Wednesday, September 12, 2012

End of Sohow*

The sheep explain why this blog is going silent for the foreseeable future. I'll be back if I've something to announce - let's hope that day dawns sooner rather than later. As for now...back to actual writing - not writing about writing.  Thanks to all of you for reading this blog and...

stay tuned.

Be well.

Silence. Darkness.

WRITER: (timidly) Hello?


WRITER: (louder) Hello?


WRITER: (even louder) Is anyone here?

There is the flash of a match being struck and a lantern lit in the distance. A white shape becomes visible.

SHEEP #1: Yes?

WRITER: Are you one of the writing sheep?

SHEEP #1: Yes.

WRITER: I thought you lived somewhere else.

SHEEP #2: We’re everywhere.

SHEEP #3: If you need us, we will come.

SHEEP #1: That’s dangerously close to plagiarism.

SHEEP #2: It’s a phrase which has become part of the vernacular which a huge compliment to the author of said phrase.

WRITER: Can they not handle the truth?

SHEEP #3: (pointing a hoof) Don’t start.

SHEEP #2: Ignore them. (takes a step forward) How can we help?

WRITER: I just wondered…

SHEEP #1: Don’t use that word.

WRITER: What word? Wondered?

SHEEP #1: No; just. 

SHEEP #2: We hate that word.

SHEEP #3: It clutters up manuscripts.

WRITER: Sorry.

SHEEP #1: Don’t worry. This is your first draft. ‘Just’ at will.

WRITER: I wondered what you get asked the most.

SHEEP #2: Our best bits of wisdom?

SHEEP #3: Our greatest hits?

SHEEP #1: Easy. Stop reading about writing and write.

WRITER: Excuse me?

SHEEP #2: Why? What did you do?

SHEEP #1: Did you leave a mess? Do we need a mop?

SHEEP #2: Have you ever noticed that the mop looks a lot like Uncle Murray?

SHEEP #1 & #3: Poor Uncle Murray.

WRITER: What happened?

SHEEP #1: It was a tragic case of A Fence Too Far. Well, too high, really.

SHEEP #2: We’ve digressed.

SHEEP #3: Sorry.

WRITER: You were saying…

SHEEP #1: Writers need to write. It sounds simplistic, but it’s not. It’s far easier to read about writing or write about writing --

SHEEP #2: Or talk about writing.

SHEEP #3: Don’t get me started. Get thee behind me, Facebook!

SHEEP #1: If you want to finish something, then finish it. Writing is work. 

SHEEP #2: Sometimes I think it was easier when writers were up in their chilly attics, pounding away on their typewriters.

SHEEP #1: Or dipping their pen nibs into bottles of ink.

SHEEP #3: Taking a break to warming their chilblained fingers before a flickering coal fire.

All three sheep sigh.

SHEEP #1: But now, you’re all posting status updates and commenting on blogs and tweeting and pinning and complaining you’ve got no time to write.

WRITER: You’re right.

SHEEP #1: Of course we’re right. 

SHEEP #2: We’re the sheep.

SHEEP #3: Go away now. Write.

WRITER: Yes, sir. (writer leaves)

Sheep #1 blows out the lantern. In the dark:

SHEEP #2: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

*It's a Sorkin thing.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Greetings from England

Yes, I made it. Yes, I'm thrilled. But yes, I'm lonely. But...I am beginning work on a new book and I spent the last two days...


Thus beginneth Elspeth's Excellent English Adventure.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Hiatus Until July...

My life is about to change...

I'm moving to England for the summer. I'll pick up this blog once I'm there and settled. 

I hope you'll all check in!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Something to Ponder

I've been pondering many things lately.

How to wrap up two more murder mystery games. Whether I should begin mapping my romantic comedy manuscript. How many pop tarts I really could eat in one sitting, if I put my mind to it.

And most importantly, what new direction I need to take with this blog. It's stagnating. So, here's where YOU come in - what have you liked and what would you like to see more of? Extra points if you mention the sheep. Even more points if you know what I'm talking about.

I'm not sure when my next post will be.

But in the meantime, here's the best commencement speech EVER - delivered by one of the greatest writers EVER - Aaron Sorkin.

Here's the text: Aaron Sorkin's Commencement Speech at Syracuse

Monday, May 14, 2012

10 Signs You're NOT in the Zone

Have you ever had one of those days when you're trying to write a blog post and you have no words? Seriously. No words. 

What is a blogger to do?

This is what this blogger does - she reruns one of her more popular posts about not being in the zone. Irony is amusing.

Let's hope I've found some words by Wednesday - or at least (considering what I post on Wednesday) some pictures.

Happy Monday to all.

10. Just one more game of Solitare (or Free cell or Angry Birds or...). Just one. Oops, where did that hour go?

9. Notice you've used the word 'pretty' twice. Not in the same paragraph; the same sentence.

8. (If you write mysteries) Your sleuth is about to have his/her big 'aha' moment. This is when you realize there is no logical way they could have leapt to the solution.

7. Realize your fingers are cramping because they've been frozen over the keyboard for such a long time.

6. It's been so long since you've looked at your WIP that when you actually open up the document you have to spend considerable time re-reading it because you have no idea what's going on.

5. Congratulations; you've just forgotten your main character's name.

4. You've only got half an hour to write and you're determined to make it count. Okay, just one more game of solitaire and you're going to start.

3. Your pet just came into the room, yawned and left. He knows.

2. You've been popping about the internet completing vital research. How is it possible that your computer's screen is showing travel packages to Tahiti?

1. You've achieved a new high score in  Solitare (or Free cell or Angry Birds or...). It's time well-spent.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fun Friday

As I promised in last week's Fun Friday post, here's more incredible photos I was sent in an email.
Have a great weekend, everyone and Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate this Sunday.

In  the Chinese province of Shandong this bridge crosses the Gulf of Jiaozhou. The bridge stretches over 36 km and has eight car lanes. It is the longest sea bridge in the world. 

A computer store in Paris. In fact, the floor is absolutely flat. I'm sure I would trip.

Here's something you don't want to be stuck in! A 260 kilometre traffic jam in China.

An unusual  tunnel in California's Sequoia National  Park. We've got a similar one here in Vancouver in Stanley Park.
 This statue created by Bruno Catalano is located in France. 

The same monument in Kaunas, Lithuania seen at day and then at night.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Writing Game

Some of us write about this...

while some write about this...

and if you're a mystery writer (like me) you write endless versions of this...

But really, we're all writing about this...

There are the days when you feel as if you're playing this...

or this...

and even the days you feel as if you're playing this...

But we all need to play this...

and make our characters play this...

and remember no one ever has this...

on this...
And trust that one day you'll be playing this...

Because you have created a this.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Opening Lines

photo credit

I began a new manuscript the other day. It was an accident. Truly, it was. I had meant to simply write down (because I've learned the lesson of If Thou Writeth It Not, Thou Shalt Forget) a first sentence which jumped into my head before I went to sleep the night before. I wrote the sentence. Then I wrote the next one. Then I wrote another. You know where this is going, don't you? Before I knew it, I had over 5,000 words in one sitting.

I was (to use a good English expression) gobsmacked. This has never happened to me before. I took it as a good sign. I shall tease you with this - it takes place in modern day Canada. It's a comedy. No one dies. Not even by choking on a rubber chicken.

Here are some of my favourite first lines from authors far more talented than myself. 

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.
A.A. Milne - Winnie the Pooh

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?'
Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit

Who's there?
William Shakespeare - Hamlet

"Mrs Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat."
Neil Gaiman - Chivalry

"All children, except one, grow up"
J.M. Barrie - Peter Pan

Early this morning, 1st January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenous Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days.
PD James - Children of Men

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell - 1984

James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.
Ian Fleming - Goldfinger

The last camel died at noon.
Ken Follet - The Key to Rebecca

They both wore thin rubber masks.
Dick Francis - Bonecrack

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.
Ruth Rendall - A Judgement in Stone

Please share your favourite first line - or your favourites!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Fun Friday

Another Fun Friday post courtesy of one of my email correspondents. These pictures are amazing and she sent me so many that I'll make part two next week's post.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

This restaurant is situated on the east coast of Zanzibar. Depending on the tide the restaurant can be reached both on foot or by boat. 

Desert with Phacelia  (Scorpion Weed) in flower.

 Balloons  in Cappadocia, Turkey.

 Here's the view from the skyscraper BurjKhalifa in Dubai. The building is 163 floors high. 

And this is the view down. 

These  trees grow in a forest near Gryfino, Poland. The cause of the curvature is  unknown. 

Sting rays migrating through the the Gulf of Mexico. About 10 thousand  stingrays swim from the Yucatan Peninsula to Florida in the spring and  back in the fall. 

More next week....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All Work and No Play...

When you're busy doing this...

It's very easy to feel like this...


(let's be honest)

Our writing to get a wee tad this...


Take a moment to do this...

And do your equivalent of this...

Or do this...

Go outside and count the new this...

Although if you're me, it's easier to count the new this...

Listen for this...

and trust me...

Your writing will go from this...

to this.


At least, you'll feel better.

It's a start.

Monday, April 30, 2012

And Then There Were ...

I'm dealing with a bad back, so I give you this in my place.

Someone give this animal an Oscar.

Just a suggestion. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fun Friday

I know this has made the rounds before, but when a friend sent it to me the other day, I giggled as if for the first time.

Blessings also to all teachers teaching Grade One. The very thought gives me a mighty thirst. Have a great weekend, everyone!

A Grade One school teacher had twenty-six students in her class. She presented each child in her classroom the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It's hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6-year-olds, because the last one is a classic! We know what he (or she) heard around the house!

Don't change horses 
until they stop running 
Strike while the 
bug is close.. 
It's always darkest before 
Daylight Saving Time. 
Never underestimate the power of 
You can lead a horse to water but 
Don't bite the hand that 
looks dirty. 
No news is 
A miss is as good as a 
You can't teach an old dog new 
If you lie down with dogs, you'll 
stink in the morning. 
Love all, trust 
The pen is mightier than the 
An idle mind is 
the best way to relax. 
Where there's smoke there's 
Happy the bride who 
gets all the presents. 
A penny saved is 
not much. 
Two's company, three's 
the Musketeers. 
Don't put off till tomorrow what 
you put on to go to bed. 
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and 
you have to blow your nose. 
There are none so blind as 
Stevie Wonder. 
Children should be seen and not 
spanked or grounded. 
If at first you don't succeed 
get new batteries. 
You get out of something only what you 
see in the picture on the box. 
When the blind lead the blind 
get out of the way. 
A bird in the hand 
is going to poop on you. 
And the WINNER and last one! 
Better late than