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 

B.R.A.G. Medallion: A Boost for Indies

by @AnnieDaylon

registered- 800The Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion  for excellence in indie publications includes not only a shiny gold sticker, but also a host of other treasures:  reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, mentions on Twitter, and images on Pinterest.  B.R.A.G. also posts news provided by authors about their readings and publications. If  honorees send B.R.A.G. a print copy of their book, B.R.A.G. will display that book at many book expositions.  In addition, B.R.A.G. affords its recipients the  opportunity to do an online interview about their winning work and their writing process.  I jumped at the opportunity of doing an interview about my B.R.A.G. honoree novel, Castles in the Sand, and had the pleasure of working with Stephanie Hopkins of Layered Pages.

A sample for you, of my interview…

Stephanie:  Hello Annie! Congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Castles in the Sand. How did you discover indieBRAG and what has been your experience with self-publishing thus far?

  • I discovered indieBRAG on Twitter. Another author tweeted that her book was a BRAG Medallion recipient; I was curious so I followed the link to indieBRAG.
  • A steep learning curve, that of self-publishing. At times I felt as though I were scaling a vertical wall. I had to learn (am still learning) not only the business of writing, but also the use of technology. (Three years ago, I didn’t have a website, didn’t know an analytic from a hashtag, etc.) I sacrificed writing time to acquire skills in both these areas; unfortunately, that was necessary. But now, writing comes first and I squeeze marketing and tech into whatever time is left.

See more here: Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Annie Daylon 

Back to Work! Armoire/Office is open today! :-)

On Layeredpages.com, my armoire/office was Closed. Here’s the Open version. (No vacation today!)

 

 

A Note to Indie Writers…
For a nominal fee,  B.R.A.G. Medallion will consider your self-published novel on basis of Plot, Characters, Writing Style, Dialogue, Copyediting, Cover/Interior Layout.
Visit B.R.A.G. for a potential boost!


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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

 

Book Club Request: Discussion Questions for “Castles in the Sand”

by @AnnieDaylon

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Just a few days ago, a Book Club contacted me saying that they have chosen my novel Castles in the Sand as their April’s read.(Pause here for dance of joy!) The group requested discussion questions and I was delighted to comply. I had not prepared such questions before but knew that character, plot, viewpoint etc., should be incorporated. I chose to share the resulting questions here (minus the spoilers) on the chance that my efforts might be of use to other authors.

 

BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION:  CASTLES IN THE SAND

1. Castles in the Sand is written in the first person from a single viewpoint, that of Justin, a homeless alcoholic. Why might the author have chosen to tell the story this way? Why is Justin’s voice so truncated?

2. The author tells the story by slipping between present and past. Why do you think the author chose to do this instead of telling the story chronologically?

3. Were you aware of the author’s subtle use of foreshadowing? (Example: At what point in Justin’s life did he learn of the existence of Steve?)

4.  In his review of Castles in the Sand, author Michael Hiebert states that “the plot hits the ground running and never lets up.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

5. Castles in the Sand is a cautionary tale, one of love and family, ruin and rise. The author incorporates symbols, such as the aquarium castle, to reinforce the main themes. What other symbols are prominent in the book and what do they represent?

6. Do the main characters, Justin and Steve, change by the end of the story? If so, is one arc more prominent than the other?

7. Steve is a shape shifter; both Justin and reader are kept in suspense about his motives. Eventually, Steve’s secrets are revealed. Should he have kept this secret for so long?

8. Justin feels betrayed and acts out violently. Have you dealt with someone who betrayed you? How did you respond?

9. Justin is stuck in a time warp and cannot progress until he deals with the past. There is a Buddhist proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” What was the readiness factor for Justin?

10. Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, how would you change it?

 

If writing discussion questions, you can find help  by: talking with other authors, scanning the back pages of current novels, many of which now include such questions, and by searching on line. (Try Lit Lovers for the basics; you may even use their questions verbatim, with attribution.) 

Another suggestion: If requested to write discussion questions, jump at the chance. This activity will give you an injection of  joy and enthusiasm. You’re a writer and readers are interested in discussing your work. Celebrate!

A FREE short story is yours when you subscribe to my newsletter! Simply place your first name and email address in the box provided on the right.  Many thanks!

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

Novels

At the Heart of the Missing

At the Heart of the Missing   is a psychological thriller about a woman’s fierce struggle to flee her abductor and a PI’s frantic attempts to locate her. It is a heart-wrenching tale about the ties that bind and the tragedies that break families.

 

Available NOW in PAPERBACK from Amazon.com. 

Available NOW on Amazon KINDLEAmazon Kindle Button

 

 

Daylon’s new psychological thriller tells the heart-racing story of a woman’s desperate fight to escape her depraved captor and the tenacious search of a brilliant PI to unravel a three-year-old mystery, keeping a secret promise he made long ago . . .

Rose Harrington is a strong, independent young woman whose world has been rocked by loss. Three years ago, her sister Margo went missing. Despite an exhaustive search by police and the assistance of Rose’s friend and private investigator, Shaughnessy Flynn, Margo has never been found. Three months ago, Rose’s beloved mother died. Feeling disconnected, needing to get back on track, Rose plans an off-the-grid vacation to Hawaii.

Meanwhile, Private Investigator Shaughnessy Flynn is suffering from a profound loss of his own, that of the tragic death of his six-year-old son. He too is looking to change his life, to get back on track. When Rose disappears in the same way that her sister Margo did, Flynn knows he must solve this mystery. He failed Rose once; he can’t fail her again.

What happened to Margo? Where is Rose?

What secret lies At the Heart of the Missing

*******

OF SEA AND SEED
The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book I
2016 Recipient of the B.R.A.G. Medallion 


OF SEA AND SEED launches The Kerrigan Chronicles, the story of three generations battered by love, betrayal, war, and the effects of a tsunami that ravages the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland in 1929. Family matriarch, story teller, and ghost—Kathleen Kerrigan—confesses that heaven does not open its gates to women of her ilk.

In her afterlife she is adrift, doomed like some ancient mariner to atone for mortal sin by telling repeatedly the story of her downfall. With the lyrical voice of Kathleen at the helm and through the voices of her children—the duty-bound Kevin and the strong-willed Clara—mysteries fall away until the core of Kathleen’s crime is revealed.

Set against the backdrop of the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean, The Kerrigan Chronicles is an unforgettable family saga with a riveting undercurrent of suspense, one that will seize the imagination of readers everywhere.

 ******

Castles in the Sand

CASTLES-IN-THE-SAND (2) brag medallion

2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Castles in the Sand, based on Annie’s contest-winning short story of the same name, is the winner, mainstream genre, of the 2012 HOUSTON WRITERS GUILD NOVEL CONTEST and a 2014 recipient of the B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Thirty-eight year old Justin Wentworth loses everything when his entitled lifestyle slams into a collapsing economy. Alcoholic, homeless and living on Vancouver streets, he has one desire: to regain the love and trust of his wife, Sarah, and his little boy, Bobby. Help arrives when twenty-something Steve Jameson, a graduate student researching the homeless, rescues the mugged Justin from a Dumpster and offers food and shelter in return for Justin’s story.

As Justin divulges the tragic details of his life’s downward spiral, he develops trust for his Good Samaritan. However, he soon discovers that all is not what it seems with Steve. Can Justin persist on his path back to his family, or are darker forces at work against him?

Castles in the Sand is a poignant, character-driven tale of tragedy and hope, one that will win the hearts of readers everywhere.

*****

Maggie of the Marshes


 

Maggie of the Marshes Book CoverMaggie of the Marshes is a heart-warming, character-driven work of commercial fiction that celebrates life on the Cape Shore of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula in the early 1960s. The title character, a mysterious, mystical old woman who communicates with both living and dead, appears at a convent door in St. John’s and tells a traumatized young nun, Fiona O’Neill, that she will find the answers to her problems in Heaven Cove.

Through Maggie and with the help of the unforgettable people of Heaven Cove, Fiona rebounds from a devastating ordeal, learns the secret surrounding her father’s childhood, and finds her true home.

 

*****