Everything Writing

This week my life is all about writing. Oh, I write pretty much every day, but there’s a special focus on it right now.

On Tuesday I joined my daughter, Shari Green, for an evening hosted by the Golden Ears Writers in Maple Ridge. She and her fellow authors Denise Jaden and Dawn Ius Dalton took part in a panel-style workshop on ‘Ideas and Imaginings: Finding and developing story ideas and exploring the world of re-tellings and re-imaginings.’ Such great insights and so many good ideas emerged!

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(Denise Jaden, Dawn Ius Dalton and Shari Green)

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Now Shari and I are at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, a long weekend that is always the highlight of our writing year. For our very introverted souls, it’s both exhilarating and daunting to be a part of the hundreds-large crowd of literary peeps — big name authors and writers of all levels of experience, editors, agents, publishers and screenwriters — and be immersed in everything writing for three (very long) days.

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With several dozen workshops and presenters, keynote speeches, book signings and banquets plus all the hobnobbing in between, it provides a huge dose of information and inspiration, boosts our creativity and rejuvenates our writerly souls. It’s also exhausting!

It will be good preparation for November and the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) marathon  — our zany effort to produce 50,000 words in thirty days.

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With it following a week after the conference, we’re always more than ready to creep into our solitary spaces and start prepping for a month of concentrated writing. Then, with the arrival of November, more times than not, we manage to hammer out a rough draft of a complete novel.

So I guarantee you won’t see much of me around here for the next few weeks — there won’t be a lot of musing and mental meandering time — but I’ll pop in with periodic updates. Let me know what you’re up to, too, and I’ll offer encouragement where I can. Any new projects? Are you finishing old ones, revising, mulling, or deep in tearing-your-hair-out frustrations? Let me know. We can console each other. 🙂

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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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This BC writer’s rant…

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Beware! This is a rant!

For the past two years the Federation of British Columbia Writers’ website has been in constant upheaval as its executive seeks to make it relevant and accessible to writers.  Their Fall/Winter 2010 magazine, WordWorks, carried the announcement that their soon-to-be-launched upgraded site was “a new [virtual] front door to the Federation of BC Writers, a renewed… rejuvenated web site”, and that the plan for the new site was “now live online.” It was the first of many similar announcements, with each attempted site revision becoming more complex.

When volunteers were sought, I was one of three who worked on transitioning data from the original site to the new one during the spring of 2010. Before our work was complete I returned to the site after my summer vacation to find everything we’d done had been altered, and there had been a change in personnel and the executive.

Web gurus took a turn at trying to get everything reorganized and functioning. Then it became mostly a members-only site, with passwords that didn’t always work, and material dependent upon member input that rarely occurred except by a handful of insiders.

I know I sound cranky and critical, but my inner voice has been shrieking, “It’s a WordPress template, for goodness’ sake. How difficult can it be to have an introductory front page and links to pages of appropriate info, with a blog page for easily added news?” “And why do we need detailed bios for hundreds of members – “profile [to] include a list of publications, awards and workshop skills… and a professional quality head shot” — when our achievements will constantly change, requiring regular updating?”

The website has been ‘in transition’ for over two years. I often wonder if anyone bothers to access it anymore, except perhaps new visitors who must wonder at its state, and the occasional curious member like me who despairs of it ever again being a useful site for the writers of BC who the BCFW purports to represent.

Be clear about one thing: I am not criticizing the efforts of our executive. Past President George Opacic and current President Ben Nuttall-Smith are also remarkable, but the workload they undertook has been overwhelming. It’s my personal belief that what the executive wants the website to become is both unrealistic and unnecessary.  Efforts would be better directed at maintaining it at a basic level and continuing the present forms of communication – the VOX monthly newsletter, the Facebook page and the members’ WordWorks magazine. That would leave the exhausted executive free to focus on its many other services to the membership.

An announcement on FB July 21st said, “Physical transition from the old to the new site will take place Thursday, August 1 from 10pm to 8am.” On August 2 a further announcement said, “We’re well on our way to launching our improved webpage. The grand launching will be on August 16, 2013 so in the interim, please bear with us. What you see right now if you go to the page is simply the scaffolding for its creation in its new form; places to build our new creation. Mark the launch date in your day planners. Its going to be a great page.”[sic] I’ll believe it when (and if) I see it.

FBCWThe photo I’ve used above is one of my own. Except for these Fed initials, I have no idea what our logo is anymore – the header gracing the website and FB pages changes every time I visit. The website’s current front page carries a changing photo banner, followed by an equally large section devoted to three advertisements for  ‘cyberchimps.com’. I have to say, that made me giggle.

In a letter, FBCW President Ben Nuttall-Smith recently asked, “How can the Federation regain its relevance for BC Writers?” I think the bigger question is how can it regain its credibility among the membership?

There you go. Rant over.

If you are a FBCW member, what do you think the website should accomplish? If you are a writer or a reader what would your one suggestion be for writers who are creating a new website or blog?

 

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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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Making a Difference


I doubt Janeece Edroff had any idea of the impact her young life was going to make.

At age three she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 1, with tumors growing off almost every nerve root from her spine. By age seven, after multiple surgeries, she knew her family had been receiving financial assistance from Variety, The Children’s Charity and she decided she wanted to give back.

Her penny drive at her elementary school that year netted $164 and was presented to Variety during their annual Telethon. The next year she got others involved and collected $27,000! By age fourteen she had raised a million dollars; by sixteen, $1.5 million. Janeece is now eighteen and has inspired more than $6.7 million in donations. When she’s not in school or in hospital she spends her time fundraising for various organizations and inspires others to do the same.

Janeece Place, a temporary home for families to stay while a family member is in Victoria General Hospital was one of her dreams, and she saw it become a reality this spring. She has been presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Changing Our World/Simms Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Ages 5-17.

And this weekend the girl who doctors said would probably never walk, or even live to see her teens, will graduate from secondary school.

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A few years ago I mentioned Janeece in a blog post entitled Tenacity Despite the Odds. I’m not sure why I thought of it this morning, but as I was considering what to write about on this fourth anniversary of my blog, the idea of tenacity lodged in my writerly brain and refused to budge. Have you noticed how some ideas are stubborn like that?

My early posts were an effort to accustom myself to online visibility. Then they morphed into a commitment… mostly to myself, because there weren’t a lot of readers.

Four years later, after 658 posts and 70,000 views, I’m amazed at the cyber friends I’ve made, and how important this regular bit of writing has become to me.  Has it accomplished anything significant? Not likely, although I’ve received occasional messages from readers who were encouraged by something God had prodded me to say on a particular day.

That’s the thing about blogging. While we might have a few regular readers who are kind enough to leave a comment, the statistics don’t let us know who the silent majority are… the ones who not only don’t comment, but don’t subscribe, and simply drop in on the way through from somewhere else in cyberspace. There’s no way to prove our inspirations are meaningful to anyone. It’s hard not to question whether the words really make a difference.

I look back at the tenacity that has kept me here and realize it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God. He’s the only one who sees the entire picture and provides the words that are meant to reach an unknown-to-me but specific someone. I trust in his judgment.

I also trust in his direction for me and my writing. It may not include publication of my novels, or perhaps it will, but only when the timing is right. For now, as I step off into my fifth year of blogging, it’s enough that I carry on with tenacity and trust. My job is to turn up here and write. If there’s a difference to be made, it will be up to God. Is that called ‘passing the buck’? Sorry, God, but that’s the way I see it!

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“Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning,
for on You do I lean and in You do I trust.
Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk,
for I lift up my inner self to You.”

Psalm 143: 8

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Supporting a Young Singer/Songwriter’s Dream

I’m on a musical bandwagon again, drawing your attention to the On the Coast High School Singer/Songwriter Competition currently being hosted by CBC Radio here in Western Canada.

Seventeen-year-old Johnathan Booy, one of our church musicians and the lead singer of the band, Ibhendi that I mentioned last month, has entered the competition, albeit reluctantly. (He’s not happy with the quality of the hasty recording, and admittedly the vocals are difficult to hear, but it’s well worth making the effort.)

I’ve included the lyrics below, and the link to his song is here. I think it’s important to support our youth, and a career in music is Johnathan’s dream. He said the lyrics say something about where he wants to be at the end of his life, satisfied with what he’s accomplished, and are also a message to his grandfather, “who at 76 still can’t decide whether to retire.”

I’m shamelessly plugging him, and hoping you’ll check out the competition and maybe even cast a vote. 🙂  (Voting to determine the top ten finalists closes at midnight Sunday Pacific time.)

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ENOUGH FOR A LIFE

Look at me now, way up here, up in the clouds

I’m floating, to my resting place

With stars to light my way, and my night that becomes day

I’ve had my chance, to show the world, what I’m about

There’s a time, for all to shine

And a time we must let go, and allow those following us to grow

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You see it’s all enough for a life, enough for a life

I know I’ve done enough in my life, I’ve done what I must

Enough for a life


I’ve left behind, my legacy, of which I’m proud

There’s no need to hang on now

To cling to what is done

I cannot live, my life again, or start anew

Remember, I’ve done my part, I’ve loved what’s there to love

And I know it’s been enough

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BRIDGE

Enough for a life (repeat)

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Look at me now, way up here

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News ‘n Notes

I’ve been galavanting for the past few weeks, enjoying visits with family and friends in BC’s Kootenays and Okanagan. Precious times and lots of good memories, but it’s good to be home again.

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Ten days ago there were grey skies and lots of clouds, but a blogging award from Joylene Butler definitely brought sunshine to my day.  We often speak of writing as being a very solitary pursuit. Blogging provides opportunities for feedback but even then we never really know how much (or how little) impact our words actually have. When someone surprises us with an award for being inspiring that in itself is inspiring, so thank you, Joylene, for sending the Sunshine Award my way. I’m smiling! 🙂

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Tonight the star-studded Vancouver and Whistler Olympic Victory Ceremonies Concert will feature Trooper and Loverboy. I’ve heard some of it will be shown on CTV but it will also be broadcast live on MuchMusic from 8:00-9:00 p.m. PST. You can bet I’ll be watching! I may be family but I’m also a dedicated fan. Yay, Trooper!!! Timeless rock ‘n’ roll, for sure!

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And now I’m off to watch the Olympic Canada-U.S.A. hockey game. It may be just a preliminary game, but I’m boldly waving my red and white.

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News ‘n Notes

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: JENNIFER HUBBARD

On Thursday I’ll be posting an interview with debut author Jennifer Hubbard. Jenn’s contemporary YA novel THE SECRET YEAR is being released this week by Viking (Penguin).

P.S. – Jenn’s agent, Nathan Bransford, even has a coordinated teen diary writing contest over on his blog. If you’re feeling creative and have a teen voice go check it out here. Contest deadline is 4 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow (Wednesday, January 6th).

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APPLE TABLET E-READER

First it was Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony e-reader, B&N’s Nook and Borders’ Alex. Now rumors are suggesting the soon-to-be-released Apple’s Tablet will outshine them all as “a multimedia device that will let people watch movies and television shows, play games, surf the internet and read electronic books and newspapers.” [Wall Street Journal] As a long time Apple aficionado, I’m more than a little curious about Apple’s January 27 media event.

E-book sales are a small but growing market and e-book readers continue to compete for our dollars. The Tablet is apparently going to be a premium mobile device that will do what Apple has always done… be unique and cost more. Just when I’m almost talked into considering an e-reader it looks like I won’t be able to afford the one I want. Drat!

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PUBLISHER’S LUNCH reports that after ten years of no profits, US-based Joseph-Beth Booksellers are anticipating growth in 2010. In an interview spokesman Neil Van Uum said, “Van Uum’s rule of thumb is the longer you can keep someone in a bookstore, the more likely he or she is to spend money there… For each store, he’s hired two marketing and events coordinators to create a yearlong calendar of book signings, orchestra performances, photography shows and craft workshops.” That’s the kind of optimism I like to see.