When writing is sooo worth it

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'll admit it: my last manuscript put me through hell. Two complete rewrites, a cast of thousands who needed to be sent away without any supper and making my heroine 15 instead of 35 threw me for a loop sometimes. Yet somehow, I survived.

Now if only I could tell you that the book is for sale right now. ;)

But this post is about those times when the writing works. If I knew how to create the same elements so the words would flow so freely my fingers barely keep up ("I Can't Type Fast Enough"), I'd sell it so that everyone could put their own Penguins of Panic or other vessels of self-doubt to rest. But I don't. All I can tell you is writing only works when you work at it.

And that's what I tend to forget sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. Writing the first draft of anything is a major step, but it's not the last step. How easily we forget that sometimes the words come out of our head a little wonky, or the wrong character is named in a particular scene...or a particular scene is, how you say, unseemly.

That's when you need to go back and weed out the nasty stuff, nurture the good stuff and see where things might improve, whether by cutting out a few hundred characters or taking out that dance number in the middle of chapter 7. Especially when the hero and heroine are supposed to be in hiding.

Then, if you're really lucky, you might spot something that you'd missed before -- like a hint at how your hero's needs have changed or perhaps your heroine's motivation wasn't hers at all, but a promise she made to someone else way before he came along. And no, this isn't a spoiler for my manuscript. ;)

Now I'm faced with the dilemma of what to take on next after having achieved the "huzzah" of a fabulous run. Will anything else I take on live up to the way I felt with this last project.

Yeah, no problem.

If I could do it before, certainly I can do it again. Right? Right? Hmm...maybe I should take a break and watch Melrose Place Season 2. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:41 PM 2 comments

Stuck recap: Episode 7

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This week is the infamous rock-climbing excursion. Or, as the DH calls it, "one very small step for Bonnie, one giant leap for everyone else." LOL

This was a hard one for me. Between my fear of heights and my frozen right shoulder, I just felt couldn't do it. And, as I so eloquently said on national television, that "f***ing sucks." (Sorry Mom.) It was great to see everyone give rock climbing a try, especially Mary, who was even more scared than I was about going up the wall.

And yeah, there was a little drama between Mary and I on this episode. Okay, maybe a lot of drama.

Ugh. Ever heard of Watergate? Well, the production team refers to this episode as the start of Ductgate -- a huge dilemma brought on by a thoughtless comment made by little old me. And the reason I call it thoughtless is simple: I didn't think it would hurt anyone's feelings. That was never my intent.

If you didn't see it, let me try to explain. Of course, this is my version of events; I'm sure I'd appear even worse if anyone else told it. Especially if interpretive dance is used. ;)

After a really lousy experience (for me anyway) rock climbing, we all gathered to talk about how the past week had been. You could feel Mary's stress from about five miles away. And really, who wouldn't be stressed changing jobs, trying to move, trying to work out and eat right all while being a wife, mother and dog owner?

So Mary was telling us how her daughter was driving her crazy one evening, and I, feeling the need to lighten things up, suggested that she try putting duct tape over her daughter's mouth to keep her quiet.

It was meant as a joke. And it totally backfired.

Now I'm sure a bunch of mothers (or even pet owners who feel I was way out of line) who watched tonight's episode are now burning photos of me (or crude drawings) and carrying big sticks while on their way up my driveway, ready to call me names and throw rolls of duct tape at my head.

And this isn't the last we're gonna hear about this...my most uncomfortable on-camera conversation happens next week. Thank goodness I've worked on my core strength -- I'm gonna need it when Mary beats the crap out of me while showing off her new tattoo!

Have I mentioned yet that groups make me kind of uncomfortable? Oy...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:57 PM 7 comments

Nora Robert's Den

Monday, June 23, 2008

I looked at the calendar this weekend and realized that the RWA National Conference is approaching much faster than ever before. I'm excited and nervous and basically wondering what the heck I'm going to wear. ;)

Which reminds me, thank you to all who are voting for me, I truly appreciate it! Please help me win clothes in time for Nationals by voting every day until June 30:

http://www.thebay.com/stores/shop/content/en/bay/contest_reveal_fashion#storyID=8393496
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Nora Robert's den.

You know how I can't resist celebrating life with a song parody or two, so here's my take on the Bare Naked Ladies' Brian Wilson, titled Nora Roberts.

Flew to San Fran in the rain ten-thirty on a Tuesday night
Just to check out RWA Nationals
Call it proactive, call it attractive, call it hopeful
but I booked early and I paid full pop
Cause right now I am

Holding a pen, in Nora Robert’s den
Right now I’m holding a pen in Nora Robert’s den

Well I’m sitting here, waiting for the muse to come
And I’m thinking about, what to write about
Just listening and re-listening, to workshop tapes
And I’m wondering if Nora’s brought security out
Because I am

Holding a pen, in Nora Robert’s den
Right now I’m holding a pen in Nora Robert’s den

And if they wanna find me I’ll be behind the bookshelf
Holding releases from two thousand one-un-un
If this shelf tips over I’ll be crushed by nine titles, whoa oh-oh-oh
Talk about fun, fun, fun!

Holding a pen, in Nora Robert’s den
Right now I’m holding a pen in Nora Robert’s den

I had a dream that I wrote three hundred books
And though I was prolific
Agents wouldn’t give me a second look
Agents wouldn’t give me a second look, uh-oh
Somebody help me, give me a second look
Somebody help me, give me a second look
Somebody help me because I am

Holding a pen, in Nora Robert’s den
Right now I’m holding a pen in Nora Robert’s den

Flew to San Fran in the rain ten thirty on a Tuesday night
Just to check out RWA Nationals
Call is proactive, call it attractive, call it hopeful
but I booked early and I paid full pop

And here's the original if you need to get the song in your head:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:26 AM 2 comments

Stuck recap: Episode 6

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Just give us a big tire and a hammer and who knows what the gals from Stuck will come up with!
Fitness Boot Camp was the activity of the day, and I was delighted to be able to finally participate with my Stuck sistahs once again. Of course, some of us enjoyed the day much better than others. ;)

Oh, what a tangled web competitiveness weaves. Funny thing is, I really enjoyed the FBC, as it was the first time that I felt that I could keep up with the others. Okay, maybe "keep up" is the wrong phrase, but at least I got on the scoreboard.

What disappointed me most was the parts they didn't show: me doing a full sit up and push up -- without dying! Squee! Can you believe our little Magnolia held a squat for over two minutes without heels on? Way to go sistah!

And kudos must go out to Tracy and Clarice. Tracy deserves it for allowing a camera crew into her home after a hurricane went through it (or, as she says, theater season) and Clarice gets a big round of applause for getting rid of some of those outfits that the 70s have been trying to get back for at least two decades! Hats off to her daughter Simone for wrenching that one dress out of her mother's hands! LOL


Don't we all look skinnier already? I think that's the best part of watching the show: seeing the changes in everyone. And remind me never to wear my hair like that again -- and to burn that bra. Ack! What was I thinking?

Oh, and rock climbing is next week, which may prove to be a bit of a drama-fest. But you didn't hear that from me...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:44 PM 1 comments

In dire need of new clothes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Okay, I really shouldn't complain, but it appears that one of the benefits of working out regularly (and embarrassing yourself on national television) is weight loss...or loss of inches...or simply being able to pull off your pants or shorts without having to unbutton them.

Long story short: The DH and I were going grocery shopping (yes, coupons were used) and I decided to "travel light" and not bother with my purse. So I stuck my keys and lip balm into my pocket and carried my handy-dandy coupon holder.

So there I was, feeling free without being dragged down by a handbag, prancing up and down the cereal aisle when the DH said: "You're losing your shorts."

"Don't you mean marbles?" I replied, reaching up for a package of cereal that was on sale (and I had a coupon for).

And that's when I felt the breeze.

There I was, in the local grocery store, showing the world that I really like colorful underwear. My shorts had travelled about six inches down sometime between the dairy products and canned goods. Another inch and they would have been past the point of no returns or exchanges. And now I had the attention of a few shoppers.

"Nice problem to have," one cranky shopper said as she walked by.

And yeah, I guess it is. ;)

So here's where I need your help. I'm entered in a contest to win a $5,000 wardrobe -- and I need to get the highest number of votes to win. So please, if you have the time or inclination to vote once a day, every day until June 30, it will mean that I will be able to grocery shop without exposing myself ever again. Or at least not unintentionally. ;)

Here's the link: http://www.thebay.com/stores/shop/content/en/bay/contest_reveal_fashion#storyID=8393496

Thanks for your help! My neighbors will really appreciate it!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:51 AM 4 comments

Stuck recap: Episode 5

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No, I didn't get kicked off Stuck Island for this episode, I'd actually re-sprained my ankle (which was initially a victim of ju jitsu) by slipping on some ice and stayed home instead of risking a hip hop inspired injury.

So the gals shook what their mamas gave them and ate some more. Is it just me or do we eat an awful lot? LOL

We also got to know more about the other gals in the group, which is nice since it was looking like the Bonnie and Nicole show for a while (not that we were complaining, mind you). Who knew that Maxine was living with a miniature drill sergeant? Little Jory was totally putting Maxine through the paces...no wonder she always shows up at our group activities winded!

And only Magnolia would go tobogganing with high-heeled boots on! Gotta love a woman with fashion integrity, no matter what she's up to.

It was great to see Clarice reconnect with her crazy sisters. Okay, maybe crazy isn't the right word, but knowing Clarice, I'd say those gals know how to have fun. ;) And Simone, Clarice's gorgeous daughter, deserves a medal for making her Mom apply to be on the show so that she could shed the pounds that were holding her back from living life to the fullest.

As far as I know, no one was injured in the taping of the hip hop class. And no one took the cute instructor home for private lessons. ;)

Next week is an episode I'm totally looking forward to: fitness boot camp. It feels kind of weird actually writing that, but it's true. While things got kind of competitive with the other gals, this group activity was one of my favourites.

Stay tuned!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:01 PM 2 comments

Writing Meme

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Leah Braemel kinda sorta tagged me, so I thought I'd give this meme a try before I head off to Saint John, New Brunswick. Woo hoo! I'm leaving the laptop behind, so things will be pretty darn boring over here until the weekend.

Okay, here it goes:

1.List one of your writing goals for the month of June and how likely you are to accomplish it.
Ack! Since I'm behind on my May goal of outlining my next work in progress, I'll make that my new June goal. As things look mighty fine for the rest of the month (even with the birthday that pushes me to 41), I see this goal as a totally doable one. Yeah, but don't quote me on it. ;)

2.What genre or subject would you like to write about that you aren't currently?
Wow, I never really thought much about the genre I wanted to write in; I'm writing the books that are in me. As I've tried both women's fiction and young adult, I much prefer young adult so that I can channel my inner 16-year-old. I wouldn't mind dabbling with a mystery, but my first attempt was so bad that my betas knew whodunit on page 3.

3.What is your writing lifestyle, habits ? How do you manage the interruptions with your writing? HOW do you stay positive? Believe in your writing success?

a) I'm a writer by trade (magazine articles and advertising copy) so I tend to be at the computer whenever I'm awake. One thing that has really helped with finding time for my writing is not having children to raise. ;) The DH can pretty well manage on his own when I'm in "the zone." Working on something every day helps. Once you start taking breaks from it, you end up spending more time getting back into it than actually writing. Of course, there are times when you need to step away from your work, but that's not until you get that crappy first draft out.

b)Interruptions are inevitable; I keep spray cheese handy and tend not to answer the phone when I'm working to a deadline. It's my personal writing (the novels) that gets kicked to the curb when life gets busy. That's my main problem: I get distracted way too easily. For example, I could be working on that outline right now instead of doing this meme. ;)

c) I guess it's easy for me to stay positive because I can look at my clippings of past articles I've written. Of course, that's when I'll spot a typo. Le sigh. Keeping a happy file of notes from friends, family, editors, etc., gives me a place I can go to for encouraging words when I appear to be out of them.

d) Believing in writing success is a hard thing, especially when the more I learn about the business, the more that I realize it's not like The Love Boat after all. It's more like Fantasy Island, with Mr. Rourke waving a book contract at you, only you can't get to it because every other author on the island is in front of you, holding up drinks with paper umbrellas. Somehow, though, you have to believe that your dreams will happen. Perhaps without the paper umbrellas and Hollywood types.

4.Are you a pantser or plotter?
I'm a total pantser. Of course, that usually means I have a lot of rewriting to do when I get to the end, but I haven't been able to work the other way. I find writing by the seat of my pants lands me in places I never expected, and that can be really great...or not. At least I've stopped having my characters take meal breaks whenever I wasn't sure where a scene or chapter should go. ;)

5.Who are two of your favorite current authors and why?
I refuse to limit myself to two authors, and since my To Be Read pile is taller than my house, there are a bunch of relatively current authors who I have yet to enjoy. A bunch of them, I will admit, are members of the Toronto Romance Writers.

6.How does your family feel about your writing?
The houseplants are rather indifferent, but I'm the luckiest woman alive with the husband I have. He does laundry. He dusts. He cleans. He can even make scrambled eggs. He's the one who holds the house together while I tap away at the keyboard, sometimes into the wee hours. I look forward to the day I can dedicate my first published novel to him, because he totally deserves that and much, much more. The cat does get demanding when he needs some attention, but it's good to take a break every once in a while. Especially since he can play fetch. Such a clever kitten.

And, in true Bonnie fashion, I'm not going to tag anyone. But if you do end up doing it, lemme know so we can come see your answers!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:50 PM 3 comments

To those who can

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Not only was this weekend stinking hot, it was also filled with a ton of lessons to be learned along the way.

First and foremost, my muse insisted on a break. She even packed a tiny bag, stole Eileen Cook's Unpredictable off of my to-be-read shelf and ran away. I really hope she comes back, mainly because I want to read that book. Le sigh.

Oh, to be a muse...

Then, since I had nothing better to do (lawn mowing just couldn't be done in this heat), I cleared out my inbox. It's amazing how a few months can really make an email seem less important...or more important when you discover that you've missed an important piece of information, like a deadline!

And today, I took a belly dancing class. What fun! What a workout! The instructor made it look so easy, but now I have these "oh they're gonna hurt tomorrow" feelings in some muscle groups. Like, everywhere.

I liked it so much, I may just sign up for a weekly class. Yeah, I know, talk about crazy. But I really liked the scarves with the jingly bits that we got to wear. And the instructor wore these really nice flared pants with slits at the bottom that showed off her calves. And I feel that my calves are worthy of such pants. My abdomen, however, needs a bit more work. Hence the classes.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Out there are many people who can do things that I can't, and I think that's pretty cool. Why? Because I can choose to learn from them, like with belly dancers and published authors, or let them continue without me, like our garbage collectors and brain surgeons.

Seriously, with the Internet and distance learning and the number of how-to shows out there, you can learn to do just about anything without leaving your home. You can even learn to leave your home, or try to if you have a fear of your driveway or next-door neighbor.

Speaking of neighbors, I'm three sleeps away from heading to Saint John, New Brunswick (where all my snail mail contest entries go, I hope i can visit the postal sorting station) to lead a workshop with a cool group of people. It's gonna be brilliant! Of course, I still have to fit five gazillion items into two suitcases -- luckily the DH has offered to assist in this and other preparatory measures.

You'd think he was trying to get rid of me or something.

Speaking of time away, this small excursion also means that I will be away from the Internet from Wednesday to Friday. Eek! I know, this is going to be hard for me, but I'll survive. So my Stuck recap for this week's episode won't be up until Saturday. Just in case you're regularly stopping by to get the dirt or lack thereof. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:50 PM 0 comments

Stuck recap: Episode 4

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Finally -- an episode where I'm just lingering in the background like a giddy wallflower. ;)

Okay, I don't know about you, but didn't you feel a little bit stressed when you saw all that Tracy and Mary have going on? It made me want to lie down with a soft blankie...and a small bowl of popcorn.

Seriously though, how do they do it all? They must have magic beans or a special timepiece like Hermione had in Harry Potter. And Clarice was finally able to make it to a workout, so now her friends and coworkers can stop teasing her about getting kicked off "Stuck Island."

No, the show is more like the song Hotel California: we can never leave.

Of course, since the focus wasn't on me this episode (I'll get over it one day), there's really no "behind the scenes" stuff to dish out. All I can say is that the DH was totally horrified by the state of Tracy and Todd's kitchen. And I found it interesting that Mary left her boots at the gym, and then her daughter left her gloves at school. Coincidence or genetics? The jury's still out on that.

Just when you thought Mary had enough going on already, she ended up getting a job -- in another freaking city! Oh yeah, so let's just add an 1-1/2-hour commute, looking for and selling a home and staging it all so they make millions to Mary's already jam-packed schedule. Oy! The gal must have a body double go to the office for her or something, don't you think?

Speaking of thinking, here are some Mary quotes:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:02 PM 0 comments

Me and my muse

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Okay, it looks like my muse and I are on speaking terms again, so I'll keep this short so I can get back to the WIP. Apparently getting away from her on Monday and most of yesterday did wonders for our relationship.

When I returned home from seeing the relatives last night, she was waiting at the computer desk for me, smiling and looking like she might actually have missed me.

So I really don't want to mess things up by surfing the net when I could be getting pages done.

Have you hugged your muse today? And, if you don't have a muse, how about a loved one?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:35 AM 4 comments

Behind the Magic 8-ball

Monday, June 2, 2008

This is my 500th post and I apologize for the lack of paper umbrellas and tiki torches. They got held up at the border.

Oh, I had such grand plans for this post. It was going to be just like an A&E Biography, only without the video, celebrity comments and Bill Curtis narration. Still, it would have been really, really close. ;)

Little did I know when I started this blog that I would actually keep on going. I'm not that much of a long-term planner; I'm more of a by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal. Which probably explains the somewhat sporadic posting.

Hey, I try.

And trying is what this post is about, as I work my way toward yet another self-imposed deadline that's slipping through my fingers like artificial sweetener. Oh yeah, the laundry and sorting through the piles on my desk is done, but the one task I wanted to complete by today is nowhere close to completion. And what makes matters worse is that I need to leave the computer in order to finish up another task, which is for a paying client and can't be delayed.

Hmm. Maybe that's why I find it so easy to miss my own deadlines. It's not like I'm paying myself. Heck, it's not like anyone's paying me to work on my novels. Well, not yet.

What scares me the most is what will I do when I get a contract for a book I haven't written yet? Will I suddenly be able to pour out words so quickly that my fingers will have a hard time keeping up? Or will it be just like it is now? You know, a total party. ;)

So I'm behind on the Magic 8-ball. But maybe a journey away from the computer is something that my muse needs. After all, she's been working really hard at ignoring me and telling me that everything I've written over the past week is about as exciting as dust. Le sigh.

And when I asked my own Magic 8-ball if this trip downtown would be good for me, it replied with the ever-so-useful: Better not tell you now.

Great. And how is your Monday?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:00 AM 3 comments