Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Do-cember... can that be a thing?

With Newvember over... and me behind on blog posts, I need to get my act together and get to work! I spent most of last month working on "Snakes & Snails & Alien Tales" for NaNoWriMo, and that meant a lot of other things fell by the wayside. The story isn't finished; I probably have another 5000 words or so to write, but life can't remain on pause forever. If you're interested in the raw, unedited, messy manuscript, go ahead and follow the link. It's posted on Wattpad for all the world to read for free.

In more important news - the blog tour for Newvember came to an end... and I have rafflecopter winners to announce! I've emailed all winners, and I'm just waiting to hear back from the recipients so I can send out their loot. It would be a good idea to check your email, including your junk mail, to see if you won one of the three prizes.

The Indiegogo campaign for Newvember has also come to a close, and because I didn't reach the fundraising goal, books cannot be ordered through that venue. Print books will still be available, but I'll have to figure out another way to allow orders for signed copies - or, you'll just have to come find me when I set up events at various bookstores. In the meantime, you can order Newvember directly from the CreateSpace eStore, but it won't be signed. I've already received and approved the print proof - and it's gorgeous!

I've decided to embark on a little experiment regarding printing and distribution... as the details become available, I'll be sharing them here. In a nutshell, I'm trying to make it easy for independent bookstores to stock copies of my books, while keeping them easily available on Amazon (US, UK, and Canada). Once the book is live on the Amazon sites, I'll share the links. 

I'm going to need December to catch up on all the things that didn't happen during November, but that's okay, because being busy is far better than being bored. So, in the spirit of Newvember, I'm turning December into Do-cember and am going to focus on getting stuff done!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Newevember Virtual Tour!

Over the next few weeks, Newvember will be on tour in the virtual world. Thanks to some pretty wonderful bloggers, readers everywhere will get to learn more about my writing habits and why this novel is so great. 

Below, you'll find the detailed schedule, so please be sure to stop by the various blogs, say hello, comment if you'd like, and enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three pretty amazing prizes ($25 Amazon gift card, Newvember notebook, or a Newvember book bag). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to everyone in advance for your support and encouragement!

Virtual Tour Schedule: 

November 8: Official Tour Launch – JenniferBogart 
November 10: Book & author Intro – PriyaPrithviraj 
November 12: Guest Post – Someday When I’m Famous 
November 14: NaNo Q & A – PriyaPrithviraj
November 16: Guest Post – Mommies Drink 
November 18: Book excerpt and review – Storiesof Chantel DaCosta
November 20: Book Excerpt – To Read, Readand Reviewed…  
November 22: NaNo Follow-up & guest post – Priya Prithviraj 
November 24: Book Review – L.J. Ivers 
November 26: Guest post – Heather GraceStewart
November 28: TBA  – Priya Prithviraj 
November 30: Closing blog – Jennifer Bogart 

1 dare, 30 days, 30 new things... The dare was simple, but it turned into a life-altering journey. This is inspirational thinking in disguise.

When Willow decides to take the stairs, instead of the elevator, she runs into Sawyer, who knocks her off her feet, and something in her psyche shifts. She is propelled into the adventure that is her own life. Filled with twists and turns that can only come from losing her inhibitions, she makes risky decisions, bares her soul, and discovers the chaotic emotions that lurk beneath the surface. Each new event becomes a catalyst in the development of Willow’s relationships with her friends, co-workers, siblings, and love interests.

Willow's life will never be the same after Newvember.

(Originally published in 2011 as Remember Newvember this revised version contains new and expanded scenes.)

Newvember Links:

Indiegogo link for print books:
Universal Amazon Link:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Here we go-go-go-go!

Publishing books is expensive, if you want to do it right. Aside from the investment of time - in some cases, it takes years to write and rewrite a novel - cover art, formatting, editing, and marketing have to happen. The people who do these things deserve to be paid because "exposure", "gratitude", and "acknowledgements" don't pay the bills. Just ask Wil Wheaton - he's created quite the buzz, and rightfully so, over not giving away intellectual property for free.

With that in mind, I've created an Indiegogo project to help fund the print expenses for the re-release of Newvember. In the past, I've relied on favours from friends to get books to print. This time, I want to pay what I owe, and the only way I can do that is by raising the money in advance of printing.

I probably won't earn anything from the campaign for myself, but with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, it will help pay for the physical print books and put money into the pockets of the contributors who have already invested so much time, energy, and creativity. The primary goal is to not be out of pocket, which is what usually happens when I move books into print.

So - the details are on the Indiegogo project page. I'm grateful for any and all contributions. If you'd like to help, but aren't in a position to do so financially, sharing the campaign and leaving a review (if you've read the original book) will go a long way in helping me reach my goal.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Newvember's Cover

It's gorgeous! 

I love it, and there's nothing more to say... except to ask for compliments in the comments, because that'd make me (and Jo the designer) happy. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Little Book of Inspiration - editor's review

I wouldn't call this a review, since it's more of a reflection. The last two weeks have been busy. Really, really, really busy. Aside from editing and formatting and marketing and scheduling blog tours, there was Thanksgiving and hockey and teens' needs and any number of minor non-emergencies that needed attention. At the centre of it all was The Little Book of Inspiration by Danny Brown. 

I read the reviews, followed the interviews, and watched blabs in which this book, and its author, received praise, and a part of me smiled and carried on with the crazy-busy routine that is my life. Because, at its core, that's what Brown's book is about. He writes about recognizing moments, sharing thoughts, being honest, embracing differences, and living life. 

I could tell you all the bits and pieces that stuck in my mind as the days progressed, blended into each other, and birthed new ones... but I'll leave those gems for you to discover. The book might be small, some chapters only a sentence long, but the message is clear and the content inspiring. 

"Inspiration is all around us. All we have to do is look."

The Little Book of Inspiration by Danny Brown

Yesterday, mortality may have caught up with me. Today, I welcomed it as a future friend who will simply help me remember the present…

Life moves pretty fast and, in this always-on-the-go world that we find ourselves in, it’s becoming ever-harder to pause and reflect on what we see.

Yet, if we don’t, we miss the opportunity to experience the things that could truly change our lives.

The Little Book of Inspiration aims to be that opportunity to stop and savour not only the events around us, but the people, the experiences, the sights and sounds.

Through these inspiring stories and poems of love, redemption, and change, take a moment to really see all the inspirational treasures that are present.

"Inspiration is all around us. All we have to do is look."

About Danny Brown

Danny Brown is an award-winning marketer and blogger. His blog has been recognized as the number one marketing blog in the world by HubSpot.

Other recognitions include Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 Social Media Blog in 2011 and 2013, voted one of Canada’s Top 50 Marketing Blogs, and the Hive Award for Best Social Media Blog at the 2010 South by Southwest festival.

His publishing credentials include Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing and The Parables of Business. The Little Book of Inspiration is his first non-business book.

Currently, he lives in Ontario with his awesome wife, very funny son, adorable little girl, and two small Chinese Crested dogs. You can read more from Danny on his blog, or connect with him on Twitter and Google+.

Friday, October 9, 2015

It's time to choose!

The time has come to make a decision. Jo Clendening has sent me several cover concepts, and as usual, I'm having a difficult time choosing. I like them all for different reasons. Since I'm not the one selecting the book from a sea of novels on the virtual shelf, my opinion probably isn't as important as the reader's.


Let me know - which is your favourite?

To help with your choice, here is the book blurb:

One dare. 30 days. 30 new experiences. Newvember is deep, investigative thinking disguised as chick lit.

When Willow decides to take the stairs, instead of the elevator, she runs into Sawyer, who knocks her off her feet, and something in her psyche shifts. She is propelled into the adventure that is her own life. Filled with twists and turns that can only come from losing her inhibitions, she makes risky decisions, bares her soul, and discovers the chaotic emotions that lurk beneath the surface. Each new event becomes a catalyst in the development of Willow's relationships with her friends, co-workers, siblings, and love interests.

Willow's life will never be the same after Newvember.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Remember, Remember the First of Newvember...

Newvember 1st is coming up fast! There's so much happening - I hope I can keep up with ALL THE THINGS!

First of all - I'll be releasing the revised edition of "Remember Newvember". It will have a new title, new content, and a new cover! I can't tell you how excited I am for all the changes. Watch this space for details - order links, blog posts, games, prizes, challenges, giveaways, and more... it's going to be a fantastic month!

Second, I'm lining up bloggers and other social media gurus to help with a virtual tour for the release. I'm open for just about anything (legal)... so if you're up for it, and want to try something new, go ahead and email me so we can work something out. 

Also - I'm working on editing Shadow Shifts, book two of the Liminals Series! I know it's been a long time in coming, but I haven't forgotten about the magic. If you want to check out the unedited version, you can read it on Wattpad - just be forewarned that it's pretty raw at this point. 

Next up: NaNoWriMo! In celebration of Newvember, I'll be writing a campy space opera complete with bunyotes, orcupuses, cheesy (and I do mean the eating kind) romance, adventure, and swashbuckling good fun. Each chapter will be posted on Wattpad as it's completed... it will be unedited, so if you plan to read along, enjoy the ride and know that it's all for the pure love of writing. Anything goes in a rough first draft!  

One last thing to announce... I'm going to (finally) try to build a proper author website. That's another Newvember event... so bear with me as I untangle the web of internet knowledge that's a bit foreign to me. I've figured out Facebook and Twitter, wandered into the depths of Google+, frolicked with Instagram and Tumblr... and now it's time to tackle a proper website with pages, and links and everything. 

This Newvember is going to be the best Newvember in the history of all Newvembers! Remember to keep your eyes peeled, your minds open, and your hearts free to explore all the good stuff. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ryan's Legend and The Legend Returns - Editor's Review

Welcome to Day 7 of The Legend Series Blog Tour!

It's confession time... I love, love, love books for kids. When my children were little, I was happy to read the same book over and over and over with them. As they grew older, we ventured into smaller chapter books, and finally full-length novels. Both Ryan's Legend and The Legend Returns are novellas we would have enjoyed, more than once, snuggled up on the couch reading to each other.

It's clear that L.F. Young hasn't left his childhood behind. The first time I read the books, I could clearly hear the voice of Ryan in my head. Young's humour is spot on for early middle grade readers - innocent, silly, engaging - and the childhood adventures are something both adults and children can identify with.

Most importantly, a young reader can connect with Ryan. He's honest, forthright, and respectful of both his parents and his new best friend. He's a boy who likes to get dirty, loves adventure, and has a special respect for nature. Above all, he's believable. This is a character who could step off the page, walk into your house, and be best buds with any ten-year-old. He isn't perfect, but he's a charmer. 

As I worked through these books, it was easy to tell that L.F. Young respects and understands kids, nature, and the world around him. He doesn't dummy down the important stuff, he doesn't preach, and he doesn't mess around with the rights and wrongs of the world. He simply tells the story that's in his heart, and the end result is a fantastic adventure that makes for great family reading. 

If you're an emerging reader, a teacher, a parent, or a lover of  reading, this adventure-filled, dragon-dealing, fun-loving book is for you!

Day 8 of the blog tour will by held on September 25, 2015. Priya Prithviraj has a special video interview with L.F. Young prepared that you won't want to miss!  

Here's the cryptogram clue for Day 7 - if you'd like a PDF file of the clues to use in your classroom or at home for fun, feel free to contact Morning Rain Publishing, and they'll email it to you.

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a notebook, an MRP book bag and a surprise gift!

And last, but not least, use the coupon code below to save 20% on both Ryan's Legend and The Legend Returns when you purchase directly from Morning Rain Publishing. They'll immediately send you a PDF copy of the books, but you can send them an email to request an alternative file format for your eReader (mobi or ePub).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes - book review

As I'm maturing, so are my tastes in literature. I still love an easy read, but sometimes sinking into something different is worth the time and effort. When I first started reading "Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes", I thought I was about to be bogged down by politics and Middle Eastern history. To be honest, neither topic holds my attention for long - not because they aren't interesting, but because there are so many layers to peel back, that I know once I start, I won't be able to stop until I've reached the centre. Even then, I know there will be more to learn, and it's a complicated labyrinth I can't allow myself to get lost in.

I want to say I loved the book, but it read more like a journalism assignment than a memoir. Political and social history aside, there wasn't much emotion to hold onto.  In my opinion, the most intriguing aspect of the novel was tracking the slow decline of Kamal Al-Solaylee's sisters' freedoms. They went from being bikini-wearing, music-loving, Western-world-embracing, independent young women to being forbidden to show their faces in public. Repeatedly, Al-Solaylee talked about his escape plan, but he never shared it with those who also might have benefited. He purposefully distanced himself from the family who had protected him his entire life so he could build a life of his own.

This wasn't so much a book about coming out as a gay man in an intolerant society as it was a detailed history of his father's determination to keep his family safe while his children were sucked into religious extremists' directives - partly out of necessity, partly as a way to fashion their own psychological escapes. They were a wealthy, Yemeni family with resources that existed outside of the country - I can't imagine what it might have been like to be poor and without those resources.

Growing up gay in a society that punishes deviant sexual orientation must have been terrifying, but these emotions are buried under thousands of words detailing changing political and religious atmospheres. Al-Solaylee made it clear that his desire to escape was greater than his love for his family, but he told his story with such lackluster emotion, or personal insight, that I failed to connect with him and his plight.

After thinking about it, I wonder if there wasn't more his editor could have done to coax some emotion from the straightforward facts and events. Upon completing the book, I was left with the feeling that this was little more than a homework assignment. The writing was clean, the story-line concise, but his reason for telling it was lost in a sea of factual details. It made me feel as though his disconnect from his family made accessing his long suppressed emotions impossible. Perhaps it was easier to list the facts than to dive deep into his own psyche.

I enjoyed the book - I must have, or I wouldn't have read it to the end - however, I clearly need literature that makes me feel connected to the characters, even if they are strangers I'll never meet. Al-Solaylee tells his story with grace and dignity, and gave me plenty to think about with regards to the situation in the Middle East, immigration, and the unfortunate need to sometimes put oneself first in order to survive.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Secret Weapon

Intrusive self-doubt wriggles its way in long before the first draft is done, builds a little nest, and breeds both contempt and self-loathing. Most of the time, I manage to work around the annoyance by tip-toeing over the bits of work I find disturbing and by finding detours around things I don't fully understand.

But sometimes... I let it gnaw at me and discard a project entirely because I'm not ready to make it work.

And that's not cool.

For the past month, I have been revising Remember Newvember, a chick-lit novel I wrote six years ago. Not only does the cover need refreshing, the interior is in desperate need of a good spring cleaning. While working on the edits, I found something I didn't even know I was missing.

When I wrote Remember Newvember in 2009, as a NaNoWriMo project, I didn't have any expectations. It was the first manuscript I'd written in over fifteen years, and I did it for fun. The only thing I had to focus on was writing 1600 words a day until I'd reached 50 000. I didn't worry about offending anyone, copyright, character development, or grammar. I didn't care if the content was repetitious, juvenile, or inaccurate. I just wrote for the simple delight of putting words on paper.

And you know what? There's a freshness about this novel that isn't present in my more recent works. It's clunky and difficult to read at times, but the honesty in the writing shines through in every word. It's not likely I'll ever get that level of innocence back - there are no do-overs on first-time accomplishments - but I can take myself a little less seriously and leave the self-doubt and criticism for the editing process.

I might not have eradicated the beast, otherwise known as self-doubt, but I think I might have found an effective weapon against it. It's called joy, and it's the reason I write.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles, Volume 2 - Editor's Review

Welcome to Day Ten of The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles, Volume Two blog tour!

Having worked with Scott in the past, I've come to expect and appreciate a certain quirkiness to his writing. His characters are always rich in depth and emotion, making you believe you could easily run into them on the street - even if they are sprites!

One of his strengths is that he doesn't talk down to middle grade readers. The writing is intelligent, the journey is intense, and it's clear Scott has tremendous respect for his audience. Even though this series is intended for younger readers, adults will also enjoy the wry humour, adventure, and fantasy elements of the stories.

Volume Two of The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles picks up at book four, where the previous chronicles left off. The sprites are in Newfoundland, enjoying maritime traditions when the evil Tory Blithe strikes, spurring them onward in their fantastical quest. Scott introduces his readers to brownies, selkies, and banshees, revealing a mystical world readers of all ages will find intriguing.

Don't forgot to stop by Scott's blog tomorrow to find out the answer to the riddles. He'll also be announcing the winner of the Rafflecopter giveaway!

The answer for Riddle #7 is: Leaf. For the answer to Riddle #8, check in with Scott on his blog
The coupon code is good for 20% off both volumes of The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles. It's valid until August 29, 2015

Don't forget to use the coupon code at the Morning Rain Publishing web store to purchase your copy of The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

35 000+ steps...

Every day is a new adventure, filled with thoughts, hopes, dreams, and steps... every moment is a passing memory, gone the instant it appears. This week has been filled with steps in a new direction. Travel, whale watching, mountain climbing, stair conquering... bear with me... I'll get to the point soon.

My biggest adventures tend to exist within my imagination. This is natural for a writer. We dream, we create, and we write it all down so that others can experience the amazing journey of our complicated minds. It's impulsive - not something we always do by choice - and it's exciting in its own, quiet way. Even adventures from the real world get magnified, skewed, and turned into juicy tidbits to be savoured later. Not only is it impulsive, it's compulsive. 

Much of my life is spent staring at a computer screen, so the world outside begins to fade and falls into the background. Sometimes, I forget to go outside, but when I do remember, big things happen. This past weekend, I took more than 35 000 steps. That's about 25 kilometres, and not all of those steps were simply going forward, some were going up, some were climbing down, and a few were a mad dash to safety. Each step holds a memory, a story, and an exaggerated tale to tell. 

There's also a moral, here - I need to go outside more. Aside from the health benefits of walking - I do hit the gym three to four times a week, so I don't have a completely sedentary lifestyle - there's something to the rhythmic sound of shoes on pavement, the songs of birds (from a distance, of course), the laughter of small children, and seeing new faces, even in the most cursory way. 

There's more to travel than taking in the sights and enjoying excursions. Being in the moment, cherishing each step, and soaking in the culture - whatever it might be - is invigorating for the body, mind, and soul. 

Granville Market - so many delicious treats to choose from. 

Bald Eagle standing proud. 

Whale watching... they're fast, a little unpredictable, but magnificent to watch. 

Part of the trail to Hollyburn... there were bears along here - minding their own business & eating berries - but we didn't take any chances and backtracked back up the mountain as we weren't prepared to deal with them. 

The Summit at Hollyburn. It was breathtaking. 

Tall tree at Wreck Beach - the trees in Vancouver are simply amazing. 

Sunset on Wreck Beach. Quiet, calm, and filled with secrets. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Playing with videos, Powtoon, and Liminal Lights

So... I made this little video using Powtoon. I'm on the hunt for the best book trailer making software and resources. This was fun and free.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Deep Calling by J.M. Lavallee - Editor's Review

It's Day 8 of the #YADeepCalling blog tour! It's my pleasure to share my thoughts on J.M. Lavallee's YA novel. But first, here's today's word clue: 

Don't forget to visit the Geeky Chiquita's blog tomorrow for the next clue! 

And now... for the review...

As a Morning Rain Publishing editor, manuscripts land in my inbox filled with hope and potential. I get to help them develop from submitted drafts to polished masterpieces. The process is amazing, like watching a child grow into adulthood. J.M. Lavallee’s works inspire me to be a better, more creative editor, because the worlds she builds deserve special attention.

Deep Calling is J.M. Lavallee’s second novel. Written with the author’s flowing tones and descriptive style, it brings to life the beauty and magic of the Lower North Shore of Quebec. Melanie, the granddaughter of a fisherman, hears a name on the wind and feels the irresistible call of the deep sea. Born and raised near the water, she can’t avoid its lure, even when her life is threatened by otherworldly, magical elements.

Manannan, the Tuatha De Danann sea king, wants his soulmate back and believes she rests within Melanie. Rhiannon, his earth-bound counterpart and nemesis, will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening. Their ethereal struggle grips the quiet town of Hailey’s Round, and only Melanie can stop their feud from destroying her world.

J.M. Lavallee delves into a fantasy world made believable by the unique setting and realistic characters. Placed in unusual circumstances, the main character overcomes her fears, personal desires, and insecurities while consistently portraying a strong, female lead. Written for a young adult audience, the romance that sparks between Melanie and Shawn is sweet, while the conflict introduced by Manannan plays upon innate human emotions.

As a reader, I enjoyed every unexpected twist and turn Lavallee introduced. Deep Calling weaves together the salty realism of the landscape, the instability of human emotion, and the unpredictability of otherworldly gods to create a novel of depth and perception. Filled with mystery and insight, readers of all ages will find themselves transported to another place, where fairy tales aren’t always so whimsical.

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a free digital copy of Deep Calling! 

Today is the last day to use the 20% off coupon at Morning Rain Publishing when you purchase a copy of Deep Calling. The default download is a PDF file, but if you send the friendly folks at MRP an email requesting an alternate file type, they will happily send it to you (info at

About the Author

J. M. Lavallee grew up along the Lower North Shore, Quebec, in the small community of Chevery. Experiencing childhood by the Atlantic resulted in a kindred interest in Celtic Folklore, as well as the English and Irish traditions inherited by East Coast Canadians. 

Devoted to literature, Lavallee spends much of her time reading, writing, and imagining, while working as a Preschool Instructor and Kindergarten assistant in Grovedale, Alberta. Lavallee’s most precious work, however, is shared with her husband through the raising of their two handsome sons. Deep Calling is J.M. Lavallee’s second novel.

You can connect with J.M. Lavallee on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Remarkably Great by Heather Grace Stewart - Editor's Review

Every time an author asks me to edit their work, little goosebumps travel up my arms. They are trusting me with their creativity, their craft, and their writerly feelings. I recognize the privilege and do my best to enhance their works without losing their unique voice, writing style, or intentions.

When Heather Grace Stewart asked me to copy edit RemarkablyGreat, I have to admit I was pretty excited. Having worked on Strangely,Incredibly Good with Morning Rain Publishing, I knew the sequel would be an equally thrilling adventure. You can’t expect anything else when there’s a genie in the mix.

Cat Glamour is back, and she has plans. Big plans. Four years have passed since Gene disappeared in a haze of purple smoke. Her gym, the Cat Walk, is thriving, her girls have grown up, and Gram has had a successful run as Bad Ass Grandma. She even has her own Twitter handle. As successful as her life is, Cat wants her genie back.

Written with warmth and humour, Heather creates realistic characters you can believe in. Cat isn’t perfect. She struggles with self-esteem, her weight, and independence. Her daughters are loving, but sassy, and their relationship is highlighted when the youngest gets involved with the wrong crowd. As strong-willed and determined as Gram is, her real strength shows when her weaknesses are revealed. And then there’s Gene… sweet, caring, unreliable Gene. It’s not his fault he had to choose life for Cat over freedom for himself, it’s not his fault he is governed by a set of unbreakable genie rules, and it’s not his fault he’s thrown into the chaos of family relationships. But, he prevails, making a comeback in the most remarkable way.

This book is more than a light-hearted romance. The colourful cast of three-dimensional characters will settle inside your soul and make themselves at home. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, and they’ll make you think about all the “what ifs” in your own life.

Want to learn more about Heather? Please visit her at:

Her official website:
Twitter: @hgracestewart

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bye-bye Remember Newvember...

On August 1st, 2015, Remember Newvember will be unpublished. I still love the story and the characters, but with the new version being released in September, I thought it best to retire the original.

I could have updated the existing version with the new one, but I didn't want anyone to lose the original when they synced their devices. By releasing Newvember as an entirely new novel, readers who have the first edition won't lose the cover art or original text.

The paperback will also no longer be available, but I might be persuaded to do a small print run of the new version.

With the extended scenes, deleted repetition, and added details, the new version deserves its own publication. I can't wait to share it with everyone!

In the meantime, anyone wanting a glimpse of the new version can make a free account on Wattpad and read it. Don't forget to follow me, leave comments, and send lots of encouragement. As each revised chapter is posted, you'll be notified.

Friday, July 24, 2015

How to be a great writer!

Below are ten, surefire ways to boost your creativity, confidence, and skill as a writer:

  1. Write the stories you want to read. Chances are, if you want to read them, someone else does, too.
  2. Ignore all the "rules" and make your own. And after you've made your own, break those ones, too.
  3. Be your number one fan. Love your work, rejoice in your creation, and be proud of your accomplishments no matter where they take you.
  4. Refuel your creative juices. Watch movies, read books, colour, create art, go to the gym... whatever it takes to keep your mojo running at top speed. 
  5. Let yourself daydream... or nightdream... or take a nap. It's no mystery that plot holes and character revelations happen in the few second before sleep starts. Embrace the power nap! 
  6. Dance in the rain. If dancing isn't your thing, go for a run, jump in some puddles, let your inner child shine through, s/he probably has a lot to say.   
  7. Eat chocolate. I'm not joking. The brain needs sugar to function at full capacity. A writer's brain needs triple what the average person needs. 
  8. Stop posting cat pictures. Get a dog instead. They're less distracting, but loyal companions (and they love walks in the rain, naps, and showering you with love). 
  9. Read. Or don't read. Honestly, it's your choice, as is what you choose to read. 
  10. Buy my books! Sorry - that wasn't supposed to be there, but I didn't have a #10, and I needed to put something, otherwise a list of nine feels incomplete. 
And that's it. Easy. Foolproof. And fun. 

Feel free to add to the list in the comments... 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The magic of eBooks...

Sometimes, I wish for do-overs. We all do. For the most part, they only exist in mini-putt games, failed baking attempts, and botched craft projects. 

They also exist for eBooks. 

As I've been writing "Sunny with a Twist of Olive", the characters from "Remember Newvember" keep making cameo appearances. This isn't a surprise; I expected they would. Each time I flip through the manuscript I wrote six years ago, my inner editor cringes a bit, sighs, finds the reference I need, and moves on, vowing to take time to refresh my first novel. 

While the story is solid, and the characters are engaging, much of the book is repetitive. From the first page, we know Willow is embarking on 30 days of new events... and the reader is reminded of this monumental task in every single chapter. Some chapters need more meat and potatoes, others need to be scaled back to remove redundant speeches or descriptions, and most need to be updated so the book remains relevant. 

This is, and always has been, my best-selling book. It's a light-hearted, quick read that appeals to both men and women. I don't want to change the story, but I know I can do better. It deserves better. 

You can expect an updated version of "Remember Newvember" to be available September 1st. It will have a new cover, the prose inside will be updated, and the title might be different... but essentially, it will still be the same book. This make-over is intended to hide its flaws and highlight its original beauty. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Is it worth it?

Sometimes, when I see dwindling sales and a solid lack of reviews, I think, "Is it worth it?" So much time and energy goes into writing anything - even this blog. First, there's the rough draft that inevitably turns into compost for the second draft, which feeds the third so it can morph into the fourth. The fourth is carefully cultivated to bring out subtle nuances, highlight important events, and is recycled into a fifth, but far from final version of the masterpiece I hope to produce. Each draft takes time, patience, creativity, and a more of my writer's soul than I'd like to admit.
Honest writing comes with a price. I'm not Olive, but her thoughts and emotions haunt me. The more I write about her, the more I see swirls of who I might have been in an alternate reality. She isn't sweet, or kind, or even terribly likable. But, at the end of it all, she's honest. She doesn't sugar-coat her feelings, she doesn't hide behind societal expectations, and mostly, she doesn't care what other people think about her. I wish I could say the same about my writing. 

Four novels and two short stories into my writing career, I decided to complete the project I started five years ago. As far as serialized novels go, Sunny with a Twist of Olive is slow-going, with only one episode released each month. The pace isn't nearly fast enough for readers, but there are only so many polished and usable words I can produce within 30 days. With so few readers willing to wait for a new episode once a month... I wonder if the effort is worth it.
The answer is simple. 

Whether each new installment is read as it's released, or the episodes are gobbled up when the series is complete, the end result will be the same. For years, Olive has demanded to have her story told without guile or artificial sweeteners. Mostly, she's completely average, but has an extraordinary life of her own making.

So, yes, it's completely worth it. Whether I'm writing for three people, or three thousand, it doesn't matter. Olive won't be silent until her story is complete, and my writer's soul won't be complete until her story is written. No matter what, it's a win-win situation.    

Friday, May 1, 2015

Episode 3 of "Sunny with a Twist of Olive"

Episode three of "Sunny with a Twist of Olive" is ready for your reading pleasure! 

To celebrate, I've made Episode #1 free for May 1st only. Of course, if you're subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, the entire series is always free, along with numerous other books by independent authors.

Episode #3, "Shut Up and Let Me Go": Memory morphs into reality when Olive runs into the office Jokester. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Writing is Hard & Other Truths About the Craft

As I was torturing myself with Episode 3 of "Sunny with a Twist of Olive" this month, I kept thinking this should be easier. Each aspect of the serialized novel belongs to me: the character, her struggles, her emotions, her pain, her joy, her sarcasm... even her fashion sense materialized out of my imagination. This project started about five years ago with a loose outline, a dream, and not enough writing experience to make it work. Four published novels, two short stories, and several blog posts later... this should be easy. 

But it isn't. 

Writing is hard work. 

I don't sit around in my pajamas, eating candy, drinking coffee, and watching television while dashing off a few thousand words each day. Nor do I drink copious amounts of alcohol and write into the wee hours of the morning. In fact, those pieces usually end up in the virtual recycling bin as what felt like brilliance in the moment is actually craptastic by the light of day. 

Writing doesn't get easier with time. 

I wish it did, but the more I write, the more critical I become. Each word takes a little piece of my soul with it when it's released to the page. I struggle with grammar, spelling, flow, word choice, and vocabulary. I'm struggling to write this blog, because while words come easily to me, parting with them is such sweet sorrow (a little Shakespeare tribute since he just celebrated his 451st birthday, and even though he was prolific, I bet writing wasn't easy for him, either). 

Writing is not a good way to make money. 

The sad truth of the matter is, most writers are undervalued. We're very good at giving our work away for free. All we ask in exchange is a review, some sharing on social media, and recognition for our blood, sweat, and tears. Unfortunately, these rewards don't put food on the table, pay the electricity bill, keep us warm in the winter, or put clothes on our bodies. They do, however make us feel like we should keep chasing our dreams. 

Writing is exhausting. 

It's emotionally draining, and at the end of the day, if I've done my job well, I feel as though I've experienced every emotion, event, and activity my characters have. This is the best part of writing. Wordsmithery is a fantastic way of embracing a completely different persona without making real-life compromises. Even though the activities are fictitious, the experiences are real in the mind of a writer, and hopefully, the reader. 

Writing is an addiction. 

Sometimes, when I feel like I'm swimming against the current, and my books aren't selling, and the words aren't flowing, I just want to quit. I can't. The moment I consider abandoning my passion, a small part of me rises up, takes hold of my creativity, and forces me to continue this tortuous journey. I am compelled to write, create, and direct the lives of my imaginary friends. If I don't, I start to lose control of my real life. 

Writing is hard. 

But I wouldn't want it any other way (except for the income, because, let's face it, who wouldn't want to sit around in pajamas all day, drinking coffee with Baileys, snacking on candy, while writing the next great Canadian novel?) 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Cleaning

I'm supposed to be diligently working on the next installment of "Sunny with a Twist of Olive", but my focus is off, so I decided to change direction and update all my social media sites. Surprisingly, it took longer than I expected, but every now and then, we all need to do a little spring cleaning.

I probably won't keep the new colour schemes, since I'm not a pink kind of girl, but it reminded me of sunshine and warmth and flowers, so I took a leap. It's only colour, after all, and can easily be adjusted later.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Where's my writing mojo?

One of the reasons I decided to release "Sunny With a Twist of Olive" as a serialized novel was because I wasn't writing consistently. Days, weeks, and sometimes even months would slide by, and even though I felt the need to write, the words never made their way to the page. I have no excuse for my behaviour. I can blame procrastination, needing to be in the write (right) mood, and writer's block, but I think it comes down to being lazy. I need solid deadlines, otherwise, the act of living takes over, and the writing doesn't happen. It wants to, but it doesn't.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of representing Morning Rain Publishing at the Ad Astra Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention with Jaclyn Aurore and Jo Clendening. Most of our time was spent in the dealer room at the MRP table, selling books, meeting readers, and generally socializing. The rest of the time, we refilled our cups of writing mojo, bouncing ideas off each other, and gorging on writerly-silliness.

We needed this event, because sometimes we forget that writing doesn't have to be a lonely, solitary activity. Sure, there are all kinds of online writing forums and groups, but spending time with real, live people, away from the virtual world is refreshing and energizing. Real-world laughter is much more fulfilling than online banter. It's also much more inspiring.

So, I didn't sell a million copies of Liminal Lights, but that's okay. Instead, I received something much more valuable - the gift of shared passion. With so many creative persons in the same space, it's no wonder my writing mojo is spilling out of its cup and onto the page. So, thanks, Ad Astra, for hosting such an incredible event.

I'm very much looking forward to the next event, whatever it might be.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Episode 2: Inside Out

Today's the day! Episode two of "Sunny with a Twist of Olive" is ready for download. In this installment, Olive finds herself twisted "Inside Out" as she confronts issues from her past.

I'm having so much fun with this serial, that I often forget it's supposed to be work. Olive is so full of spirit and mischief, with just enough snark and realism that I have a hard time putting it away to focus on other projects. 

Stay tuned for more Olive updates.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A slice of pi(e)

My kids are math-magicians and never fail to remind me when there's something to celebrate. Like  most teens, they are also dessert connoisseurs, and pastry is one of their favourite sweets. Today was the perfect day to make pie.

Plus, baking helps me work through plot arcs and plan potential dialogue between characters. There's something about creating from scratch. Starting with flour and sugar and ending with a completed, consumable product - the entire process is soothing and satisfying.

I hope you all got to enjoy your slice of pi(e) today!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Frozen Falls of Niagara

Sometimes, when it's cold and dreary, I forget about the unique beauty of winter. In October and November, when the first bits of fluffy white stuff start to fall, it's fun and exciting. By mid-March, it can feel tiresome and annoying.

Recently, I had the opportunity visit Niagara Falls and had the privilege of seeing nature displayed at it's best. Because of the extreme cold this past February, the falls are partially frozen. The water still runs freely, but with the added allure of intriguing shapes and mystical nuances. Between each layer of snow and ice, the light refracts, creating gorgeous blues and greens and grays. From every angle, something new is revealed in the natural sculptures.

I wish I had a better camera so I could share the magic I experienced today. For now, my point-and-shoot pictures will have to do. If you have the chance, it's worth the drive to see this amazing landmark in the winter.