Road trip!

This has been my home-away-from-home the last couple of weeks. My mother-in-law’s 30-year old Fleetwood Prowler travel trailer.

Sure the accommodations were a little  dated, but just right for our family’s first camping adventure (especially its tent-averse matriarch).

I’d hoped to get some writing done, but aside from some unavoidable work for one of my copywriting clients, I left my laptop in my bag.

Yes, I unplugged. And it was good.

I took this photo at Fintry Provincial Park, halfway between Kelowna and Vernon on Okanagan Lake. BC’s provincial parks are wonderful–especially when the season is not yet in full swing and you have them pretty much to yourselves.

I’ll post some more pics of this amazing place and some of the other stops on our road trip soon.


“Watch this” Wednesday: Beauty on wheels

This is one that definitely falls under the category of distractions (see my blog’s tagline if you don’t know WTF I’m talking about).

We were trading funny videos and cool websites over on Murderati one day, and author Zoe Sharp passed along a link, with these comments. “If you want something that’s not necessarily a laugh, but startling, stunning, amazing and beautifully shot – plus a wonderful soundtrack, try the Danny MacAskill “Way Back Home” vid. Danny does things on a bicycle that will make you believe a man can fly.”

Of course, I had to go see what she was talking about, and you should too. Watch this:

There is a writing lesson in here, of course. It’s that pedal-to-the-metal commitment to the craft–and practice, practice, practice–can make something beautiful.

12 steps to better blog promotion

I was doing a little surfing this Sunday morning and discovered these terrific blog promotion tips from DivvyHQ. Their visual checklist is offered up freely for sharing. Head over to DivvyHQ’s website to download the file and printing instructions.

New Yorker to serialize story on Twitter tonight

Just a quickie, folks.

Have you heard the news? The New Yorker is serializing a new short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan on Twitter (@NYerFiction).

The first “chapter” of the futuristic spy thriller “Black Box” will hit the twitterverse tonight at 8-9 PM EST and the rest over the next ten evenings. The story will also appear in the magazine’s Science Fiction Issue, out Monday.

Here’s what Egan herself had to say about the story:

I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea. I wrote these bulletins by hand in a Japanese notebook that had eight rectangles on each page. The story was originally nearly twice its present length; it took me a year, on and off, to control and calibrate the material into what is now “Black Box.”

This is both thrilling and scary to me. Finding new outlets for our work and new ways to connect with readers is great. But does this add even more pressure to produce content quickly and in copious amounts?

It’s an interesting experiment, taking the once-popular serial novel format to Twitter. I’ll be following along. Will you?

“Watch this” Wednesday: Revenge of the Rejected

Rejection letters are one of the soul-crushing realities of life as a writer.

Per all the wisdom of the interwebs, we’re to take them with a grain of salt. It’s only one person’s opinion, after all. A proper writer doesn’t wallow in despair.

A proper writer is grateful for the rejection. It has freed us to find that one agent or publisher out there who really gets us and will fight passionately for our story. Our book’s soul mate.  And look, this reject-er was kind enough to bullet everything wrong with our story, so that we might rewrite it in a way more pleasing to them and potential marketing departments. So many blessings in one short email or letter.

Yeah, right. Here’s what we really want to do:

This great clip, featuring Dylan Moran as Bernard Black, is from the British TV show Black Books that ran a few years back in the U.K. Very funny.



Stocking the Kindle

I’m way behind in my goal to read 52 books this year. Back in the day, I’d read three times that number. (Oh to have that pre-offspring time back again.)

In a couple of weeks, I’m hitting the road with my mother-in-law’s ancient, but serviceable, trailer for our first-ever family camping trip. (Yes I know purists say camping=tenting. I say tenting=dirt.) I plan to curl up on the roomy sofa in the old rig and catch up on my quota.

So I’ve been stocking up my Kindle. Here are my latest additions:

CRAZY PEOPLEThe stories in this collection were the impetus for bestseller Jennifer Crusie’s novel Crazy For You (2000). I loved Crusie’s earliest romances best, so I can’t wait to read this.

Writers will also be interested in the appendices. In A, Crusie shares how 26 sentences become a full short story. B is a 50% shorter version of one of the stories that ran in Redbook Magazine. C and D show the proposal version of Chapter One that St. Martin’s bought the book on and the version that made it into print.

Sure to be a good writing lesson as well as a good read.

I also picked up two freebies this month* that I’m excited to read.

TRIAL JUNKIESTrial Junkies is a mystery/thriller by Robert Gregory Browne, a writer who first hit my radar via the Murderati author blog. This is his first foray into self-publishing after five thrillers with publishers like Dutton and St. Martin’s.

The Bro-Magnet (A Nice Guy Romance) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted is one I read some buzz about online and decided to try. The premise sounds fun. Baratz-Logsted is another author venturing into self-publishing after 22 books on the traditional path.

I also paid $18.13 for The Measure of A Man. A literary novel! I felt strong-armed. It’s too much. (I hardly ever bought hardcovers either.) But it’s my book club’s selection and the wait for this Governor General Award nominee at the library is lengthy. Hope it’s worth it. The first chapter excerpt won me over against my will.

What’s new on your e-reader or bookshelf?

* I feel vaguely guilty for downloading freebies. The truth is, I think I’m spending less on books since getting my Kindle. Which is good in one way, but not so good from my perspective as a writer. I enjoy supporting authors. Do you find all the freebies are making you spend less on books, too?

Must-read words for writing moms

Photo: Wikipedia

Confession: I have a girl crush on Maggie Stiefvater. And not just for the mad writing skills that put her books on the NYT bestseller list. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

At only 31, she’s also an accomplished musician, and an award-winning, internationally-collected artist. She can do this with a Sharpie in a little more than an hour.

Yeah, I’m feeling kind of inadequate right now, too.

She’s also a mom and a wise woman, which she proved with her latest blog post that made me fall for her all over again, despite my crippling jealousy. Here’s a snippet.

Women. There is a lot of guilt associated with taking time for your career versus spending time nurturing children. Every time you leave the house and the kids have a babysitter or a substandard dinner or no bedtime story, our culture screams at us for being bad mothers. But guess what. Working mothers are not bad mothers. Women who have a sense of self-identity, either through a career or through a home-based activity, are women that kids respect. My father was on an air craft carrier for six months out of the year when I was a kid. I adored him and still do, and what’s more — I’m pretty much just like him. So it’s not the amount of time you spend sitting in the presence of your kids. It’s how you use that time.

You can read the full post on her blog. Scroll down a few paragraphs, past the drumming display (sigh) to get to her advice for working moms.

See Maggie’s art on her Flickr stream.

Definitely girl crush material.