Beauty is in the Sky of the Beholder

With all my recent whining about not being in the mood to write, I always knew I was merely in a percolation stage. You just kind of refuse to see that when the fingers aren’t moving over the keyboard. I’m happy to report that it’s beginning to happen. A writer can feel the burgeoning…it’s like a tsunami approaching. But not a horrendous destructive tsunami…a beautiful and powerful one. The kind that gives you strength. I can see my tsunami in the near distance. The winds of it have hit and allowed me to find a novel title (which is ALWAYS how I begin a project) and begin mind-mapping ideas.

I have the title of my next novel project—BEAUTY IS IN THE SKY OF THE BEHOLDER. And I have a few scribblings in a file. And I have a brain that is busy mind-mapping what is not yet written down. This is the birthing stage. Soon…I will be writing non-stop. I must write non-stop to keep up with the tsunami as it crashing into me. If I don’t write fast enough, the novel will leave when the tsunami drags itself back out into the ocean.

487This will, like the others, be a novel of hope…against all odds. That’s all I’m saying, though.

In every sky, there is beauty. I’m about to set out to prove that. (-:


I Have Lost the Will to Write. Today, All You Get is My Nana’s Song.

I’m sure it will return, but for the time-being…a musical interlude.

Before the interlude, though, a little backstory. Because, you know…every writer loves a backstory.

The song I’m about to link to was the song my Nana and I would listen to on repeat while sitting in her micro-library on summer days in Miramichi, New Brunswick. When I say we listened to it on repeat, I mean I sat close enough to the turntable to reach in and move the needle back to the beginning. It was sometime in the 70s. It was a little crooked house. The books were musty and had doodles and lines drawn and written in the margins by my father and his siblings when they were young.

The last line I wrote reminds me of yet another of my favourite songs from that period in my life.

When you were young
And your heart was an open book

You used to say, “Live and let live”
(You know you did, you know you did, you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we’re livin’
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die
Live and let die

Oh, those were fucking melancholy lyrics. Great lyrics have always been able to make me feel a need to rip out my veins. I know they did, I know they did, I know they did…

So, I would reach into that big ocean-liner of a box with the turntable in it and drag the needle back to the beginning of our song. And my Nana would tap her foot throughout the entire thing. She was HEAD OVER HEALS for the song. She knew every line, every note, every nuance. I had a cousin who could sing the same song like an angel. And it always melted my Nana’s heart to hear the words come from Christine’s mouth. I’m not sure Christine ever realized how much it meant to her.

I can’t for the life of me remember if my Nana read while we did this. I think she just paid full attention to the song, stared off into whatever memory she was visiting, and waited for me to be her repeat button. I, however, read. Not whole books…nothing so focused as that. I wanted to be inside all those musty books. Every single one of them. So, I just random-read them. There were trigonometry books and philosophy books and fiction books. It was a random sampling of 60 or so years of a house filled with kids who turned to teens who turned to adults and left. I honestly don’t think her library interested her so much. In truth, I’m probably the only one who called it a library. There was a living room and a back living room and a back-back living room. The back-back living room was the ‘library’. It had books in it. Does anything else matter? Oh…and a big whale of a console with records and 8-tracks. Sure, we listened to other stuff too. But that one song on that one record…we blew that motherfucker away!

Anyway, so…in lieu of writing, I think a song today will do.

We wore that record out, so I’m sorry I can’t reach over and drag the needle back across to the beginning. You will have to make do with Youtube…and some version of the original.

2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference – A Must Attend Event!

I cannot believe that the Ontario Writers’ Conference has made yet another journey around the sun! It is once again on the horizon, folks! This year, for me, it’s going to be a totally different ballgame. (-: This will be the first year since the conference’s inception that I am not involved in the organization of the event. This gives me a great SAD! But I was not turfed from my space at the Board of Directors table. I left willingly. Sometimes, one has to step aside from their passions in order to allow a new infusion of blood. Change is the cornerstone of success for things like this. After about eight years, it was time for me to step down and allow room for somebody else to feel the passion. So, there you have it. I will NOT be organizing the conference this coming year.

Having said this, I am more than thrilled to announce that I will be in attendance at the conference. I just signed the contract to be a BLUE PENCIL MENTOR. My heart broke a little–in a good way–last evening when Madam President put forward the invitation. I responded immediately in the affirmative.

This means I can talk up the conference as much as I always have, without looking a bit like a stalker for doing so. With my foot in the door for this 6th OWC event, I can sing its praises until the cows come home! (-:

So…wherever you are in Ontario–or the world, for that matter–make it your duty to register for the 2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference! You will thank me…and you will thank yourself. The tireless & passionate volunteers involved in this conference create a more wonderful experience each year for those who attend. Since its inception, I have heard the same refrain every single year from registrants– “THIS WAS THE BEST YEAR EVER!”

Make sure you’re there in 2014 for “…THE BEST YEAR EVER!”

Though I am not involved in the organization this year, I’ve a feeling the website will soon be blossoming forth with next year’s details. So visit them now and bookmark the site, so you can be kept abreast of any announcements!

Give the logo below a little click to swing on over!


Nostalgia and Emotional Soundtracks (or How to Catch the Feels)

I hear a lot of talk about ‘soundtrack for your novel’. I could never quite pick the songs that would go with the story or the characters in the way that others seem to do, with the biggest exception being the novel I wrote that was a nod to idol and icon Leonard Cohen (Sebastian’s Poet). Nope. It just isn’t me. I couldn’t tell you what my characters would listen to, really. When I create a musical soundtrack to accompany my novel writing experience, it’s usually an emotional soundtrack. I want to hear songs that will make me bleed when my scenes bleed and jump for joy when my scenes are to depict joy. I like my soundtrack to be nostalgic…to evoke my emotions.


There are two songs I almost always listen to during the novel creation process. They are songs that have always had me on the brink of tears. I don’t know what it is about them? It is a combination of the beauty of the words and the longing of the melody. Both songs just seem to bite me in the feels.

The first song is one from my punk-rocker days in the early 80s (full disclosure here…I didn’t only listen to the Dead Kennedys and the Sex Pistols. I also had a new wave streak in me strong enough to induce me to occupy the dance floors at the darkest underground clubs of Toronto for entire nights at a time. Dancing eyes closed to Bauhaus, Kajagoogoo, B52s, and Blancmange was not something I shied away from.) One of the songs from that era that still brings me to near tears is PERFECT by THE THE. If I need to write a scene in which FEELS happen, Perfect is, well, the perfect song to plug into! It helps me to catch those emotions that I want to portray in the scene. It’s the the perfect atmospheric song for the purposes (see what I did there!).

I drag out IF VENICE IS SINKING by THE SPIRIT OF THE WEST if I need to go deep and plug into that emotion that nostalgia evokes. It’s hard to pinpoint, but I know when to use it. Nostalgia is something I like to feel when I’m writing, say, the denouement of the story. I’ve hit the climax and the excitement of the near conclusion is over (I may have been listening to OZZY OSBOURNE’S CRAZY TRAIN to get me over that hump!) and now I just want to make the reader pause and get a gripping display of the feels…sadness that the story is ending and fulfillment that the story is ending. SO, I throw on IF VENICE IS SINKING and I wrap myself up in its feels. “They come in bent-backed, creeping ‘cross the floor all dressed in black. Candles thick as pillars, you can buy one off the floor. And the ceiling’s painted gold, Mary’s hair is red. The old come here to kiss their dead…” – verily, it makes me weep with nostalgia!

See where I’m going here? These songs really have nothing to do with what I’m writing. My characters don’t dig them. My story doesn’t take place in the same time the songs were released. I’m digging the minefield, looking for the feels these songs evoke. And, once I get there–once I’m bleeding inside and ready to explode–I work the scene. Yep, my novel soundtracks are definitely all about the feels. Who knows, maybe I’m pretty much emotionally dead and I require these musical interludes to force me out of my comfort zone and get me into the moods I wish to create in my novels. Whatever. It works. And if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.

I mentioned it, so I might as well throw in the piece I use to reach the climax!


How about you? Do you include songs that will force your emotions to the surface when you’re choosing the soundtrack to your novel writing sessions?