I am lucky to have fellow writer/author and best friend, Linda, who loves road trips as much as I do. This friendship has led to numerous road trips over the last twelve years or so, giving us the opportunity to explore my new homeland and Linda’s home. We have several essential items that we pack or insist upon in our accommodation, a companionable routine for the driving and exploring, as well as the writing, editing and reading portions of our trips.
We do not ride the highways but back roads, trails and secondary highways giving us time to stop and watch wildlife, take in the scenery and explore hamlets and ghost towns. We have been inspired on multiple occasions to create but also to decompress and relax. We have encountered numerous animals, witnessed fabulous scenery and found little known corners of Alberta, Saskatoon and British Columbia.
For the driving portion of our trips, we leave early knowing we will be taking the long way to our destination. This has culminated in more hours added to a trip than maybe we should admit to! (Case in point our last ‘day road trip’ took fifteen hours.)
Our in-car essentials are:
My road trip book to write down the road numbers, towns and counties we travel through and Linda’s map book to mark out the roads we travel. A bird identification book, blankets, emergency kit, shovel, trolley, chargers, camera, sunglasses. Also a bag for trash and water bottles.
Our accommodation requirementsare:
A desk (or two) and two comfortable chairs, a nice view, and a kettle! (I need my tea). Comfortable beds, ample lighting, space to spread out our things and a good shower.
Our trip essentials are:
Lap tables, laptops, notebooks, pens, current writing projects, reading material, chargers, extension cord and power-bar (there are never enough power points), cell phones, camera, back-up drives.
Comfortable clothes (layering is essential), warm socks, jackets, walking shoes/boots, slippers. These change dependent on the time of year of course. Eye glasses and ear plugs, a bottle of wine & snacks, easy meals and tea bags (Okay I’m English teabags are a must!)
Neither of us needs noise so silence reigns unless we are discussing our day or writing projects.
Over the years our routine has evolved into a well oiled machine. We are comfortable in silence and respect each others creativity and time to just create and enjoy the wonders we encounter.
Having time to let our writing Muse gather and cultivate new ideas, allows us to start, progress, or even finish writing projects.
What road trip essentials do you need?
When was your last road trip/ Where did you go? What did you do?
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing is an energy that lives within me and when I cannot do enough of my own creative work, it exhausts me. It sometimes becomes a vicious cycle of building up and letting go. It makes it all worth it in the end – it would just be nice to be in that place that would allow me to go evenly into that good write…
2. What is your writing Kryptonite? Although it’s a strength in my line of work as a publisher, time spent on others’ work is a weakness toward mine – it always comes second if there is a deadline for someone else.
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Nope. I guess I just figure if you are going to make something of your writing life, what good is it if no one knows it’s you? It would go against my belief of being true to who you really are, and, besides, I like my name. If I write something that I consider might be better under a secret identity, well… should I be writing it at all?
4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I am so fortunate to have close friends who are authors and an encompassing community of acquaintances who are passionate about words. Everyone contributes to your writing journey in their own way and in different ways – we must be open to learning from our associations and relationships; bringing them closer when it works and letting them go when they don’t. Can’t drop big names here that you might have heard of, but you should know the people I do know – they are fantastic.
5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I like to be able to try everything and although I do have related books, like a novella series, I am not trying to connect everything by theme or genre. As long as it is a reflection of who I am and true to my creativity, then it is a part of me and what I am trying to say as an author.
6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Any of the retreats I have been on. It is nice to focus on your writing even for a weekend and having others around who respect why you are there is priceless. You don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to be 5-star, but I’ve been on some nice trips: Humber College in Toronto for a summer writing week; Jasper or Hinton holed up in a nice hotel with a writing friend; Strawberry Creek with a group of writing friends spoiled by awesome meal service; and so on. All worthy.
7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? Early? Can’t think of one… Maybe when I talked back to my parents about going on a vacation with a friend when I was 18? Perhaps, when my daughter said her first words when I was 30? When I was asked to read one of my poems to a group during Volunteer Week when I was 50? When I accepted an award from my community for my contribution to Arts, Culture & Heritage when I was 55? Or when I gave the eulogy at my mother’s funeral that same year? Language has power in all its derivatives. It expresses emotion. It makes a stand. It says a lot about who we are and even who we were.
8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? If it was my favorite, then it was appreciated in some way. We all cannot expect to find appreciation by the masses.
9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? I go under Wildhorse for many things including email, blog, twitter handle, etc. The wild horse is the epitome of strength and endurance with a wild and free spirit no matter what happens around them. The horse head logo I use is a drawing I did some time ago and, in 2005, I had it tattooed on my left shoulder. Just a little thing, but it means a lot to me.
10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Not too many unfinished as I managed to clean up a couple I had sitting for a few years. I guess I have about 3 or 4 books of poetry waiting to be put together in some nice way, but that will be ongoing. Definitely unfinished and on the to-do list.
11. What does literary success look like to you? Many equate success with monetary outcome. I equate success with being a leader, a good friend, and a creative mentor. Seeing others succeed along your own journey is not only inspiring – it feels right – and moving forward together is success to me.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I like to make sure details in my work are factual and have some basis in reality. But that really depends on the work. Articles require more research than fictional short stories and poetry; my novels require a ton of research especially if they are set in another time / era, or a foreign country.
13. How many hours a day/week do you write? I cannot put a time on it as I could put in 10 minutes one day and 10 hours another. I write for work for a good portion of my job, so it is possible to write many hours a week although it’s not really creative in the same way we write our fiction. It allows me to stay connected and my pen stays fluid.
14. How do you select the names of your characters? I base it on the story and when it takes place – names are important and have to fit the character, as well as, the time and place of the story. I have researched names and selected them based on what they mean in the country of origin. My novella series is set in Turkey and I used the meaning of names to set them apart. They may be used in other work; they may not be popular; they may sound odd. It is whatever works for my character and my story.
15. What was your hardest scene to write? Not sure any were hard to write. This question could mean hard as in difficult, or hard as in gut-wrenching or tear-jerking or taboo. I guess when it comes to the latter, I don’t write scenes that put me in this dilemma. The former is just based on time and effort; learning how to put something across in the best way possible.
16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? There are certain books or short stories or poetry I have written because of the theme or topic or setting. For example, I love Shakespeare so writing a book with a series of poetry simulating the sonnets just fits and An Elizabethan Affair was a long process of fused research and imagination. I like to try all types of writing – if the idea is there and the time is right, I work on whatever the project involves: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s or young adult stories, blog posts, government or industry papers, or merely content for newsletters and web sites. It depends on what’s needed.
17. How long have you been writing? For many years, but seriously focused on funneling all my efforts in the creative writing direction in 2000. I have collections of poetry from the 1980s. I wrote and designed advertising many years for several employers. It’s always been a goal of mine to write a novel. I wrote short verses when I was in elementary school; I wrote longer descriptive short stories in my teens.
18. What inspires you? A word. A feeling. Nature. Sunshine. My love for creativity. My inner muse. My best friend. My daughter. Memories of my mother and father.
19. How do you find or make time to write? There is always time to do it if you put your mind to it… oh, how poetic :O But, really, you just have to make time if you want to write something. I do make notes and write on scraps of paper or in my notebook. I actually have taken time to sit and write during one of my many solitude-seeking drives to Elk Island Park this summer – I think I have a couple of poems out of that effort. You just make the time.
20. What projects are you working on at the present? At the time this gets posted, I have come off two months of intense concentration on a number of books (12?) being released at a month-end event for authors I publish under my company banner. I am contemplating participating in National Novel Writing Month in November so that will focus at least 50K words on something of my own – I still have to determine what. I have many projects that could be pulled from the archives including several volumes on poetry I have written over the years and a collection of short stories, also written over the past few years.
21. What do your plans for future projects include? I am thinking of writing a sequel to my novella series set in Turkey and changing it from the young adult genre to adult fiction for the follow-up story. The characters age from their teens in the first 3 books, so I can see a definite growth in their story and maturity in the sequel. I would also like to write another story with the old English / Elizabethan / Shakespeare theme – 1590-1600ish.
Linda writes from her heart and shares words on the page in order to connect with others who have similar stories to share. A lifetime of poetry and other writing has culminated in a collection of published works, including: An Elizabethan Affair, Power Struggle, A Journey of Brothers, A Journey of Truth, and A Journey of Desires (3 book novella series), co-writer of Your Lifetime of Stories workbook for the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and others. She set up her own publishing company in 2010 to help authors live their dream of seeing their own work published. You can follow her on Twitter @wildhorse33 and find her on Facebook. She blogs – when she has time – at wildhorse33.wordpress.com
Apart from my regular meeting with a freelance client this week and continuing with the writing involved, I will hopefully have time to relax after last week’s insane round of events. Downtime is important for us all to refresh and center our minds.
Please come out and share your words at Nook Cafe! We are here every Tuesday from 7PM to 9PM. Poets may sign up to read at the start of the night with the host. Newcomers encouraged and welcome!
Ottawa’s Writers’ Festival takes place October 19–24, with Lee Maracle, Bev Sellars, Martha Baillie, Eden Robinson, Eliza Robertson, Linden MacIntyre, Alison Pick, David Chariandy, and many others.
Toronto’s International Festival of Authors kicks off from October 19–29, with Canadian authors including André Alexis, Lee Maracle, Anne Michaels, Heather O’Neill, Carol Off, Eden Robinson, Seth, and lots more.
This year Bookfest Windsor takes place October 20–22 in Windsor, ON, with featured authors including James Bartleman, Eva Crocker, Elise Levine, Rebecca Rosenblum, and Armand Garnet Ruffo.
The Stratford Writers Festival returns to Stratford, ON, on October 22, with Ron Sexsmith, Eden Robinson, Scacchi Koul, Candy Palmater, Glenn Dixon, Alice Zorn, Rebecca Rosenblum, and lots more.
What local events do you have coming up this week?
Tuesday is my Writers Foundation AGM – so as secretary I am compiling the agenda, and will take the minutes.
Wednesday I am excited to join several other great authors for a book signing and reading. Audreys Books, 10702 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5J 3J5 Please come down for hot & spicy and romantic readings and lots of treats!
Thursday evening I will have my President hat on for the Arts & Culture Council Board meeting and on Friday another meeting with my freelance client for the ghost writing project.
In all a super busy week but fun all the same.
What are you up to this week?
In Calgary, AB, Wordfest takes place from October 9–15, with Canadian authors including Michael Redhill, Linda Spalding, Nick Cutter, Lindan MacIntyre, Claire Cameron, Heather O’Neill, Ron Sexsmith, and many others.
The Knowlton Literary Festival runs October 12–15 in Brome Lake in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, with featured authors including Douglas Gibson, Ian Hamilton, Donna Morrissey, Heather O’Neill, and Kathy Stinson.
The Whistler Writers Festival runs October 12–15 in Whistler, BC, with Caroline Anderson, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Gurjinder Basran, David Chariandy, Barbara Gowdy, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Teva Harrison, Helen Humphreys, Lee Maracle, Suzette Mayr, Lenore Rowntree, Doug Saunders, Michael Redhill, and more.
October 12–22, the non-fiction festival Litfest takes over Edmonton, AB, with Janice MacDonald, Kit Dobson, Merilyn Simonds, Scaachi Koul, Britt Wray, Chris Turner, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Jen Agg, Jessica Kluthe, and more.
Family festival Celebrating Stories is back in Milton, ON, on October 15, with Sharon Jennings, Patricia Storms, and Vikki VanSickle.
Well what can I say I am still floating with happiness with the spectacular response to my romance novel, The Twesome Loop on Saturday! Seven books purchased and the prize draw basket won, and the recipient messaged me on Sunday to say they were half way through the book, and enjoying the wine and pasta.
I was certainly happy with how my table display worked out – but am thinking I will need to investigate some sort of shelving system soon. I can’t have three tables!! B the way the artwork is by the owner of Spark Gallery – Glen Roland. His work is spectacular.
With over 30 authors, 9 artisans, musicians, dancers, a clown, a great food truck and more it was a special day all round. It was a great way to celebrate 10 years of Words in the Park.
My next event is this Saturday I will do a presentation/speech for a local company, Pinebox Funerals at their annual event. This falls under my other writing hat – freelance writer.
WGA Open Mic Night – Read Like the Pros(e) – Edmonton