When I started blogging on January first of this year, I began by discussing my writing experiences and giving advice to new and emerging writers. Looking back at the stats, I realize that there wasn’t a lot of traffic back then, so I thought I would sift through that information and re-post some of it.
The About page is an introduction to me and my work, so if you haven’t read it, you might want to read it now. My Published Books page introduces my two teen novels, Withershins and Spirit Quest and includes a sample of each story. Whenever I visit schools to talk about writing, there are usually some standard questions they ask. Below, I have listed some of them and given my standard answers.
Question # 1
Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?
Actually, no, I never really thought about being ‘A Writer’. I have always been an avid reader and loved the creative writing section of the ELA curriculum and got fairly good marks whenever I had the opportunity to stretch my imagination. I never thought it would ever amount to anything more than a hobby, so I set my career goals in the fields of Speech Pathology and Teaching. Both of those subjects have aspects that link with writing, such as my interest in words and word origins as well as language development and grammar, things that are essential in good writing.
Question # 2
How long have you been writing?
I seriously began writing in 1994, when my youngest child started Kindergarten, when I finally had the time to concentrate on my craft. Before that, I attended school, University and then began working full-time, which left little time or energy to spend on what I thought, then, was a frivolous activity.
My teachers in elementary school told my parents I was ‘a daydreamer’ and would do better if I concentrated more on my schoolwork. However, they also gave me good marks whenever they assigned a creative writing project, which was kind of like criticizing me for being creative, then turning around and praising me for it! After all, most of my writing ideas come from my dreams!
Question # 3
Did you get your idea for Withershins from a dream?
Actually, no, I didn’t. The idea came from an experience of mine when I was 18. I was hanging out with some friends, one Friday night, in a gnarled old tree that grew in the graveyard at St. Andrew’s Church. It was a very cool tree with low-lying branches that were perfect for sitting on. Anyway, we talked about all sorts of things until one of them looked at his watch and realized it was getting close to midnight. He mentioned hearing about this urban legend about running around a church at midnight, that the ritual sent the participant to the Netherworld or they met the devil, neither of which I really felt like doing. On the other hand, I didn’t want them to think I was a spoilsport, so I agreed to try it. I ran most of the three circles around the church, but chickened out before completing the last one.
When my writer’s group and I were discussing ideas for another chapbook (a self-published anthology of short stories) I told them about what I had done. One member said the ritual was called the widdershins. An editor later told me that withershins was the British term for it and since other books were already published using Widdershins, I decided to go with the British term instead. My group all agreed, it was a great idea. Then I had to figure out what would happen to my character after she completed the withershins.
Getting back to the dreams, though – once I had the idea for the story, my dreams took over and guided me onward until it was finished, with the odd trip to the library, the internet, the archives, or Lower Fort Garry itself to get the background information I needed. I would then go to bed thinking about where I had left off and by morning, I pretty much had the next five to ten pages in my mind when I sat down at the computer. There were times, though, when my dream exploratios led me to do more research because I wanted my character to do something that I needed to learn first.
I have written many other stories, though, that began as a dream, so I do rely considerably on my dreams for story ideas.
Question # 4
How long did it take you to write Withershins?
Once I decided to have Michelle go back in time, I had to pick a particular time period. I researched information about the first settlers of the Red River area, both Upper & Lower Forts, as well as St. Andrews Church, and thought it would be interesting to have Michelle go back to a time when the stone church was being built. Once the time was chosen, I had to research all the other stuff that happened around that time, along with what I wanted Michelle to learn while she was in the past. That included pioneer stuff as well as cultural and spiritual things.
I suppose, between all the research I did and all the time I spent trying to work the research into my story, it took about a year to write and re-write (and re-write and re-write, etc.) until I felt the manuscript was ready to send to a publisher.
Well, I think I will stop here. In the archives, you will find my posts on my characters, setting development, and my publishing experience. If you are interested in any of those things, feel free to browse. If you are looking for stories to read, my other pages will give you a taste of what kinds of things I write. If there are any pieces that you would like me to add to, such as My Fan Fiction or Unfinished Work or if you would like to read more of My Short Stories, feel free to mention this in the Comments box. I will be happy to oblige. I only wish I could figure out how to condense the stories so you don’t have to scroll through pages and pages to get to the next part. If anyone has any suggestions on how to do that, please let me know!