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.
That definitely depends on what I’m writing. Some scenes flow so easily onto the paper with very little effort. My imagination sees the pictures, hears the voices, and obeys. Other times it can be emotionally harrowing. It can take me days to get over the death of a beloved character, even though I made the decision to kill her off.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Handling my own nature is the hard part for me. I tend to be very distractible and moderately obsessive. There is always that one more piece of research, a new book to read, and, Oh Look! I got a facebook mention. My mind will bounce to anything new and shiny and sometimes when it lands on a topic I find it hard to let go and get back to the writing. There is a definite benefit to this type of mind though, once I start writing and the scenes are flying, I will keep going until someone pulls me out.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I actually do write under a synonym. I work in the legal profession and was advised that it might be better not to use my real name for security purposes.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have been so lucky! Two of the first people I met when I started to write were Rebekah Raymond and J.J. Reichenbach, they, along with several others convinced me that my ‘baboon crap’ was worth the effort and helped me get started learning the craft of writing.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
My original plan was three standalone books in the same world. But the story doesn’t seem to be working out that way. It looks like being a three-book series.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
In the beginning I’d say joining the Alexandra Writers Centre Society, a local writers group that runs classes on everything from writing technique, to plotting, to poetry. Once my book was underway, I hired a good editor whose knowledge of her craft and determination to present my work at its best is the reason Y’keta is a polished, professional read.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was little, we had a burgundy set of children’s encyclopaedia’s and I would put on performances in the living room and insist that my family listen to the stories and legends that I read. I grew up on the stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and the Fae. What else could I ever be?
I love the authors who can make words dance and sentences MEAN things. This has led me to authors like Guy Gavriel Kay, and Don Dellilo. I would give my left ovary (not so dramatic a thing since at 55 those parts are hardly crucial) to sit down with either of these gentlemen, or even better their writing notes, for an afternoon!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
That’s a hard question, there are so many good novels that go just under the popular radar. For me M.K. Wren’s Sword of the Lamb is a definite favourite. How will a government that has spanned centuries react when faced with political and social unrest? How does this affect the people born to a world that has never changed? If you enjoyed Asimov’s foundation series, you will probably like this one.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Oh fun! I think I would take a raven as my spirit animal. They are known for being wise birds but also for having a sense of fun and mischief.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Eeep. Do I have to admit it? At least eight, there is just not enough time!
What does literary success look like to you?
For me its all about the reader’s reaction. Yes, the sales are great (PLEASE – buy the books), but if one person says to me that my words opened their eyes to a bigger world, or that I showed them the power of words and the beauty that they can bring, then I’m a success.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I originally didn’t think that I was researching to write a book when I started out to write Y’keta. About five years ago, my husband found out that he was part Cree. At that time, I went back to the indigenous legends I’d learned growing up in Northern Alberta as a way to teach my son the history and culture that my husband never learned. For more than four years I studied the language and history of several different indigenous cultures.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
When the words are flowing I write two to three hours a day. When things aren’t so easy and I’m struggling with a scene or a plot point it’s harder, but I try to keep to writing something every day. Whether poetry, or as part of my ongoing books.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I try to find names that will work within the cultures of the story taking into consideration the ‘hardness’ or ‘softness’ of certain sounds and whether they match the character. In Y’keta, I borrowed the name of a traveller that my friend met in Ontario (Y’keta) and adjusted the name of my cousin, Sian.
What was your hardest scene to write?
In my work-in-progress, D’vhan, there is a scene where a young child dies. Writing it was emotionally crippling and took me to some very dark areas of my past. It was a necessary part of the story, but very very hard.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I write fantasy because the words are my way of exploring a world I can’t see. I’m a mythmaker, there is nothing that gives me more creative juice than asking a question and then building a world to find the answer. Myths and fantasy give us the opportunity to look at ourselves in new and often unusual ways, to play a huge game of ‘what if’ and see where the answers will fall. I find the basic understanding is the same when I’m working on romance books, except that you are now playing what if with relationships and feelings.
How long have you been writing?
According to my mum I have always written stories and poems. I wrote my first ‘official’ poem in Grade four and had my first work published in a school magazine in 1977.
What inspires you?
There are so many people that inspire me, whether they are historical figures or literary ones. I think the common thread in all of them is that they had the opportunity to quit, every reason to say I’m too old, too tired, it’s just easier to let it be someone else’s problem. This kind of hero, unwilling, often flawed, yet willing to step up, gets me every time.
How do you find or make time to write?
Finding time to write is an ongoing issue for me. I have started to take myself on writing dates, the people at the local Starbucks know my name and how I want my coffee, they don’t ask anymore. I also have a great group of writer friends that hold sleepovers now and then. Much laughter, much wine, and many words have come from these weekends.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I’ve got three projects on the go at the moment, with a never empty folder of ideas on the backburner.
The next book in the Sky Road Trilogy, D’vhan, is in the ‘necklace’ stage of drafting. I’ve got several pearls but I’m missing the chain of story movement that will tie them together.
I am working on a romance that will be part of an upcoming series of novellas with my contribution, Peace Out, slated for May 2018.
There is also a chapbook of poetry in the works, although at the moment the prose has centre stage.
Romance novella, Peace Out releases on May 4th. Video.
I am plotting a YA Fantasy based on a world where the center of the earth is molten magic and drilling is creating imbalance and magic quakes – Geomages! I’ve also got poetry,plans for a darker themed adult fantasy about a dying world that even the gods have abandoned, two other romance novels and a space opera. So much to do! It’s going to be fun.
Trajectory – definition: the curve that an object travels along through space (such as a bullet, a rocket, or a planet in its orbit)
What a shame this word was not on my desk diary a couple of days ago, it would have been perfect for the spectacular but frightening event in Russia. Having a massive piece of rock hurtling towards earth certainly shakes our false sense of security doesn’t it? At any time a projectile could plunge to earth devastating everything in its path or at the very least showering molten fragments into the atmosphere with an accompanying sonic boom.
Reviewing all the data that flooded the Internet and news programs made me realize why we like disaster movies so much. In every one there is a seemingly insurmountable problem that is neatly resolved at the end. You can probably think of quite a number of them without much thought. We humans are portrayed as being able to overcome aliens, the earth’s core becoming unstable, mutant animals and a host of other threats. But when it really comes down to it, we have no answer for space rocks apart from tracking them and hoping they miss. A sobering thought. No futuristic spacecraft to shoot them down or massive laser beams exploding them thousands of miles above the earth – but lots of material for ideas!
If we use the comet as the basis of a story, there are a few options. We could start with the object approaching and how the inhabitants react and plan, or the big burning ball could be viewed as a sign and worshipped or we could write about how the survivors deal with the after effects of the impact. Just one event can spark many view points and scenarios. Which view would you choose?
When we develop our stories we need to give our readers the same form of scenario – the ‘normal’ life for our characters, the obstacle they need to overcome and ultimately the resolution. The greater we can make the odds, the better we engage our readers. Obviously, we don’t all write disaster type stories but every hero or heroine needs to conquer something or someone. Finding a new perspective or view point in which to tell our story makes it unique even if the basic scenario has been ‘covered’ before. This is something I did with my children’s story, Rumble’s First Scare. Instead of the usual Halloween – people are scared by monster – I viewed the night’s events of All Hallows Eve from the monster’s perspective. Rumble experiences his very first scaring expedition.