Martha's World

Martha's World
Alberta is the setting for Martha's Vine

Monday, January 31, 2011

Final chapters...almost like giving birth

I pushed through Chapter 30 today...exhausted. Took me all day to push out 3-thousand words. I have to wait for the characters to tell me what's going on, and some days they talk and act so fast, I can barely type fast enough to keep up. Today, they moved in slow motion. And it was excruciating.

But I prevailed and met my daily quota of 3-thousand words...and my January 31st goal of 30 Chapters. Only 5-10 chapters to go and the first draft is done.

Going to bed now.


Oh, BTW, my crystal butterfly WON! It will appear on Royale tissue boxes by May 2011. Thank you to all my friends who voted.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Martha's Vine II is nearing completion but time out for Narnia!

My brain is so happy to be in all the action of the ending of a novel. Things are moving in both camps. The combatants have different names, but the struggles to survive and thrive remain the same. Times are tough in post-apocalyptic Alberta.

Don't worry, your favorites are still there, but they are taking a bit of a breather after that last big battle. Winter has helped to cool things down. Snow has a way of doing that in a world without snow graders and city snow removal crews.

This weekend, we have our grandkids. We are taking them to a Narnia exhibit at the Telus World of Science. It looks like it will be fun. We must have 3 children up and dressed and out of the house by 7:30 AM. That's gonna be one fast breakfast.

Are you reading this blog? If so, type your name into the comment box below. Anyone can post. Depending upon the strength of your interest in Martha's Vine, I might choose you as a reader of the entire novel once it reaches a 2nd draft.


A shot taken in England. Why am I posting a shot from England? Because I will be there the end of April attending the event of the century: the marriage of Wills and Kate.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Steven Tyler -- you made me cry

Wow, some days it's so hard to find inspiration to write. So, I won't talk about Martha's Vine. Except that I am writing Chapter 26 today.

I want to talk about American Idol. I saw the most touching thing on last night's show, the Milwaukee auditions. A singer came with his wife who had been crippled in a car accident. The three judges called her in before they announced that her husband was going to Hollywood. I had a sneaking suspicion that one of the judges would be very tender towards her. I thought it would be JLo...a woman. But no.

Randy was no surprise; he looked like he was listening to prompts from the producers, and JLo was rather reserved. But Steven Tyler knocked my socks off...and brought me to tears. What a tender moment. He was so sweet to the woman.

I liked Tyler as one of the new American Idol judges...but I love him now. Good for you, Steven. Good for you. So glad that after all these years in a hard rock lifestyle, you have maintained a precious heart.


Dedicated to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Monday, January 24, 2011

Staring at a blank page

Here it is...9 you know where your novel's words are? Nope. My silly, busy day resulted in a wonderful new laser mouse and new desperately needed eyeglasses, but not a single word on the Vine.
Makes me upset with me.
And what's worse...I opened up a page upon which I can usually spin a tale, but nothing came...not a word, not a gesture, not a thought.
So, I shall do what writers sometimes do best...procrastinate. *grin* And write a blog. I think that's who designed blogs, you know...procrastinating writers.

Tomorrow...there is always tomorrow.


Shot outside West Edmonton Mall...this AM...while on my way to tutor two new students on a Sony camera.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Glad to be a writer

It's Sunday...a good day to stay in bed and listen to the wind blowing outside. Once again, I am so glad to be a writer. I get to work indoors. Meeting my quota today on Martha's Vine TWO. Hoping to take a bite out of tomorrow's quota, too.

Sending all of you my very best wishes for a wonderful week filled with all good things


A wee bit of summertime to encourage those of us still deep in winter.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Absence makes the novelist's heart grow fonder

You know that silly saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder?" Well, I have seen too many instances where it simply isn't true of the human heart, but of the novelist's there is truth.

I have this love affair going on between me, my computer, and my novel. A three-way. More or less.  If I want my novel to sing to me, to draw me back in, back to my computer keyboard, all I have to do is be away from the computer with something else demanding my attention Like working for a living. Doesn't take long for me to be yearning to have my keyboard back under my fingers again.

I met all of my outside responsibilities today, and then could hardly wait to get back home, to writing again. You see, Brad came up with this absolutely devilish plan. But little does he know--disloyalty can work on both sides of the fence. Ha-ha, Brad!

If you are local, and you've read Martha's Vine, and you'd like to know what happens next, then come to our Coming Out party on February 23rd.

Have a great weekend,

Ooh, pretty metal...on a motorcycle. Yummy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Humor is good

I must share a secret with you. Sometimes, when I am writing, I plant little jokes into my narrative to amuse myself. Writing can get physically exhausting, but a shot of humor picks me up and gives me a little edge to go another 500 words or so.

In fact, many times in Martha's Vine, the humor that comes out of the mouths of the characters is because I've asked them to say something funny. Humor is so energizing.

I don't particularly like spending time with Brad or The Man...but if somebody in their presence can crack a joke...I am good. That's what happened today.

Wishing you a a touch of impromptu humor to brighten and enliven your day.


It's a wonder my poor neighbor can find his house. Maybe he won't be able to in a day or so -- more snow coming.

The book signing in West Edmonton Mall is coming...please tell your friends.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Major re-structuring of the chapters today

Today, I did what needed to be done. Today, I overhauled my first 10 chapters. Did some switch-ups and rewriting...and began matching up the Under Chapters. It took me away from moving further ahead with the new chapters, but it needed to be done.

I am amazed at how much I have learned about writing a novel...from the first book to this one...and I think it shows in both my writing and the architecture of the book.

I now know the major turning point in the story, and I have seen the ending. The characters did their reveal today...while I was driving my car, of course. So, I scrawled it all down at traffic lights.

When I say I have seen the ending, I mean that. I see mini acts, scenes from the story...alive and happening in my head, complete with dialogue. How I love being a writer. And I have since I could first hold a pencil. I don't remember a day in my life that I wasn't writing something.

Cheers everyone!

I love something else, at my back deck with a sunset. Pretty, huh?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Next book signing date set - February 19th at WEM

Just a quick blog entry for tonight.

I now have a book signing set for Saturday, February 19th, in West Edmonton Mall. Hoping people will come out 11:30-3:30 pm. We will be inviting readers to attend the "Coming Out" party---Sheree will read the next 3 chapters of the sequel.

Sign up on FACEBOOK

My son Ryan and I. Photo by my friend, Sylvia Labelle.

Hurrah, I am finally into the Under Chapters

Those of you who have read Martha's Vine know that the Under Chapters deal with life in The Man's camp. I decided to spend my time on Matthew's world and his people for the first 1/2 of the book. But today, I revisited The Man.

If you've never written before, then you don't know that a writer must immerse herself into a character's mind, even the villains, in order to get the right "voice." I always have a hard time mucking about in The Man's head -- some pretty nasty stuff in there... but once I get inside, and the writing begins, I like it there. The Man never fails to interest me with his cold-blooded cruelty. Are there really people like that in this world? Well, I once studied serial killers -- I was going to become a criminologist -- so I know this to be true. There are some people whose mind is as cold as hard-packed January snow.

Speaking of which, it is so good to see the snow has stopped and the sun is casting golden rays through my window.

STOP reading if you don't want to read a little snippet of an Under Chapter I wrote today:


THE TRUCKS raced in single file up the main highway. The Man and his guards were in the lead truck. Behind them sat a woman. Her thin body was hunched over. She stared at her manicured fingernails, and listened while her "brother" laid out his plans. She said nothing.
The truck’s driver glanced into the rear-view mirror. The woman looked up. He caught her eye and shot her a knowing grin. She stared back at him, her face as pale as her blond hair, her eyes wide with fear. With one thick finger, he tapped the brim of his cap in greeting; the cap was tattered, greasy, and worn, but a large gold ring, surrounded by a collection of diamonds, sparkled with newness. “Where we taking her?”



After some serious shoveling the other day, I took some shots. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snowy greetings to all of you!

Greetings, Flickr friends!
Originally uploaded by Hadassah28 (Sheree signed off & writing the Vine2)

I hope this Monday is treating you well. We have already shoveled once, and can see we will be shoveling again in a few hours. It's really not so bad...kind of fun after awhile...especially when you give yourself over to it.

Warmest greetings and blessings to all of you!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

21 chapters done

Happy Sunday, everyone.

I am heading into the new week with 21 Chapters finished and 60-thousand words penned towards the completion of Martha's Vine:The Sequel.

This is my last full week of concentrated writing before I get back into tutoring and teaching. So, my head will be down, and my shoulder will be to the proverbial wheel.

Wish me luck.

And to all of you I wish a week filled with blessings and much happiness. And if you live in Edmonton, I wish you less snow.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Damn the torpedoes...and everything else!

An unfavorable review of Martha's Vine was posted to Amazon. I haven't read it; nor will I. Not that I don't want to read it...but I can't read it right now. I am very careful not to read anything that might affect my creative decisions when I am writing. To be clear, I read very little of anything when I am writing.

Why? I don't want to be inspired or manipulated or motivated into writing something in accordance with what someone else has written, says, or believes to be true about Martha's Vine. If I am to write, then I can't allow for naysayers or strong opinions to meld into my writings. I must stay true to my own voice, no matter what. If I look over my shoulder, if I second-guess myself, if I begin to do double-takes on my ideas, the creative process staggers and it becomes something else. Something not of the creator. That is what I guard against when I am writing.

I will write a 2nd book, and whether I win or lose, whether I finish way out in front, or I finish dead last...none of that matters. The only thing that matters is reaching the finish line, another published novel, with my voice intact.

To those who have read Martha's Vine

I owe so much to the people who have read Martha's Vine and who then provided me with their feedback, asked questions, and shared their beefs and bouquets. I had eager ears when I WASN'T writing. Many of their observations and comments were taken into consideration before I began penning the sequel. And I thank you all profusely.

But for now...and for at least the next 8 weeks...any critiques will just have to wait. I have a sequel to write, and I will write it...torpedoes and everything else be damned.

BTW, I finished Chapter 19 today.


I met with three gals today: Wonda, Asheena, and Ashley. They are avid readers of Martha's Vine, and they have become great friends and supporters. We are planning the "Coming Out" party for the 3rd week in February. We are also initiating a quiz on the Martha's Vine FB page with fun facts. When answered correctly, you will qualify for an invitation to the party. Fun, prizes, and best of all, I will read aloud the first THREE chapters of the sequel.

For those of you  who cannot attend the party, I may do a virtual party...a reading on YouTube...but only if I see there is support for that option. So let me know. Let your voice be heard. *grin*


Only -35 today...and a little more snow...not a dump...not yet. My backyard continues to mushroom upward with great heaps of snow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm here for the party!

I am often asked where I get my ideas I plan the plot twists...the characters...and the storyline.

My answer: I don't. That's right, I don't.

I went for dinner with a friend, who is also a fan of MV, last night...and she asked me about how I write. Here is what I told her:

Everyday, when I face my computer and my open Word program, it's like facing a set of barred doors, thick doors, butcher block doors, the kind of doors that would guard a castle keep. Behind those doors, I can hear people's voices, people arguing, people laughing, people having a party. And I so want to get to that party, but I must push my way into the room first.

Some days, the doors are easy to open, but some days they take everything I've got inside me to push them open so I can take part in the party. So, I push as hard as I can. Once those doors open, and I enter the party, the rest is pretty easy. I just become part of the group, listen in on conversations, and watch interactions. Like a movie in my head. Then I write as fast as I can type.

The worst is when I manage to push the doors open, but I am in my shower or driving my car. Then I go half nuts trying to memorize everything I am hearing and saying. That part makes me panic.

I made my quota again today. And that's after getting a very slow start on my day. But luckily today, the doors swung open with a single push. And that's such a good feeling.

I am close to 1/2 way through the book. I am finding Ruth's life to be totally intriguing, but the wild dogs back on the compound are giving Matthew's people a very hard time.


Do you know of someone else who has read Martha's Vine, but who isn't reading this blog? Would you please send them the link? Thanks.

Isn't she sweet...I shot this little mother fox two springs ago. She was injured, but she was so involved with her babies. I found her courage to be awe-inspiring.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Crafty Idea

I'll bet those of you who have read Martha's Vine...all the way to the end...think I planned the ending as some sort of crafty way to hook you on the next book. But that's not why I ended the book the way I did. The fact you are hooked, and waiting for the sequel was a side-effect.

I actually did it to force a discipline on myself. I never make promises I can't keep. I will bend over backwards to keep a promise. My ending was a kind or promise to my readers...and I am now bending myself in 1/2 to keep that promise to you.

Just finished another 3-thousand words today...I will start Chapter 18 tomorrow.

Would you like a sneak peak?

For those of you who would rather not know anything about the 2nd book, STOP reading now! (Yeah, good luck with that.)

~~A little backstory...Ruth has been captured by The Man. She lives under his command now. She is not happy about it, but she is making the best of things. It's been months since she has seen her husband, months since she has lived at Matthew's compound. One of The Man's soldiers has befriended her.~~


RUTH JUMPED at the unexpected sound. She was alone in the craft room. She was staring out the window. The darkness was inky black, but moonlight illuminated the fir trees near the home. 

“Hi,” a male voice said. “You alone here?”
Panic rose in Ruth’s chest, but then she relaxed—it was Mervyn. “Hi,” she said. She held a hand to her chest. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“That wouldn’t be good,” Mervyn said as he walked toward her. He smiled. “I looked for you at dinner. Where were you?”

“Not feeling so good.”

“Can’t sleep?”


“How about some fresh air?

“Fresh air?”

“Yeah— Let’s take a snowmobile out.”

Ruth smiled at the thought. She’d had wonderful times at Matthew’s camp when she and Peter, and a group of friends would go out night riding. They’d stop along the trail, start a fire, and have a cookout under the stars. She remembered the stillness and the intense brightness of the stars. But mostly the deep almost heavenly quiet. It had spoken to her soul.

“Yes, I’d like that.”

“Got a suit?” Ruth shook her head. “I’ll find one for you.”

Before long, Ruth was dressed and the pair headed to the Quonset hut. Mervyn grabbed a lantern, and he lit their way to the machines. “This one is good,” he said. “It’s gassed up.”

“Just one?” Ruth asked. She looked disappointed.

Mervyn smiled. “Oh, the deerhunter lady wants her own machine.” He shook his head. “Yes, we’d better stick to one.” He pulled off his glove and started the engine. “Don’t want to piss off The Man.”

“You won’t upset him by taking this one out?”

“No— I’ll just say I was scouting. He’ll be okay with that.”

“With a woman?”

Mervyn laughed. “He won’t know that part.” 

He ran the machine out of the hut, turned, and patted the seat behind him. “C’mon.” Ruth straddled the seat and grasped his sides. She could feel the hardness of his body through his snowsuit and heat rushed through her. She blinked in surprise.

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.” 

Mervyn pressed down the thumb throttle and the machine roared ahead, its headlight bucking up and down in the trees as it passed. 

Ruth closed her eyes and yielded to the power of the machine. Wind mixed with tiny ice darts stung her cheeks and her eyes, and she leaned into the man’s back for protection. The machine hit a drift and bucked upwards nearly unseating her. Mervyn slowed down. He reached back and grabbed her arm, pulling it tighter around his waist.

Ruth didn’t resist. She shivered.

PS Let me know you are reading this blog...leave a comment. If I can write 3-thousand words a day, surely you can write 10. *grin*

Cold and grey today...and light snow falling.

Just a pretty shot...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Sigh of Relief

I am 15 chapters into Martha's Vine: Book TWO... that's over a third of the way finished. I am so glad to be where I am in the book because the hardships the characters are facing take their toll on me, too. Today, I breathe a literary sigh of relief. In their world... they just got together for a communal dinner in the Meeting House. The atmosphere is light and the conversation jovial... well, here... let me show you...


Children continued their raucous play, stopping only to present a teary-eyed, breath-hitching injustice to their parent for resolution.

 “Where’s the Discipline Committee when you need it?” the pony-tailed captain said with a wry grin. His tablemates laughed; they knew of his low tolerance for children—he had none, and didn’t want any. The captain coveted his supply of condoms, refusing relationships with women who were interested in procreating. “Ankle-biters…”

Meteor clapped him on the back. “Oh, c’mon…the right woman will come your way…and then you’ll want enough kids to make your own baseball team.” The captain gave him a sour look. “I mean look at this little guy—” Meteor reached across and took Gordon from Anna’s lap. “Want to hold him?” 

The captain flushed. “No. Thanks.” Everyone laughed again. 

Gordon wrapped his arms around Meteor’s neck and began to bounce in Meteor’s lap.“Ow— Not there little buddy,” Meteor said with an exaggerated squeak.

The pony-tailed captain roared. “See what I mean?” The rest of the table joined in his mirth while Meteor gingerly returned Gordon to his mother.

An elder drew Matthew’s attention. “Do we even have a Discipline Committee anymore?”

“Yeah—and what happened to the Morals and Ethics committee?” asked another elder.

Matthew looked up and shrugged. “Maybe it’s not necessary anymore. It was always more Brad and Vince’s baby anyway.”

“Any word about Brad?” asked the first elder.

Meteor fielded the question. “No. And any conversation about him is now over.” 


I am such a tease, aren't I? *grin*


So cold here... and after that huge dump of snow... we are expecting 3 more days of the white stuff. But at least we aren't suffering like those poor folks in Queensland, Australia...those flood waters are wicked.

 My backyard view... last night. The skies have been so pretty.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A big fat envelope came to my door today!

Oh, I got a surprise today. A big one. I am being such a good little writer, and I've pushed everything else aside, including my photography, in order to meet my daily word quotas on the Vine2. But a mailman got my attention.

You see, I entered an image (one of 10 entries actually) into the Royale tissue box competition. It's a photo of a crystal butterfly. Well, I knew I'd made the cut from among 15-thousand images. But today I got the announcement that the image had won the finalist round, and was now eligible for the GRAND prize.

The honor comes with a nice chunk of change. And I need it... we are running a little bit to the negative right now because of all our expenses with Martha's Vine: Book One. brain is always on the publicity potential.

If I can win the Grand Prize, it might mean some media coverage..and interest in me..and possibly a little novel I have penned.

Oh, please, send up a prayer for me. I am happy to win the contest, but if the contest leads to PUBLICITY for me and the that would be worth millions to me.

Snow has stopped here...but more is on the way. Day is grey, but I am writing. Stay tuned. I might post another little teaser tomorrow.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

An aplogy to my eager readers who are anticipating a glimpse into Martha's Vine: Book 2

Sorry, I know many of you are waiting to read the continuing saga of Martha's Vine. But I can't reveal that just yet. Maybe it will help a little to know how I write.

I build the skeleton of the scene or chapter first - one bone at a time. Sometimes, entire collections of bones come into my head and I rush to put them to paper - but they are still only bones. Not that attractive.

Later, I come back to do the dressing, the fleshing out of the bones. Sometimes, I trim or add a little fat to my skeleton prose. Sometimes, I do wholesale butchering.

It's not ready, till it's ready. But it's getting there. I am on Chapter 15 and that's a 1/3 of the way through the book.

Until then, here is some of what I wrote today (I must do a little back story now and then for readers who might not have read Book One, so this is a memory of one of the characters):

The late autumn snow had drifted down, unapologetically covering an already desolate world with even greater bleakness. The heavy mass congested city streets making them impossible for the average vehicle to traverse. Many still tried, shoveling as far as they and their neighbors could, but fell down exhausted, thwarted, and very angry when their shovels reached a major artery and the realization that without a snowplow, they weren’t going any further. They trudged back to their homes and did what they could to wait out the storm. The pragmatists among them did what they could to wait out the winter.

Seniors, the disabled, and those still hospitalized were the first to expire. Caregivers had to choose between their professional ethics and their families—with their families taking priority. For those caring souls who remained behind, a lack of food, no fuel, no heat, frozen water pipes, and an innate sense to survive soon sent them—albeit, reluctantly, and with several backward glances—in search of a better life, leaving their patients to starve or freeze to death. Some patients, upon learning of their fate, threw back their covers, crawled from their beds, scavenged up warm clothes and boots, and joined the race for survival on the streets. 

Martha’s friend, Amanda, had done that. The feisty woman ripped out the intravenous tubes in her arms, kicked over the table laden with pill bottles, and turned her back on cancer. She returned to her home, and made the best of the Change—thriving, and not just surviving. Martha wondered about her little warrior friend with the heavy purse. She smiled. She had been entirely surprised and delighted when Amanda showed her the brick hidden in her handbag that neatly took down the Crazy outside the church. But along with the sweet memory came another memory—a vile image of a gunshot wound and blood. Martha erased both images from her mind.

Amanda was one of the rare ones. For the most part, only those who owned RVs, those who had done some survival planning before the Change hit, and those willing to walk away from their homes in favor of the countryside—only those survived the devastation of heavy winter snows and minus 50 wind chills. The ones with snowmobiles parked in their garages had an edge, too. Especially the ones with jerry cans filled with fuel. However, with the blessing came a curse—the battle between the Haves and the Have-nots. The Haves soon learned that the having necessitated a constant state of alertness. Those who had never used a gun, who had sworn never to touch a gun, coveted their new weapons and their boxes of ammunition. 

Martha’s family had been prepared. An RV stocked with food, fuel, and weapons awaited them at the Glowing Embers RV Park near Winterburn. Their first thought, however, was to get to a cosmopolitan center, like Edmonton—a big city where emergency services would be in full swing. After all, if power were to be restored, it would happen in a big city first. 

Or so they had surmised.


A view of my backyard today... see the big pile of snow to the left? That's a bird-feeder. I really should dig it out. Did you know that birds eat snow? They do. I watched them.