With a complete read through this weekend of the manuscript for the first book in my detective series, An Elusive Trail, I am fairly happy with the edits and revisions. The new word count is 61,626 – a far cry from the ‘finished’ story of National Novel Writing Month in November last year of 50,156. This shows how a manuscript changes and grows over the course of revisions. Scenes are added or cut, moved or changed and information researched in order to improve the content. Not only for accuracy but also to ensure the characters and story reflect the trope expected by readers of the specific genre.
I recently attended a crime writer’s week long presentation course online. The most interesting and helpful sessions were with a retired detective. His insight and knowledge gave me several pieces of information I have included in the manuscript to enhance the police and forensic procedures. There are a couple more months of revisions to be done, (an author has a hard time relinquishing a manuscript!) but the first book in the series is well on its way to being ready to submit to a publisher for review.
Writers and authors research their specific genre through books but also movies. My choice of movies to watch has been said to be eclectic. I can watch and enjoy action, romance, sci-fi, fantasy and many others, it all depends on my mood at the time. Take several I watched during April for example:
The Father – Anthony Hopkins was spectacular. Hillbilly Elegy – Glenn Close was exceptional. Penguin Bloom – as a natural lover this true story was heartwarming and wonderful in so many ways. Diana – I always feel my heart break a little reading or watching anything to do with her. The Age of Adaline – I have watched this movie several times because I love the premise of it. Elizabeth and Margaret – because we can only glimpse their lives. Coroner – this series was for my book research mainly. Monty Python -In the Beginning – I grew up with Python and still recite sketches to this day. Ladies in Black – life in 1959 Australia a merging of cultures within the structure of society expectations. It shows how a person’s life is affected by the era’s limitations put upon them. Elvis Presley – The Searcher – I learned more about his life, but also that if he had broken away from the Colonel, his fame would have been even greater, such a shame he was so manipulated. As you can see some are factual, some research, while others are pure escapism.
The most unusual and surprising movie I watched was FAMILY, at first look it is a workaholic woman asked to look after her brother’s daughter for a short time. However, what is so unexpected is the unknown (to me anyway) cultural phenomenon of Juggalo. I have never come across this group (and I listen to an even more of an eclectic selection in music). The Juggalo’s are fans of the group Insane Clown Posse. They dress in clown-like makeup and fantastical outfits. Their motto is ‘I shall not judge. I shall love my Family. I am a Ninja.‘ You may not enjoy their music but their inclusiveness to all is inspiring.
Have you discovered something new through a book or movie?What was it?
As authors we want readers to find us and our books. There are a couple of sites that offer author profiles that you can set up yourself. Firstly, there is Goodreads. Not only can you create your own profile but actively promote your book(s) and also connect with readers and review other author’s books. As many f you know I review every book I read on Goodreads and Amazon. It is my way of giving back to the community.
The process to set up your author profile is pretty easy and there is a helpful guide on the site if your get stuck. Follow these steps and add another avenue to your author platform. You will also have a follow button so your readers can click that to keep updated on your new releases etc. You can also follow all your favorite authors.
How To Set Up Your Goodreads Author Profile
Step one: Claim your book (or manually add it)
First, search Goodreads to see if your book has already been added to their database. One of your readers could have already added it for you.
If you don’t find your book listed, take these steps to manually add your book:
Once you are on your book page, click on the link for your name. It will open up to an author profile page. Click on the link that says “Is this you? Let us know.” and you will be able to send a request to join the Author Program.
Step two: Customize your author profile
There are many things you can do to customize your Goodreads author profile.
Add your author photo.
Add a compelling author bio
Add your blog.
Add upcoming events, give away’s and/or teasers for your next book.
Add ‘ask the author’ questions for each book. Make sure to activate
Step three: Getting started on Goodreads
When you are first getting started on Goodreads, here are three things we recommend doing:
Rate at least 20 books. This will unlock additional features that are not available to you until you add and rate at least 20 books.
Start adding friends. Personally, I got started by importing friends from Facebook. This helped me add friends quickly.
Remember to ask reviewers to post to Goodreads as well. Get the URL of your book page and give it to reviewers who agree to post a review for you.
Now you have your author profile added here are several tips on using the site for promotion.
Getting exposure for your author profile on Goodreads can create interest in you and your books. Here are a 9 ways you can get your profile image to show up around Goodreads once you have your account set up:
Update your progress on a book you are currently reading. Click update status on that particular book’s Goodread’s page.
1. What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?
For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.
2. Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?
Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!
3. How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children?
I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.
4. Where can schools access your books?
Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.
5. Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?
My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.
6. How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?
I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.
7. Is imagination important for children?
It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!
8. Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?
Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.
9. Where is your favorite place to write and why?
I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.
10. Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?
I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.
11. How can readers find you?
My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:
Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as Room, subTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca
It’s what I fell in love with. Ever since I read Lord of the Rings, almost all I have read is fantasy. It’s so imaginative. You can have almost anything happen in them. You can create outlandish worlds that could never exist. It’s creative.
Who are your fantasy author heroes?
Robert Jordan, R. Scott Bakker, and Brandon Sanderson.
How do you plan a series like the Jewels of Illumination or The Storm Below?
They are very different origins. The Storm Below was my first. I intended it to be a light-hearted adventure with flying ships and sky pirates and then, in my world building, I discovered a secret of the world that changed it into epic fantasy. I only have a book ahead planned writing that series. I knew what I was writing and the next book was shaping up in my head. I felt 5 books was what I needed even if I wasn’t sure how I would get there.
Jewels of Illumination, I had a much more concrete ending and what would happen. I knew the major events of the books. And even though it deviated a lot from my outline, the general gist didn’t change.
What do you feel are the key points in fantasy stories?
Great characters. That’s the key point of any book. But great characters who are exploring and unveiling and discovering a world that is fantastical.
Can you tell us a little about the new series Masks of Illumination?
It’s a companion series to Jewels of Illumination. They are separate series that can each stand-alone, but they compliment each other. It follows Foonauri, a noblewoman exiled from her home and tired of being just a pretty bauble on a man’s arm. When she is invited to join a thief group and steal an artifact, she might just find what she’s searching for.
How does constructing a standalone novel differ in the writing process?
It doesn’t. Its just a shorter story. You don’t have to worry about setting up future events, I suppose, but it’s merely the scale that’s different.
Is poetry a new venture for you?
I dabble from time to time.
What characteristics have changed in your main protagonists from the first to last book?
It depends on the characters, but it’s usually about going from weakness to strength. Not necessarily physically, but in understanding who they are, in overcoming flaws, in accepting their place.
Do you have plans for other books in the two series?
Not for the Storm Below, but Assassins of Illumination is a sequel to Jewels of Illumination.
How long have you been writing?
Seriously since 2013 but I started back in 1993 or so in Junior High.
How do you juggle your own writing with client’s projects?
I have a schedule. I spend X time on their stuff and X time on mine. I use timers and have my work day scheduled.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? Can you describe it?
Since I moved back in August, I do. No more writing in the living room! I have an office. It has my desk, some book shelves, and my recliner that I write on with a laptop. I have some posters for decoration.
JMD Reid has been a long-time fan of Fantasy ever since he read The Hobbit way back in the fourth grade. His head has always been filled with fantastical tales, and he is eager to share the worlds dwelling in his dreams with you. Reid is long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest in and around the City of Tacoma. The rainy, gloomy atmosphere of Western Washington, combined with the natural beauty of the evergreen forests and the looming Mount Rainier, provides the perfect climate to brew creative worlds and exciting stories! When he’s not writing, Reid enjoys playing video games, playing D&D and listening to amazing music.
JMD Reid is also a ghostwriter, which gives him a great deal of freedom to work on his own fantasy. It is his passion, that shines through his stories. JMD Reid has a lot of stories in his head and is looking forward to sharing them with his readers.
This week’s I’m sharing another story from my Six Weeks, Six Senses writing course. We had to use scent as the main element. Let me know what you think.
A Cruise Romance – SCENT
An unaccustomed briny aroma invaded Josh’s slumber conjuring up dreams of pirates and tall ships in his mind. A large black bearded captain loomed over him, shouting orders. The pirate’s breath blasted Josh’s face making him reel backwards. It was disgusting, a mixture of rotten teeth, belched stomach contents and rum.
“Get ye up the foremast, boy and be lively about it!”
Afraid of a flogging, Josh ran barefoot on the wooden planked deck, scurrying past burly, unsmiling men. Their rancid sweat emanating from their toiling bodies. Each man busied themselves with their tasks, keeping their heads down low to avoid the captain’s stare or displeasure. The salty air and bracing wind assaulted his face and lungs. At the bottom of the mast, he looked up at the rope rigging and the impossibly high climb to the crow’s nest. The wet ropes had a pungent smell of kerosene. Josh could feel his fear clawing at his stomach. I can’t do it, I just can’t. A huge swell broached the ship’s side tossing men, rigging and barrels across the deck. Briny water and debris crashed onto the wooden planks, adding to the unpleasant smell all around him. Josh stumbled hitting his head. The shock woke him from his dream. Disorientated, thinking the rocking movement underneath him was a figment of his imagination, Josh opened his eyes. Blinking several times, he saw a round porthole and blue sky and splashing water. Am I still dreaming?
A knock on his cabin’s door and his mother’s voice alleviated his bewilderment. We are on a boat, but not a pirate ship. A fresh linen smell replaced the buccaneer odors.
“It’s time to go to the dining room for breakfast, Josh. Are you awake?”
“Yes. Mom, I’ll meet you there.”
Once he was dressed, Josh slipped on his new dark blue canvas shoes. He smelt the rubber of the sole, the canvas fabric and the waterproofing spray his mother has insisted on applying. He’d picked them especially for the cruise.
The large dining room was filled with wonderful aromas of bacon, toast, coffee, and fruit. A long serving counter held hot plates at one end and chilled bowls at the other. The hot plates sizzled with fatty fragrance. A long line of people stood choosing their preferences to eat. Josh found his mother standing to one side waiting for him.
“There you are. Let’s get in line so we can pick our breakfast, find a seat and eat together.”
Their choices made, Josh and his mother sat near the rear of the room, near the exit. Josh spread golden butter generously on his toast, then opened a strawberry jam jar. The tangy sweetness of the fruit unmistakable at the lid popped open. Next he poured maple syrup over his pancakes, the odour a mix of caramel and toffee. He cut into the pancake pile and added a strip of bacon to his bite. Delicious! The waiter refilled their coffee cups giving rise to a nutty, smoky aroma.
“I’m going to find a nice spot with a deckchair to read. What will you do this morning, Josh?”
“I was going to explore a bit, Mom, as it’s the first time I’ve been on a cruise ship.”
“Well, have fun. We can meet back here at one o’clock for lunch.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you later.”
Josh pushed open the heavy metal door; a whiff of grease wrinkled his nose for an instant before the rush of briny air invaded his nostrils. The ship rocked back and forth like a cradle. Josh braced his legs and walked along the deck rails for support. Ahead was the lido deck, filled with the sound of excited voices and splashing. Its faint chlorine smell merging with the stronger brine aroma. He took steps upward and was surprised by a tumbling ball of string heading towards him. He caught it and began winding the loose thread back around the ball. At the top of the stairs, he was met by a beautiful face, a hand grasped to her mouth.
“Oh goodness, I’m so sorry. It just slipped from my hand.”
“No worries. Glad I was there to catch it. It could have rolled straight over the edge into the ocean.”
“That was what I was afraid of. Thank you for rescuing it.”
Josh shrugged and handed the twine to the girl. Her green eyes transfixed him and she smelt so good. It was a heady mixture of citrus and cinnamon.
“Why do you need string for on a cruise, anyway?”
“Oh, well you may think it odd but I use it for macramé. I make wall hangings and wall art out of it.”
“I don’t think that’s odd, sounds kind of cool actually.”
“Would you like to see some of the things I’ve made? Only if you have time, I’ve probably stopped you going to do something as it is.”
“No, I’d like to see. I was just taking a look around. This is my first cruise. I’m Josh, by the way.”
“Heh, I’m Heather. Come this way. I’m all set up on the viewing deck. Might as well have a great view while I craft eh?”
Josh was impressed with the array of coloured cotton cord; Heather had lain out on two loungers. He could smell a delicate cotton and musky scent as she lifted up an intricate piece.
“That is so cool. Can you show me how you make them?”
Josh and Heather soon became an item and spent many hours together, either exploring the ship and it’s attractions the any port of calls or sitting making macramé. He knew he would get a ribbing from his mates back home but once they saw Heather they’d stop. She was a knock out and smelt so good.
I am also continuing to read Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube. The writing style is fast paced, full of details, dialogue, internal thought and not a book to relax with. It keeps you on your toes who the protagonist is talking about/to or where/what she is doing.
This week I attended the creative writing workshop hosted by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and we covered the romance genre. This genre is popular and has many categories and sub-genres, including historical, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, spiritual, suspense and YA. Our writing exercise gave each participant a sub-genre and a title. I got paranormal – Bad Boy Earl’s Desert Mistress. I will share the result in my newsletter. It was fun.