Category Archives: Books and Writing

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.

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!

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!

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)

The Making of Hiding in Plain Sight

My new novel, ‘Hiding in Plain Sight‘ hit the virtual shelves almost a month ago. So far I’m thrilled with the response it’s been getting.

This is the first novel I’ve written specifically for a young adult audience. I was amazed at how comfortable this genre is for me. I guess that means that I haven’t completely grown up yet (which is a good thing in my humble opinion)

So, where did I get the idea for this book?

The first draft of this novel was written during NaNoWriMo 2009. At the stroke of 12 on November 1st I had four names and I knew one of the characters was an alien.

That’s it, That’s all.

My goal was to write a 50,000 word first draft by the end of the month. On November 30th, I had 55,000 words yet was nowhere near the end of my story. I stalled and procrastinated for another 6 months before I was forced into finishing it by a friend and fellow writer who wouldn’t let me alone until it was done (Thanks by the way). When I finished the first edit and send the final chapters off to my proof-readers we discovered that I’d made a fatal faux-pas – my ending happened without my main character. I had to re-write it, ditch the beautiful reconciliation scene and add in more action. The new version, I’m happy to say is much better.

As you can probably tell, I’m not much of a plotter. I break out in hives if I try to figure out what’s going to happen too far in advance. Sometimes I write my characters into a corner, but usually that just makes for a more interesting story as I write them back out again. For Hiding in Plain Sight, I was halfway through the first chapter when I realized that the whole family was from another planet and it wasn’t until later that I learned there were bad aliens coming to get them.

Why did I decide to use Saint John, New Brunswick as the setting?

Saint John is my hometown and I just pictured my characters there. I cheated a bit and had Hilary live in the house beside the one I grew up in. So when Ben moved in next door, he moved into my house. Alex, his little sister, has my old bedroom. Shannon lives in the the first house at the head of the subdivision across the street.

I say I cheated because I used a location I knew well. It meant that I didn’t have to put much effort into designing the setting, I simply pulled from my memories.

My characters went to Saint John High School, just like me. A lot has changed since I went there so I picked the brains of one of the SJHS teachers, who incidentally graduated with me. He updated me on the things that have changed since then and what hadn’t. A huge shout out to Peter Larsen. He was a huge help. FYI – if I got any of the details wrong, it’s my bad not his.

Where did I get the names for my characters?

My main character names are an ‘I never forgot you’ to my ex-husband’s nieces and nephew. I left when they were still really small, they probably don’t even remember me. But losing the ability to be part of their lives and watch them grow up was one of the hardest adjustments to make in the aftermath of my divorce.

The alien names were just jumbles of letters until something looked pronounceable. The name for the bad guys, the Hurliingen, is actually a misspelling of the Dutch word for pirate.

After writing this novel, I have a whole new appreciation for Tolkien and his ability to a) create so many names and b) keep them all straight. During my editing process I discovered at least three spellings for Myonus and four for the Hurliingen. I am in awe of any writer who has mastered this task.

If I’ve made you curious (I hope) and you’re interested in buying the Hiding in Plain Sight to read for yourself (crosses fingers) go to http://paperboxbooks.com

PaperBox Books is an indie e-publisher. Check out all of their books for sale.

Canucks and Novel Sales

So have I mentioned lately I love my new job?

Last night I rode in a limo to Rogers Arena (while drinking champagne) to watch the Canucks play from one of the hospitality suites. We lost… boo, but the great food and open bar helped salve our wounds.

The best sign I saw from the fans was held by a cute little guy who was around 8 or 9. It read, “If you need to rest your players for the playoffs, I’ve got my gear in the car.” I loved it.

Book Sales for Hiding in Plain Sight have so far outstripped all three versions of Jake.

It’s been a bit nerve wracking too. Because my new novel is set in my home town with scenes taking place in my old high school, it is not just strangers who have read it. People I grew up with have been checking it out. I want to bit my nails every time someone else says they’re reading it. Luckily no one has pointed out any setting errors 🙂

Hiding in Plain Sight

I am a happy girl, my new novel is up and already selling (and it hasn’t even hit half of our distributers yet).

Hiding in Plain Sight is the first young adult novel I’ve written specifically for the young adult genre. My other published YA novel, The Trouble with Jake, was originally written as an adult romance and the re-written for a younger audience.

Hiding in Plain Sight is set in the neighbourhood I grew up in with scenes taking place in my old High School. Here’s a bit about the story:

Hilary is excited when a new family moves in next door. It doesn’t hurt that they have a gorgeous son. But even his good looks and classic car can’t distract her from the strange things she starts to see.

Ben and his family are from the planet Myonus. They barely escaped when the Hurliingen tried to take-over their planet’s government. But, even on Earth, they aren’t safe. Ben and his kid sister, Alex, have something the Hurliingen need to squash the rebellion and complete their conquest.

The Hurliingen are coming to get Ben and Alex, can Hilary help stop them?

Hiding in Plain Sight is already available on Amazon for their Kindle and through Smashwords for all other formats including the Nook, KoBo, Sony e-Reader and iPad.