Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's official!

My second children's book, working title The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw, will be published by Orca Book Publishers in Spring, 2010.

I'm looking forward to working with editor Sarah Harvey again (herself a fine writer, author of The Lit Report, The West Is Calling, Bull's Eye and Puppies on Board.)

And I love being published by Orca - whether I'm talking to teachers, librarians or bookseller about my writing, when I tell them the name of my publisher they nod and smile and enthuse about Orca titles that they have on their shelves, and recommend to readers, students and parents.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Writer's Block - or not


It never fails that when I can set aside a day - a whole day from morn until night to write - something happens. Today I am bedeviled by a great reluctance to write.

I don't like to call it writer's block - since when you name something you own it - and I don't believe in it. (Being one of those people who glibly say that writers' block can only happen to those who aren't writing- so write, dammit!)

But what happens to me is that I think I'm on it, charging away sticking words on the page, when a kind of haze comes over me - BOREDOM. Whatever's on the page is not taking flight, coming to life, even sitting up and demanding to take notice.

Which is why I'm sitting here in the middle of a day when I should be able to produce at least 5,000 words (they don't have to be good), and all I've done is come up with two very lame chapters, that even before I print them out I know will be chucked.

So, here are my choices:

1. Keep writing. Keep going. Don't even bother rereading it. Just keep the hands moving. Don't judge, fret or sweat.
The trick with this one, is not to go back during the day to review what I ended up with. But if I pick it up another day I'm sure - I hope - to find something, just one small thing - that is worth keeping, that might not have been there if I hadn't kept going.

2. Reread what I've written, pick out one line, moment, or scene, and start all over with no reference to what's already on the page.
This really does work sometimes. But I just don't feel like doing it today. I'm having too much fun being disgruntled.

3. Move onto another project (It's not like this is the only book I'm working on, for heaven's sake.)
It could also be the reason I've got so many projects that are so close to being able to type - the end - but not quite there.

4. Quit writing, and read something good for 30 minutes.
Right now I'm reading - and loving - Marina Endicott's Good to a Fault and Pain and Wasting by Norah McClintock. But I know that's a slippery slopee. Once I move from writing to reading - esp. something as good as these - it's hard to get back to it.

5. Move from the creative stuff, to the analytical.
I often use a specific plotting process that I kind of overlay on a WIP, which might help me figure out just why I am so bored with what I'm writing - often I find out there's no story goal / plot problem or question inherent in the scene or chapter I'm bored with - I'm just blabbing on about something that no one will be interested in anyway, and that the book probably won't need.

6. Go and eat something.
Bad idea, unless it's because I'm really hungry. The big bowl of my sister's recipe for Christmas Cole Slaw (red cabbage, grated carrots and chopped Granny Smiths) I ate an hour ago should keep me until supper.)

7. Call a friend.
Problematic - if it's a writer (most of them are) they'll either commiserate, which gives me more justification than I need to slink off and do #6) . And if they're not, I daren't tell them I'm only calling because I'm bored with myself.

8. Arrange paper clips is order of size and colour. Do my online banking. Vacuum under the desk. Go out for coffee. Catch up on my ironing....
Perhaps all useful activities in their time and place, but not at all what I planned to do today.

9. Blog about it.
I can confess here, just between you and me, that I've never quite figured out what blogs are for. But in this case, it might be just the ticket. But then I promise, I'll get back to work. Honest.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February already?

I know that I've not posted here for almost a month - I wonder if it's better to post something, anything, even if there's really little to report. Or save it for when there's real news?


Opinions seem to be divided.


But I can update my annual goal wordcount - the idea was to write 1,000 new words a day, and as of last night I'm at 35,000 words since January 1. A little under, but still pounding away.

My other goal was to read one kids' book a week, and I've not quite achieved that to date. My list - recommended by writing peers and a couple of librarians - leans heavily towards fantasy which is not my favourite - or most natural - genre.

So that's slowed me down a bit. But I must say that I did thoroughly enjoy Marie Rutkoskwi's Cabinet of Wonders and found Susanne Collins' Hunger Games a very compelling read. A couple of random picks of contemporary/realistic fiction titles that came from a recent visit to my local library were Ways to Live Forever by Brit Sally Nicholls (poignant and witty) and Abele - The Girl Who Saw Lions by Berlie Doherty.

And a highlight of my recent reading had to be my kidlit critique group buddy Helen Boudreau's The Acadian Star in which she adroitly combines Canadian history with time travel.

Purposely placing this further down the post than it might otherwise appear - on Tuesday I heard that my second children's novel has been accepted for publication Spring 2010. The contract should arrive any day at which time I'll post full news, complete with celebratory exclamation marks.

That has now got me over the Was-the-first book-just-a-fluke anxiety, which was promptly replaced by the Will-I ever-sell-another-one syndrome?

Meanwhile I'll be reading and writing, working on a voluntary project for CWILL BC (Children's Writers and Illustrators of BC) and counting sleeps until I head to the UK for a visit with family and old friends - and hoping the weather warms up there before I get there in early March.