And Some Writing Was Done

December 1st, 2019Posted by Nancy

Made it to 5,020 words, which was half of my target but better than expected. A great deal of vamping was done, some of which led to the realization that it really would be so much more dramatic if character A AND character B went to see character C but that would certainly put a crimp in character A’s plan to murder character C.

But still, drama. Possible longing glances. Confrontation.

Happy to say goodbye the November, hello to December, despite the freezing rain and snow currently rattling on the windows.

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November is the cruelest month

November 16th, 2019Posted by Nancy

Never mind that stuff about April. Not true. November is the worst. It’s grey, it’s cold, and, for heaven’s sake, it actually snowed this week.

I’m supposed to be doing Nanowrimo and after a successful start it too went all to hell. I’m going to vaguebook this one (as they say) but it’s shitty and demoralizing and makes a girl doubt her faith in humanity.

All one can do is try to be good, swear as required, and have a martini when it gets really bad.

Perhaps December will be better. Or maybe 2020.

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Nanowrimo again

November 2nd, 2019Posted by Nancy

October is done and it’s National Novel Writing Month again.  Not that I’m planning to write a novel in November – heaven’s forbid!  But 10,000 words is a do-able goal and I try to use this time to force myself to override my pesky internal editor and get shit done.  If I make my goal this year, that’ll put me at the a minimum of 33,000 words for 2019, which is the most I’ve done in a long, long, long, long time.

They’re not all good words and some of them are basically me vamping madly to make the word count but hey, I take what I can get.

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Get yourself a Hallowe’en present

October 23rd, 2019Posted by Nancy

A Terrible Beauty is on sale for a short time for just $2.99 (ebook edition) at Amazon.com and Kobo (US sites only). Treat yourself for Hallowe’en this year.

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Hallowe’en Book Sale!

October 18th, 2019Posted by Nancy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… tra la la. I mean Hallowe’en, of course.

To make sure you never run out of appropriately scary things to read during this best of seasons, the good folks at Storybundle asked the amazing Sandra Kasturi to curate a special package of spooky stories. For just $15, you get 13 books to keep you up at night.

You’ll get vampires of various inclinations (from the lonely Sidonie of my book A Terrible Beauty to the ferocious creature of Michael Rowe’s Enter, Night to the teenager facing a devastating legacy in Victoria Dalpe’s Parasite Life), a brutal journey across rural Ontario with evil in Stephen Michel’s Only the Devil is Here, and the fatal folk traditions of David Demchuk’s The Bone Mother.

Plus 8 more books that are, as Sandra says, “scary on the inside”. (Which is true, because their covers are singularly lovely).

Go on now. You like to be scared, don’t you?

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Process, process, process. Or what to think about when you can’t write.

October 5th, 2019Posted by Nancy

I have many writing avoidance behaviours, honed over the long years of my block and my continuing struggles to keep up any level of productivity. One of my favourites is finding out about other people’s process, in the hopes that somewhere there is a magic bullet that will fix mine. So far, I haven’t found it.

My first few exploratory novels were written out of order. Which really means that I tended to write all the “good bits” first and then later add the connective tissue between them. Even the first half of The Night Inside was done that way. Once I got a good chunk of it under my belt and knew where it was going, I switched over to basically writing it in order. Of course, I had to rewrite the last quarter of the book because my editor felt that my desire for realism was draining a good amount of the tension out of the story. She was right, but that didn’t make the rewrite much easier.

From then on, my process was basically “start at the beginning and keep on until you get to the end.” Even Cold Hillside, with it’s alternating narrators, worked like that, though I later changed the placement of some of the Lilit chapters.

I’m currently working on two different projects. The first one (the “real” one) is referred to as The Witch Novel. It exists in three files of varying lengths, each being the story of one of the three main POV characters. One is third person past tense, one is third person present tense, and one is second person. Those were chosen simply to keep my imagination engaged but I’ve gotten used to them. At some point, I’m going to have to start interweaving the various voices to create a single narrative that takes place over roughly 80 years. Well, once I figure out exactly what the plot is, of course.

For the second project, referred to as Not The Witch Novel or The Art Colony Thing, I’ve gone back to the “start at the beginning” process. Since it was supposed to be cute, fluffy, and romantic, I figured I’d eventually switch to writing the “good parts”. Unfortunately, the story is currently neither cute nor fluffy nor particularly romantic, so who knows what the ultimate process will be.

If anyone has a magic bullet, please shoot it my way.

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What I read at the cottage, 2019 edition

September 18th, 2019Posted by Nancy

This year, I managed to read 16 books during our annual two weeks in Haliburton.  The seven physical books are shown above and the additional nine ebooks, sadly, exist only in the ether.

Topics ranged from a biography of Gertrude Bell (Desert Queen), a book about birds (The Thing with Feathers), a romance novel chosen after reading Beyond Heaving Bosoms (My Sweet Folly), a book about Barcelona by Robert Hughes because I’m going to Spain next year, a ghost story (Naomi’s Room), and a reread of Erica Jong’s Serenissima, because I love Venice.

Other recommendations include the very lovely Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord, The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson, and Salt to the Sea by Ruth Emprys.

Oh, and Fright into Flight, because not only are there great stories by Gemma Files and Nadia Bulkin, but my story “Consent” is also featured.

Next up: The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson.

On my “to read” list: roughly 225 books.  Sigh.

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Books on sale! Books on sale!

August 11th, 2019Posted by Nancy

Because books on sale is always good news.  CZP is having a sale on ebook only editions this month, which means that my first three novels are available via Amazon for $2.99 each (links at the CZP site linked above). And there are two incredible short stories from the brilliant, award-winning Gemma Files plus books by Caitlin Sweet and Michael Marano as well.

What are you waiting for?

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Travel excuses

July 21st, 2019Posted by Nancy

The Torrington gophers performing their tribute to the film “Roxanne”.

Well, not excuses not to travel. Or to travel. Just excuses to explain lack of progress in writing, no blog posts, too much good food and wine, too little exercise (except for the 20,000 steps a day trip to Alberta, which I’m fairly sure did not offset the aforementioned good food and wine).

In the last month, I’ve been in Drumheller, Banff, Muskoka, Peterborough, Pefferlaw, and home.  I’ve fallen behind in almost everything except fun.  

My travel tip for this summer is – if you’re in Drumheller, you should make a side trip to Torrington, home of the Gopher Hole Museum.  Because stuffed gophers dressed up to reflect the life of the town are a wonderful thing and the tiny museum itself is a pleasure.  They even have the letters they received after they launched in 1995.  The good folks at PETA expressed displeasure, the good folks of Torrington told them to “get stuffed” and world fame ensued.  

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How I spend my Tuesday Evenings

May 29th, 2019Posted by Nancy

Since I retired (mostly) last year, I’ve been trying to find something charitable or community-related to do. This has been hampered by a number of things: the fact that I’m not good at all that much, the fact that the potentially useful things I’m ok at are not things I want to spend my time doing (any more than I already do them), the fact that I’m an introvert who is not terribly good with people. So visiting older people or teaching ESL at libraries is not really in the cards for me. 

Then I discovered the Community Stewardship Program here in Toronto and signed up to spend my Tuesday evenings working in the Don Valley ravine that runs down the middle of the city.  I can walk over to the site, which is a bonus.  Then I spend two hours digging garlic mustard and other invasive plants (we haven’t started on the dog-strangling vines yet but I can see the evil things growing), planting native species, counting may-apples, and whatever else our group leader assigns.  I’ve also backed into some stinging nettle, but that wasn’t an assigned duty.

We’ve seen an abandoned beaver pond, woodpeckers, orioles, toads, and a snake.  Plus numerous cyclists, dog walkers, and Go trains. I spent one glorious evening sitting on the bank of a pond, pulling garlic mustard as the sun sank slowly on the other side of the ravine, and discovering that the white flower up to my left was a trillium.

I’ve definitely enjoyed my experience so far, though I am well aware that bug season is just around the corner and what is quite pleasant now might be brutal in the August heat.  My back hurts sometimes from crouching down to pull weeds and I’m very grateful that, while we’ve had an inordinately rainy spring, so far it’s been dry on Tuesday nights.  Work is only cancelled if there’s a thunderstorm.

Could I do more to make the world a better place?  I’m pretty sure I could – though we continue to give money to various causes, which may be more useful than my dubious help.  Still, when someone asks me what I did in the dog-strangling vine wars, I will at least be able to hold my head high and say “I did my part”.

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