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