New Resource & Giveaway Alert: The Occupation Thesaurus Writing Guide Is Here!

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share...a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I'm part of their street team. I'm handing the blog over to them so they can tell you a bit about their Writer's Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!

Certain details can say a lot about who someone is, like a character's goals, desires, and backstory wound. But did you know there's another detail that can tie your character's arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the "get to know the character" curve for readers?

It's true. Your character's occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.

Think about much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?

Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven't thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character's personality, interests, and skills. It's okay, you aren't alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. You'll be able to pick the perfect job for them and discover how to weave it into the very fabric of the story. (Here's one of the jobs profiled in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)


To celebrate the release of a new book, Becca and Angela are running a giveaway from July 20th and July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within the Writer's Showcase. Stop by to enter if you like!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters!

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past.

What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right?

To access this list, GO HERE. 

Happy writing to all!

A Contemplative Study of Humanity...and Writing

Keep in mind that I am not a huge fan of television and, as such, I am incredibly judgmental and easily disinterested.

We just finished watching the Netflix series “Rectify.” I will mourn its end, but will savour and contemplate it for weeks to come. For those who like a good film or show, it is a slow burn with exemplary acting and a solid story line. 

For the writers who read my posts, buckle up. It is an endless lesson in craft. The dialogue is incredibly authentic. Simple and raw, it is peppered with the quietest sense of humour, bringing relief to the most angst-ridden moments. Conceptually it is metaphorical and philosophical, yet somehow remains grounded in earthy believability. The characters are drawn from (and the actors deliver) every man— people we all know...or someone we are. They’re thrown into this impossible “what if” situation. The writing has such contemplative depth and has the courage to let the space between the words speak for itself. It is a masterpiece of show don’t tell...both in the writing and acting. 

That’s it. All I’ve got to say. Check it out. Hopefully, it will help fill the void many of you are facing these days.

(Warning: Spoilers in the Vulture Article linked below.) 

There May Never Be a Show Like Rectify Again

I'm interested in history, in trying to relate the past to the present and to understand how people thought about their problems and pleasures. —Claire Tomalin

And so it begins...bagging and boxing, hoping my treasures travel safely to their new home.

I found packing my non-fiction books depressing. At first, I thought it was because it was like saying goodbye to old friends, but then I realized it was something else entirely. It was depressing because I registered how little time I’ve spent in their company in recent years. I miss them. I miss researching historical events and stumbling across minutia that make my heart hum. I miss writing historical fiction.

So as I placed them in their cartons and methodically dragged the tape across the top, snugging them closed, I made a promise to them and to me. If I can write YA and contemporary romance at the same time, why can’t I add a third? History will once again become my present.

Because an illusion is an illusion. Reality always exists despite the facade. ― Kasie West

A friend said that she doesn’t respond to my Facebook posts because they’re always so positive and they make her sick. Now, that is her unique and wonderful sense of humour shining through, but I’ve thought a lot about it. About how we present to the world, and the reality behind the pictures and posts. All is not what it seems. It never is.

There is a lot of ugly in the world, perhaps more so now than in many decades. In this day and age of social media platforms, the bombardment of negativity can be overwhelming. Many people use their Facebook as a place to vent, to share their frustrations, or to promote their political point of view. And that is absolutely fine. That is their choice, but it’s not mine. I share snippets of my life, for friends near and far. However, there is a caveat that led to my friend’s statement. I only share the positive which, I suppose, is not just misleading but somewhat disingenuous.

The posting of all things good creates the image of a seamless infallible life. While I believe I am blessed in so many ways, life is far from perfect. I have spent years writing, rewriting, agonizing over it, and rewriting again.  I’ve written far more than anyone will ever see. There are rejected novels and novellas in dormant folders on my computer, manuscripts sitting in a cabinet, yellowing with age. But what you see is a published author, thrilled to promote her books. This spring we worked endlessly on the yard, watering and weeding, cutting and digging sod until I literally popped a vein in my thigh, but what you see are lush gardens with vegetables and flowers in bloom. Due to a health scare, I reconsidered some of my choices. I began to work diligently at good eating and exercising, but what you see is—voilà—I’m looking better than I have in years.

Nobody’s life is flawless. Everybody experiences anguish and pain, worries and fears, and has to climb his/her own mountain, whatever it may be. This, of course, is not apparent in many posts, mine being no exception. But so often, the positivity of a photo is simply the trick of a distant lens. Zoom in and the reality can be very different.

These red chairs in my yard are the perfect metaphor. Look how wonderful they appear from far away. Look closer. Despite painstakingly sanding and painting them each spring, they actually are in terrible shape. And that is what we have to keep in mind when glowing images make us feel as though our own lives pale in comparison. Behind every cheery red chair, there is one cracked and peeling and dolloped in bird poop.

I am not a romantic, but even I concede that the heart does not exist solely for the purpose to pump blood. —Violet (Dowager Countess of Grantham)

I’m not much for television. I don’t even know the magical sequence of the myriad of controls that my husband uses to turn it on. During his absences, they lie dormant in a basket, and the house is filled with silence. Or music. Depends on my mood. But, as happens in everyone’s life, things change. This particular change has come in the form of Netflix. Oh my, what took us so long?

The absence of commercials is a terrific feature. Its intuitive design—tracking your viewing, knowing where you left off, analyzing your tastes and basing suggestions on them—well that’s crazy modern and downright convenient. The absolute best thing about it is that you can fall in love with a show and then just keep watching it. And watching it. And watching it. Which happened last month with Downton Abbey.

Now, I have always found the vast array of brainless gibber on television uninspiring and, often, downright irritating. I felt I gained nothing when I watched it, which led to years of avoidance. But apparently, I had simply been choosing the wrong programming. Not only was Downton Abbey vastly entertaining, it informed my writing.

It used every trope, some of them several times, and wrung every last drop of emotion from them: Edith’s rags to riches and Sybil’s riches to rags; Mary’s forbidden fruit…enemies to lovers, love triangle, friends to lovers, second chance at love (My, Mary was busy!); Violet’s strong character, a woman of steel with a heart of gold; The Grantham’s dabbling with the mid-life crisis in marriage. That’s a small sampling.

For me, there was no better story line than Anna and Mr. Bates. An unlikely pairing, they were perfectly suited but constantly challenged. Every time it looked as though they were going to enjoy their happy-ever-after, their worlds were torn apart. It is the stuff and business of romance novels. Seeing it play out on the screen, feeling the angst and rooting for their success, proved to me that it works. There is nothing entertaining about a smooth relationship. When all is well, put up a roadblock. Make them miserable. Give them hope. Then make it worse. The triumph in the end is so much sweeter for it.

There were so many small stories woven throughout, each one serving a purpose to the larger story. Poignant, philosophical, and at times, heart-wrenching, the tension is often broken by laugh-out-loud moments. It is an exemplary model of a writer’s craft enhanced by actors who are masters of show-don’t-tell and who have the courage to take the time needed with their lines. For it is often the spaces between the words that speak the loudest.

If I don’t post for a while, you’ll know what I’m up to—re-watching Downton Abbey. J

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Every once in a while, I catch a hint of fall on the mid-afternoon breeze. The evenings are cooling down quicker and the nights are getting a touch chillier. As autumn gently eases in, a sense of excitement grows within me. Renewal. Beginnings. Possibilities.

Maybe, it’s because for two thirds of my life I headed off to school each September. As a student, as a teacher, and as a principal, each new year was filled with anticipation. There was always so much to look forward to—new people, new learning, new experiences. The nerves days prior, the sleepless night before, and even the anxiety as I drew close to the school, were all part of the hype of a new year.

Conversely, it was also a return to the mundane and the predictable. Everything became scheduled. You knew when you’d be in motion and when you’d be sedentary. Even your body readjusted to timing the sating of simple physical needs like eating and using the washroom. And there was comfort in that, in knowing what comes next, in being back in routine. There was also satisfaction in it. I knew, without a doubt, I was going to accomplish something each and every day.

This week marks the fifth fall since my last return to a new school year, yet I still respond the same way. After a whirlwind summer of visitors, social outings, and many fabulous outdoor adventures, I am excited and ready to restructure my days and get back into the groove. My pencils are sharpened. My laptop is charged. Story lines are unrolling and I am anxious to get them down.

For me, autumn is not the beginning of the end of a year, but the first shiny season of a new one. May it be the same for you. Happy fall everyone!

Repetition doesn't create memories. New experiences do. —Brian Chesky

When was the last time you did something for the very first time?

This is a question posed by a friend of ours. She uses it to push herself into new adventures. Well, my husband and I took up the challenge and went sea kayaking for the very first time…and loved it! Our fantastic guide, Brian, from Wilderness Kayaking gave us the perfect first experience—a five-hour tour with a delicious picnic lunch on the shores of the stunning Sansum Narrows. We’ve already signed up for a moonlight kayaking outing during the next full moon. How awesome is that?

And, next week? We’re trying paddle boarding. I’m not sure the photos of that adventure will be as impressive. J Still, I’m totally pumped to give it a shot.

So, what say you? What’s your answer? When was the last time you did something for the very first time?