Week 74

After years of buying tickets, neatly filling in ballots and entering every contest she found out about, Joni finally won a prize.

Just a Reminder

Just a reminder that the contest on Goodreads to win a copy of my novel "The Last River Child" closes tomorrow.  Click here to enter if you haven't already! 


I was interviewed on Mrs. Q: The Book Addict's blog the other day.  Click here to have a peek at our discussion. 

Writing Adventure # 6

In honour of spring, let's leave out desks and venture outside.  There is a long tradition of writers being great walkers.  Perhaps something about the rhythm of walking calms and inspires a writer's brain.  So lace up a pair of comfortable shoes, grab a notebook and get outside.  It is not important to have a destination in mind for this exercise.  In fact it will probably work best if you don't.  Just roam wherever the mood takes you.  It is even more important not to have any hopes or expectations about your writing.  As much as possible, empty your mind.  Simply observe your surroundings.  If an idea or a line comes to you that you would like to pursue later at your desk, pause and write it down in your notebook, then continue walking.  The goal  is to relax, to let your mind wander and see what interesting thoughts surface.  And if no ideas occur to you, that's fine, too.  You're alive.  You're creative.  Breathe deep and walk tall. 

(And if you grab a coffee somewhere along the way think of me - I always seem to be trying to balance a notebook, pen and coffee cup, all while trying to keep my hair out of my face.  Yes, I'll be the writer bumping into trees and spilling coffee down her front.)

Week 73

If Phoebe had known it was her sister Jacqueline knocking at the door she never would have answered it.

Writing Tip

Ever find yourself feverishly writing away when suddenly the plot sputters to a standstill?  You no longer know what happens next, your characters refuse to speak, and it feels like your brain is mired in mud.  Sound familiar?  Whenever this happens to me, I backtrack.  I retrace my steps to the last fork in the road, plotwise, and try a different tack.  I send the whole story spinning in a new direction and almost always the piece comes alive again.  The plot restarts itself like an engine that had stalled, the characters begin chattering again and the story flows once more.  Give it a try the next time your writing gets stuck.

Secret Diary Writing Exercise

Pretend that you work for a casino in Las Vegas as a blackjack dealer.  Who are the people that bet at your table every day?  What about the casino - how much to you know about how it is run?  Whose secrets do you know?  Do you have any secrets of your own?  Write about it in your diary. 

(It has just occurred to me that the word "diary" may be too girly for you guy writers.  Would it be better if I changed the name of these exercises to "secret journal"?)

Confessions from the Desk

I truly have a gift for making myself feel guilty.  The last few days the weather has been absolutely gorgeous here.  Blue skies, sunshine and warm!  So warm that winter jackets have been shed for shorts by some people (Canadians can be a bit nutty when spring arrives). 

It might seem hard to turn spring into something guilt-inducing - unless you are me.  I have a confession to make: the past two days I've abandoned my desk in the afternoons to go for a walk.  I know, the horror, the horror!  But really, the guilt is terrible.  It's just that I'm so busy at the moment, with promoting my novel, finishing up a book of short stories and starting on a second novel that I feel guilty leaving my desk for any reason.  Soon I'll feel guilty about going to sleep!   You know, when I started this post I was going to write about managing your time as a writer and how hard it is, etc.  But then I decided to come clean and tell you how guilty I feel over two lousy walks on the first warm days of the year.  And you want to know the worst part?  One of those days was my birthday!  I know, I am hopeless.  I suppose the only upside is I'll never do anything truly terrible - the guilt would kill me. 

Today is another warm sunny day and the forecast looks good for tomorrow, too.  Usually I create exercises for you guys, but today I thought I'd give myself one.  I am to go outside this afternoon, enjoy myself, and not feel guilty about it.  I'll let you know how I do.

Week 72

Though no one ever believed her, Dolores Perkins had no doubt that the stranger who had kissed her so passionately in the dark parking lot behind the Bingo and Bowl was Elvis Presley.


"Live your life from your heart.  Share from your heart.  And your story will touch and heal people's souls."

~ Melody Beattie

The Craft of Revision and a Red Pen Exercise

I've had a few conversations with writers lately where they confessed to me they weren't really sure how to go about revising their work in the best way.  That got me wondering if there are people reading this blog who feel the same way.  I'm one of those writers who believes good writing is about rewriting (and rewriting and rewriting).  And I'm good at revising.  But I didn't start off that way.  Revision is a craft.  It's a skill you get better at with practice.  So in that spirit, I thought today's exercise would focus on revision.

Get out a first draft (or a second, third, or fourth draft you're working on).  Here's the thing about revision - you don't have to focus on everything at once.  So, as you read through your draft concentrate on removing words.  The goal of this new draft is to get the word count down.  It doesn't matter if this a postcard story with only 150 words - you want to tighten up the writing, because good writing is tight.  Look for spots in your story where you are getting wordy.  Where maybe you are going on a bit too long explaining things or describing things.  These spots slow down the pace of your writing. Remove all unnecessary words or rewrite the sentences completely to make them more concise.  Pay close attention to adjectives and adverbs - these are often places you can strengthen your writing by cutting.  Be ruthless.  Can you get the word count down?

Advice for Writers

There is a plethora (isn't that a great word?) of great advice here for writers.  I love Richard Ford's advice the best.

If I were to add something it would be : get yourself a decent chair with good back support to write in.  Not glamorous advice, but practical and you'll thank me one day.  Or you'll give all your royalities to a chiropractor and say, "I wish I'd listened to Lori when she told me..."

Week 71

Darren had rehearsed what he was going to say in the rear view mirror of his car several times, but his fingers still twitched nervously as he dialed the phone.

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

I read the other day that Twitter has become the most essential online networking tool for writers.  Could this possible be true?  If it is, I shouldn't be surprised.  I've never even been on Twitter.  But I'm always so far behind the curve, the curve looks straight from where I'm standing.  I mean, I just signed up for Facebook.  I'm no Faith Popcorn, put it that way.  Thoughts on Twitter, anyone?  Do you think it is useful for fiction writers?  Who should I follow to get the hang of Twitter?

Random Exercise # 20

Use these three words in a short story: cupcake, ninja, polyester.

(Has anyone else noticed that blogger has changed and the spell check button seems to have vanished?  Or am I blind?  Please excuse all spelling mistakes for the time beeing.)

Week 70

As Cal stood on the shoulder of the highway, his thumb thrust lazily out, he hummed "Hotel California" to himself and watched the first car in over half an hour come shimmering towards him. 

Last River Child giveaway

Over on Goodreads there is a giveaway of my novel, "The Last River Child" going on throughout the month of March.  There are 5 copies available to be won (only Canadian and US addresses are eligible).  Get yourself entered here!