June 28, 2017 • No Comments
Here is a lesson on deadlines and writing survival 101 aka human behaviour in action.
The challenge: between being an adult, working a 9 to 5, launching 2 different books, social media, learning how to manage independent publishing, and maintaining minimal human contact, I got really behind on the book I was supposed to be writing. To remain on track, I need to finish draft one (75 – 80K words) by the weekend of July 1, 2017. Last Tuesday (June 20) I was at around 37.5K. I am not a fast writer. On a weeknight I’m lucky to do 800 to 1,000 words.
I’m often asked for writing advice, so I’m offering up this real life example of the one true and simple principle of writing. Writers write. They are also people and need to do other stuff, but at some point during the day they must shove everything else aside and apply fingers to the keyboard. It’s the one job that can’t be skipped. The same applies to anyone in a creative industry. Call it product creation, taking care of your main business, or cuddling your muse—all the auxiliary activities from Twitter to keeping the books don’t mean a thing without Actual Work.
If it sounds like I’m shaking my finger and scolding, it’s because I’m doing that to myself. I got distracted, fell behind, and ended up in a pickle. There is always a good reason for distractions. Often it’s practical, like getting groceries or posting a blog. That’s still not putting the story on the page and, sooner or later, a deadline looms and there are not enough words.
So then what? I had to pay the piper and burn vacation days. That meant sitting down at the computer at my usual day-job start time and working through to 10:00 pm with two meal breaks of about an hour (exception – one night I went to my regular critique group meeting). Five days and 24K words later, I’m almost caught up. I have about 13,000 words and a week to go. I’ve done these marathons a few times before and they always follow the same pattern: day 1 is awesome, day 2 I’m missing variety, the sunshine, and friends, and by day 5 I’m dragging every word out with tongs and hate my characters’ guts. But I did it.
And, of course, I swear I’ll fall behind like this again. Ever. Well, not for a while. Seriously.
We’ll see how long my resolutions last.
June 24, 2017 • No Comments
May 18, 2017 • No Comments
What happened this week? I was minding my own business and I got an email telling me that my publishing line closed. Harlequin Nocturne, alone with 4 other series lines, is ceasing operations at the end of December 2018.
Good news: I will probably get the last of the Camelot Reborn books published. I am heartened by the fact that ENCHANTER REDEEMED stars Merlin. If anyone can beat the odds, it would be him. Bad news: I will have to exert effort (boo!). The nice thing about Nocturne was that they liked my stuff and getting new contracts was, for the current publishing climate, relatively straightforward.
I won’t dwell on the suckage of all this because it’s obvious. Good people lose their jobs when this sort of thing happens. Books and authors lose their publishing home. Readers don’t get the books they love. It’s also weird finding out about something so personally impactful via a broadcast email, but that is apparently how modern life rolls.
So what is my response to all this? I have Merlin’s book to write by deadline. I can’t allow circumstances to slow me down, mostly because I’m behind to begin with. This is publishing. And when this book is done, I have other projects on the boil. This is exactly why I have many things in play at the same time. I’ve learned my lessons.
Disasters? Bah, I eat them on little crackers for breakfast.
May 3, 2017 • No Comments
As sometimes happens, I was over in my corner writing Royal Enchantment while, without warning, other Arthur-related works are popping up all over the place. One instance: Guy Ritchie has King Arthur: Legend of the Sword coming soon to a theater near you. I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview and, while this film has almost nothing to do with any Arthurian legend I’ve ever encountered, I rather liked it. Lots of action, plenty of eye-pleasing effects, some good one-liners, and a competent cast. I applaud the inclusion of a female mage rather than Merlin, and the knights they included were not the usual crew, so it really did feel fresh. One quibble: Maybe it was me, but I think there were a few visuals that seemed to replicate scenes from Lord of the Rings.
This Arthur is a man of the people who grew up with no advantages and yet still holds the spark of greatness. An interesting choice of narrative, but maybe one that will resonate with us right now. A zillion years ago, I went to a weekend conference put on by the local university’s medieval studies folks. It was about all things King Arthur and covered everything from the Mabinogian to Chretien de Troyes to archeologists to Roman studies experts and on and on. I went away having spent far too much money on books and not really knowing anything more about who the real king was. I also realized it really didn’t matter. The Arthur we hold onto is a vessel, and he reflects the king we need at the time.
March 27, 2017 • No Comments
I’m writing this just to prove that, yes, I can on occasion be retrained. As a child I hated relatively few foods, but turnip-type items were high on the list, just below Brussels sprouts and Lima beans. Blech! And yet, while the jury is still out on those last two, I had a food adventure this weekend that made me less reluctant to allow rutabaga past my lips. Yes, rutabaga, that unlovely cross between a cabbage and a turnip.
How did this miracle happen? I went out for a combo celebration at one of my favorite restaurants. For my part of the combo, I had a few things to feel good about. Last August I made a pretty long list of things I wanted to do for my writing business and checked most of them off. I’ve also been nominated for a RITA award for my novel ENCHANTED WARRIOR in the paranormal romance category. As this is the second year in a row, I’m very pleased. It was high time for a treat.
So back to the root vegetables. I went to a whole foods restaurant called Nourish in the Harbour (nourishkitchen.ca) and had a dish containing blanched rutabaga noodles, charred broccoli, roasted carrots, cultured cashew cream, pickled shallots, sunchoke chips, and cured egg yolk. In other words, my meal was free of meat, gluten, dairy, small puppies, and all other politically incorrect food groups. (Yes, I remember when being vegetarian was considered weird. Now it’s for beginners.) Not sure what to expect, I ordered it as the only meatless entrée on offer and hoped for the best.
Astonishingly, it was completely, fabulously delicious. The blanched noodles (essentially long strips of vegetable, no pasta in sight) were tender and completely satisfying with a hint of the well-seasoned cashew cream. The other ingredients were beautifully colourful. By the end of the second bite, I was converted.
Sometimes it pays to give old vegetables a second chance. I’m eager to break out my spiralizer and start experimenting. If I come up with something even half as good as that dish, I’ll share the results!
But of course, one cannot live on rutabaga alone, so we moved on to desserts.
March 20, 2017 • No Comments
Cross-posted from the Corsair’s Cove Series bog here.
This happened to the composer Franz Josef Haydn. Lucky for him, the cake was filled with gold coins! I’d really like to know why this happened, and if it had anything to do with his famous sense of humor. If anyone knows, please tell me!
This curious tidbit was just one of the anecdotes offered by the conductor of this afternoon’s concert by the VSO. The program featured Haydn and Mozart, who were friends in life despite the fact that Haydn was established and Mozart the new kid on the block. Along with a couple of other composers, they had their own string quartet, so putting the two together in a programme is a natural fit.
I was at the concert because it was a Christmas present for my mother. This has become something of a tradition—rather than giving her things, I give her tickets and we enjoy them over a matter of months, usually on Sunday afternoons. It’s good mother-daughter time and she doesn’t have another object to store, wash, or otherwise take care of.
Both my parents were musicians, Mom a professional and my father an amateur. As a result, I grew up listening to orchestras. It’s interesting to see how much more the performers speak to the audience, even in the most formal settings. Conductors have always been personalities, but now they need some storytelling skills to keep the audience engaged. Since classical music is filled with love stories, bitter feuds, and—apparently—cake, I can’t think of a more delightful way to make an enjoyable experience even better.
I wonder whether the cake was chocolate?
March 5, 2017 • 1 Comment
Congrats to Susan J. for winning my newsletter prize, which is now winging its way to her mailbox. Here is a look at the earrings, which are tiny books. The actual color is a little more blue-green that it shows here. And, since she requested a copy of A Study in Silks as her free book, here is the whole prize pack shebang:
March 1, 2017 • No Comments
Well, my first winner did not respond by the deadline, so I’ve sent out another email to a commenter. Check your email for a message promising to reveal what’s inside the Celtic treasure box!
January 24, 2016 • No Comments
January 13, 2016 • No Comments
So I grew up with audio geeks and my mother, who is a musician, still claims that vinyl sounds better than anything else. Playing a record is a ceremony requiring the exact positioning of furniture, cleaning of the needle with special elixirs and sitting with uninterrupted focus to listen. I’m not quite that picky, but I finally coughed up money for a decent set of Sennheiser headphones and realized just how good digital CAN be if the proper equipment is available. My iTunes playlist suddenly has new life and–wait a moment–instruments I hadn’t even noticed! Lyrics I can understand! A sense of space and distance between sounds! Seriously, the average earbuds just don’t do justice to good music.
I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to get some good headphones, but I think it has something to do with a beloved white pussycat of yore who used to chew through the wires of anything he could find. I loved him dearly, but one month he went through 3 sets of headphones. The sight of him with spaghetti wire dangling from his mouth discouraged any serious investment . . . I’d have him back in a heartbeat though.