Sunday, December 11, 2011

Good Reads: Game of Thrones

There isn't much praise or complaint I can make about the Song of Ice and Fire series which hasn't already been said. To simplify, it's really good.

Not much, I know. If you're a Tolkien fan, read it. It's not quite the same thing but there's a good chance you'll like it. And if you think stories that include dragons, wargs and magic aren't really your thing, give this a try anyways. It's not high fantasy in the traditional sense. The fantastical elements always seem to be in the background, being part of the world, but the story is all about the characters and their lives.

And lots of war. Death n destruction a plenty.

Like so many others, I picked up a copy of Game of Thrones after watching the show. If you enjoyed the HBO version, you'll like the book. GRR Martin has been involved with the writing and production of the show, which is probably part of the reason is follows his storyline so perfectly.

A bonus: one of the complaints I've heard about the book is the difficulty in keeping track of the many characters, their viewpoints and their storylines. If you think that's a problem, watch the show first. Once you have a face and personality to match to the character, keeping them clear while you read is no problem at all.

Happy reading!

Friday, November 25, 2011

San Francisco

I'm tentatively back.

Like a ghost haunting your house, I'm kinda here but kinda not... I've definitely overestimated my spare time, of which I anticipate I will have next to none between now and Festivus. Sad but true. I might manage to squeeze in a bit of writing related work over the next month... but not much.

New Years' Resolution: More Writing!

So autumn 2011 has / is going to slip completely through my fingers. Among other things (auction knitting, derby planning, gift making, etc.) was my trip through California and Nevada...

It was awesome!

I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I loved San Fran and the pacific coast. I could see myself living in Santa Cruz, and I never wanted to leave San Simeon. You know what they say, pictures and thousand words and all that, which will make this my longest post ever... hahaha...

on the cruise over to Alcatraz... obviously...

escape from Alcatraz?

that's me. Alcatraz. wearing a poppy.

needs no caption, I assume.

windy, narrow roads + beautiful views = dangerous

also, I love the ocean. this is a new development.

the man on Muir Beach.

and our rental car chariot!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


So I'm still alive. Nothing in real life has slowed down since my last post, and I've been completely absent from my digital life for weeks now. And I miss it.

But, I am about to embark on a holiday. Which is exciting. I don't travel often... in fact, I believe I've crossed the Canadian border twice in my entire life. Yup. I did the family trip to Disney World when I was in grade eight, and I drove into Minneapolis some time in high school to see a concert.

With that in mind, planning a ten-day trip through San Fran, L.A. and Vegas has been a bit of a whirlwind.

And while I am really, really excited to go, there is that part of me that's excited to get back, to settle into some kind of normalcy in my life again. By mid-November all the major trade shows are over, so life at the office is going to slow down, at least until January. I have two knitting projects to complete before Festivus, and other than that I can get back to... writing!

So this is it until I get back... see you in a couple weeks!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Real life.

Real life, it sure gets in the way of digital life, eh? I've been barely more than a ghost on here, fb, twitter, aw, and authonomy for the past couple weeks. First I was knocked over by the first cold of the season, then my mom came out west for a week-long visit here, and now I'm scrambling to get ready for Halloween, another season of teaching knit class, and my ten-day trip through California that starts in... 19 days! Ah!

Which also means I haven't had much time to write. Which sucks, because I hate putting down the first draft once I get rolling. Dang. 

What I have been able to get done with this first draft in the past couple weeks is... interesting. I think I was on about chapter eight or nine, when I realized that I needed to make a major change to the characters. Essentially, I had two female characters that were so similar to each other (both happy little friends of the protagonist) that I knew I could condense them into one character to move the plot forward faster. Which seemed like a great idea, until I held the idea up to my character grid and saw that I would be left with only two female characters and about eight male characters. Bit of an imbalance that I wouldn't be happy with.

So I brainstormed another solution. I can cut one of the men (who I already had some issues with in terms of character development) and use one of those two females in his place. It changes her essential purpose completely, yet still leaves her character intact. Instead of being a happy little friend, she's now a happy little friend with a seriously evil ulterior motive. Which makes her way, way more interesting and solves my initial problem. I'm happy with the idea.

Good thing I can at least brainstorm while ill / visiting with mom.

Normally, I'd just push forward with the story from here and worry about reworking those characters in the first edit. This time I think I'll go back and change it (rough and dirty though the changes may be) before I continue. It's a pretty major change, and I'll feel better about moving on if I just fix it now.

So if I can find some time to get back to writing before California, that's what I'll do...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good Reads: Cast in Ruin

A good read is such an evil thing.

I took yesterday off work for two reasons: to clean my house and to write. House cleaning happened, which was good, because I started first thing in the morning. Then I stepped out onto the deck to run a quick errand and BAM! there was a book in my mailbox.

Michelle Sagara's CAST IN RUIN had finally arrived! So I devoured it. That was just barely afternoon, and I then proceeded to lose my entire afternoon and evening to reading. I'm not sure I put the book down once until I finished it, ten hours later.

But damn, it was worth it. If you haven't checked out the Cast series, do it now. The characters are beautiful, the humour frequently makes me laugh out loud (much to Husband's annoyance), and the fantasy world is so well developed it should serve as a lesson point for all little fantasy writers like myself.

If you're already well into the series, you'll love this one. Kailyn learns and grows magically (which usually happens) but this time around she also matures somewhat in terms of the men in her life, and has a bit of an epiphany in terms of growing up in general. And while this book answers a whole lotta questions about the Dragon Court and the Empire, it opens up a plethora of new mysteries. The egg? Bellusdeo? There wasn't enough Nightshade for my liking, but I'm sure we'll see plenty of him in the next installment, CAST IN PERIL, since they're heading to the West March—ostensibly together.

Because I read the thing so damn fast, I'm going to go back and re-read. Maybe at a sane person's pace. But once I've done the re-read... let the countdown to PERIL begin!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Good Morning

Morning again, my favourite time of day. Yesterday we had a wildly beautiful sunrise, which I snapped a couple crappy photos of on my way into the office. Here:

So that was yesterday. Another dawn, another day. Today I've got to run around Calgary, errands, errands, and more errands. In fact, "Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time."

You do know where that quote is from, right? Right?!?!

I'm probably not going to get any writing in until later this evening, because it's supposed to be something like 29°C today, and I refuse to coop myself inside during the very last of the summer weather. It's just wrong.

Maybe I'll bring my Air outside and write...? We'll see.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Growth: Why I hope writing is like designing

Last post I talked about character development, and then I disappeared for a few days. Because I was busy busy developing characters ;)

Now I've got a full cast of well-rounded, multi-dimensional characters to work with, a solid 25K outline that covers everything right up to climax of the story, and I'm ready to start writing!

This is, of course, the best part of the project. And this time, I'm facing the challenge of a main character who interacts with—but doesn't speak to—any of the other characters until a third of the way through the story. Yes, challenge indeed.

Speaking of challenges, I'm also in the midst of learning how to critique others work. I'm beta'ing novels from two different writers and I've already found that it's a very different thing from critiquing my own work. Another interesting thing that's come up, is when one of the writers was worried I'd be offended by her comments. I assured her that I wouldn't be, but it led me into some further connections between my day job as a designer and my evenings and weekends as a writer.

I've mentioned here and elsewhere some of the similarities between the two. There is another aspect of writing that feels like design (and probably like many other jobs, but hey, this is my experience): Growth.

I went to college to study graphic design. My profs taught me the how-to and the rules of design, and then sent me off to give it a go. I laid out my ideas, thought they were amazing, only to have the Profs turn around and tear them apart. They showed me -- either gently or ruthlessly -- what I was doing wrong. Sometimes the feedback was bad enough to nearly put me in tears.

So I tried again.

For three years.

By the time I received my diploma I could hardly bear to look at the work I'd done in my first year--it was so hideous! I'd come a long way since then, and I never would have if I didn't have my professors and colleagues ripping my ideas and my work to pieces.
Then I went out into the Real World. I picked up a job in Calgary almost immediately after I finished school, designing trade show booths. That was four years ago. When I compare my early days there, to the work I do now, so much has changed. I've really learned to separate my ideas from myself—when someone hates my work, it's the idea they hate, not me. Thick skin, that was a big change. Also:

I'm faster. A job that would have taken 8 hours of design four years ago now takes me 2 or 3.

I'm better. I used to have to work through five or six different concepts with clients, making radical changes, before I got what they wanted. Now the design is usually signed off in two or three proofs, covering only minor revisions.

I'm smarter. Four years ago I struggled to see the problems in my own designs, what I could do or change to make the client happy. Now if a client comes back to me feeling unsure about how something works in the layout I can see immediately what I need to change to fix it.

What I'm saying with all this rambling is that I hope, when everything is said and done, that my writing evolves the same way my design has. I spend a lot of time writing, and I think what I write is good. Now I'm having beta readers tear it apart, and that can only be a good thing. I hope I learn a lot from seeing my work from their viewpoints. And I hope in a few years I'll be able to look back on my early writing and cringe.
I hope that, with time and effort, I'll be a faster, better, and smarter writer.

Has that happened for you? Or are you like me, looking ahead and just hoping?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Characters are people too.

I really, really love character development. I've written a solid outline (sitting at 22K words, still needs a bit of tweaking) and now I've moved on to some world-building and character development. For me, this works best because I know how the story goes, I know who does what and why, and I'm starting to have a good feel for what these people—characters—are really like.

But it's not quite a complete picture. Not yet.

To really flesh out my characters I use photos and character sketches. I try to cram as much detail into those sketches as possible: nicknames, meanings, relationships, dates, physical descriptions, strengths, weaknesses, internal and external conflicts, history, special abilities, distinguishing marks and personal items, habits, likes, dislikes, etc. I usually pull a photo off the web of someone who looks similar and use Photoshop to make a few quick and dirty changes to the appearance, where it doesn't mesh with what I have in mind for that character.

***fyi, the Mac program Scrivener is AWESOME for this kind of stuff. Go download the free trial right now. I'm not kidding.***

I like to start with a character's history. In life, I always find that the best way to understand a person is to understand their history, their background, where they come from. It can tell you so much about why they do what they do, or think the way they think. Once I have a history in place, other details fall in line. A unique twitch, habit or scar resulting from something in their past. A personal trinket or token they carry around from someone or some time in their life story. What drives him or her? What secrets is he or she keeping?

At the end of the day, I've got more than a name paired with a personality. I've got a person.

Because characters are people too!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Tunes

Today's tune is Heads Will Roll by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! It keeps finding its way onto my one-song repeat... and the video is pretty cool. Love the end!

I'm completely new to this band, but so far I love what I hear. A little bird told me that Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross were getting together to do the soundtrack for the new Hollywood version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This was pretty exciting news, because I loved their work on The Social Network soundtrack, I'm a huge Reznor fan, and because I really liked Larsson's Dragon Tattoo trilogy.

Then, that same little bird told me that one of the songs on the new soundtrack was going to be a compilation between Trent and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. At the time, I had no idea who these Yeah people were... but that was soon rectified. I think I must have heard Dull Life somewhere before, but they've got a handful of really awesome tracks to go along with it. I'm no music guru, so I'm not going to get technical here. Whatever it is, the energy in their songs just really hits me and the word count skyrockets. Which is always a good thing.

Great writing tunes... I especially love Dull Life, Maps, Date the Night, Gold Lion, and Y Control. Check them out!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Some people outline, some don't. Me? I outline like a crazy person.

The last few posts I've talked about how the outline process is going. Right now, pretty good. I wanted to be a bit further along than I am at this moment, but that's okay. And here's why. I was guesstimating how long it would take me to finish the outline, based on the first two books I wrote. It's taken longer than I thought it would, so I started wondering if that's because this book is YA and quite different from the first two novels. Then I thought, maybe I've just managed to become a more detailed outliner? And there is the answer, folks. I checked.

I started writing my first MS when the outline was complete at 4K words. 
I started writing the sequel to that when the outline was complete at 6K words.
My current outline is at 13K words.

It could all be mumbo jumbo... but I don't think it is. I still have more fine-tuning to work through on the outline, specifically turning bullet points into finished thoughts that complete each chapter's events from start to finish. But those parts that are already done feel really, really complete. Like I'm ready to go with a fully detailed map of where the chapter and the whole book should go. Or even better, like I'm armed for battle with a semi-automatic machine gun, rather than the shotgun I had before.

So there it is. I hope the extra time spent at this stage will mean the writing process goes faster, smoother. We shall see...

What about you? If you're a crazy outliner like me, have you found that your outlines have grown more or less detailed from one MS to the next?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

State of the Writing

Well, so far today I've managed to get another 1500 words down on the page. It's not much, but then I don't really think word count matters in the outlining stage. Just MHO.

What really matters is that I've gone from a very loose, random, unstructured outline with too few characters, enormous plot holes and bad clichés to a full 31-chapter outline that has a smooth, start-to-finish plot, incorporating a variety of characters and their sub-stories, and only a few not-so-bad clichés. Excellent.

This evening I'm going to go back through the outline and clean it up, add notes and synopses, and update my character grid to match. Tomorrow, with the updated grid, I should be able to see the big picture and tweak the outline, hopefully until I'm happy with it and I can call the first draft done.

So next week, I'll be world-building. With my first novel, I HAD TO FALL, I started the writing without any real world building done, only loose character and location sketches, and just a lot less detail. This time I'm going about it differently. I'm hoping that, within a week or two, I'll be ready to start writing!

By the way, with this MS I'm really using Scrivener for the first time. Anyone got any neat tips and tricks for working with the program?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just a quick note

Super busy the past couple of days, at work and just... life in general. I've still managed to get some more outlining and storming-of-the-brain done on my WIP, but that's been about all. There simply isn't enough time in the day!

My boss came back today after being gone for three weeks on holiday. With a small staff in a small office, that kind of absence takes it toll on the rest of us, so I'm damn glad she's back. This should mean I can start, sometime in the next month, to work a normal eight-hour day again! Very exciting. Think of the possibilities. I might actually get to sleep again.

Anyway, I gotta cut out early. Lots to do... and miles to go before I sleep!

Monday, September 5, 2011

We have a title!

Okay, some success since yesterday's post:

I messed around some more with the synopsis, and did get Vera talking sooner. Not as soon as I thought would be necessary, but that led me to something else…

The working title: SPEECHLESS.

It might not stick, but it'll do the trick for now. I also came up with an external crisis that I like, and that meshes well with the rest of the story and characters. I got far enough along in the synopsis today that I felt like switching over to my first draft character grid.

It was a good thing I did. Right away I can see plot holes and… I don't have enough characters! Over the next few days I'll jump back and forth between the synopsis and character grids, filling in those plot holes and adding some more characters. I've already found another character floating around in the free space in my mind who fits in as a nice little antagonist with my current cast.

And what did I say about the trilogy split revealing itself in the process? It did :)

To be honest, I'm kind of looking forward to working with a character who doesn't say a peep until a third of the way into the story. It'll be a challenge, creating interaction and engaging the reader while limiting Vera to non-verbal communication. But a challenge is a good thing.

For a Monday, it was a good day! Must be because it's a holiday...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back at it!

Started writing my next novel today. I don't have a working title to share with you lovely folks yet, but soon. I promise.

So, what did I decide to write? I'd been unsure about what to do next (see previous posts where I bemoaned this indecision) when Lisa Desrochers blogged about just such a dilemma. And I decided that, although I'd like to go back and work on the sequel to my first novel, to instead write something new, and in turn that I should write the fantasy novel (which turns out, might also be YA) that I really want to write. Fantasy might not be the cool thing these days, but who knows. Maybe this story will go somewhere. What really matters is that the story, the characters, have already become real in my head. I WANT to tell their story.

Long story short (har-de-har), I buckled down today and starting writing out the synopsis for the whole story. I got lots down, but I've already run into a bit of a dilemma: my main character doesn't speak (although she interacts with) to any other characters until like halfway through the story. That's gotta change.

I'm also missing some sort of key crisis or motivation. There's a tonne of internal conflict, but not enough external. Plus, I think this looks like a trilogy, and I'm not sure how much should go in book one, or where to split it. 

Tomorrow I'll go back and mess around with the synopsis, try to get Vera (the MC) talking sooner, and see if I can figure out what our external crisis is. Once I get those things covered the split should reveal itself naturally - I hope. With any luck, I'll have a good, solid synopsis done by tomorrow evening. Then next week I can start the chapter breaks and character grids...

And lastly, in other news, I joined Absolute Write the other day. Check me out right here!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Critique Partner...?

As I mentioned, summer in Calgary is winding down. My life is returning to normal and I'm writing once again. I've got three projects on my mind, and I'm having some trouble deciding which one I want to follow first. Rewrite book two of my Deyl Parker series? Write the high fantasy novel that's been hammering away at my brains? Or breakaway from my comfort zone and try writing my YA dystopian/sci-fi idea?

Whichever way I go, I realize I'm now at the point where I need a critique partner. Someone to kick the shit out of my first novel - an urban fantasy - and someone I can bounce new ideas off of. I'm open to critiquing a wide variety of genres in return: anything YA, dystopian, sci-fi, all fantasy genres, romance, chick lit, etc. etc.

So if you're out there searching for the same, send me a line: shayla.e.s (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not dead yet!

It's been an expanded, exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, epic summer break, but it's not endless. Returning to writing in the next week or so, as soon as my boss is back in the office and my life returns to some semblance of normalcy. So you now you know I'm not dead.

I hope you get a full refund on that tombstone...

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Wow, a week has slipped through my fingers since my last post! I finished the final, polished and shiny version of my urban fantasy, I HAD TO FALL, and decided to take a break from any real writing and just focus on fleshing out some new story ideas. I've got a lot of them rolling around in my head, so I've spent most of the last week sitting out in the backyard, vodka cooler in one hand and laptop in the other, soaking up the sun and pouring out notes on those different ideas. Hard life, eh?

And somehow—this is a bit of a mystery—I managed to catch a cold. I can feel it right now, that itchy feeling in the back of my throat, combined with the sniffles... in June! Well, if it means I have to miss a few days of work to recuperate * checks weather forecast of sunny skies and +25°C *  then so be it.

I'll be getting back into the writing tomorrow, but first I have to decide which of my ideas I want to push forward with. None of them are strictly urban fantasy, because I wanted to try something new. Of course, all these ideas have different pros and cons in my mind right now...

Adult fantasy. Different world, different species, not set on earth. Think Michelle Sagara. I really like this idea because the world is already pretty developed in my thoughts, and I like the idea of doing some more inventive and creative world-building. The problem: I can see that, in my head, the protagonist is a strong, silent woman with her own powers that slowly come to light. In this sense, she reminds me so much of Deyl Parker from my urban fantasy that I worry I'd get bored writing her.

YA dystopian. Or sort of dystopian. I loved DIVERGENT and have always been a huge fan of THE GIVER and NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR. Just added the HUNGER GAMES to my "Good Reads" list. Thing is, I always wonder what happened to make these dystopian worlds the way they are. If you assume they're set in a future version of our world... what went wrong? War seems to be a common theme, but I find my mind wandering off on tangents imagining where humans screwed up to end up like this. So my YA dystopian idea actually happens during the apocalypse, the great cataclysmic event that results in a new world order. And the characters won't have miraculous teenage powers that save the world from changing. Instead they'll have to learn to change with it, to salvage what they can and move on. I really, really, really like this idea. Also, I see it from the protagonist male point of view, which is totally different from what I've written before. The problem: I can't see the world as well as I'd like. I can't decide if the characters are straight-up human, or if they've got a little extra juice. I can see what's happening, but I'm not sure of the stakes. Still, with a bit more brainstorming I think I could give this one a go.

YA romance. I like this idea because I already know the characters, I've already interviewed them in my thoughts. I want to write it from both the girl and the guy's point of view, which will again be different from anything I've tried, but I love the way that works in Desrocher's PERSONAL DEMONS. This idea isn't really paranormal, more of a sci-fi I think. There is definitely a bit of a time travel thing. The problem: I feel like writing in this genre might be beating a dead horse. After the whole TWILIGHT extravaganza it seems like everyone has written a YA romance. Maybe that's no big deal, but I have reservations about writing mine.

Adult sci-fi romance. Time travelers. What did I just say about beating a dead horse? Ha! But seriously, this idea doesn't seem as overdone, at least in my head. It's not anything super tech-savvy, just that the characters, pros and ants, move through time a lot more than regular ol' humans do. It's a bit of a war-time scenario, except that war is happening way in the future. I see the story from the male protagonist's viewpoint, which I'd really like to write. He's also something of a sidekick to the story's hero, which I find kind of intriguing, centering the story around someone other than the hero. The problem: Honestly, I'm just nervous about trying to write a sci-fi. Time travel is complicated. Michael J. Fox can tell you that much. I'm nervous about trying to keep all my time threads neatly sorted while overlapping them enough to add some complications to the character's lives.

So that's it for now. I actually have a few other idea snippets I want to get down on paper (digital paper, of course) before the end of the day, and maybe one of those ideas will the one I go with...

For now, any thoughts on these ideas? What do you think I should write next?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Good Reads: The Hunger Games

I know, I know. That I'm only just getting around to reading The Hunger Games is pretty bad. I've heard so many good things about it, and it's been on my reading list forever—but then, my reading list is only about three miles long...

But I have finally read it, and I can tell why it came so highly recommended... It was great!

I would say Dystopian isn't normally my thing, but really, Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of my favourite novels ever. I love Atwood's Handsmaid's Tale and Lowry's The Giver. I finished Veronica Roth's Divergent just a few weeks ago and I'm already impatient for the next installment, Insurgent. Maybe it's time to add some more Dystopian titles to my already-too-extensive reading list... 

Including the rest of the Hunger Games trilogy!

I found it a bit harder to connect with Katniss than, say, Tris, but I loved the premise. Collins' world is so well-built and the pace was perfect—a great balance of story-telling and action. I read it in one go, six hours straight, finally putting it down at four this morning... yikes! Good thing it's the weekend.

So, any other great new Dystopian novels to recommend for my list?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Epic Fail: Vancouver

I only have two things to say about the riot in Vancouver on Wednesday. First, the simple truth that Hockey + Beer = Canadian. It got ugly and embarrassing, but the reality is that most of us are more passionate about hockey than politics, religion or the environment. Add in more than a little beer and a few bad apples...

The second thing is this:
And if you don't get it, if you missed the YouTube video this parodies... consider yourself lucky. It was like the most epic fail of all time.

Which reminds me. I forgot to post this during our near-miss rapture in May, because my birthday was the next day and I was beginning to worry I wouldn't get to see my [deleted to obscure my age]th year. Well, not really. Raptures aren't my thing. They also fall into the #epicfail category:

"And lo, it came to pass that Macho Man Randy Savage did prevent the impending rapture. Amen."

On that note... I'm out. I hope your weekend, wherever you are, is epic!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Music to My Ears

I'm actually tossing around a blog idea in my head: Tuesday Tunes. I like the alliteration. Music is a huge part of my writing process, and I thought I would chat a bit about that - what inspires me, what I'm into at the moment, how different pieces play into certain parts of my writing. Why I own four iPods...

But wait, it's Wednesday.

The hell you say! Oh... Touché.

Well, this is kind of the unofficial start of Tuesday Tunes, because I'm not actually talking about any particular music yet. Today, I'm just excited to be finished the copy edit stage of my manuscript. That's right: I HAD TO FALL is all done. Complete. Fin. And I found (shockingly!) that music and copy editing don't go together. I read aloud during that stage, making sure everything sounds right. I kind of need absolute silence for that.

But now that it's done I can toss the headphones back on and bring music back into my writing time. Which is good, because I almost feel lost without it. Definitely less inspired.

Music simply draws me into another world, into a character's life right inside my head. You should see me out there cutting the grass. Get the old push mower out, plug in the iPod and lose myself in the monotonous task. I fall into the music and my imagination takes off. And then a great idea hits me upside the head, I drop the mower in the middle of the lawn and dash inside. I'm sure the neighbours all think I'm out of my mind.

Sanity is in the eye of the beholder...?

So you've been warned: next Tuesday, first installment of Tuesday Tunes!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Drum roll please...

Brilliant. I just (two minutes ago, not kidding) finished the copy edit on my novel, I HAD TO FALL. Now all that's left to do is a spell check and page formatting, and I'll have the manuscript completed.

If that doesn't earn me a few margaritas in the sun this weekend, I don't know what does.

Anyway, I'm keeping this post short because I've got my iPhone Kindle app all fired up and ready for me to keep reading Lauren Kate's PASSION.

Write, read, sleep. Good pattern.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Unexpected Side Effect

My throat is sore. My voice is all raspy and low. Why?

Copy editing.

The story is written. I've edited the plot and structure four or five times, until I'm perfectly happy with the result. I've given the draft a few months of shelf time so the writing and ideas could percolate in peace. I've triple-checked continuity, built a solid world around Deyl, and I've scrapped every useless datadump and every sequence that slowed down the plot.

All that's left is what I'm doing now: the copy edit.

I find (and I've heard other writers say the same thing) that reading the story out loud really helps ensure the words flow smoothly across the page. It's definitely working (IMHO) but unfortunately reading aloud all day means MY THROAT HURTS!

And that's my complaint for the day. I'm more than halfway through the novel so I'm still on track for getting this edit done by Tuesday. Yay!

Oh, and I just saw today the casting post for the Hollywood version of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Then I saw the release date for the movie: 2012. Damn. I wish I was a more patient person. This wait is going to be brutal.

Off to read for a few hours... night all!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just a snippet.

I'm running a bit short on time tonight, so here's a quick excerpt from my first Deyl Parker novel, I HAD TO FALL:

(Deyl, Josh and Alicia have stopped at a diner just outside of Chicago, midway through their journey to Minneapolis)

"So, what do you think? Should we drive through the night or stop at dark? My parent's house is only a few more hours from here," Alicia noted, speaking low and choosing her words carefully.

"Stop at dark, definitely," I said. I wasn't sure what to think about stopping at the Bowmyn's, but I was sure about stopping for the night. Humans didn't travel after dark unless they were Hunters.

We would be much too obvious on the road at night.

"We could be there by lunch tomorrow if we drive through…" Alicia pointed out hopefully.

"No, we couldn't, because we'd be dead before the sun came up again," I said in a flat whisper. "It's too dangerous.”

"I agree with Deyl," Josh murmured. "Too conspicuous to be out at night. We should stop."

Alicia snorted delicately, rolling her round, hazel eyes. She obviously thought Josh was just agreeing with me because it was me.

And unfortunately, there was a good chance she was right.

"Okay, okay. So then we’re crashing at my parents place?"

"I'm not sure," I hedged, thinking it made perfect sense to stay with her parents but worried about getting more people—more people I didn't know—involved in this catastrophe. Unfortunately, that was probably our best bet when it came to avoiding the Hunters, whether I liked it or not.

"So…" Alicia prodded, watching me expectantly.

"So we stay at the Bowmyn's. It's our safest option," I summarized, dropping my voice as a young couple sat down at the table two seats away. Josh looked like he was about to say something more, but Alicia cut him off.

"I'm sooooo happy you were both able to get the time off to come with me!" she chippered in a falsely bright voice. "My brother hasn't seen you in years, Josh, and his fiancée is dying to meet your sweetheart!" She tapped my hand with her tiny, pale fingers, clearly indicating me as the 'sweetheart'.


Without missing a beat, I joined her game. "I haven't been to a wedding in years, I'm really excited," I said with a wide smile. "Have they decided on the blue or the gold yet?"

This was the danger in mingling with humans. To sit together, unspeaking, would look suspicious. At the same time, we were so much more likely to let something slip, to reveal what we were, if we tried to carry on a normal conversation. It was a fine line to walk.

Josh's bewildered look threatened to ruin the whole thing, so I reached across the table and took his hands in mine while stepping on his toes in warning. I was distracted for a moment by how surprisingly soft and cool his hands were and the slight tingle in my fingertips as I gently wrapped them around his, trying to look like the sweetheart.

"When we get married I think I'd like everything in gold," I mused, blinking at him like a moron, trying to convey our cover to the clueless man. Idiot.

Finally, the bewilderment in his eyes cleared and his shoulders relaxed the tiniest bit.

"Oh, I think they've settled it," Alicia continued. "But I can't remember what they decided… darn it, I've completely forgotten!" She arranged her features in a slight frown, looking stumped.

Josh's gaze grew crafty and he smiled mischievously as he said, "You say married like I've already asked you," looking pointedly at my bare ring finger and giving my hands a tiny squeeze.

My quick grimace was very real. The look in his eyes suggested that he might be enjoying our game a bit too much.

I sighed dramatically, shifting my expression shifted to a false pout. "You know I'm still waiting patiently."

Alicia’s laugh was like silver chimes in the wind, and I got the distinct impression she wasn't faking it. I sighed again, also not faking it.

"I know," Josh griped, and then shocked me when he pulled our intertwined hands towards his lips and lightly kissed my fingertips.

Damn, I thought, as my heartbeat kicked into overdrive.

I tried to remember if magicians had better hearing than normal humans, hoping they didn’t.

Alicia laughed again, louder this time, at my very stunned expression. They were both enjoying the game far too much. I blinked as Josh gave me my hands back, making room for the food that had just arrived with our drab waitress.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sunshine, Vodka Coolers & Writing. Happy.

First, I was going to comment on how lovely it was to work on my final copy edit outside in the gazebo, under a brilliant blue sky with temperatures well above 20°C.

Then I looked back and realized how much, between here and twitter, I comment on the weather.

Is that a bad thing? Maybe. Boring? Probably. But I can't help it. You see, I'm Canadian. We talk about the weather. It's just what we do—a lot. 

So moving on. The copy edit is going really well, and really fast. I'm hoping to have it done before Tuesday, so that I can take the evening off and stay up all night reading PASSION by Lauren Kate. Let's face it: I'm going to do that anyway, thus it would be nice to have I HAD TO FALL all wrapped up so I can do the final spell check and formatting before I get lost in a new book.

On a side note, I've also made a lot of progress with my German lessons. I should be done Level II before I go on holidays at the end of July. I only wish I actually knew someone here who speaks German, because I could really use the practice. Maybe I should just book a flight to Deutschland... Ha, I wish.

And as for you New Yorkers sweating it out at 99°F (about 37°C) let me only add: I'm jealous.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fine Tooth Comb

That's where my re-write for I HAD TO FALL is at: word-by-painstaking-word editing. Double-checking (or am I now at triple- or quadruple-checking? hm.) every paragraph, sentence and word to make sure that it reads with a nice, smooth flow. I hate being jarred by awkward sentences or poor word selection when I'm reading, so I'm being extra picky at this stage.

Though, being able to work outside under the sun makes it much more enjoyable...

It's slow going, but the end is so close I can taste it. After just over a year of outlining, writing, editing, resting, re-editing and copy editing... I'm excited!

But I gotta hit the pillow right away here. I know, I know... sleep is for the weak. Unfortunately, I stayed up until about 3AM last night (this morning? ugh.) finishing TORMENT by Lauren Kate. Getting ready for her new release next week. So I'm only running on a couple hours of ZZZs. And feeling it.

Night all!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sleep is for the weak.

Napoleon is quoted as having said, "Six hours sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool."

I don't like the special consideration for women, but hey, Napoleon was old school.

With forty hours of work in my week, plus another twenty of writing, a solid five for gardening, at least ten for reading, and then all the other miscellaneous crap... yeah. That short guy with indigestion was on to something.

I wish there were more hours in a day. Since that's not likely to happen any time soon, I'm working on developing a super-power: total sleeplessness. I'm not sure if I'll need a radioactive spider for that, or a mutant X gene... This might require some research. I'm down to only six hours a night. Be a believer:

Sleep is for the weak.

(and I apologize profusely to all suffering insomniacs out there...)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

the End is upon us!

Very excited tonight. I've got two or three small sections of chapter twenty-five to revise/rewrite tomorrow evening and I'll be finished the all the major changes I wanted to make to I HAD TO FALL. I'm working all day Saturday (setting up all those nice trade show displays I've been designing) but after that I've got a week scheduled for making a few last minor revisions to the story, and then another week for a line-by-line polish of the copy.

And then it's done. Like, really done.

To share in my excitement, I've got a nice little excerpt for you here. One of my biggest changes to the story was the relationship between Cal and Deyl. Their interactions and face time remained the same, but their opinions, treatment and feelings about each other changed significantly. This is from chapter twenty, a bit of Cal and Deyl working together towards a common goal. Not that they wanted to, but they didn't have much choice.

(Yeah, I know you have no context for this. Sorry. Hope you love it anyway.)

I turned slowly towards Cal, who was dropping the choked body to the ground. We just stared at each other, his breathing heavy against the steadiness of my own. In that moment I knew something between us had changed, our uneasy truce complicated by the bond that came only from fighting side by side together.
"We have to clear this," was all he said.
I nodded.
Blood would leave the most visible signs of our ambush so I grabbed the two bleeding men first, taking one by the arm in each hand and dragging them across the narrow road into the dark shade of the birch trees. Beside me, Cal carried two more. In a minute we had the road cleared of the bodies and all trace of the fight.
The last man dropped from my arms. It was the tall one with my knife still embedded in his chest. I pulled it out as he fell to the grass at my feet, wiping it clean on a nearby patch of moss before tucking it back into my shoulder strap.
"Nice toss," Cal remarked, his tone casual.
Gazing up at him, I tried to gauge his thoughts. His expression was carefully closed. It struck me that he meant it.
A broad grin lit up my face, the adrenaline crashing and making me feel a bit giddy.
"Thanks," I said smiling even wider. A distant, low boom echoed on the morning breeze. We both turned to look towards the sound.
The charge had blown.
Cal turned back to me and I met his gaze soberly, the giddiness evaporating. He snatched both shotguns up and tossed one to me.
"We need to move."
"Right." I fell into step behind him again.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Muse

Muse. Music.

Similar words. Coincidence?

I was thinking about the idea of the muse today, watching it trend on Twitter. I'm certainly not the only writer out there who finds inspiration in music. Haha, seems to me that most do.

But I need variety. I always find it interesting, when a writer blogs about the music they listen to while writing, to go and check out the band, or that specific song (thanks, YouTube). What kinda blows my mind is that a lot of what's listed is the same genre of music. Several different bands that a writer will listen to, but all with a similar sound or style.

Maybe it's just me. I'm constantly plugged into some source of music. My iPod alarm wakes me up in the morning. I turn on the stereo while I'm getting ready for work, though there is a half-hour break while I'm doing a German lesson. Then the iPod's plugged in for the drive to work, I play tunes all day at work (design needs a muse, too), and iPod again for the drive home. Once I'm home I've got my headphones for while I'm gardening or exercising, a stereo for the shower (not kidding) and then slap on the headphones again when I sit down to write. The hour of reading I cram in before I hit the pillow is usually music-free. Hm. Usually.

Added all up, that's probably about 15 hours of music each day. 100 hours a week. So you see, I get tired of the same old music really quickly. I need variety!

This is where you come in: Got any good suggestions? Someone new, or off the beaten track, that I might not have heard yet? Tell me about it. I'm always on the lookout for great new tunes!

Which begs the question, what do I already listen to? So here I go, following in the footsteps of all other writers that have come before me, listing my faves:

Nine Inch Nails
We Are the Fallen
She Wants Revenge
Foo Fighters
Iced Earth
Dresden Dolls
Smashing Pumpkins
The Fray
Rolling Stones
System of a Down

There. That's a nice little sampling of what I'm into. Just the tip of the iceberg, but please, make suggestions!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Winnipeg Jets?!?!

Ha, bloody brilliant! It's official - Winnipeg has an NHL hockey team once again! Not that I live close enough to go see any games there anymore... but exciting nonetheless. I was devastated when the Jets left. Especially since I was too young to have really appreciated them like I should have... I think I was ten or something. Heh.

Also very excited to find out that Rammstein is planning another North American tour for next year, after their success with the last tour. I'm totally going to go see them again. The concert in Edmonton a couple weeks ago was probably the best stage show I've ever seen, and definitely one of my top five concerts of all time. Ticket prices weren't even that bad.

You may also notice that I've added a countdown widget for Lisa Desrochers' ORIGINAL SIN, the next book in her Personal Demons series. It's there partly for a contest on her blog to win an ARC copy. I would pretty much kill a man for that (maybe...) so adding a countdown was no problem. Also, I keep a nice little file on my MacBook dedicated to counting down for book releases, and this kinda just falls in line with that. Maybe I should go check and see if the Canadian release date is earlier. Sometimes it is. Love that.

Other than that... I didn't get much re-writing done last night, but I made up for it tonight. Resolved a few minor problems and fixed up a few bigger issues, and I feel good about all of them. Good way to end the night.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

To search, or not to search?

Another solid day of editing in the bag. Not ten hours like yesterday, simply because the garden was calling to me. After a week of rain the yard really needed my help! Tomatoes planted, strawberry patch weeded, vegetable garden turned and enriched with a bit of fresh compost nutrient, and the grass cut once again.

So now, at the end of the evening, I'm looking for something to kill the weekend. My first thought is, hey, I'll just go check out some recommended reads, find a great new author I haven't read yet. Problem: as I've mentioned before, I have a bit of an addiction to reading. Like, can't put the book down. Ever. I'll read until four in the morning and then try to get to the office for eight. I'll put the rest of my life - including my own writing! - on hold. Even the cat will feel neglected.

Maybe I shouldn't search for something new to read.

Maybe I should just re-read an old favourite. Or watch a movie.

You'll know what I decide to do: If I've found a great new book or series, you won't see a post from me here until I've finished reading!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Feeling Like a Rollercoaster

A couple days ago I mentioned that I was working on rewriting Deyl and Cal's interaction from the point where there meet, all the way to the end of the book. And yes, I'm really happy with the way it's developed. Only, I looked through my list of 'changes still to make' and I despaired of finishing by the end of May.

One solid 10 hour day of editing later, I'm feeling much more optimistic!

Today I made it all the way through and finished the major edits to the end of chapter twenty. I also faced down a weapons / technology problem I'd been mulling over - with much frustration - for months now. And I came up with the perfect solution, one that answered and fulfilled every issue surrounding the problem. It means going back and making two smaller changes earlier in the book, but I'm not worried about those. Instead, I'm thrilled that I've created a solution and I'm excited to spend the next few days implementing it!

Based on today's success I took another, closer look at my editing schedule and that list of problems / changes. I'm feeling like another two, maybe three weeks and I can have I HAD TO FALL all wrapped up. Awesome.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Personal Demons, Personal Laziness

Posting this from my iPhone. Why? Good question. Well, the truth is I'm just finishing a second e-book read of Lisa Desrochers' PERSONAL DEMONS and I'm quite comfy. Don't want to head downstairs for the laptop.

And even though I'm a firm believer that sleep-is-for-the-weak, I'll be hitting some ZZZs right away. I'll be back tomorrow to fill you in on the changes in Deyl's world and my usual progress update for the re-write of I HAD TO FALL.

Oh, and for you Americans out there, happy long weekend Friday!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Editing. Slowly.

At some point in my schedule I'd hoped to have this final round of editing done by the end of May. Well, today is the twenty-sixth and I can say with absolute certainty that that is not going to happen.

The editing has been, overall, really great. The issues I've brought up have been important and I think the changes I've implemented so far have improved the story significantly. It's just taken a lot longer then I anticipated.

Today, for example, I finally started working in the relationship changes between Deyl and Cal. I've spent the last few weeks considering the problems with the connection between them in the back of my mind. Yesterday and today I took all those thoughts and considerations, compared it to how the relationship works in the current manuscript, and wrote out a text document that clearly outlined how their new relationship should develop - from when they meet in chapter fifteen to when they part in chapter twenty-five. I managed to implement most of the resulting changes in chapter fifteen today, but that still leaves seven chapters where Cal and Deyl are together that will need to be tweaked, at the very least, if not totally re-written.

And that's just Cal & Deyl. Plenty of other changes still to come.

Maybe the end of June? Sigh. At least I feel confident that the final manuscript will be much better for all this work...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rachel Hawkins kept me up all night.

I have a problem. An addiction, you might call it. It derails my life, to the point where friends and family worry about my sanity and health.


Or more accurately, obsessive-compulsive-reading. Goes like this: Monday was a Canadian holiday, which was nice. Around ten pm I finished a long day of rewriting (working out the kinks in Deyl's relationship with another main character) and was itching for a good read. This is when I discovered something wonderful...

E-books are released at midnight on book release day. Midnight EST. I'm out here in Calgary in MST, so not long after ten I was actually able to purchase the e-book of Kim Harrison's SOMETHING DEADLY THIS WAY COMES, instead of waiting until after work on Tuesday. So, I started reading at ten, stayed up til about two or three am reading it, caught a few zzz's and finished reading it in the morning, before I had to be at work at noon.

Well, that was fine. Still got enough sleep.

Unfortunately, I found myself on a reading binge. I searched around for some new titles and read a couple sample chapters of Rachel Hawkins' HEX HALL, a YA urban fantasy. I absolutely fell in love with Sophie's sarcastic humour and literally could not put it down. This is my addition. I started reading Tuesday evening and didn't put the e-book down until around three am, when I finished it. And then I had to get up and go to work for eight. Yikes.

And then I laughed about how I have a problem... and proceeded to spend all evening today finishing the second Hex Hall novel, DEMONGLASS.

Sigh. Hopefully that's enough of a reading binge for now and I'll get back to re-writing tomorrow!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Keeping Promises

Hey, wow. So yesterday I flippantly promised I'd quit playing with Scrivener and get chapter twelve and thirteen done. Not that anyone actually reads my blog, but I guess making promises helps keep me on task, because I did finish twelve and thirteen today.

Well... maybe it wasn't the promise.

It was blissfully sunny and warm this morning, so I loaded up on java, grabbed the mac and the cat, and headed out to work on the re-write outside. Worked for hours. Easy to do, given the circumstances. Twelve and thirteen needed work in a few different areas. Both chapters have fight sequences that, honestly, I'd just written lazily the first time around. I went back and rewrote those sections, giving the action more tension and detail. There was also some magical inconsistency to deal with and some timeline issues.

And then I got sidelined by a potential change for chapter twenty-two. I've been considering two really major changes that would involve revising much of the ending. The idea I had today involved one of those ideas, adding a new minor character into twenty-two. She (pretty sure it'll be a she) would also have to be written into twenty-three and -four, but I don't think that will be a problem. What really sidelined me about this possible new character is how she can tie into book two - and book three, if I make it that far...

Finally, I'm going to add an excerpt from I Had to Fall to the Writing page tonight. Not sure what it'll be. If anyone's out there, feel free to share your thoughts :P


Squeeeeee! This is my first post on my brand-spanking-new MacBook Air!! I feel like I've been waiting for this for years!

Oh, wait. I have been.

It really is awesome though. I don't know what else to say. I was running a six-year-old iBook G4 up to this point, so pretty much anything would be better, faster and smoother. I've got all my old files transferred over and installed all the software I wanted. I didn't take much music, since I keep my music library on the MacMini and just share the library. Brought over my favourites though, for travel purposes: Rammstein, Iced Earth, We Are The Fallen, She Wants Revenge, Foo Fighters, The Fray and Nine Inch Nails. Plus a few writing-specific playlists that I never leave home without :D

The other #squee item is that I've installed the trial version of Scrivener and spent that last three hours playing around with it. I gotta say... love it. I really don't care which program I use for composition, but Scrivener's organization of my timelines, comments, notes, character and scene sketches, etc. is absolutely wonderful.

I'll stop playing tomorrow morning though and buckle down on editing chapters twelve and thirteen. Promise.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Less than 24 hours...

I'm going out after work tomorrow to buy my new MacBook Air! This poor iBook is seeing it's last days. Well, sort of. I'm going to recycle it to my dad, who's running an even older computer. And they've changed the forecast (again) for the long weekend, giving us mostly sunny skies. Things are definitely looking up!

I finished re-writing chapter ten today, and got started on twelve and thirteen. Those will be hefty changes, so it might take a few days to finish them up. Plus, I'll be spending another good chunk of time setting up my new Mac and checking out Scrivener, which I think I'll go ahead and buy as well...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Well, please disregard yesterdays post, I guess. It's true, my hard drive has failed. But my new computer won't arrive until Friday (at the earliest) so I got the morning off work. Spent some of that time reviewing the major changes I want / need to make to I Had to Fall. Right now I'm mulling over the fight and conversation between two characters, right at the point where they first meet, in chapters twelve and thirteen. It doesn't flow the way I want it to, and the dialogue doesn't achieve the information I want to present. It needs work. But before I can get to those changes, I need to go back a bit further and makes some conversational tweaks to chapter ten. Nothing too major - I know what needs to be said, and even have some rough dialogue ready - but if I don't set it up now it might screw with the changes further along.

So, if tomorrow's schedule goes as well as today's did, I should have chapter ten pretty much in the bag and ready to move onto the changes needed in twelve and thirteen. Excellent.

Not so excellent: got about a hundred mosquito bites while mowing the grass yesterday. Mosquitos in Calgary. Who knew.

Oh! And countdown to my new macbook air has been revised... I'm thinking I'll go buy it a couple days before my birthday (impatient, I know) so I can have it for the whole weekend. Which means: only 2 days to go!!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Down Time

I'm in the midst of a bit of a writing break. I spent the weekend in Edmonton checking out Rammstein and Into Eternity, both awesome shows by the way. Then I returned to work on Monday (in case you aren't aware, I loathe Mondays) only to have my computer not turn on.

Just heard back from IT today. Hard drive is shot.

So, I'll pretty much be living at the office for the next couple of days, trying to recover what work I can and run damage control on my client work. In the midst of oil-show season.

I'm just going to keep looking forward to the weekend and hope fervently for three uninterrupted days of relaxing and writing. That's all I want in life. Seriously.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Blogger ate my last post. And, it also ate a whole new page I had created! Arg.

Off to Edmonton for the weekend. No work, all play.

Over n out!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

To work, or not to work?

That is the question. The rewrite of chapter twenty-one kicked my ass tonight, taking twice as long as I expected. That puts me a bit behind the schedule I'd set. I'll have a few hours to work tomorrow night, but it won't be enough to get to the end of the book...

I'm heading to Edmonton at noon on Friday, to see Rammstein in concert. Then I'm staying there to hang out with friends and see Into Eternity play Saturday night. I don't want to leave the rewrite for two days if I only have one or two chapters left.

So, do I go uber-nerd and bring my laptop with me up to Edmonton? Work on it on the drive there or back, at the hotel? Hahaha... crap.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

JuSt a biT cHaoTic

I'm a digital person. I really am. I never carry cash, my iPhone may as well be embedded in my forearm, I spend all day at work on a computer and then all evening on my laptop.

I like to think that being digital keeps me more organized. But right now, not so much. I just closed off my writing files for the night. I had 7 text files of notes open, 2 Pages documents (the draft and the synopsis), the thesaurus, the calendar, 4 Firefox tabs to Wikipedia articles, and 2 Numbers files. Wow. I manage to keep track of everything I need, but still. A bit on the ridiculously-chaotic side.

Because of said chaos, I'm excited to try Scrivener, once I get my new mac. It looks like just the thing I need to help organize this digital mess. I wonder what other authors do? Kim Harrison has blogged about it, but I think I'll go on a little Tweet campaign and ask around. Might get some interesting answers.

Coundown to Macbook Air: 12 days!!

PS. Funny thing: I still do my taxes long-hand on paper. Sure, I telefile it once it's done. But there is still a bit of paper in my life... once a year :P

Monday, May 9, 2011

Is it possible to survive without sleep?

Not needing to sleep is one of the strange fae-factors of my main character, Deyl Parker. What I want to know, is it possible for me too?

Because that would be nice.

So many great books to read, so little time in the day. I got back into my usual routine today, as hoped, but that only leaves about an hour or two a day for reading. Simply not enough! Last week, I finished Divergent by Veronica Roth in 12 hours (yay for flying, airports and long drives!) which was f'n awesome. Loved the premise. Sort of The Giver meets The Last Airbender. 

I also finished Wings, Spells and Illusions by Aprilynne Pike, nearly in one sitting. It was at the point where I was falling asleep, eyesight blurry from reading off my iPhone, but simply refused to put it down. So good, I'm re-reading again at a less-manic pace.

So, the question that always haunts me afterwards: how long do I have to wait for the next book in those series?!?

Too Long.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yeah, About That.

So I've been gone for a while. Things got crazy at work, and then I got into a series of books I couldn't put down, and then there was a death in the family that pulled me out of town for most of last week.

Anyway, I'm back again. I'm feeling really... haywire. Because of all that stuff, I feel like my life has fallen off the tracks. I really enjoy spontaneity—from time to time—but mostly I like routine. I'm big on control, and routine gives me a feeling of control over my life. Right now I'm focusing on getting some of that control back.

Tomorrow is Monday. I'm going to try and make it as routine of a Monday as I possibly can—considering that I have issues with Mondays to begin with...

In other news, the rewrite of I Had to Fall is going well, all things considered. I'm hoping to finish the minor revisions and rewrites by the end of this week, and spend the following week or two on the major revisions. That puts the last week of May for final tweaks and polish.

Then off to query I go...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rock, Query & Read

Love the new Foo Fighters album, by the way. Check out Dear Rosemary, Arlandria, and These Days. New favourite songs.

Kristin over at Pub Rants says to query while the querying is hot. Damn. Can't query until the MS is perfect (or as perfect as I can make it...) which probably won't be until late May. Plus, my query letter is crap right now. Little snippets of information that need to be made sensible, then sexy. And by sexy, I mean attention-getting, honestly.

I think I'll start re-reading the Dead in the Family, since Dead Reckoning comes out next week. I'm not a huge Sookie fan, but I like a lot of things about Charlaine Harris' SVM world. Plus, it's Urban Fantasy—gotta know my genre through-and-through.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lost a few hours of work today watching playoff hockey. Can't help it, I'm only human Canadian. Flyers stayed alive in an excellent overtime win and forced game seven!

The re-write went well today. Lots of humming and hawing though. In working to tighten up the writing and storyline I find myself questioning every scene, every action and decision made by Deyl and her companions. They did this-and-this. Why? What else could they have done instead? What if they did this-and-that, or that-and-this? And while it can be a bit overwhelming, it feels good. I'll trust my gut on this one, believing the resulting changes are for the best.

But it's late, and I'm tired. Hoping to finish chapter nine and get started on ten tomorrow...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mmmm... Spring!

I love spring. Honestly. Days like today are worth all the long, cold winter this country can throw at me. It was a balmy 10°C out there today, no wind and lots of sun. In September I'd have said it was cold, the windows would be closed and heat running. After a suffering through five months of winter... it's warm, windows open, heat off!

But enough of that weather stuff. I finished my comments and notes for I Had to Fall today, making it all the way from chapter fourteen to the end of the book. I've got a house full of people tomorrow, so I might not get a chance to work on the actual re-write, but I've still got Sunday. I love long weekends, too.

Oh, I also bought new lawn furniture today. It's all setup under the sunshade and ready to be used... for outdoor writing on a new macbook air... only 30 days! 

Happy Earth Day, by the way :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Kill a Lunch Break:

Thirty minutes and a brand new header for my blog. Pretty. Shiny. New.

Also built in some pages into the header area. I've got a spot to fill in a bio. That's kinda dull, but hey, why not. I've also put in a writing page, where I'll post some excerpts from I Had to Fall once I get this rewrite all done. Aren't you excited?

Eh? Eh?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Made it through all my hard copy notes today.

According to my records, I printed that copy out on October 30th last year, let it sit for a couple months, and made the notes for changes during the last week of January. As I said yesterday, I've revised my editing process. One of the things that wasn't working for me was jumping back and forth between my new digital notes and that old hard copy. So today I finished converting my red-pen notes into digital comments.

Now, those red-pen notes were made almost three months ago. In that space of time I've gone ahead and finished the first draft of the second Deyl Parker book, To Rise Again. A lot has developed and changed in regards to characters, world, history, etc. Which means my next step is to review again, keeping all those new developments in mind, and make nice new little digital comments.

I really have no idea how long that will take. Tentatively, I'm hoping I'll be done by this weekend, though that might be a tad ambitious... we'll see.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm an avid reader of Kim Harrison's blog, by the way. Her writing advice is what made me take up the pen (well, keyboard really) in the first place, and got me into this whole mess. One of the things she's repeatedly mentioned is that the writing process is a not a science, that it changes and evolves.

Today, my process evolved.

So far I've been tackling the re-write chapter by chapter. I've copied comments into the document from the last hard copy I printed out (more on that another day), read my notes for important changes to the world, characters and plots, re-read each chapter and made new notes, then gone back and re-written the chapter. Then all over again for the next chapter.

I feel slogged (what does slogged mean? not sure. I'm going with sluggishly-bogged-down) by that process. Jumping from notes to writing and back again. Instead, I'm going to try working all those notes and changes into document comments during one big read-through, then go back to the beginning and just write. Everything I need to change will be there, just a matter of re-writing it nicely. 

Wish me luck.

Also, countdown to Air: 34d

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shifting Gears

Yeah, today did come together more smoothly than yesterday did. I finished re-writing chapters seven and eight, and got about halfway through chapter nine. I've still got some concerns, but so far the re-write is cleaning up a lot of the ugly writing and building a much more solid world around Deyl and her friends. And enemies. Stronger story, better writing. All good things.

And those concerns I've got? Basically, how will these changes affect the overall story. But I figure, once I've got all the major changes done I'll spend a few more days re-reading the whole thing just to tweak and polish the finished story. Yeah, it will all work out. I'm sure of it.

So I'll hope that my work schedule is a bit more under control this week, get in an extra day of writing on the long weekend, and really shift gears back into writing mode.

Also: super-excited to get my new Air next month. Do you know how old this iBook is? Well, it's an iBook for starters, so that tells you something. I need to update. Badly. If I go out and buy the Air on my birthday (which is the plan...) I'm officially on a 35 day countdown!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back from the Dead

Okay, I wasn't dead. Just overworked. As I've probably already mentioned, spring is trade show season. And as I design trade show displays for a living, that means I'm super busy at the office. And when I'm working long days and weekends I usually don't have the energy to be creative.

Hell, I don't have the energy for anything at that point.

The house is a mess, I haven't done a German lesson in two weeks, my exercise gear is gathering dust and my friends think I'm ignoring them. But I did get back to work today! I got back into the re-write of I Had to Fall, though it didn't go as smoothly as I was hoping. I'll just chock that up to being rusty from my two-week hiatus and keep my fingers crossed that tomorrow is better.

In other news, a foot of snow fell here in Calgary last week. So as much as I've been looking forward to working on the re-write outside in the sun, that's not happening anytime soon. Sigh.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Seriously, I'm tired of having to sign a petition every time an election rolls around. The Green Party of Canada has nearly a million voters, and more than that in supporters. They shouldn't have to fight for a spot in the leaders debate each time our government fails. C'mon.

Demand democratic debates!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Work at the office has put the rest of my life on hold for the past few days. March to June is typically our busiest time of year, and as a growing business Exhibit Studio is busier than ever this spring. I've put my German practice on hold (thank-you Rosetta Stone) as well as my writing. Mostly, when I finally make it home from the office I've been curling up in my comfy chair to read. And then sleep. That's it.

Now that the weekend is here I've got a bit more time on my hands. I've already done some of my Deutsch lessons this morning, trying to catch up, and I should be able to dedicate this evening to the editing book one, I Had to Fall. I mean, it's not like I'm going to be getting any gardening done... seeing as another foot of snow fell last night. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pluggin' away...

I just started re-writing I Had to Fall, and well, chapter one kicked my ass.

At some point this evening I realized it wasn't a hill to die on and moved on to chapter two. All of the plot, character and world changes had been made; I was just killing myself over the details in the prose. So I'm moving on. I'm halfway through chapter two and I'll probably work a few more chapters, then maybe jump back to one. Or wait until the end. Doesn't matter. All the important stuff is in place, so I just want to keep the ball rolling.

And of course, while I was working away all hum-dee-dum on this re-write, another story idea blindsided me. A tad bit distracting, that. But I don't want to lose the idea, or its characters, so I'm closing up shop a bit early tonight so I can spend some time jotting down ideas.

It's a bit out there, but I want to try my hand at something really different, and I think this is it. And the cool part: I'm going to try to write it from the guy's point of view. In my head it's a little bit romance, a little bit cyberpunk, a little bit fantasy. Might even be YA. Scary.

So before I take that idea any further... any recommended reads for similar work, YA guy's POV?

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's a Love-Hate Thing

Why do I even get out of bed on Mondays?

I'll check with the boss and see if I can do something about that. Think she'll go for it?

...That's what I thought.

My computer wasn't working this morning. Just wouldn't start. When I fixed that (good old Mac Safe Boot) I realized the company website and emails had been down all weekend (for which I blame Yahoo) and we missed any and all client emails that may have been sent between 4:30 Friday and 9:30 Monday. While fixing that, a second office computer crashed.

I love technology, but sometimes... not so much.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

And then there was a plan.

Worked for about eight hours today on world-building. As usual, Sundays are my best writing days. Nothing else going on, nothing but writing. And feeding the cat. Sometimes, I even remember to feed myself.

All in all, it went really well. I've got a much more solid history in place that provides the evolution for the technology, mega-cities, clothing, food, transportation, etc. in Deyl's world. It all seems to tie together quite neatly, and is based on the up-and-coming technology we have in place today. I tried to keep my question from yesterday in the back of my mind: what would it be like today, after 150 years of war?

I also put together my revision plan for book one, based on my notes from book two, the new world-building, and all the other little ideas that have been percolating through my brain while the book was on the shelf for the past five months.

Tomorrow: onward to the revisions!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Faster Than Expected...

Today I finished a quick, post-draft review of the second book in my Deyl Parker series. It went a hell of a lot faster than I had expected: four days.

When I say a quick review, I mean it. At this point I'm merely making notes on things in book two that might affect elements of book one. Where necessary I also made comments on the plot for book two, or fixed obvious spelling errors, but otherwise I went through it quickly, thinking mostly about book one.

So tomorrow I'm back, fully focused on I Had to Fall. I'm going to spend some time—a few days or a week—planning the changes I want to / need to make during the re-write, before diving in to make those changes. I also need to spend some more time on world building, the technology in particular. I mean, if a war between man and fae (just pretend, folks) were to break out today, and last for a hundred and fifty years, what kind of technology would we have at the end of it? What would we gain, what would we lose?

Friday, March 25, 2011

First Post

Title is pretty much self-explanatory.

I'm going to give this blog thing a go. Do I have anything interesting to say? Remains to be seen. However, it doesn't really seem to me that to keep a blog you necessarily have to have anything to say. What I have to say is mostly about my writing.

I began writing just over a year ago, and no lie, it all started with one of Kim Harrison's blog posts where she discussed some of her writing tips. I realized, with a bit of shock, that writing a novel was an extremely structured, disciplined and organized undertaking.

Day job: graphic designer. And I love it. What appeals to me about design is the blending of creativity with structure. You can break all the rules and create an incredible design, but you need to know the rules through and through before you can break them. That same unique combination of imagination and organization, with some careful rule-breaking, applies as much to writing a novel as it does to design. Naturally, I fell in love with writing almost immediately.

So I've given some of the characters that were wandering around in my head a place to live, to grow, and to change, by putting them together in a novel. It's an urban fantasy (think Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Laurell K. Hamilton) titled I Had to Fall, and it centers around the adventures of Deyl Parker, a less-than-heroic protagonist. Is it any good?

Remains to be seen.