Add This To Your Writing Portfolio!

Professional Mentorship.  I stayed up late last night carefully making sure I followed the guidelines for the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program which I heard about through the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.  Why did I do that? Because I need help!

Committing to a mentorship program takes…er….commitment! The program begins in January and runs until June, at which point there is a READING.  Seriously, how exciting is that?  Okay, if you’re not a writer it’s probably not tickling your giblets but if you’re not a writer, go watch Dr. Phil or something!

I told myself that if I’m not one of the writers chosen to participate in the mentorship program, it doesn’t mean my writing sucks.  But, of course, we all know that’s exactly what it would mean.  A mentor doesn’t want to guide the unguidable! Well, at least I tried.  I love writing whether a mentor picks me from the rubble or not.  There’s nothing quite like stringing along a good sentence, if you know what I mean.  Non-writers who are rolling their eyes right now….I believe I told you to scram.  Pretty sure Judge Judy is on…

Anyway, fingers-crossed.  While I’m waiting to find out (could be months), you’ll find me squinting through my cheap reading glasses, hunched over the keyboard staring at a blank screen.  People in the “biz” call it writing, I guess.winter bird


NEW SAMPLE- part of a chapter (draft only)

The cold air stung her throat and made her cough. Her feet burned from the frigid temperatures. Before telling her parents that she was expecting, she’d stolen cash from her father’s wallet as a bit of insurance towards her safety. Anger propelled her forward and again she cursed Albert McLarin. Telltale landmarks told Theresa where she was and how much longer it would take to get to town. On fairer days, Theresa and her friends walked the distance many times. With a brisk walk, it took twenty minutes. Walking against the wind and over slippery patches slowed her down considerably. By her estimates, she’d be at Virginia’s house in about ten minutes and she decided, as the wind picked up and the temperature plummeted, she’d stop there.

The closer she got to Virginia’s, the busier the streets became. Car horns blared and men shouted at each other. There was an unusual energy in the air for a frigid Sunday night in Badger.

Men had congregated on the steps of Jimmy’s grocery store but Theresa couldn’t see who was there. Was one of them Albert? she wondered.
Without a watch, Theresa couldn’t be sure of the time but estimated it close to 10 p.m. She picked up the pace, anxious to get out of the cold and out of the street. Four men stood smoking cigarettes under a lamp post. One turned as Theresa passed and tipped his hat. Not Albert.
Finally, she reached Virginia’s house. A small light glowed from the living room and she thought she detected movement from Virginia’s bedroom window. She went around to the back door where a wreath still hung from Christmas. As she raised her gloved hand to knock, she remembered her mother talking on the phone to someone, telling them all about her immoral daughter. What if she’d spoken to Victoria’s mother? Rather than risk being turned away at the door, Theresa took off a glove and pried some small rocks from the frozen driveway. The first throw hit the side of the house. Her second throw barely grazed Virginia’s window but it was enough to catch her attention. Virginia glanced momentarily out the window but didn’t see Theresa. Theresa tried again. This time Virginia looked more closely. Theresa waved her hands over her head. A minute later, Virginia opened the back door and peered outside.
“Theresa?” she asked. “Oh my lord you told them.” No further explanation was needed. Virginia put her finger to her lips and without removing jacket or boots, Theresa followed her upstairs.
“You’re freezing!” Virginia said quietly. Whether her parents knew Theresa’s situation or not, it would be difficult to explain what she was doing at their doorstep uninvited at this late hour. Virginia stuffed Theresa’s things in her closet and gave her a blanket to wrap herself in.
“Are your parents up?” Theresa whispered.
“They just went to bed. You can stay here tonight but what happened to Albert? I thought he was going…”
Theresa covered her mouth and cried.
“He. Didn’t. Show. Up,” she gulped.
“That prick!” Virginia whispered, grateful for the wind which shook and settled the old house, creating enough noise to drown out their voices.
“I’m going to make us some hot tea. I’ll grab some cookies or something too, okay?”
Theresa nodded and wiped her tears.
“Don’t worry,” Virginia said. “Once they go to bed that’s it for the night. I’ll be right back.”
Theresa stretched her tired legs the full length of the bed and sat with her back against the wooden headboard. Suddenly, a loud CRACK filled the air. Theresa held her breath, certain that Virginia’s parents were up.
Virginia rushed into the room without the promised tea. “What was that?” she asked.  It happened again, this time waking her parents.
“Virginia?” her mother called out. “Is everything okay?”


Writing in all the Right Places

I have a confession.  I’ve been writing for years but only started promoting my writing recently.  I was afraid I’d be laughed at, not taken seriously, or that my current social media followers would block me because hey, who wants to hear a writer talk about writing?

The thing is, if you’re serious about writing you have to promote.  It’s scary at first because your writing is a part of you, a big vulnerable string of words that says a lot about who you are. I started promoting my writing to get an audience, even if it’s a small one.  When my book is finally ready, I’ll be able to let agents know that I’m developing this platform of potential book buyers (my book hopefully!).

I came across an interesting site recently called Scriggler where writers can post, read and comment.  Sounds like a lot of other similar blog spots but there’s a unique playfulness to this site that’s refreshing.  I haven’t signed up to follow any of the groups yet, but there are a few interesting ones like The Skillful Quill and The Psychological Crime Club thatus.  Maybe I’ll even start my own group.

The important thing is develop a platform for your writing. Agents and publishers want to see that you have a following.  It takes time so don’t worry about starting slow.  Just start!   Get your writing linked to as many social media sites as possible and take the time to follow other people.

Tip:  Scriggler‘s mandate is to help promote a variety of writing forms so while you’re blogging and posting, you’ll also get some free promotion.  Also have a look at wordpress and create your own free website.  I used YouTube videos for tons of help with that.  Once you’ve got a site, post your writing and add links back to it on the other social media sites.

Stay committed and have fun!



How to Make the Most of Insomnia

Good morning everyone! I’ve been up since 4:45 a.m. and I’m not even a farmer. Here’s the thing, I go to bed, sleep a while and then BOING I’m up. It’s usually because I have to use the bathroom but there’s never any sense going back to sleep at 5 am if my alarm is just going to go off an hour later.

As you all know by now, I’m writing a book.  Even though I’ve written a fair bit my whole life, I’ve never committed to writing anything this intense and volumnous. When I was younger, I had a child to raise and he took up most of my time. As he got older, I had other things going on in my life and still didn’t think I had the time to write. Years went by and I kept coming up with excuses not to write.

Now, here I am, smack in the middle of perimenopause with the dreaded symptom: insomnia. Insomnia! How could I possible come up with an excuse not to write now?  All these extra hours not sleeping are now spent writing. Pounding words out from the keyboard to the screen. I’m not saying the words are all strung together nicely or poetically, but there they are. The first step to writing is just getting the words out.  Editing will come later.

So, I used to be afraid of insomnia (don’t know why – any therapist feel free to chime in).  Now I’m embracing it (sort of).  There are times when I’m so bone tired and brain dead the best I can write is something like (and..blah blah blah so there he was blah blah blah never then….you get the point).

As some of you may know, I’ve been taking prescription sleeping pills for about 18 years and they are WONDERFUL. I take 1/2, go to sleep soundly, and wake up refreshed. The problem now is that they don’t keep me asleep. If you happen to drive by my house early in the morning you’ll probably see a dim light and a lone figure slumped over a desk typing away. Uh, first of all…why the hell are you driving by my house at 4 in the morning?…..secondly, don’t knock on my door because I’m writing.

Welp, time to get ready for work! Have a great day everyone!


How “Really Bad” is this Drought Anyway?

We go through  dry summers every year and every year people complain that this time it’s really bad.  But the thing is, that’s what they said last year and the year before that.  Tell someone the rain is giving forecast and you’ll hear Well we need the rain.  Okay, I get it.  It’s easy for me to not think about it because I’m on a drilled well. Water isn’t an issue at my house – and no you can’t come here to have a shower!

When I was a kid, things were different. Every summer was about two things for me:  fresh strawberries from my father’s garden and “watching the well”. Every drop of water was rationed until finally, that inevitable summer day would come when even the number of times the toilet could be flushed was monitored. I think you know the rule….”If it’s yellow let it mellow”.  SUPER GROSS. My father had built his own garage complete with a little “outhouse” on the back. It had a little window overlooking the vegetable garden with a pink frilled curtain cira 1955. There was a calendar nailed to the wall which I always found weird.  No reading material.  Just a calendar. I hated that place.  It’s so unnatural to hear your own bodily functions hitting a pile of sawdust and cedar chips. And then you just walk away and leave it there. At least my aspirations were attainable.  Had an adult asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would have said, “I want to BE in a house where it’s okay to flush the toilet.”

And here we are again, complaining about the drought. Except this time it DOES seem different. How can I ignore the crater on someone’s lawn that used to be a pond?  Or what about Lake Milo? I can’t remember ever seeing it that low.  No need to fish, just walk out onto the dry bed and pick the fish up off the ground. Pretty sure they’re just lying there, one eye sunny-side up, gills desperately sucking in what water is left.

Mike washed both cars with the garden hose yesterday.  Out in the open.  Cars slowed down as they passed the house. I’m pretty sure someone gave him the finger. I don’t know;  maybe it is really bad this year.  All I know for sure is that it’s not apocalyptic until someone makes me poop behind a bush.

So far; so good.