Sunday, 3 May 2015

How to Write Like Jane Austen

Few authors have been endeared to so many generations of devoted followers. Even centuries after she was first published, Jane Austen still casts a spell over readers.

What is it that ensnares our fascination with her characters? And more importantly how can we copy tap into that mysterious formula of book sales success?

Ahem. Here are ten easy steps to writing the perfect Jane Austen novel.

#1. Your plucky heroine must be known for her determined spirit, however, she's also quite handsome which no one seems to mention.

#2. When the protagonist meets her love interest, they will formally address each other even though one is clearly smitten, but keeps their devotion a secret.

#3. An unsavory family member proves to be a reoccurring source of annoyance and conflict.

#4. Through a happy coincidence the heroine and her love interest will keep bumping into each other in social situations that force them to be civil to each other, slowly the feelings of attraction become mutual.

#5. A walk down the garden path leads to a feisty confrontation with the antagonist or an unexpected pledge of devotion from above mentioned love interest.

#6. At the moment when true love seems unstoppable, a family tragedy occurs preventing the couple from pursuing any future plans.

#7. Time goes by and it rains a lot.

#8. When all seems lost, the heroine finds herself either dripping in mud from a fall in the garden path or soaked from a rain storm when her love interest happens by. Awkwardness ensues and no one proclaims their true affection.

#9. When the family tragedy from #5 is miraculously settled with a three page letter delivered in the night via post by horseback, your heroine remembers her life will still be miserable because her love interest saw her covered in mud or soaked to the skin.

#10. A second confrontation in the garden path with the antagonist reminds your heroine that she is devoted to her happiness, and when the love interest shows up one last time, she seizes the moment to declare her feelings and true love prevails.

The End.

Awesome, now go write your own Jane Austen novel and soon Hollywood will come calling.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The First Time I Touched 'IT'

The first time I touched a penis I was eighteen. There were three of us in the room, two standing and one lying down.

I remember shaking and thinking, "This is it. I'm going to see a real naked penis." I was terrified, but I felt I was on the cusp of a monumental shift in my life, as if I was passing over a tangible line in the sand.

A defining moment indeed. Everything that had happened to me up to that moment would be forever knows as BP; before penis.

Back when I was a teenager, if you wanted a sneak peek at the mysteries of the opposite sex, you had to rely on National Geographic or the Encyclopedia Britannica for a glimpse at nudity. I still remember the first volume—A for anatomy—had these cool transparent overlapping pages detailing the multiple layers of veins, organs, and then finally the skin.

Ew. Penises were ugly. And don't even get me started on the hair. The shock of that picture was enough to make me take down my Duran Duran poster—after all, that would make five dangling, hairy penises staring at me from the bedroom wall.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself only a fraction of a body width away from a real one. There was no turning back, I would have to touch it...I knew that much.

Some people enter the pool by diving in and some take the stairs, inching themselves into the water, trying to convince their bodies to keep going deeper. For me, touching the penis was going to have to be tackled with the jumping-in-before-I-chickened-out technique.

I wrapped my hand around the spongy protrusion and waited. And waited.

Is this it? I wondered. Is this rubbery thing what all the love songs are about..? Is this what I'll be married to one day?!

"Hold it taut," she said. Her voice was soft, but commanding. "Now gently insert the catheter, taking care once you reach the hub of the bladder." There was a pause. The nursing instructor leaned closer to the head of the hospital bed. She raised her voice and asked, "Are you all right Mr. Kline?"

The grey haired man lying on the bed nodded that he was all right, despite the fact a shaking student nurse was sweating under her gloves and querying the meaning of life while performing his catheterization.

Poor Mr. Kline—that wasn't his real name—I doubt his seventy-five-year-old penis found the moment as epiphanous as I did.

Once his bladder had been accessed and drained (actual medical terminology on my skills check off list) and the task was completed, my shift came to an end. I marched back to residence in my white, soft soled shoes a little taller. I'd seen a penis, even touched one—heck mauled might be a better word.

And I survived.

I had solved one of the great mysteries that had hung over my head since those days of flipping through the encyclopedia. There was an immediate essence of superiority and wisdom within my conscious, but there was also an underlying cunning, like I was harbouring a fantastic secret.

The world seemed a little less scarier or maybe I was a bit more brave.

That night, I decided to do something that terrified me even more than touching a penis. I walked into the local pharmacy, picked up a box of tampons and got in the checkout line that had a male cashier. I even made eye contact with him when I handed over my money.

I was invincible. Hear me roar.   

Rest in peace, Mr. Kline. I hope you had many happy years after our brief encounter. Thanks for the memories.

Congratulations! You made it to the end of this post. Please enjoy Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman"

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Once Upon A Time Season 4, Episode 18 "Heart of Gold"

Or Better title "My Head Hurts!"

Race For The Author

The Author escapes to the forest with Emma and her parents hot on his heels.

Mary Margaret and David tell Emma that The Author was once the peddler who tricked them and (through their line of ridiculous rationalization) caused Malificient to lose her baby.

Emma is like, "Um, no. You're the ones who poured pure evil into a baby's soul and then tossed it down a hell hole."

The Author is soon found by Mr. Gold who tells him that a magic quill can only be made from enchanted trees—which he'll never find in Storybrooke.

"You're a big pain in the ass," The Author says.


"Whatever," Mr. Gold replies. "I've got a magic quill and you're going to write me a whole bunch of new endings."

The Author agrees because being caught by Emma and her parents is more dangerous than going along with the Dark One.

What? Why do people keep doing whatever he asks?

Regina wakes up in magical handcuffs! Mr. Gold lets her know he's got The Author on his team. When Regina refuses to join, he asks her to call Robin and see how he and Marion are doing. When Regina calls...

Flashback #1

What have Robin Hood and Marion and their little son been up to? Well, like every magical character, they head to Manhattan. Apparently, Regina gave him the keys to Neal's apartment because I'm sure after a year of being vacant with no one paying rent, it's still available.

Once they get settled, the newly banished Mr. Gold arrives. Unsure why they're squatting his late son's apartment. Mr. Gold tells them to bugger off, then he collapses to the floor.

Robin visits Mr. Gold in the hospital where he's dying from a poisoned heart, or as we call it, myocardial infarct. Mr. Gold also tells him that even though they're in a non-magical world, they can use magical items if they're brought from a magical place. He needs a heart healing potion!, no, NO! That's breaking the rules!

Marion had to leave Storybrooke because Regina's magic wasn't strong enough to break the frozen curse and the only way she could survive is if they went to a non-magical land.

My head hurts.

Did you know that Selena had a correspondent set up in an abandoned New York boutique to keep an eye on Henry and Emma?

Robin searches the dusty store and quickly locates a fancy green drawer. There's no lock. He finds a bottle shaped like a heart full of red liquid.

I guess that's it.

Marion is upset when Robin returns with a potion to save Mr. Gold. She says, "Why don't you just let him die."

Come on, Marion. Kill the Dark One? Why on earth would we want to get rid of the evil guy who everyone hates, yet all do his bidding for ridiculous reasons?

Robin brings the potion to Mr. Gold and makes him promise to let him have Neal's apartment. Mr. Gold agrees and takes a sip. But guess what? It's not the real elixir.

Marion arrives with the real bottle of elixir, touches her green pendant and reveals that she's actually Selena.

*Head explodes*

Quick explanation...

After Mr. Gold stabbed her in the jailhouse, Selena's soul went traveling back through the barn floor to the enchanted forest. She floated around until she saw that Emma was going to bring Marion back to Storybrooke. She entered Marion's body, killed her, and then used her pendant to cast a concealment charm.

How can she kill Marion if that's the body she's occupying?

My head hurts!

Selena does a lot of close talking. She toys with Mr. Gold's respirator while telling him her diabolical plan to ensure The Author gives her a happy ending. In exchange, she'll give him the real elixir.

I have to say, Selena does a smashing awesome sneering monologue.   

Mr. Gold leaves the hospital and Robin is there with a box of Neal's belongings. Mr. Gold says it only brings him unhappiness as a reminder of how much he's lost. Then he tells Robin to follow his heart to find his own happiness.

*Cough* leave Marion *cough*

Flashback #2

Now we're back to when Marion and Robin own a pub. One of his Merry Men try to convince him to go back to his ways of stealing to defy the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

Did someone say Sheriff?

Ah, good times...good times.

Anyway, the other Sheriff threatens to shut down the pub if they don't pay their taxes, he also acts like a scum bag to Marion. After closing, Rumplestiltskin shows up asking for Robin Hood's thieving expertise. In exchange for gold, he asks him to visit another realm to steal the elixir of the wounded heart.

As per previous episodes, you can only move between realms by...

#1. Magic Bean

#2. Mermaids

#3. Spells (but only certain spells at certain times)

#4. Ursula's tentacles

Robin enters the realm of OZ through a magical mirror.

*Adds magical mirror to list*

He sees Will and the two chit chat about potions that can mend broken hearts. And blah, blah, blah because I'm hardly invested in these two characters so just get on with it.

Dressed as a flying monkey guard, Robin easily sneaks into the wicked witch's castle and steals some elixir. Selena soon emerges and breaks into three witches to fool him. He shoots an arrow, causes vapors, then escapes.

Back at the pub, the Sheriff of Nottingham returns to claim taxes, but the Merry Men prevent him and Robin gives the gold coins to the peasants. "My thieving can be put to good use," he tells Marion. "When you steal for yourself, that makes you a thief, but when you steal for someone else, that makes you a hero."

Sounds like something Mary Margaret and David would agree with.

Flash forward

When Regina calls Robin's phone, Selena answers. "Hello, sis."

Regina says, "I don't understand."

Take a number, babe.

When Selena hangs up, Mr. Gold tells Regina that even though Selena killed his son, he's working with her now. Unless Regina helps him turn Emma's heart dark, Robin is a dead man.

Who will Regina chose to save, Robin or Emma?

Check out all my other Once Upon A Time recaps here!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Once Upon A Time Season 4, Episode 17 "Best Laid Plans"

Or better title "Kidnapping, Storybrooke Style"

What kind of drugs have the writers been taking?

Snow White and Charming are narcissistic baby-snatchers? And The Author is finally revealed to be... (prepare for disappointment).

Omen for The Charmings

A pregnant Snow and Charming sprint through the forest landscape wearing way too much fur for such activity. They stumble upon a unicorn with a double-fisted horn. At once, both parents have visions of their child to be.

Mental Note: Unicorn horns are magical ultrasounds

Charming sees an adorable toddler version of Emma, but Snow is greeted by a teen full of angst and hormons and stuff. Immediately Snow thinks her unborn baby is evil.

Ex-squeeze me?  Snow's step-mother is the Evil Queen. Shouldn't a mass murdering tyrant be the measuring stick. Just because teen Emma is moody and bad tempered that makes her evil?

Race To Find The Author

Back in Storybrooke, things get stupid. Regina and Emma are puzzling over a picture of a door in the storybook. August goes unconscious or whatever and Henry suggests they take him to the Blue Fairy.

Um...remember last time the Blue Fairy helped August? She turned him back unto an eight year old boy. I don't think this woman knows any other spell.

Meanwhile, Hook catches up to the Charmings and passes along the warning Ursula told him about Mr. Gold's super sneaky evil plan to turn Emma's evil as well.


Emma merely shrugged because she was only in jail for like a year or something and now she's totally reformed. Then she and Hook hug while David and Mary Margaret whisper awkwardly in the corner. "OMG! She said the 'e' word! Our secret will be out!"

Bored with this lot, Regina spends some more time with a much cooler crowd, Cruella and Malificent. They have a phone shot of the illustration of the magical door that apparently The Author is hiding behind.

How do we know this? Mr. Gold takes less than two seconds to deduct. "This page is magicked and he is trapped inside.”

What's the next step? A curse of course. One that's disguised as purple fog because no one in Storybrooke will be expecting that. It's a sleeping curse and soon everyone is knocked out.

While Storybrooke snoozes, the only people unaffected are those who have natural immunity...I guess. So Mary Margaret, David, Henry, and presumably Aurora (wherever she is) are running around town. Henry tells them he took the page with the mysterious door that the Author is trapped behind to the mysterious manor.

Because his plans always work, David decides he and Mary Margaret should use this opportunity to destroy the page to keep their dark secret from getting out.

While Cruella and Maleficent are searching for the page, Mr. Gold pays a visit to his shop to stare at an unconscious Belle.


Malificent gives him a judging stare, but Mr. Gold is a whiny pants and for some reason the women with all the power still do whatever he says, even though Urusula proved last episode that she can create her own happy ending without The Author.

Babies Gone Bad

Back in Fairy Tale Land, we learn that Maleficent had laid an egg while in her dragon form.

Also, Charming has taken to carrying a flask of booze with him. Remember his dad's issue? Anyway, while on the road, he and Snow encounter a peddler who gives them directions to the Sorcerer's Apprentice. I guess Snow is super concerned about having an evil teenager.

Newsflash, it's called puberty.

Snow and Charming listen as the Sorcerer's Apprentice explain that their unborn baby could grow up to be good or evil. But instead of taking parenting classes to assure they raise the baby to treat others with respect and basically be a decent human being, Snow and Charming take him up on his offer to suck all the evil out of Snow’s womb and put it in another living vessel.

Hmm...where can they find another living vessel?

Snow rationalizes that since Maleficent is evil, her 'dragon egg baby thing' will also be evil, so what's wrong with giving it a bit more evil? Charming goes along with this and they're soon breaking into Malificent's castle and snatch her baby dragon egg.

Maleficent begs Snow not to take her child. Snow simply says, "Oh, no worries, I'll be right back." Instead, she gives the egg to the Sorcerer who not only poured all of the evil into the egg, he also prepares to send it into another dimension.

Before you can say, baby-snatchers, a little fist breaks through the dragon egg. And I have terrible flashbacks to the episode where Grumpy hatched fully clothed.

Where is Nova, anyway?

And since Cruella and Ursulla were staying with Malificent to look after her, they rush to save the baby but are sent into the portal as well.

The Author Appears!

Back at the mysterious manor, Henry waits in front of the magical door, which is now emitting a magical light. Regina, Cruella and Maleficent bust in and demand the page from Henry.

But then Mary Margaret and David arrive to burn the page. In a flash of reason Mary Margaret slows things down and wonders if maybe they're making too many bad choices based on fear and maybe if they just told the truth from the beginning...

Anyway, Emma's all, "Whoa, you guys are baby snatchers!" But she's actually more upset with the fact they lied to her than the actual weird kidnapping scheme.

Sick of the Charmings getting all the air time, Malificent breaks up their family feud, demanding to know what happened to her child. We learn that her daughter, Lily, met Emma when they were teens. She was Emma's best friend for a day when they shoplifted together then ate ice cream and played video games for the rest of the afternoon.

But that girl wasn't evil. She had gumption! I can't wait for her to make an entrance.

Oh, and The Author? When the door was finally opened, the peddler stepped out. Before he can be cornered and forced to give anyone a happy ending, he takes out all the Charmings with this curtain rod and disappears into the night.

Too bad everyone's still asleep. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Five Reasons to Keep Writing...Even When You Want to Quit

Self doubt kills creativity.  

I've had my share of moments when I wondered if all the hours upon hours I spent writing would ever matter, and that maybe I had wasted all that time on nothing.

I was wrong. It did matter. Every word mattered.

We all need a little encouragement now and again so I hope this post finds you when you need it the most.

You Should Keep Writing Because ....

#1. The characters you love need you to exist. Do it for them.

#2. If you didn't write you'd be miserable or totally lost or felt like you'd slept too long and couldn't remember what you went down into the basement looking for.

#3. People going through horrible things in their lives need books to escape. Someone, somewhere, someday will NEED your book.

#4. It will be so gratifying to prove the doubters wrong.

#5. Let's face it, you started writing for a reason, so why stop?

No go sit your butt back in the chair and WRITE WITHOUT FEAR.

Why do you write?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Once Upon A Time Season 4, Episode 16 "Poor Unfortunate Soul"

Or better title "Poor Unfortunate Viewer"

This was my face during a certain scene in this episode.

Sweet Mother of God, what is ABC thinking? More of that later...

In a flashback we see a young Ursula as a mermaid who is forced by her father (dude from The Ghostbusters!), Poseidon, to lure pirate ships with her beautiful singing voice so they can crash on the rocks, spilling their treasure.

But Ursula soon grows weary of mass murder and confronts her brutal dad. But since his heart has been hardened by the death of Ursula's mom (original!) he tells her as long as she's living in his sea, she lives by his rules.

Knowing the only way to walk away is with legs, Ursula steals a giant plastic bracelet from his vault so she can live on land, singing her heart out like it's the American Idol finale in pubs for drunk pirates.

*enter Hook*

Cap'N Sexy Eyes is quick to offer her passage on his ship.
But before you can say, heave-ho, Big Daddy and his Triton show up. He strikes a deal with Hook to give him squid ink that will defeat Rumpelstiltskin if he steals Ursula's singing voice with a conch shell.

How does Poseidon even know Hook wants Rumpelstiltskin/The Dark One dead? Is there a gossip magazine in the Enchanted Forest or something?
Mental Note: Hook has squid ink that can kill Mr. Gold

Meanwhile, in the race for a happy ending, the Dark Witches (with the help of Mr. Gold) are torturing a newly grownup August, or as his friends call him, Woody. They need to know who The Author is so they can go torture the author to write them a happy ending.

Why? Because everyone knows the only way to get a happy ending is through torture as opposed to like maybe going out into the world and having a life.

August has to endure his painfully growing, extending, wooden get the picture...nose towards the fire as Mr. Gold laughs.

Can you imagine the jokes in the special effects room?
Regina is pretending to be evil, but manages to get a message to Emma by taking over Mary Margaret's body. It was creepy hearing Regina's voice come out of Mary Margaret, but no creepier than August's nose inching further and further...

While this is going on Hook seeks out Ursula and lifts that eyebrow of his and says he's on to her happy ending and he can help her as long as she does him a huge favour. Nothing big, just opening a portal to fish his ship out of the sea.

Before you can say calamari, Ursula slips one of her tentacles into Storybrooke's harbour and is able to penetrate into another portal.

Mental Note: Things that can open portals

#1. Magic Bean

#2. Mermaids

#3. Spells (but only certain spells at certain times)

#4. Tentacles

Ursula retrieves the Jolly Roger, but it's tiny and in a glass bottle.
WTH? When did the Jolly Roger end up in a bottle?

Anyway, the ship is quickly transformed to its original size. Hook hands over the magic shell that contains her singing voice, but it doesn't take. So the natural reaction is for Hook to pull a gun on Ursula. He's so charming!

Ursula throws him overboard.

Back in the past, Hook was super keen to have a sexy singer on board, he even told her about Poseidon's offer, which he was turning down because why did he even need squid ink at that point in his life?

But Big Daddy shows up on the ship and is super MAD! Hook then realizes he really does need squid ink and steals Ursula's voice after all of that.

Ursula was so miffed she did the only thing a teenage daughter can do to retaliate against authority figures...she turns her mermaid tail into eight slimy tentacles.

Dad is disgusted or heartbroken or wishing he was part of the new Ghostbusters movie.

Emma and the rest of the 'heroes' bust into the cabin to save August. But soon, Mary Margaret is being strangled by Ursula. When all hope is gone, Hook stumbles in, saying he was rescued by Ariel. Not only that, but she slipped through the portal and brought back Poseidon.


Because he has the magic shell with Ursula's voice. After thirty years, he's ready to set things right.

And maybe get a new breastplate.

The reunion is tidy and quick. Ursula gets her singing voice back, but unfortunately this probably means she's off the show.

Or at least until that squid ink thing comes up again.*wink wink*

Mental Note:

If mermaids can cross through portals between worlds why did The Dark One go to all the trouble to groom Regina to manipulate her into casting the curse? Why didn't he just hire a mermaid to take him to find Baelfire in our world?

*gets headache*

Also, Regina had a dream about killing Robin Hood. She confides in Emma and asks if she could find his address and maybe follow him on snapchat.

Hook takes Emma aside and tells her she's his happy ending. Happy ending?

Dear ABC,

We get it. You have a penis thing going on this episode.

*wonders how many weird spam comments will be generated by having the word penis in this post*

Before she exits stage right, Ursula tells them, “Head's up, this is the super secret master plan: The Author can’t give villains their happy endings while the Savior is in the world, so Mr. Gold has decided to turn Emma’s heart dark forever.”

Hook is confused (me too). He says, “But Emma will still exist even if her heart is dark.”

And besides, this is Once Upon A Time, the rules don't matter.
Ursula shrugs, “I’m just the messenger.”

If we're still fool enough after three and a half seasons to be expecting some larger plot arc that will tie all this together, then we're just, well...foolish.

I'm purely watching for the next August 'lying' situation.

Speaking of August, he explained that the Author was trapped in the Storybook itself. OMG! The Author is Flat Stanley!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Super Sneaky International Book Tour

BUTTERFLIES DON'T LIE is going overseas, folks!

During my travels this month I'll be leaving the above mentioned YA coming of age, fabulously smashing, sweet romance comedy (phew) somewhere in Europe in an undisclosed public location.

I'll be leaving instructions inside the book.

1. First of all, enjoy the free read!

2. Secondly, pass the book along to a friend or leave it in another public location for the next person to find.

3. Thirdly, please send me a quick tweet or email to let me know where you found the book. A picture would be extra lovely.

How far it will go? How many hands will it pass through? And will it ever find its way back to Canada?

Fingers crossed! This could go on for years ... YEARS!!!

Good luck to Chloe, Luke, Chet, Blaine, and of course Kelsey on their super sneaky international book tour.

Have you ever found an abandoned book?

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