Tuesday 15 September 2009


A few people have asked me why I’m concluding the series with “shadows,” and not “light” or “darkness.”

I’m ending there because, as the series draws to its conclusion, I wanted to put Shirina, the Sorceress of Shadows main point of view character, in the worst possible place she could be.

You can tread fully in light or darkness and those people are often remembered for bringing wonderful or terrible change to our world. Most people, however, tread in shadows, lacking either conviction, determination or faith to pick a side. And that's hardly a bad thing.

If everyone was certain that they were right at all times, if no one could be talked into one side or the other, our world would be so inflexible that it would crack under the pressure.

The determination and conviction to pursue light is great, but not always right. There is no 100% right in our world. You take a stand, you hurt someone, somewhere. It doesn’t mean you want to, or hope to, but it happens, simply because you’re shifting reality a bit. If you’re successful in your crusade, no matter how righteous, and perhaps even if more righteous, than effects will ripple down throughout the world. That can be sometimes wonderful. Sometimes, not so much.

People have always associated pursuing the light with heroism. I don’t disagree, but I don’t think it’s the most heroic act either. Those who walk almost exclusively in the light or darkness lack something most of us have: doubt. Doubt is what makes us stay in the shadows. Doubt makes us second-guess ourselves, our actions and our ability to affect change.

But doubt is not all bad. Doubt makes us stop and think about consequences before acting. There are those who never act, who become paralyzed by the shadows, and then there are those who reach the light or the darkness for a moment before retreating back into shadows, or claiming new belief in the extremes.

Shadows are difficult to live with. You don’t have the self-assurance of always being right. Of always knowing what’s best. There’s no clarity of vision or unflinching belief.

Shadows can betray easily since you can’t see what’s coming next. Shadows are not clear. They have different nuances, and salvation or destruction is not easily spotted in them.

Shadows are tricky to travel. They offer little assurance or comfort. Even darkness, in its own twisted way, offers those.

Shadows don’t offer promises. Light tends to promise salvation and a righteous path. Darkness offers power and self-assurance. And both a greater goal, something to strive towards, no matter how good or evil.

Shadows have none of those. They skirt both light and darkness, with none of the promises or assurances. There are no guarantees in shadows. I don’t mean to say light and darkness offer those as well, but they offer a clear goal. And both, in their very different incarnations, offer power. The power to affect change.

Which is why Sorceress of Shadows, for me, is both the most intriguing and difficult book to write of the series. Cassara had doubt, but also a clear goal. Avarielle isn’t acquainted with doubt and indecision never had tea with her.

But Shirina is trapped in a land of shadows. Where she had believed to be championing the light all of her life, she’s now surrounded by the shadows left by Ravenhold’s fall.

And, let’s face it, for an ambitious, confident and powerful sorceress, shadows are a sucky thing to be surrounded by.

(It’s a magical thing too, but that would take too long to explain. Read the series and find out! Mwa ha.)

Tuesday 18 August 2009


So Warrior of Darkness is out and another cool book launch took place (pictures and details forthcoming). Now’s the time to buckle down and finish up the trilogy with Sorceress of Shadows, due out from Absolute XPress in March 2010.

I’m in the planning phase, which is both exciting and frightening. March 2010 seems far away, but the manuscript is due at my publisher’s by end of year. So that gives me just over four months.

I know the characters, I know where they’re headed and I know what’s going to happen, so it’s do-able. As long as there’s a plan, keeping in mind that I work full time, have a couple of storytelling shows left this year and I don’t want to eradicate all social contact. Social contact is important.

So let's think about this plan, working backwards from December 31.

I like test readers to read through to make sure I’m not doing anything way out in left field, that the characters and plot work and are ringing true to the other two books. I plan on giving test readers three weeks to review Sorceress of Shadows. And then after I need about a month for mulling and implementing final changes.

Ok, so keeping that in mind, I have until November 8 to get something together. But I need some time to edit my own stuff once I’ve pumped out draft 1, and make it all nice and sleek for the test readers. They need a coherent and cohesive story to judge it appropriately.

I like to give myself a month to do this. Edits are slower for me than straight writing. So now I’m looking at, um, October 11 to get the first draft done.

Sundays are my most productive days (I take them off for writing). Weekdays are not bad - I can usually pump out 1,000 words. I’m re-reading Princess of Light and Warrior of Darkness now to prepare myself for the fun ahead, so I’m going to officially begin Sorceress of Shadows on Monday, August 24. (I'm cheating, as I already have about 5,000 words. Mwa ha.)

So, knowing all of this, and estimating Sorceress to be complete at 90,000 words, this is what the rest of the year looks like for my writing:

August 24 to October 11
~13,000 words/week. (1,000 each day Monday to Saturday and 7,000 on Sunday)

October 11 – November 8
Review, revise, make sense, clean up, edit, double-check names, and do all the fun things that make novels make sense.

November 8 to December 1
Off to test readers. I sit back and wait with bated breath. Question everything I’ve written and done. Try to distract self with short stories, videogames and throwing multi-coloured jelly beans at neighbourhood kids.

December 1 – December 31
Changes are in. Go through each copy and note changes that must be incorporated. Attack manuscript with vigor, fix problems, edit once more.

January 1, 2010
Take a deep breath. Begin next project while waiting for editorial feedback from my publisher.

A good way to start a new year!

Wednesday 6 May 2009

My Second Cup Buddy

I have a buddy at Second Cup. She’s a writing buddy, to boot. I have to admit though that I don’t actually know her name. She’s a beautiful older woman, in her fifties, with long hair that’s at once white and silver in the sunlight, with a thin under-layer of the dark brown it must have once been.

Every weekend morning, when I’m at Second Cup, I know she’ll show up. Maybe half an hour to an hour after me. She orders her coffee, she sits by or near me in the coveted window seats. If I’m not engrossed in writing, she catches my eye and we smile at each other in way of greeting.

She settles in and she begins to write. She writes longhand on napkins and scraps of paper. I type away on my laptop. I’m curious about what she writes, and I figure one day I might find out. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we both sit down and write.

She’ll watch my laptop when I hit the bathroom (I’m usually there for at least three drinks, one drink on the hour to earn my stay), and I trust her to do it. She usually leaves before me. Sometimes I see her go and smile, other times I look up and she’s already gone, quietly. Once in a while we exchange pleasantries, when both of us are at a writing crossroad. But never once did we ask any type of personal question.

I don’t know her name. I have no clue what she writes. But still, I consider her one of my best writing buddies. The trick, I think, is that we both show up to write. She’s consistent. It’s like we each know someone else will be there to write with us, and we won’t be so alone with our stories. When her hand flies over the recycled paper napkins, I find my fingers typing faster as well, as though her muse inspires mine. And the reverse is true, too. I’ve seen my muse kick hers awake.

When her writing doesn’t go well, she doodles. Usually a large messy circle as she stares out the window at the passersby. I wonder what she thinks then. I wonder if she’s thinking of what her characters are doing, of what she’d prefer to be doing, or of how she’ll eventually get published or, for all I know, of her latest New York Times #1 Bestseller.

I really don’t know, and she’s never offered or asked in turn. I think, in the end, what matters for both of us is the fact that we both show up and write. And we watch each other’s stuff to hit the washrooms.

That alone, methinks, will seal a friendship for life.

Friday 17 April 2009

Princess of Light Book Launch

April 9 was the official day for the Princess of Light book launch, which was from 5 to 9 pm at Maxwell's in Ottawa. I was freaking out, I'll admit. What if no one shows up? What if no one buys my book? What if my hair does that weird flip thing that makes me look like I'm from outer space?

I panicked. I lost sleep. I even cried a bit. I'm not proud to admit it, but I did. And then I sang "Que sera, sera" and I felt much better.

Then the much anticipated and dreaded night came. We took over the entire second floor of the restaurant and, at five, almost no one was there. Then a cousin from Montreal, who I hadn't seen in forever, came. And then others. And others. And we had a blast!

I had over 100 books and sold them all, and a few more are on pre-order. Woo!

These are only a few of the elements that made the book signing a success:

A big pile of books

A cool venue

Pretty decorations

More pretty decorations

A cool promo product, like coasters (how smart was that? Not my idea!)

A dedicated PR staff
(and a camera that apparently takes pictures from one day into the future)

An event organizer with flair and the ability to track details

Friends who expect to work, not to have fun
(See their giant smiles? That was the beginning of the evening!)

A talented (and willing) musician

Friends who love to perform and entertain
(aka Kymeras)

A hostess with the mostest

A brother who says nice things
(and almost makes you ruin your non-waterproof make-up)
A sister-in-law who does photography, loves a baby AND looks good doing all of it

Family who's willing to travel to share in your day

A cool journalist/photographer who opens up other doors for you
(Thanks Matt Ott from Snap Ottawa!)

A dad and a stepmom with a video camera

And then... lots of people!

And people at the bar!

And a room full of people!

Loads and loads of people!

And a nephew that sleeps instead of bawls
And, on another but important note, pretty nails

And a pretty outfit, complete with cool boots and shiny skirt

The important ability to announce that you are indeed insane

The unnatural ability to enhance the colour of your book cover
(stylishly matched to your shirt, of course)

And last, but certainly not least...

Thanks to everyone for making this book launch a success! Next: Warrior of Darkness!

Monday 6 April 2009


Wow. I’m not the best updater in the world, I’ll admit. Like, really.

But, to be fair, I’ve been having a good old fun busy time. Princess of Light is out and sales are going well! It’s really neat to hear what people have to say about the book. I’ve decided I enjoy being analyzed. It makes me sound deep.

I’ve been told of late that I have issues with organized religion. Two different people have analyzed me as such, which is neat. For the record, I’m fine with organized religion. I think it’s fun, even though I’m not organized enough to partake.

I’ve also been told when I told a story of a nun scratching my butt (see? I like organized religion! A single girl gets action where she can, after all!), that I have great post-modern themes. I thought that was fun too.

... I should specify that the nun scratching my butt thought she was removing a bug. She didn’t stop when she realized it was a hole (I know, I embarrass my mother too with my poor weekend wardrobe). She didn’t stop when the hole grew. She just made more clucking noises and kept saying “Ya, that’s a hole, all right!” Well now my t-shirt is practically a black hole, but I’m comfortable with that. I truly am.

After all, it provided me with a post-modern story!

That’s all the analysis I have yet. So far so good!

(I promise I'll post something sooner this time! I plan for within a week. Make that two, just in case. I'd hate to be analyzed as a liar.)

Monday 12 January 2009

Princess of Light Cover

The Wall of Loss separating the lands of light and darkness is failing...

Despite her attempts to stop them, dark creatures invade Princess Cassara Edoline's small and almost forgotten kingdom, murdering her family and taking her younger brother captive. Torn by guilt and clutching an amulet of powerful magic, she vows to rescue her brother and save as many as possible from the invading hordes.

But first, she must find out what is causing the thousand-year-old magic of the Wall to fail and stop it, if she can.

As Cassara's resolve and strength are mercilessly tested and her shaky alliances begin to crumble, she must find a way to master her newfound powers which promise both salvation and destruction, or watch her beloved land be consumed by darkness and death.


Now doesn't that just sound like a good read??

Coming out in March 2009 from Absolute-X-Press!

Big thanks to Justyn Perry, Lynn Perkins and Wylliam Yoder for all their great work on the cover!