As the universe is my witness, I did not foresee these difficulties! ~ Me, circa now.
The editing journey is quite often a TRIP. Never more so than when you need to make some massive changes in your manuscript…like, thematic changes! Whoa!
This is the case with my current WIP. I did not realize how hard it would be. When you see the way things are, you cannot easily see the other ways they could possibly be…when it comes to your own manuscript. You always see the story the way it is…and as you change it, the way it was. That original story acts like a ghost in your head…inserting itself damnably and relentlessly into the current rendition of the story. It’s a seriously difficult situation to be in. Like, impossible. It’s hard to actualize something DIFFERENT once the story is down on paper. It takes the work of a magician, I think. And even when you make those changes, it’s hard to erase the past from your memory…and, at times, from the story itself.
That was convoluted. I apologize…but also the convoluted-ness of it helps to define the difficulty level I’m facing in re-writing this story. The original is not only haunting the revision stage…it is fighting for its life…it does not want to die.
This is how my editing process is going today. Writing is hard. Editing is hard. Revising is hard. The conundrum is that these things are also, in their turns, divine and divinely easy. Writing life is so bizarre. Do we make things difficult, or are they inherently difficult.
I just need the ghosts of this current WIP to die already, to allow me to move forward with another version of this story. Like, just shut up! I have deadlines, and you’re not making my work any easier by sticking around and staying in my head and refusing to be deleted.
Every September I typically do a catch all post about what’s going on. I guess I should do that now, seeing as we’re taking a little mini-getaway for a few days.
I recently handed in the completed young adult novel BOOK OF DREAMS and I’m feverishly working on my next novel WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR. Both books are contracted. BOOK OF DREAMS is forthcoming from DUET BOOKS, the YA imprint of INTERLUDE PRESS. It will drop in 2022. WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR is forthcoming from the same publisher and will drop in 2023.
Duet/Interlude is also the publisher of my most recent novel, THE CAMINO CLUB. It was truly my biggest work of passion to date. It was my Chef’s Kiss to my love of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. Earlier this year, THE CAMINO CLUB took the honor of SILVER WINNER in the Independent Book Publishers Association‘s BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BOOK AWARD for TEEN FICTION. I actually just received the certificate and stickers from my publisher yesterday. Here’s a copy of my novel with a newly affixed sticker below (you can click on the photo to go to the IBPA website)!
So my September roundup news is that I’m plowing away at finishing my ninth novel as the deadline rapidly approaches. And, we’re also planning and scheming and dreaming and hoping and praying for our upcoming (OCTOBER) trip to PARIS, FRANCE! We had planned to travel there in 2020, but as Robbie Burns said…”The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!” or, you know, ‘The best laid schemes of mice and men, Go often askew, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!’ In early 2020 the mice and men occupying this great orb of ours were put on a bit of a standstill. We got just about as askew as we could get. Though we’re not out of the woods quite yet, the two of us thought we’d try to do some pandemic times travel. With 35 days to go until liftoff, it is yet to be determined if our best laid plans will go askew this time around.
If and when we get to Paris, there will be much note taking. I have a new novel mapped out and wanted to revisit Paris to get all the details ironed out. It’s a meet-cute set in Paris and I wanted to be a stickler with the setting. The novel has been on hold since the pandemic crushed the aforementioned mice and men. I will be talking more about this book in the future, as it progresses.
I think that’s all I have going on in my writing world…two books coming out and one on hold. Not bad, I guess.
My one and only Pandemmy setting offering is a short story from DUET BOOKS/INTERLUDE PRESS. BILLIONS OF BEAUTIFUL HEARTS is available now. It’s the story of two nonbinary teens who find each other on Instagram and fall in love during the lockdown. You can pick it up HERE.
I feel like I really have nothing to report. Funny how that doesn’t quite align with the truth, though. I mean, I guess having two books contracted for release is a big thing. As the release dates get closer, I’m sure I’ll be more excited about things. For now, I’m in the trenches…I can’t quite see the publication forest for the writing and editing trees. Here’s some artwork from an early reader of BOOK OF DREAMS, though. I love this stark piece…it captures the creepy bookstore owner in the story quite nicely. It’s a good representation of the book’s dark aesthetic!
OH! And I almost forgot! September is also the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WRAP PARTY! We usually attend this event in Huntsville, Ontario. Sadly, it’s another Zoom event. Ugh. But it also means it’s easier to get to. September 25th is the day the awards will be handed out. I did not enter a novel into this year’s BEST NOVEL AWARD contest. I was busy finishing BOOK OF DREAMS, so that’s how I used my time. To enter the contest, you have to have written the entire book AT the marathon. I used the time to work on reaching the deadline to submit the finished manuscript to my publisher, so my manuscript didn’t qualify. The amount raised for this annual fundraising event will also be announced at the wrap party. You can learn more about the marathon at the link at the beginning of this run-on paragraph. 🙂
Onward to the end of this shit-storm of a year, I guess. May 2022 be far more pleasing to both the eye and the palate.
PS: If you’re in CANADA, don’t forget to VOTE. But don’t vote PPC or CPC because that would be bad. We don’t want to vote HATE into power, thank you very much.
When I want to manifest something, I first bring it to life on my blog. For those paying attention, I always do this. I’ve become predictable, even.
Sometimes these notions I have first appear in my Twitter feed. And then I feel the need to solidify them by writing about them on my blog. It’s called accountability and it’s a way to hold myself to task. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
This is how my last novel, The Camino Club came about. At first, I dreamed it. Then I tweeted about my idea. And then, while I was preparing to walk my first Camino in 2014, I blogged about it. It was a kernel of an idea. So in order to hold myself accountable, I put out into the world that I would write a YA novel set on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path.
That novel was published by Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press, in 2020. Ask me about launching a book during a pandemic. You know what, on second thought…don’t ask me. Nobody should have to do that!
Anyway, I’m also famous for digressing. Today I want to hold myself accountable for a new idea.
My dream this time is to release a journal of our upcoming short trip to Paris. It will only be a week in Paris…but a week is enough if you’re fast of your toes. Paris is a moveable feast. But it’s also a well constructed easily traversed city that’s perfectly laid out for the hiker and consummate walker. That happens to be what Michael and I are. We will take that city by storm, one footstep at a time…and we will cover it all!
And I will keep a daily journal. And if all goes according to plan, I will publish it. The only other thing I ever self-published was my short story set on the Camino called Light Near the End of the World. So this will be my 2nd journey into that world.
I don’t have a plan, but I will write about the places we visit in Paris and how we got to those places. And I will write about food and restaurants and cafes and macarons and baguettes. I will cover everything that strikes my fancy. We’ll see how this goes.
I will probably start writing in the journal before I even get to Paris. This will be a personal account of ONE JOURNEY. We’re traveling during a pandemic and we’re getting to Paris via Iceland. I mean, anything can happen, right? We’ll see if we get there…and if and when we do, I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about.
I’m ready. With my Dollarama journal and the lovely bookmark I picked up somewhere along the way as its traveling companion, I will take notes on our Parisienne travels.
I hope this goes well! I’m so passionate about Paris. It appears in many of my short stories, and I am also currently writing a YA novel that takes place there. Wrapped somewhere in the reasoning for returning to Paris–one of my favourite cities in the world–is the excuse of doing some extra research for my novel in progress. But honestly, I just love it there so much. I want Michael to see it…and I want to see it again for the first time, through his eyes.
Just over 40 days before our departure. Let’s hope the Delta Variant doesn’t keep us from our already postponed (we originally planned Paris for September, 2020) trip to the beautiful city of light!
It’s time, once again, to register for the annual MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON!
Every July, for 72 hours, a group of 40 or so writers have gotten together in the small but glorious northern Ontario town of Huntsville. Every July, they hole up in a space together and they each attempt to write a novel over the course of a three-day weekend.
THIS YEAR it’s the 20th Anniversary of this event!
Sadly, it’s also the 2nd year that the writers aren’t quite getting together. At least, not in the same way. Last year was our very first ONLINE EDITION. And this year will be our second online marathon.
I’m not going to lie. IT’S NOT THE SAME. Imagine the energy of having 40 writers in one room together for 72 hours. It’s frenetic, it’s chaos, it’s practically euphoric. We help each other with plot bunnies and holes, we urge each other on, we tease and joke and laugh and cry. And we also break bread together…as we are served 3 meals a day. All we have to do is stop writing, leave our writing stations, and go to the mess hall for food. It’s all set out and ready for us hungry writers to dig into.
You just can’t get that online.
BUT…it’s still an amazing journey. Writers meet through Zoom frequently. We have smaller breakout groups. We support each other. We even have silent Zoom meets where all those who attend just quietly type out their words together. Trust me…those are super helpful. I got a lot of words down during the silent Zooms. I didn’t think it would work, but it did.
We make the best with what we have. What we have during this pandemic is online camaraderie.
The good thing about ONLINE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON is that it’s open to more than the usual 40 writers…and you don’t have to travel to HUNTSVILLE to attend! You can register and participate online in the comfort of your own writing space! AND you can be from anywhere in the world.
So think about spending a productive writing weekend with a group of writers dead-set on writing an entire novel in 72 hours.
The details (from the MNM website):
The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is Open for Registration! Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021
Due to the on-going situation with the pandemic, we will be holding our second (and hopefully last) all online Muskoka Novel Marathon. Join us for a ZOOM event. No seat limit! Tell all your friends!
There IS a nominal fee to register. This will cover all the expenses the organization incurs for organizing the event. Registration is $25 and there are also cool MNM T-shirts you can pick up if you wish.
Think about joining us this year. It’s so much fun to get online together and urge each other on! There’s also an evening during the weekend where anyone who wants to can read an excerpt from their MNM work-in-progress in a safe nonjudgmental environment.
You’ll have to make your own coffee…but what this organization puts together for this weekend is worth your attending. It got me through in 2020…and I’m looking forward to attending the 2021 event. It will be an opportunity to see old friends from previous MNM events…and meet new ones in this safe virtual creative space!
I’m guessing a good portion of my blog posts on this site are about the MNM. This will be, I think, my 13th marathon! I’ve written about many of them. Just search Muskoka Novel Marathon on this site to read more about it. And spend some time at their site:
Longtime writing friend LYNDI ALLISON has a Young Adult DEBUT novel landing soon! I’m so excited to share the details with you here today! I first met Lyndi through the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR), where she held various roles on the Board of Directors…including president of the organization. Always a champion for writers everywhere, Lyndi now gets to celebrate her own amazing debut!
Before I share the cover for THE LINES BETWEEN OUR STARS, though, you might want to go back up and click on Lyndi’s highlighted name above to visit her Instagram page. Her bio says it all…I travel. I hike. I write. YA Author, writing facilitator, writing tour and retreat host.
Lyndi did what a lot of us only dream of doing. She packed it all away up here in Ontario a few years ago. She now resides in PANAMA. Not only that, she runs a retreat there for writers.
Isn’t it gorgeous! THE LINES BETWEEN OUR STARS! It’s book one of THE SUMMER TRIANGLE TRILOGY.
RELEASE DATE: MARCH 31, 2021
Here’s the synopsis of Book 1:
When a dragon-snake slithers into the lab where fifteen-year-old Jas volunteers, he and his artsy rival, Gloria, teleport to an exoplanet to rescue the life form’s son. Now, the Interplanetary Space Agency is determined to stop them.
With water scarce and few comforts of home, the teens find themselves up against a formidable foe. They’ll have to overcome obstacles together or be stranded on this dusty planet light-years from Earth.
Now for the all important details! This is dropping soon (March 31st), so now is the perfect time to PREORDER!
Here are some AMAZON preorder links! You know what to do! Please click the links below. Please preorder:
“We are a group of Kidlit writers and publishing professionals who are horrified about the intense rise in anti-Asian violence after a year of xenophobic rhetoric and racist attacks. “The NYPD reported that hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020.” (Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Are on the Rise. Many Say More Policing Isn’t the Answer,Time.com) We are running an auction to raise funds for two organizations that work against anti-asian racism and racism of all kind: Stop AAPI Hate & Hate is a Virus. Auction is open from February 26, 2021 @ 12AM EST until February 28, 2021 @ 11:59 PM EST.”
You have to act fast if you want in on items in this auction, as it only lasts for 2 days!
There are over 400 items to bid on. Here’s a link to the page that breaks those items down by category…for easier navigating of what there is on offer:
Did that make sense? I mean, I always defended my right to call myself a writer whenever I go through long stretches of not writing. I get defensive and prove–with novels and plays and stories and poems already written–that I am indeed a writer. Even when I am not anywhere even remotely nearby the actual literal act of writing. But is that all just one big cop out? Am I justifying the owning of the title by pulling up historic data that makes it seem like it’s so when it isn’t actually so?
By that measure, I should call myself a professional double-dutch skipper. I mean, I was REALLY good at it 45 years ago…so I should in fact still call myself a double-dutcher, no???
Maybe we should consider ourselves writers only while we are writing. The act of writing makes it so. I am writing at this very as we speak moment, typing these words out…so, therefore and ergo, I AM A WRITER. But once I click PUBLISH on this post…maybe I should just become Breather again. Human. Non-Writer.
Would it motivate me more to only call myself a writer while in the act of writing? I need something to get me to keep on track. I am between novels. One was just released. Three are near completion. One is completed and without a home. And I sit and do nothing writing related for far too many hours of the days I have left.
I keep hoping for an Elves and the Shoemaker scenario. I mean, aren’t the statistical odds in my favour that this could eventually one day happen? I’ll wake up one morning and all three WIPs will be completed! Perhaps the elves will even leave a lovely pair of slippers across the top of the manuscript, which will be neatly tied with a pretty purple ribbon, and finished off with a bow. Or, no…that is perhaps asking too much. Maybe they’ll just leave me a chocolate. After all, I can’t expect them to make me a pair of slippers and finish the drafts of all three manuscripts, can I?
See…this is me typing words now. I am fulfilling my claim that I am a writer, simply by typing this gobbledygook. Thereby tricking myself into not being required to dig into those manuscripts and get cracking. I’m so good. There should be awards for WRITERLY PROCRASTINATION!
How’s your writing going? Are you on task? Are you getting things done? Are you calling yourself a WRITER?
It’s NANOWRIMO 2020 in precisely 9 days from now. Are you participating? Are you planning? Are you going in with an outline or cold turkey pantsing it once the day (NOVEMBER 1st) arrives?
I need to commit to something, so I suppose NaNoWriMo it will be. Sometimes just thinking about calling myself a writer when I’m not in fact writing is stressful enough to motivate me to get back into the game. I keep thinking about that little saying, if you don’t use it you lose it. Man, I would hate to lose writing just because I’m too lazy and unmotivated to write RIGHT NOW.
Once I stop writing this post, I will be a non-writer again. Until the next time I write something. Here’s to motivating myself to have less time in between these two realities. Or at least slipping into WRITER now and then. I’ve been so bad lately. Let’s see if waving this threat of removing the title from myself is the trick that gets me back in the business of word slinging. Wish me luck!
Oh! And good luck with NaNoWriMo, if you’re imbibing! And don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s the journey, not the destination. It’s the writing, not the having written. It’s the time spent in the web of words, not the word count. Just enjoy yourself this NaNo! 2020 is enough of a mess without imposing self-inflicted punishments on ourselves for something as arbitrary as word counts. Just enjoy the words you DO spend time with.
This past weekend was the 2020 Muskoka Novel Marathon. It was the…wait for it…QUARANTINE EDITION. Cue the creepy crawling dark and dreary music…
The novel marathon is usually 40 writers getting together in one intimate space and writing 40 novels over the course of a 72 hours weekend in July. It occurs in Huntsville, Ontario, the heart of the Muskoka region. Cottage Country.
This year? Not so much. We sat in our own houses. We wrote on our own.
But the Marathon organizers did a SUPER FANTASTIC ABSOLUTELY AMAZING JOB motivating the housebound writers! They are to be commended for thinking outside the box during this, the year of impossibilities. Covid-19 changed EVERYTHING, including the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON.
I know we won’t raise as much money for the YMCA literacy programs this year. It’s pretty much a given. But writers still did their best, we still did some fundraising. Hopefully, we raise enough to keep some of the programs funded. The yearly injection of funds that the Y gets from this marathon is no small change. We often raise upwards of $30,000 per marathon year.
The other elements of this event, outside of the fundraising? The WRITING. The camaraderie. The silliness. The emotions. The food. The coffee. The love. The words. The sunshine and the rain. While in Huntsville every year, the writers usually sneak out to explore the town…either on their own or in groups. We have a pub night, we take the old fashioned train at the historical HERITAGE PLACE TRAIN STATION. We do an amazing BAREFOOT CREATIVITY WALK with BAREFOOT SUE! We do all these things and more. We are a family gone on a long weekend vacation together. 40 of us. We click and clack in the writing room day and night. We stop writing long enough to break bread together three times a day (Called to the kitchen by the flickering of the writing room lights and presented with delectable food for every meal provided by volunteers and sponsors). We huddle in small groups and large ones, talking about writerly and nonwriterly things. We do a MIDNIGHT READING on the SUNDAY NIGHT…sitting around a large table in the kitchen (let’s just call it a mess hall) reading the fresh unedited words from our manuscripts to the other gathered writers. We are, for 3 short days every year, a family.
We did ZOOM meetings this time around. We wore pajamas and goofy hats and ate together and laughed. It was different. It was very different. But thanks to the gracious and tireless organizing committee, our family found to a new way to be together…to reach out and share. We even did the Midnight Reading.
MUCH THANKS AND LOVE TO: Karen Wehrstein, Colum McKnight, Jennifer Turney, Heather Cotic, Krystyne Taylor-Smith, Shellie Westlake, Sharon Bacon, and, David Bruce Patterson. These generous souls brought our happy family together in a new and vibrant way. Much things have been cancelled during Covid-19. Thanks to this group who thought outside the box and made the changes necessary to keep our little light aflame. The MNM did not happen in Huntsville this year, no. But we carried on…we came…we wrote words. We persisted.
There’s always next year, right? HUNTSVILLE CAN WAIT.
So, the marathon is different this year. It usually takes place in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada…in ONE ROOM. 40 writers gather for 72 hours and write 40 novels. But with the little pandemic and all, that’s not possible. This will be the first time it hasn’t happened since its inception 19 years ago. Tragic, yes. We DO LOVE OUR WEEKEND NOVEL WRITING GETAWAY IN PARADISE. It’s a highlight of the year for us regulars.
This year, anyone can participate. You can REGISTER HERE. If that link doesn’t work properly, you can click the clickable link to register on the home page, which I linked above.
Fundraising this year is not mandatory, but they do hope we each bring a little something to the table. Poke around on the site to learn more about the marathon. Essentially, it’s about writers getting some quality writing time while raising funds for area literacy programs. It’s actually quite incredible–we eat all our meals together, we click away at our laptops in the same room, we drink endless amounts of coffee. It’s a pure unadulterated blast!
This year, it’s from the comfort of your own home. They’ll have some communication going on online. It won’t be the same, but the connection will still be there. The writing will still be there.
It’s open to all who wish to register. Give it a shot. What are you doing the weekend of JULY 17-20? Stop everything, get your bum in chair and write some words!
Well, now I’ve gone and done it! I told myself I was going to take a year off from the Muskoka Novel Marathon. I have a new book coming out (THE CAMINO CLUB) and I thought the 72 hour marathon less than 2 months before launch was just too much me-time to take. I wanted to remain open, just in case.
As it turns out, a pandemic has struck. So everything has changed. The whole world has changed. Including the magic of the Muskoka Novel Marathon. For the first time ever, this event will not take place in one room in one building in one little northern Ontario town. This year’s MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON will not be 40 writers in one room writing 40 novels in 72 hours.
We will be spread far and wide, in our own homes, eating alone or with our loved ones. It’s strange and shocking. I can’t fathom the world without the yearly escape of the MNM. It’s a rare event that, if experienced, all writers cherish. Writing in one room together, stopping for meals to break bread together, to laugh, to compare words, to cry, to vex, to prank. Sigh.
But I did say WE. As it turns out, I guess I do have the schedule that would afford me the ability to participate. I mean, I’ll be home anyway, right? ALSO—full disclosure: The biggest reason I wasn’t going this year was that I felt like I should give my fellow participants a break. I can be a little MUCH sometimes. When I’m doing something that is high intensity–SAY, WRITING A NOVEL IN 72 HOURS–I get a little high intensity myself. I know I can be exhausting at these things, because I exhaust myself. So, I was going to sit this one out to give them an extra year to recuperate.
Usually the marathon registration costs $100. This may sound like a lot of money to fork over for the opportunity to spend 72 hours writing. To those people, I just say, “You’re crazy!” Value your words. That $100 buys 3 meals a day for 3 days, as well as unlimited coffee and snacks. AND a place to stay for 3 days. AND the magical camaraderie of like-minded people. You’re camping in a room with 39 other writers for three days and being fed and caffeinated non-stop. Take my $100, please!
This year, registration is free. And though they ask registrants to participate in fundraising, it is not mandatory. As important as LITERACY is, there are a lot of people out of jobs right now–either permanently or temporary. Fundraising for literacy could prove to be a heavy unfruitful burden for sure. There are a few very important causes right now that should not lose our focus, including bail funds and Black Lives Matter.
So, the usual push for fundraising is gone. And as the marathon is online for the first time, I guess it opens it up for people outside the immediate area as well.
This will be my 12th marathon. I’m registered and counting down the days. Hopefully I can stay on track and get a few words written from home. I hear there’s some online things being planned too, where participants can interact. Maybe some ZOOMS, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing what the organizers come up with.
I DID ask for a DONATION PAGE. So if you’re so inclined I would be thrilled if you were to sponsor this cyber-MNM. I’m certain the marathon will fall WAY SHORT of its annual close to $30,000 fundraising achievement. Any amount will help support the ongoing literacy programs of Muskoka/Simcoe county YMCA.
We are WRITERS HELPING READERS READ. You can be READERS HELPING WRITERS HELP READERS READ if you wish. Do you have it in you?
I will be receiving a donation page soon and will share it once it’s live. In light of the current world situation, I will not be doing very much canvassing for funds. But I will make the link available. STAY TUNED!