LOOK at THAT! A Challenge to Writers

Well, because of a challenge I was tagged in today I came to realize I used the word LOOK 173 times in my latest WIP. That’s not so bad, is it? Speaking of THAT. I also gathered up the courage to search that word in the manuscript. That word is my kryptonite.

How many thats does it take to write 46,478 word manuscript, you ask? You had to ask, didn’t you!?

457 to be exact.

I can live with my looks. Yes, I’m not going to feel bad about my looks AT ALL. But I do have to confess…a beta reader already discovered my tendency to overuse look. So, I spent most of August slaying that dragon. What LOOKs like a reasonable look usage is actually a corrected look usage, so don’t feel bad if you discover a few hundred more in your manuscript than what I found in mine.

Now, on to the CHALLENGE, and what it means.

Thank you to the lovely CATHY OLLIFFE-WEBSTER for poking me for this challenge. I don’t know how I’ll get her back, but I know I WILL. I don’t know how I will thank her, but I’ll find a way.


How can one stay mad at someone with a smile like this? Also…how can someone NOT laugh to discover her photo file name is MY HEAD.

Now, the challenge is to not only find the LOOKs in your current WIP, but to also post the paragraphs around the word. I guess this kind of gives you the option to choose any three paragraphs in your WIP to post. (-:

Here’s the one I chose:

Trig is pretty awesome. He’s my best friend. He and I go back a long way. When I finally make it to my chem lab, he’s sitting in his seat giving me the eye. He knows something has happened. He has this look on his face like he’s gonna kick the shit out of someone and he just needs me to give him a name and he’ll be gone. But I silently slide in beside him, with my head down. Better not to look him directly in the eye.

“What the fu—” he whispers.

“Mr. Fripp. Is there a reason you’re joining us rather later than usual today?” Ms. Mendel interrupts from the front of the class, causing my face to bloom red. “Is that a late slip in your hand?”

I look at my empty hands, puzzled. “Um, no ma’am,” I begin. My voice wavers and cracks all over the place. Like usual. “Sorry, ma’am. I was—”

That’s part 1. Part two of the challenge is to victimize pick 5 new writers to take the challenge. (-:

Here are my 5 (That sounds familiar. I wonder if Rogers can sue me for using that terminology. Have at it.):

JOCELYN ADAMS who is awesome. Click on the book cover to start exploring her stuff on Goodreads:

Victim #2 – This person is my nemesis and my mentor and my hero. I would probably have a fencing comp. with her, just to poke her in the eye…but we would make up RIGHT away. I hope!

PAT FLEWWELLING is the bomb. This I know. Here she is, the nine day wonder herself!

I know she’s going to sue me, because there’s copyright stuffs all over her most fabulous picture and yet I willy-nilly kidnapped it.

Now, who should I put on the spot NEXT?! I know…because I love her. The earth Momma herself…my MNM Guardian Angel, Susan Blakeney. Here’s Susan’s DOT COM right here.

And here’s her smile:

The one who holds us all together.

That’s 3, right? Right. Shellie is so very nice that I sincerely hope this is something she would like to be roped into included in. Otherwise, I’ll feel bad. (-;  Shellie…time to LOOK! Am I allowed to play hardball here? Because to the best of my knowledge, Shellie Yaworski does not yet have a blog. I’ll tag her so she knows she’s being challenged, though. Maybe she can let me know where her undercover blog is…or, maybe, you know…start one. What I really love about Shellie is that she has no idea how bloody fantastic her writing is. Thanks to the READING NIGHT at the MNM, there’s a roomful of people who know how proud she has a right to be. (-:


Okay…so by my count that’s 4 people tagged. My 5th and final tag…not an MNM person. This is someone from the WCDR whose blog I follow. She’s a lovely person whom I would like to share with the rest of my world. (-:

MARY E. MCINTYRE, both an inspiration and a supporter of her fellow WCDR members. And a great read, too…if you’re looking for a new blog to follow.


SO — Okay, so the one thing YOU FIVE have to know is this: You will all fall prey to spontaneous combustion if you don’t look after your LOOK CHALLENGE within 48 hours. GO!

Dinner with Mark Twain!

SO – There are times I start a post and it goes to drafts and it’s forgotten for ever. Or, at least until I accidentally stumble upon it months later. I just discovered this one and I have NO idea where I was going with it. I will now attempt to finish writing it and post it. I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I began it…from my recollection, I have never had dinner with Mr. Twain.

When I originally set out to have dinner with Mark, I had no idea what to serve. What do you serve the man who has been everywhere, seen everything?

I thought, ‘whatever I feed him, I’ll have to have chianti nearby for him to wash it down with‘. I searched everywhere for an old fashioned jug to serve the wine in. I don’t know why I knew it, but I knew it was an imperative that the wine be served in a jug. Something pulled out of the earth from sometime in the Pleistocene Epoch.

Everybody knows Mark Twain cannot have his wine poured from a bottle. That would be so gauche.

After sorting out the chianti situation, I moved on to the peas. Or, should that be string beans? Or carrots? Is there a literary themed vegetable? Surely someone must have written a masterpiece on the eggplant?

Immediately, Fruits & Vegetables popped into my head. You know…that awesome book of poetry by Erica Jong.

“I am thinking of the onion again, with its two O mouths,
like the gaping holes in nobody. Of the outer skin, pinkish
brown, peeled to reveal a greenish sphere, bald as a dead
planet, glib as glass, & an odor almost animal.” ~ Erica Jong

And onions are an awesome thing. But I would never serve them as a side veg to the man who gave me The Innocents Abroad. I would cook with onions, saute them for the flavour and aroma…but they would not appear on the plate by themselves.

The next thought, “Potato I have.” Brought to you by the Dr. Seuss of the literary world, James Joyce himself. Although Leopold Bloom did everything with that potato but eat it, I was bound and determined to serve potato to Twain. For consumption. Just…not as a side veg. Mr. Mark Twain, I reasoned, would be nothing if not a meat and potatoes man. I mean, I could picture him at table with my own Poppy…picking at the new-fangled tower of ugly fruit and kiwi-infused kelp of the post-modern diner. Neither him nor Poppy would touch it to their lips. But both would inhale a good meal of MEAT & POTATOES. And I imagine they would eat the side veg, too, as long as it wasn’t…pretentious.

TURNIP! Only, I would call it rutabaga. This way, I give the man what he wants–wholesome, manly veg. And I get to slip a little pretension in there with the lofty moniker. Win-win. I thought I would boil them, mash them and throw in some brown sugar and lemon…for the extra kick in the face they would need to impress the Twain.

Let’s see… chianti, potatoes, turnip. I needed a meat!

Anybody who is breathing on planet earth today must know that Marky Mark’s favourite food was OYSTERS. But is that meat enough for a main course…of course not.

Yep. You know what happened. I found my appetizer! Served with a nice pumpkin beer and a black-pepper/hot-pepper infused olive oil bread–I knew I’d have him eating out of the palm of my hand. Or at least off the dishes in front of him. That’s a punch and a kick right there!

With a little help of my amazing ninja skill otherwise known as Google-Fu, I quickly learned that Twain would basically kill for a 2″ Porterhouse Steak. Not one for steak, myself, I figured I could make an exception. It was, after all, Mark Twain.

So, my menu was complete. I just had to remember to top it all off with throat-punchingly strong coffee (with hot milk, not cold cream) and a slice of—you guessed it—hot apple pie. You don’t serve the Great American Novelist dessert less American than hot apple pie. Though, if I had had it my way…I would have insisted on enlightening him to the delicacy of the BLUEBERRY BANG-BELLY.

Where was I?

Right. So dinner with Mark Twain.

Guess what! If you have an opportunity to break bread with an author—don’t worry about the tone and texture of the bread. Don’t do it! You sit…you talk.

Maybe I never once in my life had dinner with Mark Twain. But I know a good wordist™  when I read one (I just coined that word myself). I was 15 when I first took that trip around the globe with an excited Twain in his beautiful INNOCENTS ABROAD. Ever since I first read that book, I imagined Dinner with Twain. Not once, however, did I even passingly consider what we would be shoveling into our mouths at that table. This was a man who profoundly changed me. He changed what I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, where I wanted to go.

I guess my point is…use your opportunities. If you know you will have an opportunity to sit with a writer you respect…to share words and wisdom with them—FUCK THE DETAILS. No matter how high on the pedestal you perceive your giants to be, they are people just like you. Have a conversation…have the conversation you want to have with your heroes. Don’t pay too much attention to the details (odd advice coming from a writer, but I think you understand where it’s coming from in this instance). It doesn’t matter what the surroundings are, what food is on the table. What matters is that you both have an intrinsic thing in common. You both love words. Revel in that! Celebrate together.

An opportunity to spend time with a fellow writer is too beautiful a thing to waste.

Throat-Punching The Twain with Killer Coffee – That’s What I do

As an aside, though…I would definitely have oysters at my Mark Twain meet-up. Dude would need serious ninja skills to get any, though. I’d stomp him for the last one. Oysters are a definite weakness for me. Filled with the yummy!

September – #1 With a Bullet

Another hectic September. Surprise, surprise. I should have seen this coming. Not that I’m complaining!

I think this coming week is the busiest. Tonight is a committee meeting for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. We are heading into full-swing planning and organizing for our May, 2013 conference. This is a labour of love for each and every one of us on the committee. Our vision was to create an atmosphere of learning and a celebration of words. Even at our busiest, this is a wonderful project we deeply love. Look for 2013 updates to start springing up soon on the OWC website, as well as through social media.

Maybe I should have used a more apropos word when I said HECTIC. Is a string of parties, celebrations, etc. really something one could call hectic? September is always busy, but it’s also always the best time of the year. Lots of great things happening.

This coming weekend, we are off to Huntsville for the 2012 Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap Party! Best Novel Award winners will be announced, as well as all the participant-voted prizes for things such as B.I.C. and Spirit Award. It won’t matter in the least who wins any of these things. Clearly, everybody who took part in the marathon has already won (as evidenced by the photo below!)!

$15,000 raised for literacy! From left to right: Rob Armstrong, CEO, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Fiona Cascagnette, Vice President, Child Development, Family Support and Community Programs, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Nancy West, Team Leader, Huntsville Employment and Literacy Services, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Paula Boon, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor; Karen Wehrstein, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor.

Yes. That is a cheque for $15,000.00. That’s what the marathon raised this year to put into the ring and fight against illiteracy. The MNM is such an amazing event. I can’t say enough about it…but in the end, it’s the money raised for literacy that matters. Everything else is just the icing.

There will also be a workshop on Saturday, after the wrap party…and the MNM contingent will probably walk to the next leg of the three event day—Supper at THE COTTAGE. We’re a pretty big family, the MNM contingent—so I feel for the poor restaurant. They’re in for quite a swarming. (-: I do think it’s great that we will be able to break bread together again, though. A lot happens during the July marathon weekend. In 72 hours, you write a novel AND discover that you are a part of a new family—a family that eats and sleeps and laughs and cries and sings together. We probably do so much more than that also, but—it’s complicated. (-;

To explore the history and the future of the MNM, click on the chair! (-:

There are happenings right up to the end of September…some big and some small. They’re all awesome, though. Hope you’re enjoying YOUR September. Just like every other month on the calendar, blink and it’s gone. Remember to capture the moments. (-:

(If you’re in Oshawa this coming Thursday, drop into Boston Pizza on Taunton just east of Harmony. My younger brother will be jamming there in the evening. (-:)

A Collection of Poems based on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira Songs

This is a post I took from my old blog. It was originally posted March 4/08:

These poems were inspired by song titles from Joni Mitchell’s Hejira album. The poems are also based on the songs themselves.




While the sun rises,
Coyote beauty,
Our paths,
They will not cross or touch.
You will lick the body dry
But never touch the throbbing heart,
Coyote beauty.
When they are kicking divine
To the music of night,
You, coyote beauty,
Will be my love,
Rape my anger,
Tear me free of will,
Trap me to the highway leaving.
And you, coyote beauty,
Jumping for the moon
While taking flight in field,
Chasing prey, you pray
For solace in the fray.
You, coyote beauty,
Burning in your seat,
Watch as I take flight,
Running to the highway leaving,
Your prey, your wish divine,
Your prisoner in the night.




The lust of flight,
Of heavens reaching
The desert dance,
Like music stretched
From strings divine.
The machine of flight, surreal,
Amelia, images through time,
To trap you there, in romance,
Make of you my wings.
Oh, Amelia, my Nirvana,
You shake with wisdom,
Draw from your hair, my wings.
You, with your Icarus wings,
promising to lift you higher,
With arms to keep you
Floating, lingering in the clouds, Amelia.
Motels, dust and wanderlust,
They’ll never keep me down,
But false alarms and ringing dreams
Of Amelia taking flight,
They’ll stop me of my wings,
And make me sing, instead,
Of Amelia taking flight.


Strange Boy


The awkward dance
of boy to man,
the need, the want,
crazy shake of weaving
backwards in time
playing, the child man song.
I begged him, with a scold,
To take a deeper hold
To life less wild and crazy.
But he slowly took me under,
Swayed me with his love,
And clatter,
Sucked me to his shores
With his special lunar laughter.
I gave him of my body,
Forgave his boyish ways, strange boy,
And in the cellar, I sang his charms,
Strange boy, he made me wonder,
Piano love, we made,
Slender limbs entwined,
He took me in his dance.


Furry Sings the Blues


With his leg beside him,
Dancing in the corner quiet,
Furry, intoxicated, wanders,
sings gummy blues in wonder,
and Ginny can’t dance,
can’t sing or sigh,
she’s there beside him,
cosmic Ginny, with her laughter,
mercy washing over
a bed bound Furry.
The scratch of words,
from Furry’s wounded lungs,
alert the sparkling wonder
in the dancing Ginny,
as words rebound,
and blues are sung
and soaked in morning light.
And a leg in the corner,
made to prop the Furry beast,
it taps a tortured tune
of Tennessee,
a Memphis night of long ago,
when Furry danced
a throbbing beat
to Ginny’s mercy
new and meek.


Black Crow


Sky emissary shivers,
shakes, black wings whisper,
attracted to all things shiny,
he swoops the neon sky,
I am one with the black,
traveling always,
searching homeward,
mingling in the black.
I am the sleek silk
of wings made to glisten,
collecting shiny things
for my everything journey.
And I am up all night,
like the black bird shining,
my soul burdened downward,
but lifting in the wind,
I can see the black thing singing
in the spirit of its flight,
oh, blue sky dreamer,
I’m connecting with your light.


Refuge of the Road


He took me by the body,
shook the new sky free,
his spirit, echo of my echo,
illuminated me.
Yet I left him
and his echo
for a journey to divine,
awoke in stranger places
than a dreamer cares to dream.
I took a refuge in my leaving,
winding down the ancient roads,
sucked the wind
in lungs made real
by the burn of afterglow.
And in the forest,
meek and frazzled,
I ran against my will,
fought to find an echo
of the echo of my self.
With the moon in clouds
and an archipelago
of gods seen canting,
I whispered to my sorrow,
my friend in spirit lost,
I’m lost
and heading westward,
seeking refuge in the road.


Blue Hotel Room


Like a ghost inside the blue,
I’m lost inside of me,
tumbling in turmoil,
fractured by the sea.
And the rain,
it’s been drowning me,
one swallow at a time.
Will you let me call you,
and suck from you your joy,
when madness like this blueness
eats inside of me?
I need you on Ganesha,
prancing through the sky,
think of me when I’m leaving,
and when I’m bleeding blue.
Will you love me when I leave
this stinking blue hotel?
Tell me now, my lover,
what’s left inside of me
inside this blue hotel room
remembering your plea.