Friday, February 26, 2010

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

I made the first round of cuts! Whoo! I didn't even realize how anxious I was until I woke up yesterday morning expecting the results.  When they didn't show and no email came I started thinking I hadn't made it.  The only thing that kept my same flame of hope alive was that there didn't seem to be anyone who'd received an email.  After ten hours of constant check the list was finally up.  I think I opened the file about ten times before I actually believed it was my name and my book title.  Together.

The first round was the pitch round.  I made it so I know my premise isn't crap and that essentially my query isn't crap either, although I have improved on it since submitting my pitch. Being rejected in round one just means you need to work on your pitch, find a way to distinguish it form the rest of the pack. I was kind of hoping to be eliminated in round one, that way I could tell myself that it's just my pitch they don't like.

Going into this second round, I'm scared to face the reviews of people I don't know, who I haven't established a writing relationship with. It's a month until the next elimination and I'm determined to put the contest to the side.  To not worry about what the reviewers will say or whether I make it or not. But for now, I'm going to basking in the glory of having made it through round one! :)

On my iPod:

I'm in Love with a Girl by Gavin DeGraw

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Staying Two Steps Ahead

I was on a forum today and someone made a great observation: What really bothers me is that you've got agents saying that certain paranormal creatures are getting tired, but then they keep selling and when you offer them something different, they "don't know where to place it" BECAUSE it's different (Thanks to Roly on AWWC) 

Right now the market seems to be saturated with vampires and werewolves, yet despite agents saying they've had their fill they still keep coming.  I'm not big on reading paranormal YA novels (I know, I know how can I write what I don't read? But mainly it's so I don't get influenced by someone elses concept), but I haven't noticed a lot of angel stories lining the shelves, but all I hear about is how they're the next hot thing.  Too bad for those people just figuring that out when, even as they make their debut on the market, they're out.  It's too late to write the next great angel story because in two years time after you've written, edited, queried, revised and found a publisher the market will be full for those stories.

Everything has a life cycle and the publishing world is no different.  So, I find myself wondering now if I should be moving two steps back.  What was popular 4 or 6 years ago in teen fiction?  There I might find the next big thing.  Too bad the characters in my head aren't interested in being the next big thing.  I guess I'll just have to write what the voices in my head want me to and pray that its what's about to be hot.

On my iPod:

She is Beautiful by Andrew WK

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Moving Forward


Today I spent almost three hours getting my butt in gear and using to create a proof copy of Songbird.  No, I haven't given up hope that I'll meet that perfect agent, nor am I self-publishing, but I needed something to motivate me in the next step of the process for Songbird.  I need to query more.  I've sent out a total of nine queries and had four rejections so far.  I can't keep waiting, but it just seems surreal. I continually doubt whether I'll ever get an agent, much less get published.  So I am now anxiously awaiting my proof copy so that I can actually see my name in print.  The picture above is what the front and back cover will look like.  If you've had the opportunity to read Songbird you'll probably understand why I chose  a swing instead of a bird for the cover.

As for how good Createspace is, well that remains to be seen.  Once I hold my book in my hands, I'm hoping I'll be able to say they're fantastic :)  Once I get it in the mail I'll take a better picture.

On my iPod:

I'm Your's by Jason Mraz

Monday, February 8, 2010


Since I started writing I've been plagued by the question of how much of myself and my memories do or can I put into my stories.  It's not that I put people I know into my stories, but there are bits and pieces of me and my experiences in each of my novels.  In The Evolution of Janie I have it set in Montana and I can clearly remember a summer vacation we took and how tame the wildlife seemed, although I never ran across shape shifting humans.  There was also a shopping scene with Janie and Justin that included some of Brandon's sage advice about buying multiple pairs of pants in the same style to reduce washing.  Songbird however included far more personal memories, my dog Pepsi that died and the Rainbow song my Dad used to sing to me.

There are some pieces that are nearly inconsequential.  I went to school with a boy named Jace and always liked his name.  I haven't seen him since 9th grade and have no idea what kind of a person he is, but still the name was stuck in my head, same with Jacey.  I visualized the park where Jace was shot as the playground at my elementary school.  Yet others are far more significant and the events changed the way I viewed life and as I wrote about them I felt that surge of pain as I relived the moment. Jace's funeral scene was based on an a friend's funeral and the reaction her son, Seth had when faced with putting her to rest.  Never will I forget the way he met my eyes and let out a sob as he realized his mother was truly gone.

As hard as that scene was to write, when I finished I realized that it was a moment I would never forget and that by putting it on paper, I've given my word to never forget them.  Maybe all of these little things I add from myself are really just memories I'm scared of losing.

On my iPod:

Lover's in a Dangerous Time by Bruce Cockburn (BareNakedLadies version)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

8 Things I've Learned After 8 Years Living in America

The Olympics have always stirred my Canadian pride.  Normally I have little interest in sports but seeing a Canadian wearing a medal of any color just makes me even prouder.  So today, I was talking with my students and I began to think of how different it is here in America, how different I see things now and what I've learned during my time here.  Without further ado, here are the 8 things I've learned after 8 years living in America!

1. People don't appreciate what they're born with.  I grew up in southern Alberta, and spent summers running through the coulies oblivious to the rattle of snakes in the tall grass.  Winters were filled with snowball fights, sledding and skating.  Each summer we ventured out to Waterton National Park and wandered through Red Rock Canyon.  I loved it but never really appreciated it.  But when I moved to Texas my favorite thing in my apartment was a large framed print of the prairies.  I finally realized that I never enjoyed Alberta for what it was; a diverse and beautifully sculpted landmass (the largest rat free landmass in the world).  What really proved this point to me is the massive number of people I met who had grown up in Houston, yet had never taken the 45 minute drive and seen the Gulf of Mexico. 

2. As large as it is America is still small town USA. Okay, so not all of America!  But definitely the south. Houston is a huge city, yet the people you meet are friendly and accepting.  And no matter how much of a rush you're in, everybody else is moving at their own speed.

3. Canadian bands are better down here!  In 1998 I paid $50 to see The Tragically Hip in concert at the Edmonton Coliseum.  I sat in section 325, row 27 seat 15.  Gord was the size of my pinkie finger.  Great concert, but nothing compared to seeing them in a bar with 100 other people, so close he was practically sweating on me as he moved spastically. That I paid $20 was just an added benefit.

4. Americans think all Canadians speak the same. I've tired of hearing a-boot and eh?.   I'll admit to the occasional eh?, but a-boot has never, I repeat, never crossed my lips.  I went back to Nanaimo for my wedding and I could barely believe the number of times eh? echoed through the Black Bear Pub.  But that doesn't prove anything.  Head to Alberta and eh? takes a dramatic dive in frequency, head east again and it probably picks back up.  As for a-boot, well I'm going to blame the Newfies since nobody can understand them anyways.

5. While Canadians learn about the U.S. they learn nothing about us. "I was in the state of Ontario", "Whose your president?" "Canadians pay 80% in taxes".  Need I say anything more?  If you're American and you've said or wondered these things my only words to you are "Google it!"

6. Cable down here isn't better, it's just more. I say this with all honesty, as my husband has worked for Time Warner, Comcast, DishNetwork and Direct TV.  More channels just means more time flipping to get to the same 4 channels.

7. American chocolate sucks! How have I lived 8 years without Smarties (the real ones), Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp and Caramilk?! Well, if you're lucky you find the rare places that carry them.  The British Isles store in Rice Village sells Smarties for $4 a box ($3 price hike), and the one lone gas station at the corner of Beltway 8 and Hardy Toll Road that carries Coffee Crisps (regular price!).

8. American's just don't get our jokes. I've lost count of the number of Molson commercials I've down loaded to my computer, laughing hysterically while Brandon stares over my shoulder in complete confusion.  It's not his fault though.  He never learned about Canada growing up, he doesn't get why it's funny when we flip over people asking us about our pet beavers.

I've made it my mission to share Canada with my students.  I constantly compare life in the US to Canada, and talk about my experiences.  I share Canadian history and culture with them.  And above all I always tell them about the Canadians burning down the White House :)

On my iPod:

Tik Toc by Keisha