Reins or coattails?

The haunted house event is official in its countdown to opening day — volunteers have started receiving their instructions, lists of jobs printed off and the layout finalized. The students are buzzing with excitement and my amazing team of adult supervisors has everything well in hand.

So the question is: am I holding the reins, or doing my best to keep up with everyone else?

Going to be one heck of a ride! I’m reminded of my daughter getting pulled off her feet by our dog on her leash, or of being swept along in the crowd of enthusiastic fans, amazed and slightly stunned at the phenomenon. And I’m full of anticipation for this year, because with the addition of more people to help, we have so many new ideas to try and resources on which to rely. Donations of costuming and fabric and set pieces have started coming in, thanks to our team, and our advertising is going to be on point (again, thanks to the team). So it feels, too, that last year was really about establishing the footing for the event and now, it really gets to shine.

The purposes of the whole endeavour are to raise funds to help fix up the old theatre, as well as put monies in the Drama Club bank account for future productions and trips, but it’s also about involving young people in local theatre, contributing to community togetherness, and providing entertainment for our citizens.

One thing is for certain: I don’t think the event would be at this stage if it were me trying to pull it together alone, like last year. I’m extremely grateful to my friends. And crazy as it sounds, I’ve started to experience that odd phenomena that happens to theatre folk — thinking ahead to the next project, even before this one is finished. I do that with the writing, too. Have to rein myself in and remember to get the one underway completely before my attention moves on!

I put together a trailer to whet our appetites, using pictures from last year’s event, and I’ll do another as soon as our opening night is complete and I have shots of our fresh displays and jump scares. Hoping to do another walk-through, as well.

Send us your positive thoughts! And if you happen to be in my neck of the Canadian woods later this October, stop by the theatre for a refreshing fright . . .

Survival Tactics for the Final Weeks

The last day of classes has come and gone, and exams begin tomorrow. 

I should be feeling some relief but my job is far from over, and the pressure continues . . . 

In previous years, I’ve spent the last two weeks swamped in marking. I’m still swamped, but I’ve chosen to participate in this play, to unwind a little in Shakespeare, although it’s not really unwinding in a sense — I’ve only put more on myself by doing this. And it’s not like it’s helping me a whole lot at work; I ended up having a crying fit this morning in the CYW’s office after a run-in with a disrespectful student, and I’ve got a persistent tightness in my upper left shoulder and the left side of my neck that I’m fairly certain is stress. Maybe some strain, too, from carrying the bags of marking around that I convince myself every night I’m going to get done . . .

But damnit, in spite of the time commitment and the bug bites, I’m having a fantastic experience attending rehearsals and learning my lines, playing a part in a show with awesome people. I’m doing something for me that will be over in two weeks. I think it’s doing something good amongst all the demands. 

Here’s my backstage view — it’s riddled with caterpillars and swarming with blackflies, mosquitoes the size of your thumb, and itty-bitty no-see-imd, some of which were off-put by my liberal application of that Shoo-fly soap from Blackberry Creek (tomorrow I may have to bring it with me, as well as a bottle of water, or a backup bottle of Off Deep-Woods). 

 

See that little path leading up to the rocks? That’s where I get to make my entrance!

  

Pretty much the same shot, but isn’t the lighting nice in this one?

  

I’m hoping that the crew will be able to put a roll of carpet down here, though — I’m a bit worried about tripping.

  

There’s trouble brewing under that hat!

 

Just some photos from my day…

I spent my afternoon in the park at rehearsal (plus ferrying my daughter to a friend’s birthday party and back again). It was lovely, but the fresh air and busy week have worn me out. Enjoy these pics from today, and I’ll see you tomorrow! 

 

part of my process is to write out my lines as prose, so i can find the tone and begin internalizing

  

the spider wasn’t my only visitor — i was landed on my a ladybug and two caterpillars! i think the ladybug pooped on me… they have scratchy feet, too

  

getting to know each other

  

set free to eat mosquitoes! do you think spiders are ever envious of other bugs with wings?

  

(Keep your fingers crossed that today’s good weather continues for the next two weeks!) 

A Gnome Lost and Found

One day in June last year, I went outside and discovered that my garden gnome was missing. I asked around, put a notice up on a community Facebook page, but he’d simply disappeared.

  
I hoped, at the time, that somebody was playing a prank on me and would maybe send me funny notes and pictures of my kidnapped garden ornament. Like this one time, a colleague kidnapped my flying screaming chicken that I occasionally randomly flung across the staff room in her general direction. She sent me ransom notes and eventually returned my chicken, even though it was strung up in a noose over my desk. 

Sadly, no such light-hearted miracle happened with my gnome. I thought he’d fallen victim to hooligans and used for target practice in a local sand pit. Smashed on a road during some hooligans’ drunken carousing. No photos turned up of my gnome’s travels around the world, or in funny poses. 

It’s silly, really, that I was and still am bothered by the taking of my gnome. But he was my garden guard. He occupied a space in my front yard, gave it kitschy character. Plus, who the hell just up and steals a person’s garden ornament? 

I vowed that the next time I got an awesome garden gnome, I would fill it with concrete, or glue it to a concrete post and sink it into the ground. You see, I have great plans for acquiring more garden gnomes — specifically, novelty ones, like the awesome gnome-eating Kaiju on ThinkGeek, or the zombie gnome on the same site. They’ve introduced a line of Star Trek gnomes, too! (Thanks for the heads-up on the Redshirt gnome, Chris!)

  
My wonderful neighbours up the street gave me two new Seven Dwarf-style garden gnomes last week. I haven’t thief-proofed them yet. Still need to pick up the cement stuff. (No idea how to do that, really.)

But looking at my two new gnomes made me wonder what happened to Gerome, my original gnome. 

And then . . . This morning, I had to walk to school because my hubby was out of town with our car. It’s coming close to Spring Clean-up, so lots of people have been putting trash and treasures out on the sidewalk for upcyclers to hunt through before the big dump trucks haul everything away to the landfill. Neighbours around the corner whom I’ve never met personally but have heard doing personal things (AHEM) through their open windows have put out various bits and pieces, including an old filing cabinet. Its drawers were piled next to it. And in one, staring up at the sky, barely catching my eye, was my gnome.

I couldn’t believe it. I stopped and stared, pointed and chortled with happiness. And while my son watched, bemused, I retrieved Gerome from his prison / eventual tomb, and I carried him to school with me. 

 

The return of Gerome! (Yeah, that’s a late May snowfall behind there.)

 
He’s a little worse for wear since he was taken from my yard. His rake was damaged, and his paint chipped. But I told his story to my colleagues and my students, standing him on the window ledge behind my desk for the day (after washing him off) before I could bring him home again. 

Thinking maybe of keeping Gerome in the back yard this time. That, or learning how to fill him with quick-dry, this weekend. 

I’d still like to know what really happened to him. And what would compel someone to take him? Why would they break his rake? Should I have papered the neighbourhood, asking for his return? Why am I making such a big deal out of this? I mean, I can’t simply assume that they neighbours took it — that would be a case of circumstantial evidence. Still . . .

What are your theories? Who took Gerome, and why?

Fandoms and Artists and Writers, oh my!

A couple of shout-outs to some awesome people I’ve recently met through my love for fandoms:

  • A number of weeks ago, I bought earrings from Nerdy But Still Girly, and when my purchases came, I was bowled over by the thoughtfulness of the packaging itself — personalized box, tasty bunny sucker candy, and each set of handmade earrings individually packaged in sweet little bags. I wore the custom-ordered Outlander earrings she made for me on Sunday at ComicCon. Definitely ordering more awesome earrings from her in the future!
  • Montreal Wolverine and his team of X-Men cosplayers were fantastic at Ottawa ComicCon, raising money for Breast Cancer Research (Claws for Bras!). I was so impressed not only by his dedication to the cause and the part he was playing, but also his creativity with improvising tableaux. He’s on Facebook — check him out! (And my face on the bike, ha ha…)DSC_0653
  • Victoria Dunne and her crew behind the book                                Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies — I got my face zombified on a pin at their booth, bought a signed and personalized copy of the book from them, and got to take home a handmade crocheted 1st Doctor. Plus, we chatted about writing and publishers, and they gave me a great tip on who to approach with my snowmobiling novel for reluctant readers!

And these are just a few of the fantastic people I met. If I get time tomorrow, I’ll post a pic of the lovely steampunk necklace I bought, and information about the artisan, along with highlights from ComicCon. I firmly believe that kindness and generosity and being genuine are essential parts of the successful small business or fundraising enterprise, and these individuals are all excellent examples of how to accomplish those things. When you love your fans and appreciate them — we know it.

365 Days of Blogging: Personal Writing Challenge ACCEPTED

I woke up late on New Year’s Day and thought about this blog and about being a writer and all of the things that that means. I want writing to be a daily habit (it nearly is). Why not challenge myself to write a blog post a day for the next 365 days? Make 2015 my Year of Blogging Dangerously? accepted2

I debated keeping it to myself, but if I post it, maybe that will keep me honest. 😀

So there you go, Internet. I am unleashing my inner authorly Kraken.

Brace yourselves! IMG_4589 IMG_4766 IMG_4904

2014 in review: Blogging for me, you, and the universe

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

————

This was an interesting read. It was neat to see the comparisons to understand how many individuals took a peek at my musings, and to note the days when I was most likely to add to it. (Thought to ponder: what if I posted something every day for a whole year? Could I do that, or is that biting off more than I could chew?)

It was also very cool to see that people had clicked on my blog from different parts of the world! Shout-out and heartfelt thanks to my readers in Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, France, Argentina, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the USA. Honestly, clicking on the map to see that someone somewhere on our little blue planet decided to click on my link and look at my words makes it all feel incredibly worthwhile. It’s the same feeling as a reviewer agreeing to read one of my books, or a publisher offering to back my work: beautiful validation that I have a voice worth hearing and giving attention to, when most of the time it feels like my words are entering an empty void. I look at the map and see that the void doesn’t really exist. I see it a little like the tesseract in Interstellar: an endless virtual library in which somebody poked at the spine of a body of writing, and it happened to be mine. You’re inspiring me to want to do more, say more, and see what you think.

I was doing promotional work last year with my books, too, but there came a point of burn-out (physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially), work that I have to get back into if I want readers to pick up my novels and see what they’re all about. My third book, Crystal and Wand, is nearly ready to be sent into the publisher, and then hopefully it will be released sometime this spring. One thing I learned in 2014 is that so much of writing is promotion, requiring a different expenditure of energy than plotting and character development, and it can be exhausting. Doubly-so when writing (and promoting it) is in addition to working a full-time job and being a parent and a partner. Thankfully I have a very supportive and loving family.

I’d really like to try posting something every day this year, even if it’s small, just to see if I can. I’ll bring you on my writing journeys, if you like, keeping you up-to-date on the status of the final book of the Talbot Trilogy, the constant battle of my laundry, the repetitive struggle to find optimal organization in our little house, and the challenges of managing chronic depression and anxiety as they worsen with SAD — I’m making more of an effort to get my kids outside with skiing (alpine and cross-country) and snowshoeing, which will hopefully help. Of course, it would be nicer if my house were clean when I left it to go enjoy the outdoors. It always seems like I have to choose how to use my energy: it’s either cleaning or recreation outside, but rarely both in the same day.

I take my leave of you for now, dear readers. We’re wrapping up the Star Wars Trilogy (original movies 4-6, using the [unfortunately] remastered Blu Ray discs — don’t even get me started on the damned “fixes” that Lucas put in. Han shot first! — and Not watching Episodes 1-3, thank you), my son’s request. He wants to start a family tradition of watching the whole trilogy every New Year’s Day from now on, while we take down our holiday decorations. It’s a good idea. Certainly made for an enjoyable afternoon and evening.

Someday, I would like to decorate and furnish our home to deliberately reflect all of our fandoms: Star Trek (the series which first brought my hubby and I together), Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Willow, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Attack on Titan, the Marvel Universe, steam punk, vampires, the Walking Dead, Anne of Green Gables, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kaiju (Godzilla included) . . . I know, it’s a pretty eclectic mix. What can I say? We are a weird bunch! I think I’m basically longing for our comfortable abode to become a wonderland of fantasy and science-fiction. How to do it without making it gaudy, though? Hmm . . .

new year 2015