction…

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Oh, and then there were those mountains…

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Many things were seen in passing today, but the best view of all was the reason for our trip… seeing our favourite aunt, home from hospital once again…

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Nothing could brighten the day quite as much as her wonderful smile! Thanks for the visit, Aunt Norma! You are a blessing in our lives.

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But for those who honor the Lord, his love lasts forever,
and his goodness endures for all generations

Psalm 103:17 – GNT

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Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed.

Proverbs 31:25-28a – RSV

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Doing Research… and lovin’ it!

History was never my strong subject in school and I’d be embarrassed if you asked me how many history books are on my ‘recently read’ book list. If it’s a story about pioneering in the Yukon or northern BC, I’ve probably read it, but other places don’t usually interest me unless I’ve travelled there and have some personal time invested in the locale. I know, I know… I’m missing a lot.

So last fall I surprised myself by agreeing when I was asked if I would become our church’s historian. It’s not meant to be a big job — a history was compiled seventeen years ago, so the groundwork has been done — but there were no photographs included in it. The request is “to document the many events, milestones and accomplishments … in our ministry to each other and to the community around us,” and to do that, photographs are imperative.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Haney, BC

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and Manse – Haney, BC (circa 1907-1910) *

People have been contributing, I’ve been scrounging, scanning and sifting through everything I’ve collected. And I’m loving it! Who knew dry old church history could be so fascinating?

Those of you who write historical fiction, with all the research it entails, have probably known this all along.

What do you enjoy most (or least) about researching material for your writing?

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* Photo  via Maple Ridge Historical Society archives

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