May 2019

In my writing life

Can someone finish this novel for me? I got my first round of CP feedback and I have a ton of work to do, including some major restructuring issues to sort out. The novel is driving me in circles! The gothic novel is the most complicated thing I’ve written and I really didn’t stick the landing.

How do you know if you should keep going with a manuscript or if you should put it aside for a while? My measure is “Do I know how to fix it?” There have been times in the past where my answer has been no. Now that I have a bit more experience, I can look back and change that answer. Sometimes we’re just not ready for the books we’ve attempted to write, but that doesn’t mean never.

I’m SOOOO thankful for my CP’s Alechia, Katrina, and Stephanie – who give the best feedback. It’s hard to find people whose opinions you trust, and if they’re all saying the same thing, well, I’ve got to roll up my sleeves. I know what I have to do… I’ve just been avoiding it ;D

On my mind

Sometimes social media is too much. I’ve got a small demanding child, and a full time job apart from writing. There are a million things to do – always, and lately I’ve been finding it harder and harder just to keep up on Twitter and Instagram. Nope, I’m not going to disappear, but I’ve had to take a step back.

I have been thinking about the evolution of blogging, and how newsletters have replaced some of that niche for writers. I’ve been enjoying the long form lately, and toying with the format a little. One day I might transition this blog to some kind of newsletter (if I actually had news to share!), but I’m still mulling over what that might look like. I do like having my posts here, but I see the value of a mailing list as well. Still thinking about it.

Speaking of which…

My favourite newsletters

  • Dongwon Song – Agent’s tips for navigating the publishing industry. There’s the paid version (you get more) but you can also sign up for free and get the occasional letter.
  • Roshani Chokshi – Always so delightful! There’s so much personality in Rosh’s emails, and they never fail to make me smile.
  • Roni Loren – Makes me want to read and click all the things, plus there’s serious temptation for planner/jornaling nerds. It’s probably the most well branded newsletter on this list.
  • Janella Angeles – Very sweet and honest info from a soon to be debut.
  • Susan Dennard – They’re jam packed with so much helpful writing advice and business info. Susan doesn’t hold back with the realities of publishing. A must read for writers.


Journal, Writing Discussion

April 2019

I was at the Creative Ink Festival this past weekend and OH wow I’m exhausted. My voice is a little raw, but I had a great time.

I attended more panels on the business and research side of things this year, and I did speak on two panels: Writing Killer Openings, and Selling Short Stories.

This is my third time attending and speaking at the festival, but I still took a ton of notes amassed a bunch of conference going tips that of course I’ll share…

Something I tried:

Being prepared really helps calm the public speaking nerves. This is the first time I think I actually enjoyed the public speaking. It’s absolutely okay to have a cheat sheet even if you never look at it. The moderator for my first panel emailed us the questions she would ask before hand, which was super helpful because it made us look GOOD (and if you ever moderate a panel in the future, I would recommend doing this). For my second panel, I didn’t receive any questions, but I wrote down everything I could think of based on the panel description, and jotted notes as the other authors on the panel were speaking so I could speak to those points when it was my turn.

A tip I’m definitely going to steal from a co-panelist:

Write down everyone’s names as you sit down, so that you can address the other panelists by name if you have something to add (name cards usually face the audience).

Something to avoid:

This is not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a pet peeve of mine when speakers don’t actually offer any concrete advice when they’re talking about a subject. For example, they might explain a thing, but not how to do a thing. Maybe it’s my teacher training, but I always look for actionable information out of my panels. It’s one thing to say: the opening of a story needs to hook a reader. It’s another thing to say: Here are three things you can do to create an opening that hooks a reader.

Faking extroversion (totally doable): 

Introduce yourself to your fellow panelists before you speak. If you’re sitting in the audience, simply smiling and waving hi to anyone that sits nearby you is usually enough to start a conversation. If you don’t know what to say, it’s perfectly okay to ask “How’s the conference going for you?” or “Have you attended before or is this your first time?” Having some prepared conversation starters is a good tip. I dislike speaking about myself, and so I tend to ask a lot of questions instead of speaking about myself. “What genre do you write?” I choose low pressure things, because we’re almost all introverts.

Books and resources that were recommended over the weekend:

  • Rock Your Plot / Rock Your Revisions by Cathy Yardley
  • Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque
  • 5 Critical Things For Successful Book Signings by Adam Dreece
  • Cornell University Copyright Chart – Helpful if you want to check whether a work belongs to the public domain
  • The Lock Picking Lawyer & Bosnian Bill on Youtube for practical lock picking information (in case your characters ever need it)
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain (or search for “Scene and Sequel” for info on this plotting technique)

And now, I’m going to hide in my cave and not speak to anyone for a few days. 🙂