New Series

I really like these interwoven worlds where I can catch up with characters without needing and epilogue to the epilogue. It’s like reconnecting with an old friend when you least expect it or like feeling as if you are seeing the characters in real life after their story has been told (or in some cases, being introduced to them before their story hits the pages)

TS Joyce is a great example of this type of series. In her first series, we meet one group of people (well, in this case, Shifters). As we read, we’re introduced to other groups as part of their world. As we finish the first set of books and start the next, we already know names of the new main characters and how they fit into the world she’s created. The third group builds on that, and so on, until we’re 30+ books in and reading about the next generation with references to other characters to see how they’re doing.

In addition to individual stories, there are overreaching themes running in the background. The world is changing. Over the course of the interlocked series, Shifters have been discovered, persecuted and then accepted but not without a few hiccups along the way.

I can only dream of being able to write a series as seamlessly complex.

Nano 2020 will be the 4th book in my first attempt at a series. Over the summer, I’ve mostly finished the first three stories about three friends, Leah, Gail and Viv. The series will continue with the last two books devoted to two of their coworkers, Arif and Jean.

Book 1 – Leah, a single mom who’s priority us her daughters. Mark was interested in her long before she had kids and now she’s single again. But, he has no desire for children. She’s always admired him from afar. Can they reconcile the differences in their life goals?

Book 2 – Gail, is just settling into life after divorce, when she’s introduced to Dean, her son’s new Rugby coach. Except she and Dean already know each other, they were childhood sweethearts before she moved halfway across the world.

Book 3 – Viv, has already had her happily ever after. She’s about to quit working full time to look after her husband as he succumbs to Dementia. Mikael fresh from a divorce, enjoys their daily conversations. Then her life implodes and he needs to be more than a casual friend.

Book 4 – (Nano 2020 project) Arif, a work buddy of Leah, Gail and Viv, has just left the company to work for himself. He meets Kamila just before the Covid19 lockdown. How can they think of pursuing a relationship when the world is going crazy?

Book 5 – (to be started in November after book 4) Jean, the office manager, is preparing to retire when her back seizes. Awake at three in the morning she’s trying to distract herself from the pain. As she scrolls through the ‘people you may know’ list, she sees him – the one that got away. Before she can talk herself out if it, she sends him a message.

I’m not a spring chicken anymore and I love that over the past few years, plots in general have evolved to encompass more than twenty something characters. Not just romance novels but movies like The Expendables, Red, and The Book Club, to name a few.

Just because we’ve grown a few wrinkles doesn’t make us less interesting.

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Nano 2020

We made it to November. Any other year it wouldn’t seem like such a big deal but this year, 2020, I feel like we should all get a gold medal for getting this far instead of the usual ribbon for participation.

I mean seriously, Covid 19, murder hornets, double digit number of hurricanes, I’m afraid to watch the news because I’m not sure we can take anything else. We all say 2020 is bad but then we have to remember that the world isn’t going to right itself on Jan 1st, 2021. We’re in this for the long haul.

I don’t know about you but I need Nano this year. Just to give me that outlet to get it all out on paper (or digital document). It’s therapeutic – even if I’m not actually writing about what’s happening in the world around me. The act of writing helps ground me.

This year there have been a lot of changes in my personal life beyond what’s happening in the world. In some ways it will make it easier to write and make my daily word count because I’m no longer full time. In other ways, not so much, as I watch a loved one’s health decline.

I’ve been writing most of the summer and have already embarked on a 5 novella series, with plans for an additional 3 novella continuation with relatives of characters we met in the first series. I hesitate to call them novels because each will be only 50-60,000 words. Quick reads that you can finish in an hour or two.

I’ve discovered how much I like reading books that build upon the characters met in previous stories, series that have been set in the same location or with friends of friends of the initial characters.

My Nano 2020 project will be Book 4 and if there is time, I’ll begin Book 5. Writing a series will be challenging for me because until this point, I’ve always been a pantser. I’m as surprised about what gets put on the page as the reader. I’ve always resisted planning ahead because to me it ruins the fun of writing. But, you can’t pants a series, especially one with interlocking events and storylines. So I’ve had to compromise and at least give myself a guideline to follow.

Well, at least it’s a good theory. I’m finishing up my third book in this series and have already had to go back several times to insert relevant information in the finished books, since they’re all happening in a very short time frame to each other. Book 5 is actually the first story to chronologically start, yet will be the last one told. Snippets of the progress will appear in all four of the other books in the series.

Wish me luck!

Working from Home – Week 3

Hopefully you’re in a groove now. I know I am even though there are moments where I just want to curl up on the couch for a nap.

I find mid-afternoons are the hardest. My husband turns on the TV for his afternoon fix. Dr,Phil, Ellen and then Dr. Oz. He is a huge sports fan but since there isn’t anything happening with any team, he’s made Dr. Phil his plan B.

I can work through Dr. Phil without any problem but I enjoy Ellen. I find myself paying attention to her even though I’m not in the same room as the TV. Dr Oz comes on around the same time I would have been leaving the office, so I don’t feel guilty for shutting down my computer and heading in to spend time with my husband and watch the show. Dr. Oz at least has some interesting topics and his guests are usually legit. (except for the whole true crime segments – that doesn’t seem to jive with the rest of his MO. Maybe that’s just me though.)

We are progressing in ways we didn’t expect when this all started. At work, we’ve digitized a lot of our processes that we’d been procrastinating on switching. It hasn’t been completely smooth as we’re making the changes under duress and necessity, instead of following a well planned process. Right now, some tasks take longer than the old way but it eliminates the need to pass papers back and forth between the staff. That alone makes it worth it in these days of Coronavirus.

I hope you are all well and adapting. These are weird days and I believe that we’re just starting to hit the halfway point. Stay strong and stay safe.

Working From Home – Day 3

When my husband retired I told him to find a schedule. Find something to do and someplace to go, even if it’s just to the Tim Horton’s on the corner. Always give yourself a goal for each day.

Yes, for now I am working from home, so I have plenty to do. But as this pandemic spreads and more people get sick, I will have fewer daily tasks to keep me occupied. I work for a construction company and once the job sites close down, the paper work will dwindle and they won’t need the same level of administration support. And, let’s face it. I was already transitioning away from my job, to look after my husband.

So, I’m taking my own advice. I’m creating a schedule that will see me through the next year or two. Because even once this crisis is over, I’ll still be home caring for hubby.

I’ve decided to start commuting to work. Instead of waking up, pouring a coffee and heading down the hall to my office, I’m descending the stairs to the exercise bike that has been gathering dust lately.

For the past six years I’ve been weightlifting in the gym at the office. The bosses even provided a personal trainer which helped keep me motivated and in proper form. Even though I could deadlift 225lbs, (before you get too excited, I’m a fatty so that was barely my body weight) my doctor said weightlifting is great but I needed cardio too. So I started walking at lunch. Within 4 months I was bored with just walking so I started jogging my fat ass up and down the trails.

I’ve fallen off the wagon since September as shit started to get real with my husband. If I stayed on this course of emotional eating and lack of motivation, I was going to be in big trouble. Especially since I take barely 2000 steps when I’m working from home as opposed to 6000 just wandering around the office. So exercise bike it is. I’ve even brought up a set of hand weights to use when I’m taking a break at my desk.

This will be the start of my new schedule. Wake up, start the coffee maker, do a mini Tour-de-France and then continue on with my day. I do a bit of stretching afterward so that my legs don’t seize up when I’m at my desk. Eventually I’ll try one of those yoga videos to stretch me out after sitting all day.

After all, if you go online there are thousands of workouts available. Even more now that the gyms are closed and trainers need to stay relevant. Hell, just find a piece of marching music on Spotify and lift your knees high and swing your arms to the beat.

Added bonus, exercise gets you out of your head and eases some of your stress so that you can better look after yourself and those around you.

Let’s commute together!

Life and the Pandemic

I’ve been away from writing for a while as you can probably see by my lack of posts. Life, in all of it’s glory, got in the way.

I got married, lived happily ever after until recently. I was already in the process of transitioning away from my full time job to look after my husband as he declines. Yup – I’m staring widowhood square in the face and it’s not a pretty sight.

Then along came the Covid19 pandemic which threatens to take my husband sooner rather than later.

Life can be a bitch!!

So here I sit at my computer in my home office, winding down the work day of my full tie job ,while still in my pajama pants and slippers pondering what to do next.

I’ve been preparing for my semi-retirement for a while. Over the past few months I’ve been gathering all of the partial stories I’ve abandoned since my wedding and organized them into priorities, genres and tasks to get myself back into the publishing game. Note to self – having several genres is going to be a publishing challenge.

This Coronavirus pandemic has hastened me along because I’m going to have a lot of spare time in the days and weeks ahead. IF I don’t have something to occupy my over-active imagination, I’m going to be in real trouble.

It will be a little bit different this time. I’m not going to edit and publish other people’s work like I did when I was half of PaperBox Books. This time it’s all about me.

While doing my research, it’s been fun to see what changes have been made since I stopped publishing.

I’ve been an avid subscriber to the Amazon Kindle platform for a couple of years and was excited to see how they’ve simplified the process and made it so much easier to publish a book.

Having said that, from a reader’s perspective, there are a lot of great stories that I’ve stopped reading because the writing sucked. No matter how fascinating the characters or the plot, if I had to keep internally correcting the wording or grammar I’d get frustrated and find another book.

Amazon Kindle pays it’s authors per page read. It doesn’t matter if you have 100 people downloading your book, if no one can make it past the first 10 pages, you’re killing your revenue. Not only for that book but many readers won’t ever attempt to read anything by you again.

So as a writer, I’m taking all I’ve learned to heart. Who am I kidding, I was already super anal about grammar, spelling and story flow. Now I just have to get my butt in gear and finish a few of these stories and get them out there.

Hopefully posting this will help to keep me accountable, while the roller-coaster called life has its wicked way with me.

Keep safe out there!

oops

As I sat at my desk this morning trying to avoid housework, I realized it’s been a while since I blogged. I actually blogged about my almost failed trip to Banff last month, but it’s still sitting in draft mode. Probably a good thing, since the story is about to become a novel (don’t want to give too much away).

Yeah, I’ve carved out some time to write for myself. This new novel is the battle of wills between a moderately successful writer such as myself and the great writer in the sky. A deity, who follows the advice we’ve all been given, such as, ‘keep throwing stuff at your characters’, ‘test their limits’, ‘see what they can do’.

Great advice if you’re a writer, not so much if you feel like the character in one of their novels.

So the new story is based on my trip to Banff in March, i.e. ridiculously delayed flights and arriving almost too late to pick up the rental car. Happily that’s where the two stories part ways. In real life mine continues with a lost wallet, panic and a trek back to the Calgary airport to retrieve it. In the novel my heroine veers off the road at 3am to avoid hitting an elk. She’s thrust into a world of rapid time and morphing landscape where she meets a guy… and then stuff happens. (Hey, I’m a pantser. I know how the story ends, but I have no idea what’s going to happen to them between now and then.)

I also have a second story on the go. I’ve been writing it as part of the Toasted Cheese Sunday Brunch Prompts. In this one, she’s an arson investigator and he’s like Prof. Trevor Anderson in the Journey to the Centre of the Earth. She’s found a medallion that acts like a portal through time and space and well… let’s just say her new pet is… interesting.

In between writing my own stuff, I’ve been reading a lot of submissions for PaperBox Books. They’re coming in fast and furious and the quality is looking pretty good. I’ve already called for a few full manuscripts. Things are really starting to hop over at PBB.

OK – I’ve delayed long enough – it’s Saturday morning and I want to finish housework so I can go out to work in my gardens. Sunny spring days in Vancouver on the weekend are rare – can’t waste this one.

Good-bye 2011, Hello 2012

This has been a good year. I’m glad because 2010, as a good friend of mine would say, ‘sucked ass’.

2011 started off with me dating a great guy, getting a new job, and uploading my second novel, Hiding in Plain Sight for sale. The year got better as royalties started coming in and my new job went from good, to great to fantastic. Sadly, the great guy faded to barely good, and then to me saying, “Yeah, this isn’t working out anymore.”

My trip home this year was for a happy reason. My middle brother got married to a great girl and I’m now a proud step-aunt to a couple of awesome kids. The wedding was sad without Dad, but our family has healed enough to celebrate despite our missing member.

My year ended with bobsledding down the Olympic track in Whistler, BC, reuniting with a childhood friend, chocolate, good friends, a flirtation with potential, and a bottle of apricot brandy.

2012 is starting off with a lot of promise.

My new job is not so new anymore but I still get up with a smile on my face and look forward to going into the office. PaperBox Books is thriving. Our reputation is growing and the submissions are flowing in steadily and I’m in the process of editing “Kiere” my new distopian, young adult novel. It should be ready for sale by the end of March, at least that’s my goal.

and there is that flirtation…

and we’re off – NaNo 2011

NaNoWroMo.org 2011 has begin and I’m already behind. It’s a little disconcerting, but I’ve been here before and haven’t failed yet.

This years story is a bit more serious than my usual light and fluffy fare. I’m basing it on a video from Live Leaks about a man found dead in a hotel room. He has ID but no one steps forward to claim him. When I heard about the video, I decided I had to tell his story. How come he had no one to miss him?

While I was pondering this, I talked to some of my writer friends. I’d decided to have his son looking for him and interweave chapter’s about the son’s search and the father’s journey as an ‘Unclaimed Life’.

One of my writing buddies suggested I needed more drama. So the father is estranged and the boy sees him across the graveyard at his mother’s funeral. The father was banned from seeing his children after being jailed for sexually molesting his daughter. It’s now 10 years later and the siblings are all grown up and so are the psychological demons that haunt them.

I hope I can do the story in my head justice.

VCON, SIWC and NaNoWriMo

I’ve been a bad blogger. I was reminded this over the weekend at the Surrey International Writers Conference. I attended a lot of the social media sessions because I’ve been out of the ‘what’s happening in Social Media’ loop over this past year. Happily, I’m not as out of sync as I feared, but I was slacking just the same.

Mysterious Ages, my fellow ML for NaNoWriMo.org and I spoke at the beginning of the month at VCON. It was awesome, although, according to Myst, I was a bit of a chatterbox. Yeah, well… anyone who knows me could have told him that. VCON was great though. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the rest of the conference after our session was done. I am seriously considering attending next year as a participant.

Today was the last day of SIWC. My head is close to exploding with all the fantastic advice I received at the very well run sessions and keynotes. Despite my overwhelmed little noggin, I was sad to see the weekend close.

One of my highlights was to talk with Daniel Kalla. A few years ago he, in conjunction with The Province Newspaper , ran a Serial Thriller writing contest. Daniel wrote the first chapter of the book and there was a competition to write each subsequent chapter. I participated the 2nd year they did it and I won first runner up for the first chapter open to competition. Unfortunately, this was also the last year it happened. As we spoke over lunch, Daniel said that it wasn’t lack of interest that caused the contest’s demise, it was that there were too many participants to judge.

It gave me a bit of a thrill, knowing that I had been competing against even more people that I’d originally thought. It made that 1st runner up placement that much sweeter.

Writing Stuff

It’s September already and Marc and I are starting to frantically put together the events for NaNoWriMo.org 2011. This will be my 5th year participating and my 2nd year as ML (Municipal Liaison = organizer).

We’re getting an added boost this year from VCON. We’ve been asked to speak on a panel Saturday, October 1st all about NaNo. We’re very excited about it. NaNo is such a great way to get your first draft done. The camaraderie, community and cheer-leading is incredible. I can’t wait to spread the word.

Then it’s time for SIWC (Surrey International Writers’ Conference). I missed it last year so I’m doubly excited about it this year. We’re renting a room and staying on site which will enable us to stay and play with the other writers until the wee morning hours without having to worry about travel back and forth. It’s going to be a blast.

And then it starts: NaNoWriMo.org 2011

Marc and I are deep in the planning process. We’ll start posting things as soon as details are finalized.

This year, I’m tackling a story that isn’t my usually light, funny fare. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard for me – there will be death, betrayal and abuse (and the family disasters that follow in its wake). Some of it hits very close to home. If it turns out half as well as I have it in my head, it’s going to fantastic in a haunting and thought provoking way. I’m just hoping I can do the idea justice.

(and yes, me, the die hard pantzer – has actually done a bit of plotting for it already. But only because some of the subject matter needs a little research so I can keep my facts straight)