Monday, January 28, 2013

Encouragement from the muse

I was lucky enough to spend the past weekend with my niece, which meant a lot of baking I can't eat, plenty of laughter, and watching several movies I have never seen - plus a couple we've both watched a few times, but could watch 100 times more.

Among them, DRIVE, starring this week's muse avatar Ryan Gosling.

My husband hates this movie - the lack of dialogue from Gosling, his monotone movement, the missing non-stop action. I get it - people either love DRIVE or they hate it.

I'm in the former category. It was one of my favorite movies in 2012, and when I'm not begging friends to watch it, it's a good standby when hubs isn't home. Truthfully, it's the kind of movie I'd someday like to write.

Of course, it's a little out of my wheelhouse. I'm usually drawn to commercial thrillers, romantic comedies, or yeah, action-packed flicks, especially ones with fast cars.

While I wouldn't exchange a single minute of time I spent with my niece this weekend, I admit, my writing resolution goal wasn't met for the week. I was actually 4010 words short.

At first, I got nervous. I mean, for 21 days, I'd written the equivalent of 1370 words a day, telling myself that as long as the weekly number hit the mark, I'd reach my 500,000 words in 2013 goal. Would missing 4,000 words mean the end of that resolution, before the end of the first month?

Of course not!

Missing the mark just reminded me that I am going to have days that 1370 words isn't achievable. Last week, the day job was very demanding. We celebrated an important milestone for my husband. And, instead of writing, I've been hanging with my niece doing non-writerly things.

Today is a clean slate. Each day this week, I'm aiming for 1942 words, which will not only make up for a few days of slacking last week, but also the 4010 words I missed last week. The timing couldn't be more perfect since I'm working on a new project (along with two other projects) and the words are flying off the page.

Especially with Ryan cheering me on from sidelines. Thanks guy. You're a true inspiration.

Have a great week.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

2013 Resolutions Stats

Wordcount: 5,510
Total words to date for 2013: 32,507

Total pounds lost: 3
Total pounds lost for 2013: 11

Books Completed (reading): 1

Movies Watched: - 4 (Perks of Being a Wallflower, Wreck It Ralph, Brave and Drive)

Pamper Moment: Bought a bottle of Director's Cut wine made by Francis Ford Coppola. pamper moments seem to be alcohol infused :-/

Calendar worthy pictures: 0 - Yup, this one needs some work

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

50 reasons to love this birthday girl

It occurs to me as I write this post that I don't actually have many pictures of me with my featured guest.

Jamie and I have been friends for more than 15 years and yet, scrolling through Facebook, I could find only one picture of us together - which is not indicative of a lack of time spent together, but rather the fact that neither of us like to be in FRONT of the camera.

This particular picture was taken in Maui, where for several years, Jamie and I spent a glorious two weeks with friends, writers, and each other. We haven't been back for awhile.

More than anything on this birthday, her 50th today, I wanted to take her back to the island. I couldn't make it happen.


But this is a milestone birthday, and a simple call or Facebook status with a birthday shout-out isn't quite enough. So, in my continuing 2013 theme of 50, I present 50 reasons why I love Jamie. (Hey bestie, don't kill me when you read them, mmmkay?)

1. Jamie is fierce. Like a lion. This is one lady you want ON YOUR SIDE. This is also one lady you don't want not on your side. Because, er, I've been there. It sucks.

2. Jamie is a wonderful mama bear. Fierce, yes, but also loving, compassionate, and smart. It hasn't been easy, but she's raised two beautiful kids into amazing adults. I've been there for the struggles and some of the triumphs. Wow. Inspirational!

3. Jamie is open to learn anything. On her 40th birthday, we went to Interior Design classes. I can't believe it's been 10 years. She rocked that course. I did okay.

4. Jamie takes gorgeous photographs. Don't believe me? Take a gander through her blog posts and marvel at the beauty she captures. The most amazing part? She's virtually self taught. Sure her hubs gets her the technical tools, but Jamie's pictures with her iPhone are better than some photographers'. I am in awe.

5. Jamie is the best BETA READER any writer could ask for. Hands down. If there's a plot hole, she'll catch it. A typos, she'll find it. An inconsistency, she'll call you on it. She's my "cut her foot" girl, my Ideal Reader, and yeah, back off, she's MINE.

6. Jamie can rock a head massage. One week at a writer's conference, brain full of emotional baggage and packed with information - yep, everyone at that event was wishing they had a Jamie.

7. Jamie isn't afraid to speak her mind. Loudly. In public. Sometimes in a mall. *ducks*

8. Jamie loves to read. Mostly the same stuff I do. I treasure when we find an author we both love. She treasures it less, though, because often I drop her books in the bath...or forget to return them altogether :-/

9. Jamie has excellent taste in wine. Nuff said.

10. Jamie introduced me to the DC and GG Club. Don't know what that stands for? Your loss. Mwahahahaha.

11. Jamie gets me. No questions asked. Well, maybe one or two. But it's mostly to get a rise out of me. Few have the ability like she does.

12. Jamie is one of the best cooks I have ever met. She's hypoglycemic (like me) and has to be careful about when and what she eats. But if she's in her kitchen creating, I'm eating whatever she makes because it's all art.

13. Jamie is an amazing grandmother to a beautiful little spitfire. With every photograph, every Facebook status update, you can FEEL the love between the two of them. That is one lucky little girl.

14. Jamie will BOX your ass. Mine, too, if I hadn't chickened out. We decided to take kick boxing together once. The instructor was a little too psycho for me. Jamie toughed it out. I have deep admiration for that. I'm also always a little fearful of her because of that.

15. Jamie can rock a great pair of boots. As a boot lover, that's something to love and appreciate.

16. Jamie has a great sense of humour. The hours we've spent laughing over pretty much everything should have given me killer abs. Not sure what happened there...

17. Jamie is the strongest woman I know. Her sacrifices for her family, her friends...they know NO bounds. I know they know how lucky they are. Me too.

18. Jamie is the kind of wife I hope to be. Fiercely loyal, supportive, loving, and firm when required. No marriage is perfect. Jamie and Rick's is pretty darned close.

19. No one does sarcasm better than Jamie. No, really. It's a curse gift.

20. Jamie has supported me through every stage of my writing career. From the first day someone told me I could write, to the days I feel like I can't. She's a fan of my work in genius mode, and in idiot mode. She's simply my biggest fan.

21. Jamie isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. I love that. Sometimes I fear that.

22. Jamie has a huge heart. And when it breaks, it breaks hard. I'm not proud to have broken it a few times, but I am grateful for it's ability to heal, for her ability to heal.

23. Jamie is one of my longest friends. That alone should give her some points. (Save those, baby, you and I both know they come in handy.)

24. Jamie is great to travel with - three (or 4?) times to Maui should be proof. Our adventures are far from over.

25. Jamie puts up with my husband...and offers him deer meat. (He was quite adamant that this be added to the list.)

26. Jamie has the ability to forgive and forget. Thank the heavens.

27. Jamie rocks a Maid of Honor dress. You'll have to trust me on that because I'm not crazy enough to post a bunch of pictures of her without permission. (Refer to #14)

28. Jamie appreciates the finer things in life. But she isn't a snob. Often.

29. Jamie is a writer. She'll deny this until she's 100 (fml if I have to come up with ANOTHER list), but the girl can write. She should do it more.

30. Look in the dictionary under loyal. Pretty sure you'll see Jamie's face. (Hopefully she wasn't scowling that day....should be okay if the picture wasn't taken in November through April.)

31. Jamie is beautiful. Inside and out.  No make-up required. *ducks*

32. Jamie is a romantic. She'll deny this, but check her bookshelf. She also appreciates thriller, slight paranormal, and anything written by me :-D

33. The world could be ending, the sky falling, but if I need Jamie for anything, she will be there. Like a rescue mission to Rocky Mountain House when I was in way over my head at a motor bike ralley :-/

34. Jamie has the innate ability to make friends with everyone. The hotel security guard. Her hairdresser. Random stranger on the street. Must be her empathy. (Sucka!)

35. Jamie is a great listener. She listens to me. A lot. (Might also be why she loves wine.)

36. Jamie is a connoisseur of coffee. Tim Hortons. 1/2 water. One sweetner. Two milk.'s been a while. I may be off on that :-/ She also enjoys Starbucks. And the Italian Center. Our favorite meeting place.

37. Jamie gives the best advice. On everything from boys (ah, I pity those younger years, my friend) to work, to writing, to general life ups and downs. I have benefitted from her wisdom.

38. Jamie is a problem solver. Thank goodness, since I seem to have had a LOT of problems in the past 15+ years.

39. Jamie has terrible sense of direction. This makes her quite adorable - though, sometimes, it is the cause of much stress in our friendship. I love that she'd rather hand over the keys than brave the unknown. This has changed with GPS. Technology.

40. Jamie loves Apple products. We have this in common. (Sometimes, she shares her cool programs.)

41. Jamie gives kick ass hugs.

42. Jamie is selfless. Overly. I hope for the next 50 years she becomes a little more selfish. She's earned that - and then some.

43. Jamie is great for my vocabulary. Over the years, I've picked up phrases such as "dry as a Buffalo fart" - said lovingly after I neglected to put butter on a cheese bagel we split back in the days of working at Chapters. Some of the other words she's taught me maybe aren't appropriate for this post.

44. Jamie is sympathetic. Whether I've lost a love or broken a nail. I hurt, she hurts. (Okay, slight exaggeration. If I broke a nail, she'd a) tell me to suck it up and b) show me her beautiful shellac nails.)

45. Jamie used to be a figure skater. How cute is that?!

46. Jamie has an amazing smile. It literally lights up a room. She also has an impressive scowl. Watch for this on milestone birthdays, and again, throughout the months of November to April. But after that? Brilliant!

47. Jamie is the BEST email writer. Really gets her point across. Actually, drills it into your brain. It's best if you're on her good side when she writes one. (See #1) She also has a good handle on how to block email, or at least give you the illusion she has blocked you, returning an email seemingly "unread."

48. Jamie would be just as happy lounging in a secluded cabin reading for a weekend as she would be taking surfing lessons on the beach. Someday, I hope we'll have the chance to do both. I love the adventurer in her.

49. Jamie loves me. Unconditionally. Warts and all. (I think...this week, probably....for SURE after today...)

50. Jamie is one of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. We've had our ups and downs, we've weathered some freaky storms and come out the other side in one piece (barely), but when push comes to shove, you couldn't ask anyone better to stand by your side.

Happy birthday, babe. I love you with infinity.

- Dawn

Monday, January 21, 2013

A PUREly awesome muse (cheesy, I know)

I love James Purefoy.


I've loved him since the movie A Knight's Tale, and even pretend cast him in the role of my protagonist's love interest should the book ever be optioned for television. A pipe dream at the time, because a) the book wasn't optioned and b) he's a movie star, right?

Oh, how things have changed. Although the book was optioned for development of a TV show, I'm not quite optimistic enough to think James Purefoy would be cast for a role. BUT, James is heading back to TV - TONIGHT. Yeah, I know, he's been there before, but this fantastic evening is the premiere of a new series I am freaking stoked about - The Following. It's a thriller starring James as the serial killer and Kevin Bacon as the cop. Kevin Bacon! Jump back!

The hype around this show, and it's penchance for all things horror, has me dancing on tippy toes with anticipation. "Too much for mainstream TV?" Now that's a question from the critics I'm itching to know the answer to, as well.

I'm probably more excited about this show than I am still upset about the cancellation of 24. Yeah, I know it was years ago (I'm still reeling), and they two shows have nothing in common, except that their leading men have a huge place in my heart. (I miss you Jack Bauer!) But the emotions of happiness and sadness are virtually on parallel.

James is a perfect muse avatar today, as I launch into the third week of January and a year of resolutions. Not only will his near-perfect image fuel my imagination, but James' premiere on The Following tonight has inspired me to pound out today's words quickly so I can actually watch the show live. And then again on the PVR.

Holy cow, it had better be good.

This past week was tough slugging. My crazy trainer upped the workout regime, offering more pain - and more of a time commitment. The day job required extra attention to finish off a couple of cool projects, which meant some weekend work. Eating healthy means more time cooking and meal planning. And writing 9,590 words, well, that proved to be a challenge.

But I did it.

That's enough to make me smile on what is statistically supposed to be the saddest day of the year.

Happy Blue Monday!

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

2013 Resolutions Stats

Wordcount (Jan 7-14): 9,600 
Total words to date for 2013: 26,997

Total pounds lost: 3
Total pounds lost for 2013: 8

Books Completed (reading): 1 (Review this week)

Movies Watched: 0

Pamper Moment: Yikes! Forgot.

Calendar worthy pictures: 0 - but wow, have I been having fun on Instagram.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The return of the muse - again

Experts claim it takes 21 days to form a habit. 21 days to not dread going to the gym, or stop craving a Diet Coke when you've resolved to quit. Three weeks. How hard can that be?

Pretty hard, actually.

I'm one week shy of that magical number of 21, but I'm feeling confident about the goals I've set for 2013.

It hasn't been easy and if ever there was any time I needed the push, it was last week. A series of long, complex meetings for the day job made working out and powering through those daily 1370 words - challenging.

But I like a challenge.

I've been trying to nail down what's different this time, why I seem to be more dedicated to the resolutions. I think it might actually have something to do with the reason for both of my major resolutions: Taking care of me.

Last year was a bit of a roller coaster - some major ups, and a couple of heartbreaking downs. I'm not quite over those yet, but I'm woman enough to know it's time to move on. At the end of the day, I spent far too much time trying to make others happy - and forgot that there were aspects of myself that needed work. Instead of wallowing into 2013, I employed some tools for success.

For the 50 pounds challenge, I engaged the help of a trainer, the extremely healthy and uber fit daughter of one of my closest friends. She's actually not a fitness professional, but I admire her attitude and commitment to her health - and she's changing my life. Because of Megan, I've developed a different attitude toward food and exercise. Instead of following the latest fad - as I am apt to do - I'm actually re-learning how to eat right, how to exercise properly, how to be healthy. Two weeks into my resolve I can feel, and see, the difference. Now that's motivation.

On the writing front, I've also had a change of heart. I've started working on three projects at once, but capping it at that (big change for me), and must write my 1370 words on those three projects only - until they are complete. When I get stuck on one, I open the other. While some days have been easier than others, the writing is getting done. Every day. My husband has been a huge help, as well. He knows that I have 1370 words to complete - so he gives me the space I need to complete them. Makes dinner. Brings me coffee. Rubs my shoulder with encouragement.

I've had to stop obsessing over first-draft "perfection" and just get the story out. I tend to get hung up on...the words magically aligning or something.

And of course, there's always the muse. 

I've had less time for TV. What doesn't get watched while I'm on the elliptical, stays on the PVR until I DO have down time. The Vampire Diaries returns to Thursdays this week, and though I've been a little off that show since my stepdaughter moved out and we no longer watch it together, Ian Somerhalder has a permanent place on my muse avatar roster.

Check out those eyes. It's like he's watching me. Well okay then, Ian, watch me haul ass on those 1370 words a day this week and supervise me during Megan's crazy awesome workout program. I don't mind. Really. Go forth and inspire. And watch really closely...

Happy Monday!

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: An Abundance of Katherines, John Green

2013 Resolutions Stats

Wordcount (Jan 7-14): 9,597 Total words to date for 2013: 17,397
Total pounds lost: 2 Total pounds lost for 2013: 5
Books Completed (reading): 0
Movies Watched: 0
Pamper Moment: Buying myself a new moleskin notebook
Calendar worthy pictures: 0 

Note: While I have not completed reading a book yet, I have two on the go and am almost finished both. I have not watched any movies, but have caught up on some TV, which, in essence, is also research for my craft. And lastly, while I have not taken any "calendar-worthy" pics, I have taken a lot of pics, especially while hubs and I snowshoe, our new obsession.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New year, not-so-new muse

The winter TV season kicked into gear this month, which means a buffet of tasty new shows, and a return of some of my faves. Like Lost Girl.

I freaking love this show. Sure, it's a bit cheesy sometimes, and I don't love the main character. But it's Canadian, and what I'm missing in the lead's role, I get IN SPADES with the supporting cast. Like Dyson.

Played by Chris Holden Reid, Dyson is a cop, and the main love interest of the protagonist, who is a succubus faery. Dyson is smart, sexy and fun. Oh yeah, and he's a werewolf.

This week, he's my muse avatar. There isn't any deep justification for this other than the show is back (squee!) and he's hot. And maybe - if I'm lucky - he'll help me get over my Jax Teller obsession (Sons of Anarchy) until the show returns next fall (gasp). Go forth and inspire, my friend.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: An Abundance of Katherines, John Green

2013 Resolutions Stats

Wordcount (Jan 1-7): 7,800 (on target for 500,000 words/yr or 1300/day)
Total pounds lost: 3
Books Completed (reading): 0
Movies Watched: 0
Pamper Moment: Bottle of Therapy wine. (no really, that's the brand. Therapy.)
Calendar worthy pictures: 0

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lucky 2013 - The Year of the 5

A neighbourhood cat accompanied me on my walk last night. I've never seen this little girl before, and to be honest, I'm not much of a cat person*, but as she plodded along next to me in the chill, I was grateful for her company.

It didn't occur to me until halfway through my phone conversation with a friend that the cat was black - and if I was an overly superstitious person, I might have envisioned all kinds of doom and gloom for the year. But she was a beautiful little thing - as far as cats go - and she acted more like a guardian angel than a harbinger of death.

Of course, she also made me think of the protagonist in my thriller series, Cait Willis, a skeptic reporter with a knack for debunking urban myths - and getting in trouble. I'll be writing a lot more about Cait in the next 12 months - her second story is one of the five projects I hope to complete in 2013. Ambitious? Perhaps, but it's part of my resolution theme centered on the number five.

Why five?

Well, some of it has to do with the fact that my bestie turns 50 this year. While she struggles with the number, I'm going to honor her awesomeness by making this The Year of the Five.

I have a strong contingent of amazing writerly and readerly friends who have contributed to my career - from serious mentorship, to beta reading, to simply feeding my sometimes needy ego (we ARE a sensitive bunch). But the leader has always been Jamie. From the beginning of this often rocky journey, she has been my biggest fan. My first - and fastest - reader. My most honest critic. In the words of Stephen King, she is my Ideal Reader - and often, the person I most want to impress at the end of the book. If the IR isn't happy, I know I've missed my mark.

The number five also is symbolic for several resolutions (writerly and otherwise) I always make, and seldom achieve.

I try not to beat myself up over missed New Year's resolutions - I have enough life/work pressure without tacking on more. But, like November is to my NaNoWriMo obsession, January is to making promises to myself. A superstitious person might argue that 2013 may be an odd year (literally and figuratively!) to push for resolution success, but maybe I'm a little like Cait and declaring this a lucky year, no matter what the numbers say.

So, in honor of my dear friend (who does not look a day over 30), and to debunk the "unlucky 13" myth, here are my five 2013 New Year's Resolutions:

1. Write 500,000 words. Sounds daunting, I know. But break it down and it's 1,300 words a day. I'm not pinning the words on any specific project - novels, screenplays, short stories, and even poetry (ha ha, just kidding...I can't write poetry) all count. (Blogs, sadly, do not. Neither does non-fiction writing unless it's the documentary I'm writing - so all day job writing is out.) Sounds like a lot of rules, right? But actually, it's the most flexible I've been. Words towards any project is still words - and that can only better my craft.

2. Lose 50 pounds. Yeah, it's a big one. But honestly, I've been trying to lose the same 50 pounds for several years. This year I'm getting serious. I've enlisted the help of a trainer who will either motivate or kill me. 50 is the target...but it may end up that I only need to lose 25. Regardless, I'm striving for better health.

3. Take 50 pride-worthy photographs. I have a really nice camera. I have extensive photography experience. Heck, I was a photo journalist for seven years and took some damn good photos once upon a time. I miss it. So, by the end of 2013, I'm shooting for (ha!) 50 photos I'm proud of. Maybe I'll make a calendar or something ;-)

4. Read 50 books and watch 50 movies. 2012 was a defining year for my career. I entered the world of television and movie writing, and decided it isn't as scary as I once thought. In fact, it's fun. I am represented by the amazing Anna Archer of Lucas Talent (one of Canada's top script agencies) and one of my projects was optioned for development of a TV series. Exciting, yes! But my first love will always be books. I spent more time watching TV than reading last year (hey you, Sons of Anarchy, you kind of rocked my world. Likewise Revenge, Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Dexter, Game of Thrones, True Blood and...well, you get the idea) and I'm feeling it. SO MANY BOOKS CAME OUT THAT I DID NOT READ! And as the story goes, you can't write if you don't read. This year, I'm gunning for 50 books (half of last year's goal, and twice as much as I actually read), and, because I need to keep understanding scriptwriting and storytelling for the screen, I'm throwing in 50 movies.

5. And lastly, 50 moments of pampering. Sounds luxurious, right? Well, my 50 pampering moments may not include a spa treatment, but they will include things I do for myself. Maybe it's register for a cooking class. It might be going for a long drive, or buying a new CD. Perhaps I'll indulge in a gelato, or treat myself to a latte from the Italian Centre. It might even be just spending time with a friend. Regardless, by the end of the year, I'm logging 50 things I did for me.

That's it, friends. My resolutions for 2013. You making any? Here's to wishing we all meet our personal goals, and that this year brings you health, good fortune, happiness - and luck.

- Dawn

* Though it's doubtful I'd ever own a cat (or that my three dogs would not eat said cat), I DO like OTHER people's cats, especially kittens!

The Book In My Bag: An Abundance of Katherines, John Green