Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hate to go all anthropological on you …

In my recent interview over at Indie-Debut 2010, I threatened to go all anthropological on your writing butts – we’ll here goes. In all societies there is tension between tradition and innovation (those who want things to stay the same and those who want change). And we anthropologist/writers love that. Look around you for examples – remember the US democratic nomination of 2000 & what’s it? (I’m Canadian and don’t follow politics). Hilary was branded as the voice of experience and Barack as the one to bring about change.  

Tradition vs. innovation is an universal theme. Start to notice it in the novels you read and movies you watch.  Find ways to bring it into your story - between characters of the same generation, different generations, in the framing of conflict, in hindering the protag getting what s/he wants … use your imagination.  

I just watched Stick It. (Yes, I’m also woefully behind in my movie watching and being a Sasquatch I generally eschew popular culture). It is the story of Haley a renegade and brilliant gymnast.  She rebels against the system of judging that is based on tradition and slavish adherence to rules focusing on minor infractions at the expensive of judging the difficulty of the moves (and judge-coach rivalries, vindictiveness and bias). She sees great talent being stymied by rules. Pushed to the edge she, and the other gymnasts, decide who will win each event when all but one of them scratches.

It’s the tension between tradition vs. innovation played out in a creative, nervy, and possibly career ending demonstration that flips the chalk covered finger to the gymnastics establishment (they don’t call it gym-nice-tics).    

Stick with the clip (no pun intended) it starts out slow and ends fabulously!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blogging, Anthropology and the road to Publication - an interview on Indie-Debut

I was interviewed today over on Indie-Debut 2010 by Danika Dinsmore a debut middle grade author who blogs at The Accidental Novelist. 

Indie-Debut 2010 is a group of first-time authors who've joined together to spread the word about their books that hail from small presses. So, since I'm both a debut author and published with a smaller press she interviewed me. 

It was a fun interview process. 

She used words like "amusing," "personality" and "nifty." 

She asked questions about graphics, blogging, and publishing. 

I said things like: "... I hate to go all anthropological on you ..."

She asked me if I was a social media hypnotist

I said: "you are getting sleepier ..."  

So do you see what I'm doing here? Trying to get you to the site with the interview ... ;-j Hmmmm ... maybe I am a hypnotist, who knew!?

You'll also want to check out Danika's website and take a look at her debut fantasy adventure novel Brigitta of the White Forest.  Here's a bit of what the book is about: 

Brigitta is a young Water Faerie from the village-nest of Tiragarrow. She’s anxious about going through The Change, as she doesn’t see how destiny markings on her wings should determine her life’s path.
A few days before the annual Festival of the Elements, Brigitta is flying an errand with her tag-a-long sister when a mysterious curse turns everyone in the White Forest to stone, except for the two of them. They have no idea why they were not cursed, but they do know if they don’t turn everyone back in time for the festival rituals, the Hourglass of Protection will run out and so will its protective field around the forest.
With no one in their forest left to help them, they must leave the protected realm to seek an exiled faerie they have only heard about in ancient tales.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Midnight Blue Marble book give away

Gumboot Books (aka my publisher - I'm very possessive) is having a book giveaway contest on their blog.

The book up for grabs is y/a novel Midnight Blue Marble by Melanie Jackson. The protag Ailie Mooney did a guest blog post a few months ago on my blog. 

Here's the blurb about the book: 

GLITTERING DEATH... 1793: French revolutionaries lop off the beautiful, if rather vacant, head of Queen Marie Antoinette. They claim the Queen squandered France's treasury to buy a sumptuous diamond necklace. Fast forward to the present: Vancouver history buff Ailie Mooney, 14, inherits from her eccentric great-uncle a packet of Marie Antoinette's letters - and a clue to the whereabouts of the infamous necklace's central stone, a.k.a., the Midnight-Blue Marble. Someone wants to figure out the clue before Ailie does. Using Marie Antoinette's letters, our determined, if perpetually disorganized, sleuth must hunt down the diamond before she becomes the next murder victim in its ever-bloody saga.

It's an awesome book. I've read it and so has my 12 year old niece who loved it!

It's easy to enter, you just have to talk about your experience with pen pals - that's how people used to communicate before aliens (or cats) invented the internet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My best rejection letter ever!

We've all been rejected, heck, I've been rejected so many times my cat ate a whole file of rejection letters. But this is my best rejection letter ever. It's a long story short so stick with me as I tell it. 

There's a blog called Grab a Pen (or Stir your Tea). It's the funniest blog in the sphere (barring mine), and it is written by Tahereh who is a 22 year old writer with an agent (I know right!?). Any non-agented writer worth their weight in typewriter ribbon would love to stab the fleshy skin between her thumb and index finger with a mechanical pencil, but you just can't because she's living life like she's on an island of hot pink flamingo monkeys and has a permanent IV of coffee coursing through her veins. And her zest for life is infectious (in the good way), so if you haven't discovered her get your mouse over there. 

For a lark she started an on-line magazine called Querypolitan where she offers hilarious and contrarian advice about the agent query process. Well, this fake magazine became so popular in the blogosphere that she started another blog just for Querypolitan. Then she started taking submissions for articles. 

So, since you're already familiar with my love of rejection we'll pick the story up there. I sent her an article that I thought was pretty darn funny and first I received this non-automatic response, response.  

Thank you so much!
Here is a COOKIE.
also HEARTS: <3 <3 <3 <3

We will be in touch soon, PROMISE.

So, I think you're beginning to get an idea of what we're dealing with here. Then this -it's-not-you-it's-me rejection letter. 

dearest friend:

after eating an entire box of cookies and crying our deliberation into a tub of full-fat ice cream, we've come to the very difficult conclusion of being unable to accept your Querypolitan Submission at this time. please forgive us, but remember that FUNNY is such a subjective thing, and that truly, this has less to do with you than it does with US.

we hope this doesn't mean you'll stop loving us.




Of course, it doesn't mean I'll stop loving the blog.  And I'm thinking up a whole other query just to get another rejection letter. Who doesn't like rejection now, eh!? 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Battle of the Books

When you hear the phrase Battle of the Books do you imagine readers in a duel to the death with mechanical pencils? Do you imagine fist-a-cuffs at the library counter over a hot title? Do you imagine readers in a heated debate over book bindings, fonts, and e-readers?

Well, you’re far off. This Battle of the Books is an early literacy program that encourages children to read.

My debut mystery for young readers, Dead Frog on The Porch, has been chosen as a book in the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board’s annual Battle of the Books. Thirty books were chosen by a committee made up of librarians, and last year nearly half of the 60 schools in the district participated. The idea is that children read a number of the books and then teams from different schools go book to book against each other answering questions about the story.  I’ve been invited out to Ontario next spring to adjudicate a few rounds of the finals.    

In honour of books and reading, here are two videos to salute all the teachers, librarians, parents, cats, grandparents, aunts, uncles, dogs, friends and other life forms too numerous to mention who encourage and instill a love of reading in children. You are helping to create thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, well read adults who will enjoy a life time of entering the world of the novel and learning about life, love, and vampires the pursuit of humanity.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Having a job is a good thing - the rest of the reasons why it's good for writers to have jobs

Well folks, here are the last  of the eleven reasons that having a job is a good thing for a writer. Notice I didn't mention money? Well money is a good thing. Keeps the sasquatch writing cave warm in the winter and keeps a writer fueled with lots of sushi and sour ju jubes in the summer all year round. 

6.)  You learn how to schedule your time. When it’s time to write, it’s time to write. None of this waiting for your muse crap. Forward your muse your schedule and tell her/him to get a move on. 

7.)   You appreciate the time when you can write.

8.)  You can indulge your active fantasy life at work. There is nothing like a three hour conference call to concoct your marketing strategy in your head, or an all day visioning session to free up your mind to come up with that latest plot synopsis. 

9.)  You understand that it’s all about relationship management. At work, you have to get along with your colleagues and network with those in other organizations. The same goes for your publishing life. It’s all about relationship management whether it’s with your publisher, editor, prospective agent, booksellers, teachers, conference organizers, book reviewers, members of the media, other writers and/or your readers. You are a business and a business person manages relationships and maintains networks.

10.)  You’ll have friends in all walks of life, which are handy when you need them to come to a book launch or network for you.

11.)  You can steal office supplies. Kidding, kidding, no really … just kidding.  Note to self: need more of those little neon lime green sticky note pads. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top eleven reasons why the work-a-day-ness i.e., having a day job helps our writing

Every whinny writer worth her salt complains about the tension between having a job and wanting to be a full time writer (talk about inner conflict). We whine that if only we had the time we’d finish that novel or search out markets for it. If only we had the money we wouldn’t have to work and we would spend our days writing and reading in the back yard in the sun. Yes, I feel that way as well and have bent many ears complaining about it. So that led me to mull over the top ten, eleven reasons why exposure to the work-a-day-ness is a good thing.

1.)  You’re used to crazies, quirky people, interesting and unique individuals. You’ll find them in any and all professions including publishing. So when you come across a whacky, unusual situation you aren’t surprised by it, you will be used to managing it, and you will manage it professionally. 

2.)  Working with crazy, quirky, interesting and unique individuals gives you insight into personalities and characters.

3.)  You’re not afraid to put your self out there whether that’s sending out submissions or calling the media or bookstores about your launches. I’ve written press releases for some of my writing friends who, haven’t been in what you would call a full time work sphere, and are too afraid to.

4.)  You understand how the world works - whether it’s exposure to social networking, reading the ads on the bus or just talking to people about your writing and extending your contact list. You probably have a leg up over those who are in their Sasquatch cave pounding away on the first computer they ever had and are still listening to the squeal/squelch of dial up internet.  

5.)  You’re used to hauling your butt out of bed every morning at a certain time, slamming it down on the bus and getting down to work. When I was writing my Masters thesis and working full time, the phrase B - C was big and was a computer marketing term that referred to Business to Consumer applications. I had my own version of B – C: butt to chair time. That’s what it takes even if it is only a half hour a day. It all adds up. When people asked me how the writing of my thesis was going I would say “consistently slow.” It was coming along slowly, but I was consistent about how much time I was spending on it. A whole thesis or book can be written this way. 

Next blog post: numbers 6-11 why it's good for writers to have jobs. 

How unbelievably obvious is it that I just learned, learnt, taught myself, figured out, how to use the thing where you write something and then put a line through it, strikeout feature.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nancy Drew meets ... the Vampire?! Really!?

I hear people talk about seeing Eclipse at midnight. And I'm all like "Really, was it a total eclipse of the moon or the sun? How come I never heard about that, I listen to the radio?" The blank look on their faces explains it all - yeah, the radio in your sasquatch cave. They are talking about the movie Eclipse, the third book in the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series about how vampires and werewolves can't get along - I hear that's a big problem.   

Yes, vampires are hot, hotter than a steaming cup of chai on a cold day in the sasquatch cave. Every bookshelf I scan, virtual or otherwise, has a new vampire series. There are vampires, and trampires, werewolves, witches, warlocks, pixies, zombies - we are fascinated with the undead, those who refuse to die and those fighting centuries old blood feuds. 

But Nancy Drew?! Leave her out of it.  That's what I thought when I heard about the latest Nancy Drew book Nancy Drew Vampire Slayer. Nancy's strength is in sussing out clues, going where the police chief fears to go, being thrown down flights of stairs and cornering the bad guy like a werewolf corners a, er ... vampire. Sure, over the years, Nancy has fought eco crime on behalf of the environment, she's found bad guys on movie sets and basically been in every setting imaginable, but leave her out of the vampire/ werewolf craze. She's does not carry a stake in her clutch purse and she is not about deading the undead. Apparently, in the book there is a vampire in town, but is he a "real" vampire (hate to break this to you, but vampires aren't real ...?)    

Dead Frog on the Porch has been called Nancy Drew for the iPod generation - but no worries, no vampires will be on the scene with twin protagonists Cyd and Jane anytime soon.  Mind you, Dead Vampire on the Porch ... catchy title ... ;-j