Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And the Winner of Blogapalooza is!!!...

Posted on Mike Wood's Blog. Check it out to see if you won!!!

http://mikesshot.blogspot.com
Congratulations!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogapaloooza!

It's Blogapalooza! A chance for you to meet some exciting new writers AND score some exciting prizes. All you have to do is read my post, and then visit the 7 bloggers below and read their entries, and try to find the common phrase used in all eight. NOTE: It WILL be a phrase, so single words like "the" or "and" don't count! Once you think you have it, email it to mikewood_3@yahoo.com and you will be put into the running for a great gift "basket" comprised of prizes personally selected by the eight bloggers. A random drawing from all correct entries will be conducted one week from today, with special preference given to those who choose to follow all eight of us!

I'ev tohuhgt lnog and hrad aoubt waht I wnaetd to wirte aoubt for tihs. I'm not srue I'm ralely itno epxonsig my depeset touhghts to the wlord. Smoeadys it all smees a bit slily, tihs slef pormtoion sutff we witrers are tlod to do. My asbecnce form my bolg has bene in prat due to my tohuhtgs on tihs sjbucet, and I've bene wkornig aawy at cahgnnig tnihgs aoubt mslyef taht hvae ndeeed cgahnnig. Tehre's bnee no ryhme or raeosn to some of the eelmnets I've cnhaged in my lfie. Smoe cahengs hvae bnee ndeeed for a vrey lnog tmie. The lsat two yares of my lfie hvae bnee aoubt chngae, diong tihgns dfifrenelty, sehddnig old wyas of bieng. It aapeprs I am eovlvnig and tarsnorfnimg, and somoedyas taht is a cnosfunig and trerfiiyng pcroses. My lfie has bnee vrey qiuet tehse lsat two yares. Fnuny how the qisuetet mmonets can beerd shuc azmniag cnahge.

My scenod bkoo wlil be cmonig. The fsrit bkoo toko froty or so yares to eovlve. If tihs one tkaes two, taht'll be aswmoe. Godo lcuk to you as you wrko trhuogh bolgpalazooa! Heer are yuro lnkis:


http://www.facebook.com/l/729317-ZCURupfFfJRKuVNeWxbg;meganbostic.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/729316qaXRCtDFNWqv9KM0jvEYg;lynneawest.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931ISQX1ALFhFZeTuVNXDhlaA;mikesshot.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931lz38B8UjEa2Fn-5zENyUoA;chrisbwritin.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/729318nlLwRudw_RHn-bC2cpQyw;joannastjames.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931Gc82dDiDVBOUUdKmzCfOWA;eviebalos.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931SbYv1LN07KnA7PMszQUkTg;www.badboyscanbefun.com/blog

Tomorrow is Blogapalooza!

Hello everyone/anyone/someone/maybe? In an attempt to get my writing juices moving again I accepted an invite to join Blogapalooza. Here's how it works:

Blogapalooza is a chance for you to meet some exciting new writers AND score some exciting prizes. All you have to do is read my post, and then visit the 7 bloggers below and read their entries, and try to find the common phrase used in all eight. NOTE: It WILL be a phrase, so single words like "the" or "and" don't count! Once you think you have it, email it to mikewood_3@yahoo.com and you will be put into the running for a great gift "basket" comprised of prizes personally selected by the eight bloggers. A random drawing from all correct entries will be conducted one week from today, with special preference given to those who choose to follow all eight of us!"

Here are the links for the other 7 blogs. It should be fun! I'll try and come up with something special for you all!

http://www.facebook.com/l/729317-ZCURupfFfJRKuVNeWxbg;meganbostic.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/729316qaXRCtDFNWqv9KM0jvEYg;lynneawest.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931ISQX1ALFhFZeTuVNXDhlaA;mikesshot.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931lz38B8UjEa2Fn-5zENyUoA;chrisbwritin.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/729318nlLwRudw_RHn-bC2cpQyw;joannastjames.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931Gc82dDiDVBOUUdKmzCfOWA;eviebalos.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/l/72931SbYv1LN07KnA7PMszQUkTg;www.badboyscanbefun.com/blog

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm back...



It's been awhile. I had to do some clean up in my life. I'm not finished re-arranging who I am yet, but I've had a lot of interesting progress, and I think I'm at a point where I can begin to write about my life and experiences.

I'm not finding it easy being both a writer of fiction and a therapist. Who I am in each role, seems most times, discordant to the 9nth degree. Creative fiction provides me with a complete sense of freedom, a way to escape my own skin, my values, my beliefs...I can stretch beyond anything and that is alright, it's all about the story, the creativity, the birth of something new. But I know that people look at me primarily as a therapist, and I'm not at a point where I can let go of interacting with the world (for the most part) out of the role of therapist. To be a writer of fiction is a whole different thing than being soley a therapist. It'll all work fine if you're Jonathan Kellerman and you write within the realms of a responsible psychologist's perspective. It'll be a whole different cookie if you want to explore the darker side of life. I'm working on figuring it all out. In the meantime, stay tuned for Blogapalooza...a contest where you can win prizes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alchemy



Alchemy: The seemingly magical power or process of transmuting.


I haven't been writng much this summer. I've been spending time with family, focusing on other areas of my life that need some work, and have been working hard at getting a fix of social interaction that I deprived myself of for months while working on and submitting my manuscript. I've also been reading. A lot.

And so, you ask, if I want social interaction, why am I reading? Well, because reading provides me with social interaction in a different way. When I read, I get to know the characters in a story. I fall in love with them, laugh with them, hate them, cheer for them, and learn things from them. Reading provides me with a whole new world of wonderful experiences and adventures. When I read, I'm in the story, part of it, along for the ride, and if it's a great book, I become immersed in an alternate world and I love it. I get to live all these lives that I could never have had time to live, could never have imagined. I live all these different lives. So fun.

I've just finished reading a book called Alchemy by Mike Wood. I've had some interactions with Mike online through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and then through a writer's critique group I joined. Mike is a very funny guy with a warped and twisted sense of humour similiar to mine, and it was because of his sense of humour, that I was brave enough to join the critique group in the first place. Wanting to support the other writers in the group, I bought copies of books from those who had either published or self-published. Mike's book is called Alchemy. Brave and determined guy that he is, he self-published. As I know it, and I'm sure he'll correct me in the comments section if I'm wrong, Mike didn't want to go through all the crazy stuff you have to endure in traditional publishing, and he had enough faith in himself to push forward in the self-publishing route. I'm glad he did. Alchemy is a great read. And the themes are so close to those in No One In Particular that I was blown away.

Alchemy is a story about Al, a teenage boy who is moving through a period of transition in his life. Exploring themes of love, loss, acceptance, the bigger picture of life, and what it means to be humane, it takes the reader back to their adolescence with all the angst, humiliation, hopes and dreams that give that time of our lives such vividness. I laughed as I read it. I cried. I re-experienced my adolescence and got to experience new adventures. There were sections I read, where I could only think that Mike is a genius in his approach to writing, capturing joy and sadness at the same time. I don't want to give anything about the book away, so you have to read it if you want to see for yourself what I mean. It's the kind of book you walk away from feeling better about life, being more amazed about the big picture, feeling happier. And, as a bonus, you get to learn more about Cape Cod, re-experience the thrill and panic of a first kiss, learn about Manatees. I would like my son to read this book as well, because I believe it provides wonderful lessons about acceptance and love, things that this generation we are raising need to learn.

I guess I could have interviewed Mike for this blog, but my summer laziness is influencing me. And I have a couple of promised interviews that are first in line. I may ask him to join me later at some point for an interview, cause he'd be great. In the meantime, if you want a great escape, like smart humour and want to be taken away, you can order Alchemy through Amazon at http://amzn.com/143925382X or Barnes and Noble at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Alchemy/Mike-Wood/e/9781439253823/?itm=1&USRI=alchemy+mike+wood or through Create Space at https://www.createspace.com/1000252714


Alchemy. The power to transmute. To turn lead to gold. You did it Mike. Congrats!!!
Happy summer Lazing! Lisa

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer is Here and the Heat Makes Me Random.

Here's a whole lot of nothing with a few spicey bits mixed in. Hopefully.

Still waiting to hear about the future for my manuscript from the publishing house it is sitting in. (at?) Have had some lovely daydreams about a successful conclusion to this adventure. I love my imagination when it's focused on the positive. I've had hundreds of different paths in my life that have all been utterly amazing in my fantasy life.

I've had 47,000 ideas for new books to work on. Six of them are started on my desktop. Come August I will push myself to focus on one. I would like to have a new novel completed for ABNA 2011. I work well with deadlines, but I don't look forward to developing belly jelly and a fat arse again this fall.

I have devoted this summer to painting far out and funky designs on my nails. Last time I went in it was flowers and lines with a deep purple background with neon yellow toes. I now have zebra print nails. They are truly tacky in a most fun way, and they actually promote interaction with other people. I've done this to remind myself not to take life so seriously. We all need some stupid harmless fun in our lives. And I like the kind of fun that draws me closer to other people.

Speaking of people and relationships, as I get older, I value relationships with others more, and am finding that my need for social interaction is increasing. Being a person that is shy (I was a "hide behind mother's knees" kid) by nature, it's sometimes tough moving out of that position. I do think that my work as a counsellor (which I don't usually mention here) affects the movement of relationships with others. Some people are intimidated by what I do, and view me in a different light because of it, making it hard to move past the first roadblocks to relationship. Maybe one day, in the future, I can call myself an author, and see if there's a difference in the first steps of relationship forming. I wonder what other author's experiences are when they say that: I'm a writer. Does it provoke curiousity and wanting to know? Does it lead to further conversation rather than a halt to it? Maybe I'll do an experiment this summer just for the fun of it to see if there's a difference for me. Tell people I'm a writer rather than a counsellor. Hmmm.

I bought one of Stephen King's books today. The last book I read of his was whatever he wrote after The Stand. I don't remember what it was, but I haven't even looked at his books since then. The Dome looks interesting, so I picked it up. I've also got another book by James Rollins and am reading Mike Wood's Alchemy.

I have 4 apples on my apple trees! One for each of us in our family, and one for Curtis. I'll have to prank someone with that one.

I'm going to be spending my summer RVing. Here's wishing me sites with plug ins so I don't roast, a tickless dog, and a husband who learns how to cook more!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When all Else Fails, I Read



Did I ever bother to mention here that for the last few months, my manuscript has been sitting at a publishing house, waiting to be read? Um, well, yeah. That's where it is, and that's whats up. I've stopped submitting to agents and I'm playing the waiting game with a publisher.

Why?

Because this publishing house says that they will read the whole manuscript. And that's what I've wanted and felt that I needed all along the way - someone who will read the whole thing, and make a decision from there. I know my first 50 pages are rough. I know I need to do a major re-write of some of the manuscript. And I'm willing to do that. I'm KEEN to do that. I just figure it would be better to have an editor from a publishing house tell me what to do at this point, and I still have an optimist buried inside me that keeps saying..."if they read the whole thing they will get the story, love the story, and they'll help you fix the bits that don't work."

They requested 4 months for a read. It's been 2 and a half months, and every day that I don't find my manuscript returned in my mailbox, I find my happiness quotient increasing exponentially. Am I in for a fall? Could be. Do I care? Nope. I'm just enjoying the daydream factor. Maybe at the end of the four months they'll reject me. And I'll have a bad day, or week, or month. But leading up to that, I've been hoping, wishing, dreaming, getting excited, making up fantastic scenarious of success in my head. So, if I do the math...I have four months of feeling good, vs. whatever time it takes to recuperate if they dish me. I'll take the four months of fantasylandthankyouverymuch.

Now, this wasn't what I was going to write about at all. I was going to write about James Rollin's new book and some things I learned as a result of reading it over the weekend. But, seeing as I have been horrid at posting lately, I am posting whatever shows up out of my fingertips at the moment they type. I'll save the tale of the bees for tomorrow...or as soon as I can get to it. Stay tuned, and enjoy your dreams!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Helping Other Authors...

Me a bad girl. Have done nothing about my own journey. But whatever. Ignore that, and if you feel inclined, help another author out. Her name is Lisa, which has to mean she's awesome, and she's trying sooo, so hard to get her work published. And...she's actually close! Here she is:

My unpublished novel, "Heart of the City," has been named one of two finalists in the last round of Dorchester Publishing's "Fresh Blood" contest. The grand prize is a publishing contract with Dorchester's Leisure imprint. To win this would be my dream come true...but I need to ask for your help.

A panel of judges (including editors and published authors) put my book through to the Top 5, but the winner is chosen by popular vote, so I'm asking for your vote. It would only take a minute of your time and would help to make my dream come true.

To vote, simply send a blank email to freshblood@chizinepub.com and in the subject header put "Fresh Blood Vote - Heart of the City." Voting will run through July 14th at midnight EST, and they will accept one vote per unique email address.

You can find more about the contest at: http://chizine.com/freshblood/. There you can also read more about the books competing, including the first chapters, cover copy, brief author biographies, as well as the judges' comments for each round of the finals.

If you're interested in hearing more about my novel, and my journey through the contest, please visit my blog at: http://writingonthinice.blogspot.com/.

Thank you all so much for your support. I sincerely appreciate it.

Lisa K.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Writer's Reality 101: The Story Behind the Story



This interview may be my greatest challenge to date. I'm interviewing mystery man Jonathan Spectre, author of...of...geeze! I read so many excerpts from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards that I can't remember the title of your book Jonathan. It'll come back to me, I'm sure, but to save us some time, what's the title?

Jonathan: What? You don't have my excerpt printed out and framed over your desk? I'm astounded. Well, right now the title is "The Key of Caligula's Bath: A Madison Dawn Adventure"- though I fully expect an editor to change it. It doesn't roll off the tongue, but I was going off the axiom that a good title says what the story is about.

Lisa: Thanks Jonathan. Now folks, here's the kicker. Jonathan Spectre's name isn't really Jonathan Spectre. Jonathan writes under a pen name. I have no idea who he really is, but, as I am providing him with his premiere interview on the World Wide Web, he should at least be so kind as to give up the goods to me first, here in public, when he is ready and willing to do so. Do we have a deal Jonathan?

Jonathan: Oh. When I said I'd give you the goods in public, I thought we were talking in euphemisms. Hmm. This is awkward.... Anyway, yes, you have no idea who I really am. I'm in the same boat. I don't know how many times I've taken a hard look in the mirror and said "Who am I?" This is right after I've bolted upright in bed and just before the girl with the emerald eyes bursts into tears. Sorry, got caught up in cliché’s there. What was the question again? Ah yes. No, I'm not ready and willing to tell your readers my real name.

Lisa: Let me re-phrase that last question of mine. If you ever decide to finally go public with your real name, will you agree to let me break the news on my blog in the future? Pretty please? And I know a bit about why you write under a pen-name, but others don't. Care to explain?

Jonathan: Sure. There are two main reasons why I chose a pen-name. (Three if you count "I like to think of myself as a secret agent spy" as a legitimate excuse). One, there's already an author with my name. He writes non-fiction, liberal political, Bush-hater type stuff, so I figured it would confuse everyone when his name appeared on an adventure novel. Second, I wrote much of my book while travelling for work, which meant I wrote it on a company computer. I'm a little concerned what my company would say if they found out I wrote a hit best-seller that grossed millions of dollars and got a movie deal while working for them (even though I wrote on my own time). They'd probably want to claim it as their intellectual property. This is all assuming someone actually decides to publish my book, of course.

Lisa: Any hints for us as to what you do for a career while waiting for your book to become a bestseller?

Jonathan: I’m an engineer. I know this makes people want to run to their bookstore and see what fun adventure tale I’ve concocted. No one tells colorful, adventurous stories like an engineer. I work in aerospace in a job I love. It was what I’d hoped to do when I entered college. Can’t really complain about that.

Lisa: What motivated you to begin writing your own novel?

Jonathan: Now that is a very interesting question. I hope the answer makes sense to your readers because I think it might make me sound like a crazy person. I was going through some counselling a few years ago because, well, I messed up and I’m messed up, to be honest. During that time I found out two important things about myself. One, I put far too much into what people think about what I do and who I am. Everything I did was for someone else’s approval, hoping they would validate me as a person if they liked x, y, or z. Second, I learned I was addicted to romance. I know this sounds like a wonderful thing to be addicted to, but it really means I was addicted to this false, superficial, emotional high that we get in the early throws of love. I decided that I would put this “addiction” to use and write an adventure novel. Moreover, I would write it in secrecy. I wanted to do this without an ‘attaboy’, without any real hope that my friends would like me more because I was writing a novel. It’s actually another reason for the pen name. No one in my real life knows I’ve been writing this book over the last 2 ½ years, so I don’t look to others to approve of my writing.

Lisa: What has it been like for you, keeping your writing a secret from everyone who knows you? Have there been moments when it’s been tough not being able to share what’s been happening with the book, like when you made it to the semi-final rounds in ABNA?

Jonathan: Honestly, it’s been weird. I only picked a pen name the day I sent in my ABNA submission. I just thought I’d get some non-biased feedback on my writing to see if I had anything worth publishing. It turned out I met a lot of really cool writerly friends, and now I’m a bit torn as to whether to merge things or not. There’s been a number of really funny interactions on the ABNA forum that I wanted to share with my wife, but couldn’t. And getting my novel read by PW in the quarterfinals was cool too, but I couldn’t share my successes. I’m kind of ready to be done with it all. But the problem is that I’ve kept this secret for two and a half years, so I need to get something out of it. My plan is to get a little more feedback and then see if anyone is interested in publishing it. If so, I’ll dedicate it to my wife and have a surprise for her waiting under the Christmas tree some day. If not, well, I’ll probably still print it off and give it to her as a present, anyway. I mean, yes, it’s not good to keep a secret from your wife, but I shouldn’t be in too much hot water if I dedicate it to her. Right?

Lisa: No comment on your last question directed toward me, although it might be interesting to hear readers’ opinions on that. What’s the book about Jonathan? And is there some romance in it?

Jonathan: Eh. Let’s just say that was a rhetorical “Right?” I’m probably in trouble either way. The Key of Caligula’s Bath is about Madison Dawn, a single girl just out of college who crashes her car when a mysterious cell phone starts ringing. Madison learns that she is carrying a large ruby known as the Key of Caligula’s Bath and the nefarious Italian antiquities smugglers want it back. A treasure hunter named James Kynan takes her into his world of treasure hunting and Madison must join with James to find out what this key is used for and to recover the artifact hidden in Caligula’s Bath. Along the way she learns that she is more than just a struggling receptionist, and that life is more than just being a Disney princess and waiting for life to happen to her. She also learns that the mysterious James, who has his own set of faults and addictions, can redeem himself and prove himself to her. Think of it as an Indiana Jones story written from the woman’s perspective. Yes, there is some romance in it, but it’s the early, flirty kind. The novel is aimed at adult readers who have been reading YA because they like the adventure but aren’t interested in reading about divorce, child abuse, senile parents, substance abuse, etc. So sex is discussed but there aren’t any love scenes in it. The language is clean, the heroes fight their demons but are good at heart, and the villains are more than just one-dimensional bad guys. It’s a book that leaves you smiling, yet hopefully asks you to evaluate your own life and the battles you need to fight. Someone could recommend it to their coworkers or friend at their place of worship and not have to say “Oh, but there’s this one part you’ll want to skip over”.

Lisa: Aspects that you loved/hated about writing the book?

Jonathan: I loved watching characters develop over time. My creative writing is usually limited to 6-8 minute sketches, where the point of attack is so late. With a novel, I could watch my characters grow up and grow together. I could pit their relationship against staggering odds and watch it smother for a while before it regained its flame. The characters in my book are like friends of mine that I just haven’t seen in a while. We’ve been on a great adventure together, I just don’t have the pictures to prove it.

I really hated seeing how many crutches I use in writing. The editing has been brutal as I find excessive adverbs, long lists, repeated phrases, clichés, and unimaginative descriptions. If I had known how weak my writing was when I started, I probably never would have written it. It’s been a great experience but a humbling one at that. And, not being published, I have no idea how far I have yet to go. Who knows, I may only be on level 2 of 10.

Lisa: Do you feel that writing this book accomplished what you wanted in terms of helping you through the primary issues in your life?

Jonathan: Well, yes and no. The book ended up being a place where I could put some of the things I’ve learned about myself into words. I gave James the problems that I’ve been dealing with and watched how it tortured him and made me lose respect for him. So the book itself didn’t really help me through the issues, but it became like a book report where you write about what you’ve learned. I wrote my own object lesson.

Lisa: Everything within the publishing world seems to have within it aspects of wanting approval from others – from finding an agent, to finding a publisher that wants your work, finding an audience and hoping your work appeals to them – the last part of this process strikes me as perhaps creating a challenge for you, in terms of believing in yourself even when it feels like no one else believes in you. It’s been a challenge for me. What do you think that process is going to be like for you?

Jonathan: Well, to be fair, I still desire others’ approval. It feels great for someone to pat me on the back. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s when you HAVE to have that approval that causes problems. It’s when your whole self-worth is based on what others think that causes the troubles. I’m in a much different boat from author’s trying to this as a career. I have a career that I love so I don’t need to be successful in writing to feel like I’ve supported my family or done something significant with my life. If my writing turns out not to be world-class even after I’ve put my maximum effort into improving it, so be it. It’s a fun hobby and I know my friends will enjoy it. Granted, I’m working very hard on it because I think I do have the ability to be a published writer, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll lick my wounds and put my talents elsewhere. I do know that I would never have gotten anywhere with my writing without ABNA and the people I’ve met on the forums such as yourself, Gae, Megan, the Jeffs, Tracy, Mary, just to name a few. They’ve been invaluable at providing passionate, level criticism and advice that has helped me rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.

Lisa: Aww. Any plans for a second book?

Jonathan: I left the end of the book open to continue it as a series if the first book is successful. But I wouldn’t even start to write a second book without including my family. Also, since I don’t travel for work anymore, I’ve lost my writing time. I would need the support of my family to find time to write in the evenings where as now my evenings are full with other activities. I would like to continue the series, but the book stands on its own if I never write another one.

Lisa: You don’t have a blog or anything that I know of. If people are curious and want to follow your journey, how might they do that?

Jonathan: I’m on Facebook. People are welcome to friend me. Search for Jonathan Spectre. I look like a statue of a jester. I try to be clever, so perhaps I’m good for a laugh every now and then. I don’t have a blog or website or anything since I’m so new to this. Maybe I’ll just make a habit out of guest blogging on all of my ABNA friends’ blogs.

Lisa: Will you pop by every so often and let us know how things are going?

Jonathan: Sure, if you’d like. I’ll bring a casserole and a bottle of wine and we can all get caught up.

Lisa: Sounds lovely. I’ll make dessert. Any final words for the world?

Jonathan: Final words for the world? Wait, what kind of interview is this? This isn’t an interview, it’s an interrogation! Wha-wha-what are you going to do to me? Who are these men? They’re so strong. I can’t- I can’t see. Where are we going? Cigarette? No? Why- Why am I blindfolded? I can’t believe it ends like this! Tell my wife I love her! Dear God, be merci--

Lisa: I’m nothing if not determined. We’ll get his real name out him somehow…

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just Thinkin'

Are writers writers because they're creative types and can therefore sometimes be moody, or does the writing world make a somewhat moody but controlled type, even more moody?
Just wondering.
Maybe it's oncoming menopause.
Or the rain.

Pardon the weird look of my blog while I experiment with new templates and designs.
Expect some switcheroos in the next while. Maybe I'll change it up to match my newly moody self.

There's a new interview coming up. Sir Jonathan Spectre, man of mystery, enigma to all is my next victim. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Have a Confession To Make....


I haven't been writing.


The last time I did any sort of writing was for the interview I did with Liz.


I've been avoiding writing because my self-confidence in my ability to write tanked completely.

Why? Why not?

I have 40 or so rejections from agents on my manuscript in my inbox, I've revised my manuscript til I'm bleary-eyed, yet having stepped away from it for a while, and having submitted it to other authors in a writer's critique group, then re-visiting it, I now know it needs still another major revision. And I've had that stupid nasty little mean voice in my head saying "Who are you to think you can really do this?" It seems that somewhere along the way, I let that voice take over and get to me.

Writing is hard. It's isolating. It requires focus and the ability to block out life's intrusions. There's no guarantee when you start something, that you will actually get to an end that makes sense and that works. And in the end, whenever you are done what you've been writing, there's no guarantee that anyone else will give a hoot about, or like what you've written. If you're writing just for yourself it doesn't matter so much. If you're trying to find an audience, then the next step is so sell yourself.

And that's even harder than the actual writing.

Imagine going door-to-door trying to sell something. After 40 door slams you might be thinking that it would be wise to find yourself another product to sell. And if you've spent months, or years, of love and dedication developing that product, making it the best you can, you start questioning your own sanity.

I've been questioning this journey that I've taken. And after a near breakdown (it's alright, I always survive my near breakdowns even though they are very ugly looking) I was doing the "Hello Universe!!!? What am I supposed to be doing with my life??!! Do I give this up? Is this stupid and useless and a really dumb idea? Do I need to find some other method of connecting with people, of finding purpose??!!!" Because I live my live always trying to find meaning, contributing in some way that is positive, trying to make a difference. That's just me, it's how I roll.

And so today I went to Google employment resources, thinking that on top of my private practice I might find another form of work to make me feel like a valid human being. Only Google refused to let me access anything. My screen just kept a big blank twirling around until I got so frustrated I walked away. Then I called my parents because I haven't called them in a while. I'm a bad kid sometimes. Sorry folks.

Now, I told my parents about this blog when I started it almost a year ago, but they forgot about it. Totally. Something must have happened, I dunno, maybe Dad found me by mistake on a Google search, but anyhow, apparently they recently found my blog, and started reading it. Dad started reading, then told mom to start reading. And tonight, when I was talking to mom, out of nowhere she tells me I have a gift for writing, and that she hopes I'm going to continue doing it. She kept telling me all this stuff about my writing, and how much she liked it. And dad was excited too and he gave me suggestions of things I might try. And then they argued, cause that's what they do, but that's why I love them.

Apparently the universe has spoken to me. I straight out asked it what I was supposed to be doing with my life earlier today while I paused to watch my dog Kita poop. It was one of those, "Oh, you think you have a big crap? Well my life is bigger crap than yours right now girl, and uh, hey Universe, tell me what I should be doing cause I have no clue."

Thanks mom. I love you. Thanks dad. I love you too. Funny how things work out. Thanks for giving me a kick in the right direction just when I needed it. Happy Mother's Day. Happy Father's Day. There. I've just sent you a card on the World Wide Web.

And P.S. Anything I write will always have those interesting universal synchronisities contained within it. Cause that's just how my life works. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Writer's Reality 101: The Stories behind the Stories.



Two weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Liz Kales, author of Destiny’s Weave, silver haired vixen (that's Alberta-speak for foxy lady) extraordinaire, live and in person. I met Liz through the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards on the World Wide Web, but, as it turns out, she’s my neighbour. Or nearly so. She lives 15 minutes away from me. Although I think we were both somewhat nervous about meeting face to face for the first time, our anxiety quickly faded, and we had a great time conversing. Liz is a sweetheart, a most gracious host and a fascinating woman.

Lisa: Liz, I’d read or heard somewhere that you used to do some travel writing?

Liz: Yes, well, I wasn’t a real one per se, but I was in the travel business for over twenty-five years, so I wrote many articles about things I did. I actually got paid for quite a few of them. Some were published in the Richmond Review and in the Canadian Travel Trade Journals. (As you can see already, Liz is humble as well. She wrote, got published and paid, numerous times. I’d call that a travel writer.)

Lisa: So you traveled quite a bit.

Liz: Yes, we did quite a lot. Not as much as I would have liked to, but we did travel to lots of places and saw many things. I especially enjoyed travelling by ship. I still love it; love cruising, that’s my favourite.

Lisa: How long has writing been a part of your life?

Liz: I was thinking about when I first wrote anything worthwhile, and I was in grade 7, so I was 12 years old. I wrote a funny play about a henpecked husband who was always saying ‘yes dear.’ The principal of my school really liked it so he had it performed for the parent teacher association.

Lisa: Oh, neat! (I’m so intelligently expressive at times.)

Liz: Yes, it was fun. All through high school, I wrote for the school paper, and then when I graduated, I went to work for the Telegraph Office because I had to make some money. That was more important than anything else at the time because my father was retiring and there were no government pensions in those days.

After I while, I got a job at CBC writing advertisements for TV and radio. I really hated writing the advertisements, really disliked it, and it turned me right off writing for a long time. Later when I got into travel, I wanted to write what I wanted to write. I didn’t like the idea of having to please fifty people or more which is what it’s like in the advertising industry. You have to please everyone.

What changed everything—what made me think I have to start the writing again, was when I went through this horrendous chemotherapy—for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That was 7 years ago now, and I lived. I made it through, and I thought, ‘well, I’ve got to do something with this extra time I’ve been given.’ I always wanted to write a novel and I knew a lot about my family history. (They say ‘write what you know’) I’d been researching my ancestry for 25 years and I’d learned about my Huguenot background. When I was going through the chemo, my husband, Allan said to me, “ if you live, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.” I wanted to go to France. So we went and I just loved it there. We went to the little village where my ancestors originated, Exoudun, and I thought, ‘I have to write about these people.’ A lot of the book is based on real events.

Lisa: Can you give me a summary of the book? Just in case an agent or publisher happens across this interview. (Hey, if I can’t get mine published, I can at least promote my fellow authors!)

Liz: Destiny’s Weave is a saga set in the last two decades of the 17th century that tells the story of Pierre and Jacques Garneau – Huguenot cousins brought up together by their grandfather in small village in south western France. (In real life, they were brothers) In 1685, the Huguenots came under siege and their freedoms were taken away. They were told they must revert to the Catholic Church and if they didn’t, they were hung.

Hundreds of thousands of Huguenots were killed and hundreds of thousands more fled the country. My hero, Pierre, a staunch Calvinist, lives by the philosophy of predestination and feels that his fate is already sealed. He does not want to revert to Catholicism to save himself as Jacques has chosen to do. Jacques, on the other hand, believes what William Shakespeare once wrote. "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves..."

Lisa: How long did it take you to write the book?

Liz: I didn’t know a thing about writing a novel when I started, I didn’t have a clue, so I went on- line and learned about the Writers Workshop Online classes and I started taking them. That’s where I learned to write a novel. I began writing the novel around the end of 2005. Early in 2006, I started the courses and took them for two years altogether. For my lessons, I would do my scenes. It took me a year to do my first draft, what with the lessons. In 2007, I entered it the way it was in the Amazon contest, and surprisingly, it made it into the semi-finals, and I received a nice review. Then I thought I’d better go back and take a couple of advanced courses to get it into the shape it is in now. It’s been a four or five year process, so I can’t just give up on it.

Lisa: Have you submitted to any publishers?

Liz: I have. I’ve sent it out about 20 times. I received one really nice rejection letter from an agent. He loved it, and he thought the themes were beautiful, but he didn’t think it was going to sell in New York, so I have to look for someone else.

Lisa: It sounds like a combination of historical fiction and adventure. Is there romance in it?

Liz: It has some romance. It’s not romance in the sense of historical romances. However, there is a love story and there’s adventure and history about the time, and some inspiration.

Lisa: What is your favourite part of the novel?

Liz: My favourite part of the novel is when one of the main characters, Mark, is in China. He goes with his father because they are traveling merchants. There’s a whole segment about him learning to be a tea merchant. This was at the time when England was beginning to get interested in tea. While there, he gets involved with a courtesan, so it was interesting to write.

Lisa: It sounds like you did tons of research for this book.

Liz: Yes, because it was 1700th century China and France, but I loved doing it. I love history.

Lisa: Are you working on anything else now?

Liz: Yes, I’m working on a prequel. It will be set all in France and it goes back to 1628, in La Rochelle with King Louis the 13th. He led a siege on the city of La Rochelle, and pretty much starved the people. It takes place around the same time as “The Three Musketeers.”

Lisa: How much are you into the Prequel?

Liz: About five chapters.

Lisa: Do you plan on continuing to submit to publishers?

Liz: Yes, I’m looking for specific agents that handle this kind of thing. I found a website where you can submit directly to the publisher and they like inspirational history so it may be a good fit for them.

Lisa: When is your favourite time to write?

Liz: I’m not a morning person, so I write from 9:00p.m. to 11:00p.m. or midnight. When I was first going through the chemo I would wake up in the middle of the night, go to the computer, and write; that was a good time for me. I always felt sicker during the day.

Lisa: Do you still have your blog?

Liz: I let it go for a while, because I was so busy, but I’m back at it and I put a blog post up the other day. http://albetkales.blogspot.com/

Lisa: If you were to give advice to someone who is thinking about writing what would you say?

Liz: Start early. Don’t wait until you are 60 something. Just write, write, write. Take some lessons if you don’t know much about it. Then you get the basics and rules and once you know them you can break them.

Lisa: Any possibility that you might self-publish?

Liz: I would. I think I’ll give it another six months and then I will.

Lisa: Is there anything else you want me to let people know, Liz?

Liz: You can tell them my age. I’m 73. I’m more or less doing this to keep myself alive. It’s my motivation. The cancer could come back, but I believe as long as I stay happy and motivated and do fun things and say nice things, I can stay alive.

Lisa: Ah…The secrets to a long life…

Liz: Lots of vitamins! A glass of red wine a day. And I have a great husband. We’ve been married for 47 years. It was our anniversary yesterday. Every year since I lived through the chemo, he brings me red roses. I think our relationship is good because he had a heart attack and I nearly lost him, and then he nearly lost me, and you really begin to appreciate each other.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Something Different


I've promised everyone an interview with Liz Kales, and it's coming. It should be up next week. I met with Liz, author of Destiny's Weave, yesterday, in person. She is the epitamy of grace, determination, strength, and charm, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I just had to blog about my experience at dinner earlier this evening.
My husband and I went to Earls Restaurant, a Canadian chain that serves consistently good food. I think their target consumer is 30 somethings, but they get families, seniors, and a mixed bag of people because of the quality of what they serve. They're a couple of steps up from family dining, and probably only one step down from fine dining. Yeah, whatever, restaurant critics...that's how I see it.
Anyway, when you visit Earls you are always certain of two things. The food will be great and the wait staff will be female, and gorgeous, and their boobs will be falling out of their tops (or at least be threatening to). Earls isn't the only Canadian restaurant that has this claim to fame. We have Hooters (at least they have the gumption to admit this is what their claim to fame is), Cactus Club, Joey's, and a few others. Walk into any of these establishments and you'll have models serving you. Until tonight, it's been no big deal for me. There's been a silent wishing on my part that the owners might mix things up, and my assumption has always been that males weren't applying for waiting jobs.
And then tonight, at Earls, Chad arrived at my table. Standing 6 feet, tattooed to the nth degree, and built like a line backer, he said hello and asked for our drink order. My brain crashed. This was not the usual order of things. I gaped. My husband glowered. Chad smiled patiently as my synapses kicked back into gear and I ordered a drink. He left, and I, in my glee at not having to have cleavage shoved in my face during another dinner out, expressed my surprise to my husband. He in turn yowled about wanting to be put in another section.
When Chad returned to our table, I asked him how he managed to become employed by an establishment that up until now, only hired from the top 10% of female beauty. I turns out Chad has an amazing amount of restaurant experience, has worked all over the place, and he knew someone at Earls who was finally willing to give him a break and let him wait, which is what he's always wanted to do, but never been allowed to do. (I'm thinkin a few of the beauties were too busy partying late at night, didn't bother showing up for their shifts, and management finally went for reliable).
The reason Chad hasn't been giving a waiting job? Apparently male business customers, and male customers in general, are quite vocal about wanting to be served by sexy female waitresses. That's right girls. Your dinner views are being controlled by the squeaky wheels of male gender.
Now maybe some of you are going to say "Good on it for females!" They make good money waitressing, and leave them their territory. Me, I'm not quite so inclined. I'm not that comfortable with the reverse discrimination going on, and I'm not that comfortable learning that the reason for it is again being controlled by men. But....the only reason that this is happening that I can see, is that men are more vocal. So...when I meet up with one of my best friends for our friday lunch at a restaurant where we always yak about the amount of hours the waitresses must put in to getting ready for work, and the fact that even though we've been lunching there for over two years none of them look familiar, I'm going to be very naughty. I'm going to very politely state that I would like to be served my a male. Fair is fair. Us women put a lot of money out to dining establishments, and we have our needs too. And the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

News....


Hello world,
It's been awhile. This is a pic of my dog Kita when she was a baby. If you look close you can see the mischieviousness in her eyes. She's still a baby, but a lot bigger now.
I've joined a writer's critique group, in the hopes that I'll learn even more about writing. . . and maybe get to the point where my manuscript gets more than a rejection from agents or partials. I'm not submitting anymore at the moment. I found a publisher who will take full manuscripts to read, so I've sent mine in, and am now doing the waiting game.
My apple trees are flourishing, leaving and blooming - they are happy in their new home. If you want to know what that's about, you have to dig into my archives of postings.
At the moment I am in human experiment mode. Trying out web remedies for teeny ailments that are creeping into my body. At the moment, I'm experimenting with toe fungus and Vicks Vapor Rub. It seems to be working. Read the ingredients before you ever rub it on your child's skin.
I'm twenty pages into book two, and am now attached to it. Don't know where it's going yet...how close is that to child rearing? This book is more of a challenge, not so much humour as the first, and there is a war of my mind wit to see where I might end up.
I've got a new interview coming up, and I'm really excited. I'm interviewing Liz Kales, author of Destiny's Weave. She's my neighbour, a very refined silver haired vixen, and I get to meet with her in person.
I've met some terrific people in the writing field, authors working toward publication and some who have been published. I swear some of them never sleep. They are too busy writing, promoting, giving of their time to other authors, blogging, networking, and doing a gazillion things to make it in today's world of book-selling. If nothing else, I am learning so much about the passion, dedication, commitment, emotional rollercoastering, hard work, and love that goes into creating a book. I'm hoping I can begin to show some of that in the interviews that I do. I'm starting to realize that authors don't sleep much, and when they do, they dream of writing, they dream of creating that book that will hold you captive, entertain you, make you laugh, cry, react, want to turn the page.
Cheers to all the writers I have met and that I am meeting. Thank you for letting me walk among you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Urghhhhhhhhhh!!

Wanted to do some housecleaning on my blog...make it all pretty, but am frustrated with the limitations (both mine and bloggers) of what can be changed and shifted. I see some blogs that are so pretty and everything is properly in its place.
I can relate to closet cleaning. Help me Blogger! Design this like my closet where I can chuck, shift, move, destroy, etc. That would be much more fun.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Writer's Reality 101: The Stories behind the Stories.



A warm welcome for Ms. Jocelyn Rish, my brave second victim in this interview for the ongoing series: A Writer’s Reality 101: The Stories behind the Stories. Yes, I have re-named it. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.

Jocelyn, my dog Kita likes cats, and I like cats, and you apparently like cats too, so here you are. Luckily, here, is somewhere in cyberspace, so you won’t have to endure any of Kita’s incessant licking. That’s what happens when you smell like a cat, which I am not saying you do…anyway, on to the interview.

Lisa: Whatever made you enter into this life-sucking, soul-snatching, 1001 ways to find rejection occupation (oops, sorry, had another ‘no thanks’ response to a query last night. It’s obviously impacting my biases today) called writing?

Jocelyn: Even though it’s clichéd for a writer, it’s true: I was one of those kids. The one with my nose buried in a fascinating book causing me to ignore irrelevant things like eating, homework, or sleeping. Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to write stories that inspired that same type of passion and obsession. Unfortunately, fear kept me from doing anything about it until the day I saw an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature that changed my life. I completed their course Writing for Children and Teenagers, and I was ready to get started.

Then I heard about National Novel Writing Month in 2006, and I completed my first novel, a YA horror, in an exhilarating month. For NaNo 2007 I wrote my rough draft for The Hunt, a YA thriller that is a quarterfinalist in this year’s ABNA. And in 2008 I tried my hand at writing a YA fantasy, but it is pretty much crap.

Lisa: For those not in the know, ABNA is short for Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Authors with unpublished or self-published novels can enter their works for a chance at a publishing contract. Congratulations on making it to the quarter finals. How do you feel about that?

Jocelyn: I’m not gonna lie – I cried a little. Nothing over the top, just a nice shimmer in the eyes that welled up until one glistening tear escaped and trailed down my face. But seriously, I entered last year and didn’t make it past the pitch stage, which was a crushing blow to my poor writerly ego. So this year I’ve gotten emotional each time I learned I was still in it. First the fist pump, then the crying, then the laughing and dancing with my dog as she comes to check out why ‘mommy’ is acting crazy. I’m really excited about it even as I dread what the PW review might say about The Hunt.

So see, I’m a prime example of why you shouldn’t lose hope. When I entered last year, I was sure my novel was in top-top shape. But after a light bulb moment about my character’s voice and several revisions, my novel is MUCH better this year. So as much as it hurt to not make it past the pitch last year, it was really a blessing in disguise, because in retrospect, I’d have been embarrassed if any strangers had read last year’s excerpt.

Lisa: I lose hope frequently, but luckily I’m a moody person, and my state changes every three minutes or so. You also do some script writing as well, don’t you?

Jocelyn: Because of NaNoWriMo, I found out about Script Frenzy, where the goal is to write a feature screenplay in a month. I’d never thought about trying that, but it seemed like fun, so my brother and I teamed up to write a horror movie about a local SC legend. We had a blast and found a new calling. Since then we’ve also written an action thriller and a ghost story.

I also write short stories and had my biggest success with a short I wrote called Saying Goodbye. I’d read about the true story of Oscar the death predicting cat and was inspired to write a story from the perspective of a woman in a nursing home coping as a cat predicts the death of her friends. The story ended up one of the 2008 South Carolina Fiction Project winners and was my first time being published – sooooooo exciting!

It was my brother’s idea to turn it into a screenplay. Once we’d rewritten it as a script, we entered it in a competition for a grant from the SC Film Commission and we won!! We were awarded the money to make our short film. Filming was a CRAZY but amazing experience. We are currently in post right now editing the film (which is a little like revising a manuscript again and again and again). If people want to find out more about the project, they can visit www.sayinggoodbyemovie.com.

Lisa: I looked at the site and was really intrigued. It sounds like a wonderful story. If people would like to read Saying Goodbye how can they do so? And the short film, once it’s complete, how can people view it?

Jocelyn: My short story can be found at http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2008/sep/21/fiction54338/. As for viewing the film, we’re still not sure about that. Because it’s only 20 minutes, it will never be theatrically released. However, we do plan to submit it to film festivals around the country, so some people might be able to see it that way. Then after a (hopefully very successful) festival run, we hope to make it available online. So the best way to keep updated on how to see the film is to keep tabs on our website or become a fan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saying-Goodbye/119785993310

Lisa: Having just read Saying Goodbye, it is an absolutely beautiful story. It moved me to tears.

Jocelyn: I'm so happy to hear you were moved by Saying Goodbye. The main character has a lot of my grandmother in her, and she had passed away in a home not long before I wrote the story, so I cried while I wrote it. I sometimes still get teary when I reread it, but then I worry I'm being all self-indulgent and stuff.

Lisa: Your Young Adult novel – The Hunt- what is it about?
Jocelyn: My one-line pitch for The Hunt is: After the body she discovers in the woods disappears, seventeen-year-old Breanna must prove it was not the product of her notorious overactive imagination, but rather the handiwork of a killer who plans to silence her.

Basically Brea is well-known for her "stories"- so no one believes she found a body in the woods. She decides the only way to save face and prove everyone wrong is to investigate the murder on her own. She discovers evidence pointing to a classmate, so she joins his team for the school's video scavenger hunt hoping to uncover the truth about him. There are a lot of funny moments throughout the scavenger hunt, but there is always the undercurrent of danger as she tries to unmask a killer.

Lisa: What’s the toughest thing you find about being a writer?

Jocelyn: The toughest thing for me is getting my butt in the chair. I’m a big time procrastinator - trimming my dog’s toenails, cleaning the crumbs out of the toaster, scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush – I’ll pretty much do anything to avoid sitting down and writing. And it’s all so ridiculous, because I love to write and I hate doing those other things. But, man, I have the hardest time making myself start a writing session. Maybe I should seek professional help about this issue… oh, hi Lisa! ;-)

Lisa: I'm in total agreement with you about the procrastination for writing so I won’t be much help – I still need to work at my own. Kita is howling at me to find out what kind of dog you have, so put her out of her pain, and me out of mine...what is yours?

Jocelyn: Freya is a pound puppy. She looks like a big cream-colored German Shepherd with blue eyes. My mom, dad, brother, and sister each have their own pound puppy, so for Christmas this past year I got everyone a doggie DNA kit. It was so much fun guessing the various breeds and seeing who was right. Freya’s primary breed turned out to be Siberian Husky and then she had two minor breeds – Chow and Miniature Poodle. Yes, my 95 pound dog is part mini-poodle! Freya sends Kita big, slurpy kisses.

Lisa: How are your family and friends with your writing? And how are you with them, in terms of talking about it?

Jocelyn: I quit my job to focus full time on my writing, so my friends and family all know how important writing is to me. They are all extremely supportive, even if it does make my dad super nervous that I have no steady income. I bounce ideas for new projects off of them, and several of them are beta readers.

Lisa: Any tips, comments for people thinking of entering the world of fiction writing?

Jocelyn: My advice is to run far, far away! No, not really, but you have to really love writing to pursue it. The odds of it making you rich or famous are miniscule, and the pursuit of publication is more likely to leave you frustrated and depressed, so you have to be passionate about it. But if you do decide to do enter the writing world, make sure you study the craft: take classes, read books about it, attend conferences, join a critique group. It's important

Lisa: Thanks so much for doing this interview with me Jocelyn.

Jocelyn: Thank you so much for interviewing me! It has been so much fun thinking about my writing in a different way.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


There's a new interview coming with a new author. Git your pants out of their twist, and make yourself presentable.


I'm interviewing authors who are 'yet to be discovered,' getting into the grit and the everyday reality of those of us who are working our way toward publication.
Welcome to an undiscovered world. If you like Indie films, you'll be blown away by the world of Indie Publishing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thinkin' About Going Kindle...It'd be Better Than Going Crazy.


As I continue to query agents, I've been thinking about uploading and selling No One in Particular in Kindle form. It might be a great way to begin building an audience. In the meantime I'm poking at potential covers for the book.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Memory of Curtis - April 13, 1962 to December 19, 1997



During the last month, I’ve been feeling out of sorts, struggling against a sense of loneliness that seemed to arise out of nowhere. Being the sort of person I am, I examined my life, analyzed it, and worked on connecting more with those people who are important to me. And in that connection, my loneliness continued – nothing could appease it, end it, lay it to rest. This feeling of wanting, needing something different, yet not knowing what, stayed with me - a continual gnawing sense of wrongness and emptiness that nothing, no one, has been able to take away.

This past weekend, driven by a compulsion I had (at the time) no insight into, I bought three trees to plant in my backyard. There was no question of whether they fit in my budget (they didn’t), no question as to whether I could actually pick holes in the clay and rocks big enough for them, no question of anything other than this need to plant trees in my backyard. Trees that would survive. Trees that would thrive. Trees that would grow, bloom, drop leaves, and provide some sort of sustenance.

Yesterday in a fit of physicality my body hasn’t seen in ages, I dug, picked, scooped, hauled dirt, and planted. Three apple trees. Three glorious, starting to bloom, beautiful apple trees that will survive and thrive. I will make sure they do. I am their keeper.

And yesterday, for the first time in a month, I didn’t feel as lonely.

And today, I understood why.

When I was 6 or 7, I can’t remember my age for sure, my grandfather painted two pictures. One for me, one for my brother. We received them as Christmas presents. My painting was of a kitten. My brother’s picture was of him, climbing a tree, with a dog standing up against the trunk, barking at him. My grandfather had captured the essence of my brother in that painting, and to this day, I can see it clearly in my mind.

Curtis was all about adventure, laughter, charm, and the good things in life. Curtis was my best friend. And when he died thirteen years ago there was a hole left in my life. And even though my life has carried on, changed and shifted, there isn’t anything that fills the place he left, except at certain times a profound sense of loneliness that no one and nothing can take away. Other than trees.

The year he died, I planted a willow in the yard of the house where I was living. I no longer live there, but I do have to go there, due to personal circumstances, and every time I see that Willow and how big it has grown, I smile a bit, and in my mind I see the painting of Curtis climbing his tree. And it is there that he lives on.

I have a big huge hole in my life. Especially today, on his birthday, when the world is whizzing by in all its busy-ness, and I hold back, watching. Missing someone terribly thirteen years after they are gone. If Curtis was here, he’d bump me upside the head and tell me to buck up. But he’s not here, so I sit back quietly, dig my holes to show the world what I’m missing, and then I fill them with trees.

Happy Birthday Curtis. I miss you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Query Letters I Haven't Sent


I'm still working away at perfecting the query letter that will actually get an agent to ask for my work. Life would have been easier if I had written a less complex novel, something I need to remember for my next work. In between all my struggling and hair pulling and tantrums, I've entertained myself with writing queries that I don't actually send. If nothing else, they reveal my twisted sense of humor, might give someone a laugh, and show little bits about the book.


*Wanted*
One half-whacked literary agent with a slightly off kilter, crazed but humorous sensibility who is enamoured with the stupidly inane to represent my charmingly doltish, uniquely quirky, off-centered and heretofore leaning to the right social commentary disguised as a fluffy fur ball manuscript. If this description doesn't fit you, don't bother applying for the position to represent me, as we'll obviously be a match made in Hades. Applications only accepted from those agents with a track record of publishing bestsellers. Due to the overwhelming amount of applications I am receiving don't expect a reply until at least since months after Armageddon has past, and if my bad mood continues, possibly never. Then again, if you really bug me, I may just have to send you an email telling you I deleted your application from my inbox-just for the fun of it. Respectfully yours, Lisa

Dear Agent,
I read 'The Confederacy of Dunces' which was actually a really good book. It's really too bad though that the author had to off himself to get it published, and frankly, if this is the trend of the future, I may have to change my mind about wanting to become an author. I kind of like myself. Somedays. When I'm not trying to get people like you to notice me. Oh, and just to let you know, this may be your last chance to look at my ms for free. See, with all the work we authors have been putting in, we've decided that from now on, for any agent or publisher to look at our work, they have to pay a fee- but we've put it on a sliding scale- a former bestselling author's work- $10,000.00 bucks for a looky-loo. Previously published but not bestselling-$1000.00. Starving author- $5.00. Choose wisely. PS. For every dollar you spend, we'll match you with a penny to be sent to the Fictionally Oppressed Authors Fund. Have a nice day. Respectfully yours, Lisa

Dear Agent,
I've written a really funny book about death, personal devastation, and abandonment. If you think that is a hard thing to do, try your hand at writing a query letter that says that this without actually saying it. I could tell you more about it, but what would be the point since you aren't going to read the darn thing anyway? Respectfully yours, Lisa

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wanted:Agent for Representation

I've been querying. And I've recieved letters that are all starting to sound the same. Despite your merits...this is interesting...I think you've got a great thing going...funny, but sorry...
I'm probably not the best agent to represent you at this time.
Uughhhhhhhhh.
I know everyone thinks humor is subjective. I know I'm a first time author. I know you all think I'm a big time risk. But do you remember the March of the Penguins? It was funny, heartwrenching, different, weird, quirky, and whacked. Welcome to my book.
A love story that's weird. A story of revenge that's lighthearted in the revenge part.
A tale of a woman, a dog, and a whole bunch of strange characters that shouldn't fit together, but do, in a strange, magical, wonderful sort of way.
Somewhere out there in the nether regions of agent/publisher land there has to be someone who believes in a tragic-com for us human females. I'm looking for you, that agent that believes in all that is funny and sad, the one who wants to represent me. The person who wants what I have...where are you? The best person to represent me? I'm waiting, and it's getting just a bit chilly...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Welcome to...A Writer's Reality -101




Meet Jana Janeway - Author of The Mengliad

I met Jana on ABNA 2010. For those up you not up on writers’ speak, that’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards 2010. Jana has kindly consented to be my first interview subject for A Writer’s Reality.

L) Hello Jana. Thanks for being here. You’re a rather brave soul aren’t you? Consenting to being interviewed on my blog…

J) Um... okay? LOL! I don't know if I'd say 'brave'. Answering a few questions is a far cry from charging into the dragon's den! :)

L) You’re here, and that means you’re brave, since all kinds of weird things have been known to happen on this blog. Don’t mind the occasional howls and grunts. It’s only my dog Kita trying to find her toy, or thinking she knows better than me in terms of questions to be asked. How long have you been writing for?

J) I’m not sure what started me doing so, but I’ve been spinning stories inside my head since as far back as I can remember. When I was about 9 years old, I began writing them down, because I kept forgetting the details of the stories I was creating. In October, 2000, I started publishing fan fiction stories on the internet, because the few people I shared them with encouraged me to do so.


L) I admit to being clueless. What is fan fiction?

J) Simply put, fan fiction is a fiction story written by a fan. These stories revolve around existing characters, and sometimes story arcs, from well known 'fandoms', such as TV shows, movies, and novels. I personally have written more than 100 fan fiction stories for the TV shows 'Caroline in the City' and 'Friends'.

L) You interview an author and suddenly (Yes, suddenly…show me an author who doesn’t use that word even once, and, well, I’ll show you a Pulitzer Prize Winner) there’s this whole new world that opens up. Jana, do you have an example of your fan fiction written for ‘Friends?

J) I have all my fanfics for 'Friends' posted on my website. The URL is: http://www.janaonwheels.com Some are published on the popular fanfiction site: http://www.fanfiction.net

L) You are a mother of 4 children, two of whom are autistic. How and when do you find the time to write?

J) It can be tricky to find the time, to be honest. I usually get most of my writing done when the kids are asleep, or at school. I also have two wonderful daughters, ages 19 and 21, who will spend time with their brothers so that I can steal a few minutes here and there.

L) Kudos to you for being able to focus in those small parts of the day. What's the most horrible/ awful part about being a writer? And what makes you continue despite that horribleness?

J) The most horrible/awful part, for me, believe it or not, is self doubt. I have told myself dozens of times that I'm just not good enough to continue. What makes me continue, is all the wonderful feedback, and the love of writing. And that's what it comes down to. I love writing.

L) Okay, I’m staggering through this part of the interview, because it’s far past my bedtime. What the hell are you doing up so late?

J) LOL! It's only 11 P.M.! I'm usually up until at least 2 A.M.!

L) Were you born with an energy gene?

J) No, actually. Since the accident that disabled me 15 years ago, I don't sleep well. I'm up at all odd hours of the night, which is when I get most of my writing accomplished.

L) You’d mentioned the accident to me when I was asking about your background. A car jumped a curb and struck you on the sidewalk. Is the sleeplessness from ongoing pain?

J) Yes, the sleeplessness is from ongoing pain. Shortly after I doze off, pain will inevitably wake me. After 15 years of this, it's become my norm. I use the time to my advantage, though.

L) I can’t imagine trying to write while being in pain and struggling with lack of sleep. You’ve got an incredible amount of determination. When did you start writing Mengliad?

J) I started writing it in 2003. The opening scene came to me like a brick to the head, so I quickly jotted it down. Then I sat back and thought: Now what? From there, I created the world of the Mengliad. Their characteristics - what makes them different from Humans - their history, legends, beliefs, etc. Then, I started writing.

Interesting thing is - this started out as a 'Friends' fanfic. I wrote and posted the first six chapters, but then family issues came up, so I stopped and pulled it off the net. Years later, in 2008, I reposted the first six chapters, then continued it. It quickly became one of the more popular fics in the fandom. As a fanfic, it was 37 chapters long, but I cut out the 37th chapter when converting it into a novel, because of the NC-17 rated sexual content. I wanted it to appeal to a larger audience.

When it was a fanfic, it received over 300 reviews, all positive, and within them, it was suggested multiple times that I convert it into an original novel. In November, 2009, I did just that, off my oldest daughter's insistence. I changed the characters' names, their jobs, and removed all the 'Friends' references. Then I polished it up all nice and pretty and ran it through several edits. On December 19, 2009, I published it through CreateSpace.

L) What do you love most about Mengliad?

J) The romance. I'm a sucker for romance, so that's what I tend to write. I love how the romance blossoms between the two main characters as the story progresses.

L) Can you tell me a little bit more about the book?

J) This is a hard question for me to answer, because it's hard to summarize this particular story. To start with, it's about two Human-like species that inhabit the Earth. One is Human, one is Mengliad. Mengliads know of Humans, but most Humans know nothing of Mengliads. This story follows one such Human - Jessica Mitchell - as she learns not only that Mengliads exist, but that she has become one of them. How, you ask? Well, it's hard to sum up, so I will humbly suggest that you read the book! :)

When Jessica meets up with a Mengliad - Craddock Daniels - and his friends, from there it's all about how she has converted, how she will now function, danger from other Mengliads who don't approve of 'Later Conversion', and the love that blossoms between Jessica and Craddock.

L) I think my malamute Kita might be Mengliad. And she has a huge crush on my husband. I better watch out. But getting back to the interview, what are the biggest influences on your writing?

J) Most people can name an author that has influenced their writing, but to be honest, I can't. My biggest influence was my mother, who passed away in 2001. She always wanted to be a writer, so we shared that in common. I dedicated The Mengliad to her. I know she would be proud of me, and that makes me smile.

L) Where can people purchase your book?

J) It's available on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Mengliad-Jana-Janeway/dp/1449929680 - and on CreateSpace - https://www.createspace.com/3414055

L) Jana, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. It’s been an honour and a pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing. Thanks for giving us an inside peek at your writer’s reality. Your determination and dedication to your writing is inspiring! Any last comments or thoughts?

J) It was a pleasure, and thank you. Hmmm. Last comments: Smores Pop Tarts rule. Last thoughts: I think I'll go nuke me some Smores Pop Tarts!

L) Perhaps it’s those Pop Tarts that are the real secret to this woman’s energy ;)

Monday, March 29, 2010

They're coming....

For all of you that are tired of me, and all my antics, I have some good news. Instead of me having my dog interview me again, I'm (yes - me, myself and I, and okay, maybe just occasionally the dog as well) going to be interviewing some other fine, fabulous, fascinating writers. This will be your chance to get the inside scoop on the life of a writer. Are you excited? I am. P.S. I'm still waiting for an agent to demand my manuscript. If I don't answer the phone, just leave a message with Kita (my dog). And I'll get back to you once I'm finished sorting through all my other offers.
video

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Somedays Somethings are Better Left Unsaid.













But can you guess how I feel...?






It might be best if people kept their distance ....







I've been known to bite...

























But I'm sure eventually I'll be alright....









Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Yaw-Yaw is Zipped . . . Almost.


I read an post on the Amazon discussion threads early this morning. It pointed to a blog by Nathan Bransford, stating that there was an interesting article. I followed the link, and low and behold, there was not just one interesting article, there were piles of great stuff, useful tips, helpful advice, funny things, encouragement. The list goes on and on.
As it turns out, Nathan is a literary agent, and from what I see, a very nice one, who is more than willing to provide us writers with the info we need to get our feet in the door of the publishing industry. After spending some time surfing his site, I confess to feeling like a bit of a complainer, having blah, blahhed on about the negatives in the publishing industry. Henceforth, I shall resist the urge to spew and vent, and will work at just enjoying what I'm doing, even if that means I'm working toward the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of rejection letters recieved for any one book. (And, no, I'm not even a quarter of the way there yet). Everyone needs to get paid. Everyone needs their jobs. Yes there are problems in the publishing industry. Yes there are problems with us writers. But ultimately, there are solutions to every problem, and whining about the problem does nothing more than keep it stuck. It's much more productive to work harder, play harder, and have a lot more fun.
If you'd like to see Nathan's blog, you can find it at http://nathanbransford.com . Now pardon me for deserting you all but Hawaii's beaches are once again calling my name.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Publishing Industry is Tanking?!



Just a short note tonight while I take a break from the b#*ch that is my pitch/query/potential blurb for the back of my book. Articles on the web abound on the fact that the publishing industry is hurting, no one is reading, and sales are slumping . . . except for YA fiction (young adult), where the demand for books is increasing.
Hmmm.
Let's examine this problem.
Ten years ago, there was a dearth of young adult fiction. As someone in my friends from Seattle writer's group mentioned yesterday, it was only a few years ago that the market for teens and adolescents changed. It used to be that if you were a kid, you read books written for a kid. Remember 'Dick and Jane'? I loved those books. Once you reached 12, or 13, though, it was on to the adult books, because aside from Judy Bloom, and the Outsiders, the choice of reading was limited. Some smart cookie in the publishing industry eventually figured out that teens wanted variety, and the dawn of YA was born. Apparently that smart cookie left the industry for a better paying job, and now we're left with the rather more dense publishers and agents, who haven't figured out that variety is the spice of life, and there's only so many Zombie/Vampire/Harry Potter rip-offs a teen can read before they bail out of the culture that is today's publishing industry.
Publishers and agents seem to be afraid of anything new, anything that doesn't fit into their smart little boxes of categorized genre. It's easier to spin off the success of something that's already been done, someone that's already had a success, rather than to take a chance on something, or someone new. And so, authors that have had one best-seller can sell a piece of crap second book, banking on their name, and their publisher's backing, and the public buys it, trusting the publisher and the author. I've done it. It did it as recently as last week, trusting the author, and trusting the publisher. I bought a piece of junk. With no warrantee. Grrrrr. I guess it's fair marketing, but it certainly doesn't inspire any faith in Jane/Joe reader. And it doesn't inspire any faith in me as I push forward, looking for an agent or publisher who is willing to take a risk on someone new, something new.
I'm a reader, and I'm tired of same old, same old. I don't want to read the next Sex and the City Spin-off. I want something different. And that doesn't mean the same sort of characters in the same place with a new set of shoes, that means something about women that's funny, but waaaaaaaaaay different. Maybe that's why I read the English and Irish markets of books as well. I'm sic, sic, sic of New York women wanting diamonds and Gucci. And I'm still waiting for the Canadian Publishers to move their heads out of their arses, as they realize that some of us in Canada aren't great literary aficianados. We want to see some Canadian spunk. Just like there was in the Olympics.
Knowing what I know now, I have no doubt that there are incredible authors out there who've been waiting 5, 10 and even 15 years to be published. It's time the publishing industry hired a few more smart cookies. It's time for them to take a few more smart risks. It'll be that, or all of us who are too impatient to wait, too determined to have our voices heard, will be taking over the self-publishing industry, and when Joe/Jane pubic finally figures out where the really interesting stuff is, they'll be following us, and the world will start reading once again.
Apparently I'm not good at the short blurb, and now you know why I've written a novel.
Waking up this morning, I just want to add that I in no way want to slam any authors who have written YA Vampire or Zombie books, or any other genre, because that isn't fair. The overflooding of anything in any market, tends to lead to a drop in followers. Us humans get bored easily, and unless something is of very high quality, we're more than happy to move along.
Thank you to those who are commenting. It is appreciated. I haven't yet figured out yet how to reply. And if nothing else, if I've stirred up some discussion, I believe that's a good thing. :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Morning After


Well, it's the morning after the first cut in the 2010 Amazon Breakthough Novel Contest. And . . . I was slashed. Luckily, no major arteries were severed; I have survived, which means my writing will continue, along with my nightmares about pitch and query writing.
The good news is that I was cut soley on my pitch. No one got to read a word of the book. The bad news is that if I'm ever going to get an agent or a publisher to read my book, I have to have a good pitch/query/scandal to get my foot in the door.
Despite being out of the contest so early in the game, I'm really glad I entered it. There's a great group of people involved in the contest, and for a new writer looking to learn things, hanging out on the discussion boards is an easy way to get some help and assistance that can only benefit them on their journey. Writers were willing to help other writers with their pitches, their grammar, their blogs, their contacts, their editing, their knowledge of writing websites, and even with assistance for getting out of bad publishing contracts. The generosity of spirit and atmosphere of kindness and assistance was truly amazing. And there's nothing like the camraderie of being with like minded souls are are all struggling along the same twisted, windy, hilly, frustrating road as oneself.
I want to wish good luck and happy travels to all those who made it to the second round. I'll be keeping my eyes on your journey. In the meantime, it's time for me to re-work my pitch once again, re-edit my manuscript with a sharpened eye, and to move past page 2 of my second book. I'm so glad I'm in the place I've found. It's up and down, crazy, stressful, and heart-breaking at times, but now that I've finally come home, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Day in the Life...

It's been incredibly busy since I elected to enter the Amazon Contest. Up at 6:30am I've spent every spare minute, editing, revising, questioning, re-doing, grumping, editing, and re-doing again, my pitch, my excerpt and my manuscript. And that wasn't just today, it was on the weekend too.

Wrote a great initial pitch, which though having been told the writing was glorious, was also told is was glorious for a recipe book. Oops. Revamp. revamp. revamp. The other authors in the contest are awesome. Encouraging and more than helpful with their advice.

In between all the re-vamping recieved a few emails. Here's the first:

Dear. Ms. McLellan,
Thank you for your query. As interesting as your novel sounds, I don't believe I would be the best agent to represent your work. Best of luck to you though, and thank you for thinking of me.
Cordially,
xxxx

My response?
#@%$ a duck.

But I didn't send that. I did however, email her back to ask if she knew of anyone who might be the best to represent me. Who wants to bet on whether or not I get a response?

More revamping, obsessing and emailing of a great friend who has more than generously encouraged me since reading my manuscript. He has agreed to be my 'author breakdown' spam buddy by virtue of his non-response when I asked if I was bugging him yet.

Then, later on, another email:

Thank you for your submission to XXX
Currently, I'm not considering new material at this time.
I will be requesting projects again starting in April 2010.
I invite you to resubmit your query in April.
I will be deleting all those coming in from Feb. 1st 2010 to March 31st, 2010.
All the best,
XXX

Sure, great, just fine. I spent hours and hours, revising, re-working, re-doing, re-everything, and you just take your finger and in a millisecond, delete everything I've done.

I will not re-submit.

But me and a thousand or so other authors, may just end up going bonkers. Buy books people. They are treasures and all those people including publishers and agents who take the majority of the money from the books we've written...well...they're hurting. Help them make their 20% so that we can make our buck and continue to be published. Along with the magic of the written word, books contain so much more that isn't seen: intense commitment and devotion, dedication, hours and hours and days and weeks of passionate slogging along as the story builds, obsession and attachment, blood, sweat, tears, high blood pressure, headaches, sacrifice, numb fingers.....If you could only see what each book you bought really contained, you'd be willing to pay quadruple the price and would believe you'd recieved an awesome deal.

I'm exhausted and done for the day. Smart thinking of the friend who suggested I detail all this minute goings on. It really isn't so minute after all. And buy books. My sanity and the sanity of thousands of others depends on you!