Tag Archives: writing group

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

Well my creative writing took a backseat yet again but I did manage the update my ghost writing project and completed my conference presentation so feel pleased there are both completed.

twesome-loop-002

I am co-hosting the senior residence writing group on Thursday so can escape to the library for a couple of hours before to return to The Twesome Loop. Having found a fantastic cover artist I am thinking of a design for the book cover. It will take some careful thinking to make the cover reflect my characters finding their past selves in an Italian villa, that’s for sure.

I did add more story to my ‘extra’ project – yes I know isn’t four manuscripts enough? Well obviously not because my children’s ‘alien planet’ book has been gaining in word count!

As many of you know I am a multi-genre author and my current WIP’s – are all in various stages of completion. They range from cowgirl romance to thriller to reincarnation romance to speculative fiction, added to that the above kids book. Never a dull moment in my brain, I can tell you.

Do you have multiple manuscripts/ideas formulating or clambering for your attention?

Books:

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney

faraday

Loved the characterizations in this book, each sister was so unique, so defined. Here is my Goodreads review:

What a wonderful narrative. Lots of characters interacting, conflicts, sibling rivalry and unexpected twists in the plots.
Monica weaves such a artful tale of four sisters brought up by their father – family traditions, a surprise niece/daughter and global travel.
A book I would re-read for sure.

Now onto a book I have been looking forward to. It has started well.

The Other Life by Ellen Meister

The Other Life

Do you have a recommendation for a alternative life, reincarnation or fantasy?

Do you want to hook up on Goodreads? Follow the link on the side bar to my account.

Writing Tips:

Let go of your inner editor. When you sit down to write a draft, refrain from proofreading until that draft is complete.

Proofread everything at least three times before submitting your work for publication.

Print this one out:

You are a writer so own it and say it out loud: “I am a writer.” Whether it’s a hobby or your profession, if you write, then you have the right to this title.

Leslie Van Zwol & Megan Fennell – Joint Interview…



Megan & LeslieLeslie Van Zwol and Megan Fennell are a co-writing team from Lethbridge, Alberta, publishing under the pseudonym ‘V. F. LeSann’. We are both individually published authors in our own right, but find that teaming up leads to truly impressive results. Kind of like Power Rangers.

Leslie Van Zwol is an avid genre writer who enjoys adding a dash of grit to mystical worlds. She spends her days working for justice to support her nighttime writing habit, and is always on the lookout for her next adventure or inspiration. She also attributes the accuracy of this story to the noisy magpies that were constantly squawking outside of her window during the writing process. (Although the crows continually voiced their objection to the subject matter.)

Megan Fennell is a court clerk, cat owner, and writer of strange tales, currently living and working in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although loving magpies to the point of having two of them tattooed on her, it was the Danish myth of the Valravn that held her corvid-like attention span for this anthology. Her stories can also be found in Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18, Tesseracts 17, OnSpec Magazine, and the charity anthology Help: Twelve Tales of Healing.

What inspired you to write your first story?

Cherry beer, sunshine on the patio, and chicken wings. But seriously though, that was where the plot-storming started. It was a very casual, natural situation. We had helped each other with independent projects before this and it seemed like a logical step we both wanted to try. It turned out so well, we’ve kept with it!

How did you come up with the title of your first project? 

As a joke. We were bantering about titles once the project was done and things weren’t going well. Leslie got up and stalked away, and suggested a title in jest as she left. She stopped and came back in the room and the two of us knew we had our title.

Is this your first story? How many stories have you written (published or unpublished)?

As a combined unit we have three and a half. But a few more plots/projects are on the horizon for us.

Is there a message in any of your stories that you want readers to grasp? 

There is always an underlying message or theme in our stories. There is a purpose to all of them. It’s always interesting to hear what readers take out of a story versus what we intend them to take away from the experience.

How much of the story is realistic? 

We strive for realistic human emotion and interaction even when the world is unrecognizable.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

Not very often. Most are born at the same time as the plot and each piece fits into the other, like a puzzle!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest story? 

Nope. It’s a winner. (It is our favourite so far!)

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Hi! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to tip your waitress!

What is your favorite part of your story?

It’s a toss-up: we love the whimsical moments and the punch-in-the-gut parts the best. It’s all part of a balanced breakfast!

What is your favourite theme/genre to write? 

I don’t think we narrow ourselves to anything, I think we actually step outside of our comfort zones and try to attempt something new with each story. That said, we both love a good monster or underdog character any day.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Something boring. If we find it boring to write about, the reader will be snoring too.

What book are you reading now?

Leslie: “The Diabolical Miss. Hyde” by Viola Carr.

Megan: “The Arrivals” by Melissa Marr.

… those authors rhyme! (We didn’t plan that!)

Do you see writing as a career? 

A career in which we do what we love and remain broke, yeah. Much like Peter Parker, we also need a day job.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

“Not dead?” – Leslie. “Don’t say that! Too morbid.” – Megan. “Well, we won’t see ourselves if we’re dead.” – Leslie. “This works as the answer…. Write it as a conversation.” – Megan.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

Editing. So much editing. And editing as a unit is pretty painstaking. But we still make it out in one piece, and wine helps!

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 

Oh yeah. Daily. Luckily, we tend to like each other’s writing and hate our own. So it works out well. We champion each other’s words!

What book do you wish you had written?

(Instantaneous unanimous answer!) Anything by Neil Gaiman. Seriously.

What is your best marketing tip?

Hahaha…. Marketing? We don’t do marketing… We just make words pretty. (But we are getting better at advertising that we have stories out and people should buy them. Sadly, that’s pretty much the whole pitch right there.)

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

Sci-Fi. For an upcoming anthology. But all else is top secret!

Can you tell us about your upcoming stories?

We each have individual stories coming out in World Weaver Press’s Corvidae (July 2015) and Scarecrow (August 2015) anthologies. Check those out! They are fantastic! (See marketing question.)

CORVIDAE-cover-

How do we find your books, blog and bio?

Online is best. @fennellfiction and @bobbistylz on twitter. We are working on a combined ‘V. F. LeSann’ Facebook account to come out in the future!

Link:  http://lethbridgeherald.com/news/local-news/2015/05/17/two-city-authors-part-of-anthology/

A Writers Conundrum – Finding Time to Write..


To have inspiration for our writing we must observe life, to avoid our family and friends abandoning us we need to engage with them, to pay the bills we must usually work a day job, to maintain our word count or deadline we must organize writing time. So the question is, how can we juggle all of these demands on our time with failing at each one?

Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away. I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively.

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings when I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Other ‘escape’ opportunities do arise and I always take advantage of them: a cancelled appointment, the house to myself or the glory of a  writing retreat! Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

With my freelance work increasingly demanding more of my time, I have to split my writing with that of clients. Maybe I am wrong but I tend to complete a client’s work prior to my own. Having a deadline for a paying job and completing it is, to my mind, more important and vital: a) for repeated work b) for remuneration. That is not to say I believe my own writing is secondary, far from it. Within my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, I am fortunate to have other writers who engage in an annual novel workshop. At the beginning of the year, when several of us have participated in NaNoWriMo and others are ready to share their first draft, we meet every month until June (sometimes longer). We section our novels and email them to each other, then edit and comment on the narrative. Then at month’s end email our editing and meet to discuss the stories. It is beta reading within a ‘safe’ environment if you will. This mutual assistance enables me to edit my current manuscript with the views of several other authors and a ‘faster’ editing process too.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

My writing area expands a little each year! Where do you write?

New Writing DEsk 003new writing deskPicture Wall

An Interview with Gordon E Tolton…


Please welcome Gordon E Tolton, an author with a fascination for history and an ability to bring it to life in his novels.

 

Gordon Tolton


What inspired you to write your first book?
 

My first book “The Rocky Mountain Rangers” actually began as research for a living history project or organization. I wanted to form a re-enactment group based on the historical military unit.  While I did manage to join such a group, and two groups did organize under that name to an extent, I found myself immersed in the research of the pure history. That research led me into the publication of a historical paper as a book, and led me into even more historical research.

How did you come up with the title? 

“The Rocky Mountain Rangers” was self-titled based upon the historical subject.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?

Eight Published:

Cowboy Cavalry

Rocky Mountain Rangers: Southern Alberta’s Cowboy Cavalry  (Lethbridge Historical Society, 1994)

The Buffalo Legacy  (Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Society, 1996)

With The Mounties in the Boot and Saddle Days (editor/designer)  (Riders of the Plains, 2006)

Prairie Warships

Prairie Warships: River Operations in the North-West Rebellion  (Heritage House, 2007)

Deep Roots, Promising Future (Centennial History of United Farmers of Alberta) (UFA Co-op, 2009)

The Cowboy Cavalry: The Story of the Rocky Mountain Rangers  (Heritage House, 2011)

The Last Blast: The Fur Trade in Whoop-Up Country (editor/designer) (Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Society, 2013)

Healy's West

Healy’s West: The Life & Times of John J. Healy (Heritage House, 2014/US edition: Mountain Press, 2014)

I have four more books in various stages of production.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

Just to awaken the sense of relevance of history to people’s lives.

How much of the book is realistic? 

All of my books are highly researched, and only my conclusions are creative, though based on hypothesis.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

The latest book, Healy’s West, I obviously could not have known personally. However, I have found myself close enough through the study of writings, character sketches and historical context, have come to know almost through a sense of channelling.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

I would wish to make it a larger book, with more room to expand on subjects that I had to compress, and more room for photographs.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 

I just want people to be able to look at a location, or a place, an institution, or a piece of geography – and understand that there was a time before their lives.

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?

The research, and the gathering of materials into a cohesive chronology and form.

What is your favourite theme/genre to write? 

Historical narrative.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Never say never, but I doubt I would ever write any fiction.

What book are you reading now? 

Getting through the very thick works of eastern American historian Allan Eckert, primarily working on That Dark and Bloody River.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

Peter Stark has a book called Astoria: Astoria: Astor and Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival. He covers a historical tale in a very interesting and comprehensive way, with an engaging writing style.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, but it is very challenging. Unless sales take off unexpectedly, I will likely never support myself as a royalty author.  I will always have to look to outside employment, grants, and commissions in order to do what I want to do.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Very likely, still doing what I am doing, but hopefully, with a slightly larger profile that will give me a certain level of safety in continuing the process of writing and researching. I may even get to the point where I have more research than I know what to do with, and can target book projects to specific markets.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

Distractions, and self-discipline; the volume of material to get through, maintaining travel and justifying the expenses in the research aspects of the process.

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 

No. That’s counter-productive.

What book do you wish you had written?

“Frontier Farewell: The 1870s and the End of the Old West” by Garrett Wilson

What is your best marketing tip?

No matter what your market is, no matter how good your representation is, the author is his/her own best sales person. People want to connect with the creator, and want to understand their process. The author needs to push their product as if it was any other, find their niche, and promote themselves to the media, libraries, book stores, and any other venue that can be related. In my case, I have also promoted my product to museums, historical societies, and even at local farmer’s markets and cowboy poetry events.

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

I am still working in history. The next is of a small railroad company that aided in developing the settlement of southern Alberta and northern Montana. I do not yet have a publishing contract for this.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Other than the above, I have books on the go regarding the early buffalo fur trade on the prairies; a political history of Alberta, regarding the farmers movement in the post-World War I era into the depression; the impact of Lewis and Clark expedition on Canada; and a book on the defense of the north-west coast of Canada and the United States during the Second World War.

How do we find your books, blog and bio?

            Healy’s West: The Life and Times of John J. Healy

http://www.heritagehouse.ca/book_details.php?isbn_upc=9781927527658

http://mountain-press.com/item_detail.php?item_key=679

            The Cowboy Cavalry: The Story of the Rocky Mountain Rangers

http://www.heritagehouse.ca/book_details.php?isbn_upc=9781926936024

            Prairie Warships: River Navigation in the Northwest Rebellion

http://www.heritagehouse.ca/book_details.php?isbn_upc=9781894974301

Author Biography: http://www.heritagehouse.ca/author_details.php?contributor_id_1=1400

Blog: http://rangergordsroundup.wordpress.com/

Email: rmranger@telusplanet.net

A Themed Piece of Prose…


As I mentioned on Friday, tomorrow is my writing group’s Christmas party – it is an opportunity to share our current projects, reflect on the past year and reconnect with members who have been away. Part of the celebration is for everyone to read a seasonally themed piece of prose or poem. There are always a variety of interpretations to this prompt, which makes for an interesting evening. My submission this year is:

gift-wrapped-box

The Box

It sat under the Christmas tree tantalizing me

Its shiny wrapping paper and bright gold bow

Perfectly folded corners and sealed up tight

On the label written in script my name

 

As I pass, my eyes fix

Under the decorated Christmas tree

Its lights twinkle and baubles dangle

The box reflected a hundred times

 

When alone I sit beside the box

Smoothing its surface and guessing

The gold ribbon fastened tight

No tears or gaps through which to peek

 

Carefully I pick up the box

Giving it a gentle shake

There is no rattle or jangle

No noise to give a clue

 

The days pass slowly

My impatience grows

When will I be able to open the box

And find out what it holds?

 

Christmas morning arrives

My excitement wakes me at dawn

I creep down the stairs

To find the box gleaming

 

At last the family assembles

I burst with excitement

As the box is handed to me

I feel its weight again and gasp

 

With shaking hands I unwrap

The paper and bow discarded

A cardboard box revealed

No clue given still

 

Prizing open the flaps

Tissue paper rustles

Underneath my Christmas, wish

A perfect treasure for me to keep

 

Prompt logo

Why not share your Christmas themed poem or prose here?

Fun Writers Gifts…


We are in the season of gift buying and receiving, so I thought a few unique ‘writer’ themed gifts were in order.

typewriter-mouse-pad_smallTypewriter mouse mat.

water notesWaterproof notepads. When that idea strikes.

PotionFor when the idea doesn’t strike!

stick-up-calendarSticky word count count calendar

typewriter pendentTypewriter locket

I will be shopping for a secret Santa gift this weekend for my writing group’s Xmas party on Tuesday. We have a pot luck, gift exchange and read Christmas themed prose or poetry. I made an extra effort last year and made miniature cupcakes with punctuation marks on them. They certainly went down well. This year my pot luck will not be so labor intensive.

punctuation cupcakes

My poem from last year:

CHRISTMAS FAIRY

 Christmas_Fairy_

Snowflakes drift slowly downward

Sunlight shining through their intricate patterns

Layer upon layer, centimeter by centimeter

Gathering together to cover the world

 A blanket of whiteness so pure

 

A movement, a flicker beside my eye

The delicate whisper of wings passing by

A tiny glittering, sparkling shape

The Christmas Fairy gently laughing

A tinkling sound so light

 

She flits back and forth between the flakes

Fluttering her eyelashes, she can make

Their pointed star shape rotate

As the snow flakes dance in the air again

This is her element. This is her time

What does your group do for the season’s celebrations?

Prompt logo Today’s prompt is: Write what your perfect writing themed party would be like – no holds barred!

Christmas Story Telling – An Opportunity…


My writing group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/) were invited to participate in story telling at a locally organized event on Sunday – Christmas in the Heartland (http://www.strathcona.ca/departments/economic-development-and-tourism/tourism/christmas-in-the-heartland/)

Bremmer House Read 30Nov2014

The venue was Bremmer House, a beautiful old house in the midst of renovation. (http://www.strathcona.ca/local-government/about-strathcona-county/strathcona-county-history-and-heritage/places/historic-buildings-and-sites/bremner-house/) 

Myself and two other Board members of the foundation attended and two of us read Christmas themed stories to visiting children.

Books at Bremmer

The room as you can see was beautifully decorated to enhance the Christmas atmosphere. Unfortunately, our room was also the only one that did not have adequate heating so we remained in our coats and boots throughout the day. It brought realism to the reading if nothing else!

Books displayed.

Captive audience

The event not only gave Karen and I valuable experience in reading and interacting with an audience but also enabled us to spread the word about our writing group and our published works. Volunteering for events is a great way to be involved and meet new people.

Reading Nib the mouse who made a house in a Christmas cake.

Karen at Bremmer

Karen wrapped up cozy.

What have you learnt from your author readings?

What was the most unusual setting you read in?

Reblog Wednesday – Editing Tips…


reblog

A first today – a double reblog as both parts are great for inspiration (and our sanity!)

Editing is hard…that is a fact but with some forethought and planning it can be made slightly easier. Decided on which particular edit you want to do – spelling & grammar, continuity, character development etc. then focus on each one separately instead of trying to do it all at once.

One writer I know prints out on different colored paper for each edit category. I utilize a novel workshop run by my local writing group. We pair up and review each others work for several months. Having many eyes read your work assists not only in the usual editing problems but also it is a bet read. A win, win situation.

http://knitewrites.com/2014/09/24/50-ways-editing-will-drive-you-insane-part-1/

http://knitewrites.com/2014/10/01/50-ways-editing-will-drive-you-insane-part-2/

What methods do you use for your editing process?

Which category do you find the hardest?

article-new_ehow_images_a00_0h_jc_format-manuscript-submission-800x800

editing

Life Changes Roll with It or Stagnate…


Man Sitting In ValleyWe all have different coping mechanisms when it comes to changes in our lives. Some changes are welcome, some raising curiosity while others are certainly not wanted or wished for. I experienced two smaller occurrences in the last couple of days and it began a line of thought I wanted to share. Do I resist change or embrace it?

As some of you will know I attended Words in the Park over the weekend. The hall was full of forty nine authors and nine vendors – all displaying books and accessories for the discerning book lover. In past years, I have been positioned close to my publisher, Dream Write Publishing and my writing group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. This has led to an enjoyable time overseeing these tables in rotation with others and conversing and chatting with friends and visitors alike. This year as I had booked a whole table instead of half, I was placed on the other side of the venue, away from my usual comrades. It may seem childish (especially considering my age!) but I felt excluded at first. I could see them talking and laughing but unable to join in. Then I realized that I should take advantage of the opportunity and be more proactive in my promotion rather than await passers-by. I surveyed my display and knew it was eye-catching so stood behind my table and greeted everyone, stating the age groups for each book and a short description of the stories. It was a successful day for sales and I also received lots of compliments on my table arrangement and each individual book’s themed items. Several friends did stop by for a chat and one looked after my table while I went to participate in an author reading. All in all I feel I made more sales because I was more engaged and not distracted to my goal.

Today was a day of change as well at my workplace. After nearly two years, my manager and I have a new work colleague. We have been comfortable in how we arrange our work days and the day to day routine is pretty much set. The new employee will bring her own ideas of regime and structure and it is probably not a bad thing. We can all get stuck in a rut so easily. We will embrace this change and see what it brings in the months to come.

What changes have you experienced lately that made you leave your comfort zone?

Was the outcome successful?

What did you learn from the experience?

changes_roadsign

 

A Nice Surprise for Wednesday – A Lovely Blog Award


one-lovely-blog-awardIt’s been a while since my last blog award – so it was lovely to receive this one from Ileandra. http://ileandraxraven.co.uk/

And the rules are:

Thank and link to the person who nominated you – done and a pleasure.
List the Rules, and display the award image – done.

Follow the blogger who nominated you – already follow.
Include 7 facts about yourself –

1. My second children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue, will be launched at Words in the Park – 25th  October.

http://words.sclibrary.ab.ca/   Book cover

2. I have lived on three continents.

3. I am the secretary of my local writing group – Writers Foundation of Strathcona County

4. My writing style is free flow – I tried plotting once and failed miserably.

5. Rome, Italy is my soul’s home – I will return

6. I miss the ocean – it’s sight, sound and feel

7. Fall (Autumn) is my favorite month due to the colors mainly

Nominate an additional 6 blogs, and notify them by leaving a comment on one of their posts – here is my list:

http://wildhorse33.wordpress.com/

http://ryanlanz.com/

http://the-view-outside.com/

http://www.kathiesutherland.com/

http://andioconnor.com/

http://distraction99.com/

Have fun with your award and pay it forward.

On a side note this is my 660 post! Wow….