musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Friday, June 26, 2015

From Schooners to Float Planes ... and a giveaway!

I'm featured at Joanne Guidoccio's blog, talking about my crazy writing journey that began with a shipwreck and lead to my first flight at the controls of a Cessna Skyhawk.

I hope you'll join me at the Road to Reinvention: Second Acts and, while you're there, enter my giveaway for a chance to win Coffee or Tea and a BookContest runs from June 26th to July 7th (12 am EDT).

Edit: July 7 - Congratulations to winner Shannon B! 

Click through to read and enter my Rafflecopter draw for
one copy of Sparks Fly (choice of hardcover or Kindle),
 plus a $5 Starbucks gift certificate. Good luck!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

the art of disappearing

I was walking at the lake in Toronto the other day and spotted a handsome mallard duck near the water. Camera in hand, I crept across the beach, cursing the crunch of gravel under foot. Of course he spotted me right away, gave me a warning look, then hoisted himself up and padded into the shallow water. Isn't he glorious? I love his little orange feet and the way the water reflects and sparkles on his feathers.

Mallard duck at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto, June 2015

Mallard, showing his colours at Colonel Sam Smith Park, June 2015

In the moments between those two photos, I was surprised to discover that our Mr. Duck wasn't alone. His mate was with him, just inches away, peacefully napping and seemingly unconcerned by my approach. Nature's camouflage so effective, I might have missed her completely.

Mallard ducks at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto, June 2015

Have you ever wished you could disappear? Become part of the background? It's definitely a useful skill for a writer to practice. Next time you visit a coffee shop (or the beach), give it a try. Find a spot with a view, sit quietly, breathe deeply, and just...fade away.

Need to freshen up your character's dialogue? Fade away and listen. Looking to give a character a quirky habit or brush up on body language? Fade away and watch. You might be surprised by what you discover.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

cat's the boss

Meet Sam the Cat. I haven't blogged about him for quite a while and I suspect he's a bit put out by the lack of attention. Here he is, ignoring me with great eloquence.

Sam the Cat, catching up on his beauty sleep.

I can't help feeling a bit annoyed by his peaceful, mid-day slumber. In fact, I'm tempted to make a lot of noise and maybe even tickle his ears to wake him up. But, no. That would be unkind. Sam is a "retired gentleman" of fourteen years and, as we all do, is starting to feel his age. I try to understand his quirks, even when those quirks involve waking me up at the crack of dawn every morning. This wasn't a problem in the winter, when dawn in Toronto doesn't crack until nearly 7 a.m. and I had to be up for work anyway. But I'm happily retired from the Day Job now and the summer sky begins to lighten at oh-what-the-heck o'clock. Every morning, somewhere around 4:30 a.m., Sir Sam begins his "feed me now" routine: yowl, pace, jump on bed, stare, nudge, yowl, jump down, repeat. He's relentless. I try to resist but eventually, worn down and grumpy, I drag myself to the kitchen to do his bidding. 

It's all my own fault, of course. (Nothing is ever the cat's fault, as anyone who's ever lived with a feline companion knows.) Last fall, I noticed Sam seemed to be having more then the usual number of digestive upsets. The solution was to switch from all dry food to once a day tinned food. He's feeling much better and, boy, does he love his tinned turkey! My mistake was to offer this most succulent and satisfying treat in the morning, before work. Three days into our new regime, Sam's "Wake-up! It's morning! I'm hungry!" routine began. And I've been woefully sleep-deprived ever since.

I've tried everything from ignoring him with a pillow over my head (he just gets louder), to squirting him with a water bottle (he dodges, then sneaks back in and swats my leg - ow!). This week, though, I think I may have hit on a solution. Instead of letting him lounge around in the evening, I've been keeping him busy with brushing, nail trimming, red-dot tag, and his favourite iPad games. Then, just when he's starting to feel weary, I offer him a saucer of tinned turkey and a short but firm reminder that turkey time is in the evening now.

Sam plays pat-the-handsome-cat.

On morning number one, dawn broke and Sam yowled. I calmly reminded him that he'd enjoyed his turkey the night before and suggested he go back to sleep. He considered this. And then he yowled for an hour. I got up, had a drink of water, and went back to bed. This caused some consternation on his part, followed by ten minutes of intense staring (I could feel it, even with my eyes shut). Then he yowled a scoldy-sort of rebuke and stalked off to do secret cat things in the other room. Happily, the secret cat things did not involve destruction of furniture. Sadly, my imaginings of what he might be doing kept me awake anyway.

Morning number two unfolded in pretty much the same way as morning one. With the added bonus of a little exclamation mark of ...erm... poop, left in the hallway for me to find on my way to the bathroom. Luckily, I spotted the offering in time to avoid stepping on it. Sam got a dire look and a few choice words about gentlemanly behaviour. I swear he raised one eyebrow and shrugged.

Today, day three, I dare to hope this might actually be starting to work! (Don't tell Sam I said that!) He woke with the first light of dawn, as usual, yowled once, paced a bit, jumped onto the bed and burbled at me, then curled up by my feet and went to sleep. Oh, joy!

Only time will tell if my strategy has really worked. I'm hoping for an uninterrupted night's sleep by this weekend - it will be my first in many months. Added bonus: Sam hasn't transferred his feed-me-now yowls to the evening timeslot. (Don't tell him I said that!) 

Wish me luck!