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.


Monday, March 02, 2015

Late running start

With my back to back releases coming up, I'm basically spending a month with each while the other is off being edited. This morning I get to start in with my indie-pub Henry (which is definitely not the title but I haven't found the right title yet!)

Henry is the story of one day in high school told by four characters. Henry was the first character I wrote, hence the working title. This story was sort of the first where I experienced that thing where the character demands something different from what the writer intended. I didn't believe that at first - I mean, it's my brain, my thoughts, my story so how could something from my brain overtake control? Weird. But this story started with three characters - the forth was at the school and interacted with each of the characters but I did not intend or even want to tell his side. Then I conceded and wrote it just so my details would be clear with the other three narraters but in the end it was apparent that the fourth voice had to be included. Score one for the imaginary character.


#GoodDay Reviews

Charlie's Story on Wattpad

Game Plan on Wattpad

Nine on Wattpad

My other Distraction