Category Archives: Writing

Update on Focus

It’s been a busy month for me, which only partially explains my lengthy absence from Facebook and my blog. I moved again, and hopefully for the last time until I win the lottery or my Prince Charming sweeps me off to Far, Far Away. 🙂 I had a short family vacation to bid farewell (sprinkle ashes) to my maternal grandfather, who passed last August, and aside from it being a bittersweet occasion, it was a wonderful time to catch up with everyone I haven’t seen in oh, about seven years… And finally, I left one of my two part-time jobs, just as my summer job at the golf course is starting up again. But that’s okay. The one was way too stressful for a part-time job, and I feel heaps better since leaving it behind. I also love the golf course gig, because how else would I get to golf at one of Canada’s top one hundred courses. 😉

All in all though, it adds up to me not being able to focus much on writing. Or even editing. I’ve been slogging through an old “Ice” story lately, polishing and sprucing it up but as you know, I loathe the editorial process. I do it because it’s necessary and I’m interested in making sure my work is worthy of being read, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I’ve also been working on two or three other new stories. One is the fifth in the TAITS adventure series, another is a new hockey-romance, and the last is in the fantasy genre, and while they’ve all been coming out fast and furious, I’ve painted myself into a corner, so to speak, in every single one. It’s not the first time it’s happened but I am extra frustrated because I can’t choose one over another to get through these road blocks. All three main novels I’m working on have me stumped. I’m more than a little afraid it’ll mean going back and scrapping a large portion of each and I’m stubborn enough to not want to do it. See my previous note on loathing editing…

On another topic, but still related, I’ve been playing with the idea of putting my books through the Kindle Createspace process, which would mean interested readers would be able to purchase my books in print. It does involve quite a bit more prep on my part, and I don’t have enough know-how on designing covers just yet. As well, it would mean selling all my work exclusively through Amazon Kindle. I don’t mind so much, but I do sell a fair amount through the other outlets (eg. Kobo, iBook store, Nook Books, etc.) so I’m worried about losing those readers. I don’t want to limit my exposure, since I have so little as it is, but I have had more than a few people express interest in buying my books in print. Any thoughts you want to share, I’m open to your opinions. 🙂 I may or may not like it, but I’m always happy to have the feedback.

So where does all this leave me? Unfocused on writing, but focused enough to write this post. 🙂 Which isn’t all bad. I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek of the fantasy story I’m working on – check it out over on my ‘Sneak Peeks’ page. Maybe putting it out there in the world will spur something, and get me going again. Maybe not. Maybe I need to take a break from writing, and catch up on my gargantuan to-be-read pile of books and ebooks, because frankly, it’s giving me anxiety seeing them all piled up there (physically on my shelf, and figuratively on my ebook device). I know I can’t get through them all in an instant, but I do want to read them all, and one piece of advice I’ve had from other writers, and that I sometimes give, is to read, read, read.

And there you have it. I can’t focus because my characters are being stubborn and the plot bunnies are off enjoying the summer that finally arrived, and because… life happens.

As always, take care and happy reading.

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Follow The Rules

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rules lately. Not laws. 😉 The rules when it comes to what I write. You might be thinking, what rules? There are no rules, beyond basic grammar, spelling and punctuation. Except there are.

In the genres I write, contemporary and suspenseful romance, the rules are pretty basic. They’re the same as the real world. I don’t deal in magic, portals to other dimensions, space travel, or supernatural creatures. People don’t fly, murder is wrong, and no man or woman is perfect. Sounds simple enough, right? I used to think so, but lately, I’ve been thinking that I’ve got a set of rules that I write within.

Let me explain a bit more.

In a fantasy novel, for example, the rules are different. There might be magic, wizards, flying people, and werewolves, etc, right? But they follow rules, or canon, set out by the author. They might be: magic is good, but can be used by bad people. People can fly, but it requires a certain spell, or they’re not able to fly beyond our own atmosphere. Werewolves exist, but only at the full moon, or maybe they can shapeshift on their own schedule. It all depends on the novel, or the world that the author has created. Once they’ve established that world, the rules are set. If a werewolf can only change at the full moon, then that is the rule. If people can fly without a magic spell, then they don’t need to cast a spell before jumping off the Eiffel Tower. They can’t break the rules. They can’t, in the penultimate chapter, suddenly have a werewolf change at the new moon. It would be against the rules. Do you understand?

When it comes to my own work, you still wouldn’t think the rules are all that restrictive. And they’re really not, but I do have them. I didn’t start out telling myself that I have to follow them, or that I can never change them. Each of my hockey-romance books are stand-alone and could each presumably come with a new set of rules if I wanted.

The TAITS series of adventure/mystery, they on the other hand, do have to follow the rules I’ve created. The technology they use is advanced, but it’s not omnipotent. They take care of foreign threats in far-off places, but they can still diffuse situations they come across at home. The characters are faster, smarter, and more resourceful than the average person, which means they can move faster, or handle more firepower than most people. There are a few other minor details that you probably never gave a second thought to while reading them, or that I even considered while writing them. All together, it makes up a sort of playbook that I have to reference whenever I write something new.

I’m not sure when it occurred to me that I’ve been writing everything I do within a set of rules. I suppose it’s been on my mind in the last couple months since I’ve posted the last two stories on Lit, “Cold as Ice” and “Reflections on Ice.” I enjoyed writing both of those, for different reasons, and to me, they ended on satisfactory notes. The majority of feedback I received was positive, but there were several people who commented that I’d ended the stories without a marriage, or even a hint of a proposal. This isn’t the first time I’ve had that sort of response, and I suppose it’s because I rarely end my stories with marriage or a proposal. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in my mind, I cannot suddenly have my characters go from the first tentative confessions of love to all-out marriage and commitment at the end of my stories.

I write contemporary romance, which, to me, means they’re modern interpretations of love and romance, within the societal norms I’m used to in the Western world. Meaning, people don’t meet and get married after dating for a month or two. They don’t even get engaged. Not typically, anyway. I’m sure everyone out there has some story of love-at-first-sight or meant-to-be about real, live people they know, but whatever the case may be, that is not typical. That is a very small percentage of people who experience those things, and in my opinion, having those situations in my stories would not make sense.

There have been three stories in my catalogue of work where the characters have come together in marriage or engagement by the end. In those stories, that step in their relationship made sense. They’d been together for some time, and they’d spoken of marriage or a life together. It wasn’t just a grand finale chapter or epilogue I tacked on the end to bring some kind of final conclusion to the story.

In my other works, the characters have only known each other for a very short amount of time. (Kaitlyn and Alex dated for about two months, Mina and Drew, the same, Dylan and Cassia dated a grand total of two and a half weeks before the end) To me, it would be disingenuous to have them end in marriage mere weeks after they got together in the beginning. It may not have started out as a rule in my head, but it has come to be something I do follow, in my efforts to keep my stories as “real” as possible. Yes, yes, I know. I write fiction, and really, my hockey-romance stories could arguably be classified as pure fantasy, but I still try to have realistic characters, dealing with realistic issues in a realistic world, our world.

Maybe I don’t like the stereotypical happily ever after scenario because I don’t want to see my stories ending at all. Maybe I like to keep them open-ended for future sequels. 🙂 I know I like revisiting characters in later stories, weaving friendships throughout and updating on characters from old stories – in a more realistic timeline.

I’m not suggesting my rules are the same for all romance, contemporary or otherwise. They’re just what I find myself working with, or having had worked with all along. Any set of stories, romance, fantasy, or otherwise, does fall within a set of rules. You may not know it, may never be able to pick them out after having read them, but they’re there. I know occasionally I read something and find myself detaching a bit from the story, and it can sometimes be because the author has strayed from their own canon.

I read a truly awful hockey-romance themed ebook a few weeks ago. The story was all over the place, the characters went from being jerks to whiners and back again repeatedly, and there was a sad lack of research when it came to hockey facts, which annoyed me to no end. How hard is it to Google even the most basic hockey facts? Altogether, along with poor editing, I couldn’t get into it at all. It felt like the writer put down whatever they felt like in the moment, without a thought for previous actions or timelines. I can suspend my disbelief for just about any kind of story – I mean, look at what I write! – but this was too much. It’s just an example, of my own opinion, of how a story loses so much when an author isn’t consistent at all. Can you think of anything you’ve read recently that sounds similar?

I’m currently working on something brand new, in a new genre for me. It’s a fantasy story, and I’m making the rules up as I go, but writing notes as I go along as well. I’m sure I’ll contradict myself at some point – hence, the notes – but that’s why there’s the editing process. I hope the end product will be faithful to the world I’ve created and that I won’t have readers poking hole after hole in my efforts. It’s definitely got some plot points that will require firm guidelines. It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time on before – well, not since I was a kid – but I’m excited to be working on something new and exciting anyway.

The rules are there for a reason. Then again, many of you are probably thinking, rules are meant to be broken. Maybe, maybe not. When it comes to my own writing, I’ll always be working on the things I need to, in order to improve and continue to deliver something I love, in the hopes you might love it as well. 🙂

Take care, and happy reading!

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Hobbies and Stuff

Someone commented recently on one of my stories (don’t recall which one, or what exactly the comment said) but it pointed out a flaw in most of the stories I’ve written. The comment was only directed at the one story, but I’ve been looking them over, and thinking about it, and it’s true. My characters have no hobbies. The men are worse off than the women, for sure. They don’t seem to do anything but play hockey, work out, and think about the women. The women, well, some read, they all drink a lot of wine, it seems, and watch hockey.

I’m not saying this is a huge problem, by any stretch. Be honest, when you read a romance, of any genre, do you want pages and pages of the main characters doing their own thing, whether it’s reading, playing video games, knitting, or going to the movies? Or would you rather they interact, go out on dates, etc.? I know if a story is really good, and when the chemistry is off the charts, I get bored fast by the pages in between their interactions. I skim the descriptions of jobs or whatever else fills the character’s day until I can get back to the good stuff. This is just my preference, so perhaps some of that has crept into my stories.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have their hobbies. I think that in every healthy relationship, each party should have their own interests. I read, and write (though I don’t think I’d classify my writing as just a hobby), and with those two things, I’m mostly content. I’ve dabbled in other things in the past, like cross-stitching, scrapbooking, and painting, but nothing stuck like reading and writing. My guy, on the other hand, has a few game apps that he plays, also reads a bit (he’s my biggest fan 🙂 ), and has his cigars and all his cigar buddies. I’m sure you all have your own interests, sometimes similar to your partners, sometimes different. Do you spend your days talking about it with friends and family? Probably not too often.

In my stories, I try to keep the pace brisk, without seeming rushed. That means I head from one character interaction to another, trying to keep the inner monologues and overly descriptive passages to a minimum. Again, the reason for this is that my own preference is to read something that is well-paced. So many books and stories get bogged down by too much description, whether it’s the setting, the way a character looks or dresses, or what they do at work. I know I find my eyes glazing over if it drags on paragraph after paragraph. I don’t want to know the infinite details of an ancient stone castle, or the minutiae of a character’s career. A few lines to get a sense of something, and done. I recently read an ebook that was a decent story, with fun characters, but for every line of dialogue, there were about three or four paragraphs of inner monologue, in between the dialogue, which ended up making a five minute conversation into about a ten page passage. It got a bit tedious, to say the least. I read a different ebook last week, where the story was 80% what the characters were doing apart from each other, with very little actual interaction between the two leads. It was boring, and I found myself not caring at all about them when they were together – which, by the way, they only seemed to get together to have some sexy time.

So back to my original point – should I spend more time giving my characters more well-rounded lives? I worry that if I try to write about these other hobbies and activities, that I might actually have to know more about them. I could have the ladies do some of the things I’ve done, be it reading or scrapbooking, but beyond that, I don’t know what I could have them spending time on. Gardening? Don’t know about it other than how to cut grass and pull weeds. Making clothes? Nope. Haven’t used a sewing machine since junior high school.

And when it comes to the men, I’d have an even harder time. What do they spend their time doing? My dad has always been a carpenter. He’s spent years working at various hardware stores, and most of his spare time making things; furniture, picture frames toys, etc. I know about those things, so I could have someone doing that, but what hockey player is going to have that kind of time on his hands, outside of working out, practice, games, and travelling? And that’s another thing… what kind of hobby travels well? Reading, sure. That’s easy, but not every player on a team is going to be a reader. What else is there? Card games? Picking up women? I seriously have no idea. So how could I possibly write about it?

I guess I could wing it, just like I do with most of their lives. I don’t know how much they work out, or practice, or how they speak to each other, and I think I’ve managed to fake it all right for these past few years, no? 😉 Then I do run the risk of someone calling me out on getting the facts wrong. I wish I could spend my days researching everything to the max. I would read up on everything I could, travel to all the cities I write about, see all the arenas, and take notes like crazy. But I can’t do that, not yet, anyway. So for now, I am winging it.

I guess the question I want to ask today is, what are your hobbies? How much time do you spend on them, in between work, kids, and other obligations? And would you really care to see it in anything you read, or would you prefer to read about the characters and the story? Just thinking some thoughts today. 🙂

As always, take care, and happy reading!

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“Sugar and Ice” – Update

Hello!

I’m happy to report (so soon!) that my latest release, “Sugar and Ice”, is now available at all the usual retailers for purchase now. You can buy it at Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble Nook Book Store, Kobo Books, and at the iTunes book store. I hope you take the time to check it out, and maybe buy it! If you do, please leave a comment on whichever site you purchase it from. It’s wonderful support for an indie author like me, who can’t afford much in the way of traditional advertising.

As always, take care and happy reading!

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Publication News – “Sugar and Ice”

Hello all! I have happy and exciting news to share with you. Available for purchase now is my latest release, an all new novel, “Sugar and Ice.” It stars some familiar characters, or at least they may be familiar if you’ve read “A Crack In the Ice,” and if you haven’t, now’s the perfect time. 😉

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When a trade brings Rafe O’Brien back to Montreal, Eliza Murray isn’t sure what to think. Their past was a mixture of joy and heartbreak, and neither of them have quite learned how to move on. Then he walks into her bakery and all those old feelings rush to the surface.

Eliza has been trying to get over Rafe for years. She’s even dating again. But nothing feels quite right without him. When they see each other again, Rafe isn’t the same laid-back, romantic man she once knew. She doesn’t know how to deal with everything he makes her feel and she can’t help but wonder if this is their second chance.

From the moment he sets foot in Montreal, Rafe is bombarded with memories and heartache. He thought he’d moved on but one glimpse of Eliza and he’s lost again. He knows he wants another chance to prove how much she means to him but he has no idea what Eliza wants and he’s terrified that it isn’t him.

I’ll update as my new book becomes available at the other stores, but for now, it’s available at Amazon Kindle and on Smashwords. As always, I ask that you please, please write a review if you purchase my book. I am an indie writer, and can’t afford fancy marketing people and plans, so word-of-mouth and on-line reviews are all I’ve got. I’ll love you forever!

As always, take care and happy reading.

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New Sneak Peek

If you’ve read my latest “Ice” story publication, “A Crack in the Ice”, you might be familiar with the characters featured in my next story. I’m hoping to have this completed and ready for publication this spring or summer, but as always, I don’t make any promises!
Anyway, pop onto my Sneak Peeks page for a taste of what’s to come. The title is “Sugar and Ice.”

I hope everyone is enjoying what’s left of the weekend. As always, take care and happy reading. 🙂

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Deadlines

Hello! You look fantastic. 🙂

It’s been ages since I’ve written and posted and I am sorry for that. It’s been a crazy year. I was working two jobs again and just got through my first week of work after a two week holiday. So I’m finally recovered enough to write! And just in time for NaNoWriMo, too. 😉 (That’s National Novel Writing Month, for those who don’t know, and happens every November.)

I have been playing with the idea of writing something for NaNo, but I just don’t think I can give it the commitment required. It got me thinking about working for a deadline. I’m not good with that. Although, to be fair, I’ve never had to really work for a deadline. I write for myself, not a publisher and so I only set my own deadlines. As in, none. 🙂 I wonder if I would accomplish more if I did have dates to meet and obligations. On the other hand, I wonder if I’d end up angry and frustrated, and unable to write, over having to meet a deadline. I have a hard enough time focusing without the added stress of a deadline. I know lots of people out there work for deadlines all the time, not just writers. They manage just fine. Or they might not, I don’t know either way.

In any case, I’m not writing about this now because I’m setting a deadline for myself. Or rather, not a firm one. I am going to make it my goal to work only on revising and editing the fourth in my TAITS series, “Duty and Deception” for the next few months. I want to try and do a couple pages every day and I’m hoping I’ll get it done and out there by Christmas. But that’s not a deadline!! I can’t make any promises. 🙂 I’m too undisciplined for that.

Seeing as how I am done with my part time work at the golf course for the summer, I do hope to post more frequently on here and to maybe publish one or two stories aside from D&D. Again, no promises. As a lame excuse, today I’m tired because I was up super late last night playing Scrabble with my SO. I knew I had to stop and go to sleep when the letters all started to look the same. That, and when I started trying to use words like gbrzoo, and hugal. 🙂

And on that note, I’m going to get a fresh coffee, and try to get some work done. I hope everyone is enjoying some fine fall weather and looking forward to next weekend!

Take care and happy reading.

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