Celebration Days

Over the past few days both Canada and the United States have had celebrations.

Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary of Confederation on July 1st. There was major fanfare in cities, towns, and villages all across our vast land. Lots of food and fun and fireworks.

Today marks Independence Day for our US neighbours. 241 years ago, on July 4th 1776, the US Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. There will be major fanfare in the US today to mark this occasion.

Both countries should be proud of their heritage and truly have reason to celebrate.

On another note: July 4 is a personal celebration day for me – my wedding day. Although we have not made quite the number of years as the above mile stones we have made it 37 years – also reason for major fanfare and celebration!

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Happiness is… When all things come together.

What an amazing day I had yesterday. The sun was up and shining brightly with nary a cloud in the sky and the temperature was a balmy 16 degrees on my back deck before 7am. It was shaping up to be the perfect day for me to sit in my girly gazebo and make some headway on my manuscript. The gazebo is my favorite place to work – the sun warming my skin, the fresh air, the birds singing. Unfortunately, the climate I live in only allows me to do that for a few months of the year, and then only on the days that are not rainy.

First thing in the morning I downloaded a writing program, imported my WIP file and set it all up before I even started to write so I wasn’t expecting to grow my word count by many words.

I’d used the writing program before on my PC and loved it. When I bought my Mac, I downloaded the version for it, or so I thought. I tried using it a few times but it didn’t seem to work very well. I contacted the developer, but because I didn’t buy it through them, but another broker, there was little they could do for me, but being the great company they are they tried to give me some pointers unfortunately nothing seemed to work. I was frustrated and a little angry that I’d purchased something that didn’t work, so I put it aside.

I went back to using word, but it just wasn’t working for me. I’m not a linear writer so I was finding it really frustrating to search through my word document trying to find the place to add in the scene I wanted to write at the moment or cutting and pasting parts here and there later on. So much so I was not very productive the first 6 months of this year.

Yesterday I decided enough was enough and deleted the version of the writing program I had and download the “real” version directly from the developer’s web site (where I purchased the PC version), something I should have done months ago.

Early in the morning I was a little overwhelmed with what I perceived would be a lot of work to get my WIP imported and set up into chapters and scenes, I’m not techy at all, but truly it wasn’t that bad and I’m so glad I did.

I must have been truly inspired because I even shocked myself when I looked at my word count at 4:30 pm and it had rose by 6000 words.

Finding and using tools that help you write the way that is most productive for you is like winning the lottery. Time flies by and word count grows before you even realize it. It takes all the worries and frustrations out the equation so that the creative juice can flow like a fountain and brings the fun back into writing.

When all things come together: Sun, gazebo, fresh air and a writing program that works it’s the perfect combination for a highly productive and inspiring day.
This morning will be another day like yesterday. Already 31 degrees Celsius by 10:00am on the back deck. I’ve set up in the gazebo for another productive day.

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First Day Of Summer

Tomorrow, June 21st is the first day of summer where I live. The day with the most hours of light all year. Both good and not so good realizations occurred to me as I wrote the date.

The good: Summer, I get to use my gazebo as my office. Warm temperatures, fresh air, nature’s soothing sounds, and lots of great sunshine. So far, spring has not shown us a lot of warm weather or sunshine so I am looking forward to summer to deliver on that.

It is also strawberry season. Who could ever be unhappy when there are ripe, juicy, plentiful, fresh strawberries? Think shortcake with yummy sponge tarts and whipped cream, daiquiris with fresh juicy berries, rum and ice and those little umbrellas in your drink? Strawberry pie, oh the memories…

Family and friends gathering on the deck to enjoy BBQ’s and fun times. Trips to the beach and out on the boat. Fireworks and celebrations. Outdoor movies and lobster suppers.

The not so good. The days will start to get shorter again. The pesky bugs will be out in full force, tormenting. The year is half over – Yikes!

Summer is my favorite time of the year and my list of good certainly outnumber the not so good. Here’s to a wonderful summer to all.

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More Inspiration and Motivation

Inspiration and Motivation are funny things. Sometimes we have all kinds and sometimes we seem to be running on empty. Sometimes both can come from unexpected things.

As I said in the blog last week, I was running on empty for the last few months but the workshop I attended the first of June inspired me to start writing regularly again.

This past weekend another writer friend and I did a writing retreat weekend (or was it a wine drinking weekend? – the jury is still out).

We removed ourselves from our everyday lives and booked into a wonderful resort on Nova Scotia’s South Shore a couple of hours from where we live. The resort is off the beaten path a way, down a road toward their own private golf course and beach front. The property is comprised of small cabins that are stand alone, double, or quad units and retreat buildings that house up to 8 rooms. Our room was in one of the retreat buildings where we found ourselves with only one neighbour at the other end of the building Friday night. The perfect setting for getting some words down.

Fridays weather was not great. We left home in a rain storm. The weather forecasters were calling for 50 millimeters of rain and high winds. We certainly saw the rain on the drive down and witnessed the winds strength as it buffeted the car. In spots, the highway was riddled with puddles that when you drove through the water sprayed up the wheel wells and onto the windshield. Not to mention when the transport trucks drove by us they near caused a tsunami.

How bad was the rain you ask? When large transport trucks are driving at 70 to 90 kms per hour on the major highways you know the roads are not the greatest.

On the up side, the waves on the ocean were amazing rising tall and rolling over, crashing against the large granite boulders sticking up from the ocean floor and against the rock-strewn beach. We sat in the lounge at the resort while we ate lunch and watched them crash. The storm whipping up the sea in conjunction with the full moon is a surfer’s dream and they were out in full force trying to ride the wild surf.

The ample parking in both the main lodge lot and near our building became somewhat limited when Saturday brought a wedding to the resort and all the guests and bridal party arrived filling the resort to the brim. The wedding was held outside in the afternoon and we watched as the bride made her way across the property toward the group gathered to share in her special day.

The people watching, the storm and frothy sea, and the setting gave me lots of ideas for plot twists and new stories. Who could ask for more? And oh yeah, Saturday’s weather was phenomenal – high temperatures and sunshine. We even got a bit of a tan while writing on the deck. I managed to write 1000 words each day. It was wonderful to be back in the zone.

Unfortunately, Sunday morning came too quickly. It was hard to believe we’d been there for two days already. The staff were really accommodating and didn’t mind us taking up space in their lounge for a few hours a couple of times a day.

Since neither of us had any pressing engagements that required we speed away from the blissful and inspiring time we were having, we checked out of our room after we had breakfast and sat in the lounge and continued writing well into the afternoon. The sun was shining and the temperatures were hot – the car thermometer said it was 28 degrees Celsius outside.

We took our time driving home, stopping for lunch and a little bit of retail therapy along the route, neither of us really wanting the weekend to end and have to face the reality of our lives. As much as I like to fantasize about living the life of being pampered and with nothing to do but write, eat, and sleep, I’m sure it would get boring after a while. A long while maybe, but…

Here’s hoping the last few weekends continue to inspire and the ideas and words keep flowing.

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Where does inspiration come from?

Inspiration for stories can come from almost anywhere. Sometimes, even when you don’t think the subject matter in question is for your stories.

This past weekend I attended the year-end workshop of our local Romance Writers group. It was amazing. I can’t thank the executive enough for arranging the day.

When I looked at the agenda I wasn’t sure if I would use anything I was going to learn in my stories but being a curious sort, like most writers are, I was eager to attend and learn new things. I loaded my purse with a pen and a writing tablet and headed to meet the group.

First on the agenda was the K-9. We listened to one of the handlers from our local police department talk about how his dog and the other K-9 officers work. He gave us a hand-out which will come in handy for those writers who wish to write a scene with a K-9 unit featured. I didn’t think that was me but the wheels started churning while I sat in the bleachers at the training field listening. I may not have a tracking dog in my story but other ideas were prompted by what was said, and what I watched. After a question and answer period with the handler we then got to witness the dog work. Even with all of us standing around and talking, he remained focused on the task he was there to do. He was certainly well trained and understood his role.

We shared some laughs and learned a lot about the process of tracking. The handler said most of his calls were for tracking people, and most of those were not criminals. They get a lot of missing persons calls.

The dog we watched is trained to track and is also a drug dog. Some dogs have other duties, such as bomb detection and finding cadavers. Just as our session with the handler was ending he was called to work a crime scene including drugs. He was on duty and duty called.

Next on our list was to visit the Forensic Laboratory in our city. This lab is responsible for all the autopsies for accidents victims, homicides, suicides, and sudden deaths with no previous medical history.

We toured the autopsy suite. It was quite the eye-opening experience. For the most part people do not want to think about what goes on there, but we all have our own ideas, some of which are not right. The forensic pathologist and the nurse that works with her were informative and they were wonderful at explaining things without making it off-putting. Think of the challenging job they have – trying to discover the exact cause of death, when the person cannot speak for themselves. Their compassion for others and the passion for their jobs certainly came through and they were more than willing to share their expertise with us.

We saw the equipment used and were able to ask questions about different things we saw. The pathologist also explained the law that governs them and how they meticulously keep data to ensure their files are the best they can be should they have to appear in court. Lots of ideas for scenes in a story started circling in my imagination.

The last stop on the tour was at a local fire-station. We were shown around the building and told what a normal day in the life of a firefighter at that station would be. Although people like to joke about the fact they are always cooking, they do spend 24 hours on shift and they need to eat. Hey wait, there wasn’t a batch of cookies waiting for us.

They may have a quiet shift, but that does not mean they just sit around all day watching TV. There are lots of chores that each station is tasked with and must be completed by the end of the shift. Fires are not their only hazard. The station we attended also has the hazardous materials van and team. Fighting fires is dangerous work, but some of the chemicals they come in contact with today can be even more hazardous to their lives.

We saw the equipment on each of the trucks and were told what their use was. The latest tool in their arsenal is the drone. They have firefighters that are certified pilots to fly them. We were shown how one works and as a bonus they took our group picture with it.

The platoon of firefighters we met were all interested in talking with our group. Each had their jobs as part of the team and were there to walk us through all the parts they were responsible for. Like the other presenters we met, they were passionate about their jobs and more than willing to help us understand what they do.

All the way home my mind was working overtime. How could I use all or part of the information I learned in my work in progress or other stories? I opened my notebook as soon as I got in the door of my house and added in little tidbits I’d heard but not recorded. I didn’t want to forget anything.

The next day I started writing ideas in my ideas book, and now three days later I am still thinking up ideas and itching to put them down somewhere safe to use at a later date.

Lately, I’ve been having a bit of a writers’ slump, but this session has set my thinking gears in motion.

Well, I’m off to write in my book some more. Until next time…

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The end of May

The last full week of May is upon us. Where has the first 5 months of the year gone? I’ve been in a writing slump and have not managed to finish anything worthwhile to send to an editor, let alone publish. I’ve continued to slug away at stories, trying to keep my writing practice intact. My business plan is getting slashed but I am still hopefully I will have something ready to upload before the year is over. I’ve tried to figure out what is causing the lack of motivation but can’t quite pin it down, or more truthfully, I’m not willing to admit to the root cause! The lack of motivation has also spread to posting on this blog.

Here’s to better days ahead!

On another note, the end of May signals the end of Lobster Fishing season in my area. My husband went out on one of the boats yesterday to give the captain a hand. (He has his license to be on the boat, and has been on board previously.) The early morning weather was perfect. A little cool but the seas were flat calm. Noon hour saw the winds pick up and with them the waves. Not big swells, but big enough that after 8 hours in them one tends to find their body still swaying when they get home.

Because of a tiny little boat problem early in the day, they didn’t get in until after 8 pm. When he arrived home an hour later he had a couple of lobsters with him that needed to be cooked. It was too late to sit and eat it hot, dripping in butter, so we cooled the lobster and put them in the fridge. Today for lunch we had yummy lobster sandwiches and there was enough lobster left over to freeze a bag full for a lobster dip. The dip is one of my signature dishes to take to parties.

Our 3-year-old cat has never shown interest in lobster, our poodle however, usually drives us crazy begging for it. We couldn’t pry the dog off the coach with a piece this morning, she wasn’t interested. But the cat nearly drove my husband and I crazy wrapping himself around our legs while we were shelling them. His meows became louder and louder until he was practically screaming at us for a taste. My husband caved first and put a tiny piece on his food tray. Our dainty eater gobbled it up faster than I’ve ever witnessed him eat anything and came back asking, very loudly, for more. After another couple of pieces, he was finally satisfied and went off to our bed where snoozed off his treat. I wish I could join him…

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Change or Rest?

“They” say a change is as good as a rest, so I took a much-needed break from writing to fill up my creative soul.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on different types of crafts. My grandchildren look at Pinterest with their mother and they send me Pins they would like Nana to make. Below are the results of two I recently received. The large Unicorn and the large “Batman” like figures. They are 18 inches tall.

There is also a local fundraiser for a children’s camp starting in the next couple of weeks and I thought why not make them a couple of superheroes to sell tickets on. So, I took a pattern I had for a small unicorn and I transformed it into a “Batman” like figure and a “Wonder Woman” like figure. The two for the charity are 11 inches tall. Unfortunately, once my granddaughter saw the “Wonder Woman” like figure she asked me to make her one. I’m happy to report it is almost done. I’ve also come up with other ideas to expand on my creative side. Some may be to sell at craft markets, or at least I’ll have some items made for gifts.

I had fun and using the creative side of my brain to work out designing these dolls has also refilled my writing well. I think I may be ready to head back to the writing cave for a bit.

It’s true, a change is as good as a rest. I can truly attest to that now…

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