Monday, December 31, 2012

This was the year...

And what a big year.  We moved to LA.  I finished a novel and started another.  We had seven sets of visitors.  I visited the South Island of New Zealand, Hawaii and Orlando. I started writing for a few new travel publications, did some PR work for the first time on the side.  Tom and I took trips to Laguna Beach, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara.  We flew back to Toronto to visit family twice.  I completed eight full weekends of a yoga teacher training.  I've made new friends and kept in touch with old ones. I did my first three-day juice cleanse.  I started riding a bike.  I started writing this blog.  Tom and I made a new home. Close to the end of this year I hit a bump in the road and stumbled.  Now it's the last day of 2012 and I'm pretty much back on my feet. My knees may feel a little wobbly but there's sturdy ground beneath me and strength in the muscles that hug to my bones.

So those are the main events among the many others of 2012, but in truth, this was the year...

   ...the ocean got closer

....and I remembered you can always hear it, even in the sound of a breath.

This was the year of knowing you're always moving forward as long as you don't give up

...and that gratitude is infinite is of the utmost importance

....and fear is what you feel just before your spirit grows.

This was the year I was reminded you can't worry about unanswerable questions

 ....and that hope is at its strongest when you're staring the hardest truths in the face.

I learned that love travels through text messages, and webcams and emails.  It sits inside photographs and birthday cards, on notes written on the back of old bills.  And even when you're not thinking about it, it's hanging out in the air around you, connecting you to the world, and all the people you love no matter how far away.  It's connecting you to all beings.  Everywhere.

You are you.  Dare greatly.  Put your true self out there for the world to see — even if that means risking failure, being vulnerable, and writing corny, heartfelt blog posts that are a little too sappy for most people's taste.

See what can happen when you just go with it?

Know that you are blessed beyond your fondest dreams.

Keep your heart open... give, give, give and to receive.  Forgive yourself for being human.  Find gratitude even for the things that happened this year that were excruciating, or at least work on finding it.  Because one day you're going to look back on this year and be in awe of how long ago it was, of how it shaped you, of how you got through it, and of how you were actually able to accomplish so much.  Even though it may not feel like it, even though it might feel like the opposite, you're stepping up.

And the truth is no one can promise you this means you'll see your dreams realized.  The truth is no one knows that much for sure.  But if you're here, you're fed and clothed, sheltered and breathing, you've got today to give it your best shot.

This was a year of love.  This was a year of greatness.  This year and all.  xo

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hope - warning this isn't full of warm fuzzies

If there are any of you out there that wondering where I've been, well, to be honest, I've been avoiding posting for the last little while.

I'm not going to go into it here, but what I will share is that I'm struggling with some things.  I'm okay.  Everyone's healthy.  It's just that, as we all know, life has it's good times and it has its not so good times.  This is just one of those not so good times.

Part of the reason I've been avoiding putting anything up on my blog is because you can imagine what this has done to my writing life.  I struggle with procrastination at the best of times, so when I'm in a funk, there ain't a lot getting done.

I was thinking today though:  Regardless of how far away I am from reaching the goal I set out for myself at the beginning of the year, I've still accomplished a lot.  I have a really solid working draft of my first book.  And I'm almost half way in to my second.

I don't want to lie and tell you that I'm not questioning just about everything right now.  Because I am.  I'm wondering if my plans for these novels are just way too ambitious.  Yet at the same time I've come so very far that I just feel like I've got to keep going.

Honestly, if there was one thing I could wish for it would be for someone to light a fire under my ass so I could speed up and write these books as fast as so many authors write there's — in weeks, in months — and regardless of time spent have the books still turn out fantastic.  At this rate, the time span I'm working with just seems to somehow be growing, regardless of how much closer I get to an end.

Phew! Talk about a pile of depression just in time for the holidays.

Like I said, it's why I've been avoiding this blog

But if I didn't post anything until things got better, then I would start to feel like I was hiding parts of me.  I am a believer in positive thinking.  I am a believer in gratitude (as you know very well if you've read this blog in the past).  But I also believe in truth.  I'd be putting a whole lot of fake up on this blog if I only posted when I was feeling motivated, happy and optimistic — or even just pretended I was.

The truth? I'm human.

And right now this human is feeling a little lousy, and in some ways like she's let herself down.

Do I know if tomorrow will be better?  Does saying it will be, over and over again make it so?  Not if there isn't any action to go along with.

In the meantime, what I know for sure is I've got hope.  After all this time, after so many years of having a dream, even when I've worked at it at a pace that seems to move me forward in inches instead of miles, I've still got hope.

Because regardless of the time that's past, of the months I've been productive and the months I haven't been, regardless of the steps back I've taken in light of the steps forward, I haven't given up.

And I don't intend to.

I can be grateful for that.

Friday, November 30, 2012

One more post before November is out

Oh, my dear, dear friends and family (and anyone else who reads this blog, if there is anyone), how long I have left you with not so much as a nibble of information about my writing life, or my too-quick trip to Toronto, or the amazing American Thanksgiving weekend I spent in Palm Springs with friends.

Then again, do you really care about any of that?

There are some of you who have been so supportive of my writing ventures, so I do know there are at least a few of you out there rooting for me in this regard.  For that I am eternally grateful.  But before I get to a few more things I'm grateful for, perhaps I can share a little bit about my current writing saga...

Alas, dear readers, there is a month left of 2012, and therefore it is now rather obvious that I'm not going to accomplish what I set out to do, when I began this blog, yes, almost one year ago.

I suppose I should be disappointed, but truly I'm not (well maybe just a little melancholy).  One of my greatest downfalls is setting unrealistic goals for myself in an effort to jumpstart my work ethic to rocket speed.  BUT, I did still get a lot done this year.  AND, AND, AND, the year is not over yet!!!

I'm flying to Orlando on Tuesday to cover an epic Disney event, and enjoy the Disney experience as it should be enjoyed: with children!!!  My aunt and uncle and cousins are coming along with!  I can see us now — in the line at It's a Small World, wearing mouse ears, eyes filled with Mickey glee.

When I'm back, it's back to work.  I'm not going to say what my writing goal is for the end of the year.  But I've got one.  A big one, but perhaps not as big as that great big (too big) goal I set out for myself at the beginning of the year.  As I wrote that last sentence my ego just jumped up to remind me that there are millions, upon millions, of other writers out there that could not only accomplish the goal I set out for myself at the beginning of the year, but surpass it.  And so to my ego, I say, a resounding $%&^#& you.  (But please ego, do not take this too much to heart, I suppose I wouldn't be who I am without you, wouldn't have learned many lessons, and ultimately that you are not me, just a part of my humaness).

So to turn it all back around.  Thank you for this determination I have not to give up, even when I'm scared shitless that I've been spending far too much time on a project that is never going to work, is never going to make it into readers hands, or into readers hearts.  Thank you for the courage I have to admit that all of this might be true but that the opposite could one day be true also.  Thank you for sweetness.  Thank you for a cozy bed.  Thank you for soft lights, and cool grey mornings (yes even in LA).  Thank you for support, from family, friends, the Universe, Spirit.

Thank you to each of you who follow your truth and inspire me anew each day to follow mine.

Thanks be.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Still alive — but still on a bit of a hiatus

Hello world.  It's been a while hasn't it?

And I'm afraid it's going to continue to be a while for me to post anything relevant (and I suppose relevant is a relative term here).

What I can tell you about my writing life is that things are going — as you know, slower than expected but I think no matter how fast I go it may always be slower than expected.  I've been dealing with real bouts of lack of motivation this week — like real ones — so I've been trying not to be hard on myself so the motivation has room to edge it's way back in.

Also, two people are reading my first book and the feedback I've gotten so far is really encouraging.  I haven't had a "I'm bored" or "this doesn't work at all" or "this sucks" comment yet.  So I'm pretty pleased.

Yoga has still been keeping me busy as well and occupying my mind.  Last weekend I taught fifteen minutes of a class to real people.  Yes, real ones!  And I didn't blank or vomit (though I may have felt a little like upchucking on the inside).  I've still got a long ways to go before I can become a bonafide teacher, and although I love yoga and I think I might actually like teaching, this isn't my priority and unless you're new to this blog you know why.

Next week I'm going to Toronto for a very, very quick visit.  So if I don't see you, I'm sorry, dear Torontonian friends.  I'll be back again when the snow is gone.

In the meantime, let's continue on from my last post, shall we?

Thank you for the freedom of being able to work from bed just because it's grey outside.  And thank you for that being hardly ever because I live in Los Angeles.  Oh, and thank you, by the way, for Tom and I getting through our first year in LA with bells on.  Thank you for the journey of this year in a new country, in a new part of the world.  Thank you for the place we call home, the park across the street, the little village shops a block away and new friends.  Thank you for the challenge of moving so far away from everyone I love and everything I know and how that makes me stronger, more open, and even more grateful for everyone and everything I left behind.  Thank you for how a move like this shapes my evolution.

Thank you for the process of life.  Thank you for a universe made of love even when it's not so obvious.  Thank you for the days I truly feel that we are one.  Thank you because no matter how far away I am from people I love, they are still with me everywhere.  Thank you because life always has the potential to be delicious even when it's sour, or bitter or frightening.  Thank you for new gifts.  Thank you for miracles.

Thank you.  Just thanks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thanks usually does it

I'm working hard on all the things I told you I'd be working on right about now.  I had set a word count goal for myself for this second book, which I've learned is pretty easy for me to meet.  The hard part is that somedays I just can't get to the writing at all, with other work that I'm doing getting in the way.  But I'm not about to complain about that.  I'm doing what I can for right now and I plan on just continuing to put in my best and making my best better.

In the meantime, let's bring it back to gratitude, as you know I like to do.  

Thank you.  Thank you for days that feel like fall even in a never-ending summer.  Thank you for the people that show up in your life when you least expect just to tell you they care.  Thank you for spinach and chickpeas, braised in coconut milk and served over roasted sweet potato.  Thank you for a best friend, that's a life partner, that's a lover that's a lionheart.  Thank you for the new bind I just found in my yoga practice.  Thank you for my healthy body.  Thank you for the way the wind trickles up my skin as I ride a bike.  Thank you because I always seem to be able to find the money for whatever I need and sometimes just what I want.  

Thank you because life can still be swell even when it's heartbreaking.  Thank you for everyone that's guiding me, those I can and can't see.  Thank you for the colourful wheels of light that spin within me: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, lavender and violet.  Thank you for this moment, right now, this single beat of my heart.  This breath.  

If you're reading this thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Love and thanks. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

In which I officially become an Angelino

It's 13 degrees celsius with clouds right now in LA (that's 56 Fahrenheit for all you Americans) and I'm freezing.  This can only mean one thing: Los Angeles is seeping into my bones.

Still, the sun manages to tear through all other weather conditions by noon in LA so the only indication of fall are the pumpkins and sheet ghosts lurking on doorsteps.  Despite wanting to curl in my bed and hibernate now that the temperature has finally dropped, I do miss autumn.  It's the month that always makes me feel like change is coming — not just in the seasons but in life.

And I suppose I am going through a transformative sort of time — learning new things, writing a new book.  Not long ago I discovered this great website called Author Media, dedicated to helping authors with their Internet promotion.  They have a great Facebook page too and on that page post these pictures, which I would now like to share with you.  Writer or no, you may get a laugh from them.  Happy Friday everyone!

 And so I will!

Anything with Christopher Walken is awesome.

  My favourite of course....

Friday, October 5, 2012

Learning to fall

These past couple of weeks life has been getting away from me a bit.  I mean that mostly in a positive way.  I've been busy with yoga teacher training, new work and a weekend getaway to Santa Barbara, all of which have taken me away from writing a little bit.  But today I was back at it again and will be tomorrow and I plan on keeping it up from there.  It's so fun and strange to be writing a first draft again.

The last time I was writing one was in 2008 and I'd forgotten what it felt like to just pull stuff out of thin air.  The hard part is trying not to care how you're telling the story and just focusing on getting the thing out.  I try to remind myself that the first draft of my first book in this series was equally as sh$%&tty as this one when I started out.  Also there are aspects of storytelling that can be fixed in the rewrites, so right now it's about letting go of the idea that the storytelling will be a success right out of the gate.

Of course, letting go and being open to failing the first time around can be hard to do in any area of life.  In my yoga practice this is manifesting with me trying to let go of my fear of falling in inversions like handstand.

One of my teacher's said to me a little while ago that the best way to get over a fear of falling is to learn how to fall.

I love that.  Because falling is inevitable, right?  We all have to get up there and do our best and fall down sometimes, don't we?

But if we can learn how to fall with grace, with compassion, with an ability to be kind to ourselves and those around us who tried to help, then that fall will be a success in its own right.

In yoga learning to fall pretty much means knowing the best way to get your feet back on the ground.  I think right now in my writing life learning to fall means allowing myself the capacity to keep giving it my best even though I might fail.  At least then I have a foundation to support me for the next draft, and the draft after that and after that.  At least then I'll have roots, so as I build on that first draft, climbing higher and higher, my book will have something to anchor it to the earth and support it as it grows.  Then hopefully one day it won't fall.

In the rest of my life, learning to fall means not being hard on myself when I find out I'm wrong about something, knowing when to apologize when its necessary, and knowing how to leave the fall behind me once it's finished.

What does learning to fall mean to you?  

Friday, September 21, 2012


Between yoga teacher training, writing and work (yes, work!) I am pretty swamped right now.  Still, couldn't be happier.  I've had some travel writing stuff take me away from my book this week and though I feel a little frustrated about it this work is awesome and I'm truly grateful for it!  On that note, here's a link to two stories that published in two publications I haven't written for before.  These two are travel agent pieces, one for TravelAge West, the other for Family Getaways (a sister pub of TravelAge West).  Still some great Hawaii info if you're interested!

TravelAge West Story

Family Getaways Story

Have a a great weekend folks!

Friday, September 14, 2012


This week has been a lot of things for me.  I've fully dug into the second book in my series.  I've been thrown in (thrown is definitely the right verb here) to my yoga teacher training.  And it was also my 31st birthday on Monday — the beginning of a new year for me.  Putting all these things together there have been some high points and not so hight points as well.

Also, the culmination of these things signifies further change in my life.  Good change: getting older, the freedom of writing a first draft from the heart to page, the excitement of beginning a learning process I have wanted to start for quite some time.  The not so good things: getting older, the terror of pulling a story out of thin air while ignoring the voice in my head telling me my storytelling sucks, and lastly, dealing with a fear of public speaking in my teacher training where I must put my true self out there for all to see.  Exposing myself.

We all have those moments of feeling exposed, don't we?  Where we feel sliced open at the heart.  Where we feel more naked than being naked.  For some reason, at this point in my life, that's what it feels like for me to stand up in front of people to speak.

So you might be asking yourself: then why the hell are you taking a yoga teacher's training? Well, because I love yoga.  Because the idea of teaching seems amazing to me.  Because I don't want fear to stop me from doing something I love.

This week my Mom sent me these videos to help me deal with the fear of putting my true self out there, of being vulnerable.  Brené Brown has also just published a book on this subject, if you're interested. I downloaded it to my Kindle just before I began this post.

If there's something you're feeling vulnerable about, you might want to take some time out of your life and watch these videos.  And, if you watch the second video you'll learn if you never feel vulnerable about anything then chances are you're a, in other words, there is something in these TED Talks for you.  Brené Brown is really funny too!  This first video came out in 2010:

Here's the second video, which you'll understand better if you've watched the first. This one came out in March 2012.

Hope you enjoy!  Here's to being vulnerable, to not shying away from shame, to being flawed right out in the open.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zadie and eVerest

I don't have much to say at the moment and today happens to be my hubby's birthday so I thought I'd post one of my favourite songs of his for all of you to enjoy.  Happy Birthday Toomie! Love you more than I could ever say in words.  Keep making great music!

It's also someone else's birthday today who is equally as special to me: my Zadie.  He is seriously one of the most amazing, happy, joyful people I know and today turns 88!  He served Canada in World War II and is featured in something called the Memory Project.  Click the name or this to hear his voice and learn some of his World War II story.  Love you Zadie!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We've got it. Here. Now.

A few days after I returned from Hawaii my Mom and Aunt came to visiti me in LA for the first time.  Below is a picture of them at The Grove.  And of my Mom and I, with me in my new dress from Pinup Girl Clothing, which makes AMAZING 50's style clothing that I cannot say enough about. I'd been wondering how I could get my hands on a Betty Draper dress for quite some time.  This picture doesn't really show my dress, but it's this dress, I will soon be going back for.

Not sure if you can see the pink elephant with the champagne glass on my shoulder.  Supposedly my Mom's parents had elephants and champagne wallpaper in the 50s/60s and that makes me love this dress even more.

I had a great time while my Mom and Aunt were visiting.  The trip was too short but there you have it.  I miss my Mom everyday but it won't be long until I see her again.

And what's helping me get through the overall sadness I feel about my Mom being gone is what's around the corner....

I didn't realize this until a couple of weeks ago but this Fall I will be spending the majority of my time doing two things that will mean a dream of mine has come true.


And this:

For the last five years before this one, when I was working full time out of an office, I used to dream about a life where I'd sold books and made enough money to write what I wanted to write for a living, gain a deeper knowledge of yoga and get down to a daily practice.

So the part of the dream where I can support myself through writing what I want to write hasn't come true... yet.  BUT, the other two things have.

In September, actually on Sept. 10 (which is my 31st birthday and weird that I'll be starting on this day for so many reasons I'll have to get to in another post) I'll be starting my first draft of the second book in my series.  And on September 7 (and actually this is my hubby's and grandfather's birthday) I'll be attending my very first class for yoga teacher's training!

Then for the next three months my life will be fully devoted to two of the things I love most (and a few other things I love too of course).  If someone would have told me this a year ago, oh how my heart would have smiled.

But never mind that, because it's smiling now!

I've written a lot in my journal about wishing writing and yoga would take up more of my time and become more of what I devote myself to.  The writing, thankfully, has a steady place in my life now that I'm grateful for.  Now I hope through this teacher training that I'll learn more about the practice of yoga and accept it into my life with a deeper knowledge that will keep with me on and off the mat.

So this is one of those great moments.  The moment when I look at my life and realize that, right now I have everything I need.

But the trick to this, you see, is that this is always true, even if it doesn't seem so obvious or not a single dream has come true.

Because we all have exactly what we need in this moment— to take us out of a situation we don't want to be in, to root us more firmly in the present, to realize that things are the way they are because we have lessons to learn and growing to do.

As great as things are right now I can also think of recent moments when I haven't felt so great, and even in those moments I've had everything I need.  I'm learning from these moments as much if not more than the easier ones.

And as far as now goes, if I keep doing and dreaming and feeling grateful for what I have now, I hope these things I love and support through my time, care and devotion, will support me back in new, greater and exciting ways — through love, through abundance.  And through a deeper understanding of who I really am.

Monday, August 6, 2012


If you've read this blog before you know I get to travel for work.  This morning I left Oahu (the Hawaiian island where you'll find Waikiki Beach) and right now, I'm on Maui, staying at Napili Kai Beach Resort, listening to the waves crash against the shore right outside my balcony window.

On Oahu I stayed at The Kahala, a luxury property steeped in understated decadence.  It's where presidents stay, the Japanese Emperor, once Princess Di and only two months ago, the Dalai Lama.  As you walk from your room to the beach, dolphins play in the waters by your feet.
There are a few places around the world that are truly thought of as paradise.  You know, the kind of a tropical variety: islands embraced by a crystal blue sea, warm and soothing as apple pie, palm trees scattered about, sand that twinkles on your skin.  It's hard to say which of these destinations is the ultimate Eden, heaven on Earth, but on this trip I think I've got to fess up and admit that Hawaii might be it.

You see, on top of Hawaii's sheer beauty, it's culture, the many humpbacks leaping into the air on Maui during their breeding season, Hawaii's got the weather.  It's arguably the best in the world.  SoCal folks like to believe they've got it, thanks to all the sunshine, but Hawaii's got something on them: the trades.  The trade winds ensure that no matter where you are in Hawaii it is pretty much always the perfect temperature.  It's not so hot you have to jump in the pool every five seconds to cool down, and yet the sun blankets your body in that kind of warmth you feel as much in your heart as on your skin.
If you don't know already, Mahalo means thank you in Hawaiian.  If you've been reading this blog at all you know the word means a lot to me.  I've been to many places around the world because of some of the work I get to do and AT LEAST once on every trip there is a moment when I am so awestruck and utterly grateful for where I am, and what my senses are feasting on, that all I can do is say thank you over and over again in my head.  And no matter how many times I say it, it never feels like enough.  
I believe in the law of attraction but I'm never exactly sure how I attracted some of the travels (most of the travels) in my life.  I wind up in certain places and in the moment I stop and take in a breath.  And sometimes I ask myself questions.  Why I am here?  Why is this in front of me?  How did I get here?  Each destination, big or small, East, West, North or South is overflowing with divinity.  When I'm in front of something that makes me feel that, no matter where I am in the world, in those moments I feel such an intense sense of gratitude, but at the very same time a deep yearning fires me up.  Because I always wish in those moments that I could share this.  I wish I could package and ship the sun, the wilderness, the river, the grapes, that perfect bite, the mountain and the hills.  I wish I could put these things each into their own little packages, and with them the feeling that I get when I'm face to face with those things.
One of my most favourite daydreams is where I come into a bunch of money.  Then I call a travel agent, book rooms and first-class air, the works, for everyone in my life that I hold dear.  And off we go!  The destinations change.  Sometimes I dream I'm on smaller scale trips with a few people I love.  These past few days I've been dreaming of what it might be like to be able to take complete strangers on a journey.  Some, like single mothers and fathers, people working in the service industry who never get to experience certain levels of service themselves, I would send on extravagant, luxury vacations.  Others, people who are interested in seeing the world, would travel to far off lands to gain a little bit better understanding of how even though different people have different ways of being and living in the world, we are all still completely connected. Because there is nothing better in life, NOTHING, than those moments when you realize we are truly all one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The book I never forgot

When I was about nine or ten I saw this book in a book store and the cover just called to me.  Girl in the ocean with a dolpin jumping over her head.  Sold!  Don't ask me why exactly.  I've always had a thing for marine mammals.  I've always had a thing for girls who look magical.  And even though there's nothing in this photo that screams that, I somehow just got this from the cover.  When I finally read the book I was right about it too.

My first attempt at this novel was a fail.  I was a bit too young, I think, and the prologue explains this deep mythology of the novel in a lot of detail that I couldn't wrap my brain around at that age.

Then I read the whole thing when I was twelve.  Then I read it again.  This means something because I AM NOT good at re-reading books.  I'm the same way with movies.  But this book I absolutely loved.  It had everything I wanted: a strong female protagonist, a new world, a journey to another new world, romance.  Then most of all, the relationship between the main character, Sand, and her dolphin friend, M'ridan.

When I turned thirteen my world changed.  I didn't want to read.  I didn't want to do much of anything except maybe dance (I was dancing at this time in my life) and most of all, hang out with my friends.  I still read the books I had to for school but that was it.

Still, through all that time this book stayed with me.  When I would write in my journal as a teen, play around with short stories or dream one day of writing books, I would always come back to Strandia. It imprinted itself inside me and when I look now it's still there.

The interesting thing is that when I finally read this book as an adult, about seven years ago, I didn't love it like I did before.  I've got my BFA in creative writing/English Lit since, I'd read a lot more, and I guess there were things about the pace of the novel that jarred me.  I felt there was a lot more telling than showing.

I was surprised, but not upset, because this whole experience taught me a valuable lesson about writing stories.  It taught me that a book can still move you if it has all your favourite ingredients, even if it isn't prepared as well as it could have been.

That's not to say that Susan Lynn Reynolds (author) didn't do a lot of things right in this novel where the writing was concerned (the book won the Young Adult Canadian Book Award).  What I'm suggesting is sort of another example of what I talked about in the last blog.

I don't believe in destiny, but I do believe that you attract things to you and certain things will will show up in your life to teach you a lesson when it needs to be learned, to speak to you when you need to listen. You may not learn the lesson until years later, but the universe knows what it's doing.

One thing I've learned, despite how I feel about Strandia now compared to then, is that I'd be a different writer had I not read this book.  I'd have written something else instead of this.

That's the next draft ready to be read.  And maybe it will never be published.  Maybe it will never see more than the few readers I'm giving it to now.  What matters is that I'm not giving up on writing and even if it takes me another ten years to publish something and another ten novels, what I've written here will inform everything else after, just like what I read does.  Strandia included.

I'm off to Hawaii for some work next week and will have some fun pics when I return.  In the meantime, why not think about some of the people, books, art that has informed your life?  Where would you be without it?  And why did the universe choose to show it to you exactly when it did?  I think it's a question we can all ask ourselves about every single thing that appears in our life, a lot more than we do.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The X-Factor isn't just for singers

As heartbreaking as it is for all us writers out there, a poorly written book has a chance of becoming a best-seller as much as a well-written book does.  Yup, that's right.

Before I elaborate there, I think it's good to think about what a poorly written book is.  These days, with people communicating through LOLs and LMFAOs and TTYLs and such a wide range of emoticons you can express yourself with this, a book that's written like poop takes on whole new meaning.

I could go on for a while about the North American education systems, and the writing skills of high school graduates, but that's another post, no sorry, another blog.  So when the bulk of the population doesn't know — and more importantly, doesn't care — what an adverb is, or passive voice, or a spelling mistake, well then that gives a lot of power to people who don't write clean, or have a commanding grasp of the English language, but can tell a story.

So let's think about what story-telling is.  You can have your voice, your technique, your structure, action and dialogue, a great character arc for a character that may even seem likeable. You can build tension and deliver a great reveal. In fact, you can have all of these things and then write the book well, using gorgeous turns of phrase, original description and not a grammar mistake to be found. Still, you may not have a best seller even then.

Now I'll say it again: a poorly written book has a chance of becoming a best-seller as much as a well-written book does. Why? To put it in the words of Simon Cowell, it's because of the X-Factor.

Just like one dancer can execute all the right moves, with superb technical skill, and fail at winning an audience, another dancer without a day of training can win the heart of every single person in the room. Why? Because of the X-factor. And you either got it or you don't, sugar.

Because writing is a literary pursuit, I think that often it's not compared enough to performing and then we all miss this very important point.

The irony of the X-factor though, I think, is that as much as you can be born with a certain talent, you can also loose it. So you can perhaps not be born with something and somehow gain it. My guess is that this probably has to do something with how much you believe in yourself, how hard you work, and how much love you can put in to what you do.

Now don't throw away your Strunk and White because you think you've got the X-factor. You may only have a teeny little x. But if you equip yourself with all the right tools, work hard, put everything you've got into it, then maybe your X will grow bigger and bigger.

Or, you can have a dream about girl and a vampire talking in the woods and six months later, with no previous writing experience, have a book deal and be on your way to selling millions of copies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moving on up

I finished my draft a week ago Friday and then about an hour later Tom and I were on our way to Laguna Beach for a writer's gig I had that conveniently coincided with our two years married.  It felt so unbelievably amazing to celebrate the end of this draft on the beach with my love!

After we got back I actually spent the whole week cleaning up the first five chapters of my draft.  There's still a lot I want to change but I'm forcing myself to keep away from it because before I do that, it's time for the thing to be read, by somebody else, all the way through.  

I happen to be one of the luckiest writers on earth because my aunt is also a writer.  And she's not just any writer, but this fabulous, extremely talented, gorgeous writer.  Her latest book, actually about our family, is coming out soon.  She's read some of it to me already and it's going to be fantastic!  Scroll down the link for her full bio.  

So my amazing aunt, and dear friend, has agreed to read my draft.   I know she'll have great feedback that will help me make this book better and so when I tackle this draft the next time I can go in and make changes based not only on what I think needs to change.  My head has been in the draft so long I doubt I have any objectivity left at the moment (if I ever did).  I'm nervous as hell to give it to her, because I look up to her so, but at the same time I wouldn't want this read to be for anyone else.

So what to do now?  There's that thing I said I'd do.  And with six months left, I better get on it.  Except, my instinct is sort of leading me in a different what I think I'll do next is spend the rest of the week writing something completely different, just for fun.  Then next week I'll get my outlines of Book Two and Three in better shape.  Then...I'm off to Hawaii.  Part Travelweek gig, part writer's gig.  Its my fifth time there and I love it more every stay tuned for pics from that!

Now for my next post....enough of these updates I say!  Who cares where I am now, where I'm going.  You've heard about it enough and frankly, I'm sick of thinking about it.  So next time I'll be writing about something I think about a lot when it comes to writing books.  My take on a long-standing argument that relates to novels such as Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight (and really every other novel in the universe, if that makes sense).

So thanks folks for bearing with me so far!  Thanks for caring, to those of you who do.  And thanks to my husband for his unwavering faith and encouragement.  If it wasn't for him I would have given up writing this draft two weeks ago (let's just say I had a moment).  The pic above is one of the orchids on the orchid plant he brought home last Tuesday for our anni.  Two of my favourite colours and since last week it's started to bloom like crazy!  Love to you all!  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Half way in

This Sunday will be six months since I started this blog, six months since the day I proclaimed to the web that I will finish drafts of three novels in one year

I'm not going to lie about anything here, I'm not going to avoid owning up to where I am because maybe it's not where I thought I'd be.  Instead am opting for honesty.  It's who am.  It's gotten me in trouble before and I'm sure will again, but I hope right now that maybe it won't.

By the middle of April I was ten chapters away from finishing the third draft of book one in the trilogy. I was whizzing through it and feeling great.  If you've been reading this blog you know what happened next.  I won't spare you with the details.  They were all great things, of course.  Experiences, visits, jobs I am grateful for, but it did take me away from writing.  Between mid-April and the week before last I finished two chapters, which brought me down to eight left.  Then if you read my last blog you know I decided I needed to make a change in the draft that took me back into rewrites of a few chapters already written.  I just finished those rewrites now.

So I've still got eight chapters left, maybe seven.  I'll finish them in a week from now if I'm really lucky.  Otherwise I'll finish them the week after.

That gives me just under six months to write two novels from scratch.  Can I do it? Yes, I can do anything!!  Will I do it?  Time will tell.

The main thing I want to tell you all is that I'm not giving up.  I'm going to do my absolute best to get as much of this trilogy done this year as I possibly can.  But IF, for some reason, I don't make this self-imposed deadline, I am going to be happy with however much I've completed.  No, not happy.  I'll be over-the-moon, insanely proud, elated, rave-dance excited.  Why?  Because I will have given it my absolute all.  I will have lots more done than I ever thought I would get done in those dark, cold moments at the bottom of a pitiful mood.

That's the point isn't it?  Journey, not the destination.  I recall saying something along these lines before: Not just about this year, but all years.... Not just about a year of greatness, a year of love, but a lifetime.  

And then one day I will be finished this trilogy.  And hopefully one day some people will read it and hopefully those people will feel at least some of the love I put in.  Then, even if they do or if they don't, it will be on to the next thing.  That next journey, the next book, the next year.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm possible

So I've been writing away and I realize there's a major rewrite I need to do to the ending.  Well, I don't need to do it but I feel it's the right thing.  It's putting pressure on me because I just want to get this draft finished.  But more than that I want it to be the best draft it can be.  Maybe it means I won't make my July 6th deadline, but nothing's impossible.  Just like Audrey Hepburn says:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Getting there

This is what I looked like the minute I got home from Disneyland last Thursday, minus the whiskers.
It was the end of two months of insanity that started in mid-April.  In between then and now I had visitors to LA, covered three travel events, visited two other countries, which included my first visit home, and saw a bajillion people.  Yes, you read that correctly, a BAJILLION!  And all of it culminated last week as I raced down Route 66 at 7:00 a.m without coffee or breakfast, while cars smiled and spoke to me and winked.    

And as you know, I've got eight chapters left to write of this #@#$%# draft.  And boy does it feel like that kind of draft today!  I've spent the last three days just getting my head back into it.  And you know what, this @#^&#*# draft has some coherency, I must admit.  It's terribly over written, but that's fixable, right?

Now I'm giving myself a deadline to get these next eight chapters done (a secret source told me it will really only be seven chapters but we'll see how that goes).

I'm revealing this deadline to the world so someone out there will banish me to the darkest, coldest place beyond The Wall of the Seven Kingdoms (yes, I'm reading Game of Thrones) if I don't make it.  Do you think someone will do that for me?  If so, my deadline is July 6th.

Of course, as usual, I spent a good chunk of my time today beating myself up for dilly-dallying in chapters already written and wondering if the villain in my novel should in fact be a dragon (damn you Game of Thrones!).

BUT even after all that, I have started writing again.  I AM getting there.  And I will get there.  On July 6th.

As for all the other things going Lightening McQueen through my busy mind, like how I'd really enjoy a larger income, how I really want to do a five-day juice cleanse, get some more writing gigs, loose ten pounds and run and do yoga every single day, meditate, decorate my apartment, go to New York with my sisters to see the Newsies on broadway, and visit Thailand, and all of this in 2012 (This is the year, isn't it?).  Well, I'll just have to put that all aside for now and do the only thing I can do, what I've been telling myself over and over and so will again here and now:  Trust the process of life, be grateful for it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In which the beat goes on

I've always wanted to start a blog post with "In which," since there are so many blogs out there with authors that start about every other post with that and I guess I wanted to join in the fun.  I have the Sister Act 2 version of Ball of Confusion in my head right now as well, so that's where I'm getting "the beat goes on."

And it does, doesn't it?  I've been away from my "desk" for pretty much all of May and the first week of June.  First in NZ and then visiting family.  I thought I would have this week to get some #$%! organized and start writing but now I'm heading off to Disneyland to cover the Cars Land opening and so my novel writing is postponed yet again!

But THAT'S IT!!!  No more putting writing on the back burner after this.  Oh no!  I've got eight chapters to write baby, then another book to start right after and I don't plan on anything getting in my way!

I've got a few writerly type posts planned for the future but in the meantime, I know you're asking:  "Why how was your trip to Canada, Candice?"

Well, it was absolutely mad psycho crazy insane lovely.  Really, really busy, but perfect in every way.

The first night we arrived we got to party old school style at this bar in Oakville we used to hang out at where my hubby used to DJ.  His friends still run the night there and they were kind enough to invite him back to play.  So that night you would have found me there dancing to this:

In case you didn't know, my hubby is a very talented producer and this just so happens to be my new favourite song of his. (I'll have more on all of this down the road).  The best part of the night was when my sisters, Shayna and Kari, and my friends were all rocking out on the dance floor together.  It's something that used to happen all the time and now hardly ever does.  Maybe I took it for granted then but I sure didn't that night.

During the week Tom and I got to eat bagels and lox and creams cheese, one of my all time favourite comfort foods, with two of my all time favourite people:
That's my Bubbie and Zadie.  We're at Kiva's, the proper Jewish hang out in Toronto.  I love the noise in this place, the swarms of people sharing bagels with their family and friends, as they all run into more family, more friends, because EVERYONE is there.  And did I mention the bagels?  Oy!

I finally was able to catch a Yoga class with my Dad.  I'm pumped that he's starting to love yoga as much as I do.  We also shared some delicious oysters, twice!  (Yes, I'm spoiled).

My last week there I was able to get some much needed catch up done with my in-laws and then I got to hang out on the couch in my childhood home.....My sister and I finally had the chance to watch Funny Girl together, as we'd planned months before.

And thanks to Kari I've got a new Streisand song to be in love with.  Not sure if it's my favourite but because it reminds me of this trip every time I hear it I want to cry, just a little.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Canada Bound and Neil Gaiman

Tonight I am on my way back to Toronto.  I am so excited and already really feeling a little bit overwhelmed but I am mostly very excited.  I haven't seen my mother in almost eight months, which is the longest we've ever gone without seeing each other and has only happened one other time (when I was going to school in Vancouver).

I do not like being away from my family and though the extra time to myself I have in LA may be helping me to get writing done, in a perfect world I would be living in Toronto, getting paid to write what I love, and enough so that I could live comfortably with Tom, and whoever else should come along.  That could still happen.  But for now, it's still a dream.

Neil Gaiman had something fabulous to say about dreams recently, when he addressed the University of the Arts in Philidelphia.  I suggest that you watch this video of his speech.  If you're an artist of any kind, perhaps not even producing but with art in your spirit, then this is for you.  It's nineteen minutes of your life, but well spent when you consider some of the other, more wasteful things you've done with nineteen minutes of your time.  When I'm sad and wish my family were nearer, when I have my "I'm not going fast enough" moments about my novel writing, Gaiman reminds me to use it.  It's something I prescribed to long ago.  For this is how we, as Gaiman puts it, "make good art."

As a side note, I love the bit in here about how he lied about his writing credentials to get his first job in journalism.  I wish I would have had the balls to do something like that when I was starting out!

And speaking about "not going fast enough" with my novel.  I'm eight chapters away from finishing the rewrites of Book One.  When I get back from Toronto I plan to be done them in no more than two weeks.  Then it's off to be read, by people, for the first time all the way through.  I'm both excited an terrified.  For now though, I love this book I'm writing and I just hope I can do right by it.  Maybe one day you'll get to read it and hopefully you'll think I have done.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Now this is what I'm talking about...

I'm sure you all have seen this video before.  I went on a sharing spree with it about a year ago but I thought this was a great time to share it once more.  Imagine we all woke up every morning and did this?
I'm really yearning to get back into my novel, but I've been rushing around trying to get all my New Zealand stories done and dealing with a bit of jet lag....but I will be getting back in at least for one chapter before I'm off to see my family in Toronto next Friday!!!  *jumps for joy*  I am so excited to see everyone!

Then when I get back they'll be just eight chapters of this draft left to do!!  In the words of dear Jessica in the above video "I can do anything good!"

Happy Friday!

Friday, May 11, 2012

At Aukland airport...

I've travelled all around the world and I'm only 30.  There are a lot of places I get to visit because I am lucky enough to have a job (now as a freelancer) that sometimes takes me places.  I love seeing the world.  I love experiencing other places, the people that live there, their culture, their landscape and the food they eat (this is always a big part for me!).  I am immensely grateful for every trip I take and have taken, but (and this might make me different than most) what's one of the best parts of travel for me? Perhaps the best?

Coming home.

I chose this photo because for me, home isn't really a place.  I don't need to use the cliche for you to get it.   And don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't enjoy being away and that I'm wishing I could come home the whole time... it's that travel makes me feel so absolutely grateful for the love my life is filled with.  

When I'm travelling solo, Tom and I often miss each other so much it can almost feel a bit painful at times, but you know it's worth it — not just for the experience whilst travelling but because the reunions are so sweet.

I can compare it to being away from all my family in Toronto too.  I miss my Mom, my Dad, my sisters, my in-laws, my niece, my aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents and friends so much sometimes I could burst.  But I promise you that because of it I put my love for them into everything I do.

Now the thing is, most of us don't have to travel away from our partners very often and if so it's usually never more than a night or two, let alone two weeks or more.  Most of us live so close to our family we can get in a car and drive to them at a moment's notice.  When that happens it can sometimes be easier to take the special people in our lives for granted, to assume that they'll just always be there.  So how about today or tomorrow, right now and always, we just think about that for a second?  

In the words of one of my all-time favourites, Alicia Keys, in a song where she also refers to my theme song for this year: "Live.  Love life.  Give love."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Punched in the taste buds

I'm in New Zealand!!  I made it to Queenstown last night after an adventure sea kayaking through the Abel Tasman (this picture was taken at low tide).....

hanging with a local sperm whale and a pod of dusky dolphins in Kaikoura.....

checking out some of the redevelopment projects in Christchurch like Restart....
 cruising through the Marlborough Sounds and a green shell mussel farm...
and what I'd been waiting for.....
(This picture was put on steroids with the help of Instagram but I think it really says something about what it felt like to be there).

My visit to Marlborough.  I've been in love with the sauvignon blancs from this region for far too long and though this pic is of vines growing gruner veltliner (which I developed quite the crush on in Vienna a few years back) every wine I tried here in Marlborough punched my taste buds with flavour.

I can't begin to say how grateful I am for this trip, that I get to write about it (stay tuned for articles and blogs published to Travelweek both in print and online, and am knocking off something on my bucket list.

The thing is I'm not even done yet!  Tomorrow I take a helicopter ride through places in Queenstown and do a bit of rafting (yikes!) and on Thursday it's off to the spa before I head home, so stay tuned....

Yes, I am supremely lucky.  Why yes, I am.