Vancouver Visit: Things Are Not Always What They Seem

by @AnnieDaylon

Phone April 277

Things are not always what they seem…

 

Are you writing present-day fiction in a real setting? Are you wondering if you should visit that setting? 

In my last post, My Novels. My Research., I wrote of plans to visit the setting of my work-in-progress…

My Work-in-Progress is a crime thriller set in present day Vancouver… I have the characters and the details down, most of them anyway. But I want, once again, to walk in the shoes of my characters. This time I will take the Aquabus to Granville Island, visit a café on the beach, shop at Pacific Centre,  detail heritage buildings in the area, and, most importantly, do some people watching.”

Here are a few things I discovered…

  1. First of all, since my story takes place in May, I wanted to visit in May. But, when I learned that hotel rates would skyrocket on May first (the onset of the tourist season), I booked my trip for the last week in April. Had I waited the extra week, my hotel cost would have doubled. Ouch!

  2. I didn’t ride the Aquabus mentioned in my last post. The character in my novel who went to the Farmers Market on Granville Island would have taken the False Creek Ferry because it was closer to her home and therefore much convenient for her. (Good to know!) I followed suit. 

  3. Before my trip to Vancouver, I watched a TV news report from the shores of English Bay. Certain that shutterstock_212016496the flowers dotting the background field were clover, I wrote about the scent of clover combined with the scent of sea, a combination I remember well from my days in Newfoundland. However, when I strolled through the grass near English Bay , I discovered that there was no clover. The tiny white flowers I saw were daisies. (Things are not always what they seem.) I edited my manuscript.

  4. In my novel, a main character visits police headquarters. When I wrote the scene (prior to my visit to VPD headquarters), I based the setting on a TV show, one in which the front doors of the police station open to a narrow reception area with a long, open counter manned by a prominent and dominant female officer. On that show, everything on and behind that counter is clearly visible (possibly to make it easier to film).
    Reality is different. At the VPD Headquarters, there is a long reception counter, yes, but it is separated from the public by (what I assume is) bulletproof glass. As is required of all visitors, I reported in; that meant talking through parallel slats in an intercom to a woman whose voice was distorted by static. I couldn’t describe this person because, due to translucent glass (and my lack of stature), I couldn’t see much other than dark hair and glasses.
    Another surprise regarding the VPD came in the form of its accessibility. Despite the uniformed attention to detail and the church-like echo of voices in the lobby, there was no sense of keep-away here. I contacted the department ahead of time; I left a message which was responded to in short order. And I was welcomed (with a police escort) into the inner sanctum. (Thank you, VPD!)

As for the other places mentioned above: I took detailed notes on the architecture and layout of the shopping center wherein I have planted a fictional boutique. I ate a delicious salad at the cafe on which I’m basing the restaurant in my story. And I discovered a heritage building whose ivy-covered exterior and dark-paneled interior suit my needs precisely. 

Back to my opening questions…. Are you writing present-day fiction in a real setting? Are you wondering if you should visit that setting?

My answer… yes! Plan the trip. Immerse yourself in details. Then weave them into your plot.

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

My Novels. My Research. (Vancouver Bound: Boots on the Ground)

by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_212016496I am a multigenre author, born in Newfoundland, living in British Columbia. My novels are reflective of my bi-coastal experience in that they are set on the opposite ends of Canada: Newfoundland or Vancouver. The time element is also extreme: I plunk my work anywhere from the 1920’s to the now. The research methods vary, dictated by setting. The Newfoundland novels catapult me into the past: I read and view everything I can find on the historical events and settings. Here, I am focusing on the Vancouver novels (yes, plural because I’m nearing the end of the second) which are set in present-day and require boots-on-the ground research.

My first Vancouver novel, CASTLES IN THE SAND, is set in 2010 in the west end and, in addition to online research regarding the city and the plight of its homeless, I made two specific trips to the city.

On the first trip, I left the comfort of my west-end hotel at the cusp of dawn on a relatively-warm winter day and hiked the full length of Robson Street. Why? To see, hear, and smell the world as my main character, a homeless man, does. When he observes the pigeons strutting the sidewalk, he notices (because I notice for the first time) that the

  • “little bastards have red feet.”

The predominant aroma for him is the smell of coffee (not the smell of ocean air as I had expected.)

  • “I take a deep breath so I can suck in the Starbucks. All the beautiful people carry Starbucks.”

He hears the day beginning, not just generically in the roar of traffic but specifically:

  • “The bus engine grumbles…Whooossssh. Air brakes.”

  • “Won’t be long before the bolts on the door of the shoe boutique behind me twist open. Three bolts. Every morning. Like clockwork. Click. Click. Click.”

 That day, I also walked the Vancouver Seawall, toured Gastown, and ate at the Spaghetti Factory, all the while taking notes. My best discovery? At the end of a long day, while walking back to my hotel on Robson Street , I saw a young man in a white, puffy jacket. He was talking to a homeless man. I didn’t want to interfere but I wanted to eavesdrop, so I strolled past. The young man was saying “Let me help you to a shelter.” I pinged on that. For my novel, I created a new character, a Good Samaritan, who was dubbed “Marshmallow Man” by my main character.

  • “Some guy in a puffy, white jacket hovers over me. A marshmallow. A goddam talking marshmallow.”

My second trip to Vancouver was to finalize details. The backstory of my homeless character was that he had lost his home during the real estate crash. I had a specific residence in mind for him, one that I had found in the MLS listings, and walked the area surrounding that very house. I went to the nearby park where my fictional family played. There, I sat on a bench and penned a description of both house and park. I walked the tunnel under the Granville Bridge. And I sat in the foyer of the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library where I noticed a pigeon strutting the floor, a pigeon that inspired a caring moment for my homeless character. It was in the library that it occurred to me that all the chattering voices around me melded in to a ghost-like drone, into

  • “whirling ghosts of indiscernible chatter.”

The effect of all that research was not only that I was better-able to detail the journey of my character but also that I am now better-equipped to notice detail daily. (A bonus for a writer.) 

As for current research… My Work-in-Progress is a crime thriller set in present day Vancouver, again in the west end. I have the characters and the details down, most of them anyway. But I want, once again, to walk in the shoes of my characters. This time I will take the Aquabus to Granville Island, visit a café on the beach, shop at Pacific Centre,  detail heritage buildings in the area, and, most importantly, do some people watching.

In short, in a couple of weeks, I’m Vancouver bound. Boots on the ground. Can’t wait!  🙂 

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. eNovel-Round-Logo

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue 

The Legend of Sheila’s Brush

by @AnnieDaylon
Sheila's BrushSheila’s Brush is an idiom used in Newfoundland and it refers to the last big storm of the winter season, a storm that occurs around St. Patrick’s Day. The term comes from an Irish legend which says that Sheila was the saint’s wife (or sister or mother) and that the snow is a result of her sweeping away the old season.

On this mid-March day in this part of British Columbia when buttercups sweep meadows and spring-green tendrils of willows sweep the ground, it’s hard to imagine such a storm. However, I do remember it from life in Newfoundland.  I even referred to it in the following excerpt from my novel, Of Sea and Seed:

Finally, March showed up, in like a lion. Mother Nature gradually smiled, warming things up a bit, but she frowned again around St. Patrick’s Day, unleashing another storm, the annual Sheila’s Brush. It was the end of the month before the weather settled into lamb.”

According to The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador, Sheila’s Brush usually follows a spell of fairly good weather. If the storm happens after St. Patrick’s Day, a fine-weather spring is on its way. If it happens before St. Patrick’s Day? The name of the storm becomes “Patrick and Sheila” and a bad-weather spring will ensue.

The legend of Sheila’s Brush is not to be ‘brushed’ aside. To this day, there are Newfoundlanders who firmly believe in this and fishers who won’t venture out until the storm has occurred.

I am certain there are many who, as the first day of spring approaches, hope that Sheila will just put away her broom!Happy St. Patrick's Day

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

A Tribute to Pat Conroy: “My Reading Life”

by @AnnieDaylon 

My Reading Life“Here is all I ask of a book – give me everything. Everything, and don’t leave out a single word.” ~ Pat Conroy

Yesterday I read of the recent passing of author Pat Conroy, probably best know for his novel The Prince of Tides. I love the story, the beauty, the lyricism of Conroy’s fiction but my favorite of his books is a memoir titled My Reading Life

My Reading Life is Conroy’s view of life through the books he’s read and through the people who introduced him to those books. This work resonated deeply with me: I related to Conroy’s love of words, to his knowledge of Latin, and to his habit of collecting words and phrases and quotes. I was amazed at how much I learned about this author through his reading choices; I even started a list of the books he’d read, thinking that I would visit them all at some point.

During this list-making  process, I searched the book’s title on Pinterest and discovered to my delight that the list already existed! The title of the Pinterest Board? My Reading Life-Pat Conroy. Thank you to Liz Whittaker for creating this board which is not only a gift for readers like myself, but also an outstanding tribute to avid reader and accomplished author, Pat Conroy. 

RIP, Pat Conroy.

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you,eNovel-Round-Logo

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

 

Storyboarding with the W Method

by @AnnieDaylon

sTORYBOARDING

Curious about how authors create their novels?

Some write freely, discovering the story as they go along. I do that, to a point. Then, with basic plot, key characters, and some scenes in mind, I create an outline.

I have experimented with different ways of outlining, including the use of note cards, step sheets, the Snowflake Method, and software, all of which are detailed by Robbie Blair in Eight Ways to Outline a Novel.  

The method that works best for me is the Storyboard. It is the most tangible, visual, and accessible way of plotting a story. Sometimes I have used a linear model, simply placing chronological plot points on a straight line.

In my Work-In-Progress, a three-act thriller set in Vancouver, BC, the story takes place over ten days. The details are tight. I want certain characters in a certain place at a certain time and I have to keep track of their every move. Enter: the W Storyboard.

Storyboarding by Mary Carroll Moore

Storyboarding by Mary Carroll Moore

My W Storyboard is based on Mary Carroll Moore’s model which lends itself well to the three-act structure common in the thriller.

The first line of the W—top to bottom—gives the story setup.

The first low mark represents the first portal or turning point. Once a character crosses that threshold, she must continue the journey. There’s no turning back. Either she can’t get back or there is nothing to go back to. (To quote fellow writer Brian Rodda, “The village is burned, the villagers are dead.”) 

Each successive point on the W, as shown in Mary Carroll Moore’s Youtube video, is another portal, another change in direction.

Because I usually know the turning points when I start my storyboard, it’s easy to fill in the portals on the W. After that, I have to get the characters to those portals and that means creating step-by-step details.

Using colorful sticky notes, I write plot points and place them along the lines of the W.  Wonderful things, those sticky notes: I frequently make changes and the notes can be pulled off and popped on easily. (Word of warning: if you plan to use sticky notes, buy the good ones; the cheaper versions tend to lose their stickiness and flit around like butterflies.)

My current storyboard has more than just plot. It includes:

  • Dates of Events, displayed on contrasting  sticky notes;

  • Images of actors who represent the visual type I’m trying to portray;

  • Character descriptions, detailing height, weight, hair, skin tone, eye color. (These are mere reference points which help avoid simple mistakes, such as a page 27 green-eyed character becoming brown-eyed on page 215.) 

  • Settings, sometimes written, sometimes images. (One setting in my thriller is a city loft, so I printed out a floor plan that suits my needs and pasted it on the board.)

Mary Carroll Moore states that her W formula is based on a book The Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity. The revised version, one which I am about to download, is on Kindle. The new title? Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision-and Beyond

If you are an outliner, do you have any outlining tips? 

If you are a pantser, what are your thoughts about outlining?eNovel-Round-Logo

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

 

 

Handwriting: From Tool to Art

by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock.com

My cursive is cursed!

Recently, when I received a handwritten letter from a friend, I chose to abandon my keyboard and respond in cursive. Alas. My lengthy days on the computer came back to bite me. I found myself hesitating over handwriting’s loops and swirls. I also experienced growing agitation when the deletion of errors resulted in scrawls and scratches. I discarded my first attempt and started again. I had only written a few lines when I paused and questioned my spelling. It actually crossed my mind that the word I was staring at must be accurate: if not, wouldn’t there be a red, squiggly line under it? 🙂 

On the heels of amusement came a streak of sadness.  How computer dependent I have become! Am I losing my ability to hand write?

Years ago, as a teacher, I was on the side of keeping handwriting as a part of the curriculum. Later, as a volunteer at a writers’ conference where it was my job to assist writers with registration, I was appalled at meeting young writers who could barely sign their names. The awkward curl of their fingers around a pen brought to mind images of children—six-year-old students—gripping stubby pencils.

After seven years as an author, one who gets words on the page through typing or voice-activated software, I see things differently. Why would those young writers have been comfortable using pens when such activity was not a part of their daily lives? Handwriting feels awkward even to me and I have a solid background in it. The closest I get to handwriting now (in daily journals, in note-taking, and on science-display storyboards which are awash with colorful, post-it notes) is hand printing. Yes, I can still use handwriting. But would I choose it? No.

And I can foresee a time when no one will.

Still, I wonder at the dependence on technology. My parents’ generation, the greatest generation, the now dying generation, could do darn near anything: fish, hunt, sew, build, design, farm, sow, reap, print, and write in elegant cursive. What if, in some dystopian universe, today’s society loses all its tech assistance?  We would, I believe, have to start from scratch, learning once again to curl our fingers around a pencil.

My hope is that handwriting survives. It is beautiful and personal. I used to think it a valuable tool. Now? I still appreciate its beauty.

But, for me, it has moved from tool to art.

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you,eNovel-Round-Logo

Annie Signature Light Blue

Fun Facts about My Native Newfoundland

by @AnnieDaylon

Canada Map 2

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is located on the eastern part of Canada; Labrador is on the mainland of Canada and Newfoundland is an island. I was born and raised on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula (south east corner) and I enjoy weaving stories through the history of that area. Here are a few facts:

  1. Newfoundland officially joined Canada in 1949 as the 10th province. Prior to that,  the residents had the opportunity to become part of the United States of America.

  2. Newfoundland equilateral triangle

    When it’s 7 a.m. here in British Columbia, it’s 11:30 a.m. in Newfoundland.

    The island of Newfoundland forms an almost perfect equilateral triangle on a map. Port aux Basques, L’Anse aux Meadows, and St. John’s are all nearly the same distance apart. 

  3. The island of Newfoundland has its very own time zone, one that it does not share with its counterpart, Labrador. Newfoundland time is thirty minutes ahead of Atlantic Standard Time.

  4. St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador, is the oldest city in North America.

  5. 010309_0775_5614_nslsIn downtown St. John’s, there are many vibrantly-colored Victorian row houses, fondly known as “Jellybean Row.” When people ask how to find Jellybean Row, they are often surprised to learn that no one street has that actual name. Jellybean Row is a nickname for all row houses in that area.

  6. Often, news reports from Newfoundland warn drivers to be on the lookout for moose on the highway.shutterstock_193643531 I have even heard moose referred to as Newfoundland speed bumps. 🙂 It surprised me to learn that moose are not native to Newfoundland. One pair was introduced in 1878 and thought not to have survived. Two more pairs were introduced in 1904. Currently, there are 100 000 moose there, assumed to be descendants of the 1904 pair.

  7. Print

    Argentia, the main setting for OF SEA AND SEED, Book I of my Kerrigan Chronicles series, is one of the two foggiest land areas in the world; the other is Point Reyes, California. Both places have over 200 foggy days a year.

  8. Jerseyside, which is near Argentia, got its name from the large number of people who came from Great Britain’s Channel Islands– Jersey and Guernsey.

  9. Cape Spear, about fifteen km east of St. John’s, is the most easterly point in North America. It is a major tourist attraction and is also home to a WWII bunker.

  10. Screeching-in is a traditional way of welcoming first-time visitors to the province. It consists of a shot of screech (rum), a short recitation, and the kissing of a cod.

  11. April 2012 026

    I took this photo at Harbourside Park in St. Johns, NL. There are two sets of these dog statues in St. John’s. The other is on Signal Hill.    (Sculptor–Luben Boykov)

     Both parts of the province have a dog breed named after them: the Newfoundland dog and the Labrador retriever. (To learn more about the dog statues in the photo on the right, CLICK HERE.)

  12. Memorial University in St. John’s is the largest university in  the Atlantic region (18,000 full and part-time students.) 

  13. The oldest continuous sporting event in North America is the St. John’s regatta held on the first Wednesday of August

  14. Dictionary of NL and Labrador 001 (412x640)Due to unique dialect,  Newfoundland and Labrador has its very own dictionary. (To read former post, “Newfoundland Dialect: Derivation and Appreciation,” CLICK HERE.) The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador, a “unique collection of language and lore” is both informative and fun, an absolute treasure amidst my book collection. For me, it is not only a valued reference for the Newfoundland language, but also, in a rapidly changing world,  a valuable record of that language. 

And there you have it! A few tidbits about my pine clad hills. If you have interesting or fun facts to add, please send them my way!

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you and long may your big jib draw,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Canadian Author? Save a Few Bucks!

by @AnnieDaylon 

shutterstock_110397353Are you a busy Canadian author looking to save a few dollars? Read on…

Recently, I came across a post about additional sources of income for Canadian Authors.*** It occurred to me that, with the loonie at a thirteen year low, Canadian authors might be not only seeking more revenue but also searching for ways to keep that revenue in their pockets. Here’s one possibility:

My husband, who teaches business strategies at BCIT, informed me that Canada Post has a Solutions for Small Business Program. Upon consulting the Google gods, I discovered that this program was free to join. Without knowing exactly how it could benefit me, I signed up and printed out my paper membership ID card.

The next day I set off for the post office to mail books (ten picture books and five novels) to winners of my two Goodreads Giveaways. I pulled my paper Solutions for Small Business ID from my wallet and asked if it would be of benefit.  Much to my delight, the clerk nodded and smiled.

How did the membership help? On the picture books, it did not help at all: they fit snugly into 8 X 10 manila envelopes and slid easily through the two centimetre wide mail slot. However, my ‘fat’ novels did not fit through that mail slot and had to be shipped as parcels. On those, I saved between two and three dollars… per book!

As promised, Canada Post delivered my ‘real’ card a few weeks later. I was surprised to discover that they sent me not just one copy, but five. I assume the reason behind that is that most small businesses have a few employees. (I’m sure I will use all five cards once I rocket to the top of Amazon lists and hire myself some staff. 🙂 )

I don’t know what other gems the Solutions for Small Business Program has in store for me, but it will be fun learning. Right now, I know that this program saves money on the cost of shipping.

A dollar saved is a dollar earned!

*** Additional $ources of Revenue for Canadian Authors  via  Indies Unlimited  written by Martin Crosbie, author of the amazing ” How I Sold 30 000 E-books on Amazon’s Kindle.”

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to youeNovel-Round-Logo

Annie Signature Light Blue

Happy New Year: The First-Foot Tradition

by @AnnieDaylon 

 

Christmas New Year 2013-4 013

According to Scottish and Northern English folklore, the First-Foot is the first person to walk through the door of your home on New Year’s Day.  I became familiar with the concept of the First-Foot through my mother-in-law who, in order to ensure good fortune in the New Year, observes this tradition annually.

Often, the person to be First-Foot is chosen by the householder. It must be a dark-haired male–in our case, my husband– who must arrive bearing the following gifts:

  • a COIN, so that the household experiences financial security;

  • BREAD, so that food be in abundance;

  • SALT, so that life have flavour;

  • COAL, so that the home be filled with warmth;

  • DRINK (usually whiskey) so that good cheer abounds.

Each year, my hubby and I plate these gifts (as above), always making one substitution: matches represent the fuel portion. (Santa never leaves us lumps of coal!)

Here’s hoping you all start 2016 on the right foot!


With best wishes for happiness, health, and prosperity throughout the coming year,
shutterstock_110397353 (2) Happy New Year

Annie Signature Light Blue

My Write Before Christmas: 2015

by @AnnieDaylon

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallion

My Write Before Christmas: 2015

It’s my Write before Christmas! This year I’m delighted
To blog hop with BRAG for I’ve been invited
To share my tradition of greeting in rhyme
Readers and wordsmiths at holiday time.

Authors work solo but none are alone.
It takes a village, an adage well-known.
With this in mind, herein I’m highlighting
Links and events in this world of writing.

A new writer? The world’s a mysterious place.
Catch a conference! It’s there that you’ll come face-to-face
With writers and editors and agents and such.
Volunteering’s an option if the cost is too much.

Don’t want to travel? Still want to learn?
This Indie group can ease your concern
About writing and publishing and marketing scenes
With FREE online events in 2016.

Love story contests? There’s fun with deadlines!
This>Contest Calendar’s< a favorite of mine.
As is Poets & Writers, a site that makes space
For a Contest and Grants and Awards Database.

Got a post that helps others? Want it retweeted?
@MondayBlogs is a place you’ll be greeted.
Ready to market? Don’t know the score?
Book Marketing Tools has ideas galore.

Having trouble with structure? Can’t seem to outline?
K. M. Weiland has guidelines to help you refine.
Seeking courses or webinars to carry you through?
Writer’s Digest will surely have something for you.

There’s a ton of advice from Elizabeth Craig
Author Media’s the place if tech is a plague
And if you’re afflicted with grammar trouble
Grammar Girl delivers help on the double.

Bestseller Labs has suggestions for selling;
Enovel Authors has info compelling
“How I sold 30 000…” is well-worth the buy
Martin Crosbie’s the author (I wish it were I ! :-))

Do you have a routine? Great tales must be spun
And writers toil daily to get the job done.
(On that note, dear writers who are reading this verse,
If today you’ve not written, go away and WRITE FIRST!)

So here’s to my tweeps, and all Facebook friends,
I’m new to the latter and the fun knows no end.
As for Tea & Critique with friends Fran and Mary,
I always apply their sage commentary.

Here’s to you, readers, on you we rely,
The work’s not complete until you stop by.
Samuel Johnson once said (and I paraphrase herein)
“A reader finishes what a writer begins.”

Thanks, BRAG Medallion and Layered Pages
for bidding me join with your blog hop sages!
Debra Martin‘s site is next on the hop,
she’s there tomorrow, be sure that you stop!

That’s it for this year. Best wishes to you
As 2016 comes into view.
And now, ere December rolls out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all! Have great reads and great writes!

Sardis, Retreat, Christmas 034

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue