Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Scuba Cuba

The photos are online here

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Holidays!

It's back to reality tomorrow - setting the alarm, and not for a good reason, like making an early dive or catching a plane heading south.

The holidays were wonderful, even though we only got a white boxing day, not a white Christmas. No xc skiing, but I still can't complain : )

Here's a pic of our non-traditional Christmas dinner:

I'll put the vacation pics on Flicr asap. I'm still working on getting our increasingly belated holiday card out - I sent a desperate plea for help to Dodi - hopefully she can help or I'll figure it out tomorrow.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Handling rejection

We got back early last night and our neighbor brought over our mail pile this morning. At the bottom of my pile was an SASE I had sent to the agent I met at the Midwest Lit Fest. Getting your SASE back is always bad - if they want your story, they'll call. So yes, I have received my first official rejection. On the plus side, it was a personalized letter specifically about my story, not a form rejection. So while I'm a litle sad about being rejected, I'm making my list of who to send the story to next. It's all part of the process.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Went diving for the first time Monday and we saw a shark! It was just a small (3.5 ft) nurse shark - not dangerous, but it was neat to see - our guide made the 'shark' sign, and I thought he was kidding, but then he pointed to the shark tail, then wiggled the tail and the shark swam out of the coral and under us. : )
Of course no one in our group had a camera, including the professional photographer who is doing this trip solely for the photos. Getting a photo of one of the sharks is turning into a quest like photographing bigfoot.
We're set to dive again today at 1 at a different location, right by the resort. Diving near coral is unbelievably beautiful - it is literally like being dropped into a giant aquarium. The fish don't swim away - they pretty much ignore you, swim next to you and between you. It's a lot of fun. E. was true to his word and held my hand - I pretty much had him in a death grip. I wasn't scared per se - just a little freaked out - it's a little weird to be in the ocean, plus it was an extremely rough day - the boat that dropped us off was tossing around in huge swells. I ran out of air pretty fast (nebies tend to pant instead of breathing slowly) so I went up before E. When I surfaced with the 2 other low air people, we couldn't even see the boat - just ocean. That's a little weird, plus we were bobbing around like corks in the waves. Getting back on the boat was by far the hardest part - I have bruises up and down my left leg from being thrashed around on the ladder as the boat rocked. All in all an amazing time. We hooked up with a Toronto dive club for dinner and had the biggest langouste tails I've ever seen, plus real mojitos (with mint), music, actual bottles of wine, plus a star-filled sky and walk on the beach as E puffed a Monte Cristo-like cigar - it was all good.
Our birthday dinner had a few hitches including them having no idea what a private table meant or realizing that chapmagne should be chilled, but we enjoyed ourselves once I got E to laugh about the situation.
Hasta Luego!

Last ni

Saturday, December 09, 2006


So far so okay in Cuba. A few stolen items from E's luggage including the underwater camera got us off to a rocky start but after lots of rum drinks we're starting to recover.

No diving yet - too much wind today, but we did try out my new mask in the pool yesterday and I can clear it no probnlem, so I feel ready. Today will most likely be a day of slack - we're adjusting nicely to the despacio pace here.

We've almost got our little side trip to Havana planned - probably next weekend.
Time for my first siesta soon.

see you later : )

Friday, December 01, 2006

Holiday Meme

Since I'm supposed to be paying bills and preparing invoices and trying to get wrinkles out of a no-iron shirt I need to wear tonight, I will instead do a Holiday Meme. No one tagged me, so I guess that makes me a bit of a loser, but hey, it's December, MY month and it's MY blog so I'll do what I want.

Christmas Meme

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
I had a bad Jack Daniels and egg nog incident in the late '80's - I will NEVER touch the stuff again. Hot chocolate definitely. Preferably WITH marshmallows :)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No - isn't it poisinous? It's really not that nice-looking either. No idea where that tradition started.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Normally I would get a real tree the weekend around my b-day Dec 12, but we'll be gone this year and my decorations are still in storage in Plainfield, so we'll be decor-less. Maybe a wreath.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Chcolate gingerbread people hand-decorated to maximize originality and creativity. The sad-face ones with broken limbs are the best.

7. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What do you mean?

8. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it!! I have spiffy new xc skis ready to go this year.

9. Can you ice skate?
I can stay upright and move forward but it isn't pretty.

10. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Getting a good book and spending the afternoon reading it. I know, not really Christmas-related, but it's nice to relax once the hoopla is over.

Ok, I admit I cut this down from 20 to 10, but I think 10 is enough.
I tag Dodi.


I love December - my birthday, holidays, people generally in a good mood, lots of chocolate and wine and cheese up for grabs - it's all good.

E. and I will miss most of the gala events this month because I wanted to do something different for my big 4-0 - remember I got my scuba certification last summer? That was in preparation for the scuba trip in less than a week!! I can't believe it's here. I still need to find a short wetsuit, but otherwise I am ready to go. So no writing, no freelance, just looking at the fish and coral and keeping an eye on my air pressure.

I warned E that I need to finish 4 to 5 books during the vacation, and he swears he can keep himself occupied during my hammock time. I don't even want to try to guess what he has planned - shark wrestling? spear fishing? cigar rolling? whatever - we'll make plans to meet for dinner.

Did I mention I can't wait? : )

Sunday, November 26, 2006

10K in one day!!!

Done and done!

mood=ecstatic : )

Purple bar or bust

People at NaNoWriMo are uploading their 50k words and getting a purple WINNER! bar. I wants one... my precious...

I need to clear off my desk (Hefty Bag to the rescue) then it will be full steam ahead.

The only problem is I don't have any 'to do' scenes queued up. I might have to resort to 'shark jumping' to beef up my word count. Whatever it takes!!!

See you when that bar hits PURPLE.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I am trying to plant seeds to let my subconscious come up with a good revenge idea. I think revenge appeals to us because we like to think up ways to smite our enemies, but we never actually move beyond the thinking stage. The idea of actually going through with a revenge plan is irresistible. I recall reading a short story by Stephen King about revenge. The story involved a guy who went to the trouble of moving a road and painting a fake road over a pit and then burying his enemies alive in the pit. good stuff.

Weekend goal: run 15K, write 5K Sat; run 8K, write 5 k Sun. Woe be to anyone who tries to get in my way.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Now I know what a root canal feels like

Not fun. And mine wasn't even that bad - over in one session. Now my jaw is sore, but it only *hurts* when I sneeze. I've been avoiding using the left side of my mouth to chew for a couple of months already, so continuing to do so while the rc heals isn't too tough.

So my NaNo count hasn't moved, and my ToDo list has nothing crossed off. Must rectify this today. The good news is I met an accountant Wednesday, and my finances are all under control. Big sigh of relief. I was dreading finding out that I'd screwed it up and would owe big bags of cash.

Must work on ToDo list.

Would rather curl up with a book and pretend that my tooth hurts more than it does. Oh the agony...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blame it on the Weather

I am completely lethargic.

The book is still getting written - see word count: 27,668. I need to keep up the pressure this week because next week I have a lot of freelance work booked.

Tomorrow I have to meet with an accountant to review my tax strategy. I am dreading it. Almost as much as going back to the dentist Thursday to find out if I need a root canal. ugh.
I hope it is just the weather - 3 sunless grey rainy and/or overcast days in a row, or else I am spiralling into a funk about turning 40 in less than a month.

Tug of war in my head:

My teeth are rotting because I'm getting old.

My teeth are rotting because I snack on licorice.

I can't believe I don't have my tax issues under control and I'm embarassed to show how much/little I earned.
I have zero debt and I'm doing ok.

You know, my first book wasn't that bad - I should send it to more people.
It completely sucks. I should shove it under my desk and focus on #2

Please please let it be sunny soon. One more grey day and the evil, pessimistic side will win.

Tomorrow: winter tires, prepare for tax man, mapquest taxman's office, meet with tax man. Oh boy can't wait. Also need to crank out more NaNo words that have nothing to do with root canal, winter tires or tax.

re: chick flick film festival. There were 8 of us total and it was actually fun -well, I had fun - I hope the others had fun. We watched Failure to Launch - cute, funny. ShopGirl - gets a thumbs down from me - too dark, and then Pretty in Pink - some things are just best left in the 80's.

Tonight I watched Friends with Money - can someone please explain it to me? I'm lost. Maybe I'm just too borderline cranky to appreciate it. At least explain why Jennifer Aniston gave that idiot personal trainer money.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I hit 25K tonight. This rocks. Chick lit film festival was also a success. Details tomorrow. E is waiting with Felix & Norton and a fire. : )

Friday, November 10, 2006


Just spent 3 days doing some freelance verification (proofreading plus). It's draining. Now I have time to get back on the NaNo track, but I've produced ZERO words this morning. Instead, I monkeyed around on the Internet, looking at my new favorite comic strips: LIO and Rhymes with Orange. Spent quite a bit of time daydreaming about being able to draw and being able to produce funny comics. Wasted more time trying to explain to E that e-mail from him is arriving blank. I think he's doing it on purpose to mess with me.

Going running now - must burn off beer, nachos, chicken wings and potato skins consumed at happy hour yesterday. The bikini for my upcoming Cuba trip is morphing into a one-piece with a big skirt : (

Must get back on the NaNo track. Looking for moving horror stories - pls post as comments. Thank you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

15,135 NaNo words

Woo-hoo, that's pretty damn good. I don't know if I'll hit 20k before my hunter-gatherer returns because I have a full day of freelance work tomorrow, but never say never.
I added a little Nano graph to the right so you can see my progress. Not sure how they're calculating goal. Today's should be 6*1667 = 10,002. I'm over, but not by as much as they say.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Shifting Position

That's my new NaNo working title: Shifting Position

I'm currently at 5085 which makes me caught up as of yesterday's target, with time to reach today's: 6668.

NaNo Update 8pm: 8,125 words. yeah, baby!

Now it's off to go running, plant tulips and possibly rake some leaves.

As for the deer-hunters, one of their friends who didn't go this weekend just called to get the phone number at the cottage because he found one guy's ammo under the seat of his car. Hmm, I wonder if Mr. no-ammo plans to just jump out of his tree stand with a knife. It's more sporting than using ammo, I guess.

It sounds like I am surrounded by colourful, interesting characters, but honestly, they're too bizarre for fiction. Must find more believable friends.

Freelance update: my designer has finished my business card and sent me a draft of my profile sheet. I LOVE my new card : ) and can't wait to have a thousand of them on my desk : ) :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Introverted, anti-social, or just lazy?

November is deer-hunting season. E will be gone every weekend trying to kill Bambi, I mean take a clean shot at a trophy buck, thus providing valuable meat for the long cold winter ahead.

Anyhoo - that leaves me free to do as I please in the house each weekend. Of course there's NaNoWriMo, which will take up a good amount of time, but E is encouraging me to have the chicks over for a chick flick film festival. This is something I threaten to do each time he has the guys over for a war movie film festival. The thing is - I'm not really good at ' having people over' I get too nervous that people are bored, hungry, thirsty/whatever, and I can't relax. Plus, I don't have 'a gang' - I'd be inviting chicks in 1's and 2's who I know from different places and who don't know each other. I'm not skilled at keeping the small talk ball rolling, so I'd have to worry about lack of chit chat, too.

Is this a good reason to not have people over? No. Is socializing a skill that can be learned? Probably. What's the worst that can happen?
1- no one shows up, leaving me and a pile of movies. hmmm, not too bad.
2 - a few people show up, don't get along, are bored and never want to see me again. I can live with that.

Is it laziness? I dread the stream of reply e-mails of peope not availble on whatever day I pick, last-minute cancellations, "what can I bring?" etc. etc., but I suppose that's just laziness. These are times I wish L (my sister) were here. She's better at this stuff, and worst-case, at least it would be the 2 of us, and Em (my niece, who LOVES chick flicks) of course.


Plan-less in Ile-Perrot

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm a Walking Psychology Experiment

The bad news: word count 452, target: 3334

The good news: I completely cleared my ToDo list!
-wrapped and mailed Nate's birthday gift
-wrote and sent a query letter
-went to a walk-in clinic to get a tetanus shot and a prescription for Hep A/B shots for my upcoming trip (this required a 2-hour wait, but I had a notebook with me and the NoPlot NoProblem book, so all was not lost)
-paid bills
-cancelled a credit card
-contacted a tax accountant
-cleaned desk and found medical insurance card
-found medical insurance forms and receipts from the last 6 months, filled in paperwork
-made a dentist appointment
-made a haircut appointment

All of these things have been lingering on my ToDo list for weeks, if not months. Why today? Because I'm supposed to be writing my freaking book, that's why. Apparently I'm insane.
I've officially run out of other things to do because I am not desperate enough to start organizing or cleaning. yuk. NaNo it is....

update 6 p.m. : word count 2,304. Not on target yet, but back in the game : )

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh no, November!!

I talked the talk, now can I write the pages? So far, so bad -- I don't have my outline quite at the level I wanted it to be and my character sketches aren't written down, but hey- that's what the deadline is for, right? To force me to forget the excuses and get going.


ok now.

ok, maybe after a cappucino - did I mention I bought one of those snappy machines last weekend? I got a cheap one, but it seems to do the trick. Should come in handy for NaNo. I even have a NaNo buddy - someone I met at the MidWest lit fest.

Reasons why I haven't started yet:
1. Must clean desk. No, really, my arms are resting on a pile of papers as I type. I was up against a freelance deadline yesterday, and there are printouts and notes EVERYWHERE.
2. I could use a nice cuppa...

That's really it. If I quit monkeying around on the Internet, I could be writing in the next 20 min.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Work hard, achieve greatness

I like the message this article sends. It disputes the idea of innate talent and says that greatness is achieved through hard work. I'd like to believe that it's true, because it leaves each of us with a world of choices and opportunities to be good, even great at whatever we choose. Pay attention to the article's definition of hard work - it's not just mindless hour clocking. Practice must be deliberate to have an effect.

I need to structure my writing time with this in mind. Less mindless blogging...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lost in the Woods

I wish it were a metaphor, but it's my plan for the weekend. E and I are signed up for four hours of orienteering (navigating your way through forest and trails using a map and compass to earn points by finding checkpoints), and we're having a side competition with friends of ours: the chicks (me and other chick L) have to be the ones doing the map reading/using the compass. The guys just follow. This should be interesting. If you don't hear from me for a looong time, you'll know why - I'll be still bumbling around Gatineau Park.

Friday, October 13, 2006

IronGirl is in

I just signed up for NaNoWriMo, and I need to put an image of myself online, so here it is. I don't actually look like that; I had my hair 'done' straight to try to look professional. My hair usually looks uncontrollably curly. Not sure why I'm so shiny, either. Odd. Look for me as IronGirl.

For the month of November, I'll have crazy ponytail hair, no makeup and glasses. Nice. Hopefully compared to E's deer-hunting compadres I'll still look good. If I don't, I'm in trouble.

Ha ha - just saw this:

I'm skimming through my 'how to' books before plunging in again with book 2. I'm enjoying Sol Stein's books. Here are a couple of quotes from How to Grow a Novel:

"Open your mind to the possibilites your imagination could generate."

"In our not-yet-acknowledged secret garden lie the seeds of our best not-yet-written stories."

To take the edge off the touchy-feeliness, here is the inspiring message E posted on my wall: Analyse,
Adapt (crossed out), Exfoliate and
Overcome (crossed out), Moisturize.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I notice that sometimes I have a prejudice against age gap (10 yrs+) couples. I know there is no reason for it, and once people are in their 30's, age becomes much less of an issue than attitude.
I am trying to gather information that I can use to create believable fiction, so I am conducting an informal survey to find out if others share this prejudice or have been exposed to it, particularly in the workplace. I am interested in older woman/younger man relationships - not pickups. If you wouldn't mind sharing your opinions/stories with me, I'd appreciate hearing them.

1-Are you prejudiced against older women/younger men? Why?
2-Have you witnessed older woman/younger man prejudice at work or in your circle of friends/family?
3-Do you think a woman who has a younger man as her significant other is judged negatively by her work peers? At what kinds of corporate events would this be apparent?
4-Do you think a woman who has a younger man as her significant other would be held back from being promoted to a management position in the workplace?

You can be completely anonymous - create a fake hotmail account and send me your story, or say it happened to a friend, or change names/personal details to protect the innocent. Work the older women/younger men issue into conversation with your friends and let me know what they say.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Road Trip

If you have never gone for a drive through Vermont in the fall, you are missing out! The colors are amazing. Making the drive in E's freshly repainted RX made it that much more fun : )

For my first Thanksgiving as a Canadian, I went to Boston to run the Tufts 10K for women. It's a tradition! Canadians don't do Thanksgivng all out the way Americans do, so it's not like E's parents had a big feast ready with two empty chairs waiting for us.

The 10K went pretty well, considering that there were 7,000 women running and it was HOT, not warm, but HOT. Smart women has support people running to the water table, then running cups of water back to them. If only I'd known, I could have put E to better use. I had to stand in line for cups of water, losing valuable minutes. Too hot to skip the hydration stations. E and Aunt N were my support system and cheered me on to the finish in style : )

Now it's back to... reality? rain? I need to get myself in gear to be ready for NaNo Wri Mo. I have a 3/4 baked plan of my next book, but I need to get it fully outlined and planned so I can start writing Nov 1.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back to the Routine

Now that the LitFest is over and the summer freelancing feast is over it's time to get back to my normal routine.
1-Send e. off to the train with his lunch bag and Shooter book (hey, at least he's reading. E. claims that reading a sniper book on the train guarantees that no one sits next to him.)
2-Eat healthy breakfast and drink pot of coffee
3-Go to office, check e-mail
4-Realize I have no routine
5-Search for time organization strategy from financial planner
6-Try to create agenda using Word; hit roadblock requiring the original Word CD. Try to download agenda from Internet; hit roadblock requiring Explorer instead of Firefox.
Maybe I'm not cut out for a 'routine'.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Can you judge a book from a blog?

Last week I wandered around Borders with a 30% off coupon burning my hands, but I couldn't find ANYTHING I wanted to buy. Of course, I had just purchased a pile of books at the Midwest Lit Fest (yes, as soon as I'm completely unpacked I will list them) so my 'to read' pile is towering. But still... 30%... what a wasted opportunity.

Today I received a 15% off coupon from B&N in my e-mail. Since my membership discount expires at the end of the month I decided to take the plunge and buy something with the two discounts. I went with books by two authors whose blogs I enjoy reading:
Diana Peterfreund, author of Secret Society Girl
Tess Gerritsen, author of The Mephisto Club and many other books including Vanish (the one I bought)

I hope I enjoy the books as much as or more than the blogs. Has anyone else bought books because you like a blog or are you all (all 3 of you) waiting for my book ? ;)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Make Sure it's Flawless

That is some of the advice on a Do's and Dont's tip sheet from the conference about sending your work to an agent. While I appreciate the advice, it's been paralyzing me, because while flawless is an admirable goal, it's also impossible.

I can' think of a single book I've ever read that was absolutely flawless, can you? Every author (and human) has strengths and weaknesses. If the strengths are used to great advantage and the weaknesses minimized, then the book works. I will minimize the flaws in my manuscript and then find someone who appreciates my strengths and can help accentuate them to get my book published.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Send Me a Few Chapters

That's exactly what you want to hear when you pitch your idea to an agent at a conference, and it's what I did hear. Yay me. Now I need to take the plunge, quit playing with it and send the first few chapters in. This is not a done deal, but a necessary step in the process. I hope at the very least I get some feedback.

I am revising revising REVISING. I didn't make any major changes - no characters or subplots eliminated, but I am tightening everything up.

The conference went well. I learned a few more interesting tidbits, but not as much as I did last year. Why not? Because I've already learned quite a bit about how this whole process works. I was relatively new when I went last year, and going again showed me just how far I've come. If you had told me last year that I'd be back in a year with a completed manuscript that I would successfully pitch to an agent I would have laughed, but here I am. Excellent. Where will I be next year?

Remind me to post the list of books I bought. I ended up spending more on books than on the conference itself... One of the new authors (Tasa Alexander) was compared to Elizabeth Peters, so I can't wait to try her book.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Read two books in two days!

I'm en route to the Midwest Lit Festival. I have a pile of TBR books with me, but I left my pile aside to stop and read two of Dorse's while I'm here: 12 Sharp - Janet Evanovich and Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot.

I enjoyed both! I enjoyed just sitting back and reading, but 12 Sharp was much better than the last 3 Plum stories in my opinion. I was ready to ditch the series, but Dorse got me to read it by telling me it was all about Ranger. I heart Ranger.

Size 12 is Not Fat was a fun, easy read. I can't say it's a must-read, but it worked. In my opinion, size 12 is sometimes not fat, but sometimes it is - depends how tall you are. On me it's a little bit too chubby. Maybe the book title guilted me into going running, or maybe the fact that I'm already signed up for a 10K race in early October did it, but I ran for 54 minutes today. No slow slog jog, either. Hard intervals. Freaking exhausting.

Recovery required a trip to the Clinique counter for two $13 eye pencils - I know, I know it's ridiculous, particularly when I have an alternate source of $2 pencils, but my source doesn't have taupe. AND I wanted the free gift. I know, I know, it's cheap marketing ploy, but every makeup bag I've ever owned has been part of a free gift with purchase. I'm a sucker for those things. Did I mention I also impulsively bought their eye makeup remover? The Clinique woman rubbed it on my hand to remove all the test taupe lines, and it felt so amazing I had to have it. My current EM remover burns like hellfire if I get it in my eyes, which I often do.

Wow - long ramble.

Speaking of rambling... what is November? To E. it's hunting season - yuk. He'll be off with 'the boys' for most of the month, which leaves me free to sew new tablcloths (HA) or... commit to NaNoWriMO - I think I'll do it. Last year I was already in the middle of my since-abandoned stalker books, but this year I think I'll be ready to start book #2, and what better way than NaNoWriMo? Who is with me?

BTW - please do not read into this that I would not be able to do NaNoWriMo If E were around. I could, but I would feel bad because I would be stumbling around in slacker pants dribbling coffee on myself mumbling about characters and plot, and he would be building a boat out of scrap metal, with no stimulants or pshychotic episodes.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I booked myself for the next 2 weeks to focus on my book, including attending the Midwest Literary Festival. I JUST sent my last outstanding freelance assignemnt and can finally get my head back in my chick lit world :)

Interesting piece from CNN on the current state of romance and chick lit.
be sure to click on the video links - I thought those were the most interesting parts.

Does anyone out there read romance? I went through a Danielle Steele phase in the '80s but otherwise never really liked it. Has the genre changed? If I like chick lit, would I like modern romance? Any recommendations?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back to the Grind

Ok, so my life isn't exactly a grind, and my summer was anything but lazy, but stilll - something about back-to-school time makes me feel like I better shine my shoes and get my A game in gear.

Speaking of shoes, I have a HUGE painful blister from wearing grown-up shoes to 'the office' yesterday. ow ow ow. I'm sooo much happier to be at my home office in bare feet, although I wish the maid would wash the floors.

As I said, yesterday I had to go to a 'real' office which meant driving in traffic and dressing for success. Today I am working from home. I have WAY more than 8 hours of work to do, but still I woke up feeling energized and ready to go. I definitely have some kind of mental block against working away from home. I do have a pretty cushy setup here - corner office with a view. : )

Book status: I've heard back from 2 of 5 readers. I gave one a little slack until next week (she's related to me and back to school time is crazy busy for her). Another received it late, but I'm hoping she finishes soon. The other.... I'd like to hear from.... it's ok if you have negative comments - I got several already and I plan to use them to improve the next draft so please don't be shy. If you haven't had time just let me know - I understand.

Better get cracking on paid work. My boss doesn't appreciate slackitude and she's got her eye on a new fall suit from Mexx.

Monday, September 04, 2006

My summer vacation

Four days and three nights of kayaking down the St. Maurice River.
No, there were no bear attacks and E did not have to tow me, and we did not stay alive by eating minnows and Pop-Tarts. See the whole story here.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Leaving tomorrow on vacation - yahooo! E and I are going kayaking down the St Maurice river. As in: loading sleeping bags, tents, deydrated food, two rolls of toilet paper, two water purification systems, and one chick lit book :) into the kayaks and paddling our selves down the river (with the current) we'll stop, put up the tent and camp along the way. No showers - camp suds in the water, no 'facilities' - there's a shovel for covering up 'business'. I'm looking forward to total relaxation. E says our schedule is for 5 hrs of paddling per day. If you figure 8 hours on the water, that leaves 3 hours for a long lunch break and lots of little photo ops and slowdowns.

Here's my reaction to the 'you're crazy!' reactions: I think it's crazy to pack everything from your living room into your car and trailer, go park it in some ramshackle campground full of people and then 'camp' next to your car-ful of crap. To me, camping is carrying the essentials (yes - a chick lit book is essential) somewhere remote (no people around). I DO enjoy a vacation of lesiure, but that would be an all-inclusive resort.

My reaction to the 'do you know how to kayak?' reaction: not really. I guess I'm about to learn the hard way. I've been out a few times for a few hours each time. Having the boats loaded down with stuff makes them more stable, and each time we go out it gets a little easier, so I'm hoping the trip goes well. Worst case, we have a tow-rope....

: )

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I asked my readers for feedback after Labor Day. My first one just called to tell me she finished over breakfast this morning. She said she read it every chance she got and it helped her relax in the bathroom. Not sure I'll put that on the cover blurbs.

I don't want to share her feedback because I don't want to influence other readers, but I will say she found some mistakes - wrong names used, etc. and had some specific "complaints" - too slow here, too much detail there, but overall she *liked it*.

The demons are telling me that she's only saying that because she knows me and doesn't want to hurt my feelings, but my inner Buffy is saying that she could have given me much more negative feedback in a *nice way* so the book just might not be half bad...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Just send my 2nd draft to a group of readers. My not-so-secret fear is that they will read it and think "Oh my God, this is awful. Poor her - she'll never publish anything."

Ok, so what if it's true? What if this book stinks. bad. real bad...
The next one will be better. right?


lots o' freelance work. office a mess. not getting enough downtime. cannot keep up with E. 2nd night in a row I insisted on Karen time. I don't even want to know what he's doing because it will go something like this:
E: "So, how was your evening? Get a lot done?"
Me: "Yes - I read a chapter of Villette, polished my toenails and updated my blog. You?"
E: "I replaced the engine in my car, re-painted a wall in the living room, fixed the loose hinge on the dishwasher, took out the garbage and ran 15K."

Grrr. freakin' e. He doesn't lord it over me or anything, but there is just no keeping up with him. grrr. I'm going to start adding "and I thought over some tricky plot points" to all my time-accounting answers. He knows it's code for did nothing, but at least it sounds good.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Help pls!

I need another name like the 'Geek Squad' - you know those guys at Best Buy who will fix your computer even if it means plugging it in or hitting the Any key.

I want to use a Geek Squad in my book but I need my own name.

All I can come up with is 'Reboot Rangers' which sux.

Pls brainstrom anything - bad ideas pave the way to good ideas (at least I hope so or my book is doomed).

Thanks in advance

And yes, this means I am making progress....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Karen character needs to change already

She still just sits at her computer writing a little, then not writing, then scribbling on post-its, coming up with complicated plot-fixing organizational systems that just mess up her office more. I'm getting really annoyed with her. She better just fix the freaking ending of her book already and get on with it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Searching For a Safe Haven

Nothing, NOTHING is booked for this weekend. AAAhhhh I might actually get to read and relax. E is having a thermal pump installed. He claims that I'll be able to hide out in my office and ignore the process, but I'm concerned that I will feel guilty being surrounded by all the activity while I loll around reading OR, WORSE that I'll be sent to Rona for 3/8" hydrolining retrofitting compression connectors, and then come back with the coated ones instead of the uncoated ones. I want to help, but... maye I'll go see if the local library has comfortable chairs. Run away!!!! Bad Karen.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Manilow on My Mind

I woke up with the song "I Write the Songs" playing in my head and I can't get rid of it. Mental breakdown? Possibly...

Remember the Energizer bunny all happy with his sunglasses and drum, and how sad it is when he runs out of energy and falls over? That's E - he was face down, passed out completely asleep when I got home from the movies last night at 9:45 pm. I couldn't believe it - he's normally going and going and going - Ohmigod - he stopped!!!

I am feeling better and better each day - recovering from those two Navy Seal boot camp weekends. I also got another call from someone looking for some marketing freelance writing. I can't tell you how happy that makes me, particularly because it's for the kind of work I like doing : )

And although I haven't technically 'written' any bits of my book, I've been thinking through some rough spots. Soon it will spill onto paper.

Office cleanup status: messy. Papers from three jobs spread all over mixed with various bills, post-its and hot pink page flags. I bought more oganizers yesterday, but they don't seem to be magically doing the trick. I might have to break down and sort through this crap soon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Fog has Lifted

I'm back BACK the fog has lifted
The earth has shifted
and raised the gifted

name that tune...

I am an official PADI-Certified Open Water Scuba Diver. I spent last Saturday and Sunday refining my skills in the murky depths of some unknown lake by St Zotique Quebec. Apparently divers certifed here have it relatively easy everywhere else because the conditions around here are so bad. I believe it.

I am still having problems clearing my mask. I think I might need to drop some coin on a prescription mask. I can swim with my contacts and goggles, but underwater it takes longer to re-adjust your mask, and keeping my eyes squeezed shut while underwater is just a bit too much - it makes me a little too anxious and my beathing gets ragged. I think if I could keep my eyes open while clearing my mask it might go better. E and I are going to try a few adjustments in a friend's pool soon. I'm also a stinky snorkeler. We're going to work on that this weekend (weather permitting) at the cottage : )

I have a more manageable level of freelance work this week which might actually allow me to - - dare I suggest it? --- work on my book!!! I have an appointment to check in with L this Sunday, so progress must be made or else.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Easily Distracted

My peaceful, quiet home office that I have been SOOO looking forward to using this week has been completely disrupted by project new driveway across the street. The amount of trucks, crew, and construction equipment is almost equal to the water pipe project on the nearby road.

For whatever reason, I am completely fascinated by the process. I keep watching as each piece of equipment or truck does its part. E wants me to go over there with lemonade to try to get them to dump dirt in our driveway. I am too intimidated by the whole operation to even consider it.

Must try to focus... must finish work and send out some invoices... oh yeah, then there's that novel sitting in a binder gathering dust....

Monday, July 17, 2006

Coming up for air

I spent the weekend underwater - literally. I took the 'confined water' aka pool portion of a scuba certification class. The schedule was pretty intense: Friday 6:30 - 11:30 PM, Sat 7:45 AM - 12 noon, 7 PM - 11 PM, then Sunday 4 PM - 11:30 PM.
The time was aboout 1/2 classroom, 1/2 pool.

The first night the pool visibility was bad and I was bordering on panic most of the time even though we stayed in the shallow end on our knees for most of it, so you could see the surface right above you. The panic was completely unfounded - there was nothing wrong, it was just little voices saying 'go up, go up - you don't want to do this' HEY - I recognize those guys - slightly altered versions of the you can't write a book demons. I know better than to listen to them, but they show up at the WORST possible times...

Saturday went MUCH better even though by Saturday night I was coming unglued just from being so tired. I have always been good in a classroom situation and I am not incredibly patient with people who are slower so I was getting really antsy before we got in the pool. In the pool, the tables turned so to speak - I was one of the slowest ones to catch on. It almost always took me at leat two tries to be able to do the skills, and sometimes I needed serious additional explanation. This is normal for me with anything physical - it does not come naturally or easily. I always have to work harder than other people who might not be as book smart or even in as good condition physically. It's just the way it is - I don't like being at the back of the class, but my only other option is to not get to do any of these things.

Sunday I aced the final exam, but was still wrestling with my inability to clear my snorkel and mask. I made it through the pool part, but still need to work on some skills before I feel confident.

There was a 10-yr old kid in my class, and while he struggled a bit in the classroom, he was incredibly at ease in the water. It was impressive and humbling at the same time.

re: sharks. I was more afraid of them before I went to the class than after. Sharks are not aggressive. For the most part they are shy and will swim right by you, which is actually really cool if you think about it. They bite from below, so if you see one that seems interested in you, you can swim away along the bottom and be safe. Driving to the class on the highway under construction in the rain was much more dangerous than diving.

Next weekend we head out to the open water. It's supposed to be easier in many ways than being in the pool, except you need to deal with cold and current. I am looking forward to it because there should at least be something to see besides clumps of hair floating in the pool - yuk.

When E took scuba classes over 20 years ago, you had to take apart and dump your gear on the bottom of the pool, surface, take a breath, swim down and reconnect it all and put it back on underwater. We didn't have to do anything like that. Either the equipment is more reliable, or the odds of ever having to do that are so slim, it just doesn't make sense to freak people out by teaching it.

Today I am really sore and tired, but looking forward to next weekend : )

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


As if doing truckloads of freelance work wasn't enough, I signed up for an intensive scuba certification course this weekend. All scuba, all weekend. AND I get to read the entire scuba book before I get there.

What makes you bouyant? Why does a wetsuit have to be so freaking tight? What's the most important thing to remember so your head doesn't explode? Breathe. Trying to just focus on that one for now.

stop. relax. breathe.

In other news, we had visitors last weekend - my aunts and uncle from Boston. I was of course a maniac. I put rhubarb bars in the oven then sat down on the porch with the door closed, chit-chatting and sipping Sangria until Sgt. Yahoo showed up and said "Hey, Karen - is there supposed to be smoke coming out of the oven?"
They didn't burn - they were ok, in fact pretty freaking tasty. Amazing what 1/2 lb of butter and a few cups of sugar can do to a fibrous weed growing in the yard.

Luckily E handled the rest of the cooking - delicious bbq. We also made it downtown for the last day of the jazzfest and went for a walk along the boardwalk in Ste-Anne. That's the good thing about having people visit - it forces you to re-appreciate your city. We would have completely missed the jazzfest otherwise.

The visit was quick but fun. Now I'm back to work, studying scuba and swimming twice per week.

How is the book going? Hello! Did you read the above? I've completely overscheduled myself and the book is once again on the back burner. I know, I'm an assclown.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm #1!

I actually finished 1st in the Women's Duathlon in the Great Race at St. Albans Bay VT last weekend. Not sure if that's a smile or a grimace in the photo. Jumping on your bike after running doesn't feel fantastic, so I'm leaning toward grimace.

See official results here.

If you search triathlon teams/men's kayak over 40 you'll find e. on team sparky - ranked 3rd.

I am the champion.... I am the champion....

Before we all get too excited, let's look at my actual times:
Run 5K 29:49.5
Bike 20K 51:36.0

That's ummmm... slow... but not as slow as sitting on the couch, so there you go.

My reward?

Delicious. And, yes.... I ate the WHOLE THING!

: )

Friday, June 30, 2006

Meeting my Financial Advisor

E: "Why do you look so cranky and worried?"
Me: "I have no idea what I'm doing with invoicing/taxes, etc. and it's freaking me out."
E: "I know a good financial planner you can talk to"
Me: "I don't have any money - he won't want to talk to me."
E:"Yes, he will - that's what he does"

I always thought financial planners were for people who had millions of dollars to put 'somewhere' but just weren't sure where. This guy was a strategist - tell him where you are, what you're doing, where you want to be and he'll help you come up with a plan to get there.

Me: "I'm broke and working all the time and not getting my book done. I'd like to be not broke, not working all the time, finished with my first book and working on the second."

I have 3 initial things to do:
a) schedule my time and stick to the schedule. no more agreeing to last-minute rush jobs that require me to write all day. ridiculous.
b) clean my office. It's causing me undue stress.
c) network.

Parts a and b yes, I probably could have figured out for myself. It was part c that I was thinking of in the wrong way. I still need to mull over this networking stuff, but it's starting to make more sense.

So here I am, cleaning my office. Or blogging...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Technical Difficulties

The BIGGEST Word doc that I've been working on is now un-openable. I don't know why. I have several copies, backup versions, versions sent as e-mail attachments,etc. etc. The only one I can still open is so old it will require re-doing A LOT of work. damn damn damn. I guess that's how the writing projects crumble. It's part of a freelance job, not my book. grrr.

I should have posted earlier because I WAS doing much better - head clear, getting stuff done. grrr.

mood: cranky
listening to: myself complain

Monday, June 26, 2006

Brain Fog

Current location: Ile-Perrot. Status: permanent : )

I am sooo f-ing tired...

1. driving from Plainfield to Ile-Perrot and having a flat tire and flat spare en route
2. working full days as soon as I got here
3. going away for the weekend- fun, but nothing on the 'to-do' list got done - see 5.
4. adjusting to new surroundings
5. not being unpacked
6. going to a bye-bye barbecue for another friend who left as soon as I arrived
7. more work to do, deadline quickly approaching
8. zero book progress
9. 99% humidity
10. less than fantastic nutrition the last week
11. leaving my sister and her family
12. seeing my ex-college roommates, having a great time, and having to accept that we might not see each other again unless we magically manage to keep in touch
13. pms

Poor E. I might barricade myself in my office with a book until my black cloud passes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I got a 2-week deadline extension on my current project - yay! I'm still work-work-working on it, but now it' s more of a midterm in a big class kind of stress instead of an omigod I have to study for all the finals for all the classes I didn't got to all year kind of panic.

I love this: go here, then scroll way down to the bottom right to see the stick figure at a computer.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My world

I feel like I am always on the move, but I apparently just keep going to the same places over and over. The map of countries I've visited is pretty limited:

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

Thanks to Stephen for the link. (tried to link to his Mac account - got an erorr page - no more Stephen on the net?)

I think it's kind of funny that I've been to opposite ends of the earth.
No in-between for me.

Next on my list:
Cuba - this year? All talk so far, waiting for action.
Europe - hopefully Italy for a nice cycling trip
Africa - the leisurely tourist stroll up Kilimanjaro - hopefully by the time I'm 50

All these fancy trips require moola so for now my world is the size of my desk where I am busy writing.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

She Works Hard for Her Money

The sun is shining, the kids are outside splashing in the wading pool and I'm at my desk working. Yes, the glamorous life of freelancers isn't all hakuna matada.

I have a ton, yes TON of work to finish by the 15th, not to mention that I need time to shop for an outfit that makes me look glamorous for my reunion with my college rommates on the 16th.

So I am either working, working out or webcam skyping the infamous e because I miss him so much. If you have any long-distance friends and family you must MUST go to, download it and use it to talk, and then hook up a web cam so you can see each other. It's the best. E told me to get a web cam months ago. Talking and seeing each other makes a HUGE difference. Why don't I listen?

Back to the grind.. my boss is a task master, and she wants me to get back to the firggin' book!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yes, yes, I'm leaving soon

But I just HAD to check Evil Eidtor. Come on - are you reading it? He's hilarious. From today's blog:

<<...the only credits that might have an effect are, My previous book sold 100,000 copies, or My article, "How to Murder People Who Disappoint You, and Get Away With It," appeared in last month's Soldier of Fortune.>>

Good stuff. OK. leaving now. well, soon. one more sip of coffee. still need to pack up toiletries. ETD 8AM.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Evil Editor takes on a Quebec Separatist Plot

I am addicted to Evil Editor. He makes fun of people's query letters for their novels and then posts a revised version. Maybe you have to be in the process to appreciate it, but I think he's hilarious. His blog today includes a query for a book about Canadian civil war.

Why do I have so much free time to browse the Internet at my leisure?
a) because I've finished all my freelance work
b) because my book is done
c) because my world will stop spinning without Miss Snark and Evil Editor
d) because I'm supposed to be packing and I'm avoiding it

Those of you familiar with our main character Karen know that the answer is d, although c is also acceptable.

Packing. Again. This story is getting old - I know.

This time I'll be in Plainfield for 3 weeks, then it's back to Parrot Island officially. It isn't easy leaving E this time and it's going to be incredibly difficult to leave the 'trattons. I can't think about it, not sure how I'm going to do it.

For now, procrastination....

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Scam Agents

As if it's not hard enough to write a book, then you have to be careful not to end up with someone listed on the Writers Beware 20 Worst Agencies List like Barbara Bauer who managed to cause the Absolute Write Site to be shut down.

Doing lots of freelance work, little book work, but money is coming in. The last thing I need to worry about is scam agents. grrrrr. Bad, bad people.

Monday, May 22, 2006

No, I have not abandoned the book writing 'thing'

However, I am broke and I do need to earn some money doing freelance corporate writing right now. I have work lined up solidly through the end of August, and I'm incredibly, ridiculously busy from now until June 30 with a big contract. Freelancing is supposed to be feast or famine so right now I'm feasting. I blocked off most of September for vacation - 1 week with E and 2 weeks to drive to OH and then IL for the Midwest Lit Fest.

My original plan was to take a year off to write a book and I did that. The book isn't quite ready to be sent out but it is in good enough condition that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Did I plan on the whole E/move back to Mtl thing? No. Do I feel incredibly lucky about the whole E situation? Yes : ) Once I figure out how to balance freelance feast/famine with bookwriting progress I will be 100% on track career-wise. As for personal-life wise, I'm happy, sooo happy : ) : )

The only (BIG) downside is living so far from the Strattons again. That's why I'm blocking time off for long visits. Lack of family-visit vacation time was one of my major complaints when I was a 9-5'er, so if I don't solve that problem when I'm my own boss, then I'm really not ahead of the game, am I?

It's a holiday in Canada: Victoria Day, but my boss says I have so much work to get done between now and June 30 that I better do some of it today. There will be nicer days to take off later.

: )

Friday, May 19, 2006

Internet for Hire?

If I'm understanding the situation correctly, there's a possibility that corporations will be able to pay to have some sort of control over how we find sites on the Internet. I'm not sure I understand how it's possible, but it sounds bad. Go here to get the scoop and sign the petititon. is in line with my political views so I tend to trust them.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Helping E Appreciate the Fine Art of Slacking

Spent the weekend at E's cottage 'up north'. We already live further north than any of my friends or family, but we went further 'up north' to relax. Thanks to the rain and bugs there was nothing to do but lounge around reading and watching movies.

I was concerned about E's ability to take advantage of the slacker opportunity when he put rain boots on Saturday morning to go retrieve his dock that had floated away. He redeemed himself by sleeping all afternoon and helping me make dinner by telling me to 'put on my boots, go outside under the deck and turn on the tank' in order to use the gas stove. I did it even though a true slacker would have just made popcorn instead of cooking a meal. My thai beef pasta was delicious, BTW.

Apart from an unfortunate hornet sting incident, the weekend was perfect. I did some work on my book, read a few chapters in Villette and de-stressed.

On a side note: if Wolverine were bitten by a hornet do you think he would complain? I'm pretty sure he WOULD because it really freakin' hurts.

Another side note: got my new monitor and printer set up. Nice.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fun While it Lasted

I now have more freelance work than I know what to do with. I'm sitting in a bicycling outfit waiting for my turn on e's road bike, trying to muster the enegy to walk to the dep (Montrealspeak for convenience store) to buy milk, avoiding the extra work I need to do tonight, also avoiding the additional LCD monitor research I have to do and not-so-secretly wishing I could just curl up with Villette.

The book? My book? Zero progress. None. Nada. All blame belongs to me. I suck at balancing more than one thing at a time. I never could juggle. I'm so tired and cranky that I shouldn't have too many friends or people wanting to work with me for much longer so my free time might open up again.

Off to get milk because we know that having no milk for my morning coffee gets extremely ugly.

definitely bookless....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Energy levels

I do not consider myself to be a lazy person. I work, I work out, I take the stairs instead of the elevator. I almost never laze in front of the television. In general, I usually feel like I accomplish a decent amount every day.

That being said, I cannot keep up with e. In the time it took me to make coffee and read Evil Editor, he installed an FM transmittor on the laptop in the kitchen so we can play music on speakers in the living room and the porch, and then he carried in the pieces (IKEA) of the second book shelf for my office. As he lugged the pieces up the stairs, I was sitting in my office sipping coffee.

I am not done with my 'downtime' but I feel a little guilty while he runs around work-work-working. He's even humming a happy tune. This is completely foreign behavior to me. He claims he isn't annoyed by my need for a little more 'downtime' but I am suspicious, happy tune notwithstanding.

Ok, I have to at least go clear space for this book shelf. My coffee will definitely get cold in the process. Must find a balance here....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Going for the Green

I've had to spend the last couple of days chasing down freelance work. boooo. That means little to no book writing is getting done. I have some time this morning, but unfortunately I have to prepare a quote and see if I packed more than one pair of presentable pants. Hopefully after this afternoon, this project will be able to be done off-site.

I'm wasting all my post-conference motivation. :(

On the plus side, it looks like some green will be coming my way so at least I can afford a faster printer and some ink. :)

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Friday night at the chocolate reception at the conference, Linda and I and our table-mates were discussing doing pitches the next day. Everyone else was relaxed until I explained how and why to be nervous. Worst-case scenario: sleeping late and missing your appointment completely. That would have been really bad, since my appointment was at 1:30 p.m.

We woke up on time, I made it, and I didn't give my speech as wooden as it sounded when I was practicing. I might have been a bit on the manic side due to all the chocolate and coffee, but the editor didn't recoil in horror. She slipped me a card with a specific editor's name on it.

Great! But uh.... I haven't finished the book yet. CRAP! Why don't I have it ready to send out this minute?? I can't remember her exact words - maybe she said "Ohmigod, if only you were done RIGHT NOW I'd print it this minute" or maybe she said "You're not done yet? LOOOOSERRRRR!!" and she made a big "L" sign on her forehead and laughed at me. Ok, no - she didn't, but it would be nice if I could send something before any reference to this conference sounds old.

So yeah, gotta get cracking, but now I'm en route to Mtl - that means packing plus 2 days of driving, then miscellaneous freelance work plus E. visit time. I'm going to have to get organized.

I really HATE packing. I need to unwind a bit first...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

On the Move

Linda and I are going to a writer's conference tomorrow and Saturday, then Sunday I'm off to Montreal to do some freelance work ($$) and see E. Busy weekend! I am currently in the packing paralysis stage. I hate packing and haven't started. I'm going to go visualize what I need, then make a list.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Plagiarism scandal rocks chick-lit world

From the NYT: Harvard Novelist Says Copying was Unintentional

I am apparently going about this all wrong. I think I'll scrap my current project and change to Brenda Janes' Journal. It's sure to be a big success.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Defining 'voice'

As part of my pitch for this upcoming conference, I have to be able to define my writing - dark, intensely emotional, witty, whatever. Right now, I'm calling mine dry, witty. Here is an example of my 'voice' from a freewriting exercise (topic: bad hair day) that I did in a workshop. Any ideas othr than dry, witty? It's difficult to describe your own voice - that's why I'm asking for help.

Bad Hair Day

"Did you get a perm?"

Any time the humidity level is over 80%, someone asks me that question and they always give me a 'you're lying' look when I tell them no.

Having naturally curly hair can be wonderful when it's cut right and falls on my shoulders in perfect waves. Unfortunately, I have little control over when those days occur.

On days when I'm giving a presentation or having a picture taken, I make an effort with Bed Head Control Freak Anti-Frizz Serum, masochistically wrapping two-inch sections of hair around a circular brush, then blasting the curls into submission with a high-wattage hair dryer. For the first hour it looks ok, maybe not pin-straight, but presentable.

The minute I step outside and away from my curl control center, my hair knows it and the curls take over. If disaster strikes and I get caught in the rain without an umbrella, I know I'm doomed - the perm question or worse, "What happened to your hair?" will follow me the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My bad(s)

Thanks to being a shy kid who spent most of her time reading, I know the difference between their, they're and there; whose and who's; and your and you're. I do not write lose when I mean loose and I know that compliment and complement are two different words. I am not perfect. I have trouble spelling words with double consonants like recommend; I make mistakes with past perfect verb tenses; and until a few days ago, I did not understand when to use bring vs take. Oh - I also like to write long run-on sentences. I often pick up 'common writing pitfalls to avoid' books, but I never find the information useful.

Recently, I found a wonderful exception:
Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney

FINALLY someone explained bring/take!

On Wednesday afternoon, the teacher tells her class she'll see them the next day for a field trip and reminds them, "Don't forget to bring your lunch"

On Thursday morning, each mom tells her child to have fun on the field trip and says, "Don't forget to take your lunch"

I learned that I make a couple of other mistakes (see below), but these might be the result of the language changing. I double-checked my Oxford dictionary to make sure it wasn't just a case of Us 'Mercians don't cotton to that there formal-like Queen-talk.

What do you think of the below examples?

Example 1: livid is a bluish-leaden color. If you write that someone was livid, it's like saying he was blue - you expect the reader to understand what caused the color change. My Oxford dictionary lists 'furiously angry' as a colloquial definition - used in informal spoken language.

Example 2: nauseous means you cause others to feel nauseated. So if you eat some bad baba ganoush, you should say "I'm nauseated." If you fall into a dumpster full of rotting baba ganoush and dog poo and walk into a tea party, you could announce to the ladies, "I'm nauseous."
My Oxford dictionary gives 'sick' as a definition for nauseous, so maybe this one has changed.
Does everyone else say nauseous or nauseated?

I'm actively putting my new-found knowledge to good use:
A woman with a mullet stepped into the metro car reeking of Calvin Klein Obsession.
Clarissa's face turned livid before she cried, "You're nauseous!" and keeled over.
A doctor rushed to Clarissa, examined her quickly and shouted, "Bring me my medical kit! We've got to take her to a hospital right away!"

Too bad this year's Pulitzer has already been awarded.

Monday, April 17, 2006

No, no, no - that character isn't you!

Linda has been editing and commenting on my book. I love her edits because she makes little drawings that are much more interesting than proofreading marks. For example, I moronically wrote that someone 'popped her head in my door' and Linda drew a door with a head in it. I wrote a stupid scene involving a sister and her husband slow-dancing, and Linda drew a stick figure barfing into a barf bag. Those are the two WORST examples - the whole book isn't rot.

In one scene I have one of the sisters being completely obnoxious. The sister just happens to be a mom and she happens to use one of Linda's favorite phrases. Linda drew a crabby face in the margin and wrote "Hey - Is this ME? I'm not the basis for this, RIGHT?"

She isn't - HONESTLY. Yes, I stole a few Linda- isms, but the character is a composite, as are almost all of my characters. REALLY! So if/when the rest of you read it, do not freak out if you recognize little bits and pieces, and do not assume that the main character is me - she isn't. REALLY.

Friday, April 14, 2006

2nd draft done

Yahoo! I'm starting my 3rd revision. You're thinking - oh, she's just making sure she used commas correctly - she's prety much done.
Uhh, no. Between the first and second drafts I had to dump three secondary characters by merging them in with other characters, and my theme shifted a little. I also had to fill in all the parts I skipped over in the first draft to keep myself from getting stuck. So this second draft is probably what you'd normally call a first draft. NOW I can start revising it.
Still, it's a good thing (aagh - delete that - cliche!)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bring on the Nightmares

Yesterday I got completely jammed up with my book - I had to do the Starbucks escape with a notebook and pen thing to get moving again.

I also had trouble falling asleep, but not because I was thinking of this book - I thought of a complete plot for a horror story - beginning to end. I had to turn on a light and write it down. This morning I looked at it again and ran it by Linda. She likes it - it still makes sense, not like some crazy undecipherable dream.

How weird is that? I don't even read much horror. Apparently there's a lot of unexplored stuff simmering in my subconscious soup.

So now I am motivated to finish this chick lit novel so I can move on and scare the crap out of people. Much more fun.

: )

p.s. heard a real-life horror story today: e. only read 5 books last year! 3 on military stuff and 2 on kayaking. Now THAT'S scary. He needs me to dig him out of that deep, dark bookless well. I set him up with One for The Money, King Leopold's Ghost and Timeline for the long Easter weekend.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Never for me is almost 40 years

I like Agent 007's recent post.

I'd like to post a clever 'I've never' list here, but I can't think of anything good. Of course, I haven't done it all, but I can't come up with a comprehensive, inspirational list. What is one 'supposed' to have done by age 40? No idea. Not interested in doing what I'm supposed to be doing anyway. Where's the list of stuff you shouldn't do? I'm sure that's much more fun.

As for universal themes, I'd love to explore a revenge theme. I don't think I've ever actively sought revenge, but I do think about it a lot. I hold long grudges and I enjoy thinking of ways to smite my foes. Nothing quick and painless. I prefer sneaky and underhanded. Stephen King has written some excellent short stories about revenge. Those are my favourite of his works.

What am I doing?

I am supposed to be completing 30 pages of book revisions today. I have 4 done so far.

I still haven't crafted my 'ride-along' story. By the time I do, it will be old news.

I write, I complain about writing, I miss e.

I went to a martial arts exhibition with Q Friday. Board-breaking, brick-breaking, impressive self-defense. Inspired me to bump up my weekend workout. Now I'm tired. Running uphill fast hurts and I don't envision it helping me break any bricks.

I took Em to see the movie 'She's the Man' last night. Pretty good for a PG-13 teen flick.

I miss the kids already and I'm not gone yet. I make no sense.

If I haven't spelled it out yet, I am planning on moving back to Canada. In June. In with e. Yes, e. is aware. He might change his mind after reading this post, but as of a few hours ago, he was on board.

Time to stop playing with blogger. Time to go work on the book revision already.

I never do what I should be doing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rubbing Shoulders With a Six-Figure Freelancer

Kelly James Enger is giving a series of presentations about novel writing and freelance writing at the local libraries. I have Linda to thank for finding out for me. I went to a 'getting published' presentation last night. KJE has done and is doing exactly what I am trying to do. I'm hoping some of her success and wisdom rubbed off on me.

She gave a lot of good information - straighforward and honest. Yes, it's doable, but you have to do it - no one is going to approach you and ask you for your writing - you have to send it out there.

I own her book "The Six Figure Freelancer" but of course I forgot to bring it last night to be signed. grr. Next time.

I'm working on not being 'shy Karen' when I go to these things and making a point of saying something to the presenter afterward. So far no one has recoiled in horror at me. KJE was extremely nice and encouraging and even responded to an e-mail I sent her. Nice.

Sorry I haven't been posting much - I went on a 'ride along' with a county sheriff patrol car Sunday night and I've been meaning to post details, but can't seem to get it crafted just right. Please be patient...
one tidbit: I got to tour the jail and hit my head on the wall of the 'rubber room' - it's not really made of rubber.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Performace Review

What am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing ok?

Without a boss to say 'good job' or 'wtf do you do all day?' I gave myself an evaluation to make sure I'm on track or can at least see the track.

I'm supposed to be writing a book. check.

Am I doing ok? I've learned a lot, and the current work is still living and showing promise. It's not done but I'm confident I can finish it.

What would I like to improve? Less anxiety, improved efficiency base don learning from the past months, and more income - preferebaly from a BIG HUGE advance, but more realistically from freelancing.

So how am I? ok.

As I've said before, I am apparently less of a freebird, rolling stone than I thought. I'm more Rain Man than Kerouac. I need a little more routine and stability.

I'm working on finding the perfect balance. Same old same old day in and day out doesn't work. No fixed address is better but not quite right.

Monday, March 27, 2006

E Meets the Family

Currently in Ashtabula. The book is with me but still in a bag. Linda, QNE and Grandma Dorothy are all at the Amelia house. Boba had to go to London and couldn't make the trip. E drove down to meet the family and take a bunch of my stuff back. He was a big hit, particularly with Emma. At dinner the first night, Emma announced that she liked e, and Linda reminded her that e. is Aunt Karen's boyfriend. Emma replied, "but I'm cute, and I have fancy pants - she's just wearing gray pants."
Emma kept sitting between us and pushing me away. She is some serious competition! I need to watch my back. E left this morning so I will be re-opening the book bag soon and setting up the laptop to get some work done.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


When you have a lot to do and have deadlines quickly approaching, it's important to prioritize to make sure the important things get done. I have to pack for a visit to Ashtabula and pack for a transfer of some of my stuff up to Parrot Island. I have to figure out how to keep my car legally registered and insured if I want to bring it to Canada and spend the majority of my time there. I also have this freaking book to finish revising - I'm going to a conference at the end of April and would like to be able to give a coherent answer to the question, "So, what's your book about?"

I woke up crabby and feeling overwhelmed. Linda and I stayed up until midnight last night digging through a giant box of clothes. Although my savings is dwindling and I have no steady source of income, I still do not want to hold on to all my possesions as though it were the depression... because it's.... depressing. I kept handing her things saying, "Here - take this." L: "Why don't you want it?"
"I don't want to pack or unpack it ever again."

Honestly, I've had it. My packing role model is Steve Martin from The Jerk. ALL I NEED IS THIS----
I'm going to stumble over the border dragging a chair, but I am not re-sorting and re-packing all those friggin' boxes.

So I'm still a little crabby, but I did get a haircut :)

Oh - remember the critique group I joined and then abandoned because someone was mean to me? Someone else wrote a nice review of one of my excerpts. Thank you, Robb from Texas :)

This thick skin of mine is really helping me handle criticism of my writing.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ms. Fix-it Strikes Again

In the last week, my computer stopped making a horrible fan noise and started taking increasingly frequent unauthorized 'breaks'. I tried AVG-checking for viruses - no, I tried Spybotting for adware - no. I tried 'jiggling' the power cord - no. I had to actually take the cover off the thing and look at its innards. Dusty - yuuuck.

e: use a q-tip to loosen the grime while using a vacuum to get it out.
me: ok, still powering down

e: are all the fans working?
me: all but the one on the power supply

e: do I need to put 2 and 2 together for you?
me: could you? I hate this project. I'm in the middle of Emily Giffen's 2nd book and this whole 'fix the computer' routine is getting old

e: I'd love to help you but you're there and I'm here, but it's good, this way you'll learn how.
me: yeah, great.

e gave me detailed instructions about disconnecting the power supply. I called him back 3 or 4 times to get further clarification, particularly on cutting tie-wraps and on how much I was supposed to pull to get the connectors to 'just snap right out'. Good thing he isn't a busy person and doesn't have many hobbies or projects of his own or I might have been bothering him.

I took the disconnected ps to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, and they helped me find a new one. So it cost $56 but I probably saved a little on labor and a lot of time. I am up and running the same day. : )

As long as e's patience holds out I could get used to this handywoman stuff.
I'm sure there's no correlation, but he is not answering my calls right now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hardy Boys Cliffhangers

aka chapter-ending hooks.

Are they essential?

Yes, they keep me turning pages, BUT if the hook turns out to be fake or easily/quickly resolved right away in the next chapter, then I'm annoyed.

I will keep turning the pages of a book without hooks if I like the book. I prefer that the chapters end cleanly so I can slip my bookmark in and know where to start up again.

Both of the judges from that contest told me I need chapter-ending hooks so I've been trying to end my chapters mid-scene, where the crisis is unresolved, but I don't like it. I think I am going to put it back the way it was.

Please tell me your opinion: Do you need hooks to keep reading the next chapter, or do you prefer clean chapter breaks?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Yoda!

I went to hear author Emily Giffin talk last night and she was amazing! She grew up in the Chicago suburbs, went to law school, hated being a lawyer, quit, moved to London to write, gave herself a year deadline and managed to produce a New York Times best-selling chick lit book. That book was just optioned for movie rights, she's published two others and is working on a fourth.

I love that story.

I also enjoyed the chocolate cupcake with pink frosting, chit-chatting with other writers, and going out afterward for an Espressotini.

mood: inspired, motivated

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kidding Myself

I keep telling myself that once I get rolling, get experienced, get published, I will learn to trust the process and get less freaked out when I'm stuck. According to Tess Gerritsen that's not necessarily true. Her post is freaking me out a little. I did wear the same outfit two days in a row last week because it was on top of the pile...

GAH. Well, I'll worry about that tomorrow. Right now I'm happy because I finally figured out a quirk for a character who needed one. She's going to constantly ask for my main character's opinion of two choices and then instantly tell mc she's not taking her advice. I HATE that.

Can't you advice never-takers quietly go back to your corners and re-consider your options and then quietly do whatever the hell it is you wanted to do instead of rejecting my advice in my face? Don't waste my time. When someone does that to me repeatedly I'll say "I dunno, whatever the first thing you said was" if I can get away with it (if the person isn't my boss).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Out of Sick Mode, Back in Stuck Mode

After spending much of the weekend recovering from a bout with some sort of intestnal virus - yuk, I'm faced with what exists of my book - a rough sort-of first draft printed out in a binder. I do not feel like celebrating. There is a lot to fix here. The middle sags, the end is still a question mark. I am nowhere near the dotting the i's and crossing the t's stage.

Confidence lagging...
Self-doubt creeping in....
Must move forward...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Winter Camping

For everyone who thinks "are you crazy?" when you hear 'winter camping' - go look at the photos in my flickr account. The scenery is beautiful, and you'll see we aren't huddled around a makeshift fire inspecting our frostbitten fingers trying to keep warm. It's not like that at all.
I love the photo of e. above. I snapped it during his only 10 minutes of downtime the whole weekend, but it makes him look like a real slacker - sunning himself with snacks. I should crop the shovel out because it hints at the fact that he just spent the last hour building an igloo.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Another Good Thing About Canada

The asshat (great word!) Bill Napoli isn't there.


Laura, you don't need to be in Namibia to make a difference - we need you here!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Getting there

I'm in the middle of tax hell - trying to figure out which forms and schedules I need to fill out to account for my 1/2 year of employment and 1/2 year of self-employment. While desperately searching for a tuition receipt, I ran across this old story I forgot about. Now I can see serious issues with this piece that would need revising, but I'm leaving it as is for the purposes of this blog. I'm happy I found it because I can already see improvements in my writing. Unfortunately my bookkeeping skills are still pretty bad. I haven't found that tuition receipt yet...

Chocolate-Coated Destiny

I was tired of work, tired of errands and tired of the same old scenery. I needed a quick lift, a little treat. I needed a road trip. I impulsively decided to get in the car and get out of town for the afternoon to wave at the farm animals and breathe in some fresh country air.

Smiths Falls was the destination of choice because it was within a 1-hour drive limit of Ottawa and the name sounded quaint. I thought I would wander around the main street and grab coffee in a diner until I saw the cover of the visitor’s guide–I was in the Chocolate Capital of Canada! Hershey Canada is in Smiths Falls and there were free tours of the manufacturing facility
running for the next 90 minutes. I felt like Charlie when he found the golden wrapper that sent him on a tour of Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot at 1 Hershey Drive and stepped out of the car, I was in heaven. The air was dripping with the inviting chocolate scent of a fresh cup of hot cocoa or brownies being pulled from the oven. I could spot fellow chocolate lovers by their dazed, dream-like expressions. I made my way into the building and started the tour, moving slowly, savouring each step. Bins of freshly roasted almonds sat next to vats of rich, gooey chocolate. Long, rectangular pools of melted chocolate appeared to serve no business purpose other than to encourage fantasies of diving in. I devoured every morsel of information: the complex
chocolate-making process, explanations of community fundraising done by Hershey Canada, and tidbits about each type of candy.

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups production line made me question my destiny in life. A huge quality assurance sign showed the difference between an acceptable cup versus an unacceptable cup. I couldn’t believe that anyone would need a sign for that. I could spot a good cup from a bad cup without any assistance. Years of eating peanut butter cups would finally prove worthwhile – I was now highly trained and qualified to be a quality assurance tester on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup assembly line. I knew that the filling had to be perfectly centred–no leaners. I also knew that each cup must be filled right to the top–no waste. I felt uplifted as I daydreamed about my new job and made my way to the last section of the tour.

I paused to clear my head so I could appreciate the last little bit of chocolate-making magic. I was not prepared for the horror at the end of the line. Workers were pulling used moulds for full size bars off an assembly machine, and there was still some chocolate left in the moulds. Broken
pieces were heartlessly brushed aside as the cruel men stacked the moulds on racks. My heart pounded and I felt anxious watching them. What was going to happen to that excess chocolate? Would they take it home? Could they melt it down and re-use it? Were they just going to throw it away? I was distraught. My euphoria from the earlier part of the tour quickly wore off, leaving me feeling sad and empty.

The tour was finished, and I was consumed with guilt about witnessing chocolate going to waste. I was determined to leave without stopping in the souvenir shop, but a display rightby the exit caught my eye. Gleaming racks were filled with big bags ofunlabeled, uneven chocolate pieces for sale–it must be the excess from the end of the line! I felt a wave of relief sweep over me as my faith in the chocolate industry was restored. My earlier swearing-off of chocolate was
forgotten and I looked around the souvenir shop, eager to make my selections.

I needed to please my inner chocolate lover without awakening my inner chocoholic demon. I shuddered at the thought of the maniac who goes crazy when there is chocolate around and can’t think straight until she finds herself in a daze surrounded by a sea of wrappers. I considered trying to appease my desire for Hershey gifts with non-edible mementos. The refrigerator magnets and key chains looked cute, but I was afraid they would serve as bitter reminders of the time I visited the Hershey factory and deprived myself.

I devised a strategy to limit my purchases to a manageable amount–I would only buy things that I had never heard of before, and I had to be able to carry my purchases in my hands. No basket allowed. As I walked up and down the aisles of temptation, I reminded myself that buying in bulk would not save me money–it would cost me money in diet and exercise programs. Even with my strict rules, I found several must-buys: Hershey Nuggets with Raisins and Almonds. It said right on the bag, “One of life’s little rewards.” I deserved rewards. I also deserved new Hershey’s Kisses Filled with Caramel and new Hershey S’mores. The Eat More Original Dark Toffee Peanut Chew wasn’t chocolate, but it was featured as a major Hershey Canada brand, so I considered it a cultural experience to try one. My ultimate find was a Limited Edition Inside Out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Some visionary decided to put the peanut butter outside and the chocolate inside. It looked like candy from the bizarro world. I had to buy it. The total was only $7.18 and the cashier treated me to a full-size OhHenry! I wrapped my arms around my purchases and walked out feeling elated.

As I drove away I looked wistfully at the factory, wondering if it was fate that sent me there. Of all the small towns within 1 hour of Ottawa, why this one? What could I take away from this experience? Immense treasures are everywhere if you just look? Slow down and enjoy life’s little rewards? I’d have to give it some serious thought, but first I had a more important decision to make: which candy bar to eat first.


off-subject note: I deleted the Z Method post because I'm afraid of Z retribution.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Trinity in Trouble

Poor Trinity. I just noticed her hand reaching from behind my desk. I hope that isn't a metaphor for me and my book project. At least she still had her gun when I fished her out. She is now ready for action. Ok, yes - I have a Trinity doll. I liked the character in the first Matrix movie. Then she got irritating.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Remember the Contest I Didn't Win?

Remember that contest I entered back in September? I didn't expect to win, but I wanted feedback from people who aren't my friends or family, but who do read and like chick lit. It finally arrived!

I received feedback from two judges, each including detailed comments within the text of what I sent, plus a scoresheet plus overall comments. My scores were 126 and 103 out of a possible 135. None of the individual scores were below average.

Here the best and worst (in the requires the most work sense) comments:
"...You really seem to know Alison. I think characterization is your forte....I think you have loads of talent. In general, the ms seems somewhat unpolished to me (needs better hooks, needs less telling, needs more dialogue). But when it’s fleshed out and polished, I think this ms will be a knock-out!"
There seem to be too many secondary characters who serve no purpose. Why do we need to know about everyone who works at the restaurant? What is Toni’s purpose? Do you need all 4 sisters?"

That last comment is unfortunatly still somewhat of a problem. For whatever reason, I overcomplicate the story by adding in too many extra people. I'm going to need to ruthlessly cut some of them out.

For those of you who read the Valentine excerpt and are wondering who Alison is, this feedback is for an earlier story. The main character has morphed into Louise.

Disclaimer: yes, I realize that contests want to encourage wanna-be novelists because they pay to enter contests and it is a self-serving cycle. However, the editing comments were valid and the criticism hits areas I know are weak, so I do think this was worthwhile.

I am on track to finish draft #1 this week and start revising next week.

Did I mention I'm happy?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Back but Busy

I made it back to Plainfield and am back in the Speeway coffee/library groove. I have photos to upload, but I'm focused on book first, blog next. Linda and I are signed up for a conference at the end of April and I have to be ready and I'm not ready and I'm freaking out because this garbled jibberish is what my book looks like right now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Aunt Karen Mania

I finally reached Linda despite their cordless phone breaking down, leaving one functional corded phone in the house with a low-volume ringer. I begged her to be my book-writing buddy in the afternoons and she agreed if I would help with house maintenance in the morning. In the background Emma said, "NO- she's going to play Barbies with me!" I miss that kid : )

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sleeping With the Astronauts

I tried out the memory foam bed last night - you've seen the infomercials - these are the beds created with Nasa technology. They're supposed to repsond to body heat and provide better, more even support.

I liked the feeling of sinking into it, and I did sleep for 10 hours, but I'm still not sold, particularly considering the astronomical price tag. My favourite bed ever was the heavenly bed in a Peach Tree hotel in Atlanta. Now that was a comfortable bed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Driving Myself Over the Edge

The trip from Ile-Perrot to Ashtabula was not that fun. It started ok - hit the road at about 8 am, stopped for a cup of Tim's and a cran-bran muffin on the 401, crossed the border no problem, but then things got ugly.

Maybe I built up bad karma by not feeling bad for New Yorkers after their snowstorm, or maybe the national weather isn't planned around me, but either way I drove right into the middle of a huge freaking snowstorm on I81. It was awful - I couldn't see anything - the road wasn't plowed at all and everything was white. The scariest part about that is driving a white car and wondering if any trucks driving faster behind me could see me. I got off the Interstate as soon as I could, but was in the middle of nowheresville. I finally found a Deli/Bait Shop where I picked up the lunch special (mistake) and called e. to get a weather update.

E. assured me that according to the weather network, I was NOT in the middle of a snowstorm, only flurries and fog. I felt like a character in a war tv show who calls in to report taking heavy fire only to be told that there is no enemy activity in the area. I'm not saying that driving in a snowstorm is like being shot at, but I am saying that standing at an outside payphone while snow is piling up and and whipping around you and being told that there are only light flurries in your area is extremely frustrating.

I finally got back on the road and hit sunshine, then more snow. Had to pull off again, but this time at least I found a service area - much better than the store in Creepy Corners. The entire drive was a bit nerve-wracking. It's not that fun to never know how long the decent weather will last and to pass signs saying "Correctional Facility Nearby Do Not Pick Up Hitch Hikers" Not that I normally would pick up hitch hikers, but I'd prefer to think that they are Jack Keroacs, not Ted Bundys.

By the time I got to Ashtabula last night after 11.5 hours of driving, I was drained. Thinking I bought two slices of Hawaiian pizza only to discover that the yellow stuff was cheese, not pineapple was just the icing on the cake. Luckily I had plenty of Healthy Choice Rocky Road ice cream to ease my pain. I am trying to wean myself off the Ile-Perrot truffle diet.

I know this whole 'woo-hooo look at me - I can go wherever I want since I no longer work for the man' thing was my idea, but sometimes it really feels awkward adjusting to a different place and establishing a different routine. I am getting writing done, I just feel a little out of alignment today. On the bright side, it is sunny and warm and since 'woo-hoo I can make my own schedule', I went for a nice run during peak sun hours. nice.