Goals for 2009

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve kind of snuck up on me this year, just like Christmas, St. Nicholas Day and Thanksgiving did. Maybe I should pay attention to those calendar things. ;)

So between trying to reassemble the house and working on some octopus-like projects, I have compiled my list, in no particular order, of goals for 2009:

1. Stay active
This means actually getting to the gym instead of just thinking about it. The goal is three times a week. Or do something else exercise-worthy if I don't hit the treadmill and weights.

2. Finish two more books
I'm starting off 2009 with 20,000 words into a young adult novel and a bright shiny idea for another one. Let's see how I do by the end of the year.

3. Land a literary agent
Of course, I probably shouldn't advertise the fact that I'm looking for representation so that people can assume I'm on the pathway of publication success already. But then I wouldn't be able to ask people for money ("donations") at parties. ;)

4. Do it already
There are a lot of times when I find myself talking about doing things instead of actually doing them. It's time to become a Nike commercial and "just do it."

5. Give back
There was an excellent article in a magazine I can no longer locate in my cluttered home on how one woman pledged to do one good deed a day for 50 days. And she didn't let herself do the same deed (opening a door, picking up litter, giving change to a homeless person, etc.) twice. As a person who has it pretty darn good all things considered, there are certainly areas in which I can do more to give back. It's one way to shake things up without heading to the mall. ;)

6. Declutter
Since Santa came by and dropped off a whole bunch of really neat new stuff (like a cross-cutting shredder, DVDs and items for the kitten), it's now time to move some of the old stuff out to make room. And it would be really nice to use the dining room more than once a year. LOL

7. Quality time
Make time to visit friends and relatives instead of trying to squeeze them in when work permits. It's hard to believe how freelancing has hampered my ability to socialize!

8. Time off
I tried this last year, so I'll keep at it by having at least one day a week when I'm not working on something work-related. Wow, that was a really roundabout way of saying "I'll take a freaking day off each week," wasn't it? ;)

9. Let go
As gal who loves the Zodiac, there's something about being a Cancer that makes me cling onto things that have long outworn their welcome, be it emotional baggage, fears or even expired coupons. Time to let these go with a big smile and a wave.

10. Laugh more
There was a moment during Christmas dinner when my mother and I both burst into such a wonderful round of laughter that I missed it when it was over. Of course, knowing there's another gleeful moment right around the corner is half the battle -- actually finding it and being open enough to revel in it is much harder. May I be able to do both with ease this year.

And I think I'll stop there. Sure, I could pile on even more goals, but then I'd start the year feeling so fixated on the finish line that I'd forget to have some fun along the way. Who knows, maybe there'll be a television appearance or magazine column on the horizon...

Do you have some big, juicy goals for 2009? Or would you rather wait and see what comes your way? Either way, have a very Happy New Year!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:20 AM 4 comments

Turkeyed out

Monday, December 29, 2008

This Christmas was so unlike the others that have come before it, it took me a while to figure out what made everything seem so effortless and tasty. The turkey was moist and delish, the dining room was relatively clutter-free and all the gifts, though purchased over the course of a few months, were easily located and wrapped.

Okay, there was the trouble with the ultra-cheap "foil but more like cling-wrap" dollar-store paper, but at least we had lots of tape. We'll save the environment next month, we promise!

Seriously though, not once did I attempt to kill DH during holiday preparations. This is huge for me, as normally he goes through about 17 lives before it's time to carve the turkey.

I think I finally figured out the key to successfully beating holiday stress: enjoying the moment instead of worrying about how it will all turn out. ;)

Mom did an awesome job by bringing over all of the vegetables, so all DH and I had to do was the bird and stuffing. And Mum brought over mixed nuts for nibbling and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The fathers did their part by eating as much as possible and refilling wine glasses when necessary.

Yeah, a trip to the gym was definitely in order. (And finally accomplished yesterday; the elliptical machine and I are not friends.) Mum also brought over the best Christmas crackers ever -- the little prizes were top quality and most of the jokes made us laugh!

Oh yes, hilarity ensued as we each donned paper hats and noshed on 500-calorie dessert. ;)

Zaphod, bless his little purring heart, even stayed off the dining room table most of the time. Well, he did sneak onto the table between dinner and dessert to nestle among the wine bottles, but he did place himself on a napkin.

The poor kitten waited patiently until all the dishes and other dinner-related items were removed before claiming the spot he's sorely missed since we turned the table into a wrapping station in mid-December.

And no, I haven't moved any of the clutter back into the dining room yet. My wee goal before the turn of the year is to send some of that stuff packing so that there's room for the new stuff that arrived on Christmas Day.

Then I'll take a stab at my goals for 2009.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:45 AM 2 comments

A Christmas Miracle

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

At 9:00 p.m. last night, I started baking. Did I have any plans for giving out baked goods for the holidays? No. But still, after an evening with the DH doing last-minute grocery shopping and stopping at Wendy's for celebratory Bacon Mushroom Melts, I felt like baking.

And sometimes, when the muse strikes, you just have to go with it. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that there was a muse for baking. It makes sense though, as baking, like any other creative activity, is a lot easier when you have that muse mojo happening.

Time, flour and popppyseeds flew. I didn't even grate off any skin with the zesting of the lemons. It's kind of like the running of the bulls, only quieter.

By 2:30 a.m. I had ten dozen cookies. All lemon-poppyseed shortbread. And no, I don't deliver.

The DH kept on sticking his head into the kitchen to make sure I was okay. Despite the late hour and being covered with flour and lemon zest, I felt pretty darn good. It's been so long since I've made cookies; I forgot how fulfilling it could be. Especially when they turn out yummy.

Do I have enough tins to distribute them to all the friends and family? No, but that's okay, Mom's coming by tomorrow with some extra ones from her stash.

Before you go judging me about preparing shortbread for all those friends and family who are watching their weight over the holidays, you should know that these cookies have half the fat and calories of my regular shortbread cookies.

I made them half the size. ;)

Now all I have to do is stop "sampling" them and get the tins out of here quick.

Tomorrow we have both sets of parents in for Christmas at Casa Staring, which will be held again without a tree since we know Zaphod, the kitten of mass destruction, would enjoy that way too much. The gifts are wrapped, the turkey and other items we're contributing are as prepared as they can be, and we only have to take a few more items out of the dining room to find the chairs and linen. ;)

The cards will be revised to "Happy New Year" ones and sent out next week. ;)

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and may some lovely miracles (or really good tidings) come your way.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:36 PM 2 comments

I'm totally showing my age

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Everything was fine until a crucial scene during Twilight. Edward had just saved Bella's life -- and the young girls in the audience were TALKING THROUGH EVERYTHING.

Sure, I could have turned the other cheek and all that crap, but I had paid my five gazillion dollars and wanted to hear what the heck Edward was saying. Bella? Not so much.

And I don't care if this is the second time I'm seeing the film. It's not like the giggling posse knew that.

So I called out: "Oh, come on. Shut up!"

It came out so naturally I almost didn't realize I said it. But I did. And they shut up, even if only for the rest of that particular "don't leave me/I love you/I won't kill you" scene.

The only problem is that I revealed who I really am: a cranky, middle-aged woman. Who happens to like vampire romance films, even if it has a sluggish middle section. The film, not any cast members.

I mean, who tells a group of giddy girls to zip it during a the dreamiest film evah? Old people do. My skin is drying out and flaking off just thinking about it, turning me into the crypt keeper.

Have I forgotten what it's like to be young and excited and in a dark theatre where you're basically invisible because no one can see you and it's Christmas and you can do anything you want because your parents aren't there and they've got your gifts already so it doesn't matter anymore if you're naughty or nice and who cares if anyone else can hear the movie since you and your pals have seen it 15 times already?

Le sigh. Yes, perhaps I have.

Well, at least I didn't shout out any swear words. And no one threw things at my head, as far as I can tell anyway. ;)

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:38 AM 8 comments

Bonnie's excuse of the week

Friday, December 19, 2008

This one was super-easy to come up with this week, as I've spent way too much time in bookstores. Squee!

"There are enough _____ out there already."
Go on, fill in that blank with the thing you're avoiding doing, like that Great Novel or fabulous debut album or incredible clothing line. I dare you.

Walking into a bookstore and seeing all those other titles (some in the bargain bins, sob!) makes me realize how oh-so-not-alone I am in trying to land a literary agent and sell a novel (or two). How can I possibly compete? Why should I even bother trying?

Then I started thinking about the other things I seem to be able to get done, like preparing meals. What if, at some point, I suddenly thought: "There are enough meals out there already" and stopped cooking dinner? Or what if I took it to a new level with: "There are enough clean clothes out there already" and gave up laundry?

I know what you're thinking: those are necessary tasks. Right? Well, maybe writing a novel is a necessary task for me and my weakened sanity. Even if there are enough novels out there already, there aren't any with the Bonnification that only I can provide.

Wow, did this room just get smaller? LOL

Seriously though, if everyone suddenly felt that there were enough whatevers out there, we'd soon discover how limiting that way of thinking is. We'd all only have three TV shows to choose from (CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY), two types of pasta (straight or curly) and four types of novels (classics, biographies, romance and science fiction). Anything else would be considered unenvironmental; because more than four choices would be too many.

Only allowing the world to choose from what would fit into a shoebox may seem like putting environmental awareness to good use, but is it? Is limiting everything we enjoy to only a few "approved" choices the right thing to do?

Not by a long shot. Freedom of choice might be considered a luxury, but it's an essential part of getting the most out of what you want in this lifetime. Sure, you might be in a situation where your choices are somewhat limited by the amount of time or money you have, but at least you have some sort of option, even if it's going with whole-grain or white bread.

It all boils down to choice, whether you want to offer it (for those writing novels or designing clothing lines or whatever) or delight in it (at the store, on your playlist or at the movies). All you have to do is decide. ;)

What do you think? Are there enough _____ out there to stop you from trying?


posted by Bonnie Staring at 1:05 PM 4 comments

Presents are presents

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just when I thought the shopping was done, we found out that it is not. Ugh. Must get out to the stores before the storm hits. In the meantime, please enjoy a holiday-inspired take on Depeche Mode's "People Are People."

Presents Are Presents

Presents are presents
So why should it be
The one from Uncle Eddie smells so awfully
Presents are presents
So why should it be
The one from Uncle Eddie smells so awfully

So they’re different colors
And they’re different shapes
But one’s a step closer
To the Pearly Gates
It’s obvious he hates me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
Except posting those photos
Of him wearing a thong

I can’t get a grip
What makes a gift
Feel like such a rip
Christmas is a trip

Presents are presents
So why should it be
The one from Uncle Eddie smells so awfully
Presents are presents
So why should it be
The one from Uncle Eddie smells so awfully

Christmas is a trip
Christmas is a trip

They’re all pointing
And they’re laughing
And they’re waving with glee
Pushing Eddie’s present closer to me
So far it hasn’t blown up
You lucky boys and girls
It’s the tell-tale scent of old milk
That makes me want to hurl

I can’t get a grip
What makes a gift
Feel like such a rip
Christmas is a trip

Presents are presents
So why should it be
The one from Uncle Eddie smells so awfully
Presents are presents
So why should it be
The one from Uncle Eddie smells so awfully

I can’t get a grip
What makes a gift
Feel like such a rip
Christmas is a trip


posted by Bonnie Staring at 5:05 PM 0 comments

Huntin da zebraz

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last year, my mother gave Zaphod a zebra finger puppet for Christmas. We think it's because the zebra went with his fur and Mom just loves to accessorize people, places and things. Both he and the zebra also have names that start with z, so it makes perfect sense. Well, to Mom and I anyway.

And, wouldn't you know, our cat loves his little zebra. He carries it up and down the stairs and keeps it next to him when he's sleeping. It's very cute and makes it hard to resist taking candid photos of them together.

Oh come on, how can you resist such a massive dose of cuteness? Doesn't it just make you believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams will come true and Santa really does plan on bringing over a chocolate fountain along with the members of Boney M? Oh, not to cover them with chocolate though, that would be freaky. We'd just want the band to sing some tunes for our post-zebra-hunting par-tay.

Yeah, I'm a crazy cat lady and proud of it.


posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:38 AM 7 comments

Goal check

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Now that the Ides of December have passed and I'm still way behind on my holiday preparations, I thought I'd take a wee break and see how my goals for 2007 have panned out. We all know that if they're not done by now, the odds of me being able to finish them before Ryan Seacrest rings in 2009 are slim to none.

Here's where I'm at:

1. Get healthy
STATUS: Done! Well, it's more like "ongoing" to tell the truth. Thanks to being on the show Stuck, I was able to work with a nutritionist and personal trainer to see how I could incorporate healthy choices into my couch-potato lifestyle. And now I actually have fruits and vegetables in the house and go to the gym every week!

2. Land at least two more magazine columns
STATUS: Nada. Okay, I didn't really try too hard at this one. Sue me.

3. Do what it takes to land an agent
STATUS: Working on it! According to tales of yore and very helpful email loops, I'm getting better rejections (which sounds like an oxymoron). This indicates that I'm closer to this goal, but not close enough to actually have a contract or anything. Le sigh.

4. Finish current WIP
STATUS: Done! Of course, I'm laughing at my January 30 deadline, as the first draft wasn't completed until May.

5. Write DD
STATUS: Abandoned. Now don't go feeling sorry for DD; it's still tucked away in the shiny new idea box, it's just that there was another shiny new idea, CA, that's shinier and newer. And still is.

6. More magazine articles
STATUS: Working on it. Okay, this is where I get kind of confused. Last year I sent out one article query a week and did fairly well, so this year I decided to send out two a week instead, thinking it would double the number of articles I'd be assigned. I kept up the pace until mid-September, when I realized that the additional queries had no impact on my article sales. Or maybe I just had really lame ideas for nine months. Arg.

7. Make time to write the novels
STATUS: Working on it. I do good, then I do not so good with the whole "hour a day on the novel" thing. But I will pat myself on the back for getting 15K done on the current WIP during NaNoWriMo. Hooray!

8. A day off
STATUS: Crickets chirping. Well, this didn't really work for me, so I compromised and now force myself to step away from the words for a chunk of time each day to either speak to the DH, go to the gym (with the DH), chat with friends (sometimes not even about writing) and do other stuff. It's part of that "filling the well" thing. Oh, and I've been reading like a maniac again, which is still about words, but other people's words, so that should be okay.

9. A trip... or three

STATUS: Done, done and done! Whoo hoo! 2008 was my year of frequent flyer miles as I went to Saint John, New Brunswick to lead a team-building workshop (oodles of fun), took in my first-ever Romance Writers of America National Convention in San Francisco and headed to New York City with my mom for a wild shopping soiree, only to be sick as a dog. At least we had some fun before a doctor needed to be called. Next year I have promised to travel with DH, as he's feeling just a bit left out.

10. More new stuff
STATUS: Done! Being on a TV show, even a Canadian "docusoap," was a heap of fun for me, and the lessons I learned (eating well and exercising is actually good for you) are sure to help me out for the rest of my life. Seeing The Police in July was incredible and being only "this far away" from Maroon 5 at Fashion Fusion in October was pretty darn cool too. Who know how I can top this next year?

BONUS ITEM: Have way more fun
STATUS: Totally done! This year I picked up a few more assignments and clients that are truly a joy to work with and there's no better way to earn a living than by doing what you love to do. Well, maybe I should say "love to do most of the time." ;) Having Zaphod, the kitten of mass destruction, has made life for the DH and I even more fun as we now serve his needs while he allows us to share the house with him. Yeah, no Christmas tree again this year; we can't take the pressure.

While that would be considered a failing grade in high school, I could add in a half point for each "working on it" to bring the score up to 6.5, but I feel like I've accomplished a heck of a lot over the past 12 months. In fact, it's inspiring me to look at my goals for 2009 and make them even more outrageous. Hey, why not?

How about you? How did you do on your goals for this year?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:16 PM 3 comments

Bonnie's excuse of the week

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Friday already? Ack! Well, if I must select an appropriate excuse for the week, it'll have to be:

"Zombies ate mah brains."
Oh those zombies. They know exactly when to strike: when you have your hands totally full, the phone is ringing and there's something burning in the oven.

You think they'd go after the burnt offerings in the kitchen, but nooooo. They want you. Well, more specifically, your brains.

And, this time of year, on top of the regular flow of zombies, we also have the holiday-zombie madness. That's when they show up with red and green felt hats on, and some of them even sing Christmas carols.

Okay, maybe "singing" isn't the correct way to describe it since they kind of mumble through the melody, adding in the odd "brains, brains" during the chorus. Jingle Bells has never sounded better, let me tell you.

Of course, zombies don't literally have to eat your brains for you to give in to that excuse. I usually blame the zombies when I'm feeling overwhelmed, out of time and just not all that inspired to get off the couch. And we won't talk about dropping the box of holiday chocolates either.

But using the "zombies ate mah brains" excuse makes light of those who have had their brains eaten by zombies. They know all too well that brains don't grow back. It's not a switch you can flip on or off. Once dah brains is gone, they's gone.

And that would be a problem. Especially when I need those brains for all the stuff I like to do. ;)

So while it's tempting to pretend that zombies have eaten my brains, it's usually a sign that I've taken on too much or I'm simply focusing on the wrong things. Like line-ups in the malls or how long it's been since I've felt warm.

I think it's gonna be a long winter, zombies or no zombies. LOL

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:16 PM 0 comments

Lying down until it all stops

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There is a lot of stuff going on in BonnieLand right now, and some of it actually has to do with the holidays! So I'm gonna keep this short so that I can rush around and find which excuse I've been using the most lately. There are too many to choose from right now.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:34 AM 4 comments

Chillin' a bit too much

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I forgot how much I don't like winter. And I completely forgot about the Duran Duran concert on Tuesday! Not that I had tickets or anything, but it would have been nice to see them... from a distance... without my glasses on.

Speaking of not being able to see people clearly, I dragged Michelle with me to a taping of eTalk Daily with the Top 10 finalists of So You Think You Can Dance Canada! Well, I didn't really have to drag her, since she's been riding the Nico train ever since his audition in Montreal.

For all the details and photos of our fun day out, click here.

And, after being that close to tasty dancers and way too many squealing young girls, Tuesday was kind of quiet. Then again, it could be that with all the snow falling, everything else just stopped. All I know is that Zaphod, the kitten of mass destruction, is now in full hibernation mode. Smart 12-pound kitty-kat.

Maybe that's why I'm enjoying working on my current novel so much: it takes place during the summer. Of course, to keep in a toasty frame of mind I've been wearing multiple layers, but then I catch myself in the mirror and wonder who let the Stay Puf Marshmallow Man's girlfriend into the house.

It's an ongoing battle, let me tell you.

I guess it's just finally dawned on me that it's winter. And it will be winter until it's not anymore, which can seem like forever... or at least until March or April. Grr.

But it could be that I detest my winter boots. They're big and clunky and just plain winter-boot looking. Sure, I could go for the cute and fashionable winter boots, but that always gets me into trouble since I can find the only patch of ice in a five-mile (or kilometre) radius and slide on it, no problem.

Yeah, it's about as far away from chillin' as you can possibly get. Word.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:40 AM 2 comments

Evil has a name

Monday, December 8, 2008

And no, it's not Bonnie. ;)

I'm now in the thick of working on my "dumped in the middle of NaNo" work in progress. It feels good to be back, as I missed these characters, even though I'm still working out some of the kinks. Like a plot. LOL

Trying to defy my normal method of writing by the seat of my pants, I actually outlined the novel (I know, call me crazy), right up until the black moment and everything. How it will all turn out in the end, I'm not too sure, but it'll be fine, really. ;)

Where was I? Oh yes, evil. You see, in this novel there are... wait for it... bad guys. Sad, but true. And these bad guys are referred to constantly in my outline as, you guessed it, BAD GUYS. (Yeah, the capital letters makes them sound even more evil.)

So instead of making great strides in this current novel, I'm snickering. Especially when I see a line like:

"As she learns more about how the BAD GUYS obtain their power, she suspects that she may also be a BAD GUY. But how can she stop the BAD GUYS if she is one of them?"

See what I mean? All these BAD GUYS are leaping from the page, but instead of scaring me and creeping me out, it's like they've put on sequins and teamed up with Andrew Lloyd Webber. I won't even get started on the list of musical numbers...

Don't Cry for Me, High School Dropout


All of these evil BAD GUYS had to go, so I gave them a name. And it's true what they say about the power of a name -- I'm suddenly able to see these antiheroes more clearly, and they're not nearly as black and white as I imagined them to be. They're not completely evil, just like an Oreo isn't all filling. There's the crispy outer cookies too.

Great, now I'm hungry. Again.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 8:55 AM 4 comments

Bonnie's excuse of the week

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it just me or were there only three days since last Friday? Time flies when you're recovering from NaNo and waiting for confirmation of a Golden Heart entry's arrival. It's a sickness, I know. I just love being tested by the Canadian postal system, what can I say?

"I'm filling the well."
This has to be one of my most handy excuses because, to other creative types, it sounds really good. To others, however, it sounds a bit too "liquidy" and may lead to people questioning your sobriety.

Filling the well, for those who haven't dipped in, is when the writer's mind lays fallow (is that the correct term?) so that the gray matter can rejuvenate and prepare for the next season's planting of ideas. Of course, a season for a writer shouldn't equal an agricultural season, because then everything dries up and blows away. Metaphorically speaking.

So, as most writers are in full NaNo recovery mode, they have every right to sit back and fill the well. Some do this by vegging in front of the TV, others dive into a book they've been dying to read and others, bless them, reconnect with the loved ones they screamed at while trying to write 50,000 words in a 30-day period.

Since I only hit 15,000 words, a serious well-filling hasn't been necessary, but it's been verra, verra busy for me for the past few months. So I took a wee break,,, that started in November. My poor WIP, which rapidly grew from a single line to a whole bunch of pages, was dropped like a hot potato for another project and left to fend for itself.

Sure, I've been brainstorming and getting some fabulous shashoomba action, but that's not getting words on the page. And it's really hard to win over an agent or an editor with something that isn't written, let me tell you.

So how do you know when the well is full enough? I'm not sure, but I do know that I feel a lot less frantic when I'm working on something regularly instead of in bits and bites (sorry, I'm hungry; all this talk of feeding).

Maybe the key to filling the well is to know when to stop. Like before it spills over onto the new carpeting.

How does filling the well work for you? Have you ever used it as an excuse?

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:23 AM 0 comments

Bonnie's Totally Unrealistic Wish List

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Since everyone seems to be focused on how lousy the economy is and how holiday shopping might be more difficult than usual this year, I thought I'd go against the grain and put up my Totally Unrealistic Wish List.

While I realize that everything on this list is pie-in-the-sky, there is a little part of me that believes, just this once, that this blog post may tap into the Law of Attraction and bring one of these items to my door.

Hey, you never know. And I'll be sure to post about it when it happens. ;)

A cameo appearance on Heroes
And I'd have to have a really cool superpower, like being able to mash and peel potatoes simultaneously or hear conversations happening halfway around the world. Oh, and all of my scenes would be with Peter...

A lively luncheon with Judy Blume
This is when we'd gather like old friends, discussing the publishing industry and her feelings on writing for today's young adult audience. Oh, and this is when she'd offer, without any prodding from me, to read one or two of my manuscripts and critique them. And then, because she loves them so much, pass them on to her agent and editor. Of course, this lunch would take place over a two-month period, but I don't mind, really!

Get on What Not to Wear
Sure, I've already been on one makeover show (Style by Jury), but that was ages ago and in Canada, so it really doesn't compare to the whole "in New York with Stacey and Clinton" experience. And it's been two months since I've been to Macy's...

Win the lottery
It doesn't have to be one of those huge ones, just a million or so to get the turret and moat built around the house and help out some friends and family. Oh, and buy some really expensive macaroni and cheese, just because we can.

Collaborate with Weird Al
OMG, could you imagine? It would be so cool to work with The Weird One on a fantabulous song parody. Wow, which song would I choose? Would he already know which one would be perfect for my tone-deaf style? Maybe I could even appear in the video! Squee!

And I think I'll leave it at that. The funny thing is, there were a lot of items that I was going to include, but then I realized that they weren't unrealistic at all: I just have to work at 'em. Le sigh.

So do you have any unrealistic items on your wish list? Please share!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 9:58 AM 4 comments

Post 575

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I've come to the realization that my idea file is empty. No, not the shiny new idea box that I keep on my desk; that one's jam-packed with all kinds of scribbled-over bits of paper.

It's just that lately, when I've been trying to outline my current WIP or brainstorm some fabulous magazine article ideas, I'm drawing a blank. Actually, it's an echoing yawning chasm with just the merest hint of a low-level fog. Can you hear the hounds howling from above?

Sure, I've just had some recent back-to-back Great Shashoombas, but one cannot survive on shashoombas alone. A regular influx of muse-ness, no matter how small, is required.

So where do I get my hands on some muse-ness? Is there a muse store?

Yes. It's called "look around you." Le sigh.

Other authors and craftspeople take a peek out the window and find inspiration. They read a newspaper article, and a nine-book series suddenly pops into their head. A chorus of a song on the radio has an artist selecting a brush and palette to put the melody onto the canvas.

And here I am, feeling meh about it all. Even with all the holiday stuff swirling around me.

Perhaps it's a little NaNo letdown. Not that my non-qualifying word count is anything to sneeze at, but once I stopped writing, I... how you say... stopped. Then the shashoombas came over for a visit. Sure, I made a heap of notes, but I still didn't open up the manuscript.

Man, I wonder which excuse I'll have to blame this on? ;)

Good things can happen on Tuesdays. So let me see what I can whip up before midnight.

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 10:08 PM 4 comments

Ten great gifts for under $10 in less than 10 hours

Monday, December 1, 2008

WARNING: This is a repeat from last year, but 'tis the season and I need some holiday inspiration. ;)

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!

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. Or not.

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 I Wanna Work for Diddy) 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 1:10 AM 2 comments