Month: March 2013

Here’s a Little Pick-Me-Up For You

Life got you down? Maybe you’re not happy with what you wrote this week, editing is driving you around the bend, you’re fed up waiting for the snow to melt or you just stubbed your toe?

Consider this. I have a part-time job at a natural baby-goods store and one of my responsibilities – and I am absolutely not making this up – is to sniff used (albeit in theory washed) cloth diapers to assess them for consignment.

So if things aren’t going your way, just remember this: at no point today did you have to stick your nose in a diaper and take a big whiff. I did.

You’re welcome.

Because It’s A Day Ending in Y, I Must Be Changing My Mind

So, a few weeks ago, when I was talking about how there were some things that I was thinking about editing, but decided not to because I liked those scenes?

Yeah, they’re all gone.

It was all stuff that I loved, it’s true. But I loved it for me, not for the story, and it didn’t offer anything relevant to the plot. THIS is the hard choice that I wasn’t ready to make before. THIS is why I got five form rejections in five days. It hurts my heart a little bit to see all that stuff go. But you know what? It’s all right. I don’t regret having written it in the first place, and I’m glad I have my previous drafts saved so I can hang on to those deleted scenes. Even my first draft, which I look back on now and just kind of shake my head. I’ve come a long way in the past six months and I absolutely love this learning process, even if it has left a bitter taste in my mouth from time to time.

I do feel bad that I started querying too soon, and closed some doors on myself before I was truly ready. But there are still lots of places I’d like to send it, once I’m finished this revision and get a bit of feedback on it. Next month should see me querying anew, with a stronger manuscript, one that maybe actually has a chance.

My Newest Beauty

A 1943 Underwood Noiseless

A 1943 Underwood Noiseless

Isn’t it lovely? I got it today. A friend sent me a link to a kijiji ad where it was listed for $50. $50! I could not email about it fast enough. That was yesterday, I went to see it today and the woman who owned it was so nice. This machine used to belong to her mother, who bought it used in the 50s, but it’s been sitting in a box for about 50 years, untouched. It’s quite dusty, and she thought some of the keys might not work. I told her I wanted to clean it up and fix it, and she said I could have it for free if I did!

With a bit of research I was able to date it to 1943 and also found out that it’s the same model John F. Kennedy used when he was in office. How cool is that?

I’ve been playing around with it and it actually seems like it’s in excellent condition. All the keys work after all and there’s lots of ribbon left. Inexplicably, although it was made in Canada, it has the £ symbol instead of the $ symbol, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Canada didn’t use the pound sterling as its currency in the 40s. I’m going to give it a good cleaning and since it works better than my Smith-Corona, I may try my hand at writing on it a bit.

I can’t express how thrilled I am to own this machine. My kids love it too – they both want typing lessons now! This one feels like karma brought it to me, since I wasn’t even looking for it, it just fell into my lap.

Today is Tuesday which means it’s time for another round of queries to go out. Last week I sent seven so I’ll aim to do the same tonight. Hopefully I’ll have better results this week than I did the last!

Want to learn more about my typewriters? Check them out here.

Good Advice (NSFW)

Written as advice for designers, but I think it applies to writers too.


See also The Pledge. I plan to print and sign it then post it somewhere where I’ll see it… but my kids won’t. Cause of the F word and all.



Away they go, off through the intertubes, and who knows what will become of them?

Safe travels, brave queries. May your reception be warm and encouraging.

Deep Breaths

I’m done my last round of edits on The Unravelling. It’s time to send it out into the wide world and see what becomes of it.

Maybe I need a paper bag to breathe into.

One of my latest goals was to have at least one query sent by the end of the month. Well that’s likely going to be achieved tomorrow (I don’t actually remember what the other goals were – I should probably go check those). At that point I expect to have an absolute crisis of confidence and spend the next few days in my pajamas until I’m over it.

The good news: I have a query letter I’ve worked my ass off on and a nice long list of agents I’d like to send it to. And today a friend sent me the nicest message about how much she liked the draft I sent her. That’s a great boost to start the query process, I think!

And being done with editing means that I can go back to writing, which is extra exciting! I’m still figuring out my point-of-view problems so I might take a week or two to ponder those some more/watch lots of Netflix.

Exclamation points!

On Moving Mountains and Such

Thursday nights are usually my night out to write – I go to my favourite coffee shop, settle myself down with a chai latte and a salted caramel square and pound away at the keyboard for a few hours. I always get a lot done, even more than if I take the same amount of time at home. Home writing is not Higher Ground writing.

Tonight my husband had this work thing to go to, and so that meant no writing night out for me (besides the fact that we’re a single-car family, it’s frowned upon to leave the five-year-old in charge of the three-year-old for the evening, I’m told).

Instead, in a fit of genius, I brought the coffee shop to me.

The Home Cafe

The Home Cafe

Yes, I’m dorky enough to set up my little cafe table in front of the window, just like my favourite table at my place, make myself a mug of tea and work, just like I would if I was out. Instead of people, I can watch my cats, who are endlessly amusing, or the occasional car go around the cul-de-sac. And I don’t have to compete with others for the sole electrical outlet!

Happy writing, everyone 🙂

Bitch-Slapping My Inner Editor

I’m editing right now. Fourth draft. The plan – beforehand at least – was to make some tough cuts, chop out a couple characters and some extra scenes, trim it down a bit.

Well I can’t. I don’t want to. It just doesn’t feel right.

Would it bring the reader to a climactic scene a bit sooner? Yes. Around 3,000-ish words sooner. Would it reduce the overall word count? Yes, by about 5-7,000 words, I think.

Would the reader know my protagonist as well, understand what makes her tick a bit better? Definitely not. Would it hinder the story arc over three books? Yes, a little.

I’ve been worried – obsessed, if you want the truth – about the fact that this one pivotal scene happens around a quarter of the way through the book. I’ve gotten it into my head that that’s too long. But the thing is, something like a dozen people have read it so far, and not a single person has shared that sentiment. I think I’ve been so focused on advice that says you have to lay out ALL THE ACTION!!! on the first page, but there’s more than one way to write a book. Do my first few pages lay the foundation for some action? Yes they do. This go-around I’ve been working on ramping up the spookiness so there’s a better sense of impending peril, which admittedly wasn’t as effective as it could be in previous drafts. If I’m doing it right, there should be lots for the reader to worry and wonder about. And those pages leading up to that one big scene certainly aren’t devoid of action. There’s lots going on.

I’m coming to the realization that cutting the chracters and scenes I was contemplating really does a disservice to the story. The reader needs to know who Callie was before in order to appreciate the way she changes throughout the series. By cutting all those parts, she’s less vibrant, less passionate, less anchored to her old life.

Are there still some thoughtful changes to be made? Absolutely. But this is going to be my final draft. I can’t keep going back and forth on this issue, wondering if I should or shouldn’t. It’s time to finish it and move on.

Wish me luck!


What do you think about spin-offs in the literary world? A spin-off is not a sequel – those follow the same chracters through several parts of a story. With a spin-off, the characters from the original story may show up occasionally, but are not the focus. It’s also not a remake, where a different person reinterprets an existing story originally by someone else. A spin-off, to be clear, is a work of some type (book, TV show, movie) that takes a character from one book or series, and gives them their own. Think Frasier from Cheers or Angel (sigh) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

When it comes to books, in some cases it seems like the author just trying to milk more out of a storyline that had already ended satisfactorily. In others, it can provide a new angle or perspective on a well-loved series. In TV and movies, spin-offs are common – it seems like half the shows have been derived from another one these days, with all the CSIs and Law and Orders and NCISs. Books, maybe a little less so. I can’t think of too many, anyway.

I’m pondering this because I have a vague sort of idea where one of the secondary characters from my trilogy could have a book or two of her own somewhere down the road. 99% of the notion is “and then a bunch of stuff happens” which is also a common notation on my outlines, but the seed has been planted, and I’m curious as to whether I should consider watering it and letting it grow. I suppose it all depends on whether or not my trilogy is at all popular and there’s demand for it, and/or whether the character steps up in my head and starts yelling, “what about meeee?”

Something to think about in the distant future, anyway.

I Have A Plan

So after working out all my dilemmas about what I should be doing right now, I’ve made a decision about my next writing steps. I didn’t meet the last set of goals I set for myself, unfortunately, but based on how things have been going for me these past two months, that actually turned out to be a good thing.

With respect to my current WIP, I’m going to write until I reach a point in the plot that’s a major transition, and then I’m going to stop for awhile. It’s a good place to pause because at that point the way I’m going to be writing will be changing significantly. The perspective is going to get complicated, and I think I’m going to have to be very, very good if I’m going to pull it off. Basically my main character will be experiencing something akin to locked-in syndrome (with a bit of a paranormal twist), written from her perspective. Oh, and she’ll be blind. Poor Callie. So I think it will be good for me to take a bit of a break and mull over how I’m going to accomplish that.

It will be hard to stop writing for awhile, since I’ve been making such good progress lately. I just got back from a ten-day trip to California with my kids, found time to write on seven of those ten days, and eked out 15,000 words. I should be sitting at around 40,000 total when I pause.

In the meantime I’m going to go back to my first book and do another round of edits, then (for real this time) start querying. I know what changes I want to make, and although I’m sad to make one in particular, I can see that it’s not really relevant to the story arc and just serves to slow things down. My goal is to have the edits completed and at least one query sent by the end of March. I think that’s completely doable, especially since I expect I’ll be finished with my WIP by the end of this week, maybe even tonight.

Exciting times! I’m glad to have an outline I can follow for the month. Good things should come of this. 🙂