15 April 2018
Sunday morning seems to be my favourite time to blog. Typically Sunday is my totally “down” day with very little planned, the house is usually clean and laundry under control. This is how my day is starting at least. My plan today is to work on Leaving Sam and write until I run out of words. My self-imposed publication deadline of early June is rapidly approaching and I am nowhere near close to where I had hoped to be by now. I know – I’m disappointed too but the new job, or more specifically the commute to and from the new job, is draining me. I’m not ready to extend the deadline quite yet – I will push as hard as possible over the next few weeks and see what happens. But I wanted to mention it in case I do have to extend a bit.
Enough about that. I AM excited about how the book is coming together. I’m approximately half way through the first major rewrite (there will most likely be a second rewrite after this – before I unleash it to my fabulous beta readers) and the characters are expanding in dimension before my eyes. I discovered an unplanned character – a charming Irish GP who may star in a future book (major character crush happening); he simply turned up at an art gallery so I had to invite him into the story. The main characters, Maddy and Eric, are deeply ingrained in my heart and I love teasing out their flaws and quirks. Their relationship is messy and rife with ups and downs and it’s a hoot exploring that with them.
I’ve created a fictional town on the west coast as the setting for Leaving Sam – somewhere close to Norris and Woody Points. I love the west coast – particularly the Norris Point area. There’s a creative energy that hums in the air there. It’s palpable and my instinct whenever I visit is simply not to leave. Not all that practical when my life and livelihood is on the east coast. I spent a long weekend in Corner Brook recently with my husband; he was participating in the March Hare and I was enjoying the music and literature and general camaraderie of the festival; lots of old friends and plenty of new ones. It was disappointing being so close to Norris Point with no opportunity to actually visit; timelines and schedules were too full already. Oh yeah, and there was a wee snowstorm. On a positive note, the Northern Pen is one of the places we’ve earmarked to spend a night or two this summer. Yay!
A real place mentioned in the book is Springdale and the fabulous Riverwood Inn (though not mentioned directly by name). My husband and I have stayed there several times and it never disappoints. One of the characters walks the wetlands trail – it’s an easy but lovely hike/walk (much of the trail is a well maintained boardwalk) through the forest parallel to the Indian River ending at the estuary. It’s fabulous. I love writing stories with Newfoundland as the backdrop and I hope to continue this in future books.
I’m hoping to become somewhat of a regular vendor at the Clarenville Farm and Market this season. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people and readers! I’ll post the market dates I plan to participate in a few weeks.
One final note before I sign off this morning. Thank you to the readers who message me or chat with me about their love for Twist of Fate and their anticipation of the next book. It means the world and it helps me find the motivation to write even when I’m drained from long workdays. I will do my very best to deliver by early June. Fingers crossed!
27 January 2018
I've been writing up a storm! Well, not a storm like in Twist of Fate, more figuratively! Today is shaping up to be another productive writing day and I'm hoping to finish the first draft of Leaving Sam in the next couple of weeks. One of my favourite readers recently suggested it was time for a paragraph tease from my work in progress. I agree!! So Cindy, and all of my other fabulous readers, here is the beginning of Leaving Sam:
A single thought reverberated in Maddy’s head; Sam Dennison was a selfish, arrogant bastard. She resisted the urge to grind her teeth in frustration as she watched him pace the small living room of her downtown St. John’s apartment. She had to get through the next few minutes.
“You’re leaving?” he asked, pausing in front of her, his hands on his hips.
“Yes. I leave for Northwood Arm at the end of the month,” her voice was steady, despite her trembling knees as she leaned against the arm of the sofa.
“That’s too soon. You always visit later in the summer. C’mon baby. Call Tess back and tell her you’ve changed your mind,” his voice had assumed that sticky, saccharine tone he used lately when he tried to convince her to see things his way.
“I can’t do that. I’m going to run the B&B so Tess can vacation with William. After that I’m taking some time for myself. I’m spending the summer there.”
She silently counted down the seconds as she waited for his temper to detonate. She watched his face in fear and fascination as the mercury of rage slowly crept from neck to forehead. Three, two, one...
As you can probably tell, this is the beginning of the end for Maddy and Sam. Or is it? I hope that whets your appetite for more, because there is SO much more to come!!
28 October 2017
I’m popping by for a quick update on the next book. I’ve been busy writing, mostly in my head but the scenes are finally making it to paper. This is the book I’ve mentioned in previous blog postings. I started it a decade ago (give or take) and could never figure out how to end it. I’ve been able to salvage a few elements from the original draft but the storyline and characters have undergone complete overhauls. I love the relationships (good and bad) developing between the characters and the challenges each one has to face as the story progresses.
So here are a few teasers! The title of the book is “LEAVING SAM”. I designed the cover last week but I’m not ready to reveal that yet. I’m really happy with it though. It captures the essence of the story perfectly. So what’s the book about? I haven’t settled on a tagline yet but it will probably be some condensed variation of this:
“Leaving Sam was more difficult than Maddy could ever have imagined; not because she didn’t want to leave but because he refused to let her go.”
This story has dark undercurrents for the main female character, Maddy. Her relationship with Sam has slowly eroded from happy and stable into potentially abusive territory. His words now sting. His lack of trust and paranoia annoy her. His emotional abuse and increasingly aggressive physicality scare her. It’s time to leave. She has the perfect escape; her aunt needs her help running her B&B on the west coast of the island, far away from St. John’s and Sam. Maddy’s newfound peace in the bucolic town of Northwood Arm is soon shattered though as Sam continues his pursuit of her, trying to convince her he’ll change; refusing to accept their relationship has ended. Leaving Sam isn’t as simple as she had hoped.
And of course I had to stir things up a little with a third character, Eric, an ornery long-term tenant in her aunt’s attic apartment. He grates on Maddy’s nerves with his pessimism and snarky outlook on everything. But he may be the one person she can count on as she wages the battle of her life.
I hope this sneak peek has roused a little interest! I’m not sure when I’ll complete this project. It definitely won’t be before Christmas but hopefully very early in the new year. Thanks for sticking with me!
19 August 2017
Wow! It kind of feels like I blinked and summer slipped by! But what a fabulous summer it has been – lots of blue skies and sunshine in eastern Newfoundland! I hope it’s warm and wonderful in your world too!
Sincere thanks to all of you who have bought and continue to buy copies of Twist of Fate. The local grocery store owner offered to stock copies for me and I’m happy to report that we keep selling out! Also, thank you for the reviews and ratings on Amazon, Goodreads, iBooks, Chapters and Kobo. My toes curl with delight whenever I see a new rating or review. I’ve received 51 ratings/reviews to date with an average rating of 4.73 out of 5! I am so delighted that you’re enjoying the book! Time to get book number two published – but more on that in a bit.
I mentioned in a recent post that my day job was winding down. I completed my contract at the end of July. It was a good time to finish up and I’ve been enjoying a summer off – that hasn’t happened since 1996 when I was on maternity leave! I’m happy to report that I finished work one day, had a job interview the next and landed the position. Yay! I start my new position on September 12th so I still have a few weeks of vacation remaining and I’m enjoying every second!
Seems like it should be the prime time to write book two, yes? Theoretically, yes, it is BUT I have been too busy enjoying the weather and doing all of the things I can never do because I’m working. So instead of writing I’m travelling and going to farmer’s markets and READING and playing in the sunshine! I even met and chatted with Bernice Morgan (!!!) during my time off! That’s my story!
There is good news regarding book two: part of it is already written! It is a story I have been picking away at for the last 10 years. Perhaps longer. The even better news is now I know how the story ends so I can finally finish it! The book and the characters will undergo major changes and reconstruction. I love the essence of the story but I was complicating it with too much extraneous stuff. I finally understand what story needs to be told so I’m excited to focus on getting it out of my head and on paper. I am cautiously optimistic about publishing before Christmas and I’ll provide lots of updates as I undertake that journey.
Enjoy the rest of summer! I’ll check in again next time I slow down long enough to catch my breath!!
11 June 2017
Happy Sunday morning from brilliantly sunny Newfoundland! This posting will be brief – my pup is anxious to go for a walk and so am I! Pretty sure the “make hay while the sun shines” idiom must have originated in Newfoundland. Sunny days are often elusive (at least in my little corner of the rock) so you really have to get out there and enjoy them when they show up!
I have a few things to catch up on with you. Last night I was the guest author (ooooh!) at a local Book Club meeting. The lovely ladies from Clarenville and Come by Chance were so much fun! They had great questions and we had a fabulous discussion about Twist of Fate. It was the first time I’ve spoken about my writing journey with a group so it was thrilling and felt a little surreal at times. I started having butterflies around mid-week! I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group. They also offered to take a group photo and post a write up in the local newspaper to help extend my reach – what a wonderful offer!! Thank you Clarenville (and Come by Chance!) Book Club!!
Remember a post or two ago I mentioned I would be transitioning in my “real job”? That process began a couple of weeks ago. I’m now working in the city for an undetermined period (could be weeks, could be months). I miss being home. I miss my husband. But I’m grateful for the extension to my contract. The other downside is that I’m finding it difficult to write away from home. My office is my sanctuary and it’s challenging to transpose the creative energy that flows so readily here somewhere else. I’m sure I’ll settle and get into the groove eventually. In the meantime though writing outputs are scant. I’m working on a non-Anna Reilly project that I was hoping to have concluded by the end of May but that hasn’t happened. I’m now shooting for the end of June. I’m anxious to get going on the next Anna Reilly book!
My husband and I spent an amazing week in New York in May! I fulfilled a 30 year dream to see the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! It did not disappoint!! We also saw Come from Away – it was incredible! Obviously it meant the world to us being from Newfoundland BUT I really think everyone needs to see this play. Everyone. Just like everyone needs to read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. But back to New York! It’s a fabulous city, vibrating with energy and humanity. The heat and crowds were overwhelming at times but even that was an experience! Highlights included a nighttime tour of downtown Manhattan and crossing the bridge to Brooklyn, top of the Rock, Empire State, river taxi tour, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Central Park, shopping on 5th Avenue (okay – it was a Fossil store but STILL!!), Radio City Music Hall and my absolute favourite, the 9/11 Memorial. It was important to me to walk where John/Tate had walked (I had virtually walked the memorial using street view when I was researching for the book). I couldn’t stop crying. Incredibly powerful and you feel the presence of every life taken that day. Every one.
My dog is heaving heavy sighs – that’s my cue!! Until next time, be kind and read lots!!
14 April 2017
Two weeks have passed since I released Twist of Fate and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I am so thankful! I told someone recently that writing a book and then releasing it into the world feels a bit like standing naked on a stage in front of a room full of people. The book isn’t about me or anyone real – it’s completely fictional – yet so much of me is wrapped up in the book. Not just my time, energy and imagination – but my heart and soul and essence of being. For the first few hours after release I felt exposed and vulnerable. Wondering. Waiting. And then the feedback started and it exceeded my wildest dreams. It’s so lovely when people connect with the characters and the story. Not everyone will – of course – that’s understandable and expected. But for those who do – wow – it’s thrilling! I even charted on the bestsellers listings on Amazon.ca, Kobo and iBooks for several days. That was not expected! The feeling of being exposed and vulnerable doesn't go away though...
The support and encouragement I’ve received from friends, family and even people I don’t know very well (or at all!) has been heartwarming. THANK YOU! I’ve read the reviews on the different eBook retailer sites and I’m ecstatic to receive such wonderful feedback. Again, thank you! The biggest surprise this week has been an invitation by a book club in a nearby town to be their guest author in June! I’m beyond excited for that! Seriously – I have butterflies!! Thank you Stephanie for the invitation!
I have started my second Anna Reilly novel. For those of you who have expressed an interest in reading more about Alyson and John/Tate, this next project is not a continuation of their story (sorry!). The work in progress has a different cast of characters, though the novel will be set in Newfoundland again. More on that project as it unfolds! I’m not committing to a firm release date. I’m hoping to complete it by the end of this year BUT I’m about to undergo changes in my professional non-writing life so the amount of time available for writing largely depends on what opportunities unfold for me as my current work contract ends.
As for Alyson and John/Tate, I may release a chapter here and there to update you on how their life together is unfolding. I’m not ready to let them go either!! But that will be early next year (at the earliest!).
My biggest challenge currently is marketing – now that friends and family have bought the book, expanding the reach is the goal. I did have a reader in NYC post a wonderful review on Amazon.com the other day so readership is slowly expanding; I have no idea who she is but I’m so grateful for her kind words – thank you “Cor”! If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, please recommend it to friends you think might also enjoy it. And if you’d like to leave a review on whichever site you purchased from, well, that would be grand! I greatly appreciate any and all help spreading the word!!
I better post and return to my novel writing before I get too sleepy. Thank you again for the awesome feedback – my heart is beyond full!!
25 March 2017
Greetings from still snowy Newfoundland!
It’s been a while since I’ve checked in! I was swamped with TWIST OF FATE stuff until last week and then I got slammed by a sinus infection. Ugh. I’m happy to report that I’m on the mend again now and excitedly counting down the days until release date!
TWIST OF FATE will be live on March 31st! I’m hoping to coordinate the paperback release for that date too though it’s a little trickier. I will definitely make best efforts! I’ve listed all of the links to the major e-book sellers on my HOME page where you can pre-order now!
Please consider leaving a review after you’ve read TWIST OF FATE. Reviews help authors stay visible on sites such as Amazon. It can mean the difference between a successful launch and a flop. Your review doesn’t have to be lengthy – you may simply state “I liked this book” or “I recommend this book”. Even just a star rating would be deeply appreciated! Thank you in advance!! xo
I’m already thinking ahead to my next book. I have a non-Anna Reilly project to take care of first but I hope to start working on my next novel by early May. I’ll be releasing teasers and progress posts as that book comes to life. I’m excited and can’t wait to share it with you!
I’ll be back next Friday for release day! Wish me luck!!
25 February 2017
Good morning in there! It’s a beautiful day out here. Sun is shining and temps are above freezing. Win-win! I’m even padding around the house sockless this morning – bonus!
It’s been a busy, productive and fabulous couple of weeks. I finally finished the book – well, the final first draft. I felt out the ending I wanted (and my characters demanded) and created it.
Last Saturday afternoon I had a Messenger exchange with a local author and she gave me invaluable advice on next steps, which I have been heeding! I’m grateful for the support of the local writing community; everyone has been helpful whenever I have questions and there is an undercurrent of genuine care for everyone else’s success. I love that. I want to be part of that community and look forward to sharing my own experiences and knowledge as they unfold and develop.
The most daunting task for me now is promoting the book. I am independently publishing so I don’t have a publishing company backing me to promote my work to a much broader audience than I could ever hope to reach on my own. Word of mouth advertising and book reviews are critically important to independent authors. If you read a book that you like, consider leaving a review – it makes a huge difference to authors when they’re self-published. It doesn’t have to be an expansive, analytical critique – it can simply be a one liner stating that you loved the book. Reviews are golden!
A week ago today I sent my completed first draft to a small group of readers (a cross-section of friends). I tried to select people who I knew would be in my target audience and people who would not typically read this genre. I sent to men and women of varying ages. I sent it to people with strong editing skills (my sister-in-law was a high school English teacher and she is brilliant) and those who I knew would let me know whether they connected with the characters/storyline. I needed technical and emotional feedback and my incredible group of readers has not disappointed!! So far I’ve heard from 9 out of 10 of the readers and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Collectively they are helping me slay the typos and grammatical errors, and making suggestions regarding structure/point of view that I know will produce a stronger book in the end. I AM SO GRATEFUL TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!
I feel like I can breathe a little deeper this weekend. Last weekend I was a nervous wreck after sending out the manuscript. What if everyone hated it? The first feedback trickled in early on Sunday morning. It was positive and I cried. Comments kept flowing in throughout the day and days to follow and of course I cried some more. Tears of relief that the story was resonating. Tears of joy that the readers were connecting to my characters; they cared about what happened to them in the book. Tears of gratitude to be one step closer to fulfilling my dream to publish this book.
This post is filled with love and gratitude to my beta reader group. I appreciate that you took the time to read my book and offer feedback. Special thanks to my unofficial editor, my gifted sister-in-law; thank you for taking the extra time to critically read each and every line - I know how busy your life is and I appreciate all that you are giving to me. All of your suggestions and comments are invaluable. Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!!
3 February 2017
Greetings to all you wonderful people who visit my blog and web pages. You may have noticed that I have a counter on my Home page that tracks the number of visitors to this website. That number is quickly approaching the 1000 mark; which astounds me! I’ve done very little, other than word of mouth, to promote this page. (Guess that means I talk too much!!) Thank you for your continued interest in my writing and my book. It’s been a while since I checked in so I thought I would give you a quick update.
I’m still going through the editing/rewriting process. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so this may well be my downfall. I obsess too much over word choice and phrasing. The good news is that I’m on about my fifth pass through and those changes are minimal now. I do have a few structural items to tidy up and the ending is still in need of some work. Parts of the ending make me cry (in a good way) and other parts make me cringe (not in a good way); so I am working hard to tighten that up so there’s more good stuff and less cringe-worthy stuff. Then I have to ship it off to an editor and get professional input/critique. Gulp!
Besides the writing, I’ve been working on copyright and ISBN registration. I also bought e-publishing software and am in the process of transferring my electronic manuscript to that format. I’m also working on a cover. I think I’ve found the stock photo I want to use; it really spoke to me and when I showed my husband earlier his reaction was DEFINITELY! I just have to figure out copyright/licensing of the photo, buy it and then work up the cover. I’m lucky to have a graphic designer in the family so once I do the mock up he will work his magic to make it sparkle.
I am really excited about the story and the characters. I like how they develop throughout the novel, facing their fears and their demons, overcoming obstacles and figuring out their place in the world, as we all have to do. It is a love story but more than that, I think it is a story of hope. We’ve all been knocked down by life and sometimes that struggle to stand on your own two feet again is seemingly impossible. The characters in my story find their ground and ultimately find their purpose. And there’s kissing and romance and a little steam along that journey, just like in real life.
I’m still aiming for self-publishing as an e-book by the end of March, unless I face some unexpected obstacle. This is my first time self-publishing so I may be overly optimistic on the timeline. I’ll keep you posted though!
Just a few more weeks until spring! Let’s hang in there! And again, thanks so much for hanging in with me. I really hope you’ll enjoy Alyson and John’s story.
5 January 2017
A very brief update tonight as I’m tired and my bed is calling me! The editing process is in full swing! I’ve completed one full pass through over the last week, sniffing out typos and incorrect pronouns and obvious blunders. On that initial pass I also jotted notes in the margins about scenes I needed to rework or move and new stuff I want to add. It was also my first opportunity to read the story from beginning to end to see if it still resonated. Thankfully it does! It just needs a fair bit of elbow grease, blood, sweat and tears.
I’ve started my second pass through. This one will be much more time consuming and grueling as I have to rewrite significant passages and do more showing, less telling (another valuable piece of advice from the RTR Conference last September “show, don’t tell”; excellent advice!). I also have to start figuring out copyright, apply for an ISBN number and oh yeah, come up with a cover. I have an idea for the cover and I’m wondering if I might attempt to sketch/paint it myself. I like the idea of doing that but I’m not sure I can do it justice. We’ll see!
I hope I can do the characters justice as well – I’m hopeful that I can breathe life into their stories and make them as real on paper as they are in my heart. Stay tuned!
30 December 2016
Greetings to all!
I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a merry one! Mine was especially nice this year – lots of quiet family time with my husband and son – it was truly special. We’ve also had opportunities to spend time with extended family and friends, which has been fun, and of course, musical! Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. We treated ourselves to a night out in the city – it was lovely except my better half is fighting a cold and unfortunately the cold was triumphant last night. And today. Hoping rest and meds help him bounce back quickly.
This is the quintessential dark and stormy night. The wind is howling outside and horizontal sheets of rain are pelting the side of my house. I’m snugged up on the couch with my pup, wrapped in a blanket (I’m chilled and fearful that hubby’s bug has found me!) with my laptop desk, writing by the glow of the Christmas tree lights. It’s perfect and a great opportunity to reflect on 2016 and look ahead to 2017.
As this calendar year rapidly approaches its inevitable end, I give thanks for the countless blessings in my life, remember with fondness and sadness the loss of loved ones (far too many this year) and look forward to the dawning of another orbit around the sun. This year will be remembered by many for the loss of so many celebrities and influential people. For my husband’s family it was an especially difficult year, with six deaths in his extended family. We’ve lost five beautiful, strong, remarkable women from the family as well as a cherished, talented, beloved uncle. Their absence echoes through the minutia of day-to-day life and especially at family gatherings as we celebrate this first Christmas without them. Several loved ones are also dealing with varying health issues and it is difficult to stand on the periphery without being able to do much to help in a meaningful way. If you’re reading this and have good health, give thanks – celebrate it and don’t take it for granted!
The year did have quite a few high points too. My son had successful semesters at university as he works toward completing his undergrad degree, and he secured his job of choice last summer (and now part-time while he studies). My husband had an active musical year as he pursued his “spare time” passions. And I wrote a book! We also took a fun family trip to Montreal where we met up with dear friends from Ontario. We had great visits here at home with our vacationing best friends who now live in Alberta. We spent time at the family cabin (a true get away) and staycationed at home, taking in the Irish Loop (greetings to Bertha at Northwest B&B in Trepassey who took such good care of us!) and our usual sojourns to Trinity (the Rising Tide Theatre company never disappoints), Port Rexton (The Fisher’s Loft is a must!) and Bonavista (East Coast Glow and Aunt Sarah’s Chocolates get a shout-out!). Marnie gave us a fabulous tour of her printing shop in Tor’s Cove (Running the Goat Press – fabulous!). And we did lots of hiking and picnicking (we discovered a beautiful estuary in a nearby community that is magical).
The year ahead is brimming with possibilities and I’m hoping to fulfill a couple of dreams this year. I don’t typically make resolutions but I am a goal setter so my personal challenges this year are to publish my book and to train for the Tely10. I’ve started the editing process though just barely as the last couple of weeks have been much busier than anticipated. I’ve also discovered that a friend (retired teacher/school administrator) is doing some editing so hopefully I can work out a deal to avail of his fine services. I’ve no delusions that I’ll run the Tely10 but if I could powerwalk through in less than three hours I’ll be delighted. I’m indulging in the extravagance of Christmas (food and drink) and come Monday, the training begins and the excesses end. It’s been fun but enough is enough.
My husband and I have booked a getaway to NYC in May. I’m especially excited because I will finally be fulfilling a 30+-year dream to see the Phantom on Broadway. We’re going to see Come from Away too. So thrilling! Less thrilling though is the contract for my “day-job” will be ending in the first half of 2017. I’m a little nervous about that given the less than stellar job market in the province right now. I’m staying positive and remaining hopeful and optimistic that other great opportunities will present themselves. I’m a firm believer in fearlessly asking the universe for what I want and then working my ass off to get it!
On the eve of New Year’s Eve I thank you for your continued interest in my website/blog as I advance through the writing/publishing process of my first book. If you’re new to my website, a heartfelt and warm welcome! My best wishes to all of you for good health, much joy and dreams coming true in 2017!
Be fearless, be kind, be fabulous!
8 December 2016
So I was going to wait until after the holidays to start editing my draft of Memories. That was definitely the plan. However, the story won’t leave me alone. It has become a living, breathing life force that lurks inside of me. I wake up to bolded, underlined, italicized mental notes of “oh - you have to include this scene” or “yeah, you need to edit that part out” or “this happens too soon” or “this doesn’t happen soon enough.” It’s pretty much a constant bombardment so I am surrendering to the universe and I am editing, even though the timing is terribly inconvenient. First world problems – I’m sucking it up.
A new character has emerged completely out of the blue: Nellie. She’s secondary but she has so much personality and her inclusion in the book is necessary for Alyson to develop and realize a few difficult life lessons. Of course Nellie only exists in my head yet, but I look forward to introducing her and bringing out the colourful dimensions of her character. To sum her up in one word: crotchety! You’ll love her!
I’ve also been thinking ahead to my next book. I have two ideas competing for my attention. The first is a project that I started almost a decade ago but because I didn’t work from an outline, I’ve written and edited the hell out of the first half of the book and the second half remains unwritten. I’m not even sure how I want it to end but I think it’s worth revisiting; this time around, I'll develop an outline to see where that takes me. The second is a brief two page intro I jotted down a couple of years ago inspired by a story I had read about in the news. The idea for the book isn’t based on that specific incident but it launched a scenario I thought would be interesting to develop. While I’m pretty sure I know how that story will end, I’m not sure if I’m ready to write it yet. The storyline will be emotional and difficult; it deals with death and loss and is definitely more dark than light.
I’ve also been making time for painting this week. I completed a project last night for someone dear to me as a surprise for Christmas. It was a fun, whimsical painting and while I’d love to post a photo, it would ruin the surprise as she may pop on and read this blog posting. I’m starting another project tonight, this one more abstract which is out of my comfort zone but I like pushing myself. It’s so odd – I had never considered myself an especially creative person. I always loved to write but over the years there simply wasn’t time or energy to invest in pursuing that passion. Nearly two years ago I started painting, which is quite shocking since I literally could not draw a straight line to save my life. Somehow though through the magic of a paint brush things turned out like they were supposed to look. Trees looked like trees. Water looked like water. It was the craziest thing and no one was more surprised than me by this new found skill!
Though I think what has surprised me the most about discovering my passion for art and rediscovering my love of writing, is how it has changed me. It has taught me to slow down and be fully present in the moment while I’m creating. I like complete silence when I paint and write and there is magic in that silence. I think we’ve become so busy and so wrapped up in the chatter and frenetic pace of life that we forget about the importance and necessity of silence. Try it. Sit in a favourite spot for just ten minutes and bask in the silence. You may be surprised by what you discover.
This was rather a rambling potpourri of thoughts but it’s kind of my default state. Beaming positivity and good wishes to whoever reads this post. That’s kind of my default state, too.
22 November 2016
On November 20th at approximately 9:10 PM, I finished my book for the NaNoWriMo challenge! Yay! I had set a soft target date to complete by November 24th because I really want to start decorating my house for Christmas that weekend. Then, when the NaNoWriMo site noted that we could start validating our word count on November 20th, I thought it would be kind of cool to finish on that day. I didn’t really expect that I would though, especially given that I had taken one day off completely and I had several days where I didn’t quite make my word targets. Somehow it worked out!
So what have I learned from this process? Oh so much!
First of all, I’ve learned that I CAN write a book in less than three weeks. Let me qualify that; I can write a rough draft of a book in less than three weeks. I’m very pleased with what I’ve written but it is NOT ready for the presses! I have weeks of edits and rewrites to tackle before I’d even consider letting anyone other than my husband read it!
Second, writing from an outline DOES work! It made a huge difference for me. I let the crappy stuff stay crappy and I plowed through each of my plot elements to an ending. I wrote an ending! I actually made myself cry writing the ending! But no spoilers. ;-) So no more panstering for this gal – I’m officially a plotter.
Third, I LOVE WRITING. Okay. I confess I already knew this but “real writing” under the pressure of a deadline is the environment where I seem to perform at my absolute best. It wasn’t easy. I worked eight-hour days, came home and had dinner with my husband and then wrote for at least one hour each night, most often for several hours. Remember I had said I cleared my social calendar for the month? Ha! It didn’t stay clear for long so on weekends I typically would write early in the morning and late at night around our social outings. It was exhausting but so rewarding. I loved falling asleep with the story in my head and waking up with it still running through my thoughts. It became a little addictive and I miss it.
Fourth, I loved how supportive my husband, family and friends have been through this process. Every encouraging word means the absolute world. My husband has been especially wonderful, reading each newly written chapter and offering his superb editorial skills (I’ll know when he reads this because I’ll hear him laughing). Most importantly he offered his unfailing support and faith in me. I am incredibly blessed.
So what comes next? Christmas!! I’m taking a month off from writing/editing. My plan is to read the entire manuscript so that it’s fully ingrained in my head and simply let it soak in for a few weeks. I’m looking forward to decorating my house, finishing my Christmas shopping (thank God for online shopping), baking a little, and drinking lots of coffee and Bailey’s in front of the tree. I’ve also decided to start training for the Tely10 next July (power walking NOT running – my aging joints would never forgive me) so I'll squeeze treadmill time in between the gingerbread making and mistletoe.
But then - in 2017 - early in the fresh new year, I will start the editing and rewriting of my book. I am very hopeful that I will be able to self-publish (e-book format only) by end of first quarter. That may be foolishly optimistic but I’m still learning as I go and my optimism is my driving force. I will of course update my Facebook and Twitter feeds as I work through that process. I may even blog a little here and there (this is kind of addictive too).
Thank you for following my journey. Even though NaNoWriMo has finished, I feel like the real journey is just starting. I have butterflies thinking ahead to what is yet to come. So thank you for taking the time to check in and visit my site and blog. I’m not going anywhere so I hope you'll stick around too!
11 November 2016
The latter part of this week has been challenging. I had to say goodbye to a colleague yesterday because her position was suddenly terminated. I’m wishing her the brightest of futures. And I had to say a forever goodbye to a friend today who passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer. She is gone long before her time and that is a difficult reality to grasp.
I didn’t feel like writing yesterday, so I didn’t. I needed a mindless, self-indulgent evening and so I mindlessly indulged in the escapism of television and an early night. I don’t really feel like writing today either; November 11th is always a somber and emotional day of gratitude and remembrance. But today the writing is offering some sense of solace so I’m grateful for that. It is slow going but progress is being made.
The photo (right) captures my answer to long bouts of sitting in front of a computer screen. It is so easy to lose track of time, and I often do. So when I know I have hours ahead to write (such as today, which is unusual), I set an alarm and every 40 minutes or so I stand and stretch and move to the yoga mat and work through some of my favourite poses. It’s amazing how even five minutes of stretching and deep breathing help work the kinks out and regenerate creative energies. My puppy (she’s almost 10) was feeling a little photogenic so I couldn’t resist. You missed her excellent form in downward dog though.
Had a great exchange with an old friend today; I needed some advice and insight on policing matters to support my story and he provided lots of great information. The newfound info is actually helping me flesh out a bit of a hole in my storyline and I’m grateful. Quite handy having retired RCMP friends to call on in a plot-pinch. Thanks again, D!
Time to get back to the real writing. I’ve managed about 2000 words so far today and I’m hoping to accomplish that much again tonight. Just had a nice meal out with my beloved so feeling refreshed and ready to get back to it.
A parting thought: in the wake of the surprising and disturbing election results in the US this week, it feels like there is a tidal wave of sadness and intolerance and negativity engulfing us. We all need to remember that there IS an antidote to hatred; love, forgiveness and acceptance. Let’s squelch the sea of negativity with a flood of good thoughts and kindness and empathy.
Kind wishes to you,
9 November 2016
It’s day 9 and I’ve just reached the halfway point in my book! Yay!! I’ve decided to add a daily word counter and total words-to-date posting under my News page for a quick gauge of daily progress.
I also promised to upload an excerpt from my book. Here are the first few paragraphs (remember this is a rough draft, tweaking to follow in the editing phase):
Alyson swallowed the scream that ripped through her chest and threatened to disrupt the stillness of the surrounding forest. She stopped dead in her tracks and almost lost her footing, quickly grabbing at a nearby branch to steady her balance. There was a man standing less than ten feet from her. She hadn’t heard him approach. She had no warning at all that he was there until she glanced up and saw him watching her. He was a hulking, unkempt presence in her otherwise tranquil morning hike. He looked disheveled and dirty and she couldn’t imagine what he was doing roaming these woods in the middle of November. He was carrying a huge backpack, the kind that mountain climbers and hikers carry on long treks. He was dressed in what looked like army surplus clothing; a big khaki parka, canvas pants and battered hiking boots. His clothing looked old and in desperate need of a Laundromat. His face was concealed behind a thick, black beard and he wore a dark knit hat, pulled low over his forehead.
The fact that he looked almost as startled as she felt did little to comfort her. He seemed glued to the spot, warily watching her to see what she would do next. She wasn’t sure what to do. She had never encountered people in these woods before. The trails were seldom used and didn’t form part of the popular coastal trail system. Her heart was pounding so fast, she could feel it throbbing in her head. The roar of blood coursing through her veins was deafening, as it seemed to pulsate in her ears.
She had two options. She could walk past him or turn around and run like hell back to her house. If she walked forward and passed him she would be walking even deeper into the woods and she was already at least three kilometers from her house. Plus she really didn’t want to get that close to him. The path was narrow and he was big. If she turned around and headed back toward her house, she would be walking in the same direction as him and he could potentially follow her right to her doorstep. She sincerely doubted that she could outrun him. She didn’t want him knowing where she lived.
For the first time since moving here, she felt regret that she hadn’t made friends in the area. No one knew where she was this morning. No one would miss her gone, not until her parents or sister or her best friend, Lois, tried to reach her. That might be days from now. She was a loner by choice and now she was alone with a stranger who might be harmless, or might be any number of horrible, terrifying things. She had no way of knowing.
She decided to pass by him and keep hiking, even though she had been planning to turn back soon. There was a storm forecasted to hit later that day and the meteorologists were warning it was going to be nasty, bringing heavy snow and winds, creating whiteout conditions that could last for days. She did not want to get caught in that mess. She figured if she walked for another thirty minutes and then trekked back, there’d be enough distance between her and the stranger by then that she would be safe. Unless he followed her deeper into the woods. The thought slammed into her and made her shiver as an icy rivulet of fear raced down her spine.
I hope you enjoyed that brief peek into Alyson’s morning as it starts to go off the rails and your first glimpse of the terrifying stranger who turns her world upside down.
See you soon!
6 November 2016
NaNoWriMo Day 6 and all is well. Actually, all is spectacular! I am enjoying this challenge even more than I thought I would, and my expectations were quite high to start.
So…my word count is at 16628! I’m 33% of the way there! More exciting though is that my story is flowing really well. It is progressing almost effortlessly and I attribute much of that to the detailed outline I created. Following that road map is keeping me on course and it’s making a huge difference to the quality of my writing. I’m excited!! I’m also enjoying the story and my two main characters. They’re complicated and messy and they each have challenges to overcome. Hers are rooted in a past she can’t forget. His are rooted in a past he can’t remember.
Leading up to this challenge I worried about making time to write every day given I work full-time but that is working out surprisingly well. I write immediately following supper, usually with a huge pot of tea at my side. Sometimes I write for an hour, sometimes for 3 or 4 hours. My word count has varied between 1500 words and 5000. On Saturday I wrote mid-day as I had morning and evening commitments and I feel as though that was my most productive day to date (though not my highest word count day). I basically wanted to complete Act One on Saturday and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the level of intensity and suspense that I had established earlier in the Act. I read back through that section today and I’m pleased. I feel like I’ve done it justice and I know that in the editing process I can tweak and tune whatever needs tweaking and tuning.
Today’s efforts were a little more laboured but still fruitful. I had a busy morning and early afternoon that drained me so didn’t have quite the same energy as yesterday. I still managed just over 1600 words. I’ll take it!
I’m hoping to post an excerpt from the book in the next few days. Maybe the first couple of pages. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for dropping by!
2 November 2016
Just a quick update on NaNoWriMo. The challenge started yesterday and I put pen to paper last evening. Okay, I didn’t actually put pen to paper, but I did sit in front of my trusty MacBook and my story started tumbling out. I completed 5125 words on Day 1 – very happy with that (that’s 10% of the novel in the first sitting – yay!). Today (Day 2) I wrote 2140 words for a grand total of 7265 words!
So here’s a little bit of a teaser from the story – remember I introduced Alyson a couple of posts back – well, she’s been injured and she’s in a life threatening situation!
My back is quite achy tonight (I think I overdid it with the writing last night) so I’m going to keep this posting brief and reward my efforts for today with a hot bath.
Thanks for following my journey! So much more to come!!
28 October 2016
Hello in there!
I wasn’t planning to write a blog entry tonight; but then I received this message from a friend:
“WHEN is your next blog? I need to know about the terrifying stranger!”
My first reaction was delighted laughter. My second thought – groovy, someone gives a damn! So about the terrifying stranger…I’m not telling. Yet. (Sorry!) BUT, I won’t leave you empty handed. I have composed a tag line. Here goes:
She can’t forget her past; he can’t remember his. Can they help each other heal?
I hope that is somewhat compelling! I also changed the title from “Remembering Him” to “Memories”. I felt chills when it came to me so I think that’s a sign that it’s a good fit.
I haven’t been writing much this week. I finished my main characters’ background stories and I still have one minor character's background to work on but it will be a quickie. This week I’ve been focused more on reading different genres to get a better feel for how I want to develop my story and how I want to develop as a writer. It’s heady stuff but I’m finding increasing clarity.
Four days until I can start the real writing! My excitement is mounting as November 1st grows closer. I look forward to sharing my progress, triumphs, frustrations, epiphanies and whatever other notable moments happen in the month ahead.
Thanks for checking in!
17 October 2016
When I sit down to write something for my blog, it always feels a bit like I’m sitting down to write a diary entry. The words of the Anna Nalick song “Breathe” bounce around in my head as I write:
2 AM and I'm still awake writing a song
If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of a crowd
'Cause these words are my diary screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to
Writing is a bit like being naked in front of a crowd. I especially feel that way when I write fiction. Even though it isn’t about me, there are inevitably pieces of me tangled in the characters and the stories. I fret. Will my words resonate? How harshly will I be judged? Is this idea stupid? Am I stupid? Old insecurities and fears rear their beastly heads and it takes a concerted effort to squelch those voices of negativity. I keep going back to the simple truth: you can’t please everyone. So, I try to please myself and hope for the best.
I worked out a detailed outline for my story last week. I’m excited to see how the story builds and ends for my characters. I have to do quite a bit more character background work but as promised, I’d like to introduce you to the heroine of the story: Alyson. She’s in her mid-thirties, widowed, sad and lonely, and she’s spending a little too much time with her favourite cabernet sauvignon after the sun goes down. She’s become a bit of a recluse since losing the love of her life and is struggling to find purpose and joy in living again. A chance meeting with a terrifying stranger changes her life.
I’m itching to tell you more about the “terrifying stranger” but I’ll keep him veiled for a while longer yet. I’m busy researching supporting geographical, technical and medical facts to support the story. The geeky side of me enjoys the digging and fact finding part of writing. Fourteen more sleeps until the REAL writing starts! I’m so excited and have virtually cleared my calendar for November (except my day job of course!).
Until next time,
8 October 2016
Hello from beautiful, autumnal Newfoundland!
When I decided to sign up for the 2016 NaNoWriMo (I love saying that) challenge, I had a specific story in mind that I wanted to spin into a novel. I dreamt up this particular idea at some point last year, jotted down a few notes and promptly forgot about it. I was looking for something else in my “Ideas” folder a couple of months ago and stumbled across those notes. When I started contemplating the writing challenge, I realized that this was the story I wanted to develop and it helped me decide to go for it.
I am enjoying this story as it is unfolding in my head. I love how it consumes me. How I lie in bed waiting for sleep to steal me away and the characters live behind my closed eyes, sometimes weaving themselves into my dreams. They are becoming real people to me. My next step is to get to know my characters better. Not just what they do in the context of my story but how they’ve lived and who they have been up to that point in time. I have to uncover their flaws and their strengths, their histories, their dreams and fears. I look forward to learning about their past triumphs and rock-bottom moments, their previous loves and losses. That is my task tonight.
I discovered beat sheets this week. As mentioned in a previous post, I’m a bit of a panster when it comes to writing. I do think about the scenes ahead of time and replay them over and over in my head so that when I sit down to write it is as though I am recalling a memory. It is an effective way to write a scene I suppose, but at no point does it allow me to fully see the big picture. When I filled in a beat sheet template this week with the particular elements of my story, it was a bit of an epiphany – an honest to goodness Oprah worthy A-HA moment! I could see the story in its entirety. I could imagine scenes to develop each of the elements. I could clearly see an ending! I always get stuck on endings.
I’m hoping that by my next blog post I can introduce you to at least one of the main characters. I’m off to interview them right now, in my head of course, with wine (the wine is real)!
5 October 2016
Hi everyone and welcome to my very first blog post!
I’m Anna and I have a dream to write a book. This isn’t a new dream; it’s actually been a part of me for as long as I can remember. But life happens and families need nurturing and households need managing and careers (non-writing in my case) need an investment of time and energy. So I’ve done all that and I’m at a point in my journey where I suddenly have much more time for me. So instead of continuing to push my writing to the background, I can now dig it out, dust it off and lob it out there to see what sticks!
Am I published? Yes! Though it’s a children’s book through my professional day job and it’s not published under Anna Reilly; this is actually a pseudonym I’ve adopted to keep a degree of separation between my professional self and the budding author who may often want to write racy bits and pieces into the fabric of her fictional worlds.
So where does one start? In my case, I attended a writers’ conference a few weeks ago that was quite enlightening. The authors from Romancing the Rock put off a fabulous meet and greet in St. John’s and also hosted information sessions relating to story-building, marketing and publishing that were invaluable to a newbie like me. I had no idea an established subculture of romance writers existed in my backyard. It was a thrilling discovery and everyone was extremely generous in sharing their knowledge and experience with those of us still learning the ropes. So thank you RTR authors – you were all fabulous!
My takeaways from that conference were too numerous to mention in this introductory post, but I will undoubtedly allude to most of them along my journey. The biggest personal takeaway for me was that the book I was writing is not the book I want to write. See, I had this clever (and misguided) idea to bang out an erotic novella, get it up on Amazon and boom! Done and dusted! However, as the authors talked about marketing your brand and identifying with a genre of writing, I realized that the books I want to write aren’t really erotica; they’re perhaps better classified as romantic fiction or maybe even women’s fiction. I have to delve deeper to see where I’m most comfortable. So what to do with the erotica piece that’s nearly finished? The good news is I really liked the characters I had created so they are safe and will star in some future book. The other plus is that I’ve written enough sex scenes to steam up perhaps a dozen future novels! Win-win!
A couple of the writers at the conference mentioned NaNoWriMo in their presentations. I had no idea what it was but thanks to the powers of Google, I’ve since learned it’s a writing challenge (National Novel Writing Month) held ever November where participants sign up to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Sounds insane, right?! Well, I agree and I’ve registered! I’m hoping that the challenge to write 1600 words each day will help me establish a writing schedule. I’m terribly undisciplined so I need that commitment to help me focus and take the time to write. I’ve also realized I’m a panster when it comes to writing; that is, I don’t outline everything ahead of time as a plotter would, instead I write by the seat of my pants. So to meet the NaNoWriMo challenge I have to adopt a more plotter-centric approach to mapping out the novel ahead of time. Thirty days doesn’t give me enough time to get backed into a corner and dig myself back out! A third advantage of this writing challenge is that I tend to edit while I write – one of the first things I learned at the RTR conference is that you CANNOT write and edit at the same time. That will probably be the most difficult element for me – to simply write and let the crappy stuff stay crappy for the time being.
Best-case scenario is that at the end of November I’ll have a rough draft of a novel that I CAN edit and eventually self-publish. At the very least I hope to hone my craft and further develop the skills I need to write a full-length novel. And I suppose worst case is that I crash and burn in spectacular fashion. Regardless, it’s going to be a fun, crazy month! I hope to update this blog every week or couple of weeks to keep you posted on my progress. I’d also like to introduce you to the characters as they come alive on the pages and share with you teasers about what’s happening in their rather eventful lives. After all, I shouldn’t be the only one who gets to live vicariously through them!
Thanks for dropping by!