Tag Archives: writing retreat

Author Interview – Carla Howatt


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing both energizes and exhaust me, depending at what stage I am in the writing process. Coming up with cool plot lines and ideas, as well as character development is fun and energizing but about half way through the book, I bog down and get tired. A bit of writing ADHD?

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Chocolate. Laundry. Anything I can use to procrastinate!

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Absolutely! Still haven’t ruled it out in fact.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I didn’t have any writer friends until I decided to go on a writers retreat. It was there I learned I could call myself a writer even if I didn’t have a bestseller.

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  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Both. Some will be connected, some absolutely not.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Time away; retreats, get-aways, whatever I need to do to focus.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I remember coming home from grade one, waving my reader. I was so excited, and so amazed at the world that was opened up to me through the words. I have never forgotten that feeling of awe and amazement.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I’m not sure it is under-appreciated but I loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I was hooked beginning with the first paragraph; such lyrical words and such a beautiful picture she painted.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Gosh, I really don’t know. Maybe the A&W Root Bear?

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

People like what they read and my writings make a difference in this world.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t do much research, as the type of books I have written don’t really require it. I may research the odd thing as I go along, just to make sure I have a name right or something. Most of my writing is based in some way on real life.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

Very sporadic and not disciplined. It can be from 20 hours to zero, sometimes one week after the other.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I try them on with their character to see if there is a fit or not. Pure gut instinct.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Sex scenes

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

My first book just happened. I call it my accidental book. It is a collection of FB posts from the time I announced my son had taken his life until about a year later. The second was a children’s book. Coming up I have a novel that walks the line between romance and smut (lol!). I also have a collection of stories that all involved the same women going through different things in their lives.

There is no real balancing as I go with what I am in the mood for and tend to work on that one until I am finished.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since I learned to read. I don’t really remember not writing.

  1. What inspires you?  

If I can find a place of solitude and peace with little distractions, lots of sleep and nature, I find that is when my creativity flourishes.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

Honestly, I don’t find enough time. I fit it in for the most part.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

Finishing a novel is my primary focus right now.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I have a few non-fiction ideas that I would like to work on when I have the time to do the necessary research and interviews. There just are not enough hours in the day!

  1. Share a link to your author website.

Right now the only website I have is for my first book Bearing Witness – www.Carlahowatt.com

Bio:

Carla Howatt lives in Alberta, Canada where she helped raise four children, two husbands and a pug. She is a recovering politician and business owner. A communicator at heart, Carla is also a proud introvert, port inhaler, and dark chocolate hunter.

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

My escape on a writing retreat from 18th – 22nd May was absolutely fabulous. Surrounded by fresh spring greenery, bird song, blue skies, fellow writers and delicious food (cooked for us!) what more could a writer need? The photos above give only a glimpse of my time there. I particularly love the A frame cabin – wouldn’t that be a perfect place to have to write in?

Strawberry Creek Lodge may only be an hour or so away from home but it is a different world away from the normal reality of life. This enabled myself and my fellow writers to indulge in the written word, discuss plots, formats and support each other. With an open or closed door policy we could shut ourselves away to write or be open to conversation and walks through the woods and along the creek. The lodge is a magical place where ‘real’ life disappears allowing your creative muse to flourish. 

I did manage to achieve my writing goals at the retreat so that was an added bonus.

  • Final revisions to The Twesome Loop final word count 75,007.
  • Wrote new YA story Bubble the Gruggle word count 8306.
  • Began revisions on The Giving Thief 70,394 word count.

With my writing goals attained I can immerse myself in the ghost writing project and hopefully have the revised draft to my client by the end of May.

Have you been on a writing retreat?

What benefit did you gain?

Did you achieve your writing goals?

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger- I completed this book while on my writing retreat. The ending had a great twist to it and I found the characters to be intriguing all through the narrative. The story contains complicated relationships, past loves, new loves, strange addictions, cemetery walks, and ghosts. 

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – I began this book at the retreat. It has a unique format and is good research for my novel, The Twesome Loop.

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Writing Tips

Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.

My tip: Find a way to escape ‘normal life’ be it a road trip, a mini break at a hotel, or a weekend getaway – it doesn’t have to be far away to achieve the tranquility to write.

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

This post is pre-scheduled as today I will still be enjoying my writing retreat, where there is no WiFi, TV or ‘outside world’ to intrude. Immersed in story since 18th May – I may never come back! (Well given the choice anyway). My plan for the retreat is to read, edit and revise two manuscripts – The Twesome Loop and Life in Slake Patch and hopefully be able to share them with beta-readers on my return. I may also have added enough story on my newest children’s book – Bubble the Gruggle to send the manuscript to my illustrator, enabling him to begin chapter header images.

When I do come back to reality I have two events this week. One an ‘extra’ meeting of the Arts and Culture Council on Wednesday to finalize the Heritage Day event organization and then Thursday I will be co-hosting the senior’s writing group at Silverbirch.

So please feel free to share your local writing events in the comments.

Other events:

WGA Alberta Literary Awards Shortlist Reading and Celebration (YYC)

May 24th 2017 from 7:00 to 10:00pm
Shelf Life Books, 1302 4th Street SW, Calgary
Please RSVP via Facebook Invite

Join the Writers’ Guild of Alberta to celebrate the 2017 Alberta Literary Shortlisted authors and their nominated works! There will be complimentary wine and food from Aida’s Bistro, time to visit with friends, and a series of lively readings. Free admission. Authors scheduled to read in Calgary include: Lee Kvern, Paige Feureu, Lauralyn Chow, Gisèle Villeneuve, Mary Graham, Rona Altrows, Helen Hajnoczky, Georgia Graham, Laurie McFayden, Ellen Close with Braden Griffiths, Richard Harrison, Shelley Youngblut, and Sydney Sharpe with Don Braid.

EWF2017 PosterFinal

On May 28, The Elora Writers’ Festival takes place in Elora, ON, with authors announced so far including Andrew Westoll, Brad Smith, and Adrienne Kress. http://elorawritersfestival.blogspot.ca/

Happy writing everyone

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Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

So my excitement got the better of me and I forgot to write this post – so sorry for my tardiness. I have been busy tying up loose ends, revising freelance projects and ensuring I can leave for my writing retreat tomorrow with a clear desk. On the retreat I will only focus on my writing, which will enable me to ‘complete’ two manuscripts and add to another. These are my retreat goals.

  1. Final read of Life in Slake Patch
  2. Complete revisions and read through of The Twesome Loop
  3. Continue to write my newest story, Bubble the Gruggle.
  4. Enjoy no TV, no cell service and no WiFi.
  5. Converse, share and enjoy my retreat companions company.
  6. Indulge in the most fantastic meals.
  7. Enjoy reading curled up in a cozy corner.

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger – I will most certainly finished this book this week. Just love the characters.

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – chances are as this is more novella than novel that I will finish this book over my writing retreat as well.

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Then onto new stories!

Writing Tips:

Learn from the masters:

Read works by highly successful authors to learn what earns a loyal readership.
Read works by the canonical authors so you understand what constitutes a respectable literary achievement.

Creek 2016 7Strawberry Creek

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


eventsThis week I do not have any events to attend, (I know a complete shock!), however I will be working hard to finalize freelance projects in anticipation of the writing retreat I will be attending from Thursday. I feel like a little kid waiting for the escape of school term and the long expanse of the summer.

At our retreat we do not set course work or discussion topics, however I do set a prompt, which can be ignored or completed. It is for light relief rather than as an exercise. As for retreat rules we only have a few.

  1. Respect other writers privacy. If their door is closed do not enter, however if it is open then visitors are allowed.
  2. Meals should be taken together not only because they are delicious but it is a time to connect, discuss and refresh mind and body.
  3. Remember to take breaks – whether a walk with a companion or alone, change your writing/reading location or to have a discussion.
  4. Set your own writing goals for the retreat.
  5. After supper gather to relay progress, connect and relax.

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Have you been on a retreat?

What rules did they have (if any)?

What benefit did you derive from it?

Local events:

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