Merry Monday – Broken


Image created using Bit Strips.

I didn’t do a lot this weekend beyond watch TV because I felt broken.

I missed martial arts on Sunday as my neck was killing me. I think I’ve been sleeping in strange positions because of the upper oblique muscle I pulled while sneezing on Friday and that’s aggravating my old herniated disc problem. I hope it resolves before the weekend as I have a martial arts demo and it would be ideal if I could practice before then.

Yes. A sneeze broke me. I suppose this is a sign that I’m getting older.

I like this video for giving me more options to tame my neck pain. Maybe it’ll help me heal it once and for all.

I still managed to get some cleaning done and feed myself. I’m annoyed at this silly injury. I’m going to try not to let it delay my Couch 2 5k start, but at least I can get some writing done while I’m broken? I’ll try a fast walk instead of a run…

As far as writing goes, I heard back on my first novel. They said it’s not quite polished enough, but encouraged me to resubmit after having some people go through it and help me fix it up! So I’ve been recruiting beta readers to help with that. I’m now making a list of readers for round 2. I had no idea so many people would want to help me with this
thing! IT’s really heart-warming and makes me want to cry. Happy tears of course.

I’ve also been converting my horror novel to third person as it was originally first person, but I felt like that was too limiting for the story that I want to tell. Some of it feels like too much telling instead of showing, so I’ll be fixing that at some point. I feel like it’s important to get the story written first and fix those things later. I guess that’s my writing process; writing in layers. I’ve talked about that before.

I really don’t mind that I have more work ahead of me as I want to give it my best shot. I always feel like I can do better and it’s time to dig deeper.

Off to walk quickly then continue working on my horror novel.

Guid cheerio the nou,

Merry Monday – Good News!

pen_and_bookOn Saturday, I was informed that I’ve been accepted to college! I’ll be studying Scriptwriting at Algonquin College in the Fall. The program has me more excited than any other I’ve taken. I’ll be learning about the history of film in Canada, how to write for actors/digital media/broadcasting/screen, basic video production, the business side of script writing, and there’s a field placement. I also read about how they often have a field trip where they take students out to pitch scripts to people who make movies happen. I think it might actually be at the Toronto Film Festival. I’m super eager to start the course! Seriously, if I had the books I’d already be reading them and like Hermione know a lot of the answers on day one…

It’s good that I don’t have them yet as I have to prepare financially for this. One of the things to decide is whether or not to get the laptop I really want or to go with something cheaper to save cash. I really want one that coverts to a tablet, but I think I could save like $400 or so going with less. Decisions… I mean eating and my mortgage are pretty important, but gadgetty goodness!

Other good news? I will have an article published soon in Onder Magazine about how composing music and writing stories are similar activities. I’ll let you know when you can get your hands on it, as soon as I know 🙂

I will also be part of another Eighth Ripple Press anthology, which is slated for October. Steamy Cogs is an anthology of Steampunk Romance stories. This is my current WIP. I only have most of it left to write and I have to type it sans my left index finger as I cut the tip of that one. I learned how to type with injured fingers that year I successfully completed NaNoWriMo. It feels weird to do it though. And I keep forgetting it until the pain shoots through my finger. That happened the NaNoWriMo time too. Didn’t learn the lesson the first time…

One sad thing. I accidentally killed a bird when it swooped under my car as I exited a highway ramp on Sunday. Poor birdie didn’t have a chance. RIP little pigeon 😥

I’m off to memorize a book report in French before tonight as our teacher wants us to present this one without notes. Though I hate presentations less than I used to, this one is in another language, which adds a whole new layer of yuck. I think he wants to see how well we improvise. He might have us repeat it too. Extra yuck.

Oh, I have a small book around here on writing scripts. I can read that before school and then give it back to my friend…

French first though.


Merry Monday: Jo-ha-kyū

Image created using Bit Strips.

Image created using Bit Strips.

I got frustrated with my Sensei and Sempais on Sunday. Lately, they bring up Jo-ha-kyū often, which is a timing used in our martial art of Iaido, but actually comes from the theatre.

This will be explained in writing terms shortly.

We like to say the kata needs feeling. It needs Jo-ha-kyū. It also needs metsuke, but we aren’t discussing that today.

Well, I snapped at them and said that they keep saying that and it’s just words without meaning. I said it was entirely subjective and asked why there couldn’t be a guideline on the timing like Jo is 6 beats, Ha is 1-2 beats, and then Kyū is 4 beats? Well, they said that’s just not possible because each kata needs different timing.

Valid point.

So we discussed it further.

Jo is the “Rising Action”. Often, this is when we are unsheathing our swords. In Ippon-me Mae, we are drawing slowly because at any point we could decide we don’t need to fight after all and we can place the sword back in its scabbard.

Ha is the “Turning Point” and is often the shortest part. This is the saya banare point where our sword is no longer in its sheath. We’re committed to following through.

Kyū is the “Climax” and usually, we’re cutting something.

But katas can be made of more than one scene and contain several Jo-ha-kyū moments.

Take Mae, for example. We rise as we draw (Jo). The sword leaves the saya and the tip is flicked into position to start the cut (Ha). We perform the horizontal cut (Kyu). Next, we bring the sword upward (Jo), briefly pausing as it reaches cutting position (Ha), and then we cut vertically down the centre (Kyū).

We write using Jo-ha-kyū. Or we should. There’s a thing our protagonist is trying to get (Rising Action or Jo), but s/he has to deal with something else first (Obstacle/Opportunity/Turning Point or Ha), then they get what they want (Climax or Kyū).

After the final Climax occurs we must move into resolution. In Iaido, we call this Zanshin. We slowly come down from the climax and the fight or story is over.

These things relate to music as well. Songs often start soft and gradually build. They rise and might hit a turning point by changing timing for a small piece or keys. Then, they climax and resolve. This might happen a few times in a song. Each climax may supersede the previous one.

Geocaching also has these elements. The Rising Action (Jo) of choosing the cache, the commitment by setting the GPS (Ha), the climax of locating the cache and doing whatever is required to log it (Kyū).

Everything in life has a rhythm.

In Iaido, we want to be able to take control of the timing. If we control the timing, we win the fight. With writing, publishers long held control of the timing. Now, the author can choose to be in control.

I now have concrete examples of each of the elements of Jo-ha-kyū, I just need to get my body to do it. You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes. It can take months or even years to get the body to apply what is known in the mind.

This happens in writing, as well. We know if we write about our character crying, the reader won’t cry. Knowing this doesn’t tell us how to write a scene where the reader will cry, though. There are other critical elements like ensuring the reader cares about the character in the first place. We know this too. We can’t know if the reader will care. There’s a higher likelihood if they can relate to the character, but we can’t all relate to each other all the time. If the protagonist is a serial killer, has no remorse, and has no reason beyond enjoying killing for murdering people, then there won’t be too many who empathize with them. If said serial killer is a forensics guy who kills serial killers because he’s using his affliction for good we are put in this grey area because we know there are major cracks in the justice department that let dangerous criminals off too often. Then we think about how this guy is doing something bad to save the lives of others. He’s doing something for the greater good. We can’t help but like Dexter Morgan.

Anyway, I think I’ve gotten off-topic. I hope you find your own rhythm in whatever you do.


Funky Friday: Publishing, bullets, and more

Image created using Bit Strips.

Image created using Bit Strips.

Here’s what I found around the web this week.

  1. Nostalgic: What do you get when you combine Rainbow Brite and The X-Men? This. So adorable!
  2. Proud: I have published a short story on Amazon and Smashwords this week! Check my Shorts page for the details.
  3. Hopeful: Service animals are wonderful. Read about Luke and his dog Jedi. I love the Star Wars hat tip!
  4. Shocked: There was a big cocaine bust in Ontario this week. A man from Ottawa and his mother are among those charged. This is not the first time the woman is making headlines though. Apparently her daughter has been missing since 2012.
  5. Scared: There was a shooting near my home. It seems the year I bought my condo was quiet. Thankfully I wasn’t in the area at the time, but last year there were several stabbings. Apparently he was a criminal.
  6. Happy: I got some good news this week! My physiotherapist said there’s no reason to come regularly now and just to make an appointment as necessary. I’ve struggled with terrible posture for years. When I started roller derby several years ago, I often skated with my head down and back hunched over. It was awful. By the end of the only season I did roller derby, I was much more upright, but I had suffered a whiplash like injury from hitting someone much larger than I. I did a lot of chiropractic work at the start, then heavy active physio, and now I’m doing more passive things. Yoga is on the list to start doing regularly.
  7. Confused: Need to get a TIN from the IRS. If you think Canadian taxes are confusing…
  8. Excited: I bought my tickets for Ottawa Comiccon 2016! As always, there’s a whole lot of cool things happening 🙂
  9. Surprised: I’m surprised only because I thought of substance more broadly and thought sugar would be on the list of the most addictive substances. I’m also surprised that alcohol is higher than cocaine.
  10. Inspired: It was International Women’s Day on Tuesday. There were many inspirational posts and people talked about. Quite a few of the Harry Potter ladies are on the list. In the Ottawa area there were several Femmy Award winners. Here are some inspirational quotes by strong women.
  11. Enchanted: I watched My Neighbor Totoro this week. Cat Bus! I love Miyazaki’s stories. I’ve only seen three, but all three have featured a theme of protecting or connecting with nature. They also have this tenderness that I like. So far my favourite is Spirited Away. My second favourite is Princess Mononoke.
  12. Dread-filled: The “spring Ahead” time change. My annual nemesis returns this weekend. I’m happy that winter is ending, but sleep is precioussss…
  13. Accomplished: I finished sewing a fabric rug for my living room. It feels more comfy at home now.
  14. Blaze: Apparently Splenda is probably bad for you. Is anyone shocked by this revelation? I know I’m not.
  15. Delighted: Disturb’s rendition of “The Sound of Silence” is phenomenal.
  16. Tired: Been dragging my butt every morning this week. I have a theory it has to do with staying up to read the Illustrated Harry Potter…
  17. Intrigued: Apparently Alzheimer’s might be caused by STI bacteria. Something you might not want to think about in regards to certain relatives…
  18. Puzzled: WTF is going on in Cross Lake, Manitoba? What do so many want to end their lives???
  19. WTF: A crab shack has racist decor on the tables. How does stuff like this even happen? Does anyone do quality control these days? Have we learned nothing in the last 100 or so years???
  20. Meh: The first families of Canada and the US had dinner together. That’s nice.

Well I’m off to read more Harry Potter.


Can-Con 2014 (Oct 3-5)

The list of panels I planned on going to was altered slightly based on panel cancellations and me changing my mind. Here is the list I went to with a few takeaways from each:

Medical Science Fiction & Biological Engineering [Alison Sinclair, Julie Czerneda, Agnes Cadieux]
– Life will find a way.
– Some efforts to improve things in the world don’t want publicity.

How to Get Traditionally Published [Max Turner, Matt Moore, Matthew Johnson, Alison Sinclair, Julie Czerneda]
– Avoid writing purply prose (over-using adjectives).
– Stay away from people like book coaches who just want to take advantage of you. Check out sites like Writer Beware.
– 35,100 words is often where it gets annoying to write.

RPGs: How the Industry has Changed, Open Gaming Licenses and Breaking in [Geoff Gander, Alice Black]
– You can’t copyright a game system.
– 4 Styles:
1. Event Based
2. Location Based
3. Story Based
4. Crisis Management
– The world is still happening when characters aren’t there, but the characters have to have an impact.

The Economics of Self-Publishing [Kevin Johns, S.M. Carriere, Mark Leslie-Lefebvre, Tim Carter]
– Minimum cost for professional quality is $3,000.
– Short fiction is best published in electronic format only
– Up to 25,000 words

A Peek Inside Canadian Labs [Pippa Wysong]
– Canada is the leading innovator in potatoes (yukon gold) and lettuce, but we have a lot of other things going on too like:
– Applications for nanocellulose
– Physics (Canada Light Source, SNOLab, TRIUMF)
– Very small satellites
– Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
– Research and Development
– L’Oreal (Montreal)
– National Research Center (Ottawa)
– Canadian Space Agency
– Technology & Clothing
– elevator shoes
– bear deterrent clothing

Romance: Learnings that can be Imported into any Genre [Marie Bilodeau, Linda Poitevin, Coreene Callahan, Leslie Brown, Lynne MacLean]
– A scene must move the story forward and give new information. Your character needs to be challenged. Adding great pacing to this leads to a story that is hard to put down.
– Doing psychological profiles on each character will help you know your characters well before you put them into situations.
– Romance really focuses on human connection.
– Write in layers.

Taking the Next Step in a Creative Career [Jay Odjick, Gabrielle Harbowy, Linda Poitevin, Marie Bilodeau, Robin Riopelle]
– Plan releases
– It’s best to have more than one thing ready to publish or close to publishing
– No more than 30 minutes per day is plenty to manage social media (I need to work on this)
– It shouldn’t be all promotion either. People need to know you’re human.
– It’s a good idea to have a separate name for children’s work from the one you use to write for adults
– Keep foreign language rights and any rights for a country you aren’t selling to. Also, limit the amount of years of exclusivity.

Exploring the Solar System: Mars Rovers, Pluto Fly-By, Cassini – What have we learned? [Peter Atwood, Mark Robinson, Wolfram Lunscher, Canadian Space Society]
– There’s a lot of cool stuff around Saturn.
– Asteroids can have moons.
– Ethical aspects of space exploration vs. Starving people of the world.
– Space exploration helps us understand our own planet and predict its future.

Face-Palms of World-Building, or, How to Fail Epically [Mark Robinson, Andrew Barton, Julie Czerneda, Cenk Gokce]
– A good world will allow you the freedom for your readers to take leaps of faith when you decide to throw in something crazy.
– Sometimes small things will mean large gains. You can be subtle with it.
– Don’t get into the minutiae of things that aren’t relevant
– Why should anyone care?
– Does it connect to the plot or a subplot?
– Implications of things like weather.
– Ignorance and laziness are responsible for a lot of world building failures.

Wattpadd [Maaja Wentz, Linda Poitevin, Mark Leslie-Lefebvre]
– Serial fiction
– Good for building a following.
– beta reader potential
– Allows interaction with readers.

Enhancing Creative Imagination [Dr. Jim Davies]
– Counterontology Theory (Pascal Boyer)
– Keep a file of ideas, combine 2 or 3 to make something interesting.
– Write down the most obvious way and then change it.

Left-Field Approaches to Publishing [Caroline Frechette, Hayden Trenholm, Su Sokol, Coreene Callahan]
– Co-ops
– Collectives
– Chap books

Getting Noticed (in a good way) in the Novel and Short Story Slush Piles [Mike Rimar, Nicole Lavigne, Sean Moreland, Gabrielle Harbowy]
– Follow submission guidelines!
– Don’t take rejection personally.
– With the cover letter, again follow guidelines per the publisher, but also less is more.

A Comparison on the Building Codes of the Northern US States, Chapters on Plumbing and Wiring [Marie Bilodeau]
– Best panel EVER!
– Hopefully I can overcome my fear of singing in public for next year.

Opportunities for Self-Publishing and Hybrid Models for Authors [Mark Leslie-Lefebvre]
– Some book sellers refuse to carry books from that retailer that starts with an ‘A’
– DO NOT try and create your own cover unless you are a graphic designer by day. Spend money for a real cover because people DO judge books by their covers.
– Novellas sell in digital format.
– Publishing Methods:
– Traditional (slow, low risk, advance is a debt, vast expertise, you still market)
– Self (digital is more successful)
– Fully Assisted (you pay all, get higher royalties, no gatekeepers, high writing focus for the writer)
– DIY (you are everything and outsourcing is key)
– Community (blog, Twitter, Wattpadd, etc)
– Indie/Regional (like self without stigma)
– 3Ps:
1. Patience (It takes time)
2. Practice (Write lots)
3. Persistence (Write your next book)

Superhero Versus the Collective – Do Superhero Tropes Devalue Collective Action? [Jay Odjick, Mark Shainblum, Su Sokol]
– Superheros fix everything often by themselves rather than inspiring the people to work together to solve problems.
– Crutch: We don’t have to be better people because the superhero will save the day and fix things for us.
– Leave open-ended metaphors so people can take what they want from it.
– This can be too safe and not encourage talking about key issues
– Some things are too sensitive like what’s happening in the middle east.
– Also, swastika can’t be shown in Germany, so Captain America fights the Hydra, which we know are Nazis, but German people wouldn’t be able to have most of the merchandise.

Talking about your Sonic Wrench and Other Tricks for Flushing Out the Nerds Who Are Hiding As Muggles [Marie Bilodeau, S.M. Carriere, Erik Buchanan, Timothy Carter, Mark Shainblum]
– I really enjoyed this panel. Notes weren’t necessary.

The Mystery Plot Form for Aspiring Writers [Hayden Trenholm, Derek Künsken, Barbara Fradkin]
– Several types
– Caper
– Crime
– Cozy
– Gumshoe
– Police Procedural
– Thriller
– Whodunit (Murder Mystery)
– True Crime
– Amateur Sleuth
– Hard-Boiled (Noir)
– Soft-Boiled
– Suspense
– People can’t handle abstract things like society.
– Mystery has a strong moral component and justice must prevail.
– Range from funny to Hannibal Lecter

After all of that learning, I felt rather brain-fried for a couple of days, but also really inspired. It seemed the most mundane things would spark a story idea. With no shortage of inspiration, I’m excited for NaNoWriMo to be starting in a couple of weeks. My Nano novel has been planned out and added to the system and I’m raring to go and write it. It won’t be easy to get my daily word count of 1,667 words in order to meet the 50,000 word goal, but I’m going to do my best. I do have some other committments such as two martial arts seminars, which are important as early December means grading and I need all the practice I can get with my sword. I also have regular martial arts classes, and a couple of roller derby practices to make. Oh and that pesky thing called a day job that ensures I can eat and keep having a place to live. I’m looking forward to this upcoming challenge to see how much I can accomplish when I really put the effort in. I’m starting a new story for Nano, rather than continuing my current novel. Don’t worry, I WILL finish that one too, just not in November.

As part of prep for Nano, I have mapped out chapters and some characters. I’ve been cleaning my condo. I’ve also started getting up earlier by allowing one snooze instead of two or three. I’m going to start going to bed a little earlier, so I can get up earlier and have more writing time. It won’t be easy as I like my sleep, but it’s the difficult things in life that I love the most. Also, we get an extra hour of sleep in November, which will help. I’m looking forward to that despite that it represents the coming winter months… Anyways, that pesky job thing will be upon me soon.


OIW – Book Cover Design Seminar

On May 22nd, I went to a seminar on book cover design.

Before the information was presented on design, the author of Imposter Bride, Nancy Richler, read part of her first chapter and the story sounds intriguing. Lately, I am preferring to read the work of other Ottawa-area authors. Perhaps someday it will be my book that they read in turn. Currently, I am reading The Crimson Man by Patricia K McCarthy and though it is not in my genre, it is a fiery read. Ladies, you’ll enjoy it. So far it feels heated like 50 Shades of Grey, but with more substance and a higher level of writing skill.

At the beginning of the meeting, announcements were made about newly published works by members of the Ottawa Independent Writers group. The Autism Story is written as fiction by a university professor that specializes in the area. It sounds interesting as well.

Nancy Richler answered questions about publishing after she completed her reading. Here is what I took from it:

1. Avoid small press publishers. They often tank and your work doesn’t get the marketing required to make it successful.

2. Ways to find an agent:

– An agent may find you if you get enough renown by putting yourself and bits of your work into the world through things like blogging and social media. (I started putting more time into this area recently.)

– Attend writer’s festivals if possible as the opportunities exist to book 5 minute pitching appointments with agents there.

– Find an agent you find interesting, check them out (their website) and opinions of writers they represent if you can find that out; follow the guidelines for contact via their website; submit and wait about 8 months.

– Find out how to get invitations to book festivals.

3. Some things an agent will do and how payment works

– Agents help you through the legal stuff with contracts.

– Payment is a percentage of your earning off the book once published.

4. Manuscript submissions

– Some publishers and agents take unsolicited manuscripts.

5.Publisher submissions

– Go ahead and submit to more than one because they often take forever to get back to you.

6. Developing a name for yourself

– Do readings when possible.

7. Self-publishing

– Many authors are starting out by self-publishing and then going to a larger publisher to build their audience further. This means you don’t have to choose one or the other. Having built somewhat of a fan base can make you a less scary writer to take on.

– An agent is not necessary for self-publishing, but there are many skills required to be successful

8. Book launches

– It can be hard to get people to attend book launches.

– It helps to align and work with other writers and share a launch.

Diane Dufour of Accurate Designs spoke about book covers and marketing. Below are the points I took from it:

1. Cover

– Needs to hook the readers. Colours help and so does title choice.

– How would it look if part was reused in other media like a movie title?

– It should make readers feel something.

2. Marketing

– You could put small pieces of your work on Facebook or other social media platforms.

– Consider publishing pieces of the book in on-line magazines, which may garner interest in ordering your book. Perhaps not a chapter, but a short story version of your novel.

– eBooks are very popular. I think most of us know this already.

– Print on Demand is a good way to provide your book to those readers who prefer a physical copy without costing tons of money. This wasn’t news to me as I work at a publishing company, but it may be useful information for others.

3. Rich Media

– Whether in electronic or paper format, today’s books can have things in them like pictures that can connect the reader to a video when photographed with a smartphone.



I’ve been quite busy, so I haven’t been updating this blog. My novel is hovering at the 50% mark or 25,000 words. Yay! So while I haven’t been blogging, I have been writing, a lot.

Life has been pretty crazy in the past 9 months. The company I work for is being divested and many of us feel like we are stuck in a slow death. The hubby and I are applying for other opportunities and may relocate. Several friends have had or will be having their first babies soon.

It has been a little hard to focus on my writing, as last week we received the first concrete date given of anything in the divestment process, and so I having been thinking about my career lately. I am trying to find telecommuting options for myself, so we can be wherever my husband needs for his next job, and so I’ll be less likely to end up in this situation again. I am working on putting together a Writer’s Resume for myself.

I am also trying to figure out what to say about my novel when people ask the inevitable, “What is it about?”, question. It’s about a boy who is different–Doesn’t that sound like almost every other story?–and he has a huge task to fulfill (hello Harry Potter, Jesus, etc). I know what I need to divulge to sell it, but I’m not ready to tell anyone until the book is “complete”. Then I can approach an agent and get into meetings with publishers, if I go the traditional route, or I can self-publish and risk no one bothering to read it at all. I’m hoping to have people proofread sections that are in their area of expertise, before I get looking for an agent, but I don’t want too many people to read the full novel until it’s in stores. Maybe that’s odd, but it’s precious to me.

At a birthday last night someone told me that they thought it was a pretty big deal to decide to write a novel and were impressed. I found it interesting because the person is around 30 and recently decided to apply to law school, which I think is impressive.

I’m currently in another research phase, but I’ll be done it soon. I’ll be back writing my novel shortly, and hoping I can finish it before I’m out of a job. I’m not too worried about having a job, as I have other skills besides my writing. Writing is what I want to do to make a living and break free from the hamster wheel called office work. I feel like when I can spend my days writing, I will finally feel like I’m doing something important with my life. Maybe I’ll just go up a level on Maslow’s hierarchy, but it has to be better than this.


Another challenge that I have is…

… writing stuff I think needs to exist in my book, but isn’t my strong point or what I’m interested in. Specifically, my characters have quite a literal journey ahead of them and although I have plenty of what I think are neat ideas, there are bits like their birthdays that I feel I should write about because I think my eventual readers will want it in the book. Maybe I’m way off the mark there and should just write what makes me happy and worry about that stuff when I get close to publishing or I may never get close to publishing…

That’s another thing. Do I self-publish? There are a lot of benefits to that and the old view of security in having a publisher marketing and distributing is becoming outdated. I’ve read several articles suggesting that many publishers today are not working too hard for the author. Perhaps I just need an editor, a website, and a marketing agent. I say just, but really that could be nearly as expensive or more expensive and may still not get my books very far.

Lots to ponder this evening and no time to ponder it as it is now bedtime.