The Word Tree

My daughter makes cool and neat things. Whenever I visit I find something new she’s made. It’s usually something simple that ends me thinking, I wouldn’t mind having something like that.

Here’s what I saw on my last visit. Couldn’t help but snap a shot of it.

I believe she used a page from an old book that had seen better days. With a little imagination we can find a use for most everything. Hmmm…. I wonder what happened to the rest of the book?

You know, I was thinking it would be kind of neat to have one with a page from my book, but…

This weekend I’ll be spending some time with Miss Charlotte. She’s only two, but she’s got quite a talent for drawing. Maybe one day I’ll share one of her pictures on my blog.

I’m off to have an enjoyable Canada Day weekend.

Happy Canada Day!

Do you have any special plans for the weekend?

 

Farewell

Farewell deare flowers, sweetly your time ye spent,

Fit, while ye liv’d, for smell or ornament,

And after death for cures.

GEORGE HERBERT, Life

My mother-in-law grew peonies. The year we were married she dug some of her bulbs out and gave them to us to plant. Young and busy at the time, we didn’t fully appreciate the gift. They were planted in front of the house in some fashion but didn’t came up the following spring. We gave them little thought after that.

The year she went to the nursing home we dug out some of the bulbs, planted them properly, and waited. It was a sad time as we struggled with the memories and emotions involved when emptying her house, and packed what things were to go with her. During that time the peonies suddenly took on new meaning for us.

Their subtle presence in our lives, the memories they evoke each time they come in bloom, brings a smile to my lips, a warm tug to my heart. It is all the proof I need to know we live on long after we have left this earthly  abode. We touch more lives  than we are aware of, without ever knowing the importance of our actions and words. We leave a myriad of sweet memories in our wake. We bring tears of sadness and joy with us in everything we do. We come into the world with nothing, what we leave behind in the minds and hearts of others is what gives our lives meaning.

Farewell Frances, you still make us smile…

Brain Flatulence: How to Fight Back

It’s silent. It’s deadly. It’s down right embarrassing. It sneaks up on us when we least expect it–brain flatulence a.k.a the brain fart. If you’re under the age of forty you may have no idea what I’m talking about. If you’re over forty, or a premature sufferer of brain flatulence, keep reading.

Good old brain flatulence is what causes us to ask, what the heck am I doing here? after we enter a room. And those times when we catch ourselves about to put the salt and peppershaker in the refrigerator– chalk that one up to brain flatulence as well.  Don’t tell me you’ve never come to an abrupt halt in the middle of a conversation, just as you were about to make some truly profound statement, only to realize you haven’t a clue what you were about to say next.

Now, for the sake of politeness, and my mum, (who to my knowledge has only ever said the word fart once in her life) I’ve chosen to use the term brain flatulence for this post. But if you prefer to call it forgetfulness, brain fog, a senior’s moment, no one here’s going to stop you. It all amounts to the same thing.

The first step in overcoming a problem is always admitting the problem exists.

Yes, I’ll admit to three of the above. If it wasn’t for brain flatulence, I could likely cite more. Some days are worse than others. Truthfully, I shouldn’t complain. I know one person who tried to vote for a Canadian Idol contestant with the tv remote control. After several attempts she asked her daughter what was wrong with the phone. True story!  (I’m betting about now you’re not nearly as scared about your own brain flatulence, are you?)

But for those of you who just aren’t ready to admit to having a problem there are ways to cover up those momentary lapses of memory.

1.Saying things such as  “Not to change the subject, but……” when you suddenly haven’t the foggiest idea as to what the conversations is about is a good place to start. Of course you’ll need to prepare for this one ahead of time because even when your NOT changing the subject, you need to have a subject to talk about. Choose something you’re knowledgeable about. If need be, tie a string to your finger to remind you of what that something is. That way instead of trying to come up with something at the spur of the moment you need only to glance down at your finger. If all goes as planned, you won’t wonder why the heck you tied it there in the first place. Something you saw on Dr. Oz would work well and, since he’s the most quoted person on the planet these days, you’re not going to raise any suspicions.

 

2.If you’re caught putting the salt and peppershakers in the fridge swear up and down that you saw it on an episode of the Dr. Oz Show. You won’t really have to know why they belong there. The fact that you mention seeing it on Dr. Oz will be good enough for most people. They’ll accept it as law. Before you know it, your family and friends will be doing the same.

 

3. As for covering up the reason for entering a room, that one should be a piece of cake. Remember, you only have to worry about this if someone’s actually in the room. No one’s going to see that befuddled what-the-heck- am-I-doing-here look, when the room is empty, right? If there is someone in the room, that’s a different kettle of fish. Be inventive, ask them a question, “Do you know what was on Dr. Oz today?”

Fighting back

For all of you sufferers of brain flatulence I’m here to spread the good news. There’s a way to fight back. I’ve done a little research and here’s what I found. Roll up your sleeves. Let’s get serious for a moment.

Sitting in front of a tv screen day after day is a sure fire way of adding to the brain flatulence you’re already experiencing. Sorry Dr. Oz, but this needed to be said.. Your brain is a muscle, or should be, and like every other muscle in the body it needs a good work out. A great way to cut down on brain flatulence is to read my book. Okay not just my book, but any book. (Sorry, I thought I’d slip one that past you.)

Seriously, if books aren’t your thing try reading newspapers, magazines, even blog post. The written word is everywhere. There really is no excuse. It’s probably one of our best defences. I’m not simply saying this because I’m an author. The experts will back me up on this one. Keeping our brains active is important. My weekly visit to the nursing home these past four years is enough to convince me of that. While it’s fun to joke around, it really is important especially as we age. If we let our brains go to mush in our youth we can’t expect to make up for it later in life.

While reading is a great way to keep our minds active, the experts also say that trying new things will keep our brains energetic and healthy too. Learn a new craft, do crosswords or puzzles. Take piano lessons. Challenge yourself. Anything that requires you to use your brain will help protect you against brain flatulence.  Continue to do things you already enjoy that stimulate your brain. Often times older individuals simply lose interest, but this doesn’t have to be that way.

So there you have it, everything you no doubt already knew about brain flatulence, but likely forgot. Hopefully, down the road you’ll remember that your best defence is to stay active and challenge our brain. Keep reading. Keep thinking. Keep learning. Don’t just let your brain go stale.

Do you ever suffer from brain flatulence? Share your story. We’ll read it. Plus, we’ll be contributing to our brain health while we read it.

Holy Arch Nemesis, Batman!

Don’t have an arch nemesis? That’s what I thought until the year my book came out.

 

Someone recently made the comment that we all have an arch nemesis in some area of our lives. She mentioned having a twitter nemesis, (someone on twitter who was going through a similar life experience, but who always seemed to be doing it just a little bit better.) Okay, so we shared a giggle about it, but in the end, this person got under her skin so she unfollowed for her own peace of mind. Sometimes you’ve just got to do the thing that will bring you peace, right?

 

Shortly after my book came out, my kids started teasing me about having an arch nemeses. The person in question happened to have been an author whose book came out the same time as mine therefore you’d often see our books reviewed at the same time, advertised at the same time and generally in each others’ space. But that’s the way it is in this business. Nothing personal, nothing nasty, it’s all business. Many books are published in a year. My kids, being the kids they are, enjoyed calling this author my arch nemesis even though I would assure them that she was probably a very lovely person should we ever have the good fortune to meet. Of course they weren’t buying it. But that’s my kids!

 

So whether I liked it or not, it seemed, our books were in competition. How the heck did that happen, I wondered?  And was it real or simply imagined, something that came into being from a joke my kids started? I suspect the latter although, I then started to become quite conscious of this particular book after that. It was only natural. Remember how many red cars you saw after you bought yours? And when you were expecting your first grandchild, pregnant woman came at you from everywhere. We notice what we put our attention on.

 

Since my first book came out I’ve met so many of my fellow authors, and it’s been great making friends. I can’t say enough about how connecting with this wonderful community of writers has meant to me, but I’m not sure that being a part of a community will completely take away our need for “friendly” competition. I’ve heard authors who have felt a bit envious of another author’s book. I say envious, but I mean envious is a friendly way, if you know what I mean. Perhaps a particular book beat theirs out for an award or got more reviews—that sort of thing.

 

These things are nothing new. It started for some of us on the playground, some kid who was always a wee bit better at everything than we were, and we found ourselves in competition with them again and again. I believe we do sometimes find ourselves in competition with others, whether consciously or unconsciously. It can happen at work or even on a volunteer level. Parents of young children often compare their children’s development, and we’ve all met people I’ll call “one uppers.” No matter what story you have to tell, they have one a bit more spectacular on that exact subject. These competitions are just about everywhere, and I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing so long as it stays on a good-natured level. Can it be avoided? Perhaps if we go through life with blinders on, and keep our minds on doing the best we can in a particular area without worrying about someone else.

 

Do you agree that we find ourselves in competition with others? Do you have an arch nemesis—real or imagined—in some area of your life? Do you think it’s a bad thing, or do you feel there is nothing wrong with a little “friendly” competition?

Are You a Perfect Writer?

Have you ever noticed the thing we want often shows up at just the right time?

 

While I was thinking about writing a blog post I literally stumbled across the quote by John Updike—Perfection is the enemy of creation. And there I had it, an idea to blog about. Thanks Universe, you’re one cool dude!

 

Many of us admit to being perfectionists in some area of our lives if not all. While I hardly consider myself a perfectionist, I can be quite nitpicky when it comes to writing. I often spend outrageous amounts of time writing and rewriting paragraphs, waltzing around with an armful of words without ever making it off the dance floor. Sometimes the changes I make are so slight it probably makes no difference to anyone but me. I like to fiddle with words, and move sentences around. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s a delight!

 

I really don’t know if that means I’m a perfectionist or that I’m a little on the anal side when it comes to writing. So sue me. What I do know is, there’s no better way to stifle creative endeavours, no better way to stop a story in mid scene, than constantly striving for that perfect flow of words the first time through. In fact, that’s kind of where I am with one of my stories at the moment, and I’ve got to stop it. Okay, so I am anal—there I’ve admitted it. Are you happy now?

 

While it would be easy to become envious of those writers who can simply let their creativity take over as they write that first draft, I stand back in awe with hopes that one day my creativity will lead me to write a first draft without the need for me to look over my shoulder even once. I truly think that writers who are able to write, write, write are far more productive than those of us who write, revise, edit, write, and inch our way to the end. Getting that first draft down and THEN diving into revisions just seems to make more sense. Unfortunately, the things we do in life don’t always make sense.

 

To top all that off we have the word perfection to contend with. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but this perfectionism some of us strive for is only a figment of our imaginations. For some reason we think that we should be the judge of what is perfect and what is not, when we all have our own standards as to what we judge as perfect. Why do we assume that our opinion is the only one that counts? Will we ever find that perfect we’re looking for? Maybe, if perfect was something we could pick up and hold in our arms, maybe cuddle close to, something that any dang idiot could look at and recognize like a tree or a flower or a rock. But perfect isn’t any of these things. Perfect is a notion that we carry around in our heads. And unlike a rock or tree, my perfect is going to look a lot different from yours. So who gets to decide whose perfect is the right one? Danged if I know.

 

What I do know is this; eventually, we have to let go of our work if we ever plan to see it published. No matter how we want to polish our words, making them bright and shiny, eventually we’ll be left with nothing but a dull shine as we rub, rub, rub away that original brilliance. Will it ever be perfect? I guess we’re the only ones who can judge that.

 

Are you a perfectionist? Do you agree with John Updike that Perfection is the enemy of creation?

Blossoms and Quotes

My week was filled with flowers and words. Here are a few of both for your enjoyment.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~~Anais Nin

 

 A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love. ~~Max Muller

 

Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.~~Doris Lessing

 

For a writer, published works are like fallen flowers, but the expected new work is like a calyx waiting to blossom. ~~Cao Yu

I couldn’t resist adding the buttercups.  As children we played this game: if someone held a buttercup under your chin and yellow reflected on your skin it meant you liked butter..That little game used to be a good source of entertainment during those simpler times. Why is it we seem to miss those simpler times?

Enjoy your weekend!

5 Reasons For Not Writing That Novel

I hear people all the time express a deep desire to write a book. It happened just the other day. “I always wanted to write,” an older woman said to me. Had I not just met her I might have asked, “Well, what’s stopping you?”

Often when someone learns that I’m an author it brings their own unfulfilled dreams of writing to the foreground. It seems that many people would like to write, they just don’t get around to it. Really, it makes me a little sad to know this. Whenever possible, we should try to pursue the dreams we carry in our hearts. Have you ever stopped to consider there is a reason those dreams are there?

Some dreams are fleeting fancies, as wistful as pink cotton candy — “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to write a book?” These dreams don’t really count because they really don’t come from the heart. They come from an idea that might have popped into our heads one day as we stood in the bookstore musing over the bestseller’s list thinking it would be super cool to see our name there. I’ve known people who thought they’d be able to whip up a story, no problem, but ended up discouraged after their first few tries.

Other dreams are of the niggling kind, they stick to us like grease, and no matter what they never go away. If we’re lucky we may be able to keep them at bay for a time, by allowing life’s distractions to keep us from taking action, because one of the scariest things in the world to do is to follow our dreams. I mean, what if we fall flat on our faces? Maybe even scarier—What if we succeed?

So here we go…..5 Reasons For Not Writing That Novel

  1. I’ll start writing that novel when he kids are a bit older— A facebook buddy cited this one awhile back. It sounds like a good excuse. It’s up there with “the house won’t be messy as soon as the kids move out.” Hmmm, I believed that illusion for years, but now that the kids have moved that theory’s been shot to pieces. When my kids were small I knew that I had to have something in my life for me, something that defined me in some other way other than a mommy. Not everyone feels this way and I get that. But remember when those kids finally do move out you may end up asking yourself what am I going to do now? If you’re already writing, for whatever time you can allow, you won’t be asking that question. The answer will already be there.

  1. I’ll start writing that novel once I retire…Many people say this, but here’s my theory, if we couldn’t find the time to start writing in the first 65 years of our lives it’s unlikely we’ll find oodles of time once we retire. Retired people are some of the busiest people I know. They just never slow down. They’re off vacationing and camping and having a grand old time.

  1. I’ll start writing that novel when I have the money to take a writing course right now I’m barely making ends meet. Okay, I get the money thing. Years ago when we were first married there was barely enough money to pay the bills let alone dare to dream about spending money on something so frivolous. Here’s the thing… While writing courses are wonderful, not everyone has access to them. Here’s the other thing…You don’t need a writing course to get started. Think of all the great writers out there who wrote their books during a time when writing courses did not exist. It’s not impossible.

  1. I’ll write that novel as soon I broaden my vocabulary because we all know that writers need to know the meaning of every word especially those twelve letter ones. When I first started writing I thought I had to wow everyone with my use of the English language—Wrong. Writing that is simple and easy to understand will resonate with many readers, your storytelling ability is far more important than twelve letter words. Learn to tell a good story.

  1. I’ll start writing that novel as soon as I’ve experienced more of life  so that I will have plenty to write about. Well, guess what? My two-year-old granddaughter is starting to tell bunny stories. They may only be a paragraph long, but she’s only two. Now if a two year old can come up with something, I’m willing to bet you’re selling yourself short if you think you need more life experience. People mistakenly believe that in order to write you have to have travelled and experienced the world, but some of the loveliest stories I’ve ever read were based on very simple themes.

There you have 5 reasons why would-be writers are not out there writing. A few of them worked for me in the past until I finally determined that nothing would stop me. The truth is there will always be things out there that will take up our time, but if you’re really meant to be doing something (and it doesn’t just have to be writing) by letting your dream fizzle away you’re not being true to the person that counts the most.The happiest people I know are the ones who work toward making their dreams come true. Be that person!

What reason do you have for not writing that novel? 

This Week

It’s been an interesting week. I like weeks that are interesting, when surprises nab you by the scruff of the neck and you end up doing and seeing a lot of different things instead of the same old, same old.

I’ve been managing to get up at 5:30 each morning to get in a bit of writing before work. For me, that’s the big news. Yay me! This is big because it means if I have a hundred and one things to do in the evening I still have some writing time in, and I actually feel like a writer for yet another day. I’m excited about the story I’m working on– although shouldn’t writers be excited and enthusiastic about all their work? Hmmm, that’s debatable and seems to depend upon how smoothly the words are flowing and how forthcoming the story is. Sometimes a story is down right stingy and will only come out a trickle at a time. It ranks right up there with pulling teeth—slow and painful. If you’re lucky the story is generous and provides you with the perfect flow of words at just the right time. You’re never stumped as the story unfolds and it’s totally delicious and fun.

I attended an afternoon tea at a friend’s house on my day off. There were twelve of us, and some of the most interesting and talented people I’ve met in a long time. The muffins were none too shabby either. Mmmm, thanks Gail!

I went in search of  a place this week  as part of some research for the story I’m working at.

Earlier in the week I was in the Chester area. I strolled around the grounds of a property that is valued at a cool 5 Mil. Rather impressive and wishing now I’d snapped a few photos of the view as I ate lunch overlooking the ocean, watching the sailboats glide across the water. This photo was snapped as we drove past later in the day and is just an example of what we saw..Trust me it was amazing, and yes I did feel special. The home had obviously been built many years ago from rocks washed smooth and round from ocean waves. It had three stone fireplaces and four stone pillars. The gardens were to be admired. Hard to imagine all the work that would have gone into making such a property the showcase that it is. And that’s just the outside. I would have jumped through hoops to see the inside but, alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Anyone from Nova Scotia knows that Chester is pretty pleasing on the eyes, not to mention there’s some fine real estate in the area. The view of the Atlantic Ocean is awesome, with many tiny island offshore. To top it off there have been plenty of movies shot in Chester.

  • Echoes of a Summer (1976)

  • The Secret (1992)

  • Dolores Claiborne (1995, exterior of Vera Donovan’s)

  • Two if by Sea (1996)

  • Black Harbour (1996)

  • Love and Death on Long Island (1997)

  • Catch a Falling Star (2000)

  • The Weight of Water (2000)

  • Deeply Lynn Redgrave and Kirsten Dunst; East Ironbound Is., etc. (2000)

  • Blackfly (2001)

  • A Town Without Christmas (2001)

  • Beach Girls (2005)

  • Candles on Bay Street (2006)

  • Noah’s Ark (2008)

At the moment the TV series, Haven, is being shot there. I sat right across from the spot where they were shooting a scene. I’d like to say it all looked pretty darn impressive. The truth is, if you had no idea what was going on, well, you wouldn’t have had any idea what was going on. You might just wonder why so many people were gathered in one place. You might even think, so what?

Here are a few small discoveries I made this week:

I discovered this week that “Catching Fire,” has 485, 121 ratings on Goodreads. Makes the 15 ratings that my book has on that site look a bit measly. I didn’t even bother looking at how many ratings “The Hunger Games” have. One thing is for certain no one with anything at all to do would check out every single one of those ratings or the 47,000+ reviews… But that’s the way. I just feel happy and fortunate for the few my book has.

I ate the most scrumptious scallops in the world—seriously–in a little place in Western Shore called Mo’s. Who knew?

I also discovered that I’ve been quite slack at visiting all your blogs…Believe me when I say, there just hasn’t been enough hours in the day..But if you haven’t seen me for awhile I ‘m going to try and fix that this weekend..

I discovered a few moments ago the spam monsters are trying to infiltrate my blog–400 spam comments in my queue. That’s crazy.

Lastly I’ll leave you with this photo of a beautiful spot I discovered  this week and simply couldn’t resist taking a photo. It’s lovely and secretive, and brimming with inspiration. I could write a short story about this place I’m sure. It sets my mind afire.

What new discoveries have you found this week?

The Beauty of Butterflies

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

The same could be said about writing, don’t you think? As a reader we’re presented with the final product,  edited and polished until it shines. But how many drafts, revisions, and edits did it go though to get there? We should never be discouraged with our first attempts at a story. It will change and grow over time.

Perhaps it is a good thing that readers never have to read the first drafts of some very popular books. If they did they might not want to read the finished book at all.

Enjoy your weekend!

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