Monday, December 31, 2012

Surprise Lesson of the Day.

Something I learned today.

Queries are HARD.

That is all. For now. More tomorrow....or soon, when I'm done being frustrated.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vacation Writing Rocks...Mostly.

The last time I was on vacation (in the beautiful Bahamas...a place I basically had to be dragged out of) I managed to finish the first draft of my Middle Grade novel.

I was excited. It was the second book I'd ever finished writing and the first book I ever finished and went "Wow, this could actually be a published novel." (Unfortunately my first novel did not give me the same feeling. It is now trunked while I consider a rewrite).

The good news is, I'm on vacation again! (Doesn't being a teacher rock?) It's winter vacation and I have absolutely no plans. For the first time, I'm not traveling or going home (sorry, Mom). It gave me plenty of time to work on the second draft of my novel.

And I'm done! Yay! But I learned something from doing all this revising.

Revising is hard.

No wonder my students always refuse to do it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

All You Need is Love

It's been a hard few days. I think everyone around the world can admit to that. There's a lot I would like to say about Sandy Hookl, but most of it has been covered in much better words than I can ever put together, and I still feel a bit too emotional to talk about it.

Instead, I wanted to talk about something that I'm just as passionate about.


I'll start by saying I am not Muslim. And I don't plan on converting. But I am married to a man who is Muslim. Which means my family is Muslim.  My students are also Muslim.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dubai 7s!

It's been a while!

I have many excuses (I was lazy, I was busy, etc, etc), but I won't force you to listen to them.  Instead, I wanted to tell you about my trip to Dubai 7s at the beginning of December.

In a word: FUN!

I love the Dubai 7s. I've gone every year for the past four years. I'm not one to miss rugby tournaments, but I definitely refuse to miss the Dubai 7s. It is the be all and end all of rugby tournaments in the Middle East.

But let back up and explain it first.

So lets start with what is 7s? 7s rugby is  rugby played with 7 players from each team on the field. It's a big field. It's a game for sprinters (something I am not). It's fast paced, and only lasts 14 minutes.  Like 15s rugby, 7s is played by scoring trys at the goal line of the opposing team, but you have to do it while passing the ball backwards.

Confusing, right? I didn't understand it until I played my first tournament. Now, I feel like a pro (but there's still so many rules I don't know!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I did it! Woot! The novel isn't done, but I made 50,000 words. I'm excited that I did it. And to celebrate, tomorrow I'm off to Dubai! Can't wait!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kelly and the Battle of (the half) Marathon

        Today was the big day. No, you don't understand. It was a BIG day. Actually, let me try to use a bigger font to show how much of a big day it was. It was a BIG day. There, that should do it.

 I've spent the last three months training for a half marathon. I followed the Hal Higdon program as closely as I could (there was a minor interruption for sickness, but mostly all went well).

My training often made me look like an idiot (running circles around my 2 km block. People would see me 8 or 9 times, just running in circles) and looking like I didn't know how to pace myself when I would sprint 2 minutes and then walk for a while.

But it all came down to today. Today was the day.

It was time to battle the Half-Marathon.

And what a day for a battle it was. It's 20 degrees (celsius) here. That's about 68F. So a bit hot for a race, but there were tons of water stations.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day One!

Happy NaNo!

It's November 1st, which means fingers are now busy around the world.

This is what my classroom door looked like as of this morning:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's NaNo Time!

6 days, 13 hours, 22 minutes
157 Hours
9442 minutes
566,520 seconds

My time is ticking away! 

That's how far away we are from the start of NaNo (Kuwait time).  In exactly that time (which I can feel ticking away as I type this) I will be joining thousands of other writers as we race the clock to reach 50,000 words before the month is over.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Nothing But the Truth

Today's post is inspired by the truth!

I've taken the plunge.

I have (finally) started to admit to (real life) people that I write.  For the past two years I hid this away like it was my dirty, little secret.  Just tucked away in the back of my closet, so no one would discover the truth.

This way, no one would ever notice if I failed.  I went to big extremes to hide this from people.  I didn't even tell my husband for the first year.  You know who I did tell?  My students.  It's whats great about kids, they never judge.  And most the time they won't even remember that big, dark secret you told them.

The truth is, I was afraid. Of the same things most A type personalities are afraid of...of failing.  Or, even worse, failing and having the whole world realize it.

So why did this fear apply to my writing?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Knowing the Process

Today we had PD.  PD is a day for teachers to be students and learn a little more about how to be teachers.  We do this 2-3 times a year.

I chose to go to a workshop that was about organization and avoiding procrastination.  I could use the avoiding procrastination help :)  We were also told to bring a major project, which was the main reason I went.  I was hoping for some book writing time.

I didn't get it, but I did get a bit of a funny story.

Part of the workshop was about setting goals.  So he put up a sentence starter "If time were not an issue, I would..."

He looks for answers and eventually asks "Who would write a book?"

I raise my hand (sidenote, before this year, I probably never would have admitted I was a writer--I was too afraid I'd fail).

So he starts asking questions.  And I think, from the start, that he expected this conversation to go a very different way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

30 Things

It's my last year in my 20s!

And I am not freaking out.  I promise.  Well, I mostly promise.  I can't promise how I'll feel next  August.

I'm celebrating my last year in my 20s by making a list.  A list of 30 things to do before I turn 30.  30 reasonable, achievable goals to reach before I reach 30.

This is not because I think life ends at 30.  I just think it's a milestone and I'd like to celebrate it properly. (I can imagine myself doing 40 things for 40 and 50 things for 50, etc).  Plus, it's a great excuse to kick my butt into gear and accomplish some of these goals I've been putting off.

But to accomplish a list, first I need a list. This is what I've come up with so far.

1. Win NaNoWrimMo (or one of the other Wrimos)

2. Get a full request (which means I'd have to start actually querying)

3. Run a half marathon (already signed up)


Clearly, I need a lot more ideas.  Got one for me?  Leave it in the comments!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tomorrow it begins!

My favourite time of the year is finally here.  It's time for soccer!

I've been coaching soccer in Kuwait for the past five years. It takes over my life, but only because I love it so much.  I love teaching my kids all the things that all of my soccer coaches have taught me over the 15 years that I played (unfortunately, I haven't been able to join soccer in Kuwait and had to retire when I moved here six years ago).

It's an amazing feeling.  And I think I'm pretty good at it.  I've been lucky with the girls I've coached since I've been here.  They've all been amazing (even the ones I have to kick out of practice every once in a while).  I haven't been able to forget a single one.

I've had other coaches ask me why my girls work so hard for me.  Honestly, I have no idea.  I really don't.  I have high expectations and push them hard.  I make them run, I make them do push ups, I make them pass the ball until their feet fall off.  But they come back.

And I love them for it.

This is my favourite time of the year.  It's also the most stressful. It's not easy being a coach and feeling the pressure.  Each year it feels like there's a little bit more--part of it I put on myself, the rest comes from others.

But my girls are amazing. They are worth the stress and the early mornings and late nights and the weekends I give up.  So my writing might suffer for the next few weeks, my grading might not get done as fast.  But I don't care.  It's worth making sacrifices for my girls.

So that's my ramble about how excited I am for tryouts tomorrow (who knows who I'll get!)  Are any of you coaches?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Weekend!

It's the weekend!  At least it is over here, in Kuwait. (We have a Friday/Saturday weekend).

And here are some of my favourite things from the past week.  All involve my students and no students were harmed in the making of these quotes--but sometimes just barely ;)

From a student's assignment:

I ran fast like there were monkeys shooting at me.

A conversation with a student:
On a Thursday: 
Student: Miss, your story about the witch.  Is it finished yet?
Me: Yes, but I'm revising.
Student: Ok, but let me read it when it's done.

On a Sunday
Student: Miss, are you done revising yet?  Can I read your story?
Me: Nope, still working on it.
Student: What?  How long does it take?
Me: Months.
Student: But I couldn't even wait a weekend!

Brainstorming with a Student

Student: Miss, I can't come up with something to write about.
Me: Well, you could try some realistic fiction.  Like what if the school burned down or...
Student: Yes!  Furiously types away.

And talking about a kid's story

Student: Miss, I have a character named Kelly in my story.
Me: Really?
Student: Yup, and she's poor. (and then she stuck her tongue out at me).

I love my job.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday!  I've officially entered the last year of my 20s.  It doesn't freak me out, but the idea of almost being 30 is more than a little weird.

So I'm kicking off 29 in style, thanks to my amazing husband.  You can see my new birthday present in the picture below.

My Pretty New Car!

I need to figure out a name for my car.  Yes, I'm a car namer.  All my previous cars have had color names (Silver Bullet, Silver Bullet II, and Little Red), but I'm not sure for this guy.

Current ideas involve Big Blue and Blue Bomber, but I'm shopping for more ideas.

So...any ideas?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Still Learning

I think that there's going to be a phrase that becomes a regular part of my day job this year. 

"Show me how you did that!"

My school started a BYODevice program this year.  Which means, I now teach groups of kids whose heads are hidden behind big laptop screens.

If I could draw, I'd insert a picture here.  But I can't, so you'll have to imagine it. I'll just say it's very cool to have twenty heads buried behind laptops with their fingers tap, tap, tapping away.

But in so many ways, us teachers are now students.  These kids are so much better with technology than most of us teachers (we're old, give us a break!)  Today, I was walking around my room checking out progress and came across a student who had blacked out his entire screen so that all you could see was his word document.

No distractions. Just his writing.

So I said, "Show me how you did that!"

He said, "Ms, all I did was touch this button."

So I tried that out on my Mac.  Very distractions free.  My next thought, was too bad we couldn't do this with all word programs.

Apparently you can, which was the second thing I learned today.

I have a feeling my writing might become a lot more focused now. I can't wait to see what else they teach me that makes me a more focused writer!

Because I'm sure they know all the tricks.

Friday, August 31, 2012

And Then We Married!

School is about to start.  The kiddos come back on Monday, and the year starts all over again. Which has made me think a lot more about the summer I just had.

Or just that one, really important part of summer.  The part where I got married. 
It's crazy that it's been a month and a half since the stress finally ended and we celebrated with our friends and family.

The one word I would use to describe my wedding was fun.  Everything we did was to make our day more fun.  We're not traditional people and we wanted our wedding to reflect that.  So here are some pictures to share with how we chose to celebrate our marriage :)

In order to increase the fun, my husband and I decided to have first look photos.  These are photos taken before the ceremony.  We figured that way we could just celebrate with our guests after the ceremony was done.

So here's one of those pictures :)

More fun came from having my favourite person walk me down the aisle, my mom.  She's amazing :)

And then there was the ceremony.  One of the best parts of the day (as it should be!).  This was where my writing background came in handy.  With my officiant, we scripted the ceremony.  It reflected us so well, from our untraditional vows to the story of how we first met.  We spent most of our ceremony just like how we look in that picture--laughing.

And....then there was this.  Yes, that's a camel. Yes, we did ride it (into the reception).  It was quite the sight!  And it got quite the reaction.

I could share a lot more pictures, to be honest there's so many amazing ones thanks to our wonderful photographer.  It was an amazing day and based on the feedback we got, it definitely was fun.

So there's the highlight of my summer.  Likely, the highlight of the next few years of my life.  I hope summer treated everyone else nearly as well as mine did.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Think I've Been Here Before


I've finished the first draft of my second novel.  I'm really happy about it, but it's not quite that same level of excitement that I had the first time around.

I think the difference is this time, I knew I could do it.  It's like the first time I raced 5 km.  I didn't know I could do it before.  I thought I might just pass out before the finish line.  But I made it to the finish line before I passed out.  And then there was this high that just followed me around the rest of the day. (I was a bit hyper...and probably annoying to the rest of my cross country team).

The next time I did it, I was still excited to finish, but not as excited as the first time.  You really never get that first time feeling back.

I'm really not surprised that the feeling was different this time.  At the same time, I'm actually a little bit proud of myself.  An author whose blog I followed once wrote about how important it is to finish that first novel.  How you can learn so much from it.

Well, he was right.

Even without trying, I learned a lot.  I learned not to freak out about word count (I freaked out about word count in my novel--I ended up with this totally random detour that has nothing to do with my novel.  It's just to make me have to revise and edit more). I learned about routine, filtering (which is bad!), and not getting caught up in scenes.

I learned a lot.  So this book has a lot more potential than my last one.  I really can't wait to see where it ends up when I finally get to revise and edit the hell out of it.

What did your first book teach you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On Being Ninjaed

I thought I should follow up on my WriteOn Con experience, now that it's been about a week since I participated.

Overall, I give the experience a solid B+

It was a lot of fun to hang out with a different group of writers for a little bit.  Not that I'd ever be looking to replace AW.

There were a lot of interesting things going on at the con, a few WTF things, and a few things that weren't really new information--but the theme was back to basics and it really did do that.  I liked interacting with people.

And I liked that I built up the guts to finally share my work with the public.  Here's the thing (or at least the thing for me), until you share, it's easy to live in a fantasy bubble.  It's easy to pretend that you could be writer, even though you have no idea if people will like your writing.  Obviously, I like my writing.  I think it's good enough--or will be good enough someday.  But sharing that first piece of work can really burst your bubble.  Especially when you share over the internet.  It's so easy to be critical when it's not face to face.

It took a little bit of encouragement.  A little bit of trying to get people to tell me it was a bad idea.  And then I shared.

And then the comments started coming.  Most were good (yea).  A few offered some good suggestions (even more yea). Most said they would keep reading even though there were flaws (triple yeas).

And then it happened.

A ninja found my story and thought it was worth the time to comment.

I can't really share my first reaction to noticing a ninja had posted on my thread (I can't share inappropriate words here, just in case), but there was a little bit of sweating.  Then I was braver than I'd ever been and I clicked the thread to read what they said.

I was prepared for the worst.  My (first draft!) writing wouldn't be very good. I was wasting my time, I should find a new night job.  I built it up a lot in my head.

But it wasn't bad.  It also wasn't good.  It was rather neutral.  He explained some things that didn't work (which all made sense to me), but the best thing about the whole experience?

He said he would have read on.

That was worth more than anything else I heard that weekend.  An agent would think my writing was worth reading more of.

So I came out of the experience feeling better about my life as a writer.  I can do this.  I'm not about to give up on it.

It was the best thing that happened to me all conference.  Even though his post started with some negatives, it helped me realize that I am a writer.

How did I figure all this out?  By showing a little bravery.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Being Brave

Some of you already know this week the WriteonCon is going on.  For those of you who don't know what that is (Mom), it's an online writing convention.  There will be some agents, some organizers, and a whole bunch of writer's looking for their break into publishing. And some other writers hoping to learn so they can improve their craft.

I'm in that second group of writers.  I want to learn more about craft and hopefully next year, I'll be ready to post a query and hope for an agent to ninja me.  (The agents wander around the forums with ninja names, posting on anything that interests them).

The most awesome part?  It's free.

I signed up for the forums and critiqued for the first couple of days.  And then I started to think.  I could post my first 250 words up there.  Other people were posting things from stories that weren't finished, things that weren't ready to be queried.

So I considered.  And then I sent my 250 words to my mom and my best friend.  Hoping they'd tell me, no it's terrible, don't do it. They didn't.  They told me to do it.

I had to suck up some courage and be brave.  It's hard putting your work out there.  I mean, I've posted work before.  I used to write fanfiction--which can still be found online--and some original work.  But they're all from before I was serious.  Back when I thought I knew what being a writer meant (sitting around and browsing the internet until inspiration hit you).

I read some reviews.  Are people going to tear my work apart? Am I really far away from publishing?  At the end, I realized I was afraid.  I was letting fear hold me back.  Fear that someone was going to burst my bubble and tell me that I couldn't be a writer.  That I didn't have the talent.

But I can't live like that.  You can't be a writer if you're afraid to share; if you're afraid of some rejection.  So I sucked it up, put on my big girl pants, and posted.

Nothing terrible has happened.  Of course, I've only gotten two reviews, but I think that sort of points to what I was already thinking.  That I'm an OK writer.  There's nothing terribly wrong with what I do, but I might need more experience and practice to really get there.

If you're interested, here's the link to my story Magic Wanted.  Feel free to read it and tell me what you think :)  Or don't.  I've discovered I'm OK either way :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Coffee Shop Writer

Earlier this week I had a great idea. My husband (that still seems weird to say) needed the hotel room for an interview.  I needed to find some time to write, so I decided to wander around and find a coffee shop to write in.

I mean, if that's how JK Rowling did it, it must be a great idea, right?

So, at about 8:45 am I trekked out of the hotel and wandered around Toronto looking for a coffee shop.  It didn't take long, it is Toronto.  There were about 3 within 500 m of the hotel (2 were Starbucks--I guess in case you didn't want to cross the road). I settled into the one that had comfy chairs.

I don't know about everyone else, but I can't just go into a coffee shop and sit there without buying something.  I don't go to coffee shops often (I don't like coffee), but these places are pricey!  I bought my ($5!) drink and took a seat, popped open my laptop, and got ready to get to work.

The one (and only) thing that seemed to work for me at this particular coffee shop was that there was no wi-fi.  So at least there wasn't that distraction.

But what I didn't expect was how noisy it would be.  I mean, I expected people (and looking back, I should have remembered it was rush hour and would be busy), but I didn't expect as much noise as there was (probably caused by the amount of people).

And of course, I didn't bring my headphones so I got to listen to the sound of the bell ringing every time the door opened (it happened a lot!) and of course there was the blender sound (which also happened a lot!) and there was the conversations going on.  My favourite was the interview I got to listen to.  I don't know what the interviewee thinks, but I have my doubts that he got the job.

To sum it up, there was a lot of noise.  But I was a little proud of myself. I did manage to focus past all of it (I credit that with the lack of internet) and did get almost 2000 words done--which is a good day for me.  I actually only gave up because I really had to go to the bathroom and didn't want to pack and unpack my stuff again.

Anyway, lesson learned. Coffee shop writing may not be for me.  Or, maybe I just need to bring some headphones. Or not go during rush hour.  Or go to a bigger coffee shop (I've been in the one Rowling wrote was a lot bigger!)

So maybe there is no lesson learned.  Maybe I need to try it out in a few different ways. There is something to be said for a change of scenery to help with your writing.

Thoughts?  Do you write in coffee shop?  Or are there other (better) places that help you focus?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation Writing Rocks

Today is my first full day back in reality.  And reality is harsh.  Especially after you've been in the Bahamas.

Not only was the water beautiful, it wasn't too cold either! (And yes that's me!)
I spent the last week in the Bahamas and enjoyed every, single minute of it.  It was a fantastic vacation, only made better because it was my honeymoon and I was with my new husband.

And what an amazing husband he is!

He took charge of the honeymoon and he planned such an awesome vacation.  I'd actually agree with anyone who called me spoiled right about now.  I absolutely was spoiled. We even had butler service so I never had to get up and do something if I didn't want to (which included having lunch brought to me poolside).

But besides playing in the water, eating tons of food, and relaxing, I also did some of the best writing I think I ever did.

For a while before going on vacation, I debated whether or not I should do any writing.  Was it fair to my husband to bring work? I contemplated and asked his opinion.  We both agreed it wouldn't hurt to bring it.  So glad I did!

It actually worked out perfectly for us.  I'd get up early and go reserve us a cabana while he woke up and got dressed. Usually, I'd get about an hour of time to myself. And we'd get an awesome cabana that other people always wanted.

Those hours really added up to being some of my best writing.  It was so relaxing.  There was hardly anyone around, soft music played in the background, and the weather was gorgeous (even if it did melt my Macbook case, just a little bit).

I managed to get in at least 1000 words a day, and it felt so effortless.  It was way easier than when I write at home. I'm pretty sure that if I was on vacation everyday writing would go so much faster.  If only, right?

But, writing on vacation isn't for everyone.  It worked out well for me because of our schedules and because I'm pretty good at stopping before I get too carried away. It also helps that our big plans for the vacation were to sit at the beach and relax, so I really wasn't interrupting anything.

And now we're back in reality and I have to dig out another routine. I have a feeling it might involve some procrastination...but maybe I can push some of it off :)

Just for fun, one of the guys we met on our vacation :) (not that I'm procrastinating or anything)

My friend Igor.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wait, what?

Tomorrow, I'm getting married.

Still trying to let those words sink in.  It hasn't really happened yet because right now I'm just stress, stress, stress, stress, stress.

There's a lot to do.  So much more than I expected.  Last night we had a craft party to get my centerpieces done.  It was worth dragging my friends and my mom's friends to my house to get them going.  There's still a little bit more to do, but they're close to being done now :)

I still have to do the place cards and go make myself beautiful, but everything should be starting to get much easier.  Well, I hope...seeing as the wedding is tomorrow.

Unfortunately, in all the fuss my writing has suffered.  I've maybe written 1000 words over the last two weeks. I just don't have the time.  And I know the whole adage, if it's important, you'd make time.  I no longer really believe that's true.  It is important, but there's not always time.  Sometimes, you just have to live and put your writing to the side.

I hope everyone is having a lovely week.  At this time tomorrow...well, I hope to be sleeping, but we have to get those darn place cards done first :)

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm in the airport Waiting for my flight to Miami! Woot! Of course, we've been delayed. Boo. But I have used my time to get some writing done. It went well again today, even though I wasn't on my laptop. Why no laptop? I don't like to travel with my laptop. I'm always afraid something will happen. But I wanted to be able to write. So I figured it all out. My fiancé has bothered me and bothered me to use Dropbox. I downloaded it a few months ago. It's something I have, but haven't always made use of. But I decided to upload my most recent draft into Dropbox. Now I'm really glad I did because ive been using my fiance's laptop to write. It meant I had my story available to me easily without worrying about where I was or what else I had planned. I definitely recommend Dropbox. It's one of those tech things that just makes writing so. iChat easier. What tech makes writing easier for you?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Vacation

What I love about being a teacher is (besides my students--usually) is having summers to myself.  It's a great chance to explore other things that I want to do.

During the summer, I workout more, travel more, and spend more time on the internet.  This year though, I've decided to try to do more writing.  Every other summer it's been hard for me to stick with my writing routine.  In fact, last summer I didn't write at all.  That was a mistake.  It took a very long time to get back to writing after that.

For some reason, this summer is different.  I've been more focused and driven to get more done.  I wish I could pinpoint why.  I think it has to do with finishing my first novel.  It's giving me a confidence that I didn't really think I'd ever have.  Now, I feel like a writer.

My new story is also going so well. (Knock on wood).  It feels different.  In my first novel, my characters meandered and wandered and I decided to throw this in and that in.  But with my new one, everything clicks.  Every scene has a purpose and I can tell you exactly what that is.  It makes me feel like I'm closer to being published--even if this might not be the one that gets published.  (I really, really, really hope it does though).  But I'm getting there.  I can feel it.

So this summer, my goal is to write at least 10,000 words a week.  My goal is to do 2,000 words a day and take the weekends off.  Sometimes I get so involved and try to push for too much that I burn out.  I think this is a much more manageable goal that I'm pretty confident I can accomplish every week...maybe except for the week I'm on my honeymoon (just a little over two weeks to go!)

That's it for me.  Shoot me a comment about how writing affects your summers.  Is it easy to stick to your routines?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Small Space, Big Memory

Whenever I come back to Canada, my old room waits for me.  It's not the room I grew up in, since my family moved around a few times, but it's the room where I spent my last year and half of high school, and all of university.

It's also the place most of my stuff ended up.

I think to really get a picture of what this is like, I need to describe my room.  My room is tiny.  Right now, I'm currently sitting on the floor next to my bed.  My feet are almost touching the other wall.  This is the furthest point from me.

In other words, my room is the size of some walk in closets.

But it's my room and my mom (being ever creative) found a way to make it work.  It involved a custom made bed (that I juuuuuusssst fit on) with drawers underneath, shelves above and extra shelving in the closet.

Today I decided it was time to clean out all my stuff (seeing as my suitcase is parked in the living room because there's no room for my stuff).  And I have a lot of stuff.  And even more memories.

I've come across a ton of stuff that I'd forgotten I'd had and I wanted to write about some of them.

Some of the things I've found include my Irish dancing shoes from that time I took Irish dancing for just a few months, my large collection of Disney VHS tapes, pictures of anime characters--from when I was obsessed with all things animes, friendship necklaces (that are only half a necklace and I can't even remember who has the other half), I've got soccer equipment, track equipment, things from Egypt and there is so much more.

But the best thing I discovered while I was digging through my bedroom was something I must have done when I was in grade 3.

And I'll need to back up to explain that a bit.

When I was in grade 3, my sister, who has Spina Bifida, was in the hospital for basically the whole year.  I don't really remember why, but it was obviously related to having Spina Bifida.  Well apparently, while that was going on I got a bunch of my friends to draw her pictures and sent her a whole folder of stuff.  It included a letter which went exactly like this:

To nicole from Kelly-Anne (this was when I was obsessed with using my whole first name)

I hope you get well soon
I miss you relly much (apparently I didn't miss her relly much)
roses are red
villtits are Blue
sugar is sweet
so are you.
I hope you come home soon. When they's noting to do I thank of you and wonder how you are.  I hope I see you soon. Love Kelly-Anne

I can't believe I still have this, I don't even know how it showed up in my room.  But it's nice to be able to look back.

I also found my journals from when I was in grade one.  I can barely decipher the things I wrote.  Maybe I'll share them some other time.  But I have to give credit to those primary teachers, who can somehow decipher even the worst kid's writing. 

Question for you guys: ever come across something about yourself that just made you go awwww?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Problem with Life...

Source that it tends to get in the way.

But only if you let it.

I had the perfect plan for Sunday.  It was all planned out.  Nothing was going to get in my way.

I was leaving Kuwait on a Sunday morning.  I had about 20 hours of travel.  I'm not sure if any of you have ever traveled that far, but it is boring.  Wait, not just boring, it's the soul sucking, crushingly, want to stab your eyes out and have a temper tantrum kind of boring.  But I am extremely clever and had a plan!  Nothing could go wrong!  I would use my time to write!

Plane One:  I consider taking my laptop out, glance at my laptop case, but leave it in the overhead storage.  And get out the iPad.  That's ok though, since I have so many hours ahead of me.  I have lots of time to write.  Plus I do have the awesome Penultimate App if I do decide to write. (I did actually use my iPad to do some notes.  If you have an iPad and don't have a notebook app, try out penultimate or notebook +.  Both are pretty awesome for quick notes.)

And while I'm playing--I mean writing on my iPad--I've decided that the perfect plan is to write in London, waiting through my four hour layover.  It's the perfect plan.  I can sit down, grab a drink, and write for four hours when I would have been bored!  Perfect!  Nothing can go wrong! (I feel like I said this before...this must be the part where I tell you everything went perfectly).

Wait, they couldn't be making an announcement that our plane was delayed...and we would be... stuck on the tarmac... for two hours.  But it's ok, our flight time is not actually 6 hours!  It's 5 and a half.  I will still have two and a half hours to write.  Wait...they're not telling me we have to circle before we land...  And there isn't a parking spot open... And then, I had forty minutes to dash through the airport, make a quick stop at duty free, and sprint to my gate so I wouldn't miss my flight.  So much for that four hour writing block.

It could have been worse.  A ton of people on my plane actually missed their flights.  At least I only lost some writing time.

Onto plan B!  I would write on my plane ride until the jet lag took over and I passed out.  Great plan!  Wait...they're not telling me...we're stuck on the tarmac for an hour.  And  that since I was in an exit row seat, I couldn't have my laptop bag in front of me.  So writing had to wait (just like me!)

Finally, the plane takes off.  Now, if that stupid seat belt sign would just switch off, I can write.  Still on...still on...still on....Finally!  Lights flicked off.  I jump out of my seat and grab my laptop.  Success!  Now to show everyone around me that I'm a real writer.

And then the drink cart comes around.  And my table tray is only big enough for either my drink or my laptop. Sorry, laptop.

And then comes the dinner.  And I am writing waits a little more.

But then, there is nothing.  The lights are dimmed, the flight attendants have vanished, my belly is full, my throat is wet, and I am ready.

And so I wrote...and wrote...and tried to go to the internet, but couldn't... so I wrote some more.  And then I slept.  And the flight was still boring, but for about two hours, I actually only thought about my writing and it was a nice focused setting.  Almost makes me want to fly more often...almost.

Despite all the delays, and set backs, I did manage to get a decent amount of writing done. I finished the first chapter of my new novel.  I gave myself a nice pat on the back and imagined everyone sitting around me was extremely jealous (I'm sure they were only pretending to be asleep).

I guess at the end of it all, I could have given up. I could have just said screw it I'm not going to write today.  I had tons of excuses.  But I want to be a writer!  And that means finding the time, even if life does want to get in the way and screw up all your plans.  You just can't let it.

What do you do when life gets in the way of writing?  (or whatever else you plan to do)?

By the way, I discovered the comic Will Write For Chocolate in my searches the other day.  It's really cute and all about writing.  Check it out if you have time.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now What?

This weekend, I finished the first draft of my novel.  It's actually the first time I've finished a novel.  It's been slightly surreal to have reached my goal.  When it finally hit me, I was popping dance moves all around the house (please note, this is a fairly scary sight that no one should be subjected to).

Mid dance move, I told my husband to be.

His response?


I reminded him that I'd been working on this novel since February.

The next question, which I think I'll be hearing a lot of from my non-writing friends, "Are you going to publish it?"

I asked him if he wanted the long or short answer.  He chose the short, which I gave him (short answer was not now, by the way).  But I thought I would share the long version here on my blog.

For my writing friends.  You already know this story.  Many of you have done this dance already, so feel free to sit this one out.  But if you're interested in my plans for my book, feel free to keep reading.

So, now what?

Well, the first thing I'm going to do is lose my novel in a far corner of my hard drive and let it fester.  My plan is to leave it there for my entire summer vacation, while I work on my next book.  But why not take advantage of all that summer vacation I have and edit it then?  Because I'm too close to my writing right now.  While I know it's flawed, and could pinpoint some of the major problems, I know I can't see all of the flaws right now.

After that I'll do a second draft.  This will involve major overhauls to the work, deleting scenes, adding scenes.  I expect it'll be a bit grueling and frustrating at times.  But the novel needs it.  It's the revising that makes good writing (my students still don't believe me when I tell them this).

And then?  Then it'll be back into a corner for a few weeks (less than for the first time around) before I take it back out for a third edit.  My hope that this will be a smaller edit and revise.  Where I'll focus more on things like word choice and sentence structure.

By now, I'll bet my non-writing friends must be thinking, finally we're at the publishing stage!  Well, not quite.  The next step would be to get a beta reader.  This is someone who will read my story and look for plot, grammar, and any other issues they can find.

Which means, I would need to do more revisions.

And who knows after that.  Maybe I'll be done editing and revising then.  Maybe not.  It's quite the process, isn't it?

But finally, after all that, then I would start trying to get it published.  Which is a whole other journey and will require a whole other post because this one has gotten a bit long.  For the short answer to what happens after the editing and revising happens, it's a sad, sad story of hope, determination, and rejection...lots and lots of rejection.

That's it for now.  I'm about to catch a plane to Canada! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

All's Well that Ends Well

I have something to show everyone today.

For those of you who see nothing (which would be all of you), that's exactly what I am showing you. 

When I write, I keep a cheat sheet at the end of my manuscript.  These are point form notes from my outline of plot points in the story.  After I write something, I delete it from the list.

Which means, you are looking at an empty list.

Which means....

I finished the book! (And met my deadline!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Some Like It Hot

...but I don't think anyone likes it this hot.

In honour of the last day of school, summer vacation, and the dust storm making it less hot than usual (it's a mild 34C out today!), I thought I'd ignore writing for today's blog and give you some helpful hints on how to know it's too hot in the Middle East.

So here are some helpful clues that let you know it's too hot in the Middle East (aka it really would be a better idea to stay inside today):

  • The sun is out.
  • Your seat belt tries to burn you. (watch out for that metal part!)
  • There's a traffic jam because so many cars have to pull over to let their cars cool down.
  • The man in the dishdasha looks at you, shakes his head, and says "it's too hot!"
  • You step out of the car and your flip flops become slip slops.
  • Your outdoor swimming pool is more like a hot tub.
  • You cancel going out for dinner because walking to the car will make you too sweaty.

These are just some of the things that have kept me inside over the last two weeks.  Normal temperatures are at about 50C these days.  But the good news is, I'm heading back to Canada on Sunday!  I can't wait to be able to spend some time outside. 

So tell me, what clues let you know it's hot where you live?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Dreaded Deadline

At this time next week, I'll be back in Canada for my summer vacation!!! I am very excited (you can tell by all the exclamation marks). But before I go home and really relax, I have this small, little thing hanging over my head.

My Deadline.

Well, it's sort of a deadline.  Seeing as it is self-imposed (and those deadlines are always a little too easy to move).

I want to be done.  I started working on my current manuscript (which has no name!) back in February.  It's now been five months, 63,000 words, and more hours than I can count, and I still. am. not. finished.

But I'm close!

In about 10,000 words I will be finished this story.  Then, I get to shove it in a closet (or a far corner of my hard drive) for the rest of summer vacation (while I work on something else).

I needed a push to get it done.  So I gave myself a deadline.  Before I fly out next Sunday morning at 8 am (my local time) I want to be finished this story.  Besides, deadlines are good for us.  I wouldn't get any work would get done without them. Whether it's a long term deadline (finish the novel by June 24) or a daily deadline (write 1,000 words a day)

Not to mention, when you meet a deadline there's always that sense of accomplishment.  That feeling that you have done something.  It's even better when you meet a self-imposed one.  Because then you've just accomplished a personal goal.  And there's nothing more awesome than that.

My deadline has resulted in me looking a bit like this:

But I'm happy with my progress.  I've typed at least 1,500 words everyday for the last four days.  It's put a good dent in my manuscript and I can feel myself inching closer to the finale.

Soon enough I will look like this:

And I cannot wait to have that feeling!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Writing is Hard!

Writing is hard!

I thought I would try to start my brand new blog with a dramatic, and thought provoking statement.  I ended up with writing is hard.

Well, I'm not lying, at least.  It's good to start with honesty.  Writing is hard.  My students tell me this almost everyday.  This is how I know it's true.  But they're right.  It is hard.  It's hard to sit there and focus and just write.  I struggle with it almost everyday. 

But we haven't even gotten to the hard part yet.

The hard part is still to come.

But I can't wait to tackle it. I can't wait to be at the point where I fight through revisions, to search for that perfect agent--only to get rejected, and to find that publisher--as big or small as they may be.

It's an exciting journey and my life is all about journeys.

And as I sit here with my 60,000 (and counting!) word manuscript I know I'm getting close to getting into the real writing journey.  And hence, the blog.  To share my struggles, and my successes, with whoever might be passing by.

And so, here it is.  My blog.  Enjoy.


P.S And just for my students who might be stalking me. I'm afraid you are out of luck here.  This blog will be a lot like the stuff I talk about in class.  If you find that boring, you might want to save yourself now.  If you like the stuff I talk about, keep reading!  You might find the information useful.  See you in class!