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


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life. Omar Khayyam

One day young,

Next day old.

What happened in between?

Life.


I wrote this…I think. It’s in my notes dated March 22, 2017. I usually attribute quotes, so I’m pretty sure it’s mine. If not, please correct me. I tend to jot down short poems, single stanzas, isolated sentences, capturing random thoughts, transient memories, elusive emotions. I scribble them in my notepad or dictate them into my iPad. They are everywhere—a writer’s chaotic comfort.

This is the third time I have to apologize for my delinquency. I haven’t even kept up with reading blogs that I love to follow. Blogs, not just of interest, but written by people I want to support because they are good and kind and talented. I apologize for that too.

Alas, I have been busy with the “in between.” I’ve been enjoying a season of gardening and outdoor living, editing the final copy of Mags’s story, relishing in the company of good friends and struggling with personal loss. Life.

I think I’m back now, ready to move ahead on so many projects, including returning to historical fiction and historical romance. I still have some YA stories that need to be told, so I suspect I will be playing in the writers’ playground of see-sawing genres and spinning on the carousel of ideas. It’s an enticing vision and, like a child, no doubt I will exhaust myself and go to bed each night dizzy, weary and smiling.

So third apology. But third time’s the charm, right?




Wednesday, 31 May 2017

My cup runneth over.

Wow! This was a longer absence than I planned. We had a lovely getaway on Salt Spring Island and enjoyed a week-long visit with friends. We’ve freshened up our verandah downstairs and refinished our side deck. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I have been preoccupied with overindulging…too much food, too much wine, and too much fun. Is there really such a thing as too much fun?

It’s back to work for me this week. Mags’s story has rusticated on the shelf for a month. It’s time to pick it up, dig through it and see if I’ve got a second YA on my hands. I’ve been looking forward to it and will be diving in as soon I post this.

This month I’ve had amazing feedback on my historical romance, Love Denied, as well as a “revise and resend” from two publishers. Revision ideas are percolating in the back of my brain. One publisher has a call out for novella-length stories. I have three that I haven’t looked at in a while. Perhaps I should be delving back into those and seeing if they’re up to snuff? I’ve been missing historical research and am pulled toward returning to my Raven’s Path sequel as well. And, as always, new concepts beckon—in young adult, in historical romance, and in historical fiction.

I am grateful that my well of ideas is full. Now I just have to figure out how I want to go about emptying it.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Content is king, but promotion is queen.— P.J. Feinstein

How much author promo should I be doing? I tweet, post on Instagram, make all calls on my Facebook page and update my YA blog. While it is part and parcel of being an author, you would think that I could keep things to a minimum since I am not self-published. Yet I see very well-known authors doing the same. Authors with an agent, a large publishing house behind them and a history of sales. It seems it is now embedded in publishing. For me, the reality of online sales is that my book is competing with millions of other books. How does one gain visibility if no one even knows it exists?

I spend too much time on my devices working to develop exposure. Trying to balance promo with social media fatigue is proving to be challenging. It is a fine line between getting the word out, wearing yourself out and tiring out your followers. I mean, folks only want to see my book flogged so many times. When does it shift from interesting and informative to eye-rolling frustration? I wish I had the answer.

In an attempt to keep things varied, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of free software. My latest is Adobe Spark Video. I’m doing a giveaway over at Goodreads, a signed copy of Cutting to the Chase, and I wanted something different to promo.

What do you think? Does it add interest or is it just another way of presenting same old, same old? Are you tired of seeing authors endlessly promoting? Have you found a way around it? If so, what do you do to get the word out about your book or someone else’s? I would love to hear from both readers and writers on this.


And if anyone has any ideas about how to get my book into the hands of my target audience—teens—please, pretty please, share those too!


Friday, 21 April 2017

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. —Tony Robbins

I wrote Cutting to the Chase in one month. It has taken me far longer to write Mags’s story. Sometimes life got in the way, as it does and should. I believe in putting the passivity and insularity of writing on hold and becoming an active participant in the world around me. I’ll stop to give lovin’ to my fur girls, to spend time with my husband, and to enjoy the company of friends. I’m also lured away by a sunny day and the promise of fresh air and gardening. But these things did not prevent timely writing.

Part of the problem was the distraction of having my first novel published. Between celebrating and promoting, my mind was more often centred on Lizzy’s tale than Mags’s. It has been an exciting ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but it definitely cut into the time I dedicate to writing. I will need to look at that and see how I can balance it better in the future.

The bigger problem was a stalemate with creativity. My original story arc didn’t hold up and I struggled to adjust. Even when I did have a sense of where it was heading, the words didn’t come easily. At the beginning of the month, I was finally frustrated enough to get angry—with myself. I believe we choose how to respond to any given situation, and I chose to use that anger to whip myself into shape. Enough was enough.

First, I set a definitive goal. I would finish Mags’s story by April 30. Second, I was going to create empty time in my life to allow my thoughts an opportunity to be unfettered. To do this, I stopped reading on the elliptical. I’d been using that time to catch up on my TBR pile. With digital recorder nearby, I would exercise before my scheduled writing hours. I hate exercising. It bores me. So, sure enough, within ten minutes my mind would start to reach for things to think about and inevitably it went to writing. Eureka!

I’m happy to report that after 20 days of scrambling back upstairs and pressing ‘play’ on that digital recorder, I’ve managed to double my word count. I need to backfill a couple of early scenes but essentially, Mags’s first draft is done. It will go into a cyber drawer for a month or so before I pull it out for round two and tear it apart. But that will go much faster. Not just because the essence is there, but because I’ve learned how I work. I need firm deadlines and an opportunity to be still…while moving. That’s when the ideas and the words sneak in.

Who knows, maybe I’ll write my way to fitness?! J





Wednesday, 12 April 2017

And now for something completely different...

I’ve shared a lot about my debut novel lately, and I always talk plenty about my writing. I meander through my mind from time to time and share personal ponderings. Once in a while, I expose my political views. However, that’s such an unpleasant well-travelled path online these days, I’m trying to steer well away from it. So, today, I’m going to veer from all of the above and share a snippet from a significant era in my life.

You had a glimpse of this part of me in my November blog post. Prompted by the death of Leonard Cohen and needs of the Christmas season, I posted my rewrite and performance of Hallelujah. That performance with our wonderful musical theatre troupe, the Madcap Players, showcased my serious side. But the company wasn’t called Madcap for nothing. Comedy was a mainstay.

This clip is a tribute to vaudeville’s Sophie Tucker. Opening with my husband and I doing a Soph joke, I tried to co-opt Bette Midler’s style from the 70s. In homage to Sophie Tucker, Bette based many of her stand-up comedy routines at the time on the bawdy vaudeville star.  Not as edgy as Bette but still a little risqué, this is the kind of number I loved to perform.

Our production was held around this time every year. I suppose that is why it’s on my mind. Months of brainstorming, writing, dancing and singing came to fruition each April in the form of a three-act cabaret-style show. So much work, so much laughter and so much love went into each one. The creation, the performances, and the friendships are indelibly stamped on our hearts.

The quality is not great, but here it is. Another peek into this author’s world.