So again I am behind with my blog posts, is it lack of routine, worry over COVID19 or something else? We are all feeling out of sorts as the saying goes. Although, I am working remotely from home and that gives me some structure, there has been an addition to the household. We have been searching for a small, older dog to rescue for quite sometime, over a year. Well, last Tuesday we went to meet one!
Now we are the happy and grateful adopters of Sammie. She is about ten years old and a Schnoodle (poodle/schnauzer mix). She was surrendered, which is sad but now we can give her a loving home. We drove over an hour to meet her and thought it would just be a meet and greet but….we brought her home. Now I have early morning, lunch time and evening walks, (my step count is over 9,000 a day!) a snuggle pup, who sleeps on my bed all night & who loves playing fetch.
So please forgive my distraction. You never know she might be in my next book? #storyidea
I am really enjoying Tom Hanks book – Uncommon Type. Each story has great characters and settings.
I also read a new manuscript from a fellow author which will be fantastic for speculative and sci-fi readers. Watch this space for the book launch.
So onward & upward! I will get my act together – I promise.
We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’ in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).
Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.
Here are a few tips to try (or not):
One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog
What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?
Firstly, an apology for not posting earlier. We have had a change to the household, which has meant the normal routine has been turned upside down! More later on that.
For now I can share that I have started this book, which is a collection of short stories. The author, Tom Hanks, best known as a great actor has turned his unique skills into writing. He has done a great job (in my opinion). Each story is a snap shot of a life and they draw you in beautifully. I will of course write a review once I finish the book but for now – it’s really enjoyable.
As many of you know I love old typewriters so the book’s content appealed a lot.
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I post a Word of the Day and every ten days create a ‘story’ using those words. You may find it interesting to see how I compile those stories.
In Alberta we enjoyed a long weekend, although all the days merge into one at the moment. However, to make the weekend seem slightly special, we explored a new sculpture installation near home and then drove in the countryside. It is good to get out of the four walls!
The sculpture is one of a series that will be erected for children to discover, which seems like a great incentive. The idea is that they find the mosquitoes!
We also came across a field full of mares and their foals. It really is Spring! This is onyl a couple as there were around seven foals.
On our way out, I spotted this plant, which I think might be wild garlic. If you know please comment – thanks. I had to scramble down the ditch to get the photos.
1. Please tell us about your new YA novel – Virtual Age
A- Virtual Age takes place in a distant future. Our world is no longer able to support life so, in preparation for this, indoor cities were built where air and water is purified. The technology of virtual reality was adapted so people can work, play, travel, and enjoy a version of the outside world within the system. When you live your lives within a computer, you become susceptible to hacking – which could drain you of all your money as all money is accessed through computers – and your whole world could be altered and flipped upside down.
My main character is a thirteen year-old boy by the name of Aiden Murphy. He enjoyed the simple life of a teen – going to birthday parties, occasionally standing up to the school bully, and going with his family on vacations or trips to the beach. It was on one of these outings where Aiden finds himself trapped in the system, lost and all alone; unable to get home. He doesn’t know who to trust. He doesn’t know where to go. He doesn’t know what he is going to encounter within someone else’s program. He will be tested every step of the way.
2. How did you come up with the idea?
A- I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of virtual reality and wanted to come up with a story centres around that concept. Actually, I remember when I came up with the idea and some points within the plot while at work. I was working for a commercial insulating company a few years ago. One day I was sent to a job and there was no material there for me to do any work so I spent 3 hours waiting around for the material and while I did, I came up with the concept and title of my book.
Did you decide on writing a YA from the start?
A- I have had ideas for YA novels that I still want to write, however, this wasn’t one of them. I started it off as any of my other novels but then realized as I was writing that it was better suited as a YA.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
A- There are so many but one that stands out is Dimlyn – an inhabitant of the planet Seledania – she is strong, determined, stubbourn, kind, and generous. Her loyalty to her society is put to the test when she encounters a visitor from beyond the stars –a human – who is feared and hated by the whole of the society besides Dimlyn. She is willing to overlook his outer appearance despite the backlash she receives from the rest of the society. She was probably the most fun to write because she isn’t human.
When did you write the manuscript?
A- I wrote the manuscript in November of 2018. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year. November is National Novel Writing Month and authors who sign up are challenged with writing 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.
How many books have you written?
A- I have published 8 books so far. Book #9 is in editing and book #10 is ready to be edited.
Which genre interests you the most?
A- I mostly write in the sci-fi/supernatural genres.
Have you written more than one genre?
A- Aside from sci-fi/supernatural I have also written a psychological thriller, a superhero story and a collection of Christmas stories.
Do your books have a specific message for your readers?
A- I don’t often think in terms of messages within the story but when I thought about my stories I began to realize most of them did carry a similar message- that being of tolerance. We need to treat each other with the love and compassion we want for ourselves. And don’t be too quick to judge.
How many other writing projects do you have in progress?
A- Like I said I have two books in various stages of the editing process as well I have a prequel for my first novel – Time’s Hostage – I’m working on.
Where can readers connect with you?
A- They can connect with me on my Facebook page: J E McKnight – author
And they can check out all my books on my website: jemcknight.com
E-books available on all sites.
Joe McKnight was born in Fort Saskatchewan and raised in the small Alberta farming community of Partridge Hill. He started his schooling in Ardrossan, where he developed a love of story-telling. His love of writing continued to grow throughout his school years. In 2004, while upgrading his English 30, Joe’s passion increased. It was during that same year he stumbled upon a writer’s circle (offered by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) that provided the support and encouragement he needed. He continues to grow in his writing and looks forward to many future literary ventures.
Joe has published several books: Time’s Hostage, Fly on the Wall, The Arrival, Powerless, The Other Secret, Stocking Stuffers, Unnatural Selection, and Virtual Age. He is currently working on a new manuscript.
Joe is also an accomplished artist and his artwork also appears on the cover of From a Solitary Drop – he was commissioned to design the illustration featured on the cover.
The strange habits of some famous authors has always interested me. I cannot lay claim to anything this weird, mores the pity. Maybe I can cultivate something? Are you willing to share your ‘strange’ habit?
The ancient Greek writer shaved half his head. Ensuring that by looking so idiotic, he would stay home and work, instead of facing ridicule in public.
2. Henrik Ibsen
The A Doll’s House playwright hung a huge oil painting of his greatest rival on his study wall. Inspiring him to strive to better his enemies.
3. Franz Kafka – Too Much Cake
Kafka allowed himself to eat a whole pineapple upside down cake when he finished a story. He did not share any of it!
4. Mary Shelley – Pet Snake
Shelley’s pet 23-foot-long boa constrictor was housed in her writing studio. With the snake wrapped around her shoulders she would write until the snake became restless and began to squeeze, then she stopped writing for the day.
5. Agatha Christie – Ate apples in the bath.
6. Isabel Allende – starts every book on the same day January 8.
7. John Steinbeck – needed two dozen sharpened pencils.
8. Patricia Highsmith – ate eggs and bacon for every meal.
9. Virginia Woolf – wrote at a standing desk.
10. Charles Dickens – slept facing north.
11. Dan Brown – hanging upside down inversion therapy for writer’s block.
12. Victor Hugo – wrote without clothes so he could not leave the house to met a deadline.
13. Francine Prose – writes facing a wall to limit distractions.
14. Truman Capote – never started or finish writing on a Friday.
15. Anthony Burgess – use random words from opening a page in a dictionary to complete a descriptive passage.