Monday 10 March 2014

Starting Up Again

It is almost a full year since I've put together a blog post. A year!  I knew I'd been slacking but I had no idea how long I'd left it abandoned.

I've been thinking about this blogging thing and whether or not I want to keep going with it.  Obviously, all signs seem to point to "no" here if the year-long hiatus is any kind of indicator ... but I'm not entirely ready to give it up yet.   I still think it's a great medium ... it gives you way more space to offer up your point of view on something, and you can attach as many pictures of Chris Evans and Chris Pine as you like ... but more importantly I think it gives readers a chance to get to know you better.

Not that I have readers.


I was perusing through Veronica Roth's blog a couple of days ago and it's interesting to watch her go from unpublished author who's a little scared of getting rejected by an agent ... to mega-author, all in just a few short years.

It was fun to read her early posts and watch her as she goes on her journey.  Reading that blog and watching her get her first deal, and her first ARCs, and all her other firsts, made me wonder why I left my blog in the first place.   And then I remembered that I put a lot of pressure on myself to want it to be perfect.

At the end of the day, it's supposed to be a journal .. and I shouldn't have to wait until I'm published, or I have some kind of crazy blog schedule worked out.  It should just be here ready for me to blog whenever I'm ready to say whatever it is I want it to say at that particular moment in time.

And right now all I want to say is that I think I'm ready to start again.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Cage Match: Chris Evans vs. Chris Pine

Let me demonstrate the concept of
"perfect scruff"
No, let ME demonstrate the
concept of "perfect scruff"

I spend a considerable amount of time "researching" heroes.  Too much, some might say, but I feel if you're dedicated to this thing we call 'writing' then you need to show you're serious.

I am so serious about it that I know the difference between Chris Pine and Chris Evans. Trouble is, which one do I like better?

Chris Evans 

(Captain America, The Avengers,What's Your Number?, Cellular)

What do you think?  Too underdressed?
Should I put on a tie?
1) If you haven't seen Cellular (thriller with Kim Basinger), then you need to watch it.  It was the first movie I'd seen with Chris Evans, and he really held the movie together - which is a big deal when you're a newbie actor.

2) He looks good shirtless.  Correction.  He looks amazing shirtless.

3) He can do comedy.  And when you're in a movie with Anna Faris, you'd better be able to hold your own.

1) He's done a lot of superhero movies over the last few years ... needs to show his romantic side more.

Chris Pine

(Star Trek, This Means War, People Like Us)

My name?  Christian. Christian Grey.

1) Even thought I did not like the the movie This Means War, the man knows how to make out!

2) He rocked the James T. Kirk role ... and those were some big William Shatner shoes to fill.

3) He looks amazing in a suit ... which even though is not the same as shirtless, still has its own appeal.

1) He's not as classically handsome as Chris Evans ... but I'm okay with that

Nikki's Choice:   Chris Pine

I'm choosing Chris Pine as the winner of this one .. but who would you choose?

Wednesday 3 April 2013

If it's definitely broke, do you fix it?

Karen Wiesner's awesome planning
guide.  I will blame her if I don't
finish ... seems fair.
As some of you might know, I finalled in the 2012 GH contest.   I'm still drinking wine to celebrate that achievement (although, I do admit the appropriate celebration time has probably expired).     Reading back on my entry, I have to say I still like it.  It's a really solid 50 pages.  Heck, I would even go as far to say the first 100 are quite good.   The other 300 pages though?  Pretty much a mess.

I did try to edit it .. repeatedly.   But after a year of work I finally realized I was doing a lot more work "avoiding" the manuscript than writing it.  My house was exeptionally clean during this bleak period ... my toilet gleamed while my writing desk sat and waited for me to find my way back.    Even though I wasn't writing, I still wasn't sure if I should quit.  Quitting the ms and putting it on the backburner seemed like a bad idea.  What about all those agents and editors I met at conference that I promised the manuscript to?  What about finishing what I started?  What about learning to push through all the tough middle part?     And to make matters worse, I'd done this once before with this manuscript. I put it aside once before and worked on something new, only to give up on the new manuscript once I got to the middle.  I was afraid I was going to just repeat the same mistake.

After much soul-searching at the end of 2012,  I finally made the decision to put my GH manuscript on the backburner.  I still think it's a good story, but I have lots to do to make it great ... and I decided I needed some distance to get it to greatness.   I also decided to work on something brand new that I was excited about.   And in order to ensure I don't fall into the same pattern of failure again, I decided to give "First Draft in 30 Days" a go .... try to work out all my plot problems before I write the book so I'm not stuck in the middle wavering. 

I just finished my outline of my new manuscript.  It took longer than 30 days (it took 90 if you want to know the truth) ... but I feel really good about it.   I got stuck in many of the same places I did previously, but somehow pushing through an outline is a lot easier than pushing through a half-written novel (go figure).

And now I'm onto the scary part.  Writing it.  I'll be keeping track of my progress on the right rail so you'll all know how I'm doing.  Fingers crossed I get through this one!!

Monday 1 April 2013

10 Great Secondary Characters

A few years ago, someone in my RWAC chapter did a craft session based on the Donald Maass workshops.  I don't know if you have his workbook, but one of the exercises is about writing down all the things you love in great stories, as well as all the things you hate.  The point, of course, is that in your own writing you should concentrate on the elements you love in other's writing ... thereby making people fall in love with your manuscript.
Spike in full scuba gear.  He says he had nothing to
wear (laundry day) but I think he likes the latex ...

One of the things I love in great stories is letting the secondary characters be the comic relief.  I think you want your hero and heroine to be funny (at least in chick lit) ... that goes without saying ... but the really outlandish stuff can go to your secondary characters ... they are the real heart of really great romantic comedies.

Your secondary characters can do things the main characters can't.  They can make bad choices, behave completely irresponsibly, wear weird clothes, hit on inappropriate men ... and they are often the reason I laugh out loud when I'm reading or watching a movie.

Here are some of my favourites from movies and TV:

10) Betty White - The Proposal
9) The Clergyman - The Princess Bride
8) Scarlett - Four Weddings and A Funeral
7) Ned Ryerson - Groundhog Day
6) Kevin, Creed, Oscar  - The Office
5) Morgan - The Mindy Project
4) Billy Mack - Love Actually
3) Cyn (Joan Cusack) - Working Girl
2) Spike - Notting Hill
1) Schmidt - New Girl

Do you have any faves??

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Random Act of Kindness - #3

Okay, I know it's been waaaaaay too long since I blogged ... but let's try to get back to this Random Act of Kindness thing.

This one I did at Christmas time, I just never blogged about it.   I was walking through a shopping mall with my son and my niece and nephew.  It was packed!  As we were leaving I noticed a woman carrying a big tote along with a stroller full of purchases, a baby in the stroller and a small 3year old child beside her.  It looked like they were leaving and she had her hands full so I offered to help her to her car.

She told me she didn't have a car.  She was walking to her apartment.  How she would get there with all that stuff and 2 kids was beyond me!   She looked so tired just trying to get all that stuff through the mall!

I had my sister's beautiful new SUV with lots of room in it so I offered to give her and her kids a ride to her apartment which was only a few blocks away. We loaded in the stroller, the gifts, all the kids and headed over to her apartment. 

Once we arrived, the kids helped unload everything and as we said our goodbyes she thanked me profusely.  And then she did something I'll always remember - she gave me a hug.  

Now, my sister wasn't thrilled that I brought strangers into her car ... but I can say that so far this act of kindness was by far my favourite!

Friday 21 December 2012

RAOK - #2

Random Act of Kindness - #2

Continuing my pledge to complete 28 random acts of kindness for Newtown victims, I  completed act # 2 yesterday.

I participated in a "Secret Santa" activity with my co-workers, but when I drove into work I forgot my Secret Santa gift at home.  So I went to Wal-Mart and purchased another gift (flash drive ... I work with IT geeks ... it was a big hit). :)

But then I had my original Secret Santa gift at home.  It was Coconut body butter from the Body Shop (my department is 50% women ... Go Estrogen!).   I thought about keeping the Body Butter, but then I realized I could regift it to someone who could use a pick-me-up.

I gave it to our receptionist Amy who is always cheerful and helpful.  I even signed "28 Random Acts of Kindess for Newtown" at the bottom this time (although left my name off of it) so I could spread the word.

Now to think of item #3 ...

Wednesday 19 December 2012

28 Random Acts of Kindness

I read about Ann Curry's challenge to perform some random acts of kindness as a way of honouring the lives lost in Newton last week and I thought it was an amazing idea.   Of course, we shouldn't need a tragedy to remind us to be nice to one another on Planet Earth ... it is common sense after all.  But it seems like every once in awhile you need to be reminded to focus on it.

I'm going to try to document my random acts in my blog ... emphasis on 'try'.  I'm also going to try to ensure my random acts don't cost me $$.  Not because I'm averse to paying for things .... but I think it's far more interesting to try to do it without just plunking down money.   Of course, if you want your random act to involve paying for something for me, I am all good.

Random Act #1 - I wrote a thank you note to a co-worker who organized a Christmas toy drive.  I also made it anonymous so he wouldn't know it's me who wrote it.

Now to think of the next random act ...