Thursday, 2 November 2017

National Novel Writing Month

I am participating in what is affectionately known by writers as NaNo. The idea is to spew words out every day during the month of November. There is no expectation that at the end of the month you will have a polished novel. The goal is to have a finished one, and that's half the battle. It's a format that works well for me. I hate competing with people. That is not why I participate. I compete with myself. Can I hit the minimum needed, 50,000 words? Can I get more down today than I did yesterday? Can I write in both the morning and the evening? (I am typically a morning-only writer.)

Cutting to the Chase was written during NaNo. It underwent many revisions afterward but the basic story remained intact. It's amazing what your mind shares with you when you have no time to censor it or to nitpick about what you've put down on the page. It's a freeing experience.

You can see my actual wordcount progress on the widget at the right of the page. Below is a gadget that should track percentage, although I'm not sure it works when embedded in a post. If it still says 11% after tomorrow, know that it is a static icon and it's not tracking anything. Check out the widget instead.

To all my writer friends participating, happy words to you! To all my non-writing friends, have a terrific November!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

We’re In This Together: Celebrating Writers Who Persevere

Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!


Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.

But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!

Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?

If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere.  Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.


We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).

Happy writing!

Angela & Becca

Saturday, 30 September 2017

There's no writer's block; there's only distraction. —Carolyn Chute

I am writing, although I have not mastered my daily schedule. I'm optimistic that I will return to a solid routine this coming week. With my second YA novel launching in two weeks, I have been distracted by aspects of promotion. It is this writer's bane, as I far prefer sitting in self-enforced solitary confinement and babbling through my fingers onto the page.

Here is my latest promo effort, a short trailer for Color Me Gray. I'm hoping its simplicity is appealing. I may play in Movie Maker to create a longer one, but when you stray from images owned into the plethora online, you risk infringing on copyright. Hunting down free-use images or permission is another rabbit hole that I've been trying to avoid. We'll see. I may tumble down it yet.

In the meantime...

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Saving the cat, one story at a time.

I’m finally dipping into Save the Cat this weekend. Written by Blake Snyder, it’s a craft book for screenwriters that is highly recommended for writers of fiction. Basically, the concept is that if you want people to invest themselves in your novel, your protagonist needs to do something fairly early in your story that makes your reader feel sympathetic or empathetic towards him or her. It has to be meaningful enough to provide some insight into why a reader should hang out with your character for a few hundred pages.

We watched St. Vincent the other night, starring Bill Murray as an alcoholic curmudgeon. The writer starts Save the Cat moments very quickly tapping into Murray’s grumpy quirkiness as he feeds the neighbour’s son sardines, insists the kid buckle up in the car, and funds a hooker’s ultrasound. As a result, you’re rooting for this loser to find his way out of the quagmire of his life.

In Cutting to the Chase, Lizzy is not a likeable protagonist. She’s not meant to be. Told through her point of view, she is an angry teen submerged in pain. Yet she has a Save the Cat moment fairly early in the story. We get a glimpse of Lizzy’s core when her father bails on her brother’s basketball tournament. She steps up and goes to the tournament in place of their father. Interesting that it’s there even though I did not consciously choose to insert a Save the Cat moment. Of course, as Lizzy’s life unravels, we get more and more insight into what is going on, but the tournament is where we first see clearly that there are layers to this unhappy girl.

There is much more to the book and I look forward to exploring Snyder’s concept of beats. For now, my husband is thrilled because I actually want to watch another movie this weekend. He loves movies and I’m just not a big fan of sitting and watching television. So he will be getting his fix, while I get to apply and analyze the craft of scriptwriting. It’s a win-win!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Writers keep writing and publishers publishing - it never grows boring. —Michael Dirda

Many of you have read this news elsewhere, so I apologize for the repetition. However, I have some people who only check in here so I’d like to ensure they have the most recent update on my writerly life. Mags’s story has officially been picked up by Evernight Teen Publishing. Color Me Gray should join Cutting to the Chase out in the world in October.

What does this mean for my writing goals? More energy, more drive, and even more enthusiasm. It was incredibly affirming to see my first novel in print. To be fortunate enough to have two published? Well, darn it all, it makes me feel like I just might be a real writer!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Oh, Spring! I want to go out and feel you and get inspiration. —Emily Carr

I’ve always loved hot weather—the hotter, the stickier, the better. But the last few weeks of 30-degree-plus weather, combined with the haze of smoke from forest fires on the mainland, knocked the stuffing out of me. I was lethargic and unmotivated. I continued to walk my hour a day but switched it to early morning before it got too hot. I still worked for a couple of hours in the garden each day, but it was sweaty, uncomfortable, and not remotely fulfilling. Fatigued by heat, I could not summon much enthusiasm to be productive in the afternoons.
Last night it rained for the first time in two months. Not a deluge, mind you, but some honest-to-goodness splattering on parched soil. Today the skies are blue, the sun is bright and the air is refreshingly cool. I’m sure I can hear the flowers and trees burping in contentment. My energy is surging along with the rivers and ideas for writing are popping up like the neon green buds in the pasture beyond our property.

I guess I’m no longer a summer girl. I’m more of a spring woman, appreciating the gift of new opportunities for growth whatever time of year they arrive. Thank you, Mother Nature, for nurturing the land. And now, riding on the high of crisp smoke-free air, I’m off to cultivate the fallow field that has been my mind these past two weeks.

Wishing everyone a little spring in your lives! J