April 24, 2013

Good News, Everyone: I’m Employed.

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 3:44 am
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It’s not a writing job and not a permanent position, but I will be working until the summer of 2014 on something semi-related to my degree. The Research Council of Norway has hired me for their Tax Incentive Scheme and their Core Competence and Value Creation in ICT program. So far, it’s both challenging and fun.

In addition to professional life, I’m doing two parallel training programs, participating in a relay race and a Norwegian Spartan race, and trying to keep my morning writing routine going. I’m slipping a little, but I’m sure I just need to get used to my new work load. I’m working on a new novel, and once I get my scheduling down, I should be writing that in the mornings, and editing the other one in the afternoons.

I repeat: the most important thing is to keep writing. Just keep writing.


December 16, 2012

Victories: Great and Small

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 8:18 am
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I’ve written about the reasons why writers need to challenge themselves and make themselves mighty, and I still believe that’s true. Measurable results is the key to keeping your spirits up.

So, with that in mind, I finally joined a powerlifting club. Luckily, they had an open competition six weeks after I started training with them, so I could jump right in. I came last, but that’s not the point: I exceeded my own expectations, and pushed myself. I also set a new PR for both bench and deadlift. Now, that is just what a woman needs to get back into writing a new novel.

Here are a few of my lifts:

90kg squats:

62.5kg bench:

120kg deadlift:

December 12, 2012

Serial Novels

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:28 pm
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The most profitable section of the Norwegian book industry is what they call “entertainment.” This is comprised of commercial fiction, and includes fantasy, sci-fi, crime and serial novels.

Serial novels are book series that are made to keep the readers coming back for more. Unlike traditional book series, they rarely work as stand alone reads. The novels are designed to be read right after one another with each book ending on a cliffhanger, and the next book starting where the last one left off. Often with the last page of the previous book attached before the first chapter of the new one. They remind me of TV shows rather than novels, and they read like popcorn.

Most of my writing falls into the commercial fiction category, and since I’ve been back, I’ve started toying with the idea of writing one of these serials. I enjoy gobbling down TV shows more than your average viewer, and I love to write action packed fiction that is part of a larger plot. (And there’s good money in it.)

What do you guys think? Does it sound like fun, or like using up my good words on a low-status (but well-paid) form of entertainment? Would you try your hand at a serial?

November 14, 2012

Adventures in Oslo

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Last week, I was in line at a Norwegian grocery store named Joker (which only reminds me of THE Joker, you know the one). I wore my new Marc by Marc Jacobs trench coat and a cup of coffee from Kaffebrenneriet. One clerk yelled to the other that he was out of bags. In an attempt to hold on to my Canadian friendliness, I offered to grab a stack of bags from one clerk and heave it over to the other. Long story short, I completed my task and spilled coffee all over my jacket.

After some panicked googling, I rushed it over to the closest dry cleaners and made them promise to fix it.

Fast forward to this week. I paid my student loans, bought groceries and quickly checked my account to see that I had enough money to pay the dry cleaning bill. I did, but then that’s it. I’ve been struggling to get money out of my paypal account for a week and a half and it still isn’t sorted, I have more bills incoming, and none of the jobs I’ve applied for have gotten back to me. Right now is not the best time to be me.

I was damned close to crying at the dry cleaners today. That’s the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve ever bought. And I broke it in less than a month. I’m telling you all so you can remind me next time I’m in a store: I’m not grown up enough for pastels and whites.

November 6, 2012

You Never Read the Same Book Twice

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 4:23 am
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Save one unfortunate decision to return to an old job (it lasted 2 months), I’ve never moved back to anything in my life. Not to my home town, not to my old school, not even to my old hobbies. Until now. Now, I’m back in Oslo.

I used to say that there’s no going back, only forward, so the thought of returning scared me. I worried that I’d feel the same way I had when I tried to go back to that other job: that Oslo would be an old dress that no longer fit. Not to mention all the people – writing buddies, colleagues, friends – I would leave behind in Montreal.

I do miss my Montreal people, I even miss the Montreal version of me, but being back in Oslo is exhilarating. I’m trying my hand at a new career in freelance translation, I’m figuring out how to write in Norwegian, and I’m re-connecting with old friends.

And, as it turns out, my self-made saying held true. Going back is impossible. Although I’m back in Oslo, I’m not back in my old Oslo. People have changed and so have I. It feels like I’m rereading a well-worn favourite, and finding a whole new book inside the old covers.

October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:06 pm
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It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today, Columbus Day for Americans, or Monday for everyone else. It’s time to be close to your family, give thanks and be grateful while vehemently ignoring the real reason we’re celebrating (the violent appropriation of another people’s lands).

So keeping with tradition, this is what I’m thankful for: Pumpkins. Coffee. Free wifi. And all my friends, near and far, close and distant. I would not be the same without you, and I am so grateful to have met you. Take a virtual piece of pie from me and a big thanks. I love you all.

January 10, 2012

Writer Wednesday: with Anne Marie Stamnestro

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:53 pm
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I’m proud to introduce an author who, like me, knows what it’s like to write in her second language. Anne Marie got her MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University, and has worked as a translator and proofreader. She’s currently working with a Norwegian publishing house on the first book in a historical romance series, and blogs (infrequently and inexpertly) about food and writing. She also tweets.

Just Like Cinnamon

When I was a child, cinnamon was something you sprinkled on your porridge, or in cinnamon buns and gingerbread. It was a sweet seasoning, nothing else.

However, when I grew up, I got more adventurous, and started to move away from the standard meat-and-two-veg diet I grew up with. New dishes revealed themselves to me – exciting Middle Eastern and Caribbean dishes that used cinnamon with meat and vegetables. Weird! That was my first thought. Surely that wouldn’t work. But of course, it did, and I discovered wonderful flavours – and learned to think differently about flavours I thought I knew.

‘Isn’t this supposed to be a blog post about writing? Where is she going with this?’ Come on, you’re thinking it. Patience, I have a point.

I learned my craft as a writer abroad, in Australia and England. There are many challenges to writing in a second language: How to give the text a convincing ‘sound’, getting your head around colloquialisms, steering clear of false friends. I’m sure I could write long blog posts about each of them. However, the biggest challenge, for me, is that I had to think more than my native English-speaking colleagues. Every word I used had to be weighed in my mind – was this really the word I wanted? Did it mean exactly what I thought, or could it have alternate meanings? Often, we did exercises where we had to write as much as possible in a set time frame. No preparation, no dictionaries. If I couldn’t remember the word I wanted, I had to rephrase my sentence and use other words that meant more or less the same.

All of this made me think harder about the meaning of words. I had to view words in a new way – much as I had to rethink the concept of cinnamon. Just like cooking within a different culture made me more aware of ingredients, writing in a second language made me more aware of language and its components. And now that I’m writing in my native language, this experience has enriched my relationship with Norwegian. New possibilities lie within familiar words. Just like cinnamon.

December 17, 2011

Parallel lives

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:02 pm
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It took me almost two years, but I finally feel like Canada is my home country too. It’s weird, having two homes, but it’s kinda nice as well. It means I have people I love in both places, different though they are, and that I lead two parallel lives that are equally awesome. Montreal-Martine is more laid back than Oslo-Martine, but she’s a bit less confident. Oslo-Martine is more driven than Montreal-Martine, but she’s a bit less satisfied.

Oslo-Martine has plans every day, she runs from one meeting to the next and she loves every minute of it. Montreal-Martine walks everywhere, watching the world around her, spinning tales in her head as she strolls past families and famous buildings, breathing in familiar scents and sounds, and she loves every minute of it.

As I said, it’s nice to have two homes at once.

December 9, 2011

Writing Mothers: I Adore You!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:38 pm
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For the first time in years, I’m actually on vacation. I’m not writing, I’m not reading, I’m not doing anything other than drinking wine with my mom and working out. And it is wonderful. But one of the important pastimes of the Norwegian vacation experience (for me) is taking care of my nieces. They are adorable monsters and I love them, but as I spend hour after hour listening to M.’s outrageous stories about wolves and dangerous snowmen, and watching V. carefully construct sentences and spell out words, I can’t help but admire all of you writing mothers who manage to juggle work, life, kids and writing. You are all superheroes!

Here’s to hoping I can be half as good as you when I get my own kids.

December 5, 2011

Writing on airplanes

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 12:02 pm
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I used to be able to write anywhere. I’d just bring my notebook and a pen, and I’d be set. Then, I got carpal tunnel syndrome and I had to write solely on computers. But I got one of those early luggable portable ones and tried the same thing. And it worked…sorta. Five years later, the carpal tunnel is gone, but the limited range of writing venues remains. I can write at cafés, in people’s houses, in libraries, in parks (depending on the glare of the sun), on the sofa, at my desk, in the kitchen (okay, strike that last part, that never really works for me), but the one place I can’t get anything useful done is at an airport, in the air or pre/post flight.

How great would it be if I could spend my five hour wait at Heathrow airport writing the non-fiction piece for my writing group that was due that day (instead of avoiding doing it now, two days later)? How great if I could get some words out about the book I’m reviewing? Or, how ’bout I just get some useful editing done? But no. The only thing I’m capable of doing at airports is drink coffee or look at tax free items I don’t want.

Is there something they pump into the air? What is it about travelling that makes me unable to focus? Can you work and travel at once?

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