March 5, 2013

Shameless Self-Promotion. Read: Help a Writer Out!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 4:58 pm
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I have entered to win a scholarship to the Backspace Writers Conference in May. I need to get the most votes out of about a hundred entries. Read the entries here.

This is my log line:

Entry 56: FIRE AND BLOOD | Urban Fantasy

When Montreal police start finding bodies of youths with magical potential, Trinity McCormac, the only powerless descendent of a legendary family of witches, knows the killer has learned the secret she once uncovered: that it’s possible to steal people’s powers by eating their souls, but she cannot go to the authorities without making herself a prime suspect. Can she catch the killer before he succeeds in making himself the most powerful witch of all time, and can she defeat him without becoming a killer herself?

All I need from you you, dear readers, bloggers, friends, is a small vote. One small vote each. It would make me a very happy blogger and grateful friend. Also, I bake. Did I mention that?

Anyways, if you think my entry is worth a trip to New York, or if you have other, darker reasons to vote for me, I won’t judge, just click this link and vote for number 56: Blood and Fire.

Remember, a vote for number 56: Fire and Blood is a vote for the future!

I’m not going to promise it would make the world a better place, but it just might. It just might.


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 23, 2012

The Bookshelf Meme

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 6:39 am
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I’m unfocused today, and I found this lovely meme over on livejournal and figured I’d try my hand at it.

Rules: Answer the questions with titles from your bookshelf. It is much harder than you’d think.

I Didn’t Mean to be Kevin

How are you?
I Drink for a Reason

How has your day been?
Strangeness in the Proportions

What are you wearing right now?
The Elements of Style

What are you listening to right now?
Our Mutual Friend

What do you see when you look to the left?
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

What kind of weather do you have today?
Cloud Atlas

What are you doing this weekend?
Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle

How are you spending your Christmas (or other midwinter celebration)?
T is for Trespass

What do you hope to find under your tree?
Stuff White People Like

So, what do you think? Feel free to post your bookshelf questionnaires in the comments, I’d love to see your versions!

May 13, 2012

What to read when you don’t have time to read

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:17 pm
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Short answer: short fiction.

The last three weeks I’ve delved into short fiction again and I must say I love it. You can pack so much punch into thirty pages, and for those of us who’re crunching* right now, it’s much easier to pick up a short story than to make it through a whole novel. Besides, with the bloom of indie publishing, a lot of new, interesting short fiction is propping up. I suggest A Light To Starve By, by Axel Taiari if you like horror/alternate reality fiction.

I’m currently reading Alice Munro’s collection of short stories Too Much Happiness. Every page is blowing my mind, and the best part: I can read a story a day. (Although I devoured three this afternoon. Seriously, check her out!)

So for those of you who want to read but who keep putting books down or losing the plot, let me suggest short fiction. Less demanding = more rewarding when you’re short on time.

*the preferred term for working massive overtime to finish a project on time.

April 8, 2012

Words That Make You Shiver

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:33 am
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I am an insect that dreamt he was a man and loved it, but now that dream is over, and the insect is awake.

Some lines stay with you. They could be in a movie, a book, a song, but the mix of words and sentiment come together so well that it sends shivers down you spine.

A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.

It might be lighthearted, or deadly serious, but you remember it. Citations of these lines will make you smile, or tear up, or shiver. Something about these lines just stick.

God isn’t supposed to be a hack horror writer.

So what is it about these lines that force a reaction from us? I believe it has something to do with build up. It’s not so much the words themselves, but the stories they embody. The lines I remember are usually the ones that contain the story, or at least a major part of it.

Now for wrath. Now for ruin. And the red dawn!

Or, of course, the lines that define a character.

Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

Regardless, they are lines that stand out because they contain much more than the words themselves. They tell the story.

What words make you shiver? And can you place each quote in this post?

March 27, 2012

Stories That Stick

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:56 pm
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In high school, I had to read Hanne Ørstavik‘s Kjærlighet (Love) for class. I hated every page. It was filled with oppression and an impending sense of bad things coming, and once we hit the end, my 17-year-old, hardcore gothic self couldn’t stand the thought of the end of the story. Couldn’t face it. In the class discussion, the teacher had to spend ten minutes convincing me that the story couldn’t be read in two ways, that the ending I’d imagined as too gruesome, was in fact the right one.

I hated it.

But as the years passed and I read book after book after book, Hanne Ørstavik’s Kjærlighet stuck with me. Scenes from that book are as vivid in my head now as they were ten years ago, and I can’t say that about many books I’ve read. The more I think about it, the more I respect what Ørstavik did with the story. The use of two points of view, the utter believability of both characters, the understated hints at the horror going on just under the surface, all of it came together to make a truly memorable and powerful narrative.

Sure, Kjærlighet has about as much cheer in it as Snow Angels, but there’s something impressive about a story that sticks. Even if I didn’t like what the book had to tell me, I’ve carried the tale with me for ten years. I hope someone will one day say the same about my writing.

Which books have you read that stuck with you? And did you like them?

March 5, 2012

Let’s talk about sex

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 8:33 pm
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Here’s a fascinating talk about whether or not you should spell out the sex scenes in your novels. Go to CBC’s The Next Chapter to listen.

Let me know what you think! Do you keep the sex scenes in, or leave it to the reader’s imagination? And what is your favorite steamy romance novel descriptor?

February 28, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Jeffrey Chapman

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:59 pm
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Today, I’m proud to present Jeffrey Chapman, an aspiring novelist from Montreal who not only writes short fiction and novels, but also manages one of the fastest-growing writing groups in the city: JustWriteMontreal.

Jeff is one of the few people I know who gets all my pop-cultural references right off the bat. This seemingly endless well of knowledge adds depth and snark to his writing. It also makes for excellent conversation. Hook up with Jeff on twitter.

Write First

I’m like a crack-addled meth addict when it comes to writing advice.

Every day I read tweets from author-types, looking for nuggets of wisdom about the craft of writing. I follow a bunch of people that have great writing advice (my favourite today is Chuck Wendig – check his blog). I have stacks of books that cover different topics on writing (current bedtime reading is PLOT & STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell – Amazon link here). I take classes, attend workshops, and go to seminars to hear others talk about writing. I feel like I’m learning.

That’s the thing: there’s so much to learn about writing. Figuring out the craft is important to become a decent writer. Understanding plot, making dialog believable, injecting the story with action and compelling tension are concepts that will make people enjoy reading what I write. There’s also the “weeds” of language – spelling, grammar, punctuation, metaphors and similes – they’re important as well, and they fascinate me. I’m in love with the English language.

But I’m not writing. At least, not writing much. Reading about writing dominates the free time I’ve given the craft. It’s a problem I’m working to fix. So how can my confession help you?

Although obvious, it’s good to start by remembering we have a finite amount of time. Reading is important, and making an honest study of the craft is not a waste of time, but it’s not the only way to learn. The act of writing will teach you. Just as musicians must put in countless hours with their instruments, so too should writers. Put one word in front of the other, completing your tales, and you’ll improve. Although cliché to say so, practice really does make perfect.

Also, consider this: you’ll have something to improve. We learn during the revision process, and because we’re human no first draft is perfect. As painful as it can sometimes be, the best place to start is with your own work. Read it aloud, hear the words in your head, and you’ll often be able to spot weaknesses. Does it sound stilted and awkward? Does your punctuation use (or lack thereof) leave you breathless? Attack these issues. If you’re stumped, then it makes sense to seek help from a book. It also helps to share your work with writing friends, but the only way that will happen is if you actually get the damn words written. Seriously, WRITE first.

Here’s another way to look at it. Have someone tell you ten random numbers between one and nine. Commit them to memory, wait a whole minute, and then say them aloud. Now have them tell you ten new numbers, and immediately write them done. Wait a minute, and then read them back. Which is easier?

Okay, that might be a useless test, but the point I’m trying to make is that there’s a kind of magic to putting words down on paper. Things just stick better when you actually write. Some smart scientist with fancy equipment could probably say something about brain waves and memory muscles and such, but I’m sticking with “magic.”

Let’s come back to the topic of time for a moment. Life is finite. If we don’t spend it telling the stories that burn inside us, we should be out experiencing it. If anything, living life is the best way to collect stories. So I’m going to sound like my father for a moment: do as I say, not as I do. It’s the only way you’ll get that story written.

And with that, I’m going to shut up and go read some writing blogs.

February 8, 2012

Blog awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:48 pm
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Thank you so much to the lovely Kourtney Heintz for nominating me for both the Kreativ Blogger and the Very Inspiring Blogger award. It means incredibly much to me to be nominated for something like this. And even better: I get to pass it on!

As part of being nominated for these awards, I get to (1): nominate 6 others for the blog award, and (2): share 10 things that readers might not know about me. So, here we go:

I’m passing the Kreativ Blogger award on to:

1) Anne Marie Stamnestro. Writer, friend and amazing cook. She manages to mix taste and words in her fascinating blog. Check it out, and while you’re over there, try the apple pie.
2) Tiffany A White’s Ooo Factor serves me news of the best TV shows running, every week. For a small screen fan like myself, I love being able to geek out on shows with someone equally interested.
3) I love Julie R. Andersen’s blog According to Julie because she has a fresh view on anything from politics to coffee. Seriously, she’s the only one I know who can make rants about espresso interesting.
4) In addition to being awesome at Zombie dice, Joshua Alan Doetsch puts the romance back in necromancy with his novel Strangeness in the Proportion. His blog’s not half-bad either. Check it out!
5) Hayley Campbell is a wonderful writer who makes me laugh with every peek she gives me into Australian culture. She might not post often, but each post is worth the wait.
6) Laura B. Writer knows how to make marketing interesting. Check out her advice on blog layout! Seriously bridging the gap between creativity and practicality.

The Very Inspiring Blogger award, I’d like hand to:

1) Deborah Bryan’s blog The Monster in Your Closet is truly heartening. Her story, her words, and her series of For This I Am Thankful (Ftiat) continue to inspire and entertain me each week.
2) Tales of a Supernova’s Daughter is a blog filled with deeply personal musings on life, society and the big city. Shinseiko knows how to inspire and entertain.
3) Caleb J. Ross’ blog The World’s First Author Blog is filled with great tips on marketing your books, in addition to other writer related tidbits. Caleb inspires me to dare push myself and my writing out there.
4) Carol Tice’s blog Making a Living Writing is filled with useful tips on how to make money from your words. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in freelance writing.
5) Shotgun Shack is a blog from the insides of NGOs seen from the eyes of an aid worker. Insightful, inspiring, and thought-provoking.
6) Metaphortunate son is one of the few blogs about motherhood that I follow. Who knew you could write posts that are engaging, funny, and about babies. Keep up the good work!

As for the 10 things you don’t know about me…I’ll save those for next time.

January 28, 2012

Reading like a writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 6:30 pm
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I’ve been reading less lately. Something about my selection or mood has just left me uninspired, so when a friend gave me a book and told me to read it, I was apprehensive. But as a good trooper, I gave it a shot. Fifty pages in, I put the book down for the night, impressed and excited, and then didn’t pick it up again for days. That pull that I’m used to feeling didn’t occur. But it wasn’t until my friend asked what I thought about the book that I realized what was different.

“I love the dialogue,” I said. “Every character has a unique voice that holds my interest. And I like that the writer isn’t afraid to dump us into the world and expect us to keep up. Too often, fantasy novels over-explain things. I also like the way the writer introduces his subplots slowly…” And then I saw what I’d been doing: I’d been reading like a writer.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing this. That’s part of how we learn our craft, after all. But there’s no wonder that I haven’t gotten hooked on any of the books I’ve been reading when I’ve placed them under a lens and dissected them into story arch, main and sub plots, dialogue, characters and world building.

So how do you do it? How do you remember to let go of your inner editor and just enjoy the book that’s in front of you? Help me out here. I miss reading like a reader.

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