So effective you can skip a day

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Advertising slogans like that make me wonder how many people out there skip applying deodorant, thinking that what they put on yesterday will do just fine.

Actually, I don't need to wonder -- I can simply follow my nose. ;)

While pit wax isn't the most popular of topics, I'm amazed at how many freaking varieties are out there. Whether they're scented or not is no longer the big draw -- they've got ones with skin conditioners, ion-infused stink preventers and ones that don't leave white stuff on your clothes in case you wanna wear your shirt inside out. Like at the club.

It's as if there are different genres of pit wax. I refer to the old stuff in the back of the cabinet as Historical, while the new stuff that's guaranteed to help me lose weight and dance better is definitely of the Fantasy variety. And the Dark Paranormal stuff feels wrong going on and causes boils if exposed to sunlight.

Okay, so maybe we aren't the type to skip the daily deo-for-the-b.o., but what if we tried to skip a day on achieving our goals? Would they still come to fruition? Or would the lack of results leave a bad smell?

For me, writing is a lot easier when I do it every day. And I'm not talking blog posts or letters of complaint to contest organizers because their odds are one in five billion to win the grand prize. Sure, that's writing, but it's not adding to the page count.

How about you? What happens when you skip a day on your WIP?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:38 PM 4 comments


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Expectations are the bane of existence for anyone entering a contest. Any type of contest, actually. Because when you enter, you want to win. Or at least that's my modus operandi. (Entering to lose is best left for the politicians, thank you very much.)

So when you get that fabulous email regarding that fabulous writing contest you've entered, you expect it to be, well, fabulous.

And it really sucks when it's not.

But it's not all heinous and nasty. Sometimes there really is a touch of silver in that descending cloud of doom. I'll be the first to admit I've been known to shake my fist at the sky and declare that some judges "don't know quality work when they see it!" Or that "my plot involving the marshmallows and the karaoke-loving zombie is totally believable!"

Yeah, it gets pretty darn interesting when I first review the results. Sometimes I play Pink Floyd's The Final Cut just to lighten the mood. Or Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Good times, just pass the exorcism ritual guide and I'm all set. ;)

I really wish I could remember to not read the feedback right away, but that's like telling me not to think about chocolate. Or bad '80s videos. It's all part of who I am. Curious and blonde: a verra, verra dangerous combination.

So I had a fun August with three sets of scoresheets from various contests I entered and did not become a finalist in (the fools!). I ranted. I raved. Then the DH suggested I put the dreaded documents of constructive feedback away so that he and the cat could enjoy the last days of summer without hiding in the basement.

Grumbling, I tucked them (the documents, not the family members) into a drawer and waited four whole days before I looked at them again. Okay, maybe three. ;)

Then I started noticing something. With time, the evilness faded away and turned into something...useful. I even found myself nodding once or twice. Sure there were some instances where opinions were clearly divided (especially on the marshmallows being a weapon of mass destruction) and, in a few cases, the jury all agreed (like how some of the zombies weren't loving the karaoke enough to save the world).

It hurt at first, reading that my baby wasn't perfect and had a smelly diaper. But the diaper can be changed.

(Oh, I'm groaning too, my apologies.)

Based on the depth of the judges' feedback on my entries and the encouragement their words provided, I feel like I'm on the right path with this story, even though that diaper needs changing, big time.

And that was something unexpected.

How about you? Have you ever received feedback that changed the way you approached your work?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:30 AM 8 comments

Just because

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My section of screaming to-dos is still here, waiting for refills on their decaf. (Man, I do not miss waitressing at all.) And today, for some strange reason, I decided to make a choice: to be happy about it.

Yeah. I actually celebrated how crazy-busy my schedule is. Whooped it up and danced through the streets with my to-do list trailing around me and behind me as a mariachi band played along.

Okay, maybe it wasn't like that. But it was close...

I guess part of what makes this craziness palatable is that I'm working on stuff I really enjoy doing. Brainstorming. Creating. Working with groovy people. And those with a sense of humor. ;)

Sure, it's not all chocolate fountains and firemen, but it's party-like. At least in my books.

So, as I continue my par-tay, here are links to two articles that I wrote for Homemakers magazine that are finally online:

Life Lessons from Comedy School

My Ziplining Adventure at 40


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posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:49 AM 3 comments

Don't hold back

Sunday, August 24, 2008

If there's one piece of advice that I keep on getting in everything that I do, it's to not hold back. Put it on the page! Emotion, emotion, emotion! Give it all you've got, and then some.

Yeah, I kind of feel like I'm in the middle of the next Sylvester Stallone movie. Ka-pow!

And it's not just the writing I'm talking about here. It's in all that I'm doing. I mean, sure, I'm eating better and trying to get to the gym on a somewhat regular basis, but am I really "bringing it"?

Probably not.

Am I squeezing the most out of every day?

Not by a long shot. But that little voice inside my head always says things like "don't burn yourself out" or "save something for when you're really gonna need it." Ah, don't you just love it when your bottle of positive energy was put into the recycling bin by mistake?

I doubt that any Olympic athletes ever allowed themselves to even consider holding back. Heck, if they did, they'd be back at home, chugging back a cold one and watching the TV like the rest of us.

And, when I find myself in a holding pattern (usually during awards ceremonies, for some odd reason), I look at this photo for a reminder why holding back doesn't pay:

I'm swept away every time I see it. You can almost hear what the couple is thinking:

SHE: Je t'aime.

HE: Je t'aime you more, ma cherie.

Okay, so my French is not, how you say, fluent. But you get the idea.

Now, just imagine if, right before the shutter clicked, the woman wondered, "Did he pick up the dry cleaning?" or if he thought "Am I double-parked?" How do you think that photo would have turned out?

Probably something like this:

Sure, it's a kiss, but not one that holds such power, joie de vivre or the ability to make a woman wish that was her, just once. Maybe not in Paris, but somewhere.

Okay, back to the revisions...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:45 PM 2 comments

I'd like to buy a Q

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It really feels like I've been spinning the wheel this week. Not sure if there's fortune involved, but I'm a real sucker for prizes of any shape or form. Tonight, despite a screaming to-do list and a wee bit of sleep deprivation, I ventured downtown for an evening of luck and culture.

No, I wasn't playing checkers with the rummies again. ;)

My contest-loving friend Geri and I entered the Avenue Q ticket lottery. Two hours before each show, you can put your name in a hat for a pair of awesome seats for that night's performance for the incredible price of $25 each. Normally they go for $90 a pop.

It's perfect for cheapskates like us!

Using the secret ballot-folding techniques we practice at our monthly contest club meetings, we both felt positive that one of us was going to win. We went out to grab a quick dinner and used our positive-thinking powers to attract the Contest Gods and have them smile upon us.

At 7:00 p.m. we gathered back at the theater with the other hopeful ballot entrants, awaiting the man with the hat. The first few names he called, for some strange reason, we not ours, but Geri and I weren't worried. We agreed that if things looked dire, we'd take down one of the skinny guys whose name was called right away. ;)

Then, the dude with the hat pulled out my origami-swan of a ballot and called my name! So I squealed like a gal headed to Contestant's Row. It went something like this:


He stepped back nervously before handing me my ballot to take to the box office so I could purchase our cheap, awesome tickets (8th row, near the center). Oh, it's a powerful thing when my excitement terrifies grown men.

Ask the DH, he knows about it all too well.

So Geri and I got to see Avenue Q all up close and personal like. It's one of the most hysterical theatrical productions I've seen in ages. It made me laugh, it made me sniffle and, truth be told, it made me feel like I could do anything.

And that's a good thing, since I've got a lot of stuff left on that darn to-do list.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:51 PM 2 comments

This just in

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Help! De Zombies! Dey gotz mah brains. Now deys on de lam wid mah brains.

Is it possible to call in "Zombie" to an employer? Hmm. Being self-employed, I guess I could try it out through the magic of self-talk:


Bonnie's Boss (BB): Hello?

Bonnie: Me sick. Zombies ates mah brains.

BB: Not again! This is the fourth time this month. Do you have a doctor's note?

Bonnie: Can'ts getz to doc. No brains.

BB: Hmm. If you have the brains to call, I think you're well enough to write.

Bonnie: Write wid no brains? You kiddin'?

BB: No, me serious. Enough stalling, Bonnie. You're on a deadline, so hop to it!

Bonnie: I'z ain't no bunny.

BB: No words, no cash money.

Bonnie: Okay. Be dere soon.

Oh well, can't blame a gal for trying. Darn zombies...and bosses. Sheesh!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:15 PM 5 comments

A resounding yawp

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Okay, the dancing wore me out, so I think a song parody is in order.

Singing Out of Tune
(sing to the tune of "Walking on the Moon by The Police)

Big screeches are sounds you make
Singing out of tune
I hope windows don’t break
Singing out of tune
I could go forever
Singing out of tune
Bill Hung and me together
Singing out, singing out of tune

Singing from the back yard
Singing out of tune
Singing from the front yard
Singing out of tune
Animals scatter on the ground
Singing out of tune
Getting away from the sound
Of my singing out, singing out of tune

Some, they say
I’m driving neighbors away, no way
For my silence some will pay, out-lay
But I refuse to obey, José
I’m gonna still bray

Big screeches are sounds you make
Singing out of tune
I hope windows don’t break
Singing out of tune
I could go forever
Singing out of tune
Bill Hung and me together
Singing out, singing out of tune

Some, they say
I’m driving neighbors away, no way
For my silence some will pay, out-lay
But I refuse to obey, José
I’m gonna still bray

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:23 AM 3 comments

Dance monkey, dance!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I remember back in May when a colleague asked if I could take on a project slated for mid-to-late September. As tempted as I was to take it on, I took a day to look at everything I had planned for myself after my return from RWA Nationals. That's when my head exploded. The first time.

Thankfully, I didn't take on the project but now I'm in that crazy mess I predicted waaay back in May. And, I wouldn't have thought it possible, but the bog is much deeper than I anticipated.


This evening, when I realized it was no longer morning, it was Monday (not Sunday) and my to-do list had suddenly become an octopus, I had a moment. I gave myself 15.7 seconds to have it. ;)

Somehow I forgot to slow down since arriving back from San Francisco two weeks ago. All that rushing from workshops to lunches to gatherings to fan-girl experiences hasn't stopped. Not that I'm chatting up famous authors and editors and agents, mind you, but there has been chatting...with people who are famous in their own way. ;)

But this isn't anything new. I overload myself on a pretty darn regular basis. I'm sure if I created a "overwhelmed" label for my posts, I'd be able to predict exactly when I'll start dropping all those spinning plates again in the future. Sigh.

Right now, all I can really do is turn up the music and dance a little faster. Hopefully I'll outlast those stubborn to-do items...and burn off some calories at the same time.

So, speaking of dancing, I leave you with another fun vid:

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:11 PM 0 comments

Taking it easy

Friday, August 15, 2008

A short post today so I can get back to writing and editing and all that other fun stuff. Laundry may happen too. ;)

Maybe it was the funky office setup the lead signer had, but I LOVED this video back in the '80s -- and I still do today. I even tried to emulate his funky dance moves neat the end of the video, which led to my being banned from most clubs in the Toronto area.

Lesson: Be careful what you wish for. And "Don't Walk On Past."


posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:42 AM 2 comments

Is it me or is it because of...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This totally describes my week so far.

Too. Many. Zombies.

By phone. By email. In person. They are everywhere, trying to keep me from working through my manuscript revisions.

But I'm not gonna let them stop me, oh no siree. I have the tools I need on hand (Diet Coke, a red pen and salted licorice) to ensure I get on with this heinous task and complete it by month's end.

Of course, if I stopped answering the phone, checking email and maybe, just maybe, ignored the doorbell...

No, I can't ignore the doorbell. It could be someone delivering a fabulous contest win!

Laugh all you want, but I've already had two fabulous prizes arrive by courier this week, one of which was a prize pack including an orange tie-dyed t-shirt, size small.

Yeah me, but what were they thinking? I couldn't even get the thing over my head. Hey, it might make a nice party hat with a few alterations.

I just can't let the zombies get the better of me this week, and everything will be fine. Right?

Ugh. How do you keep your zombies at bay?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:15 AM 7 comments

Getting down with technology

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It took me two hours to send a fax yesterday.

Yes, you read that correctly. Two hours. And the technical term used was "fax."

Somehow I stepped outside of the time/space continuum and found a parallel universe where the Internet doesn't exist. Oh, and chocolate fountains weren't there either. Those poor people.

The reason the outdated technology was called forth is simple: one of my interview subjects for an article I'm working on prefers to receive the questions ahead of time. This is something savvy people do; I'll have to remember to ask for the questions beforehand when I get booked to appear on Ellen. ;)

Only the gentleman in question (well, his associate) asked if I could FAX over the questions.

"Of course," I replied, happy to finally get through the constantly busy phone lines to book the interview. "What's the number?"

After I hung up, I looked around my home office to see where the fax machine was. A stack of CDs slid off the desk as I peered around the office supplies and my ever-growing pile of books to read (thank you Nationals).

DH walked into the room, as did the cat, wondering what all the commotion was about.

"Don't I have a fax machine around here?" I asked him.

"Yes." He was giving me one of those looks again, not unlike Yoda. Only without the green skin and pointy ears -- and wacky verb use.

"Then where the heck is it?" I asked as the cat circled around my feet, effectively trapping me in my chair.

"On your desktop."

I turned and looked at my desk again, noticing my Vista Print re-order coupon was stuck underneath my Diet Coke can. The fax wasn't there, and I was sure the man I loved was pulling a fast one.

"Is not," I said with all the maturity a frustrated writer can manage.

He leaned over my shoulder and tapped at the keyboard. "The computer desktop, my love."

Program settings flashed across the screen, and they looked kind of familiar in an unfamiliar kind of way. His hands raced over the keys, making windows pop open, check marks appear in boxes and other bizarre things that I probably should have been paying attention to. Especially when he said:

"You're sure you can do this on your own? I'm heading out the door."

"Oh yeah," I lied. "I got this, no problem." I touched the mouse and a screen disappeared. "Go, you don't want to be late."

And that's when he left me.

My first ten attempts went nowhere since I didn't have the long-distance fax number entered correctly. And then I discovered that my wonderful fax program redials the number three times before giving up.

The person at the local number called me, a lovely woman named Gwen who used some interesting language to describe how she felt about fax machines. Little did I know that I was on the road to sharing her sentiments as I proceeded to work my way through the faxed-out madness.

Once I finally appeared to have deleted all the incorrect-number settings and entered the correct destination number one last time, I held my breath and stared at the progress bar on the screen.

Thirty seconds passed before it gave up. "Line busy" appeared in the status description.

No worries, I thought, cracking open a fresh Diet Coke, the system will do a retry. And another.

Curious, I dialed the fax number and was surprised when a voice answered.

"Is this Dr. X's fax number?" I asked.

"Yes," said the receptionist, "But sometimes patients call us on it when they can't get through on the other line."

Hmm. I'd have to try that one the next time I want to win a radio phone-in contest. Or get an appointment with my GP. :)

"Oh," I replied. "I've been trying to send a fax. I'm Bonnie, the writer with the list of questions."

"That's right. You said you were going to fax them right an hour ago." I heard papers shuffling at her end of the line. "Maybe you should mail them to us instead, the lines are always tied up on Tuesdays."

I was going to ask if it was because the doctor had some sort of Tuesday-only deal, but I resisted. There'd be time to ask him during the interview. If there was going to be one since the good doctor and his questions were still separated by a pesky modem and a busy phone line.

"How about I try as soon as we hang up?" I suggested.

She agreed and we both disconnected. When I turned to my screen I discovered, to my horror, that I had closed the fax program.

It only took me about ten minutes to find it. Only because I now knew that it was on my desktop. Ugh.

And yes, the fax finally did get through. And I just pray that the good doctor doesn't want to send one back to me. Good times. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:34 AM 4 comments

The Secret works

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Okay, so this isn't really breaking news, but I wanted to share.

There was a time (June), when work was a little scarce over here in BonnieLand. My boss and I discussed this at length, which drove the cat crazy since I was talking to myself, and she suggested that I "think prosperous thoughts" like The Secret suggests.

And this time, I should actually believe it.

So I harrumphed. Went into my cave of doubt and wallowed around for a while. Heck, I even sorted through some of the files scattered all over my desk just to avoid wasting my time on what my evil boss wanted me to do. The cow.

Then I came across a list of goals I had made for myself back in 2004. Here are two that I found very interesting:

"Write for Homemakers magazine"
Been there, done that! And my latest article for them is in this month's issue. Here's the link:

"Actually finish a book"
Woo hoo, I've got three of those! One that will never see the light of day, mind you, but at least I got to the sorry, bitter end.

Now, I couldn't blame The Secret for these successes, but I remember writing these goals down and being really gosh-darn positive about accomplishing them. And, whaddya know? I did.

(Well. most of them. I'm still waiting for Weird Al to call me back so we can work on a parody together.)

So that got me thinking...about thinking prosperous thoughts. And opportunities (ones that actually pay) are popping up like dandelions on my neighbor's lawn. It's pretty darn cool.

Either it's The Secret or my name's on the bathroom walls again. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Waiting for a sign

Monday, August 11, 2008

No, this isn't one of those posts where I suddenly claim to have seen the light and proceed to tell everyone that the sky is falling and squawk around like a chicken. Not that I haven't done that before.

Man, I miss the '80s.

Where was I? Oh yes, waiting. As a freelance writer and a writer of novels, waiting is a way of life. Waiting for responses to queries. Waiting for requests for more. Waiting for the big yes or the big stinky no. Oh, and don't get me started on waiting for the editor's notes and requests for changes. Ugh. As disturbing as it sounds, waiting for that kind of stuff is even worse than the others.

But without the waiting, we really have nothing. Because unless you put yourself out there, whether by sending out a query letter or partial manuscript or article idea, there's no reason for people to get back to you. Ergo (sorry, I just had to use it somehow today), no waiting.

And, because I'm so used to wasting time while waiting, I try to find out the answers ahead of schedule by visiting different gurus:

The Mystical Smoking Head of Bob will answer your yes or no questions with a dash of attitude. If you feel that he's leading you on, feel free to ask him if he's pulling your leg.

The Orb of Augury is fairly straightforward. The "shake your orb" has never worked for me, though. Perhaps it was because I was listening to "Shake Your Groove Thing" at the time.

And, if you need a dose of Simon Cowell in your day, look no further than the Archie McPhee Sarcastic Ball. Sometimes it's all you need to shake things up.


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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:02 AM 3 comments

At the intersection of terror and joy

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Oh yeah, can you tell I'm talking about revisions?

While it took me longer to get back into the swing of things since returning from San Francisco, I now find myself stressing over the stack of projects on my plate, including the lovely manuscript that needs a little more work.

Ugh. And there I was, thinking I could move on to my next fabulous novel idea. Well, I can, but I really should give the current WIP a massage before I let it fly out the door. So I'm giving myself until the end of August to make it the best it can be. Perfection is not the goal; all I want is a novel that connects with readers, agents, editors...and Oprah.

Of course, the many projects that patiently waited for my return are now tapping against the window, wanting to be let in -- especially with all the rain we've been getting. But how can I possibly choose what to tackle first?

Here are a few things I've discovered that help me tackle an overwhelming to-do list.

1. Do something that's not too easy and not too hard
I used to be one of those people who did an easy task first so that it would give me a rush of accomplishment, but what I discovered is that I always ended up doing all the easy tasks right away, leaving me tired with icky stuff to do. And that just sucks when you're left choosing between Heinous Project 1 and Heinous Project 2.

2. Then do a really challenging task
Use the momentum from the medium-level accomplishment to encourage you to do the one thing on the list that you really don't want to do. And, if you sincerely don't ever plan on doing it, delegate it or find a way to get it off your list forever. Claim to be in a coma or enrolled in the witness protection plan if that helps.

3. Get offline
Ack! This is the one thing that can hold me up no matter how much I'm enjoying what I'm doing. As a contest lover, there's nothing more distracting than doing "a few entries" to take a break. And, after staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time, the best way to take a break is to get up, move around and focus on something that doesn't require staring at a monitor. So yes, TV's out too.

4. Realize perfection isn't possible
Sure, we all want whatever we're doing to be gosh-darn perfect and prize-worthy, but there's only so much time in the day. Also, one thing I've learned as a freelancer, when you're working at a set rate for a project, whether you spend 10 or 100 hours on it, you still get paid the same amount. Do you want an hourly rate of $2.85? Didn't think so.

5. Write now, celebrate later
I don't know about you, but once I'm in that zone I'll do everything in my power to stay there, even if it means missing out on sleep or the latest trashy reality TV show. Celebrating the checking off of a task can wait until the chocolate fountain has warmed up.

Okay, I think I've procrastinated enough today. ;) Time to get back to work...wish me luck!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:16 PM 7 comments

Stuck recap: Episode 13 (Season Finale)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wow. That's the only word that sums up how I feel about this episode.

Well, I could also say "holy catfish, look at how skinny we all are now," but that doesn't have the same impact as a three-letter word.

Clarice had the best decorations, which never made it into the show. She had this inflatable ice chest that had a palm tree in the middle of it, there were garlands and leis everywhere, and I did up some of my carrot-and-green-pepper palm trees, which I learned to make when I used to be a Pampered Chef lady.

We put Clarice's son to work on the BBQ and Maxine brought the largest, tastiest salad I've ever seen in my life. It was HUGE. Or we were so skinny that everything around us looked big. :)

Oh, and what you didn't see was that it was FREAKING FREEZING. When the cameras weren't rolling we were clutching each other (or a cameraman or two) for warmth.

And a June bug flew over to the table and landed right into Nicole's oh-so-tempting cleavage! Magnolia screeched and jumped back about 12 feet in one smooth move while Nicole calmly made a few graceful adjustments and shook the bug out.

Now that's being a professional.

I simply can't imaging doing this (getting fit and actually going to the gym) without these gals. The seven of us all came together for our own reasons and it's amazing how our reasons for sticking to the program started to change. Instead of trying to please others or compete with others, we all started to do things for ourselves, no matter what else was going on in the background.

And that's hard to do with camera crews following you around and microphone cables in inconvenient places, let me tell ya.

The whole experience was totally worth it and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat -- or continue doing it if they ever decide to do Stuck II: The Legend Continues. ;) While parts of my journey -- being judged by a treadmill, telling Mary to use duct tape as a parenting tool and using that coupon for a free sundae -- made me feel...angry, uncomfortable and embarrassed, I wouldn't have the abs I have today if I didn't sign up for the program.

Now, I'll be honest, I struggle with making it to the gym. Thankfully Aden drags me there so that he can get to his beloved rowing machine. I just have to remember to push myself and not get too comfortable with my workouts. If I could afford it, I'd work out with Olga twice a week so that she could torture me in new, fun ways.

And yes, the seven of us all get together every once in a while to try new things. Belly dancing was a blast and there's talk of bowling, inline skating, soccer and other activities. I'll keep you posted on any cool things we try out. Who knows? I may turn into a fitness columnist for newbies or something.

Hey, you never know. At least now I know not to wear my socks in the shower at the gym anymore. ;)

While the show did compare our before and after images, the real difference for all of us is the way we feel about ourselves. We deserve to feel good. We deserve to feel energetic. And we owe it to ourselves to keep it up.

Especially if they do a "Where are they now?" episode next year. LOL

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 5:12 PM 8 comments

Still recovering from RWA

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I've unpacked. Done the laundry. Found room for the shoes and ultra-affordable clothing I purchased. And that's about it.

No, I lie. Most of my day was spent going through emails, piles of paper and to-do lists from days of yore (otherwise known as July), when a nagging thought kept tapping at the back corner of my consciousness:

Shoulda done more of that networking stuff at Nationals.

Sure, I hung out with cool writers (introduced to me by Michelle and Laurie), was dragged to shake hands with editors (thanks to Amy, Wylie and Christine) and met a few agents (thanks to an online booking form and Michelle again), but I still feel that I could have done a bit more of that reaching-out thing...

Only it makes me feel like treading in dangerous waters...

Thanks must go to Erica Ridley for sharing this fabulous San Francisco photo with me. And she says some folks were swimming despite this oh-so-gentle warning.

Where was I? Oh yes, swimming with the networking sharks. Perhaps I should have participated more in all the loops I lurk on. Maybe I should have simply blurted out a "how are ya" when I recognized a name on someone's chest.

Ugh. Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda. And I thought my self-doubt was limited to my writing. ;)

So, starting as soon as I don my water wings, I plan on dipping into the pond, or lake or whatever that body of social networking is. If you've been following this blog for a while, you know how much Facebook terrifies me, so I'm gonna start small. Or medium in some cases.

And someday soon I will get my San Fran photos off the camera. LOL

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:40 AM 4 comments

Stuck recap: Episode 12

Monday, August 4, 2008

Now that I've finally been able to watch the "Confidence Course" episode, I can now provide a wee bit of background for this fabulous episode.

Unlike the Fitness Boot Camp we attended halfway through the show, this obstacle course was located on a military base and truly scared the bejesus out of most of us. Well, except for Nicole, that is.

I did not want to get out of the van. As soon as I saw the "teepee of terror" (a stacked set of logs that we'd have to scale over that rose to about 20 feet in height), I knew I'd have...difficulties.

Still, I surprised myself (and the other gals) by volunteering to go first. Actually, this was because I thought there might have been chocolate at the end, and I wanted to get their first.

What you may not realize from watching the show was that we all followed each other around the course -- so we all ran around it SEVEN times. This was also the case for the two camera crews, who lugged their equipment (not a euphemism) around the course along with us. Once we all completed the course, the crew challenged each other to race through it.

Talk about crazy.

While, through editing, it may appear that I did not complete the course. In reality, I gave it my best shot and feel I did a damn good job, even though I skipped over some obstacles, like actually getting to the top of the teepee of terror. The parts I didn't even attempt were the hanging in midair upside-down while on a rope, the jump over the wall and the monkey bars. Well. I did do the monkey bars, but I had the hunky instructor hold me up the entire time. ;)

It was hard. It was incredible. And, at the moment when Tracy got stuck on the hanging upside-down rope thingy, my heart went out to her. Here's a bit of my journal entry on what the experience was like:

"At that moment in time, she represented all of us hitting that bump in the road. The place where, every time before now, we’d all get stuck. And she had every opportunity to give up, but instead she held on. Through anger. Through tears. Through support from her friends and her coach. We all stood by and watched what I can only describe as one of the deepest connections I’ve ever felt with someone I didn’t even know six months ago.

She held on and completed every step of the course. And, because of Tracy, I feel like I completed it too."

And that's a very empowering feeling that I'll carry with me forever. Now I just have to get my butt back into the gym after being away for a week.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:56 PM 0 comments

RWA recap

Ask me what day it is, and I think it's Monday. Ask me what time, and it's time for bed.

RWA Nationals was a mind-blowing, overwhelming, incredible and totally amazing experience. I'm so glad I bit the bullet and did it. To all the fabulous people I met, it was a definite pleasure. To all the people I didn't have a chance to properly meet, maybe we can next year or online or in a chat loop or something.

Man, there are a lot of crazy people out there. And I'm proud to be part of them. ;)

Rumor has it that the book signings were crazy and, thanks to a number of hangovers due to the Harlequin party, some workshops weren't attended as heavily as others so the opportunity to pick the brains of agents, editors and other awesome people was there. In spades.

I particularly enjoyed the "10 Things We Love About YA" workshop. It's given me an even stronger belief that I'm on the right track with my own efforts. And I was this close to doing a drive-by pitch to Jennifer Jackson at the end of the workshop when my self-confidence ran off to the Goody Room and left me stranded.

Sigh. Next time I'll do that whole "carpe diem" thing, I promise.

Dinner before the Golden Hearts and Ritas was a truly fabulous affair, as I shared an overcrowded table with authors Megan Crane, Liza Palmer, Kate Perry, Michelle Rowen, Samhain editor Laurie Rauch and, get this, agent Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

It was a total schmoozefest people. Okay, maybe not total since I'm friends with Michelle and Laurie, but did I mention the other gloriously cool people at the table whom I don't normally hang with? In a classy restaurant no less?

Did I mention that I was sitting on Jim's lap the whole time?

Well, it was a small table.

So there I was, living the RWA dream of chatting it up, making witty remarks, totally looking like a true media-whoring professional (some call it "networking")...

...when I realized that I left my wallet in the hotel room as the check arrived at the table.

:::add crickets chirping here:::

I know, I know. Not only do I wear my RWA name tag outside of the hotel so the homeless and Walgreens cashiers know my name, I also can't be relied upon to pay my own way in uber-classy establishments where items like "beef cheeks" are on the menu.

Yeah, I don't know what part of the cow they're referring to either.

While Jim mumbled something about unique architecture and turned away (very politely, I might add), Michelle took pity on the unagented, unpublished one and rescued me with her mighty Visa card. It's all you really need -- especially if someone else gets the bill in the mail. ;)

We then had to race back to the hotel and arrive late (gasp!) at the awards ceremony, which meant we had to stumble over well-dressed people in the dark. My apologies to anyone I stepped on, tripped over or grabbed -- I also hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

Again, I was the one with the name tag on.

There's much, much more to discuss, but I needs my sleeps...

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:33 AM 2 comments

RWA Day 3

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Any day that starts out with danishes has got to be a good one.

The Romance Divas dinner last night was tasty, loud and insane! We were all squished in together so I feel know some of those fabulous ladies on an intimate basis. Pun fully intended. Thanks ladies!

Back to the Friday happenings:

The hotel has Diet Coke again, thank the heavens. Today was biz-ay and I needed all the caffeinification I could get.

Feeling I was ready to get hardcore with the workshops, I attended one on self-promotion led by none other than the ever-so-awesome Kelley St. John. Did you know that she gives away trips to the destinations her books are based in? How cool is that? And a Canadian reader won her contest last year? And can you believe it wasn't me? ;)

Have no fear, dear friends. My contest-winning karma has finally arrived in San Francisco, and my name was drawn for a prize (a copy of Kelley's To Catch A Cheat)! And, if you don't know me, I should explain that I tend to get verra verra excited when I win something. Think Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right and you're getting close.

So I squealed, jumped up, raced to the front and caused a flurry of fabulousness. Then I asked Kelley to sign the book, making it out to "Bonnie the Screamer." And she did. Gladly.

Later, when I was telling Michelle about my experience, she gently reminded me that all the workshops are being taped. So my screams of delight will become legend, I'm sure. Or not.

Just remember to turn down the volume when they do the first prize draws when you're listening to that particular workshop.

Oh, and I had my agent appointment agents were harmed in the pitching of my novel. Plus, I was able to contain all bodily fluids during my allotted time. Thanks must go to Laurie for helping me keep my pitch under three hours, Wylie and Christine for listening to it and not running away, and Amy for being the last friendly face I saw before stepping into the hallway of destiny.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. But for me, this was a big deal. It's a lot easier writing up a query letter, hitting the send button and getting a "sorry, try again" in your inbox. That's because email has no tone. And it's way more comfortable facing rejection while in the comfort of my own home.

But at RWA, you've got to bring it, put it out there and get an immediate reaction.

This is when having a vivid imagination does not come in handy because writers are really good at expecting the worst. Like an agent laughing hysterically (in a bad way) or shrieking "Nooooo!" before calling security.

Luckily, my efforts paid off and the agent requested a partial. Yeah me!

And no, I did not squeal like a game show contestant during the appointment. So double yeah me!

Oh, we got even more books at lunch, and then I swung by some book signings to pick up a few hundred more. I'm now considering wearing all my clothes on the flight home to make more room in my suitcases. ;)

While all the workshops I've attended have been great, I'm finding the how-to-find-an-agent ones are getting a little repetitive. It could be that they're all on the same topic. ;)

Jane Porter won me over with her workshop on writing in first person by helping alleviate my fears of limiting myself by writing in first person. (Did that make sense? Maybe I need another Diet Coke.) Anyhow, I took tons of notes and can now take over the world. Starting next week.

Like a true rebel, I joined a gaggle of romance writers and crashed the Harlequin party, which wasn't that hard since all we had to do was walk in. LOL

After a scan of the crowded dance floor, the glittering gowns and sea of fabulous women and token suit-wearing men, I bailed. Without name tags, I was as lost as an Eskimo in the desert.

Will tomorrow be the day that puts this RWA-newbie over the edge? Stay tuned.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 2:12 AM 1 comments