Wednesday, December 5, 2012
I love December!
And guess what - I did it! I finished NaNoWriMo 2012, and I did it a day early! This past year of really focusing on my writing has paid off. Not only did I find the first draft process easier this time around, but the story ideas flowed more naturally, and my internal editor was more manageable.
So now it's on to the busyness that consumes December, with next year's writing resolutions at the forefront of my mind. I have some ideas for where I want both my writing and my blogging to go in the next while, but you'll have to wait till January to find out more.
So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and see you in January 2013.
P.S. How was your NaNo experience this year?
Saturday, November 24, 2012
As for the hiatus - part of it was busy life circumstances, and part was a need for a break to think about the value/vision/purpose of this blog. Or rather re-think it. I think I have an idea of how I want to shape this space as my author platform, but I'll go into more detail in the new year, so stay tuned...
In the meantime, I found another book I can adore, and have shelved with the best books of 2012. Coincidentally, it is currently a semi-finalist with the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards on Goodreads. If you read it, and loved it, go vote!
What is this books I speak of?
I was picking up my daughter from school a few weeks ago when a friend of mine approached. She handed me a copy of a book called "Edenbrooke" and said, "You have to read this. I just read it twice in two days. I've never done that before." I've always trusted the literary tastes of my friend, and so I dove right in.
Edenbrooke was written by the delightful new author Julianne Donaldson, and published by Shadow Mountain. The blurb for the story (as taken from the back of the book):
I recently contacted Julianne and asked her to answer a few questions about her own unique writing and publication journey. I am so grateful that she agreed to answer, and here is what she had to say:
1. When and why did you start writing?
I started writing when I was young because I love to tell stories. As an adult, I would write stories here and there but never seriously thought about being published until I started having children. As a stay-at-home mom, I found within myself a yearning to create something outside of my home and family--something that belonged just to me--something that wouldn't come undone overnight (like the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the diapering, etc.). I started small, with poems and ideas for picture books. Then I started dreaming bigger and bigger until I had written Edenbrooke.
Friday, September 14, 2012
In life, stuff accumulates. With children, stuff accumulates. I've often found myself calling it junk, but in truth, most of it is not, by proper definition 'junky' (though to be honest I've accumulated enough of that as well). I've tried to rewire my thinking and remind myself that it is stuff.
That being said, stuff, like junk, can accumulate quickly and leave a home feeling cluttered. At moments like these, it helps to dejunk - get rid of the clutter. Hence, the rule. The key to the rule? The one that makes it most effective - time.
The last few weeks I have been working on the novel I finished writing in May. I haven't really touched it since than, and I'm realizing what a blessing that has been. I'm approaching my project with fresh eyes and a clear perspective, and its much easier to recognize the 'junk', or the 'stuff' that I don't need. The first night, I deleted 15, 000 words (don't worry, I have many a back up copy in case I change my mind - but I doubt I will). My story suddenly feels less cluttered.
The key ingredient - time. I shelved my project - I gave it space.
That isn't to say it was forgotten. In fact, I've though quite extensively about it over the past four months, making notes, plotting possible revision ideas, talking with crit friends, reading books about the craft of writing. And I've kept my writing muscle flexed by working on side projects - a couple of short stories I entered into contests, my NaNoWriMo plot for November. All the while, my novel sizzled in the background.
Do you have junk in the trunk? How do you know what to toss, and what to keep?
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Essentially, she was under the impression, as a writer/blogger, that if you use an image on a blog post and credit back to the source, it was considered Fair Use under copyright law. I have to say, that was my assumption as well. When I add images to blog posts, I simply cite the source (webpage) from where I got it. Now I know, it is illegal.
Some time ago, she was contacted by the owner of an image she had used with a legal notice to remove it, which she promptly did, feeling bad that she had unknowingly infringed on the photographer's copyright. However, despite her immediate action, she was sued by the photographer.
In the article, she discusses many of the misconceptions that bloggers have about copyright and fair use. It is definitely an area I will also be furthering my own education in now.
She also shares some links to resources that provide free images for public use, such as Creative Commons (though some of the comments on her post suggested even there, one should be careful). The best advice she had to share was simply - assume it's copyright, then ask permission. You never know, the owner of the image just might say yes!
With 99% percent of bloggers probably using images the way I was until now, under the same misunderstanding, the chances of one individual blogger being sued are relatively small. However, as this author points out, would we want our work, our stories, posted without permission, whether that person gave the proper credit or not? I think the bigger issue, for me, is whether what I've been doing is honest or not. Since the answer to that is a resounding, no, I have gone through my blog and removed several images I had found on Google image search. The only images left are ones received from others (which I'm hoping they had permission to send in the first place, though I may follow up on that), book covers and blog tours links that were given away for promotion purposes, and images I made or asked permission to use.
And then I think I will make a disclaimer that any image on my blog is free for sharing (unless otherwise indicated). Hopefully that makes up for all the copyright infringement for which I have been guilty up until this point!
What is your take on this issue?
Saturday, July 14, 2012
1. Mormon Mommy Writers (MMW) is calling for entries by July 31st. They can be fiction/non-fiction/poetry, and winners will be published in an anthology later in the year. For more information, check out this page.
2. If you are a Canadian writer, you should visit the Poetry Institute of Canada's contest page, which is also accepting short story submissions. Just click on this link.
3. Finally, a Canadian press called Polar Expressions Publishing is also accepting Canadian entries for their yearly anthology (of which I have twice been a published finalist, including once as an honorable mention).
Contests can be a great way to take a break from novel writing and hone our skills with quicker fare. Consider it the fast food of writing, except that in this case (if you enjoy it) it's actually healthy for you.
Best of luck!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Do not repost without permission.
With six whole months, three seasons, and countless days filled with joy, and trial and work and...well...life, it's time to reflect on where we were the last time we watched the fireworks.
It's time for a check in on our New Years Resolutions. Sadly, I actually had to look mine up to remember what they were. Gratefully, I'm not doing too bad. Here's where I'm at:
1. My first goal was to finish my Nano manuscript and edit it.
Well, that fell by the way side by February. But between February and the end of May, I managed to write consistently every evening after the kids went to bed and finished a manuscript (different than the Nano one) for the first time ever.
2. My next goal was to prepare for NaNoWriMo 2012.
Yah. Haven't even started thinking about that yet.
3. My final writing goal was related to improving my skills through my critique group, my reading, and my blog.
I'm proud to say I've made a more consistent effort to post. Consistency feels good. It feels like a small measure of success. And I've read so far 21 books this year. Won't ever complain about reading. And I continue to be a staunch believer of how important writing groups can be.
How about you? How are your goals coming along?
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Liebster is a German word which means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome. The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers and fit the definition
Carolyn Frank at Frankly Creative gave me the award.
1. Each person must post 10 facts about themselves
2. Answer 10 questions the tagger has given you and give 10 questions for the people you’ve tagged.
3. Choose a few people and link them in your post.
4. Tell them you’ve tagged them.
5. Remember, no tag backs.
10 Facts about me (Mandi):
1. I am the mother of three.
2. I was born in the Northwest Territories, Canada (think Santa's turf - okay, not quite so far north, but in the neighborhood)
3. Despite my snowy beginnings, I graduated high school and promptly flew south to the warm and sunny beaches of Hawaii, where I attended my first year of college.
4. I went to Hawaii to learn Marine Biology. I wanted to be a dolphin trainer.
5. I quickly discovered the program was not for me, but could not abandon it without fulfilling that dream. So I worked for a summer at the Dolphin Lagoon and Sea Life Caverns at West Edmonton Mall. Pretty much in the top ten list of coolest jobs ever.
6. I then changed my degree to Education and went on to teach grade one and kindergarten. Again, in the top ten list for coolest jobs.
7. I'm not a fan of candy. But I will never balk at dark chocolate. Mmmm.
8. I can't stand creamed corn or cucumbers. Uhhhhggghh.
9. I finished my first novel in May. Felt pretty good.
10. I don't watch television. Okay, I don't have television, which is why I don't watch it. Which is why I actually have time to write.
Blogs I've tagged:
Jolyn at Jolyn Brown's Blog
Kasey at the Beautiful Thrifty Life
Stephanie at Write Bravely
Cindy at Writers Mirror
Jaima at Words
Char at Chimney Sweeper
Jessica at Breathings
Here are my questions to them, along with my own answers.
1. How long have you been blogging?
I actually started blogging July 2007, but due to privacy concerns, changed to a different system about two years ago. Now I keep my family posts and writer posts separate.
2. Why did you start up a blog?
It seemed like a fabulous means of sharing pictures and stories of my growing family with friends and relatives too far to visit on a frequent basis - much easier than trying to email people. I also loved the visual appeal, and the chance to journal/write using technology. Once I started, I was addicted.
3. What has been your weirdest experience with blogging?
Realizing just how dangerous personal information on the web can be - which is why my family blog is private now. Don't worry, nothing bad happened to me, but to some friends of mine. It's a long story, and not really mine to share.
4. What is your favorite book? 5. Who is your favorite author?
One of my favorite books is 'The Alchemist', by Paulo Coehlo. Authors I love are JK Rowling, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien, Regina Sirois, Mitch Albom, Kate Morton, Lauren Oliver, Monica Hughes, Shannon Hale, Eva Ibbotson - how do you make a comprehensive list on this topic?
6. What do you want to be when you grow up/what is your profession?
I am a teacher, a mother, and a writer. Someday I hope to be an Author.
7. How many books do you think you might have?
Do the stories in our heads ever end? I hope not. We'll see how many of those stories are actually translated to paper.
8. Do you prefer reading a proper book or a ebook?
I thought ebooks were a bad idea. Until I tried one. Now I'm hooked. I will, however, always love my ink and paper books.
9. If you could choose to live one character's life in a book, who would it be?
Probably one of Shannon Hale's heroines. I love her stories....
10. If you were stranded on a desert island what 10 items would you want to have with you?
It would go something like this: 1. My family 2. My books 3. Scrivener 4. One seriously cool tree house (think Swiss Family Robinson) 5. palm trees 6. Basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter) 7. Dark Chocolate 8. a camera 9. a notebook (I'm a list girl) 10. my friends
Saturday, June 2, 2012
So we trudged with the cart load of food to the public washrooms. Now The Architect has recently become 'morally' aware of the reason for separate bathrooms, and their connection between the differences in gender. Therefore he no longer wants to enter the Women's room to do his business. This is fine when my husband is with us. However, in my opinion, he is still too little to go into the Men's room all by himself. I just can't let him do it yet. So through weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I usually have to lay down martial law to get him into the bathroom I can actually enter with him.
This time, as I braced myself for the inevitable argument, The Architect noticed this sign on the washroom door, and said the following:
"Mom, look - this bathroom is for girls and old men! I can use this bathroom!"
And that was it. He was in, done and washed up before I could correct him, with a smile on his face. He'd found a solution that worked for me, and for him.
What does this have to do with writing?
Simply this: It is so important that we exercise clarity in our writing. We cannot assume that our readers will understand what we are trying to say, just because we have a clear mental picture of the scene/plot point. This is where critique groups can come in handy. If your readers are saying "I don't get this..." and you have to stop and explain it, go back and give it some clarity.
Now as for my son, at some point I'm going to have to explain two things to him:
1. What the symbol for disability means.
2. He is not a little old man.
In the meantime, I'm going to use this lack of clarity to my advantage...
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Because guess what?
I finished! That's right, I did it! I finished my first book (I know you're all leaping and shouting with joy with me here, but keep in mind it's just a first draft). Yippee! It's 93, 579 words and officially ready to begin the long process of editing, revision and re-writing (after a well deserved break).
In the mean time, I feel a little bit like this:
I'm done! I can't believe it! Writing has never felt so good!
Oh my gosh! What have I done? A complete first draft? Now I have to spend months and months editing and editing, and what have I got myself into?
I love this! I want to stand on a mountain and shout to the world I finished my first book!
I'm terrified, I can't believe this! I never thought this day would come!
In the meantime, I'm going to try and stop being so bi-polar, and get some sleep (all pictures from Disney's Tangled).
Sweet dreams everyone!
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Guess What???!!!??? Regina made the top three YA finalists for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. From 5000, to top 3. That's like 0.06% odds - an incredible achievement in and of itself (I hope I did my math right - hehehe).
So this post is going to be short. Here's what you need to do:
1. Click on the banner (or go to amazon.com/abna)
2. Download the free excerpt for her book (and the other two finalists if you choose)
3. Read it (or read the whole book - you are in for a literary treat)
4. If you like what you read, please support Regina and 'On Little Wings' by casting your vote. It's free, its simple and its open till May 30th.
I know she appreciates any support. We're rootin for you, Regina!
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
He invited me to watch it, and I was glad I did.
I'm going to extend the same invitation to you - it's very entertaining - Sir Ken is an engaging speaker, but it also has an important message.
Though the context of the videos is based on the education system, I want you to focus on the points he makes about creativity.
Because as writers, creativity is like the flour of our story recipe. It's not the only ingredient, but probably exists in the greatest quantity, playing a role alongside other important writing ingredients, such as research, grammar, spelling, plotting, characterization, editing and voice (this list is not exhausitive - there are as many different types and elements of stories as there are cookie recipes!).
So check them out, and let me know what you think! Note - they are slightly long (15-20 mins or so):
Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity
Sir Ken Robinson: Bring On The Learning Revolution
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
I've been really focusing each night to finish my current WIP and I've managed to make it to 71,000ish words first draft. I think I'm literally days from finishing and finally getting to write 'the end'. I can't tell you how exciting that is for me - both to finish something I've loved writing, and to move on to something else.
Amidst all the frenzied late night writing, I also had a husband preparing for finals, my immunized daughter come down with the chicken pox, 10-11 hour work days and pre-garden/pre-yard work/change-all-the-kids-clothing-to-summer-wear season. Oh yeah, and then there were taxes! So while April did prove to be a hectic month, it was still productive.
My friend Jaima, who I blogged about in March, is a semi-finalist for the ABNA contest! So pumped for her. And while reading the list, I discovered that another talented online writer friend of mine has also made the semi-final round for the contest! Yay Regina Sirois! Now I'm holding my breath in eager anticipation for May 22, and the announcements of the next rounds. Regardless of how these two ladies do, I'm so excited for how far they've made it - certainly an accomplishment worth celebrating.
I've also had a chance to participate in the A to Z bloghop, through the two group blogs I'm proud to be a contributor for. You can see my posts here:
E is for The End, on Mormon Mommy Writers
F is for Forward, on The Writer's Dojo
K is for Kids, on Mormon Mommy Writers
Q is for Quotes, on Mormon Mommy Writers
I'm also up for W this Thursday, before we finish off the month long challenge. You'll have to go check it out then. Take a moment to check out the posts for the other letters - there's some amazing and inspirational topics for this challenge!
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
This challenge lasts from January 1st, 2012 to December 31st, 2012
All books must be started on/after January 1st, 2012
Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
After the challenge has started, you can decide to choose a higher level,
but you can not choose to go down a level.
All books must be dystopian (duh) and either Young Adult or Middle Grade (I
can't think of any MG dystopian though).
Must post all your reviews to either your blog or goodreads. Sorry, non
Must create a sign-up post that includes a link to this post, the level
you've signed up for, and the button above.
Must sign-up before June 1st, 2012.
After each month I will do a recap where you can link your reviews, I will
also declare what the prize will be for the current month and the winner of last
Each month there will be a giveaway for all those who reviewed a book, each
review = one entry. The giveaway item could range from a gift card, a book,
swag, and more.
Easy: Read 5-8 books.
Medium: Read 8-14 books.
Hard: 15-20 books.
So Hard it Would Have it's Own Apocalypse!: 21+
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
- Have been blogging for a year or more (almost five now)
- Joined a writer's association (Authors Incognito, Southern Alberta Writer's Workshop)
- Joined a critique group (three years now)
- Have at least five writer friends (too many to count - isn't that a wonderful feeling?)
- Started visiting writing blogs
- Entered a writer's contest (lots, and won or placed in a few!)
- Have been writing in earnest for six months or more (or years...)
- Attended a writer's conference or workshop (several of both)
- Have your work critiqued by another writer (and now know how important this is)
- Read at least 50 books in your genre (again, too many to count)
I'm excited to keep working towards the purple belt, with my eye forever on the black.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Mo Willems has some incredibly popular books available - including the 'Pigeon' series. This books, however, will remain one of my all time favorite children's books. It's about Leonardo, who just can't scare anybody, and has to learn that there is something more important in life than being a scary monster.
Finally, for the night, an author I found just this month. Michal Hall makes shapes exciting. This book is about a square that thinks he's perfect until he gets torn up and realizes he can be so much more. I read this book five times today, and still not sick of it. Plus, it has great opportunity for quality art time with the kids.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
When I heard the story of Regina Sirois and her newly released novel (very, very new - as in January 2012) On Little Wings, I knew I had to include it in my monthly discussion on self-publishing. In trying to find a way to contact her for an interview, I stumbled upon her blog, and I must say, I think I've developed a tad of a writer's crush on her. Okay, I admit it, I'm smitten.
I'd love to tell you her story, but I think she'll do a much better job, and with greater eloquence.
Meet Regina Sirois.
"I am really happy to get to tell my side of the story because I think there are many misconceptions floating around about me.
Misconception #1: I have made it big in the publishing world. the truth- I haven't. Not even close. I was contacted by two very talented agents in New York this week and I have decided which one I am going to sign with. That means she will try to sell my book to publishers. That does not mean they will buy. She feels good about our prospects, but there are no guarantees in this business.
Misconception #2: I just lucked out.The truth- this is almost entirely true. If you count working on my manuscript for years, sending it to many test readers, enduring harsh critiques, querying everyone and their mother and finally giving up on myself as lucky. Because that is what happened. I worked as hard and tortured myself just as long as other writers. The difference is I believed the silence from the agents and gave up on myself. I put my manuscript in a drawer and refused to talk about it or look at it for over a year. I stopped writing. And I made peace with that. So then how do I explain you knowing about my book? Well, I got a gift. A teenage girl who test read the book for me almost two years ago asked for a copy. I told her "no, don't worry about it. It's not any good." She told me that she loved it and had been thinking of it for months. She asked if she could please read it again. I brushed her off and went back to life. But it got under my skin. I kept hearing her say she missed it. So one day I timidly pulled it up on the screen. It was like making up with a friend after a big fight. It took some time to get comfortable with it again. And I started working. I worked for weeks. I neglected all my chores and wrote. And then, right before Christmas, I finished. There is a great amount of luck involved in any literary success, but it doesn't take unless there's a thousand times more work than luck.
Misconception #3: I had a marketing strategy. Truth- what is a marketing strategy?I decided to give my book away for free to any friends who wanted to peruse it and print up copies for my family as gifts. On January 4th I put a post on my blog and told my handful of followers that I wrote a book. I announced it on facebook. I worried people would think I was bugging them or bragging, but I did it anyway. I decided if I worked that hard I should at least tell the people who cared about me what I did. I did not think I would make a penny. I didn't really want to. That wasn't the point. I'm not sure what the point was, to be honest. I just wanted to stop being afraid to try. I don't know how 14,000 people found me in five days. I really don't.
Any marketing tips or strategies? I refer you to my last answer. :) I believe that free is a great way to plant your book. If it really touches people and lands in fertile ground it might just grow. Just remember that there will be no word of mouth if it doesn't resonate. No one says, "hey I downloaded a mediocre book for free. You should get it." Let your work speak for itself and see if people pass along the word. And say a mediocre book does make it big online. When an agent reads a copy, then what? They will say, 'what the heck is this?' You have to have a product that stands up to the most critical eyes. Self publishing is not a short cut! It is just another path through the jungle. For me it was an accidental path. But trust me, I had tried to get through the jungle before I self published.
How long have I dreamed of being an author? I fought being a writer for a long time. I always said that writing is a crap shoot. It doesn't matter how good you are because even dogs write books nowadays. Dogs! So how do you compete with that. And if you knew me you would know that if I have a competitive bone in my body it is my pinky bone. Or maybe one of those tiny bones in my eardrum. I fight hard with myself but I hate competing with anyone else. When I finally gave in and decided to do this it was because I was sick of telling my husband, "If I ever write that book..." It sounded so lazy and stupid to me. I told myself, "Just write it if you're going to write it, or shut up about it." (See, I told you I can be hard on myself. But in a good way) Every time I wanted to give up (there were many) I told myself to write it to my daughter. I can do for her what I cannot do for myself.
The most exciting part of this experience? The first time a complete stranger blogged about my book. I found it by googling my title. She said I was a master of the English language. Another woman called me a "wordsmith." I looked at my husband and said, "I'm a wordsmith?" Then I covered my mouth and cried in the kitchen. Cried happy, happy tears. Seeing that people who don't know me and are not trying to be nice to me care about what I wrote is the biggest reward."
Okay, this is Mandi speaking again. I know, I'm sorry, I was completely hypnotized by her writer's voice as well, and almost forgot I was supposed to be writing this post. If you haven't read this book yet, don't miss it! If you don't believe me, go check out the 20/22 five star reviews on Amazon! There is a reason this book has gone from zero to sixty in under ten seconds, but I'm not going to tell you what.
I'll let you read it and find out for yourself...