Happy Halloween everyone!
I’ve had a great writerly October at the Junior Authors Convention, the BC Teacher Library gala event, in helping out at the writers’ workshop at the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention, and catching some of the Writers’ Festival.
Seriously, it’s almost like a month long Halloween party. I learned some important lessons for writing as well, which, once I’ve cobbled it all together I’ll chat about on this blog.
In the meantime, phew, I’ll be quite happy to stay home tonight and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
I’ll sort of be participating in a fun Halloween event; my zombie story will be part of a Halloween production this evening:
Have a safe and fun evening!
So like I said, I ripped open the envelope and…lived happily ever after?
I lifted the paper out of the envelope with trembling hands, unfolded the letter only to see it was a rejection fired back. So I sent out my story – again and again. Rejections were fired back again and again.
Curiously undaunted, I joined a critique group that I’d read about in a community brochure. Armed with my manuscript, I read my story to the group and sat back waiting for accolades. But all they gave me was advice. Sigh.
Oddly undaunted again, I sifted through the advice, reflected on the advice, rewrote bits of the story and submitted it again. The rejection came back, but this time with the comment that the imagery could still be sharper. Strangely, I still didn’t feel daunted. Instead I sort of felt complimented even though I hadn’t been. But I’d been treated like a real writer because an editor had taken a moment to point out how my writing could improve.
That process of writing the time travel story was the defining moment – that the writing, the crafting, the utter joy of creating could not be diminished by anything, because in the making of the story, and in the determination of sending it out, and sending it out again, I had become a writer!
Did that story ever get published?
Tune in for part five–
So I wanted to write a time travel story, but I needed a plot – or at least a plot bunny (which is like a dust bunny only instead of dust, you roll an idea around in your head until it gets bigger.)
I remembered how one summer when my nieces and nephew were visiting from Ireland, we’d taken them to the beach all summer. Every week we’d walk by a ground-floor apartment in an arty and hip beach neighbourhood, as we carried beach balls, blankets, snacks, and held little hands. I looked into the open curtains of that apartment and felt a sense of wonder at its bohemian décor. There was something magical about the scattered Persian rugs, ceramic vases filled with hydrangeas and roses, and stacks of books topped with chipped china tea cups perched on saucers. There was even a velvet settee with a silk robe tossed over the arm.
I imagined this was a place of residence for an actor or artist or musician. In other words, to me it was a portal into a totally different life.
Then low and behold years later, my husband and I would once again pass by that apartment on the way to the beach. We were once again loaded down with beach balls, sand buckets, blankets, and the small hands of our own children. Yet there the apartment stood, it seemed to me, unchanged over the years…
Not only was it a portal to another life, but it was frozen in time.
I had my time travel story. So I picked up that heavy pen and set it to paper…
Tune in for part three–
Do you think Sookie looks a little spooky?
What’s in a name?
Well, think about your own name. Does your name have a meaning? Who named you? Are you named after someone? Do you like your name? Have you adopted a nickname?
Get the picture – names are complicated and interesting…That doesn’t change if you are a fictional character.
So when an editor asks me to rewrite the ending, or fix a chapter, or start in a different place, I say, “Sure, no problem.” (um, after a long walk.) But when an editor asks me to consider renaming a character, I might dig in my heels and say, “What? – I’m not so sure about that…” Suddenly (and uncharacteristically) I’m a little stubborn.
That’s because I’ve already gone through the process listed above. What I haven’t done is pulled a name out of thin air. Sometimes I have favourite names I am waiting to bestow on just the right character (as I’m doing now with my new manuscript.) Other times, I’ve made word associations with my character and my character’s name. To unravel those associations is a challenging task.
In one instance a long time ago, a publication changed my character’s name without consulting me. To this day, I wince thinking how that didn’t work. If they had consulted me about the name they chose, I’d have gone back and unravelled and rewoven some of the supporting details.
What’s in choosing the right name? For me, quite a lot…
Well, here’s the thing. I’m backpedalling a little to get Carnival of Secrets and the other Grim Hill books available in as many places as possible. I did my homework, consulted established author/publishers and made choices. I also made mistakes every step of the way!
If it had all gone smoothly, I’d have learned something. Because I’ve had to figure out my mistakes, fix my mistakes, repeat and repeat, I’ve learned a LOT. I can hardly believe that I just got off the line with tech support and how a few months ago, I’d not have understood almost a thing I’d just said.
Who knew. I want everything to go smoothly. I hate making mistakes. I know people learn from their mistakes. I didn’t realize that I learned so much more from mistakes. I could have used this insight for high school math:)
Anyhow, much has been worked on, much is in progress and the upside is, books will be more accessible in Canada. It’s not impossible to order them now, but they’ll be easier to order and have library catalogue numbers etc.
To keep people tempted, when release dates get closer (fingers crossed it will be soon) I’ll be posting chapter four of Carnival. (Evil grin)