In retrospect

I suppose, looking at the picture I chose as my profile, it seems really weird & creepy. It is, however, a reference to one of my books. In the beginning of ‘Withershins’, Michelle is at St. Andrew’s Church on the Red, wandering through the graveyard, looking at gravestones as research for a history assignment. She comes across a small sarcophagus with the inscription: “Archdeacon Cochrane. Died October 1, 1865. Aged seventy years.” The picture is that same sarcophagus. I took a picture of it last fall (2011) as a picture series to illustrate Michelle’s story. It was supposed to accompany me to Kenora when I attended their Word On The Water writer’s festival, but I was unable to complete the picture-taking because of construction on the highway just outside of the Lower Fort Garry Historical Site. It was impossible to get past it, so that part will have to wait until spring. I will try to post some of those pictures when the series is complete. Once it’s finished, I will see if I can’t turn it into a slideshow that I can use for school visits.

Publisher v. Vanity Presses

Question #8

Did it cost a lot to get your books published?


Publishing a book shouldn’t cost a lot of money if you find the right publisher, unless you want to self-publish which is becoming more popular and accepted. Most publishers pay you, unless they are what are called ‘Vanity’ presses. What that means is, you are the one paying for the cost of printing, but they will help promote and advertise your book.

My publisher gave me an advance on my royalties before each book came out in print and will pay me a percentage of each book that is sold over and above that advance amount. They took the chance that they would get back the money that they spent on producing the book. This kind of publisher is very choosy about which manuscripts they will produce. A ‘Vanity’ press will publish anything as long as YOU pay the printing costs.


Question # 7

How do you develop the settings for your stories?


In the case of Withershins and Spirit Quest, it required extensive research to find out what it was like in 1846. That research included looking up maps of the area at the Manitoba Archives and finding books with old sketches that reflected the scenery of that time period. There is also a website that shows sketches of Upper Fort Garry that helped me orient myself when Michelle went with Duncan to the Upper Fort.

I have written many other stories that haven’t been published yet: Science Fiction, Fantasy, as well as Historical Fiction. In every case, I have to know my fictional environment as if it is a real place still in existence and as well as if I have actually been there, so I can move my characters through it without confusing the reader. I find making my own maps of places that figure strongly in the story helps me envision the setting so I can guide my characters around without losing them. For a fantasy story I am currently working on, I used my husband’s Autocad program (used by engineers and architects) to design my own castle, level-by-level, so I could remember where things were as I was writing about them, in addition to my maps of the fantasy land in which I had set the story.