Resume-able skills

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Need to beef up your resume? Join the club.

But how can you filter through all of the websites, how-to books and words of wisdom passed down by someone you've met at the unemployment line? Which skills are must-haves for employers and which ones are best left off the page?

I dunno.

Then again, there are a lot of things that people do every day that can quickly be turned into resume-able skills. Don't feel restricted by what you think those action-oriented descriptions mean, it's time to think outside of the parallelogram! All you need is a dash of confidence and a heap of irony to make this work for you in an interview situation.

Are you the type of person who can't stand lengthy conversations about nothing in particular?
Your skill: a results-driven attitude

Are you constantly worried about your bank balance?
Your skill: bottom-line thinking

Can you find ways to stay on the couch for an entire weekend?
Your skill: effective resource management

Did you file your taxes on time last year?
Your skill: organized and adept at time-sensitive projects

Did you at least file your taxes?
Your skill: organized

Do you have season tickets for anything?
Your skill: long-range planning

Can you see a plot twist coming on your favourite show before the first commercial break?
Your skill: beyond-the-curve thinking

Like screaming at other drivers when you're behind the wheel?
Your skill: hands-on team leadership

Like screaming at other drivers when you're on the sidewalk?
Your skill: suited to leading off-site teams

With just a few of these skills on your spiffy new resume, you're sure to be called in to interview for that dream job.

Just don't use me as a reference, please and thanks.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 5:42 PM 6 comments

Stranger than fiction

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Okay, I've been so swamped with stuff to do that I totally missed Mike's initial announcement for his cool new contest: write a blog entry about why 205 is his new favourite number. Click here for all the deets.

So here's my shot at fame and one of four (if over 205 people enter) fabulous prizes:

Mike's New Favourite Number
As he ran the pencil over the blank top page of the notepad a few times, an image began to appear. Three numbers, a hyphen, then four more: 555-2387.

The missing area code didn't matter because he recognized the seldom-used number immediately. It meant that his wife knew about Eddie.

Not that Mike intended to keep it a secret, but the man had spent the last 17 years in hiding. It was a simple case of a jaywalking gone wrong. Despite the warnings of friends and family, Mike and Eddie enjoyed crossing the street a block before the lights. It made them feel cool.

Old man Vernor didn't have a chance on that snowy day. The two men--at that awkward age when some decisions had been made, but much larger ones were ahead--darted out onto the street wearing their new painter's coveralls. They blended perfectly into their surroundings.

The maroon Buick swerved and slammed into a light post, killing the old man instantly.

Eddie and Mike fought against the twisted metal to get the door open, but it was too late.

"Get outta here!" Eddie screamed at his friend. A siren could be heard approaching as a crowd started to spill out of the buildings and onto the snow-laden street.

Mike stood for a moment and considered his options. His friend had already been convicted of jaywalking twice; this time he'd land in jail.

"You go. I'll stay," he offered.

That was the last time Mike had seen Eddie--205 months ago.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:16 AM 3 comments

Holding out for better roles

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A good friend gave me the last season of The Brady Bunch for Christmas and asked me to let him know what happened on the last episode. He couldn't remember and it was driving him crazy. It was the one where Bobby sold the hair tonic that made Greg's hair turn orange before his high school graduation. I vaguely remembered the neighbour pulling off his wig to get the enterprising young Brady to leave him alone.

The odd thing was that Robert Reed, Mr. Brady himself, wasn't anywhere to be seen.

Turns out that dear Robert got out of his Brady Bunch contract before the series ended because he felt that the show was beneath him. Or something to that "I'm not settling for this crappy role anymore" effect. It hurt that he found being upstaged by seven children--including the addition of cousin Oliver--would make him want to leave the Brady nest early. But que sera sera I guess.

So what great acting venture did he take on next? The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.

Yeah, you read that correctly. The original after-school special that introduced a germ-free John Travolta to the world. It's a movie I know quite well since my friend Joanne and I happen to co-own a VHS copy of it. Hey, stop your snickering!

We celebrate the passage of time with occasional BITPB viewings. Some parts, such as the trip to the beach party in an incubator or the horrific hairstyle of the girl next door provide us with an odd sense of comfort. Others are too horrible to watch, so we distract ourselves with comments like:

"Stay away from him, you hussy! You've had more boys' hands on you than a washroom door handle."

"Nice shorts."

"If a plastic bubble collapsed in the forest and nobody was around to hear it, would it make a sound?"

"Oh no! He looks like Elmo's brother in that suit!"

"She's not good enough for you. Stop staring at her with those binoculars!"

If you haven't seen the film, you simply haven't lived. And don't ask me to lend you our copy. It's hard enough for Joanne and I to keep track of who has it with just the two of us. You'll just have to get your own. ;)

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:48 AM 0 comments

Better the devil you know...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The devil has knocked on my door a fair number of times. It's usually on Halloween and he has a flashlight and a pillow case filled with candy.

This time, however, the devil has shown up unannounced with a fistful of opportunities. All geared to lure me away from my delightful little RIP that edits so much better when I work on it every single day. I'm ashamed to admit that I fell for that evil guy's charms and have not done anything on my book since Sunday.

I even forgot all about Pancake Tuesday.

What did the devil do that was do darn devilish? It appeared like nothing really. Last week he encouraged a client to call me in for a few days of work so that I'd be in an office for five days in a row. Then he orchestrated some wild happenings with the content of the next Women Can Do Anything newsletter, which comes out March 6 -- very exciting times over here, let me tell you.

There is another reason why I was feeling the need for distraction and kind of caved into it. I was involved in an attempted robbery this past Sunday with my friend Michelle. As I was returning to her car after using a bank machine, a man approached me and came right up before I could shut the door. He looked like a man needing directions. He stood inside the door and told us he was desperate and said he didn't want to have to use "this" -- indicating the hand he had in his pocket, which could have held a gun. It was impossible to tell if there was one or not.

The man told us to hand over everything in our purses. He said it so calmly that we didn't understand what he meant at first, then he repeated himself.

Then something happened. Somehow I found the courage to push him away and shut the door. Michelle put down the door locks and the man got into his own car and drove away. Thankfully Michelle was able to drive us to my house so we could freak out over Diet Cokes.

The thing was, it was broad daylight and there were cars all around us. We were so freaking lucky that I didn't want to think about it, but it was a total wake-up call. There are so many what-ifs to this story that I can't go there.

All I know is that for that brief moment that guy made me very, very angry for not paying more attention to my surroundings. Sure, I was madder than a mad cow that this doofus wanted the $23.18 that was in my wallet at the time (plus some subway tokens) but the fact that I let him get THAT CLOSE was what scared me the most. And gave me the chutzpah to push him away.

Michelle covers the event in more detail here, if you're into that kind of thing. Her first version of the account is the way it should have happened. That is, if we were ninjas. ;)

For now, I'm just going to slow things down a little bit while I get my bearings back.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:23 PM 3 comments

Plot twists

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I dread doing outlines. It's probably because if I know where I'm going in a scene, I get there in about three lines. Not a good thing when you're trying to fill up over 300 manuscript pages.


They do make things easier when you're trying to think of where your characters need to go next and you're not allowed to use all-you-can-eat buffets, cozy bistros or situations where twelve new characters need to be added.

:::deletes latest coffee shop scene that suddenly appeared when she wasn't looking:::

That's not saying that I don't have a plan. There are character arcs, goals, motivations and conflicts aplenty. And the general idea of how it will all play out. But I'm a panster by nature. There is nothing more enjoyable for me than starting at Point A, sliding over to Z, L and Q and then picking up a Diet Coke before I head back to Point B.

I think it works. The responses to my queries will let me know for sure. ;)

In other news, this is the week when I am in demand. Headhunters, family members, clients I haven't heard from in a dog's age, editors and even an unsuccessful robber are all vying for my time (or handbag).

If this is the universe responding to my request for a sign that I'm on the right path, I got it--loud and clear.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:38 PM 3 comments

Hunger strike

Monday, February 19, 2007

After reading my first draft of the RIP, my lovely betas informed me that my main character had eaten so much throughout the book that there was no way the hero could sweep her off her feet in the last chapter.

When I reviewed their notes, it became apparent that my character would have weighed over 400 pounds by the tenth chapter. The beta intervention was absolutely necessary.

I had fallen prey to the "not sure what to do, so let's eat" method. But I didn't stop there. Here are just a few of the heinous first draft happenings that I am eradicating as I work through the RIP:

Cast of thousands
My first draft involved 148 characters -- or at least that's what it felt like. It was an equal-opportunity experience where all were welcome. And encourages to bring a posse of friends.

Total schmaltz
There is one line that makes me cringe and break into hysterics simultaneously at my poor attempt to add a more romantic feel to my novel. "His kisses took her to a place where dreams can come true." This line jumped off the page like Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a gay pride parade; it just didn't belong. Now when I'm not sure how to end a scene, I use this line as a placeholder.

Conflict, what conflict?
Scenes were tossed into the black hole of boredom when I went back to see how they moved the story forward and encouraged a reader to turn the page. Though some of the dialogue was lovely and the five-course meal a culinary delight, if I could get the point across in one line instead of three pages, it had to go.

Speaka no different
Two of my characters spoke the exact same way. so if they talked to one another, each line needed the speaker to be identified. And everyone in the book loving Boney M was highly suspect. ;)

So now my character is on a virtual hunger strike, stopping only for a quick drink or a meal when absolutely necessary. Of course, now that she is eating less I find myself snacking more often. Some of the cast of thousands have been tucked into the shiny new idea box so that they may appear in another novel. Others can be found in the unemployed character line. I'm sure something will come up for them soon.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:04 AM 6 comments

Did I wake you up?

Friday, February 16, 2007

That's a question a lot of people have been asking me lately if I answer the phone when writing. And it made me wonder if I enter some sort of trance-like state as I try to yank the words out of my head.

I asked the DH and he refused to answer the question, claiming that there is no good way to respond--and he doesn't want any trouble. Especially right before the weekend. Smart man.

But then, I do sometimes miss the doorbell, the kettle boiling or the phone ringing when I'm FOCUSED. Yes, the caps are necessary. It could be that it takes me so long to get into that space where words flow freely and ideas don't seem butt-ugly stupid that I try to ignore the rest of the universe so I can stay there as long as possible.

Which is one of the reasons why I have been trying to stay offline for as much as possible lately. Truth is, I really miss the meandering around the Internet but I was able to get another 20 pages done today. It must be working. Of course, we'll see if any of these pages survive the next round, but at least I feel accomplished for today.

I still have a long way to go and there is no possible way I will make my initial deadline of Sunday. March 1 may work, so I'm keeping that date circled on the calendar.

Things have been quite busy and sort of cranky as some juggling of due dates and revisions have basically resulted in everything I'm working on being due over the next two weeks. Which happens to be the same time that I'm working the RIP.

I think it's the fates testing me to see if I'll be able to prioritize my time well enough to get the job done. The stuff for other people is very easy for me to accomplish; it's the stuff for me that always gets shoved back in the corner with the jeans that don't really fit anymore.

I've been talking about working on this book for so long, I'm really looking forward to the long drawn-out posts about queries, negotiations and the gazillion rounds of edits. Yep, that's me, always thinking positive. ;)

And when things seem totally impossible, I just look at this photo:

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:43 PM 2 comments

Diary entries: Bonnie at 14

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 14, 19XX,

Dear Diary,

Today I received NO valentines. This is excluding relatives.

February 15, 19XX,

Dear Diary,

I hope I get my hair cut soon. I want to get my ears pierced. I hope the group gets back together.

My love life is the PITS! I wish NAME GOES HERE would call me! He is so nice. I hope he's nice to me tomorrow. I also hope I get some mail.

(Note: some things never change.)

I owe Mom 10 bucks too. Tomorrow I shall wear my hair differently. I'll start an exercise program and diet too. Maybe tomorrow I'll be nice to everyone, then I'll be in a good mood!


I must say the line "I hope he's nice to me tomorrow" brings back so many good, bad and butt-ugly memories of my early teens that I may need to start drinking Fresca again. Did anyone else see where all of my impossible to-do lists started? And the fact that everything in the universe was going to happen on February 16? Talk about self-induced pressure.

The fact that the page for that particular day is one big empty is no surprise. I probably had to be hospitalized!

The intro on the first page of this unlocked treasure also bears this warning:

This diary is
so don't snoop!

Flipping through it, I have to admit that it doesn't even warrant a PG-13. ;)

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:39 AM 3 comments

The power of love...and candy

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's only Tuesday and I'm completely wiped out. Of course, it could be all the Valentine's Day chocolate I've been taste-testing to ensure that high quality standards have been maintained by the manufacturers since Christmas.

And I couldn't resist treating my three-days-a-week colleagues with a bucket of non-tart sweetheart candies with outdated sayings like "PAGE ME" and "4 EVER" on them. Hey, they were less expensive than the Spider-man themed Valentines I was thinking of getting. Who can resist a card with spider sense? (I'll pick some up on Thursday and use them next year.)

Waitressing is one of the worst jobs to have on Valentine's Day, because everything has to be perfect for the couple in lurve. If you happen to be waitressing at a Red Lobster on the dodgy side of town, it sinks to a new level of suckdom.

:::cue flashback music:::

When your table is complaining that the lobster in the $12.99 Lobster Alfredo doesn't come in the shell, chances are your $2 tip will vanish. When another table attempts to send back a bottle of wine that only has half a glass left in it, you know it's going to be a long night. Especially when management has put the CD on that has that Manhattan Transfer song with the tuneful words "Operator, information, get me Jesus on the line."

There I was, covered in crab leg shells and chilled butter-warmer wax when the DH (who wasn't even the DF at the time) arrived in his Grandfather's beat-up Ford with a bucket of KFC (legs only) and a turtle pie from Baskin-Robins. It's a combination of foods that would have killed me were it not for heart-attack preventative powers of the 8-hour shift I had just pulled.

That might have been the moment when I realized that love could surround us on so many different levels, as there I was, sharing my love of chicken, pralines 'n cream ice cream and finally seeing the end of a shift with a guy who was pretty darn cool despite his preference for Jethro Tull and all things Python.

But, well over two decades later, we're still here. Without the 5,000-calorie meals, praise Boney M, but with that sense of being in the right place with the right person. Even if she's a slob and he snores six different ways.

Happy VD everyone!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:38 PM 2 comments

20 pages and blogspotting

Monday, February 12, 2007

After attending a very inspiring workshop held by the Toronto Romance Writers, I raced home and typed until my fingers froze up, adding 20 more pages to the RIP. Yes, I'm now calling the the RIP, for Revision In Progress, because this book is killing me. In a good way though.

So I'm taking the easy way out and reporting on what's going on out there in the blog world. Hopefully you haven't been to them already or else this is old news.

Lee is going to kill me in his current work, The Enemy Within. bobborama won a Bloggy award. Kalbyzan has been other-blogging too much and has a shiny new idea. Sara discusses a numbers game. Michelle Rowen is letting Sarah Dearly have a blog of her own! And S William talks about the toughest lesson we need to learn: writing is rewriting.

Hey, if you have me linked and I haven't returned the favour, or you'd like to swap links, post a comment and my people will get in touch with your people.

Happy reading!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:18 AM 3 comments

Colour me happy

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Okay, I've been totally lame about posting this week and I apologize.

We had a little computer trouble over here at Casa Staring (also known as WTF?), so that meant that Bonnie had to be heavily medicated (my files! my files!) and sent to the other not-connected-to-the-Internet computer in the spare bedroom.

I was actually planning to do more writing on that old Mac since the only thing to distract me was a 1998 version of Snood. Too bad the freaking "e" doesn't work on the keyboard.

Seriously. I brought up my WIP on a CD and was ready to rock the page count. Ideas buzzed around my head like flies as if I suddenly became one of those unfortunate children you can adopt for less than a dollar a day. I waited the full 20 seconds for the machine to boot up (it has Word and Snood on it, and not much else), opened the file and started typing away.

That's when I noticed all the red lines under words like "th," "stor," "bliv" and other odd combinations of consonants and vowels that should have read "the,", "store" and "believe." Did I mention that my main character's name is Jewel? Great.

So I did what any writer would do: hit the key harder. No such luck. So I picked up the keyboard and shook it, thinking that perhaps a bit of an Oreo or cheezie got stuck in the works. Nothing fell out and I tried the key again. "Chzi" was the result.

That's when I realized you don't need the "e" key to play Snood. And now it's Thursday. ;)

For a good time, head over to bobbarama's Humor Carnival. There's some wicked stuff over there including a post of mine from a while back. Enjoy!

posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:09 AM 3 comments


Monday, February 5, 2007

It's amazing how a term seems so understandable to me now, yet when I heard it for the first time I was totally clueless.

It was in Grade 9. The school musical that year was Anything Goes. Despite my distaste for cruise ships, I thought I was destined for Broadway and auditioned so that I could be in the chorus.

The audition went well as the panel asked me to sing another song: Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Bonnie: Seriously?

Director: No, do it with a little chutzpah. Pretend you grew up in the Bronx.

I was glad he added in that second part since my Yiddish was totally rusty.

The next day, there was a sheet taped to the wall outside the drama room with the word "callbacks" at the top and a list of character names with student's names beside them.

I found it really odd when my name was there, along with one of a girl three grades ahead of me, for the role of Bonnie Latour — Moonface Martin's attractive but not-so-bright girlfriend.

When the older girl snubbed me in the hallway, I kind of got the picture. Especially when my drama teacher congratulated me on it.

Teacher: What are you going to sing for your callback? Did they give you any lines?

Bonnie: Uh, was I supposed to talk to somebody about it?

Okay, so I was a bit too much like Bonnie Latour at that particular moment, but that was okay. The other girl did a fabulous job with the role, as I saw it from my position in the chorus line.

And, being that she was graduating that year, I knew that things were going to be opening up for me real soon.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:50 AM 4 comments

Towing a caravan

Friday, February 2, 2007

That's the shape my current workload is taking, but I know this will pass soon enough so that I can tow something more along the lines of a Smart car or Vespa.

I'm bogged down with details and the overwhelming urge to create perfect first drafts, which is impossible to accomplish and even more foolish to attempt. Crappy first drafts are a key element in the circle of writing life. And no, that's not a tip from my copy of The Worst Writing Advice Ever.

One of the best ways to lighten the caravan load is to carefully examine one's To Do list and see if all the items on said list are things that must be done. Or better still, must be done by you.

As I have discovered, some ideas and projects are so fascinating that they refuse to be removed from the list. I'm sure that's what the writer of this particular car show segment felt as he or she penned the script.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:24 PM 0 comments

A Fashion Prayer

Thursday, February 1, 2007

This came to me from an anonymous source, and I had to share it.

Who art in Holts.
Hallowed be thy shoes.
Thy Prada come,
Thy shopping done,
On Robson, as it is in Paris.
Give us this day, our Visa Gold
And forgive us our balance
As we forgive those,
Who charge us interest,
Lead us not into Wal-Mart
And deliver us from Sears,
For thine is the Chanel
The Gaultier, and the Versace,
For Dolce & Gabbana...

posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:57 PM 1 comments