Month: February 2013 Page 1 of 2

I’m Ridiculous.

I always get a little squeamish and silly when I’m writing the naughtier bits in my story, like “eeeee, I can’t believe this is happening! Oh my god did they really just do that?” It makes for slow going, and sometimes getting through a single page can take an hour or longer because I relish the experience so much. Due to the nature of my main female character’s phobia those scenes are few and far between, so it’s always exciting when I reach one, but it’s also like being back in junior high and being a bit embarrassed to watch two people make out in the Degrassi episode you’re watching in health class. I’ve been known to blush on behalf of my characters.

Go ahead and say it: I’m a dork. An adorable, 12-year-old dork who likes writing about kissing and boobs.

I hope this never changes about me. I hope that readers feel the same way when they get to that part, that my enthusiasm shows through on the page. I hope they cover their mouths in disbelief and squirm a little because it’s so awesome. That’s how I feel about it, even after the twentieth time I read it. Because OMG YOU GUYS, THEY JUST KISSED. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

Panicking. Probably Prematurely.

It seems I’ve decided to take Secret Option C in reference to my last post on whether to keep writing my current work in progress or go back to my completed novel and spend some time editing – that is, to write and schedule a bunch of blog posts instead, thereby avoiding the dilemma altogether.

Anyway. I’m starting to look at my work in progress and what I’ve crossed off on the outline so far, and I’m feeling the  first prickings of concern in the back of my brain. I’m at roughly 23,000 words right now, and I’ve made it through a third of the points on my outline. If things remain consistent, I’m looking at a first draft total of around 75,000 words, which is too short, as far as I’m concerned. And I have absolutely no idea what to do about it, other than wait until I’m finished and see how it all turns out.

This, this here, is the downside of outlining for me. If I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t be obsessing about this right now. It’s utterly pointless, it is. But I can no more stop myself from doing it than I can stop myself from biting my nails or worrying about solar flares.

Some time will definitely be spent this week poring over the outline and seeing if there’s anything I can add to it. I like to have lots of extra words at the end of the first draft so there’s plenty of room for cuts. If I start out with only 75,000, I’m going to end up with a novella.

Frustrating. Ridiculous, but frustrating.



I feel like I’m being pulled in all different directions at once. I want to keep writing my work in progress! I want to go back and edit my completed novel! I want to work on the outline for my next novel! I want to eat all the pie!

Well the last one I can do while I’m working on any of the above. Pie goes with everything.

But seriously, I don’t know how to manage my time when I have so many different things I want to be doing. I’m the sort of person who eats all of one thing on my plate before moving on to the next, which I also consume in full, before starting in on the third, and it’s a bit the same with writing. Right now doing anything that isn’t adding to my work in progress feels like sliding backwards, but I also need to get moving on finishing up some edits on my first book so I can start querying. For some reason it doesn’t feel like a good idea to have two books of the series completed before I start sending it out. I’m just so in love with writing right now, and while editing never feels like work to me, it is harder.

So. Decision time. I think I know what I have to do – take a short break from writing to focus on editing. I can keep putting it off, waiting for time to be “just right” according to various imagined criteria that will never be met, but only one should really matter – whether I’m ready to do the work.

Award Time

I’m honoured and grateful to be nominated for the Liebster Award again, by Sarah, a fellow writer who blogs at …and then there was Sarah. I’ve been nominated before and made up a list of nominees, but I like the questions that Sarah chose so much that I wanted to answer them. Here, first, are eleven random things about me, as per the rules of the award.

  1. I am so very, very left-handed, the only one in my family for several generations. Both my kids are as well, despite the statistical improbability with a right-handed father.
  2. I’m an avid home canner and preserver. Most of my spare time in late summer and early fall is spent canning, pickling, dehydrating and freezing, and our family spends very little on groceries in the winter months.
  3. My front yard is a vegetable garden, and a good portion of my back yard is too. Even though we live on an average city lot, we’re able to grow much of our own produce in the summertime. My favourite thing to grow is either swiss chard or kale, and my biggest failure is squash.
  4. My favourite cocktail is a bellini.
  5. My favourite hot drink is an almond milk chai latte.
  6. My husband and I honeymooned in Ireland, spending a good bit of the trip backpacking and staying in a different village every night. We met a lovely woman who, upon parting with us, gave us a book of traditional Irish names and told us that we would name our children from the book. It turned out that she was right.
  7. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be sushi.
  8. My favourite guilty pleasure show is Storage Wars. Other than that, I really don’t watch much TV at all.
  9. I used to collect shot glasses from all my travels, and before I stopped, I had over two hundred from all over the world.
  10. Ten years after buying our house, we’re finally starting to buy and hang artwork that we love. That’s about the speed we get stuff done around the house.
  11. My favourite tattooes are the starfish on top of my feet. I live in a landlocked city but love the ocean, so every time I look down at them I feel like I’m at the beach.

And Sarah’s questions to her nominees, which will be much easier to answer than thinking up things about myself:

1. Everyone has realistic goals and dream goals. Name one of your dream goals.

I’ve always wanted to make and sell homemade soup at the farmer’s market. I love making soup and giving it away to friends.

2. Name a book you’ve read that is generally considered by critics and the masses to be a good book by most, but that you did not enjoy.

Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I couldn’t even finish it, it was so overly violent and difficult to read I gave up about two thirds of the way through.

3. Is there any genre of music that you can’t stand, under any circumstance?

I don’t like to say never, but country music and hardcore rap really grate my eardrums.

4. Where is the most interesting place in the world that you’ve been?

Oh, this is a hard one. I hiked the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island eight years ago, which was incredible despite the fact that I broke my wrist partway through and had to complete the trip in a splint made of driftwood. So that’s my most interesting travel experience. My favourite place to travel is Abaco Island in the Bahamas, but I don’t know if it’s the most interesting… Joshua Tree National Park in southern California is stark and beautiful, with a landscape that seems almost extraterrestrial. It’s pretty cool… really, I can’t pick one place.

5. Name a current trend or meme (last few years) trend that you can’t stand.

Mommy blogging. Can’t. Stand. It. It’s gone from sharing humorous anecdotes with close friends and family to monetizing children’s lives and oversharing personal details without their kids’ permission.

6. Do you play any MMO games? If so, which?

None, never have. I’m not one for video games, except puzzles and Tiger Woods Golf.

7. Any interesting phobias?

Ha! This is a complicated question. The short answer is yes. Phobias and the anxiety related to them have shaped much of my psyche and how I relate to the world. To varying degrees, and at various points in my life, a phobia of enclosed spaces, open spaces, air travel, medications and other substances. The main character of the book I’m writing right now suffers from a severe phobia of touch, and while there are lots of other things going on in the story, ultimately it’s a story about one person’s journey to overcome a phobia.

8. Has there been a book, song, or movie that has changed your life? How?

Oh, man. I inhaled so many books as a kid. I remember the first book that really blew my mind – that showed me just what storytelling could do – was Watership Down. I still read it every year or two, and I can’t wait until my kids are a bit older so  can share it with them too. And the Nancy Drew books were what got me starting to write mysteries myself.

9. If you had the power to change one law in your country, what would it be and why?

They’ve changed so many laws in the past two years in my country (Canada) I think I’d be more in favour of changing laws back. Reinstating environmental protections would be high up on the list, or maybe a law to ensure that no private/for-pay medical care of any type would be allowed.

10. Do you share your blog with people you know in real life? Why or why not?

Absolutely, although most of them don’t read it since it’s not all that interesting with its narrow focus on writing. It’s certainly not a secret or anything.

11. Is Schrodinger’s cat dead or alive?

Physics actually makes my head pound, so without trying to parse the question, I’m going to say alive. Poor kitty.

Keeping Track of New Ideas

As a writer I find myself constantly thinking up little snippets of stories that sometimes turn into ideas for books or series. Normally I just let them free-float in my mind, coming in and out of the forefront of my thoughts. However I’m sadly unable to keep track of all the threads, especially when I’m deeply involved in writing about another set of characters and the world they inhabit, so today I took half an hour to write some of them down in a document. Nothing fancy, just notes on the genre, age range (I have everything from middle-grade fantasy to literary fiction) and whether it’s a standalone book or a series. Then a few bullet points on the basic plot. Easy to add to as new things come to mind, easy to look at sometime in the future and start building an outline around.

I don’t have any intention of starting on these stories for quite some time. After I’m done the trilogy I’m currently working on, I have another story, which may or may not turn out to be a series, that I plan on tackling. Maybe these ideas I jotted down today will never see the light of day, or maybe I’ll toil over them for months, only to shelve them as learning experiences, but at least they won’t disappear down the drain after swirling around in the sieve that is my brain.

I’m Intrigued…

Have you heard about Editorially yet? It’s a coming-soon tool for writers that looks like it’s going to take the best of several tools for writers and combine them into one. Or, in their words,

[W]e came together to make Editorially, a new collaborative writing and editing platform. We believe that the web is not merely another distribution pipeline, but a unique and deserving space for both reading and writing. Our goal is to support and encourage that writing process — from the first flash of inspiration all the way through to publication, and at every point in between.

Editorially achieves this goal in many ways: a Markdown-based writing environment lets you focus on the words and create clean markup easily; collaboration tools let you invite friends and trusted colleagues to review or edit your work; a document version system lets you mark points in a document’s history and compare versions to see what changed; notes and activity feeds encourage you to reflect on your work, for yourself and for others; and discussion threads recognize that the conversation around a text is just as important as the text itself.

And we’re only getting started. This is not just another text editor: it’s an ecosystem for the writing process. We’ve designed a space that brings you closer to both the words and the people — the only things that matter. (from the Editorially Blog)

Looks like it’s right up my alley. I’ve tried several different text editors and programs like OmmWriter, Scrivener and Google Docs, and none give me quite all I need, so I end up skipping back and forth between them all. Right now I write in OpenOffice and sync with Google Drive, and share either through Drive or email. I’m looking forward to giving Editorially a try once it’s released. I devoutly hope it’s free. I also hope there’s the option to work offline, which I often need to do for one reason or another.

What do you think? What do you use to write and share with?

Six Sentence Sunday

“They’re coming!” I yelled as I reached him, not breaking stride.

“I know, they’re following you on the rooftops, three or four of them,” Dane said. Pushing me in front of him, protecting me with his body, he threw open the door and shoved me inside. “Give me your daggers,” he said, holding out his hand, and I passed them to him before collapsing against the counter, winded. He stood out in the middle of the street for a minute, scanning upward in all directions, both knives ready to throw, before coming back inside, and I realized he was soaked, his white dress shirt nearly transparent from the rain, every muscle of his chest and stomach clearly visible. To my surprise, he grabbed me and held me tightly against him for a moment, his hand gripping the back of my hair.


From Chapter 6 of The Unseeing, first draft.

Full Steam Ahead

After taking a week and a half off writing to fight the worst cold I’ve had in ages, I jumped back in the game last night with a vengeance. I spent a couple hours at the window table of my favourite cafe and banged out over 3,000 words. Nearly an entire chapter!

(It JUST occurred to me that I spent Valentine’s Day alone in a coffee shop, writing, instead of doing something with my husband. The thought never even crossed my mind last night, but then, we don’t normally recognize V-Day. I wonder what the other people there thought about the poor girl sitting alone on Valentine’s Day, typing away and eating all the salted toffee squares!)

As I’ve mentioned before I’m using an outline for this novel, unlike the last one, but I’m enjoying how much freedom I still have and how many little scenes just pop up out of nowhere on a whim. The reason I’d resisted outlining for so long was because I thought it would be too rigid and there would be no room for spontaneity, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Part of this often stems from dialogue, but from time to time it’s an entire scene that seems to just flow naturally from something in the outline.

I stayed at the cafe almost to the last minute before closing so I could hit this milestone:

I started writing just under a month ago and I’m a fifth of the way there. For me, that’s excellent progress.

The kids and I leave for a spring break vacation tomorrow, and I’m not sure how much writing or blogging I’m going to be able to do. Hopefully a decent amount of the former, because there are a couple scenes coming up that I’ve been really looking forward to writing!

Six Sentence Sunday

“I do have a heart!” I said as Dane slid into the driver’s seat. Blood was pounding in my ears, and how could that be possible without a heart to pump it, I told myself. “I do, I do have a heart, that stupid bitch, I have a heart,” I pounded my chest as I spoke. What the woman said had shaken me badly. Where one should be, there’s only ice and darkness. Was that the reason why I was so cold all the time?


From chapter 4 of The Unseeing.

Dream A Little Dream

I’ve been hideously sick all week with some sort of mutant cold so I haven’t written anything in days. My head is too slow and achey and all my thoughts are dull so I figure there’s just no point.

Today a librarian friend of mine posted a link to the Library Hotel in Manhattan, which uses the Dewey Decimal System to give each of its floors and rooms a theme. I love the concept, and I’m still pondering which room I’d choose, if I could have any. Paranormal to honour my own subject matter? Ancient Languages? Mythology? If I had my kids with me, it would have to be Dinosaurs since they’re both mad for them, and I’ve no doubt my husband would pick Advertising.

Then through a series of clicks I found myself reading about the Sylvia Beach Hotel, and this, this my friends, is going to be the home of my next writing retreat. I think I’d like Jane’s room, since I feel a strong kinship with her. A week alone on the Oregon coast with my laptop would be heaven. I’m aiming for late spring, 2014. Something to look forward to, especially in these dark days when I can barely get out of bed!

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