Monday, August 29, 2011

Tag, You're It!

So I've been tagged in the Blogger wars, thanks to Ms. Tammy E. A. Crosby, a fellow Canadian writer, who was so recently awarded the Seriously Cute Blogger Award (which she well deserves!)

Point of the tag: Talk about 5 films/TV/books you've read or watched in the last 12 months. Here goes...

1) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (movie): Perfect melding of genres, excellent cast, subtle humour. I seriously cannot get enough of this film.

2) Game of Thrones (book/TV series): It's not often I get to say this, but HBO's GoT was a near-perfect adaptation of a near-perfect series. George RR Martin knows what to do with his fantasy, there is no doubt about that.

3) True Blood (TV series): Everything I love about vampires wrapped up into one deliciously addicting show. I will admit that at times the writing is laughable, and the acting occasionally bland, but on the whole it's very well put together..

4) The Blue Castle (book): Written by LM Montgomery, I would consider this novel one of the most overlooked classics. It always cheers me up and make me a little daring. Imagine the freedom to say whatever came to your mind...


5) The Mother Tongue (book): A history of the English language written by Bill Bryson. Oh my goodness gracious. If you want a linguistics lessons that will make you laugh till you pee, then this is the book for you.

Part two of this war is to tag other bloggers and get them to spill on their deepest, darkest...sources of television and literary taste.

1) Chelsea Gammon - new authoress in the making

3) Muffy Morrigan - a wonderful writer with a strange affinity for a certain Giant Spider

4) Aaron J. Booth - debut novelist with a powerful wit

5) Elle Fawker - a lady of many wonderful talents, who I would like to see writing again!

Have fun all! Can't wait to see your thoughts.

Character Building

I often get asked how I create my characters. One buddy of mine commented that I'm good at having layers to my people - that he senses there's more to them than what's written on the page. I was quite thrilled at this feedback, but honestly don't feel I can take credit for it.

I'll go into a little bit about Kat specifically in my PwF character bio, but the truth of the matter is that my character comes to me - very rarely do I create them. JK Rowling says (and I paraphrase), that her main Harry Potter characters walked into her mind fully developped one day, and that's a phenomenon I can understand.

For me, I get inspiration for a story idea - something generic and vague, and I think of someone who belongs in that setting. Then it's kind of like a job interview, a person will pop into my mind and say, "Hi, I think I'm right for this story", and so a relationship will commence. At first I only know the basics. I know what they look like, and a few general personality traits. As the story keeps going, I learn a little more, until they're a best friend that keeps me company.

Just today a character I've been trying to get to know shared a big secret about himself that he's kind of been holding back.I think it'll go a long way to fleshing him out in the story.

Maybe you think I sound a little crazy, or maybe you can relate. I guess it all depends on your system of writing. But I'm sure that most of you can appreciate that subtle "click" when something (plot-related, character-related, etc.) falls into place, and suddenly everything you've written before makes sense, even if at the time you didn't realise it did. It's a great feeling, as if you're taking them down the right and only path.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writing Update #2

A couple news items to share! 

The big one: yesterday I took the plunge and sent out my first query letter for Playing with Fire, Book one of my Daughter of Time series. I always start with the one place I really, really want to get attached to so the worst of the disappointment is out of the way at the beginning (or I get the best news first!!). I'll keep everyone posted if I hear anything, good or bad. Even rejections are positive - it means you've completed a work  you felt good enough to see in print. That's something to be very proud of! Sometimes you even get great feedback on how to edit the next draft before you try again. 

If/when there's good news, I'll post my query letter here as a sample of a "successful" letter for anyone who's reached the point of writing your letter. 

My second bit of news? You may notice the bar of tabs above the blog. 
"Could it be true?" you may ask. The answer is yes. I'm looking at posting a few excerpts and teases of my various stories. I'm going to put a poll up to see what you would most like to see on those pages (excerpts won't be on the list. I'm going to hope that's a given...) 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inspiration Revisited

Remember a few posts back when I talked about travelling to gain inspiration? What I didn't really mention at the time was to try striking up conversations with random people and seeing what sort of ideas come from these encounters.

I've taken the train on long trips twice in the past few days and twice I ended up sitting next to chatty people. I'm always divided about such seatmates. On the one hand, they interrupt my music-listening and writing. On the other hand, they tell you such amazing stories about their lives. If you get someone who's a little older, they tell you fascinating things about everything they've accomplished and what their children and grandchildren have done.

One woman I met was a widow of 10 years who used to be a dietician at a big hospital. She now lives in a small place and loves reading, especially a good mystery. She told me all about her daughters, and the interesting work they do. She was immediately outlined as a character in my mind, and you can expect to see her in a future book.

It's always worthwhile to take these opportunities to get to know people. For one thing, it makes the trip go faster to have someone to chat to, and you never know who you'll connect with because of it. Maybe one of these days I'll sit next to an editor at a big publishing house who's looking for something fresh and new ;)

This is today's advice.
Oh, I also managed to work on Chapter 2 of my new book, so it turns out I was productive anyway!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Life Eternal - Aaron J. Booth

A week's silence and then two posts in one day?! Amazing!
It may be overkill, but I had to share the exciting news that Aaron J. Booth's debut novel, Life Eternal, is finally available on paperback to order.
Click here to go to the Amazon page for the book, and then here to read the Q&A with the author!

I'll post a bit of a review after I've read it ;) -- Aaron, you've been warned!

The Void

Reality has invaded my imagination. I hate when that happens. How am I supposed to lose myself in a good mental story when what's going on around me takes up most of my cognitive function?

Balance is everything. More often than not, I'll admit, I lean more towards what goes on in my head, but I'm usually aware of what's going on around me. How can I find inspiration for my stories if I don't have at least one foot on real pavement, right? So that's fine, I find I live quite happily that way.

I don't like the other way around though. I'm being pummeled on all sides by the real world and it's driving me a little mad. It's not even that I  have writer's block! What I wouldn't give for a touch of "Bah! I want to write, but I have no idea where to begin!" No, not even the desire is there. When it comes up at all it's a half-hearted, "I guess I could...".

I'm looking forward to life settling down a bit so I can once more shift my priorities and focus on what's important! Fiction!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Example of sheer Bullheadedness - and how it works!

I just read this article by Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, and I am both amazed and inspired (and maybe a little afraid) of this woman's perseverance. I admit I haven't read the book yet. It's on my reading list, but after reading this I may bump it up a few places.

In a funny, up-lifting, and painful story, Stockett explains how she had her manuscript rejected 60 times before being accepted by an agent. 60. Not only is that how many letters she got back, but also how many times she had to brace herself and send out another submission. How many times she had to edit and re-write. What a lady.

Thanks to the people at My Writer's Circle for posting this link. It's certainly worth keeping.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Teaser videos - reupload

I've been posting these videos everywhere for awhile, but C.J. Duarte (Click here for my Q&A about his debut novel The Dash!) recently toyed with them a little bit to make them widescreen and they look SO good that I had to repost.

The first one is for The Fenwith Trials, a story of a series of witch-burnings in 15th century-type England:

The second is a very sneak preview for the manuscript I'm currently working on called Playing with Fire, a fantasy novel about a sorceress named Katerina:

Please check them out, comment here, comment there, anything to support my books and C.J. Duarte's wonderful work!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing Update

I feel like I've accomplished a great deal this week. Not only have I restructured my entire big fight scene that I've been struggling with since the first draft, but I also wrote the first chapter for book number 2 in the series! Yes, yes, I know I ought to do something with the first one before I start the second, but when inspiration hits, you just run with it.

I actually do have a few other projects in mind. One in particular that I'd like to run with, although I find the setting (and therefore any significant plot points) very intimidating. Generally I'm more of a dragons and fairies kind of girl, not space ship and aliens, but I've already fallen for my characters and I want to get to know them better. Not to mention the Beatles obsession of my Lead Character.

For now, though, I focus on this manuscript. My gut feeling is that after one more read-through on my part I should be ready to start submitting it. Then let the fun begin!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I am enlisting help from you now.

I have many strengths when writing. This is not me trying to sound arrogant, just recognizing what I'm good at. I'm excellent at witty banter, pretty good at establishing relationships between characters and giving each character a fairly distinctive voice. I can also pull the emotional heart strings and make people cry. I have done this many times.

But there are only so many scenes in a book that can be tear-filled encounters and clever repartee. We no longer live in a Jane Austen world and while novels solely about relationships still sell, they're not quite the top of the best-sellers list. People these days want ACTION.

So how does one write this way? What is the trick to getting people invested in a fight? Are there particular verbs I might throw in, or tropes that are used to get people rooting for the good guy? I am open to any and all suggestions on how to improve in this area.

And if no one replies, maybe I'll take up classes in knife-fighting. Write what you know, right?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting Started

I have a few buddies that are looking to start writing projects of their own now! I'm not saying it's ALL because of me (haha), but I am very proud of them for even considering it. It's a long drawn-out process that takes a great deal of self-motivation and discipline, the only fun part being the writing itself - and even that can get discouraging and frustrating early on.

Yeah, okay, way to encourage them, Krista.

I'm not trying to make writing seem like the hardest task in the world, because it really isn't, I just know from experience that the image of being a writer is sometimes  more fun than the reality. And the hardest part of it all? Starting.

As many writers will tell you, the most daunting sight in the world is a blank page. It's also the most exhilarating. A pure, blank slate full of possible adventures, of new friends and meaningful conversations, of the greatest epic that humankind might ever read. Unfortunately, the pristine whiteness of potential becomes as tight as a straight-jacket when it comes time to set down the pen (hit the first keystroke). The mind is a marvelous and fantastic just doesn't always translate well into coherent thought.

There must be a step around this endless blank, however, or the world would be full of novels without words, and that would just be silly. "What is this step, oh wise one?" you may ask. It's actually very simple. You just put down the first word. And then another. It really doesn't matter what you say in those first couple of lines - the editing comes later to make sure your introduction relates to the rest of your story - the important thing is that you've started. Once you have the rhythm of typing or writing, it's easy to get lost in the images that will undoubtedly run through your mind if you have an idea of where the story will take you.

It's the best advice I can give. Even knowing this, though, doesn't stop me from now and again beating my fists against the wall with writer's block or the dreaded creative silence. In that case, I tend to move onto writing something else, be it journaling or brainstorming for some other project. I have a post planned to discuss this "Wall" shortly.

My last piece of advice is something I offered to a friend only recently. Whenever I get stuck on what my first word should be, a good place to start is "The".