December 15, 2011

Winter Blues

I don't know if it's fall out from NaNoWriMo or the stress of planning a party while dealing with a mouse infestation, but I feel terrible lately. It feels like pulling hair to get any words on the page. It feels like every promotion I attempt costs many many more times than return. It feels like I'm banging my head against a wall. Little bumps that should improve my mood don't, and little dips that shouldn't mean anything send me spiraling into despair. It's a terrible time of year. We only have a few hours of sunlight and everything is grey and cold.

The holidays are coming. In years past, that would pick me up enough to make it through the winter. Lately, it doesn't come close. It just seems to mean more work, more stress and for nothing. I'm flogging myself to scribble out the scenes I've seen in my head for the sequel of Cargon, bound and determined to get all the pieces on paper for disassembly and rewriting later. It's crap. It's all crap. I know I'm not going to keep any of it, but I'm forcing myself to do it anyway, even though it doesn't make me happy, even though it seems like it won't amount to anything and no one will want to read it. After all, I can't seem to find people to read the first. Even though everyone who has read the first wants the second, it feels like a waste.

This is depression. This is the blackness I can't escape. This is why I hate to be me.

November 30, 2011


I wrote my last paragraph and hit the validation button and...

I'm a winner. Let's not talk about how hard that last 2000 words was. If only Open Office hadn't let me believe I was so much closer than I was. In fact, I needed a whole scene, two, to round out my total. It was excruciating to hit that validation box and find out I needed another 600 words, another 200. What does it take?! Well, it took having a second take on another event, a paragraph of exposition that is almost definitely getting cut, and crossing fingers, but I made it!

If you're interested in my zombie time loop story... are you nuts?! Who is interested in a zombie time loop story? Also, it's in the worst form of first draft ever and I have a sequel and complete MS that need attention, so this puppy is getting boxed. Zombies will be popular again when I dust it off. It might be 2015 (the year the novel takes place in) but I hope it's soon than that.

If you're looking for a critique partner to go over your NaNoWriMo, shoot me an email ( I'm not making any promises, but we can always help each other, right?

November 26, 2011

Pick me Up

I was in my first yoga practice in over a year last night, and just before corpse pose, I took assessment of my day. It was a good day. No, it was an almost perfect day. I can't remember the last day as good as yesterday.

I woke in the morning and moved fluidly through my routine: no dropped and broken dishes, no spills and falls, easy and slow. No rush either, thanks to the fact that I was walking Delilah to class before coming back home to write. The walk wasn't cold, unusual for this late in November, but we've had a lovely Chinook warming things up. It gave me a terrible migraine the day it arrived, but has been beautifully pleasant since then, leaving the temperature just below freezing, some melting, but very little and generally drying immediately afterward — no ice. Perfect.

From there I can home and blasted out 3000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel. That got me over par for the first time since the first week. I've been worried that I wouldn't reach my word count as my writing is naturally sparse and it didn't seem I was going to have enough time loops in my time loop story to fill 50 000 words. I was wrong. I found one suggested loop in my original outline (written back in July) and it was perfect for jump starting me and giving me two more loops to round out my final 15 000 words. Perfect.

I finished in plenty of time to pack up a few copies of Cargon and walk two blocks to Stratford Junior High where I read to a Grade Eight class that was a little lulled as I started reading, but became more interested the further I got into Eve's internal struggle over whether or not to play the game. As we discussed some of the themes of the book, MORE students became interested. I return on Monday to read for a Grade Nine class, and I think some of these students will pop in at the end of that period to buy a copy. The library has already agreed to buy two. Perfect.

I walked over the grocery store, filled a prescription, and wandered home for a quick lunch and a quick pop onto Puzzle Pirates, my current, non-writing, time killer. Before that, I rode the high given me by the students of Stratford to send a similar request to speak to students at six other Junior High Schools within walking distance of my house. Then, with leftovers in hand, I had just enough time before catching my bus to my 2:00 appointment for one navigation mission, one attempt to memorize a route on the ocean. The navy I randomly got jobbed to was one at an island where there was only one route I didn't have memorized. Of course, that was the route it randomly assigned me. Because it was short, I could sail there and back in plenty of time to make my bus. Perfect.

Well, it might have been quite less than perfect. The wind was quite bitter that afternoon, and according to my app, I'd missed my bus by two minutes and would have to wait 27 for the next one. But, the bus was late! Arriving only a minute or two after I checked the app. Perfect.

Then I headed to my appointment, which I expected to take most of an hour, as the one previous with this doctor had been. I had brought my Library copy of Shiver, by  Maggie Stiefvater to read rather than my netbook to work on my NaNoWriMo. It was a lovely change to read rather than write, and although my wait for my appointment was not long enough for me to become engrossed, the meeting was short enough (only ten minutes!) to give me ample time at a tea house to become quite swept away in the story and I look forward to finishing it soon. In fact, I had so much time before my yoga practice, and took so little time at my one other errand (buying new yoga pants) that I arrived almost an hour early for class! So, I walked a few doors down to the Chapters and sat and read for another three quarters of an hour until it was time to walk back to class. Perfect.

I expected, having not been to a yoga class in so long, that I would struggle, a lot. However, everyone in the class was looking for a slightly easier session, so rather than moving quickly through many difficult poses, we took long, five and six breath extensions, in the very familiar ones that let me transition back in with ease. It was probably the best practice I've had ever. Perfect.

My family came to meet me at the same Chapters and wanted to go shopping, I bought a book from an author there for a signing. It's not quite my taste, but I think it will make an excellent gift this Christmas. We picked up a couple more books for my voracious reader of a child and one for my husband. Then we came home, had and easy supper, and I logged back onto Puzzle Pirates for a very lucrative pillaging job. Perfect.

Almost perfect. My stomach has been bothering me, and by the end of my pillage, I was feeling quite ill and crashed hard. Today, I am expected in Sherwood Park, one of Edmonton's neighbour communities, for a signing, and I am very sluggish. Still, I'm clinging to that high, that pick me up that I was fortunate enough to get yesterday to float me through today. I'm sure it will. It was such a wonderful day.

November 11, 2011

Review from

Thanks right, I got a review! I'm pretty excited, especially because it is so positive. Here is an excerpt:
This book is impossible to describe…you simply must read it. The author is very descriptive but at the same time very vague. We don’t know where they are, we don’t even know what time period this is in, we are simply given clues. For example, they talk briefly of stories told about buildings higher than the trees that look like skeletons and paths made of tar-like substances that seem to go on for miles and miles. The characters are regularly excited about things such the use of steam engines…it’s like a neo-steampunk era!
I like to call Cargon a post-apocalyptic renaissance. Neo-steampunk is a pretty awesome description. Thanks so much, Susan. To read her whole review, head over to MyVampFiction. While you're there, if you're over 18 and have a strong constitution, you might want to check out my novella Blue Moon House which is posted there. You'll have to hit the story link yourself... age consent and all that. If that's not your thing, there is other original fiction in the dungeon and more reviews on the main site.

November 6, 2011


Is everyone posting about this? It seems like it. It's a pretty big event. If you are one of those who don't know what Na(tional)No(vel)Wri(ting)Mo(nth) is, try reading between the lines. This challenge has been going for several years (can't seem to find a start date on the website). I participated last year, writing the bulk of Thickness of Blood (around 58 000 words) in the month of November. This year, I'm taking up the challenge again.

If you've ever wondered if you could write a book, check out the webpage. You might not finish the goal of 50 000 words this year. You might decide that writing really isn't your thing. Or, you might find the contacts and support to help you develop a kernel of an idea over three weeks (all that's left now) and be eager to come back November of 2012 with the intention of making that mark, of completing a novel (first draft).

I have heard some established authors use NaNoWriMo as a time to pull one of their closet ideas out and dust it off. It's a good time to really hash out an unfleshed idea and see if it has weight. If you get to the end of the month and it's still not a novel, well, you only wasted a month instead of many months or years slowly adding a couple hundred words at a time. You immerse in the idea for those thirty days instead of slow perking over months to find enough pieces to stitch together into a story.

There aren't any real rules to NaNoWriMo. My husband claimed last night that I can write sh*t 49998 times and finish with 'the end.' Don't listen to him, but do feel free to write ANYTHING. Stream of Conscious 50 000 words about a character who has been invading your dreams. Don't worry about a unifying theme, don't worry about protagonists and antagonists, don't worry about developing tension. The point here isn't to make a pretty novel. You aren't going to come out at the end of November with something you can pitch (unless you're really good, of course), but you should come out with a number of scenes, a cast of characters and the threads of a plot line. Now you're ready for draft two!

The 'point' of NaNoWriMo, in my opinion, is to find all those pieces. To take your nugget of an idea and build it into something bigger. It might be a tower of blocks leaning precariously to one side, but there's a structure there, there are pieces. Hopefully there's a beginning, middle and end. Now you can hit all those diagnostics. Who is the antagonist and why? Who is the antagonist? Do you have a companion character, more than one? Are there enough obstacles in the protagonist's way? Can you add more tension between and within characters. Don't ask these questions in November — get the words on the page. December is when the work begins.

But, if you're new to NaNoWriMo, and joining a bit late, don't feel intimidated. Set yourself a shorter goal, 30 000 words. Find those contacts, the other writers and editors and beta readers and contacts you will need if you find this is something you want to pursue. Give it a go. What's the worst that happens? You spend some of your free time writing instead of watching TV. Sounds like a good trade to me.

October 22, 2011

SIWC Day 2: Running, running, running

Well, that was a whirlwind. I almost wrote a post last night, but then I took my bottle of wine (of which I had half left) and moved over to the table of 5 (my table had none) and offered my wares. I was, of course, happily received.

It was at this table (filled with fellow prairie residents) that I learned my NaNoWriMo idea, which I was sharing with people at lunch, made an appearance in one of the afternoon sessions. At lunch, Michael Slade sat at our table and heard me recounting how Don Maass encouraged me to do worse things to my protagonist. He didn't hear that part, of course, he just heard pregnant and zombie. I hadn't planned on marrying the two but might have to now. What a great idea, the living inside the dead.

I also did my first pitch. Sadly, I had booked my session back in August when I was still working on my YA Ghost Story, so I'm pitching to a YA editor. The only things I have complete are Cargon (already published with Martin Sisters) and Thickness of Blood - an adult contemporary. I pitched Cargon, for practice, and apparently did fairly well. I'll have to be sure to pitch my next book as well, paying special attention to the pregnant vampire, of course.

The blue pencil session was enlightening. Robert Dugoni was emphatic that he wanted to know who the main character was. If you're one of Thickness of Blood's pre-readers, you know there are three main characters. In our session we focused on the wrong one. BUT now I know that George is actually the main character! I'm ready to pitch that today if there are any openings!

The pitch party in the morning was marvelous. I was able to nail my pitch for Cargon, and armed with my knew knowledge, I'm sure I'll be able to do as well with Thickness of Blood. The same Robert Dugoni went over story structure and plot for page turners. I'm sure all that information, atop what Don Maass gave me Thursday night, will make my NaNoWriMo writing that much smoother and easier and plain better.

After my pitches, rather than settling into Maass' session, I found the YA panel and I think I'll repeat that this morning, attending Don Calame's 'Writing for Teens.' Lunch is a mystery today, and then I'm off to SIWC Idol, where my first two pages of Thickness of Blood have been submitted along with many many others for breakdown and review.

But, I need to get to the kick off this morning!!

October 21, 2011

End of Master Classes

Warning! Donald Maass just gave me permission -- nay, he urged me -- to kick even more crap outta my characters. You thought Eve had it rough, well she didn't! That first book was a breeze. She got everything handed to her (in retrospect, it does make it kinda boring). Expect more angst, more difficult decisions, more loss and despair in book 2. More than for Cargon, I plan to take this advice into NaNoWriMo. My time loop, apocalyptic novel is perfect for this. I thought I'd already set some pretty high stakes, but when Don said, "What would a more daring writer do?" I gave Cassie a few more trials to work into separate loops. Now each one will have it's own tearing, tormenting twist! Yes! People are going to scream, but they will turn the page!! A scene exercise in the same session will work nicely for helping me write those scenes I skip in first draft. We were asked to choose a blah scene.
I hate writing blah scenes, so I don't. I jump right on past and either work the details into where I start from and/or go back and write those scenes last. They are almost always short. This exercise helped me identify where I can build that scene and make it complete.

Want to know how? Donald Maass is working on writing this into a book, so watch for that!

What changes in the scene? What is fundamentally different after the scene? i.e., why does this scene need to be in the novel. Be specific. The exact 'aha' moment when the change occurs.

Now, go back in time before that specific event and look at your POV character. Who are they? What are they feeling? What do they want? What are they thinking about?
Go forward past the event, after the immediate consequences. What is he thinking/feeling now? How is it different from before?

Use those emotions and thoughts WITH the action to move the scene.

To build on that, pick out three things your POV character notices about his surroundings - the time, the people, the place - that no one else would or does. Use those to set the scene. Use one of more of these as part of the 'change' that occurs.

Finally we were asked to write the action/change of scene in one sentence in the same tone and style as our story. (i.e. past tense, first/third POV etc.) If our reworked scene did not convey more tension, more conflict, more impact than that sentence, we probably don't need the scene and can use the sentence as part of a transition.

Why am I giving you all this? Because if I lose this notebook I damn well want a record of that! You get to tag along for free. :D

We also worked on microtension and how to add conflict to smaller things like actions, descriptions and dialog.

Before this wonderful session with Don Maass, I had a breakneck session with K.C. Dyer. She walked us through the alphabet in terms of publishing, making sure we all knew about contracts, royalties, good and bad agents and publishers, beginner mistakes, everything! A lot of it was familiar, but everything that wasn't got added to my tool box.

But the day is moving on and I should get blasting into Day 2. I'm planning to start with the Pitch Party. I've never pitched before, so I want one more chance to prepare. I signed up for my pitch session with Kaylan Adair, thinking I would pitch my Ghost Story. However, that is the story that I have since scrapped. So... I'm going to pitch Cargon, even though it's already published, for practice. I might try to pitch Thickness of Blood as well, although that is not the sort of story she normally works with. After that, I'm thinking I'll listen to my Blue Pencil editor, Robert Dugoni, and learn about Creating Plot for Page Turners. I'm taking the first few pages of Thickness of Blood to the Blue Pencil session this afternoon. My pitch and blue pencil sessions should leave me enough time to take in the second half of Don Maass's "The Inner Journey" or I might crash Truth in Lies (writing convincing fiction for teens).

Don't know that I'll have time to post again before tomorrow morning (I expect not), but I'll be back in the AM to share what I've learned.

October 20, 2011

SIWC Day 1: Slow start

On the train to my hotel, I received an email warning that due to two former presidents attending a meeting the next morning, security would be increased and we might need extra time to arrive and check-in. Thankfully, I'd arrived the night before, so I avoided most of the excitement the next day. A second email arrived informing me that my morning Master Class, with Kathleen Oritz was being cancelled due to travel complications. I was disappointed, but keen on the offers for a smaller Skype-based course or a personal web presence review. I could have registered in another morning class, but I was more intrigued by these possibilities. The next morning, I knew I'd made the right choice.

As I picked up my registration, I was reminded to keep my name tag on me and am glad I did. The green paper identifies me as a writer at the conference, not a demonstrator or other bystander. The number of bright yellow vests over dark blue uniforms was rather intimidating, as were the percentage of men with some sort of coiled wire attached to a bud in their ear. That said, I had an expensive, if sparse, breakfast, met another writer. I was happy to not have to rush off to a class and take a little extra time going through the information in my welcome packet. I wrote an entry for the funny contest included in it and signed back up to do the picture prompt blog. That's it! I'm officially writing again! By the end of that, however, I could neither deny nor ignore the growing pain behind my left eye, signifying an imminent migraine. Rather than sit at my tiny table in lobby and try to glimpse either Clinton or GW for myself, I went up to my room to lie down. I didn't rest long before chanting of "Bush!" and the beating of a drum came from outside and I saw a small gathering of demonstrators outside my hotel, fourteen floors down. It was after 11 anyway, so I headed down to get some lunch before my afternoon Master Class.

Overall, my kickoff at the conference is not unlike my book release. I little something here, a little something there, but not quite in full swing. That changes in an hour when I have two master classes back to back. Just so, in the middle of July, my book was available in all electronic forms and through international distributors. Slow start, but building. Hopefully steadily growing. We'll see.

Here's the 75 word or less piece I wrote to complete the following scenario:

Young Jack tapped his pencil impatiently against his desk. Would school never end? As the clock ticked off each...slow...second, his teacher droned on about dangling participles. Jack flipped open the cover of his English book and promptly fell into the pages. Once he regained his feet, Jack took a few steps forward, then scooped up his pencil. As he waved it, sparks flew and he knew something enchanted had just occurred. He waved the pencil again and became locked in mortal combat with

a man holding a sword.
"How propitious!" a squeaky voice exclaimed. At first Jack thought her a child, but a corset emphasized her curves. She was tiny, an elf, with a wart atop one ear. "We have an opponent!"
"How can I fight with a pencil?" Jack paled as the man swung his sword.
Flailing wildly, the man dodged.
Using the alchemy of his dangling participle, Jack drove off his opponent.

Note: words to include were sword, elf, corset, alchemy, wart and propitious.

October 11, 2011

Not Really Back

I'm still on hiatus of sorts. The writer in me is seriously frightened at the moment. The last thing I did was destroy a manuscript and it's made me paranoid about ruining any works in progress.

Despite that, I have made a few writing engagements. For instance, I read to the Grade 5&6 classes at my daughter's elementary school, Lynnwood. They were very receptive to the book and everyone wanted a bookmark (a problem because I thought it was a 5/6 split class, not two classes — not enough bookmarks!). They also love the idea for my NaNoWriMo novel. Did I sell any books? I don't know, but I donated a copy to the library that I can hope will be well read.

I'm also registered to attend the Surrey International Writers Conference in two weeks. I am booked in a pitch session and a blue pen session that I might have to drop. I'd intended to pitch/submit pages from the aforementioned manuscript. At the moment, I have nothing to take with me. Maybe some pages from Cargon 2 for the blue pen, but that's it. I'm also entirely bummed about publishing in general, so most of my high on attending this conference is gone. Hopefully attending will repair that.

Finally, I agreed to attend a book club meeting in Vegreville, a little town about 2.5 hours drive down the highway. My coworker's aunt is in the book club and read Cargon. I got a call from her a week ago to set a time and I asked about getting books to them before time. She said she'd get back to me. Tonight I got a call from the leader of the club and discovered it's not just one book club, it's several. They're looking for 20-25 copies. WOW. Problem is, I haven't restocked, thinking I'd just like to unload the copies I have left. I have 13. So... I've put in a call to my publisher asking for more copies ASAP. Worse comes to worse, I'll arrange with one or more of the clubs to deliver books at a slightly later date. Also, this means I'm not meeting with people who have already read and want to discuss my book, I'm pitching to people who run book clubs. Not what I was expecting and not exactly my favourite thing to do. On the other hand, if I can do a reading and discuss like I did with grade schoolers (well, obviously the discussion will go much differently!) it might not be so bad.

So, if you'd like to order a signed copy via my website, please do! Just be aware that there will probably be a delay in shipping until I get my new supply.

And hopefully, between all these events, I'll finally get enough of a kick in the pants to start writing again and be less of a depressed, anti-social lump like I've been lately. If not, well, it'll be a while until I post again.

October 3, 2011


Not really a post, just letting you know that I'm still on hiatus. I am not in the right mindspace to write anything, even a simple blog post. I'll let you know when/if that changes.

September 4, 2011

Second signing

Well, that was invigorating. Even though I came home feeling exhausted, I was constantly bouncing while I was at my second signing in West Edmonton Mall. (Actually, that's probably why I came home exhausted now that I think about that.) The store was very busy, thanks to a long weekend, back-to-school, shopping rush. It was perfect! I handed out a ton of bookmarks. Even if only a few of those people check out my website, that's that many more people that have heard of Cargon.

And people have heard of Cargon. I almost fainted when my first sale was to a woman who, upon hearing my elevator pitch, said, "Oh, yeah, I've heard of this one. You'll sign it for me?"

You've heard of this one?! Word of mouth actually works?! I have a word of mouth compaign? As soon as she was on her way to the till, I did a happy dance and squealed. I couldn't believe it. That was about 40 minutes into my signing when I was starting to wonder if anyone would stop at my meager table and ask about my book. I was buoyed by that sale. I took a copy up to the registers and left it on the table atop many many copies volumes from the Game of Thrones series. As the line lengthened, my book moved slightly, got flipped over, turned around. People were reading it! No one bought that copy, but maybe, along with the bookmark I gave them, they'll look it up on Google Books or better yet, my website.

Every time the line got longer than 8-10 people, I'd hustle myself up there holding a fan of bookmarks with the selling first line: "they're free." The store was having a buy 3 get the 4th free sale, so anyone holding books held a few. Of course they want a book mark. Sure, most won't leave that book they put it in, but some will.

One lady said, "It doesn't really work with my Kindle." Well, I just had to tell her about the Kindle version available on Amazon. "Of the bookmark?" she asked, and I giggled. She sounded eager to try a book from a local author available for her e-reader. I had another woman with the same response. "Sometimes I feel like a traitor for reading on it," she admitted. I just urged her to look me up as the e-version is cheaper. I'm pretty sure she will.

Finally, I set a copy of my book on the table with Hunger Games, Vampire Diaries, and other hot 'teen' books, thinking, "if you're reading those, you're my audience." The copy wasn't there when I cleaned up. It wasn't on the next table, or any nearby table. I'm pretty sure someone bought it. Score!!

And with that one I had a total of six sales to people I had never met previously. Two to online friend and two to relatives rounded the sales to ten. I'm pretty happy about that! It's only three shy of my sales in Medicine Hat where I didn't sell any to non-relatives/friends. And I KNOW I handed out more bookmarks this time. Also, people at the tills were talking about my book the manager told me as I cleaned up. I couldn't ask for more. The day was a complete success!

Today, I hope to stand a little less, relax a little more, and enjoy a sunny day with family. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, said hello, and took a bookmark. I appreciate each and every one of you.

August 31, 2011

Fictionista Workshopping!

Last season (Spring) I participated in a Fictionista Workshop for Alicia Golden's Coven of the Willow. It was great. We had a good group, ideas flew, we suggested some big changes to the story and Alicia was keen on most of them.

This fall, I'm on the block! The Girl Who Haunts Me (and please participants give me a better title than that!) is going to be read and critiqued by five other writers/readers, edited, fact checked, characters and voice examined... pretty much the works. I can't wait. I'm a glutton for critique pain. I love having someone tell me exactly what is wrong with what I've written, giving me ideas how to make it better. Often I won't take the exact suggestions, but it will spark and even BETTER idea from me.

Tonight, I have a Skype call with the other Authors who are putting their books on the table and next week I have the first conference call with my group. Did I mention I can't wait?

I was warned that my group might jump up and down on Bekah, my black, buxom, attitude to the max, somewhat racist alternate love interest. There are so many parts of this story that I'm willing to kill, but she might be my darling. She is such an interesting character who adds so much to the dynamic between the others. I really hope my group gives her a fair chance. She does get better!

Have you had a workshop or critique that was difficult? One that was amazing in the outcome? One that was a breeze? Share your workshopping stories.

August 19, 2011

Surrey International Writers' Conference

As of today, I have my hotel, flight and registration all paid for/lined up to attend the SIWC this October. I'm excited!! I went to Get Published's conference "the Edge" this spring and really enjoyed it. I made a couple of contacts, but not as many as I would have liked. As with everything in my writing career, I went in only half-prepared. I had a publisher for my first novel, and they had accepted my second, so I didn't sign up for any pitch sessions. Not bright. I still want an agent to help me with foreign rights and possibly break me into bigger circles.

I'm not making the same mistake this time. I have booked a pitch session with Kaylan Adair. I'm hoping she can point me in the right direction with The Girl Who Haunts Me. I'm also taking ten pages of that same manuscript to the blue pencil session with Robert Dugoni. Which ten pages will be determined after my first workshop session with Fictionista Workshop. Probably the first ten, but we'll see.

Finally, on Thursday they have the Master Classes. I'll get to meet Kathleen Oritz and Donald Maass! (not one-on-one, obviously, but I'm still excited!) I'm also taking the Beginners Intensive with KC Dyer, which I hope will leave me less confused and better armed going forward.

And that's just the beginning! The schedule looks amazing. I know I should leave some time for schmoozing, but I don't know how/where I'll manage that. I'm going to be the wallflower/wallpaper I'm sure. However, I'm usually pretty good at spotting other quiet folks like myself. At the last con, I found a couple and we tended to go together to things. That's where I got the few contacts I did. I might not meet an agent or editor that way, but I can find another critique partner or another person who can point me when I get lost (and vice versa). As Kristen Lamb reminds us, We Are Not Alone!

So, if you're going to Surrey, leave me a comment. Let's see if we're planning on hitting any of the same sessions. If you aren't, tell me about a con you went to and experiences good or bad. Help me get ready for this so I don't completely fall on face, okay? Thanks!

August 17, 2011

Middletown High School Library

My friend Haley Whitehall had a lovely blog post about libraries.

I love libraries. If you read my post Big Girl Panties, you know my goal isn't to make money, it's to be read. What better way (without being easily electronically ripped off) than donating a copy to the library?

In my comment on Haley's blog you can read about my misfortune with my own public library. Authors, be sure your book is going into circulation not a book drive!

Today I received a very interesting request via Goodreads. I'm going to paste some of it here:

My name is Lora Wiedenheft and I am asking you to read my letter through. I am a reviewer and the founder of a program called Read for your future.

The program works like this. I contact authors (such as your self) and publishers that I think will Donate a book in exchange for a review. I then get the book put it on a list and let the students at 2 different high schools choose the book. The student that chooses the book then reads the book and writes a review for the book. There are links on my website to lead them through the process. When they are finished with their review they then turn that book into to the librarian at their school. It then gets cataloged and at that point has a new home for years to come.

The students are excited about this program. They are building up their library. And they feel good about themselves knowing they have helped out their school.

Honestly, I didn't need more than that. I was in. I get two people in my target audience to read and review my book?! Yes please! And then their peers read the review and can sign the book out from the library?! Can I just jump up and down on this program with glee and ask why more schools aren't doing this?

Hmmm, maybe they are and I just haven't heard about it. I'm pretty sure none of the High Schools around here have a program like this.

Then Lora goes on to further sell her program by pointing out that the school is in an underprivileged area and hadn't received ANY new books for four years. Wow. These kids are probably desperate for some new reading material. Based on the reviews on their blog they have had quite the influx. More information on the program can also be found on the organization's website.

Now it just so happens that my employer is a philanthropist and purchased extra copies of my book to be donated to libraries. I'm not even out the cost of the book. Yes, Read For Your Future, you can have a copy of my book and I will be sending copies of my future YA books to you as well.

August 12, 2011

Review from my FanGirl

I have a fanfiction 'fangirl.' She loves all my stories (almost) and pimps me out for contests and the like. Her penname is Hyvanna. She sent me a hand written review for Cargon that I thought I'd share. note: I've correct some misspelling/grammar

Hey Kimmy,

Jeez, I haven't wrote a letter since I was in school. I fill out paperwork all the time but don't sit down and write-write.

Got your Asprin and eyedrops ready? Good, use them now.

I really enjoyed reading Cargon. I like that it was set in the distant future, so far ahead that after whatever disaster happened even wordsk for things were lost and it was like Renaissance times. So it felt like a true treat to my inner geek, nerd, whatever we that love Sci-fi and Dungeons and Dragons are called.

To name the main characters Adam and Eve and say Eve will change the world, that was a neat little tidbit. It will be Eve eating from the tree of knowledge first this time, kicking them into the unknown, ready to be reshaped. I love it.

Best part was Louis was trying to get to Eve so he could use her for her mind. That felt like a stealthy twist on how women hate that a man never wants her for her mind, only her body.

In a morbid way, I liked Louis' advancement on Eve, mainly because I love the triangle.

So many tidbits I enjoyed, from his mom knowing and seeing more in Eve to torturing Adam, or well, embarrassing him. Her schooling and testing was fun.

Okay, now I will admit I thought the challenge between Jasper and Louis was a setup. I thought he planned it so Jasper would lose on purpose and Louis would not want to play someone under his station unless he had to.

I did like Jasper, though I feared he would fall in love with Eve, not meaning to, and get his heart hurt again. It almost felt as though he were playing for a different reason, like he planned on getting the other woman he loves back but used this challenge as another, so to say, practice run, knowing Adam would challenge him to win Eve back.

TWO THUMS -N- BIG TOES UP!!! hehe, she put that in a lot of her fanfiction reviews, too. It's neat to see it all written out!

I am looking forward to the sequel in hopes of seeing her take on the things left from the past, like the skeleton buildings that grow tall and anything she see in her new life she's riding off into.

I like post-apocalyptic stuff like:
Fallout --- very good game!!!
The Book of Eli --- very good movie!!!
Water World
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

Hopefully you could read a least a little of this letter. pshaw, it wasn't THAT bad!! Oh and I do like your idea about the ghost. I hope you can pitch that idea to a publisher, too.

Have fun -n- Keep writing!!!
You are a very good storyteller!!!

Lots of Luck
Your FanGirl

So, yeah, that was her review (with only a few insertions from me). Big hugs to Hyvanna.

August 11, 2011

Home... Sweet Home.

It feels like I've been away for weeks.

Wait, I have been away for weeks.

With the exception of a four day stretch at the end of July and Sunday night, I haven't slept in my own bed for almost a month. No wonder I feel out of sorts! No wonder I can't seem to get much of anything written! No wonder I can't do any editing!

Thankfully, none of those are true. I wrote a conclusion to a piece that will never be published under this name (but the adults out there looking for something spicy... this one's for you!). I wrote most of a chapter for the sequel of Cargon and I did edits to the former piece. Oh, wait, one of those is true. I do feel out of sorts. I feel like I'm juggling right now. I have a hundred little things floating around to do or be worked on. Now that I'm back at home, I'm going to catch some of those and put them down. Things like my second signing at West Edmonton Mall - I want a poster for that. Like querying another agent. Like entering these fanfiction pieces I have written for The Canon Tour and Smut University. Like writing up a query for this adult piece if I think I'm going to publish it (I hear you, Deadra!). Like doing some plotting for my NaNoWriMo piece so I'm ready to hit that in November. Like delivering 5 copies to Greenwoods to replace the ones I took for my signing in Medicine Hat. There are more, of course.

Well I'm home now. The house has looked better. I have a ton of laundry and my garden needs watering. But it is sweet. It is MY home, MY family, MY bed. sigh

Brief, I know. Hopefully I'll be back to my usual speed soon.

Of course I am spending another night out of town next week... damn.

August 6, 2011

Elevator Pitch

I had my first signing today. It didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped, but it went very well! I'm not disappointed to be sure. I thought I'd sell out, and technically, I did, but my mother is willing to wait three weeks for me to bring more copies home. Instead, five will sit on the shelf for everyone who missed me.

My daughter helped by handing out bookmarks and I definitely made more connections after that. It's a lot harder to say no to the grinning four year-old than the thirty-something author.

The biggest thing I learned: I need to nail my elevator pitch. The back blurb is good, and in writing "a servant becomes something more by playing a game" looks bleh. It sounds not bad, though. I tried a few variations: A serving-girl becomes a noble by playing a game.
"What's a noble?"
Oh... you probably aren't my target audience, even though you are the right age. My husband weeps for our youth.

If someone read the back I could elaborate. "It's set in a future earth, where technology has failed and people are rediscovering science." That raised eyebrows and got attention. However, Post-apocalyptic renaissance doesn't always resonate with people. (As above, big words can be intimidating.)

Before my next signing, I'm working on my elevator pitch. Anyone want to help?

August 3, 2011

Getting 'Girl Who Haunts Me' Through the Door

Got an email from Gabriela Lessa about her contest with Sourcebooks. To enter, I need the first paragraph of my manuscript. I also need it to be at its best. So I'm soliciting help! Here's the first paragraph. Help me improve it?

I woke in my own bed, but not in my room. Blinking a few times, I remembered why – I'd only slept in this room one night and it wasn't familiar yet. My alarm was still going off, but it wasn't right above my head, where it used to be. Stretching, I slapped the snooze finally, pulling the pillow over my head for a moment. New house. New city. New school. Well, nothing for it but to face it.

Two paragraphs later he sees a girl reflected in his mirror and the driving force/antagonist is introduced.

Pitch: Unknowing, Jared has been haunted by the ghost of his preschool friend for years, but when his family moves from her hometown, her presence becomes undeniable.

OR: After moving to a new city, Jared is haunted by the ghost of his adopted parents’ daughter, who has lived quietly through him for years.

(Changed 11am MDT - I had flipped this pitch and for some reason blogger didn't save it.)

Feel free to offer suggestions on the pitch as well. Thanks for your readership and any help you can provide.

If you'd like a more detailed synopsis, here's one I wrote for Fictionista Workshop:

Starting his first day in a new school and a new country, Jared expects to have a bumpy ride. He doesn't expect doors slamming, lights turning on and off, or a creepy girl with glasses staring at him all the time. He's also startled by the odd reflection of a girl in his bedroom mirror. Although he once believed in ghosts, most strongly in the years following his parents' deaths, he put such fantasies aside after nearly being held back a grade. He starts questioning their existence again. He isn't ready to believe in all ghost stories, but he is starting to accept that the odd things happening around him might be the result of a specific ghost -- Kimmy, the daughter of his adopted parents. She died in the same car crash as Jared's parents, and he had forgotten his preschool friend entirely.

Despite the poltergeist's intrusions into his social sphere, Jared manages to make friends and earn a place on the football team. He also meets an odd pair, Shy and Bekah, who are somewhat isolated as visible minorities. Jared slowly breaks the shell around Bekah, a black girl who feels ostracized in a school full of white kids. He also wins the interest of the head cheerleader, Emily. Known as a matchmaker for the team, Emily doesn't try to pair Jared up with any of the other girls, but makes his mouth dry and palms sweaty as she tries to get to know him. Meredith, the strange girl that is always staring at him, adds to the list of girls surrounding him and making him the envy of his football teammates.

It is Meredith who finally identifies the ghost haunting Jared. She has been able to see and hear ghosts since the death of her own mother and sister. Never finding their spirits, she is instead visited by many others. Kimmy, the ghost haunting Jared, is thrilled to be noticed and acknowledged. Understanding how Kimmy died, Meredith is able to posit why she has remained hidden until now. So young when she passed, Kimmy assumed the young boy sleeping in her bed and loved by her parents, was herself. Puberty had its hand in her realizing that she was not Jared, but the move from the home she had always lived in snaps the thread holding her seamlessly as a part of Jared. Free for the first time, she becomes frustrated and angry, jealous of the people around Jared and longing for a life of her own. Her friendship with Meredith helps, but it isn't until the Day of the Dead, when she is unable to leave her grieving mother, that Kimmy truly sheds Jared to be an entity unto herself.

After so long a part of Jared, Kimmy tries to possess his friends as she once shared his body and life. Her intrusions do not all go unnoticed, and in the end, Jared must find a way to give his old friend peace or continue to be haunted by her ghost. A special kiss, with the trappings of magic about it, finally allow Kimmy to share the body of Emily, Jared's girlfriend, and thereby share his life in a new way.

July 29, 2011

Big Girl Panties

Oh, nice, Kim, that's much more professional. sigh

Well, we already established who I am in real life, haven't we? Big Girl Panties is a phrase I would totally use at work, so I'm using it here. I had a rough week. I had a rough couple of weeks. I took a dive.

I haven't written much of anything since my last blog post, in part because my head still wasn't in the right place. I needed to get this marketing/publicity/promotion stress dealt with first. I'm still working on that part, but at least I found my Big Girl Panties and started doing it!

I bought the eBook, Write It Forward by Bob Mayer. I've given myself a goal. I want 1000 people to read my novel in a year. That's a pretty low goal, but I intend on repeating that next year with a new novel, hopefully for several years. Also, as he points out, we need to revise our goals. Once I reach this one, I can make the next one bigger if I want.

Knowing that I'm ONLY trying to reach 1000 people drops my stress level. I'm hoping to reach a number of people in Medicine Hat with my signing (I have 18 copies to sell from the first batch of 50!). I'm hoping to get visit my old high school this fall and reach students there. I'm planning to beg and plead with my cousins to share my book with their friends, getting more readers that way.

If my tight core, my friends and close family, can each share the book with three people, I'll be thrilled. That'll take my 20-30 copies and reach 60-90 people. I don't know how my online sales are going (I should find out soon with quarterly numbers), but I'm hoping those readers will share my story with others as well.

Note: my goal isn't to sell 1000 copies. If I donate a copy to the library and it is checked out by 5 people, that's 5 reads toward my 1000! My goal isn't money, my goal is sharing my story, finding people who enjoy it. My goal is to make people think, give them a world and characters to escape with, and leave a very tiny stamp on their lives. My big goal, my big reason, I remembered while reading yesterday, is to be a blessing to others. That's what I want. That's why I write, to give those characters a voice and let them be an example or an escape for someone else.

I'm starting small. I'm not trying to make a living at this, I have a day job for that. I'm not trying to be famous, I think I'd hate it. I'm trying to be a blessing, one tiny ray of sunshine in someone's life, even if only for a few hours.

And what do I need to do to be that? My Big Girl Panties! yanks them up Urkel-style, giving herself a wedgie.

July 27, 2011


I am burnt. That will come as no surprise after my last blog post. Unlike my picture prompts (Yay for prompting!), I don't have a series of blog posts in the queue. Why? Because I don't know what this blog is about. I've subscribed to all sorts of blogs: reviews, interviews, tours, writing tips, reading tips, marketing tips, twitter tips, but none of that is what THIS blog is about.

I'm not an avid reader. I don't have a lot of time, so most of my reading comes in the form of beta reading/editing. I am committed to those pieces, so I read them. Would I read them otherwise? In the case of all but a few, no, never. So why don't I take books I like out of the library? Same reason. I get about a chapter in and think, "this isn't interesting enough for me to set the time aside." Or worse, three weeks go by, I get a notice from the library to return said book and I haven't even cracked the cover. Reviewing is definitely out.

I can't share what I beta read. That wouldn't be fair to the people I'm working with. I can't tear apart their work publically so you can see what I'm learning from the writing (like Janice Hardy does with emailed submissions).

Without direction or an audience, this blog is really pointless. Kinda like me. I'm sitting here, writing because I enjoy it, reading what I write because I enjoy doing that and can make small repairs, and keeping it all to myself. I have a publisher that I don't have any real beef with, but I can't sell stories. I can't sell me. It's obvious I don't know or even want to know how. I have too many other things to do:
like my day job — which is influencing the work in the oil sands; I have a really cool job that comes with its own fulfillment,
my family — they've been far too kind about my absences and constant irritability,
my home — you have NO idea how much cleaning I really need to do to this place; I shouldn't even be typing this.

Where does making a career as a writer fit in? Honestly, it doesn't. That's the problem. I can cry in the wilderness all I want, but there are bigger publishers, bigger authors, bigger blogs, and only those who have some sort of personal connection are going to give a rat's ass about what I write. It's come crashing down as I'm trying to figure out what I HAVE to do before I leave town. This blog post was one.

I committed to two posts a week. Wednesday and Saturday. Sometimes Saturday slides into Sunday, and I don't think that's a problem, but to be 'professional' I need a regular blog post.

Guess what. I'm not a professional.

My daughter is not home right now, and it's a very good thing because in the last twelve hours I've thrown no less than five tantrums worthy of a two year-old. My daughter is four. She'd think I'm acting like a big baby. And I am. And I want to. I don't want to do this. I don't want to feel like my nerves are being slowly spun and tightened until they are going to snap. I don't want to hear the screaming in my spine that sounds like my inner child dying. I don't want the crushing headaches that come from winding myself up so badly. I don't want to curl up on my bed and cry for an hour or two before getting the strength to try to knock one more thing off the list.

I have my first book signing in a little over a week. I'm going to dress up and put on makeup, which I almost never do, in an attempt to look 'professional.' It's a crock. In my day job, I'm a professional. As a writer, I'm just a lucky hack hobbyist and that's all I'm going to be.

July 25, 2011


I have completed my seventh 10+ hour day in the field. Over that time, I've broken my usual policy of writing/editing something everyday. Usually, I would write in the truck. Three out of those seven days I did, writing in my notebook. However, I've gotten very little written that way (700 words?). We have been SO late getting back to our rooms after dinner I haven't had time to call my family, so I haven't taken the time to open any files for transcrption (from notebook) or editting. I'm just too tired and well... brain-fried.

Have you ever worn a hard hat in the hot sun? It feels like your head is being slowly cooked and squeezed to press out any juices. It hasn't been like that everyday up here, in fact, there were only two really hot and sunny days. However, the feeling that my brain might have melted and be oozing out of my ear has been with me everyday.

Despite the punishing schedule, I have posted to my blog twice, written in my notebook on three occasions and participated in a writing workshop ( which I would file under editing. So I probably only completely slacked two of those seven days. I'm looking forward to getting home and being on vacation so I can boost that word count and start really working on something.

Unfortunately, I'll only have a few days before I turn around and head to Medicine Hat for my sister's wedding. I'm happy to go to that!! but the heat down there is going to fry my brain further. Some zombie is getting a nice home-cooked meal, I'm telling you...

July 19, 2011

Beauty in Everything. aka Not Mosquitos

To clarify, I haven't found the beauty in mosquitoes, nor do I find them particularly ugly, but this post is not about mosquitoes as previously threatened.

It is about where I am right now, the oil sands of Alberta. If you've never been here, it's pretty hard to imagine. I'm not going to say impossible to describe because I consider myself a writer, so here I go, try to imagine...

Think of a desert. Sand endless running in beautiful dunes with the odd shrub clinging to its blowing soil. It's not like that.

Imagine a three year-old's sandbox. One filled with little cat turds and other feces with sand stuck to it. There... that's bitumen. Now imagine the three year-old with his scoop, shuffling out the sand into his pail. That's a wheel scoop dumping into a haul-truck. Then he lifts his bucket and it's actually a sieve; all the sand falls out - except the turd. It's stuck in the bottom of the bucket and he's grinning at his find. Yep, that's the extraction. Okay it's a LOT dirtier than that, but still, that's the 'gold' they're digging for. So now you have a black nugget, a pile of sand and a big hole. Yep, that's what it looks like. Oh, let's have the three year-old get some shiny metal toys... maybe they aren't really toys, they're his Dad's tools that he stuck in the background. Then kick up some wind to blow in front.... there, that's the extraction plant as the sand obscures it. Only there's a slightly smudgy smoke coming from the top of the one I see.

Wait! I forgot the water!! What kid doesn't have water in his sandbox? Yep he builds up a nice round basin and pours the water in. There's a settling pond. This pond is probably about a third of the sandbox. Maybe Dad helped him make it.

Sounds really aesthetically pleasing, doesn't it? Especially when you add that slightly oily film to the top of the water... oh yeah, beautiful.

But... there is beauty in odd places and times. There are the sandhill cranes that fly over and nest in the tailings sand. There is the sunrise reflected in that pool when it's completely still. There is sun reflecting off that plant in the distance when the wind isn't blowing, making it shine and sparkle.

The point of my post is beauty can be found anywhere. When writing a twisted mutant or alien, I'm going to give him a dash of debonair. When I describe the most ugly urban setting where the worst deeds are done, I'm going to give one spot of shine to it.

The opposite is also true. The hero is going to have a blemish that he tries to hide. The castle is going to have one room that has cracks in the walls or ceiling.

Just as, when I escape that completely destroyed and unmade landscape and go to somewhere virtually untouched, I will find a beer can or a shotgun shell. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is black or white. Everything has a touch of both. That's what makes it interesting.

July 16, 2011

From Rainy of the Dark: Blogging Etiquette

I'd like to welcome Rainy of the Dark. She is spinning out blog post to those of us with the blogs to host them. I really appreciate her visiting my tiny corner of the blogosphere and hope you will all check out her blog

Blogging Etiquette

While blogging tends to be a casual affair, there are certain guidelines which will make co-existing in the blogosphere that much easier. Simply keep these points in mind when dealing with other bloggers.

When allowed to guest post, at least offer a suggestion or two for a topic. As the writer, you should know what areas you're comfortable writing in, what ideas you have brewing, and what you have written about in the past. Go over to the host blog and see what type of topics are discussed and the average length of the posts. Ask the host about their audience.

Put at least as much effort into the guest post as you would with your own blog. Write properly, break paragraphs into approximately five sentences each, and make it easy to read. Be informative. A post all about your project, even if allowed, isn't as great as one with information useful to the audience.

Once the article is posted, check back often in the first week to reply any comments. Keep on topic with the comments and don't try to “sell” to the replies. This blog belongs to someone else. Respect that.

When it's done, offer the host to guest post on your own blog if possible. They may not accept, but it's a nice gesture. And if they do accept, then you have a chance to further network.

Blog rolling is also a great way to network, but certain etiquette apply there as well. When approaching someone to blog roll, check their current blog roll first to see who they have already added. Some blogs try to stick to a niche. Others might blog roll with only one type of blog, such as just author blogs or just book review blogs.

Don't be offended it they decline or don't reply at all. Many bloggers use their blog roll for blogs they normally follow, or they feel covers an angle that is useful to their audience. Sometimes your blog just isn't right for them. It's probably not anything personal.

When commenting on another blog, always be genuine. Have something useful to contribute. Bloggers are onto those who comment only to get a link to their own blog. Don't do it. Like it or not, it's a form of spamming and you will not make allies that way.

The next two tips are less to do with how to behave when visiting a blog, but how to behave outside of blogs.

If you participate in a blog, whether as a guest or a co-author, be sure to share the link to your post. Don't leave all the promotion work up to the host or other authors. You have a network. Share with them the other places you contribute. Remember, both guest posting and co-authoring is a collaborative promotional effort.

On a similar note, share interesting posts from other blogs, in general. Blogging is not a competition. People read many blogs, so there's no need to feel like you need to monopolize the time of your readers. Point them to other articles they might enjoy. They'll be grateful to you—and your blog—for helping them out. And other bloggers might feel inclined to help you out at some point too.

Blogging is a great way to network, but it can also be a great way to annoy people. Many times, this happens entirely by accident by those who don't know how it really works or why what they're doing isn't appreciated. Take steps to correct bad blogging habits and become a more functional member of the blogging community.

What other blogging etiquette tips would you add?

When Rainy isn't plotting world domination, she enjoys coaching others about it on her blog She also likes fluffy kittens.

July 13, 2011

Up too Late

My daughter and I are sharing a problem these days. We're staying up too late. We're both hurting in the morning. It's a compounding problem. She is four. Her bedtime is eight. It used to be, we'd tuck her in bed at eight, read her a story for fifteen minutes, then she'd read to herself for another fifteen minutes, maybe a half hour, there'd be a round of water/potty/tuck/music box/what else can I get Mom and Dad to do, but she'd be asleep by Nine. No longer. I've tried getting her in bed at eight and she's resistant. When I convince her to do so, she's still reading/playing with stuffies at nine and nine-thirty.

So... maybe eight isn't working as a bedtime. I try doing story-time at eight-thirty, quarter to nine, she plays/reads and should still be getting to sleep around nine, quarter after nine. Nope. She's staying up until ten, ten-thirty. This is a problem. That's MY bedtime. I used to ritualistically shut things down at ten-thirty, give myself ten to twenty minutes in bed to unwind with a game or a book and then konk well before eleven. Now, at ten thirty, I'm still getting, "will you tuck me in?"

Have you read/heard Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach? There is a man who knows what I'm talking about. Now I'm staying up later, missing my usual one or two hours of quiet writing time (which is now filled with story and multiple request hour) so I'm staying up later to try to finish what I've set for myself to do. Like this blog post. I should have written this earlier today, or a little later, once Delilah is in bed. Except I know I'm not going to get that hour.

Daughter stays up later, not going to sleep.
Mom stays up later trying to get stuff done.
Dad stays up later waiting for Mom to come to bed.
No one wakes up well or on time in the morning.

Last week was a vacation week. I let Delilah stay up later. I encouraged her to stay up as late as she liked and woke her up relatively early. My plan was to have her exhausted and ready to go to sleep Sunday night for dayhome. Well, that part worked - Monday wasn't too bad. Monday night was not good. Last night was bad. Tonight... I'm writing my blog post in anticipation of another hour of story/multiple requests.

What is the moral of my story? Please tell me... I'm a little sleep deprived and think I missed it.

Oh, right. Make a schedule. Stick to a schedule. Don't let the schedule go. Some kids cannot live without a schedule. Mine isn't one of those, she's pretty flexible, but in general all kids do better ON a schedule.

My writing has gone off schedule. My book released when I wasn't quite expecting it. There are aspects that are still not quite running properly (namely it's not in the major bookstore here). I'm wanting to set up some sort of promotion, but summer is a terrible time. I'm trying to write too many things in too many directions. I'm overwhelmed. Why? Because I went off the schedule.

Now. It's twenty minutes past Delilah's bedtime. That's a lot closer to on schedule. Tomorrow, I have work, so I won't be doing writing, but I do have a couple small tasks set for lunch/coffee breaks (emailing, calling, ordering). Tomorrow night, I'm making a schedule.

It may or may not include a new serial which I hope to eventually update weekly. I used to post fanfiction chapters twice a week. I'd love to get back up to that speed again, but with the publishing details taking up so much of my 'writing' time, it's not going to happen.

Finally, I'm going to get a guest in.

Yep, that's me, making room in the schedule. Saturday, Rainy's post will be here in place of mine. Then, on Wednesday, I'll be back, from Fort McMurray, with a blog post. It might be about mosquitos - we'll see how bad they are.

July 11, 2011

End of Vacation

You probably wouldn't know it, but I was on vacation this past week. We didn't go anywhere, and Delilah was in dayhome for Monday - Wednesday, but we were on vacation. Allen and I got a lot done around the house, our patio has furniture, burnt out light bulbs were replaced, Allen got a new side bar to rearrange his desk (the shelves are Ivar - I love Ikea) and actual chairs for our sitting room. We repaired a leak in the eavestroughing and enjoyed the ability to lounge in bed and be a married couple without kid for a few hours a day.

Thursday, the fun began. We took Delilah to enjoy some of our favourite things around Edmonton, many of which she'd never seen before, Fort Edmonton, a U-pick farm for Strawberries, Jurassic Forest. (Okay, sadly we didn't get to do that last one. We went to Morinville to meet up with Grandma and Grandpa and the wind and rain were way too much to endure.)

Things started falling down on the weekend. I hadn't been sleeping very well and woke up Sunday exhausted. I'd spent all of Saturday running from one thing to the next, stayed up too late with a little girl who wouldn't sleep, and woke feeling like my head was stuffed with cotton. I could breathe fine, but my brain just refused to fire. We had plans to take Delilah to see Cars 2 as the weather was still less than fabulous, but got there late and the show sold out. We made it up to her by letting her pick out a movie to buy (Finding Nemo as it turned out, so Pixar still gets their money ;) then absconded to my office, leaving Daddy to deal with daughter while I tried to get my head functional and some of the many things I wanted to do done.

Sadly, it wasn't work on a publishable manuscript, sorry. There's a new contest in the Twilight fandom called The Canon Tour. To those of you familiar with fanfiction, but not with Twilight fanfiction, this might seem a little odd. In almost any other 'verse, writers keep to the rules. If you want to tell a story about Inara from Firefly, you talk about the Companion house and lifestyle, you don't stick her in the porn industry of LA. If you write Harry Potter fanfiction, you don't put him in an american High School, he's still a wizard at Hogwarts. Well, Twilight Fanfiction writers, apparently, never got that memo. They make the vampires human, change their ages and give them careers, pair them up with anyone they like... I'm not saying it's a bad thing. With the sheer VOLUME of Twilight fanfiction out there, I think it would exhaust the pieces Stephenie Meyer left them to play with (on the other hand, there is a LOT of HP fanfiction...).

Regardless! My point is that not all or even the majority of Twilight Fanfiction includes Vampires and Werewolves that follow the characteristics Meyer gave them. So one brave woman opened a contest to bring more of them to the forefront.

I have written approximately six pieces of fanfiction that are AH (all human, completely disregarding the story as established in the books). For reference, that's about 10% of my fanfiction, a little less. I got into fanfiction to write the scenes and stories that only got brief mention in the books, to explore alternate scenarios where someone made a different choice. To me, that was what fanfiction was for and so that's what I wrote. When I saw the contest, I wanted to support it. I didn't expect to get completely sidetracked by the story I chose. Full possession by the characters. 11K in two days. Yeesh. At least I'd already gotten a few hundred words of Cargon's sequel written at the in-laws'.

Speaking of Cargon, and finally bringing my post back to the big news. Signed copies are now available! Go ahead and buy me out. I'll order more! :D

PS: I need a beta for that piece if anyone is willing or interested. Thanks!

Now, Monday not only means the end of vacation, but that I NEED to get to work. *sigh*

July 6, 2011

Can't Get It Right

I blame my ignorance, but only have myself to blame for not getting the information I needed. Throughout my publishing process I've been timid, reluctant. When I was offered a contract, I didn't say anything until the contract arrived, afraid of jinxing it. When I had a contract, I didn't have a release date, and that was everyone's favourite question to ask. Now I have a 'partial' release. The book is available, but it hasn't passed through the distributor. Also, I haven't gotten my end up and running so I can sell signed copies from home.
I have set up facebook pages for my book and myself, but have stumbled in trying to make them anything more than the templates provide. Several people have helped me spread the word through twitter, but I've had to back off major announcements while I wait for availability. I'm left wishing I hadn't said anything to anyone. Maybe I should have just waited until September and started everything then, when the book was well and truly released, when it was available everywhere, I hope, when I could have put together things to help launch it.
That latter, I have nothing. Am I just unimaginative? I look at book videos and merchandise and think, what can I do like that? And nothing comes to mind. Perhaps it's me. I think, "book." As a consumer, that's all I'm looking for, the book. I have this blog, but it's more about me than about my book. (Although, as you might have noticed, a lot of my time and attention is going to writing.)
Overall, I think I get an F in self-promotion. I can't get it right. I can tell my friends and family, and get pats on the back, but I just can't roll this ball. There are lots of resources out there. I've read blogs, but I'll admit to being overly-frugal and not buying the books that would help me. See, my own fault. I also suffer from a lack of desire. I don't want to sell me. I don't even really want to sell my book. I want to share my book. I want people to know that there's this really cool story out there about a girl who plays her way into a better life that isn't a better life. I don't want to cram it down people's throats. I don't want to stand on a soapbox and shout until I'm hoarse. I don't want to be gimmicky or kitchy or anything like that. I wrote a book. I want people to enjoy it.
I just can't get it right.

July 4, 2011

Keeping Up To Date

I need to stay in the habit of posting on my blog! I don't have a lot of news from my end of the world. I just started a week of vacation to be spent at home. That's very good as today I woke up feeling like my head had been put through a grinder. I'm still not feeling up to snuff, but I'm out of bed, Yay!

Someone who does have a bunch of news is Jennifer Barry. Her book Side Effects has a cover and a video! Click that link for her blog and check them out.

We're one step closer to having signed copies of Cargon available for sale. Allen has the PayPal link all set up on my basic homepage. Unfortunately it is not including the cost of shipping. So, for now, I have the basic addition for shipping in Canada and the US for single copies. However, because international customers just get the Canadian rate... I've had to take the button down again. If you plan on ordering more than one or live somewhere outside North America, please email me and let me know ( I'll figure something out. In the meantime, we'll try to get this thing working. It seems American PayPal customers get a nice built-in shipping calculator, but Canucks have to flat-rate it, and we'd have to do that for each currency... it's looking like a mess really. We're unimpressed. Anyone with experience selling and shipping through Paypal who does NOT live in the US, I'd love to hear from you. Comments or email.

My daughter is feeling independent. Ideal for Independence and Dominion days (that's Canada day, for those who didn't know), but not ideal for parents who just want her to go to sleep, or eat her supper, or clean up her toys. We've had more than one blow out this weekend where she was 'asked' to go to her room and think about what she'd said/done. Yay for four year-olds! Big enough to think for themselves, but too small to let them run wild and learn from their own mistakes. Oh, trust me, she learning some from mistakes, but not the 'I'm going to run away from mom and dad into the street' kind. Fine line.

Okay, off to start puzzling out shipping rates.

June 29, 2011

Slight Delay

The first time down any road you are likely to find more bumps than road. Publishing my first novel has not been THAT bad, thankfully, but I am learning along with my Publisher, Martin Sisters Publishing, as I'm their first novel as well. They have knowledge and experience in the publishing world that is invaluable to me, but I'm the first novel that they've taken through the process on their own. It's inevitable that we'll find some snags.
We just found one.
Turns out you 'can't' order my book at your local bookstore... yet. It takes time for the distributor to update their systems and share that update with all the stores they distribute to. Martin Sisters Publishing does distribute through Ingram, one of the biggest distributors of books out there, and that means that my book will be available easily to almost everyone, but it isn't, yet. Just as I was surprised to find my book up on google books, I'm surprised to find it not in the system of the store I normally order through ( Now I know why and I know that it's just a matter of time, a few more weeks, until it IS in those systems. Suddenly, my slight disappointment at booking a signing so far in advance (September) is actually relief. The store WILL be able to order in copies and fans WILL be able to come back and ask for my book and FIND it!
*sigh of relief*
So, if you're looking to purchase Cargon in your hometown and wondering why it isn't there yet, that's why. I'll post another announcement when it IS listed with and/or Barnes&Noble and/or Border, et al.

I'm also sad to say you can't order signed copies yet. All members of this house are suffering from a sinus cold, so my techie husband hasn't put the finishing touches on that webpage yet. I'm sure it won't be much longer. It was well on it's way the last time any of us felt good (Friday?). That link will be on the left with the Cargon info.

*cough cough* I'm going to go make some tea now. *cough, sniffle*

June 22, 2011

Press Release

Rather than write my own post, I thought I'd share the press release that Martin Sisters is distributing.


For Edmonton’s Kimberly Gould, being a wife, mother and working as an environmental consultant didn’t quite fill her 24-hour day. The 34-year-old Medicine Hat native has busied herself with creative endeavors through writing with successful results. Just a few short months ago the University of Alberta alumna was offered and accepted a publishing contract for her first novel.

“Cargon, Honour & Privilege,” was released by United States-based Martin Sisters Publishing, LLC in mid June. Since then, Gould has been looking forward to several book-launching events in and around Edmonton as well as her hometown of Medicine Hat, where she is remembered as Kimberly Dell.

The novel, which was created from a dream Gould had about a girl playing a game called Cargon repeatedly with her life wagered on every move, is a look into the future of humanity in a place where life is technologically more simple but socially more complicated. Eve, a clever young woman takes a risk and plays the game that will redirect her life as well as the lives around her. “Cargon, Honour & Privilege,” is set in a future Earth where all technology has ceased to function.
Gould, true to her environmental ideals, hopes Cargon will give readers a glimpse into a future unknown.

“I hope readers will take a moment to wonder what would happen if all our wonderful gadgets stopped working, if we no longer had printed books, if our children continued to take power – electrical power for granted ,” Gould said. “I hope they will question their place in society and consider trying to reach beyond expectations.”

Gould knew at an early age, growing up in Medicine Hat, she wanted to write and even began writing a first novel in the tenth grade. Like most, whose dreams are given up to achieve more lucrative endeavors, she abandoned it during her sophomore year while at University. After a while, she could no longer quell her yearning to be a novelist, so in 2009 she sat down to put that dream on paper once again.
While finding a publisher is difficult for any new writer, through a series of connections and what she refers to “as a stroke of good luck,” found Martin Sisters Publishing.

“I had been rejected by a number of agents and hadn’t submitted to any publishers,” Gould said. “I had entered a writing contest and won – the contest coordinator suggested that I submit to Martin Sisters Publishing and after browsing their Web site, I thought she was right.”

Gould’s debut is certainly a milestone in her budding career as a novelist but she’s only getting started. Her next novel has already been accepted by Martin Sisters Publishing and they’re hoping to see a sequel to Cargon, Honour & Privilege.
For other aspiring writers, Gould gives simple but valuable advice. “Let people read what you write. If you keep it all to yourself, the rest of us lose out.”
Gould lives in Edmonton with her husband Allen and daughter Delilah. She credits them for giving her the time and strength to pursue her love of writing. Print and e-versions of “Cargon, Honour & Privilege,” can be found at and and can also be ordered through most retail bookstores.

To learn more about Gould’s work or to find out when she will be bringing “Cargon, Honour & Privilege” to a venue near you, visit her Web site at or her publisher’s Web site

How cool. :) Oh, and the link to Amazon there is for the Kindle version. THIS is the paper copy. I will eventually get something on my website for purchasing signed copies, but until I HAVE my copies, I figure I have time to figure it out. Or, rather, to let that awesome techie hubs of mine figure it out. Also cool? My first review on Amazon. :) It's a good one not a bad one. I expect those will follow... Not too soon, I hope.

June 16, 2011


I suffer from anxiety. Lately I've been feeling like anytime one thing goes wrong, everything is crashing. I couldn't add an FBML page to my new Facebook page. Then it took four tries to send out a recommendation to my Facebook friends and family. Now I'm going to have to wait longer for my copies of my novel to arrive because Canada Post is on strike. Finally, something that is absolutely not my fault (unless I can take responsibility for their benefits package... nope, not my department). It's not the end of the world, it just FEELS like it is. It's an awful feeling and all too familiar to me. I want to hide and scream and cry. I'm afraid to do anything.

I'm trying to work through it, as I often do, but after a while, if I haven't found some relief, I will go back to bed. It's safe there. I just wind up regretting the fact that I wasted the day. That leads to hating myself. So I'll beat myself up for the rest of the day, go to bed angry and if I'm unlucky, do the same thing the next day. I've ridden these cycles for years. Sometimes they're harder to break than others. I count on my husband to talk me down from the ledge, or out of bed. He reminds me that I haven't ruined my daughter's life, that my book will sell just as well next week as this week, that life goes on and a few hours consoling myself is a small price.

I love my husband.

I've been on a few different medications to help me deal with my depression and anxiety, and usually they work. When they don't, I know. Usually very quickly.
Not sure why I'm sharing this with all of you, except that I know there are quite a few who suffer with me. Is stress getting the better of you? How do you cope? Where do you turn?

June 13, 2011

Unexpected Release

Ah, the joy of clicking buttons. That's what my publisher did, and look at that, there's my book on Google Books (first two chapters) and Amazon (Kindle version only). I've been told the print copies are taking a little longer to work through the system but should be up soon. I couldn't wait to share, though! I hope you enjoy my first published novel. Click that button below. Share your thoughts on the excerpt with me.

June FlashFiction Challenge - Haley Whitehall

Haley has a monthly flash fiction challenge, and rather than post in her comments, as I did the last two times, I'm posting on my blog instead. Hopefully some of her traffic will like it here and stay a while. If not, well, enjoy the piece.

Actions Speak Loudly

She folded her arms beneath her breasts, her lips twisting slightly in a grimace. His eyes immediately went to her cleavage, an action that wasn't likely to improve her mood. He lifted them quickly, hoping not to get caught. He wasn't. Still, he needed to do something to diffuse the ticking bomb across from him.

He knew he couldn't say anything to make it better. He'd done wrong, even if only through neglect, and no excuse would suffice. She wasn't raging, tapping her foot impatiently, instead. She was willing to listen, if he could think of anything to say.

He couldn't. All his excuses were just that, excuses. Maybe... maybe he could do what she was -- tell her without words, without speaking, that he was sorry, that he wouldn't make such a stupid mistake again, that he didn't want her mad at him.

His eyes passed over her raised breasts again. Stupid. He was going to get caught that way. Closing his eyes to prevent any repeat offenses, he stepped blindly toward her, hanging his head in shame. Her scent was closer now, clearer, her shampoo and bodywash familiar. His hands went to her hips, holding her but not pulling her nearer. He dropped his head further until it touched hers, only then opening his eyes. They gazed directly into hers. He hoped she could see his remorse, his wish to make things better.

She sighed and dropped her arms, snugging them around his waist and putting her head to his chest. Sometimes, it was easier without words.

June 12, 2011

Love Contest, from Gabriella Lessa

This post is for a contest hosted by An Aspiring Writer's World. Please read the other entries! Each is from a completed manuscript.

After reading the others, I see most included a bit of context; I'll do the same. George is Daphne's father. He has been searching for James, the man who abused and then raped his daughter. Lila is his latest victim, and one George now feels responsible for.

Name: Kimberly Gould
Title: Thickness of Blood
Genre: Literary Fiction
Entry word count: 469
Manuscript word count: 64000
Link number: 17

“Do you... Do you know what you plan to do now, Lila?”

She felt her throat tighten. He knew she wasn’t going home, but she hadn’t told him she couldn’t. The truth was that she had no idea what to do next. She had a vague idea to go to another city, maybe as far as Nashville, and try to find work. That would mean living in the street, not the hardest thing at this time of year, she expected, but she didn’t have the faintest idea how or where to start. She’d never
had to take care of herself before.

“No,” she answered honestly, breaking eye contact to look at and finger her toast. “I thought I’d go... somewhere else. Start new.”

His smile, soft before, broadened now. “I think that’s a good idea. Are you particular where you go?” The smile slid a little, something else in his eyes now, worry? Fear?

She shook her head. “No. My first thought was Nashville, but I’m not picky at all. I can’t go to family anywhere,” she muttered, picking up the toast again. Her eyes met his. “You know, don’t you?”

“About a possible baby?” he said, cocking his head to one side. “About being kicked out of your house? Yes, Lila. Grace gets word fast, and she heard that this was likely to happen, if...” he broke off. Smile gone completely now, a growl entered his voice, “If James had touched you. I swear, Lila, if I had known this would happen...” He covered his eyes with one of his hands and his broad shoulders slumped.

He’d only been kind to her, this strange man. Showing her more care and love than anyone she had known before, she felt the overwhelming need to comfort him now. She stood, her chair scraping on the wood floor, and rounded the table to put her arms around his shoulders, hands barely meeting on the far one. He lifted one hand to touch her elbow, and she thought she heard him sob.

“George?” she asked. She had never seen a man cry before.

“He got you, Lila. I shouldn’t have been the only one looking for him. If I’d told someone...” he cried again, and this time Lila saw the tear fall.

“He didn’t hurt me, George. He just left me,” she tried to explain.

“Lila, you didn’t want what he did to you, did you?” he asked, turning those sorrowful eyes to her. “You didn’t chase him, did you?” His lip trembled a little.

Her throat caught, remember that first day, a year ago now. He had definitely been chasing. “No,” she answered in a whisper.

George’s chair scraped as he pushed it out from the table. He put an arm around her waist and hugged her back. “Neither did Daphne.”

June 7, 2011

Works in Progress

So, based on the advice of Kristin Lamb (I'm trusting her because, well, she gives us writers advice and has examples of people benefiting from it.) I am NOT going to write about writing. Well, that's entirely false. I'm not going to write about the process of writing. I'm not going to talk about critiquing... actually I am. I'm not going to talk about plotting... except that I am. Okay! How about instead of telling you what I'm not blogging about, I tell you what I AM going to blog about.

I have several projects in the hopper so I thought I'd tell you about each of them and how they're coming along. That way, if you're not a writer but are just curious about reading what I write, you have an idea what you might see in the future. I thought that would probably interest my followers. If it does't, please leave a comment, tell me what you WOULD like me to blog about and I'll consider it.

Project #1: Cargon
This gets broken into parts A and B. Part A is mentioned in that little blurb on the left. It's my novel that will be published 'soon.' I hate not being able to give you a release date. The fact of the matter is, my publisher is a perfectionist. I'm not. If I were a perfectionist, I would have gone into Engineering instead of Environmental Science. When you're off by a decimal point on the average height of your tree, bridges don't fail. I don't have to be perfect for my job. I'm just damned good. But! This is the first publication for Martin Sisters Publishing so I can understand why they want to make sure it is top-notch. (Just makes me wonder if they are sure they want ME to be their first book... They do? Sweet!) That means endless proofing and revision. I sent back a set of galley pages with a total of 8 comments, one of which was that the last two pages were duplicated. Another was that the commas in the sentence had gotten placed wrong. However, I've been informed that I will have another copy to review. Good thing I like reading my own writing. I will admit though, after the fourth read in three months, Cargon loses a little luster. I recommend only reading it twice in that time. *snort*
Part B is the sequel to Cargon: Honour & Priviledge. This is your warning: It doesn't end happily. Okay? You got that? Don't read it expecting happily ever after, it's not at the end of this book. There will be a sequel and there will be a happy ending (maybe not that epic lollipops and puppies, but happy!). As anyone who has read my fanfiction knows, I stand by reasonably happy endings. Everyone needs to have at least something to look forward to in forever, otherwise I drop-kicked my characters and my readers for nothing. I won't do that to you, promise. Part B is underway. Where the sequel started was obvious from the end of the first book, what wasn't obvious was how it would end. So, with help from the lovely Miranda Gammella, over the last week I have found my ending! Now I can properly plot out how to get there, what else will get tangled along the way, bring back everyone's favourite secondary characters (okay, MY favourite secondary characters) and tie a neat bow in that. If you've been following my blog, you already know I'm NOT an outliner. However, I was really lost on this piece and that skeleton of an outline is going to give me the support I need to push forward. Currently, I have about 30K so whether it will be one more book or two, I'm still not certain. It could easily go either way. Suggestions? Trilogy better than duet? I kind like keeping it short.

Project #2: Thickness of Blood
This started as a picture prompt for a fanfiction contest. I wrote 1000 words on a picture of a girl with scraped knees. In that she was assaulted by an older boy but intrigued by him at the same time. She didn't tell anyone about it and in fact obeyed his 'order' to touch herself in bed that night. Pretty DARK. In fact, I never entered it in the contest. Instead, it brewed in my head until a previous victim revealed herself. That was in September and I made a point of not writing any more about it until November, making it my NaNoWriMo novel. After a round of self edits, my current publisher looked at it, liked it, but suggested adding a third victim. After large rewrites I've given the manuscript to several people, including Miranda Gammella. (Think I use her a lot? Yeah, I do. She's awesome. She reads all my PicPrompts before they post as well.) She is my fourth pre-reader and I intend to do some serious line edits to the piece before sending it back to Martin Sisters.

Project #3: The Girl That Haunts Me (working title, thanks W.E. Linde for reminding me of it.)
I STILL don't have a good title for this piece. The premise is, a boy in high school discovers that his pre-school friend, who died in the same accident as the boy's parents, has been living vicariously through him. When his family moves for the first time, the ghost is dislodged and begins to actively haunt him. While trying to keep the ghost happy, not to draw too much attention to himself, and make new friends, one of whom can see his ghost, he searches for a way to resolve things for her. This one is almost done the first draft - only a few connecting scenes to be written/finished. It's short though, around 40K, although I might find things I need to add in second draft. I haven't started recruiting pre-readers for this one yet, so if you'd like a look at the first draft and give me tips for the second, comment and let me know! I need to thank Haley Whitehall here for her help in moving this one over a hump about a month ago.

Project #4: Dark Fantasy (working title)
This is a new one. I've written a short story for a fantasy contest and had three pre-readers and a beta. The single short is one of three I've written so far, following a human and his escape from the ranch where he is set to breed with females for the Manticores and Basilisks that feed from them. The other two ruling 'monsters' are the Gryphons and the Unicorns. Neither of these approve of the methods used and are prepared to intervene when they discover that the humans are more than a little intelligent and understand what is being done to them. The first escaped human, before intervention gets off the ground, is sent to the meeting where the new head of the 'monster' ruling council takes place and the Powers that Be (Celestial) choose the human. After their release and generations of invention and innovations, the humans are taking their turn hunting the monsters, using weapons and fire to combat magic. In my head the arc is pretty huge. It may or may not coalesce.

And that's what I'm working on. Next blog, something even less about writing. I'll probably share a little more of my day job with you. It's rather unique.

June 5, 2011

Field Season

This month is going to be busy. I'm out of town three of the four weeks this month, beginning today. This evening, my co-workers and I will drive for five hours to Fort McMurray. We are an environmental consulting company and will be conducting research on Oil Sands sites there. It is more efficient to drive so that our vehicle and equipment are with us. However, it means a lot of time when I can't read (I get car sick) and can only occasionally write (same reason). I spend a lot of time pre-writing. This trip I will be exploring the sequel to Cargon, which I have begun, but haven't gotten far with.

Next week, I should be in town all week before rushing back up to McMurray for a week and then to Peace River (five hours northwest instead of northeast... same boreal forest). I expect some time this month, with my luck, while I'm out of town, to get word that my book is ready for release. I have sent back my final copy of the galley pages with the few errors I found (it's looking great!) as well as an interview-style form with information for a press release. It's all in Martin Sisters' hands right now, and I'm anxious to hear what will come next. I hope I can start booking signings and such for July and August, fitting them around other work trips and my sister's wedding.

I always get anxious during field season. Things go wrong. Equipment gets forgotten, site access gets revoked, schedules change. A trip where things go smoothly is almost unheard of, so I get nervous. I rarely sleep the night before a field trip. That wasn't a problem last night, thankfully. I zonked early! Tonight, however... well, I'll just have more time in my hotel room to work on other things.

I apologize for the personally indulgent blog post that probably doesn't give you much to think about or resonate with, but well, with the month I have ahead of me, it was this or nothing. I didn't want to post nothing. I like getting two posts up each week. I just don't have a lot of writing advice when my head is full of native plants, seeds, site restrictions, safety manuals, permits... You get the idea. My day job is filling my mind right now. As the work progresses, I will find more time to write and think about writing, but this is the start of the season, the most stressful point in my year.

Do you find yourself cycling? Do you have a season or month that is more stressful for you than others?

June 1, 2011

Love of Critique

I'm waiting on two readers to reply to different stories I sent to them. I can't wait to hear what they say, bad and good. One reason I hate to wait is because I LOVE those stories. I want to encorporate those suggestions, I want to improve what I have, evolve it, read it again myself and find changes no one else suggested.

The two pieces I'm waiting on are of very different lengths. One is short, 5k maximum for a contest. The other is long, a 60K novel. They are very different styles. One is high fantasy, filled with Manticores and Gryphons and Unicorns. The other is contemporary fiction, a family dealing with the sexual abuse of their eldest daughter by a classmate. And I have very different pre-readers! Miranda Gamella pre-reads all of my Picture Prompts and has read some of my fanfiction prior to posting. I've known her for over a year. Tammy Lee on the other hand, is a wonderful lady I met at the Get Publishing conference at the beginning of May and this is the first work of mine that she's read (as far as I know). Two very different stories with two different pre-readers and I'm excited for both!

I'm going to take a moment here to thank David Kirk, author of Particular Stones, who pre-read both for me. And apparently neither was of the sort he reads normally! Thank you so much, David!

Which brings me to the other thing I love about Critique, the ability to explore other genres, other styles, and other authors. I'm Workshopping a novel written by Alicia Golden, through Fictionista Workshops. Not only am I reading paranormal, not my usual free reading material, but I'm working with others to synthesize our critiques, giving Alicia even more information on exactly where we had problems with a given chapter. I hope to one day have a novel of mine worked on this intensely. It's great for showing me mistakes I make, similar to Alicia's, and tips on how to improve what I'm writing. Although I am quick to offer to pre-read or beta read almost anything, I seem to be in need of readers more often than I receive manuscripts. Please, keep me in mind if you need something read!

And now, the sad part of critique, which was pointed out by Amy Sundberg in the second of her 'backbone' posts, you can't accept every piece of advice you're given. It's true. Some people will suggest things that will completely destroy the story you're trying to tell, turn it into something else, possibly something you don't want. Sometimes the advice is simply jaded. They haven't read chapter six so they don't know why you need this exchange in chapter three. Sometimes its just out of date. I had one reader insist I needed a double space after every period, but then my publisher turned around and told me to take them all out. Current word processors increase the space after a period automatically. How did we know! Those too too smart processors. Sometimes the suggestions 'sanitize' your story. If your character speaks and thinks in fragments and you have a grammar nazi come through and tell you to fix them all, you're going to lose your character's voice or that you use known terms for things even though your created titles are part of the world you're building. Your world can lose its uniqueness.

It is sometimes hard to know which advice to take and which to ignore. I've found, in the critiques I've received, that there is always one of the suggestions given that I will implement. Usually there is at least one that I won't fully encorporate. It's why I love having more than one reader, more than one set of suggestions. I can make some changes, have another person read it, and see if the problem is caught again, or if I've ameliorated it enough that it no longer impedes the story.

Critique is such a wonderful tool and I am still sad that I didn't have more people read my soon to be published work before it reached the final stages. I wish I'd been less tentative and given it a wider audience, gotten more response. I'm sure what I have is fine, I have had a pair of editors work with me, but how much better if I'd had eight or ten? I will for the sequel, you can be sure.

Are you a fan of critiquing? Are you reluctant to let others read your work? How well do you know your pre-readers? Do you let family read your manuscripts?