This mostly depends of what I am writing. Subject matter or issues of personal interest can be energizing to work on while other subject matter can be more difficult.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably distractions of any kind. When I am writing, I like to sit down in my office chair and completely focus on the job at hand. Interruptions can disrupt my thought patterns and make it difficult to concentrate completely.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not yet! I don’t feel a need to do so and feel this may not be in my best interests. I would prefer readers to recognize my name and/or associate it with my books.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I know a number of local authors – including Todd Babiak, Roberta Laurie, Mandy Eve-Barnett, Alison Neuman, Darla Woodley and Dorian Joyal. I am also a long-standing member of a local writer’s group. Knowing and associating with other writers / authors can be helpful (writers seem to be the only people who understand writers …), motivational, and inspirational. I would have to give credit to my writer’s group for helping me increase my self-confidence as a writer and to give me the push needed to write my first book.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I am favouring the second route where I am building a body of work with connections between each book. My first book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, opened the door to my writing my second book, The Successful Caregiver’s Guide. As a twice-chosen contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, I have provided them with caregiving-related stories. I also continually freelance write about senior caregiving and other senior-related issues.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Probably hiring a lawyer to review my first book publishing contract. This was an area I knew very little about but I knew it would be important to have somebody more in the know to read through this contract, make sure that all the “I’s” were dotted and the “T’s” were crossed, and that this contract was fair for me.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Many years ago when I was much younger, I remember writing a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal about my lost dog being found and returned. Unbeknownst to me, my mother kept a copy of that letter until she passed away. When sorting through Mom’s filing cabinet after she died, I came across this letter and was very surprised! The message that I learned here was that if I had impacted my mother so greatly with what I had written, I expect I would have impacted others as well. That theory has been repeatedly verified from my meeting with people at current book signing events … I routinely see nods of approval for my topic choice or hear high praise from those who have read my books.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Hmmm, I think I would choose an owl. My mother always liked owls and shared her appreciation with her children. I admire these birds for their grace and beauty.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Perhaps surprising, but none! While I do know other writers with half-finished book projects saved on their computer’s desktop, the only thing I have saved is a related project I am currently working on!
What does literary success look like to you?
Publication of one’s written work and royalty cheques! Literary success also includes the positive feedback from readers (meaning that they have read your book and appreciated it at some level).
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This depends on the book’s subject matter. With my own works, I drew from my own personal knowledge as a caregiver for both my own aging parents. Researching can also be done by other means … I have “google-searched” on-line (being mindful of both the source and the currency of the information provided), read associated material, and interviewed subject matter experts.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
Due to other working commitments, I often can write for only two to three hours per day a couple of days per week. I have been known to also write in the evenings and/or on weekends, but I usually only do that if I have a tight deadline and need to get something done in short order.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
After serving as a caregiver for both my own aging parents, this area has become very important to me. While I realize that the number of seniors in our country is ever-increasing and there will be a higher demand for the type of information I provide, I also gain immense satisfaction by helping others (who are prospective, new, and/or current caregivers).
How long have you been writing?
I have been casually writing for many years (as mentioned, I think it all began with that Letter to the Edmonton Journal’s Editor about my missing dog). I recall enjoying writing English essays in school and have worked a number of jobs where writing was involved (i.e.radio broadcasting and marketing). I finally stumbled across the Professional Writing program (offered through Grant MacEwan University) and decided to register for classes to see if writing was simply a casual interest or something I should take more seriously.
What inspires you?
Good writing, music, the great outdoors (gazing at a mountain peak, for example), a cleaner and more organized desk and working area, and participating in a writer’s group (where I can receive support and motivation from others).
How do you find or make time to write?
While I do have a secondary job outside of my own writing from home, I have arranged for this work to be part-time. As a result, I have a couple of days per week left mostly open for writing projects. My reduced regular paycheque provides me motivation to chase after freelance markets as well!
Caregiving seems like an odd book subject choice … why did you pick this area to write about?
Thanks for asking! I was a former co-caregiver for my own aging parents (Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease). By helping and supporting both of them before they passed away, I learned a great deal about their health conditions, my own abilities, and how relevant caregiving has become in today’s society. As a means of coping with Mom and Dad’s decline, I began by writing newspaper and magazine articles about my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. After my parents both died, I continued to write about this subject – feeling that it was both very valuable to other prospective, new, and current caregivers as well as therapeutic for me. Some years later, I spotted a book publisher’s call out for an author to write a book about caregiving. This got me thinking, “I have the related experience and could probably do this …”. I, very nervously, wrote up a pitch letter to introduce myself and the proposed book (as I saw it …). After some dithering on my part, I finally mustered up the courage to e-mail my letter to the publisher. It’s a good thing I did as I received a very enthusiastic “yes” on my proposal and then a book contract.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am mostly writing in support of what I have written. This means I am continuing to write caregiving-related articles for newspapers, magazines, and on-line markets. While I am not always paid for these articles, I always have the opportunity to provide a concluding bio – this includes my own name, my book titles, and my author’s website. I feel that doing this is a great way to promote my own name and work.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Probably more similar writing. I always have my door open for other opportunities and am interested in a number of ideas: public speaking, collaborating with others, exhibiting opportunities at senior’s trade shows, and so on. Although book authoring can be an extensive job, I haven’t ruled out my writing another book (or more …)!
I have my writing retreat to look forward and it is getting tantalizingly close – 18th May. Here I can immerse myself completely with no distractions, unless I actually seek them out.
Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am thoroughly enjoying this story. The characters are well rounded, there is a connection/distance between the two main characters, which gives the narrative an undercurrent of possibilities.
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn (because you all know by now I’m fascinated by this subject)
What are you reading?
I watched this movie, which had a great twist on the subject. I am always intrigued by the variations on the reincarnation theme.
“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
“I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”
“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
After meeting the new Writer in Residence yesterday, I will send him an invite to speak at our next writing meeting of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County on 7th February. Richard van Camp is a personable, funny and engaging personality with a drive to help other writers succeed. I feel his residency will propel many writers to publication. I may send him a few pages of my current work in progress too – it is always good to get new perspectives of your work.
My other appointment yesterday was with a new freelance writing client. An interesting concept that will take several months of collaboration.
This coming week I have two board meetings. The first is with the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and we will set out event dates and new programs/projects for the year. This will include the annual conference, a writing retreat and the annual Words in the Park.
The second meeting is of the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County – detailing plans for our Arty Party to be held on 21st January and planning for other events later in the year, which will include a summer BBQ celebrating diversity, culture and Canada’s 150 birthday.
This post was created prior to my escaping for four days on a writing retreat. As you can imagine the excitement was tangible for the weeks coming up to this event. It will be the fourth time I have joined other writing friends on such a retreat in the fabulous Strawberry Creek Lodge. Hidden away along a long track, shrouded by trees and with a creek babbling beside it, the large log cabin is perfect for inspiration, contemplation and for allowing the writing Muse to whisper unhindered.
I will be revising several ‘work in progress’ manuscripts – Life in Slake Patch, Willow Tree Tears and The Giving Thief. All are in different genres so my mind will be full of multiple characters all vying for attention.
With the most delicious meals cooked for us and several bottles of wine to consume, there is no better place to be.
aeipathy n 1847 -1853
continued passion; an unyielding disease
Her aeipathy for stamp collecting bordered at times on the pathological.
apanthropinization n 1880 -1880
withdrawal from human concerns or the human world
His life as a hermit in the woods was characterized by apanthropinization.
boscaresque adj 1734 -1734
picturesque; scenically wooded
Despite northern England’s industrial pollution, parts of it remain boscaresque.
incabinate v 1672 -1672
to enclose in a cabin; to confine
The solution to her writer’s block was to incabinate herself at her country villa.
sodalitious adj 1656 -1730
of or belonging to society or to fellowship
Sodalitious camaraderie is the basis for gentlemanly life in this civilized era.
My sentence: Our sodalitious will once again enjoy the boscaresque surroundings while incabinated at Strawberry Creek, allowing apanthropinization from our daily lives allowing us to focus on our aeipathy of writing in good company.