Wednesday, August 3, 2022

August is here! Gasp!

 It is another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group - sign up here!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

This month's question (completely optional): 

August 3 question - When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want? 

hmm...trick question I believe! I do not try to do either. I think it is a fool's errand to try and be original. Know if you are putting your authentic self into your work that there is no trying needed. We are all authentically original no? Maybe what it means that sometimes writers try to be shockingly new or come up with something so outstandingly different that folks will gasp with astonishment. When I feel myself heading in that direction as in I think I'll write a novel from the point of view of an armchair or I'm going to set my newest mystery inside of a whale then I've lost my reason for writing. I write because I'm both trying to wake myself up to existential truths or (and more likely) I'm trying to wake others up. I'm trying to make sense of this crazy-ass world. If I'm struggling to shock folks then I'm doing the second thing - second-guessing the desires of readers. The readers don't come into it as far as I'm concerned. That sounds kind of cold but bear with me. I am burning to tell some story. I don't know who is interested, I just know that I would be. I write it as clearly as I can but I don't pander to the reader. I don't want to read folks that do that either. It is pretty easy to figure out I think. I'll read a long and go oh the writer plunked in a bit here on a hot topic even though it has nothing or little to do with the plot. Why? I don't like it my friend. I do not like it. I hope and make an effort not to do the same thing. 

I know that sounds high-falutin and smug. Believe me I struggle with this. Recently I spent quite a bit of time writing the first part of a novel based on my desire to have a second Nell Munro mystery. Because I hadn't found the story burning away in my heart, but simply wanted to get book number two under way I spent a lot of time on stuff that I am now abandoning. About forty thousand words worth. Now I'm back to a new start and I will find the heart of the story like I usually do, wandering very slowly down a dark trail!

Hope your summer is great! This coming Saturday I'm signing copies of The Crooked Knife in the two local Chapter stores. I'm quite excited to be at a Meet the Author. Woo hoo!

How is your summer working out? Do you write much in the summer or does your discipline go all kablooey in the heat?

Thursday, July 7, 2022


 Hi all,

I'm a day late for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Mea culpa. 

If you are new here - welcome! I've been very slack with my posting on this site and will not make more promises I won't keep - but I'm usually very faithful with a post on the first Wednesday of the month. The IWSG has been of tremendous help and support to me over the years as I made my way, ever so snail-like, to publication. I appreciate everyone in this group who takes the time to see how fellow writers are doing, especially our doughty captain - Alex J. Cavanaugh and his crew of volunteers! Huzzah!

Summer is finally here and the green is gorgeous and unrelenting. My garden is doing okay although setting off for two weeks on my very fun book tour did it no favours. I was away the last two days at a friends and it was glorious to see her majestic gardens and hang around eating yummy food and chatting.

Now to the question at hand - 

July 6 question - If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

I'd  live in the book I'm currently reading. For the last several weeks I've been living in the world written by Elizabeth Jane Howard - the world of the Cazelet family set in England. There are five books in the series called The Cazelet Chronicles and I've just finished the third. They start just before the beginning of WWII and end in the fifties. I've just experienced the end of WWII at the end of the third book Confusion. I have spent most of that time in Sussex at 'Home Place' the country home of the Cazelet family. Women are becoming aware that being pampered and cossetted has its price. The children (which I think Howard is brilliant at portraying) have known war for five years and not sure what to make of the new world. Theirs is a middle-class family, so this isn't the heavily servanted world of Downton Abbey, but they are mostly comfortable. At the same time I'm rereading an old favourite book set in the same period called The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley.  I wanted to reread this as she is a particular role model of mine having had her first novel (The Camomile Lawn is her second) when she was seventy. Hers is a slightly darker story than the Cazelet's but similar in many respects.

Now - in case you are misunderstanding me - when I'm finished these books I will not want to live in the book world portrayed. I only want to while I'm reading it.  I want to be in Kenya in 1916, or in PEI during the early part of the twentieth century, or China in pre WWI times, or ...well, you get the idea. I want to read books where I want to be there - maybe not ones that are too scary - I don't even like spending a night in Bangor, Maine though I have spent a few there. But for the most part - I'm in! I want to be a servant girl in Anne Boleyn's home at Hever Castle and roam the Dorset hills with Tess. And I love not having to sit in an airport to do so! I want to know what was likely served for dinner when Elizabeth Bennet was home from a long stroll and what was in Elnora Comstock's dinner pail when she attended school in the Limberlost. I want place details galore - the landscape and the house furnishings, the loos and the laundry arrangements - the whole thing.

And I hope that when people read The Crooked Knife that they will feel like they have travelled for a time to Labrador and experienced what that might be like at a certain time. I want readers to get lost in my world - don't you?

Here is a photo of Muskrat Falls in Labrador which is no more. As the song tragically says "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."* or something like that... 

*Paradise by John Prine 


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Road Trip and a meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group

 It is the June meeting of the IWSG (hit name to go to sign-up page) 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray!

June 1 question - When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end?

I feel particularly qualified to answer this question as I ponder the last twenty years. For it was roughly twenty years ago that I began to focus my writing on producing a novel. I had always wanted to write one and had begun a couple here and there but truly there must have been a part of me that thought that was a dream too far. Luckily I was wrong. So I turned my mind to writing a novel. Since then I've finished (mostly still need more revision) five novels. One was published this year - The Crooked Knife. One is on the hunt for a publisher -Bright Angel , a YA. And three are probably not going anywhere. I'm happy I wrote them though because you need to write a novel (or three) to learn how to write a novel. 

What helped me? A couple of things - I mostly will do things that I say I will do - so having outside accountability, even when I know it is mostly in my mind, really helps. Belonging to IWSG, blogging about my ambitions, doing several (six?) NaNoWriMo's - one of which generated The Crooked Knife.

Another help was the voice of my father (affectionately referred in this blog as Daddio) saying to me things like "When the going gets tough the tough get going" and "the secret to writing success is bum-glue". 

My third boost for when the going got tough was to remember that no one requires of me to write. It is a choice and therefore pointless to whine and whinge about how hard it is. I remember that writing is my art and my discipline and that I write to share ideas I feel passionately about and also for the sheer joy of stringing words together. 

Road Trip

I'm going on a book tour and I'm taking my fella and my dog with. We're leaving on June 6th and will travel from Prospect, Nova Scotia to North West River, Labrador and then on to St. John's, Newfoundland and then home. 5000 kilometres - three ferries, many different beds, old friends, family and flogging books! Yay! I'm launching in North West River where The Crooked Knife is set. Kind of nervous about that as it is a small place and well...eek...maybe no one will have read it yet!  We will drive to St. John's by way of Red Bay where my next Nell Munro mystery is set and I've only been once before. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and very thrilling to me as it looks out onto Iceberg Alley - a highway from North to South that icebergs travel on! After that we will go by the lighthouse pictured above in Point Amour, Labrador. I'm happy to go to St. John's which is one of the funnest cities in North America. On our way home from there we'll be going through Gros Morne National Park - a place of exquisite beauty. Then a ferry to Cape Breton and a six hour drive back to Prospect. Ah... A week after we are home I will do the Nova Scotia launch of the book in Halifax. Tonne of fun!

Hope you are well and writing and do remember to keep on truckin' !

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Crooked Knife is here!

 It is the monthly meeting of the Insecure  Writer's Support Group and I couldn't be happier to report in! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. 

I'm excited to be able to talk about my triumph instead of my struggles today. Huzzah - the book is here! 

I went and got a box of them from my publicist on Monday and I've been floating on  a cloud of fluffy dream stuff ever since. Wednesdays is always the day that I meet with Gwen, my writing pal, and we write and drink coffee and walk the dog and eat lunch and talk. Today I will be working on quite a few launch details so that will be fun too. My plan is that my fella and I will drive to Labrador for the first launch early June and then to St. John's on the island (Newfoundland) for another one before heading home. It is a 5,000 kilometre road trip (over 3000 miles) so lots of planning to do. Then I'll do a launch in Halifax and some other ones in Nova Scotia (Chester, Lunenburg, Wolfville...). Boulder Books is a small publisher but they've given me lots of help - a publicist here and in Newfoundland.
But this is all just the gears going round in my head.
What I wanted to say about it for those of you insecure writers who have been slogging away without too much action for some time - don't give up. Keep on with your discipline. Passion (or intention) and discipline are the two virtues that will keep you developing your craft. Elizabeth George talks about the qualities needed to be published in her wonderful book Write Away. She says that a writer will be published if they possess three qualities - talent, passion and discipline.
They will probably be published if you possess two of the qualities as long as one of them is discipline. Discipline is key. Or as my Daddio called it Bum Glue
What I've learned about discipline is that it is full of joy. I did not know that at the beginning of this and other discipline practices I've employed. But creating a firm boundary - knowing that I chose to write - nobody gives a hoot if I do or don't - so that I can play safely within that boundary is a wonderful joyful exercise.

The other thing that kept me going with this project is that I believe in the story I told. I wanted other people to understand what I experienced working on a reserve in Labrador. I care about the kids of Sheshatshiu and know that this was one thing I could do to help bring light to the multiple obstacles they face day to day.
Guess that is the passion part. The talent part - meh! I do not recognize that.

So thanks for being here - it does make a difference to have this community.

Tell me what you do to celebrate a writing victory. Get a tattoo? Go out for dinner? Start another project?

Thursday, April 14, 2022

A late breaking post for a meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group

 Only a week and a bit behind...

I was away. In Cuba. Snorkeling. Writing short Hemingway sentences. Okay?

Now I'm back and this will be the the quiet period before the storm of publishing. Or more likely the whole thing will be very quiet, but I'll scream a little when I feel the book in my hands, okay? I was going to be figuring out my various launches but if the Covid surge happening here doesn't calm the heck down then I'll be joining my brothers and sisters of the word who published in the last two years and having one of them there virtual book launches. I have learned not to get excited about a plan during these times. Well, I did get very excited about our trip to Cuba but that didn't work out so well. The water was good, the Cuban staff are heaven but the resort we've loved for years is doing a deep dive into the abyss. Very sad.

If you ever get the chance to take the electric train from Hershey Town to Jeruka - go for it. They'll let you drive and pull the whistle. Wow! See that happing on Via Rail - not likely.

So, as to the IWSG - I'm feeling medium insecure. I had a new feeling the other day (well, new to me), which was that when I get published people will be able to read my book. And they may have feelings or thinkings or judegements about that book that took me seven years to birth. And I would like to say that it isn't nice to say to a new mother that her baby is odd-looking. Okay. It just isn't.

See you on May fourth.