Category Archives: My Journey

You Are What You Read

The thought has crossed my mind a few times lately. Being pregnant, I’ve never been more aware of how the food I eat directly impacts my body and the little (girl!) growing inside of me, and I can’t help but notice a similar trend when it comes to what I read, and watch.

People have compared my writing to CS Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”. Well guess what? I grew up on the stuff. My parents read the entire series to me several times over when I was a kid. These books are so ingrained into my skull that I have to fight to eradicate the kindly English accent in my head that pops up whenever I write.

After that came Madeline L’Éngles’ books and by the time I hit grade three, I tackled Lord of the Rings for the very first time (took me a few years but I did it in the end). While living in Germany, the first English books I encountered were the Harry Potter series. At the time I the Shadowlands books were nothing more than a vague dream but the experience of wandering the German countryside (I read as I walk) with a book of magic in my hand stuck to me more than I’d like to admit.

I picked up a darker satirical edge from Simon R Green. Throw in a pinch of that great TV series ‘Firefly’, and you come out with an adventure fantasy series primarily aimed at pre-teens and teen boys.

The second Shadowlands book does feel different. Probably because it reflects a different time of life. I’ve been married and settled back in my home town for a few years, and I’ve got a baby in the oven. My life experiences revolve less around globetrotting and more around the relational complexities of family. Tavin’s shares a large part of the story with his sister Moreanna. Family loyalty seems to be a major theme in this second book…

But back to reading and eating. I still have to claim my initial influences (Lewis, LÉngle and Tolkien), but I’ve been reading a lot more Anne Rice lately, as well as some other more ‘grown up’ fantasy books. I’m not sure if I should admit it, but I’ve also been hooked on the TV series ‘Supernatural’ lately. The influence on my writing is probably slightly more than subconscious. 😛 If you ever read my next book ‘The Hand of Darkness’ see if you can spot it. Heh heh.

But what about dessert? My guilty pleasure has always been westerns. I know. It seems a little out of left field. But when it’s cold and rainy and I’m feeling down Louie L’Amour is who I reach for. Which is why… against the the strong objections of my husband (who thinks it’s a horrible idea), I’ve begun writing a western. 🙂 The best part is the reactions I get when I tell people. I get these blank looks as they try and process the idea. The conversation usually goes something like this:

“…so… it’s a time travel book?” “Nope. It’s a western.”

“So how do your characters get there?”

“In the west? They are born there.”

“Are there aliens or something?”

“Nope. It’s a western.”

“Do they have superpowers?”

“It’s a western. They shoot guns.”

… you get the idea. Personally, I’ve never had more fun writing a book then when I write this one. I can hardly wait to share it! Vampires? What vampires? Trust me, I’ve decided the market’s ripe: westerns are the new ‘it’. If you’re smart, you’ll write one too. 😛


Who am I kidding?

Being pregnant has taught me a few things… namely recognizing my limitations. I’ve learned to schedule naps into my day and not to judge the mirror to harshly. Today is my day off and I’ve decided that I need to take a long pampering bath and put energy into feeling healthy and pretty-not scrubbing the bathrooms. 🙂

Some of you have been wondering where I’ve been lately… I guess I’ll have to share my big secret: I love friends, but social media isn’t exactly my strength. My life is wonderful and full. I’ve been working a lot, sleeping a lot, and I’ve taken on more students to tutor in the art of creative writing. I’m still slogging away on a manuscript that’s been ‘almost done’ for several months.

I’d like to do more… but I need to eat a big BBQ chicken egg sandwich in about 10 minutes from now.

I don’t know where the balance is. I think I may just be a writer who switches on to social media some time before and after a book release. In the middle, I plan to fill my head with adventure and not sweat the number of tweets I may not have put out. Perhaps things will change. Maybe they won’t, but all I know is that the best thing I can do for my child, is to love me.

And make a sandwich to die for.

Thanks for asking Rusty. 🙂


The Sacred and the Secretarial

Yesterday on Writers and Company (CBC Radio) they brought in two authors to talk about a writer’s changing role when it comes to self-promotion and marketing… specifically in relation to social media. I didn’t hear the entire interview and it hasn’t been posted quite yet, but it struck a tragic chord with me.

You see, I discovered that the two authors were experiencing exactly the same problems that I have.

The best work of any artist is created when we enter this sacred “trance” or “zone” of creativity. When I wasn’t pregnant I generally forgot about the world once I entered in this zone. I forgot to eat, I skipped showers. I didn’t return phone calls… and I could write 4500 a day, easily.

But that was really before I was published, before there was any real need for me to be online for any other reason than reference materials.

As it was pointed out in the interview, writers are famous procrastinators. We used to have to leave the house and go looking for a coffee shop to find distraction, but now, thanks to instant messaging, we don’t even have to leave our desk.

Facebook, twitter, even email provide a type of instant gratification rush that’s similar to pulling the lever on a slot machine. Just hit refresh and who knows what type of distracting email/message/tweet you may have. What’s worse, emptying the email box makes us feel like we’re accomplishing something. It lets us go on to other tasks without feeling too guilty about not actually working on our book.

Being social media savvy is also a quality that agents/ editors/ publishers tend to evaluate. They probably will google your name and take a peek at just how successful you are when it comes to self-promotion. Any why not? The less work that they have to do gets your book that much faster onto the shelf, and it means a cheaper product for them.

The problem is the secretarial realm DOES NOT mix well with the sacred realm of deep creativity. At least not for me. I work from home as well and trying to switch back and forth between writing a fantasy manuscript, blogging about outdoor gear (my day job), and keeping on top of my social media demands… well honestly, it’s often my manuscript that suffers the most.

Because of this, the two writers on CBC suggested that writing is getting worse. Unless writers have hours and hours of lonely space to dig down and commune with their soul, the writing we produce only really scratches the surface of what could be… or so I have heard.

Which I guess is why I like to write in the middle of the night, when I can. Sadly to say it doesn’t happen near enough but I did get up an extra two hours early this morning just to work on my manuscript.

What’s your solution? How do you push back the secretarial realm and make space for the sacred?

A month in a nutshell…

I know, I know. It’s been awhile. I’ve kind of dropped off the grid for a bit. In my defence, life has been full of wonderful changes and it’s been a race to keep up. Let me fill you in. 🙂

Moving! My husband J and I bought our first house and moved in! After living in a small apartment, having our own place feels like a castle. There is even a spare room where I now have my office. Not only am I busy almost finishing off the manuscript for my next book, I do social media for an outdoor sporting goods store. To my chagrin, I seem to do a much better job doing social media for someone else. 😛

Babies! I recently flew out to Denver, CO to spend some time with a close friend. She just gave birth to her second and it was fun to be able to fly out and give her a hand. My sister-in-law also had gave birth… last night. I was able to be there to see her deliver a beautiful baby girl (after 22 hrs.).

And guess what? I found out a few weeks ago I’m pregnant as well. The timing is incredible, it feels like J and I have done 10 years of growing up in 2 months. The good news? So far my pregnancy seems relatively easy. I only get really nauseous if I stay up too late… like last night for instance. Not that I’m going through anything like what my sister-in-law is experiencing, but walking around the hospital at 3am makes me feel like I ate gym socks for breakfast. Right now I’m curled up in bed with the laptop trying to decide if a hot shower will help.

Finally, despite appearances, I have remained mostly plugged into the local writing community. The best part of my week is when I work with young Josh teaching him how to write his first bestselling book. I think he’s in his early teens. We have quite a bit of fun together.

Similar opportunities for working with kids have been opening up left and right. There’s really only so much our school system can teach about creative writing and parents that have gifted kids seem really excited that I love teaching kids how to write stories as much as I love writing itself. I will be speaking at a writing group for kids this week and a grade 4 teacher has asked me to come and talk to her class. I’m super stoked!

So that catches you up! Time for a shower… and pineapple. I suddenly need to go eat a lot of pineapple.

TV Interview on Shaw!

My book is published! What now?

Last week was huge. At finally long last my book is officially released to the world and free to fly. Some of you might have discovered a few sad kinks in the system… But I know my publisher is working extra hard to get everything straightened out.

so what’s next?

Honestly, I’m a bit worn out from the marketing side of things. I’ve been sadly lax in telling you all just how amazing my book launch went… Mostly because I needed a bit of a break. BUT the wonderful news is that I know the new direction I’m going in: I want to teach kids to write.

The absolutely best part of my week happened when I got to sit down with a kid named Josh (I think he’s 11) and his father. Josh has been writing stories since the tender age of four. He plays amazing pretend games and he’s got all these ideas swirling about inside of his head… He just doesn’t know what to do with them. His father looked a bit desperate when he asked if I could help. 🙂 I CAN’T WAIT to help Josh write a book!

We talked about organizing his ideas into separate folders his computer and giving each of those folders the title of a book. Once we grouped the ideas properly I asked him which book he’d like to write. Once he picked a book to work on I gave him homework. I told him to write a page on the characters in his book, a page on the setting, and a page loosely outlining the plot. I also told him not to be afraid to write out the scenes from his book that are playing out inside his head…

Okay. I know that sounds like a lot for a kid, but Josh is on fire. He’s so excited to write, our meeting could have gone on for hours. Fortunately I remembered I had a hungry husband at home to feed.

Josh has really inspired me to run with an idea I had about talking in high schools about creative writing and story building. Book signings are great and all… But kids. Kids are awesome!

On a happy side note, Josh represents my fastest growing “fan base”… Kids between 9 and 12 are the ones who are really loving my book. I was a little surprised at this but I can’t tell you how great it is. I’ve been told that these are the kids who generally don’t read so I’ve got something good going. The knowledge that preteens are the ones reading my stuff has also begun to shape the way I write my next book…

But more on that later. 🙂

Kids that Read are Awesome!

I attended something called ReadUp TweetUp last night. In celebration of family literacy day, the local twitter community (shout out) and a bunch of amazing authors came together to host a literary networking event. What does that mean? Lots of books, people that love to read, and those who love to write (and read). But the highlight of the evening? It would definitely be meeting young Aiden and his sister Abigail.

Aiden and his sister devour books. Apparently Aiden read my book in a couple of days and he loved it. What makes this great is the fact that while my book may be a fast-paced read, I didn’t pull any punches when it comes to vocabulary and sentence structure. The age group I wrote for would be 12 to 16 year-olds and Aiden’s 10. Way to go!

My mom also showed me a picture of a girl from her Special Ed class reading my book. The girl had her nose between the pages and you can tell she really loves it. My mom is getting the librarian to put my book into the high school where she works, and apparently there’s already a lineup to borrow it.

I can’t even begin to say how much this means to me. I’ve been a little bogged down lately by adult reviews of my book that focus on things like flow, sentence structure, character development. I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t think there were things that I can improve on but it meant the world to me to meet a kid that just loved the story.

Name Tag

Gold and Shadow playing at my book release!

If you haven’t heard of them yet, you should. Derek and Jesse of Gold and Shadow will be playing at my book release party on February 4th, 6-8:30 pm at The Buzz Coffee House. In keeping with the fantastical theme, they will be doing an experimental acoustic set… come and listen to the funky sounds of whimsy and oh yeahh… meet me on the side. 🙂 (Here I am)

It’s going to be awesome!

Saving Face

Today I bought some makeup.

You really need to understand the context. I’m not against makeup, I just prefer feeling as if I don’t need it.

It’s really a mental thing. Once you get used to all the spots and wrinkles they stop bothering you so much. 🙂 I like looking at myself in the mirror and being okay with what I see. I find that if I use makeup a lot I will see myself without it and actually fell uglier. This leads me to suspect that truth-and beauty are very slippery things to define.

A lot of women will tell me that I don’t need it but at the same time feel totally convinced that they can never do without it. The only real difference between us is I’ve managed to (for the most part) grow comfortable with my less-refined appearance. And trust me, I know how hard the transition can be to make.

So in that light, let me tell you about some new experiences I’ve had lately. The first one came when my brother-in-law was designing some fliers and promotional items for me. On one flier he slipped in a picture of a photo-shopped me which he said was easier to print because of it’s smooth skin tones.

That picture made my heart do funny things. The girl on the flier is so perfect and beautiful it’s torturous. I can feel an ache in me to want to be her, and to want to represent myself as her but it’s just not the truth and it never will be.

So I told Jeremy to pull out the photo-shopping and put something in that’s more real. Hehe… now I’m nervous to see just what the flier will look like in the end.

Funny enough, I’m dealing with the same thing in a different medium as well. I’m really excited for a short feature that will be shot on me and my book for Shaw TV next week. I’ve been told that TV can do funny things to your skin and really bright lights will pull out every scar and zit and make you look shiny.

So I bought some makeup today. I needed some help to do it. 🙂 The lady at the make-up counter of shoppers was really great and helped me pick a few products that are supposed to make me look like… well… like I’m not wearing any make-up at all. 😛

I’m also going to get a coaching session next week with someone who will teach me the grand art of acting exactly ‘like yourself’ on camera. Weird. Is it just me or is this concept just sound strange?

What’s happening to me?! If there is one thing that I really want to do, it is to push back against Hollywood standards of beauty and help us all start to love our own skin again. I won’t deny it: I’m in an odd place… and I’m really curious to see what happens next. Will I be overcome and transform into a saucy beauty queen? Or will I have a break down and run away to live in the woods? Only time will tell! 🙂

Just in case you haven’t seen it: here’s a great video about this.

Pride and Pretense

Ahhh… we are such suckers for this subject. Who really is able to evaluate their work without pride or false humility? I’ve noticed that it’s so easy to inflate the facts and make things seem grander than they really are, and forget to give credit where it is due. For instance: My husband’s friend’s mom who is a third grade teacher mentioned my name to a parent (Derek) on the subject of writing children’s books.

Derek interns at Shaw and he became interested and contacted my publishing house and now I get to be on a three minute feature airing at the end of January. 🙂

Not because of my great talent or winning personality, but because of my husband’s friend’s mom: Anne. Who is a wonderful lady with the best set of locally crafted pottery dishes I have ever seen.

I have to laugh at myself. It’s easy for me to want to represent the story differently, to somehow infer that I had any part. But the truth is found in an even better story about community and the warm people in my hometown of Nanaimo.

I want it to always to be like that.