Warrior

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Woman of strength,

the pain never shows through your smile

but I know it is there.

My affection for you began immediately

and, as we grew closer,

my love for your spirit and sarcasm

earned you a spot deep in my heart

where you will stay, always.

Your illness will never dampen your spirit,

because you are fire,

and with that fire comes light and energy.

You show courage in your time of uncertainty

and you wear your suffering with grace.

You have an air of strength

in spite of the weakness you feel,

 and you inspire me with your determination.

Woman of strength,

may you continue to bless my life

for many years to come.

I love you.

 

Green means GO!

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I have been keeping myself busy with ideas for a new book while I have been anxiously awaiting my first book review from my nephew.  I had to keep reminding myself that it IS summer and he IS a 14-year old boy with other interests besides reading so I have cut him, and my nervous mind, some slack.

It is difficult to quiet a cacophony in a mind that is continually feeding on its negative thoughts.  Like an inferno that is started with one tiny spark, my mind became the spark and my stress was the oxygen that fueled the fire of my doubt.  The longer I went without any sort of feedback, the more I convinced myself that the book was terrible and my nephew didn’t know how to tell me that it was a flop.  Self-doubt is a vicious thing.

I silenced my doubts this morning as I prepared my meals for this week based on my new plant-based diet.  Being in the kitchen always allows me some escape from my reality.  After creating my meals, I ran into town and stopped at The Apothecary Shop for a few things.  I decided to use the blood pressure cuff to see if my change in diet had made a significant difference to my blood pressure.  While I was in mid-check, my nephew had seen my car and come into the Apothecary to find me.  The sight of him must have unnerved me because my blood pressure reading was ridiculous!

I couldn’t imagine what was going to come out of his mouth but I began to tug my arm out of the cuff before it had finished deflating.  He stood beside me with an apologetic smile.  He promised to finish the book before the weekend and that was all he said.  I said one word that seemed to hover in the small space between us….

“And………..”, I asked.

“It’s REALLY good”, he replied.

So now I sit, comfortably ensconced in my living room with words churning in my brain for my second book.   I have always loved the phrase ‘green means go’ and I feel like I have just been given the green light to continue my writing journey.  I’m already excited about this next book and can’t wait to dive in!  See you on the flip side.

 

 

You can’t win if you don’t play

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While this subject line generally makes me think of the lottery pool, it has taken on a much bigger meaning for me today.  I’m sure I have made you all painfully aware of the fact that I finally finished writing my first novel.  Book number two is in the works and the idea for number three is a shimmering light in the distance.

I thought that the actual writing of the book was going to be the hardest part.  And while it was a painstaking process, never having attempted to write a book before, the writing itself was a reward.  The hardest part is convincing yourself that someone else may find your words exciting enough to take you on as a client and help to get you published.

I spent my day off today, a beautiful, sunny day, bound to my couch to finish editing my book for grammatical oversights and story continuity.  I was just as excited to read the ending as if I were a first time reader and that got me even more excited.  I was excited enough to send my first two query emails to potential agents…..and now I feel nauseous.

But like that lottery pool, you can’t win if you don’t play.  I will never get published if I don’t try, and according to Yoda, there is no try, only do.  So I did.

Now I can only hope that some unsuspecting agent finds an email from a small town Canadian girl with big ideas and gets just as excited to read it as I was to write it.

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!

The business of doing business

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I have a very large, very dead pine tree looming over my driveway and threatening the safety of my home and my new car.   It has been dead for several years but each day when I drive in my driveway, I convince myself that it is leaning closer to my house than it was the previous day.  It was time to call in the professionals.

I found four local companies that offer tree removal services as well as free estimates.  All four came to my house and gave me a wide range of quotes for different ways that the tree could be felled and cleared.  The company I chose to do the job was the best fit in terms of safely felling the tree with the right equipment and not charging me a fortune to move the pieces off to the side of my driveway.  I thanked the other companies for their quotes and let them know I went with a different service.

Two of the other three were understanding.  One was not.  After I told him I would be happy to pass on his information to others looking for his services, I received a text message from Brian and this is what it said, “Well thank you Susan.  No need to pass my name around since you have not experienced the level of service we provide.  In future, I would respectfully suggest you exhaust your cheaper options before calling someone that spends their time and fuel to look at your work.  Good luck with your tree and hopefully the damage will be minimal.”

WTF???

To say that I was angered would be a gross understatement.   I had to hold myself back from responding with the words that were churning in my head.   Instead, I politely explained that I had chosen a company with a similar rate but a better option for me and the safety of my oak tree since Brian was going to strap the dead tree and pull it down so it would come into direct contact with my 100-year-old oak tree.  (But he assured me the oak tree would be fine!)

What I should have texted was this, “Well, thank YOU Brian.  I will certainly be passing your name around now, just not in the way I had expected since I now understand the level of service you provide.  I respectfully suggest that you not offer free estimates if you are going to whine about the time and fuel you spent doing something you advertise as free and act like an asshole when you don’t get the job.”

Oh, the places I’ll go

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I am in the middle of a steep learning curve.  I have never written anything longer than a 3,500 word short story so I should have expected a few pitfalls when I decided to pursue my dream of writing a book, or two or three.   But I was committed to give it one hundred percent and see where the journey led me.  I am well on my way to achieving 82,000 (ish) words for a novel-length book and only have 17,000 more to go!

I have been amazed by the process.  I have a journal I keep at my side to remind me of what has happened in each paragraph so the story will not seem disjointed or confusing.  I have done my best, pre-editing, to make sure the plot line flows well and ties in all the loose ends.  I’m sure I have missed a few small details throughout the process but I’m new at this so I’m giving myself ample opportunities to go back and alter the things that don’t work.  I have noticed that my characters have taken on a life of their own, causing me to go back and change a few details of their past but so far I feel blessed to have made it this far.

My writing has mainly been directed by the characters.  I had a simple outline of where I wanted the book to go but their personalities have taken control of the wheel and taken me in a few directions I hadn’t thought of.  On Friday, I wrote a paragraph and then I couldn’t write any more.  Something was off.  I didn’t know it was wrong when I wrote it, but that one paragraph derailed my train of thought.  I stared at that page as the characters sat idly by waiting for me to send them in a direction, any direction, but I was stuck.

I read that last paragraph many times and it eventually dawned on me to remove the last sentence.  As soon as that freeway in my brain cleared of the congestion, the traffic of words started to flow and sped off down the road.  I now understand how writer’s can figuratively paint themselves into a corner.  That one line was the difference between writing and staring at my walls.

Persistence is the key.  I have many lines and paragraphs that I have omitted from the book.  They are not gone but merely stored on a different page until I know those ideas are not meant for this book.  I have no idea where I will end up, but, oh, the places I’ll go on my journey to get there.

 

Adults say the darndest things

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I had it made as a kid.  My parents were co-owners of a coin laundry, a bakery and then a Sub shop that also served ice cream.  There were a few arcade games in the sub shop and Defender and Asteroids ate many of the quarters that were once my allowance.  I was the living version of a kid in a candy store.

My dad also sold real estate during the same time period, so to say he had many irons in the fire is a gross understatement.  His office was located conveniently up the street from the sub shop so I would bounce back and forth from each business and soon became a runner for the agent’s ice cream requests.  I will never forget Ken Robinson.  He was in his seventies, had white hair like Santa Claus and a severe penchant for mint chocolate chip ice cream.  He and I became quick friends once I learned that he shared the same love for that minty, chocolate deliciousness as I did.

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Every day, Ken would hand me his money and I would gladly run down the street to retrieve his afternoon treat.  I ran in to the office one hot summer day to find Ken’s desk unattended.  I asked the secretary where he was and she could not look me in the eye.  Instead, I was told to talk to my father.  Ken had died of a heart attack the night before.  I was devastated.  Ken had been the first person I had known who had died.  After many days of tears and avoiding the office, I finally gathered the courage to go back.  Carl was there with his ill-fitting sport coat and bad seventies mustache.  I will never forget how nonchalant he was when he spoke to the 11-year old me and said, “You musta killed him with all that mint chocolate chip ice cream.”

I carried that burden with me to Ken’s funeral and for many years after.   We went to the service as a family and I can still remember the dress I wore.  We paid our respects to his family and approached his open casket.  I was terrified that Ken’s wax-like body was going to sit upright, point at me at scream, “you did this to me”.   I could barely breathe.

Now, as an adult, I still have difficulties at open-casket funerals.  The logical side of my brain assures me that a deceased body cannot move, but the young girl and the writer in me still have that nagging doubt.

I can only hope that Carl eventually outgrew his horrendous mustache (and Herb Tarlek wardrobe) and learned to think before he spewed any further erroneous judgement on young, impressionable minds.  Either that or he has had ten children and countless grandchildren of his own and Karma has finally paid him a visit!