Writing Process Blog Hop

When local teen fiction author, Margaret Buffie, tagged me to participate in this writer-oriented blog hop, I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge. When I first decided to turn Withershins into a novel for a teen/young adult audience, I was unfamiliar with the genre. It had been decades since I was a teen, reading the limited selection of fiction out there at the time, so I went on the hunt for current teen fiction to make sure I was on the right track. I picked up Margaret’s novels, The Dark Garden and My Mother’s Ghost – and I’ve been a fan ever since. She has an impressive list of titles and has been nominated – and won – many awards for her writing. In addition to being a writer, she also has a Fine Arts degree and has created some breathtaking paintings, which she sometimes shares on her blog. I love that she lives in my hometown and I feel honoured that she thought of asking me to participate in this blog hop. To learn more about this extraordinary writer, please check out her blog at http://www.margaretbuffie.com

In order to take my place in the hop, I also have to tag three other writers, who will post their thoughts on the writing process later in the month. I was hoping to feature writers from the huge literary base here in Winnipeg, but most are so busy or too ill to participate, so I turned to my on-line writer friends. You can read their bios at the end of this post.

Okay, on with the show! 🙂

I was asked four questions, which I will attempt to answer as concisely as I can.

1. What am I working on?

My son designed the cover. Cool, isn't it?

My son designed the cover. Cool, isn’t it?

Currently, I am in the process of getting a chapbook produced with my writers group. It is an anthology of short stories about the Sasquatch, interspersed with poems in Haiku style, as well as reports of Sasquatch sightings collected by our own paranormal investigator and group member, Chris Rutkowski. We’ve also included sketches and photos to round out the content. We should have it ready for sale by the end of June. We are self-publishing through the Expresso Machine at McNally Robinson Booksellers and it will also be available for e-readers. Details to follow in the coming weeks.

I have also been accumulating information on Louis Riel to work into a sort of sequel to my other two books, Withershins and Spirit Quest. Revolution (working title) will be set at the time in which Riel took over the provisional government here in Manitoba, 1869-1870. The daughter of the character in my first two books will be travelling back in time to meet him and learn more about how the Métis people fought for their rights within the French/English community known at the time as Red River.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

bookmark front

My published novels are historically based time-travel novels set in Manitoba’s past. There haven’t been too many other teen novels that I’ve come across that have been set here with that time-travel theme worked in as well, so I think they are rather unique.

As for the chapbook, my writers group and I decided to write about Bigfoot and the Sasquatch because we thought to get a jump on ‘the next big thing’. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies have been done to death, so to speak, but not much fiction has been written about those huge hairy beasts that peek out at us from the forest. Ironically, there have been recent ‘sightings’ in BC and a local retailer (Two Rivers at The Forks Market) has brought in a truckload of stuffed Sasquatches to sell in his store. (Sassy came from there. She’s cute, isn’t she?) He’s even got a petition to ‘Save the Prairie Sasquatch’, which people can sign when they visit the shop. I think we’re just on the cusp of this wonderful new trend.

 

3. Why do I write what I do?

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Sassy sporting my red hat.

Having an Education background, I want my books to teach kids in an entertaining way. Growing up, I always found history a chore. Trying to link dates with events and historic figures was so difficult for me because I tend to be Mathematically Challenged, a sort of Dyslexia but with numbers. I did like the stories, though. Learning about the people and why they did what they did is fascinating to me. That’s why, when I started writing the first two books in the series, I wanted the story to be historically correct, so readers would get a sense of the time and the attitudes prevalent in the 1800s. Quite often, those who have read Withershins and Spirit Quest comment to me that they didn’t know certain things in Manitoba’s history, so I think my work is done – until the next novel, of course!

I wrote the short stories for the group’s chapbook because I’ve got a soft spot for those big-footed mythical creatures. A few years back, I started writing a novel about them, creating a whole history of their existence and why colonies of them live underground, beneath the outskirts of North Vancouver. While the story has yet to find an ending, I still work on it, occasionally, when inspiration strikes.

That is not all I write, though. Dreams inspire other stories, (science fiction, fantasy, murder mysteries, etc, both for kids and adults) which I start to write, only because the words need to find paper before the memories melt away with the dawn. I have shelves full of novels and short stories that haven’t been published, yet, and just as many (if not more) that are unfinished, to date.

To get at the nitty gritty; why do I write? Teachers used to say I’d achieve better grades if I didn’t daydream so much, so I guess this is something I was destined to do. If the stories don’t get written down, my dreams become more and more bizarre and nightmarish. I write for my own peace of mind!

4. How does my writing process work? 

A good night’s sleep is essential because, as I mentioned earlier, so many of my story ideas occur to me in those first few moments before I wake up. I have very vivid dreams and those that have a lasting image for me are often the dreams that I am compelled to write about and form the first few chapters of a novel or become a short story. One dream, in particular, was one I had when I was 16. It haunted me for decades until I finally wove it into a fantasy novel. Unfortunately, my first writers group wasn’t all that impressed, so it’s sitting on a shelf, awaiting revisions.

When I was creating Withershins, I wasn’t working. I just had to get the kids off to school and then I would sit down at the computer and write my little heart out! If I ran into a snag, I’d think about it as I fell asleep and by morning my brain had worked out enough details that I could write the next chapter before lunch. If there was something I needed to know for the next segment, I’d head off to the library or archives and research it, then weave that newfound knowledge into a scene with my character.

Once a story is finished, however, the work doesn’t stop. Any writer knows that! I must have reworked the beginning of Withershins a dozen times before coming up with the one the publisher liked. Originally, the book was aimed at an adult audience, but my first writers group suggested gearing it to a younger audience. That required some major work because, by then, it was too long for a publisher to consider, so I had to break the book into two novels. That required me to rework the beginning of Spirit Quest many more times until my editor was satisfied with the result. I also needed more research to flesh out the second half of the story. It was a long hard process getting it to the point of acceptance by my publisher.

Sassy going incognito.

Sassy going incognito.

For the chapbook, I thought about the Prairie Sasquatch for days without much inspiration. Then, I mentioned the project to a close friend and her friend at lunch one day. It was suggested I look at the subject from the point of view of the Sasquatch. Brilliant! So that’s how Gemma came into existence. She’s the character I created for the short stories and I have a few more stories I want to tell about her adventures ‘In The Woods’ that will probably meld into a novel for Middle Grade audiences.

Well, I hope that gives you some insight into my writing process. While I look for that elusive third writer who will agree to join this blog hop, please check out what these fellow writers & bloggers have to say. I will let you know when they have their posts ready for the blog hop. In the meantime, you can always pop over to their sites to learn more about them.

 

Jennifer M. Eaton has a lot to say about writing on her blog, which can be found at http://jennifermeaton.com. Her blog is amazing – colourful & always interesting. She calls the East Coast of the U.S. her home, where she raises 3 boys when she’s not writing or being a Corporate Team Leader. She has recently had many short stories published by J. Taylor Publishing.

Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.

 

Like the Prairie Sasquatch, C.B. is a little camera shy! :)

Like the Prairie Sasquatch, C.B. is a little camera shy! 🙂

C.B. Wentworth has a lovely blog that I’ve been following for about 2 1/2 years. She has traveled extensively and often posts gorgeous pictures of the places she’s visited and tells wonderful stories about her adventures.

She is a writer, blogger, and artist who thrives on following her muse. Aside from writing novels, she dabbles in poetry, short stories, and travel writing. Currently, she is working towards her “big break” into the publishing industry with her Young Adult fantasy novel, The Muse. You can visit her at http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com     

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing, Everyone! 🙂

 

Sharing friends with my friends

I thought, today, instead of an author interview, I would share the sites of some of my blogging friends:

For all of you who might be thinking of taking the challenge of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), wantoncreation has some advice for you.

If you prefer a site where you can read an interesting story, Diane Dickson has written many short stories and serials, so pop over here. Soon she will be offering one of her novels for free, too!

C.B. Wentworth has a lovely variety of posts; lovely poetry, gorgeous photography, fantastic travel tales, and her beautiful knitted creations. You can find her latest poetry and photo of a Roman bridge here.

On the site, Speculating Canada, Derek Newman-Stille discusses Canadian speculative fiction, interviews writers of the genre and writes reviews. Considering the month, I recommend you head over there and read his list of ‘Canadian Must-reads-For-Halloween‘.

I enjoy reading what Elizabeth Creith has to say on her website. She discusses her writing and gives pointers to upcoming authors. For example, in her latest post, she discusses writing style.

If you want to read a charming Halloween-themed story, pop over to roughwighting and immerse yourself in ‘Witchy Woman’.

Jenny Keller Ford is a lovely woman who is working hard to get her first YA novel published. In the meantime, she has had several short stories published in anthologies put out by J. Taylor Publishers. She interviews other writers, like Terri Rochenski in her latest guest post ‘Balancing Family With Writing, and she reviews books as well as giving tips on writing.

Another writerly blogger is Jennifer M. Eaton. She’s been advising her readers with ‘… Simple Rules To Writing The Best Novel Ever‘, based on the article, ‘Hunting Down the Pleonasm’ by Allen Guthrie. She also has been providing us with book reviews and author interviews. She began the multi-author story ‘Write A Story With Me’, which has a new episode each Monday.

I think that’s enough sharing, for today, although there are many more exciting bloggers out there, writing wonderful blog posts, which I hope to share another time. I hope you will take the time, on this leisurely Sunday, to peruse the links provided.

Happy Sunday, Everyone! 🙂

Sunday Interview #4 (a day late)

I apologize for neglecting to post this yesterday. It was all ready to just hit the button, but with everything else going on, I completely forgot. (Sorry, C.B!) Anyway, here is my interview with a fascinating blogger:

Today, I’d like to introduce you all to C.B. Wentworth. You may have seen her name on some of my award posts. I have nominated her for many awards (and I’m not the only one) because she has a beautiful blog and shares her creativity in many ways – through her literary work & poetry, her photography where she gives us a glimpse of her garden & places she has been, as well as her lovely ‘Wreck This Journal’ entries.

Hi, C.B.! Welcome to my blog! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a writer, artist, crafter, and optimist.  During the day I am a high school teacher, but after the bell rings I immerse myself in creative pursuits.  In particular, I focus my energies on writing novels, short stories, and poetry.

How long have you been blogging?

A little over a year.

What inspired you to start blogging?

When I finished the final draft of my first novel, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands.  The need to write and create was still there despite the completion of my project.  I figured keeping a blog would give me the outlet I needed to express and challenge myself as a writer.

How has your blog evolved from when you first started?

At first, I focused on writing more than anything else, but as time went by I decided not to limit myself.  Writing and creativity go together, so it made sense to let my blog grow to include everything I do to inspire my muse.

Do you have any tips for newbies who want to grow their readership?

Write with a voice that is entirely your own.  I’ve found that the best way to attract readers is to offer a point of view that can’t be found anywhere else.

In addition, find blogs that inspire you and interact with them.  It is so important to surround yourself with a community of writers, readers, and sources of inspiration. Be part of the community with thoughtful comments and visit other blogs often.

I love your artwork whenever you post a Wreck This Journal page. For those people who are unfamiliar with this, please take a moment to explain exactly what ‘Wreck This Journal’ is.

Wreck This Journal

Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith is a journal full of prompts that inspire reckless creativity.  It’s all about letting go and doing things without hesitation.  We’re all inhibited by our inner critics, conscious filters, and fear of imperfection.  Wreck This Journal effectively inspires you to blast through all of those barriers and explore the true depth of your creativity.

The photographs you’ve posted on your blog are beautiful. For any aspiring photographers who may read this, what’s your secret to capturing the perfect image?

Thank you for the kind words regarding my photographs.  I’ll never get over the fact that people enjoy looking at the pictures I take!

The best piece of advice I can give is don’t try to take the perfect shot.  Simply let go and point the camera at what captures your imagination.  Point of view is what makes a photograph beautiful.

Take more than one shot.  For every image I’ve posted, there are at least 15 more of the same thing where I try different settings or a different angle.  Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t.

In addition to everything else you do, you’ve mentioned you are also a writer. In which genres do you prefer to write?

I try not box myself into a specific genre, but I tend to wander into literary and mainstream fiction, while dabbling in fantasy and poetry.

Please tell us a little bit about your process.

I wish I had a definitive process, other than making sure I write every day.  I’m a big fan of free-writing and brainstorming, which means I have notebooks full of partial stories, phrases, and lists.  Whenever, I need a dash of inspiration I’ll page through my journals.

When I’m working on a larger project like a novel, I always keep a spiral where I map out character profiles, scenes, and timelines.  I’m a very visual person, so I make collages for each of my characters that include wardrobe, possessions, and elements of their environment.  I blogged about this process on a post entitled, The Notebook That Built My Novel.

Music also plays a big role in anything I write.  My iPod is full of playlists that serve as soundtracks for my novels, short stories, and even blog posts.   This process is outlined in a couple of posts I wrote: How Music Helped Me Write A Novel and Music for a New Novel.

Part of the reason my blogs includes so many posts about art, crafts, and photography has to do with my belief that all forms of creativity are connected.  I consider all of my non-writing projects to be essential components to my writing process because engaging in multiple creative pursuits keeps me inspired and fuels my imagination. When I sit down to write, I am always stimulated and ready to explore all possibilities.

I agree that all forms of art is linked to creativity in some way.

Do you use critique partners or beta readers to help perfect your writing?

Yes!  I’m a big believer in both.  Critiques in particular are incredibly valuable as they help me see the work in a way I hadn’t considered before.  I learned this lesson while participating on Critique Circle.  This is a fantastic writing community that offers a safe environment to learn the art of giving and receiving critiques.

Constructive criticism can push creativity in unexpected ways and it always helps me find a better path for the story or character I’m working on.  If we stay bottled up inside of our own heads, we fail to see other possibilities.  Granted, no one likes to hear something about a story isn’t working, but I thrive on the challenge of figuring out how to solve the problem.

If my readers want to follow your blog, they can find it here. As well, each of the blog posts you’ve mentioned are already linked, so they can just click on them. Are there any other ways readers can reach you?

Facebook: C.B. Wentworth
Twitter: @cbwentworth
Pinterest: cbwentworth

On my blog, I have follow buttons for all social networks along my sidebar.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, C. B. I enjoyed chatting with you, today! 🙂