A few years back I had a piece chosen for publication in an anthology about rural living– actually about growing up in a rural area. I was pretty excited about it and wasn’t even sure at the time if I had anything worth writing about since I had this idea in my head that I was a fiction writer and that writing non-fiction was something I’d never be able to do and do well. Something urged me to try and to my shock and surprise mine was one of the pieces chosen. I worked with the editor on the piece, sent in a photo, filled out a questionnaire with information and she wrote a bio. Everything was set to go. We even had a publisher willing to take on the project; payments were sent out to all the contributors, contracts signed, all that technical stuff. There was nothing to do but wait for the publishing date to arrive which we were told would be last fall.
But when fall came the publication date was pushed to the spring. No problem this was still within the contract agreement. Then last winter I received a letter from the editor telling me that for a number of reasons which I won’t go into here, the anthology had been cancelled and she was left looking for another publisher. I can’t imagine all the work this editor put into the book– working with over thirty contributors–only to have this happen. I was disappointed of course but I’ve had similar things happen in the past. I knew getting upset about it wouldn’t help and to be perfectly honest I still had hopes for this anthology. There are some great Canadian names included in the anthology such as George Fox, Pamela Wallen, Preston Manning, Brett Sutter, to name a few.
This Friday I received some great news from the editor. The anthology has been accepted by another publisher and as soon as the contract is signed she’ll make an official announcement!! Woohoo!! I’m quite tickled about this. We have all been waiting a long time for this anthology.
So there’s my big news. When it’s all official I’ll let everyone know who the publisher is and when it will be coming out. Hopefully it won’t be a terribly long wait. After all it’s ready for publication. My thoughts are perhaps spring but we shall see!!
Posted by Laura Best on August 30, 2009
Okay, so I’m all for practical jokes. I’ve even been known to pull off a few from time to time. But when I awoke at four in the morning to discover that we were in the middle of yet another power outage I wasn’t laughing. I made my way downstairs (luckily we keep a flashlight on the nightstand at all times for just this reason) and called the power outage line expecting to be told that the power wouldn’t be back on until the next day or some such foolish thing. But to my surprise the voices was promising me it would be on at 5 am. Great, just the time I have to get up to get ready for work! That I could handle.
I said a silent “Thank you” to the Universe and crawled back in bed for another hour of sleep. I guess I’m a bit naive because for some reason I chose to believe that anonymous voice on the phone instead of trusting my gut feeling. Nova Scotia Power how many times have you let me down over the years? Low and behold when the alarm went off at five we were still in the dark. What a fool I felt like for believing.
So we’re old pros at this. We’ve got plenty of lights, a small propane burner for cooking and heating water, plenty of water for flushing toilet, washing and drinking because we know enough to be prepared at all times. My husband said it no different then camping until I pointed out to him that we don’t go camping.
I left the house at six (I actually couldn’t wait to get out of there) and I have no idea when the power came back on and frankly I don’t care. So there….I’ve moaned and complained enough! Now all I can do is send Nova Scotia Power some positive vibes ( I would say love but that would be stretching it.) Oh and the reason for this latest outage— apparently it was caused by downed trees, no doubt from the same gentle breeze that blew in my bedroom window all night. Give me a break!
So this evening I’m going to continue revising another young adult novel I wrote awhile back and hopefully this time I’ll have the power to do it!!
Posted by Laura Best on August 27, 2009
We lost power around a quarter to one today. No surprises there. I guess some days though it pays to have a sense of humour. When I phoned the NS Power Outages hot line, I was promptly told by a pre-recorded voice that they were aware of the power outage in my area. Great! The voice then proceeded to tell me that the estimated time of restoration was 11:30 PM on August 24th. August 24th! Did I hear that correctly? Yup, August 24th at 11:30— so something like 36 hours give or take a few– that was their best guess as to when the power would be restored.
Okay so I’m an old pro at this. Hey, even I could have made a better prediction than that. The truth is these past years we are almost certain to have an outage if there is any wind involved whatsoever. We’ve not had good service, people. Anyway, luckily it came back around 5:30 this evening, a far cry from the 36 hours originally predicted but believe me I’m NOT complaining in any way, shape or form. So, I did whip out my pen and paper and I made some notes for a new story I’m working at. I guess every cloud has its silver lining. Right?
Posted by Laura Best on August 23, 2009
Plenty of wind and rain here in Nova Scotia today as Hurricane Bill approaches. The electricity has flickered once so I’m going to predict that the power will go off before this is over. Seems whenever we get a storm, be it rain or snow, the power is one of the first things to go. It’s not so bad in the warm weather but during the winter months it is most unpleasant. I may have to turn toward pen and paper if this happens.
I personally find storms to be quite inspiring. When the wind is howling and the snow or rain is coming down my mind crawls into empty corners and stays there until it is time to come out. Let’s face it storms are much more interesting than fine sunny days. Things can happen during a storm, interesting things. So I’ll use this stormy day to the best of my ability. I’ll allow the storm to inspire me instead of whining about the wind and rain and if the lights go out I’ll light a lamp and keep on writing.
“Bitter, Sweet,” has now been sent off to the book designer. In a few weeks I’ll get one last chance to read it over before it goes to the printer!
Posted by Laura Best on August 23, 2009
Revisions are finally done on the book. Yippee!! I sent a digital copy back on Sunday night. I finally decided to use the track change functions because sending the MS back via FedEx would have been too complicated. I’m forty-five minutes from town and don’t get off work until four plus making the changes digitally allowed me a bit more time.
After putting in a twelve hour day on the MS the Sunday before, which involved a careful reading plus making the changes, it still seemed to take a fair bit of time. The whole process involved smoothing out some sentences and writing a some new paragraphs and I can honestly say I was more nervous about sending it back this time than I was with the first set of revisions. It all felt so final, as if this was my last shot and I’d better get it right.
I’m happy to report that my editor emailed back yesterday to say that she really liked the revisions. I hope you all get to work with an editor who is as enthusiastic about your work as what my editor is with mine. Nimbus really has been terrific!
Oh, and as for the back cover copy “desolate” and “despondent” have been removed and the sentence now reads:
“Dalhousie Road is a secluded, sleepy place deep in the interior of Nova Scotia.”
And now I’m smiling!
Posted by Laura Best on August 18, 2009
With “Bitter, Sweet” soon coming out, and with all the work I’ve been doing these past months with the ms, I have sort of forgotten about some of my other writing. This novel has been all consuming. I’m even starting to wonder what will happen to my characters in the future. The more I work on the book the more I become wrapped up in my character’s lives.
When I first began writing I started out with short stories. I love writing short stories because there is not a whole lot of room to move around. The story gets told in a few thousand words and those words really need to count. They are a challenge to write. I have had over forty short stories published in literary magazines as well as some non-fiction articles over the years and it is something that I feel is a great accomplishment for me.
Another good thing about short stories is that you are not investing a substantial amount of time writing them and with any luck you’ll see results quicker than if you are working on a novel. A novel would have been too ambitious an undertaking for me to start out with. Besides, I freely admit that I had much to learn, never having taken a writing course and anything of that nature. Short stories are a really good starting point for anyone wanting to get into something more challenging like novel writing.
So here I have been so wrapped up in the novel that when I received an email from the editor of TRANSITION, a publication put out by the mental health society of Saskatchewan, I was really quite surprised. Not surprised that he had chosen my story for publication as this will be my fifth appearance in their magazine but because I wasn’t even thinking about the story being out there and awaiting a decision.
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that every publishing credit counts and they are all something to be celebrated along the way. One is no more or less important than another. They all help shape us as writers and we all work at our own pace to obtain what we consider to be that ultimate goal.
Posted by Laura Best on August 15, 2009
When I got home from work an email was waiting for me from my editor at Nimbus. They had put together a draft for the back cover copy and she wanted me to go over it to see if there were any errors or problems. I have to admit when the book came out in the fall catalogue I figured the write- up that accompanied it would appear on the back cover. Apparently I was mistake and if the truth be told I’m not disappointed because there are elements in the story that didn’t appear in the write-up in the fall catalogue. Luckily that has now been changed and what is to appear on the back of the book is totally different. I guess back in the spring the main objective was to get the book into the catalogue.
I genuinely like the back cover copy except for the first few lines which depicts Dalhousie as a “desolate, despondent place” where people generally ”keep to themselves” also a place where the fields are “unchecked.” As you all know, the setting for the book is my own little community, and we are a small community by anyone’s standards, but despondent and desolate sounds a bit too bleak to me.
Even though “Bitter, Sweet,” is set sixty years ago I can say with much certainty that those two words would not be an accurate description of the community. Back sixty years ago people would have had a little family farm and many of them would have made their living in the woods and they were very sociable if given half a chance.
I’m not overly concerned about this issue because I know it can be easily fixed. My editor has been terrific and seems quite keen on making me happy. I know she wouldn’t want any of the good folks here to be offended. When you’re born and raised in a place those roots run very deep. I know because as I grow older I feel a connection to this community that I didn’t feel as strongly when I was growing up. When you have lived in a place all your life you know you belong there, that you are a part of the history and that history is a part of you. In fact, knowing the people of the community the way I do, there would be some who would be highly offended by this use of language to describe the community, present or past.. Now mind you, we are talking about fiction here but I still feel a certain obligation on my part to put forth an accurate and respectful depiction of my community. After all, this is going off into the world and will be read by others. Not only that, I want to feel good about it myself. So problem solved, I’ll just fire off an email and give my editor another direction in which to take this. I’m really not worried.
This is my last weekend with the ms. No more twelve hour days, I’m now in the tweaking stage..I’ll soon be ready to loosen my grip!!
Posted by Laura Best on August 14, 2009
Okay, so it’s not as bad as it sounds. Nope the line edits haven’t sent me off the deep end. In fact I was able to work about twelve hours on my manuscript yesterday so that gave me a really big boost. I’ll likely post a bit more about that when I have more time. I have until the 17th to complete the work before it goes to the designer. Woohoo!! Things are closing in quickly. I can hardly wait!
So what’s this about the voices?
Yesterday morning bright and early, my daughter phoned to chat and I could hear my neighbour having a conversation with someone. Now mind you, his voice wasn’t booming in loud and strong but you could clearly make out parts of his conversation. It was as if he was in the background talking, if you know what I mean. My husband called to report the situation to the phone company, all but demanding that it be fixed, and was told someone would be out Tuesday to do the repairs.
I find this very disturbing and wonder just how private our conversations are? This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this problem with Igor. ( He’s a Russian gentleman…Don’t you just love the name?) In fact, many people in our area have had this problem with hearing unwanted voices. I’m not sure if this is a rural thing or if city phones are just as whackie. So, this evening as I was using the phone I could hear Igor again. (I’m not sure if he spends huge amounts of time on the phone or if we’re just somehow in sink.) So I guess I’ll avoid the phone and go back to work on the line edit.
Wish me luck, not only with the line edits but with getting my phone repaired! And hopefully none of you are hearing voices.
Posted by Laura Best on August 10, 2009
I just received an email from my editor at Nimbus saying she’s completed the line edit for “Bitter, Sweet.” I had several options open to me. I could have a hard copy sent to my front door via FedEx or have it sent digitally, print it off and send the hard copy back to her or, make the changes digitally using the track change function in Word. I opted to have it emailed to me and I’ll print it off here at home as I’d rather make the changes on the hard copy.
I have no idea what to expect with the line edit. I completed the first round of revisions in late May and to be completely honest when I read the critique my editor sent the first time I was a bit overwhelmed. I could have gone into panic mode quite easily but was able to restrain myself enough to read it over a few more times. It didn’t feel nearly as daunting the third time around and, once I actually got into doing the work I found it quite easy to wiggle back into the story. I was concerned about that since it had been written about three years ago.
Some of my non-writing friends were under the impression that a publisher will take your story and edit it the way they see fit without your input but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Suggestions are made and potential problems pointed out but the writer is very much in charge of what happens and has to figure things out on their own. After all, it’s still your work. I emailed my editor a few times in the beginning to get her input and let her know in what direction I was heading with the story. She had allowed me three weeks to make the changes and once I got going it went quite quickly. I enjoyed that part of the process and it also enabled me to make a few other changes along the way that hadn’t been suggested.
So the next round it coming. Here’s hoping it goes along as smoothly as the first!!
Posted by Laura Best on August 2, 2009