Wednesday, December 7, 2022

IWSG late meeting!

Hi all you insecure writers! It's that day again - where we gather together to celebrate the highs and bemoan the lows of this crazy writing life.  I'm late today and trying to do this on my tablet so although I'm officially here I'll be swooping in tomorrow to really write my post. On my laptop. Or edit this one.

I did write today. I'm just about at 60 thousand words but this part of the process is very slow for me. I put some in and take some out. It is the hokey-pokey part of the first draft. I'm trying to be patient with myself. I'm also doing a few signing and reading gigs this month which I really enjoy. 

So all and all I'm in an okay place with the writing life. The ho

lidays don't truly impact my writing that much. Maybe I spend extra time making cookies but we do a pretty chill time here. All my kids and my partner's kids and their partners and a couple of grandkids will be here on the 30th for a feast but everyone will pitch in. And we're getting a wood stove in January!  Yay!

I'm making a lot of art so that is fun too.

Sorry for the late small post but I'll juice it tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022


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. 

connect here: Sign up page

The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

November 2 question - November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

NaNoWriMo - have I ever participated? Hell yes. Many times. I don`t even know how many times. Let me think...well, at least four successfully - meaning I did my 50 thousand words in the month. Three of them went on to become completed novels - and one of them - The Crooked Knife was published this year. I started it in November of 2016.  One thing that I did with that one is make the novel start November 1st so I have to not do that again! Dead give away. 

I hope to get another one of the ones I wrote for the challenge published - that is Bright Angel. It has been looking for a home for awhile. Or rather I've been looking for it's home. It nearly found one last year but fate stepped in and the publisher stopped publishing - at least for awhile. NaNoWriMo is a great way to get a little fire going in your writing life. I'm pretty good at sticking to challenges that I've taken up. As a true pantser however, it means that at the end of the month I have fifty thousand words but a great need for revising. There is a strong community, but it isn't as good as this one (IWSG) is for me. There are many participants who are quite young and into epic fantasy writing - that being said - you can find your crew if you spend a bit of time. For me it is the buttons that work a magic. Entering my word count daily is such a boost. So when I've tried alternative ways to do the challenge it has not worked. 

Back many years there was a great alternative to NaNoWriMo that took place at a better time of year for many folks - that was BuNoWriMo - the Burrow Novel Writing Month in June. That was instigated in part by the terrific Tami Hart (Hart Johnson, Alyse Carlson and other aliases too many to mention) writer of the terrific blog Confessions of a Watery Tart and her intrepid writing group The Burrow (of which I was blessed to be included). I recommend month long challenges? No, because I don't think everyone is the same as me. Pretty sure they aren't. I can only say they have worked for my particular sort of wiring and they might for you too. However many words you write you cannot fail at it though - if you weren't writing any words before. I have a second Nell Munro mystery that I'm writing - have forty thousand words. I might do the challenge but don't want fifty thousand more words - maybe I'll enter it with my goal to write another thirty thousand. That would work. And seventy thousand would give me a good solid first draft to completely re-write! 

See! Now I'm all excited. Yay for challenges. How about you? What makes your engine run? Your socks go up and down?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

October meeting of the IWSG


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. 

connect here: Sign up page

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

Hello fellow neurotic writers! How is your writing world today? I've been a member of the IWSG for a long time. How long? Well, let me distract myself from writing to have a look.  Okay - some time later - the first post that I can find is from October 2011 - so eleven years ago. Here it is:

Past Me:

Dear Journal,
Hi, my name is Jan and I'm an insecure writer. Oh, I know you don't believe me. You think I'm just trying to fit in with the new in-crowd, but you're wrong. I am insecure at writing and perhaps even more with revising. You see, I believe that revising separates the sheep from the goats (hi Elspeth's sheep!!!). I don't know if a writer is a sheep or a goat but today, of all days, insecure writers' day, I'm saying that a writer is a goat and not a sheep. Why? Well because goats eat anything and live off of it. Same as writers. Exactly. Why today, just today, dear journal, I ate an old tire, some sh*t (don't ask, won't tell), and my bank statement. Why? You may well ask. The tire is obvious for you alert journals, the second item I've already said I won't comment on, and the bank statement - that was dessert. If I wasn't a writer and a reviser I might have said that it was desert, but that would be wrong. Why would a bank statement be a big sandy hot area with a cartoon guy crawling across it, saying in balloon speak "water...water...just a bit of water..."?  Some other reasons that writers are goats and not sheep. We smell. It's true. I know we don't like to admit it but when we are deep in revisions, showers are just another pesky thought. Plus we eat popcorn with garlicky oil on it (no - not butter, we're on a diet!) and parmesan with that nice old sock odor. And the third reason we're like goats and not like sheep is that we can't sleep. We're always jumping around on mountains trying to find something, anything, to write about. If we were sheep we'd count ourselves and sleep. I can't sleep - that's why I'm writing this in my journal pretending it is Wednesday - oh - it is almost Wednesday - just 13 more minutes and it will be - then I can put the compost out and maybe go to sleep. I might have a cigarette. On the deck, in the driving cold rain. That would make me feel like a writer and I would definitely smell like a goat. Then I couldn't go to sleep and I could work on fleshing out my main character in the revision I'm doing. Good idea. By the way, Mari and Tartlette, I'm not blunking or drogging or any one of those elvish words. I'm just really really really tired. Because I'm a goat, an insecure writing, revising goat and baaaaaah (oh come on - I heard four goats today and that is just how they sound - the sheep copied them - they ARE sheep ya know).
Sometimes when people ask me what I'm "up to" (very suspiciously I might add) I will tell them I'm a writer and go blah blah blahing about 'what I'm working on' and how hard it is to find 'real publishers' these days. But don't kid yourself, journal, I'm still being insecure when I do that. Yes, I am. I'm blowing a lot of hot air. The thing is that when I'm finally a 'published writer' I won't ever say that. I'll slip it in real cool. "Yes, I'm working on my twelfth book. Uh...well only one's been published, but I AM working on my twelfth book. I'll be so secure. Then every first Wednesday of every month I'll write a Secure Writers' Post. Ha! OK, I'm going out on the deck to smoke now. See you tomorrow, I mean today.

Back to Present Me: 

So all pretty much the same. Yes, I know that now I've actually been a published person. For five months I've swanned around (now I'm a swan not a goat so that's an improvement - though come to think of it I really like goats and I never ever wanted a pet swan...hmmm) going to book launches and signings and readings and so forth. So an author - not just a writer anymore - but oddly I do not feel more secure. If anything I feel more insecure. Now instead of just worrying about getting on with the newest book (40 thousand words in the first draft as of today), I worry constantly about how my first book is doing. Has it entered the right contests? Has it entered any? How are my numbers? Why doesn't my publisher email me begging for the second book? Why are we born only to suffer and die? (oh that one is from the masterpiece called Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout but really by Farmer Philip Jose).

Okay - enough - you get the point. I'm off now to make applesauce. Yes, that is true. When someone, say a friend of yours, asks you if you want to go pick apples in the Annapolis Valley - that you'll get more apples than you know what to do with - just say no. I now have way more apples than I know what to do with. I had apple crisp for breakfast. I thought I might make dried apples but it takes nine hours and uses up eight or so apples unless you have four ovens. Also the propane!

I love October. It makes me so happy to be here at last. 

How are you all? Secure yet? Well keep coming - I've been here for eleven years at least and I'm still insecure but I'm very very happy in my insecurity because insecurity loves company!

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Pencil poised - fresh notebook


Welcome to the September meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
Link here to sign up.
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!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

Remember, the question is optional!

September 7 question - What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

I'm going to sort of answer the question, but I'm using it more as a prompt for a stream of conscious on genre altogether...kay?

I am generally not adverse to tackling any genre. I have novels in my drawer that are YA, some that are mystery, a couple that are contemporary literary. As well, I have plays, poems and essays. I hope that I choose the genre, or indeed form of writing, because I have a certain story I want told and the genre I choose is the best one to tell it with. I don`t make a Nicoise salad in a frying pan. So the worst genre for me to tackle would be one that doesn`t suit the story.

For my novel, The Crooked Knife, I chose the broad genre of mystery - maybe it is a detective story, but not really a procedural as I am more interested in what happens to the characters than in how evidence is collected. I did not write it as a cozy mystery, because the story I`m telling is a dark one. Maybe it is an environmental mystery. I cannot parse it so fine. When I knew it was actually going to be published I entered into a discussion with my publisher about the back cover copy - the place of blurbs and concise ways in which the prospective reader can be informed as to the read she might encounter. My publisher wanted to write that the story is set in Canada`s North. For those of you who read this, who aren`t Canadian, this next bit might be confusing but bear with me. To most Canadians, when they hear the words Canada`s North, they are thinking about the western arctic - Baffin Island, the North West Territories, the Yukon. My book is set in Labrador, in the Eastern sub-arctic. So I did not want Canada`s North mentioned in the blurb, as to me it would give the wrong idea. But I agreed that one of the selling points was that it was set in a northern community. So I invented a new genre - Northern Canadian Noir. It`s a subtle difference I`ll give you that, but it lands differently. And it nicely addresses the problem of what kind of mystery it is.

I didn`t know it was a noir when I was writing it, but I do think it fits the description.

Here are a couple of descriptions I pulled out of Wikipedia - the first two on the term Noir:
A typical protagonist of noir fiction is forced to deal with a corrupt legal, political or other system, through which the protagonist is either victimized and/or has to victimize others, leading to a lose-lose situation. 

In noir, everyone is fallen, and right and wrong are not clearly defined and maybe not even attainable.

That might not be strictly what The Crooked Knife is but close enough. Nell Munro is dealing with both victims of greed and corrupt influences in the government and police.

Nordic noir comes a little closer: here again from Wikipedia

Nordic noir, also known as Scandinavian noir or Scandi noir, is a genre of crime fiction usually written from a police point of view and set in Scandinavia or Nordic countries. Plain language avoiding metaphor and set in bleak landscapes results in a dark and morally complex mood, depicting a tension between the apparently still and bland social surface and the murder, misogyny, misandry, rape, and racism it depicts as lying underneath. It contrasts with the whodunit style such as the English country house murder mystery.

So here is my invention - definitely needing some rework but hey!

Northern Canadian Noir is crime fiction, usually written from a police point of view and set in northern communities in Canada. The landscape, both in its wildness and inherent difficulties informs the story, as does the mix of cultures found in northern regions of the country by nature of its Indigenous and Settler roots. Isolation and the sense that criminal activity can go unchecked where the population is thin, also adds to the despair and darkness of these stories. 

In Other News...

I had a quiet August as far as events for my new novel, but took the dog-days of summer as an opportunity to get a good chunk of my newest mystery, the working title of which is Butter and Snow. I made myself a promise to get a thousand words done a day - had a few in the bank to carry me over some rather busy days and ended up yesterday with 31 thousand. I`m very happy with my new (ha!) old approach - which is what someone described as going down a road with a flashlight illuminating only the steps directly in front. That sounds a bit right. I`m now sort of beginning the middle section and know things won`t flow so quickly, as I will have to respond to various ideas that I threw on the page in those heady early days. That is all known to me. Having been through the complete process now - from idea to publicity - I know I can do it. It doesn`t mean that I will do it - but why wouldn`t I?

I`ve also spent a bit of my time almost every day now for the last two weeks walking across the road and down the path and over the rock beach and into the ocean. This is my favourite thing ever to dog, Bella, comes with and waits patiently on the shore for me to come to my senses. She distrusts water that has waves or isn`t in ditches. 

And I`ve been making pastel paintings almost daily. It has become my most favourite medium (other than words natch) and I`m on a steep learning curve. I just keep up my mantra (which is also helpful for a first draft) "don`t worry about what you are making - just enjoy the process"

How is everybody else`s back to fall going ??

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?