This will be a busy week! I attended Word on the Street on 21st September in Lethbridge. It is my fourth visit to that particular location for this event and as always have so much fun meeting readers and new authors. My publisher, Dream Write Publishing attended and I assisted with their table.
There were several authors, I wanted to catch up with from last year: Krysta MacDonald, Jenna Greene, and Bianca Rowena. I was pleasantly surprised to find another author, Natasha Deen, whom I had not seen in quite a while.
We were fortunate that the weather was a balmy +21 (unlike last year when we froze!) as it is a outside canopy event. There was lots to see and many presentations and speakers too.
With that event over I could not sit on my laurels, as I have another event this Saturday 28th September – Words in the Park. So it was home late Monday night, unpack and reorganize. You can imagine my excitement when I found a box of books waiting for me. These are the long awaited sequel to The Rython Kingdom. So many readers wanted a sequel and I spent quite a long time (to my readers frustration) pondering what that story would entail. Now it is here: Rython Legacy – the sequel.
I hope to see you this Saturday – Agora, Community Center, 401, Festival Lane, Sherwood Park, Alberta. 10 am – 4 pm Free admission with local authors galore, music, story telling, treats, games & interactive sessions and prizes too. A family friendly event with something for everyone.
I visited The Hidden Village in 2005, 2007 and decided, after reading the history at the site, that children in North America had to know the story. The man I interviewed was the boy in the Village and he inspired me as well.
How did you come up with the title?
My publisher chose the title and I liked it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want them to proclaim “Never Again” – that inhumanity and evil will not be repeated against anyone anymore, especially children!
How much of the book is realistic?
It is all realistic; most of it really happened, and the few fictionalized parts could have happened. It is not fantasy.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The characters are based on the boy and his family upon whose stories the novel is based. I met “Walter” when I interviewed him about his life in the Hidden Village.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Readers can and have found me on Facebook. I am also on Twitter and I have a blog.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
This novel is a stand alone book. I have no present plans for another novel, but I have written two children’s books that could be picture books, but I have to “finesse” them before I submit to publishers.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
My favourite is Walter of course. I met him as an adult and after listening to his stories, I could see the little boy he may have been – intelligent, precocious, sensitive and devoted to family. I heard his voice in my head as I wrote the book.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
This is my first book, so this genre is presently my favourite. But if I were to pick a genre, it would be books for children – historical or historical fiction.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Sometimes I sit down and just write and forget to eat and pretty soon it’s dark. The next day I have to review what I wrote. I plan in my head, but I am more a seat of the pants author I would think. During this process, in my revisions, I would go back to previous chapters and add something I thought about. I was constantly re-reading and changing. But with this book, I did have a plan and it was somewhat sequential because it was based on real life. I don’t know what I would do if I had to write fiction. Not sure I could do fiction; I need some facts.
What is your best marketing tip?
The best marketing items were the bookmarks from the publisher. I have handed out/mailed/presented over 1000 bookmarks since April. They have the title, author and contacts for ordering. For a “tip”, I would say to be consistent and approach bookstores in person to offer your time to do signings/readings. If this is your first book, lead with something that your publisher might have published in the past that would be known to a bookseller. They seem to worry about risking their time on a first-time, unknown author.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
My publisher wanted me to have Facebook and Twitter (both public) and a blog. What I find hindering is keeping up, and not overwhelming or underwhelming readers. I am not a fan of social media and I’ve resisted Instagram mainly because it involves photos and most of the exciting photos from the launches are old now. Not getting feedback from any social media posts is disconcerting; I get likes etc from friends, but nobody new has really seemed to read or respond. I did get messages from students in Belgium and The Netherlands. They were doing book reports on the book and wanted information about the author. They communicated through Facebook.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being an abstract random thinker, writing forces me to focus and let the ideas flow, blocking out any other distractions. What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I was probably 9 years old. Poems came later – in university when I was in love; it just promoted poetry all over the place!
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
The first stories I wrote were based on pictures from magazines. It was fiction back then.
What genre are you currently reading?
Currently I am reading biography – In My Own Words (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Pleasure and escapism
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
Where is your favorite writing space?
I only have one writing space – my den. If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Geraldine Brooks, because she wrote a book about penpals and I’d love to swap stories with her.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Terschelling, an island in the North Sea, in Holland…or… Vancouver (if I could afford it).
Do you see writing as a career?
I am retired so no career for me.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
I actually forget to eat when I am in the throes of writing.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
I don’t set deadlines; being retired there are no deadlines. It took me from September 2008 until April 2018 to get the book written, edited, revised and published, in between substitute teaching part-time, traveling, volunteering, reading and daily living.
Born in Winnipeg, raised in a Saskatchewan village, with no running water or TV until she was 12, Janet Wees was a voracious reader. She borrowed books through the mail from the lending library in Regina to quench her curiosity about the world. Radio and Eaton’s Xmas catalogue were sources of entertainment. Being a precocious child, her mother sent her, at age 5, to grade 1 every Friday afternoon. In Grade 8 the principal would ask Janet to “sub” for a Grade 1 teacher who was late for school, occasionally. Thus began a passion for teaching and learning.
Janet attended the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary, and Oregon gaining her B.Ed in Special Education, and an M.Ed in Gifted and Talented Education. During her tenure she was involved in professional committees, was a volunteer for the Calgary Youth Science Fair and set up pen pal, environmental, Young Olympians, running, and debate clubs where she was a debate coach and a judge at local and international levels. In her off-times, Janet was a semi-professional photographer for the Calgary Sun, taking photos of Sunshine Boys. It was the 80’s!
In 1959 Janet began writing a pen pal in Holland. It was while on vacation in Holland, with the family, that she discovered The Hidden Villlage and the seed for her book took root.
Now retired, Janet lives in Calgary where her daughter also resides. She is a volunteer greeter at the Calgary Airport, and enjoys reading (favourites are Jhumpa Lahiri, Rona Altrows and Geraldine Brooks) writing letters (400 a year!), travel, snowshoeing, old movies, writing stories, and photography.
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
Before we start, I would like to say without Linda’s solid friendship, belief in my writing ability and encouragement, I, for one, would not be a published author. Her constant drive to enable numerous authors to realize their publishing dreams is not only commendable but a reflection of her generosity of spirit and expertise in making a manuscript become a published work. What inspired you to write your first book? Although other books have been published before An Elizabethan Affair was finished, I am going to speak of EA as my first novel length idea. It was inspired by my love for Shakespeare and deep longing for finding that perfect soul mate. I have always wanted to write a novel – it is on my list of life long goals and/or dreams written some time ago. As a writer, it was an obvious destination for my journey. How did you come up with the title? It is inspired by my secret obsession of falling in love with that which or whom you cannot have… It refers to affair as in not only of the clandestine variety, but of or concerning the Elizabethan era. It puts forth the truth, yet alludes to the impossible, drawing together fact and fiction. Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)? I have contributed submissions (poetry, short stories, and essays) to a number of anthologies, co-authored history books, and contributed to a memoir writing instruction workbook. I am currently ghost writing a 3 book memoir for a client, and a business humor series. I have 2 novels published (An Elizabethan Affair, Power Struggle), 2 novellas of a YA series published (A Journey of Brothers, A Journey of Truth), and have several others in various stages, including the 3rd novella in the YA adventure series (A Journey of Desires). Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? With regard to An Elizabethan Affair – I guess the main message would be to never give up on your dreams no matter how big, how out there, or seemingly impossible they may be. Of course, we know we can never go back and have a time travel affair, no matter how much you wished for it, but the allusion to living for your passion is there. Do what you love. How much of the book is realistic? I did a lot of research and a lot of reading on Shakespeare and Elizabethan times – and based on that, it is my hope that references and descriptions are as realistic as they can possibly be. There are advantages to writing of something so distant that those things we know to be true are usually easy to find – the rest can be left to speculation with imagination playing a huge part in drawing the work together. Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I based the book, obviously, on William Shakespeare’s life. The life of co-protagonist, modern day Elizabeth, is fictitious with real characteristics based on my own life – single mom, love of writing, love for the words of the masters of literature, and some of the references were based on my experience of living for a short time during 2005 in Toronto. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Nothing would change in this book. I used part of it to apply for a summer writing program in Toronto at Humber College. The author mentor I worked with suggested cutting all the description to clean up the manuscript. Like all good students, I took her suggestions to heart, but did not have the heart to cut it as suggested – it was the type of book I was going for and the way it is written suits the subject. Always be true to your own spirit in your work. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for reading and supporting writers/authors and the literary arts. It is this connection that encourages us to continue to share, although a writer will always write, whether publishing or not. What is your favourite theme/genre to write? There is no one favorite – I like to experience variety in my writing journey. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? Anything that exploits children. A recent challenge was to ghost write a book on the topic of abuse to the worst degree – a memoir – so you know it to be true. What book are you reading now? My own novella one to ensure there is continuity in the follow up editions. As an editor and publisher, I am always reading and am privy to new works to be released by my own company. Nothing else at this time from already published works. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Through my company I have read some amazing work and am so appreciative of the chance to share an author’s journey in that way. Do you see writing as a career? Definitely, yes. Part of my journey. In different ways. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Behind the lap top writing. The setting might change (hopefully to mountainous or nature inspired views) – but the passion will not go away. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Focusing on my own work while fulfilling responsibilities to client’s projects. But, a weekend retreat is always welcome on the agenda for writing. Have you ever hated something you wrote? Not really. If it is not for publishing or public, then private it doesn’t matter. I don’t write anything to hurt anyone and there are topics I won’t write on so I cannot end up hating if for one reason or another. What book do you wish you had written? I don’t. I love my own style and writing and never wish to have done what someone else has done – I love the vision that comes from others’ works, such as Shakespeare, Tolkien, poet Frost, et al., and hope that one day something I have created is used in a similar fashion – to inspire others to follow their own journey. What is your best marketing tip?
Don’t sell yourself short.
Don’t oversell yourself.
(Sounds contradictory, but it covers the range from: “be humble, appreciative, proud, and own your work” to “don’t constantly stick in others’ faces with buy my book, buy my book, buy my book…”)
If you don’t know, ask.
What genre is your next project? What is it about? I have not decided what project will be next – I have a novel to edit written a few years ago. I have to format and release on of my novels on EBook, and another vice versa – in print. I have several ideas on file awaiting their turn, and other projects poking their heads into current business. Genre? Not sure. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Novella II is just released, A Journey of Truth, which continues the story of Aaslan and his sister, Aisha, from A Journey of Brothers, released in 2012. Novella III, A Journey of Desires, completes the 3 part YA adventure series set in Turkey. (No, I’ve never been there… research!) How do we find your books, blog and bio? I publish through my own company Dream Write Publishing. You can find my books in print and online, POD and EBook. www.dreamwritepublishing.ca You can follow me on my blog “Freeing the Creative Spirit” for ongoing writing, projects, travel writing & photography, reflections on my writing life, poetry, etc. with links to my social media pages, and for more information about me. www.wildhorse33.wordpress.com
I was fortunate to spend time with both of my children (well young adults now!) this weekend. It was a real treat and I relish being involved with their interests and every day concerns even though they are not really dependent on me anymore.
The experience made me think of other relationships and how we nurture them. For example I have forged close relationships with a number of fellow members within my writing group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/ Without their encouragement and continued support, my writing life would not have started at all and certainly would not be so enjoyable. Becoming the Foundations’ secretary has not only increased my involvement and experience but has also given me the opportunity to meet some well known and established authors.
Do you enjoy a writing group’s fellowship?
What benefits has it given you and your writing?
Another relationship that writers need to nurture is with their publisher. It should not all be business (hopefully) and a friendship of sorts can be established. I’m not saying you should be best friends but at least have conversations about mutual interests or exchange plans for the weekend. As an author with Dream Write Publishing http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/ I am fortunate to know the owner well and she encourages each author to be fully involved with the publishing process from format to cover design to finished product. This is an unusual kind of relationship within the industry, however having such a conscientious, hardworking and understanding publisher makes the whole process much more enjoyable. The personal touch is worth its weight in gold. Dream Write enables any writer to achieve their dream of being published and not have the agony of waiting for an extended amount of time for a submission to be acknowledged.
How do you liaise with your publisher?
What kind of relationship do you have with your publisher?