Happy Hallowe’en

I’ve always thought Prince Charming in ‘Cinderella’ was the most boring role; I’d rather be the Wicked Witch. ~~Jude Law

I saw this witchy character on my way to town and thought I’d share her with the rest of you. Isn’t she lovely? Well, lovely in her own way. I do like her stockings quite well.

In regards to the Jude Law quote at the beginning of the post, who would you rather be, Prince Charming or the Wicked Witch?

Happy Hallowe’en!

Writing Challenge

I’ve been given a writing challenge, and it’s been taking up a good deal of my spare time. Did I say spare time? Wow! That’s a joke.

Yeah, I know, I don’t often mention the projects I’m working at because I really don’t want to bore you all, but I’m making an exception with this post, maybe get a few opinions along the way.

Many years back I wrote a short story that had me a bit curious. The story itself had ended but I wanted to know more. I wanted to know the reasons behind a certain character’s actions. Why would she do what she did? As a mother myself, I knew this woman had to have a good reason for abandoning her children. The question niggled at me. Finally, I wrote another story that satisfied me for a short time until I became greedy and wanted to know even more. It’s like eating potato chips. You can’t just nibble on a few, you keep picking at them until they’re gone.

The result? A collection of linked stories.

Needless to say, a collection of linked stories is about a hard to pitch as a regular old collection, and while many of the stories have been published individually in literary magazines, the collection, as it stands, is just gathering dust balls, big ones! In fact, to be truthful, I really didn’t send it out very many times and as any writer knows that’s the way NOT to get published.  I know, I know, pretty darn lame of me.

But recently, it was suggested I turn this collection of linked stories into a novel, using different perspectives, since many of the stories have been written in the first person. Oh happy day, could there still hope for this dust-gathering collection? Can it be ressurrected after all?

Easy peasy, right?

Maybe, maybe not. I’m still trying to figure this out. The challenge at the moment is deciding where the story begins, exactly whose story it is, and if the story belongs to several people or one person, not to mention finding a common thread, as I work through the plot. Can I use any of the previously written material, or do I need to start from scratch? A whole lot of questions swirling in my very confused, for the moment, brain. Short stories are an entire story, beginning, middle and ending, contained into a few thousand words. A novel is a little more involved, as you all know, but each chapter needs to move the story along.

So here’s my challenge at the moment. I haven’t yet decided if converting a bunch of linked stories into a novel will flow along as smoothly as I’d like it to, but I’m sure going to give it a go.

So what are your thoughts, do you think is it fairly easy to write a novel around linked stories since the character already exist? Should I try and use some of the existing stories or start all over again? Where are you in your writing journey? Have any new challenges come your way recently?

Celebrate Good Times

Hey, look at me I’m celebrating—nothing outstanding, mind you, just the fact that this is post number 400.  Impressive, don’t you think? Why not have some dessert with me as part of the celebration?

So if I figure an average post of about 500 words (give or take) that means I’ve written 200,000 words for you, WordPress.. You ought to be a little proud. That’s a couple of novels I’ve sacrificed, maybe even three or four depending upon the length. So what do you think, WordPress, am I ready to be freshly pressed anytime soon? Be honest, I’m used to being rejected by editors, I can take it.

Hehehe..But on a serious note, when I first began blogging I wasn’t sure what I’d even write about or if I’d even write on a regular basis. Now, look at me 400 posts in. That’s kind of cool and a reason to celebrate I should think. But the biggest reason I have for celebrating is all of you for stopping by and reading what’s going on in my mind. I do appreciate everyone’s visits and the comments you leave that sometimes make me giggle, sometimes make me think, and are always entertaining.

Here’s to another year of blogging!

Why You Gotta be so Mean?

Um—thanks for the title, Taylor.

Some how Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” came to mind as I was poking around Goodreads one evening a few months back. While I don’t check out a lot of reviews, from time to time my curiousity gets the best of me. I want to know what others had to say about a book I really loved. I won’t mention any book title because it’s irrelevant. It could be any book for that matter. What doesn’t feel irrelevant was the one star ratings this amazing book received. I was totally shocked. But I’m a grown-up now with a book of my own, and another one on the way, so I have to suck it up and accept the fact that not everyone appreciated this particular book I happen to love. Fair enough. It’s a free country and thank goodness for that. What disappointed me, though, were some of the nasty reviews. Yes nasty! Mean and down right negative to the fullest degree. Is it possible to have a negative review that isn’t nasty? Of course it is. We’re all adults. Saying we didn’t care for something doesn’t have to sound nasty at all.

I liken it to zucchini. We grow a lot of them, and if you know anything at all about zucchini you know they grow like crazy. Zucchini-growers usually have zucchini coming out their wazoos. You even ask perfect strangers if they’d like to take some home because you’re so happy to share.

Now you either like zucchini or you hate it. It’s understandable. What I’ve noticed through my years of growing them is this: if you ask someone who has a 101 different recipes for zucchini in their drawer if they’d like some they’re tickled pink, couldn’t be happier. But ask someone who hasn’t any idea what to do with them and they get a little huffy under the collar. They make nasty comments. It’s never a simple, “no thank you.” Poor, poor misunderstood zucchini. You remind me of that book I love that received the nasty comments.

This has me asking the question, WHY? Why would someone take the time to write such nastiness? I guess I’m a Pollyanna in many ways. I like to look on the bright side of things. It doesn’t mean that I talk myself into liking something if I honestly don’t. I mean if you don’t like zucchini, I can’t persuade you otherwise. We like what we like. Period. We don’t like what we don’t like. Period.

I couldn’t understand why a few of the reviewers were so upset. Okay there’s nasty and then there’s just NASTY.  This felt NASTY, personal to the point where I had to wonder what it was about this book that triggered such hostility.

But I’m not a therapist, nor do I want to be. And yes, I’m a Pollyanna, and will probably remain so all my days. Negative does not have to be nasty. You can decline my zucchini without hostility. It’s okay, it’s just zucchini.

Do you ever check out the reviews of some of your favourite books? Have you ever stumbled across a NASTY review? Most importantly, does the thought of zucchini make you happy or hostile?

Down on the Farm

Come with me and I’ll take you for a little trip down on the farm, the Ross Farm Museum that is.

Not far from where I live is the Ross Farm Museum. I love going there. Strange, but I feel as though I’m going home whenever I visit. It’s that step back I time, I think, that feels so comfortable for me. I’m also inclined to think I write historical fiction for that very reason. It feels good and comfortable. I can easily imagine living in that time and place.

I thought I’d share some of the photos I took a few weeks back. There is lots to see and do every day. I wish we had more time that day because you could spend hours there and probably still not see everything.

It was a beautiful fall day. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. I really like the fences. Okay, so I like it all, the fences, the haywagon, the buildings.

I close my eyes and imagine the wagon heaped up high with hay.

Lots of wood for the winter. There really is nothing like wood heat when the wild wintery wind is blowing.

A peek inside the farmhouse. I’m not sure that bed is very comfy, but no one ever said life back then was easy. No luxuries to be found, at least not what we would consider luxuries.

So there you have it, a little step back in time. There is plenty to be learned from those who came before us. I appreciate that not everyone finds history as  fascinating as I do. In fact, I’ve heard many people say they really could care less. That makes me a little sad because one day we’ll be a part of the past and everyone, no matter who they are, deserves to be remembered in some way. We can’t all go down in history for the remarkable things we’ve done, but that doesn’t make our lives any less important.

Past or present, which do you prefer?

Liars, Snails and Writers– We’ve Got a Thing Going on!

I’m a liar. There I’ve said it.

I bet some of you are too.

Let’s talk about it.

I tell myself lies all the time. Things like, I’ll just hop on the Internet for a quick second and check my email. Who knows, my editor might be trying to contact me in the worse way and I have to know right …this…minute. I mean, you know what editors can be like, expecting things to happen at the snap of their finger…And, and, if I don’t respond to her email immediately something catastrophic could take place. Like I don’t know…like maybe the earth will stop spinning on its axis, maybe the sun will forget to set or maybe, just maybe, the fate of the entire world rests on that “non-existing” email from my ever-so-impatient editor waiting for me in my inbox.

Here  lies another lie. It comes after I’ve written a few hundred words or so.

Got to get up and move around…gotta stretch those legs of mine. Things seize up. After fifty years of living, body parts begin to wear out you know. When I come to a tense part of my story, sometimes I just can’t sit still.

So yes, I’m a published author but that doesn’t mean I can’t come up with any number of excuses NOT to write. Writing takes discipline. No two ways around it. It’s just as difficult for me to find that discipline as it is for anyone else. Published or non-published, we writers all battle the same demons. Yes, I know, I’m published, there should be more of an incentive to keep me going then those of you who are struggling to break through, but my livelihood doesn’t depend on the money I make writing ergo I can procrastinate with the best of them.

Crummy attitude— my livelihood doesn’t depend upon the money I make writing ergo I can procrastinate. I mean really. Considering I’d quit my job in a heartbeat to stay home and write full time, I’d say that is a darn poor attitude.  So while I say one thing, I don’t do a single thing to back it up. It’s not an easy thing. It takes a leap of faith. Yes I would like to make a living writing, yet I continue to work because my job, while it may not be my first choice in life, is at least predictable. I know what my income will be.

The truth is, making a living with writing means you’d have to churn out far more novels a year than what I seem capable of doing. I know some people can. One writer on Facebook is spitting out words like fireworks. Her books are all over the internet and if I had half her energy I might stand a chance. She said she quit her business to write full time. So it’s possible.

Another writer told me it takes three or four published books a year in order for a writer to rake in enough money for the year. When I heard that I knew I wouldn’t be retiring anytime soon.

I’m a snail.

I’m a snail and a liar, and a little unsure of what my true objectives are when it comes to writing. We all assume every writer wants to make a living writing, but maybe that’s just not so. I’m sure some writers are happy just to see their stories in book form, something for them to look back on in their old age and feel they left their mark in the world. Their children and grandchildren will remember them with pride.

Now I wonder what spurs the writer onward– money or leaving behind a small legacy? I suppose that depends upon the writer. We are all individuals. Different goals, different points of view.

But what do I know? Could be I’m far off base. Snails are not known for their intellectual abilities.  ;)

If you’re a writer what keeps you writing? Do you expect to one-day make a living writing? If so, do you have any specific plan in place?

The 18 Day Novel

This summer while I was enjoying a little break from blogging, I saw in the CANSCAIP news an interview with Canadian author Valerie Sherrard.  I met Valerie last year at Word on the Street. She has the sweetest smile and gentlest spirit in the world. Valerie has had twenty books published and her YA novel, “The Glory Wind,” won so many awards after its publication I’m not sure how she keeps them all straight. Coincidentally, it won the Bilson Award, the same award “Bitter, Sweet” was short listed for in 2010. I was pleased as punch to find this out because I quite enjoyed the book. Some books you know are just destined to garner much deserved attention.

During the interview, Valerie mentioned that she’d written one of her books in just 18 days. Wow! 18 days!!! Did you catch that?  I mean most of us have barely booted up our computers in that amount of time. While I was wowed by this news it also made me question, what the heck is wrong with me?  No wonder I’m just starting my third novel. I picked away at my last novel for a few years. Started. Stopped. Started again until I’d finally made my mind up to finish it. Now mind you, I wrote “Bitter, Sweet” in about three months and was working at the time, but that doesn’t even come close to being 18 days.

Reading this made me wonder how much of my time I spend tooling around the internet and allowing other things to distract me. What if I simply made my mind up to write, write, write until I came to the end. I’ve got a pretty good idea where my next novel is going, I know who my characters are, so what’s the problem?

Discipline. A writer needs to have discipline, and not just those times when the writing process is going great and we’re loving every minute of our WIP (work in progress for my non-writing friends). Discipline is what keeps us steadily plugging away even when we’d rather be out enjoying the sun or watching our favourite TV program.

We also need faith– faith in the fact that we have what it takes to complete a project. This is another area I struggle with, and often why you’ll never hear me mention any details of my WIP. What if I can’t deliver the finished product? What if my story ends up being monkey crap? Oh yes, I’ve written my share of that over the years.

So what’s a writer to do? Why write of course: write and don’t worry about what other writers are able to accomplish. Who knows maybe one day I’ll write a novel in just 17 days.

 

Do other people’s accomplishments inspire you or do they make you feel as though you’ll never be any good?

Not So Scary Scarecrows

“The Scarecrow watched the Woodman while he worked and said to him “I cannot think why this wall is here nor what it is made of.” “Rest you brains and do not worry about the wall,” replied the Woodman, “when we have climbed over it we shall know what is on the other side.”

Last weekend was the Scarecrow Festival in Mahone Bay. We may have been a week late but there were still plenty of scarecrows hanging around. We thought it would be a great place to take our American company. When people come all the way from Washington, over the Thanksgiving Day weekend,  you like to help make their journey a worthwhile one. Here are a few of the sights we saw.

I’m not sure how the Royal Family would feel about being scarecrows, but I think this display was one of my favourites.  Everyone’s here but Prince Harry.

Seems that Harry was there all along. He’s a little  under-dressed for the occasion, but that’s Harry for you. At least this time he was caught protecting the Crown Jewels!

Scarecrows have certainly come a long way since I was a girl. I loved all the colourful costumes.

The Simpsons are still as popular as ever.

This Marilyn Monro likeness was another favourite of mine.

This is just a few of the highlights from our trip to Mahone Bay. In reality there are far more scarecrows than I could possibly post. Mahone Bay is a lovely seas side town with so many beautiful sights to see. Before ending this post I’ll leave you with this lasting image of the three famous churches.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Procrastination

“Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing!” ~Donald Gardner

I’ve never considered myself a true procrastinator, but what do I know? Since coming back from my blogging vacation in September, I’ve been attempting to write two posts a week. I’ve been posting Mondays and Thursdays. It’s been working out good for me although there never seems to be enough time to visit other blogs. This working for a living really cuts into the time I could use checking out the blogs I follow. I`m still waiting for that million dollar publishing contract so I can retire from regular work and spend my days eating Mars bars and writing.  ;)

So here it is Wednesday evening and I haven’t a single idea for a post. Could be this makes me a procrastinator. I even asked my Facebook friends if any of them were procrastinators. Apparently, I have more in common with some of them then I originally thought.

But…but…but…I have an excuse.

This week we have company coming from the Washington( a family member we haven’t seen for over ten years and his wife.)  Naturally, there are things I’ve been wanting to do before their arrival yet found myself scurrying around this evening trying to get them done. They’re arriving tomorrow, and there is still plenty to do. Okay, it’s official… I’m a procrastinator.

Hopefully, I`ll be back on Monday with a new post. Do you ever find yourself knee deep in procrastination?

Time was Flying While I was Chasing Spies

There was something suspicious going on at the Dempsey Corner Orchards more than just your usual Saturday afternoon goings on. I got wind of it a few weeks ago when a very suspicious email arrived in my inbox from, one, Allison Maher. Well, curiousity killing the cat and all, I decided to take a drive out to the Annapolis Valley and case the joint out, see what all the hub-bub was about. I’d been there previously, last November, when Star Dobson had a book signing,  (I blogged about it here) so I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. Still, I figured there’d be a few spies in the bunch, and I’m not just talking about apples.

Saturday was the book launch for Allison Maher’s second juvenile novel, “Time Flies When You’re Chasing Spies.” It has the same characters as her first novel, “I, the Spy.” Okay,  so I guess that’s spy talk for sequel. It was held right at the farm where Allison lives. Now, you have to see this place to appreciate it to the fullest. For those of you who haven’t been there before, I’ll give you a quick tour of the building where the launch was held, but there’s plenty more outside to tickle your fancy. Really, a great place to take the family if you’re looking for a place that fully appreciates life on a small farm in Nova Scotia.

I arrived early and quickly located the building where I figured all the spies would be hanging out. They’re a close-knit bunch so I figured they’d be swarming the place. I looked in every nook and cranny. If there were any spies about I aimed to flush them out.

I went incognito. Sometimes you’ve got to. When spies are involved you can’t take any chance. Here’s my disguise. Snazzy, don’t you think? Hmm, maybe snazzy isn’t quite the word.

I checked the loft. The coast was clear. Not another living soul in sight, but plenty of interesting things here..

 Still, I had the feeling that I was being watched. It was kind of a baaaaad feeling. That’s when I discovered something I hadn’t expected.  Lamb Chop of all people…People?  Hmmmm.. She was playing it kind of cool if you asked me, hiding amongst a bunch of Lamb Chop clones.  Clever indeed!

I questioned the hobby horse. If anyone in that loft was in the know, I figured it had to be the horse. No luck. I was back to square one.

Once I determined there were no spies in the loft I went back down to where the books were displayed. I got distracted on my way past the kitchen. Check out these Mile High apple pies. They’re big enough for spies to hide in I wager, but I wasn’t about to do anymore digging.

Around about this time I was starting to get anxious. When you’re dealing in the world of spies, crime and under-cover work you can’t be too careful. I decided to track down this Allison Maher, this writer of fiction, this perpetrator of book launches, just to hear her side of the story. I mean it was her gig after all, the rest of us just came along for the ride, and to get a signed book I might add. I caught up to her seconds before she ducked behind a whole stack of books. She thought she’d lost me. This is one sneaky author, folks. She’s got all the right moves, got them down mighty pat for someone who says she simply writes about this world of spies and crime.  To tell the truth, I was starting to doubt her story a little. Hmmm, could be she’s been up close and personal about some of the spies she’s been writing about way late into the wee hours of the morning. Slippery, that one is but, I’ll tell you, she met her match.

So there you have my statement of the  events from last Saturday’s book launch , others might very well have their own story to tell. Does time really fly when you’re chasing spies? You betcha.

All jokes aside, it was a lovely afternoon, and Allison is certainly a good sport. Not to mention entertaining as old heck. I’m looking forward to reading her book and wish her all the best.

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 152 other followers

  • Follow Laura Best on WordPress.com
  • my novels

  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 59,546 hits
  • Add me

    Facebook Buttons By ButtonsHut.com