Of Writers and Prose: Putting ourselves into our novels.

Quill-And-Ink-Line-Art-300pxI finally watched the last two episodes of THE CROWN. In the ninth episode where Churchill is having his portrait pained, he gets into a rather deep discussion with the artist about his work. Churchill, trying to find some fault with the man and his work, cajoles him on the bleakness of one print in particular. The artist agrees, stating that it was painted during a mournful time in his life; right after his infant son died and then retaliates by pointing out that Churchill has painted one particular scene a multitude of times; a pond located on his property. The artist says he sees something in the way Churchill painted the water; something painful; emotions that lay deep under the surface. Churchill clams that he paints it often because he cannot get the look of the pond just right; that it eludes him. After a fashion, the statesman acknowledges that he built the pond short after his own young child died, and realises his own grief may be the reason he constantly paints this particular scene. It’s a beautifully poignant moment.

As artist, writers pour their hearts and soul into their work so it’s not unheard of that pieces of our lives, emotions or experiences also end up in there too. Even our hobbies can be added to give our characters a more realistic feel to them and possibly connect with readers. Sometimes, like Churchill we unconsciously add details about our lives into our work. For example, I worked at several restaurants in my youth and therefore I understand that particular world and what goes on behind closed doors. Just about all my stories have a scene where the characters are eating or at a restaurant. Even my short stories have a brief moment of foodie love in them. These are easy references that I am knowledgeable about, so I have no problem including them. This is how we make our characters more ‘real’ or three-dimensional. Every writer has some real life experience they can include in their stories to bring their characters to life and connect with readers. Bad experiences as well. Last summer I got into a fight with a bus stop sign and had a nice trip to the hospital via an ambulance. You can bet that at some point, I’m going to use that experience in a story. Everything about that day it etched into my memory; the way I felt, the ride, even my experience in the emergency room is still fresh. My only regret is that I should have asked the nurse to take a picture. Apparently I looked like I’d been in a horror movie.

Life experiences can add a world of colour to our stories, no matter what genre you write. Don’t be afraid of including even painful experiences. Chances are you’ll connect more with your readers, and in the end isn’t that what we all want?

A Darke Kind of Beauty: Brows; the frames of the eyes.

1980 called me. They want their eyebrows back.

I started plucking my brows in high school. Back then, thin was in. I kept it up through the 90’s until I discovered waxing and then I waxed them thin, but sometime in the last ten years or so, my poor hair follicles said enough and stopped growing back. Great, except now I’m left with thin brows and quite frankly, I don’t like that style anymore.

*sigh*

I’ve immersed myself in make-up tutorials on YouTube. One might say I’m addicted to them. I can’t help it and watching all these tutorials with models that have beautifully shaped brows started to bug me, so I decided it was time to do something about my poor brows. I decided to buy a few items and re-shape them. It’s been a learning curve as the only time I ever used brow products was during the 90’s when I wanted to enhance my thin brow.

So, after doing some research, and by that I mean watching hours of YouTube videos, I headed into Sephora. $110 later, I came out with these AND how to use them.

brows

Over the Easter weekend, I locked myself away in the bathroom twice a day and try to duplicate what the young girl at Sephora showed me. At first I was all “WHAT THE HELL THAT DOESN’T LOOK RIGHT!” and it took me thirty minutes to do both brows, but come Monday and my long work shift, I was ready in less than eight minutes for both.

Stencils are really neat. You basically just fill it in but determining what brow looks good on me is the tricky part. The package contains five and I followed the pictures on the back to determine where my brow should start, end and arch.

Using the pencil and the Promade to fill in was fun and they look a lot better, and just so you know, the other end is called a spoolie. I’m a lot happier with them now and I’ve noticed a few growing back in places so I think I’ll be able to reshape them gradually to something a little less thin.

Screw you 1980.

Writing Update: April 28th, 2017

writingupdateWhat a month! Between work and other thing (dental, ugh) I’m surprised I got any writing done at all, but I did.

So here we go . . .

WIP Novel #1:

Okay, this story is messing with me. First I thought it was magical realism, now I think it’s just plain urban fantasy. I don’t know. I had to go back and revise certain parts to make the story sound plausible (plot-wise) and I’m almost caught up to where I left off. I still have chapter five to go over, and less that 1k on chapter six written.  I have a working title for it too – EarthenStone. For now.

WIP Novel #2: Survival Rules

Again, another plot revision and I’m up to where I left off, but because the story has changed so dramatically most of what I have written from before won’t be salvageable. I may be able to use some of it, but not much. I mean, I’m talking about the very, first, draft when my character was a whiney twenty-something and I’ve turned her into a recovering addict, and mother with military background. I’m on chapter eight and I have fifteen written. I’m also wondering if I can hold to my promise that this story will be told in one book, and not spread out over several. I’m close to fifty-thousand words now and only half-way through the story. It was the one thing that drove me nuts when I read other zombie novels; I’d have to buy three or four more books before the characters were in a safe place. I have two other stories planned for this series and I’ve made them all stand-alone for that reason, but who will buy a zombie novel that’s close to a hundred-thousand words?

WIP Novel #3:

Have I mentioned that I’m back into my cyberpunk novel? I’m just not happy unless I’m torturing myself? I don’t know why this starting poking at me again, but it did. I’m close to finishing the second chapter.

 

I got a few less blog post written during the last month. A few were due to lack of material or time. I have to make the time to write out posts and take pictures. It takes a while to get into a habit of doing things. Maybe a bit more time.

 

How has your writing been going?

From the Recipe Box: The Monty Cristo Sandwich

Sithboy fell in love with this sandwich and I had to learn how to make it. First, some history: it’s believed that this sandwich derived from the French dish Croque Monsieur (which is an awesome dish in itself) and could be considered the origin of the grilled cheese sandwich we know now.  The version I made is quick and easy and based on how the restaurant we visit prepares the meal. It’s quite filling and I’ve added a few personal touches just to make it interesting.

 

1

Ingredients:

Shaved ham

Shaved turkey

Sliced Swiss cheese (two slices per sandwich)

Bread

One egg

1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp. maple syrup (NOT table syrup)

Mustard

Mayonnaise

Instructions:

Warm frypan on med/low heat.

Mix egg, milk and maple syrup. Wash one side of bread with egg wash and place on frypan.

Apply mustard.

Place one slice of cheese on the bread followed by some ham, turkey a second slice of cheese and another egg washed slice of bread with mayo on the opposite side.

Fry for 2-3 minutes and carefully flip and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Most places use a panini press which is a good idea. Saves from having to flip. The maple syrup is optional. While you can’t taste it in the sandwich, you get a hint of it flavour as you bite into it.

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Nail Art: Gel Nails and Dotting Tools

If you’ve been following my Instagram account, you know that about a year and a half ago I started posting pictures of my nail art. Most of it was on short nails because my nails have become weak and brittle. Gel nails solved that problem and I just learned that I can put regular nail polish on gel nails! Using nail polish remover (with or without acetone) doesn’t hurt the gel overlay! Yes, I tried it and the shiny surface appeared without a hint of discolouration or damage. I am so impressed, so you know what this means right?

BACK TO MY NAIL ART!

I came up with so many ideas in the last year and now I can work on making them happen.

One of the first nail art tools I bought were dotting tools. They’re inexpensive and easy to use, mind you, I had to get a feel for them first before I attempted anything. My tools came in a set of five, double-ended tools ranging in size.

dotting tools

Dotting Tools

Dotters are probably the easiest of nail art tools to use and perfect for beginners like me. They add a bit of flair to your manicure, and using them was way easier than the sponges for the gradient work I did in the summer. This was the first time I used them. After two coats of base polish (Revlon Red) dried, I put two large drops of black nail polish (My Gondola or Yours) on some paper and dipped the large end of my #5 dotting tool into it. I did a few test tries on the paper first, and when I got the feel for it, randomly put black dots over the red.

LadyBugs

Reminds me of ladybugs.

The Other Realms: Psychic Vampires

Picture this; you’re invited to a party at a friend’s house. There are people at the party you’ve never met before, and that’s cool, you like meeting new people. One person in particular stands out to you.  You begin to feel ill or tired around this one person. You stay away, but the feeling continues to the point you have to leave. By the time you get home you’re exhausted. Falling into bed, you sleep soundly until the next morning.

What the hell happened? From all the symptoms I’d say you came in contact with what is known as a ‘psychic vampire’; someone who unconsciously drains the energy from other people. Some of you may laugh, but if you’ve experienced this type of scenario before then you know understand how deeply it affects you and how debilitating it can be, especially if the person in question is a close friend or relative.

First of all, don’t laugh, they exists. My use of the phrase ‘psychic vampire’ is flamboyant but accurate. For these people ‘feeding’ off others is an unconscious act. For whatever reason (illness, emotional immaturity, trapped in a negative situation to name a few) they are unable to sustain their own levels of personal energy and the only way they can survive is by draining others. We are creatures of energy and we need more than just food to survive. Like balancing your chakras; if one is off you will feel it physically.

These are two excellent articles on energy drainers. Llewellyn Article. https://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/513

Understanding How Psychic Vampires Work

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-a-psychic-vampire-attack-happens-1724677

There are ways to protect yourself from the effects of these energy drainers. The best solution would be to stay away from them, but that’s not always possible. When dealing with people close to you (family or co-workers) try to understand the situation. How are you drawing these people to you? Are they physically ill? In a negative situation? There are techniques at the end of the linked article that will help you.

For myself, I wear a black tourmaline when I go to work or any place I’ll be interacting with people. I also put up a personal shield. Instructions for that can be found HERE.

Have you come across a psychic vampire before? How did you respond?

Adventures in Restaurants: The dinner that wasn’t.

RestaurantLogoI enjoy going out to dinner with my husband. Even after twenty-four years we still find things to talk about. His day, my day, our son, what the hell we’re going to do with the house; light conversations and antidotes. Relaxing in a nice restaurant with a good meal is something we’ve just started doing, so my birthday outing (which started all this in the first place) was going to be an anniversary of sorts for us.

Too bad it didn’t work out that way.

Now, like I said, I enjoy a good conversation with dinner and when we go out it’s expected that other patrons feel the same way, but the restaurant we had reservations at this time out was so loud with talking, neither of us could hear what the server was saying, even though she was RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Literally! Bent over, no less than a foot from my face and I still could barely understand what she was saying. Disappointed was not the emotion that reared up either. It was a small, intimate dining room, but the McDonald’s play room would have been quieter.

So we left. I apologized to the server, explained that it was too loud and we high-tailed it out of there. Husband didn’t even get a sip of water from his glass. We went to a few other places close by, but as we suspected (because it was the weekend) they were full. It was also a really nice night too. That always brings out the customers.

I think our first mistake was going on the weekend. Looking back, our other restaurant adventures were during the week. Weekends are always busy, but Husband had a reservation, and as it was someplace we’d never been to, and we had no idea what to expect. Atmosphere is everything to a restaurant and as I’ve worked in a few, I know that it only takes one or two tables to ruin it. Trust me, I could tell you stories . . .

I’m debating whether or not to try this place again, but not on the weekend. All the reviews said the food was excellent and it is one of the places on our list. I’m just afraid of it being the same again. We ended up at our old stand-by; Red Lobster. At that point, after walking around downtown for half an hour I was so hungry if that place had been busy I would have settled for McDonald’s.

Second time a charm or not?

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