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.


Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Insecure can mean lack of knowldege

It's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Link here IWSG to the sign-up page.

Here's the mandate:

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!

Now to it! I'm not answering this month's question as I have other thoughts burning holes in my mind. Yesterday - and that is the real yesterday as I'm writing this on posting day - I got my copy edits for The Crooked Knife back. I thought this part would be a breeze and it isn't. I didn't look at them yesterday because I had other obligations but was secure that I'd whip through them today.
 I do not want to pimp and bawl as they say round these parts - lots of the edits are just what a person (a lazy ungrammatical person) such as myself would expect. I use the word 'pretty' too much. And 'nice'. I see that and am grateful that someone is taking me to task on it. As to the rest, well, I need to remember that it is my writing and my ideas. If I feel strongly about some of it staying - I need to be firm about it. I'm a folksy sort of writer. You probably see that here and my novels are no different. I might be able to clean up but I'm not sure I want to. I'm not going to go into details because I'll regret that later when I'm over my sulks, but I want to say something that no one seems to much talk about.


There, now I feel better. I will say this mantra to myself "I'm a little bit funky, I'm a little bit rock and roll ".

On other fronts I feel just plain gutted about what is happening in Ukraine. Every irritation I feel in my precious sweet life I try to imagine dealing with while trudging down a road wearing all my clothes, holding on to my toddlers and great aunties and wondering where we'll all sleep tonight. Would I give a care that I have a stiff neck or the kind of horseradish I like isn't available at the Super Store? Probably not.

Tomorrow is Tibetan New Year. I'm deeply hoping that the Year of the Water Tiger doesn't suck. Yes, that is the extent of my hopes and dreams right now. Please world - don't suck so much, okay? Said in a whiny valley-girl up talk.
Okay - you can see that I might have waited until another day to post, but sometimes I'm just feeling so...fru.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Dance of Interdependence

 Yes, it is another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

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 February 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!

February 2 question - Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?

I don't think that writers become writers in a vacuum. We are all affected by those around us in one way or another. In grade two or three, in Osgoode, Ontario - I got very positive feedback for a story I wrote about our family's 22 day camping trip. Right then I thought "hmm...there might be something worthwhile in this racket."  I won a prize in grade seven in Colorado Springs for an essay I wrote about wanting to be a hermit. It was chosen for a western American publication of student essays because it was a 'fine example of irony'. No it wasn't. I meant it. So, yes, there were teachers who supported my desire to write in various ways. I would love to meet Mr. Weiderquist, who was my grade seven English literature teacher, or the English grammar teacher, Mrs. Johnson - both at Horace Mann Junior High. That was so long ago that they are certainly not around anymore. 

The persons I will most miss when I hold my published novel in my quivering hands are my parents. My Daddio is the voice I hear when I'm shirking my discipline. I hear him sternly say "bum glue" and "pitter-patter fly atter" and "when the going gets tough, the tough get going".  When I had poems published my dad had one of them hand calligraphed by an artist which he presented to me. When he suffered from insomnia he used to edit texts in his head until sleep came.  My dad was in the RCAF. He was a bomber pilot in WW2 and then a flying teacher but went into public relations before it was technically even a thing. He edited magazines, handled the press through mishaps and so on. Mainly he worked with writers.

My mother loved to read and everyone in our home was encouraged  to develop a voracious reading habit. We three kids were excused errands if we had a book in hand. This was, by the way, stealth parenting at its smartest. Both my parents read both widely and deeply and nothing was off limits. Well, almost nothing. My father snagged my copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover saying it wasn't for the inexperienced. My mother snuck it back to me, rolling her eyes at his one try at censorship. My mother introduced me to writers that I still love to read - Margaret Drabble, Pearl S. Buck, Rumor Godden and Pamela Frankau among many more. She valued wit but valued kindness more and her reading choices underlined that.

When I think of my parents I feel extreme gratitude. My father for his belief that discipline was key and my mother with her compassion for the disenfranchised. Both of those qualities are the spark that drives my writing and I know they'd be so pleased to hold a book I'd written in their hands.

Well, enough farting around - I have to apply some bum glue so that I can pitter patter fly atter - because a job done well is a job well done and when the going gets... I could go on. My Dad would.