Friday, April 26, 2013

Please welcome Author Clive Eaton




How/why did you start to write?
Many years ago, and I really mean many, I saw a black and white movie based around the Pyramids in Egypt. It had an Indiana Jones feel to it with doors inside The Great Pyramid crashing shut, and trapping people inside. From that day forward I always held a fascination for the pyramids. Several decades later a German robotics engineer, together with a team of Egyptologists tried to ‘peek’ behind one of the doors at the end of a long shaft, which allegedly was protecting a secret chamber. All they eventually found was another door behind the first. I felt this had to be the start of a great adventure, so I wrote an outline, which eventually became The Pyramid Legacy

How did you choose your genre?
Once I had the germ of an idea it became quite a logical process. I wanted to write something which wasn’t easily pigeon-holed into one clear genre, but at its heart was thriller. Any sort of ‘rules’, in my mind, stifle creativity. I wanted a thriller, which also had an element of suspense, and I didn’t want to be restricted to the present day, or the past. So The Pyramid Legacy weaves its way through many different genres. It is sci-fi, it is a thriller, it has suspense, and it even has a romantic theme threading its way through the story. I also wanted the characters to be different from many other novels. My ‘hero’, Ben Anderson, wasn’t going to be the all-action, ex-special forces archetypal super-hero you read about in many thrillers. He was going to be the complete opposite. Ben is a totally reluctant hero, who is risk averse, and who has to really push himself outside of his comfort zone; a comfort zone which doesn’t extend very far. I also wanted my characters to occasionally enjoy some banter during the less serious elements of the story – something I feel is missing from many thrillers.

Where was it published?
The Pyramid Legacy is self-published, and is available both in paperback form and Kindle, via Amazon UK and US, and all other Amazon platforms across the globe.

How long ago?
It was launched in the middle of 2012.

What’s next?
I am already a long way into the sequel, which I’ve titled Operation Stonehenge.

Why a sequel?
During the extensive research I did for The Pyramid Legacy I came across some extremely interesting facts, which link The Great Pyramid to Stonehenge. Having been born only a few miles from Stonehenge it too has always held a special place in my heart. It was the perfect opportunity to create a novel around the relationship between these two iconic structures.

Please share one of your successful author marketing techniques
In my “day job” I deliver training courses in the area of business improvement, and one of the subjects covered, among many others, is marketing. So I have applied many of the concepts I teach in developing a marketing approach for my writing. My website has a blog which I have called ‘Marketing Tips for Authors’, where I share my thoughts and ideas with fellow authors.

Parting words – can you give us one example of what you mean?
OK, let me give just one simple example – setting up a Twitter account. If an author intends to write more than one book, don’t use the title of your first book as your Twitter handle. If you build a following of several thousand people, what are you going to do when the second book is ready to promote? Set up another Twitter account? That would be pointless. Choose carefully, and why shy away from using your own name. Use the characters Twitter allow to produce your bio wisely, and always put the word ‘author’ in in it. People use terms to link up with people. I get many new followers each day who clearly have similar interests to me. Avoid book covers as your Twitter image. What you need to do is build a brand . . . and that brand is you. When your favourite author publishes their next book the chances are you’ll buy it regardless of its title etc. The author is the brand. Choose a photograph of yourself you are happy with, and stick with it. I hate having my picture taken, so I use one my youngest daughter took of me in a restaurant whilst in Liechtenstein. It’s OK, and saves me having to sit in front of a camera. I use the same photograph on everything related to my writing. My website, Twitter, Facebook, this blog etc. Your photo is your logo. Use it to help build your own brand.

Links:



The Pyramid Legacy

A sci-fi plot twisting the fibres of history together with those of the future . . .

For over four millennia the Great Pyramid of Giza has guarded a secret image; until NOW!

The Great Pyramid of Giza, unlike most ancient Egyptian monuments, lacks one conspicuous feature: hieroglyphs. So when, for the first time in over four thousand years, a prominent young Egyptologist discovers the first engraving inside the Great Pyramid, why is he murdered by a senior colleague? The authorities are keen to cover it up, but they know they can’t achieve total closure whilst English robotics engineer, Ben Anderson, remains in possession of a powerful image. An image, which suggests the Great Pyramid at Giza was not built by ancient Egyptians.




Operation Stonehenge

The evidence is unquestionable. The architects of The Great Pyramid and Stonehenge were related!

So what does a ring of standing stones in Wiltshire, England, a pyramid in Egypt, a painting in a church located in a small village in France, and a remote location in Nevada have in common? The answer is simple, but the reason, well, that’s a totally different story.

Robotics engineer, Ben Anderson, is once again plunged into the deep end of a mystery which involves murder, cryptic puzzles and a frantic race against an ever faster ticking clock.

He needs to carefully thread the links together to enable him to find the missing elements of a long lost artefact. Failure is not an option, but success seems totally impossible. In this final throw of the dice, can the deadline be met? If it isn’t, the consequences are unthinkable.


Author Bio

Clive Eaton initially trained as an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force and worked on Vulcan bombers for a number of years.

He now works as a freelance international trainer in the area of business improvement, and his work has taken him to over 30 countries around the globe.

The Pyramid Legacy is his debut novel and the inspiration came when Egyptian authorities discovered a secret door inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Although nothing was actually found on that occasion it triggered a 'what if?' question, and from there the story developed. Clive is now writing the sequel, which will be titled "Operation Stonehenge".

The Pyramid Legacy was initially published as an e-book, but now is available as a paperback.

Clive lives in a very peaceful setting, with his wife Judy, in the heart of rural Norfolk, England, which he believes is an amazing place for getting in the right mood for writing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How I cope with the doubts.

Sarah Callender wrote this excellent article Getting Comfy with the Discomfort for the Writer Unboxed blog. At the end of the article, Sarah asked, How do you cope with times of doubt, with The Doubts and their very loud parties?
How do I?
Well, I was inspired. And started to write a reply. It didn't take me long to realize that what I was writing was too big to be a comment. It was, in fact, this post...


How do I cope with the doubt

What helps me is knowing that the only person who can end my writing career is me. As long as I keep reaching for my goal I will obtain it.

What helps me is knowing that my future success will be worth the wait. I know I will succeed so what I'm experiencing is the build up to the amazing climax.

What helps me is knowing that I need to develop, I need to mature before I experience life changing success. Waiting time helps me gain insight into how I will cope with the change.

What helps me is knowing that the Doubters are no match for me. Throughout my life I've had to work hard to overcome obstacles. So I know when I set my mind on a goal I can obtain it. It's only a matter of time...

***
Every writer should try their hand at poetry.
Why?
Poetry teaches you how to paint a picture with words. 
Poetry teaches you to cut out the fatty words.
Poetry teaches you...
A poet teaches you...
So You Want To Be A Writer by Charles Bukowski

***
Book launches...



E. R. Brown's new book Almost Criminal

Early reviews...
Rick Mofina (bestselling author of the Reed and Sydowski series):
E.R.Brown hits it out of the park – great characters and storytelling evocative of Elmore Leonard.

Robin Spano (author of the Clare Vengel Undercover series of novels):
ALMOST CRIMINAL is a wildly fun read. The concept is original, characters are vivid and fleshed-out, and the story surprised me at each turn, with its unlikely teen hero turning conventional morals upside down. E.R. Brown is an exciting addition to the Canadian crime scene.


visit E. R. Brown's website for more information.



Three Mayne Island children's authors...
Helen O'Brian , Lael Whitehead and Debbie Boules
are celebrating their new books
Saturday, April 27th
Agricultural Society Hall
4:30 pm
See you there







Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet A Canadian Designer by Leanne Dyck

This article was published in Knit Together:  the quarterly publication of Canadian Guild of Knitters (February, 2003).
Owner/Editor Cynthia MacDougall



I was born and raised in a peaceful little community in Manitoba's Interlake region. Eriksdale is where my love affair with knitting began--at my Grandma Olafson's side. Turning straw into gold was a spell my Grandma knew well. Her needles and love kept every member of her family warm from husband to children to grandchildren.

My early attempts to master knitting were frustrating. Thankfully Grandma was always there with supportive words and soon I was showing some signs of improvement. I later joined 4-H and won awards for my knitting. In my teens, I began playing with sweater design. 


I spent fourteen happy years as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE), working in rural Manitoba and later moving to Winnipeg. Eventually my husband and I moved to Greater Vancouver. Here I continued my work as an ECE and enrolled in the Open Learning Agency. My goal was to earn a degree in Social Work. ECEs are skilled at stretching the day care centre's budget. I did my part by designing and crafting toys much to the delight of the children in my care. 


Tragically my Mom (Olavia) began to lose her battle with breast cancer. I went back to Manitoba to be at her side. During this time I realized that I could no longer live in urban BC nor work with people. I simply had no more to give: I was tapped out. It was also during this time that I shared with my Mom my dream of running my own business. As always, she listened closely and encouraged me to visualize my dream. It was a stressful time, so to help me cope I turned to an old friend--knitting.


Shortly after Mom passed away my husband and I moved to a beautiful island in the pacific. Mayne Island was where I opened and ran Olavia's Craft Supply. Situated between Vancouver Island and the mainland, Mayne Island is a great tourist destination. Its natural beauty inspires creativity.


Soon I was designing and knitting sweaters which were very positively received. Although Mayne Island's population swells in the summer, many a business suffers when things return to normal. Mine was no different and after two years, I was forced to close my store. What would I do now?


Knitting had always been my passion. Why not make it my future? On August 20, 2002 oknitting.com went live. 

Leanne Dyck is a creative knitter and writer whose designs are innovative and fun. Ed.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Yoga with Dove

I started taking yoga a year ago, last October. I'm not athletic. Well, let's be frank, I'm not coordinated   But I love yoga. I can't get enough, actually. You may think that's because of the body-mind connection. And you'd be right, in part. But I find the right instructor makes all the difference. We, on Mayne Island, are indeed fortunate. Dove is a knowledgeable, attentive and fun instructor. 



This photo was taken on the last day of a series of yoga classes that ended on Wednesday, April 17th. April 17th also happened to be Purple Day--hence all the purple. 

Last day. Last day? How disappointing is that? 

Yes. But there is a chance... If Dove receives enough interest she will be running another series of Yoga classes...
Starting on Wednesday May 8 and running consecutive Wednesdays until June 19th 
9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Cost is on a sliding scale:  Full series:  $70 to 95, drop-in:  $12 to 15.
Series theme:  7 Spiritual Laws of Success (Deepak Chopra)

Please save me from a summer without Yoga. Please act fast. Dove needs to hear from you by Wednesday, April 24th.
Thank you,
Leanne
***
Now I'm going to spend the rest of the day with my mother...earth.
Happy Earth Day
Walk gently and carry a garbag bag and a camera. : )
***
Next post:  How I cope with the doubts

Friday, April 19, 2013

Please welcome Author Melodie Ramone



How/why did you start to write?

I started writing before I could actually write. The first poem that ever spilled from me spilled when I was only four years old. I still remember it word for word. I have no idea why, but I do. Beyond that, I wasn’t the kind of kid who was outside digging in the dirt much, I was always playing quiet pretend, making up stories and sending my toys on missions and adventures. Writing, even then, without words.

How did you become an author?

Quite by accident! When I was in sixth grade writing a short story became part of a lesson in school. Everybody had to do it, most moaned and groaned, but I relished in it. I must have done a good job because my teacher submitted it for publication and it was accepted.

What was your first published piece?

As I mentioned before, a story I wrote as a piece of schoolwork when I was twelve. It was called JC Collins, and it was the tale of a thirteen year old mute girl who ended up caught in a classroom when her school caught on fire. The story detailed her harrowing escape. 

Where was it published?

That story ultimately was published in a few different places. My teacher thought so much of it that she submitted it to a literary magazine for students nationwide and it was published in their annual Excellence edition. Then, the same teacher entered it into a contest, which I won, and I got published again in several newspapers. It was pretty exciting stuff! I was hooked!
  
How long ago?

Dare I date myself? First publication date was 1984. I never quit writing, so I’ve been published since…thank goodness! Whew!

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I’ve always written. Well, mostly always. There was a short period of time in my twenties when I felt discouraged and stopped. Big mistake. A writer should never give up that creative outlet. It leads to a rotten, negative state of mind. During the time I didn’t write, I did lots of silly things. I was a nurse’s assistant, a customer service rep, a waitress, a phone operator, an Emergency Medical Tech. I also moonlighted as a receptionist and a gas station attendant and a dental assistant. Oh, and I went to college, too.

I think anything is an asset to a writing career. Going to the supermarket can be an asset to a writing career if you allow the experience to settle in and use it later in a book.  Any little thing, from the frustration gained by suppressing an urge to slap the crap out of somebody on the other side of a cash register, to dealing with people in general, and especially high stress moments like pulling somebody out of an crumpled car after an accident, leave imprints on your mind you can use later in a story. As long as they don’t leave you, you can draw on them later. Sometimes, when you’re not aware of it happening, and, especially, sometimes, if you’re not even trying.

What inspires you?

Beauty inspires me. It can be anything. A poem, a melody in a song. A snippet of a lyric, a cloud passing in the sky. I’m inspired by colors and scents and moments suspended in my mind, caught in time, waiting for me to put them on paper.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

The most important thing that any author can do is to touch people. Not just their readers, but their fellow authors as well. Reading and writing are obviously intertwined, you can’t have one without the other, and they’re never-ending as well. Never, ever, will a person finish a book and say, “I am completely fulfilled! I shall never read another!” Readers read and writers write, so, in my mind, there is no competition amongst writers, and no reason why we should not help and support one another. Especially in the Indie World of publishing.

So, the most successful author platform anybody can have is to have friends. Lots of them. Make friends in the community and support those friends. Talk about their work as well as your own. Read it. Get to know them and build up a strong community all your own. Advertising is in the eyes and out of mind when the website is changed. But the word of somebody who knows you suggesting your book to somebody they know is priceless and personal. Be real about it. Make connections, make friends. You’ll see success begin to happen.

Parting words

Publishing, whether it’s traditional or Indie, is a tough egg to crack. You can do it. You were strong and brave enough to put your soul onto paper for all to see, you’re strong and brave enough to endure the pitfalls and make your dreams happen. Set goals. Work hard. Never give up. Never surrender and never, never be afraid to shine, shine, shine. 



Orphaned by her mother and brushed off by her dad, fifteen year old Silvia Cotton has lived a lonely life. That is until her father moves the family from the Highlands of Scotland to the Midlands of Wales. It is there she is enrolled in Bennington, a private boarding school, and meets the charming and rebellious Dickinson twins, Oliver and Alexander. Her regrettable life is changed forever. 

Locked into a fierce friendship with Alexander and lost to a whirlwind romance with Oliver, Silvia finds herself torn away from everything she thought she knew. Married too soon, she moves with Oliver to a rustic cabin deep in a Welsh wood and embarks upon a life she'd never planned for, surviving on hope she never knew existed and faith she never knew she had. Through the years of laughter, joy, sorrow and tears, she makes her way through university and onto a career, only to surrender her ambition to raising her children and living a life that was strikingly "normal". But what is normal? Certainly not what ensues in the wood.

True love, faeries, friendship, loves lost and gained. Fate, doubt, friendship, strength and courage, Silvia's story could belong to anyone, but it is her own. Simple yet extraordinary, told with wit and candor, Silvia unravels the tangled web of her days as she reveals the secrets that exist in an ancient wood, how hearts given freely can become the stuff of magic, and how true happiness is never any further than one's own back garden.


Goodreads page:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16046121-after-forever-ends


Links to book are:

Amazon US
http://www.amazon.com/After-Forever-Ends-ebook/dp/B009ODTG86/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358381453&sr=8-1&keywords=after+forever+ends

Amazon UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/After-Forever-Ends-ebook/dp/B009ODTG86/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358381502&sr=8-1

Amazon CA
http://www.amazon.ca/After-Forever-Ends-ebook/dp/B009ODTG86/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358381550&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-forever-ends-melodie-ramone/1113673042?ean=2940015893823

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lit Fest New West Photojournalism



The overriding lesson of this festival:  there's value in "free".

Friendly, helpful volunteers to greet me.
"Yes. It's just around the corner. Here I'll go with you."
"Oh, there it is. Just around the corner. Thank you."

Lit Fest New West understands...
that authors who are working to establish their career don't have much money--so there's no admission
that authors' time is valuable:  so they pay participating authors

Lit Fest New West obtains financial support from...
the city of New West
the province of B.C.
the country of Canada? Um. Nope.

Lit Fest New West was held in Douglas College
Next year?
It will be held in a new venue.



Workshop:  Crafting a Killer Mystery

Colleen Cross (thriller author), Sharon Rowse (historical mystery author), Robin Spano (traditional mystery author)

What I got from this workshop...

Know the rules so that you know what you're breaking.

Characters should be...

-clever, resourceful
-excellent at their profession
-courageous
-self-sacrificing
-out-law (follow their own moral code--which is the author's code)
-wounded (i.e. have flaws)

In every story the character must face professional, personal, and private challenges.

The villain should be a good match for the hero.

About the story...

The story is the reason the reader keeps reading.

Why should the reader care?

-to see the character develop
-to see what happens next
-to see what is going to challenge the hero

How you write is individual

Find your style and go with that

Keep your interest in the story and the story will continue to be interesting for the reader

How to build tension...

-Know the hero's goal and keep him from reaching it.
-Layer in smaller goals
-Weave in sub-plots with main plot
Write the entire scene then cut it off before the conclusion. This creates cliff hangers.
Always be aware of the ticking clock

Books recommended by the authors...
The Writers' Journey
Save the Cat
On Writing


(Photo from the web)

Presentation:  Memoir:  The Long and Short of Writing

Presenter:  J. J. Lee

What I learnt...

-The reader will feel something because I, the writer, felt something
-To continue to writer your memoir--continue to wonder as you are wondering
-Your reader will love you because you've shared something profound
-Writers are time travelers
-Your writing should open you up and give you something

3 Things the Writing Can Do
1) develop the character
2)advance the plot
3)reinforce the theme or nature of the conflict



Authors and Small Publishers Panel Discussion

Anvil Press and Leaf Press

Anvil Press 'Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist' Publisher:  Brian Kauffman

Leaf Press 'is an independent press located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Ursula Vaira founded Leaf in 2001 as a poetry chapbook publisher.'

I'm very glad I attended this panel discussion as it gave me a unique insight into life on the other side of the pen. What's it like to be a small publisher in Canada? What challenges do you face? How do you survive? 

It's my pleasure to report that I found dedicated people who truly care about not only their books but also their authors. And as one of the publishers pointed out, the relationship between a publisher and an author is like dating. It's nothing personal. Sometimes it's not just a good fit. 

Somewhere deep inside I knew this. But it was nice to hear a publisher say it. (Instead of read on a rejection letter.)

Recommended sites:



A Critical View of the Arts

Presenter:    Max Wyman

This presentation had a profound effect on me. In fact, it made me change the name of one of the pages of this blog from 'Book Reviews' to 'Book Raves'. I knew I wasn't a reviewer. But I didn't realize how erroneous it was to title my page 'Book Reviews'. This error wasn't pointed out by the presenter. But as he outlined the qualities necessary to write reviews I realized I didn't possess them. Nor did I care to acquire them. The net is a negative place. As Mr. Wyman did pointed out, thanks to the social media, everyone is playing critic and not signing their names. This lack of accountability is dangerous. But now that the animal has been unleashed there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done. Balance is called for. That's why I'm proud to re-title my page 'Book Raves'. Will I rave about your book, if you ask me? Um, no. However, if I read your book and enjoy it I will be happy to sing its praises as well as yours.

A critic is not a...
consumer reporter
booster
judge

A critic needs to...
be willing to make connections
go into the experience with an open-mind
be able to describe the experience--how they've been changed
pay attention all at once
to be honest
be able to and love to write well
write without the use of jargon
must have a passion for the media (dance, music, art, literature) that you are engaged with.
must be able to say why you liked/disliked
to be aware of your own limitations
do their homework

In the past critics were policed by their editor. No one is policing them now.

Mr. Wyman would like to receive your critics on a novel he was recently written. Visit:  www.maxwyman.com

And there's still more...



That's a lot for free. But add to this a over two hour showcase mixing author readings, spoken word, dramatizations and music and you have Lit Fest New West. And so I ask you, where will you be next April?


Showcase At Douglas College (from the LitFest NewWest 2013 brochure)


Act I

Candice James - Poet Laureate
Don Hauka - Author
Sylvia Taylor - Author

Intermission

Act II

Douglas College/Kwantlen University Percussion Ensemble
Renee Saklikar - Poet and John Oliver - Composer
J. J. Lee - Author
C. R. Avery - Music & Spoken Word

***

Friend of this blog, Bob Friedland recently shared some exciting news...

So how many novels written and set in Richmond, by a white guy living in Richmond, get reviewed in the Hong Kong-based literary journal, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal ? That would only be Robert N. Friedland’s spicey The Second Wedding of Doctor Geneva Song (Libros $20) about “the inter-cultural war of the sexes.” Friedland was a two-time city councillor in Victoria who now practices human rights and administrative law in Vancouver. He is also one of only three writers in Canada to have two of his stories included in Stuart MacLean’s upcoming fall release Time Now for the Vinyl Cafe
 Story E
xchange (Penguin). 978-1-926763-17-0 



Friday, April 12, 2013

Please welcome Author Elizabeth Ruth



How/why did you start to write?

When I was in grade 4 there was a writing contest at my public school. It was open to any student in grades 4, 5 or 6. As soon as I heard about this opportunity I knew I would submit a story. Horse back riding was my passion at the time and decided to write about Jim Elder, who then led Canada’s equestrian team. I conducted much research, with my other helping me find the courage to look up his phone number and call him to ask for an interview. We were probably only on the phone for 5 minutes but I can still feel my heart pounding with nervous excitement. I worked on my non-fiction story for hours, and handed it in certain I would place in the competition. On the day the announcement of the winners was to be made, students were assembled in the gymnasium. When the teacher in charge called out the name of the 3rd place winner and it wasn’t me, I was gleeful. Aha, I thought, I knew it. I’m so going to win this competition! So, when the second place story was named and its author brought up on stage, I could barely contain my exuberance. It was going to be me, after all, I thought! When the first place winning entry was announced, and it wasn’t my story, I was stunned. Shocked. Indignant. There must be a mistake, I thought. I’m a writer! From that moment on I was determined to keep writing until my work drew the attention of careful readers. I had written poetry and little stories since the age of 5 or 6 but it was that moment that solidified my resolve.

How did you become an author?

With much hard work and probably even more luck.
I had been working full time for 11 years, in front line mental health. I had trained at the graduate level in counselling psychology. I loved my work. But all the while I was trying to write a story, which kept unfolding and ultimately became my first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence. At the same time, a writer I greatly admired, the late Timothy Findley, was coming to Toronto where I lived to teach in the Humber School for Writer’s summer workshop. I applied in order to talk with him about writing. To my delight, I was admitted to the workshop. In a pivotal conversation with Tiff he told me I must finish my book. I left Humber thinking that if a writer I so admired has told me to finish and I don’t, I would have no one but myself to blame. I took a year’s leave of absence from my job and wrote night and day. When I was done I had to find a publisher by submitting to the slush pile. One editor loved the story and called me. Six months later, in 2001, I had a published book in my hand. As it turned out, Ten Good Seconds of Silence was very popular with readers and critics so I was encouraged to write my second novel, Smoke. That book was published in 2005. Now, here I am, 13 years after attending that workshop, launching my third novel, Matadora, and I still haven’t returned to the day job. Every writer becomes a writer in a different way, along a different path. The only thing that’s important to know if you’re trying to become anything is to keep on trying. Break to isolation of writing and dissipate feelings of inadequacy and doubt by trying to connect with another writer, who is farther along the path.

What was your first published piece?

A story told entirely in the second person point of view entitled, Away for A While. It was only four pages in length and was about a woman (and a mother of a small child) forcibly committed to a psychiatric institution. I wanted to show her experience directly, and also give her agency to assert what little power she had.


Where was it published?

It was published in two literary journals within the same year – CV2 and Room of One’s Own.

How long ago?

I can’t remember. Probably 15 years. After that story I published a string of stories within a short period of time. I found publication addictive.

What inspires you?

I suppose I would answer that question differently for each of my three novels. But for the new one, Matadora, I have to say it was one day when I was listening to the national news on the radio. I heard of a 16 year old girl fighting bulls in Mexico. I literally stopped what I was doing (frying eggs) and sat down on the kitchen floor. Why would a girl do this? Why would anyone do something so violent and dangerous? That was the spark of inspiration, a couple of questions. But when I think about it, the more profound inspiration for Matadora began long before that day in my kitchen. It began when I was 7, 8, years old, living in South America, becoming fluent in Spanish and most importantly witnessing levels of poverty I had never seen before. Having conversations with my mother about why some people didn’t have food or a place to live or why some people couldn’t get medical care. The seeds of a social justice analysis were planted in me back then, and Matadora is a book that looks at class issues, class oppression, leading up to, as it does, the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Fascism in Spain. It’s not an historical novel, but the political divisions within the Left, and the rise of the Right, at that time in history, provided me, in some respects, with a wonderful mirror for our times. So, what began in me as a child has had several decades to germinate. I have to think that this book was inspired, in stages as I developed my own political beliefs, my own notions of personal freedom and of social responsibility. I don’t believe Matadora could have been written before now, and I don’t believe Matadora could have been written by anyone else.

Matadora is a novel that centres on a female bullfighter, set in 1930’s Spain and Mexico. But like all good books about bullfighting, it’s really not about bullfighting at all. This book is about ambition, passion, art and politics. At its heart it asks the question: if you had to choose between your greatest passion – the thing that makes you who you are – and the person you love most in this world, what would you choose?

Please share one of your successful author platform building techniques

I don’t think in terms of building platforms although publishers and industry folks certainly do. I think in terms of building community. That is why, to whatever degree I have it, I have been successful in getting my books into the hands of readers. Build community with other artists, share ideas and be generous in promoting others. Also, don’t expect anyone – not your publisher, if you have one, not your agent, if you are so lucky, not your mother – to care as much about your work as you do. Therefore, you must have your hands in many pots – writing, editing, and all the business side of things such as creating book club brochures and updating your website. It takes a lot more than being a good writer to be a successful writer.


Parting words

It is extremely and increasingly difficult for aspiring writers to get published or make careers for themselves. Don’t waste time despairing this reality. Write and rewrite and when you’ve got something polished try your best to find a home for it. Don’t feel that there is something wrong with you if that journey takes longer than you’d hoped, or takes some ugly twists and turns. You must determine to write regardless of what external forces work against your, or in your favour. You must just write. If you write enough, and you write well, you will write your own way forward.

If you read Matadora and want to discuss it feel free to contact me via www.elizabethruth.com 

Matadora Book Trailer



"NOW Magazine, Toronto's entertainment weekly, just published it's Ten Must Read Books list, and Matadora appears as #3!"





Thursday, April 11, 2013

Replying to Poetry Unfettered by Leonard Clark


Flip back the pages of time. Back. Back. Back. I'm attending the university of Winnipeg. I have an assignment due for the Children's Literature course. The professor has request I read and comment on Leonard Clark's Poetry Unfettered. Twenty-something me writes and submits...

I must admit that I had doubts about the significance of poetry. I have read poems which left me feeling incompetent. These poems were described by English teachers as being good examples of great poems. I could see nothing great about them. Due to my experience, then, I ruled out poems for children.

Leonard Clark, however, has challenged me to take a new look at poems. He describes poets as having their heads in the clouds but their feet firmly on the ground. He says that poets write the way we would write if we had the skill. They take the ordinary and make it seem special. The last line of his article, Poetry Unfettered especially interest me. He writes:  'poetry and science together equals magic.' I am a firm believer in magic for children. Especially the magic and wonder of everyday life. If this what poetry is really trying to do, I ma interested in rediscover it.

The professor feedback:

A- (82)

'the magic and wonder of everyday life' - This is a fascinating phrase. I wish you'd explain it further.

This is a good account of your response to critical article. It makes a few points, but makes them well. There is an assumption you make about childhood (or life in general?) underlying such statements as the one I've noted above that might be worth trying to explicate. Knowing just what assumptions/perspectives/prejudices one has always makes for stronger readings of literary works.

Every Thursday, for the entire month of April, we will celebrate Poetry
Please visit this site:  Poets.ca:  The League of Canadian Poets

Oops, sorry, we'll take a small break next Thursday from celebrating poetry. So that you can come with me to the New West Lit Fest. But I plan to end the month with poetry.
***
Sharing my author journey...

When you are new to your author career, as I am, it’s a good idea to take the time to figure out how you work. What working conditions yield the best results? What challenges do you face? How can you overcome them? For example, I have trouble compartmentalizing. I can’t live in my head when I’m living in my body. So when I’m living a socially engaged week—like this one—I find it hard to focus on my manuscripts. Does this mean I lay my pen down? No. I keep writing. But I write articles for my blog instead of narration; emails instead of dialogue. It’s all writing. It all helps improve my craft. And, I firmly believe, to have a fulfilling career you need to have a fulfilling life.

This all changed this morning at 6 AM when I wrote a new scene. Hurray! I wonder if justifying my inability to write freed me up to write?
***
Next post:  Please welcome Author Elizabeth Ruth

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Celebrate with Author Elizabeth Ruth

I meet author Elizabeth Ruth at a Writers' Union of Canada symposium. She was helpful, informative and entertaining. So when this arrived in my email inbox I knew I had to share it with you...

(click on image to embolden)

And I'm delighted to add that Elizabeth Ruth will be featured on this blog this coming Friday (April 12th)

Monday, April 8, 2013

How do you manage change?




I know who I am.

At least I thought I did. I live on a rural island; I’m middle income; I like to watch from the shadows (unless I hear good music, then I want to dance… unless someone hands me something I’ve written and leads me to a stage, then I want to read.) But mostly I’m happy in the shadows watching, cheering.

And I’m fortunate that my life has granted me this anonymity.

But then things began to change. Thanks to your support, dear reader, this blog began to grow in followers and page views. Thanks to kind people I began to receive more and more validation for my writing.

Maybe, I thought. Maybe my dreams for my author career will become reality.

Well, my heart sang. I was so happy, so full of hope.

But then… But then I experienced another emotion—a more powerful one.
I knew who I was in the shadows. I was comfortable there. I belonged there.
Who am I? How dare I? It’s not really happening. It’s just my imagination. I’m not worthy. Soon they’ll know. Someone will stop me. I want to grow. I want to succeed. Oh, how I want to remain right here in the shadows. I’m comfortable here.

Anxiety.

What do I do?

I’m fortunate to have a strong support system—people who know me, well. They’ve seen me grow from one life transition to another. I know I can rely on their unfailing support.

And I have new people in my life. Successful people. Successful artists. People who have seen their dreams become reality. People who have ridden the tide of change, with style and grace. People that light the way for my own evolution.

So, yes, I’m changing. But I’m still and will always be me.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Craft-y Crime by Kay Stewart


Kay Stewart is the author of police procedurals featuring RCMP Constable Danutia Dranchuk. Unholy Rites, written with husband Chris Bullock, is the third in the series. Kay has also published short stories, personal essays, and writing textbooks. She taught at the University of Alberta before moving to Vancouver Island to devote her time to writing. She is active in the crime-writing community, having served as National Vice President and President of Crime Writers of Canada and co-chair of Bloody Words 2011.



Mysteries centred around specific crafts have a large and devoted following. I’m not a craft-y person myself (being left-handed is my excuse), but in researching Unholy Rites (TouchWood, March 2013), my husband and co-author Chris Bullock and I found ourselves deep in the mysteries of a craft called well dressing.

            Chris is English, and after two books set on the West Coast, we wanted to give our main characters, RCMP Constable Danutia Dranchuk and drama critic Arthur Fairweather, an English adventure. We were fascinated by the Peak District area of Derbyshire, with its rich mixture of pagan stone circles, “dark satanic mills” from the Industrial Revolution, and the well dressing festivals held from May to September in villages large and small.

            So what is well dressing, you ask. Originally, it was likely a pagan custom of bringing flowers and garlands to the quixotic springs that bubble up and disappear in this limestone landscape, in gratitude for the blessing of water. In late Victorian times, these simple garlands became elaborated into the forms we see today: large clay-covered panels depicting religious or secular scenes made entirely from natural ingredients such as flower petals, cones, seeds, and small stones. Hydrangea petals, with their wide range of hues, make spectacular skies; sprigs of parsley make luxuriant borders. When finished, these panels are erected adjacent to wells or other sources of water, blessed in a special ceremony, and after a week or so of slow disintegration, removed.

            Creating these panels takes an immense amount of effort from a small group of people over a short time. Under these conditions, it would be natural for tensions to arise, conflicts to develop, tempers to flare. What could be a better setting for a murder mystery?

            Chris and I observed well dressers at work in several different villages, talked to them about their craft, and even tried our hands at decorating small slabs of clay at a morning workshop offered by the petallers of Wormhill. This is often the way children learn the craft, by creating their own small scenes under the supervision of experienced adults. We came away with a heightened appreciation of the painstaking work involved.

            How does this ancient custom play out in Unholy Rites? Not simply, because as the title suggests, there’s more than one rite involved, and characters are in conflict over whether these rites are holy or unholy. Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.   


Co-authors Kay Stewart and Chris Bullock


For more information about Kay and Chris' books, please click here
and here
***
Mark your calendar's...


MAKING CRIME PAY
Saturday, May 25
9:30-1:00

BC members of Crime Writers of Canada de-mystify the art and craft of writing and selling crime fiction. Topics will include Getting from Idea to Draft; Handling Common Problems in Plot, Character, and Style; and Marketing Your Work. To request a brief critique, email kay_stewart@shaw.ca. Register online at www.gvpl.ca or call your local branch for more information. Registration begins April 2. A National Crime Writing Month event.

Schedule

9: 15 Doors open
9:30  Opening Remarks and Introductions
9:45  Panel 1: Moving from Idea to Draft (e.g., doing research, finding a voice, outlining vs. blurting, developing a plot, creating characters) (50 minutes)
E. R. Brown, Benni Chisholm, Ken Merkley. Moderator: Kay Stewart


10:45 Panel 2: Handling Common Problems in Plot, Character, and Style (e.g., too little tension, plot or characters too predictable or too melodramatic, info-dumps, irrelevant details, wordiness) (50 minutes)

11:45 Panel 3: Marketing Your Work (e.g. queries, self- vs. traditional publishing, using social media, innovative marketing ideas) (50 minutes)

12:45-2:15 Lunch/Blue Pencil Café (Phyllis Smallman, Joan Donaldson-Yarmey)




Mystery Mini Chats
Saturday, May 25
2:30-5 p.m.

Meet Canadian crime-writers and learn about their latest books in this fast-paced, fun-filled event. Books available for purchase and signing. Register online at www.gvpl.ca  or call your local branch for more information. Registration begins April 2. Sponsored by the BC/Yukon chapter of Crime Writers of Canada, TouchWood Editions, and GVPL (Greater Victoria Public Library).

2:30-3:30: Round 1
3:30-4:00: Coffee and tea, courtesy of TouchWood Editions
4:00-5:00: Round 2