Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Day, New Year

It's the last day of 2015... the eve of a new year.

I'm compelled to write a blog but why?  What makes the turn from December 31 to January 1 any different than from January 31 and February 1? or June 4 to June 5? This milestone is an arbitrary, artificial one really, hyped by parties and greeting cards. Right? But it begs review of the year past and evaluation of the year to come.

In 2015 my immediate family was blessed with all the important things - freedom, opportunity, passion, health and happiness. But we have many loved ones who have been challenged with poor health, tough choices and uncertainty. Aptitude was released and has done well with reviews and feedback.

So what comes in 2016? Lots of exciting things - It Should Have Been a #GoodDay comes out on my 40th birthday... people will turn 10, 12, 14 and 11 (and some bigger numbers). There will be job contracts, team tryouts, piano exams, school assignments and tests. Maybe even the Paralympics in Rio!

Honestly all indications show 2016 may be our toughest year yet... and I don't remember facing a year with that in mind. It's a bit daunting. But come it will and so we'll have to figure out how to navigate it together, as a family, as a team.

Best wishes for a Happy 2016!


Saturday, December 26, 2015


... Where did December go?

I love Christmas. I love the lead up, the day, the relaxing days afterwards. The days with no where to go, no where to be. TV and pjs and snacking all day. Phone calls and visits and reading and sleeping in... what's not to love?

From my Nuthouse to yours, Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate enjoy — be kind to yourself, love others and breathe.


Monday, December 07, 2015

This and That and the other thing

Starting out with this post, I suspect it'll be a bit rambly, and not only because I just took a head first dive into a door frame (frozen corn thaws way too quickly).

Here's one of my stressors these days:

There's pretty much NO WAY I'm going to read seven books by the end of December. It doesn't help that my next BookClub book is The Stand, which is apparently 17,000 pages long.

I've been wrestling with my WIP for months now and it just doesn't want to cooperate. I love the idea. I love the characters. I love the story. But it won't get out of my head into my computer. So I've shelved it... It is my full intention to come back to it because the idea that the story does not come out is very sad to me... It needs to be read, there's a magical, life force to it that is demanding an existence, but right now it's not breathing.

In it's place I've started another idea. I write long fiction because I don't come up with ideas easily or frequently. This one popped into my head a week or so ago and I figured it was worth listening to. I'll see where it goes.

Four days left on the Indiegogo campaign to preorder It Should Have Been a #GoodDay! Check it out, as there are options available for Christmas presents too!

Off to get more frozen veggies for the egg on my head :D


Friday, November 20, 2015

Casting call

I've cast the roles of Emily, Thomas, Brogan and Henry - my beloved in It Should Have Been a #GoodDay:'


Wait, how'd he get in there?



Thoughts? Who'd you rather see?

Join the discussion on the Indiegogo page.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Quill & Quire Part Deux

So now that the print magazine has been out for a bit they've posted the review of Aptitude online!

Reading it makes me smile :)


Friday, November 13, 2015

Fraud Police

A friend recommended the book The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and I listened to it during our trip last winter. Pretty impressive book. At one point I had one of those moments where a fear I thought was mine alone was described and named and I realized I wasn't alone. She called it the Fraud Police. There are moments where I am sure I have fooled everyone around me to think I actually knew what I was doing, was worth their respect, was good at something. I've had it in all aspects of my life - professionally thought, "Who in their right mind gave me a real certificate to practice speech pathology?" in my parenting pretty much from "They let me leave the hospital with him?" to "I'm sure children's services will be by any minute to try and salvage this royal f*ck up of a job I'm doing".

But what it pertains to here is my writing.

What is a writer? This is what Google says:
I am the writer of three books, but that sounds suspiciously past tense.

I write books, though "job" is a strong word.

And when I'm sitting at my desk trying to write something that is stuck, or pretending to write but getting distracted by everything from cat videos to Facebook - am I still a writer? What if I stay stuck forever and never get another good book out - am I a writer then?

And what makes success? A finished book? A published book? A good review? Ten, twenty, a hundred good reviews? A best seller? I'm targeting the Nobel. They must feel pretty pleased with themselves. :)


Monday, November 09, 2015

Very Noisy in Here

To be a writer, as I understand it, you have to be open to inner dialogue. There are a lot of voices competing for my attention - dialogues between characters, dialogues I have with myself...

I've been struggling with my WIP. A historical fiction type book with a unique narrator and POV. It's been a fight to get my ideas down on paper. I have the general idea of the story in my head, I have done some bullet outlining of events - both real historical happenings and story bits that coincide. I have the characters dancing about and shouting at each other. But it's like I'm watching it all through foggy glass so I can't see or hear the details.

And one voice in my head is saying "Just get down the general story, worry about the details and the specifics later." and another voice is saying "Wow, that really sucks. You don't have a story here, you can't call yourself a writer. And besides, you ate cake for breakfast, no wonder you're fat!" (yeah, that voice is an asshole, and gets the podium waaaaay too often).

I'm plugging away at it.

In happier news - Aptitude has received several positive and glowing reviews! I'm so happy people like the story! Someone even called it one of her 'favourite books of all time' (and it wasn't my mom).

The Indiegogo campaign for It Should Have Been a #GoodDay is doing fantastic and many people are preordering the book. I've raised some money for the Rehteah Parsons Society too! AND the cover reveal is on there - if you haven't seen it, go check it out. It's beautiful, if I do say so myself, fantastic work done by Valerie Bellamy at Dog-Ear Book Design.

Sooo, now I go write and try to silence the moron in my head.


Thursday, November 05, 2015


Head on over to the Indiegogo campaign to see the COVER REVEAL! Under the 'Updates' is the video reveal :)

It's so beautiful, done by Valerie Bellamy at Dog-Ear Book Design.


Monday, November 02, 2015

New News! New Book News!

Today marks the start of my gearing up for my February release!!!

In February I turn 40. What better way to mark this milestone birthday than with a book birthday and a release party?

My third novel, It Should Have Been a #GoodDay is written, edited, proofed and ready to share. I'm turning it over to an excellent designer, Valerie Bellamy at Dog-Ear Book Design for her to work her magic to make the inside LOOK as awesome as the story sounds. She has already produced a beautiful cover, which will be revealed SOOOON!

I had great experiences publishing Game Plan and Aptitude with Fierce Ink Books. I've made great friends and fantastic professionals through them. That said, I wanted to see what this 'self publishing' is all about. I've used a lot of my professional contacts from my first two publications to build a publishing team that took my little story and made it a real, live, novel. I was excited to work again with Allister Thompson and Colleen McKie and it was great to meet Valerie!

But all that professional support costs money. I've launched an Indiegogo campaign that will let you guys get first dibs on pre-orders and help me pay for making this book awesome. Check it out! And share it with your peeps!

#GoodDay Indiegogo Campaign


Monday, October 26, 2015

Quill & Quire? No way!

I'm learning there are certain events that act to legitimize this effort of mine to carve an existence as A Writer (capital A, capital W). Typing "The End", signing on with a publisher, working with an editor that is not MS Word Spelling & Grammar check, seeing the cover (still my favourite), holding a real book, finding it in the library or bookstore, hearing a review outside the obligatory readers (family and friends)... so last week I got to check another off my list. Aptitude was chosen as the Editor's Choice and reviewed in The Quill & Quire!

The review will go online after a few weeks, but I've got my hardcopy to stare at now :) The editor, Dory Cerny, spent the first half of the review setting the story up and explaining some of the background, then she jumped into the fun stuff — her opinion of the story! She used words like "complex", "delightful", "lustre" and "vividly" and finished the review by saying: "Sampson's dystopian tale is a multi-layered and thought-provoking examination of the concepts of free will, duty and what it means to truly love someone." She got it.

I'm getting there...


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Running out of Gas

This morning started later than most as it was Steve's morning to get the kids to school almost-on-time. I got up and walked the Devil's Spawn of a dog, then walked the girls to the bus stop, then drove them to school because we missed the bus (at both bus stops). I raced home to do a couple tasks and run an errand before meeting at the school to discuss bullying and how not to let my kid bully others. Great convo. Seriously. Then I ran home to pick up some necessities before my next meeting and realized i didn't have my wallet. A call to the office determined it was there, that's fine, a stop on my way to my 11 meeting is doable if I leave now. Race off again, to the office, grab the wallet, back on the road to my meeting, through traffic and up onto the highway and then... the car died. Died. On the highway.

I'd known I was pushing it, had squeezed the fill-up in either just before or just after my 11 meeting that was at a Starbucks beside a gas station. The extra stop for the wallet wasn't that big a difference right? Wrong. Who knows if I'd have made it without the roundabout route.

And as I sat on the highway watching traffic fly past me (and conducting a work meeting by phone since, hell, what else was there to do), I realized it was kind of poetic in a nasty way - I tried to jam one too many things into my morning and the means of my travel cut out. kaput.

I've been feeling like that a lot lately.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Vicious Cycle

Happy Monday! Happy September!

I've been lost in a vortex ... obstacles of time and energy and lack of direction stopped me from writing or drawing since early August. Sure I did some editing and reworking of things, but no creation of new words or pictures. And the lack of creation sunk me. Low. Like Gilmore Girls marathons of inertia low. Which plummeted both my motivation to do and my confidence that it was worth doing at all. Course, while I'm lying lazy on the couch, pile on some unbelievable stress ... I was trapped.

Do you get like that?

I've said before that writing and drawing keep me even. It reduces stress, gives me energy, makes me happy and helps me breathe. I forced out a drawing yesterday, and pounded out some words today. They're probably not my best, not flowing or natural but forced and choppy and artificial... but they're down. And I'm a little bit lighter for it.


Monday, August 31, 2015

A little birdie told me...

I've just spent the last fifteen minutes gazing at my calendar. It's hypnotic, all those squares of different colours, overlapping and competing. September is nutty: hockey tryouts, swimming and music start up swirled in with regular work. My old ladies ball team is trying to make up for a summer of rain outs during the month of September.

I need a clone or seven.

I secured a copy editor for my February release. Copy editors are a rare breed of bird, someone who can look at lines and lines of text to make sure the periods are all where they should be. Well and a little more than that. I'm not sure how they don't have permanently crossed eyes.

Today is about twits. Well no, tweets. I just think it's funnier to call them 'twits'. I need to improve the twits — tweets —that act as scaffolding for my story. I find it challenging to write authentic twits, especially those that may be posted/shared by YA. I'm ancient enough that I still type out every word, text in complete sentences. Throughout editing Game Plan and writing my next two novels (especially this one) that has probably been my biggest challenge to make the story accurate for the audience - the use of social media as a tool of communication. It has also had the biggest payoff when I finally get it right.

Intrigued? Stay tuned.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Time Flies

Good morning!

How is it already August 24?

Bad news: School starts in just over a week.
Good news: Aptitude comes out in less than a month!!!

Can you believe it?

Today is about editing my story that is coming out in February - can't wait to share it with you. It seems like such a long time away but here we are a month away from Aptitude's release and *that* used to be worlds away so I'm sure it won't take long.

Don't forget Aptitude is available for preorder, and if you show the Fierce peeps your receipt you can be entered to win an Aptitude-minded prize package.


Friday, August 14, 2015


I've been AWOL I realize, lots of summer events - a week writing in PEI, two weeks not writing in Toronto, a week home with a new furry baby who comes with all the baggage expected with a soul who has had his trust broken over and over.

Lots has happened in the meantime!

Here's the biggest one:

Isn't it awesome???

Aptitude comes out NEXT MONTH!!!  Jo Treggiari, who wrote Ashes,Ashes said this:

"Akin to the haunting subtleties of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Lowry's The Giver, Natalie Corbett Sampson delivers in Aptitude, a richly-imagined dystopian world which seems scarily all to plausible."

It's available for preorder right now! And if you do preorder it you can enter a contest with Fierce Ink Press for a super cool prize. Check it out HERE.

Now, back to editing :) Vacation time is over.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Writing in the Rain

I'm in Prince Edward Island this week on a self induced writing retreat... my future NHL-er (retirement plan) is in a super cool hockey camp in Charlottetown and since the commute to Halifax every day would be a killer I'm staying here too. Hard to see SLP clients from this distance so I'm committing my week to writing!

Currently I'm set up in a local cafe, out in their sun porch. The rain is plinking off the linoleum roof and a breeze is sneaking in though the screened walls. Cranberry apple tea is poured and corn chowder ordered. Happy happy sigh...

Now, if only I could get some words down!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guest Post: B.R. Myers

Sooo, I've got the blogging thing down and admit to a Facebook addiction. I dabble in Twitter enough to be frustrated by my stream of ads... One of the social media platforms I've tried and not been able to crack is Pintrest (The red squiggly line suggests I don't even know how to spell it).

Today I welcome B.R.Myers to chat a bit about how she uses Pinterest to build her audience. Thanks Mizz Myers, I think I may just give it another go.

Pinterest is basically a virtual pin board of images that help organize and share things you find on the web. And it is the fastest growing media site for consumers and sellers. 
Did you know Pinterest drives more referral traffic to websites than Google, LinkedIn and YouTube combined?
That's huge!
As a writer, I'm concentrating on broadening my author brand on Pinterest by engaging and hopefully reaching more followers. As a result, this should increase traffic to my website and boost future book sales.
What are the best ways to use Pinterest?
Here's a quick guide to help you get started.
1. Brand thyself. Create a business profile with a professional picture (not the one of you in a marshmallow eating contest). Make sure to include links to your other social media sites in your bio.

2. Add the "Pin It" button to your social sharing plugins on your blog. This makes it easier for followers to pin your posts to their boards. Visit the Pinterest Goodies Page for instructions.

3. Create inspiration boards for your novels. My board for ASP OF ASCENSION has images of characters, favorite quotes, outfits, pictorial settings, and YouTube videos from the ASP OF ASCENSION playlist and book trailers.

4. Find your audience. It's not all about self promotion. Since you're trying to attract book buyers, create boards that would appeal to readers, such as; awesome book covers, pictures of libraries, or famous author quotes. Your audience will also appreciate a whimsy of your personality, whether it's pictures of your imaginary beach house, silly cat photos or your favorite cupcake recipes. 

5. Add the "Follow" icon to your website. I have one under my twitter button just to the right of this awesome post. Click on it. I dare you!

6. Follow other authors, especially those in your genre. Re-pin and comment on their pins. It's always great to see authors supporting each other and sharing ideas. In fact, if you haven't clicked on my "Follow Me" button yet, you should. I'll follow you back, and hilarious good times will be had.

7. Always describe a pin on your story's board. Give a voice to your character's image with a favorite quote. If it's one of my Wattpad stories, I include the link with every picture, making it easier for the pinner to find my story.

8. Pinterest is a great place to announce a contest or book launch! And when your book is available to order on-line make sure to include the link. 

9. MAKE IT FUN! I have boards ranging from cupcakes to stuff that just makes me laugh. You can also share images on Pinterest with your other media sites like Facebook and tumblr.

Here’s my Pinterest link for Asp of Ascension!

Happy pinning!

Thanks BeeAre. Look for Asp of Ascension to be available from Fierce Ink Press on July 21st.


Friday, July 03, 2015


Usually on Friday I get to write... which is pretty amazing. I sit quietly at my desk with my 47lb cat in my lap and peck out words that string together to create stories. Pretty cool. "Passion" seems like the wrong word because it's not frantic or heated or impulsive - it's quiet and reflective. But I love it.

Other passions - art, reading, baseball, pets... and today I get to watch my son share one of my passions. That might be my favourite way to experience passion - watching one of my kiddos learn to love one of mine. Often I am begrudging when I have to give up a writing day to do something else but not today. Today I get to watch my eleven year old play baseball. And by 'play baseball' I mean 'throw himself all in' to the game, down and dirty, full out, game on. He loves it. And I love to watch him.

My elder daughter loves shopping and drawing.
My younger daughter loves reading and animals.
My oldest son likes to write and read.

I love all of those things - my passions - but my favourite thing is to watch them learn to love it.


Monday, June 29, 2015


My first three books were drawn from personal experience and needed little to no research to make sure they were plausible. The best way to avoid research? Make sh*t up in your own world :) That was fun!

But my latest WIP is in this world in a time and place that already happened so I have to do some research... It makes me nervous to get things right but the good news is I love research if it's interesting, and this stuff is. I've written about basketball, I've written about words and writing, my next story has a theme of art and I'm excited to dive into the paint.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Happy Summer

School is OVER!

So are my productive, quiet, pensive writing days.

Course today is all on me - a sleep in followed by useless internet surfing... I've gotten nothing done except the 32 words I've just written here. 37.

That being said, I need to accomplish some things today - I have a report to write for the grant I received last year and I am starting to get the flow of my latest WIP so I want to keep moving that forward.  I'll just have to do it with a little more chaos. :)

Happy Summer!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday again, Rolling forward ...

I apologize for the lacklustre quality of my posts the past couple of weeks... It's really too bad that 'creative inspiration' isn't one of the steps of grieving or a symptom of the wicked summer cold I have. Bummer. But the Jays are playing well.

Actually Friday, after my half-assed post here and a four hour period in which I was dead-to-the-world asleep instead of writing, I pushed through the stuck spot in my WIF and feel a bit of the momentum moving forward. Momentum is a good thing — in more ways than just writing — so long as it's forward.


Friday, June 19, 2015


Happy Friday. Fridays are my favourite. A day to write in my quiet house with the whole weekend ahead... Today I'm battling a cold and forcing my foot (and my pen) forward. I'm struggling with my new story which is feeling stalled and heavy footed right now. I feel stuck, pushing forward against the grain. In more ways than one.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Reluctant Post

It's Friday. I typically post here on Mondays and Fridays, so pattern suggests I should post something.

But posting something will bump other posts down, so the last post - Monday's - won't be at the top. Move on. Move past. It brings out my inner toddler - I want to kick my feet and scream 'don't wanna!'

I've had four nights of uninterrupted sleep. No trips outside, no requests for a snack, a water top up, no restless 'I-don't-know-what-I-want' wanderings. I'd rather be tired. I poured my cereal this morning without being stared at. Or barked at. Without having to explain that cereal is for people and you've already been fed. It's a lab thing.

And I'll be able to sit in my chair all morning and get stuff done without getting up a hundred times to  open doors, fill water bowls, move beds, scratch ears. I'm sure I'll get lots done, right? If I can turn off my heart.

In the weird world of timing and coincidence my task today is to work on my new story. Both Aptitude (September release with FIP) and Henry (Indie release in February) are back to editors to be spruced up so I'm free to move on. Move on.

Sure. I'll get right on that.


Monday, June 08, 2015

Limitation of Art - Goodnight my Boy

Writing and drawing are magic... they make 11yr old orphan boys into world saving wizards and simple portrait smiles into mysteries. But they are not limitless. They are better at creating new realities than authentically depicting truth.

I met the perfect pup and for 13 years he was mine and I was his. I can draw pictures of him. I can write stories. But I can't recreate how soft his ears were. Someone might say 'soft as silk' or 'soft as velvet' but the truth is, his ears were softer. And words, pictures, can't depict how the thick fur at the scruff of his neck curled around itself, and around my fingers when I stroked him there. Or the curls where his back legs met his sides. Or the warmth of his pink skin where his fur was sparse on his belly - the place he liked to be scratched the most. Or the wrinkles that raised up when he lifted his ears - which was almost anytime he looked at someone. He smiled with his whole body, from the wagging tail that wiggled his bum to his lab-faced grin. Even when he hurt. He was always happy. He was always love. How do you draw that?

I'm heartbroken. I know people have faced worse  losses - I called him my 'first born' but recognize the difference between a perfect dog and a human child. I called him my 'soul mate' but of course he wasn't my life partner of 50 years. But he was mine and I was his and he was my one shot at perfect love. Perfect love. How do you write that?

The surprise came when he was gone. I expected the heartbreak. I expected devastation.  I've been there before, lost cats and a dog - lovely furry souls - but never my first born soul mate. Never my once in a lifetime.

I didn't expect peace.

Peace. Like he was still, not gone. He is with me. But isn't that where soul mates belong? I'm heartbroken and devastated, but at peace. And so is he.


Monday, June 01, 2015

Historical Fiction

I love history but I find nonfiction books to be tedious and hard to read. It's difficult to relate to dates and numbers and descriptions that aren't anchored in anything relatable.

Historical fiction is a magical tool for me. I love how it transports me back into another time and/or place. I mean people are the same right? so the characters and their situations are mostly familiar and relatable, at least at the most fundamental thoughts and feelings. By the grace of God I don't have the sweetest idea what it felt like to be a slave in North Carolina, but I know what it feels like to be scared, to be lonely... I'm reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. So far it's fantastic. I love the voices. I love the droplets of history in every scene - the mentions of clothes, chores, household goods, routines, songs, political expectations...  Someday I want to write a historical fiction story - take my emotions and experiences and transport them back to a time I can research and paint into the novel.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Glimpse of a Cover

Monday I talked about how art and writing are two forms of the same force, that the process of making something imagined into something real is intoxicating.

Yesterday I experienced the other side of the coin - I had the opportunity to see the suggested comps for the cover of Aptitude!

When we started the design for Game Plan there was a lot of discussion about what would be a good idea for the cover. I had input too. So when I saw the suggested covers, they were layouts developed from the ideas we had discussed - nothing surprising, nothing new. Don't get me wrong, it was very very cool, but the designs were developed in part from my suggestions and interpretations of the story.

I haven't been involved in any planning for the cover of Aptitude. Two comps were sent to me yesterday. They were both so amazing... it was incredible to see how someone else interpreted MY story. One seems to be the favourite... That cover is a piece of art and is absolutely perfect for my story. I can't wait to share it! Here's a hint - it looks nothing like this one :D


Monday, May 25, 2015

Creative Drive

I've spent the past several days editing my indie pub coming out in February... Guys, I can't wait til I can share this story with you! I think it's a worthwhile, powerful story... I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

I've been dabbling in other creative activities... drawing and colouring again. I can remember always doing three things: playing baseball, writing and drawing. All three kinda went by the wayside with babies and toddlers and new companies and such, but they're creeping back in. Or pushing their way back in. I started writing again when we were adopting AnnaWen, then started in earnest with my Nov 2013 release, Game Plan. I started playing ball again last year with a great group of women who don't really care how many errors are made on the field so long as we're trying and having fun (which is really good b/c my 19 year old ballplayer self would be pretty embarrassed of my present day ball playing self). And now over the past couple of months I've started to draw again and it feels great! I'm looking at opening an Etsy shop to sell prints and am already collecting some peeps on Facebook.  Check it out!

Some may think writing and drawing are two different things... I think they're drawn from the same source of creation, of making ideas become real of giving breath to people or colours to animals and sharing those with others. It's a powerful source and I'm glad it's been forcing its way out again.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy May Friday

My favourite being on this Earth is a 13 year old lab. He's perfect. He adores sleep and food. He adores me. And he's 13. I booked a vet appointment to check in today and spent time last night crying because I was scared of what I may learn or hear at the appointment. But I got good news! His kidneys, which were concerning last fall, have returned to normal performance now that he's been off meds for a while and the vet had another suggestion to help manage his pain. I was so relieved. Still am.

I came home and dove into some editing... I'm really happy how that's going as well :)

All around a great day so far. My me-day is ending as chauffeur time is getting closer - music, hockey and errands are pressing.


Friday, May 08, 2015

Something cute...

I didn't get to this today... between blood donation to the CBS and to my editing I'm out of time!

I'll leave you with these cute laughs:


Monday, May 04, 2015

Five Stages of Editing Response

Research has demonstrated that there are specific stages of grief, though Google is undecided on whether there are five or seven of those stages.

I think there are stages to editing feedback. You send work out to an editor because, lets face it - self editing is a joke. The intent is for the editor to, um, edit it and point out areas that need improvement, make suggestions, identify weaknesses. But while that's the point I think it's every author's hope that that editor will actually write back "Holy Cannoli this piece is perfect! Don't change a thing!" 

I got my edits for #GoodDay back yesterday. Here are the stages of reaction to editing feedback:

1. Impatience - happens throughout the period of time in which the editor has your work. Symptoms include poorly hidden requests for updates ("What have you been doing today?") and flat out demands for reassurance ("It doesn't suck too bad does it?"). This stage lasts exactly until the point of the manuscripts return at which point the writer zaps directly into the second stage.

2. Indifference and Procrastination - even though you've spent the last several weeks thinking about nothing but the document, once the document arrives you immediately have forty seven other things you have to do right then and there is no opportunity to open the document and look at the editing. This stage can be fleeting or go on for hours.

3. Holy F#%k, I'm F*#ked - once the document is open, regardless of the level of editing, any and all suggestions look like monumental obstacles of penance and dire punishment. The thought of starting any of them is so impossibly daunting that the logical course of action is to forget the whole f@&king thing, crawl into a hole somewhere and curl up in the fetal position because you're not worth anything and no one likes you and who the hell said you could write anything anyway?

4. Suck it up, Buttercup - depending on the depth of the hole dug in stage three, this stage may take a very long time. Rereading and rereading and rereading the edit suggestions bangs them down from a vile dream destroying monster to a series of annoying, gnats. Giant gnats with disgusting breath and sharp teeth, but gnats just the same. During this period the writer climbs out of the hole and puts her tears away and tries to act like an adult by organizing and addressing each gnat as it presents itself.

5. Reverence - this stage comes on slowly, gnat by gnat, as the writer realizes (or probably rerealizes, that doubting nutter) that the editor is in fact a genius and each suggestion is a tiny angel sent from the beyond to lift the story to a new level of brilliance. (This is also the stage in which the writer feels slightly guilty for putting their own name on the cover and not the editor's - but that's a whole other series of confidence gymnastics)

I'm editing #GoodDay today and am trying to dig out of the hole into the field of buttercups. Think of me and send me healing vibes.


Friday, May 01, 2015

Whispers of a new story:

I don’t need words. Words are units that people use to confuse and condone and condescend and compromise with each other. They are limited by language and sound and prone to misinterpretation. I skip all that.

Wonder where it will take me?


Friday, April 24, 2015

Story vs Story telling

I just finished February by Lisa Moore and am trying to figure out how to explain it to you.

I can't tell you the story. Is there a story? I think it's the epitome of a literary work - the characters are the story. It's about Helen, a mom of four who is widowed when her husband dies on the Ocean Ranger, a rig off the coast of Newfoundland that sank in 1982. The narrative switches among 1982, flashbacks of her husband before his death, and times afterwards up to present day with her grown children and grandchildren. The story... story? just is.

It is a piece of art. It's like an impressionist painting that you can stare at in parts and appreciate the colours, the textures, the lines. It's like a piece of music that sweeps you up and makes you close your eyes and concentrate on only the music. It's like a chocolate cake that you let slowly melt in your mouth to savour it. The story is less important, just like the scene of the painting is secondary to the colours and brushstrokes.

Lisa Moore does interesting things with her words. She does things that are against the rules: omits quotation marks, uses run on sentences, uses passive voice, uses repetition of words and phrases... all the things that would be 'wrong' in an edit of someone else, someone lesser of a writer. It's beautiful and it works but it creates an air of inaccessibility... that this is a higher form of art not attainable or
accessible for typical readers and writers. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

I enjoyed reading it, it's a beautiful novel, but I'm happy to slip back into something narrative and story based for now.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Art and Soul

I went with my movie going partner last night to see Woman in Gold. To be honest, it wasn't a great week to go to the movies... there weren't many we were interested in seeing let alone any we had noticed that we wanted to see. Isn't that the way? The weeks we can't get to the movies, there are so many we want to see, and when we finally get out there aren't many we were interested in watching... So we were pleasantly surprised by this show, though we shouldn't have been seeing as it stars Helen Mirren.

It is a true story about a woman living in California who sues the Austrian government to recover a painting of her aunt that had been stolen by the Nazis. It was the type of movie that made me think, and want to read more about the movie and the history of that time.

It's an understatement to say the Nazis stole so very much from the people they persecuted. So why do a few paintings matter? In the end a painting is just a thing, right?

Except it's not.

I've said before that creativity is driven from something deeper than paint brushes and fingers and fine motor skills. I honestly think art is driven from that something that some people call a soul, others call it a heart, psyche or spirit. And because it's driven from that source, that's where it impacts people who experience it. A piece of art that is loved becomes more than canvas and paint or a block of clay. It's a piece of spirit that is shaped from a spectral quality to a tangible, solid artifact.

And when that's stolen, a piece of the person who loves it is stolen as well.

So it's no wonder that more than half a century later the families are still searching and pleading for restoration of their artwork. You can't bring back the lives and families that were desecrated, but you can reclaim the pieces of of their souls scattered throughout museums and attics.


Monday, April 13, 2015

The Name Game

Soooo, I was procrastinating on Facebook - true story - and my chat partner and I were batting around titles for my February release... AND, we hit a home run. No joke! It turned into a good day for writing!

It was a combination of some other titles we had tried out, a word here, a phrase there, a concept, a trick, all blended together into one Lightning title.

When we titled Game Plan it was done with a lot of back and forth brainstorming... the title "Game Plan"didn't come crashing into the conversation as the OMG THIS. IS. IT. title.  It slipped in there quietly and was passed back and forth in the list of "Well I like these:". I might admit that as much as I came to love the title - it's absolutely the most appropriate for the story and I was able to work it into the story a bit more solidly to make it excellent... I was kinda disappointed I didn't have that Lightning moment with it.

So I have had it with this one! The working title is Henry, after the first character written into the story. I've called it Henry for over a year now and I'm quite attached to it, and to him, but it's not a good title for the book... kinda like calling your child "Mooser Goose" (which I'm guilty of doing) is not very appropriate for trivia on the back of his NHL trading card.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen - Susin Nielson

Sooo, you know when you finish a book and you're lying awake at 2am because you laid awake reading until well past any normal bedtime and you're so blown away by the book and the story that you want to talk to SOMEONE about it but it's 2am and every sane person in your timezone is asleep?

And then the next day you try to start a new book, but you can't figure out what to read because every book you try to read will be so sad and pathetic in relation to the book you just finished so you don't really even feel like bothering?

I just finished THIS:

It's hard to summarize because one of the coolest features of it is the delicate and natural way the backstory unfolds. This is the written journal of Henry as he processes his emotions - reluctantly because he's been encouraged to by his councillor. Counsellor? Geez. He has just moved to Vancouver after a pretty ugly stretch in his family life and he's dealing with the fallout of everything that happened and everything that is happening at school.

There are parts of the book that were physically painful for me to read. There were parts where I laughed out loud (and at 1:53am that's kind of creepy). Overall it's a real and raw story of real and raw characters and life as it happens. It's amazing. Add it to your TBR.


Monday, April 06, 2015

Beginning again

I'm scratching some ideas in my notebook for a new story... sometimes it feels like I'm 'that close' to the story and can see a full novel taking shape, then two minutes later I'm wondering if any of it is worth anything and can't see how it'll be more than chicken scratches in my notebook.

Editing stories is fun. Developing stories is fun. Writing stories is fun.

Starting stories is not fun.

It shouldn't be a big deal, there's always room to change and move and adjust a story if it's not going the way it should... starting a story doesn't cast it in stone, but the beginning is daunting for me and a challenge to get through.

I'm hoping this one works b/c I think it's a fun idea... we'll see where it leads!


Monday, March 30, 2015

What do you read?

I'm now TWO books behind in my 2015 Reading Challenge with GoodReads.

... but that is because I've spent this month wrangling a thick non-fic about the Kennedy assassination:

I am fascinated by this topic and go through cycles when I read anything I can get my hands on. Now with YouTube and the internet there's a never ending source. 

Of course, as Abe Lincoln warned, you have to be careful of the source of internet information, it's not always reliable. I recently watched a two hour presentation done by a gentleman named Jim Fetzer. It was captivating and sound, excellent information to support a believable conspiracy theory. I googled his name to see what other works he had available (a book, another lecture, etc) and found his site where he promotes his theories that both 9/11 and the holocaust were hoaxes. Well there goes pretty much all respect I had for his credibility. 

When I'm interested in a topic I love to soak in the non-fictional information that's out there. I love learning through reading, so much so that it's hard to say which I like better - fiction or non-fiction. But I need to go back and forth with it... and the non-fiction is much longer for me to read. Once I get through this one, I'll have to find some quick, light, happy reads to catch up to my Challenge!

What do you like to read better? and what non-fic do you enjoy?


Friday, March 27, 2015

Rainy Friday

It is rainy, which is a really great thing! So great. Because it's washing away the miserable heaps of snow.

But usually 'rainy' is more of a sad description.... Rainy, solemn, grave, humourless... A rainy day inside and out.

I had some realjob tasks to do this morning and got home with a couple of hours to write before the running around with the kids started. I was excited to have the time, anxious to figure out which project to work on, until I got home. My work desk was piled high with ... stuff ... and I couldn't build the oomph to move it to make space to work. No biggie, I thought, I'll sit on the bed. Bad idea. Within a few minutes I'd slouched from sitting against the wall at the head of the bed to lying down curled up under my warm blankets. And next come the zzz's (though I don't snore).

Just didn't have it.

My creative side is absolutely bound to my psyche in a frighteningly cyclical manner. If I'm low, it's hard to write but writing helps me from getting low. It's been a long week... I mean, a power outage and internet interruption during Gilmore Girls nearly drove me to tears of frustration last night - no wonder I had to spend some time in my fetal cocoon this afternoon.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guest Blogger: Angela Misri! Author of Portia Adams Mystery series.

I'm excited to be included in the Blog Tour for Thrice Burned, Angela Misri's second instalment of her Portia Adams mysteries! I asked Angela to give us a little insight into her writing process and she graciously offered up the following:

Writing this guest blog post for the lovely Natalie Sampson (who asked me to write about my process), I am sitting in a pub in London on a family vacation. I wish this were part of my ‘normal’ writing process, but reality, as she well knows, is a cruel Canadian winter with no end in sight.

Given my profession as a digital strategist it might seem odd, but my writing process begins with a pen and paper. Specifically, my favourite bound moleskin notebooks and a black ink fountain pen. For my detective fiction I don’t tend to write a plot ladder or anything, I just start with an idea for a crime I want to explore and launch into the first scene. I know in my head how much time to spend on build-up and I usually have to stop along the way to do some research, but often I will just leave notes to myself to look things up later - especially if I’m on a roll in the writing. I will fill notebook after notebook this way, starting each new writing day by reading the page before and then just launching straight in again. 

I try to blog throughout this process especially if I have questions I need to answer because as a reader, that’s the kind of stuff I like to learn about my favourite authors. So for example, when I was trying to write the coded message in Thrice Burned, I blogged about it, deciding in the process that the note should be in Italian rather than my original idea of Latin. This is a vital part of my process because I have an awesome following on my blog of really smart engaged folks who contribute ideas, encouragement and even criticism that make my stories better.

I’ll pop out and in again with research, head to the library or the internet depending on my needs and basically just hammer through the first draft of the story.

This first draft is invariably too short - closer to 20k than the 40k or so it will become before it heads to an editor - but it serves as that skeleton upon which I build a fuller story. 

My next step is transcription - which I do from notebook to laptop computer, editing as I go. This is my first real opportunity to add to the story, to answer my own hand-written notes to expand on a scene or fully describe the setting or expand on the dialogue in a conversation. At this point the story usually doubles in word count and scenes get moved around to make the plot move at the speed it needs to.

By now I’m ready for beta readers, and I will send the story to my sister, a few of my friends at the CBC and a couple of author friends I trust. While I wait for their feedback, I take specific sections to my short-list of experts - the fashion descriptions for example I send to my friend Bev Wolov of the Smithsonian. This feedback starts trickling in and I begin my first real edit of the details of the mystery.

This step is the longest for me. If you imagine that my first draft takes about a month to write, and the transcription a week or so, this gathering and incorporation of feedback takes another two months. But finally (FINALLY) it is ready for an editor to take a look at. 

I seem to be honing this process - Jewel went through 16 versions between first draft and printed book, while Thrice went through only 11. No Matter How Improbable is past the feedback stage, and is only in version 3!

Maybe this long Canadian winter is almost over ; )

Thanks Angela! Keep writing!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Worthy topics...

What makes for interesting reading?

I was talking with a friend the other night about finding places to publish and we started talking about magazine articles and creative non fiction. My initial reaction to creative non fiction is "My life's too boring to write about." That's not a bad thing. I don't have some deep dark secrets to document, I don't have huge life struggles or trying times I've overcome, I don't have dramatic life experience.

So what do I have to contribute?

My friend listed several ideas, regular everyday boring ideas that maybe aren't so boring:

being a hockey mom to girls - is it different from boys?
dealing with single parenting while Steve's away
trying to kick my sugar / carbs addiction
why I shaved my head
trying to find some new TV to watch
struggling to get back into art or sports

It's not trauma and triumph but it is daily life...


Saturday, March 14, 2015


My kids participated in a Micro Musical, a programme sponsored by the provincial government to bring 30min musicals to elementary students. They LOVED it. They spent the week learning songs, lines and choreography and put on a show Friday night. The play was awesome and they had the best time.

What's better though is the experience has prodded an interest in Shakespeare. They want to read the plays! They're 10 and 9 years old so I figure I shouldn't throw my beautiful Complete Works from University at them just yet, but I found this series in Chapters. The original Shakespeare plays are on the left side of the page, an updated language script on the right so you can read in old or current English. My kiddos picked Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet and I added A Midsummer's Night Dream thinking maybe they might need some light in their Shakespeare exposure.

Who knows if they'll actually read it? I'm so excited that they're aware of them and interested. I love sharing passion with them - hockey, reading, art - I love seeing them gain happiness and excitement from something that I love. 


Monday, March 09, 2015

Pages vs Film

"The book is always better."

True? False?

My knee jerk answer is "True". Always. But I don't think it's that simple.

I've read a few books where the story is awesome but the writing itself is mediocre and cumbersome. The movies take the writing out of the equation and (if it's a well done film) all that's left is the story that was great to begin with. Those movies are better than the books.

Last night some friends and I went to see American Sniper - me mostly because Bradley Cooper is in it. It's based on the autobiography by Chris Kyle. The movie was intense and very violent. The theme was dark and the depicted evil was frightening. The movie was enough - there's no way I could read the book.

There's a difference between watching and reading. Watching a movie is temporary, short term and limited. Reading gets inside my head. It's intimate and consuming. So book characters get in my head and mess around a bit and when the characters leave they leave a bit of themselves behind. That's the power of books to change people and impact lives... I don't want a story like that sticking in there.

So sometimes movies are better than books.


Friday, March 06, 2015

Voices in my head

Aptitude is off to the editors at Fierce which makes me incredibly nervous... I'm actually *more* nervous on a second round edit than the first. The first time around, the editor can chalk it up to, "well, she's just a bit of a moron" as they mark up my errors and make obvious suggestions for improvement that I never though of... but the second time around I have no excuse - they've already  made the suggestions, all I have to do is make the changes. So what if I don't make the changes enough, or make enough changes, or make them in the right way? So I tend to picture my editor glaring and muttering about how s/he already gave me the tools to fix that and thinking I'm some diva maverick writer who ignores reason and experience to do it my own way.

Anyway, those aren't the voices.

My task this week is to work on differentiating the voices in Henry - four different characters need four distinct voices. This goal has been the primary focus since the first draft and yes, I've heard editors' thoughts saying 'They still sound the same!' The problem is, they all came from MY head. They all sound the same because in many ways they all sound like ME. Every character I've written has been an extension, an example of me. Ella was me as a high schooler, Kat was me as an adoptive mom. I don't get the voices whispering to me like other people seem to... And this time it's been a very academic, technical approach to separating them out. Amputations. Poor editors.


#GoodDay Reviews

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Game Plan on Wattpad

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