Thanks for following my first 100

BBLPFR_LargeHelga’s Post # 100:  Yes, we have two centenarian posters (so to speak) in the space of two days. Congrats to the two of us, Karalee! Well done. Let’s break out the champagne.

Like the ‘year in review’ on New Year’s Eve, I looked at some of the events since I published my first blog post on Sept. 21, 2012. Has the world changed? No, except the planet is getting warmer (2014 was the warmest year on record, with global temperatures 0.68C or 1.24F above the long-term average). Have we learned to live more harmoniously with other cultures? Sadly, no: Looking back, on the exact day of my first blog post, militiamen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other people. Today, the world is still reeling from the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. And in between the two events, countless bombings, assassinations and deadly attacks in the four corners of the earth. Real events that eclipse the most implausible and violent plots in fiction.

Let’s put the lens a little closer. Have my fellow writers and I changed since I started contributing to this blog? What have I done with the time between that first blog post and today?

You’ve read the numbers in Karalee’s post, the statistics for our group, so no need to repeat them. I hope you agree they are rather impressive. When I wrote my first post, we had maybe five or ten followers. As I am writing this, the number has steadily grown to –

Drum roll….

2,646 followers!

We must do something right, right? A loyal friend and follower of the 5 writers blog recently met me for coffee. She said she is always looking forward to our posts. She doesn’t have time to read it every single day, but not wanting to miss any of our posts, she ends up binge-reading maybe five or ten posts at a time. It’s like opening a bag of bonbons, all with different wrappers and colors. You don’t know what you get and they all taste so different, she tells me. Some are sweet, others bittersweet, the odd one spicy, and there may be the odd forbidden fruit thrown in. A true cornucopia of flavors, a kaleidoscope of topics for writers, storytellers and lovers of books. Five writers who since starting this blog have become close friends, sharing with each other and the rest of the world, should people care to read our blog, whatever is on our mind about writing, reading, books, or simply about life.

Yes, we write about life too.

So much has happened to each of us since we pledged to keep this blog alive. Happy things and sad things, and all shades in between. We sold houses, moved to different parts of the city even to a different country, lost pets, got new pets, had surgeries, changed lifestyles, gained new families, became step-parents or grandparents, faced challenges in relationships, travelled to some awesome places, and sadly, dealt and are still dealing, with a serious illness. All part of the package.

But none of that has deterred any of the 5 intrepid writers to throw in the towel. Sure, we had a hiatus once in a while, but if one of us wasn’t able to post for a week or two, the others stepped up to the plate and kept on blogging and entertaining our followers.

And what, you may ask, have we achieved in terms of writing novels since starting the blog? After all, writing novels is at the heart of this blog.

5 W’sIP

While none of our manuscripts are at the stage of publishing, we have five excellent Works in Progress. Not all at the same stage of completion, but they are out there, growing, being worked on. Not necessarily in terms of producing a set number of pages every day, but making headway all the same. Progress may come in the middle of the night during a sleepless hour or two, or researching a topic in the library, and yes, sometimes even sitting down and working that keyboard as if possessed by demons.

And just like the diversity of our blog posts, our novels couldn’t be more different. We write in different genres (well, more or less, though all share a certain element of ‘suspense’), different time periods from pre-WWII to the present, different settings from North America to Asia, Holland, Austria, Hawaii to name a few, and our protagonists come from all walks of life and demographics.

Modesty aside, all five of us have completed or almost finished books waiting for another round of edits. I have two such completed manuscripts (one, my first project, co-written with writer friend Paula), then a partly completed sequel and one languishing when I just couldn’t get my protagonist to come to life. So I am hoping that with all the writing past and present, this, my current WIP will make it to a satisfying ‘The End’.

A hearty ‘Thank You’ to all of you out there in blogosphere for following us and for your thoughtful comments over the years. You are our community and we love you.

If-you-hear-a-voice-within-you-say-you-cannot-paint-then-by-all-means-paint-and-that-voice-will-be-silenced-Vincent-Van-Gogh

So little time, so many plots

Helga’s Post # 88:  Friday already? My posting days come fast and furious, especially at this time. What will it be today? I will try a slightly different topic. I feel like story-telling.

Busy times for me. We are in moving mode. Or I should say ‘mood’, because that’s what we were gearing up for until two days ago. Alas, the stars are not aligned just yet. We thought we were moving, in fact in less than three weeks. Turned out the prospective buyers of our house got skittish and walked away from an accepted offer. So, after cancelling the moving company, cleaning staff and miscellaneous helpers, we’re back to the drawing board: open houses, showings galore, and keeping the house pristine 24/7.

But every cloud has a silver lining. We are not homeless! Not yet. We can still enjoy the magnificent west coast summer in our own place instead of frantically searching for a place to buy or rent, all within a ridiculous deadline. The moving boxes are piled high in the garage, but they will just have to wait for their content. We can actually do fun things now, like attending the annual Harmony Arts Festival at Lawson Park at the beach. It’s a really cool event for great music, visual arts, delicious food and it’s free (well, not the food). Terrific live concerts by popular bands on an outdoor stage, free outdoor movies, a serious art market, local art exhibitions, innovative food events and more. If you are visiting Vancouver at this time, make sure to drop by. None better.timthumb.php

There is even a special event on tap for writers. It’s a free workshop titled “Writing for the Faint of Heart”. Its promise is to ‘Enjoy learning to ‘free write’ with Fran Bourassa of the North Shore Writers Association. This workshop will demonstrate how to write by triggering memories, strong emotions, and eliciting ideas for story and poetry. The method is quick and powerful and everyone can do it. Perfect for all ages and levels of writers.’ (If you click on Fran’s link you will find she also has lots to say about getting published)

Nice. Not to be missed. Just steps from the ocean in a picture-perfect settings. Views of the Lions Gate Bridge, and to Stanley Park across the inlet included at no extra charge.

So we would have missed all this fun if our prospective buyers had been less skittish. The Universe works in mysterious ways.

Talking of writing, I have time again to sit down and create stories instead of pounding the pavement to find us a place to live. Yes, stories. With that in mind, I’ve been rummaging through my e-storage boxes on my Mac and reviewed some of my start-ups from several years ago. Just to see if anything might grow legs and could morph into a novel. Good grief, did I really write this?

A sampling: A teenage adopted girl, half Caucasian half Indonesian, living in Vancouver (of course), finds out her boyfriend impregnated her fourteen-year old half-sister. She plots revenge with the help of a Muslim man who exploits her for his own deadly agenda.

Another start-up, about a ‘travel’ agency that is in fact a purveyor of body parts for well-heeled patients waiting for organ transplants. Hmm, maybe this one could grow. Such as, Chinese prisoners getting executed so that their kidneys, corneas, skin, bone, heart, ligaments, liver, pancreas, bowel, tendons, in fact pretty well the entire cadaver, can be ‘donated’ to wealthy westerners. Sound familiar? Because you may have heard it on the news. (Go on, open that link above.) All I have to do is invent the characters and a plot to wrap this up. Such as, what if…. a ‘nice’ young Chinese man is in prison for something minor – shoplifting, stealing pigs, whatever – and gets the death penalty. What if…. our heroine, a journalist, is doing a documentary at that time in China and hears of the story. Meets the boy’s family. Meets the young (handsome) man in prison. Tries to save him by exposing the scandal. Etc. etc.

But wait, there is more. A missing husband. Missing in Thailand or Indonesia (I happen to have lived there, so no coincidence). Wife goes in search for him. Adventures, kidnappings, betrayals abound. She is caught in the riots of 1998 when Jakarta is in flames during Suharto’s forced resignation (I was there).

How about a wine mystery set in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia? About a Picasso drawn wine label and of course murder? (Just ask Paula if you want to know more).

I could go on. There are more skeletons in my attic. But I better spend the time deciding, and then writing one, and only one (the bane of all writers).

So for me, the whole question of publishing and marketing is a while off. But I will have to keep my ear on the ground, as all writers have to, because that day will come when we have to chose which fork in the road to take. Or take both and become a hybrid author.

Happy summer reading and writing!reading+on+beach+03