Category Archives: the Writing Life

A Different Kind of Parenting Book

So here’s something I’m working on…

They always say you should write the book that you want to read yourself.

When my daughter was born I wanted to learn more about babies. I wanted to know how they perceive the world and how they learn. I wanted to know how her body was going to grow and develop. I wanted to know when her teeth would come in, and in what order, and what caused hiccups and if she would yawn if she saw me yawning right away or if that was something she had to learn. I wanted to know how she would figure out who the baby in the mirror was. I wanted to know about eye colour and hair colour and right- or left-handedness. I wanted to know what babies like and what they don’t like. I wanted to know what babies laugh at and why.

I wanted to know what was going on in that great big sweet-smelling head of hers.

So I searched through bookstores and libraries but couldn’t really find what I wanted. The parenting books I saw were all rather limited in scope. Continue reading

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Where the Heck Have I Been?

Bad author (slaps hand)! It’s pretty awful to leave an “official author website” unattended for so long, but the bottom line is this:

Sometimes a person just has to make a choice between keeping  up with self-promotion, online presence and social media, and actually sitting down and writing!

Increasingly these days I’m opting for the writing thing. I was forced to, with deadlines looming for the Eldritch sequels, and (phew!) I handed in #3 this spring. Since I was fully immersed in writing #3, I wasn’t even able to properly promote #2 when it was released last Christmas… (Bad, bad author!)

So here’s a little more about Shadow Wrack, which turned out pretty well, I must say…

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After defeating the forces of evil in Eldritch Manor, Willa must rebuild the manor — and her family.

Can Willa rally her supernatural friends to defeat an invasion from beyond?

After battling and defeating the forces of darkness, Willa is looking forward to a little well-earned peace and quiet. Unfortunately, her recent adventures have given birth to new problems, not the least of which is the task of rebuilding Eldritch Manor, a retirement home for supernatural beings, from the ground up. And no one is behaving themselves: Mab’s fairies have declared war on the dwarf construction crew, Willa’s Mom and Belle are feuding, Baz is running amok, Horace is living in the woods, the phoenix squawks all night long, and there’s never a dragon around when you need one. To be perfectly honest, Willa is starting to think the forces of darkness were easier to handle than her family and friends — until those forces start to rise again!

Trouble is definitely brewing, and the source lies very close to home, Who can Willa trust? Who will betray them? Who will open the door for the darkness to enter?


Hmm, intriguing, no?

Stay tuned for the third installment, Darkling Green, which is scheduled to make its glorious appearance in time for Christmas 2016.

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Writing Process Blog Tour: My Fiddly, Neurotic Way of Doing Things

The summer disappears into the sunset and here I am, back with something called a Blog Tour post… it seems to be kind of like a chain letter but without the promise of quick easy cash. Oh well.

Nobody's+DogWhen I attended the Festival of Trees events in London and Toronto in May I met many talented and enthusiastic children’s authors, including Ria Voros, who was nominated for the Silver Birch Fiction Award for Nobody’s Dog. Ria teaches in Nanaimo, BC, and her young adult novel-in-verse The Opposite of Geek came out in 2013. She also co-created Fork and Fiction, a blog about the love of food and books. Visit her at www.riavoros.com or www.forkandfiction.com.

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BC beach bums

Recently Ria came with her family for a short visit to my little Salt Springy Island and we sat on a beach and talked of serious, writerly things. (Well, not entirely.) We did chat vaguely about starting some sort of writing support group for curmudgeonly BC writers (or maybe it was just me who was curmudgeonly). Anyhoo, now she has tagged me in this blog tour about Writing Procedure. You can find her post on the topic here.

And now it’s my turn…

Question 1: What are you working on? Continue reading

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Forest of Reading Trip: the final chapter

The day after the Harbourfront hoopla (or was it more of a hootenanny?), I hopped on the GO train to meet more students in Ajax… Another fun day with wonderful authors and fabulous readers.

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Forest of Reading trip: On to Toronto!

After London we all traipsed into Toronto. I visited a couple of libraries and chatted with students… a very lively group at the Danforth/Coxwell branch had a ton of great questions for me, grilling me mercilessly about how I wrote my book, and about the cartoon shows I’ve worked on.

Then it was time for the Main Event – the big big big Festival of Trees at Harbourfront.

IMG_6687A total zoo. In a good way. And here was the most astonishing thing of all… Continue reading

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Forest of Reading Trip, first stop London!

Wow, what a week I’ve had! From my quiet country life to the raucous, celebratory hullabaloo that is the Forest of Reading Festival! And now that I’m back home, on my sunny deck listening to the wee birdies twitter (actual birds, not the 140-character ones), I’m ready to share my adventures.

First stop was the mighty city of London, Ontario, and their first-ever Festival of Trees event.

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Kevin Sylvester (author of the Neil Flambe series) and I arrive at the Progress Building fully caffeinated and ready to go. (photo by Kevin)

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Filed under Author Info/Biographical, Get Writing!, the Writing Life

Happy New Year!

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Wow. What was that thing that just whooshed by? I couldn’t make it out, it was just a blur, but I think it was the Christmas holidays. How can it be January 6 already?

I hope you all survived the craziness. I think I did, but my clogged-sinus head cold is befuzzling my brain a little so I can’t be entirely sure.

Today is the first get-back-to-work day for me, as I bask in the silence of the first day of school. (Every parent is smiling today.) I’m sitting here making big plans and resolves for 2014, as well as catching up on emails and bills and appointments and so on and so forth.

Do you make new year’s resolutions? As usual I’m telling myself to write more, read more, think more… but the resolution that is impacting my writing the most at this moment is this one:

No more lying on the couch to write.

I’ve been having back pains and neck strains long enough. It’s time to exercise more and give up a posture I truly adore, that of lying on the sofa and typing with my laptop on my stomach. Bad habit! Bad bad bad habit!

Right now I’m sitting upright, extremely upright, in a simple wooden kitchen chair, working at my dining room table. Feeling all posture perfect and poised and full of vertebrate virtue. We’ll see how long that lasts, shall we?

Yours in spinal resolve,

k

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A Quiet Moment of Writerly Bliss

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So my progress on the Eldritch sequel has been halted for the moment as I put together an outline proposal on another project. More on that to come, but it’s a novel and after much gnashing of teeth I finally came up with my Act III! Nothing like breaking through a mental barrier and solving plot problems all at once!

The secret to my breakthrough was both taking a break and indulging in a research-related movie. The story is to have a historical setting and watching newsreel footage from the time suddenly filled in the gaps for me. There is nothing more useful than being able to picture the setting, the people, the events…

A fresh blanket of snow outside, peace and quiet, and a roaring fire did their bit to contribute as well.

Yay me!

(Moments of satisfaction for writers are solitary and rather fleeting, therefore they must be enjoyed. I shall celebrate with egg nog and then take the garbage out.)

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The Anxiety of Reviews

obt logo_2Okay, so reviews of my book make me anxious. Really anxious. Wincing, cringing, whinging anxious. I mean who likes being criticized for something you worked really hard on?! I prefer my days to be serene and content, so I don’t go out of my way to hunt down reviews, but if someone sends me a link to one I summon all my courage and take a look. (I also figure that if someone sends it to me, it won’t be terrible.)

So I was glad to read the lovely Open Book Toronto review of Eldritch this morning. The only complaint the reviewer had was with how sudden the reveal at the end is, a criticism I’ve heard from others. It’s a valid point, but I don’t regret ending that way, really. I just didn’t want the book to trail on and go out with a whimper, so I saved a bit of a bang for the last page.

What I especially loved in this review was the fact that the reviewer, YA author Kim Firmston, and her daughter both liked the book and found it kept them guessing. I think it’s fantastic whenever parents and kids can share enthusiasm for a book, and discuss it together.

“…this was an awesome read — when I was finally able to read it. My twelve-year-old daughter snatched the book away after reading the first chapter over my shoulder. I didn’t see it again for a while.

So if you have a fantasy lover, put a little Eldritch Manor in their stocking this Christmas, and when they are done reading have a crack at it yourself.”
(Kim Firmston, Open Book Toronto, Nov 13/2013)

(Phew!)

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The problem with blogs – in a nutshell.

I came across an article online yesterday entitled Four Ways to Make Sure You Always Have Something to Say Online. Cue the forehead smack.

Why would someone even begin a blog if they weren’t revved up with enthusiasm for their topic of choice, and bursting at the seams with thoughts and questions about it?

Why would someone even begin a blog if they weren’t fascinated by that topic – and were either an expert with loads to say about it, or a devoted amateur eager to learn more?

The problem here is twofold: that people with Nothing To Say are spewing out endless blog posts, and that other people with Nothing To Say, in order to churn out their own blog posts, are linking to those original Nothing To Say posts… (Ditto for Tweets.)

Arrgghhh.

This is what happens when the Business Model is applied to Providing Content. The actual dissemination and transmission of information has become so brilliantly innovative and technologically stunning that less and less time and energy is spent on the actual quality of that information/content.

I say this to anyone wanting to write stories and it applies equally to anyone who wants to start a blog:

You must have something to say about the world!

Or at least be on a passionate quest to find something to say about the world.

Either way.

And if the day comes where you can’t think of anything to say in a post, then for God’s sake don’t say anything! Have a cup of tea and read a good book instead.

Thus endeth my rant for today. You may return to your regular programming…

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