Morning Writing

SunriseWhat a luxury and privilege it is to wake up, get out of bed, walk into my office, breathe deep, turn on my writing music, open my document, and fall into a storyland of my own making. And to do it every morning.

I am grateful for my work for so many reasons.

I am grateful for:

 

  1. The magic that I feel in each story and each character, even the antagonists. They just want to be happy too!
  2. The months I had away from writing. That time away helped me appreciate being a writer on a whole new level.
  3. A family that is extremely patient with my oddities.  🙂
  4. Writer buddies, who are also very odd, who understand. You know who you are.
  5. Non-writer buddies, who teach me so much about being more than an observer, but to get out there and experience LIFE!
  6. Alone time in my office with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, where I feel safe enough to let my imagination soar.
  7. Peaceful writing music, the score to my stories.
  8. Years of awesome story ideas just waiting for me to write them. I pray I’ll have enough time for you all.
  9. Sunshine out my window, and the garden hat that shields my eyes as I write. Who needs blinds?
  10. And there’s so much more, far more than I want to write here since there’s a story waiting for me right now – so I’ll sum them up in six words: I’m grateful to be a writer!
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid

Decisions, Decisions…

Tough Decisions Ahead Road SignLast night at the Sooke Writers’ Collective meeting, Doni Eve of Saseenos Communications gave a presentation on marketing, and one of the many insightful topics she touched on was blogging.

Regular blogging.

I really should do that, I thought, as I slid down in my chair. Maybe I’ll think more about it tomorrow.

This morning, to my surprise, the thought was still there.

In an effort to dissuade myself from committing to blogging regularly and then failing miserably as I have in the past, I told myself all my usual stories: no one cares about the disjointed thoughts that tumble through my head, I don’t have a lot of followers, blogging takes valuable time away from my other writing. But then I was struck by an important thought.

It’s good for me to think things through enough to write a coherent blog.

Well! What do I do with that? Commit to writing regularly? Heaven forbid! Maybe “regular” means once a year. It surely can’t be the once a week that Doni suggested. How does anyone do that? How can I do that? Can I seriously make myself write a new post every week, week after week after week after week…

That’s when I realized the flaw in my thinking. This wasn’t about making a decision every week. It was about making that decision ONCE, and then not deciding something different later on. Blogging can become a habit, just like brushing my dog or washing my dirty dishes. I don’t think through all the pros and cons every time the sink gets full. I don’t re-decide to brush the tangles from Cedar’s fur every two weeks, no matter how much she wishes I’d reconsider. I just do these things. The decision to have a brushed dog and at least one clean plate in the kitchen was made a long time ago.

MiracleAs of this moment, I don’t feel quite ready to make a decision to blog every week but I’m considering it, which means I’ll be tormenting myself by revisiting the question every week for a while. However, I feel I’ve learned something of value today. When I want to make a change, decide on the change once. Don’t revisit the decision time after time. Period.

And maybe after a few weeks of considering, I’ll find it’s just a lot easier to decide to blog regularly. Miracles do happen!

Exploration

I’m open for possibilities. I’m open for choices. I always welcome new ideas. I’m always eager to learn. I’m never going to close my mind from learning. ~ Cesar Millan

National Geographic#01181I have been open to the possibilities, just like Cesar. 🙂

I have a new idea! What’s more, it’s a novel idea, and not a juvenile novel either. My juvenile novels are here, not here.

I have no aspirations for this idea, especially after writing the beginning of big novel a couple years ago and having my interest then wisp away to nothing. There’s no pressure for this idea to be anything but what it is – and what it seems to be right now is just fun and intriguing.

Soon I’ll start writing down ideas and arranging them on my big bulletin board. Always so interesting to watch what happens next. Will it change to a short story? A script? A fun exercise in creative expression? Or will it become a true novel? It feels like it might, at least right now, but I’ve been fooled before. 🙂

One thing only is for sure at this point: I’ll enjoy the exploration!

Wedding Bands, River’s Sigh B&B #1

EvBishop_WeddingsBands_800pxA friend of mine, Ev Bishop, has just released a new novel and so I thought I’d help spread the word for her. 🙂 Of course, I had to read her book first, so I could honestly recommend it, and I’m very happy to say that I very heartily do recommend it! I’m not a huge reader of romance, but I have read some, and her story, Wedding Bands, is one of the best I’ve read. Her characterization is fantastic; I felt like I knew these people. Even more importantly, the story seemed real – something I’ve had a hard time finding in romance. It’s also fun and funny and heartwrenching and warm and well, romantic!

So please, give it a try. You’ll find links and info below.

Enjoy!

Ang

 

Wedding Bands, Book 1 in the River’s Sigh B & B series.

Ditched by her high school sweetheart, Callum Archer, on the night they’re supposed to elope, Jo Kendall casts out on her own, brokenhearted.

Over the years, Jo reels in a life she loves, centered on the outdoors, fishing (favoring a lucky wedding band lure), and her fine dining restaurant—a life that crashes away when her husband and business partner cheats her, leaving her bankrupt and alone.

Then her uncle dies, bequeathing Jo and her sister, Samantha, his rural property. Jo returns to Greenridge, determined to build a new business and permanent home—without the help of a man. Unfortunately Samantha wants her inheritance in cold, hard cash and hires a lawyer to get it for her, a lawyer who turns out to be none other than Jo’s long-lost love, Callum.

Jo’s fledgling plans—and her heart—are at risk once more.

If Jo can fight her insecurities, she might end up with a wedding band that doesn’t come with a sharp hook. But should she risk everything she’s worked for, yet again? Before she can decide, she needs to know: can a lost love truly be reclaimed?

You can buy Wedding Bands in eBook here:

Amazon.com ~ Amazon.ca ~ Amazon.co.uk

KOBO ~ For your NOOK at Barnes & Noble ~ Apple/iBooks ~ Page Foundry ~ Scribd

Don’t have an eReader and/or prefer print books? Wedding Bands will be out in paperback at the end of the month, available for order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore.

A bit about Ev Bishop . . .

She’s a longtime columnist with the Terrace Standard, and her other non-fiction articles and essays have been published across North America. Her true love, however, is fiction, and she writes in a variety of lengths and genres. If you’re a short story lover or read other genres alongside Romance, visit www.evbishop.com to learn more.

Some short story publications include: “Not All Magic is Nice,” Pulp Literature (forthcoming), “The Picture Book,” Every Day Fiction Magazine, “Riddles,” 100 Stories for Queensland, “On the Wall,” Every Day Fiction Magazine, “My Mom is a Freak,” Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls, “HVS,” “Red Bird,” and “Wishful,” (available through Ether Books).

Women’s Fiction novels include Bigger Things (Winding Path Books 2014), which is available in digital or paperback wherever books are sold, and Mosaic (forthcoming). She also writes romance under the pen name Toni Sheridan (The Present, Pelican Book Group, 2012, and Drummer Boy, Pelican Book Group, 2014).

Ev loves to connect with other readers and writers, so please consider subscribing to her newsletter and/or visiting her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Eve of a Finished Novel

There’s no feeling like it: reading over the words one last time, knowing that in a few hours our book will be sent to a waiting publisher.

I feel tense as the action mounts, as the characters get deeper in trouble, as the situation becomes dire, more dangerous, more hopeless. And then, our twin heroes dig deep, and out of the cores of their own beings, call forth true strength and power, not only finding a way to save themselves, but doing so without putting other innocents in danger. Finally free (or so they think, because this is a series and there are nine books to go!), Luna and Sola ride off into the sunset, recommitted to each other and determined to make a peaceful life for themselves somewhere.

I smile and feel the glow inside; it’s a story well told – and it’s all Marina’s (my co-writer) and mine. Very soon we’ll share it with the publisher, editors, translators, illustrators, and finally with our wonderful readers – but for these last few precious hours, Ruler of Shadows is our little jewel, beautiful, untouched, flawed.  🙂  All ours.

Profundity of Story

Lately, my thoughts have been turning toward the value of writing from the heart, writing deeply, writing profoundly. While I think many a worthwhile book has been written because of commercial motivations, and while I’ve written my fair share of novels plotted with monetary considerations in mind, that little voice inside my head, which seems to think I should be writing from my own heart, my own passion, just isn’t so little anymore.

Years ago, that passion was all that fueled me. It was at the core of the first books I wrote, but bit by bit, my writing turned from a passion and a desire to create something beautiful into a business, a job. While I still loved the stories I wrote, and still thought they were worthwhile and beautiful and of value, I chose my stories by the commercial potential they might have. Even worse, I wrote them with the imaginary reader looking over my shoulder.

I eventually struggled with burn out because of this. The last few years I’ve forced myself away from that burn out brink, and regained some of the joy of writing by following my “gut” feelings. With effort, I’ve come far enough from that commercial mindset that I can see, relatively clearly, that I’ve lost touch with the deeper truths in my own stories.

Today, thanks to a wonderful conversation with a patient and kind friend (thank you, Barb!), I feel as if I’ve made another significant shift from that commercial mindset. I have a very long way to go, but that’s okay. I see where I am now, as well as the first steps I need to take to get to the heart of things.

I think I may record my journey here in the next little while. If you feel like coming along with me, please share! I’d love to hear how you embrace the profound nature of your own stories. Maybe we can even help each other along. 🙂 I’d truly love that!

Happy Writing!

Posting Blues

No posts yet this year doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything. In fact, I’ve been super busy! Only six weeks into the year and I have a few things going on.

2014First, I’ve completed the screenplay Undertow which I’ve been working on for a year now. I’m sending it around and am looking forward to hearing some responses. No one’s gotten back yet, but it’s with an agent in Vancouver, a pro reader from the Blacklist, and I just entered it into the Page Awards. Fingers crossed!

Second, the Freedom screenplay is currently being considered by a production company. More on that when things are more solid.

 

Third, Marina and I finished our first Talismans of Thunder novel, Sola Eclipsed, and it was accepted by Stabenfeldt, with NO changes! We’re already writing the second book, Rover Moon.

Fourth, my short story Falling is coming out in the spring issue of Pulp Literature.

Fifth, my short story The Seventh Procrastination will be in the annual Sooke Writers Collective anthology, available in May.

And last but not least, I figured out the rest of the story for Holy Coyote, and am working on that script now too.

The only thing I haven’t been doing is posting on my blog!  Or working on Rain, Day of the Sky Monkeys, or Angel’s Flight, or any of the myriad editing projects I have.

Still, I’m liking 2014!

A Reader, the Nature of Stories, and No Man is an Island

I just got a message from a reader who used to enjoy my juvenile books:

I just wanted to say that though I have outgrown these books now (and I am sad about that) your books have blessed me a lot and helped me write a story about horses years ago.

I can’t even begin to say what they have done for my Dyslexic friend. I showed her and lent her a few of your books and now she has started to enjoy writing and she wrote a 40 page novel even though before she saw writing as a curse.

The story line each of your books holds is something hard to find in books for a younger audience and I have always enjoyed them and I keep them so when I have little girls of my own, they can read them.

I thank you for the inspiration. They take hold of me and I will always look back at buying one of your books and staying up all night reading it as a fond memory…

A number of things struck home with her email.

First, how fortunate I am that this girl emailed me years ago. She is a bright, vivacious person, and I feel blessed to have become her online friend.

Second, I love that she wanted to share her enjoyment with her own young friend. Isn’t that the way we are? We want to give the things that have meant so much to us to others, and their ensuing enjoyment in our gift gives us joy.

And third, the nature of stories. This one’s a bit harder to explain, so I’ll use the words of a master, Hermann Hesse:

… the river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future.

bookI think stories exist much in the same way. They may seem to come from nowhere, but actually, they come from everywhere and everything. We ourselves are stories; everything we do, experience, think, desire, everything we perceive through our senses, is connected to our story. Everything that exists has a story, a reason, a purpose for being, no matter how simple, no matter how complex.

And stories in books are one of the bridges between us. My young friend read my book, which came from the story of my life and the myriad stories that I allowed to inspire and change me, and she allowed it to inspire her. My book and all that contributed to it, became part of her. And then she passed that inspiration along, her own story added to mix, and her friend was inspired as well.

We are none of us alone.

A Fine Silvery Stream

Sheng Yen, a Chinese Buddhist monk, wrote this passage:

“Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it.”

I’ve been doing this, but not only with my meditation practice. I’m learning to do this with story as well. A few days ago, I wrote an opening line, then followed that line to the next, and the next, like I was floating along that fine, silvery stream. I didn’t know where the story was going, where it would end, even if it would end, or just fizzle out. As I softly followed, it filled in the grooves and cracks. The crevices were found. The story emerged and was written.

I am doing the same again now but this next one is already longer. It may be a novella or a book. I can’t tell yet because I don’t know where that silver stream is carrying me. I don’t even know genre yet. All I know is that every day that I come to this story, something happens that surprises me. It’s taking form as I write, one sentence after another.

Faith is a beautiful thing – not faith in myself or my abilities, but faith in the story that is being told.

Let the story be what it wants to be. Let it lead the way, and be content to follow.

Optimism

Recently I read a new interpretation of the old “Is the glass half full or half empty” debate. The glass is completely full, half with water, half with air.

It made me think about my creations. About half of my literary works have been published in various magazines, about half haven’t yet found homes. I don’t write very much short stuff, maybe one or two works a year, so each that I find good enough to edit to a publishable state is precious to me.  And yet some still haven’t found their place.

According to my new “glass completely full” theory, it doesn’t mean the writing sucks. It doesn’t mean the story is shallow or flippant or just plain bad. It means publication is a matter of getting the right story to the right publisher at the right time. And that takes submissions. Lots of them.

Sometimes even to the same publisher.

Three times, twice with short works, once with a juvenile novel, I’ve received publishing contracts after my second submission of the same story to the same publisher. The first time, one work wasn’t “surprising enough”. The second time I guess it was.

This week, I sent out a few stories to magazines and contests. I’m trying to turn my “air” into “water” – which is much preferable to believing the glass is half empty or even half full. And it’s infinitely better than saying the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. Let’s not even go there!