Thursday, 28 July 2011

Attitude ...

This will be my last post for July. I can’t believe the summer is half over! Have you had your day at the beach yet? (Or the cottage, the zoo, the pool?) Hope so. If not, there’s still plenty of time for that so make some room in you life for recreation and relaxation. I finally started to get back into the saddle this week. I had put my Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis manuscript revisions aside to concentrate on the Muskoka Novel Marathon. Now that it’s over, it’s back to the grind.

As I was rifling through my numerous writing files, I came across this poem I had kept over the years. Now, I know why I did. I’d like to share it with you, so sit back, relax and read …


It is my responsibility to choose what kind of day I am going to have!

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy,

or I can be thankful that the grass is being watered for free

Today, I can feel sad that I don not have more money,

or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely

and guide me from waste.

Today, I can grumble about my health,

or I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today, I can lament over all that my parents did not give me,

or I can fell grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today, I can cry because roses have thorns,

or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today, I can mourn lack of friends,

or I can embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.

Today, I can whine because I have to go to work,

or I can be joyed because I have a job.

Today, I can murmur because I have to do the housework,

or I can feel honoured to have a house.

Today, I can gripe about not having enough time,

or I can use my time more productively.

Today, I can complain about the food placed before me,

or I can be thankful that I have a meal to eat.

Today, stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped.

And I get to do the shaping.

What today will be like is up to me.

I get to choose what kind of day I will have.

Have a great day … unless you have other plans.

Author Unknown

So choose wisely, my readers, or the day will choose for you! Cheers!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Reconnection ...

I have a problem with relaxing. Yes, you read that right. RELAXING. My dictionary quotes the meaning of relax as: to make looser, or less firm or tense: to release from intense concentration, hard work, worry. It goes on of course – to become less tense or stiff, to abate, to rest from effort, worry or work. It’s not hard for me to keep busy, but to actually sit down and relax is a bit of an enigma for me.

That is, until hubby’s little sis came by for a visit this past weekend.
The weather was more than perfect. Sunny, hot, a slight breeze – enough to keep the bugs at bay –  allowed us to add the perfect ingredients – cool beverages, a beach, three dogs, lots of sticks, sun screen, bathing suits, and pithy conversation. By the end of little sis’s stay I felt relaxed, released and rejuvenated. It was a way of reconnecting with my body, who was desperately trying to tell me to ‘take it easy’!

So what does this have to do with writing? Last post, I talked about the results of the Muskoka Novel Marathon and how I ‘felt’ the pressure of trying to write a pile of pages in three days. I felt I just couldn’t keep up with the rest of the writers, all tapping at their keyboards, producing their wares at great speeds. And as I mentioned, speed is not my forte. Somehow, I felt embarrassed, ill at ease, for only churning out 23 pages, while other steadfast writers wrote 100 pages or more. Sigh.
Now I know better. I was judging myself, and not connecting to my greatness, to my – dare I say – genius. Now, I realize I had to cut myself some slack. We all need to do that for ourselves, or we’d turn into tight, wound-up balls of energy, always on the go, and never resting. Nature teaches us to relax by just being in the sun and soaking up the warmth. It brings back balance, calms your mind and rejuvenates your body. It’s a natural way to recharge our batteries, and believe me, it feels so good! Trust me that pink ‘Energizer Bunny’ cannot keep going and going.

So, before the summer is over, do yourself a favour and have your day at the beach. It's worth it!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Writing In The Trenches of Humility

Veni. Vidi. Scripsi. That’s Latin for: I came. I saw. I wrote. Yes, that’s the name of my blog, and it’s also the slogan for the Muskoka Novel Marathon. Usually, I post Mondays, but since the marathon was wrapping up July 18th, I thought I deserved a break (so did my fingers and back!).

All went well! One writer got to 250 pages! Yes, she was rather sleep deprived, and yes, maybe a little giddy, but the girl did it. Other writers got to 200 pages, still others surpassed 100 pages. And how did I do you ask? What kind of milestone did I accomplish? Are you ready? Sitting on the each of your seats? Drum role please … I wrote an astounding 23 pages! Yup, you read that correctly – and it amounts to just over 10,000 words. Mind you, I used a smaller type and didn't space my pages.

Stop laughing, no really, it’s true. I didn’t fart around either. Yes, I took breaks, ate with the other writers (we were fed like royalty), networked, learnt new things, stayed late, arrived fairly early and pushed my imagination to the brink. I even had a detailed outline and prepared character tracking sheets. So what went wrong? Why couldn’t have I kept up with the other furiously banging fingers? Why couldn’t I have at least broke over 50 pages, as I had done in previous years? I mean, weren’t my sponsors counting on me? I did manage to raise $425. In fact, the fundraising event collected over $8000 in pledges – the most ever! Yay, writers!

I guess the real reason for my low page count is this was the first time I’ve written fresh stuff in over two years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing – actually rewriting, editing, polishing, sending out queries to agents, getting rejections, doing more rewriting, more editing … you get the picture. I’ve also been learning about ebook publishing, and trust me, there’s a lot to learn! Writing is a process for me, so I find myself going over and over my chapter until I feel comfortable with it. This has helped me with structure immensely, as well as cut down on my editing. However, it hasn’t helped me too much in the speed department! Shrug.

Still, I shouldn’t compare myself to other writers. We are all at different stages of the game. That’s what makes us unique. It’s about our own experiences and no one else’s. Writing is about finding your special voice, and sharing it with others, one word at a time.

I mean, just because I didn’t write 250 pages, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ready. Set. Write.

It’s been months in the making and it’s finally here. It’s an event to bring awareness and support to literacy. I’m talking about the Muskoka Novel Marathon that I will be participating in throughout this upcoming weekend. A chance to smooze with other writers, and be with my characters for three full days. It’s all about writers supporting readers, and I feel privileged to be a part of this wonderful fundraiser.

  As I write this post, I still have to put the finishing touches on my story outline. I plan to write a novella (though it may transmute into a full blown novel) about how my time travel series originated. Call it a prequel. Call it the prelude. Or call it a preface. The story is meant to fill in background information about the Last Timekeepers series. This book is more fantasy because I’m taking my readers to Atlantis – one hundred years before the final destruction. Talk about using that imagination of mine! It’s about Lilith – one of my characters from the Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis – and her roots as the guardian of the seventh Arch of Atlantis. At the time of the story, Lilith is an adolescent and not the wise magus I created in the Last Timekeeper books. It’s going to be interesting to see how Lilith and my other characters develop during the course of the weekend!
I would like to thank those of you who have supported me in this endeavor, as so far I’ve raised a total of $405 for literacy. Woo hoo! By the way, it’s not too late to sponsor a participating author. Please go to to learn how you can help support a writer and empower a community.

Good luck to my fellow writers! Let the stories begin!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Each One, Teach One

Today’s blog continues with my literacy theme, since I’ll be writing in the Muskoka Novel Marathon on July 15 – July 18 which I posted on June 20/11. I’ve decided to do an interview with a tutor from our local literacy council to give you an idea of what it’s like to walk in her shoes. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to DJ …

SHARON: Welcome, DJ. Could you tell us how long you’ve been a tutor for literacy?
DJ: It's been about 5 or 6 years since I started as a tutor.

SHARON: How did you get involved in tutoring for the Literacy Council?
DJ: My parents were very involved with the Literacy Council in Hamilton, Ontario.  My mother was a tutor and my father was on the Board of Directors. I knew a lot about the program from them.  When I retired, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity and I knew that there was a strong Literacy Council in Huntsville. 

SHARON: What qualifications did you have to become a tutor?
DJ: I am a retired teacher who worked with adults in Toronto.  Some of my former students had never learned to read or write, so I was working in the literacy field. 

SHARON: Is there any special training you had to undergo?
DJ:  The Literacy Council provides several training opportunities for tutors.  They have an excellent program of four afternoons that gives you the basics of identifying the student’s needs and how to plan lessons.  There are wonderful resources available at the centre- books, CD's, the internet - to help you plan your lessons. 

SHARON: Do you have a specialty?
DJ: Yes. I work with the English as a Second Language students in our program, as I was doing in Toronto before I retired. I work with small groups of students sometimes, but many tutors work one on one. 

SHARON: Do you teach the same students every week?
DJ: Yes, I meet regularly with the same students. 

SHARON: How many times to you tutor per week?
DJ:  At the moment, I am able to meet with my students once a week.  In the past, I tried to meet twice a week.  This helps the students move ahead more quickly.

SHARON: Do you have a message or advice you’d like to share with people who are interested in becoming tutors for their local literacy chapter? 
DJ:  Tutoring is a fun experience.  You are learning along with the students as you explore their literacy needs.  They may need to read manuals for work.  Their goal could be learning to read so they can read with their children.  Literacy impacts all parts of your life and individuals need to achieve a level of literacy that fits their own life.  That's what makes it interesting. To be a tutor you don't really have to have a background in teaching. We have tutors who work with computer literacy.  Other tutors work with mathematics.  Some of our literacy students are upgrading to go into college programmes.  You just need to be interested in working with people and enjoy exploring something new.  There is lots of support for tutors.

SHARON: One more question, DJ, but first, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to educate my readers on the importance of literacy tutors and the role you and other tutors play in our community. I saved the best for last – as a tutor, what do you take away from this experience? 
DJ: I always look forward to my weekly tutoring.  The students are always so eager to learn and so appreciative of your help.  In preparing for the lessons, I'm always learning new ideas and facts related to the topics that we are covering.  It is especially interesting working with people from all around the world.  They share their culture with you and you get to share Canadian culture with them.  I believe a literacy tutor gains as much or more from the experience as the student does.

And there you have it from the perspective of a literacy tutor. If you think you’d be interested in tutoring for your local literacy chapter check on-line for the closest Literacy Council near you or go to if you wish to learn more about empowering another person.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Are You Comfortably Numb?

My dog walking buddy down the road is a very wise woman. She was telling me that her daughter had just handed in her resignation at the women’s magazine where she’d been working at for the last seven years. ‘It was time to move on,’ she’d said. ‘Things had changed.’ Then wise-woman hit me with some sage advice, ‘Even our body changes every seven years.’

I went deep with that one. Seven years. It doesn’t sound that long, but if your body decides it’s time to change after seven years, then I’d better start listening up. Change sometimes makes an uncomfortable bedfellow. Mirrors can become damn right scary. And don’t get me started on the effects of gravity. But it is nature’s game, not ours, and we’d best learn to play nice.
Knowing when it’s time to move on keeps things flowing in the right direction. I realize I’ve been stuck for a while. After receiving rejection after rejection letter from numerous literary agents and a host of publishing companies (which, by the way look great pasted up on dart boards),  I had no idea where to go, or what to do with my books. My confidence was busted. I had done everything by the book to get a book published – it was as if I were swimming against the current. I felt like the salmon that didn’t make it to its breeding grounds. My body had been stuck too. Comfortably numb, I guess, afraid to leave the comfort zone – my prison of choice.

Then, I had a breakthrough. I thought maybe if I had a web presence, a literary agent would notice me. So I started looking into the possibility of blogging. I did market research, checked out blogs written by authors, scoured the websites, and realized the potential I had available to me by uploading my books to on-line bookstores like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the like. Suddenly, the flood gates opened and I was swimming with the current again. In my mind’s eye I saw no rejection letters and no need to write another query ever. I was free to write the stories I wanted to write, and birth words that could make a difference to this world, or change a life.
And when I look back at that timeline, I was stunned. Egad – it had been seven years.