LizAnn Carson

Releasing stories into the world

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Holidays have a way of derailing you. You’ve got your plan for the day, week, year, lifetime, all neatly laid out, then wham! – along comes a day outside of the ordinary, and there goes the agenda.

That explains how I managed to miss a post last week. Here in Canada it was Thanksgiving, which we celebrate on the second Monday of October. This schedule has some advantages: the weather isn’t as bad as November in much of the United States. (On the other hand, we almost never get the “white and drifting snow” experience.) Having the holiday on Monday means everyone isn’t shopping around for an extra vacation day to make it a long weekend. We do tend to go all out with the pumpkins and turning leaves, not to mention the turkey, stuffing, and all the accompaniments. However, there are no pilgrim fathers in the Canadian pantheon. There aren’t lots of stories and myths around this holiday. It’s simply what it says it is: a time of thanksgiving. Of gathering together.

(And, of course, a time to head south for just a touch of cross-border shopping. But that’s a different story.)

My Thanksgiving was pretty much as expected, other than eating too much, which wasn’t expected at all. (I like to think I’ve outgrown stuffing myself, but maybe not.) One of our kids is still in town, so he and his wife contributed half of the feast. We digested with a manic four-handed round of table tennis, then carried on to the pumpkin pie. Then the son and daughter went home, and yes, I felt tons of thanksgiving at the moment my head hit the pillow that night.

Lots to be thankful for in that simple little vignette. Plenty of food on the table, health and lightness of heart to take to the table tennis table, love bringing us all together. Soft pillow at the end of it all. Not so different from an American Thanksgiving, really.

Writing an American Thanksgiving can challenge your skill – and not just because of those pilgrim fathers. Because while Canadians honor and celebrate our holiday, it just doesn’t carry the impact the American version does. So when a romance writer in Canada sets a book in the United States, she has to do her fair share of research to get the mores and memes right. That’s part of the fun of writing, for me, the learning and experimenting with ways that aren’t the ones I have here in Canada.

Still, I like my quiet, slightly understated version of Thanksgiving.

(As a bonus, so far we don’t have to contend with Black Friday. I’m thankful!)


Intersections – A Romance Writer Meets the Real World

Driving home sedately in the right-hand lane, I found myself behind an empty and rickety school bus out for a leisurely Sunday stroll. I moved to the empty middle lane, planning to do a quick nip around the lumbering thing. What is it about empty lanes, that they can’t stay empty when they’re expected to? Did every other car on the road have the same idea? That school bus beat me to the highway by a good city block.

Generally I don’t mind too much being overtaken by real life. But by an empty school bus? Please!

I remained calm. I received brownie points.

To be overtaken by “real” life is pretty common for me, perhaps because I spend so much of my days immersed in the worlds of my novels: heart-churning, gut-wrenching situations, heroes to swoon for and heroines to cheer for. Not to mention the challenge of conveying all the heart-churning and gut-wrenching with the best possible words in the best possible order. So when I’m finally forced to go to the grocery and clean a bathroom or two, it’s a serious dose of life overtaking art.

Where this is all going – where is it going, anyway? To the intersection. Not the block-behind-the-bus one, but the one where the best possible thing I can do for my hapless hero is send him out for macaroni and a tomato, or set him to scrubbing a bathtub. I could produce dissertations on the utter futility of trying to keep the cat’s hair off the sofa, or on the sheer beauty of a functioning slow cooker at 5:30 pm – daily life in my household. Sooner or later – an intersection! – a heroine will despairingly wonder why she chose a white cat to go with her hero’s black slacks, and a hero will produce an instant stew to impress the light of his life.

So in this, my first-ever blogging adventure, I’ll browse the intersections: bits from my “real” life and pieces from my writing life – including news about my books’ progress and when they’ll surface in reality (early in 2015, I’m hoping). I hope you’ll enjoy my meanderings.

I’m considering participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. I’ve got an idea – and a month or so to flesh it out into a plot. Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know how it all plays out.