I won! I won!

Okay, let me calm down for a second so  I can share my exciting news with you.

Who’s the winner of the Booker Award? That would be moi, thank you.

Admit it, for  a split  second you thought,  Hmm, does  Laura  actually mean the prestigious Booker Prize, that  International writing award any author would give their first born up to win? …Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you know what I mean.  Did you see the little note below the prize that says “For those who refuse to live in the real world.” Ummm, that would be moi as well.  But listen, an author has a right to dream and dream big, right?  In the meantime I’m most  happy with my Booker Award  and the knowledge that my first born  didn’t  have to  make any sacrifices  for my  writing  career. (I’m a good mom, aren’t I?)

I was given this award by Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda series of books for children 8-12.  Check  out her  blog and you’ll  learn all about her and this great series. Darlene’s one of the nicest bloggers/authors/people I’ve met  on line. And to think we might never have crossed paths had it not been for the Country Roads anthology we were both contributors to.

Accepting this award means I’ll list five of my favourite books. Now this won’t be my five all time favourite since I couldn’t possible narrow it down to five, and I’m  also going to use this opportunity to give some shout outs to a few local books –so here I go:

Kit’s  Law  by Donna Morrissey.  This was Donna’s debut  novel and it’s a terrific read. I especially like the fact that Donna lives in my home province of Nova Scotia. I haven’t  yet met Donna but she’s on my list  of  author’s  too meet.  I came close  this fall  as she was  scheduled to come to The Inside Story  for a book signing, but had to cancel. Still hoping she makes it there. Would love to meet her.

The Birth House by Ami McKay. You know how every now and again we read a book and think, this is a book I would have liked to have written just because it seems to really speak to you in a special way?  Well, the Birth House is one of those books for me.  Ami is a fellow Nova Scotian as well. Her book was a #1 Canadian bestseller.

The Case  Against Owen Williams by Allan Donaldson.  Allan in a fellow Maritimer and lives in New Brunswick. I thought this novel well written and made me sympathetic toward a character  whom I might otherwise been indifferent to.

My next two are children’s books, and books that would also appeal to many adults as well.

Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer. Hadley grew up in the Annapolis Valley and even went to the same high school as me which I think is rather neat in itself. I met Hadley at a book signing some years back and she sent me some notes of encouragement at one time. A very supportive writer.

The Year Mrs. Montague Cried by Susan White. Susan is a writer from New Brunswick. I totally enjoyed this book and the fact that Susan drew on her own experience of losing her son made it so very authentic.

So there you have five books that I can’t really call my favourite, but local books I really enjoyed. I’m not going to pass this award on, but if you`d like to leave a list in the comment section of five, or four, or three….books you really enjoyed please feel free to do so.

Happy Reading!

Soar With The Eagles

Never give in to pessimism. Don’t know that you can’t fly, and you will soar like an eagle. Don’t end up regretting what you did not do because you were too lazy or too frightened to soar. Be a bumblebee! And soar to the heavens. You can do it.~~ Earl  Brakken, Commencement address  at University of  Hawaii  2004

I caught  a quick image  of  an eagle  in flight a few weeks back. Whenever I see an eagle it reminds me that we  all have the  ability to soar.  Sometimes  all  it  takes is  for us to spread our wings and try.

Time Stealers

Earlier this week I emailed writer friend, Syr Ruus, and asked her to send me some time. She didn’t.  Which didn’t really come as any big surprise. Yeah, it was just a joke, but I did think later it would be kind of neat if we could put in an order for time just like that. Time seems to be one of those things that are constantly in short supply. Or is it simply because we try to cram too much into our days?  Is it even logical to try and fill each  moment? Or do we all need a little down time?

We all lead busy lives and hardly does it seem there is time to just sit back and relax. When I get a few moments my nose is either stuck in a book or else I’m tapping away at the keyboard.

I have been limiting my Facebook time lately. While it’s fun, and I like keeping connected with my friends (Sorry, Sheila, I didn’t know about your trip until it was over  :) ) Facebook can be a time stealer. But not to blame Facebook alone, it takes an interested party to partake in Facebook games and constant status updates. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing for everyone, but for this writer it can mean the difference between winning at Luxulous or writing a novel. Sorry, I have to say; I’ll take the later.

Not to be down on Facebook. I like  Facebook. It’s a great way to connect with people we  wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to, and  I do  believe this connection  with others is part of what gives our lives meaning. Without some human interaction I’m not sure there would even be a point to life.

I wonder if part of the reason we all seem to complain when it comes to time is that we’re too hard on ourselves, expecting that we’re super-human and can accomplish more than is reasonably expected. When we fail to meet our expectations, we chastise ourselves for coming up short. Some people make lists to keep themselves on track, which is a great idea, unless we add too many items to that list. I’ve said several times on this blog that I’m not a list-maker, but from time to time I’ll write down the things I want to accomplish in a day when there are many things that need my attention. But once I start I find it difficult to stop listing, and instead of setting down realistic goals I’ve added so stinking many items I’d have to stay up half the night to get it all done. When it comes to list-making I get a failing grade.

There’s really no point in blaming time for our shortcomings.  Time is a constant. It’s been there since, well, the beginning of time. There are 60 minutes in ever hour, 24 hours in every day—no more, no less. You’d think by now we’d get used to that and learn how to utilize our time in more productive way instead of  complaining about the lack of time in our lives.

 What  are the time stealers in your  life? Do you struggle to find the time to accomplish your goals? Do you ever worry about wasting time or are you happy with all that you accomplish in a day? Do you make time to just relax?

A Little Out of the Ordinary

Yesterday, while I was peeling potatoes for the stew I was making, I wondered how many mother’s out there had received seed potatoes for Mother’s Day. Yes, I did say seed potatoes. I know this question seems a bit far out there, but I have a reason for asking.

I’ll admit the gift is a bit unorthodox, but sometimes unorthodox is fun, even welcomed, in the right circumstances. Mind you, I couldn’t imagine someone giving their city-dwelling mother a box of seed potatoes (that would just be wrong) but for a mother who lives in the country and plants a garden, could be a box of seed potato is the ideal gift.

So, who’s the mother who received a box of seed potato for Mother’s Day you might ask? Well, that would be moi! Truthfully, I think the idea stemmed from last years creative Christmas list my loving son sent my way where he’d added a 50 lb bag of Yukon Gold potatoes to his wish list. Here’s the post if you want to refresh your memory. He kind of threw me for a loop with some of the ridiculous items, but never fear, my motherly instinct kicked in and I ended up twisting his arm, requesting a new list. Nope, he didn’t end up with that 50 lb bag of potatoes under the Christmas tree.  And maybe he was a tab bit disappointed. Who’s to say? I imagined them slowly rotting away in his apartment over the winter months…Have you ever smelled a rotten potato? Nasty, just plain nasty.

But back to my Mother’s day gift. Coincidently, the box of seed potatoes were to grow into approximately 60 lbs and they were Golden Russets, not Yukon Gold, although I’m pretty sure he’d have been hard pressed to find Yukon Gold potato seed around these parts. So, we planted them this spring and harvested a bumper crop. Smart kid he is, he even came made a few visits out right around harvest time, returning to the city with some garden fresh potatoes in the trunk of his car. We all know  nothing out there can take the place of new potatoes, right?

Honestly, every time I peel a potato I think about my Mother’s Day gift and smile. Some gifts we soon forget, others linger in our minds for months to come.  Thanks kiddo, keeping thoughts of you ever present in my mind, and stomach, even though you’re miles from home.

What is the most unorthodox gift you ever received?

Slow and Steady

I’ve been busy these past two weeks working from home. I’m usually torn between enjoying the luxury of being able to work at home and disciplining myself to work at a steady pace without distractions. It’s not always easy. The truth is sometimes I like distractions, sometimes I hate them, depending upon the particular distraction. I’m fickle, I suppose, but I can be whatever I want. Right?

The good news is, I’ve been steadily increasing my word count on the novel I’m writing without letting it interfere with my “other work.” Yay me! Mind you, some days I’m not making any huge big strides but a few hundred words here and there add up over time. Sometimes it’s a matter of stealing a few moments in the early morning. I like waking early. I seem to accomplish so much more when I do.

I’m not really a slow and steady person by nature. I’m more of a jump-in-there-get- going-get-done kind of person, but I think this pace has been good for me. We don’t always need to do things the same way every time. That’s how we get stuck in ruts. I don’t like ruts either. They’re sneaky. You fall into them gradually over time and before you know it you’re living in that rut without a clue that you’re even in one. You’ve got your head in the clouds and you’re belting out Abba tunes. La..La…La…

Human behaviour is strange sometimes. I’m always amazed at how quickly I can see these things in others but not myself. To see them in myself I have to look mighty close, maybe even admit a thing or two I don’t necessarily want to. It’s all part of being human. No sense beating ourselves up over it, just make a commitment to do better the next time.

So here’s where I am at the moment. My usually Monday and Thursday posts didn’t happen last week, and likely they won’t for the next month. My goal it to blog whenever I can. Hopefully, the month of December will find me back into my routine.

Pig Identity–Do You Write in Character?

My two-year-old granddaughter is obsessed with pigs. She loves to draw pigs, read about pigs, she even likes to dress up like a pig. I bet if someone asked her she’d say her favourite book was “The Three Little Pigs.” The week she visited with us, she wore her pig hat most of her waking hours. At night, she’d often wake and cry, “Want to be a pig.” Oh yeah, she’s got a real pig identity problem.

As a writer, I can relate to how she feels. When my writing is going well, and the story is flowing, it usually means I’m writing in character.  What’s writing in character? Simple. As events pop up along the way, I feel the character’s emotions, as surely as if I were that character. Now, I don’t usually feel the need to dress up, but I’ve heard of some writers who do, to make their writing feel more authentic. I’m no one to judge, if it helps someone make it through a scene I’m all for it.

Personally speaking, writing in character provides me with insights into the thoughts, emotions and actions of the characters, but it doesn’t mean the story will automatically write itself. Oh no, there’s a little bit more to it than that. For me, character is important, as important to the story as the people in my life. When I’m out and about in the world, the things I do always seem to pale in comparison to the interaction with the people involved. I know not everyone shares this sentiment. That’s okay. There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that goes like this: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  This kind of sums up the way I feel about the characters I write. At the end of the book, I’d like them to be remembered for the way they made you, as a reader, feel.

So, like any two-year-old, Miss Charlotte might sometimes be a bit confused about the character she’s portraying and exactly which way she’s headed, the laughs and giggles she presents us with is what we’ll remember the most. In a few days she’ll be bringing her mom for another visit, and while I’m not sure if the pig hat is still part of her everyday apparel, I’ll always look back with fondness at those days when nothing seemed more important to her than her declaration of, “Want to be a pig!”

Writers, do you always know which way your character is going or do you show up and wait to see what happens? Do you ever write in character?

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