Saturday, March 26, 2011

Find Yourself in the Dark on March 26, 2011 - Earth Hour

On Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm, Earth Hour will begin. From 8:30 - 9:30, all lights need to be turned off, and candles need to be rediscovered - for the greater good.

Sydney, Australia kicked-off Earth Hour in 2007, with 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turning off their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change (I wonder what the poor sea turtles must have been thinking while they floated along the East Australian Current). The annual practice spread across the world, and has now evolved into a record-breaking challenge every year. On Saturday, March 27, 2010, that years’ Earth Hour became the record-breaking year, where 128 countries and territories took part, joining forces in celebration of one common interest – our planet.

Now, there is no mention anywhere of turning off TV’s, laptops, computers, or gaming devices. And forget the proud new owners of the Apple iPad 2 that just went on sale worldwide yesterday – they’re too busy playing with them. Maybe we should contemplate no electricity of any kind for that hour. Why not? Oh - but then gadgets can be charged-up ahead of time - right. We don’t want to die of withdrawal from lack of screen-display.

I wonder if there is an ‘app’ (short for ‘application,’ so the trendy-folk tell me) for that sort of thing. A little icon you can touch with your finger, guaranteeing instant stress relief from screen withdrawal. I betcha there is. If there isn’t, maybe someone can invent it, and give me some of the royalties. But that wouldn’t be very Earth-friendly, now would it? Another contribution to the electric-consuming world we are in, it would be.

So back to earth hour….I write this on my laptop, plugged into the wall. Even though the silly thing has a battery, I worry about it dying, leaving me in the dark. I keep sucking electricity out of those funny-looking holes in the wall, fearful my laptop will fade to black at the most critical moment. And if it did – my GOD – how would I write?

Um, with a candle, some ink and paper – what a concept!

I just ran around the house doing chores. Laundry with my washer and dryer, baking two dozen muffins with my oven on for who-knows-how-long, washing the inside of a bacon-scent infested microwave (gag), and then washing the light switches in the kitchen that were covered in spaghetti sauce splatters – don’t ask. Am I any better?

Am I really contributing to the upcoming Earth Hour? With everyone charging up electronics in anticipation of Earth Hour, for those who are participating, that is, is our surge of electric use in the hours leading up to the event really a good idea? Heck, there is a website dedicated to it – which is a fantastic way to spread the word, modern day communication being what it is, and all. But think of the electricity needed to initially create that site. Shouldn’t Earth Hour be a continual practice of electricity conservation?

So for now, as I wallow in guilt over my electric consumption, my gasoline consumption, and the amount of water needed to clean my house, I will spend the day running around collecting candles, and make a night of it with my family, and hopefully, in my own twisted way, be able to teach them something.

There goes the buzzer on the clothes dryer – gotta run. Next load is ready to go.

I really need to re-think this.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America Presents Kristina McMorris

What: Kristina McMorris presents her workshop 'Selling the Tough Sell'
When: Saturday, April 9, 2011
Location: St. Aidan's Church, 3703 St. Aidan's Street, Victoria, BC
Time:The workshop runs from 1:00 - 3:00pm

If your manuscript, whether traditional or out-of-the-box, has been labeled a hard sell, you won't want to miss this presentation. Join award-winning women's fiction author Kristina McMorris as she shares how more than determination took her first novel from rejected repeatedly to sold internationally. Learn secret tips on making your query stand out from the pile and gain unique marketing insight to land that manuscript in a top agent's or editor's hands.

“I've picked up many helpful tips that can give authors of any genre—no matter how unique the book—a leg up while traveling on the bumpy road to publication. The primary focus is on querying, pitching, and selling.” ~Kristina McMorris.

Kristina is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and recipient of nearly two dozen national literary awards. Her debut novel, Letters From Home, is scheduled as a trade paperback release from Kensington Books (U.S.) and HarperCollins/Avon (UK) in March 2011, when a condensed version will also be distributed in the Reader's Digest Select Editions Volume.

For more information about Kristina McMorris, please visit her website at

For more information, and how to register for this presentation, please visit the website of The Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America at

Sunday, March 13, 2011

'Enjoy it NOW!' The Sequel...

(This is the continuation of the Great Canadian Tire Money tragedy (see entry Feb 19, 2011 ‘Enjoy it NOW!’) I have had many ask what I bought, so here it is)

On wobbly legs I trekked over to the local Canadian Tire Hardware Store, my great wealth tucked safely in my purse.

I had six dollars worth of Canadian Tire Money, all in 5 and 10-cent bills.

Six whole dollars! That’s a lot of nickels and dimes when you think about it. I mean, what store really accepts your payment of 110 nickels and 5 dimes? So I was smart about it. I counted the 5-cent Canadian Tire bills into paper-clipped bundles of $1.00 each, ending up with five bundles. Then the other bundle had the remaining 5 and 10-cent bills amounting to another $1.00. That’s six WHOLE dollars! Let the bells ring out!

But what if they wouldn’t accept them? What if they had stopped accepting the bills? What if $6.00 was too much to shop with at one time? What if they thought I was nuts and hauled me down the motor oil aisle straight out the back door to a waiting big white van? (At least they would be in the right spot if they needed an oil change!)

But I am not nuts – truly.

With my bundle of cash ready, a speech prepared in my head, and my ever-batting eyelashes at the ready, I walked through the door and found the manager.

Not the same one as last time – phew! I would have been escorted out the door for sure (like I said, see entry of February 19, 2011).

Desperation and urgency were making me a tad crazy.

With a bat of my eyelashes, and in my most professional, mature, sweetest voice, I asked if I could use my accumulated bills of $6.00 to buy something. “Is that okay? Am I allowed?”

So, of course, the manager looked at me like I was nuts. “Well no DUH!! Of course you can! Good God, woman! What do YOU think? How cruel do you think we are?”

“Well, pretty DARN cruel, if you ask me! What with discontinuing Canadian Tire Money and all! Sheesh!”

He didn’t really say that, and I didn’t really say that. He just said “Yes” and continued stacking packages of toilet bowl freshener.

Yippee! I skipped down the aisle to my much anticipated purchase, grabbed what I wanted, and skipped to the cash register.

I picked the register with the most patient looking girl, and handed over my purchase and my 'money.'

She looked at the paper clips, the massive bundle of bills, my purchase, and kindly did not roll her eyes – at least not in my presence.

Like a good employee, she counted them out. First stack: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30…$1.00. Second stack: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30…$1.00. Third stack…and so on. Then she got to the stack with the 5 and 10 cent bills combined, and that threw her off a bit (ha ha!) (I wasn’t doing this to be mean, mind you). She finally made it to the $6.00 mark then rang it all through. I still owed $1.45 in ACTUAL cash, paid that, and off I went, skipping home with my purchase! (I do A LOT of skipping)

I did it! My God, I did it!! I felt like I was getting away with something! I had accomplished the greatest feat of my life! “Look what I have everyone! I practically got this for free!” I shouted at the Sunday afternoon walkers with their dogs.

I ran through the door, and showed everyone my purchase……

Look! LOOK! LOOK what I bought!!!!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sane Editing for Writers

Artists experiment and learn on different canvases and mediums, so why can’t you? Painters don’t always paint on traditional canvases, often switching to paper, bed sheets and bodies!

Writers need to experiment as well. Yes, notebooks and computers are a writers best friend, but so are grocery receipts, dinner napkins, hands and arms, and index cards - anything that can take thoughts spewing forth from pen or pencil. Forget using bathroom walls at the mall – you can’t take those with you.

So when it comes to proofreading, editing and revising, writers should take the same ‘freedom’ with various canvases as they do with their writing.

Keep Your Ear – Don’t Go Crazy

Editing is needed to find grammatical flaws, punctuation flubs, spelling mishaps, and homonym mix-ups (there vs. their). Added to all that, editing also means keeping an eye open for storyline and character name confusion, sentence run-on (my own personal problem) (can you tell?), and much, much more!

PHEW! Trying to juggle all those, plus keeping your coffee cup refilled, can make you go crazy!

But changing HOW you edit – like the painter who changes his canvas - will help you see things in a different light, therefore edit more precisely and concisely. Unlike Vincent van Gogh, you don’t have to lop off your ear to be a famous, fantastic artiste!

Save Your Sanity, Not Paper

If writing on a computer, print your work to review and edit. Not only does it give your eyes a much needed rest from the screen, but there is something to be said for using a good old fashioned blue pencil (don’t use red – it’s too angry). Sure you have to go back and type in your changes, but errors jump out at you if printed on paper.

Don’t always rely on your spell check feature in your word processing program – it sometimes lies. Homonyms are not always picked up, and wrong word usage can get skipped over. Just when you thing technology will save your butt, it only comes ‘round and bites you IN the butt (see the word ‘thing’? Spell check never ‘flagged’ it). Your mind and eyes need a change, so use yet ANOTHER piece of paper (recycled kind is best), and sharpen your blue pencil.

Get a Dye-Job

Countless authors handwrite their first draft on yellow legal pads. Why not try this yourself? And while you are thinking in colour, why not try writing on coloured printer paper? A ream of it is it fairly cheap at the stores, and although unlined, it can give you the freedom to keep writing, outside the lines.

And when printing that manuscript to revise, why not print on coloured paper? The glare of white paper can be headache-provoking. Soft pink or blue can be soothing. Why not give green or yellow a try? But don’t try black – it doesn’t work for some reason.

Screw With Your Mind

If working on a computer, copy and paste your work onto another publishing program, if available. When transferring my work to this blog, my work is inputted to a different kind of screen for posting - a different ‘canvas’ – enabling me to edit even more because I see things differently (I hope!).

Email yourself. Although this is not conducive for a whole novel, why not email parts of it – the parts giving you a bit of a struggle? It’s all very psychological - a mind over matter kind of thing - and again, the different medium will be a change. And heck, on days when you are feeling lonely and no one has sent you an email (not even a spammer), at least SOMEONE has emailed you!

Why not considering changing your work to a different font? Yes, editors and publishers and publishers require submitted work in a specific font, such as Times New Roman or Courier, but for your own editing purposes, a different font might just do you a world of good.

Take a Bathroom Break, Then Start Talking!

Take a break. Take a step back from your work, and let it simmer, or rest, for an hour or two; or even better, a few days. Come back and see things with fresh eyes – but don’t take that break for too long!

Read your work aloud. To yourself, your cat, your plant, or even a writing partner. Reading aloud helps you discover lack of flow and countless errors. After reading the darn thing so often, you can sometimes skim without even knowing it. Reading aloud slows down your reading, forcing you to enunciate read each word. So gargle with mouthwash, take the pen out of your mouth, and start reading out loud. You don’t need a diploma in Toastmasters – just do it.

So print, scribble in blue, use a bit of colour, and edit to your heart's content – and remember, sometimes spell check lies!