At the last writing group’s sharing meeting, we were given these words to create a poem or short story in 10 minutes. bird, scrape, clock, envy, whistle, sunset
I am sharing my story with you.
Gerald scraped the ice from the car windshield, his breathe making clouds in the still cold air. The sunset made the glass a mirror of the orange and burgundy. With the screen clear, he whistled in relief and quickly got into the heated vehicle., relishing the warmth. The digital clock in the dashboard flickered it’s red LED lights at 9:02 pm. He looked back at the large impressive house, where his car was parked, unable to deter the feeling of envy. If only, I could be as clever as my cousin, Jake and get a job that paid that well. I would buy a mansion over looking the bay and hold great parties every weekend.
He put the car into gear and pulled away, unaware of the bird nestling in the engine bay, relishing the warmth. It wasn’t until Gerald drew up outside his apartment block on the other side of town, that he noticed the odd noise. As he got out he could hear fluttering and chirps from under the hood. Carefully, he opened the hood and fell backwards as a flurry of wings brushed past his face. He stood for several moments in shock but then relief that the bird had not been burnt alive. You’re lucky, he called as he watched the bird perch on a low branch lit by the street light.
These writing exercises help generate imagination and having a set time ensures we write without thinking in too much detail.
I have an event coming up on 22nd January, which is an interview with a local arts TV channel – Arts Talk. I have had the pleasure of being interviewed by the host before – twice in fact – for my books but this particular interview is to promote and inform the local community of my local writers group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. It is something I have done before as Secretary of the society but in a different setting. (photo)
As an author, I had to become ‘comfortable’ with public speaking for events, such as interviews and author readings. It was nerve racking when I first started but I have found the more I do the easier it gets. Like anything ‘practice makes perfect’ but it still doesn’t curb the nerves completely.
I plan to video a copy of readings this year so stay tuned. If you have a request for a particular segment of one of my books, please let me know.
Do you have any questions for me on my writing life? I would love to hear from you.
As many of you know, I commit to a blog schedule at the end of each year for the coming year. My blog has in the past morphed into a writer’s blog as opposed to a reader’s blog and so I want 2020 to be different by still continuing to support my writing community as advocate but also to engage my reader’s more. To this end my twice weekly posts will be divided between writing topics and delving into my books and writing life for my readers.
I hope you will find the content interesting, enlightening and fun. I will post every Tuesday and Thursday each week as follows:
Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday
Stories behind my published books and also from works in progress.
Update on events I will be attending.
A glimpse at my current writing project.
Sharing short stories or poem’s I have written from prompts or workshops.
My book reviews
Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday
Segments from my interview with Online for Authors
Special Interviews with authors from Creative Edge & First Pages
Author Website links
I am also starting a newsletterso please sign up when prompted. I hope we can develop a great relationship with this new venture – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses. Thank you in anticipation.
The idea for The Inquirer came to me in line at the grocery store where the tabloids and gossip magazines are on display. I wondered what the featured celebrities thought of the headlines. What would my neighbors and I think if our local newspaper was publishing sensationalized articles about our love lives, blunders, and appearances? In The Inquirer, a mysterious tabloid starts airing the dirty laundry of a small town here in Alberta, and Amiah Williams becomes an unsuspecting feature.
How did you come up with the title?
The Inquirer struck me as the perfect title. It brings to mind the National Enquirer, which is the type of newspaper I want readers to imagine. And it represents Amiah, the protagonist, who is forced to dig into the twisted truth behind the tabloid and her past.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope The Inquirer entertains readers. On a deeper level, it explores different types and levels of stereotyping and gossip. Perhaps some readers will question what happens behind closed doors or think twice about when to speak up and when best to be quiet.
How much of the book is realistic?
It hasn’t happened, but it could, if that’s what you mean. I was surprised by how often I would come up with what I thought was an outrageous headline for the fictional tabloid and then something similar would happen in real life! Most often, I would then change the headline for fear that people would think it was based on them.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Inquirer is fiction, but I feel like the characters are familiar and I have had readers say they have known similar sets of characters in their lives.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Readers can connect with me on Twitter (@readjaclyndawn), on Facebook (@authorjaclyndawn), and at jaclyndawn.com.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I recently started putting on paper an idea for another stand-alone, fiction novel that has been percolating for some time. I don’t have an elevator speech quite ready yet, though.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I really like Ray Williams, Amiah’s dad in The Inquirer. He doesn’t fit his stereotype, buy into stereotypes, or give stereotypes all that much thought. I has a quirky sense of humour, and I wish I could feel as comfortable in my own skin as he does his.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I dabble in many genres as a writer and a reader. NeWest has called The Inquirer genre-bending but primarily markets it as literary fiction; it is located in the general fiction section of the library. I enjoy writing children’s stories, but so far that has been reserved for entertaining my son.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
My story ideas have to percolate for a while. If I try to write or discuss them too early, the ideas fall flat. I have a general idea of what will happen before I start writing and will jot down notes I don’t want to forget, but the characters tend to take over and connect the dots from there.
What is your best marketing tip?
Embrace the digital age, including finding social media that suits you and your readers, connecting with fellow writers online, and participating in blog interviews like this!
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social media can help you reach a lot of potential readers and connect with fellow writers, but it can also be distracting and disheartening.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
For me, writing is cathartic and entertaining. It is a way to explore topics. I find myself asking the same two questions in most of my writing: Why do people do what they do? And, what if?
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and telling them even longer according to my parents. You would probably be rich if you got paid a dollar for every time you’ve gotten a variation of that answer!
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
I consider myself lucky that this is a difficult question to answer. However, to keep it brief, I will just mention the two I live with: my husband and son. Logan makes sure when I get too grounded that I get my head back in the clouds and write. And Seth’s teachers and coaches knew about The Inquirer before the publisher’s catalogue even came out.
Where is your favorite writing space?
The space in our house that the previous owners called a dining room is my library, with shelves of books and memorabilia that has more personal than monetary value and the writing desk my husband refinished for me for one of my birthdays. I call this my writing hub because I come and go with my notebooks, scraps of paper used when inspiration hits at inopportune times, and laptop. I find myself writing for snippets of time everywhere I go. If I was limited to a traditional work space, my creativity, efficiency, health (migraines), and – I admit it – mood would all suffer.
Do you see writing as a career?
With a Bachelor of Applied Communications from MacEwan University and a Master of Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University, I have made a career of a combination of writing. I taught at MacEwan and NAIT, work with my Scriptorium team, and am now also fulfilling my childhood dream of seeing a book of my own in the bookstore and library.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
The Inquirer was originally my MA dissertation, and involved being part of a writing group. Otherwise, I am not part of a formal group but have a growing and much appreciated network of fellow writers.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
My writing times and locations vary, but I will never turn down popcorn.
Jaclyn Dawn grew up in a tabloid-free small town in Alberta. With a communications degree and creative writing masters, she works as a freelance writer and instructor. She now lives somewhere between city and country outside Edmonton with her husband and son. The Inquirer is her debut novel.
What inspired your latest novel? I had this idea—if the legends are real, why do they change so often? I started to imagine worlds where various legends were true. Werewolves, vampires, fairies. And what that world would look like, how it would have to be made up, in order for all these disparate legends to somehow be based on the real magic that underpins it all. I started with fairies, and how the stories about them change and are shaped, over time, by human invention. So I came up with an idea that fairies themselves are actually shaped by humans. By our dreams, by our collective stories. But once every thousand years or so, a human comes along who shapes the fairy world more drastically. The Phantasmer. And that’s where the story started.
How did you come up with the title? I always joke that titles are the bane of my existence! When I first started writing the book I called it Phantasmer. And one of my friends read it, and he told me, “That’s terrible, it sounds like it’s about a ghost or something. You have to change it!” So I thought I would try to find a lyric or a bit of poetry that I liked, and name it after that. At first I wanted to use a line from the poem by Emily Dickinson about fairies, there’s a beautiful line about, “Buy here! … Even for Death, a fairy medicine.” that I really loved, so I called it Even For Death, for awhile—death and ghosts! It sounded way too maudlin, not at all what the book was about, and if you didn’t know the quote it was even worse. So I was scanning through song lyrics, trying to find something, and then this line from “Sounds of Silence” just hit me, and it was just so perfect. What is Sylvia is not a dreamer, restless and wary? And “In Restless Dreams” was born. I don’t recommend choosing a song lyrics as your book title, though. I have that song stuck in my head constantly now!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Life is beautiful and life is messy and life is precious, and it’s never too soon and never too late to go on the biggest adventure of your life. And it gets better.
How much of the book is realistic? It’s really important to me, both in my writing and in the books I read, that novels that are fantastical are even more rooted in the real and everyday than novels that are set on the real world. I hate how much young adult literature especially dives into magic and forgets all about the real consequences of being a teenager. Your parents, your friends, keeping up with school—none of those things vanish just because there’s something huge going on in your life. I think we’ve all experience that to a lesser degree, whether it’s having a huge fight with your best friend but you still have to write a math midterm, or your parents are getting a divorce but there’s a party on Friday night and everyone is going. Magic is a bit like that. It doesn’t make room in your life for itself, it just is.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I’m inspired by the stories I read and the themes I find in the world around me, but I don’t usually base characters on specific people. My next novel that I’m working on has a character based on my best friend, though! She thinks it’s really weird to see her name in print.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I’m very active on Facebook, you can find me at facebook.com/wrenhandmanwriter, and I do have a blog on my personal website, www.wrenhandman.com/blog
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? I am forever writing the next book and working on the next idea, and I have quite a few finished projects waiting in the queue. We’ll see how it goes, but I would like to return to the story of In Restless Dreams. I don’t think Sylvia is done with her journey yet.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? Stranger is by far my favourite character. I love that he breaks that ‘mystery guy’ mold by being funny, by enjoying laughter and life and knowing his place in the world.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I dabble in a lot of different genres, but always speculative. I love the intersection of mystery and magic with the everyday, that’s where my passion is. So I write a lot of near-future science fiction, and a lot of paranormal fantasy. Things where we still recognize our lives and the world, but something has been added to it.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Both! I think a combination is the key to a really great story. You need to have an idea of the shape of it, or it can get really meandery and lost. But if you stick too closely to an outline you had before you really knew your characters, they can feel stilted. So I like to write an outline that’s usually 4-5 pages for a full length novel, and then I let it grow and spread and change as it needs to over the course of writing.
What is your best marketing tip? I really like providing something fun for readers who follow me. So I talk a lot about my process, and I post quotes as I work on the book, things that might not even end up in the final draft.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? Yes! It’s so necessary and every author has to do it, but it can be a huge time suck. I recommend choosing your platform and concentrating there. I’m on Twitter and Instagram, but my real focus in Facebook, and that’s where I put the majority of my time.
What do you enjoy most about writing? When I’m not writing I grow restless, as if something I can’t quite define is missing. It’s that sense of building something you hope will last, those stories crawling up your throat that need to be told. It’s seeing a finished product and knowing it will mean something to someone one day, that it will take them away and erase the world, just for a little while.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? Since before I can remember I was telling stories, playing make-believe, inventing. I was always a child of great imagination. I wrote my first play when I was six years old, and got everyone in my class to star in it. I wrote my first novel in junior high, was sending it out to agents by the end of high school. It was rough, those early things I wrote. But I had a lot of support from family and friends, and that made all the difference.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same? It’s stayed pretty consistent, actually. It’s always been that sense of imagination and escape that’s appealed to me.
What genre are you currently reading? I read about 50 books a year, and most of them are either fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal, in both adult and fantasy. I like to be transported.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both? For pleasure, though there isn’t anything that isn’t research in a certain sense. If you don’t like to read it, you have no business writing it. You need to know what’s already been done. It’s like when Oryx and Crake came out, and a bunch of reviewers said how groundbreaking it was, and the entire science fiction community was like… You’ve never read sci-fi before, have you? It was a well written book, don’t get me wrong! Of course it was, she’s a literary master. But it wasn’t new. It wasn’t saying anything that hadn’t been said before.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My family is a bulwark I could not live without. My mother especially loves to read works in progress, and never has a single negative thing to say. My friend Hollis I call my cheerleader. I really don’t know if I would have come so far without her. I always knew I had someone to write for, that even if I was never published at least I was creating something for someone. That really got me through the long days before my first publishing success.
Do you see writing as a career? Yes, absolutely. Of course it’s a passion, and a vocation, and a calling. But I think people who fail to become “writers” fail because they don’t see it as a job, too. You have to put the time in. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You have to do some boring stuff to make money while you work on your creative projects on the side. It takes discipline.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? I am a terrible snacker! Thankfully writing usually keeps me more distracting than my other work, so it’s almost a dieting aid.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I’m all about the champagne. Finish a novel? Champagne! Get a writing contract? Champagne! Book release day? Champagne!
Wren Handman is a novelist, fiction writer, and screenwriter. She’s written three novels: Last Cut (Lorimer Ltd 2012) and Command the Tides (Omnific 2015), and In Restless Dreams, which was originally self-published and is now forthcoming from Parliament House Press. Check out The Switch, Wren’s TV comedy about trans life in Vancouver. Follow her blog at www.wrenhandman.com/blog, or on Twitter @wrenhandman.
I completed NaNoWriMo on 15th November 2019, which is the fastest I have ever managed to write the 50,000 words required. This left me with several options, one of which was to continue with this story, Seasons of an Affair and increase the word count to 70,000 plus to create a draft manuscript for future editing and revision.
However, a book I placed on order some time ago became available. This particular book is the story of a man, who escaped society and lived alone for 27 years. Known as the North Pond Hermit, Chris Knight existed in a make shift camp with no human contact for all that time. I initially read the newspaper reports when he was captured and it sparked an idea for a novel, along with two other strange news stories, this became my 2014 NaNo novel – The Giving Thief. After reading the book of his life (twice) I was plunged back into that story. Do I go back to it and complete it?
Then another on order book became available giving me my third option. This is a research book on steampunk, which is the genre of one of my 2018 NaNo projects. I used that NaNo challenge to write the sequel to The Rython Kingdom and launched Rython Legacy in 2019. However, the other ‘novella’ project for that year quickly expanded into a full length novel, The Commodore’s Gift, from a short story I’d written some time before. So I am tempted to revive this story line as well.
So which will I chose?
As a writer we all have multiple story ideas racing around our heads all the time. It is difficult to decide which story to choose when they all clamor for attention.