Tag Archives: nanowrimo

Camp Nano… where are the cookies?

I’m joining camp Nano this year because I work best under a deadline and I want to finish Ring of Earth. And draft 2 of Nets to catch the wind, but that’s a different month.
I should be finished my currently un-named but sold short story by April 1st, so it’s good timing.  I am 1200 words shy of finishing the first draft of the steampunk-romance-mystery, and have about 6 days left in the month to make it make sense before sending it to my editor. So, I’m golden! Or silver. Or at least, I should be fine.

And I’ll be rested from what promises to be an awesome trip to Hawaii the last week of March. A wedding, a sunset cruise, a luau and fire dancing show…. and gazillions of photos!

Then May equals editing the short story and Ad Astra in Toronto. SO looking forward to 3 days of writing experts, book releases and panels panels panels!

June is hopefully draft 2 of Nets to Catch the Wind, July is the month of 1000 birthdays and maybe pitching myself to agents. August and September are getting A Ring of Earth edited to perfection so I can show it off at Can-Con in October. August is also Romancing the Capital, a romance genre writing/ reading weekend. With yes, book releases, panels and SWAG!

I feel like my grandmother; It’s March 10th, next is April, May,  June… it’s almost October, the whole year gone and nothing done!

Nano killed me this year

I have officially given up on Nano for the first time in years. I had a good streak, 4 straight years, but this year it was not working. It was closer to pulling teeth from a live, awake and pissed off bobcat, than writing.

It didn’t help that we had a long, warm Fall which encouraged mold growth up the wazoo. Usually we have had several days of hard freeze by now, which kills off the mold. Mold of pretty much any kind, but especially cellulose mold, gives me migraines. Bold, visual, pounding, nauseating migraines. Guess what the moldy leaves and grass are made of?

Staring at a computer screen trying to force out a set number of words didn’t help either.

Neither did the pressure of a deadline, trying to get 2 books up on every imaginable platform, a sinus infection thing that may be mold related since I’ve had it for a month (same length of time as the migraine, more or less)

Now, I can hear a few fellow migrainers questioning the month long migraine and my still being able to function at all. And in most cases, you would be right. But I’ve been living on antihistamines, migraine meds, tylenol, etc. And I’ve had them for 42 years. (OMG does that make me sound old!) I started them the year before puberty hit. (That’s a bit better)

And since I have always been allergic to mold and cigarette smoke, although undiagnosed until 2003, I am accustomed to being able to function. Not brilliantly, witness my 500 word days on Nano, but enough to eat, dress, wash dishes, go to my Dr for more meds…

I end up with a “migrainey”. Flashy lights, but no real hallucinations, some light sensitivity, but not crippling. (except making coffee before 9am because the sun bounces off our neighbour’s barn’s tin roof right into my kitchen by the… you guessed, coffeepot.)

Other things are difficulty focusing; both eyes and attention, slight nausea so I munch salty things constantly, short temper and other migrainey things, just in smaller amounts.

But don’t worry about A Ring of Earth. I will still write it, just without that kind of pressure. I have someone who wants the complete, perfect manuscript next fall. So… deadline, but reasonable. Hopefully, it will be the first in a series of five books. I’m hoping to pitch it to an agent and/or publisher next year.

To celebrate my freedom to be migrainey, I will be posting a free coupon code in a few days for last year’s Nano winner, Alone in the Night. It’s a gritty, realistic look at teens from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds fighting to survive in the worst neighbourhood in Ottawa. There are elements of sexual/ physical abuse, drugs, homelessness, and street gangs. Recommended for 14+ years

If you have not read the first in the series, A Test of Loyalty, comment and I can send you a coupon for that, too.  My goal is to get 25+ reviews up on Amazon so they’ll put me on the “People who looked at this book, also looked at this one” list.

So, see you in a few days with the codes!

Cover reveals and releases!

So, both short stories due in October are officially in anthologies!

Shifting Shards (Eighth Ripple Press) is a Halloween anthology containing a short story from my urban fantasy series set in Ottawa, Ontario. “On This Day We Maen be Seen” takes place between the first two novels, and introduces Moira, the lead character, to Lilu-Lilitu, an Incubus who is a major player in book two. In both senses of the word.  🙂


They will also be publishing a Christmas story in this same series, that has vampires. This story takes place in Eastern Europe and introduces us to some characters who may show up later.

A very bitey Christmas to all!

Coming out on October 27th is my short, “The Soul Eggs”, published in 30 at 30, the 30th anniversary anthology from Ottawa Independent Writers, of whom I am a proud member. The Soul Eggs is a short (under 2000 words) horror story based on a fairy tale.


I also received back the rights to a short story that won a fantasy writing competition and am releasing it as an ebook short. It is set in Terreagles, which is both the fantasy country my medieval series is set in, and the actual name of a micro-kingdom my ancestors owned in northern Scotland about 800AD.


This one fits into the set of Terreagles novels starting with Nets to Catch the Wind, and is backstory for one of the main characters.

My next Nano novel, and the first to be published (I hope, possibly, maybe but I just figured out how to fix Nets to Catch the Wind) is called A Ring of Earth and takes place roughly 200 years before this story.

I am currently trying to convince a publishing program that a 2500 word story does not need a table of contents. It disagrees. Stoopid program.

So I have sent a note off to a live person. Hopefully they publish short stories or I’ve just wasted all day fighting with it.

Prose in the Park; and busyness

This weekend the registration for authors writing in English opened up. Within 48 hours (taking time off from processing for food, family and Gotham) there was only one table left. One half-table.

It was a great test of the process we worked out, and it worked! It was even pretty painless, with 2 minor screw-ups of table numbers. Which were quickly noticed and fixed in a polite, professional manner!

I am now totally psyched for the PiP festival to arrive, but must bide my time until June 4th.

Good thing I have Camp Nano coming up, editing 140k words down to less than 110k, and reworking the beginning TOTALLY should keep me busy. I and a couple friends have signed up to Camp Nanowrimo in April to set a goal/ deadline for ourselves to get our books edited. I refuse to still be editing this at next November’s Nano.

Also it’s Spring! It’s Spring! It’s Spring!  We shall just ignore that little blizzard scheduled for Wednesday, thank you.  I’ve ordered seedlings, and sweet potato sprouts, and am deciding what to direct sow, like snow peas? Yes ma’am.  Zucchini, patty pan and winter squashes? Hell yeah!

We’re still clearing the loft for a friend to move into. Good thing we’ve got a couple months, where did we get so much crap? Why is it being stored instead of tossed?

What are you doing to deal with spring restlessness?

FastPencil, Googledocs, Scrivenor and more

I’ve been inundated with writing and publishing platforms since publishing A Test of Loyalty last summer.  I already had Scrivenor from doing Nanowrimo a couple years ago. But now there’s FastPencil, which allows you to output in epub and mobi to sell off your website, or give out as ARCs.

There’s also Pronoun, Smashwords, and now… Google Docs to write and publish with.  And google docs let you record voice to text. Which sounds great for those days my brain is working way too fast for my fingers to keep up.

So, I’m normally published through Pronoun for Kindle, Sony and Kobo. And Smashwords does the lesser known formats. Createspace does print on demand for paperbacks.

I write in Scrivenor, which was the best $20 ever spent!  (Normally $40, you get 50% off for winning Nano).  But now I’m spending as much time looking at new platforms as I am writing and editing!

Today I’m playing with FastPencil to edit Alone in the Night (Book 2: Mechanicsville). It allows me to divide the chapters into titled sections… I think. I haven’t exported yet, I’m still copy/pasting into the blank pages, and developing my index.  we’ll see tomorrow.

I also want to know more about the Google option. While I am now a bit afraid of Google and Kindle forming a partnership to take over the world… I am interested in the voice to text and then publish.  How would I edit?  If I speak my changes, will it think I’m adding a new chapter.  That could be amusing.

And my annual spring migraine isn’t helping.  Granted, it’s not bad yet because there’s still snow on the ground, but the weather is swinging from blizzards last Tuesday to +10 today. This releases mold into the air (my allergy which causes instant migraines) as well as just the swings in air pressure.

So I’m good for only about half the workday before the pain makes me quit.  Oh, the agonies of being an artist!  LOL

Although the migraine’s no joke. Aside from the ultra-sensitivity to light and noise, the dizziness and nausea, I get what I call nasal hallucinations.  I smell things; like today is smoke.  I’m spending every break sniffing my house to be sure it’s not on fire.

Stoopid migraine, why can’t I smell roses, or lilacs?  Instead I smell smoke the most often, brightened occasionally by dead mouse, stinky feet or cat poop.  None of which actually are around at the time, annoying my friends and befuddling strangers.

Maybe I should write an amusing story about a psychic who solves crimes by phantom smells?  Wait… hmm…..

Is that even English?!

Or “editing your own work months later.”

In October, I decided that if I was ever going to finish my magnum opus, my epic fantasy novel of *mumble* years work, I would have to finish the first draft. Just do it. Barf it up onto the keyboard, edit later.

So I did my own Nanowrimo.. nanoctwrimo?

I finished the last 40k in October, finishing on the 27th, so I could rest my noodle before starting the real nano. I have started looking at it for the first time since.

So… Last week I transferred it all back from a word doc to Scrivener, and separated it all into scenes, and read through it.

Some pure gold, some pure… not gold….

Um, what?  Why is this secondary character in more scenes than the MC?  I have 3 big reveals in the book, I did all of them at least twice. You wouldn’t think it wold be such a surprise the third time.

I have a character leaving the city, then doing a bunch of stuff IN the city. is she twins?  Wait… that’s a good, no! No no no!

And one sentence where I changed tense FOUR times!  Wait, what? Is that English?  I have no idea what I was trying to say, so I deleted it. Watch it become an absolutely necessary plot point.


Editing is easier than the blank page, I told myself.  Liar.


In Other news… I am a book reviewer.  Cringe in fear my writerly friends!

More on that Thursday.

Plans, schemes and books

This is me, looking evil.  I have a cunning plan.

It’s to do with the enormous piles of notes, book ideas, character sketches, photos and general crap filling up every inch of desk space. And drawer space. I may need a 2 drawer filing cabinet.

I am making a list! I’ll be checking it more than twice as books and stories go up or down in their closeness to actually being written, but I hope to stick to the list. More or less.

I have walked away from film-making for the time being, it’s too hard with my chronic pain. Film shoots are regularly fourteen hour days, and I’m good for being on my feet ten, fifteen minutes before having to take a break. Not really feasible.

But I can sit at a computer with the best of them!

I have everything from a second draft script, which I want to turn into a novel, to scattered bits of ideas that make zero sense and don’t mean anything to me.

Like “sleeps with science teacher to blow up school?”  I have no context for that note, it matches nothing I’ve been working on. It’s not even from a review I’ve done for anyone. Is it the lame result of an experiment in writing down my 2am story ideas?

Looking at my list, I have mostly notes/ outlines or first drafts.I need to get to the less fun part of writing, forcing it into a plot that makes sense.

I also have three main genres which I seem to blend with wild abandon: fantasy, mystery, and paranormal. There is one straight YA, one straight science fiction, and three fantasy. The other ten are blended genres like crime/ paranormal, mystery/ comedy…

I also have several non-fiction, like cookbooks, how to camp for the camping impaired, and gardening in Canada.

I need to make and stick to a writing schedule!  I had planned to walk away from all things writing related until Jan 1st, because of brain strain during Nano, but… well, here I am making lists.  On Dec 7th.

I suck at taking a break. But I have a fix for that. As long as I don’t pressure myself to stick to a schedule or process, it doesn’t count as writing… right?



Can-Con, Nanowrimo and the election.

Let me get this off my chest first. Literally.  While at Can-Con, someone gave me the plague.

Coughing, sneezing, enough snot to float a rowboat, achy joints… You know who you are, and you should be ashamed. Doing this to a writer on the eve of Nano!  I can’t even look down at my keyboard without my nose running, my eyes crossing from the tickle… my cat is staring at me like I’ve grown a second head!

Other than that, Can-Con was awesome. I saw wonderful people, took part in a couple of very useful workshops, and watched many a panel on business and gory stuff. And I sold FIVE copies of my debut novel, A Test of Loyalty (A Mechanicsville book)!  Five, that makes thirteen paperbacks in total.  Another fifteen and I’ll have paid to have them printed… That doesn’t sound as wonderful as it feels..

Nanowrimo (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth) is here and I’m working on the second book in the Mechanicsville series, Alone in the Dark. It picks up a week or so after the first book ends.

Nano is something I try to do every year, it teaches me to quiet the internal editor and just get it on the page. I call it Draft 0, as opposed to first draft, because it needs some work just to make sense. And a large part will end up being tossed out.  But editing is easier than the blank page staring at you.

Last year’s nano book was the second 1/2 of my epic fantasy, Nets to Catch the Wind.  it’s taken until mid-October this year to match the two halves and make it make sense.  So…draft one. So while I let the new book rest in December, I’ll be working on draft 2 of Nets. Moving my brain from epic fantasy to gritty YA and back again…

The Canadian Federal Election!

Well, I’m nearly done talking about it, I have been impressed with the rhetoric, with the promises, and now with the new cabinet.  I mean… a WOMAN in charge of the Status of Women ?? Natives in charge of Fisheries, and Justice?  A decorated veteran in National Defense?  He must be crazy!

But it’s my kind of crazy.  I am guardedly optimistic and hopeful of getting MY Canada back. You remember Canada, don’t you?  Peacekeepers, a haven for refugees, good/ free health care, great education, a beautiful mosaic of cultures not a morass of victim blaming and otherness….

My sweet patootie (otherwise known as former foster son, now bestie) Douglas Connors wrote an excellent introduction to our new Cabinet.  And I am stealing it for this blog.

“The Cabinet

1. Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Ralph Goodale

Former Minister of Finance. A man of great integrity in a portfolio requiring it as our most fundamental rights are at play. In 2006, the RCMP sunk the Liberal campaign by announcing an arguably baseless investigation into Mr Goodale. Now, he’s in charge of the RCMP.

2. Indigenous and Northern Affairs: Carolyn Bennett

A doctor and a stalwart supporter of our First Peoples. I have no doubt she authentically wants better outcomes as she is a woman of great compassion. It is an inspired choice.

3. Agriculture and Agri-Food: Lawrence MacAuley

An experienced and very capable Minister, from PEI. Has been in office since 1988. An agriculture minister from the East is an inspired choice.

4. Justice and Attorney General: Jody Wilson-Raybould

Former provincial Crown Prosecutor. She is of Aboriginal heritage. She and Carolyn Bennett, will make a very strong team with regard to an inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.

5. Foreign Affairs: Stéphane Dion

Another VERY inspired choice. He’s a statesman. He’s a natural diplomat. He’s shown he can put his ego aside. A just reward for the raw deal he got.

6. Public Services and Procurement: Judy Foote

This is the lady who was the Liberal point person when the harassment complaint of 2 NDP MPs came to light. She did very well during delicate and difficult circumstances. She was the head of Memorial University’s (Newfoundland and Labrador) university relations division before she entered politics.

7. Immigration and Citizenship: John MacCallum

Former Minister of National Defence who also just happens to hold a Ph.D. in Economics and has been a professor. A very earnest, thoughtful, and competent Minister. He is a very good egg. He will handle this file — and the Syrian refugee issue, with great care and compassion. Another inspired choice.

8. International Trade: Chrystia Freeland

Exceptionally competent.. frighteningly so. Of Ukrainian heritage and has degrees from Harvard and Oxford in Russian and Slavonic-related studies. Also a well-regarded financial journalist (Financial Times, Washington Post, The Economist).

9. Government House Leader: Dominic Leblanc

Son of former GG Romeo Leblanc. A party stalwart who also happens to be a very good personal friend of the Prime Minister. A very hard worker with a reputation for integrity. Also a graduate of Harvard Law.

10. Health: Jane Philpott

New to Parliament. A member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario who has worked with Doctors Without Borders in Africa, and has worked on HIV and refugee advocacy. She defeated Harper mouthpiece Paul Calandra.

11. Treasury Board: Scott Brison

Former finance and industry critic, Parliamentary Secretary, and party leadership candidate. Very experienced, smart, and well spoken. Openly gay.

12. International Development: Marie-Claude Bibeau

New to Parliament. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and a graduate diploma in environmental management and is a former employee of the Canadian International Development Agency (postings in Ottawa, Montreal, Morocco and Benin).

13. Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Navdeep Bains

A proven entity, with a solid reputation, who taught part time at Ryerson University. He holds an MBA and is a certified management accountant.

14. Canadian Heritage: Mélanie Joly

New to Parliament. A former candidate for the Mayoralty in Montreal after all the turmoil. She emerged out of nowhere to place second behind Denis Coderre and became a political star. Not much of a track record in governance on which to form an assessment of competence as a minister, but on paper, is promising. She is a member of the Barreau du Québec (lawyer).

15. Finance: Bill Morneau

New to Parliament. A graduate of the London School of Economics. He’s a former head of Canada’s largest human resources firm and was a key adviser to the Ontario government on pension reform, so he will be key for expansion of the CPP (as well as to managing job creation via infrastructure spending).

16. National Revenue: Diane Lebouthillier

New to Parliament. She is a social worker from the Gaspé region who has also served as a chair of a regional municipality.

17. Families, Children, and Social Development: Jean-Yves Duclos

New to Parliament. Another graduate of London School of Economics (Ph.D.). He formerly headed the economics department at Université Laval. Recognized economics expert; has served as President of the Canadian Economic Association.

18. Environment and Climate Change: Catherine McKenna

New to Parliament. MP for Ottawa Centre who upset the NDP’s Paul Dewar in riding with largest voter turnout in the country. She is a human rights and social justice lawyer who is the co-founder of Canadian Lawyers Abroad.

19. Transport: Marc Garneau

First Canadian astronaut in space. Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. Retired Navy Captain and former President of the Canadian Space Agency. Not sure what specific experience he would bring to the Transport file, but he will bring wisdom and rigor to Cabinet.

20. Employment, Workforce, and Labour: Maryann Mihychuk

Indigenous MP new to Parliament. Former member of the Manitoba MLA for the NDP. She is a geologist, who is well known in the mining community. A former NPDer at Labour sends an interesting message.

21. Natural Resources: Jim Carr

An oboist and trustee with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as well as a former executive director of the Manitoba Arts Council. Former Deputy Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

22. Democratic Institutions: Maryam Monsef

New to Parliament. Afghan refugee (came to Canada with her widowed mother and 2 sisters). Founder of Red Pashmina. Came 2nd in the 2014 Peterborough Mayoralty race. Nice touch that the Minister for Democratic Institutions is the person who won in Dean Del Mastro’s — he who is in jail for violating electoral law — riding.

23: Veterans Affairs: Kent Hehr

New to Parliament. MP from Calgary, quadriplegic as a result of having been shot in the neck as a bystander. A former Liberal MLA in Alberta.

24: Sport and Persons with Disabilities: Carla Qualtrough

New to Parliament. MP for Delta, BC. She is a Paralympic medalist who is a former President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and is a human rights lawyer.

25. National Defence: Harjit Singh Sajjan

New to Parliament. MP from Vancouver. A retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces who received the Order of Military Merit for his service and a member of the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years. Highest ranking Sikh ever in our armed forces. Another inspired choice.

26. Science: Kirsty Duncan

A Liberal stalwart and a very hard worker. Always comes across as very sincere. She holds a Ph.D. in geography. She was part of the IPCC crew that won the Nobel Prize.

27. Infrastructure and Communities: Amarjeet Sohi

New to Parliament. Was thrown into jail in India in 1988 on trumped up terrorism charges and was released in 1990. Former member of Edmonton municipal council, which will likely serve him well in this position. Defeated Conservative Tim Uppal by less than 100 votes.

28. Status of Women: Patty Hajdu

New to Parliament. She holds a Masters in Public Administration. She is an expert in harm prevention, homelessness, and drug addiction with nine years as the head of the drug awareness committee of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. She was also the head of the city’s largest homeless shelter.

29. Fisheries, Oceans, and Coast Guard: Hunter Tootoo

New to Parliament. A businessman who served as the former speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. An inspired move to put a Northerner in such a position.

30. Small Business and Tourism: Bardish Chagger

New to Parliament. Young MP (under 40) from the Kitchener-Waterloo area who was studying nursing until she became the executive assistant to Andrew Telegdi, who represented Waterloo in Parliament from 1993 to 2008. She is a community organizer with multicultural communities.


I very much like the composition of this Cabinet: A good balance of experience and novelty; gender parity (and women put in many key roles); strong background in law, economics, and science but with a good variety of other perspectives (public health, social justice, women’s rights, sports, performing arts; great representation of diversity (racial, religious, First Peoples, sexual orientation, people with disabilities); many inspired assignments.

IMHO, this Cabinet very much better reflects the composition of Canadian society than anything in recent memory (and possibly ever).

He is showing that he truly is the first PM we’ve had who grasps the concept of the Global Village.

Very neat that PM Trudeau is taking questions immediately after the swearing in ceremony.”

Looking forward with hope

And not just to Can-Con or Nanowrimo.

A week or so after the election, and I’m looking forward to getting MY Canada back, maybe even a new and improved Canada. A Canada of polite, peaceful, diverse, supportive, people with education and healthcare  for all. No more politics of division and fear. No more funding cuts to the poor, and tax breaks to the rich. No more tar sands, leaking pipes and jailing protesters as “terrorists”.

The House of Commons won’t even sit for the first time until Nov. 4th when PM Designate Justin Trudeau names his first cabinet.  And already he is announcing sweeping changes, not just in attitude, but in laws, in how the government will be run, in the whole “personality” of the government.

He opened the Press Gallery, where reporters meet with the Prime Minister to ask questions, for the first time in SEVEN YEARS!

He is dedicated to gender parity in his cabinet, and he will have as many women as men, for the first time EVER.

He has announced the end of “first past the post” and will instate some form of representational voting, tbd after consulting (gasp) the public.

He has announced initiatives to lower investment in oil, and increase investment in sustainable/ renewable power sources.

He has announced increase funding to the arts and the CBC.

He posts everything in both official languages.  He thinks Canada is stronger for being a mosaic of language, culture and traditions.

He is revisiting and promising to change Bill C-51, the terrorism bill that labels anyone who disagrees with the PMO a terrorist.

He is stopping the war on charities, veterans, the public service and women’s groups.

He has announced life-long pensions for wounded vets. No more proving that your legs haven’t grown back.

He is reinstating the long-form census.

He is de-muzzling scientists and libraries.

He has jump-started the processing of Syrian refugees.

He is looking at repealing the First Nations Transparency act.

He is withdrawing us from a conflict role around the world and reinstating our peace-keepers.

He does yoga.


I may just be joining the fangirls Trudeau-mania, part deux.  What will he do once he’s actually in office?

Tarot of the Day: 6 of Keys

6 of keys

For some reason my blog won’t upload yesterday’s card.  How odd, it loads today’s.  (edit:  I had to reload the page, all fixed… huh, how ironic.)

Today’s tarot card is the 6 of Keys, it has bugs, small earthenware bowls, and a rather smug looking individual.

“The Six of Keys, sometimes called “experimentation”, represents the attempt to understand the world in a concrete way for concrete purposes. Unsurprisingly, it is strongly associated with science and the scientific method, but it also stands for any attempt to figure out what’s going on through trial and error.  This card is a reminder that in truth, every new idea is ultimately a discovery of some pre-existing aspect of the world; the solutions to all our problems are out there waiting for us, and all we have to do is find them.

Seen in a reading, the Six of Keys is usually a signal that you should approach some situation in a knowledge-seeking, rigorously experimental frame of mind. It may also constitute a suggestion that you turn to the results of experiments that have already been done – your own or someone else’s.”

This seems to go well with yesterday’s card, but leaves me a bit puzzled.  Does it mean that I need to keep researching battle scenes, even though I thought I was doing pretty good/  Should I get my hubby to write them?  lol

Maybe it means that I need to take a few days to read the battle of five armies, Gail Z Martin, and George RR Martin before attempting my climax?