Virtual World Tour

 

So I am a writer of my word. I practised what I preached. I Dared to Suck Dare to Suck and I published my second book, a compilation of my favorite posts from Not My Straitjacket which I only recently realized I hadn’t celebrated the two year anniversary since its creation. If you have read this blog in whole or in part I invite you to rate my book on Amazon.com The official launch date for this book is September 13th, 2017.

Thank you for reading! Time to celebrate and let the virtual world tour begin.

Remember it is said: Sharing is caring.

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Success as a Journey

“Success is a journey, not a destination.” Arthur Ashe.

I was writing a blog on goal setting, perseverance and success when in the middle of that flow of words pouring out onto the keyboard the computer crashed, and my file had not yet been saved. Hazards of writing at 4 in the morning, not awake enough to think of important things like backing up files and important things like getting more sleep when the muse has so obviously struck.

I was reminiscing that the last two years I have had my share of falling on my face with attempted success in children’s writers’ market. My first children’s book Loved Like Me is back online as of today and available for purchase. (I pulled it one day frustrated from my lack of sales which in retrospect I realise partly contributes to the fact that I really need to put more time in marketing the book.) I am also writing my second children’s book this fall through independent studies with a local art school which will soon learn that my ability to even draw a pretty stick figure is about a four out of a ten.

(Ctrl S) I really can’t believe it crashed…moving on…

I recently completed the first rewrite of my first feature script Witness. I have several eyes on it now giving me critical feedback as to how to improve important details like plot development, pace, creating more convincing conflict and such. I am hoping to start sending it out to potential producers by January when all the chaos from the impending holidays will have passed.

In my spare time, I have been carving out a makeshift photography studio in my home with a very basic budget, with a lot of do-it-yourself stuff and such. I have found, especially in the past year when I took my photography to a professional level and started freelancing as a photojournalist that the more I took photos, the more visual of a writer I became.

There is a connection between framing a photo and seeing what fits in the picture and what doesn’t, what makes a story and what doesn’t, how the pieces fit together to tell a compelling story, or don’t. I went from being someone who always struggled with being a visual writer as I wrote to being able to “see” what the picture in front of me looked like and what I needed to make that image, that story work. Now, this may not work for everyone, but it helped me so I throw it out there as a suggestion of things to try if you feel the ink well is drying up and you just can’t see the story you want to tell. Imagine it as a series of pictures telling a story from beginning to end.

Not a fan of photography? Tell your story in stick people, I believe you’d get a higher score than I gave myself and, you’d have a story. And now, coffee.

How To Pass Time Waiting For a Publisher’s Response

 

Write. Check email. Play with kids. Clean house. Feed kids and make sure they get ready for the day ahead. Check email. Google “standard publishing contracts, tiered rejection letters and what they mean, how to get a literary agent and reading the success stories of those whom have already, ‘been there, done that, read the book and wrote the sequel.’ Read more of the book Writing the Character Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton. Watch more TVO with the kids. Play the drums with my daughter and guitar with my son. (Please note I do not know how to play a musical instrument so my definition of play is not dependent on talent.) Do anything but check the email for the rest of the day if I can help it. I easily could have chewed to the cuticles of my nails by now with all the anticipation I’m feeling (but I haven’t and likely won’t) while waiting for the results: I’m waiting to know whether or not a certain publisher is going to accept or pass on my manuscript Nuka.

It started a few days ago when I received a reply to a follow-up email from the publisher who is aware I have been waiting a few months for a verdict on my manuscript. I can’t say I expected so much as a boo from the editor before he makes his decision as editors are notorious for their crazy and demanding work schedules but the response he took the time to provide to my follow-up email was more than appreciated. I was told I’ll know this week whether or not they are interested in publishing my work.

I am hoping to being offered a publishing contract but I am also realistic, it could go either way and I have to prepare for that. I’ve received form letters in the past on projects that never moved on to see the light of day while other work has gone on to be published or optioned so I can anticipate how I might react if the answer is not what I’m hoping but it doesn’t make the wait any easier.

Past rejection letters have pushed me to write more and work harder on developing my prose and scripts. I’ve contemplated writing the crappiest rejection letter I could possibly receive to alleviate the stress I might feel if the answer is not in my favor but honestly, that’s been done and these writers are either still twiddling their fingers at their desk or they’re published or optioned and writing more. (It still for some reason sounds like a good idea to at least pass some time).

And then I remind myself that even famous authors have had their share of rejection letters and that it would not be an anomaly if it happened to me. http://mentalfloss.com/article/26662/try-try-again-rejection-letters-received-bestselling-authors

I’ve been thinking of ways to pass the time this week and so far they include generating story ideas, photography fun at Mud Lake, getting my nails done, going to the beach, taking the family to the museum, eating chocolate sundaes at Dairy Queen, work on trashing a wedding dress I have for a potential short I might shoot for Digi60 which is coming up soon see http://www.digi60.org

Honestly I don’t know why this response waiting period feels different than the others. It’s my first novella but not my first published book. It only carries with it the weight of my blood, sweat, and tears I put into it metaphorically bleeding to death at the keyboard, searching for the right word, eliminating sentences that end with adverbs, keeping the story in the present tense, creating roadblocks for the protagonist along the way, building suspense, all that great textbook stuff writers’ ought to include to make a compelling story. But I remind myself, my book is not me, I am not my book. The book and I are not one and therefore any decision that is arrived at is completely impersonal and in no way a reflection of who I am or my worth as a writer. It will either complement the books that the publisher is looking for or delivers, or it won’t.

I would just be ecstatic to receive a positive response but I am open to all the possibilities that lay before me with the answer just out of my grasp at this time.

So I have made the decision that whatever the result I will dedicate the next few weeks devoted to finishing rewriting that feature length script I’ve been working on. I will research self-marketing a little more, look into getting Loved Like Me my children’s book on adoption formatted for circulation again and perhaps I will research literary agents that work with traditional publishers and continue work on a novel I have more than 100 pages written on so far.

For good measure I will drink a plethora of coffee, write more blogs and update my social media posts with everything hopefully unrelated to this self-torture of counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds, another milestone of my life as a writer will either be made or missed. My children will continue to keep me busy playing with Play-Dough, singing those wonderful songs from Mary Poppins, (because we all know what a spoonful of sugar does) and how that’s helpful if coffee is your drug of choice {at least if you’ve seen the film this may resonate with you}, and right now a word like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is exactly what I need to explain what I’m feeling inside.

Whatever the results I do not know when or if I will have the resolve to publish them.

Will the manuscript be accepted or rejected? Contract or form letter? Tiered rejection letter? Some other response? Will I need an agent? Would I want an agent? The possibilities are numerous. I don’t know. But I do know that my current project won’t get written by itself. I tell myself I’ve got this. What writing projects are you working on these days? What has your experience with publishers been like? How did you react when you received rejection or acceptance letters? I’d love to know.

Back to work.

 

The F Word

 

This blog has been quiet for a while now. In part because I have been focused a lot on turning forty this year and in part because I have been too busy with being a mom and a photographer while waiting to hear back from a second publisher about a thriller I finished earlier this year.

The first publisher I queried recently responded with a pretty rejection letter that included a personal note which defined my manuscript Nuka as “culturally rich”. With all the talk in the air of cultural appropriation I find myself in a possible predicament with the book having Inuit characters and a northern theme and even though my husband and children are Inuit  (I am not ) and so I am taking steps to decide whether or not to go forward with publication.

I have been seeking the opinions and input of members of the Inuit community and first sending my manuscript to northern publishers who I feel would best input whether or not I should go forward with publication. throughout creation of the manuscript I welcomed feedback from the community through my social media statuses.

In other news I have been studying the craft of writing as always through books dating back to the early eighties (that’s another blog)  and working on a re-write of my first feature film but at my age, excuses for not writing and engaging of the craft of at least thinking about writing count for nothing. Did I mention I’m turning forty? (Yes, that’s weighing heavily on me these days). I may create a count down to forty project, it’s up in the air.

I figured by now I would have published a few books, had more articles produced, written more short stories but in truth the stories do not write themselves and I have always been more focused on family than career since I hit thirty-two. My first children’s book did not get the type of distribution I hoped for and as a result I pulled it off the market. I had my pity party. I’m over it now and have moved on to other projects. Most of which, until today were still in the thinking stage.

For a long time I had a basement office, which I finally invited my husband to let him turn it into a man cave, or whatever it is men do with basements when their wives aren’t hogging that space. As a result I have bags of books to give away that I also swore I would have read by now when I bought them. (There are only about four bookcases worth of books in this place to begin with, maybe five if I count the ones I have aside that I still plan to read.)

I have written a few extra paragraphs onto a manuscript I started around 2012 but I don’t count that as progress, the fictitious child is still trapped in a negligent home and the siblings are still at war with one another. However, if I make good starting today this book may be done by year’s end yet. (Update: the child is being rescued and it could be a happy ending yet.)

In doing things I love, mothering, housecleaning (kidding but it’s a necessary evil), taking the kids to the library and going out for coffee I have found it difficult to leave my camera behind. I have discovered that it takes a few seconds to tell a story from start to finish with a single image than it does coming up with the right word for a sentence when the one that comes to mind fails to meet its purpose and the minute hand on the clock ticks like a dreadful fading pulse as if every metaphorical breath could be the character’s last if I don’t think up another word and fast.

I’ve been doing a lot of freelance photography work and for a while I feared that I might actually enjoy photography more than writing. I realise now that’s not possible (for me) as I have finally found my way back to the keyboard and to you the reader without whom this blog would just be a bunch of pixels wasting away. And now, coffee.

Writing Literary Fiction

 

The Morning after Effect

todolist

So it’s the morning after I sent my manuscript out and let’s be honest, I’m still working on my first cup of coffee so that is the only plan of attack at this moment. It’s been a helluva week though filled with (blank space) still waking up, or as Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction, A Guide To Narrative Craft refers to the blank space, it’s the critic, keeping me from moving this blog forward, so I’m going to keep writing and hope this all makes sense when I’m done. (It is only 6:30 a.m. in my defense). I’m re-reading that book again, because every now and then I like to refresh what I know about writing and sharpen writing skills that perhaps I didn’t work as hard on or even missed reading it the last time around.

*8:30 now and I’m awake enough to remember that the week was filled with milestones for my writing career (none of which I will repeat at this time) suffice to say, good morning.

What amazes me as I write this blog, is that the kids are still asleep, which of course only happens when I wake up for no good reason before them. On the bright side, it’s the weekend (for some of us anyhow). I do not include myself in those lucky enough to bask in it though, since I have self-imposed deadlines that need to be met for other writing projects I am finishing.

Speaking of deadlines, I always find it amusing that writers are often not taken as seriously as people whose deadlines are imposed by others. I wonder why that is? I think it’s similar to a person who doesn’t have kids telling one who does that they are tired, the reception is often not something that smooths over as easily. After all how could a person with no children tugging at their ankles all morning, afternoon and evening possibly relate to one that does? The answer, I think, is universal: responsibilities and people to answer to, we are only as accountable as writers (I think) as we hold ourselves to be.

What are my responsibilities as a writer and mother? To balance the life I have created for myself in a way where I don’t find myself in over my head at the end of the day and yet still get stuff done. How do I do that? I create priorities and don’t get side-tracked. (Memo to me after getting the kids breakfast: as a mom of two I often get side-tracked.) The trick, I find, is to be side –tracked while keeping one hand (metaphorically) and when possible, at the keyboard.

 

If I can’t be writing I can generate story ideas. Some better than others.

 

When I get to writing I work on my paid assignments before working on long term projects for myself. Some days I only get fifteen to twenty minutes of writing done. (Okay I admit I’m a social media addict – of sorts) so if I could step away from some of those apps I would be a bit further ahead in the game. But, those fifteen to twenty minutes that come between colouring, crafts, outdoor play and other endeavors add up over time. That was how I wrote my novella, between the chaos and joys of parenting. And that is how today, I begin writing my novel. That, and a little sleep deprived.

A Writer’s Resolutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

A First For Everything

This is the first podcast by and up and coming podcaster who  goes by the name of Spikerite. I was privileged to be the first author he interviewed and thought he did a great job. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to in the writing world besides my blog, check this out and by all means, sharing is kind.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E,Commitment and the Writer

weddress

 

I’ve divorced myself from the writing lifestyle. That is to say, I’ve been away from regular hours in the office typing away at a keyboard. I haven’t committed to writing exercises, carrying around books to study the plot and character structure or even just to bask in a café and enjoy the winter scenery of page after page of even my favorite author and I’m not about to apologize. In fact, it is quite possible the healthiest thing I have done for my writing career to date.

Minus a blog here and there it’s been nothing but leisure activities including but not limited to photographing everything under the sun, family time and watching some great flicks. (As long as I can keep my eyes open after the kids are asleep that is). More than one person has suggested and I agree they are right, that perhaps it’s too soon for my little ones to be watching Misery or Carrie so I save the horrors and thrillers for when they are sleeping  CryptTV.com streams some of my favs. Then there’s the action movies I have to choose from and my fav actors to watch. I never tire of films with Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep (Ottawa’s local actors are also quite good but I’m not naming names. You know who you are.)

I love watching One True Thing for the thousandth time. I cry every time I watch Losing Isaiah. The Deep End of the Ocean is a touching drama that will pull at heart strings too, I love that the protagonist is a mother and a photographer. I’m a fan of Finding Forrester. Alice Through the Looking Glass and Maleficent is a go to when I just want to get away from it all. G.I Jane, Far and Away, God Bless the Child, my absolute favorite local film is, I can’t say actually (I have a few preferences) but ottawashortfilms.com has a collection of great shorts.

I’ve been pressed for time to make it to the theatres but I would have loved to see La La Land,

A Monster Calls and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

I drink less coffee and more tea these days, my Stephen King book, Blaze, came in handy when I had to go to the emergency room in a matter where everything worked out; I got to read little more than a paragraph that night. Like I said, I really have not been living the writer’s life as of late.

I meet people in person over chatting online. I talk to strangers but I don’t take notes. I ride the bus but I don’t use my senses to explain the experience of being transported from one end of the city to the other, I don’t bother to take note of the sights, smells and other senses. Instead, I chat with my children playing silly mom and daughter/son games. I speak loudly when it might be better to whisper. I remember who I am when I’m not a writer. I breathe.

Life. It’s all about life and living. But I’m here now, committed once again to the writer’s lifestyle and the dedication and focus I need to recommit to get manuscripts polished and sent out and queries ready for publishers. Really, I went on a Writer’s Vacation, I plan to do it again in the future now that I remember. I remember who I am when I am not a writer.

Sometimes, you just have to say no to the workload and deadlines. Sometimes, you have to choose yourself over your work, your health over a hefty paycheque. Sometimes saying no is what writers’ like me really need to do to really want to say yes when all is said and done. This is what I want. This is what I do.

What do you say?