Tag Archives: writing

Changing Direction


Historical fiction, paranormal/young adult/women’s fiction, call it what you will, my current in-progress novel could be labeled all of these.

When a woman time-travels to the past, meets intriguing characters, learns about herself and life, and brings that new knowledge back with her to the  present and future, you have the gist of the novel I’m working on.

Imagine my joy when I met Veronica Knox, an editor who also writes paranormal books that include time travel. Then imagine my excitement when she liked my plot and encouraged me to develop it. Then think of my gratitude when she said I could call and talk with her about it and even recommended books to read to help me with the plotting.

So, if you don’t see frequent posts here, be assured I’m busy writing my book.

Cheers.

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Where Should Magda Go Next?


Where should Magda go next?
I’d like to take her to another island. Perhaps she can go by ferry to another Gulf Island, or perhaps she’ll go to Haida Gwai and solve a mystery there.Then again, she could travel across Canada and visit Prince Edward Island and learn about Anne of Green Gables. What about the Greek Islands? That’s a journey I’d love to share with her. There are so many choices among the hundreds of thousands of large and tiny islands on our amazing planet. Where do you think I should take her? Please let me know what you think.

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Christine Lowther on Mayne Island


Christine LowtherA determined group of Mayne Islanders turned out on this rainy night to meet Christine Lowther and hear her read from her book, Born Out of This. She focused on her childhood love of our island, comparing it to Narnia, then gave us a brief trip through years as a foster child, the world of punk, her activism, and her return to Mayne Island. She now lives at Clayoquot Sound in a float-house.

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Writing a Play


I never thought of myself as a playwright. But a few months ago, the Mayne Island Little Theatre challenged locals to write plays that were no longer than twenty minutes, had no more than three characters,  and depicted a view of island life. These plays were to be submitted blind, no names attached.

Well, finding that a challenge was just what my writing needed at the time, I decided to give it a try.

I recalled a humourous experience while giving a ride to someone, and this became my first play.

My second play started life as a short story about the internment of Mayne Islanders of Japanese origins.

I enjoyed writing the plays, but was of two minds about submitting them. I rather timidly, and urged by friends, while not really expecting them to be chosen, entered them.

I was shocked when the theatre company’s readers selected both my efforts. Tomorrow and for the next two nights,  my little darlings, along with three others by local writers, will be displayed for all to see.

You can probably imagine my excitement.

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My Defining Moment


Two Kids Riding Bikes

My defining moment happened on a summer day on Mayne Island nine years ago. If the neighbor’s grandchildren hadn’t been out riding their bikes I might never have written my first book. As I watched from my front porch, it was like a switch had been turned on and I was back on my bike, pant legs rolled up, pedaling down the road. I was strong, free, and independent, just enjoying life as a kid, like those two. I was eleven again, riding my bike, thinking my thoughts, feeling the same feelings. I had to write my book. That day, my own childhood, the children I had known, the books I’d enjoyed and the world of my imagination came together and spilled out onto the pages. I could not stop writing.

I had grown up in a Saskatchewan village — nestled among wheat fields and grain elevators. Like any village, ours was rife with gossip and legends. My imagination was haunted by the secrets and hidden mysteries I overheard while listening silently and invisibly to grown-up conversations. When I wasn’t skating or riding my bike, you could find me curled up reading. By the age of eleven I was writing the kinds of stories I enjoyed, and though I completed very few of them, I started many. I continued writing secretly while raising my family and working, but, always shy, I kept this part of my identity hidden.

But in 2005 I retired and had uninterrupted time. The first week of my retirement I saw those two kids and I started writing my first novel. My heroine, Magda, enjoys the same freedom I had. On her island where deer roam, fences are few, and farms and meadows lie on fertile land between hills and ridges, she rides her bike along quiet country roads lined with salal bushes, blackberries and wild roses, with her friends. They swim in the ocean and build rafts and shelters from driftwood. But all is not as idyllic as it seems on the surface. Magda, whose father and brother drowned in a sudden storm, learns that friendly people who have potluck dinners and bake blackberry pies for their neighbours, have dark secrets, both gruesome and terrifying. Magda’s adventures and her unbridled curiosity challenge the adults in her life.

I owe my three books and one “on the way” to the two kids riding bikes down a dusty road one sunny day nine years ago. Without that sudden coming together of everything I wanted to express, in one jolt, Magda and her friends would not exist

From my entry in CBC’s Writers Write: “Defining Moments”
http://definingmoments.cbc.ca/mediadetail/18448437-Two%20Kids%20Riding%20Bikes?offset=2?offset=2

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Beta Reader


I write primarily for kids between 9 and 12,  and my books are mysteries and adventure stories.  I never read or write Sci Fi.  But I’m reading a friend’s first novel to look for things that don’t work.

Why am I doing this?  I’m helping out a friend and fellow-writer, someone who has done the same for me, in fact.  I’m doing it out of friendship and gratitude.

What are my qualifications?   I write.  I can spot grammar and spelling mistakes.  I can tell when the flow in the novel is bumpy.  I can sense when a character does or says something that is “out of character.”  And I know when there is too much telling and not enough showing, which brings me to my next question.

How am I unqualified?  I don’t know how much explaining of technology is acceptable in a Sci Fi novel.  I don’t know how much explanation of the fictional society’s peculiarities is enough.  I don’t know if I can skip over the technical details that I can’t understand.

Please give me feedback if you’re a Sci Fi writer or reader, or if you’ve ever been a Beta Reader for someone’s Sci Fi book, on any other genre of novel, with which you’re unfamiliar.

I look forward to your comments.

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From Draft to Draft


Today I finished the 4th draft of my fourth Magda book. Feels wonderful. I’ve added 4,00 words since the 3rd draft. The plot pieces have moved around and the logic is falling into place.

Is it still a mystery? I don’t know. Is it a love story? Not really, though love is there throughout the story. Is it a book for kids 9 to 12? Maybe. It’s about kids, but perhaps the subject makes the book too painful for kids to want to read.

It’s the book I wanted to write, is all I know.

When I write the next draft, number 5, I’ll concentrate on imagery, mood, suspense, the language that makes up the story’s tone.  This is the part that I love the most.

After the next draft, I hope to be ready to show it to a good editor.  I know that I’ll be doing more rewriting after that.  And so it goes.

Any suggestions?

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Author or Writer – re-posted


I’m re-posting this because it’s an on-going question, one that my colleagues keep asking and which has not been answered to my satisfaction.  In truth, I don’t care what you call me.  What I do is write.

Recently, I’ve been wondering if as someone who has and is writing original novels, some of which I’ve published, as paperbacks and as e-books, I’m a writer or an author.  I’ve also had poems, articles and short stories published in magazines and books.

I’ve been reading other people’s blogs where the question, “Am I an author, a writer, both, or neither?” is being discussed.

The arguments appear to fall into two camps: one camp bases the nomenclature on content and the other bases it on publishing.  Camp 1 says, if you write, you’re a writer.  If the writing is your  own idea, originating with you, then you’re its author.  If the writing is about someone else or about their ideas, you’re a writer.  Camp 2 says if you write, you’re a writer.  If your writing is published, you’re an author.

But Camp 2 can be broken down into Camp 2A, which says that you must publish a book, not a story or poem, to be called an author, and Camp 2B which states that the publisher must be a recognized publishing house; you can’t self-publish or be an indie publisher, otherwise you’re a writer but not an author.

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary makes it difficult to distinguish between author and writer.  It defines an author as “the writer of a literary work (as a book)” and a writer as “one that writes.

So far, I’m not clear about e-books and which camp you’re in if you consider an e-book a published book.

I would love to hear your opinion.

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Your Voice Haunts Me: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 4


You laughed often and enthusiastically.  You loved silliness and got giggly quite easily.  Sometimes when you and our mother got together, a laugh-fest would erupt, and Mum would laugh so hard she’d shed tears.

You listened to opera, folk music, and rock-and-roll, and knew the words and music to every song, and could even sing in German and Ukrainian.   We sang Christmas Carols every December, in English and German.  You sang the hymns in Gammy’s old hymnal.   You could sing anything until that neck operation robbed you of your beautiful singing voice.

You had to speak a lot in your work as a professor.  You had very clear enunciation, which I’m sure your students were grateful for.  I confess I used to love watching you talk because of the way you moved your mouth.  You spoke with as much care as you did everything else.  And I could always tell if you were relaxed, worried, annoyed or bored by the way you used your voice.

I hope your voice will go on haunting me.  I miss it and I miss you.

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Petunia among the Roses: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 2


“Did you attend SFU for graduate school or your undergraduate years?” the woman asked. 

 

I guess 99% of the attendees at Doreen’s memorial were either professors or had PhDs.  With my measly MA I was definitely a petunia among roses.  And though my tribute was well-received, I managed to give the wrong title of her most famous book.  I know.  I’m sort of dopey.

All the speakers, except her daughter and I, were used to giving lectures, and her daughter is a performer so she was completely at ease, too.  Again, I think I was the only one who read my address.  Everyone else gave their talks from memory.

But the day wasn’t about me.  It was about Doreen, and whatever my shortcomings, they in no way took from the esteem in which she is held.  She was brilliant.  She was funny.  She was dedicated.  She was generous.  All these attributes and more were revealed and expanded upon.

One aspect of her life that people recalled with pleasure was her ability to give successful parties, whether get-togethers for the lab or tasteful dinner parties.  She spent hours and hours preparing everything to perfection.  One story involved a dinner party where one of the guests began to expound on a controversial topic.  Doreen tried to turn the conversation, but at last had to inform her guest that he was becoming “tedious.”  She enjoyed a good argument as much as anyone, but this person was being rude and her other guests were being made to feel uncomfortable.  She had to intervene.

I could never give a party like Doreen did.  I don’t have the stamina it takes to carry out all the preparation involved.  I’d lose interest or get distracted.  I guess that’s why I’ve remained a petunia among roses.

But though Doreen’s friends were all roses, I doubt if anyone of them had the beauty and fragrance that my sister had.

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