Happy New Goals!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Now that I've done my best to achieve the goals I set for myself in 2007, it's time to focus on 2008: the year that I will make things happen.

Yeah, can you tell I've been reading The Secret again? *g*

So, in no particular order, I present my goals for 2008:

1. Get healthy
Eat better. Exercise more. Yadda yadda yadda...but I mean it this time. Stamped saved and everything.

2. Land at least two more magazine columns
This would be a great way to offset the peaks and valleys of a freelance income, and provide more regular writing gigs to help keep my writing muscle in shape.

3. Do what it takes to land an agent
Polish those query letters, actually send them out, make sure my sample chapters sparkle...you know, all the stuff those books and sites on writing a novel tell you to do. Sheesh!

4. Finish current WIP
I missed my initial deadline of today by a mile, so I've extended it until January 30. This first draft must get done so that I can get the next book idea out of my head. Which bring me to:

5. Write DD
This was the second book that happened to make its way into my first draft of H&B (thanks again to Michelle and Laurie for pointing that out). The two characters I removed from that novel deserve their own book, so I'm gonna write it. In 2008.

6. More magazine articles
In 2007 I gave myself the challenge of sending out one magazine article query letter a week, so for 2008 I'm kicking it up a notch. Now I'm challenging myself to send out two a week and see if that will double my article sales!

7. Make time to write the novels
I do so much better when I work on a book every day, so why the heck aren't I doing that? :::scratches head::: Okay, an hour a day it is then. No stress of word or page counts, just me and my handy little oven timer.

8. A day off
I spent a lot of time in 2007 working, which made me a total bi-atch to live with or even visit. So I'm embracing the day-off concept where I take a day off from the writing world and become a human being again. Maybe I'll even talk to the DH or something. ;)

9. A trip...or three
With RWA already on the list, I'd like to take another trip or two, even if it's just a wee getaway to another town or province, just for a cool change of scene.

10. More new stuff
This is almost a completed item already, but I'm not gonna say anything until contracts are signed and schedules are lined up. Actually, this may cross a few items off this list. I'll keep you posted.

BONUS ITEM: Have way more fun
The last month or so has been downright icky, and that needs to change. Starting now.

Thank you so much for stopping by and have yourself a fabulous New Year! Remember to use all those coupons before it's too late or you might have to beg for dinner like poor little Zaphod...

What do you have in store for 2008?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 4:43 PM 5 comments

Wanted: a better boss

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oh, it's a hard time to be a Cancerian right now. Why? Because we're too attached to the past and the prospect of a new year just makes us want to hold onto the old one for a little longer...like another year or two. ;)

Don't get me wrong. I think 2008 is going to be a stellar year. It's just that times like this -- when I can't find all the stuff I hid in the basement and the spare bedroom before the relatives came over on Christmas Day and I haven't had a proper night's sleep since Thanksgiving -- that I start to panic.

I'm just not ready for 2008 yet.

And I totally know why: 2008 is the year that I'm "in it to win it." Not just with contests that have cool prizes like trips to NYC and LCD TVs -- I'm talking about going after the things that I really want: an agent, more lucrative writing gigs...and a better boss.

The latter is a total necessity. My current boss is a total workaholic and spends so much time getting me to work on everyone else's stuff that I barely have time to think about my current WIP, let alone get those five pages a day done like I planned.

And yes, the evil boss that I'm referring to is myself. Le sigh.

SO I thought I'd write up a little want ad to help me stay focused and give myself the break I need:

Wanted: A Better Boss
Multitasking writer requires a supervisor to steer the ship, spot the opportunities on the horizon and let the pool boys know when to bring over the frozen dacquiris. A sense of humor and the ability to negotiate with a lunatic wearing tin foil are essential. Eye patch optional.

Yeah, that's perfect for craigslist. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:44 AM 2 comments

Checking in on my goals for 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Now that 2008 is nipping at my heels, I thought I'd take a look at the goals I set for myself (and posted up on dis blog for all to see) and see how I've fared:

GOAL: Revise Suds and start shopping it around. (Land an agent and selling the book are on the list too, but first things first, okay?)
STATUS: Complete! The Hot and the Bothered has been polished within an inch of its life and, since November, I've been actively seeking representation.

GOAL: Add another magazine column to my roster.
STATUS: Complete! This was one of my earliest accomplishments in 2007, as I was hired on by The Driver magazine in February 2007.

GOAL: Submit one magazine article query letter a week. (I was able to do this for five months last year, let's try it for all 12 this time!)
STATUS: Complete! This one surprised me, because if I actually looked at my stats from week to week, I failed. But, when I added up all the article queries I sent out in 2007, I did 54. That's two to spare!

GOAL: Find a writing group that works for me.
STATUS: Uh-oh. Does being a member of a group of writers count? ;)

GOAL: Less TV and more living.
STATUS: Complete! Thank you writer's strike.

GOAL: Write another book or two (I have the ideas, just need to get them out of my head).
STATUS: Damn. The next book is still an unfinished first draft, but a new due date of January 31, 2008 will be added to the goals for next year.

GOAL: Win some fabulous contests.
STATUS: Complete! There were some great wins this year: a 46" TV, an iPod, a manuscript critique, a bunch of stuff at the Canadian contest convention, movie passes, theatre tickets and door prizes at my TRW meetings. Woo hoo!

GOAL: Travel more.
STATUS: Kind of complete. Went to NYC with Michelle and took a day trip to London, Ontario (another prize) with my Mom.

GOAL: Try new things.
STATUS: Complete! Went over a 120-foot gorge on a zipline. Learned how to rappel. Auditioned for a TV show (that is moving forward into production, hooray!). Oh, and attended my first-ever contest convention.

GOAL: Eat more veggies - except the evil ones.
STATUS: Complete, though I'm sure I could do better at it. ;)

So out of 10 goals, I have seven that are complete, one that's kind of complete and two that I didn't achieve. That's pretty darn good if you ask me. Now would these goals have been accomplished if I didn't write them down and refer to them every once in a while?

Dunno. So I'm not going to risk it and start compiling my list for 2008 -- and this time I'm not holding back. I'm talking hardcore goal setting here.

:::wipes sweat from brow:::


posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:17 PM 5 comments

Christmas Rhapsody

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:58 AM 0 comments

Where did I go?

Friday, December 21, 2007

I was shocked when I discovered that it was Friday today. The fact that it was Thursday yesterday obviously wasn't enough to prepare me. ;)

While I'd love to tell you that I lost track of time because I had been kidnapped by David Beckham, but I know you wouldn't believe me. Especially when his voice is so darn annoying.

:::purchases duct tape:::

So what the heck could be so important that I haven't been checking out all the cool blogs out there or posting in a timely manner? Shopping. The final, I" better find something or I'll give them microwavable popcorn instead" shopping of the holiday season.

It was brutal. I know this because I didn't need to take any insulin when I stopped for lunch after lugging around my purchases at the mall while searching for the ONE LAST ITEM.

And yes, the one last item was found despite numerous retail employees in various stores telling me that nobody in the mall sold such a thing. All I can say is I heart Sears. ;)

Now I must take some muscle relaxants as my shoulders are starting to seize up. ;)


posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:41 PM 2 comments

The Story of Stuff

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thanks to a newsletter I subscribe to (yummymummyclub.ca) I found out about this cool video that sheds some light on the impact too much stuff is having on the planet. I thought it was timely considering that I'm about to head to the mall to buy even more stuff for people. ;)

It's 20 minutes long and, unfortunately, there is no dancing. Check out the video.

Of course, if you don't have a problem with too much stuff or, as I like to call it, uber clutter, goody for you. I may snub you at gatherings but at least you have room in your home for that Pulitzer or Oscar that's on its way to you. ;)

But is there a sure-fire way to keep clutter in its tracks? The good old "something new comes in, something old must go out" rule normally works for me. However, I'm a mess when it comes to books, magazines and important pieces of paper, like coupons and receipts. After a while everything just piles up into this mass of paper-mache material and I'm tempted to get some matches...

How do you deal with too much stuff?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:23 PM 5 comments

Chillaxing, kitty style

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You know things are getting out of hand when I'm spending more time in store line-ups and production meetings than I am with good friends. It's a crime!

It also doesn't help when I completely missed a deadline and spent the past two days scrambling to make the earth stop rotating (a la Superman) so that I'd only be a few day's late instead of like really super-bad late. :::hangs head in shame and awaits flogging:::

And there I was, thinking that life was cool with all those neat gift ideas. Le sigh.

So I turned to Zaphod for advice. Not the Douglas Adams character, but my 5-1/2-month-old kitten, aka Bitey. When I asked him about what I should do about my overwhelming schedule, he did this:

And I said, "No, you silly kitten. I can't just go on a sleeping safari, I need to get stuff done!"

Then he started to purr and flick his tail a bit. A definite sign that his feline powers of intellect were at work.

Or not.

So I tried to tickle his belly.

He only protested a wee bit -- with an SBD that could make wallpaper curl and a meow so cute that I had images of falling rolls of toilet paper. Then again, that could have been due to Zaphod's flatulence.

And right when I was about to give up on getting advice from an animal that has turned my home upside down, broken one of my favourite lamps and plays fetch with peanuts on a regular basis, Zaphod gave one loud "meow" and raced upstairs.

Intrigued, I followed him to see what on earth could be so damn important that he'd abandon his pet zebra and go walkabout.

Slowly taking the stairs in case Safari Kitten had taken on his Ninja Kitten persona with the change in altitude, I peered into the living room, only to see Zaphod demonstrate how chillaxing is really done.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:33 AM 0 comments

Ten great gifts under $10 in less than 10 hours

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm always the one picking up magazines with "Ten Gifts Under $10" or "50 Gifts for $5 or Less" headline shouting at me from the cover. How can a woman resist? Great gifts? Under $5 or $10? Sign me up!

But alas, most of said gifts aren't suitable...or take so long to create that I wouldn't get them done until Valentine's Day. So I've compiled a list of my own that has helped me maintain my sanity and bank balance over holidays gone by:

1. Three hours of something
One of the bests gifts we ever received was the gift of three hours from each of my creepy cousins, who were flat broke because they were probably spending all of their money on beer and rock 'n roll. ;) The DH and I took them up on their offer and had some much-needed help in building the shed in our back yard.

2. Christmas tree cookies
Make butter cookies and add green food colouring to the dough. Cut out into tree shapes and bake as directed. Once cooled, drizzle icing from a tube (or a mixture of icing sugar and water) over the cookie in a zigzag pattern, then immediately sprinkle the cookie with colourful edible decorations like sprinkles, stars and those silver balls that really hurt if you bite them the wrong way.

If you're giving these cookies to creative types, leave them undecorated and provide the icing and decorations so they can make them pretty in their own way.

3. Song parody
For the writers out there, nothing says "you're fabulous" more than a parody of a loved one's favourite song. Turn Avril's "Girlfriend" into "Rear End," for example. It's even better if you perform it. ;)

4. Box of wishes
Now this one's fun! Find the fanciest box you can at the dollar store (go all out, spend $2!) and some coloured sheets of paper (printer-friendly if your handwriting is horrible like mine). Write out as many great things that you think that person would wish for, and then add a heap more. Print them out, cut them into individual wishes, fold them up and place inside the nice box for the coolest gift ever.

5. Kodak moment
If you have photo-retouching skills (or not, by using cut-outs) why not make someone's dream come true by putting them in a photo with their favourite celebrity? Then print out your masterpiece and put it in a red-carpet-worthy frame (that you picked up at, you guessed it, the dollar store)!

6. Get out of _____ free card
This one's perfect for spouses or other people who have chores to do. Make a certificate that allows the holder to get out of a particularly heinous task (dishes, laundry, draining the septic system, watching Larry King Live) so that they may do whatever they want to do instead.

7. "Ten great things about you" list
Print up a list of the top ten things you love about your loved one. Dress it up with photos or cutouts from magazines to make it even more groovy and have all members of the family sign it so it looks official.

8. Letter from Santa
Everyone encourages kids to write to Santa and they get a letter back, but what about us older kids? Shouldn't we get a letter, even if we've been kind of bad and our wish lists (pay off my mortgage, help me drop 200 pounds) get more and more ridiculous every year? Why not surprise someone with a letter from Saint Nick and have him tell them something good before he gets to the part about not coming through on the wishes.

9. A car
Small box #1: car key. Small box #2 (in garage): Hot Wheels version of dream car.

10. Create their own soundtrack
Compile a collection of songs that represents all the cool things about that certain someone. It's up to you whether you include their favourite songs or not, but I do recommend including some great indie tracks that they might not be aware of, or a mash-up or two.

Give it a great title and be sure to do up a cover--one that folds out with liner notes takes it to a new level. And, if you're willing to spend the extra cash, you can even get CDs that look like record albums for those who remember playing them. ;)

Have fun!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:28 AM 0 comments

An ALL CAPS kind of day

Monday, December 17, 2007

I've been fighting off a barometric-pressure-inspired headache all weekend and the kitten just doesn't want to get down from his precarious perch on the wobbling stack of DVDs, no matter how many times I threaten to send him to reform school.

My ALL CAPS mood really started with the phone ringing at two in the morning, and every eight minutes or so until I unplugged the phone as some schmoe was attempting to send a fax to the wrong number. Oh how I wished someone could hear what I was saying on the line -- it would have made a sailor blush. ;)

So I'm sleep-deprived, headachy and now must go out into the winter wilderness (at least most of the streets are plowed now) and get some shopping done. This is something that would normally fill me with glee but I'm feeling hesitant as I've left things way too late this year and all the people out there shopping are probably as cranky as I am. LOL

Oh, and I only got two pages for the WIP done yesterday. Le sigh. But I won't let this teeny fall off the wagon snowball -- even with all the white stuff out there. I'll just plug away at it as soon as I get back from the insanity of the mall.

Wish me luck!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:56 AM 0 comments

Muddled motivation

Friday, December 14, 2007

All this searching for great photos of Josh Holloway got me thinking: how could I use this actor/model/fabulous bad boy for my motivational needs?

Stop your giggling! This is a serious matter that should be approached with maturity and a soundtrack that doesn't include a single bow-chicka-bow. ;)

In my ideal motivation scenario, Josh would be captured by the Penguins of Panic, who would tie him up and refuse to let him out of my basement until I kept to my word count. To make matters worse, they'd make him take off his shirt so that the brisk winds from their portable iceberg would make him shiver...

This worked. For five seconds.

Because really, if you had that man tied up in your basement, would you really want to let him go? :::makes note to do a test run with the DH:::

Then I realized that, in order to keep things in perspective, it might be best for me to not use confinement as a motivational tool. Yeah, but if it worked, I'm sure I'd see a lot of workshop opportunities on the horizon. ;)

That's what's driving me crazy right now: the horizon. They say that good things come to those who wait, but for how long? And what are these good things of which they speak? Clean laundry? Free ice cream? Wichita gets its own CSI franchise?

Sure, it's the holiday season and I should be relaxing, but I don't work that way. Heck, I wish I knew the way I worked sometimes, because every day is...unique. Especially when I get prizes in the mail. And coupons.

When it comes to motivation, it used to be seeing my name in print. That seemed like the ultimate accomplishment -- and I'm sure it's a great source of inspiration for a lot of people. When my first letter to the editor of the local paper was published, it was a great feeling -- but it only lasted for a little while. It was hardly the life-changing experience that I thought it would be. So I kept on writing, aiming for bigger and better things, like getting my stories in print...and now here I am with a wealth of published articles under my belt and a polished manuscript looking for a home.

Now I find that what motivates me is the story. Or the stories of the people I'm writing about and how best to capture them and share them with others. Being motivated by a byline was easy; now my inspiration comes in all kinds of ways. And that's what makes it hard, because sometimes I don't recognize it, even if it's tied up in my basement. ;)

I'll tell Josh you said hi.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:56 AM 2 comments

Wrapped up in a blanket

Thursday, December 13, 2007

That's how I feel when it snows and the white stuff covers everything. It also helps when I have a kitten blissfully snoozing nearby with his belly exposed for all the world to see.

The past few weeks have been a real pain in the arse for me. Mainly because I have too many marshmallows in the campfire and all of them are crispy. Le sigh.

The silly thing is that this madness is totally self-inflicted. I see a gap in my work schedule and, like Lara, strive to fill it with more work. Then I end up with even more on my plate than before and wonder what happened. Never does it occur to me during those quiet times to do something as mundane as filing or finding the dining room. That's something I can do on weekends or when I should be asleep. ;)

Earlier this week Molly did a great post on filling the well that got me thinking about what I do to ensure that my muse is satisfied (after Josh Holloway leaves the building) and that I actually sit down and write despite the five gazillion other things I need to do.

:::thanks the heavens that she only has a cat and five houseplants:::

So I realized that the key to getting my butt in the chair, which I need to do in order to complete my WIP, is to get a new office chair. Okay, I'm kidding.

I think what might just work for me is giving myself a goal of five pages a day. This isn't rocket science; it's something that's been done by many writers before.

It's up to me to see how quickly I can burn through them. And if I write more than five, I can't carry the extra pages over into the next day. That's what I did before and it killed any momentum I had built up by working every day. Well, more like three days on, five or six days off. Starting today I'm going for five pages a day, six days a week. Boo-yeah!

And if that doesn't work, I may just have to start using an outline instead of pantsing (aka writing by the seat of my pants). Eek! No pants? It's too cold to try that.

:::wraps herself up in a blanket to keep warm:::

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:48 PM 4 comments

It's easy being green

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And no, this post has nothing to do with renewable resources or global warming. ;)

I'm talking about being green with envy, the other four-letter word that starts with E. The primary one is evil, in case you wanted to know, but you can't be green with evil unless you're the Wicked Witch of the West. And she wasn't evil, just misunderstood. ;)

Where was I? Oh, right: envy. What has encouraged this outpouring of an emotion that I try to avoid dipping a toe into? Great words by so many others!

It's all because I took a look at my staggering TBR (to be read) pile and struggled to select a novel to reward myself with as I wrap things up before the holidays.

While I'd normally find motivation, celebration and overall excitement by reading great books, I'm afraid these fabulous words have sent my muse sobbing into the corner. She refuses to come back out until I present her with a box of Godivas, a case of Diet Coke and a scantily clad Josh Holloway.

And I'll be damned if I'm going to stop reading; it's my reward for working so darn hard for the past few weeks. And something that I look forward to doing on long subway rides or to round out the end of a long day. But the sniffling in the background is really distracting at times, especially when she's blowing her nose and muttering: "I'm not worthy" every so often.

What's a writer to do?

The chocolates and Diet Cokes have been strategically placed near the computer desk, now if only I could come through on that last request...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:41 AM 5 comments


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My determination and focus have gone off to do some cross-border shopping or are sipping margaritas and snickering in a parallel universe somewhere. So I've been noodling.

In fact, part of my noodling involved catching up on the blogroll, and I was delighted to read Lilith Saintcrow's post on Avoidance over at The Midnight Hour. It's good to know I'm not alone -- and in such talented company. ;)

But I've been a bad, bad person, choosing to work on anything but the WIP or even the Christmas to-do list. It just seems that the older I get, the longer it takes for me to get into the spirit. Perhaps I should become an honorary Ukrainian...

It could be that this year, with the arrival of Zaphod, aka Kitty of Mass Destruction, we have opted to forgo the tree, but we'll still have both sets of parents over for Christmas dinner so that the kitten has new people to attack. ;)

Perhaps what I need to do is be thankful that I have ample opportunities to write. How stay-at-home or working mothers do it, I have no idea. Then again, maybe that's what makes it all work. Does having very little available time mean that they make the most of it?

Could be...but that doesn't mean I'm going to bring home some kids in order to test this theory.

:::mothers everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief:::

:::DH too:::

posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:00 PM 2 comments


Monday, December 10, 2007

This weekend was full of surprises. Fabulous surprises. ;)

At my local RWA chapter meeting, I won a raffle prize and got to race all around the room in true Price Is Right fashion, causing a loud yet enthusiastic disturbance. Man, I love those meetings! It's a great way to get in some exercise.

There was fudge at the meeting too. Yum!

Despite believing that killing off a character in my current WIP would be a bad thing, it actually makes sense and gives my heroine better motivation. That Michelle is such a smart girl...I hate it when she's right. ;)

I saved over $36 by using coupons at the grocery store! Hooray!

A beta read of a certain vampire romance novel had me loving the hero so much that I was in tears because I was so happy that he loved her too. Le sigh.

I completed two articles this weekend, which puts me a day ahead of schedule. Of course, I was already behind a day or two, so I'm claiming that I'm on target now.

A quick calculation (I love spreadsheets) indicates that one of my goals for 2007 -- sending out one article query letter a week -- has already been achieved. I've done 54 so far this year.

During a delightful lunch with Michelle and Laurie, I realized that my success really is up to me. All I need to do is the work. And work at it every day.

The Christmas cards will be mailed out today. Only a week late.

Last evening, I got five more pages on the WIP done. It's a mess, but there's five more pages than before.

And for these reasons, it should come across as no surprise that I'm feeling pretty darn good.

Time for a cat nap:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:28 AM 0 comments

I coulda sworn I'd posted something...

Friday, December 7, 2007

It seems I'm having one of those days. One where my skills at multitasking are failing me at every turn. The microwave popcorn? Burnt. The Christmas cards? Still not sent. The laundry? Don't ask.

And to top it all off, I mailed out a partial manuscript to an agent and realized too late that I had forgotten to write "Requested Materials" on the envelope, which the agent gave clear instructions to do so that it wouldn't get lost in the slush pile. Le sigh.

And even though I spent most of the day offline, I could have sworn that I had done a blog post. About what, I wasn't sure, but I remembered typing something. ;)

So it was kind of shocking to see that I didn't have a post up here for today. Not that the world was in danger due to the lack of it or anything, but it just made me wonder if there was anything else I was supposed to due today that hadn't gotten done.


Well, let's face it, there's always something on the to-do list of life that doesn't get done. For some, it can be as simple as taking a moment to relax. Or paying the phone bill. For others, it could be sending out that query letter or getting up early to squeeze in some writing time. As the owner of many incomplete to-do lists, I know how easy it is to let some things slip.

But things get biz-ay. Priorities change and emergencies (like realizing you have nothing to wear for an upcoming social gathering) happen, but they do for everyone.

It's funny, but when I was working as a project manager (which is so not fun on too many levels) and things entered crisis-mode and decisions had to be made, I'd ask myself: "How important will this be five years from now?"

At first, most things were all-important and had to be taken care of no matter what the cost or man-hours involved. But after a few years of spinning around, jumping through hoops of fire and attempting to control the universe, I realized that most of it didn't really matter.

I mean, sure, at the time it mattered, but was it important enough for me to lose sleep over? To give up my time with the DH? To get others to burn the midnight oil with me?

Today, I say no. And that's probably because I've learned that I can't operate that way anymore. Of course there will be times when I run late on something and stay up until the wee hours to get it done, but now it's on my terms.

And that's something I can live with.

So sure, I may forget some things because I don't have a personal assistant or a project-management flowchart set up to orchestrate my every move, but I have the freedom to learn from my mistakes without being afraid of losing my job.

It's one of the joys of being self-employed. And some days I even like my boss. ;)

So if you'll excuse me, there's a submission package I have to prepare again...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:01 PM 2 comments

Feeling loopy

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Okay, I admit it: I'm a lurker at heart.

I'm on several mailing loops and. while I find the conversations interesting, I rarely step out to make a comment or partake in witty e-loop repartee with others. Part of the reason is that I've committed some heinous "email has no tone" faux pas in my day, and I worry about doing the same thing on a loop, which has a much larger audience than hitting "reply all" in error. ;)

There's also the worry that my humour will come across as...I dunno... extremely bitchy... or evil. ;) And even if you follow the "wait 24 hours to reply" rule that I try to do with aggravating emails, on a loop you've arrived long after the party's over and people will wonder what the heck you're talking about. And why you're sounding so bitchy. LOL

So I don't post much. And that leaves me lots of time to do other stuff.

Oh yeah, other stuff. I better get back to it.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:46 PM 2 comments

Proactivity pays off

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

If I haven't made it clear enough already, I'm a big-time procrastinator. I even have a black belt in it. And several trophies. ;)

So when it came to getting my entry prepared for the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest, I vowed to not make the same leave-it-too-late mistake as last year. Golden Heart 2006 resulted in me staying up 36 hours straight, revising like a madwoman, and paying FedEx an atrocious sum of money for a Saturday-Monday delivery.

It arrived in one piece but I barely survived.

Lesson learned, this year I was going to be prepared with a capital P. I looked at the due date and, in a move normally reserved for calculating taxes and coupon savings, I counted back the days needed to ensure an affordable-yet-timely delivery. Then I added a day.

On November 26, I took my entry to the post office. With a guaranteed delivery date of November 30, 2007 -- the last business day before the December 3 closing date -- I said goodbye to the package.

Then I tried to track it.

Unfortunately, Canada Post's tracking system isn't quite as up-to-the-minute as FedEx's. All I knew on Wednesday was that my parcel had entered America. Whether it was trapped in customs or taking in a sale at Target, I had no idea.

On Friday, November 30, the package's status remained unchanged. Last year, something like this would have made me completely freak out, but this year I was confident that it would arrive in time.

It turns out that my entry did arrive: on December 3, 2007. Of course, the only reason I knew that was because I received a confirmation email from RWA stating that my entry had been received. Canada Post was being awfully quiet, so I decided to call them up and see what the words "guaranteed delivery by November 20, 2007" meant to them.

"We guaranteed it, so we owe you a refund," the friendly (yeah, crazy, I know) call-centre representative said. "Let's just confirm your mailing address so I can get a check out to you right away."

"That's it?" I asked, "I don't have to do anything else like balance a chimpanzee on my head or sing in Latvian?" Hey, our postal system lives for weird policies and regulations.

She assured me that it would all be taken care of, and did it in such a friendly way that I wondered if people regularly called them about missed guaranteed delivery times. Or did they just let it go?

All I know is, thanks to my proactivity and preparedness, not only did my entry arrive in time, I had it delivered for free! Plus, I can claim the initial delivery cost on my income taxes as an expense.

How cool is that? I love Canada Post!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:21 AM 2 comments

Secrets revealed!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Although I'm sure that every self-help book author out there will crucify me for doing this, I must reveal a few secrets to achieving your dreams.

This is heady stuff, so please take a moment to gather your thoughts, grab a coffee and settle back into that desk chair before we get started. Are you feeling all tingly with excitement? Me too, but I think it might be windburn. ;)

Success Secret #1: Try
Whoa! I know, call me crazy, but the people who succeed at stuff actually try to do it. And it's amazing how the more you try, the more you likely you are to succeed. It appears that the only guarantee out there is the 0% success rate accomplished by those who don't try at all. Huh.

Tip #1 Master: William Hung

Success Secret #2: Ask
While this may seem similar to the previous secret, it's not. Asking involves other people -- and even someone doing a solo hike up Mount Everest needs help from others along the way. You know, like asking for directions or where to find the best heat-retaining underwear.

This also applies to the "asking the universe" theory promoted by The Secret. (Did you see that coincidence in my topic and the book title? Freaky.) If you put it out there, the universe will respond. I've experienced it and so have a lot of people. It's a cool thing to try for yourself. Be sure ot let me know what happens.

Tip #2 Masters: There are too many to mention by name. Think Olympic athletes, great writers, actors, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, good parents...no cats though. They work alone.

Success Secret #3: Love It
If you're not doing something that you love to do, you're going to feel burnt, beaten and lose your chance at being a hit at parties. Sure, that's easy for the coupon lady to say, right? Don't you worry secret-seekers, I have done my fair share of working at jobs that felt like being surrounded by Harry Potter's Dementors.

Unfortunately, bills need to get paid. And sometimes doing what you love doesn't generate any income for a while. So what is a fabulous person with a dream to do?

Start small. Go after your dreams on a time frame that works with your current schedule. Just remember that the more you are able to work at it, the faster you'll begin to see some results.

So dedicate the time you can for now and then do yourself a favor and increase your efforts after a few months. See if there's something in your jam-packed schedule that can be handed over to someone else or taken completely off the list. Still feeling that you don't have enough time? Consider making your day job part time. A lot of writers I know have done that successfully before taking the "writing full time" plunge.

Tip #3 Masters: Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Margaret Mitchell...whaddya know? They're all women! Girl power at its best. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:56 AM 0 comments

Happy December!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Am I ever glad to see the back end of November head out the door. It was a month filled with deadlines, expectations and a heinous workload.

Too bad December appears to be much of the same. At least there are some neat parties and events to attend. ;)

In one short month I plan to have the first draft of my current WIP completed, which I know will be a very, very rough one. I may borrow Mike's "scene snapshot" placeholders if things get sticky as the end of the month draws near. ;) Let me put it this way: I have 40,000 words to go. ACK!

So that means I have to practice what I preach and get my butt in the chair, nose to the grindstone and all that. Good things come to those who don't wait, truth be told. I'll save the waiting for next year. ;)

In the meantime, here's a photo Michelle took of Zaphod in early October:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:10 PM 2 comments