I live in a world of kind baristas

I didn’t grow up with barista‘s or Pho or smart phones.

Wish I did.

Music was highly limited, tightly controlled by the labels and the cost of producing music. I’m listening to a cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love done simply on an acoustic guitar and solo voice. Achingly painful and beautiful. A sweet melancholy to go with my medium roast pour over.

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It’s a mid-February and mid cold for my town. I am at one of the cafe’s that makes me happy and oddly makes me feel that I have accomplished something by getting out of the house on a holiday at 730 AM.

But back to the Barista’s, briefly.

At this location the smiles are kind and warm. There is no dress code, except there is a dress code that the staff unconsciously adhere to – the code of cool – because that’s who they are. Similar but different.

The job application probably states kind but efficient.

It wouldn’t use the word “cool”. Cool is from an age past. When life and self expression was limited.  When conformity was mandatory and if you rebelled you all wore the same rebel uniform. The word rebellion doesn’t exist here. They have moved on. Grown beyond simple confrontation, ignoring the war against the rules and just be who they are as they find out.

Don’t mis-understand, they still struggle with the being human part. “Does he like me?” “Should I go out with them?” Their struggle is with finding out about life with fewer constraints and more dangers.  In the midst of their struggle, they work and are kind to aging want-to-be writers.

The Barista calls out, “Medium Roast pour-over“. I get up and look to the counter where a kind smile meets me, genuine, not a produced effect. They could have left to get back to work, the barista waited until I acknowledged the call, because it was the kind thing to do, the human thing to do.

Time to get back writing.

Be Well…dcd

 

 

Cover Reveal…drum roll please!

I met Suzy Vadori at the Rocky Mountain Writer’s Retreat two years ago. Over the weekend several discussions about writing with her and others occurred including an extended discuss on relationships and romances in YA. She also took the time to explain her method of plotting stories. She described herself as a quilter. Which made a lot of sense to me. I learned to enjoy YA lit raising my three boys. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl,  you know the list. So I bought her book and read it. Gave it to my sister, she loved it. Wonderful story, well written, with one of the evilest antagonists ever! I kid you not!

What drew in me in the most was the weaving of the plot elements. Seamless and intriguing. I generally only read series and when I found out there was no sequel nagging began.

Book Two in the series, The West Woods is coming out soon, not soon enough for some us, but at least she’s not writing at a G.R.R. Martin pace. Here is  a short blurb and the cover of the new book – quite a mystery.

Magic, sacrifice and the quest for freedom.
Courtney Wallis wants nothing more than to escape St. Augustus boarding school. After uncovering a well-kept secret about the school’s founder, Isaac Young, Courtney turns to the school’s magic to convince her dad to let her leave. Things take a turn when she meets Cole, who lives in the nearby town of Evergreen. He gives her hope that things might not be so bad. However, the school’s fountain has other ideas, and binds Courtney to her ambition, no matter the cost.
As Courtney struggles to keep the magic from taking over, she and her friends get drawn into the mystery woven into the school’s fabric. Everything seems to lead back to the forbidden West Woods. Together, she and her friends seek out the spirits of the past to ask for help, and find themselves in much deeper than they’d bargained for.  If they succeed, Courtney could be free of the magic. If they fail, she may never be the same.

Add To Good Reads

The West Woods Cover Reveal - Suzy Vadori Aug 8 2017        the fountain

 

About the Authorsuzy vadoriSuzy Vadori is an Operations executive by day, Writer by night. The Fountain is her debut novel for Young Adults. Suzy is an involved member of the Calgary Writers’ community, service as Program Manager for Young Adult at When Words Collide (a Calgary festival for readers and Writers) since 2013. Suzy lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband and three kids.

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

I was not compensated for this: good people, good authors need all the help they can get. A big thanks to: The gang at Evil Alter Ego Press for signing Suzy and YA Bound Book Tours for letting me part of the cover reveal. Nagging works.

YA Bound Tour Button

As always, be well

dcdear

PS – be ready for the onslaught of When Words Collide Posts.

 

Waiting…Anticipation…Excitement

One week or so from now I will be at When Words Collide 2017. A tremendous opportunity for me to learn more about the craft of writing, to get inspired about my writing and lastly, face the music. (A little melodrama never hurt anyone)

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You may wonder what ‘face the music’ means. This past year one of the writing groups I participate in committed to submitting to the editors, publishers and other authors offering free critiquing sessions. These people do this with little or no chance of gaining from the sessions. It’s part of what makes this conference great, people giving of their time and expertise. Like a fool, I thought, sign me up. To that end I requested three slots at the conference to give an editor samples of my work and receive feedback. I have no aspirations other than to learn from people on how to improve my writing.  Depending on the slot(s) I will be submitting different pieces. Having requested the waiting is underway.  And winner winner, chicken dinner – three slots!

Anticipating a busy three days, I am trying to prepare better for the grind of the conference. What does that mean? For me it means healthy snacks, regular meals and letting myself enjoy the conference. I will try and not worry if I am at the “BEST SESSION”, but rather enjoy where I am. If it is horrible, I will not worry if I offend anyone and get up and leave. More than ever this year I want to seek the opinion of others. What sessions did they enjoy?

One session I have put my name in for is a 50 minute sit down with Guy Gavriel Kay. There are 12 spots to be determined by a draw. The exquisite beauty and personal pain he can give to a reader through his characters is magical.  Hence the excitement. What does one ask of a literary hero?

Until then

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Be well…dcd

 

 

My last exchange with Robin Young

I knew him as a writer only. He passed this last week.

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A man with his own style. A character in some ways . His excellence at wordplay and pinpoint, acerbic wit endeared him to me, and others. I also enjoyed his critiques of my writing. As a struggling writer, which is what I am, his crisp, on point, reviews of my stories changed my prose.

He was in for his second battle with cancer. When I visited him, he still had good color, a clear mind and was writing.  His passing was sudden and surprising.  I have no details at this time. Perhaps one of his creations came to life and took him to a better place.

As promised in the title, my last exchange with Robin:

doug [2:04 PM]
Where do they have you now?

robin [5:07 PM]
Robin spat the stinging dryness of the high desert sand out of his mouth and realized his was no a good place to beta-test the latest DragonDictate.

doug [5:07 PM]
ROFL

[5:08]
You would have to retrain the entire profile for speech recognition

robin [5:13 PM]
“They spirited me out of that nasty Bucharest ‘mental hospital’, stuffed me in the back of a rattling aluminum box with a couple of Mousafah’s bully boys and tossed me out on the street in front of a down on its heels named “Cross Cancer

doug [5:13 PM]
You so need to write this

[5:13]
So you are at the U of A?

robin [5:14 PM]
Two wordsCross Cancer

doug [5:14 PM]
ok

robin [5:14 PM]
Room 3142

doug [5:14 PM]
Roger Roger

robin [5:15 PM]
That was fun – thanks!

I leave you and myself with the words The Great Poet:

Be cheerful, sir:
Our revels now are ended 
These our actors,
As I foretold you were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all of which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind:
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
~ William Shakespeare


A Good Man, I will miss him.
Be Well
dcdear

 

When you lose momentum

Life happens, we all know this truth. As a new writer, losing momentum has proven to be my biggest challenge, so far. Not “writing”, not “taking criticism”, not “finding time to write”, not “ideas”, not “writer’s block”.

All of these I thought would be bigger problems. For me the biggest secret to writing, is writing every day. I can’t take pauses of days, I lose the time too easily.

For me I think the easiest way to write every day is to have options, like this blog, or flash fiction. Something that gets me writing. Finding time for writing has required me to rethink my daily schedule. Change what I do and who I am.  None of this is new to any of you who write, but I think that all writers have some sort of “Achilles Heel” that is our own personnel weakness. For me that is not writing every day.

Writing is a solitary work, but doesn’t have to be done in solitary confinement.  Eventually stories want to be read by someone other than the author. Yes there times when we have to be immersed in the world we are writing about, but not always. To keep momentum I am tring these three suggestions:

1) Post It Note, White Board, Fridge Note – “DCD Writing tonight at 7:00 Starbucks”. Don’t do this all the time, as it will then become easier to ignore, twice a month, no more!

2) Once a month, near the end of the month, get someone to read what you are writing, just a snippet, a couple of pages. It doesn’t matter what they say, or it does, the point is you have to have material ready for that person to read what you are writing. The key here is only a couple of pages.

3) Here’s the hardest one, once a month, near the beginning of the month, your Facebook status is your current word count and [drum roll] what your goal is.

Lastly, something that should be second nature to anyone as a writer, encourage other writers to write, ask them how they are doing. Nothing lifts your own burden, then helping someone else with their’s.

Be Well – dcd

Progress

DSC_2696Well I am sad to report that I have made some progress on Assassin From Earth.

My short term goal is/has been to complete a preliminary outline and then spend some hard earned money and have a Professional look at what has been done.

Being published is not a goal, completing is the goal.

So I am going to engage a writing coach for some brutal evaluation. Well, hopefully not brutal.  The problem that I have found with critiques is that friends are almost always too kind, or don’t have the expertise. People who have the expertise and work for free… you get what you pay for. There are some rare examples that I have found of people with expertise, and who are friends.

The best analogy that I can come up with is getting a massage, no not that kind of massage. I want a deep tissue massage and I am only able to get that from a professional. I have friends that do massage therapy, they will on occasion give out a free massage. But it is rare, it is their livelihood. Besides who wants to work on their time off?

That  chain of thinking lead me to seeking a professional. This is progress, I realized after I booked the appointment. Progress in that I have completed enough work to get an evaluation. It was a surprise to me that I have gotten that far. The progress has not been by long sessions of brilliance (trust me, this is not brilliant work), but by short sessions of just working through the process. What has been great, is seeing how the ideas transform in front of my eyes. Problems that didn’t seem solvable, resolving. Vague, misty characters all of sudden, clear, sharp – alive.

Very, Very, Interesting to look back and see the transformation.

But progress is more that checking off items on a list, the more important part of this bit of progress is that I think it will be possible to finish the novel. I had doubts if I could finish, but I now I see it possible to complete. As with all endeavors, regular commitment to the process yields results.

Progress has also brought another interesting side effect, happiness. Even typing the word happiness seems odd, old fashioned, cliched. But that is the honest fact. I am attributing this to the “Honeymoon Effect” of a new hobby.   I think though there is relationship between the micro rewards that gamers receive when playing games and completing parts of the novel process.

Checking items off a list is good for you. Just like completing the quests in video games, or the level in Facebook games. That little zap of happiness, of feeling good. Completing a job.

In today’s modern age we get very little of the completing of a job, even less do we get the “job well done” which is very important to our self worth. To make progress in writing is rewarding, and identifying that small micro rewards are good for your health, your mental health; that would make writing a prescription for health. The corollary is: you can be the medicine for someone you work with, tell them that they do a good job. Most of them do.

Remember, that we all need to make progress.

As Always – be well

This week – reading about writing, but not actually writing – really

I have been spending a lot of time reading about writing. Seeking advice on what to do.  In fact I have spent sooo much time reading about writing, I haven’t been writing!

And now I am only writing about reading, and not writing about the Assassin of Earth! GAH!

Universally, I would say that all successful writers are will give aspiring writers this advice:

1) No I won’t read your novel/short story/script

2) No I won’t give it to my agent

3) Yes you should write!

4) Get use to being rejected

5) Persevere

6) Read the genre you write in!

They are by in large very encouraging. Which is very surprising. There aren’t many fields where you encourage your competition, even cheer them on!

Writing is unique in that way. Writing is unique in other ways. Take for example critiques.

Other writers, trying to get published or just write will take the time to read what you write and do an analysis of it for you, make suggestions, help you get better.

They do this for free!!! Can you  imagine if there was such a free exchange of ideas in the scientific world!

What if it was requirement for all businesses to share information freely so you could all get better!

If contractors had to be hired by “Agents”, so yo knew you got a really good contractor.  Or Doctor’s Or Lawyer’s – the charlatan’s would fewer and fewer.

Imagine the difference in the quality of life for all us, young and old, rich or poor. Simply because we all cared enough to make each of us better.

It would be a different world, it would be, dare I say, a better world!