Monday, June 22, 2015

The Dangers of Careless Book Launch Poses

Hooray! An article* on the launch of Lady Oak Abroad ran in the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Click here to read it.


At a bookstore in Canmore, Alberta, I found a t-shirt sporting the cover of one of my favourite SF books, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The perfect top to launch a SF novel of my own! Only thanks to the placement of my arm in the Daily Herald photo, the hitchhiking hand looks like a, well, not a hand. I include the full cover here to atone for my careless positioning.

*Rant-free!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice Book Launch

It's 2 am and I see daylight in the east. Happy summer solstice, everyone!

Thank you to the staff of the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library in Prince Albert for hosting the launch of Lady Oak Abroad. It was a wonderful event. I await with some trepidation the appearance of the Daily Herald's coverage of the launch. I might have gone on a bit of an ungrateful rant to the reporter about the lack of professional support* for female SF/Fantasy writers in the prairie provinces. It was a very short rant; maybe he didn't notice.

Congratulations to the winners of the Goodreads Giveaway Contest. Your free copy of Lady Oak Abroad will be in the mail this week. Stay tuned for more giveaways in the future.


*By "professional support" I speak of publication and promotion, not therapy. Although many of us could certainly use the latter, considering the number of rejection letters we've received.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Confessions of a Logophile

They had so many more words in the nineteenth century, didn't they? Apparently the goal of Victorian literature was to take a simple concept and expand it to use up as many words as possible. No wonder rebellious Hemingway used so few. English class must have driven him up the wall. I, on the other hand, have been having a grand old time with the nineteenth century novels I've been reading. They remind me of how much I loved words as a child. Multisyllabic, unpronounceable, incomprehensible words. A book wasn't worth reading unless it required a dictionary standing by. Each book that challenged my vocabulary felt like the step of a staircase in a castle with a treasure room at the top. Of course, now I realize the staircase was the treasure.

A Rewording Life is a wonderful logophilish project by author Sheryl Gordon to raise money for the  Alzheimer Society of Canada. She has compiled an anthology of "beguiling, bemusing words." The one thousand contributors include Terry Fallis, Miriam Toews, Yann Martel, Margaret Atwood, Brent Butt, and yours truly (I got cuneiform). The anthology will be released in the fall of 2015 but you can pre-order a copy at www.arewordinglife.com.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fiction Addiction

Sorry, can't blog, too many books to read. I'm on the last chapter of Tom Sawyer Abroad, and then I want to get back to The Empire Striketh Back, and then I need to buckle down and get through the research material for my current writing projects.

Occasionally I will introduce myself as a writer at a social gathering and the person I’m talking to will respond, with a guilty sigh, “I should read more.”

If they're lucky, I will not be swallowing a drink at the moment and spew it all over them as I laugh hysterically. It’s like hearing someone say “I should breathe more.” I want to ask, “How do you stop yourself from reading?” For writers, reading is an addiction that must be controlled if we are to experience any sort of real life at all. We learn to multitask, to sneak a few pages here and there while we eat, wait for a ride, or get ready for bed, just to keep us going.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I can't blog because this weekend is devoted to autoimmune repair. I will be resting, drinking litres of water, preparing bland but nourishing food to soothe my innards, and generally grumbling around feeling sorry for myself. And no, I refuse to blog about these conditions! I prefer to convert them into bizarre alien viruses in my future SF novels.

I'll tell you who does have an excellent blog about chronic disease; Madelon Smid. I was among the many sufferers of chronic illness she interviewed to research her online book, Chronic Challenge: Living Well With A Chronic Disease. Our secret identities have been concealed with code names. To be honest, I'm not sure I have correctly identified myself in the book. Our histories are so remarkably similar. You can read the book on Madelon's blog.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Lady Oak Abroad

I had to stop blogging for a couple of years to work on Dinosaur Dogs and my new YA fantasy novel. The fantasy novel won the publication race. On the tenth anniversary of the launch of my first novel, The Prairie Dogs, I launched my first eBook, Lady Oak Abroad.

The first year of the new millennium has not been kind to Audrey. She’s been dumped, expelled, and run over by a bus. She firmly believes her personal life, along with the entire planet Earth, is damaged beyond all hope of redemption. She jumps at the chance to escape both when her loony old aunt goes missing from her front yard. Her search for her aunt takes her across the magical Migrara and many other worlds that overlap our own. But the universe is not the epic amusement park she thought it would be. In fact, it’s kind of a mess. As Audrey blunders through the magical and political minefields of worldhopping, she picks up a motley crew of companions; the mysterious outlaw mage Keirt, the treacherous Prince Nicholas, and the overzealous warrior woman Latiana. But no one is what they seem—not Aunt Ellen, not even the adorable little girl who lives down the block from Audrey. Even the beautiful world of Migrara hides a terrifying secret that might destroy everything Audrey holds dear. Fortunately, Audrey discovers some powerful magic of her own; and more importantly, Impulse Control.

Whether you’re thirteen or thirty-three, you’ll love the chaotic adventures of the irrepressible Audrey O’Krane. You can download it from Amazon Kindle in Canada, the UK, the United States, and other Amazon sites around the world.

No eBook reader? No problem. Download Amazon's free reader software, or read the book online using Amazon's Kindle Cloud Reader.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Miracle Dogs

I had to stop blogging for a year or so in order to write Miracle Dogs, the sequel to The Prairie Dogs and City Dogs. It was released October 2012. And this time the illustrator was yours truly.

Pierre, the former agility dog champion, and his companions Dare, Mouse and Mew, finally have the life they've always longed for; a comfortable home, a human they can trust, and a lively pair of puppies who keep them on their toes. Stardom will surely be theirs as well as they prepare to perform a canine clown act at the world-famous Telemiracle.

But Pierre is worried; what will become of his troublesome puppies when they're old enough to leave home? After meeting a group of Assistance Dogs, he decides to secure his children's future by training them for this prestigious career. His plans are sabotaged by his outrageously misbehaving companions, a band of feral cats who have a score to settle with Dare, and a freak accident on the Telemiracle stage. If the Prairie Dogs ever want to see the puppies again, they will have to brave the perils of the winter prairie to perform a desperate rescue mission. It will take a miracle just to get everyone home in one piece!

Visit my web page for more information.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Prairie Dogs and City Dogs Audiobooks

I'm so excited I can't even think about blogging today. The latest news: The Prairie Dogs and City Dogs have been released as audiobooks! Produced by RMW Kids and narrated by Liz Ramos, the books are available for download from Saskatchewan public libraries and Amazon.com.

Head to RMW Kids for more information and previews of each audiobook!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Real Life Fiction

I'm too busy delving into my past to blog today. I've been going through my old journals, sifting through my life’s events for fiction fodder. Here is the dark side of a writer’s life. We cannibalize our history to feed our craft. It’s not easy, this process of coldly analyzing and selecting deeply personal and often painful passages for public display. I find myself cringing as I read the cheerful, optimistic entries that preceded life’s catastrophes. I want to step into the journal and warn my past self of what’s about to happen. Or better still, purchase a magic pen to rewrite the past and spare myself all that anguish. But then what would I write about? I would have to turn to the outside world, immortalize other people’s lives even more so than I already do—heavily disguised, of course, to avoid legal action. Writing about others is interesting, but not as gratifying as translating your own life into fiction. It’s our own experiences that give our writing depth and passion.

So what do you do with all these bit of real life lovingly collected in your journals? Well, after years of staring at my stack of journals wondering what to do with it all, I realized I needed a system. I created a binder divided into sections named Story Ideas, Settings and Props, Characters, Dialogue, and the titles of projects I’m currently working on. Then I went through my journals, picked out anything that looked useful and copied it under the appropriate section. I’m starting to wonder if I should have used my word processor rather than a binder, but there is something satisfying about pulling a collection of paper off a shelf and flipping through it either randomly or with a specific purpose in mind.

Nonfiction and fiction writers alike are inspired by real life events. The fiction writer takes a true event a step further by adding, “But what if—?”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Manuscript Submissions: The Importance of Proofreading

I don't have time to blog; it's a proofreading day. Before submitting a final draft for potential publication, I read my manuscript several times to be certain its content is flawless. I don’t assume the publisher’s editor will fix my typos, poor grammar and incorrect facts. Professional editing is expensive. A publisher won’t accept a manuscript they think will cost them a fortune in repairs. Another tip about submitting manuscripts: avoid weird fonts, coloured paper and other gimmicks. They will only distract and annoy the editor. You want to make the reading of your manuscript as painless as possible for the editor. I've arranged for a crew to massage my editor's feet, play soothing music, and serve her wine while she reads.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Thing I Love About Writing

I love the way I’ll surprise myself in the middle of a manuscript. I’ll be writing a chapter with a specific idea in mind, and something completely unexpected and wild will happen. This can be good or bad--good if it enhances the plot; bad if it takes the story in a direction it’s not meant to go. In the latter case I will eventually run into a dead end and have to backtrack to where the story derailed. It’s important to check your roadmap (your outline) periodically to ensure your creative detour isn’t getting you hopelessly lost.

Just because your wayward idea doesn’t work with this novel doesn’t mean you have to discard it. Save it for another journey. One day you might come back this way with a new book.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I Love About Writing

I'm too lazy to blog today, so I'll simply repeat from my website the top ten reasons why I became a writer:

1. It gives me a good excuse to stay up half the night and get up at noon.
2. If the real world is getting me down, I can invent a new world where I make the rules.
3. I learn interesting stuff while doing research for my stories.
4. If someone makes me mad I turn them into a villain in a book and make all sorts of nasty things happen to them.
5. I can sit there staring into space for an hour and tell people, "Don't interrupt me, I'm working!"
6. I can get away with doing weird things in the name of research.
7. People stop me in the street and ask for my autograph (this hasn't actually happened to me yet, but I'm sure it will soon).
8. I can do your work anywhere, anytime.
9. Being a children's author gives me an excuse to read children's books.
10. I get to meet interesting people such as other authors, the people I interview for research, and best of all, the people who read my books!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

First Drafts

Today I can't blog because my mental faculties have been drained by writing 30 pages of a new fantasy novel at one sitting. I'm calling it New Fantasy Novel (tentative title). Once in a while a new book will burst out of me with little warning. The idea has been there for a while, filling up my head with images, but I don’t realize it’s becoming a book until it suddenly spills out onto paper. I won’t say anything about the plot for now. I don’t like to discuss a first draft because I don’t want to jinx it.

The first draft is the most exciting step in writing a book. I try not to ruin the enjoyment by fussing over the sort of details that get me stuck. I used to get stuck all the time because I couldn’t decide what to write next. I felt I must start at the beginning and work my way to the end. As a result I abandoned a number of projects because I became stuck for so long I lost interest. Finally I realized there is no law that says you have to write in a straight line. I could start in the middle of the story, skip to the end, then go back to the opening chapter. Now when I’m writing a story I record bits of dialogue and action in the order that they come to me and worry about sorting out the order of events later with the word processor. If I come to a part that seems to be slowing me down, and I’m anxious to get on with a more interesting section up ahead, I simply skip over the problematic part. Inserting a note such as (he explains the history of the sword to her) or (they run into some sort of obstacle here) reminds me to come back to this section later and expand upon it. The most important thing to remember about first drafts, a tip that will guarantee publication, is (insert information here).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Queen of Procrastination

Although we love to write, writers are the worst (or perhaps the best) when it comes to allowing ourselves to be distracted from it. When I’m in a good mood, I’m distracted by everything around me. When I’m in a bad mood, I’m distracted by everything inside me. I’ve learned to set a timer when I sit down to write. Knowing I have a deadline of an hour helps me stay focussed. The timer also reminds me to stop for a break during those wonderful spells of creativity when I become too focussed and forget to eat or sleep.

Favourite ways to distract myself:

  • Trying to toss my pen into the air and catch it using only my mouth
  • Searching for an environmentally friendly product that will remove ink from my face
  • Playing with the figurines scattered around my office
  • Gardening
  • Eating
  • Chasing bugs across my desk
  • Eating again
  • Exercising to compensate for all the eating
  • Reading, reading and more reading


I would be interested to hear what other writers do to distract themselves. Maybe I'll take a survey. In fact I'll do that right now! The new novel can wait a little longer...

Friday, August 28, 2009

10 Easy Steps to Becoming a Novelist

1. Read a lot of books.
2. Write stories for school. Discover you enjoy school writing but hate being told what to write. Begin writing for fun. Stories grow longer and longer and finally become book-length.
3. Write sprawling epic novel inspired by the sprawling epic novels of your favourite authors.
4. Attempt to get epic novel published. Epic novel is rejected by publishers due to unoriginal content and style. Throw tantrum. Swear you will never write again. Withdraw from world to nurse broken heart.
6. Write another novel, this time inspired by your own opinions and experiences.
7. Research publishing market and submission procedures.
8. Attempt to get new novel published. More rejection letters. More tantrums, more nursing of broken heart.
9. Repeat steps 6-8 while developing your own unique style. Confidence and optimism are replaced by sheer, pigheaded stubbornness.
10. Receive book contract from publisher. Faint from shock. Promote book, pursue further publications, acquire literary agent, etc. Discover life is not all sunshine and roses now that you’re published. You still have to work very hard!

Speaking of hard work, I can't blog today because I’m hard at work on the third Prairie Dogs novel, Miracle Dogs. It feels good to be back in Silvertree. I’ve missed my dogs!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beware the Writer

Today I can't blog because I'm too busy spying on people. Beware the writer. She watches, and she listens as she hovers quietly on the edge of your world. She steal little bits of your life and never thanks you for it. Abuse her today and tomorrow you will find yourself the villain of her latest novel.

Years ago I took a writing class from Gail Bowen. One of our assignments was to find a place to practice our people watching and eavesdropping skills. I chose the airport, thinking I would pick up some good travel stories. Unfortunately back then the Regina airport was absolutely dead at 3pm. I wandered through the empty airport for an hour looking for people to spy on, all the while stalked by a suspicious security guard.

Other promising locations to eavesdrop on conversations: restaurants, school, public transport, malls, family reunions, public restrooms. Other suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First entry (again)

Seriously, I'm a terrible blogger. My skill at organizing my ideas into eloquent prose deserts me when it come to creating thought-provoking commentary. I wander away and forget I have a blog, sometimes for years.

My sole purpose for torturing myself in this way is to keep myself focussed on the writing life and touch base with my faithful readers. To atone for inflicting my ramblings upon them, I will share some of my author adventures and writing tips that I often present and gather at readings and workshops.

To begin, a few highlights of advice for writers presented by the guest authors at the previous weekend's Con-Version 25 which I attended in Calgary with my friend Bridget. SF and fantasy authors Terry Brooks, Tanya Huff, Dave Duncan, and Robert J. Sawyer were among the guest speakers.
  • When critiquing another's work be truthful but helpful. Be specific. An example of unhelpful criticism: "I don't like this part."
  • Find a niche in the market and try to tie it into a current trend.
  • Write in a comfortable chair.
  • Never miss deadlines.
  • Get onto listservs and forums related to the subject you're researching.
  • Less is more; don't include too much description (characters, settings, weather, etc.) Let your readers engage their imaginations.
  • How you write is more important than what you write. It's your unique voice that sells the story, not the story itself.
  • Don't write what you know; write what you think is cool.







Photos: Terry Brooks and Glenda; Glenda with Tanya Huff and my friend Bridget; Glenda geeking it up in Vulcan fashion

This was the second SF/Fantasy convention I've attended (the first was the World Fantasy Convention in Calgary last year) and the first where guests were allowed to dress in costume. Would you believe only 2 other people were wearing Star Trek uniforms? I feel so behind the times.