My Very First Interview

Turns out, you don’t have to be famous to be interesting. Or even published.

Check out my very first author interview on The Author’s Voice.

Thank you to my colleague Dale Long for giving me this opportunity.

I’m Leaping

My loyal readers will notice it has been more than a month since my last posting. The astute among you will also notice that I stopped reporting progress in meeting my goal of two hundred pages in eight weeks. I can hear you thinking, “Surely, she hasn’t stopped so soon?!”

Well, that is exactly what happened. Not forever; this has only been a temporary interruption. But, while I am one hundred pages closer to my goal of completing the first draft, I did not fulfill my public commitment, and so I accept the cone of shame.

I have been forced to admit that, while twenty-five pages a week is an easy goal during the summer when I have no work or family commitments, trying to pull it off while working four days a week, ferrying kids back and forth to their various activities and dealing with a minor health issue of my own is unrealistic.

Truth be told, I’m stuck. I’m experiencing writer’s block; something I never encountered writing my first novel because I first wrote a detailed storyline which always kept me on track. This time, however, the storyline was inadequate and inspiration struck during the writing process. As a result, I completely abandoned my plan and don’t know where to go from here. I’m about three-quarters of the way through. I know how it ends. I just don’t know how to get there from here. What I do know is that if I force myself to sit down in front of the keyboard, I’ll figure it out. And that’s scary. It’s like standing at the open airplane door without knowing who packed your parachute. But there comes a time when you just have to take that leap…

Free at Last!

As most of you know, I fell and broke my leg back in June in a horrific mountain climbing accident. What? You don’t believe me? Okay, you forced it out of me. It was a motorcycle stunt gone wrong.

Hmmph. Fine. I fell off the front steps. Geesh, you’re pain. Okay, it was a patio stone. There. I broke my leg falling off a patio stone while I was completely sober. Are you happy?

Well, I’m happy because after spending eight weeks during record high temperatures stuck in a cast, I am free at last. No cast, no air boot. I’m free. I’ll be using the crutches for a while yet, until the leg regains its former strength, but I can now go swimming and, more importantly, wash that foot (ewww!).

Because I believe that there is something to be learned from every experience, and because I’ve always wanted to write a top ten list, here are the top ten things I learned from my broken leg:

No. 10

Less daydreaming and more watching where I’m going, especially when it’s dark out.

No. 9

You never realize how much you do until you can’t do it anymore.

No. 8

The world needs more full-service gas stations.

No. 7

My children have been holding out on me. They DO know how to wash dishes, pack school lunches and take out the garbage.

No. 6

Wheelchair stalls in public washrooms were designed by someone who has never had to use a wheelchair.

No. 5

Keeping a cast dry in the shower can be tricky.

No. 4

A wet cast takes forty-eight hours to dry, even with the help of a blow dryer.

No. 3

It is never a good idea to heft a wheelchair out of the trunk of your car while balancing on your one good leg.

No. 2

A good friend will: hoist you in and out of a chair and in and out of the car, threaten to hug you now that you’re helpless (but not actually do it), drive you to the emergency room in the middle of the night and sit with you as long as it takes, drive your car to you, make sure you make it home and help you into the house, babysit your children while you’re in the emergency room, drive your children to and from school, clean your kitchen, do your dishes, operate your coffee maker, take you to the bank and to the grocery store, recruit someone else to drive her to your house just to get you to the grocery store, take your daughter to hair and makeup appointments so she’ll look stunning at her graduation, haul you and the wheelchair around for an entire weekend, tease you mercilessly for being such a klutz and for complaining about your sore leg when she crashes you into a counter, fetch glasses of water, do your filing for you, carry stuff to and from your car, help you in and out of the office, drive you to the fracture clinic and the wheelchair rental store with your favourite radio station playing the whole way, babysit so you can go back to the fracture clinic, drive you to your writing group in his Mustang convertible with the top down, AND through it all respect your opinion that a broken limb is no excuse for rampant hugging (or any hugging at all for that matter).

And the Number 1 Thing I Learned from Having a Broken Leg:

I have GREAT friends. Thank you: Sue, James, Deepam, Theresa, Noelle, Dawn, Adele, Stephanie, Dale, Rae, Geri, Karin, Julie, Marina, Valerie, Susan, Sue, Lynda, Cathy, Scott and Mom. You guys are the best!

Week Four

I made it. Got my twenty-five @*!# pages done again. I have to admit I’ve been entertaining notions of sending the whole thing through the shredder (okay, hitting the delete button). I won’t do it, of course. But this week I had a severe attack of the lazies and wanted nothing more than to sit in front of the idiot box and knit all day every day. Without this public commitment to keep working, that is probably what I would have done.

I heard the first reference to this year’s NaNoWriMo today. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it stands for NAtional NOvel WRiting MOnth. Thirty days to produce a fifty thousand-word novel. Well, I’ve done about half that in the past twenty-eight days and am feeling a little wiped out. So let’s just say I’ve discovered a newfound respect for anybody who finishes NaNoWriMo. Good luck to all of this year’s participants.

I am now exactly at the halfway point of my eight week commitment. The grand total for the summer now stands at 100 pages, with 100 left to go (or completion of the first draft, whichever comes first).

Here’s what I’ve been working on this week (for clarification, Jamila and Steven are hearing; everyone else is deaf, but they all have different indigenous sign languages and so communicate with each other in International Sign Language – ISL):

I catch Steven’s attention and point south. “The road is that way.”

Steven points east. “Water.” He spreads his arms out.

“Do you remember what’s to the east of here?” I ask Rajendra.

“Another lake,” he says.

I point south and repeat, “the road is that way.”

Steven holds up one hand with thumb, index finger and pinky extended; the two middle fingers bent to the palm.

I can’t think of a response. Steven loves me? And he chooses now to tell me – in front of other people? I look to Rajendra and Marisol. Rajendra motions the other way. Marisol tilts her head toward Rajendra. I don’t think they understand the sign; it’s different in ISL.

Steven points to Jamila and repeats the same sign. Now I’m really confused. He loves Jamila? Jamila loves me? I shake my head.

Steven points to the sky, spreads his arms and runs in a circle. Oh! I form the same handshape, but orient it horizontally instead of vertically and fly it over my head. “Airplane.”

Steven nods and points to Jamila. “Airplane.”

I laugh. Steven furrows his brows.

I turn to Rajendra and Marisol. “I think we should go east. Jamila has an airplane.” Rajendra sees the wisdom in that line of reasoning.

Week Three

Another week, another twenty-five pages. I have to admit I’m starting to flag a bit and I found the third week much more challenging than the first two.

This puts my grand total for the summer at 75, and leaves 125 left to go (or completion of the first draft, whichever comes first).

Here’s what I’ve been working on this week:

                “Once you get to the town, you’ll be safe,” says Rajendra.

                “How do you figure that?” I say. “I was taken from a government facility with security tighter than this place.”

                “I trust you will figure something out. You have at most four nights, two is better.”

                “That’s not much time to prepare. We’ll need food, water.”

                “It must be done in that time. In two nights, the moon will be full. That gives you the most light possible. In five nights, it will be too dark again. If we wait until the next full moon, it will be too late for the child.”

                I take a deep breath. Two nights, four at the outside. “There’s one big problem,” I say, but I’m thinking there are about a hundred little ones. “Marisol still won’t leave without you.”

                “Then you must not tell her of the plan. When the time comes, tell her I have arranged to meet you on the mainland.”

                “Lie to her? She’ll never forgive me.”

                “She may not, but she will be alive and so will our child. Besides, it’s not a complete lie. If I can get out, I will and I will follow you. But you are not to wait for me. That brings me to my second condition for helping you.”

                “What’s that?”

                “You must succeed.”

Week Two

Two weeks into my eight week commitment and so far so good. I have completed the required twenty-five pages.

This puts my grand total for the summer at 50, and leaves 150 left to go (or completion of the first draft, whichever comes first).

I’m including an excerpt of what I’ve been working on this week:


The whole way back to my room, Lenny says nothing. He won’t even look at me. He shoves me through the door and follows me in. I stumble, but manage to find my footing. I turn to him and present my shackled wrists, raising my eyebrows.

He shoves his hands deeper into his pockets. His lips are a hard line and his eyes are bulging. A vein on his forehead throbs. His face is almost purple. My insides are jell-o, but I don’t flinch. I shake the cuffs at him.

His right hand wriggles under the fabric and I wait to be released. Instead, a fist connects with my face. Stars fill my vision. I go down hard on one knee and use my hands to keep from falling further. Blood drips from my nose. I staunch the blood with my sleeve before I push myself back up, favoring one leg.

“We could keep you drugged into a stupor. Is that what you want?”

Week One

The first week of my commitment is over and I have completed the required twenty-five pages.

This puts my grand total for the summer at 25, and leaves 175 left to go (or completion of the first draft, whichever comes first).

As proof that I have indeed been working, and not sitting by the pool sipping margaritas, I’m posting an excerpt:


I race to the bathroom to eject last night’s roast chicken. My hip itches. When I scratch at it, I notice a sore spot. I lower my slacks and twist my head around to see. There’s a bruise. I back up to look in the mirror. In the center of the bruise is a tiny puncture mark. I loosen my clothing and check the rest of my body. There are tiny red points on both inner elbows, as if someone drew blood. My hands tremble.

The dreams are real. I’ve been unnaturally tired since arriving here. Not during the day. It hits me all of a sudden after dinner. Somebody’s drugging me. Lenny. He brought me a glass of iced tea the first night. Last night, though, it was Rick. Why would he drug me? Unless Lenny gave him the tray and sent him to me. What are they doing to me? Why?

If the dreams of being examined and probed are real, maybe others are as well. Not the ones about the aliens in the ziggurat. Too far away. I gasp. The dream of Steven visiting me in the night. If that one was real, I could be… I place a hand on my abdomen. No. No way.

Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime

It’s finally here. My summer vacation. Five whole weeks without having to think about work. Well not too much, anyway. Being self-employed, I will have to go in and pay bills and catch up on the bookkeeping a couple of times, but that won’t amount to much.

My big plans for my holiday? Writing. I am committed to finishing the first draft of my second novel by the end of August. I have set myself a goal of twenty-five pages a week for not only the five weeks of my vacation, but also for the last three weeks of August. Meeting this goal will put the manuscript at approximately 355 pages, or 87,000 words. If I’m not finished by that point, I’ll be darn close.

The biggest problem for most writers, including myself, is staying motivated to keep the butt in the chair hour after hour. I am attempting to use this blog as my motivation. Every Sunday for the next eight weeks I will check in here and post an honest review of my progress and note how well (or not) I’ve met my goal. There’s nothing like the threat of public humiliation to counter the writing blah’s.

See you here next week with twenty-five new pages in hand.

… Then Again, Maybe Not

Eight days after posting an entry about whether or not I should publish independently, one of those seven agents I was sure I’d never hear from again requested my entire manuscript.

Well, actually, it was the agent’s assistant’s intern. But the point is, I have a foot in the door. And I’ve been told that the best way to get to an agent is through the assistant. Maybe the best way to get to the assistant is through the intern. And I can hope the intern has more time on her hands and can actually read the manuscript quickly and then sing its praises to her bosses.

Independent publishing is still an option. Realistically, however, it will take a year, if not longer, for me to be ready to publish my book. I should have a definite answer from the agent before then, at least I sincerely hope so. I would rather have an agent and a traditional publisher, but it never hurts to have a back-up plan.

Now the wait, and the work, begin…

Time to go Indie?

I run my own business, I’m a single mom by choice, I’ve travelled through Europe and North Africa by myself. The word ‘independence’ defines my life. Should I also be going this route when it comes to publishing my books?

Until a week ago, I would have said no way. Independent publishing might work for non-fiction or trade publications, but not for fiction. Never. Well, maybe one or two authors got lucky, like Brunonia Barry with The Lace Reader, but that was a fluke, right? No, it wasn’t. First of all, Ms. Barry went into self-publishing with a well thought out business plan. She also happens to be a gifted writer who produced a book people wanted to read. Secondly, it’s far from a one-time occurrence. Mark Twain, Zane Grey, Edgar Allen Poe and Virginia Woolf, among others, all self-published. James Joyce self-published Ulysses because no publisher would take it (personally, I’m with the publishers on this one, but apparently people who like that book do exist). Anne Rice came within a hair’s-breadth of self-publishing Interview with a Vampire because every publisher rejected it … except the very last one on the list.

I’m not at that last resort yet. I haven’t submitted to any publishers. But I have exhausted the list of agents who are accepting unsolicited submissions in the urban fantasy genre. Well, seven agents still have my query, so maybe I’ll still get lucky. But judging by my experience thus far, at least five of those won’t respond at all. I’ve submitted to a total of 33 agents and had only one request for more material. This means they are rejecting me without having read any of the book at all. Perhaps refining my pitch would help, but I’ve rewritten it twice, both times with the help of professionals.

The more I learn about traditional publishing, the more discouraged I get. A literary agent recently conducted a survey on her blog to find out who is writing what. 26% of those who responded were writing sci-fi/fantasy. She did some research and discovered that only 6% of books bought by publishers last year were sci-fi/fantasy. That means there are more than five times as many books being written in my genre than there are publishers willing to purchase them. Wow. Furthermore, if my first published work is urban fantasy, I will forever be an urban fantasy writer. That last bit of information has had me trying to push my current novel down a road it doesn’t want to go just so it has a chance of getting published on the heels of the first, or vice versa.

There are pro’s and con’s. Self-publishing gives a much bigger profit margin; however, there is a much lower sales potential. Self-publishing also means I have to do ALL the marketing, including getting the book into bookstores. Yikes. Luckily, I do belong to a supportive community of writers and there is always someone who has experience with every aspect of the business; however, it would still be up to me alone to do the work. It’s a big decision.

So I ask my writing colleagues now – what are your thoughts? Have you considered this for your novels?

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