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Happy Birthday

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This is my second blog site and for anyone who actually seen my previous blog, I will be removing it once I figure out if I can migrate my posts. There’s only a few, so I suppose really I could even copy and paste. I have entitled this post “Happy Birthday” for two reasons: 1 – as it will be very close to midnight by the time I get this published it will be youngest daughter’s (18th) birthday; 2 – it just seemed a fitting title for a first post on a new blog site.

2017 has been an incredible year. March 31 – April 2 I attended  Creative Ink Festival

My parents paid the registration for me a Christmas gift. The gift was two-fold; I didn’t have to pay the fee but more importantly because the it was non-refundable, I couldn’t back out. I had though about going in 2016 but chickened out. I didn’t have a completed manuscript (it wouldn’t have mattered) but I was also extremely intimidated by the idea of being surrounded by people I didn’t know and the fact that they were all industry professionals (even if not all them actually were).

#CIFEST17 was amazing! I don’t have the words to properly convey my feelings from the weekend, but suffice to say, it gave me the encouragement and motivation to continue my journey as a writer. I met some amazing people who I now call friends and had the opportunity to pitch to publisher. The pitch resulted in a submission request which was ultimately passed on. This was strangely uplifting and the timing of it opened a new door which is the real reason for this new blog.  I say the rejection was uplifting because my immediate reaction was “I got my first rejection – I’m a real writer now!” *waves impostor syndrome goodbye* (for now).

Currently I am involved with #PitchWars. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is organized by Brenda Drake and is contest hosted on Twitter. If you’re a writer and don’t know about this I suggest you check out her website http://www.pitchwars.org or find her on Twitter and seriously consider for next year if the timing works for you. Anyway a fun part of PitchWars is little thing called #pimpmybio, not required, just a bit of fun for contestants. Thus I wanted to start a blog site that was a little easier to deal with so I could participate.

So, now that I’ve got you up to date on my amazing writing year, let me tell you a bit about what you can expect from my blog. I plan to share with you the ups and downs of my journey as a writer. I don’t plan to post anything family related here, I want this to eventually become my writer’s website where you will one day be able to purchase all of my wonderfully scary books and perhaps related merchandise. Who knows, maybe I will branch out in my writing and do romance or a series or something, but for now as far as I can tell my works will be stand-alones.

My current manuscript has a working title of EVERGREEN. In prepping for Pitch Wars, I’ve done a lot of genre related research and my MS definitely could fall under several #s from Women’s fiction to Low Fantasy or Urban Fantasy to Thriller to Magical Realism. I think I will wait until I either find representation or a publisher and let them decide.

For tonight, let me end by saying Happy birthday to my wonderful daughter and happy birthday to my new blog.

 

 

NaNoWriMo can prep you for Creative Ink

If you’re worried about not having material to present at the Creative Ink Festival in March, we have a solution.

This November, thousands of writers, myself and many of the Creative Ink organizing committee included, will be racing our way towards 50,000 words as we take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

What started off as a small group of writers wanting to write novels because they thought it would help them get dates, has become a global phenomenon and Creative Ink Festival is on board. Last year, we hosted a few write-ins for locals and we’re going to be doing that again this year. Our Festival Goddess, Sandra Wickham, along with our website guru, Andrea Westaway, has created a Facebook group called Creative Ink NaNoWriMo. Join the group and set up notifications so you can stay up to date on all the fun in store for this year.

Want to join other Creative Inkers for NaNoWriMo but not local? Check out the NaNoWriMo website and sign up with your region to find local events or join the Creative Ink group virtually. If those options don’t work for you, find a coffee shop or local library, there’s sure to be writers somewhere sitting with their laptops open, fingers flying across their keyboard.

Something to remember: NaNoWriMo is not about completing a polished novel in a month. If you do, that’s both great and incredible! The goal is to write 50,000 words. They won’t all be great, they may not even be very good, but they go a long way to a first draft that you can spend the cold winter months finishing, revising, getting feedback, editing again, etc. Then you can spend March prepping your all important pitch and synopsis.

Once your November NaNo sprint is over and you can stand to look at your screen again, keep an eye out for programming announcements. You’ll want to know who to sign up for blue/red pencils and pitch sessions with to get the best exposure for your new manuscript.

See you on the Creative Ink NaNoWriMo Facebook group page and live and in person in March.

Have a great NaNo everyone!

A new challenge

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I’m at the point with EVERGREEN that too much more editing and I fear it will never see the light of day. I am currently going through comments provided by beta readers and hope to have that done in the next several days, including changes to be made. Once that is done, it’s going back to an editor for another read.

While I wait for the new edit letter, I’ve decided to take part in a challenge that has been going since 1999. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The challenge: write 50,000 in 30 days beginning November 1. Yes, this is a lot! It won’t complete a genre novel (roughly 80,000 words) but it will be one hell of a start.

Things to remember:

  • this is 50,000 first draft words, that means they can be awful.
  • to succeed, I need to NOT self edit on the go
  • this is deadline practice, if I’m going to be a full-time writer one day, I will have these.
  • this is a personal challenge, there is no shame in not reaching the target number.

Part of the NaNoWriMo challenge is announcing your novel on their website. I did that today. So I guess I can officially announce to you, my next project. It’s called TRAPPED and here’s the quick synopsis I put on the NaNoWriMo website.

Travelling companions Tessa and Cruze stop at a desert hotel for a much needed rest from the road. Little do they know, they’ve entered an oasis created by a 1,000 year old Djinn who needs their life force to survive. Will they realize their fate before its too late?

The inspiration for this novel comes from the lyrics of the Eagles’ song, Hotel California. I’ve always loved that song, and wanted to novelize it. One day while doing some witchcraft research for EVERGREEN, I fell down a Google rabbit hole and voilà the idea for a Djinn was found.

It would be really cool if one day, TRAPPED found it’s way into the hands of one of the band members. But first, I have to write it and then spend an eternity ruthlessly editing and re-writing and eventually (hopefully) have it published. Maybe by then, EVERGREEN will be in the world.

For now, I will join the thousands of writers who take on the challenge to put out 50,000 new words during November. #NaNoWriMo2018 Challenge Accepted – wish me luck!

 

To take or not to take?

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It’s mid summer in the Okanagan and the wild fire season is well under way. We now live in zone that could very easily be consumed by fire. Neighbours have been evacuated before, but it’s been a while. Tonight fires burning to the south have reminded us that we are vulnerable by dropping ash all over the Okanagan, including our property. We’ve just put together a ‘go bag’ in the (hopefully unlikely) event of an evacuation order. When you have to stop to think about the things that are really important to you, what would you put in your ‘go bag’?

First and foremost for me was important papers: marriage certificate, birth certificates, passports, but what comes next after a couple changes of clothes and just how much do you pack up in case you need to leave at a moments notice?

While my daughter is packing a small box of her most precious items – a couple of snow globes, some of her art from school, I thought about my books. I have recently acquired several signed books. I could have the books replaced, and I could get new copies signed, but the sentiment would be lost – especially on the books signed at Creative Ink Festival this past year.

Then there is my book, my heart and soul in black and white. Thank God I like to keep a copy of that available for travel. Time to back up the last month or so of work onto my USB. I guess I will be keeping that in my purse for a while. But I have binders full of the original draft and edits, hand written on the printed copy. I have a collection of papers with bits and pieces of stories started going all the way back to elementary school and little books I had to create for school projects. And I have my new (very small) library of reference books that I’ve been accumulating.

So to my writer friends, I ask – What, or how much of your writing world would you put in your ‘go bag’?

Photo credit to Google Images.

276 Days to prepare for CIF 2019

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It’s official, Creative Ink Festival 2019 is a go! The date has been posted for next year’s event. Come and join me at this amazing festival for writers & readers March 29 – 31, 2019 in Burnaby, British Columbia. Image above copied from the Creative Ink Festival Facebook page.

So what can / should you do to prepare?

  • write / read
  • like/follow the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages
  • write /read some more
  • sign up for the news letter
  • sign up for things like blue or red pencil sessions, kaffeeklatches, pitch sessions and more
  • read what you can from past presenters or from the list of 2019 presenters / Guests of Honor once they’re posted.
  • get ready to have a great time, learn a ton and meet a whole bunch of really awesome people who do what you do

What will I be doing in the next 276 days?

  • meeting with my writers’ group the first Tuesday of every month
  • finishing my edits
  • getting a professional edit done
  • responding to edit letter
  • finding an agent / publisher
  • going through rejection letters
  • finding a request / acceptance letter
  • starting my next project (basic plot and some research already done)Image result for animated gifs smiling facesImage from Google Images.
  • finishing at least the first draft of my next project (hopefully)
  • oh and registering all you wonderful people for your red and blue pencil sessions, pitch sessions, kaffeeklatches and more in my volunteer role for CIF 2019
  • oh and I guess finding a job would be a good idea.
  • and somewhere in there I am going to try to read more than I have in the past 365 days.

Enjoy your summer, have a productive fall and winter and I’ll see you next spring in Burnaby for the Creative Ink Festival.

 

 

Heavy Developmental Edits

A year ago, I had no idea what developmental edits were. A year ago, I didn’t really understand character arcs, pacing, plot points…

Rewind further to I think 2012, when I really started working on my manuscript in earnest. It had been roughly 20 years since my last English class, I had never taken English Lit and had not read very much in the over the past 15 years. But there I was, trying to write a book.

The story was good, my daughter who read voraciously, loved the 80 or so pages I had at the time but got to the point where she wouldn’t read it anymore because it wasn’t finished.

Fast forward to October 2016. I am almost finished but can’t quite get there. I start doing some edits, mostly what I now know to be copy edits. Spelling, grammar, fixing continuity and such. I ended up making a few developmental changes along the way and low and behold, I managed to finish my manuscript in time for my first writer’s festival/conference.

Fast forward to May 2017. I’ve been working on tightening up my manuscript, fixing passive language and working on the formatting. By September I have received my first edit letter and have read it a few times. We were also heavily into move-mode so my manuscript, along with that edit letter sat and sat and sat.

March of this year, we were finally here, in our new town. No, not in our new house, but a few doors away. The Creative Ink festival was a mere 2 months away and I hadn’t touched my manuscript since probably October, maybe longer. I dabbled as we focused on major renovations.

Creative Ink in May 2018 was great. I thought I had learned a lot the prior year, but even through a recent concussion, I managed to absorb so much more. It has been a month since I returned from Creative Ink and I have created a chapter information table, entered the notes from my edit letter, made personal comments and started some major revisions.

Yes folks, I am doing Developmental Edits. I am paying attention to character arcs, pacing, plot points, spelling and grammar and continuity all along the way.

This draft of my manuscript currently sits at 13 chapters, 97 pages and 24,176 words.  The previous draft at this same point was 14 chapters, 116 pages and 28,767 words.

A funny side story – during my concussion therapy today, I had to read a short story and answer questions on it. Nothing too difficult, but I realized something. I was having a really hard time reading the story. It was something used for teaching students how to analyze for theme and what not. Funny thing was, I couldn’t get past how poorly written it was. The grammar was awful, the narrator’s brother was mentioned in the first sentence, but then completely disappeared. I told my husband about it and he said, “You’ve turned into a writing snob.” I guess what that really means is I’ve become a writer.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Three things since Creative Ink 2018

It’s been a couple weeks since I got home from Creative Ink Fest 2018 and writing things are happening.

First, I’ve been applying ideas I received from C.C. (Chris) Humphreys’ master class and found so many places that need to be reworked in my WIP EVERGREEN. Slashing pages and scenes like crazy! All for the better though. I am not sure how many words I’ve cut / rearranrged /added back but I’ve worked my way through 2 iterations of my second chapter as well as reworking the remainder of the first six!

Second, I joined the Kelowna Writer’s Group (online and in person). What a great group of people. I attended my first meeting on June 5 and along with several other first timers, was welcomed with open arms. Jonas Saul sort of chairs the meetings but by no means makes it feel like he owns the group.

There is lots of reading (anyone who wishes to share) with immediate, helpful and constructive feedback, encouragement and support. I was left wishing I had printed a piece to read which really surprised me for a first meeting with strangers. Everyone also gets the opportunity to talk about their accomplishments since the last meeting, anything writing related. I am so glad I went to this and it would not have happened if not for Creative Ink.

Third, I officially joined the organizing committee for @CIF2019 and have been dubbed the Okanagan Wrangler. 😁  I have been given the very important task of scheduling blue and red pencils, pitches, and kaffeeklatches. Keep an eye on the Creative Ink Festival website, Twitter and Facebook for updates on next year’s event.  I really hope to see you there.

 

Creative Ink Festival 2018

I just returned from my second year at the Creative Ink Festival (#CIF2018). It is such an amazing event and I just can’t say enough about it. Actually, I could go on for days, but I will try not to.

First of all, hats off to Sandra Wickham and her very dedicated organizing committee (which I have volunteered to be a part of for next year). They do an astounding amount of work for this 3 day writing festival in Burnaby, BC, from arranging amazing Guests of Honour and Keynote speakers to enticing pros of all sorts (publishers, editors, published authors among others) to come and do panels, workshops, blue pencil critiques, readings and provide general entertainment, not to mention the enormous wealth of knowledge they share.

I first learned about this festival on Facebook in 2016 and was prepared to go, but I chickened out. Why? I had a huge inferiority complex (impostor syndrome) and low self esteem kept me from doing pretty much anything on my own. I told my parents about the festival several months later when I began sharing my (very unfinished) manuscript with them.  That year for Christmas, they purchased a weekend pass for me for the 2017 festival.

It was there that I learned that amateurs and pros alike felt the same way I did.  Many of the pros I met that weekend had impostor syndrome – there was even a panel about it. The fact that I hadn’t published – or even finished – anything didn’t matter, what did was the fact that I wanted to learn.

This year’s event was held May 18 – 21. It started off with a bang. I attended a Master class taught by CC (Chris) Humphreys – yes, the Chris Humphreys from stage, screen and page. The class was great, but better than that, he is so NICE! Genuinely so. Happy to chat with anyone at anytime throughout the weekend. It doesn’t matter that he’s been in the game for a long time or that he’s done a lot of different things, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and doing what he can to help others be successful.

A little while later, after spending an hour volunteering to “manage” the blue pencil room, I found myself in the company of three or four writers from Kelowna (our places of residence were on our name badges this year). One of the group happened to be a published author about to provide an hour to blue pencil critiques. Perhaps you’ve heard of Jonas Saul? Well he and the other Kelowna writers, seeing Kelowna on my name badge as well, demanded (satirically) to know why I was not a member of their writing group! I’ve only been in Kelowna for 2 months and have barely left the house unless it’s to get more materials for renovation work or buy food. Anyway, suffice to say, the festival was not even an hour old and I had been recruited into my very first writing group.  More talk with Jonas over the next 2 1/2 days would solidify my resolve and I will meet with the Kelowna Writer’s Group for the first time in June.

During the dinner hour on the Friday evening were the opening remarks by the Guests of Honour – one being Chris Humphreys, the other being the equally esteemed, Kevin Hearne. Both of these men were extremely down to earth, and great to talk to. Their writing and other professional experiences are vastly different, but both had a wealth of information (and experience) sure to be of help to pretty much any writer.

The Keynote speaker at the banquet this year was indie author Adam Dreece. I met Adam for the first time last year when I went to him for a blue pencil critique. His critique and reaction to my words on that piece of paper was so positive and completely amazing. I have it on good authority that that blue pencil session meant almost as much to Adam as it did to me.

I was also surprised to learn that another blue pencil critique I received last year from Surrey RCMP sergeant and published author, Tyner Gillies, is as well remembered by him as it is by me. The thing to realize here is that these people are all very successful in their own rights, and their interactions with the people they help mean a lot to them. They are often just as affected as the people they help.

The feedback, support and encouragement provided to me last year by both Adam and Tyner propelled me to a level of self confidence I never imagined having before, especially with regard to my writing. Without them, I would probably not have rushed home to start the work needed to rework my manuscript to get it finished and I would likely not be writing this blog tonight as there would be absolutely not reason to do so.

I feel I have digressed… back to #CIF2018.

There were panels and workshops galore all weekend. A dealer room was open during most of the festival as well.  The dealer room was occupied by tables full of books by presenting authors for sale, publishers Myth Hawker, Pulp Literature, Filidh Publishing and Vancouver Island Paranormal Authors (a small two author company publsihing their own works), Cascadia Author Services, Geek Crossing and Wild Heart Emporium. The dealer room ( as well as hallways, registration area, lobby, etc) was also a great location for meeting up with people having some pretty amazing conversations – I ended up spending an hour receiving some invaluable information, encouragement and general inspiration from Jonas Saul,Randy McCharles, John Mavin, and Jim Jackson.

What is the point of all this? The point is that the Creative Ink Festival is an amazing event for writers at any level.  There is networking, friends to be made, free critiques to be had, chances to pitch directly to publishers, editors and agents and for a very small fee ($80 for the whole weekend, additional $25 for the Master Class) the amount of information, contacts, new ideas, possibility to meet writing groups, critique partners, etc, etc is too amazing to pass up. Even if you are the most extreme introvert and don’t talk to anyone, sit in the back of all the panels and workshops, don’t attend the banquet for the keynote address, you will still gain a wealth of information you didn’t have before. More than likely, your lack of participation will be noticed by someone and by the end of the weekend, whether you like it or not, you will have met new people and made contacts you never would have imagined.

And then you know what happens? You go back the next year, tell a whole bunch of people (whether they hear you or not) and have an even better time, because now you know people who want to keep returning to this festival year after year for the warm, encouraging, welcoming family that it is!

For me, my spark has been reignited – my drive, my need to write and in the words of Adam Dreece “No damn it, I’m doing this!”

I really hope I see you next year!