Monday, February 28, 2011

Age old muse

I've had a thing for Robert Downey Junior since Grade 7, which is a long time ago, my friends. I admit, I wasn't an active stalker during his troubled times, but since he made his big re-entry into Hollywood as Iron Man, I admit to being back on the RDJ bandwagon.

And after watching him at the Oscars last night, felt compelled to make him this week's muse avatar.

Of course, I'm not his only long-term fan. My friend Cristy and I "virtually" watched the Academy Awards together, commenting on fashion and hot movie stars via Facebook chat - fitting considering The Social Network received so many nominations.

While we didn't agree with many of the winning selections (though, ignorance played a part from my perspective...I have yet to see most of the movies nominated), Cristy and I did agree on this: RDJ is looking damn fine.

So, this week's muse avatar is dedicated to Cristy, who not only has stood by him (and me) through the ups and downs, but also filled my inbox with especially yummy pictures of RDJ before I went to sleep. Talk about a wonderful nightcap!

Robert has a big task at hand. The "big" deadline looms at the end of the month, a second doozer 30 days after that - not to mention a short story deadline for an anthology I've been accepted into, and another new project (tee hee) with the awesome Judith Graves.

I foresee many a late nights this week - I'll be leaning on RDJ for support. Not to worry, Cris, I'll share.

The Book In My Bag Today: Heartsick, Chelsea Cain

ONE MORE SLEEP until the new Chelsea Cain book is out. WOOT!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A muse for the two of us

Whenever a holiday lands on a Monday, I kind of inadvertently erase the day from existence - and many traditions that are supposed to make that day of the week tolerable often fall by the wayside.

Such was the case for this week's muse avatar.

I've done far too much groveling as of late to beg for your forgiveness, so I'm hoping this picture of Andy Whitfield will soften the edge of disappointment.

Whitfield is Spartacus on the Stars Network series of the same name. I've actually never seen the show, but my new co-worker (and friend) has gushed about Andy before, and this morning, we previewed the trailer for the series.

Uh. I'm hooked. Big.

Aside from Spartacus' rugged handsomeness, he looks tough, right? I could use a tough guy this week to help me plow through a number of personal and professional projects that keep piling up. Not that I'm complaining - this kind of energy is what I thrive on. But this morning, I'm working on about an hour's worth of sleep, and the week - though short - feels waaayyyy long.

Between support from muse avatar/hottie Andy and co-worker/friend Erinne (who plans to torture me by bringing into work the first season of this show) I should be able to juggle the projects into some kind of priority list.

So in light of Erinne's first week at the Young Alberta Book Society, and as a thank you for introducing me to the awesomeness that is Spartacus, this week's muse avatar is dedicated to her. (She accepts chocolate...and books.)

The Book In My Bag Today: Heartsick, Chelsea Cain

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Muse(s)

This morning, I woke up to two beautiful Valentine's Day cards from the two people who mean the most to me in the world - handsome hubby and my beautiful stepdaughter.

I'm not one of those women who needs jewelry (though I'd never turn down shoes), and I certainly don't need chocolate. But both of my Valentine's took special care to pick out a card that said something from their heart - and being the baby that I am, I cried.

On the way to school / work this morning, I thought about the week ahead of me. It's busy. I need to work out more. I need to write more. And I need to spend more time with my family. (Not to mention power on with the day job...)

Seems appropriate then that this week, I appoint my amazing family as muse avatars. At the end of the day, nothing truly inspires me more than their unconditional love. (Not even Ian Somerhalder!)

Happy Valentine's Day Jeff and Aydra. Thank you for always inspiring me. I love you <3

Wishing all of my blogger friends a wonderful Valentine's.

The Book In My Bag Today: Bloodthirsty, Flynn Meaney

OH! I'm sending special love to the amazing Jessica Bell, who just this weekend finished revisions to her novel, String Bridge, due out in November by Lucky Press.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Inspired by youth...and Judith

Just days ago, I posted an incredibly hot picture of the incredibly hot Paul Walker as my muse avatar.

As designated muse, he's *supposed* to inspire me, rev up the creative energy I need to push through my various works in progress. No question he's easy on the eyes, but he hasn't quite fulfilled his role. Instead, I'm still riding the adrenaline rush of spending a weekend with some brilliant writers.

And most of them were under the age of 19.

At the Young Alberta Book Society, we run several programs that foster literacy through a love of reading and writing among young people.

Dream job, right?

Actually, yes. This past weekend I hung out at WordsWorth, where coordinator extraordinaire Lisa Murphy-Lamb and her team of fabulous supervisors and instructors created magic for a group of talented young Albertan writers.

Think *magic* is an exaggeration? Check out this video.

I'm on love with the filming, the images. But most of all, I'm in love with how well it captures what WordsWorth is all about. At the end of the weekend, the young writers shared their work. You'd be blown away by their poetry, short stories, music, and art.

These beautiful, talented young writers are INSPIRATIONAL.

Whether it's at this weekend camp, or during our week-long summer program, many of these young writers create lasting friendships, with people who "get" them. Fellow artists.

I understand that, because in addition to hanging out with the youth, Lisa, and her team, I spent (not enough) time with Judith Graves, Alberta's superstar of the paranormal YA genre. Last year, I read - and reviewed - her first book Under My Skin. It's fantastic. And so is she.

What I didn't realize then was Judith's breadth of talent. She's not only a kick-ass writer, but she's a wonderful musician (her voice is amazing) and a budding film maker (grin). This is her video of a WordsWorth hike:

I'm excited to be included in her critiquing circle and love our newly formed mutual inspirational society (and friendship).

It's weeks like this that remind me of why I love my job - and being a writer.

The Book In My Bag Today: Bloodthirsty, Flynn Meaney

Monday, February 7, 2011

Revved up for my muse

While watching the Superbowl with handsome hubby last night, I drooled over saw a commercial for a NEW Fast and the Furious movie, due out this April.

April is a long ways away, my friends.

I recognize there isn't a lot of substance in the Fast and the Furious franchise of movies - the actors won't win Oscars, the plots aren't complex, the dialogue is cheesy.

But each movie (except the second) contains three things I love: hot cars, Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker.

A few years, and two dogs, husband and stepdaughter ago, I owned a Toyota Celica, TRD. For those that don't speak Toyota, the TRD stands for "Toyota Racing Division" - which the smart salesman up-sold me on despite the fact I live in a city that sees seven (or more) months of winter. Perhaps he capitalized on the drool, or I had "wanna-be-race-car-driver" tattooed on my forehead. Either way...

I miss that car. I miss smoking unsuspecting drivers off the stoplight. I miss the feel of cornering "like it's on rails." I miss knocking down a three-hour drive to two (or less) when the road conditions are prime. My SUV doesn't quite cut it.

But as my husband would point out, a Celica isn't the most family-oriented car and I wouldn't exchange them for the adrenaline rush of shifting gears.

Most days.

I spent this weekend at WordsWorth, an amazing camp for young writers who believe in the power of words. Not only was I inspired by the young participants (whose writing would knock your socks off), I spent time with Owen Percy (Alberta poet) and Judith Graves (Alberta paranormal author), both of whom fired me up about my current WIP.

I'm still hyped by the creative energy and new friendships formed at WordsWorth, but now that we've gone our separate ways (and it's Monday), I'm back to leaning on my muse avatar.

Not that it's a bad thing. I mean, Paul certainly looks strong enough to catch my fall... And I already know he can drive fast cars. I just need him to channel some of that adrenaline my way and help me find the energy - and time - to light a fire under that WIP.

The Book in My Bag Today: Bloodthirsty, Flynn Meaney

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nobody puts SUEzy-Q or me in a corner

Sue didn't threaten me once during Salsa Burn at J'Adore Dance last night. She didn't give me the evil eye, or mutter about how much she hates me under her breath. She didn't even swipe at me during the meringue.

And yet, she had more than enough reason to.

Yesterday was a tough day, friends. Emotional. Frustrating. A living, breathing plethora of professional and personal absolute crap. At 4:30 p.m., I'd decided to skip dance in favour of a hot bubble bath, a good book, and a bottle of wine to drown the drama. By 5:00 - after the water was drawn and my new Wicked Lovely book open - I'd changed my mind.

Not just about going to dance. But about a lot of stuff in my life.

I've let "familiarity" comfort me for a long time. Fear of the unknown, as cliche as it sounds, has often suffocated me, chaining me to the status quo. I'm a sucker for "the cycle" because in the end, the relationship/friendship settles into some kind of "norm" - if only for a day/week/month.

But what is normal?

In a simple example, normal for me is to race to J'Adore twenty minutes before class starts to ensure I get my place at the very back of the room, hopefully behind two rows of ladies (or occasional guy) so I can't see myself in the mirror. I prefer to be slightly behind the instructor so I can half-ass follow along. Placement is important.


Last night, Sue and I arrived at Salsa Burn twenty minutes early, but when we strolled onto the floor, we didn't beeline it for the back row. We chose - gulp - the front, with me right. next. to. Meaghan.

So maybe it doesn't sound like a big deal. But let's go back 14 pounds and six months ago to this. I've come a LONG way, baby.

My cha cha is far from Naughty Princess status, and Meaghan's combo - with those tap, tap hop and amazing dreadful Suzy-Q steps confused the eff out of me - BUT *deep breath* no mirrors were broken in this front row dance experiment.

And there are a LOT of mirrors at J'Adore.

Truthfully, the butterflies in my tummy only lasted for the first ten minutes. By then, Sue and I were making faces at each other in the mirror, and I'd stopped obsessing about my bad - really bad - hair day and puffy crybaby eyes.

For an hour of Burn - and 15 minutes of, er, some strange pelvic mind exercises designed to make life in the bedroom more fun (you blushing yet, Meaghan?) - I stepped out of my comfort zone. I'm stupidly proud of both myself and Sue.

Not to worry though, normalcy returned just as class ended. Sue threatened the end of our friendship if there was a single "Suzy-Q" in this blog. (Not my fault, Sue-ber - Meaghan named that damn step!) I'm not worried - anyone willing to shake it in the front row with me isn't taking our friendship lightly (grin).

Oh - and before you get any ideas, Jess. There will be NO front row appearance at Fit Hop tonight. One step at a time, sunshine.

So how about you? What have you done - personally or professionally - to step out of your comfort zone lately? Did you reap the rewards or scare yourself silly? 

The Book In My Bag Today: Radiant Shadows, Melissa Marr