I was honoured to be part of Indie Bookstore Day at my local bookstore, The Sherwood Park Bookworm on Saturday. With so many books to choose from and three local authors and a couple of artisan’s attending as well, it was a great day.
I was sequestered on one of the lavish armchairs to display my novels and chat to visitors. It is always a pleasure to talk about my stories and the backstory of their creation. I am always open to reader questions and welcome a comment or email at any time.
The Smart One by Jennifer Close A glimpse into a family’s thoughts, their interactions and events that cause friction, reassessment and belonging. Well crafted characters that you will become involved with, finding some similarities within your own family dynamics, others far from your experience
As writers we want to produce the very best story for our readers. Although, we would like to spend all our time writing, there are many other demands on our time. Family commitments, work, chores and more, in fact just life! To improve our writing skill, however, we need to invest in it.
There are multiple ways in which to do this. Of course, some require extended time commitments, while others are easier to slot into our time constraints. Here are some options for you to consider:
Furthering your writing education encompasses broad and diverse options. We can find many free on-line or paid resources, such as on YouTube, Masterclasses or Skillshare. There will also be courses, whether in-person or on-line for a day or evening class basis with a university or college course. These can be a large time and financial investment, so think carefully before committing to one.
Conferences and Events
You can find writing conferences held throughout the year by literary organizations, these range from free to paid. Attending a session with an expert and really focusing on their topic, is a great way to garner information and insight for your own writing.
There is a plethora of books on writing and you can either borrow from your local library or buy. Depending on if you want a general writing guide or a specific one, you should be able to find one that matches your needs.
Writing Apps or Services
There are many to choose from, including ProWritingAid, Scrivener, or Novlr, to name a few. It is important to thoroughly research these before purchasing, so it is in-line with what you need as a writer and how you write. Some have free trial periods so you can test them out.
This option does involve a financial commitment, as well as a time commitment. Hiring a writing coach can make a tremendous difference to your writing. It can take the form of informal mentors to biweekly counseling sessions. Decide which one suits your personality and learning preference.
Writer in Residence
Many libraries have professional authors, who spend a period of time holding presentations, but also give free advice, whether one-on-one or via email. As a free resource this is a great option for any writer. (I always connect with our local WIR every year).
You can find retreats held by literary organizations in most areas. They can be structured or informal. Most will entail a financial commitment. If you belong to a writing group, why not organize your own, with maybe a special guest or two to give a presentation. Or decide on what is the most common element everyone wants to learn, discuss or practice is and build the retreat around that.
A local writing group is a real bonus in helping you improve your writing. You receive feedback on your writing, discuss the multitudinous of writing topics, as well as receive encouragement and support.
No matter which option you choose, investing in your writing always improves your skill.
What have you done to improve your writing skills?
I have always loved to read which inevitably led me to tell my own stories. I still have poems and stories I wrote when I was 10 or 12! As for the why, I simply love to tell a good story. Living in a small town, I learned to entertain myself by writing and creating my own worlds.
What drew you to the mystery genre in particular?
I love puzzles – both word puzzles and picture puzzles. I guess it’s only natural that I was drawn to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a kid. Funny how I never thought about writing them until I entered a Murder in Ink contest sponsored by a small Ontario publisher for the fun of it. That was how my first book, a novella, was published.
Do you feel a book series suits this genre best and if so why?
With cozy mysteries in particular, book series are a great way to go. Readers become immersed in the main character’s town, business, lives and love to watch them grow as the series goes on. Sometimes while writing in a temporary character, I’ve ended up with a whole new sidekick that sticks around for several more books.
Over time, with each new novel, have you found it is easier to write about your main protagonists?
By book two or three, my main protagonists become old friends and I like to get them in lots of trouble! It’s fun to put obstacles in their paths and see how they handle new situations. In Gilda’s case in my Gilda Wright Mysteries, she’s grown from someone who started working in a karate school to gain some confidence to a woman getting ready to grade for her black belt. She’s the main character who has had the most growth arc so far.
Can you give us some details of your latest book, The Conned Lady?
My two main characters in The Conned Lady are Katie Mullins and Danny Walker.
Readers met them back in The Bookstore Lady when Katie escaped from her bosses who wanted her dead because she knew too much.
Danny, who was investigating the organization, was supposed to keep her safe and lost her. Only to find her again in his hometown.
Together, they faced the bad guys and made sure they were behind bars and developed a romantic relationship through the series.
When the bad guys are suddenly free, Katie needs to confront her past and deal with it – with the help of Danny and their friends.
During it all, they both face insecurities and have doubts until… You’ll have to read The Conned Lady to find out!
What is your writing process?
I don’t have a daily schedule for my writing since I have a full-time job as well. Thankfully, during lock down I ended up working with a couple different writing groups and have blocks of time to write Sunday morning and Monday evening. Aside from that, I take time before work, during lunch, and some evenings when things are quiet. After learning to write around the chaos of work and three kids, I’ve learned to grab the free time when I can get it!
Do you list ideas for each series/protagonist specifically?
I really don’t list ideas for my protagonists. They grow as the story grows.
As for my series, I tend to come up with a main idea for the series then break it down in to 3-5 books that I write blurbs for. Sometimes I stick with them, other times the overall series story line takes a twist and I either juggle around the book blurbs or create new ones.
What do you see for the future of your many series?
My Wild Blue Mystery series has now come to an end – with an ending that will allow me to return to it in the future if I choose to do so.
Right now I’m waffling with ending my Gilda Wright Mysteries with the next novel or write two more.
I originally wrote three book blurbs for my Glitter Bay series, then I created a new character named Quinn who seems very eager to stir up some excitement around Glitter Bay!
As for my Sugarwood Mysteries, Book 2 is in the process with at least one more to follow.
Do you have a specific writing area?
I have a beautiful office space I painted Caribbean blue, but usually end up on the couch with my elderly cat, at the kitchen table in the sunshine, or outside if the weather is good. I don’t like to limit myself as to where and when I write, but find I can pick up a pen and paper any time anywhere.
Diane Bator is a mom of three, a book coach, and the author of over a dozen mystery novels and many works-in-progress. She has also hosted the Escape With a Writer blog to promote fellow authors and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Writers Union of Canada, and a board member of Crime Writers of Canada. When she’s not writing and coaching authors, she works for a professional theatre. No surprise she’s written her first play, which may lead to more.
Last Saturday, was the first time my writing group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County attended an in-person event since the pandemic started. In conjunction with Recreation, Parks & Culture the event gave residents the opportunity to try sports and discover the multiple cultural organizations within the county.
As a writing group, we always encourage all ages to delve into the delights of the written word and explore their imaginations. We promoted our annual children’s writing contest, which has a deadline of 30th April, 2022. It is a great opportunity for young people to enter their stories and have it published in a ‘real’ book.
We had many visitors to our table and several took the contest details home with them to begin their story entries. I’m looking forward to reading all the entries and the expressions of imagination from the clues.
I also attended the AGM for the Arts and Culture Council last night. Meeting with other people passionate about the creative arts and exchanging ideas and views is always a treat.
The next big event on my calendar is a Spring writers conference (virtual) on 23rd April. Registration is required via the website: http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com Details so far are:
When I initially, made the decision to branch out into freelance writing after a couple of paid gigs, I had no idea how it would affect my writing style. Obviously, it was interesting, but also gave it me another avenue to learn my writing skill.
When I write creatively, I am in control of what happens, where the story leads when I write and ultimately when I finish. However, with freelance projects I quickly learned to accommodate another person’s viewpoint, requirements and adhere to a deadline. Fulfilling another person’s vision for their project is about asking questions – lots of questions and then reiterating them to ensure you are both on the same wavelength. Among my past projects, I have written new bio’s, edited manuscripts, created blog and social media posts, written articles and information leaflets, mentoring and ghost written a hybrid marketing book to name a few.
Through this business I have gain experience and knowledge from each project, which allows me to hone my skill. I have also gained valuable insights into other styles of writing, which in turn have assisted me in my creative writing. You may think that cannot be the case, but all writing teaches us something. It can be as simple as writing to a deadline or writing to a specific style or tone to align with current literature or media. It also gives me great backstories for future characters, who work in environments I am writing and learning about so a win-win situation.
Have you broaden your writing into freelance? What has your experience been like?
You can find my freelance website, testimonials etc. here: