Cat Herding

 

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

I’m 18,000 words into National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. By the end of the month, I should have the first draft of Covers, a story of love and acceptance, ready for editing. Since this work in progress is my priority right now, I’m going to keep the blog posts short and funny.

Newsletter

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Before we go down the funny road, I want to let you know that I have a new offering: a monthly newsletter containing updates and behind the scenes on Masks, Secrets, Covers or any other work as well as any contests and freebies. To sign up, enter your name and email address in the Subscribe To My Newsletter section in the sidebar on this page.

Cowboys Of A Different Breed

What did you think of the video? I love hearing from you. Leave me a comment.

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Happy Halloween

What Halloween costumes would the characters of Secrets wear? Let me show you.

Diana and Ron

The Leprechaun and the Hot Dog

Mathieu

The Bull

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Genevieve

The Oven and her Bun

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Arianne

The Faerie

fayrie

Hercules and Elli

The Voodoo Dolls

 

Have fun and stay safe everyone.

What’s your favorite Halloween song? What’s your favorite Halloween costume? What’s your favorite Halloween candy? I love to hear from you. Leave comment.

6 Writing Lessons From A Series Reader

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Earlier this month, I read a young adult dystopian series. In the end, I felt cheated and foolish. I kept wondering why an author would want to do that to her readers and I can’t come up with an answer. I don’t think she did it on purpose. However, I did realize there were some lessons for me to learn as a writer.

Make each voice distinct

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The first two novels of the series were told by one first person narrator, but the last book had two first person narrators. I couldn’t tell whose point of view I was reading in the last book because the characters spoke the same way. I need to make sure I discover my characters as deeply as possible so that I can switch back and forth between multiple voices and/or POVs without confusing myself or my readers.

Write characters that are relatable

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The main characters and their friends were easy to understand and care about. That’s why I kept reading. I wanted to see their development. Some of the antagonists were a little more difficult to understand because they lacked background. I struggle with this as a writer. How much do I want readers to understand where the antagonist is coming from? How much do I want them to empathize with him? My way around this is to make sure he acts destructively and hurts the protagonist.

Check the facts

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In the information age, we all know a lot, but we can’t all be experts. So use that search button and double check the facts, especially if the plot hinges on those facts. I don’t want to start ranting about the major science blunders in the series, so I’ll move on to the lesson that can be extrapolated from this lesson.

Build a writing team

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Build a writing team with a critic partner, a developmental editor, a proofreader, and a beta reader! Each of these roles should probably be held by a different person and each person should probably have a different background. So, hopefully, one of them will notice if my plot falls apart because it’s illogical, unsupported, the absolute opposite of reality, etc.

Take worldbuilding seriously

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I majored in Comparative Religions and noticed something interesting about creation stories. They answer the questions of how the world was created, where it was created, who created it, what came before it. They also reveal the view and philosophy that the folks living in a shared religious and cultural tradition believe. Rarely, did they leave me with a question. Approaching worldbuilding as if it were a sacred revelation might be the way to avoid leaving readers with unanswered questions about the setting and the worldview that the characters are operating within.

Each book in a series needs to stand alone

A series can be linked by characters with each book being more like an episode within the series such as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series. Or it can be linked by an overarching plot like Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles. The Saxon Chronicles span ten novels, each with a different plot, and the overarching plot begins in the first novel and always becomes a secondary priority until the final novel.

I’m going to keep these things in mind because the last thing I want to do is upset my readers with poorly written novels.

What is your favorite series? What do you like about it most? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

A Lesson From Motherhood

By now, you’ve probably heard that Meghan Markle is pregnant. While I distinctly heard someone in my vicinity exclaim, “Ugh, that woman!”, I smiled at the news. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.

Some people look at having children as evidence of their love. Others as an expectation or obligation. Some a curse. Others as a life invent. And some as an opportunity to “make things right” which could mean anything from giving their children what they weren’t given as children, living through their children vicariously, or being the parent their parents weren’t. There are probably other reasons I can’t think of right now.

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There are also as many ways of parenting as there are parents. I decided that what I needed to do as a parent was teach my child to be the best human being she could be. And to do that, I had to set the example. So it follows that I strive to become the best human being that I can be. (I’m aware that this is a lifelong pursuit.) I learned to accept that I am not perfect, to forgive myself for my mistakes, and to love myself in spite of my flaws. I try to remember that when a driver cuts me off, he might be a nice person having a bad day. I know that while I have a right to be angry, I don’t have the right to humiliate someone. Mostly, I’ve learned that we are all human. If I approach each person including myself with compassion and empathy, I become a better person and I make their lives better too.

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Meghan Markle and all the expectant women out there have a lot to look forward to that has nothing to do with baby showers, epidurals, and the eventual pitter patter of tiny feet.

What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned since becoming a parent? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I have so many things to be grateful for this year. It’s hard to believe how long this list is.

Fired
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My job was terminated. That doesn’t sound great but it opened up many possibilities. It enabled me to step aside and look at my career. I determined the types of tasks I really like doing, the type of role I like playing, and create a plan for the future. I’m also grateful to my former employer for setting me up with a career services agency so that I could get my resume together, polish my interview skills and network like a pro.

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Without a job in Toronto, I had very little reason to stay there. So I moved back to Montreal where most of my family and friends are. I’m grateful for my friends and family and, especially, my mom for taking my daughter and me in until I find a job.

Writing wise, I’m grateful to be working on my next book, the third novel in The True Hearts Series, which I plan to release by the end of this year. I’m encouraged by the success of the first two in the series. The Indie Editors of Kirkus Reviews magazine featured a review of my first novel Masks in the February 15 2018 issue. And the second book Secrets received an Honorable Mention under General Fiction from the 2017 London Book Festival.

Happy Turkey Day!

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What are you grateful for most this year? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

Hoarding In Secrets

Secrets - eBookIn Secrets, Ron Pearl, Diana Rainville’s love interest, is a hoarder. In the story, the death of his mother and Diana’s support lead him to clean his basement. That seems miraculous, doesn’t it? Even Hollywood. But it’s not so farfetched. Alcoholics who fall in love often note that they drink less when they start a relationship.  The abuse victim feels strong and powerful. Depressed people are happy. Research shows that falling in love does cause a high due to a change in brain chemistry. Some research suggests the rush is Mother Nature’s way of making sure we bond so that eventually we reproduce. But that feeling of euphoria doesn’t last forever.

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So what happens to Ron’s hoarding after Ron and Diana have been a couple for a few months? The only thing that can happen. It returns in full force. As much as love can heal all wounds, only self-love can heal them directly. The loving people can help the healing by being supportive, accepting, respectful, open-minded, encouraging, by listening and by empathizing. So how can hoarding become part of Ron’s past?

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In the story, Ron seemed so in control and confident, but he was far from it. His parents fought all the time. He couldn’t stop his father from leaving when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He couldn’t stop his mother’s cancer or her death. He can’t get an education due to the medical bills and his career is chosen for him. He hangs on to garbage like a security blanket. It’s his way of dealing with his emotions. He gets a high from finding things he could use although he doesn’t use them. He collects them in his bedroom and his basement.

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When his mother talks about counselling, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been to counselling and he does clear the basement so he is cognizant of the problem. But denial is a big problem for many hoarders. It is a life threatening disease. The only reason the hoarding hasn’t taken over in the story is because of his mother’s presence. But his room has no space and neither has the basement. If allowed, he will eventually fill the entire house. Eventually becoming unhealthy and unsafe for himself and his neighbors.

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Whether hoarding comes from collecting trash or buying too much, it’s a ritual which creates excitement. It’s also unusual for hoarders to share with others. And it’s not surprising that Ron didn’t need to think twice about dumpster diving alone when Diana wanted to leave. He just let her go without blinking. It is not an addiction although it can be associated with addiction and other mental health issues, nor is it an obsessive compulsive disorder although it can coexist.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The only cure is to stop and deal with the emotions that are causing the hoarding. To learn more about hoarding, check out these resources:

www.hoarding.ca

https://www.helpforhoarders.co.uk/resources/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056

What do you do when you are avoiding emotions? What do you do to accept those emotions? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

3 Tips For Back To School

Are you as excited about your kids going back to school as they are? Or maybe you’re a student reading this. Are you looking forward to hanging out in your own world again? My daughter was bored and ready to go back to school after the first week of her summer holiday.

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Now that the first day of school is right around the corner, the question is: Are you ready?

Here are three tips to get ready:

  1. Don’t panic! Either you’ve been waiting so long for this moment but didn’t consider what to wear, what supplies to pack, what to eat for lunch. Or you didn’t think about it at all and, lucky you, you’re in the same both as the dreamers. The first day of school will come for all of us whether we are ready or not, so DON’T PANIC! Even if you get everything else wrong, you’ll at least get to the same day as the rest of us at the same time. It’s inevitable.
  2. Buy ahead, return later. You might be one of the fortunate ones who received an advanced list of books and materials needed.
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    Great! Go shopping. For those of us left guessing until the first day of school, we have options. You can rush around after school or after dinner to shop for supplies at your local low-end department store along with every other parent or student in a 4 mile radius from you. Or you can plan. To avoid the madness, hit the early sales, grab everything you think you might need, and save all the items and the receipts in the same place. If you need something you didn’t think of, you can pick it up easily. Instead of having 56 items to buy, standing at the checkout with only 29 because the store ran out, and needing to drive to two stores to complete the list, you’ll be grinning in the express lane holding one or two items. Whatever you don’t need can be returned later. This might entail up to three trips to the store, but chances are you shop there anyway so two of those trips can be in combination with other purchases.

  3. First day outfit. The first day outfit is only as important as you make it. The outfit makes the person does not apply here. This is not like impressing a new boss or a first date. Unless the first day of school is also picture day, which is rare, and, not to be confused with an id picture where the only think that counts is a clean face and a decent hair day. The first day of school outfit should be comfortable, clean and in good condition. It should also be weather appropriate.
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    How many students leave home in heavy wool sweaters in early September, only to be sweating by the time they get to school because summer temperatures are still lingering? Enough that it was worth a mention here.

There’s no reason to turn the first day of school into a stressful event. Remove the stress and recognize it as a special day: a new beginning.

Back To School
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How do you handle the first day of school? Leave a comment. I love to hearing from you.