So impressed…

3 11 2016

I had the very good fortune to meet Judy Penz Sheluk some years ago at the fabled  (and sadly, deceased) Bloody Words Mystery Writers Conference. We’ve kept in touch since and I always like to hear from her, but lately she has zoomed on, winning all sorts of awards for her second novel, and I just had to mention her here both to say congrats and bask in reflected glory. You see, we once had a discussion over Tim’s oatmeal and she taught me about that, too. (It is surprisingly good.) I’ve learned a lot from Judy.

She’s a powerhouse. Just sitting by her sets your energy to a high vibrate – she is kind and encouraging, but she just goes. It’s like driving on a highway next to a Porsche. You feel the slipstream and you want to go faster, too.

An example is her website: (click on the image)websiteheader3

It’s stunning (as are her awards). In addition to writing two excellent novels and countless short stories, she’s got marketing down, big time (as the evil T would say). I watch from the sidelines, feeling the breeze and appreciating the energy. She is a professional writer. Me, an amateur. I rather suspect it will be ever thus. For one thing, she gets things done. For another, she gets a ton of things done. Me, I dabble. (ergo my Masters degree and no PhD – focus is difficult, and I hate paperwork.)

It’s well worth spending some time on Judy’s website, even now during Nanowrimo. For one thing, you will see how a professional website should be set up. But beyond that, the site is packed full of reviews and interviews with other authors, information on the publishing journey, links to writing associations and groups, even information on antiques.

It’s utterly splendid and can give you hope when you are in deep into your November writing and realize you are hopelessly lost and you will never be good at writing and life sucks and all that – then look at Judy’s website and realize that her first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose. was published only this year and she has another one out already , Skeletons in the Attic, and who knows where she is headed next!

The website is a motherlode of information. Everything from how to name your characters to how the whole publishing thing works. It’s written in an easy, “you can do it” tone, and I find it cheering to see all the new release reviews.

Of course, I’m still toiling away at my books and stories, being more of a Ford Focus (go fast occasionally, slow right down unexpectedly) kind of writer. I’m glad I get to see Judy whipping past on the left.  I know she’s working hard, doing all the things she should. It is wildly impressive. Check out her site. You’ll be impressed, too.

Better still, read her books. I don’t usually read cozy mysteries as I prefer my mysteries darker and colder, but Judy’s are turny and twisty enough I can’t see what’s happening until the end. I like that. Plus now I want to own an old house and an antique shop and live in a small town. I want to hang out with her characters and slap the bad ones. I can’t wait for novel number THREE!

For now, THREE cheers to you, Judy, for your well-deserved successes. I hope you don’t mind if I look on and maybe learn a few tips!

 

 

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Feeling my way

17 11 2013

I foolishly rented a 14th story apartment for the view. Often it’s glorious – the harbour opens invitingly out of my bedroom window, and lake MicMac winks at me from my den and living room windows. I often while away non-writing hours watching the rowing shells draw circles and figure eights around the islands in the middle of the lake, take a fantasy ride along with them, curse with them the motorboat people doing doughnuts in the middle of the lake.
But for the past two days, the fog has been so thick I can’t even see the trees reaching their arms up to me. Birds flying by appear suddenly, like fish in a curved aquarium. The cat startles, unsure of how these pigeons are appearing. My apartment is shrouded in grey light and I am compelled to descend and walk on the earth to prove to myself it still exists, solid and still autumnal.
I haven’t had a winter in my aerie yet, and I wonder how winter storms will feel here. The last time I was this high in winter, I was living in Ottawa in my first year of nursing, sharing an apartment with my dear nursing buddy and two cats. We’d gone house hunting together and, both not wanting to offend the other, had agreed on higher and higher apartments as they were offered. We each thought the other wanted to live higher up…
And so we spent many evenings carrying two protesting cats down 20 stories after the fire alarm went off. The place where we lived had a resident who would set off the alarm to get the cigarette butts people would leave behind while the alarm got shut off. We’d all be outside for half a cigarette or so, and she could gather up the leftovers as we rushed back in from the cold.
We didn’t smoke, thank gods, since we often had to climb back up the 20 stories or else wait hours with struggling cats in the lobby.
There’s something oddly disconnecting living shrouded in fog. Down lower, you have the shadows of buildings, trees, cars, people. Up this high, you can go for hours with nothing visible out of the window. It’s isolating, sound is muffled, you have no idea of the time, until the grey goes darker…
In the midst of the fog, I’m drifting through a nanowrimo novel. I’m following my character around, watching with bemusement as he talks to people, does different things, makes love, creates mayhem. The path forward is as foggy as the view out of my window, but I’m liking the experience of drift. It’s fun being surprised by what he does, what other characters do in response.
So I’ll take the fog for a while longer.





Drifting gaily along

3 11 2013

I signed up for Sarah Selecky’s excellent Story is a state of Mind online course and I’m in the intensive mode, where we actually have to do the work and get in assignments and such.
This latest one is freaking me out a bit, especially in line with Nanowrimo. For both things, I’m doing what Sarah calls “drift” – holding my pen like it’s going to write independently, and then relaxing and letting my mind go, letting my subconscious find it’s own way, let things float by and pour out on the page.
I find this approach helpful for first drafts. I start with a sketch of a character and then let them explore their world, showing parts of themselves in every interaction.
The challenge is trying to do it with two very different stories simultaneously.
It’s like multitasking, and me poor wee MS brain doesn’t do that so well these days.
So, if you see me and my eyes are spinning in two different directions, bear with me. I’m following a hero and a demon. They aren’t drifting together….
Though maybe they could…hmmmmm.





The howling

1 11 2013

ImageI’m getting an understanding for the agitation caused by the Mistral. The wind has been howling around my place for hours and hours, making the cat’s ears twitch and getting loud enough at times to make the sound of the radio vanish.

It’s good writing weather, not pleasant enough to escape outside, not gruesome enough to make me hunker down under the blankets and hide. It’s dark enough to make thought of evil characters easy to produce, warm enough to keep my fingers cozy on the keys.

And yet, I’m not writing.

I know it’s Nov 1st, start of Nanowrimo, I know I have assignments due for my writing class (and fair enough I did work on that), but I’m instead reading and percolating things and doing my usual mental canoodling. Tomorrow, I hit the computer and get to work.

Really I will….

Art credit:http://gfamcnally.ca/#sthash.6K4ZVYdP.dpbs





Mad writing begins…

31 10 2013

ImageYep. It’s that Nanwrimo thing, which someone told me sounds like baby talk.

In a way it is. You sit and write madly for hours and days and just try to get stuff out of your head onto paper and finally spew out 50,000 words by November 30th and then pat yourself on the back for accomplishing it and forget all about it.

Unless you are like my niece, Stephanie, who honed and self-published her book. Or Stephanie Domet, who wrote her first book this way, and who is offering a workshop at the Tatamagouche Centre this weekend to start people off.

Or me, and use the month to complete an already planned writing project. I’m leading a workshop, too, just a humble free one and so you get what you pay for…it’s at the Woodlawn library in Dartmouth and should be fun.

Or so many others, who use this month and the assigned schedule to help reactivate their writing lives and start living creatively again. It’s all a good thing, both the making of a resolution and meeting it and the writing itself.

But your novel will NOT be immediately ready for prime time. Revision, revision, revision, right? Nanowrimo gets a bad name because people write their 50,000 words and it seems so good to them in their “I did it!” wash of superiority, they think it’s ready for prime time. 

Don’t do this, please.

But do participate. It’s free. You get writing prompts. You get bragging rights. And really, you only have to write less than 2000 words a day.  And strangely, at the end of the month, you may well have something. It might not be a novel, it might not be anything like what your started out to do, or it might be exactly what you wanted. In any case, you’ll have written, and as you can see elsewhere on this blog, the feeling is unbelievably wonderful.

Image





NaBloPoMo Blop-ing to the end…

30 11 2012

Well.

images-8So here we are at the end of Nanowrimo (at which I failed miserably) and NaBloPoMo, where I missed three days out of the month, pretty good average, I’d say, since it’s been a crazy as usual month, filled with the usual sturm und drang, a phrase I’ve used ever since I absorbed it from my Norse-God-like boyfriend back in the 70’s. (Note: sponsor Wikipedia – we need it!)

So, what have I learned?

Well, I learned that setting a small goal, like writing a blog every day, is do-able for me and a lot less scary than the “take on a novel thing.” Whereas I can sit down and dash off fairly coherent thoughts here, forcing myself to write doesn’t work so well.

So maybe I should try to fool myself into thinking I am blogging my novel.

I learned that some search terms bring readers. Had an unusually high response to my reblog about porn., for example. One feels the occasional temptation to title everything “50 Shades of Grey” just to catch the traffic. (Click link to see Ellen DeGeneres trying to read it, with sound effects)

I learned I can write blogs and add photos on my iPod touch, which made me fall even more in love with this marvelous piece of electronics. Of plague-inc-feature-1course, it’s hard to do a blog entry when you are in the midst of a good game of Plague Inc. (dang that fungus level is hard) and ALMOST everyone is dead but the cure is at 95%.

I’ve learned that I will obsessively play Plague Inc. instead of writing.

I’ve learned that a lot of interesting people are out there blogging, and some of them visited my blog and said nice things and I am grateful for every like. It feels good if I can reach someone.

I’ve learned I should also be putting some more time into my MS blog, but primarily into my MS book.

And I realized that I need to take on this writing thing like a job and make it work for me.

Pretty good stuff for a month of slight introspection. Thanks for coming along with me.

So, where to now? Well, yesterday I was working with the developer of a monitoring system for a disease, reviewing the computer system they’d created. In the program, there was a list of countries people where people might have been born. To my shock, I hadn’t heard of a lot of these places. So, for the next month, I’ll investigate one place a day.

Hope you enjoy…

 





Creativity and NaNoWriMo and letting yourself play

28 11 2012

20121128-230140.jpg

The creative impulse is a tricky one. These paintings were done by my dad while somewhat high on morphine for his cancer. They’re different than any of his other paintings and I’ve always loved them. Well, in truth, I finished the pregnant lady one for him – he’d drawn it but not painted it.
I have several of my dads paintings – one of his very first, and three of his very last. He became freer as he got older, most free when his brain was a little unhooked from its moorings with medications.
I’ve spent the day today listening to the Teaching Company’s excellent series of lectures on the brain and how everything links together and learning how if we lose our emotional cortex we can no longer make decisions, and I’m left with two questions.
1. Whose bright idea was it to arrange for everything to cross over in there?
And 2. Why?
Seriously, though, if you haven’t studied the mind, you should. It’s astonishingly marvelous and quite unbelievably wonderful. It makes me believe in God. Literally. There’s a god- belief spot…
And from somewhere in there we create paintings of blue ladies and stories of murder or romance or love or hate. Or poetry, buildings, craftwork or vaccines.
But it’s important to let ourselves be free – not suggesting we should all take morphine or anything, but we need to get to that wild don’t give a damn spot and let the ideas spring out.
For me, NaNoWriMo and such usually do that. This year, pain didn’t let me free as much as I’d like. But every once and awhile I could shimmy past the gate guardians and head out to play.
Still two more days to go!








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