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Success – let the feedback begin!

Success – let the feedback begin!

August 21, 2013

Success! All the issues around commenting and posting have been fixed – let the feedback (and floods of spam trying to sell me shoes and prescription drugs) begin! Thank you, so much, to the awesome team at Sparkjoy Studios who not only built my lovely site, but willingly spent hours looking into the issues and trying out various solutions – and who were more curious about why the issues were happening than they were frustrated. They all have so much more patience than I do – and they know WordPress and it’s little plugin quirks far better than I ever will. Now I will be able to spend more time checking to see if anyone wrote comments about the things I did write, rather than writing new things! I’m mostly kidding about that last part… Credit: Image by Laney Griner, and obtained via Know Your Meme.  ...

Story ideas and the question every writer dreads

Story ideas and the question every writer dreads

August 14, 2013

I recently read an interesting post on The Writers’ Room regarding where story ideas come from – and where a person might look for ideas to spark something creative.  I’ve always thought this is a pretty interesting question, even though it seems to be the bane of every published writer doing a public appearance. Still, it’s not a bad question, really – it’s just hard to fully answer, and the asker often won’t like the answer. Let’s start with the question itself. I didn’t always know where story ideas came from. I used to think there was a magic well of ideas, or a large idea cloud in the ether that only the most talented of people could access. I thought perhaps you had to be specially marked in some way by the God of Creative Endeavours, or that you had to have a muse you made regular offerings to in order to be furnished with interesting ideas to write down. I thought that being a Real Writer meant having access to Grand Ideas that the rest of us mere mortals weren’t allowed to access to. I’ve learned otherwise since then.  Now I know that when writers at readings look annoyed with the inevitable “Where do you get your ideas?” question (and someone always asks), it’s not because it’s a big secret. They didn’t swear an oath on pain of death to not tell non-writers about the big Idea Library under the city – they’re annoyed because the only answer is, as Neil Gaiman says, “I make them up, out of my head.” And the question asker is looking for something more concrete. They want that Idea Library to be real. They want to know how much a membership is. They assume that once they are furnished with a Grand Idea that a well-written story will flow like water – and that some measure of fame and accolades and money will follow shortly thereafter. But, this isn’t how it works. Louisa...

Feedback? Yes please!

Feedback? Yes please!

August 9, 2013

Just as soon as we get this WP domain mapping issue figured out. This site is new, and my other website, rambleicious.ca is now linked in the back end through WordPress’s multi-site function – but the multi-site/domain mapping appears to be causing issues! When my sites are not mapped to my domain names – everything works beautifully. But as soon as we map them…no comments, I can’t see anything I’ve posted for an hour after I’ve posted it, and the WP dashboard disappears when I preview my site, and the issues may or may not also be linked to my user names as other admins are able to sometimes not have these issues. I also can’t seem to change one of my user email addresses because the one I want to use is apparently “already in use” – even though it isn’t. We’re not sure why any of this is happening yet. Until this gets sorted out, I encourage all readers to send feedback and  comments via my “contact” page which is working just fine, and I will post all comments, and my replies, on the site when everything is working like it should. At this point, I’m sort of thinking “nuke it from orbit”, but that’s just my annoyance talking. If any of you lovely readers are more savvy about WP issues than I am, I’d really, really love to hear from you. Seriously – I will make you a little monster and mail it to your house with a thank you note. Credit: Pinkie Pie Puzzled by Mysticalpha on...

Monsters – not just for stories

Monsters – not just for stories

August 7, 2013

Sometimes they are for crocheting little desk friends and toys for people’s adorable nephews. I’ve found mulling over story/novel things while making monsters to be a great way of not over-thinking the writing while doing something productive and fun. Besides, when you’re done, you have friendly little monsters to stare at you with their button eyes and keep you on task (and off YouTube where you’ll only end up watching videos of corgis barking at spoons anyway). And they make pretty great gifts for other people who might need a friendly monster eye watching out for them. If you’d like to crochet your very own monsters, I can highly recommend Crafty is Cool’s tutorial on the basic monster. Starting the monster can be the hardest part (though very easy once you’ve learned how). Tracey Aiena’s video on how to make a magic circle (aka “ring” or “loop”) is a good place to start. What about supplies for making monsters? I’ve been using the following: Red Heart Super Saver Economy Yarn Size 4.5 mm crochet hook Random buttons from purchased at Walmart and Button Button (for those in Vancouver, BC) A tapestry needle (or similar) to sew up loose monster ends Regular needle and thread for button eyes Polyfill (or the more eco-friendly, corn-based fill, Innergreen) I’ve got reasonably quick at these now, so I can make one up in an evening (or over the course of 9 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist) if I stay focused. Monsters everywhere! In print, on your desk, menacing your husband while he plays video games, hanging out with your lunch in your work bag, guarding your snacks (or eating them when you’re not looking)…endless...

Secrets – a book review

Secrets – a book review

August 3, 2013

Title: Secrets (#2) Author: Kate William (a ghostwriter, series created by Francine Pascal) Publisher: Bantam Books Pages: 118 ISBN: 0-553-25044-2 Price: $6.85 (USD, paperback, previously owned) I couldn’t resist reviewing another one of these – I’ve got other books I’ve just finished that I could review. Other books that would probably make my reading choices seem more respectable, but screw it: these are ridiculously fun to review. Where to start? With the cover where Jessica’s comb-over makes another appearance? Or how the pink of the princess phone Jessica is gossiping into matches the pink of Elizabeth’s sensible sweater so exactly? Or how the whole cover is a gentle pastel nightmare right down to their matching lipgloss? We open with pretty much the same scene as the first book – more palaver about Jessica’s stunning good looks: “Jessica was, as usual, too gorgeous for words (then why do you keep talking about her???). Her sun-colored hair shimmered about tanned shoulders left bare by the silky Hawaiian print dress that perfectly complimented her blue-green eyes. A bewitching smile on her lovely oval face usually completed the picture of perfection. The only trouble was, she wasn’t smiling right now…” And there’s the hook! Why isn’t she smiling? What would make someone blessed with such amazing good looks be so sad? Beautiful people aren’t supposed to have to deal with sadness and troubles like us mere mortals. And in keeping with the first book, we are also treated – again! – to Jessica grousing about what an “absolute mess” she is before “tossing her head in disgust, even though every golden strand seemed to be in place.” and raging that her twin had her tossed in the school pool fully clothed in the first book. Cara, Jessica’s BFF, flatters her back into a better humour: “…you know really did look kind of sexy. Like Bo Derek in that beach scene in 10.” Not a single one of my friends have ever a) told me I was sexy, or b)...

Balancing work and the creative life

Balancing work and the creative life

July 31, 2013

The ability to work and pursue creative endeavours without going mad, or forfeiting the right to sleep and eat regularly, is pretty much the ideal life for creative people. People, particularly employers, talk about providing a work-life balance for their employees, but the emphasis is usually on work first, then life. Work and the company’s bottom-line is the important part, and whatever you do on your time is your own business. This isn’t much of a balance. It is nearly impossible to find a job that is interested in supporting creative people because, despite employers filling job postings with phrases like, “out of the box thinker”, “dynamic self-starter”, “innovative problem-solver” and other such hackneyed nonsense, the truth is, that’s exactly what they don’t want – and in my experience, that becomes clear very quickly. I’ve worked at many places where I went in ready to contribute ideas and make positive changes as the need arose…only to be shot down at every turn. I’ve had the odd great manager who was supportive of an idea – and it would get shot down by her bosses for reasons unexplained. Then, because shit really does roll down hill, she’d get to tell me that the great idea was now dead in the water…because the Powers That Be said so. And we’d sit in her office and feel gloomy, knowing that at the next company-wide meeting we’d be listening to speeches about taking pride in the product, and how wonderful the company is, and why we should all love the leader. I used to call these Masters of Universe speeches – and after the first few times, I started tuning them out because I learned that it wasn’t me, or my fellow co-workers that were important, it was the bottom line. It was profit and happy shareholders and CEOs hemorrhaging money on impressing clients with fancy lunches. As a co-worker of mine used to say, “I’m not the Madam, I’m just the whore.”...

Double Love – a book review

Double Love – a book review

July 25, 2013

Title: Double Love (#1) Author: Kate William (a ghostwriter, series created by Francine Pascal) Publisher: Bantam Books Pages: 182 ISBN: 0-553-27567-4 Price: $5.18 (USD, paperback, previously owned) I recently unearthed old copies of the Sweet Valley High series at a local used bookstore. Just seeing the cover of Double Love transported me back to seventh grade, and spending rainy days reading about the trials and tribulations of the ever-perfect teenage twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. These books are directly responsible for my misconceptions about high school (real high school is nowhere near as exciting or interesting), and set me up for great disappointment in terms of the sort of romantic adventures I might have (none – there were no Todd Wilkinses at my school. At all.). Still, they’re an easy read, amusing, and laugh-out-loud terrible in some spots now that I’m reading them again as a 36 year old. The first three pages are not dedicated to story telling, or world building as you might expect. No. They are dedicated to talking about the twins appearance by way of Jessica complaining about how “gross” she is. Let me regale you with the catalogue of horrors that are the Wakefield twins: “…disgustingly fat….” (and “[w]ith that, [Jessica] spun around to show off a stunning figure without an extra ounce visible anywhere.”). “…perfectly shaped bronze leg[s].” Jessica is “…the most adorable, most dazzling, sixteen-year-old girl imaginable.” “silky blonde hair” (on the book cover, Jessica has a comb-over that would make Donald Trump jealous) “almond-shaped eyes the blue-green of the Caribbean” And, both have “the same shoulder-length, sun-streaked blonde hair, the same sparkling blue-green eyes, the same perfect skin…Both girls were five feet six on the button and generously blessed with spectacular, all-American good looks.” Oh, and they’re a size six, too. Yeah. The first three pages are very indicative of how the rest of the book, and series, is written – everything is about the twins, and whatever is happening, you can be sure that their perfect beauty will be...

Arguing with the Peanut Gallery 101

Arguing with the Peanut Gallery 101

Last night my good friend Duder and I went out for dinner and drinks at the usual place (they aren’t quite yelling “Norm!” when we walk in the door, but it’s a close thing at this point). And, as we often do lately, we discussed writing because we are both working on writing projects right now and we are both finding that we’re having similar difficulties with the work. I started things off by describing the heavy feeling of anxiety that sits like a stone in my chest when I face the novel I’m working on (and often, lately, not working on due to said chest stone). I talked about the stupid and nearly hysterical displacement activities I do when I feel this anxiety (cleaning – I love to clean when I’m anxious. I have the cleanest home on the North Shore right now). I also mentioned the peanut gallery in my head and how they amuse themselves by shouting abuse or generally being disapproving in my general direction about me writing things instead of making a regular and large paycheque. As it turns out, Duder is having the same issues (which is bad) but, we’re having them at the same time and that’s actually kind of helpful because it’s not just me being neurotic by myself. So we talked it over; compared notes on how we are (or are not) dealing with the weirdness that is living in your head a lot and then writing down what you find in there. Neither of us have any delusions – I’m pretty sure I’m not the next J. K. Rowling (not very many writers get to that level), and I’m OK with that – I’m even OK with never being published because that happens to plenty of writers too – even really good ones I bet. So, this isn’t about making money, or getting famous, or being crowned with laurels and declared a genius; I just want to write. It’s...

Welcome!

Welcome!

Welcome! This post is just a quick one to let new visitors know that yes, more stories are on the way, and yes, I know content is a little sparse here – it’s a work in progress, which is still a lot more interesting to read than a “Down for Maintenance” splash page (and with one thing and another in the back end, that splash page was proving to be tricksy and troublesome anyway). So, while I sort myself out here, please enjoy the couple of stories I have up and check back often for new content! NB: Original Pub. Date: July 17,...