Happy Canada Day!

Canada day

Canada is home to a diverse and wonderful assortment of individuals. Together they make this country great. Being a patriotic Canadian means different things to different people. For me, at this moment it means kindness for our fellow Canadians, and for all fellow humans everywhere in the world.

This past winter and spring I faced some challenges and a few individuals showed me what true kindness is. They were patient, they listened and they helped without question or hesitation. 

Whether you’re Canadian or not, let’s show our love for humanity and show someone kindness, the smallest act can change a life.

Happy Canada Day!

-Sheryl

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Little Angelic Villians

Kids are like antagonists. they have no boundaries, no filters, no remorse, they are clever and conniving. Self driven for self-gratification and they do whatever they must to get what they want. They can throw massive tantrums over any little thing. Oh and they usually have boundless amounts of energy and charm.

Like little angelic villains they can waltz in, stir the pot, cause endless chaos and ruin everything… all by being completely innocently honest.

Kids can say the damnedest things, there was a whole TV show dedicated to just that. Their unrestrained views easily bring humor, embarrassment and upset. On the flip side they can be unrelentingly kind, considerate and until they are taught to they don’t hate or judge.

Because of their natural unpredictability they are a fantastic tool to un-jam a situation, bring a little comedy, love, or even a gut wrenching tear-jerk of a moment.

I have children float in and out of my stories from time to time to serve a grander purpose. I write them carefully making sure they come across as their appropriate age. There is a lot of range since some kids are smarter than they should be and some… well bless them they’re just not.

Kids can be tricky to write, but if done well they can be a lot of fun too. However like with all things I strive not to make them cliché. They are little people with quirks, habits, opinions and feelings. Volatile feelings but feelings none the less. I love, love, love reading a story with a small child that has the child behave in a realistic way. Non con-formative to the Hollywood ideal of how children are.  Levels of tiredness, hunger, sugar and boredom can factor in. Some kids are good and others just plain naughty.

“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.” The little girl in brown pig-tails tugged at the tired woman’s sweater. She was either unheard or ignored as the woman tended the infant in her arms wailing away at the top of her lungs.
Amber tried not to stare with horror at the scene they made.
“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.”
The silent young boy, Amber guessed was eight or nine (not that she knew enough to guess), was checking off the grocery list. Satisfied it was all there he moved the cart toward the checkout where Amber stood waiting her turn. The other small boy in the seat of the shopping cart pulled his thumb from his mouth with a loud wet suck sound and reached for the candy bars on display. “Want.”
“No Bobby, no candy.” The woman said in little more than a sigh. “Margo please stop nattering I already said no.” She brushed the young girls hand away. “But mommy…”
Amazed Amber watched the woman tune out the girl again as she began her persistent chant and tug on her sweater.
“Want!” Bobby the toddler started to cry.
“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.”
The boy finished unloading the cart and nudged Bobby’s finger back in the boy’s mouth. “Shh Bobby.” The boy petted the toddlers curly brown hair.
Amber was next and thanking God silently as the infant continued to wail despite the mothers best efforts to jiggle hush him gently. Amber touched her stomach absently and glanced back at the chaos behind her. She caught sight of a man behind the woman scowling deeply, his face turning a reddish-purple.
“For the love of God, can’t you shut them up?” The man said through his clenched teeth. Amber was thinking the same thing, but the poor woman looked exhausted as frustration, humiliation and anger flashed over her face. “Sorry.”
“The nerve of you, do something about your brats already.”
Amber’s mouth fell open at the mans brazen comment. The woman doubled her effort to hush her baby as the boy picked up his pig-tailed sister distracting her to silence.
Before Amber could say anything the cashier spoke up.
“Excuse me Sir. These children aren’t hurting anyone or being friggin rude or ignorant. They’re kids so whats your excuse?”
“Well said.” Amber nodded and turned her arid glare on the man then looked at the woman and it hit her hard. She could be this woman. Life did not always go according to plan. Her hand rested on her still flat stomach. No things definitely did not go plan. When she looked back at the man she saw herself in him. Glaring, judging and being the bully. With a frown she paid, grabbed her bags and rushed to get to her car before her tears spilled over.

Whether the children interact directly with my characters or not depends on the situation and what they contribute. Amber is on a better path, she may not stay there but for now I’ll have little bits of morality thrown her way. Lessons on karma, understanding and compassion.

My advice about writing children.
If you need inspiration take a walk in the park, go to the zoo, grocery store, library and look about. Babysit or spend time with children if you don’t have them. They are fascinating and frustrating and fantastic.

-Sheryl

Other posts I liked writing.

Blood

Sweat

+ Tears

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Jiggle
Arid

Bibbity Blogity Boo

There is magic in creation, a special feeling of euphoria that drives me to write. I love reading and the realization that I am creating something that will be read by others is empowering.

I started this blog to strengthen my writers platform, but it has given me so much more. New friends, a place to enjoy others’ writing and stories, feedback and encouragement and most of all learning. As I write my posts I research too. Sometimes when I research I’m inspired to write a post. Whichever it may be I’m learning as I go. My writing/editing/revising skills are improving and I find myself working harder. However it doesn’t feel like work.

It’s a non stop little cycle of learning as I blog and blogging as I learn. I stretch my writing legs and have tried new things. New perspectives, techniques and tricks. There is no magic wand to take my rough draft and poof it to perfection. I don’t have a literary fairy godmother and I don’t have a dashing prince to swoop in and slay the filter words and typos for me.

So instead of writing this:

They stopped kissing very suddenly and each backed up awkwardly and embarrassed. “We should talk about what just happened and what that could possibly mean.” Amber said feeling suddenly shy about kissing Dale so very passionately. She felt very attracted to him and after his very sweet romantic words. Like crazy, she wanted to desperately believe that he was telling the truth about being in love with her. 
“Yes Amber I absolutely agree completely to that, we do indeed need to discuss what transpired between the two of us just now. ” Dale said nodding his head very vigorously with agreement. “Do you to understand that I meant every single word that I said to you a moment before we kissed?”
Dale put his hand on her cheek. Amber closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again. She looked into his eyes before she gave him a response.
“Dale I really do have feelings for you and I very much enjoyed kissing you. I would ask that you be understanding and very patient with me.”
“I can indeed be patient with you Amber.” He said with a delighted pleasant smile.
(272)

I now know about filter words, show vs. tell, interjections, emotion tags vs dialog tags vs action tags, ing-ing and the ly’s that stunt creativity. I now know about writing realism with words commonly used in real life. I know to ditch the tired pompous ones that only belong in period or historical books and the ones that are literally just filler. I also know to look for redundancies and my kryptonite words such as; really, that and very. Since during my first draft I spent a lot of time revising to reduce word count these skills proved invaluable.

Now I would write it like this:

Amber broke the passionate kiss. “We should talk.” Her cheeks flushed and she looked down at her hands. 
“Yeah we should.” Dale nodded and put his hand on her cheek brushing his thumb across a dried tear streak. “I meant what I said you know.”
She closed her eyes a moment before looking into his. “I know, and I am trying, I…” She licked her lips. “I like you Dale. Can you be patient with me?”
His lips curled up slightly. “Yes Amber.” He kissed her forehead. “I can.”
(89)

Wow, I’ve come a long way from blabbity writing with tired, filter and redundant words. I’m still wordy when I write, but so much less so than I was when I started this blog. And now I know how to fix my wordiness. I’m no longer tempted to lazy writing and dig in to make my writing the best it can be. By following the rules I’ve learned and shared throughout my blog I was able to revise and rewrite properly. As if by ‘magic’ I removed a whopping 183 necessary words. I’ll say ‘wow’ again. Big improvement and I still have lot’s to learn and therefore lot’s to share.

My advice about being open to learning.
You will get nowhere fast with pride and ego as your best friends. Take a moment to learn from others, whether they are better or worse than you are or think you are. Nobody is perfect and there is always room for improvement.

-Sheryl

Other posts that are related

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Are you inging too?

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Tempted

Merry Christmas

My advice about Christmas.
Whether or not you celebrate a holiday at this time of year, take some time to live and love life. Relish the moments that come and go so fast they are easily missed.

Be safe and healthy, share love and joy whether you receive it or not. Someone out there is in need of kindness, great or small, and you may be the angel that brightens their day with a smile or even a friendly hello. A heart is warmed faster by giving than receiving.

Whichever your beliefs, or your customs, take care of yourself and those that share your world and enjoy the day and festive spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

-Sheryl

 

What exactly did cupid do?

Conversation is necessary, it moves the story along. In one little conversation, I try to expose a little back story, a bit of character/persona show, and some allusion to back story and of course a little foreshadowing. I pack in as much as I can to make it worth writing in the first place.

If the conversation doesn’t have a point the reader will know. It will also drag the story down.  Each conversation should have a purpose, a reason for existing. Stiff conversation usually tells me I’m missing the human factor or emotion people exhibit when talking. If I read it aloud and it sounds like they are sitting stiff like Barbie and Ken then it needs a little smoothing out, relaxing of the sentences if you will. It also means I’m probably using filter words and too many dialog tags.

Let’s take a peek at the rough draft:

“Are you serious?” Val asked shocked and set her cup down.
“I am serious it maddening.” Anne replied sadly, “I like him, he likes me but nothing happens beyond kissing and cuddling.” Anne pouted. “Nothing.” 
“What is wrong with him?” Val asked.
“When I asked him about it do you know what he said to me?”
“What did he say to you?” Val asked and leaned closer. 
“He said he wants me to fall in love with him first because I am worth more than just lusty sex.”
“Aww Anne, that is so romantic.”
“I know,” Anne replied with disgust.
“So?”
“Well, if he walked away or I found out he is married or something, I would be heartbroken.”
“Oh. I understand.”
“Val, I swore I would not fall in love. I like being single and free. But he is just so perfect.”
“Is he too perfect Anne?”
“We do argue. He works too much. He bites his hangnails, slurps soup.”
“So cupid shot you with his arrow. Why can’t Tony see that?”
“I think it is too soon and you know I cannot say I love you to him.”

Blech, gag, and yawn. Oh boy.  SO if that was a first or rough draft of a conversation I would definitely need to soften that up, relax it and take the starch out. Oh and oops I have too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’ going on. This always happens in my first attempt.

Revise time…

“You’re serious?” Val covered her mouth and set down her now empty paper coffee cup.
“Deadly.” Anne shook her head. “Nothing. He’s so sweet and hot and he kisses like nobody I’ve ever kissed before. There is too much chemistry yet…” Anne shrugged. “Nothing.” 
“What’s wrong with him?” Val waved her hands dismissing her question. ” Sorry, I mean…” 
Anne chuckled. “When I posted about it do you know what he said?”
“What?” Val leaned closer. 
Anne mocked Tony’s voice. “I want you to fall in love with me first.” Anne rolled her eyes. “I swear word for word, then he said because you’re worth more than just lusty sex.”
Val stomped her feet and clapped her hands quickly and lightly. “That is stupid kinds of romantic.”
“Ugh, I know.” Anne feigned disgust.
“So?”
Anne looked at her hands. “If only he knew. If he walked away or I found out he’s married or something, I’d be devastated.”
“Oh.” Val patted Anne’s hand. “You’re in deep aren’t you?”
Sighing heavily Anne nodded. “I swore I wouldn’t ever. But he’s just so perfect.”
“Too perfect?” Val grimaced.
“We argue. he’s annoying and works too much. He has the worst habit of biting his hangnails and slurps his soup. Oh and he puts his feet on the coffee table.”
“Yup. So how doesn’t Tony know cupid shot the crap out of you?”
Anne shrugged. “It’s too soon and I can’t say the words, so if that’s what he’s waiting for we’re doomed.”

I may be tooting my own horn, but I think that revision went well and reads better. The moment was experienced, not shoved down the reader’s throat. I think it’s important to really take a look at conversation and make sure it does more than babble. Anne has trouble with the word love and is reluctantly romantic, Val is a full on romantic and Tony is likable and charming.  That was fun to write and then revise.

My advice about cupids actions in writing.
Awww… everyone loves a little love, so long as the scene or conversation allows the reader to feel the jab of the arrow and live the moment not want to skip over it because it missed the target completely.

-Sheryl

Other posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

KISS your writing

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Maddening

Lust

Squirrelly concentration at best

Have you ever read a book and realize that you’ve been reading the same paragraph or sentence over and over and over again? It happens to me from time to time. That doesn’t mean that the story isn’t good, or the paragraph for that matter, it’s a symptom that I’m distracted or tired or I simply can’t concentrate.

Concentration is necessary, but so is distraction. I mean within my writing not outside of it. Distraction outside can be… distracting.  People get distracted, they fail to concentrate and it might not be a bad thing to toss into a characters day.

Some causes of distraction

Bad news
Good news
Shocking news
Too much work/work overload
Death/illness
Leaving something unfinished
Crush on someone
Falling in love
Falling out of love
A fight, physical or emotional
Injury or accident
Exhaustion
Embarrassment/Humiliation

Any situation that can’t be shaken for the sake of normal or expected day-to-day activities.

The loud smack of a palm flat on the desk startled Amber causing her to yelp.
“Amber.” Scott’s firm tone and narrowed eyes made her eyes widen. “I needed that proof half an hour ago and Wilson’s called you twice and you didn’t pick up.”
She blinked quickly and stood. “Sorry. I’ll get it now.”
“Don’t bother.” Scott glanced at Dale who was paying too close attention. “I got the proof myself. Wilson wants you in his office.” He leaned closer. “You’ve been a space case since lunch what happened?”
“Nothing, sorry. I must still be off from yesterday.” She ducked around Scott, shot Dale a ‘keep your mouth shut’ look and scurried off to Wilson’s office.
Scott stared at Dale who stared back. “Scott that editing won’t get done on it’s own man.”
“Yeah sorry.” Dale turned back to his screen.
“You okay?” Scott pressed his lips as Dale nodded and waved him away. He turned and went back toward his office mumbling. “Everyone’s gone mad around here.”

The bench across from Anne’s office edged a concrete path in her favorite park. The mature gardens splendid in their panoply of colours and textures. Anne sat on the bench and looked off to the distance; a slight smile curling her lips as she sighed. The unseasonably warm day smelled as if rain was coming. Anne’s thoughts turned inward. A pigeon crept up on her, flitted to the bench seat. She blinked lazily at the Sedum and Astor’s rustling in the gentle breeze. The skulking bird stretched its neck, grasped half her bagel right out of her hand and retreated to the middle of the path.

“Oh you dumb bird!” Anne uselessly kicked toward the pigeon with his prize. “Oh well, I bet you have a family to feed.” She watched the bird absently as it pecked away a large chunk of bread. Fat raindrops pelted the ground around the pigeon and she watched as it dragged and tried to fly with the carbs in beak.
She looked up suddenly when she realized she wasn’t getting hit by any mini water bombs.
“Were you just going to sit here and get soaked?” Tony smiled down at her his umbrella in hand shielding her from the rain.
“Oh! What a nice surprise.” She jumped up, grinned and threw her arms around his neck. “I was in la-la land and you valiantly saved me.”
“Yes.” He chuckled and returned the hug with one arm. “Those dastardly raindrops were up to no good.”
“Oh but they were, sneaking up on me while I let the pigeon steal my snack.”
“I saw.” Tony chuckled and then kissed her.

What was I writing about? Oh right, distraction and concentration. It can be minor or it can be major. People can make huge mistakes while distracted. Crash cars, Lose children, lock keys in the car, break something valuable, and let a secret slip or much worse. They can be funny or serious. My point is if there is a lot going on in someone’s life they might have a moment or two of distraction so I try to include them in a story if I can.

My advice about distraction.
Distraction is a good way to… oh, look a chubby adorable squirrel… Right my advice… what a fluffy critter with his bushy tail jumping up to… So I think if you write about distraction you need to… and now it’s destroying my bird-feeder. Yay! The little vermin jerk! Gnawing with its stupid sharp teeth, being all cute while… Oh yeah. People get distracted, it happens, so why not let a character get squirreled. I mean distracted occasionally?

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

 

People Watching

All that glitters…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Panoply
Symptom

Labor of love

Labor of Love

Every writer and artist dreams that they’re going to write the next <a href="http://Breakthrough“>breakthrough masterpiece. Then doubt comes along and the words “What if it’s not good enough?” comes along and dashes the confidence.

But what if it is? This is the question that needs to follow any doubt that rears it’s ugly head. I came to the realization that if I think it’s good someone else is bound to like it. If I think, it’s great however people will be excited to like it. It’s all about aiming high. If you want a six-figure contract, believe you’ll get it. Then do what you need to do to make it happen.

Success comes at a cost, not the Hollywood sell your soul to the devil cost, I’m talking effort, sweat and tears. I’d say blood but only if paper cuts are involved. 😉 It is hard work to be published traditionally. There are rules and procedures and it’s anything but easy. World famous authors know this struggle, sure once they get famous nobody sees what they went through just that they’re there now. JK Rowling herself says persistence pays off. If someone says no, try someone else. She was turned down multiple times before someone eventually saw the value in her writing. Imagine being those publishers that said no… See?  So, when I sent out a bunch of queries I rode the excitement/doubt rollercoaster, I’m still on it.  One minute I’m excited and I know someone will love what they see, then I check my inbox and nothing. Down I go. I remind myself it’s only been a week, BiaAtlas is good and I know it, so back up I go.

This whole experience thus far has taught me so much. How to be patient. How to write, edit and revise. I learned how to hone my research and fact check. I’ve learned how to determine good advice from self-serving jealously driven criticism. I have learned not to compare myself to others directly, not to look at them and say I could never be as great as they are. Why not? Who says so? Me? Did I say I couldn’t? Well shame on me then, because then I‘m the one holding me back.  

There will always be the naysayers the ones that will say or suggest you or your work isn’t good enough. To that I say look at the source.

No matter how hard or difficult this process has been, I’ve never been happier. The thing is I wrote a book, I did and it’s amazing that I did.  I had no idea what I was doing and I learned it doesn’t matter. You can fix the technical stuff later, but when you write from your heart and soul you have a masterpiece. When someone uses the term ‘labor of love’ I now fully understand what that means and both myself and my book deserve all the effort I can give it.

My advice about sticking to it.
People can tear you down, but only you can determine how far.  So dust off that old manuscript, sharpen your pencils and flex your fingers. Be tenacious, be bold and above all else be confident and create or revisit your breakthrough masterpiece then get ready to run with it.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Breakthrough
Tenacious

The Ole Switcheroo

I enjoy looking at things from multiple angles. The words “what if” always on the tip of my tongue. One simple word switcheroo can inspire radical change in a scenario.

Joe stared at the screen. Sasha would be devastated to see this truth. Her father had met her mother’s best friend first.

Why would she be devastated? What secret is there between them?

Joe stared at the screen. Sasha would be devastated to see this truth. Her father had loved her mother’s best friend first.

What happened? Why did he end up with her mother?

Joe stared at the screen. Sasha would be devastated to see this truth. Her father had saved her mother’s best friend first.

Why would he save her first? What is going on between them?

Joe stared at the screen. Sasha would be devastated to see this truth. Her father had betrayed her mother’s best friend first.

He betrayed her first meaning he betrayed the mother second, why? What on earth is he up to?

Joe stared at the screen. Sasha would be devastated to see this truth. Her father had killed her mother’s best friend first.

Why did he kill her first? Why at all? That means he killed others? Her mother? Is he coming for Sasha? Or is he protecting her?

This is a fun way to shake it up, change the direction of the story or introduce a plot twist. The opportunity to shift and change the history of a character to become more interesting is something I love to do. The “what if” factor always has me on the edge of my seat as I write. What if instead of kissing her mother’s best friend first he hit her first? What if instead of dating her mother’s best friend first he stole from her first? The possibilities are endless. When I do this, I’ll sit and play out the past and future of each scenario, which one is more tantalizing? Which one can bring more mystery and intrigue? Which one will change the story radically for the better? What if instead of murder, he faked their deaths to protect them? From what? From whom?  Will Joe be delivering good news or bad?

My advice about making a simple dramatic change.
Give it a shot, why not? You might just stumble into something so exciting that you can’t sit still or stop writing.

-Sheryl.

 

Related Post:

Switch it up, and swap it out.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Radical