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Attraction, Inspiration, and Crap I Found on the Road

Here’s the weirdest thing I’m willing to tell you about myself: I collect stuff off the street. Metal stuff, mostly, that looks like it fell off a vehicle.

It’s not as weird as it… okay, it is, but I can explain. I walk a lot. Like, almost every day, weather and health permitting. In the summer I have a lovely local boardwalk around a pond I can visit. And if I’m in the mood for treasure hunting, there’s a rocky beach not far away where I can find sea glass handmade by the ocean from the beer bottles people toss off of the nearby scenic lookout.

But winter means wandering the streets. Not much to see there.

Except that one day I noticed a ball bearing at my feet. I picked it up thinking one of my kids would find it cool. Trucks are kind of his thing.

And I liked it. It felt nifty in my hand. Really smooth and heavy and different.

So I kept it, and decided it would be fun to keep my eyes open for more (while trying not to worry about whatever vehicles were shedding these things around town). Sort of like wandering the beach looking for sea glass and shells, but more casual.

…And with more potential judgement from passing drivers who saw me bending over to pick up dirty metal garbage, but whatever. I have zero reputation to maintain, as far as I know.

Long story short, once I started looking, I started seeing. A lot of it was stuff I definitely didn’t want. Plastic bits (I mean, please, I DO have standards). Other crap that blew out of someone’s trash bags on garbage day.*

But I sometimes find what I’m looking for.

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I mean, not to brag, but guys? I’m kinda the Little Mermaid of crap that fell off of poorly-maintained vehicles. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got… well, three, but I’m getting more. Soon.

There is a point to all of this.

The thing is, I never saw any of this stuff lying around before I started paying attention to it. Just like how I rarely found sand dollars on the beach in Nova Scotia until I decided my prize was there if I kept my eyes open. After that, it was rare that I didn’t go home with at least one.

Same with sea glass.

Same with inspiration.

There was a time when I clung tight to the one story idea I had because I thought it was all I was ever going to get. This was THE THING. The story I had to make absolutely perfect because there was no guarantee that the well went deeper than this. I was miserly. I gave up frequently because the one perfect idea in my head never came out right on paper, and OH GOD WHAT IF I BREAK IT?!

Now? Now I believe ideas are everywhere, just waiting to be spotted. I don’t expect them to be served to me on a silver platter, though sometimes they are.** But I trust that if I keep my eyes open, if I believe inspiration is out there, my brain is capable of taking two random things I’ve seen and making something brilliant out of them.

Or something that’s the equivalent of plastic crap, but the point is that the treasures are out there. But I will never see them if I don’t walk around with my eyes and my mind open, believing they’re there.

I worry less about taking a chance and messing up, because there’s more.

I think this applies to a lot of other things in life, too. Like opportunities. Now, big opportunities are more frequent and easier to accept for some people than others, no question. Different people will have different doors opening for us, and not everyone gets kicked out of the nest with a great education or a “small” loan from his or her parents or a rolodex full of high-rolling contacts. But we all make choices that affect us, and we will have some kind of opportunity for something. But will we see it if we have our eyes closed, expecting nothing good come to us? Or worse, if we believe we don’t deserve opportunities?

I’m guilty of that one, and I’ve likely overlooked a lot of chances for success because I thought they weren’t meant for someone like me. But the times when I have believed in myself and been open to opportunity–to saying no to agents and publishers and going it alone, for example, or to joining in on a *shudder* group project with other amazing authors–have been very rewarding.

And if I believe that I don’t only get one shot, that success is not my only motherf*$%in’ option (contrary to what one Eminem might preach in that one very catchy tune) because I will see other opportunities, I can relax about messing up, take more chances, and dream bigger.

Or luck. If I believe I’m lucky and define luck as finding ball bearings on the street, look how lucky I am! If I believe I’m unlucky and won’t find any, I suspect the odds of me seeing them drop significantly. I just won’t be looking for them if I don’t believe I’m lucky enough to have them appear in my path.

What if I broadened my definition of luck? What if I embraced it and didn’t feel guilty about believing I’m lucky/smart/observant/whatever word I choose for it, and really stayed open to what might be out there?

I don’t know a lot about this law of attraction and manifestation stuff so many of my online acquaintances talk about all the time. Do I think the universe is a big genie waiting to grant my wishes if only I focus hard enough on what I want? Do I think opportunity and inspiration and luck and MASSIVE WEALTH spontaneously appear because I desire them enough?

Not really, no.

BUT.

I do see the underlying, practical logic of it. The psychology of it, maybe. If I focus on the good things in my life, if I’m grateful for what I have, I’m going to be more aware of them. Kind of like how you never notice blue Volkswagens until you buy one, and then they’re everywhere. They were there all along. You didn’t call them into being because you were thinking about them. You simply see what you’re paying attention to.

Inspiration.

Opportunities.

Luck.

Metal crap on the street, man.

So no, I’m not going all woo-woo mystical and trying to like… vibrate… or whatever it is. But I think, thanks to a ball bearing I almost kicked into the gutter a few months ago, that I kind of get it.

Good things are out there. Utter crap is out there, too, if we’re being honest. But I’m trying really hard to stay focused on the good.

Because what I focus on is what I see. It’s what I get more of.

I’m just keeping my eyes open.

——

*Though true story, I once saw an empty Vienna sausage can in a snowbank and sincerely hoped–and still hope–that my mental image of some guy wandering down main street casually sucking tiny processed meat sticks directly from the can as he strolled along and then tossing the garbage aside is accurate. It could happen.

*In bed, once. You can’t beat that kind of service.


No Squirrels Today

Actually, the squirrels are abundant. The biggest distraction I dealt with today was actually a TV show. One I watched the first season of last night (not hard when there are only eight episodes at 20 minutes each) and then had to watch most of  with my husband again today before he went to work.

Had to. Not optional. Had to.*

Anyway… We were going to be talking about my work habits today, but obviously I’m in no position to talk about those. And I’m a bit busy for it. In spite of all of the time I continue to waste and today’s flat-out failure, I am busy drafting book one for my pen name project series. And I really shouldn’t be taking too much time for blogging.

I mean, bless the handful of you who actually read these posts, but this site ain’t paying any bills, you know? 😉

But I can’t leave you with nothing. So here are a few photos from a recent autumn morning in Newfoundland. A magical morning of mist and fog and frost. Like… THE BEST morning. Pictures don’t do it justice. You can click the photos to enlarge.

No filters, of course.

Enjoy!

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*The show, for anyone who’s curious, is Galavant. I don’t enjoy TV most of the time, but this one is just delightful. Music and humor and anachronism and witty dialogue and more humor and beautiful people and more music. Love it.

It’s on Netflix. So good.


Barking Mad

Last week, I found myself home alone for almost 72 hours. I edited. I watched Supernatural*. I edited some more. I ate quick meals, I planned, I revised, I edited even more.

It was fantastic.

How did I swing this when I usually have a husband and two kids around? Well, they went to the big city (not the one we go to for groceries… the bigger one) to pick up our new dog.

Now, I’m a little fuzzy on the details of exactly how we ended up adopting a Chihuahua from a rescue agency in Los Angeles. I remember seeing his picture on Facebook, posted by a friend who was fostering him in Hamilton, ON (Canada, guys), and thinking he was adorable. I vaguely remember my husband being quite taken with him. There were messages sent between him and said friend, and he started looking for ways to get a carry-on-sized dog from Ontario to Newfoundland. Something about an acquaintance who’s a pilot… my husband having days off work… talking about dog names… figuring it wouldn’t kill the boys to miss a day or two of classes… I know I actually consented to all of this. I’m just not clear on the details.

In my defense, all of my brain power was going toward the book. I’m sure I smiled and nodded and even acted like I had some clue what was happening around me, but it was actually all I could do to not burn the house down every time I cooked something.

Long story short, this is Bruno:

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He’s 6 lbs of cuddles, love, a puppyish bark, and a bad habit of eating EVERYTHING. Like, I was thinking about getting a Roomba, but I don’t think there are any crumbs left around the house for it to pick up. He (Bruno, not the theoretical Roomba) wears adorable sweaters, sometimes chases the cats (we’re working on that), and is fitting in pretty well around here.

jack and bruno

How are they even the same species?!

We must be crazy. I have a book to get out in the next few months, and edits just keep getting deeper. We’re probably moving this summer, and we have no idea where. We have a dog and three cats (one of them kind of old) already. Our family was pretty great as it was. Why rock the boat?

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Okay, the improved satellite reception provided by those ears is actually nice. But other than that, and having a companion for Jack when the family goes out, and giving a three year-old dog his forever home, and having another furry little buddy to hang out with…

You know what? Never mind. I answered my own question.

*I’m only on season 2. I’m told it doesn’t get really good until season 4, but something pretty is keeping my interest for now.

The scenery. I really go for creepy houses and graveyards. Yep.


Landscapes

A friend who read Bound told me that the landscapes seemed familiar to her. I wasn’t surprised. She’s from Newfoundland.

This place inspires me. The ocean, the rugged beauty of the land, the untouched forests (and even the touched ones). There’s something wonderfully mysterious about a field strewn with boulders, looking like the aftermath of a battle between the rock-hurling giants in Narnia.

Actually, the real explanation for that one is pretty interesting. Those boulders were picked up by glaciers, carried here, and dropped as the glacier melted. They’re called erratics.

I thought I’d share here a few of the landscapes that remind me of Darmid and Tyrea. If you’re ever in the area and want to visit them, I’d be happy to point the way. 🙂

Sorry I don’t have a picture for this one taken on a clear day. It’s hard to stop for photos when you’re travelling with kids. Picture blue skies… I’ll get a better picture some day.

 

stunted trees

(from Bound, chapter 17)

 

Not all locations in the books correspond directly to places here. It’s more the feel. The roughness, that hard land (wait until you see [redacted]), the sparkling lakes and the foggy afternoons.

The forests, the fields, the harbour towns and the water were all influenced by this place.

forest

 

These mountains near Corner Brook (western Newfoundland) bear a striking resemblance to those worn-down old mountains that separate Tyrea from Darmid, though I didn’t discover them until after Bound was published.

They could be a little higher, but you get the idea. These mountains make the Rockies look like young punks.

mountains

 

Ever wonder how Glass Lake got its name? The landscape’s a little off, but the water is perfect.

glass lake

 

The seasons are inspiring, too.

(from Bound, chapter 4)

(from Bound, chapter 4)

Here are a few more pictures.

river

river 2

 

icebergs

 

Seriously, come visit. It’s super cool. 🙂


A Gift from Jack Frost

Anyone remember that scene in Bound when Rowan described Aren’s scar?

“Fainter scars branched out from it, spreading across his shoulder and ribs, silver in the dim moonlight that filtered through the curtains. They reminded me of the patterns that show on a window after a frost, or vines climbing a wall.”

This morning, we found these beautiful ice designs on our front porch. Kind of cool, right?

Thanks, winter!

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Friday Fun: The Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium

Hey, guys! I know, I said we’d do stuff this week, and I haven’t posted a whole lot. The good news is that things are going so well with actual writing (like, the book some of you are waiting for) that I’m worried the house will have a meltdown again. The bad news is that I’m not going to halt that momentum to write blog posts, so things might continue to be a bit sparse here next week.

Also, I’ve got kids at home full time. Writing time is limited, you know?

But speaking of those kids, I did take a week off for a family vacation. Stopping work cold turkey nearly drove me mad, but after a few days in my favourite city, a relaxing and fun weekend at a friend’s cabin, and lots of walking around beautiful landscapes, I started to relax.

One of our stops was the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium in… well, it’s in Petty Harbour. You probably guessed that. Smarty pants. It truly is mini. I mean, they didn’t take a ray-gun and shrink a fish tank down (dangit), but they do have a lot of amazing exhibits packed into a TINY space.

I thought, since most of you won’t make it out there this summer, that I’d share some pictures and information (all facts and figures courtesy of the aquarium). Many of their exhibits are temporary, as they show off creatures brought in by local fishermen which are then set free after they’ve done their time. Nice, right? We missed the wolf fish by a few days, but I hope he’s very happy… um… doing whatever wolf fish do.

I would probably know this if I’d seen the exhibit.

TO THE PHOTO TOUR!

I’m a bad, bad promoter. I didn’t get an exterior shot of the building. *ducks away from flung flotsam and jetsam*

But inside…

Good to know!

Good to know!

 

This is Lady Blue, a temporary visitor to the aquarium. Blue lobsters are fairly rare: one in 2,000,000 has this lovely colouring.

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Casper the white snow crab is another oddity, if somewhat less pretty. I wasn’t as impressed with his colouring as I was with his astonishing fashion sense. Check out that escargot chapeau!

 

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“Leave me alone.”

 

Flounders are… um… interesting.

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The sea ravens were my favourite. Our fish might not be tropical-pretty, but we have some lovely sea monster inspiration!

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Here’s Pharaoh. He’s a golden lobster (1 in 35,000,000 are this colour, and this summer the aquarium has two of them!)

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There’s so much more to see, but I don’t want to take up all of your time with my fish pics– cod, sculpin, something called a lumpfish… aww, heck, here’s a picture of the lumpfish, because it’s kind of hilarious:

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The Mini Aquarium may be tiny, but it’s a lot of educational fun. They have daily puppet shows and story time through the summer, too, if you’re hauling kids around and they’re into that. Oh, and the touch tanks are MIGHTY COOL.

Cue touch tank pics:

"Hey, how's it going?"

“Hey, how’s it going?”

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I didn’t have the heart to tell this guy it’s too late to audition for back-up dancer in The Little Mermaid

So there you go. If you’re ever in the St John’s area, head on down! It’s on the way to Cape Spear, too, which could make for a fine day of fun.

Now, kiss the Pout, and we’ll all be on our way.

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Hey, Look! It’s a book.

Like, a real book.

It came on Wednesday, delivered by a very nice man with a floofy mustache and a white van. I was crying before I even opened the box, because that’s how I roll when I’ve been waiting years for something.

No, not waiting. Fighting.

This has never been easy. I’ve never taken shortcuts, though there have been detours and unexpected destinations.

I have never worked this hard for anything, and it is totally, completely, mind-blowingly worth it.

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Six days to launch.

 


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