Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday’s Inspiration: A Change Is Better Than A Rest?

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Elliott.

It’s possible to get so caught up in your ambitions that you lose sight of where you want to be. There are so many tempting pathways, so much hard slog, so many times when it’s possible to forget that it’s the journey, not the destination.

And often when that happens, our creativity dries up. Try as we might, there’s just nothing there. The well is dry. For writers and artists and other creative people, it’s important to recharge the well. No matter how much we might want to hide in our writerly caves and just write, unless we go out into the world and experience something new, something that excites us, that river of creativity, of ideas, slows to a trickle and then, well, it stops. And we’re left frustrated. And maybe a little crazy.

I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve had a busy year, writing and being published, and each success seemed to bring about new
ideas, new plots, new characters. Until one day, with several almost finished novels, I sat down to type and there was – nothing.

It took leaving home to refill that well. The excitement of being in a city like Toronto after the tiny hamlet where I live. The colors, sights and sounds of Chinatown – a totally different culture from my everyday existence. 

And then, bliss, the beauty of the exhibits in the Art Gallery of Ontario, where we spent at least four hours browsing an exhibit of the wonderful Maritimes artist, Alex Colville. 

Returning home, tired but buzzing with ideas, I couldn't wait to get back to my keyboard. I may even haul out the canvas and paints and be inspired to try some acrylics of my own again, just for fun. 

It's wonderful to have fun back in my life! Yes, the change was as gfood as a rest, to quote that old folk truism.


That inspiring, if somewhat disturbing, exhibit by Alex Colville?  If you can go to it at the AGO, don't miss it! That’s a story for another blog, and you can read it at www.rosesofprose.blogspot.ca I hope you do drop by!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday’s Snippet–The No Sex Clause


print cover no sex clause (200x300)
Today’s Saturday Snippet is from The No Sex Clause, a book I had a lot of fun writing and hope you’ll enjoy reading!

BLURB:

Anna Findlay needs a man.
Anna has gone from being the bullied Mouse in a small town high school to the perfectly groomed and wealthy author of a pop psychology book on sex. When her publicity agent talks her into going to her high school reunion at Christmas, there are two problems - Anna hated high school, and she has no one to go with. So, in her own pragmatic style, she hires an escort from an agency - a move that will change her life forever. A serious case of mistaken identity lands Anna in the company of media mogul Jed Walker and the dreaded reunion turns into a sexy comedy of errors.
Anna finds herself revisiting her past and learning that she has never been comfortable in any of the personas she has invented for herself. It takes falling in love - and Christmas - to show her that all she needs do is be herself.


kittys
EXCERPT:

But she didn’t have time to consider the implications because a large warm hand closed on hers, and she was pulled away and came to rest against a solid wall of masculine chest. In the split second between Bob pulling her towards him and Joey letting her go, Anna felt like a bone trapped between two slathering dogs. The idea infuriated her almost as much as all this blatant male attention thrilled her. So this is what all the other girls experienced, day after day? What must it be like to float through your teenaged years knowing you were admired and desired, instead of being a Mouse who was, when she got any attention at all, just the butt of jokes.
She turned the flare of anger on to her escort, needing to release the awful feeling on someone’s head. “What do you think you’re up to?” she whispered savagely. “I was enjoying talking to Joey..”
“You didn’t look like you were enjoying it,” Jed told her, playing along with the Bob persona, “In fact, you looked like a mouse who’s realised she’s the snake’s dinner.”
And, dammit, that great ape of a football player looked like he was enjoying being draped all over Anna just a little too much! Jed wondered where that thought which had suddenly bounced into his head came from, but he was distracted by Anna dragging on his arm.
“Come over here with me – we need a quiet word,” she said, smiling up at him seductively while her eyes burned with a very nasty looking fire. Uh, uh – he’d obviously annoyed her by pulling her away from the football playing gorilla… A delighted grin lit up his face.
“You can just wipe that grin off your face. I want to talk to you in a quiet spot, nothing else….” Anna growled.
“Aw, shucks, I thought maybe you wanted to make out like all the other kids are doing...”
Anna glanced around. The first quiet corner she’d spotted to have a little chat with her escort just happened to be littered with bodies, entangled with each other, two by two, all hidden in the relative privacy afforded by the heavy velvet curtains of the stage. Her face burned. Of course she remembered this corner – a must at all high school dances, a spot where chaperons pretended to turn a blind eye on the grounds that kids kissing in the dance hall were less likely to get into anything more serious elsewhere.

The No Sex Clause is available in print and eBook on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, and other Amazon locations. Like a signed print copy? Email the author at glenysoconnell @ gmail .com (no spaces) for details!









Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednrsday's Writing: Want to be A Successful; Writer? You need a Plan!

We all have ideas of what we consider will be success as a writer. Some of us simply want to
write, others to entertain, others to earn a living, others to be wildly successful  But whatever your writing ambitions, you need a plan. Consider these points:

1)     A dream is not a goal – recognize the difference between your writerly dreams, and what would really satisfy you. Ask yourself why you write – would you be surprised to find that the answer isn’t necessarily ‘to get rich’ or ‘to be famous?
2)     It's not just time – you need a plan -  despite what you may have been told about writing every day, there are lots of successful writers who hold down full time jobs and squeeze in their writing at weekends. Their secret? They plan their work and work the plan.
3)     A dose of reality if you’ve considered #1 above, you know where your ‘success satisfaction’ lies. Now decide what sort of writing will take you there.
4)     Writing is hard, lonely work - why are you doing this to yourself? What can you do to ensure your precious writing time is your own without becoming a hermit? Consider setting up a ‘support network’ of other writers (the Internet is a great resource for this!) There are lists where writers share triumphs and setbacks and encourage each other – but who understand that the writing always comes first...
5)     Whittle away the fat - identify your writing goals. Having a road map for your writing career will help prevent you from going off at tangents that steal time, energy & creativity and prevent you from reaching your writerly destination.
6)     Knowing what you want to achieve - and drawing up a plan gives you an overview. This overview allows you to list the actions you need to take. These can be broken down further into ‘Baby Steps’ which let you utilize even small segments of spare time to take your ambitions a little further ahead.
7)     Setting up your goal calendar which outlines the tiny steps forward and shows where the giant leaps and bounds can happen.
8)     Be open minded - so many different types of writing work – novels, articles, copywriting, teaching, editing, speechwriting, speaking….oh my! Keeping an open mind about opportunities and where they might lead you will help you pick the best writing and promotional opportunities for your career.
9)     Career planning 101 - now that you know where you’re going don’t forget to pencil in some time to evaluate each stage to make sure you’re on track, or if you need to adjust your plans or change direction. Stuff happens!

10) Learn to cope with distractions - be decisive in handling everyday crises and don't let the little things become big time stealers. You need to keep all those plates spinning at once – family, friends, day job, health, etc. – and still write. Believe me, cars and appliances break down, kids need you to volunteer at school, relatives need care, big projects will come up at work, and friends need a shoulder to cry on. All these things will continue to happen whether you’re writing or not. You will be calmer and more cheerful about dealing with them if you’ve been able to do your writing quota! There are many resources with tips for writing & coping with living – search the Internet for your own favorites.


By Glenys O'Connell

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monday’s Inspiration: Life Lived Well

 

Ardennaires at Bon Echo 016“The Question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.” – Joan Borysenko.

Now there's a quote to make you stop and think. Just how well are you living your life? Most of us waste precious time on unimportant worries, doubts, and petty angers.

We let our lives trickle through our fingers, one distraction, one anxiety, one avoidance, at a time. Someone said to me a little while ago that if you get to be sixty years old and still have things you want to do, well, you’d better get on doing them before your health puts a stop to all those interesting adventures.

Pretty depressing, eh? And inaccurate. How many people do you know or hear of who are still marching to the beat of their own drummer at 70, 80, 90? What sets these people apart from those who settle glumly into passive old age?

This weekend we attended a memorial service for a good friend. She passed too early, one more cancer victim.

That’s the wrong word, actually. She was never a victim. Even after the diagnosis, she grabbed life with both hands and squeezed every possible moment out of it.

As we talked about her achievements, as her husband and children, grandchildren and friends put forward stories to celebrate her, it became obvious that she had never let life’s difficulties or disadvantages get in her way.

It was said that, once she decided what she was going to do, nothing got in her way. Does that sound cold? That is certainly not a word you’d use to describe her. She was a warm and caring friend, smart, funny, courageous, and insightful, but never cold.

She was, they said, a very focused woman. She had qualified in a demanding career, built a business, followed her passion of helping damaged and disadvantaged young people to find solid ground, to make the most of their own lives.

And never did she forget to focus on her husband, and on the children and grandchildren that were the light of her life.

Where did all that concentrated energy come from? I don’t have the answer to that, I wish I did, other than to say that by focusing on what you believe in, finding your passion, and not being afraid to make wrong decisions, there somehow is a chain of events set in motion through the Universe’s energy that clears the path you must follow to get where you want to go.

And if it doesn’t, you also have to believe that when one door closes, another opens. That was our friend’s philosophy.

So, next time you think you can’t do something, next time you find yourself immersed in anger, anxiety, or resentment, or some other life-eating negative emotion, ask yourself: Five years from now, will this even be important to me? Will I even remember what I’m so flustered about now?

Pausing to consider this will give you perspective. And Focus.

And may the Universe bless you with passion and the energy to live your life well.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday’s Inspiration: Are You Grown Up Yet?

 

1508168_765049653507902_1720374908_nI have to confess that I’m in sinc with all those slogans that are appearing on FaceBook, such as this one.

Here’s a quote from celebrated author Margaret Atwood that many writers and creative types can probably relate to:

“I believe that everyone my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”

After all, does being grown up mean being responsible, taking charge, and forgetting all that childish stuff like dunking our cookies in our milk, cuddling up with a blankie for an afternoon nap, letting someone we love cuddle us and reassure us that everything will be all right when it looks like everything is all wrong?

No longer feeling that we can occasionally let someone else take charge of everything when we feel we just can’t anymore?

How about that childish thing of being happy, just because?

And playing with imaginary friends, wouldn’t that be the death of fun? How could we write, or paint, or create when we must be practical and sensible? Being an adult in the accepted sense of the word surely prevents us from experimenting with art, with words, with story telling – with life.

I’m not saying that we just stop being adult, stop doing all the things that we should do as grown ups, like cleaning the toilet and cooking supper (not at the same time!), showing up for work on time, or being there for friends and loved ones in need.

Or all the myriad things that grownups are supposed to do. The valuable things. Life has to go on and somebody has to do the grocery shopping, right?

But let’s keep the fun, the experimentation, the what if?, the occasional goofing off, in our lives.

Our loved ones, our friends, our creative work, and our inner selves will thank us for it.

 

 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Snippets–Introducing The Lobster Cove Series & Another Man’s Son

 

Lobster Cove Logo This Saturday’s snippet comes from Another Man’s Son, my new romantic suspense from The Wild Rose Press. It’s part of the delicious Lobster Cover series – you can see more about this on Alicia Dean’s blog here, where Alicia features author interviews and excerpts from the four stories currently available, or here on the TWRP website.

In Release Day Order, click on the titles to see the book on Amazon:

Juelle’s Legacy – Carol Henry

Catch Me If You Can – Mitzi Pool Bridges

Another Man’s Son – Glenys O’Connell

Heavy Netting – Nicki Greenwood

The idea actually for Another Man’s Son comes from an old folk song my musician husband sings, about a man who marries a rich landed lady instead of the woman he loves; the phrase stuck in my mind: “At night when I lie in my bed of slumber…I turn around to embrace my love, and instead of gold sure it’s brass I find...” That set me thinking of why a 21st century woman might agree to marry someone instead of the man she loved; and what the results would be. My heroine is a 19 year old when she finds herself pregnant and apparently alone without support of her lover or family. Wouldn’t that be enough to accept a marriage proposal that would guarantee her future, and that of her child, especially if promised it was ‘marriage in name only’?

Here’s Your Saturday Snippet:

perf5.000x8.000.indd“He should have known she'd come to see him. Women like her treated men like something they'd wipe off the soles of their shoes. Once a man got them out from under his skin, they came running back to try and get that old itch wanting to be scratched again.

Ben's impassive face showed none of his thoughts as five minutes later one of the deputies, Roy Webb, showed a pale-faced Kathryn into the office. Ben thanked the deputy, then silently indicated that Kathryn should sit on one of the hard, uncomfortable visitors' chair before returning to concentrate on the papers he was reading. Or pretending to read – the sight of her took his breath away again, and he watched her covertly from under his brows. Dark rings under her eyes accentuated her paleness, and she was thinner than he remembered, dressed in an expensive designer suit in a pale oyster color that accentuated that pale skin and luminous green eyes. erHerHer features had matured and she had developed a poise that suited her. The pretty girl he had known had become a stunningly beautiful woman.

Finally, when he could put it off no longer, Ben signed his name with a flourish and dropped the paperwork back into its file in his out basket. He leaned back in his chair, met her direct gaze and asked: "What can I do for you, Mrs. Morgan?"

Something flickered across her face at his tone, at the slight emphasis on her married title. She pushed back a stray lock of hair with fingers that shook a little, but her voice was even as she replied. "I've come to you because I need help, Ben."

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wednesday’s Writing: Writing Rituals Don’t Replace This…


womanwritingWhen I first began writing, back in what my kids refer to as the 'Dark Ages', by which they meant before computers and the Internet, there were few guides for writers. The ones I read were staid, intellectual treatises that made writing seem like some kind of religion only the initiated could practice.
Times changed, and with the advent of the World Wide Web, lots of information and opportunities became available to writers. And with this deluge of information came all sorts of advice, much of it terrific. But some of it caused more confusion than clarity. You have probably come across some of these examples:
* Meditate before you write
* Use only pen and paper to capture your thoughts.
* Light candles around your writing space – certain scents inspire creativity.
* Write at dawn, when your work is blessed by the rising sun.
* Write at night, when the moon inspires you to greatness…….
Yeah, right. I started my career as a journalist. Imagine the effect of announcing that I couldn’t write the front page lead until I’d meditated, lit candles, and performed other rituals to bless my work……I'd have been quickly shown the door!
So I learned that there’s absolutely no substitute for putting your bum in the chair, hands on the keyboard, and  - yes, writing. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? But there is magic in just starting to write, even a stream of consciousness that bears some faint resemblance to your story idea or non-fiction topic. mKeep going, putting those words down, and eventually, slowly, the words begin to form a coherent whole and your book is under way! 
Sure I have my own rituals – got to check email & FB, and read over the last chapter I wrote before closing the computer sown for the night. There needs to be a coffee by the keyboard, too, but I know that nothing takes the place of actually getting the writing written!
Naked Writing CoverComment about your own writing rituals for a chance to win a copy of Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, or a $10 Amazon gift certificate Smile 









Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday’s Inspiration- Using Memories to Heal

 

Martha the MuseWe all experience loss and grief. We say goodbye to loved ones who pass on, to friendships that end, to chapters of our lives that are over, to things we treasure that we no longer own or need or have access to. We grieve for places and times and experiences that we have left behind; we grieve for ourselves for lost opportunities, for failures, for things that just didn’t work out. For time passing, the grey hair, the lines, the children leaving home….

Today we are going to look at our grief and turn it into joy by remembrance. Take a few quiet minutes and think, not about the loss and pain, but about the memories and hopes and dreams that are attached. Consider the alternatives to missed opportunities – open your eyes to the other doors that have opened.

Remember loved ones, whether human or furry, scaled or finned, who will live forever in your heart. Don’t dwell on their passing but instead on the joy they brought to you.

Consider this quote:

When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.” – anon.

Now sit quietly for a few minutes and count your treasures.

Let them heal you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wednesday’s Writing: Starting With The Building Blocks of Story

 

Every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end in order to be complete. You learned that in school, right? Detective

Of course, like everything else, when you come to write the story it's not quite so simple as it sounds to have that Beginning, Middle and End.

THE BEGINNING: Where should your story begin? New writers often make the mistake of starting long before the real story begins, in an attempt to get their reader orientated. But think about this for a moment. If you were to tell someone about your day, how would you start? Would you begin by describing how you woke up, got up, ate, dressed and went about your daily work, right down to the details of dental flossing and crisping the bacon just the way you like it?

Of course not - you'd start at a point where something interesting, something unusual, happens. The reader can assume that your protagonist (main character) got out of bed that morning and got his or her day going something like the way the rest of us do - except, of course, unless the unusual event starts as he wakes up, like the bedroom ceiling collapsing on him….

So, consider where your story actually starts. Let's make up an example. Suppose your hero was orphaned when his parents died in a car wreck when he was only five, and he had a difficult time being raised in foster homes, or maybe he had a good life with loving adoptive parents. But now he's 31 and is just opening his mail on a sunny Tuesday morning. There is a letter from someone purporting to be an old friend of his long-dead father, claiming that Dad never died in a car smash but has been living in Las Vegas under an assumed name all these years.

Where does the story start? With the opening of the letter, which is the beginning of the hero's quest to find out the truth. The details of his childhood are all interesting backstory - in fact, you could perhaps have a prologue where the car accident takes place, work in something a little fishy, and show how he came to believe he was orphaned. Details of his life after that - abusive or loving home - can be worked into the story in little pieces as we go along, and they will add color and richness to his character.

Each beginning is special - you choose what we call a 'hook' or particularly exciting statement to open with. We'll be discussing this later.

THE MIDDLE: the middle is the rock on which many a good novel founders. This is where you may run out of steam, unless you've done some good planning beforehand. I always suggest that writers be careful with the amount of planning they do, however - if you do too much outlining, it can feel as if you've already written the story and you lose the excitement which is so important in carrying you through to the end.

But the main thing that gets you through the middle is applying the beginning, middle and end structure to every chapter. Each chapter is a scene, or perhaps more than one scene depending on length and each scene has a beginning, a middle, and an end in action. Therefore, instead of 250 - 350 pages with one beginning, one middle and one end, you are actually going to write your novel with possibly ten or 20 beginnings, middles and ends - one each per chapter!

ENDS: Often, when the story idea strikes, you'll also have some idea how it ends, or how you want it to end - sometimes when you're writing, what you want and what actually happens can be different. However, it works much better if you know what you want the ending to be. This way you can shape your story so that the it moves organically towards that ending. Endings should always be satisfying, and if you have a little surprise in there, all the better. But you must tie up all the loose ends and clues and hints you've scattered throughout the previous 200 or so pages. Endings need to be logical - think of the old westerns, when the wagons were circled and it looked as though the Indians would win the day, when suddenly the US Cavalry arrived over the hills in the nick of time. As a child I always used to wonder how the cavalry knew the wagon train needed their help - they didn’t have cell phones then, so just how did they know to show up? This loose end bothered me enormously - don’t let your readers be bothered by loose ends like this. Make sure you tidy everything up, so that each hint you dropped is shown to have a a satisfactory place within your story by the end. If you are enthusiastic and lay too many hints, clues and red herrings, or you have a sub plot that doesn’t actually develop because you decided not to follow through with it, then eliminate it from your story. Be ruthless. Stephen King uses the phrase 'Kill Your Darlings' for this! You want your reader to feel satisfied when reaching the end of your book, and think: Well, the ending was a bit of a surprise, but gee, I can see now it was really the only way this story could end!

Naked Writing CoverThe above article is from Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book available from Amazon, B & N, and other eBook Outlets.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday’s Inspiration

 

DSCF0355Over the years I’ve collected a lot of inspirational quotes. Quotes to comfort, quotes to get me writing, quotes to make me go back and write some more – and quotes to pick me up when the writing – or Real Life – goes wrong.

Here’s one that always makes me think about what I’m writing, why I’m doing it, and what kind of message I’m sending. It’s also a marker to call to mind that we have, as creative folk, a duty for honesty in our work and to remember that the written word has power.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” – Lord Byron.

Sobering, eh?

Do you have a quote that makes you think?

What do you think of the ideas of creative responsibility?