A wee cyber-breather

Monday, April 28, 2008

I did something really crazy yesterday: I stayed offline. Almost all day.

The main reason was because I had a project due today that I know required my full attention, and trying to write while blogging, checking email and entering contests does not make for strategic, solutions-focused copy.

Yeah, it was one of those types of projects -- no limericks allowed. ;)

And, despite the shakes that hit me by mid-afternoon, I was doing okay. Moved along at a fairly steady clip and everything. By dinnertime I wondered what would happen if I tried to work on my next novel this way.

Of course, part of me shouted out, "Whaddya mean, no Internet? Me needs Internet. The precious, my precious..." and then scurried off into the spare bedroom on all fours.

The rest of me considered what taking on such a quest could do for my word count. Would disconnecting with cyber space really get me to write faster? Or would I find some other way to procrastinate, like laundry or limbo dancing?

:::searches house for long strips of bamboo and comes up empty:::

What do you think? Is the Internet your friend or foe when it comes to getting things done?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 7:53 PM 4 comments

The cold named Elvis has left the building

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Okay, I'm feeling much better. So much so that I actually worked out with my personal trainer today. Thank goodness she took it easy on me or I don't think I'd have been able to negotiate the bus ride home. ;)

Now that I can think clearly, I've noticed that my tendency to allow things to pile up has reached new heights. Yes, the pun is totally intended. There's stuff all over the place. Neat stuff. Old stuff. Wearable stuff. Readable stuff. Stuff I don't even remember owning.

There's even stuff with expiry dates, like coupons and cold medications.

So today I decided to rise above these distractions and gave myself half an hour to sort through as much stuff as I could, kind of like on Clean Sweep, that clutter-busting show I love on TLC.

The result? I found the coffee table, and filled a recycling bin with stuff that I'd hung onto for so long it had legwarmers on it. ;)

As a woman who hangs onto every single piece of paper that enters my home, I call that progress.

What's your worst clutter habit?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:59 PM 3 comments

Happy Earth Day

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm battling a cold that's totally knocked the wind out of my sails, zapped my batteries and every other cliche about feeling about as lively as a rungless ladder. Ugh.

I've been trying to sleep through most of it, but
  • the kitten needs to be entertained,
  • I really should eat, and
  • there's a ton of work that needs to get done!
So I've been reducing (not leaving the house), reusing (wearing the same yoga pants for five days straight) and recycling (all those spent tissues are in the composter) to celebrate Earth Day. Okay, maybe not intentionally, but that's how I'm labelling it for the press. ;)

Today my goal is to step outside and attempt to rake my lawn. All of my control-freak neighbors have already raked, seeded, aerated, weeded and spray-painted their lawns so they look lush and green enough for Tiger Woods to play on. That's okay, I'll just tell Tiger my landscaping was influenced by divots.

Oh, you know I'm not feeling well when I resort to golf humor. (Sorry Dad.)

How do you plan on celebrating Earth Day?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:06 AM 2 comments

Keeping your eye on the prize

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's been a wild week over here in BonnieLand. A lot of stuff is getting accomplished, but there are still a few to-do's that are patiently waiting to get done. And I really can't afford to let another month slip through my fingers before I check them off the list.

So I asked a few sober friends what I should do about it. Most of them, after asking why I was holding off on serving up the daiquiris, suggested I keep my eye on the prize.

"But this isn't a contest," I said. "I just want to outline my next book."

"That's the prize," Oprah* replied before finishing off the seven-layer dip using only one nacho.

"Huh?" Clearly there was something missing for me, besides the dip.

Oprah sipped at her water before she gave me one of her "I have all the answers" smiles. "If it's something you really want to do, getting it done is your reward."

The rest of the group -- Ellen*, Dr. Phil*, Tyra* and Sawyer* -- agreed. Well, I'm not sure if Sawyer agreed with them or not, he just winked at me and looked hawt.

"But I want new shoes," I whined. "That was gonna be my reward."

Dr. Phil cleared his throat. "Bonnie, you've gotta get out of the shoe store and over to the outline store."

"Whoa, there's a store for book outlines?"

He shook his head. "It was just one of my annoying sayings. Can we get those drinks now?"

Hmm. Can getting the job done actually be enough of a reward in itself? It's worked for me before...but what about those shoes? Maybe I should just work on my outline and see what happens. You never know.

* wouldn't it be cool to have all of those people over for a meeting. Heck, they don't all have to be there at the same time or anything. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:27 AM 3 comments


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

That little word has so much power, it scares me sometimes.

Why? Because it can make the difference between a good gesture and a need for attention, a charge of manslaughter and first-degree murder, and a simple pot-luck error or soiree sabotage.

Who the heck brought the chocolate fountain and forgot the chocolate? Ack!

Intent ties into a lot of things. Some call it The Secret and others call it working to a higher purpose, whether it be the heavens above or an already established five-year plan. When I find myself struggling with a decision to make, I sit back and look at what my intentions would be for doing or not doing the task at hand.

Usually that shows me whether or not I'd be doing something for the "right" reasons. Of course, I use the word "right" with a heavy grain of salt, since there are no right or wrong reasons, just ones that work or don't work toward what we're trying to achieve.

Gosh, that sounds preachy, doesn't it? LOL

What I mean is, if I'm doing something for the "wrong" reason, chances are I'm gonna feel like a lump of crud at the end of it. Forget about that sense of accomplishment; I'll be kicking myself for taking on the task in the first place.

Kind of like offering to store five-hundred chocolate cupcakes in my basement overnight. You know that's just gonna turn into a bad scene. Especially if there's a full carton of milk in the fridge.

Stay true to your intentions, and you'll always find yourself close to the path you need to be on.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:27 PM 0 comments

What I've been up to since January

Monday, April 14, 2008


New Canadian Series Premiering Wednesday, May 14 at 9:30 p.m. Follows Seven Women Who Strive to Get Healthy, Happy and “Unstuck”

(Toronto, Canada) W Network, Canada’s #1 specialty channel for women, presents Stuck, a new 13-part docu-soap that follows the journey of seven diverse women who come together to achieve what they could not alone: regained confidence and energy through a health and weight loss program, and the ability to enjoy their lives without reservation or hesitation. Produced by 52 Media Inc. in association with W Network, this inspiring series premieres Wednesday, May 14 at 9:30 p.m.

For some the biggest hurdle is just showing up, while others are facing more severe consequences including heart disease and depression. Using each other for support, they wrestle with their bad food habits, take on years of procrastination and try to balance their new fitness regimen with their families, careers and social lives. With the help of fitness trainers, dietitians and each other, the women learn to open up, even in the most self-conscious environment – the gym.

In the first episode, premiering Wednesday, May 14 at 9:30 p.m. (r) 11 p.m., the group journey begins as the women come together over a healthy meal and share their personal histories and the results of their first fitness assessment. One woman is shocked to discover her weight now exceeds her husband's, and another weeps as she pleads with the group to understand that physical appearance is just a “shell”.

The series reminds us what can happen, when the body – both physically and emotionally – takes a backseat to work, family and everyday life obligations. Stuck is a weekly dose of inspiration for both the seven women involved and viewers at home.

The series features: Nicole, 28, a former athlete and aspiring actress; Magnolia, 36, a mother of two who has struggled with her weight since childhood; Maxine, 41, a working mom who feels guilty taking time for herself; Clarice, 52, an older mother with two grown children who has withdrawn from friends as her weight increased; Tracy, 39 (Note: she's actually 37), a master procrastinator suffering from high blood pressure; Mary, 33, an over-indulger who has used food to deal with the loss of her brother; and Bonnie, 40, a self-proclaimed “gym loser”, who is suffering from diabetes and needs to get off the couch and into a healthy lifestyle now.

W Network, the #1 women’s specialty service in Canada, is watched by over 10 million viewers in an average month. W’s line-up delivers compelling entertainment for women, ranging from blockbuster movies to popular dramas and lifestyle series. Its website, http://www.wnetwork.com/ offers in-depth show information featuring expert advice from hosts in addition to a popular games section and a rich online community. W has built a leadership position as “marketing to women experts” through its various research initiatives, including the W Her Report.W Network is owned by Corus Entertainment Inc., a Canadian-based media and entertainment company.

All times ET/PT

- 30 -

I have no idea where they came up with "gym loser." I would have much preferred something like hot mama, media whore or even couch potato. ;)

Have your people call my people, okay? LOL

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:24 PM 8 comments

The best laid plans

Friday, April 11, 2008

This week has been fabulously busy and I realized about an hour ago that it's Friday. Woot!

Of course, working from home makes me forget about weekends. Mainly because I tend to work all the time. And no, that's not a call-out for a collective "aww" (but thanks if you did), it's just that I tend to work in strange ways.

Sorry, I just snorted Diet Coke up my nose again.

Let me rephrase the "strange ways" part. I'm always working on a number of projects at a time. That's part of the thrill (!) of being a freelancer: always making sure that there's work to be done. Where I get into trouble is in three ways:

Doing the easy stuff first
The theory is to do one easy task to give you a sense of accomplishment, which will inspire you to take on the more difficult tasks. It's a terrific theory, but my take on it is to do all the easy tasks first because, well, they're easy. Who wants to do the hard stuff?

And yes, that usually leaves me between the proverbial rock and a hard place. ;)

Not following my own deadlines
If anyone else on the planet gives me a deadline, I will try my absolute best to meet it. Most of the time I even do. (Yeah me!) But for projects on which I've placed a personal deadline, like a novel, I have yet to meet the first milestone dates I set for myself.

Of course, I know why: because I do the work for "other people" first. And it's hard taking the time to write when you've already spent most of the day writing. Right?

Getting bogged down doing "research"
It all starts out innocently enough. I go online to look up a particular fact or the proper spelling of a new multivitamin, and the next thing you know I've checked everyone's blogs and entered 387 contests. Four hours have suddenly evaporated and I'll never get that time back.

For this reason alone, I'm staying away from Facebook. ;)

So where do you get into trouble with your writing?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 7:58 PM 3 comments

It's nothing personal

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I don't know about you, but life would be a lot simpler if everyone had the same opinion.

Of course, that would make things would get really, really boring. (Or cheesy if we were all Garvis fans!)

Everyone would like the same things and, as for the things that no one liked, manufacturers wouldn't even bother trying to improve upon them to make them more tempting or useful.

If that were the case, we might never have enjoyed spray cheese or Chia Pets. Can you imagine?

And then we come to the lovely topic of how people like our writing. Le sigh. Whether it's a rejection letter, a page where the "tracked changes" feature makes it look like your screen is bleeding, or a contest entry score that doesn't even add up to a pass, there are many folks out there who have opinions about our words.

And not everyone is gonna give them two thumbs up. Even when you promise them chocolate.

The painful part is that this is feedback we've asked for. It didn't just drop out of the sky like a blob of bird dung. No, you spent the time and energy to put it out there, just to see if it would fly.

And that's why we should congratulate ourselves for taking that big step and opening that scary feedback door. Sometimes it gently opens and wind chimes can be heard in the distance. Other times it slams right back in our face before we have a chance to say hello.

That's just the way things are. It's nothing personal.

Oh, but it is. Especially with how we deal with this lovely gift that might currently be wrapped in wilted cabbage leaves and barbed wire. Or something else just as unpleasant. Like stinkweed.

While it might be tempting to throw that stinking mess away -- or regift it if you happen to be giving feedback to someone else -- hang onto it for a bit. Leave it on the back porch if you have to. ;)

And then, when you're ready, peel back the layers and dig around. You might be surprised to find something, even though it's someone else's opinion, that might actually ring true. Or even, horror of horrors, the opinion-giver may have revealed something you may not have noticed before.

Remember to thank them for their honesty -- personally.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:34 PM 3 comments

Tell a story

Monday, April 7, 2008

If there's one thing I've learned about writing, it's that the more you learn the harder it gets.

And I think that can be applied to just about anything, really. Look at how kids play: they just go out there and do it. They don't concern themselves about wearing the proper footwear or ensuring that they have sunscreen on or wondering if they have some Kleenex in their handbag in case their noses start to drip unexpectedly.

Heck, they don't even consider handbags unless it's a small change purse shaped like a monkey's head to carry money around for when they go out to buy treats. Treats!

Now where was I? Oh yeah, writing. In Grade 1, the way we learned about writing went along the lines of this:

Tell a story.

So we did. We wrote beautiful passages like:

Example 1: Timmy has a dog.

Example 2: Rachel rode her bike.

Then, as we moved into the next grade, the teacher asked us to do something else to write well:

Add descriptions to tell us more.

So we did.

Example 1: Timmy, the boy next door, has a dog named Fig. It's brown with white spots.

Example 2: Rachel rode her bike to school. It has a banana seat. I like banana seats.

By the time we entered middle and high school, all of those hormones running through our systems had to come out somehow. So our frightened teachers gave us another great writing tip:

Use emotions.

So we did.

Example 1: Timmy, the cute boy next door who never gave me the time of day, has a dog named Fig. Well, he used to, but Fig passed away. That was very sad. I offered Timmy a hug but he hugged Marta instead. I hate her. Heck, I hate Timmy too.

Example 2: Rachel rode her bike to school until her parents gave her a car. Now that Rachel has a car, she's ignoring all of her old friends and hanging out with the cool kids. I hate her.

And, as we soon discovered, emotions can only take you so far. What really drives any story is GMC: goals, motivation and conflict. So to write even "more good," we had to:

Add some GMC.

And that's when things get difficult. Here's why:

Example 1: Though Timmy put on a brave face, he was crumbling inside. Witnessing his dog's demise made Timmy realize how short life really was. Each day was a gift, yet he was surrounded by takers. Marta had seemed so kind at first, but now all he could hear was resentment in her voice whenever he suggested they do volunteer work at the local animal shelter. He had to dump her, and fast.

Example 2: Rachel felt like she owned the world when she turned the key in the ignition. Every time the engine in her cherry-red Mustang roared to life, so did a long-forgotten part of her. This was the Rachel that stayed hidden while her father beat the crap out of her and her sister. This was the Rachel nobody messed with because she was finally the one in control. Now if only she could get out of the driveway without popping the clutch.

Of course, GMC is a tricky thing to master, mainly because it's almost impossible to master it on your own. Just like with a vocal coach, you need someone else to help guide you and let you know if you're singing in the right key...or at least kind of close to it.

And it's almost impossible to be objective about your own words. Especially when you love them one day and then hate them the next.

But good writing all boils down to the first thing we ever learned about it:

Tell a story.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:28 PM 7 comments

Goal check

Sunday, April 6, 2008

This has nothing to do with hockey, and everything to do with my goals for 2008. Now that a third of the year is gone already (Eeek!), I thought I'd check in and see where I'm at with all of them.

1. Get healthy
STATUS: Going for it! I'm working out at least three times a week, twice with a personal trainer. I'm still struggling with food, but have made a conscious effort not to eat total crap all the time. ;)

2. Land at least two more magazine columns
STATUS: Not yet.

3. Do what it takes to land an agent
STATUS: Working on it!

4. Finish current WIP
STATUS: 20 pages to go!

5. Write DD (the next novel)
STATUS: Not even close.

6. More magazine articles
STATUS: I'm keeping up with submitting two article queries/week and my efforts are paying off! Woo hoo!

7. Make time to write the novels
STATUS: Need to work on this more.

8. A day off
STATUS: Oh crap, did I really make this a goal? LOL

9. A trip...or three
STATUS: Only RWA is planned so far, so I'm still working on it.

10. More new stuff
STATUS: Oh yeah, this one is totally getting done. More info to come when I can share it.

BONUS ITEM: Have way more fun
STATUS: Delightfully working on this one!

Wow, I'm further ahead than I thought in some areas and waaaay behind in others. And that day off a week thing I really need to work on, as things are getting crazy over here in BonnieLand with buckets of opportunity. Now I just need more fabulous prizes (maybe a trip?) and things would be absolutely righteous!

Now I'm gonna get outside and grab me some sunshine.

How about your goals? Are you any closer to achieving them than four months ago?


posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:05 AM 3 comments

Life in transit

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I worked on site for a client today, which meant taking a bus route that I normally don't ride along. Within three stops I had a request for spare change, a bus token and a kind gentleman asked me if I wanted to learn more about his relationship with God and how it could help me.

All of this happened while I had my headphones and sunglasses on. ;)

What impressed me most with these requesters was that everyone was so darn friendly. The first gentleman got the apple from my lunch. the second received a "sorry," and the third, a polite, "No thanks, I have to listen to this report before I get to the office."

Of course, I was listening to INXS at the time, but he didn't need to know that. Oddly enough, "The Devil Inside" was playing. LOL

When I arrived, my supervisor put a finger to his lips and nodded at the wall between the office we were sharing and the meeting room next to it. It doesn't go all the way up to the ceiling so we get to hear everything going on. Someone was having a meeting. Without saying a word I organized all my crap (Diet Coke, snacks, hand sanitizer, chocolate fountain, family photos...okay, I'm kidding about some of these) and was happily preparing to get down to work when I heard:

"But it really wasn't clear what I should do in my situation," a man said in a whiny tone. "I had already taken some NyQuil and I passed out almost immediately."

"Most people would call in sick when they decide to stay home," said a woman. "That way we know that you won't be showing up instead of wondering where you are."

Pages flipped and she added: "We called your house twice and there was no answer."

"Oh, I turned off the phone in my bedroom so I wouldn't be disturbed."

Oh yeah, that's a really good thing to do when you're taking a sick day. This guy had moves I hadn't even considered. Too bad I'm freelancing. ;)

The woman sighed. "There's also the the time you disappeared from the office last week for an hour after having only just arrived. You missed a key meeting."

"Oh, I needed to move my car," the man said. "I was parked at a meter but I only had a quarter. Then I had to find a free place to park and the only one was really far away. It took me a while to get back to the office, but it wasn't an hour."

"How long was it then?"

"No more than 45 minutes."

"I see." The woman (I assumed) flipped some more pages. "You didn't tell anyone where you were going and you missed a meeting."

"People leave the office all the time to go for coffee or lunch," he said. "I don't know why this is such a problem. At least I came back."

And that's when my supervisor and I had to leave our office and race to the kitchen so that we could laugh out loud. I think this guy is gonna be the Employee of the Month.

Or maybe he just needs to take the bus. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 6:57 PM 3 comments

It's April already?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The crocuses in my front garden are in full bloom. How the heck did I miss that?

Today is a balmy (okay, above zero) day, and I'm delighted to watch all the piles of snow die...er, I mean, melt away. It's been too long a winter and, while I love being inside hunched over a keyboard, I'm itching to enjoy the great outdoors. Maybe even on a bike or something crazy like that. ;)

My extended self-imposed deadline on my current WIP was not met as of midnight last night. I'm about 20 pages short. But endings to books are so over-rated these days, right?

Trouble is, it's a first draft. And while being a first draft of anything isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's true that bad things happen in first drafts. Again, I have a cast of thousands, but at least my heroine did not stop to eat in every other scene. According to my beta, who I may speak to again eventually, it's got good bones.

Ugh. Isn't that like setting your friend up with someone who has a "great personality"?

I jest to hide my pain. ;)

So I'm taking a step away from the WIP. For at least two weeks. Let my subconscious take over and figure things out, like the fact that my hero is a butthead. A serious butthead who needs a memo - STAT.

There are plenty of other things for me to work on right now -- like getting a partial polished and ready for a certain publisher. Squee! Oh, and maybe some laundry.

Do you have any big plans for April?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:53 PM 6 comments