Ten signs

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lee came out of his new-baby-in-the-family hibernation and tagged me within moments of blogging again. Sheesh, there's no rest for the wicked...or wickedly busy. ;)

But I lurve things like this, so here I go:

Ten signs that a book is written by me:

1. My heroine always goes after Mr. Wrong first.

2. In my first drafts, my characters eat about fifteen meals in the first three chapters.

3. I use asides (sentence fragments). A lot.

4. There are oodles of pop culture references.

5. There are dance breaks. (Kidding. For now.)

6. My heroines have friends to talk to, unlike those romances I used to read waaay back when the heroine was a nanny working on a remote island and the hero didn't admit his feelings for her until the very last chapter.

7. I tend to have casts of thousands until my beta-readers get back to me.

8. You'll never find characters with two first names. Like Guy Richie or David David. ;)

9. There will be at least one scene when my character has to buy something.

10. There will be no axe-wielding murderers.

Hmm, maybe I could squeeze an axe-wielding murderer into my current WIP. ;)

I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free try this out if ya wanna.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:08 AM 7 comments

Managing expectations

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ugh. If that title doesn't send you running for cover, you obviously have a perfect life and are simply dropping by to see how the rest of us are doing. Thanks, we're fine, really. ;)

As a diabetic, I've learned to expect certain things. If I eat a lot, my blood sugar level goes up. If I don't take my medication, the same thing happens. And, if I don't take care of myself properly, I can feel like crapola and do some damage to my kidneys, eyes and other important body parts.

The funny thing is, the same types of expectations can be applied to writing. If you try to do a lot of things at once, your frustration level will go up. If you don't make time to write, the same thing can happen. And if you don't follow through on your goals properly (like actually working towards them), you can feel like crapola and do some damage to your self-esteem, psyche and those characters who want their stories told.

Of course, one thing I have learned is to expect the unexpected. Followers of The Secret take it a step further and expect what it is they most desire. That's pretty darn cool, though sometimes it's hard to keep the faith 100% of the time.

And that's all about managing expectations. Do you spend your days waiting for something to happen or are you getting the most out your day right then and there?

Heck, I'll be the first to admit that I am prone to spending quality time sitting on the couch watching the tube and thinking, "if only I could get inspired enough to _____." The blank can be anything from writing to eating better to getting fit, and I can guarantee you that it's never "if only I could watch something even worse than this." ;)

Shoot, I guess I'd better get working on making the most out of this day -- without help from Dr. Phil.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 4:46 PM 3 comments

ROAR for Powerful Words

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just when I thought it was safe to hide in a cave, Wylie tempted me out into the open by honouring me with this writing award. Hooray! My inner cheerleader and I are very happy for this reason to try out some new cheers. Life just doesn't get any cooler than this -- thank you, Wylie!

As part of the award, recipients are asked to cite three elements of powerful writing. Here are three things that make will make me keep a book forever so I can read it over and over again:

Great character flaws
I'm not going to invest a whole lotta time reading about perfect people or people who do the right things for the right reason all the rat-stinkin' time. Snore! Give me a heroine and hero with some issues to deal with so that I can feel their pain and cheer them on when they work their way through them.

Believable dialogue
I'm a sucker for a good line (just ask my husband), so I expect an author to have an ear for dialogue. Not only do I expect to see the story, I want to hear it too. Yeah, I guess I'm demanding that way, sue me.

Words that reward the reader
I call this the X-factor for a book. A novel can have a great hook, be written exceptionally well, have three-dimensional characters and/or a bit of all three of these things, but if I don't feel rewarded when I've chosen to spend some time reading it, I get cranky. While I love to read, my reading speed has slowed down considerably since my 20s (just last month - LOL) when I could devour two novels a week. It could be that now I'm actually paying attention and not just skimming to the dirty parts. ;)

And now, since it was kind of hazy what the next step is (I'm a gal who loves rules), I'm following Wylie's lead and passing this award on to four more brilliant writers.

There are so many fabulous ones out there, but I've selected the women who've helped me most, whether by still speaking to me after seeing one of my first drafts, inspiring me with their own work, making the time to write or a combination of all three:

Michelle Rowen: Her novels make me laugh out loud and green with envy. Who knew vampires could be so much fun? She's the reason I got my butt in this chair and decided to get my ideas (though none involve fangs) on paper. So if things go horribly wrong, I can blame her. ;)

Laurie Rauch: She's the editor extraordinaire who can take a pile of dogsnot and somehow find a sentence or two that works. Or at least rework it so it does. ;) Without Laurie's guidance one of my heroines would still be at an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Apprentice Writer: Although the "apprentice" in her blog's name drives me crazy, Maya has a gift for quirky characters that is truly delightful. And the fact that she reviews novels based on whether the are funny or not gets two thumbs-up from me. ;)

Amy Ruttan: My introduction to this crazy gal was through a freaking awesome one-page synopsis at a critique session. Although the placement of a comma had a child's paternity in question, I now have a karaoke partner for San Francisco...and probably every other conference we attend!

Please go visit these incredible women and, if you're lucky, you just might have a great laugh or learn something about something. Okay, next I should find my vocabulary.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:49 AM 4 comments

My new hobby

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I've found a new hobby that I'm really enjoying. And no, it's not salsa dancing, crystal meth or cow-tipping -- it's tormenting my heroine in my current WIP.

Oh, I've done horrible things to her. Destroyed her confidence. Taken away those close to her. Even treated her to some public humiliation...

Can you tell she's in high school? ;)

Seriously though, when I noticed that Michelle was almost ready to cross the finish line on the first draft of her latest manuscript, I panicked. I had even extended my due date so that it would coincide with hers, and I'm only just over a third of the way into Draft 1. Sob!

But, instead of sitting in a corner eating bon bons and moping, I'm in the chair. No, not the comfy one in the living room -- I'm in the hand-me-down computer desk chair that no longer lifts when you sit in it to adjust to the ideal height. So I get to write while feeling like a true petite.

Talk about looking at things from a different point of view. :::schedules trip to office furniture store...and chiropractor:::

And all that stuff about goals, motivation and conflict? Huh, it really does make the writing easier. Who knew?

That being said, I must apologize for not being a good blogger. I promise to visit real soon -- right after I arrange a catastrophic event or two. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:21 PM 5 comments

Ramping up for RWA

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's official -- I'm spending all of my money so that I can attend the 2008 Romance Writers of America convention this July. Yahoo!

For me, this is a huge step as this represents a huge commitment to my writing career. Not that I wasn't committed before, mind you, but to voluntary put myself in an environment where I can rub shoulders with the who's who in the industry -- and lots of other crazy people -- will certainly help me explore breaking into and being successful as an author.

Plus, the hotel has a pool. ;)

In order to prepare, I've added a few more things to my to-do list:

1. Memorize elevator speech about already completed manuscript.
2. Finish current manuscript.
3. Write and memorize elevator speech for that manuscript too.
4. Study photos of the people I want to meet so I can spot them at the pool.
5. Figure out all the places I want to check out in San Francisco.
6. Tattoo the synopsis for each novel somewhere on my body for easy reference.

Hmm, I'm wondering if I should go with the long or short versions of my synopses. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:41 PM 6 comments

I heart Weird Al

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This is from his film UHF. Perhaps it's the lure of spatulas, but I lurve this kind of stuff:


posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:52 PM 3 comments

i didz it. u pays me now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Since it appears that Mike, Mary and I aren't the only ones wasting time over at http://icanhascheezburger.com/, I thought it might be prudent to change the way I communicate with my clients. You know, be all hip to the new scene. Word.


"Attached please find my invoice" becomes i didz it. u pays me now.

"Here are a few article ideas" becomes ideas? i gots dem.

"When is your deadline?" becomes not redys yet. tri latr.

"Thank you for your referral" becomes i now knows ur friends.

And, speaking of furry friends, Zaphod is happy to be back home and snoozing on a super-large footstool, stretched out and oblivious to all around him. To tell the truth, Wylie was right; I took Zaphod's visit to the vet a lot harder than he did. I actually cried when we dropped him off.

:::applies "big suck" temporary tattoo to forehead:::

But he doesn't appear resentful and spent most of the time racing around the house to ensure that everything was where it should be. A new package that arrived today (more books - hooray) gave him a new box to explore, so he was delighted.

And, as I write this, I realize that I have truly become a crazy cat lady.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:04 AM 7 comments

Keeping it in perspective

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My friend Joanne, the queen of the seven-layer dip, has a great saying when it comes to communicating online: email has no tone. She has to remind herself constantly with this saying as she deals with buttheads all day. It helps her keep things in perspective.

It comes in really handy when the first thought that enters your head when reading an email is "What's wrong with you?" Sometimes it's best to step away from the keyboard. Especially when the writing is being problematic at best and the ability to conjugate verbs is at an all-time low.

:::borrows matchbook from Wylie and sets the last chapter, which includes a two-page description of a dress. on fire:::

As for me, I do the whole "How will I feel about this five years from now?" determination. It turns out that most of the stuff I spend hours/days/months worrying about doesn't add up to a hill of beans, with or without Humphrey Bogart being involved.

Another handy trick, borrowed from Clay Aiken and shaken up, is the good-old WWMD, which stands for What Would Madonna Do?

It kind of removes any limits, dontcha think? And no, I'm too worried about Zaphod at the vet's today to do any parody writing right now. Maybe next week.

What about you? How do you keep things real?


posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:24 AM 5 comments

One step forward

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Okay, I promise not to do a Paula Abdul parody, even though I'm sorely tempted.

Currently I'm working on my first article for a U.S. publication, a wee little regional magazine that I'll name later so as not to jinx anything. ;) For me, this helps with two of my goals: adding more magazines to my list and expanding my reach to areas south of the border.

Yes, Maya was correct. World domination is part of the overall plan. Along with the spray cheese. ;)

So this counts as one big-honkin' step forward. Until I get to the whole IRS thing. Right now my desk is littered with printouts of forms that all have W's in their names and the language used on them is about as understandable as bicycle assembly instructions on Christmas Eve.

Not that I've ever done that myself, but I've heard stories.

And through this process, I've started to worry. Do I really want to start up a relationship with the IRS? The taxes and forms used up here are bad enough. Add another country into the mix and things could get really scary.

Then again, many Canadians have paved the way so that earning money from Uncle Sam isn't quite as hazardous before. At least I think so. It just feels like it's easier being a foreign non-resident than an illegal alien.

Maybe I'll start using FNR as my new name. I can get it done up in a nice logo and pull a Prince or something. Or maybe I should double-check the paperwork to make sure I'm not signing up for Wal-mart greeter duty. ;)

If anyone out there has tips on how Canadian writers deal with earning income (through freelance work, not a regular salary) from the U.S., please help!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:50 AM 4 comments

There's something you should know

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Zaphod is getting fixed on Thursday and I don't think I'm ready for it.

Of course, the term "fixed" indicates that something is broken, which is completely false. He's a perfectly happy and healthy little guy with a penchant for stealth activities and calling out in the middle of the night just to make sure we know he's okay.

He can also duck rather well. ;)

I guess it just boggles my mind that I've now been a crazy cat lady for six months. How easily this wee abandoned-in-our-backyard kitten became a part of our five-houseplant household amazes me. DH and I had spent years talking about getting a dog when fate decided we'd be better off with a neurotic cat and brought him to our door.

Here's a reminder of what he looked like when we first rescued him:

And here he is now:

Oh, I better go fuss around him until he tells me to go away. ;)


posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:06 AM 6 comments

Write it

Monday, January 14, 2008

After seeing Mr. Jackson recently (in action-figure form, but it was still a momentous occasion), I thought it would be appropriate to have a little fun with his lyrics:

My inner critic always comes around here
Don’t need him in this space, he better disappear
My word count’s on the line and the due date’s coming near
So write it, just write it

This ain’t no fun, I have to do what I can
Don’t wanna be unpubbed, don’t wanna be a sham
It’s gonna be tough, better pick up the pen
So write it, but it’s gonna be bad

Just write it, write it, write it, write it
Even if you’re too excited
Spelling’s all funky and tense is a plight
It doesn’t matter if you get it right
Just write it, write it
Just write it, write it
Just write it, write it
Just write it, write it

The doubt will get you, does whatever it can
You don’t wanna play it coy, or be an also-ran
You wanna get published, better sit on your can
And write it, just write it

My keyboard’s melting and it’s got me all scared
I'm writing for my life, I ain’t got time to spare
Tasks taunt me, then distract me
Because life isn’t fair
So write it, but it’s gonna be bad

Just write it, write it, write it, write it
Even if you’re too excited
Spelling’s all funky and tense is a plight
It doesn’t matter if you get it right
Just write it, write it
write it, write it, write it...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:29 AM 4 comments

The Secret works

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Just when I thought it was safe to do some bellyaching yesterday about all the stuff I had to do, even more requests arrived! And no, I'm not referring to the gnome-home building, the house painting or the Bermuda-book blurbage comments on that post (thanks guys). These were entirely new "off the radar" requests for my time, including one that made me miss watching the Biggest Loser last night:

I helped a friend study for an English test that's part of his high school equivalency program. Oh. Mah. Gawd. Did you know that all of the verb tenses we use have names? Like past perfect and present progressive? Why don't I remember any of this? This must have been a class I missed because of really bad cramps or a zit the size of Texas.

And yes, admitting that I can't name verb tenses on a blog where I claim to be a professional writer probably isn't wise. Especially with query letters flying their way around the Internet. ;) But I completely forgot how cruel the English language is. And how many verbs out there defy logic. Like swim. How the heck did it turn into swam or, for heaven's sake, swum?

That's a rhetorical question; you can put your hand down now. ;)

Looking over my friend's textbook made me shudder with all of the terms that I've long-since forgotten. Sure, I know my dangling modifiers (snicker) and all the other things that Schoolhouse Rock taught me, but there are a lot of things that I do automatically without knowing specifically why.

And that makes me kind of nervous...because I could be under some kind of grammar-mind-control spell or something. Hey, you never know. ;)

If you haven't experienced Schoolhouse Rock, please do yourself a favour and head over to YouTube. While Conjunction Junction is a top pick for most, I'm a sucker for adverbs. I think this is why I ended up getting into advertising:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:18 PM 6 comments

Need a favour?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It appears that a ton of people that I offered to help in some way or another last year are now taking me up on that offer. Not that I mind, really. I just find it hilarious that they all decided to hit me up in the second week of January.

And if you were thinking of asking me for something this week, too stinkin' bad! Or just wait until February. ;)

Now, for some, these requests are expected, as I offered to help friends and family members when we saw each other at holiday gatherings. The few that make me shake my head are the ones who haven't mentioned anything for six months and are now ready to move forward with whatever it was I was going to help them with.

Just know that, whatever these things are -- résumé resurrection to portfolio pondering to giving something a read -- they all require undivided attention. Therefore they can't be combined with watching Celebrity Apprentice or my Melrose Place DVDs. And my undivided attention is something that's pretty darn scarce for me during the second week of January.

:::gulps at the thought of the four articles due and the workshop on Saturday:::

Luckily most of these favour-askers aren't on a tight schedule. Of course, I don't think any of them would appreciate me taking six months to look at a résumé or read something they want to start submitting. ;)

The best part is that I find all of these things fun to do. Now if only I had the time to do them. Le sigh.

posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:47 AM 9 comments

Down time? Hello?

Monday, January 7, 2008

It appears that today is the day most everyone is back to work, which is great and all, but I always end up wondering if I made the most of my down time. And then I start wondering what I meant when I said down time. ;)

Luckily now I have Zaphod the Kitten of Mass Destruction to demonstrate true down time to me on a daily basis. Mornings are spent racing around the house, first happily playing before moving on to doing all the things that drives Bonnie cray-zee and then, just when she's ready to lock him in the bathroom for a time out, he finds his favourite spot at the moment and stretches out for a nap. For the rest of the day.

If I could apply his schedule to my own, I'd only have two hours to get everything done.

Hmm, that doesn't sound too bad at all.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:57 PM 3 comments

For the love of Trump

Friday, January 4, 2008

I couldn't help myself; I just had to watch the first episode of Celebrity Apprentice to see how bad things really are in the world.

As much as I hate to admit it, I thrilled in seeing all of these "celebrities" thrown in the ring together. And you've gotta love Omarosa for trying to continue her plan to become the biggest b-list bi-atch in the universe. Too bad Carol Alt just might peel her face off when she's not looking next week.

In this episode, selling hot dogs was the goal...or was it? I think it might have been "public humiliation" or "figure out that the same rules don't apply for celebrities" as Gene Simmons immediately pulled out his phone and started inviting his wealthy friends to catch a flight to NYC to pay $5K for a hot dog. Mustard was extra.

The women, bless their hearts, tried to convince Omarosa that using their celebrity status just might help them raise money...since they can't walk around naked. Unfortunately the evil project manager didn't get that standard business practices wouldn't work for people who were used to having assistants and PR people. Oh, life must be real hard for those gals.

While the bitching was fun to watch, I have a strong suspicion that this new Apprentice format is going to get real tired by episode 3. This show may end up being called "Phone A Friend" if every challenge involves raising money and we watch as these celebs run out of people to call.

Poor Playmate of the Year Tiffany was "saving her call to the Hef for a bigger challenge." Too bad she was the first one fired. :::wipes away a tear:::

Can't wait until next week!


posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:21 PM 4 comments

Happy 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I said BRR, it's cold up here, there must be some Canucks in the atmosphere...

Sorry, I was just channelling my inner cheerleader while trying to keep warm during this bitterly cold Canadian winter day. ;) At least I was able to exercise yesterday by helping the DH with some major shovelling. It was the heavy, packing-into-ice stuff too. Arg.

And, I must admit, I found myself watching the 20-minute intro to The Secret yesterday. Even though I'd read the book, it appears that I forgot about the first step in the Laws of Attraction: sending out those good vibes.

Heck, I was in the running for being the poster child for negativity. A day couldn't go by without me finding something to complain about or shake my fist at.

At first, I tried to blame everything on the writers' strike and then the lack of produce in my new fridge before I finally discovered that everything seemed to stem from one point: me.

So I decided to shake things up and see if watching even a snippet of this powerful film could change my life. How could a girl resist? The Secret seems to have worked for a ton of people, why not give it a try?

Click here if you haven't seen it yet. (Thanks to Michelle for sharing it.)

I watched. Then I watched it again. And a lot of it made sense. Especially the part about how negative thoughts can lead to negative stuff happening to you...or increase the amount of bad stuff coming your way.

One area where I could certainly use the Laws of Attraction is in the querying process. Whether for articles or books, you have to possess the belief that someone out there wants your stuff. It would be really tragic if you were going through all that effort if you thought your work wasn't worthy. Sure, negative thoughts are bound to creep in when your queries receive a rejection or that wall of silence that can drive a writer crazy, but you don't have to think that way all the time.

:::straightens shoulders and flips hair back like she means business:::

So I shall endeavor to make The Secret work for me, even if it means being a drive-me-up-the-wall-with-happiness-and-light type of person. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:29 PM 2 comments