Friday, March 27, 2009

WE'RE CELEBRATING!

Our son, Cory, left Kandahar, Afghanistan yesterday and is currently being debriefed in Cyprus, in the Mediterranean.

Though it's still in the Middle East, it means he's out of the war zone and on his way home in a few days.

As you can imagine, we're very relieved. But our hearts break for those families that won't see their loved one again. Cory knows that his deployment was difficult for me, his dad, and his two older brothers, Ron and Jamie. He understands loss. His brother Jack passed away in 1991 and his brother Jody passed away in 2006.



But he served his country without hesitation, and I suspect he'd go back if they ask him.

That's something we'll deal with if the time comes. Meanwhile, we're off to Jamaica at the end of April for Cory and Shannon's wedding. Did I mention how absolutely thrilled we are! Shannon is beautiful, intelligent and adorable!

Thanks so much for all the well wishes while Cory was deployed. Your encouragement and positive attitudes made the last 7 months bearable. In fact, the time seemed to fly by.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One More Book Signing.

I signed copies of my suspense thriller Dead Witness at Coles Bookstore in Pine Centre Mall, Saturday in Pr. George. I hate having my picture taken, so Robyn was a good sport and posed for me.

The staff at Coles are an outstanding bunch and always go out of their way to make me welcomed. I hope Chapters.Indigo realize what a terrific manager they have in Rochelle. She has a keen eye for hiring professional and knowledgeable people. Saturday's staff made my 4 hours a pleasure.

I hadn't even put out the candies, cookies and chocolates when a nice young man called Brent, stopped to ask me a few questions. He ended up buying the second copy sold that day. Judy and her husband, they have a cabin out at Cluculz Lake, bought the first one, setting the precedence for the rest of the day. The nicest people live in Prince George and the surrounding areas.

Cheryl, from the library's book club stopped by with her copy. She and 6 others are reading Dead Witness and will be doing a review shortly. That was a thrill to know.

Doris, a poet and fellow member of the Federation of BC Writers stopped by for a chat. It was amazing how many acquaintance we have in common and yet we'd never met before. Brad and Brenda, who also have a cabin out at Cluculz Lake were very kind and bought a copy. Cluculz Lake is 14 kms long and there are probably a few thousand residents that, even after 17 years, I've yet to meet.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stopped by and asked me some very good questions. Really kept me on my toes. Besides Cheryl, Judy and Brent, thanks to Amanda, Ed, Bill & Rosaleen, Nadine, Anna, Sandy, Melissa, and finally Steve and his son for buying a copy of Dead Witness. I think I scared poor Steve. Turns out we've had duplicate lives. We both lived in Maple Ridge, attended BCIT, Douglas College and SFU. How bizarre is that!

Thanks making Saturday such a great day, everybody.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy First Day of Spring

I'm signing copies of Dead Witness at Coles Bookstore in the Pine Centre Mall tomorrow starting at noon and lasting at least until 4 pm. If you're in the vicinity, please stop by. I'd love to chitchat. Signing books can be a lonely place, or not. The staff at Coles are great, and I know they'll make it enjoyable, but stop by anyway.

Cory's on his final countdown from his 7 month tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan. This is the crunch period. He'll be home before we know it; a matter of days.

Meanwhile, it's all about keeping the faith and believing we'll see him soon. God Bless all the troops serving in the Middle East.




Cory, LFAA Cdr, Capt Morris, WO Brisebois and LFAA RSM Hornbrook

Monday, March 16, 2009

Enough Time

I'm scared. People keep sending me links to blogs about anything related to writing. I've listed many of them under My Blog List, but if I add more -- I can barely get through the ones listed now. And that's frustrating. If life were fair, while DH made me breakfast every morning, I'd read through the first half. Then finished before 10 am. After that, I'd spend the rest of the day writing. If life were perfect, that is.

I shouldn't really blame it on life, it's actually the sun's fault. If there were more daylight, more hours, maybe I'd get caught up. Although, there is more daylight in Alaska come summer and I've heard it hasn't helped the Alaskans much. It almost drove Al Pacino's character temporarily insane in Insomnia (filmed in B.C, go figure).


I want the Matrix. I want to be plugged in every time I need knowledge. Imagine, I need to be an expert in investigative procedures, someone could shove an USP port into the back of my skull and voila... I know everything. Just like my children did when they were teenagers!


Maybe that's why I'm hook on the new series Dollhouse. They need a safe cracker expert and they upload the necessary persona into dear Echo's empty brain. What a concept!


"The show stars Eliza Dushku (Faith from "Buffy") as a woman who tries to get out of a jam by signing up to work for the Dollhouse, a shadowy organization that wipes away the personalities of its living dolls so they can be "imprinted" with whatever the latest client desires. Now known as Echo, she might be the world’s greatest date one week, or the world’s greatest safecracker the next. And in between each assignment, she’s a childlike blank, wandering around the Dollhouse without a care in the world."
Or maybe, if I could go without sleep....

In the long run, I suppose I should be happy being a jack-of-all-writing-related-things. I know a little bit about every aspect of the creative process. Okay, so I cannot remember all the Greek I studied at SFU, I can barely remember Proust, Tolstoy or Chaucer, but really, how could they help me today? Other than flood my brain with more unanswered premises.

Luckily, I may not be the brightest bulb in the electrical plant, or even the Nikolai Amosov of my generation -- BUT -- I can write dang good suspense novels.

We all can do something well. What's your specialty?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

GERUNDS

If you're perplexed about gerunds, here's a quick breakdown:
  1. A gerund is a verbal ending in -ing that is used as a noun.
  2. A gerund phrase consists of a gerund plus modifier(s), object(s), and/or complement(s).
  3. Gerunds and gerund phrases virtually never require punctuation.

Examples:

I'm writing my way to old age. (gerund acts as the verb because it's the action)
I plan to spend the day writing. (gerund is the direct object receiving the action)
They call her the writing lady. (gerund acts as the adjective and describes the object)

Here the same statements but without the gerunds:

I plan to write my way to old age.
I have to write today.
Apparently, all she does is write.


The reason I'm mentioning gerunds is because they seem to have lost favour with many editors. Why that is, I don't know. Unless it's because there are cases where a gerund is less effective than a more active verb and it seems easier to banish all gerunds.

But is it about clarity or fabs? If you rewrite the sentence, removing the gerund, is the meaning clearer? Has the sentence more impact? Is it easier to visualize the action? Or are you satisifying the recent crave?

Would removing the gerunds below, make the statements more effective?

1. And the truly galling thing, he hadn't for one moment suspected her.
2. Her instincts were unerring.
3. During the night, rain destroyed the evidence.

If done right, anything can work. As long as you don't eliminate that special voice that is yours alone.

Below, would removing the gerund make the statements less complicated?

1. The day was taking forever to end, plunging him deeper and deeper into despair.
2. Bruised, bleeding and in pain, she found stabbing the knife deep into his chest ... satisfying.
3. Getting up off the couch, walking to the table proved difficult.

It's all about choices. And sadly, that the last word generally sides with your editor. However, there will always be those who can take your work and improve upon it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't write naturally. There will always be those who say there are no rules. I'm of the mind that following the no rules rule makes sense if you first learn the mechanics of writing. And that happens by the three power moves: reading, studying and writing. I'm still shaking my head over those who profess that they never anything but their own work.

This is not to say that all gerunds are valuable. There are times when cutting the gerund makes sense. The trick is to know the difference.

If you not familiar with nouns, objects or adjectives, my apologies; none of the above will much sense.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR...


If you're hesitating to write your first novel because the task seems too daunting, wait a second. Everything else you were determined to do got done. You got through all those other tough phases: school, the first job, advance studies, not to mention the first time you ventured out of your comfort zone and did something totally out of character. You know what I'm talking about.

Too often wanabee writers tell me they're going to write a book. Years pass. When I run into them again, their excuse is there's no time to write, or life got in the way. Or they plan on starting as soon as ....

When I hear that I recognize that the desire and the need is separate.

If you're of the second following: you need to write but you're afraid of what it will take, here's a secret. No one who writes a novel didn't feel the way you do at this precise moment. The difference is they took that first step. Either they sat down with a piece of paper, a keybroad or whatever and wrote the first paragraph. They just did it. Maybe they didn't schedule it in, or make a pact. They let it happen.

If your desire to write is more of a need to express yourself, let it happen. Dont't slow down the process by giving it much thought. You don't need to contemplate the consequences. You sit down at your computer, open a new page in your processor, and start typing.

You can go the library route and read every self-help book you can. (That's not to say this isn't a good idea after you have your first draft completed) You can even do a search on the best How to Write a Novel books. You can take a class. Find an author who will mentor you. But in the end, they'll all say the same thing: write.

"I have this excellent idea for a book." I wouldn't even venture to guess how many times I've heard that.

What separates the above statement from someone who takes the next step? I don't really care. We spend too much time giving credence to those who are brave enough to move on. Don't write a novel because you want me to believe you're not talking through your hat. Write to satisfy the need to express yourself. Do you think a painter spends his life saying, "One day I'm going to paint a picture" ? Not likely.

It doesn't even have to be good writing. That will come in time through edits, revisions and rewrites. The real question is, do you continue to ignore the need or do you finally succumb to the sheer joy obtainable through the simple act of writing?

Please allow some joy in your life. Take that step and start writing.


* Unless you absolutely have to, never show your first draft to anyone *

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DOES LITERATURE AFFECT our LIVES?



"If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me," you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you want to party; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due -- if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

"The Story of English" Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil pgs. 99-100 Penquin Books 81986