Sunday, September 25, 2011

.....But make time to read this one!

Home again after a weekend of much needed down time.  On Friday I was worried I might not feel well enough for a girls weekend as I had to leave work early Friday morning with a booming headache and some chills.   But getting caught up on some rest and the prospect of time spent with friends helped ensure the get together kept on track.  Four of us hooked up early Saturday and spent a great 24 hours together.  Thanks to Cathy, Donna and Bec for lots of laughs and good discussions!   Two rounds of “Sequence” kept us all in stitches as our two teams sparred for supremacy.  Great fun and hopefully a rematch in the near future!

I also managed to finish reading a wonderful book – “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay, recommended to me by a fellow book lover at work – thanks Maureen!   Normally I find it very difficult to read stories built upon World War II’s inhumanity to the Jewish people,  and this story was heart breaking at times and tears were shed more than once.  But at the same time this is the type of event re-telling which can bring these horrendous experiences to life and give honour to so many lives needlessly lost; I'm glad I read it.    The writer expertly crafts her story by switching time frames from Paris in the present day to Paris of July 1942 and weaves together the lives of young girl Sarah and grown American journalist Julia.  I highly recommend it, but keep some Kleenex handy and at the end of it you may want to read up on the events of Vel d’Hiv.

As well during the weekend I jotted down some notes and thoughts for our upcoming third book, the second centering around Paul and Dorothy. So, fear not Pam, thoughts of our next collaboration are never far away.

Speaking of Pam I see some email from her sitting in my inbox, so I should see what she has been up to; although I’m sorry she wasn’t able to make Word on The Street; I know that’s a favourite event of hers.

Have a great week and make time to read!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

So many books...

So many books to read and not enough time. Tuesday evening saw me at the library for an event that was just my style.

“An Evening for Book Lovers”. This event was facilitated by the librarians from different libraries. They introduced eighteen books that they recommended for either personal enjoyment or book clubs. There are quite a few book clubs in Oakville. Of the eighteen books I would read at least ten of them. But when would I get any writing done. I am half way through the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Good stuff.

Wednesday evening I am attending Sheridan College from7-10pm and I have loads of homework. Super teacher and I enjoy her style. I have a book review due November and the book I have picked is by Vicki Delaney. GOLD FEVER. Really enjoyed it so must read it again to get all the details for my review.

Journaling and writing 5-10 pages every week for reading to the class is also on my agenda this week.

Liz has solved all her computer issues and is taking a well deserved girls weekend vacation. We are planning in October to try and meet weekly. At least that is my plan and I am waiting to see if Liz agrees. We need the time to move things along a little quicker. Easy for me to say when I don’t get up at the godforsaken time of 4.30am that Liz is wont to do!!! I am not sure who her psychiatrist is!!

Tomorrow I wanted to attend the Toronto “Word on the Street” festival that is held on this w/e every September at Queen’s Park. I have poured over the schedule in the newspaper and see dozens of booths I would like to attend but I can’t make it this year. I will just have to get my homework done instead.... Linwood Barclay will be there and Vicki Delaney and loads of super writers I want to listen to.

Ok ,I have stopped whining.

Talk soon,



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Technical Problems are Temporary - Please Stand By

Yesterday I planned to come home after work, put finishing touches on Body Perfect and then ship it off to have some bound copies printed up.  

Well, things didn't go exactly as planned.  Instead of sending printing electronically to Staples, I had to physically visit Staples and buy a new PC!   The dreaded blue screen of death finally became permanent yesterday.  

So now I am adjusting to a new computer - Windows 7 - and keyboard (not sure I'm in love with the keyboard, too reminiscent of a laptop  keyboard and I'm not a fan of those.  And now I am attempting to get my Office Suite 2007 re-installed, but having some problems there as well. 

And, oh...just to make it even more fun, the flash drive where I keep ALL of my writing, plus other important documents,  won't register on this new computer.   Ask me how panicky that makes me feel!

I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to try before I end up having to upgrade to Office 2010 just to get back in business.  Fortunately, I store very little on my actual computer, aside from some computer games, so I should be able to restore things, IF my plans work out!

Enjoyed a much too brief coffee break with Pam today; she stopped by work this morning.  Attending a writing class and actively networking are agreeing with her!  More excitement in her step and I dare say she looks as if a few years have disappeared!  Have to admit she did pale considerable when I had to 'fess up about the problems with the flash drive!

So stay tuned for updates and I'll do my best to be back in business as soon as possible!



Monday, September 19, 2011

The cart before the horse!

I just love autumn. Cool nights but amazing sunny days. The trees are just starting to turn, but very slowly this year. I like fall clothes and making soup and stews and the new shows on TV will get a critique as to whether I will waste my time watching or not. The new books are in the stores and libraries and authors are on book tours.

Liz emailed last night to say she was finished with the revisions for draft three. Yipee! but, it seems writers are never satisfied with their work, nor should they be, so another read through for typo's or anything that is glaringly awful and then it is off to the printers and I will send out some query letters. We have a few readers lined up to give some much needed critiques.

I still can't get used to the fact that when I get up in the morning I don't have to go to work. I still read the paper with my breakfast and then..... I have to think about what day it is. I finish cleaning up by 9am and the kettle is on again for another coffee. I could weed the garden or wash windows but that does not appeal to me. I maybe need a dog to walk or take up swimming. Last week I did start an evening course at the local college. So the next fourteen weeks every Wednesday night from 7-10pm I will be learning "Crafting a novel". I always did put the cart before the horse. So, better get my homework done now that I am back in school.

Talk later.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Productivity of a different kind!

Yes, it was a very productive day although I was not so productive as Liz needs to be!!

We both had our hard copies of changes all ready to compare and change and I must admit Liz had been more observant that I. Once we leave our ego's at the door we have no problem telling each other that we don't like a particular word or sentence. All in all a fine day. We have decided to keep going with this but it will most likely be online as it gets really difficult getting together. We will start this week and see how it works out.

The synopsis is coming along but slowly and my list of agents is a work in progress. Need much more research.

I have been following Louise Penny's blog covering her book tour. Her new book that I posted here last week (A Trick of the Light) has made the New York Times best seller list at #4 and the Canadian Globe and Mail's list at #7. Congratulations Louise. We are all so proud of you.

Weather still warm for September. Long may it last.

Talk soon,

Half Way There!

Its just past 5 pm on a glorious sunny Saturday.  Pam has been here most of the day as we spent several hours revising the 2nd draft of Body Perfect.  The day was extremely productive – most have been the yummy Greek yogurt Pam brought along -  we managed to review half the manuscript.  So now there is even more of a push to get to the end of this revision and then send the manuscript for binding.

On a different note, this week saw me pay a visit to my doctor for a prescription renewal…a deed I had been delaying for as long as possible in order to avoid the dreaded words, “You’re overdue for a physical.”  Before we got to that stage though, I was informed it was time for a tetanus shot.  Not a problem; it was even combined with a pertussis vaccine.  Vaccination needles I can handle, preparations for a physical are another story.

Scrolling through my electronic chart on her Mac computer, my good doctor realized it’s been nearly three years since the last tune up – er check up.  I’ve almost perfected the avoidance technique where that is concerned, if only I didn’t need a prescription renewed!  The check list started; mammogram, bone density test, and then with a glint in her eye – and I knew it was coming – she handed me the poop package for the colon cancer check test.   She tried to be empathetic “You really don’t like this do you.”  Don’t know where she got that impression. They make it sound so easy – a test you can do in the comfort of your own home without the need of a hospital colonoscopy.  Really.  Have you read what’s involved?   At least with a colonoscopy there are sedatives and I don’t have to look!

Place several layers of toilet paper in the toilet bowl to collect the you know what.  I don’t know about you, but if the idea of using a blanket of toilet paper to ensure the deposit doesn’t sink to the bottom of the bowl seems unlikely, you need an alternate plan.  Suffice it to say that after 2 previous rounds of this fun , I’ve become adept at using disposable pie plates……

 Use the applicator  (??? – its not make-up we’re talking about here) stick to collect a small sample.  Oh, but wait, not just one little dab, but two!  From a different location – like next door?     Smear a sample where indicated on the handy dandy little collection package.  And just in case you forget, you are reminded to flush the toilet when done.   Finished now?  No, you get to repeat this process two more times!  Then you plop – why not – the whole thing in an envelope, dutifully signed and sealed and put it in the mail.   This is a new feature since the last time – I have to admit its preferable to dropping it off at a lab where all in the waiting room know exactly  what you’re handing over.   So, deed is done and the poo goes in an envelope to a PeeOh Box somewhere in a big city.  Glad I don’t have to work in THAT mailroom.

Well that’s my tale of woe for this week, now I just have to decide when to begin the test  and, of course, book the appointment for the physical.  The mammogram, like the poop test, is a necessary evil and a tool to help me stay healthy and while I  am trying to make light of it, really I am grateful we live in a country where these tests are readily available and paid for by the government.

By now Pam should be home; hope she’s not too pooped from our day of writing!  :-)


Monday, September 5, 2011

The rose of all the world....

I have never been a great lover of poetry or been able to write it. I feel it is on a level with algebra. Never could quite understand how letters could equal numbers. Now before you start saying “What a Philistine that woman is” there are a few poems that have stuck with me through the years and this one by Hugh MacDiarmid 1892—1978 a significant Scottish poet, is a favourite.

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet -- and breaks the heart

-- Hugh MacDiarmid, "The Little White Rose"

I am not in favour of MacDiarmid’s politics as he was a communist and maybe a Nazi sympathizer, but he did have a great love for Scotland.

I must make a concerted effort to read more poetry.. My father, Alister James was a poet but none of his talents in that field rubbed off on me. He wrote mainly in Scottish vernacular or the Doric .His subject was the family and life as he saw it.

My sister Caroline Mackie did a wonderful job of putting all his work in a website for what would have been his hundredth birthday earlier this year. Check it out for a good explanation of the Scottish lingo.

Liz and I have been ploughing through our manuscript and I stayed up late last night to finish my corrections and revisions. When we get together on Saturday we can finalize our corrections.

I am halfway through the synopsis and have changed the wording at least ten times. It was explained to me today by Melodie Campbell.( author, humorist, instructor and professional speaker) over a cup of coffee that synopsis writing is a bit like writing a short story. Check out her website and new book.” Rowena through the Wall”

Cooler weather and a hint of fall. Love this time of year.
Talk soon,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week's End

Yes indeed, another Friday and the start of the summer’s last long weekend.  How the heck did THAT happen?   Seems like only last week I was looking forward to the start of Spring!  I’m beginning to understand now the lament of my parents and their peers regarding the ever accelerating passage of time.  And I think Pam’s retirement has brought that into closer focus recently as well. 

Pam is certainly looking more rested and relaxed than a few short weeks ago and I think her idea of some regular time at the local library is terrific.  It will provide a semi-structured routine for her and I’m sure with no interruptions she’ll have that synopsis done in no time!    I’m anticipating sitting down with Body Perfect and re-reading now from the first and, as Pam noted, make suggestions as I go and see how they compare with any notes or corrections she may note.  And as this is a long weekend I hope there will be some time to do just that!

A warm and oppressive day here in Ontario, but looking at the long term forecast we are definitely heading into more fall-like temperatures next week.  With apologies to those who love the sun and heat – I’m looking forward to those days when a jacket or sweater are needed and the sandals are put away for another year.  Fall Fairs abound on the weekends now and school starts up again on Tuesday – definitely signs of the change in seasons.

It will be good to have a day with Pam and get back into the writing groove; we are both more than anxious to see Body Perfect in a bound format similar to Madelaine.  Then it will be available for friends to read and provide feedback – already the waiting list is growing.   You’ll be the first to know when its off to the printers.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, be safe, count your blessings and…read a good book!



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Making plans

Today I actually had to put on some regular clothes. Making myself fairly presentable and adding lip gloss I was ready to face the office that I had left only a month before. After the usual Thursday Pizza lunch with Liz and Cheryl we caught up with all the gossip and then I went to visit with everyone I had worked with for the last ten years.

In the preceding month I had agonized about whether I had made a mistake about retiring. I missed the usual routine of going to work every day and being with my friends and colleagues. It was great to see them and catch up but when I left, and I could leave, the pressure was off. What I think I need to do is add more structure to my day.

Driving home, and not in traffic for a change I decided to go to the library. I have not been to the library for many years so I applied for a new card and walked around and admired the changes. This library is very up to date with all kind of events going on. Book clubs and seminars are scheduled in the evenings. Many computers to use for those that don’t have the use of one at home and an area for using a laptop. As well as books you can borrow e-readers and cd’s. I have decided to go three days a week with my trusty laptop and work in relative peace and quiet with no interruptions. I will let you know of my progress there.

Tonight I have started the final polishing of Body Perfect. Liz and I will each correct and make notes on a manuscript and then when we meet on the 10th we can make the changes we need. When I am not doing the revisions I will be working on the hated synopsis. I have done a load of reading lately on how best to tackle writing a 300 page book into a 2 page synopsis that is going to knock the socks off an agent. Wish me luck.

We are now into my favourite time of year and the weather is just fine. Still rather warm but autumn is not far away. Others have not been so fortunate. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, flooding and tropical storms have been raging in many parts of the country. I rather enjoy watching weather but it is best from the safety of my living room on television.

New season, new way of spending my days, doing something I love. Now Liz needs to retire as well so that we can rattle these books out faster. Must be nice to be so young!
Talk soon,

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