The Lucky 7 Meme

Author Laura Best tagged me in a “Lucky 7” meme. (Thanks, Laura!) I don’t too often get into such things because I’m uncomfortable tagging someone else, putting the onus on them to participate, which is required to keep the meme active. But this one is fun. We’re asked to go to page 77 of our current w.i.p., count down seven lines, and then copy and post the next seven lines.

It gives everyone a sneak peek at one of our stories… just a tiny taste that can’t possibly give away anything vital to the plot. So, (taking a deep breath) here are my seven lines from page 77 of SHOWDOWN, which is what I’ve been revising this month.

            “The teens ignored all of us except to scatter off the path long enough to let us pass. There was no way to know if an unpleasant encounter had been averted but as their calls and laughter diminished behind us, I let out the breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. I rarely feel vulnerable when I’m on my own, especially when I have one of the dogs with me, but this was a reminder that as a lone woman, it wasn’t smart to start out for a walk in a relatively unpopulated area of an unfamiliar city at sunset.”

That’s it! (And it really was seven lines in the actual manuscript and the WP draft.) How strange to see the words isolated from the other sentences, paragraphs and chapters. I know what came before and what comes after, but here by themselves on the page, I wonder how they seem to you. (You can tell me if you want to, but you needn’t. In fact, I’d prefer if you didn’t unless you can be totally honest. Just remember that I’m coming to read your blog once I’m done here!)

The other requirement is to tag seven other authors and let them know. This is where I take another deep breath and set out my list with apologies to anyone who would really rather not be singled out for this opportunity. In alphabetical order (because of course I have no favourites):

Joylene Butler 

Dave Ebright

Shari Green

Ed Griffin

Keli Gwyn

Jeanette Levellie

Richard Mabry

There you have it. Now I have to sneak over to all these blogs and hope I can get in and out without anyone taking my head off while I admit to what I’ve done. (But it’s fun, I tell you… fun!!!)


Lucky 7 meme protocol:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line seven
3. Copy down the next seven lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag seven authors
5. Let them know

~  ~  ~

Arguments are for the birds!

I had an argument with myself this morning. I really wanted to spend some time writing, but Christmas baking was beckoning. You know how it is … reason arguing with desire. If I’d just get off my fanny and go bake something, I’d have time to write later. If I write first, however, I’ll never get to the baking. I know that for a fact.

Still, there’s this tantalizing thought begging to be recorded. It would take but a moment to jot it down. Of course that moment might stretch into several as the one thought leads to another. I know myself too well.

While I argued, a similar scene played out on the back deck railing:

“Hi there, little guy. I’ll be out of your way in a moment, but I’m trying to decide whether I want millet for a snack, or sunflower seeds.”

“Okay, but get a move on. I’m hungry.”

“There’s leftover millet on the deck if you’re in such a hurry.”

“Oh sure. Expect me to eat leftovers while you get the choice stuff? Forget it. I’ll just tuck my wings behind my back and wait my turn for the buffet.”

“Suit yourself, but this might take a few minutes. Let’s see … mmm, there’s cracked corn up there, too. And peanut bits! I looooove peanut bits but the jays usually steal them all. So, yeah, maybe peanuts. Ah, but the black oil sunflower seeds have the higher fat content that I could use. I burn a lot of energy on these frosty days.”

“Oh, for pete’s sake, make up your mind! Do you have any idea how much energy I’m wasting while I pace back and forth waitin’ on ya?”

“Quit bugging me! If you’re starving, go hit the neighbour’s feeder, why don’t you? It’s just a hip and a holler beyond those trees.”

“WHAT? Do ya think I’m stupid?”

“Hey, lady! (peering back at me as I watch from the window with my camera) Will you remind this guy that your neighbour has CATS!”

“Cats, shmats. This place has a dog and you don’t see me worrying, do ya?”

“But the dog only eats the seeds left on the deck. He’s not interested in eating you, like the cat is.”

“Shows how much you know. The dog is a Labrador Retriever. Mean anything to you, buddy?”

“Oh. (gulp) Um. I get your point. Maybe I’ll just hop over to the rhoddie and check for iced bugs while you sort out your menu, but speed it up, will ya. The missus is waiting out in the hemlock for me to bring home a few groceries, too.”

“These decisions take time. Let’s see now…. Oh, by the way, did you know that if you wait until sunset the little lights around here come on. Warm toasted seeds! Now that’s a gourmet touch, I’ll tell ya.”

“Well, I’m not waiting that long. Huh? Where’d you come from? Go ‘way, chickadee! I’m next in line for the feeder when thrush is done. There’s a pecking order around here, remember?”

“Ah, drat! Now where’d YOU come from?”

“I guess it’s leftovers tonight after all.” (sigh)

“Fresh or leftover, it’s all the same to me. I don’t share with nobody, kid. So scoot!”

“Aghhh! I’ll risk the cats. I’m outta here!”

“Yeah, I think I’ll sit this one out, too. It sounds like sparrow’s feeling peckish.”

Nobody wins in an argument. Which means I’d better make up my mind about the writing versus baking thing. The baking wins out as I need to set a loaf of cheese bread to rise and make some shortbread. On the other hand, I’ve been writing, haven’t I? Isn’t that called compromise?

What excuses do you come up with when faced with something that tries to eat into your writing time?

~  ~  ~

What happens at SiWC….


What happens in Surrey doesn’t necessarily stay in Surrey! If this video by Kimberly (@kimmydon) doesn’t convince you the Surrey International Writers’ Conference is THE place to be, nothing will. Where else would you see uber-agent Donald Maass literally stripping the [auctioned] shirt off the back of uber-author Robert Dugoni?

I couldn’t get to the conference this year, but followed the highlights via Twitter and Facebook, and am already looking forward to attending the 2012 conference — its twentieth anniversary year. It’s impossible to contemplate missing this conference two years in a row, though not necessarily because of the fun aspects.

Were you there? Or have you attended other conferences this year? What were the highlights for you?


The Luck o’ the Irish, and other blessings


As secular as Irish shenanigans may seem, there are some tenuous sacred roots to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. For instance, it’s said the Shamrock was used by St. Patrick to illustrate the principle of the Trinity to people he converted.

While the Shamrock is associated with all things Irish, it’s actually a native of South Africa. Officially its name is Oxalis Regnelli; it grows from a bulb and produces small white flowers. History suggests the Irish people were anything but lucky so where the connotation of Irish luck originated is unclear, unless it has something to do with finding the occasional four-lobed plant among the Shamrock’s usual three.

Irish blessings abound and my favourite has always been Go n-eírí an bóthar leat, but in light of the ongoing assault of earthquakes in Japan its translation doesn’t seem quite so appropriate this year — may the road rise with you – although its intent is well-meaning:

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields and,

Until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Instead, I’ll raise a glass… mmm, maybe not. I’m not much for Guinness, so maybe it’ll be a mug of Irish coffee*… and offer the following to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.

May the soft winds freshen your spirit.

May the sunshine brighten your heart

May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you.

And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.


*”Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.” [Alex Levine]

Éirinn go Brách 😉

Twitter and the #amwriting hashtag


Twitter is a concise form of online communication… “bursts of information called tweets, each 140 characters in length.” The Twitter hashtag, #amwriting, is an abbreviation of ‘I am writing’ and is intended to encourage an ongoing conversation within the writing community. To reach the intended audience each tweet needs to include the #amwriting hashtag, so the rest of your message is limited to the remaining 130 characters.

It’s remarkable how inventive people can be in expressing themselves in 130 or less characters. I won’t identify the sources, but here are a few recent tweets that made me smile:

I should be #amwriting. That was in my plan for the night. But then I picked a book from my TBR shelf and I CAN’T PUT IT DOWN. *shakes fist*

I haz tea, blankie, theme from Goblet of Fire, and a quiet house. #amwriting #amtryingtostayofftwitterbutfailing

The weight of words isn’t fixed. 3000 words can be like nothing and then 800 words can feel like dragging an elephant uphill. #amwriting

Typo of the day (so far): She wrong out her hair. #amwriting or attempting to anyway.

All this makes me wonder how creative YOU can be with #amwriting and 130 characters or less. C’mon, give it a shot. Share a tweet about your current work in progress, the actions of a character, or a writing dilemma. I’ll even start:

My characters are eavesdropping here without me. It’s after 1 a.m. and I’ve gone to bed. #amwriting not.

Okay, so it’s not very creative. That’s because I really am ready for bed. I get silly when I’m tired.


(You’ll find me on Twitter at

Valentine’s Day Romance Blogfest

It’s official. Jordan McCollum is hosting a Romance Blogfest to help celebrate St. Valentine’s Day next Monday. It’s easy to participate, and a fun way to exercise your romantic creativity as well as meet other bloggers.

Go add your URL to the ‘Mr. Linky’ on Jordan’s page now, then write something on the theme, “Love at first sight . . . or not so much” to post on your blog Monday. After posting yours and linking to Jordan’s page, you can visit the various other links to read and enjoy all the romance while you nibble chocolate Valentines… or whatever else you may do to celebrate the day.

The guidelines and ‘Mr. Linky’ are on Jordan’s blog. So what’s stopping you? Are you going to show us your romance writing ability or not?

There’s a Conspiracy Against Writers


Ernest Hemingway had lots to say on the subject of writing, some of it pretty discouraging. Take this, for example:

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” [Ernest Hemingway]

That brought to mind other familiar quotes:

“Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” [Gene Fowler]

“There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” [Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith]


“Writing is not hard. Just get paper and pencil, sit down, and write as it occurs to you. The writing is easy—it’s the occurring that’s hard.” [Stephen Leacock]


There are aspects of writing that are undeniably difficult, but it appears some authors want us to believe it’s excruciatingly painful. I always thought they were being humorous, but what if it’s a ploy to make us appreciate their considerable talent and the effort they’ve put forth; or a conspiracy to discourage new writers from trying to enter the elite and exclusive society of the published author?

Surely it can’t be! We writers claim to be a friendly, encouraging bunch. A contract or two wouldn’t change us that much, would it? There have been a few blog posts recently dealing with envy and jealousy on the part of the aspiring writer, but we haven’t heard much from the opposite perspective. Is it possible there is a protective instinct at work?

Think about it. If we never burst through the barricaded doors, there’s more elbow room inside for those who got there before us. Less people to share the hors d’oeuvres and chablis.

Is this possible? Sure. Is it likely? Hmm… after due consideration, the other side of my brain says not. Otherwise why would so many successful authors lend a hand at conferences and on their websites? Why would they care enough to write helpful books? To make money off those of us who want to be where they are, you say? Oh, no. I think it’s called “giving back”. I’m sure that’s what it is.

So ignore the masochists. Take heart. Listen to the more encouraging authors out there.

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent.” [Richard Rhodes]

Fear not. I bring you tidings of great joy. Oh, wait… I’m ten days early with that quote. Sorry.


Misplaced Effort… Oh, Bother!

To quote Pooh Bear, “Oh, bother! “ Has this ever happened to you? You get a bright and shiny idea for a new story, and want to dive right in, except there are a lot of other things you need to get out of the way first before you’ll be able to focus on the new story. So you do your best imitation of the White Tornado, race around until all the subliminal clutter is eliminated, and voila… you’re ready to write. Except now that you’ve had time to ponder your idea it no longer seems so shiny.

Or, perhaps you’ve managed to ignore all the distracting chores and jump right into developing that idea. And you write. And you write. And then you sit back after about 5,000 words and realize it wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Yeah, it happens, and I think maybe that’s why I find this video so hilarious.

Sparks and Roaring Fires

Wind whipped branches into a frenzy and flung their few leaves to the ground. It was a wicked evening — the chill seeping through the glass of windows and french doors and sending me off in search of my sweater.

Before long my husband lit a match and started a fire in the fireplace. As the flames leapt from around the wood with a cheerful crackle, I instantly felt warmer. The room’s temperature couldn’t have changed in those few moments, but the flames’ impact was immediate. The apparent coziness chased away the chill.

During the evening, I stared into the flames, slightly hypnotized (is ‘slightly’ even possible?), and recalled summer evenings at our cabin when the air was still heavy with leftover daytime heat, and yet we dragged lawn chairs from the cabin’s deck down to the lakeshore to sit circled around a campfire. Toasting sticks appeared for weiners and marshmallows, and the little ones clamoured for ‘Smores. We shared a different kind of warmth in that family time together, and made memories to treasure.

Not long before that, the airtight heater in the kitchen of the little cabin was relocated to accommodate a new-to-us cookstove. Oh, the rejoicing when the fire was laid and the pan came out to create our very first cookstove meal. The men took turns poking the lengths of wood into a glowing heap as the cheese melted into gooey goodness and the bread turned golden brown. Yes, it was only grilled cheese sandwiches, but after 37 years without a real kitchen stove in the cabin, it was a momentous occasion.

Last time we were at the cabin, our first few days were spent in choking smoke from a forest fire. It wasn’t all that close to us so we weren’t in any real danger from it, but the smoke that obscured our usual view was part of a raging inferno elsewhere, destroying everything in its path.

I was working on this post, thinking about these various fires, when an e-mail arrived with a video about a “random act of culture” presented last month by the Philadelphia Opera Company in a Macy’s store. As I watched it I reflected on how this random act, like a tiny spark, had the potential for massive impact.

Such moments of unanticipated beauty, or perhaps the gift of a helping hand, a smile and word of encouragement, even the stories we so carefully craft with characters who live, fail, trust and overcome, may have unexpected impact on the lives of others. We may never know about it, but if we ignite the sparks, we allow God an opportunity to fan flames to provide light and warmth for those who may be in great need.

Have you ever given one of your characters the opportunity to do some small act of kindness, helpfulness or generosity? What difference did the gesture make?

Here’s the video I mentioned. I hope you have time to watch it.