Sunday, February 28, 2010

Go Ahead, Chuck Your Cell Phone...

There's a commercial that's been playing constantly during the Olympics that makes me furious! A young couple wanders along a rocky beach, the voice-over talks about love, then the falling out of love. The young man picks up a flat stone and skims it over the water. The voice-over insists that if that love has died, you must get rid of it - and we pan to watch the young woman, with a nod from her boyfriend, throwing whatever is in her hand along the same path as the previous skimming rock. Right toward the camera. And as it comes into focus, skimming along the water, we see it's a cell phone.
So it's OK to toss your old cell phone into the water!

In this day and age where 'green' and 'environmentally friendly' are discussed at great lengths, where protestors line the streets to rally and rage against our government leaders as they hash out emission agreements, and where the three R's are known by kids everywhere as 'recycle, reuse, reduce' (in our day, the three R's were reading, 'riting,' rithmetic) - consumers are encouraged to throw away a cell phone that they no longer love, that can not download the latest 'App'.

And it doesn't end there. Many gadgets, including computers, are thrown away to make room for a new, better, faster, more efficient, smaller or bigger (depending on the object) one. And I am guilty - I will not deny it. When it comes to fixing a tech product, it ends up being cheaper to buy new. So, we toss our electronic stuff and start again - skim the product over the water, creating a bigger mess for our future as all this metal and components clogs our landfills and (if the commercial rings true) our water.

I would love to know how many of the banner waving, ‘Save Our Earth’ chanting individuals ditch their cell phone every year just because the new ones are sleeker and have more features? How many think about Mother Earth in that moment of time when shiny and cool narrows the vision? When keeping up with the newest technology blurs the lines between environmentally friendly and ‘that will make my life more efficient’?

One person can not change the world, but one person can do as much as humanly possible to try. Saving our earth does not start with government mandates – it starts with individuals who care.

Wow, People of Blogland – that was a bit of a rant! Feel free to express your opinion in the comment section – I’d love to know what you think. And, for the record, I do not own a cell phone!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Should Have Been a Lawyer...

Yesterday was a trip, in the lashing rain, into Mahone Bay to sign the papers for our new house (oh, yeah, and hand over the money). Since we move around a lot, we've done this many times and I always come out of the meeting with the same thought:

I should have been a lawyer!

Now, all you lawyers out there - I'm speaking only from the seat across the desk from you. On one occasion, I never actually met the lawyer who handled our real estate closing - his 'girl' was our contact. But on every occasion, our 'face-to-face' lasted a mere ten minutes and cost us an arm and a leg.

To sign some papers!

Of course, to be a lawyer takes years and years of schooling and work, building up a practice, then keeping up with the demands of law stuff - changing edicts and all that. So, I'm out - four years for an education degree was enough for me! But the payoff would have been nice.

This of course is my same discussion when I think I should have become a doctor. Oh, yeah, and the blood issue. At one time, back in my "What do I want to do when I grow up?" stage, I did want to become a doctor. And an actor! And a vet! A biologist, for a while! A museum curator! An archaeologist!

Perhaps this is why I have such a problem sticking with one job - see my profile for a litany of jobs I've tried my hand at. Even today I wonder about what I want to be when I grow up! Of course, to go back to school now would require major funds that have, since yesterday, been tied up into a house...

I should have been a lawyer!

People of Blogland - what job have you always thought you'd love to try your hand at? What profession did you seriously consider as a youngster? Do you dream of changing jobs today?

Have a wonderful Saturday - I'm off to a Flea Market (no glasses, no glasses, no glasses).


(Edit: Forgot to say our lawyer was a very nice man - thanks Mary for the referral :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fiction - Opening to Mickey Spencer, AC

Well, Friday's here again. Not sure if I thought this out fully before declaring Friday Fiction Friday? Oh, well, I'm here now.

This has been rattling around in my head for a while - Mickey Spencer, AC (Accounting Clerk). I'm hoping (all going according to plan) to write about Mickey on Friday's - share her story with you. I don't know about the format I've chosen; so I don't think I'll ever do anything with it publishing wise. Makes for the perfect fodder for Fiction Fridays - since we're still all a little fuzzy on the rules and guidelines.

I hope you enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mickey Spencer, AC - No Accounting for Bad Taste
12 Letter Word for Set Up...

Dick, Dick and Dick Investigations!

Mickey Spencer slammed the filing cabinet drawer shut and reached across her desk. "Warner and Sons Investigations, how may I help you?"
The man on the other end of the phone hesitated and I knew he was about to tell a lie. He’d be looking for a PI, someone to spy on his wife or girlfriend. But first, he’d claim to be in a pickle, not sure where to turn, who to ask. I waited for him to get to the point, using the computer mouse to click the crossword I had paused earlier. Seven letter word for a gimmick? The man on the phone paused.

"I’m sorry, sir, but Warner and Sons deal only with fraudulent cases. Is this a case of fraud?"
He would try and find a loop hole, maybe claim it was fraud, but I had been answering phones for the three Dicks long enough to know when a caller was just down on his luck.

"No, I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to find another private investigation firm, one that handles infidelity cases. Thank you for calling."
Poor bastard. Ooh, novelty.

"Mickey?"
She minimized the Internet connection and tried not to look guilty as she glanced toward the door of her windowless office. "Yes, Jack?"

Jack Warner, second son and one hot Dick. He propped himself against the door jam, crossed his arms over his muscular chest. I hadn’t seen him all day and assumed he was taking a Hangover Day. Sure glad he came in, though. Who knew a man’s forearms, all sinewy and dusted with dark brown hair could be so sexy?

"Well?"
Mickey did a slow blink. She hadn’t heard a word he said. She plastered on a perfect receptionist smile. "Right away, Jack."

"Great. Thanks." He pushed himself away from the door. "By the way, nice necklace."

I’d worn the same necklace for the past two years. And he called himself a private investigator!

Mickey touched the silver medallion. "Thanks." The phone rang.
Brainless Dick Investigations!

"Warner and Sons."
"Hello, Honey. They got you answering the phones?"

"Gramps!" Mickey stood up, untangled the cord and moved toward the door. "Busy day today, Gramps, and Brenda’s gone for lunch. Is everything OK?" She positioned herself in order to see into the main office area.

"I’m fine. I was just thinking over your case and, well, have you thought about setting up a dummy account? You know, lure him out into the open that way since your surveillance isn’t netting any results?"

"Never thought about that, Gramps. Great advice." She twirled the phone cord around her finger. Jack was talking with Evan, the eldest of the brothers. Their voices were rising and Mickey knew they were arguing. Again.

"Well, try it out and let me know if it works. Bastard can’t get away with stealing all that money from those old women. Someone’s got to stop him."

"That’s what they pay me the big bucks for, Gramps."

Jack was stabbing his finger into Evan’s equally muscular chest.

"What’s that noise, Honey?"

"Difference of opinion. I should go, Gramps, lots to do this afternoon." She looked back at her desk piled with papers and files.

"OK, Honey. You stay safe."

The Brothers Dick were seconds away from taking the argument from a shouting match to fisty-cuffs. I’d seen it before and would only love to see it again if they made it a topless event. Better yet, have them don some boxer shorts…

Mickey snorted at the pun and headed back to her desk. Month end wouldn’t get done by itself.
~Copyright: Janet S. Corcoran (2010)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How's your writing coming along, People of Blogland? Anything to report, any issues you need to vent, care to share a favorite line?


Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Self-Promotion...

On Tuesday I discussed websites - the pros and cons of creating and maintaining one prior to being published. Thanks for all the great feedback - as of right now, it's still on the back burner, but I am keeping notes on pages I would like to include and links to blogs I find very user-friendly and graphically cool.

I also asked my Facebook friends/family what they thought - which brings us to the next bit of promotion we need to discuss. Facebook is a great social media - I've talked before about how much I love the instant 'in touch'-ability (ooh, new word) that Facebook provides. I love having the chance to keep up to date with nieces and nephews, and friends scattered from one end of the country to the other (and up north). As far as a promotional tool, I do provide links to this blog and Prairie Chicks now and then, but that's as far as I've gone. I know some authors, Alannah Lynne, has created a fan page on Facebook - I haven't had a chance to talk to her about that experience, yet. I also know that some authors keep their Facebook profile for friends and family only, not wanting to put their private life out there for everyone to see.

I don't Tweet. I know that would really suck up my time if I started - so I'm holding back. From what I understand, it's a great promotional tool and a great way to get to know, follow, fellow writers.

At this time, I think the best promotional tool for me is this blog. There aren't a lot of readers, but I enjoy writing my post everyday and I know that just having this presence sends the message that I am serious in my pursuit. And the time committment isn't so much that I'm overwhelmed or neglecting my writing - which is what I hope, one day, to promote.

If you haven't got a blog - or are thinking of starting one - here's a link to Guide to Literary Agents, where Pita Jennath Andersen talks about the ins and outs of blogging. And here's a link with links to everything you ever wanted to know about starting a blog (which I should have found when I was starting this blog). And Jody Hedlund's blogpost on, what else, blogs - have a look around, she's got some great information.

And how's this for promotion - mark your calendars for March 6th when Alice Audrey will be guest blogging over on The Prairies about whether or not an unpublished writer should maintain a blog. How's that for serendipity?

People of Blogland - do you blog? If so, leave your blog address in the comment section so we can all come around for a visit. Do you Facebook (love how these words have become verbs)? How about Twitter- is the 'twitterpation' real, or will Twitter fly the coup, only to be replaced with a bigger, better bird?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspiration - Take Your Pick...

I couldn't decide on a topic for today's inspirational quotes - so I'm going with a mixed bag. Perhaps one of these will speak to where you're at right now!

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do. ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures. ~Charles C. Noble

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~Author Unknown

And who doesn't want some inspirational advice from Dr. Suess?

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.
~Dr. Seuss
Which one speaks to you today?

Happy Wednesday everyone :)


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Self-Promotion - Before the Fact?

The Interwebs are a-buzz about promotion this week. I always am amazed at how insync the Universe is when one article/idea is followed closely by two or three other articles/ideas on the same subject. This week - self promotion. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Websites! Even my RWA chapter, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, is busy discussing promotion on the e-mail loop!

I started this blogventure with the thought that I would look at starting a website soon after. That's been put on a back burner - the Day Job, my writing, and the busy social life has made the decision for me. AND, I often wonder what I would put on a website to keep it fresh, keep readers coming back. The Husband is a webmaster for a car dealership (he'll be my 'go to guy' when I'm ready to start constructing) and his number one goal is to drive customers to the webpage. In order to do that, he needs to change it, refresh it, make it worth the customers' time to check out the website on a, hopefully, daily basis. I surf the web a lot - and most blogs or webpages that don't update often usually get a pass after a while. So, I am much like the customers searching for an automobile.

As of right now, I don't have a lot to drive readers to a website - unless I linked my blog (which I would). But there's more to it than just a blog. My friend Jana Richards posts short stories on her website. That will definitely be one page I would develop (and have a few short stories ready to go - others in the development stage). A bio page is a must, and Roni Griffin has a great idea to make an autobiography a lot more exciting than "I was born...". BTW - Roni's blog is one that is talking self-promotion; so head on over and have a read. And that's as far as I've gotten on my website plans. For really great information on creating a website (and what to include on the darn thing), check out QueryTracker.net (and take some time to look around there, they're a wealth of information).

Whew, I was going to talk about other self-promotion stuff, but this is getting long. Come back Thursday and we'll chat about Facebook, Twitter, and my personal time manager Google Reader (k, it's available to everyone, but I like to refer to it as mine). I'll have some more links to blogposts talking about self-promotion and some to help with time management.

You know the question already - do you have a website? Are you thinking of starting one? What pages do you think are important and do you think it's important to have one prior to getting published? As a reader, what makes you return to a website?

Have a great Tuesday, People of Blogland :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Photos - Digital versus Paper?

I had a call from my sister-in-law last night - my mom was at their house for Sunday supper and wanted to see the link to the house we've purchased. That link has since disappeared, removed from the MLS website - so Elaine (SIL) called and asked me if I had anything I could send.

Now, back in the day when I was a clerk/photo lab worker (when picture development took a good 5 hours as compared to the one hour miracle nowadays), I would have been stuck. The photos I would have taken of the house would have had to been developed, reprinted (so I could keep a copy for myself) and then sent off in the mail. Last night, I simply plugged my camera into my computer, downloaded only the photos I wanted, brought up an e-mail, chose the new file, and hit send (the wonderful computer resizing so all 17 pictures could go in the exact same e-mail). I did this all while still on the phone - and when the e-mail came through, they put me on speaker phone and I was able to chat with my mom and brother.

Amazing. But I will be the first to admit that I miss actual photographs. I have albums full of photos from my University days, my time up North, every house we've renovated, our first visit/stay in Nova Scotia, endless summer holidays, and pictures of pets. I love looking through them - leafing through the pages and the memories. When people come to visit, I pull out the appropriate album and we all trip down memory lane - commenting on the grand time we had, how skinny we all were, how much hair the men sported, etc. And all that ends the summer of 2004 - when we got our digital camera.

I know what you're going to say - you can get prints made from your digital images. But, I never get around to that. And I miss that. But having the opportunity to send 17 pictures over 6 provinces in a matter of seconds so my mom can view the new house we bought - wow, I wouldn't trade that for the world. And I guess that makes digital so much better. Now, I just have to stop being so lazy and get pictures printed so I can keep adding to my photo album collection.

What say you, People of Blogland - digital or paper? Do you have a collection of photo albums or boxes of pictures scattered here and there (my mom's form of photo organization). Do you create S-cards to send to friends and family - or keep for yourself to plug into the TV when the opportunity to view photographs comes along (we did this once and it worked really well)? Technology - amazing!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Club...

This will be a short post - trying to get my synopsis done to e-mail Karyn (since we have already extended the deadline a week I don't want to ask for more time). I'm still not fond of synopsis - but am struggling through with the hopes I'm more chewy, good-for-you, have-to-have-another-slice bread as opposed to dry toast. I'll keep you posted.

As mentioned yesterday, I had a book club meeting on Friday. I love that this group doesn't choose a book for everyone to read, but suggests a monthly theme and then members bring what they've read to the meeting. It makes for a bevy of book choices - and an opportunity to read outside of regular/favorite genres. And anyone who knows me knows I love to suggest titles and authors - not to mention the love of searching the web for ideas and possible links.

This month was all about travel. And I have discovered a very important fact about myself - I don't like to read travel books. I tried a couple, one a novel about travel and one a non-fiction. Neither one held my interest. Give me action, adventure, suspense, romance, mystery, literary fiction - but not travel. One book did seem intriguing - A Fork in the Road by Anik See (sorry, I could only find the Amazon link, no author link). And it has recipes - I love recipes, as evidenced by the multitude of cookbooks and my addiction to cooking magazines. Another book that generated a lot of discussion was Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost (again, no author link). This seems to be an unsugared trip into the world's most populated country by a man who is willing to step in some poo and bring us the real China. Not sure if I would pick it up (perhaps a little too graphic), but his other book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, sounds interesting.

Of course, there was much discussion about other books - and discussions about food, life, women, and mothers. It was a great afternoon - and I can't wait for our next meeting. Better get reading - it's an Irish Theme (author, setting, fiction, non, anything Irish).

How about you, People of Blogland - have you read any travel books that you'd like to recommend? What's on your nightstand right now - and are you enjoying it? And hands up anyone out there who reads cereal boxes while sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday - And I'm Late...

Very, very late. Decided to have my morning coffee ritual before writing this blog in the hopes I would think of something to write for this blog! All we did was discuss renovations for the new house and paint options. I really want purple somewhere in my house (I love purple), but The Husband is balking. I think we've finally compromised with a light purple in the main bathroom (which has beadboard halfway up the wall - white - and grey fixtures and a purple-y countertop). The rest of the place will be neutrals and subdued.

Look at that, I've got a paragraph already! Then I thought I would tell you all about my Lent decision. Like you want to know! I've never given anything up for Lent - this year I decided to give up wine. For forty days. What was I thinking? With all the social events and the much busier lifestyle, I've seen a marked increase in wine consumption. I figured Lent would be the perfect time to give it up - and an opportunity to participate in something I've only heard other people talk about. So far, so good. Last night was a potluck dinner and I really wanted a glass of wine with supper, but I held firm and drank water. I realized this morning, in discussion with The Husband, that I may not have thought out my decision carefully - we take possession of our house in a week's time (cause for celebration), my birthday lands in the middle of Lent (more cause for celebration, or wallowing in "OMG, I'm old"), there's a party planned at a neighbor's house towards the end of March, and St. Patrick's Day is smack dab in the middle (even though I'm not Irish, I've been known to celebrate all kinds of holidays). Oh, well, I'll let you know how I do.

Next possible topic of discussion - book club. Our book club met yesterday in Lunenburg. We were hosted by a wonderful lady who used to live in Saskatoon (a fellow Prairie girl). She now runs a Bed and Breakfast in one of the oldest houses in Lunenburg, Solomon House (1775). What a beautiful home! I love history, and old houses capture my imagination. She gave me a tour and I fell in love with the wide baseboard trim, the brick fireplaces in everyroom, the original doorknobs, the wide plank floors - everything. If you are thinking of coming to Nova Scotia and need a place to lay your head, I highly recommend Solomon House. And since I've never actually stayed there, here's a link to some reviews (which make me want to book a room, even though I only live 20 minutes away).

The actual book club meeting was great, too. But since I've spent so much time extolling the loveliness of the actual location, I'll leave the discussion of book club until tomorrow. Come back, I may have a few suggestions for good reading :)

People of Blogland, have you ever stayed at a Bed and Breakfast? Any you'd like to share with us? What about Lent - given anything up? Oh, yeah, and purple walls - what's your opinion?

Suse - if you're reading this and still unsure of where to stay in Lunenburg when you're here in June, I would suggest Solomon House.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fiction - Cobalt Wishes Part 2

So, last Friday was the first Friday Fiction. If you missed the first part of Cobalt Wishes, go here to catch up. Then come on back to read the ending. Those that guessed what Melissa's last wish would be, read on to see if you were right. Enjoy!

Cobalt Wishes (Part 2)
Janet S. Corcoran

She clamped her mouth shut. She needed to think, come up with a perfect wish now that she only had one left. Sarcastic Genie was not going to manipulate her again.

He unfurled and sauntered toward her. "You would wish for your second wish to be undone, correct?"
Melissa held her breath as the Genie approached. He was taller that she first thought, but she refused to look up at him. Muscular shoulders, smooth golden skin; she bit her lip at the pure masculinity. "No."

Then her brain forced its way through all the hormonal fog. "You’re trying to trick me again."

He cocked his head to the side. "I would never do that."

He was too close. He smelled exotic, sandalwood she believed. She gave her head a shake, forcing her feminine desires aside. "If I ask for the second wish to be rescinded, then it will be over. I will have used my three wishes."

"So you’re willing to stay single in order to use your third wish on what? Money, fame, immortality?"

She crossed her arms over her chest as he closed the distance. A sheaf of paper could not pass between them. She swallowed. "Do you grant immortality?"

One beautiful shoulder shrugged. "No."

She gnawed on the inside of her lip refusing to step away and give him the advantage of knowing he made her uncomfortable. Back to deciding how much money she should ask for or perhaps an already established artist’s career.

He wrapped his finger around a lock of hair that had escaped her ponytail and distracted her from her thoughts.

"You’re very lucky. You have the opportunity for love. A first kiss lingers on the lips and in the mind. A look that after twenty years can convey so much to one person. The knowledge that another’s life has enriched your own." He tipped his head in the direction of the blue bottle. "I have seen all of that, but will never experience it first hand."

His gaze, intensely blue, held her captive. His finger, still curled around her hair, would have prevented her from moving if she had the desire. But she wasn’t going to fall for his seduction. "So you’ve never witnessed the fights, the struggles as one person exerts his power over another, or the disappointment when one person’s dreams fade for the lack of support?"

"So cynical." He released her hair, stepped away taking his heat with him. "You humans, always wanting that which is a curse. Riches so as to never work another day in your life, when work defines you, challenges you, results in discipline and pride. Fame so that everyone knows your name, when to be famous all one needs to be is kind and loving. Immortality to live forever, even beyond the life of those who love you, those that matter, until you are alone with your wealth and importance."

Tired of his arrogance, Melissa jabbed her finger at him. "Easy for you to say, you have all those things. They mean nothing to you. Being human is hard. Not having enough money to do the things you want to do because there’s bills to pay. Watching your loved ones grow old and die. Desperately wanting recognition for the gifts you possess only having to accept that so many others have that gift and have been recognized before you due to any number of reasons that make you sick with jealousy. Live a human life for a year and see how cynical you become. You’ll be begging for the chance to wish yourself back into that bottle."

"I would not."

"Bet you would."

"Doubt it." He crossed his arms over his chest.

"Then I wish for that." She bit her bottom lip.

He stared at her, unblinking, unbelieving. "What?"

"I wish that for one year you live as a human, and, if at the end of that year you realize that life, human life, is not the fairy tale you believe it to be, then you rescind my second wish and grant me two wishes to complete the original three I was entitled to before you tricked me." She hoped she had covered all her bases and he wouldn’t turn the wish against her. She held her breath.

His gaze moved past her to his bottle, still sitting on the table. His lip twitched, his nostrils flared. Could a Genie wreck havoc if provoked? Was she in danger? She glanced around, searching for the closest weapon. The umbrella by the back door would have to do. She probably shouldn’t have tried to outmaneuver a Genie.

"Very well." He held his hand out.

Tentatively she placed her hand in his. "No tricks?"

"Your wish will be granted, just as you have asked." He shook her hand. His blue eyes narrowed to cat-like slits. And he smiled.

Not the smile of someone happy to be alive or the smile of a friendly passerby, but an all-knowing smile that make Melissa shudder. ‘Be careful of what you wish for’ popped into her head.

"And the pants?"

She refused to glance down. "You can keep them."

(Copyright ~ Janet S. Corcoran 2009)

Have a great Friday, everyone (and pop on over to The Prairies if you have some time - I'm blogging there about The Olympics :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Woo Hoo - It's a Holiday...

Back when I was a teacher - in one of my former lives - I loved to find out what each day held in the way of pseudo-holiday. This would be a great journal starter for the kids first thing in the morning (yes, I made my kids write everyday) or a jumping off point for a story (yes, I made my kids write everyday). Sometimes, I would use the 'National ___________ Day' to supplement a Science lesson (National Popcorn Day) or a Social Studies unit (National Nuclear Day - celebrated April 9th in Iran - ties in with Renewable and Non-renewable resources, of which Saskatchewan has the highest uranium deposits in the world and nuclear energy is an amazing issue to debate and discuss).


Anyway - I hadn't thought of National Days for years, until this morning. Did you know today is Let's All Eat Right Day? This is a great idea - if it hadn't followed National Tortilla Chip Day! Or National Sticky Bun Day that took place on the 21st, which I missed and am thinking I should do some catching up before I tackle the Let's All Eat Right Day!


Here are some of the other great days I missed this month:


  • National Baked Alaska Day - Feb. 1st (I love Baked Alaska - had to make one in Home Economics back in the day, marveled at the science behind baking ice cream).
  • Pay a Compliment Day - Feb. 6th (sorry, I'll do that now by saying how much I love you guys coming by to visit - you're the best, oh, and you look fabulous).
  • National Fettuccine Alfredo Day - Feb. 7th (everyone knows my love of pasta, but this day landed on the same day as "National Popcorn" Day, so now I'm torn).
  • Pancake Day - Feb. 12th (more carbs, yummy)
  • My Way Day - Feb. 17th (that should be an everyday event, IMO)
  • International Friendship Day - Feb. 19th (waves to all my friends and apologizes for missing this important event).
  • World Thinking Day - Feb. 22nd (hmmm?).
  • International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day - Feb. 23rd (my dog would like to celebrate this holiday everyday and I'm not eating one to appreciate it on any day


And here's what we have to look forward to as we finish out the month:


  • Tell a Fairy Tale Day - Feb. 26th (ties in perfectly with my Fiction Friday).
  • International Polar Bear Day - Feb. 27th (go out and hug one, I know you want to).
  • Public Sleeping Day - Feb. 28th (no, not 'speaking', 'sleeping' - oh, I'm going to love that day).


And so you can go and waste oodles of time, here's the link to some great everyday holidays. You can even look forward to March and plan your calendar in accordance with the events (so you don't have to miss National Cheese Doodle Day smack dab in the middle of National Nutrition Month). And anyone who blogs - great fodder for those days when the Muse is absent :)


Happy Let's All Eat Right Day, everyone!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inspiration - Dream It, Act It, Live It...

As a follow up to my 'bemoaning' the Day Job:

The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

And the determination to follow our dreams:

The end of wisdom is to dream high enough not to lose the dream in the seeking of it. ~William Faulkner

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau

How are your dreams coming along?


(Picture: The Dream, Picasso - 1932)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Synopsis - URGH!

One of my goals this month is to write a synopsis of Jane and Ryan's story. Karyn, one of the Prairie Chicks, and I decided to challenge ourselves to Synopsis February. She's getting ready to send out submissions on her first book, Common Ground. I've read bits and pieces and think it's wonderful. And I need to get Jane and Ryan's story ready to go, too. Perfect timing - and a great way to get things done (challenges motivate me).

Only one issue - I really don't like writing synopses. I had to look up the plural form of synopsis - I thought it would be like hippopotamus/hippopotami, which I have discovered can also be hippopotamuses - the things you learn first thing in the morning. And like the giant mammal, the synopsis is hard to ignore. Most submissions call for one past the query stage. So far, I've been lucky and have only had to send one in with my partial. Condensing a 100,000 word story into 10 pages is not an easy task!

Yesterday, Jana Richards posted a great article on writing synopses. Check it out here. As I thought about my attempts, I realized I need to find me a Reader's Digest employee! You know the ones who take great literary works and condense them down to fit three in a book? OR the guys who write for Cliffs Notes (here in Canada, in my days of schooling, they were called Cole's Notes). Yeah, they could condense the work down to the minimum number of pages while keeping the heart of the story beating.

You see, that's my problem. I can condense the work - creating a paragraph for each chapter, keeping the storyline to its main plot and characters, building up to the black moment and showing the resolution, all in present tense - unfortunately, it reads like a piece of toast (dry, brown, tasteless - that's a really bad metaphor). I lose the heart of the story. And for all the surfing on the Web, I will never find a post that will tell me how to keep that beating pulse front and center. It's something I will need to discover on my own - with lots and lots of practice.

My attempts this time will be to take the story and re-write it as a short story. I've done some practicing - taking a 700 word short story and condensing it down to 250 for a recent contest. And if I focus on Jane's story arc, I should be able to tell her story in 10 pages. Should being the operative word here. I'll let you know how it goes. And Karyn - I need an extension, say maybe first draft to you by Sunday? How's yours coming?

You know the question, People of Blogland - have you ever written a synopsis? Share some secrets with us who are hiding from the giant hippopotami/hippopotamuses. One suggestion to end the dry toast syndrome. Anything - I'm begging - anything!


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Day Job - Sigh...

Weekend's over - back to the Day Job. Why is it that so much importance is placed upon that day job? I know there are people out there who love to work - can't imagine doing anything else with their days other than going to work - I'm not one of them. I would happily stop working - and, really, that would be a bonus because I would free up a paying job for someone who really does want to work. I would stay at home and never be bored. And this is a fact for back in the late nineties I didn't work - and I was never bored. I didn't lament the endless days of doing what I wanted to do. There was no moping around the house looking for excitement - I read, I learned to weave, I cross-stitched, I exercised, I cooked healthy meals every night, I went for walks with the dog, I visited friends, I volunteered at a senior's residence - I was not bored.

I've heard retired people complain because there is no structure in their life. I've known retired people who have gone back to work, while still pulling in a pension (there was no monetary need), who say without work they would go crazy sitting at home. I don't get it. I'm more than willing to give up working for the pleasure of staying at home and doing whatever. Volunteerism and personal pursuit is highly under-rated, in my opinion!

BUT - money makes the world go around. If I want to pay for the new house purchase, and the appliances, and the renovations, I need to work. I know how very lucky I am to get to work from home for a boss that's great - don't misread this rant. It's still work - scheduled, must do, hourly work. I obviously don't get the same satisfaction as others do of working at a day job. I can tell you one thing - as soon as I don't need to work anymore, I am so retiring :)

So, People of Blogland, do you enjoy your day job? If money wasn't an issue, would you quit and stay at home? Would you be bored if you were to stay at home - or do you have enough interests to make the hours fly by without boredom? I'm off to work!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Brief Tour of Halifax - and a Warning...

I was in Halifax yesterday! I love that city. The downtown is so vibrant and the history so tangible. Anyone who knows me, knows my love of old buildings (and, of course, history). But now my legs hurt.

You're thinking - how does that relate to Halifax? Well, I did the walking thing on Thursday, like I said I would. I managed a good hour long 'stroll' along the highway that follows the LaHave River. Naturally, having spent a great deal of time on my butt for the last couple of years I am out of shape. So Friday, yesterday, I woke to sore legs. Not too bad - no limping or excrutiating pain. I decided that while I waited for my friend to get her hair done downtown Halifax I would go for a walk - the last time I had tried that, I ended up shopping!

So, parked the car on one of the upper streets (Tower Road) and headed down to the waterfront. I passed beautiful brick and stone buildings that had been standing in the exact same location for over 100 years (some over 200). I strolled past quirky shops, giving only a quick glance in the window so as not to get sidetracked. Down across the street that runs parallel to the harbour (Lower Water Street) and onto the board walk behind the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The weather was dull, grey - a little bit of a wind - so I didn't stop to take any pictures. I just walked, loving the smell of the ocean.

All the way down to the casino. Because it was during the lunch hour, I passed many people jogging and walking - if I lived in Halifax, I think the boardwalk would be one of my favorite places to spend the lunch hour. I watched the ferry come in from Dartmouth. Saw a tug boat head out to sea. Stopped for a minute and watched some workmen do something on a barge right beside one of the many docks that line the waterfront. Then I walked back along the road side so I could take in the old buildings and marvel at the new ones built alongside.

All the way down past the Alexander Keith's Brewery. Back down onto the boardwalk. Along the harbour to the back of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. And onto the road that would lead me back up to the car, impressed that I had been walking for about 45 minutes. Another 15 and I would have my hour accomplished. I could feel my legs getting tired, my feet sore (wrong shoes for the event), but figured I had the rest of the day to relax - I'd be fine.

Halifax is built on a hill (a glacial drumlin to be precise)!

I walked down to the waterfront!

I can barely move this morning!

So, People of Blogland, this has been a little tour of Halifax and a warning. If you're going to start an exercise program, take care. And, for heaven's sake, don't go for a walk on the second day where the last 15 minutes is spent walking directly uphill! Have a great Saturday - and if you have some time, check out the links to Halifax. If I ever move back to a city - it will be Halifax. Love it!

Picture is of the Halifax's Citidel - National Historic Site of Canada - located at the peak of The Hill!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Fiction - Cobalt Wishes

Still no definitive answer to what's considered published and what's not -but I like the idea of having a Fiction Friday, and I know that once I get a website up and running (looking into the future), I'll want to have a page of free fiction. So, why not start now?

This was my gift of writing for the Saskatchewan Romance Writers this past year - and I really liked it. Even my brother read it and enjoyed the twist at the end. But bad news, People of Blogland - the story was too long for a full blogpost, so you won't get to read the end until next Friday. It will give you a full week to see if you can guess what Melissa wished for last.


Cobalt Wishes
Janet S. Corcoran

Melissa didn’t believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the Great Pumpkin. And if anyone had asked, she would have added Genies to the list of the unbelievable before smoke billowed from an antique cobalt vase, thunder rattled her kitchen windows and a naked man magically appeared before her.

A naked man with a drool factor of 10!

Her mother had taught her to never stare, but she was having a difficult time keeping her eyes focused on the vivid blue ones of her surprise visitor.

"You’ve never seen one before?"

She snapped her eyes up from where they insisted on straying. "Huh?"

"A Genie?"

A fraction of a second passed before she realized he was speaking of himself and not that. "No. No, I haven’t"

"Then I will explain the rules. Nothing global! Don’t wish for world peace because I can’t grant you that. And do not wish for more wishes. I don’t how many times people try that."

"But I get three, right?"

"Yes." He crossed his arms. "Three wishes."

Her gaze skittered over sinewy muscles, defined abs and narrow hips. His nakedness distracted her. "I wish you’d put some pants on."

As the words left her mouth she held out her hands and cried, "NO!"

Soft, faded jeans, the top button undone, now covered his lower half. "You have two wishes left."
Did his lip just curl? Melissa braced her hands on her hips. "You’re laughing at me?"

"Happens every time."

Money, she should wish for money. Most months she barely scraped by, living on a part time secretary’s wage in order to have the time to paint. That was her real passion in life, but it had yet to pay. But how much should she ask for? She didn’t want to be greedy.

"Perhaps your husband could assist you in this task?"

Now she crossed her arms. "I’m not married."

His ultramarine gaze slid from the top of her head to the tips of her bare feet and the heat he produced sizzled under her skin. "Then you should wish for that."

"Why? So I can be bossed around, told what to do, pick up after him, do his laundry, cook his meals?"

"You have a high opinion of the institute."

A sarcastic Genie, just what Melissa needed. "And you know so much about marriage?"

"From what I’ve seen, I have formed an opinion." The Genie sat down at her table and stretched his long legs out before him. "To have a partner, one to share your dreams with, give you comfort when life is not going according to plan. Someone to hold you in the darkest hour of the night."

His definition of marriage sounded heavenly, but she had seen the other side, the reality of a marriage gone wrong. She was the product of divorce. "And if you could produce such a man, would you guarantee that he would always be loving and caring? Would you grant me a replacement wish if that man broke my heart?"

"You wish to remain single because of the chance a man could break your heart?"

"Yes."

"Done."

Melissa shook her head. Had she just used up her second wish? "Are you serious?"

"You wished to remain single."

"No I didn’t. You wished it for me."

"And you agreed."

"That shouldn’t count."

He studied his fingernails. "It does." He looked up at her, his eyes narrowed and his lip curled. "Now, your last wish, what will it be?"
(Copyright ~ Janet S. Corcoran 2009)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Leave your suggestions as to the last wish in the comment section. And be sure to come back next Friday (although, I'd love it if you came back before then) to read the end of Cobalt Wishes.

TGIF :)



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Healthy Writer - Paradox?

Sitting on your butt at a computer, both for the day job and as a writer, plays havoc with your, well, butt. As in my butt has gotten larger over the past four years - exactly the number of years I've been seriously writing and working at a computer rather than in a classroom! Coincidence? I think not.

And for the last two or so years, I have made infrequent attempts at correcting the problem. The problem of my butt getting larger, not the day job or the writing - which have a variety of problems, as well, but this post is about the butt. With every attempt - eat better, exercise more - I have a bit of success and then slowly slide back into the old habits and gain another couple of pounds. Oh, yeah, I also beat myself up for failing (bad 'half empty' attitude I've struggled with all my life - I'm working on it, but this post is about the butt).

I know what the problems are -

Not Exercising - I hate exercise:

  • Getting changed into workout clothes (lamenting over the current popularity of spandex and its penchance for framing bulges).
  • Lacing up running shoes (slippers are so much more user friendly).
  • Sweating (eww).
  • Out of breath (reminding me of how out of shape I am).
  • Stretching (must stretch so as not to be sore the next day - yeah, like that's going to work).

Poor Eating Habits - I love to eat:

  • Coffee for breakfast (the morning is the only time of the day when food is NOT a priority).
  • Bread, bread, bread (that's the one food group on Canada's Food Guide that I don't have problems eating the recommended servings/day - the upper end of the recommended servings/day).
  • Cheese (usually with bread that have been magically transformed into crackers - cheese and crackers are my "Go To" snack).
  • A Lack of Fruits and Vegetables (unless I can count my 6 cups of airpopped corn, I seriously have problems coming close to the recommended servings/day - 5 to 10, are they kidding?).
  • Wine (I go with the "Red Wine's good for you" motto, with the hope that white wine is just red wine without the color added).

I'm a smart woman (says me, not comments from the peanut gallery, thanks)! I know what to do! But knowing and doing are very different things. With the current favorite jeans getting a tad bit too tight, and summer just around the corner, something needs done. And I think the best way to start is to start slowly. If I make enormous changes, I won't stick with the plan. So, starting today, I will add walking to my "To Do" list.

Everyday!

Promise!

Really!

Do you hear the less-than-enthusiastic committment? What about you, People of Blogland? Do you get enough exercise during the day? Is your eating healthy, somewhat healthy, not really healthy, bordering on healthy, the farthest thing from healthy a person can get and still be alive? Would anyone like to stand with me and question the validity of 5 - 10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Inspiration - Writer's Read...

We've all heard that to be a better writer, one must read. So today, in honor of my book club, I give you quotes about writing and reading. Our book club postponed out monthly meeting, which gives me more time to read the required reading (behind, again). The great thing about this book club is that we read different books related to a theme. This month's theme is "Travel". I didn't realize how hard it would be to find an interesting book on travel - obviously not a fan of travel type books. Once I finish the book I've finally decided upon, I'll share the title and my opinions. Until then, here's some quotes on both reading to benefit writing AND reading for the sheer pleasure of, well, reading.

Read a lot, finding out what kind of writing turns you on, in order to develop a criterion for your own writing. And then trust it—and yourself. ~ Rosemary Daniell

Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the most. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window. ~ William Faulkner (really liked this one)

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~ Joseph Addison

So, People of Blogland, what are you reading right now? Do you belong to a book club? Do you think it's important for writer's to read (both in their chosen genre and beyond)?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday's Question: Published or Not?

My new writing friend, Julia (author of A Piece of My Mind blog), sent me a link to some of her writing she's got archived on her blog. I'm having a great time reading it (and will e-mail you later, Julia), but the question begs to be asked - is that now considered published work? Julia, herself, asked that very question.

The Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada are starting up their newsletter again and have sent out the call for submissions. Their theme is "Beginnings" and I have a short essay that would fit well. But - and there is a but - the essay was a blogpost over on The Prairies back in February of 2009. At that time, we didn't have a lot of readers, mostly ourselves and a few others who had found us through our Saturday guest post spots. However, the article was still posted on the Internet. Does that mean it is now a published work? Am I, the author and co-contributor to The Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog, allowed to take that work and seek publication elsewhere?

When I post excerpts on this blog - and over on The Prairies - I try and keep it to a small sample (no more than 1000 words). Somewhere in my infinite Internet browsing I remember reading that if the excerpt is small (under 1000 words), the piece is not considered published. Now, where I found that I have no idea - should have bookmarked it. And for all I've searched my favorite engine, Google, I can not find a definitive answer to the question.

If something is posted on a blog, is it now considered published?

If there's anyone out there who has the answer or a place I can go and discover the answer, please let me know. Not only would I love to know the legality of having my article published in a newsletter after it's been posted on a blog, but I'm also thinking of having a Friday Fiction post right here on Janet's Journal. I want to know the ramifications of that endeavor before I'm knee deep into sharing a story. I'm going to spend some time searching again, but any help today would be greatly appreciated.

And I'll post links to anything I find that could answer this very important question!




Monday, February 8, 2010

Popcorn for Supper?

What a fabulous day in the city yesterday! OK, except for the fact that the major appliance store I had planned on visiting didn't open until noon and that's when I was scheduled to meet some of the romance writers and since this was my first lunch with the group, I didn't want to be late, so I was hoping the meeting would be over sooner than 5 o'clock, so I could run to the appliance store then - AND, I had to spend my time somewhere and ended up buying lampshades. I really don't need lampshades! I need slippers, but I couldn't find any of the really fuzzy, boot kind that I like, so I bought lampshades. Connection? None. Rambling? Some!

Point of the story - getting there. We discussed our strengths and how we should exploit those strengths in order to tell the best story WE can. Our little group (yes, there was group work) seemed to focus on voice - and what is strength in storytelling but not voice? - and the sometimes difficult task we have as writers to find that voice. Sometimes, that voice is so obvious to others, yet not to us. Listening to others, examining their voice and pinpointing what it is they do well, comes so easily for most people. But listening to ourselves - really hearing ourselves - is much more difficult (in all aspects of life, not just storytelling). It really was eye-opening. During the discussion there was mention of the movie Notting Hill.

Seque into the real reason for this post. Are you still with me as I ramble on about everything else BUT popcorn for supper? After my hour and almost half drive home from the big city, where much of my brain was still thinking of the workshop and voice, I fished out the movie Notting Hill. The Husband made himself eggs for supper after I told him that I had a most delicious plate of fish and chips that seriously lowered the haddock stock of the Atlantic and potato reserve of PEI (there was a lot of food on that plate). Wine was poured and the popcorn maker fished out of the cupboard. Just realized I have used some variation of the word 'fish' three times in this paragraph. Sigh!

Yes, my supper consisted of a glass of white wine and a huge bowl of airpopped popcorn somewhat, moderately, bordering on too much, buttered. Yummy. This is a standard practice in our house - to eat popcorn for supper. And after all of that - my big point of the day boils down to three sentences stuck on the very end of a meandering post. Since I am writing this the night before, I'm going to blame my frentic blogging on the two cups of coffee I had at lunch and the extra grande/tall/venti concoction on the way home.

So, People of Blogland, is eating popcorn for supper a good idea? Can I seriously check off most of vegetable requirements after consumming 6 cups of fluffy corn? Does butter count as dairy? It should, in my opinion! And who loves Notting Hill? I haven't seen it for ages and laughed out loud at certain scenes - and realized the whole 'romance' concept was turned on its head. The woman (Julia Robert's character, Anna Scott) holds the power while the man (Hugh Grant's character, William Thaker) is love sick and forlorn. Interesting.

I really need to stop typing now - this is getting out of hand. I have enough information in this blogpost for the entire week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weekend Blogs...

Off to the city today - on the hunt for black appliances and some wine making supplies, then lunch out with some of the romance writers or RWAC, followed by the monthly meeting of said RWAC. A long day - but I'm looking forward to it.

So, while I'm gone, the question for today (if you care to respond) is do you read blogs on the weekends? I know a lot of people blog from Monday to Friday and take the weekend off - obviously, I'm not of that ilk. So, do you think blogging on the weekend is worthwhile? If you blog, do you go with a 5 day schedule or do you blog on weekends, or is an occasional occurrence?

I'll 'see' you all tomorrow - have a wonderful Sunday :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Morning Rituals...

Everyone has rituals - and our Saturday morning includes coffee in bed. We started this years ago - soon after we were married. It wasn't a conscious decision to begin Saturday mornings in bed, sipping on hot, fresh brewed coffee and talking about this and that - it just evolved. I think rituals that do 'evolve' are the best kind - the kind that after you've been doing it for a couple of years, you think "Wow, this is a great idea!"

Now usually our ritual changes depending on the Saturday. Today, for instance, I can guarantee we'll be discussing our new house. Making plans for renovating the kitchen. Deciding on what should be done first. Weighing the pros and cons of black appliances (still wavering on that decison). Other Saturdays, we've both stuck our noses in books we have on the go and sit in companionable silence - sipping and reading. One December, years and years ago, every Saturday morning was spent writing the Christmas Letter (it was a Limerick version and we would scribble ideas of the months and then perfect the rhythmic stanza). Most Saturdays, we just chat about what's happening in our lives.

The ritual also changes once summer is upon us. We love to be outside - and on Saturday mornings, after the coffee has dripped its last drip, we wander out to the deck chairs and sip out there. The birds singing, the soft wind, the ultimate quietness of a neighborhood not yet awake is wonderful. And the dog loves it, too. She will wait patiently at the door, then bound out ahead of us, stopping at the chairs to make sure that is indeed the plan for the morning, then off to find her rope or ball and playtime (during the indoors' ritual, she curls up on the bed with us and naps).

So, since I'm writing this in the morning (too lazy last night before bed - but I have been good at getting the post ready the night before leaving me mornings to do other things), I can smell the coffee perking. The dog has returned to the bedroom and I hear The Husband stirring milk into the cups. It's time to crawl back under the covers, fluff the pillows behind my back, and enjoy the Saturday Morning Ritual. Oh, by the way, the other ritual is the person who got the first cup of coffee gets to stay in bed and the other person is in charge of the refill.

Any rituals out there you'd like to share with us, People of Blogland? Do you take time during the week to chat about this and that with your significant other - or someone special in your life (your mother, your children, your best friend)? Are you a coffee drinker?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blogs, Houses, Shopping, Appliances, Questions - Whew!

It's a busy day here - and a Friday, no less. I'm over on The Prairies today talking about hobbies. Truth be told, I'm pitting cross-stitching against writing - both have their advantages, both their weaknesses. Come on over and have a read - leave a comment - takes sides :)

Then, I'm off to see our new house. Yep, we bought a house. Naturally, people are taking bets as I write this as to how long we'll stay in that house - but I'm used to the gambling practices of my friends (and we do have a reputation for moving around - a lot - see my Blogger Profile for the condensed version of that story). Anyway, it's house inspection day and we'll be there to do some measuring for kitchen renovations that need to be done. Exciting!

And, with it being a Friday, we'll head into town to do our weekly grocery shopping. Not much on the list today - and not much in the fliers (I love fliers - love Thursdays when the fliers are delivered - leaf through them looking for the best deals - I know, lame). With the house purchase, we'll be needing new appliances, so there'll be a side trip to an appliance store to check out new models and various options.

So, a couple of questions today. Do you have a hobby and if so, what is it? Does moving thrill you or freak you out? Are you a flier fan, do you scan for deals? And have any of you owned black appliances? Would you recommend them?

TGIF everyone :)
(How cool is that chalkboard fridge? Thanks Daily Danny for the picture - and the instructions on how to get a chalkboard fridge!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Query Letters...

Now that the contest entry is ready to go into the mail, I'm onto the next goal for February. I have to get back on the horse and start querying agents again. I have a strategy that I compare to the game Snakes and Ladders (see here for details) and I plan on sticking with it. My goal, when I stepped into Query Land, was to create the best query letter possible. The first, second, third, and fourth time the letters were not the most enticing. On the first round, all rejected. The second round, two requests for a partial. The third round, three requests for a partial. The fourth was the letter I took with me to Surrey - garnered interest, but another rejection at the partial stage.

So, my goal on this, the fifth round, is to send out the query and see if I get above average requests. I'm not sending out the remainder of the 72 I have left to fulfill my goal of querying 100 agents (Miss Snark's advice). I need to see if perhaps, as with the query letter, the partial needs work in order to start getting requests for fulls. I know, it sounds like a complicated system - and it is - but I've got a plan and I tend to stick to plans.

I thought you all might be interested in seeing the difference between Query #1 and Query #5. And if you're not, well that's OK, too.

Query #1

Dear Agent (of course this is addressed to an actual agent - I know better than just Dear Agent)

Intro paragraph where I drop some kind of personal info I've gleaned off the internet - like "I'm an avid reader of your blog." Or "Your interview with Romance Times was very insightful and I see that you are interested in historical romance." Then I go with the "I offer for your consideration The Power of Seduction (yes, I changed the name), a medieval complete at 100,000 words."

In the spring of 1347, Lady Willamena (Mena) Ffenwyck prepares for a future no different than her past. An arranged marriage will see her continue to be unappreciated, ignored and, in all likelihood, forced to endure her husband’s indiscretions. But on their wedding night, when Hugh de Graham offers her the opportunity to remain a virgin until she is ready, desire for a marriage of compassion and understanding awakens. The more time she spends with him and the closer she comes to consummating the marriage, the more she believes he values her as a person and a partner. Until she asks him about his family.

Hugh de Graham vows never to treat his wife the way his father treated his mother. He watched her demise; her withdrawal from life as his father cavorted with whichever wench was available. Devastated by her suicide, Hugh will never speak of that shame. No one will, of this he is certain. To convince Mena that the present and the future are all that matter, his physical seduction becomes an emotional one.

Armed with a false sense of partnership and curious about the absence of his mother’s grave marker in the chapel yard, Mena searches for answers on her own. Mystery surrounds the death of both his parents and when she eavesdrops on a private conversation she learns of a brother now accused of treason. Hugh’s secrecy shatters her illusion of equality and his emotional withdrawal leaves her heartbroken. But discovering that his mother’s suicide was murder puts her life in danger.

I am a member of the Romance Writer’s of America and the Saskatchewan Romance Writers. If you are interested in The Power of Seduction, I am prepared to send a partial or full at your request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Signed,
Me

Query #5

Dear Agent (again, personalized salutation)

It's hard to rein in your curiosity when your husband's been accused of murder.

Newly wed Willamena de Graham knows listening in on conversations is wrong and she's promised her stepmother and brother she will cease once she reaches her new home of Fallowlees. But with her husband Hugh refusing to speak of his past and both villagers and serfs evading her every question, her curious nature gets the best of her. Frustrated by even the lack of gossip and enticed by Hugh's overtures of a partnership beyond the bedchamber, she curtails her inquiries. When a visitor arrives unannounced and suggests murder and a cover up, she knows she's fallen for more than just physical seduction. Now she must decide - a future filled with passion, no love, or one more conversation to learn the truth about her husband.

Both will break her heart. One could prove fatal.

The Seduction of Lady Bells, a medieval romance, is complete at 100,000 words. I am prepared to send a full or partial at your request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Signed,
Me

I might have to tweak the last paragraph - it sounds cold. But I believe this version is much stronger than the first. Fingers crossed.

So, People of Blogland, have you created multiple versions of a query letter? Do you stagger your queries in order to judge your letter, and then the partial? Do you think there should be an introductory paragraph of a personal nature - to show the agent that you have done your research into what they represent, who they are? Where are you in the query process?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inspiration - Words

I'm in the midst of preparing my story for The Writer's Union of Canada's Postcard Story Contest. A 652 word story is now down to 232 - that was difficult. But still I labor over which words to keep, which to take out. Sentences need to be short, compact, but powerful. The story must flow. I want a complete picture when I'm finished. And with a total word count of 250, well, it's taxing my brain. So I thought it appropriate for Inspirational Wednesday to find some quotes on words.


Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

I hope I've combined them well :)

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one. ~Baltasar Gracián

Yes, I have my trusty Synonym Finder by my side :)

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~Author Unknown

Very important :)

I hope your day is filled with powerful words!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day 2K10

Yep, it's February 2nd and folks all over North America will be listening closely to radio and television newscasts (some even checking the web) to find out whether we'll be having another 6 weeks of winter. Groundhog Day!

I did some research - I love research - and discovered the history behind Feb. 2nd actually belonged to the Scots. Here's the couplet that is believed to have started this weather predicting trend:

"If Candlemas Day is bright and clear
There'll be two winters in the year."

Interesting. Unfortunately, the transition between a Candlemas adage and a large rodent predicting the weather is unclear. But the tradition started somewhere and has grown into a good excuse for a festival. In Canada, our day starts right here in Nova Scotia with Schubenacadie Sam. Then, in Ontario, Wiarton Willie (the most famous of Canadian weather predicting rodents) has his go at deciding if we're to endure another 6 weeks of winter or if spring has sprung. But did you know there are even more meteoroligical woodchucks?

  • Brandon Bob in Manitoba
  • Balzac Billy in Alberta (also known as the Prairie Prognosticator)
  • Gary the Groundhog in Kleinburg, Ontario (who has his own Facebook page)

And I haven't even begun to name all the furry climatologists in the United States over and above Punxsutawney Phil! Incredible!

As a movie buff, I loved Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. The lighthearted look at reliving a day over and over again had a little comedy and a little romance, but the message - "When we get beyond denial and resentment over the conditions of life and death, and accept our situation, then life ceases to be a problem and we can become authentic and compassionate." is brilliant. If you get some time today, and you've never seen the movie (or even if you have), take a look at this link. A wonderful synopsis and an interesting viewpoint that any person can appreciate (and the writer in me is loves the how it relates to a hero's journey).

And after all these years of continually asking "What's the deal with the groundhog again? If he sees his shadow, more winter or not?" I now know, thanks to that little couplet, that I don't want the sun to be shining on Feb. 2nd (as I write this, the almost full moon is shining in my window - does not bode well for Sam's soothsaying).

Happy Groundhog Day everyone :)


Monday, February 1, 2010

To Do or Not To Do, That is the Question...

A new month! January flew by in a blur of writing, rejection, outings, and the day job. And after a mini-reflection yesterday, I've set my goals for February. You know, for someone who doesn't really enjoy goal-setting, I've discovered that I do it constantly. I write little reminders to myself every day. And what are those, if not goals? I tried, many years ago, to rid myself of the habit of writing down stuff to do on a daily basis - I didn't want to be tied to a regiment or beat myself up every night over the things I didn't get done. I did that because my "To Do" lists looked like a minute by minute plan of my day. I was over "To Doing"! (Just realized that sentence is doing double duty - too much and done - cool.)

Funny - a few years back I was visiting my mom. Hunkered down in my old bedroom - where the bed is still the best bed to sleep in and the room is still too small, even though the walls are no longer painted pink and the shelves no longer hold my treasures - I decided to clean out one of my drawers (yes, I still have things at my mom's house - somehow, it doesn't feel right removing them to my house, they belong with the school age Janet and those memories). I found a "To Do" list. By the look of my writing and the items on the list, I'm guessing I was around 10. I was creating "To Do" lists when I was 10! That discovery led me to back off "To Do" lists - showed me my anal-ytical side was just a little too anal. But I also know I can't live without those lists.

So, in my old teacher's day book I have daily tasks that need to get done. The day job items to fill up my 5 hours of paid employment, my writing goals to move me toward getting a publishing contract, and my exercise goal (which should really be on a sticky note and can just move forward to the next day because I just never seem to get that one done - sigh). And on a sticky note (the new sticky note file cards - fabulous), stuck to my wall, right above my laptop screen to be seen whenever I sit at the computer, a list of 3 items for the month. I use that list to generate the daily goals. And no where, either on the daily goals or the monthly goals, have I listed laundry, feed dog, or eat supper at 5:00 in an attempt to not be so regimented.

Well, People of Blogland, do you write "To Do" lists? Do you micro-manage your time down to the last minute of every day? Have you set your goals for February? Is so, good luck - and share one or two with us if you wish.