Saturday 29 September 2007

First Short Story Published! WOOOOOO!

A friend e-mailed me a day ago to tell me she had just picked up the latest copy of The Voice, and that my first sold short story was in it! I would have rushed out to pick up a copy right away, but I was stuck out of town overnight, and it's a local magazine. But it was even better with the wait!

I picked up a copy the next day (well, ok, I illegally parked, threw my friend out of the car and she ran into a store and picked up a copy while I hunched behind the wheel and kept an eye out for by-law officers), and got to see my words in print for the first time (after making a clean getaway).

That was so cool! I feel the best part is seeing a quote from the story, selected by the editor, placed in a box in bigger font to act as a draw to readers. That makes it official!

The story is entitled The Taste of Sand, and tells of Maribel, an abused woman who believes a better life and lover awaits for her within the nearby borders of the forest. Her struggles transcend her physical pain as reality and expectations collide with her dreams and beliefs.

I want him to come to me, to come get me, to carry me and let my weary body rest, but he just stands there, as still as the trees around him, and my tongue is still too thick to speak.

The magazine is available in several stores in Ottawa, and all proceeds go to women's events and initiatives in the Ottawa area and beyond. It's a good magazine AND a good cause. Feel free to send me feedback on the story. I love feedback! (Particularly good feedback. Go fig.) Check out their website at

Now I've just got to use the momentum to write, send and sale! I hope there will be more posts like this one very soon!

Sunday 23 September 2007

About the Header

The header is based on my current writing project, a yet-to-be-named trilogy. The trilogy itself isn't named, but the three books are plotted out, the first fully written (though still in need of editing), and they each have a title to call their very own.

Ages ago, two lovers were spurned so deeply their fate of forever remaining apart still divides the lands that bear their names - Graydon and Elihor. For over a thousand years the Circle of Magic has reinforced and maintained the wall that separates the lands of light and darkness, but now
the Circle's powers are failing and demons from the land of Elihor are feeding on the scorned tribes of the West, and the children of Graydon must face judgment or annihilation.

Princess of Light

Cassara Edoline loves her small, forgotten kingdom, wasting her nights playing her flute to inspire her people and mourn her loss. Hers is the choice to marry the prince of her dreams or to become one of the most powerful sorceresses of her world. But the Fates have a different, more dangerous plan for the
Princess of Light. Should she fail, all of Graydon will fall with her.

Her carriage crossed the orchard, the blooms falling around her like a thousand tears, the petals trod upon by the horses the only sign of the passage of the last princess of Edoline.

Warrior of Darkness

Death stalks Avarielle Grayloft away from the West and across the forsaken lands of the East. To wash the blood from her hands and find the answer to her family's fate, the
Warrior of Darkness teams up with Cassara Edoline. But the price of knowledge and loyalty proves much, much higher than she had ever imagined possible.

She felt the familiar warm sensation of magic course through her arm and raised her head, knowing she would see nothing, knowing that the magic was only responding to the Eloms hiding in the darkness below her.

Sorceress of Shadows

Although stolen from her family by them when just a child, Shirina never questioned her allegiance to the Circle. Skilled in the ways of magic, she is assigned the difficult mission of capturing the magic and last descendant of the Graylofts: Avarielle. But when her mentor is sent to the fiery depths of Siabala's Rage and the Elders of the Circle seem to harbour a traitor, the Sorceress of Shadows must form an uneasy alliance with Cassara and Avarielle, knowing the time would come when she must choose between their lives and the Circle's survival.

It was the Circle's bidding and therefore her will.

... now, doesn't that just sound like a good read??

The header to my blog was created by my talented graphic artist friend, Karen Force (who will get roped into creating all future headers. Mwa ha.) The character pics were drawn by my other good friend, Kerri Elizabeth Melchior, at the very reasonable price of one My Little Pony per picture (that's a friend/roomie price - FYI). You can see more of Kerri's work at I have another friend who is a photographer and another who paints, and I will eventually work their stuff in as well. It's wonderful to have talented and generous friends.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

How to Massacre your Completed Manuscript

  • Take a complete manuscript (yours, preferably).
  • Choose a starting point (endings are my faves).
  • Move scenes around.
  • Write new emotional scenes, like death scenes. Let us focus on death of cannon fodder 1 (CF).
  • Move scenes around again as CF is still chatting after death. That ain’t cool. Or normal. Unless writing weird paranormal undead romance novel. Then it’s ok (though still kind of weird).
  • Write other scenes to explain death further.
  • Delete old scenes so dead person will no longer speak.
  • Realize old scenes necessary for little thing called plot.
  • Swear once.
  • Swear again.
  • Bring back old scenes.
  • Bring CF back to life.
  • Miss emotional impact of CF’s death.
  • Kill CF off again midway through the manuscript, for no better reason than “because.”
  • Shed a tear at genius of death scene.
  • Realize with some distraught that mid-point death means more removal of CF from end.
  • Swear and swig coffee.
  • Do “Word Find” for CF’s name.
  • Count 15 more re-appearances after death.
  • Break into a sweat.
  • Create secondary character (CF2) in scene before death scene, change name of dying person from CF to CF2, and kill newly create cannon fodder.
  • Delete all occurrences in manuscript of CF out of anger at non-death-cooperation.
  • Stare stunned at own stupidity at having deleted CF completely.
  • Stare stunned some more.
  • Copy death scene into other file, save for a later story, go back to manuscript and don’t save any of the day’s changes.
  • Feel odd sense of accomplishment despite not having actually changed anything in manuscript.
  • Analyze whether need good counseling – seem to like death scenes too much.
  • Shrug and finish coffee.
Of note: Swearing is preferably uttered (or shouted) in the privacy of one's own home and away from innocent ears. Let us be couth about this manuscript massacre.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

What is this storytelling thing, anyways?

We are all storytellers. Whether we’re retelling our shoe shopping escapade or our journey up the tallest hill in the area, we’re telling a story and, therefore, are storytellers.

Now, when I say I’m a storyteller, I mean that not only do I regale my friends with stories of why I chose to buy socks with angel pigs instead of devil cows (I dislike bad meat), I also enjoy telling a set tale, preferably before an audience (for some tellers, that involves singing or a musical instrument - think bard).

I mean telling, not reading. It’s a performance, not a static display. Storytellers like making eye contact with their audience, making sure their tale is riveting and that tears turn the eyes to glass when love interests meet an unfortunate end.

Storytellers tell many different types of stories – from traditional folktales and fairy stories to myths and legends, as well as more modern tales. Some storytellers can tell you the entire Incredible Journey in a few hours, and believe me; they’ll keep you riveted.

Other tellers, like myself, prefer doing original tales or adaptations, such as modernizing fairy tales. Not every heroine needs to be in distress, and why can gods of myths of old not enjoy a drink in today’s pubs?

Storytelling, particularly telling tales inked by my pen, gives me the instant gratification writing doesn’t. Let’s face it - it takes years for most writers to find a publisher interested in their work, and then maybe another couple of years before the book hits the shelves, to perhaps less-than-popular acclaim.

But in storytelling, you get feedback from your audience right away. You can see it in their eyes, in their body language, in their blue-tinged lips when they hold their breath; you can tell right away whether or not you’ve touched them the way you meant to. Or when you completely and utterly missed your shot, and fear you will never have an audience again. Thankfully most people are forgiving of a performer.

While telling, you can really get a feel for the pacing of your story, of the threads that tie it all together, and of the flow of the language. And with each telling the story is refined, in the same way a manuscript is made to shine during edits. In fact, storytelling has given me quite a few ideas on how to edit my manuscripts and make the language flow and scorch like lava.

So if you hear of a storytelling event in your area, go check it out and be ready to be transported to worlds near and far away. It is a tightly woven spell that tellers mean to cast.

I hope its charms will work on you.

Tuesday 11 September 2007

About Purple Nebulae

In the novel I’m currently editing, Destiny’s Blood, my characters and I were surprised when, following a rather stressful and deadly chase scene in an intergalactic space tunnel, their sputtering and smoking ship slammed right into a... purple nebula. Now, this was rather surprising for two reasons.

The first reason being that I didn’t think they’d get in trouble again right away. I thought maybe they’d take a break, think things through and decide on what to do next with themselves. The second reason being that, well, it was a purple nebula. I knew they were going to encounter something, but that’s not quite what I was picturing.

Yet it fit. I’d just taken my reader through several high-tension scenes, with escalating stakes slamming into each plot twist (well, that was the idea, anyways...) To give my stressed out characters some thinking time now just wouldn’t do. Adrenaline and fear had gotten them this far, so it would have to push them further. Now was not the time to slack off and break for tea.

I mean, it would have been easy to give them a break. I myself needed a break. That was pretty stressful, really. But it’s supposed to be a fast-paced adventure story, and we were heading towards a big climactic scene, so slowing down the pacing wouldn’t have been right.

Despite a nice clean outline (this was draft 2 – draft 1, at 80,000 words, was fully rewritten save for 2 scenes), I was still ready to be surprised when my instincts told me that something wasn’t right. I never used to believe in outlining and, when writing a first draft, I still like to feel my stories through and discover my characters by simply sitting down and oozing my ideas onto the screen. The stories are ok, but they’re just so much better after a second rewrite or at least edit, this time with an outline keeping track of plot, subplots, character development and pacing.

Still, even though the plan looks good, I learned you still have to be ready to break away from it when necessary. Like when a purple nebula ensnares your perturbed crew. But to each their own. In the end, as long as you get a story you’re proud to call your own, that’s what matters.

As for Destiny’s Blood, following 10 rejection letters, it’s just getting a little bit more TLC before its heads back out into the big, frightening world of publishing. And it’s without a shred of shame that I’ll send it traveling the streets of New York, and even though I know it may not be loved or adopted, I’m still proud to call it my own.

Of note:
Now, my brother informs me that celestial objects, such a nebulae, aren’t naturally endowed with colour, as they are stuck in the cold, vast darkness of space. I thought that was kind of sad. He tells me that it’s the various infra-stuff and ray-things that give them their pretty colouring. Again, kind of sad. But nonetheless, it’s a fantasy/sci-fi novel, and my nebula is more than meets the eye (no, it’s not a Transformer), so it remains purple, whether or not ray things are used to see it.

And I think that’s kind of cool

Irish Cream Day

Today is Irish Cream day. Some of you call it Tuesday. My favourite Second Cup calls it Irish Cream day and, therefore, so do I. Monday is Caramelo day, Wednesday is French Vanilla day, Thursday (my favourite) is Hazelnut day, and Friday is Butter Pecan day. Weekends are still Saturday and Sunday as I’m not at the Second Cup first thing in the morning on the weekends, desperately trying to get some writing done before the day’s other priorities kidnap my remaining brainpower (usually fully depleted by 10).

I’m always very suspicious of Irish Cream day. Things change on Irish Cream day, and I’m not good at adapting first thing in the morning. Sometimes Irish Cream days pounce on my unsuspecting morning brain, confusing me for the remainder of the day.

Last St. Paddy's day was on a Friday. Now, some of you may immediately jump to the conclusion that perhaps the Second Cup people would in fact adapt to this situation, but I, on the other hand, did not.

It went something like this, when I got to Second Cup way too early that morning as per usual:

The guy grabs a cup and asks: "“large Irish Cream today, Miss”?" (I am predictable in that I want flavoured coffee. And lots of it.)

My reply: “"Irish Cream today?"” Irish Cream is a Tuesday drink, not a Friday drink. My reality tilts dangerously.

"“What’'s today, miss?"”

Respond shyly, not wanting to hurt my Second Cup person’'s feelings: "“Butter Pecan day?"”

“"What’'s today, miss?"” He rolls his eyes.

Panicked tone as I look down at my casual Friday wear: "Is it Tuesday?"”

Reply coupled with disbelief: "“What's today, miss?"”

I clued in then, thank you.

And yes, earlier that morning I had indeed remembered to add a splash of green to my daily wardrobe, in honour of my Irish great grandmother.

.... today, so far so good, but always beware of Irish Cream days.


Sunday 9 September 2007

The Difficulty with Discipline

I didn’t have any plans this afternoon. This is a rare thing for me, so I was a bit thrown off at first. Possibilities leapt into my mind like my fat cat would leap onto a can of tuna, but I just couldn’t decide what to do.

I could go shopping for various items of choice such as books, CDs and tea cozies. I could sit down, enjoy a rare blend of fairly traded tea and read a book. I could bug my friend Karen and drag her out to see a really bad action flick starring Van Damn (I know, I know, I’m outdated here). I could even throw some jellybeans from the balcony to make unsuspecting children believe jellybeans come from trees. Yet, of all of these excellent choices, not one of them felt quite right.

The problem, I realized, wasn’t with the quality of the activities (obviously), but rather with the fact that I’m writing a book. Well, I’m editing a book, and I’m supposed to be done this round of edits next weekend. The thing with writing a novel when you’re an unpublished author is that no one is breathing down your neck to get the finished product. No one cares, really. Well, except maybe your mom, who thinks you're God’s gift to mankind no matter how long it takes you to clue in that the strange noise coming from the hallway at night is not a ghost, but rather a sure sign that your cat is now fat enough to make the floorboards creak. Sigh.

So, as it turns out, I couldn’t choose an activity this afternoon because I was breathing down my own neck. I didn’t want to miss my deadline. But why bother? I mean, how bad would it be if I missed my own deadline? Not bad at all, really. My mom would still think I’m great, my brother would still believe my book’s “science” to be sketchy but acceptable, and I seriously doubt any of my friends would kick me to the curb.

The only one who would be disappointed, really, is me.

It’s the curse of the unpublished author. Before getting published, a.k.a. when nobody is anticipating a single word you write, is the time you have to be best at self-motivation, even if that means missing out on some action flicks and tea cozy shopping. Everyday, you need to care enough about your book to breathe life into its characters and add a dash of colour to its plot.

One of my favourite stories on discipline is from Natalie Goldberg. She tells of a time when she was sitting at her desk and, looking outside her window, felt truly connected with every living thing, from the flying bird to the stoic tree. When she met with her Zen teacher later that day and told him of the peace she had felt, he told her something along these lines: “Stop procrastinating and get back to writing.”

Love that.

... So I guess I’ll stop blogging and get back to Destiny’s Blood now!