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.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

If I don't want to do PDA, it's not that I have something against you.—Coco Chanel

Some people are comfortable with public displays of affection, some believe such behaviour is too personal to share. Keev and I walk hand-in-hand, we lightly plant kisses, and we sit at the theatre with my hand nested snugly in his on his lap. So, moderate PDA on our part, but we are not offended by more effusive displays. I’ve seen anger erupt in public, and that is far more disturbing than any PDA will ever be.

My YA novel has been out in the wild for five weeks. I have no idea how sales are going and will not know until my royalty cheque, based on percentage of sales, comes in. The first quarter ended yesterday, but it will not be telling since it has not been out in the universe very long. From what I understand, third party payments (e.g. Amazon, Chapters, etc.) take time to come in, so will probably not make this first cheque. Not that any of that matters, but sales are part of the equation of writing for me now and I look at ways to increase them. Which has me pondering book reviews, which are proven to boost sales.

As of this morning, Cutting to the Chase has only been reviewed by one person on, one person on and no one at Chapters-Indigo. The insecure writer in me would panic were it not for the emails and messages people have taken the time to write. Without those, I would be in a fetal position sucking my thumb. So, thank you for the wonderful words of support, for sharing your favourite parts, quotes, and real-life stories that connect to the novel’s content.

I have tried to encourage review writing, not to individuals as that is presumptuous and invasive, but by sharing how the algorithms work on the online book sites. I certainly did not know how it worked before getting into this process, only finding out about it a year or so ago. I read a fair bit and it didn’t cross my mind that what I had to say might be important to an author. I now make the effort to do so—and it is effort. Most of us spend too much time online as it is. Heading off to a book site to leave a review is one more thing to do in busy lives. It is why I cannot urge individuals to do it. What right do I have to impinge on their time? I mean, they’ve already put out money to buy the book and taken the time to read it.  Without a doubt, that is enough.

Yet I continue to ponder sales and reviews and how to generate both. In reflecting on reviews I have written, I realize that I have a caveat. I will only review books I absolutely enjoyed. There is nothing wrong with a three or four-star rating, absolutely nothing—good and very good. Despite knowing that, if I can’t give it a five star, I tend not to review it at all.

This all-or-nothing mentality is what led me to thinking of PDA, and how it’s such an individual, personal choice. I’m comfortable publicly showing affection for books I love, but am much more reserved when it comes to books I liked. And that’s okay. Okay for me and okay for my readers.