Things for 2019

I’ve made a list for 2019—me, the person who is not by nature a list- maker.

Will wonders never cease?

What’s on the list, you might ask?

Well, things.

What kind of things?

Things I want to accomplish during the year, things I’d like to see happen. Things like hopes and wishes and dreams. You know –all that important stuff deemed not so important by some, but extremely important to this writer. I’m a dreamer, a hoper, a wisher–what can I say?

Not all of these things are of a writing nature, mind you. Even though I often feel that my life is lopsided and I’m too immersed in this world of words and sentences and pages for my own good. But then I remind myself that I do things other than write.

Family–always number one, even before writing. Family are the people who support you though the good and bad. They accept you, not only at your best, but our worst. They are the people you laugh with and cry with and share with. They are your safety net when life gets tough.

I knit. Sometimes, but not often. There just doesn’t seem to be the time.

I garden—in the summer months—but not as regularly as I should. Much of that falls onto Hubby’s capable shoulders.

I grandparent—not as often as I’d like, distance being the primary reason. Is that a hobby? I don’t think so. That’s just life. Little people rock!

I’m not going to claim to be a cook. I gave that up when the kids all moved out. Cooking now feels like an inconvenience at the best of times. I now have a daughter-in-law who can cook circles around me, and I just love that!

Okay, I do housework…sometimes. While matters of sweeping and laundry and dishes don’t invite me to use my imagination to the fullest they are sometimes a necessary part of living. Dust bunnies do not rock!

I have a job—for about eight months of the year I get up early in the morning and spend maybe ten or eleven hours away from any kind of technology. If I must write, I “head write” then wait for a break, or lunch time, to jot down all those clever thoughts. Did I say clever?

I have friends. Having friends means putting effort into that friendship, taking the time to have coffee or just phone to say hello. Sorry, a like or a comment on a Facebook status just doesn’t cut it so far as I’m concerned. I need real contact of some kind. I know it’s time consuming, but isn’t friendship worth it?

Maybe 2019 will be the year I try something new, or even a plethora of new things. Why stop at one?

I’ll be working on the edits for my two books due out in 2020. I’m a so excited about this. I love working on edits. It’s where the magic happens.

If all goes according to plan, my list of things for 2019 will continue to grow. It’s not simply a January list but one that will evolve over the weeks and months ahead.

Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope 2019 has something truly remarkable in store for you.

Are you a list-maker? All the time, some of the time, never or just occasionally?

Advertisements

Season’s Greetings

As  I watched the snow from inside my house today, it seemed like a good day to write a short blog post–my last one for 2018.  It also seemed like an even better day for decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping prezzies. Christmas is only a week away and yet I find myself, once again, scrambling to get everything done. Big surprise!

And all the while I’m preparing and thinking Christmas, there’s this nagging urge within me to start writing. Some days are like that, it seems that new ideas are prodding me, begging me to pay attention. Not to mention some stories that have been lurking in the shadows for some years now, following me around like the ghost of Jacob Marley. Oh… but then that would make me Scrooge, wouldn’t it? No, no, no. I’m not feeling like Scrooge today. Perhaps I’m more of a juggler, with several stories still up in the air. I like the thought of being a juggler of new ideas, new stories not yet told.

I always welcome New Year’s, knowing that I’ll able to spend more time writing, and hopefully finishing up some projects I began during the year. Winter is my official time to create. There is just something so new and special about a new year. I find it difficult to describe, and it’s not that I’m even a big fan of winter. Perhaps it’s the sense that, with a brand new year comes brand new hopes and dreams.

Earlier, I found a few very old–like 100 years old–postcards I wanted to share since Christmas and New Year’s are just around the corner.

I love the images on the old postcards, so nostalgic. (Not that I was around back then, but still…..)

 

Wouldn’t you just love to climb inside this image?

Wishing all my readers a wondrous and magically New Year. I hope to see you all in 2019, and hopefully I’ll continue to find new things to blog about!

 

 

Persistence

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
Octavia Butler

I love this quote that I recently stumbled across. In the past I have shared this same sentiment about writing because it’s SO true.

When we first start writing we think we’re so much better than we really are. This is understandable since we’re so eager to unleash the creativity that’s been pent up inside us, sometimes for years.  In the beginning, we love all the words we put down, all those flowery sentences we deem so very important to all great works of fiction. And make no mistake, ours IS great, maybe THE greatest.  We smother our run-on sentences with adverbs and adjectives while searching for meaningful ten syllable words that we think makes our writing infectious, and certainly makes us sound….educated and sophisticated. You know, the way an author is supposed to sound. People simply will not be able to resist reading our work. (Wait until this comes across some editor’s desk! Won’t they be surprised!)

Turns out “infectious” is just another word for BORING, but boring to everyone except the author—funny how that works. We’ve been told that “describing words” are needed—and  plenty of them. Don’t just write simple sentences; make them come alive by describing them in detail…fine detail. Who cares about an actual plot when you’ve got a bunch of descriptive words and sentences to read?  Simple sentences show a lack of imagination and no one, but no one, wants to be accused of that. I remember this advice from my elementary school days when I was first discovering the power of words, when good writing amounted to writing with a lot of these aforementioned “describing words.” It takes a lot of imagination to come up with some of them when you’re nine or ten. I mean, how many words can you use to describe say, a blade of grass or a sunbeam that is SO detrimental to the story you’re crafting?

What is sometimes hard for people to understand is that the more you write the better your writing becomes. Just like anything else you’re learning. Authors don’t just sit down and write a story that immediately gets published. We write, and rewrite and rewrite some more. And once we’re convinced the story is as good as we can get it, we write and rewrite again. And then, when it’s finally accepted for publication we work with an editor who will squeeze even more out of this story that was finished a long time ago.

The story is not truly completed until we’re holding that book in our hands. But what’s this with all the writing and rewriting, you might ask? As anxious as we might be to see our story in book form every revision, every rewrite, all that extra buffing we do to the story only improves it. I promise.

I honestly believe that I became a published author because I refused to give up. Okay, so I did give up, many times. I screamed in frustration and vowed to never touch a keyboard again. But once the tantrum was over, I was right back at it. Like an addiction, I just couldn’t stop.  

So, to all the unpublished writers out there, I hope you can take heart in knowing that as you continue along in your writing journey, each story you write, each paragraph or even sentence, your writing improves. And if you’re writing is crap in the beginning you’ll know, so long as you never give up,  you’re one step closer to improving. And, by the time you are finally published, you will have learned the value of persistence. 

Another Blast of Winter in Spring

Winter just doesn’t seem to want to go away this year. Here in East Dalhousie we were blessed with about 10 cm of snow last night. Some of it melted during the afternoon, and the eaves are still dripping. That said, we’ve been told to expect another 15 cm overnight. I’m not sure what will happen to the tulips in our garden that suddenly burst through the ground late last week, but I’m hoping they’ re hardy enough to survive this next blast of winter weather this spring. But this is not unusual for spring, nor is our complaints that winter just doesn’t want to give up. Still, with each warm day we’re granted, hope stirs inside us. That’s the one thing about hope. It seems no matter how many times we’re disappointed with the outcome of something, we remain hopeful that next time the results we’re looking for will finally show up.

It’s like that when writing a book. Most times it takes several attempts before I end up with the results I want. Some authors write many drafts before they declare the story completed. I tend to edit and revise as I go along, and often never get a first draft completely written out so I have no idea how many drafts I go through. Back when I was writing Flying with a Broken Wing I became dissatisfied with the story and even stopped working on it, so sure I was that it was never going to amount to anything, let alone anything publishable. So I took a break from it and went back to it many months later filled with new hope that this time I was going to make it to the end. And I did!

I actually started the book I’m working on now about the same time that I started Cammie Takes Flight, and while Cammie’s been a book now for nearly a year, that other book is still waiting for me. I don’t expect I’ll ever be a fast writer. Many times I feel as though the story is struggling to find me. Sometimes there’s a lot of static in the way. But when the lines finally become clear, sentences and paragraphs begin to fall into place. That’s when I know for sure the story I’m working on will not get abandoned along the wayside.

And while I’m hopeful that spring will soon be here to stay, there is definitely no guarantee. Just as there is no guarantee that the story I’m presently working on will make it into book form. Still, amidst the struggles and frustration, I try to remain hopeful. It may not always be possible. I sometimes fall into a rut and become discouraged even with three published books and over forty published short stories. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this. We all become discouraged from time to time. But it’s our ability to pick ourselves up time and time again, to find that small bit of hope and run with it as fast as we can, that is responsible for all the accomplishments we achieve in life.

I’ll leave you with this quote that I find particularly inspiring. Maybe you will, too.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Spring, Writing and Book Launch Photos

Time has certainly been flying by this winter or I should say spring? I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I last wrote a blog post. Here we are near the end of March. While the last time I wrote about how warm and unwinter-like the weather for February was, as we get closer to spring, winter decided to remind us that we needn’t start looking for crocuses and daffodils just yet. But that’s life, isn’t it? Just when we start feeling comfortable about the state of things, thinking maybe we have it all figured out, the rules change on us. In a way, it’s for our own good. I believe we all need for life to challenge us from time to time otherwise we stop growing and expanding as human beings, learning new things and having new experiences. A.K.A BORING.

I’ve been busy juggling a few stories these past few months, carrying on a love/hate relationship with them. I guess it’s why I juggle in the first place. As soon as I start hating one story, I switch to the other. Sometimes one of the stories will stick in my head and follow me around, sometimes even haunting my dreams or else coming to me late at night. The stories are so different from one another and maybe that’s a good thing. Writing is finding that balance and not sinking into a rut. So, I’ll keep juggling so long as these two stories dictate. Seems it’s rarely the writer who’s in charge of the story anyway.

I finally got around to posting some launch photos. You’ll find them HERE but also under the Cammie Takes Flight tab. There were so many photos taken  that day, I couldn’t possible post them all. I just picked out a few. Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of them.

Easter is in a few days, and although we have plenty of snow here in East Dalhousie, it’s melting away quickly. Today was absolutely gorgeous. Hopefully, it won’t be too many weeks before we see those crocuses and daffodils.

Happy Easter! Oh, and a shout-out to my friend, Gail, whose birthday is today. I’ve been calling but the line’s been busy. Hope you’re reading this and are having a stupendous day!

Working My Way Through Winter

With Cammie being nominated for the Silver Birch Award, meaning that a lot of kids will be reading the book, I decided to create a post about the Halifax School for the Blind in case anyone was interested in knowing a bit more about it since it’s  also where the book is set. I’ve already shared this post on Facebook a week ago. You can find it by hovering over the Cammie Takes Flight tab at the top of my blog it should drop down and from there you click on it. Or you can follow the link HERE. The post explains how I used some of stories my mother and stepfather told me about their experience at the school when writing the book. This doesn’t mean the events in the book were real, of course not, it just means these experiences inspired me to create a fictitious story. Being able to add real details only adds to a story’s authenticity. That doesn’t mean a writer can’t also take certain liberties when writing as well. That’s the beauty of writing fiction.

I’m also planning to add some information on the Ideal Maternity Home in the future. Five years ago, when I first started writing the book, I went out to the spot where the maternity home used to stand. As mentioned in the back of the book, there’s a monument there to mark the place, and I did take some photos. It burned in the sixties. As sad and tragic as what the story about the home is it is a part of our history here in Nova Scotia and something I’m exploring further as I work on my next book.

Now that Christmas is behind us, and we’re making our way through winter, I’ve been able to devote more time to reading and writing. I’ve also more time to think and daydream. A lot of thinking goes into any book and something that can be done while doing housework or other mundane activities. What could be better? A writer doesn’t just sit down at the keyboard and watch the words materialize like magic. We spend as much time plotting a story as we do writing and rewriting. Some chapters take more time than others, some paragraphs for that matter, as we smooth out the writing and find that flow that makes our words sound effortless. Believe me, some first drafts can be pretty choppy. But that’s the part I like, pulling out the wrinkles, finding the right placement for a sentence or even word. Yes, it can be that exact.

I won’t lie. It’s easy to become discouraged, no matter how many books you have published or how many great reviews your work receives. Writing is challenging. It’s a solitary activity. Sometimes it can get lonely. Thankfully, we have our characters for company. So here I am, again, working my way through winter, keeping my head down and concentrating on the finish line.

Until next time.

Cammie Takes Flight: One Step Closer

“You’ve signed a contract months ago so what’s taking SOOO long?”

As a writer with a new- to- be published book I get asked that a lot, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing. Means there’s interest, right?

A published book comes about in baby steps. This is once the book has been written (not to mention all those hours of thinking and plotting, writing and revising, a writer does before it’s even sent it off to a publisher.)

While each of these steps might be little over time they begin to add up.

Here’s where the books is now:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the aim for “Cammie Takes Flight” (Yes, that’s the name we’re sticking with!) is to have the Advanced Reading Copies or ARCs  ready to be sent out in early winter. These go to reviewers etc. before the book is actually released. At this point I’ve already made revisions to the manuscript plus a few rounds of edits, smoothing out the wrinkles and straightening out any problems with the plot, etc.

Late this week, I received the design ARC galleys. This shows me what the interior of the book will look like, such as what fonts have been used and the little birds at the start of each chapter that I absolutely love! So with the file now created, the words, fonts and birds all in place you might think we’re all set to go, right?

But wait.

I still have some tweaking to do.

Crazy, isn’t it?

Not really. I’ve got a bit more work to do to the galleys, plus a decision to make, before the ARCs are ready to go to print.

Okay, so there’s no cover yet. Sorry. But trust me on this, there will be a cover before it goes to print. I mean, whoever heard of a book with no covers, right?

So once the ARCs are printed that’s it, right?

Wrong.

Believe it or not I’ll have the opportunity to make slight changes before it goes to the final print which should be late February, ready for the book’s release in April. Yay, it will finally be a book!

Whew!

So, the important thing is the book is getting closer to publication. Baby steps, but it’ll get there. I promise. And one of these days, very soon, I’ll have a cover reveal on my blog.

It’s all very exciting each time a writer brings a new book into the world. It’s our way of sharing what we’ve created with the rest of the world. Well, at least with our readers. 😉

That’s it for now. I hope you’re having an enjoyable fall and that you’re making steps towards  completing your own project whatever that might be.

A Book—How Long Does It Take?

DSC07192The other day someone asked when I’d last written a book. I quickly replied last year. But that’s not really accurate. Yes, I finished a book last year, but I worked on it for several years before declaring it completed. Even then, I only ever refer to it as a manuscript. (Not a book until it’s published.)  I have several manuscripts in various stages of completion, ones that go back many, many, many years. It’s the nature of writing, I think; the ability to simply pick up and start or stop or even change directions. I don’t wear blinders when I write. Sometimes my eye wonders. I see a potential story some place else and I quickly jot things down—a paragraph, a sentence, a page—for a later date.

I’m not an organized writer. And I have periods when I’m not nearly as productive as others. I get in slumps. I procrastinate and often wonder what’s stopping me from writing more. Exactly why do I procrastinate when writing is something I absolutely love doing, something that’s a part of me? I’ve asked myself that question a time or two. But then I remind myself that creativity isn’t something that can be rushed. It comes in its own good time, the same way a story idea or character suddenly arrives right out of the blue when I’m washing dishes or stirring pots.

I don’t produce outlines or write character sketches. I don’t decide what my characters likes or dislikes are before heading into a story. In fact, it’s more like they tell me. This is the place where some people start looking at me a little strange. Characters tell you things? They might even suggest an evaluation of sorts—just to make sure everything’s okay. They might even pat me on the head. But yes, with every book I’ve written, every short story, I feel a connection to a character who then leads me through their story. Occasionally I have a certain topic I want to write about, even then I have to wait for some character to show up and guide me through to the end.

I know one author who wrote a book in eighteen days. I’m still in awe of that feat although she told me she wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’m willing to bet she didn’t get a whole lot of sleep during those eighteen days. While I’m not expecting to write a novel in anywhere near that time I’ve learned to never rule anything out because, really, who am I to say what will and won’t happen. I don’t like putting restriction on life. I like to stay open to any possibility. Who knows, a character might show up one day, a character so strong and insistent and impossible to ignore and I’ll be at their mercy to write, write, write. I’m sure this certain author didn’t decide she’d write a novel in a few weeks, it probably just happened. When you’re open to all possibilities anything is possible.

So, how long does it take to write a book? It takes as long as it takes—at least for me.

What kind of writer are you? Do you write with an outline or simply fly by the seat of your pants? How long does it take you to write a book?

Writing Out the Crap

I know, I know, I know. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post. Or maybe you didn’t notice, which is okay. I still love you. Why wouldn’t I? You’re my people!

All week long I’ve been mulling over ideas of what to write. The ideas seemed to ebb and flow with my moods as disappointment and challenges kicked in during the week. Some days I was ready to  dig in my heels and write an uplifting post, still other days I wanted to get up on my soapbox and spout off a little. You see, I have a real problem with all the unfairness in the world, of people behaving badly, or simply not having a thoughtful bone in their body. It bugs me and, honestly, sometimes makes me want to retreat from the world and pull the blanket up over my head.

But I have a secret weapon, one that allows me to work through the crap in my life. Yeah, you’ve got it—writing. I know that’s what you’d expect me to say—me being a writer and all—but I believe that we all need to give voice to some of the things that are troubling us from time to time. Some people are verbal and can articulate what’s on their mind very well. Other people are verbal and well…Maybe they need to give writing a try because it just gets a little messy otherwise.. You don’t have to be a fiction writer and make up stories, just writing down the everyday can often help. I don’t mean the I did this and went here and did that’s. I mean really, you’ve got to get into the meat of things, the stuff that bugs you, the people who ticked you off, the ones who broke your trust or were mean or simply haven’t got time for you.

I mentioned this to a teacher friend recently, this writing out the crap thing that I do from time to time. It helps, really it does. It frees me to come to a clean page and start a fresh new writing session when I’ve got things bugging me that I just can’t shake. I mean, how can you allow the words to flow when you’ve got a swell of emotions damned up inside you? Many times we keep churning that crap around in our heads all day. Some people do it at night. Some people do it all day and night. For me, there’s something powerful about writing out what I’m feeling when I’m encountering life’s disappointing times. And since no one is ever going to read it, I can whine and complain and lament to my heart’s content. Because seriously, if you live in the world, you’re going to experience some crap in your life. I don’t care who you are. Even if you appear to be the most happy, bubbly person in the world. And remember, when crap happens in your life you can have a secret weapon too! Try writing out that crap and see how you feel.

While I think of it, I love the lyrics to the song “Bleed Red” by Ronnie Dunn.  I’ve added them below. It reminds me to keep other people in mind as I go through my day, good or bad, and that I’m not the only person who’s having a crappy day. “We all bleed red–the words get stuck in my head from time to time when I’ve got things on my mind. I hope they resonate with you in some way, too.
 

Bleed Red

Let’s say were sorry, before it’s too late, give forgiveness a chance
Turn the anger into water; let it slip through our hands
We all bleed red, we all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way,
We all say words we regret, we all cry tears, we all bleed red

If we’re fighting, we’re both losing; we’re just wasting our time
Because my scars, they are your scars and your world is mine
You and I, we all bleed red, we all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way
We all say words, we regret, well cry tears, we all bleed red
Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re weak, sometimes we’re hurt and it cuts deep
We live this life, breath to breath, we’re all the same; we all bleed red

Let’s say we’re sorry…
Before it’s too late…

We all bleed red, all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way,
We all say words we regret, we all cry tears we all bleed red,
Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re weak; sometimes we’re hurt
It cuts deep; we live this life breath to breath; we’re all the same
We all bleed r-e-e-e-d-d-d

Oh, and to my Canadian readers, Happy Thanksgiving. If you’d like to share something you’re thankful for in the comments that would be great.

Guest Post—Darlene Foster

Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Darlene Foster to my blog. Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world, meeting interesting people and writing stories. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers from seven to seventy enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.

So without further ado, here’s Darlene!

                 

                                                                     The Joy of Writing for Children

SAM_1503

 

Writing for children is important to me because I want children to develop the same love of books I had as a child. A love that doesn’t fade with time. Children’s books create lifelong readers; readers who eventually buy adult books. Without children’s books there may be no market for adult books.

I began my love affair with words many years ago. Some of my fondest memories are being read to as a child, visiting the library, and discovering the ability to read by myself. I still have worn copies of favourite childhood books, such as The Bobbsey Twins, Little Women, Black Beauty and Anne of Green Gables; and revisit these old friends from time to time. Books and children go together like toast and jam, in my opinion. Since I never show up without a book as a gift, my grandchildren call me, The Book Gramma. It´s not surprising that I love to write for children.

One grandmother purchased a set of my Amanda travel/adventure books and sent me this email which made my heart sing:

My 12 year old granddaughter just finished your books. She loved them. We were camping and we kept telling her to put the books down and come and play. This is the first time I have seen her get so excited about a book. Your books have given her a love of reading. Thanks for the good reads.

While writing for children can be fun, it isn´t easy. You have to remove yourself from the adult world and think like a twenty-first century kid. Fortunately, I like to hang around kids, listen to the words they use, observe the gestures, the looks, the trends. I also enjoy reading current, middle reader books to see what sparks the interest of today’s young readers. Children notice things adults wouldn’t and could care less about things adults think are important. It’s necessary to get into their head space. And guess what? While I’m writing, I get to be a kid again – and I love it!

The main character in my first book, Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask, is a Canadian girl who wishes for travel and adventure on her twelfth birthday. The next day she gets a ticket to fly to the United Arab Emirates to visit her aunt and uncle. There she has an adventure of a lifetime. One young reader said, “I want to know where Amanda will travel to next.” That motivated me to write Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting.

I had so much fun writing about Amanda, her travels and escapades that I continued by writing Amanda in England-The Missing Novel. One day, while doing a presentation at a school, a student asked me, “Why doesn´t Amanda stay in Alberta and have an adventure?” I said, “That´s a great idea,” and wrote Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Kids are always giving me ideas. I am currently working on book number five. I have to, my young fans are expecting it.
It brings me much joy to write my books as these fans will grow up and buy adult books soon. Writers of children’s books are creating readers for life. It’s an important job and one I am happy to take on.

 

Thank you so much, Darlene. It was a pleasure to have you visit.

If you’d like to learn more about Darlene and her books check out her website blog Amazon

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 238 other followers

  • Follow Laura Best on WordPress.com
  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 79,616 hits
  • Advertisements