First and foremost, many thanks to readers and writers whose support and encouragement made it possible for me to release both a novel and a picture book this year.
As I write this, I am in the middle of Goodreads Giveaway events for both books!
Entry numbers are climbing as is my anticipation of the email announcing the winners. (Dec. 5th entry deadline.)
The Goodreads Giveaway procedure is pretty simple:
contact Goodreads if you have any questions (all mine were answered courteously and promptly);
select the dates for the Giveaway;
fill in the form;
awaitapproval from Goodreads (mine came swiftly);
begin promo on FB, Twitter, Linked In, … whatever your social media outlet;
either prepare a box labeled Goodreads Giveaway into which you put books, mailing envelopes, and anything else you wish to send (bookmarks, personal notes,etc.) or await the winner list and send books directly from the printer.
Something to Consider:
Due to mailing costs, I offered my novel– OF SEA AND SEED— only in Canada, and my picture book– THE MANY-COLORED INVISIBLE HATS OF BRENDA-LOUISE— in both Canada and the United States. But…
After my giveaway was underway, I came across a bit of wisdom from Catherine Ryan Howard who stated that the purpose of giveaways is to increase awareness, and writers should make giveaway prizes available internationally. Mailing costs can be offset by offering fewer copies. (Brilliant, that! Too late for my current giveaway, but perhaps not too late for you!)
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If you are considering adding a map to the front or back matter of a novel, consider this idea …
My upcoming novel, OF SEA AND SEED, is set on the island of Newfoundland, located on the east coast of Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador shutterstock.com
As an avid reader of books with varied geographic settings, I appreciate authors/publishers who include some kind of map to help anchor the story. In order to provide that visual for my readers, I hunted for the perfect image. None available.
I downloaded a map (right) of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. From there, I considered drawing, labeling, scanning, uploading… a lot of work.
A simpler solution came when I consulted a friend (author/graphic designer Brian Rodda ) who suggested doing it the way that National Geographic does. He did a pencil demo; I loved it.
The dedication for my novel reads simply: for love of Newfoundland. I decided the map could be placed below it. The map is not greatly detailed; that is not required. The main areas in the story are shown: the community of Argentia and the city of St. John’s on the Avalon Peninsula, the Burin Peninsula (community not specified in novel,) and the tiny French island of St. Pierre.
Having just seen the interior proof of my novel, I can report that Brian successfully mapped out a solution to what was for me a dilemma. Maybe it is one that will work for you too.
OF SEA AND SEED, The Kerrigan Chronicles #1 (in progress), is a work of passion, one which I chose because of my deep connection to my native island of Newfoundland.
What follows is a list of some of my reading for this series, a list which may be of interest to those who are writing about, or have ties to, Newfoundland. Please note: the “Come Home Year” books on the list were printed for specific events and I purchased them in Newfoundland. The redasterisk beside their titles indicates that I could not find a link to them. (If you find one, let me know. Happy to update!)
An Armful of Memories* – Bond’s Path-Southeast Come Home Year 2006. Newfoundland: Transcontinental, 2006
Andrieux, J. P. RumRunners. St. John’s, NL: Flanker Press Ltd., 2009.
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Looking for writing/marketing tips? Here are my Top Twitter picks for May, 2015:
Recently, I watched, then tweeted about SHOWRUNNERS: THE ART OF RUNNING A TV SHOW (Don’t usually include my own tweets here, but I was blown away by the amount of work these writers do! This show is available on Netflix and is well worth the watch!)
Are you about to publish a collection of your short stories? I have done that once and am considering a second. Here are six suggestions based on hindsight:
Go for a ‘sense of book.’Group stories around one theme, one character, one setting. My first collection is varied: most of its stories were written, not with the idea of a book in mind, but for contests based on prompts. It was long after their completion that I chose a theme.
Give thought to the title.
Take time to examine your collection. Perhaps, as book title, you might choose the title of one story or the name of a place that is common to all stories. After I read through my stories, I realized there was indeed a thread: the choices we make and the paths we take. Thus the title: Passages.
Consider, as title/subtitle, “a collection of short fiction,” not “a collection of short stories.”
I used stories in the subtitle of Passages and wished I had used fiction, especially after I dropped a narrative poem into the mix. (Yes, I know: could have eliminated the poem. Sigh.)
Acknowledge previous publications.
List the stories that have been previously published, and include publisher, publication, and date of same. In Passages, in acknowledgements, I thanked creators, administrators, and judges of writing contests, and named a couple of specifics. There was no ill intent in my lack of a list of previous publications; I was simply unaware of the courtesy.
Share background of story.
Many of the short stories in Passages were written for contests. In retrospect, I could have enhanced the reader experience by writing a paragraph or two before each short, revealing the prompt or inspiration for the story.
Give thought to the placement of stories.
You might consider placing your best story first and your second-best last. I went a different route: I put an award-winning short story first because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that it had grown into an award-winning novel. As for the last story in Passages, it is a very short piece called Final Passage, a piece that is more than appropriate for its position in the book. The only thing I would have done differently with it is listed above: I would have revealed the inspiration for the piece.
Why do I love story contests? Click on image to link to “Why Enter Story Contests.”
Are these suggestions helpful to you? If you have already published a book of short fiction, what were the steps that worked best for you? What, if anything, would you do differently the next time?
At the Surrey International Writers’ Conference a while back, I introduced, and took notes on, a workshop facilitated by New York Times Best Selling Author and dynamic speaker, Robert Dugoni. The session, Creating Plots for Page Turners, was a combination of lecture and writing exercises designed to give participants a better understanding of classic story structure. Here are 10 tips:
A story is dialogue in action.
The purpose of a story is to entertain. The characters, not the authors, are the entertainers.
A story is a journey—beginning, middle, end—and is both physical and emotional.
The tone is set right away. What kind of story is it? (Make a promise.)
Interesting character should appear at the onset.
The beginning introduces the story problem. (Who, where, what does main character want, what stands in the way?)
The middle develops the problem through obstacles.
Stories should move! Excessive narrative—opinion, bio, flashbacks, info dumps, anything that can be presumed—should be cut.
The end must be satisfying (Keep the promise you made at the beginning.)
The 1st sentence in every chapter should hook the reader.
Many thanks to Robert for an excellent workshop. To learn more about Robert and his writing visit: www.Robertdugoni.com.
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I originally come from the island of Newfoundland but right now I’m coming to you from the island of my sofa. I have the flu and, due to my husband’s medical history and resulting weakened immune system (detailed in Olympic Hope), I have placed myself here, in solitary confinement, with only tea, books, and tablet as companions. A good place from which to comment on my favorite reads of 2014.
Here are the books that I found inspiring, compelling, challenging, or truly entertaining this past year:
The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak Set in Nazi Germany with Death as narrator. A young girl, through the theft of books and with the aid of her foster father, develops a passion for reading which sustains her through the reign of Hitler. This novel is classified as YA but its power and eloquence defy such limitation. Searing. Grim. Indelible.
This is the Story of a Happy Marriageby Ann Patchett This memoir contains a collection of previously published articles (NY Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s) about love, friendship, work, art. Clean, clear language. Honest. From the soul. Inspirational.
Larry’s Partyby Carol Shields Set from 1977-1997. A fumbling man discovers his love of mazes and finds his way to self through his labyrinth of a life. Quiet. Arresting. Realistic.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societyby MaryAnn Shaffer & Annie Barrows This epistolary novel is set on the Channel Islands during WWII. A tribute to book lovers, it details the journey of a cast of courageous book club members whose island is occupied by the Nazi regime. Nostalgic. Enchanting. Inspiring.
419by Will Ferguson (2012 Giller Prize Winner) A literary thriller set in Canada and Nigeria, this is a woman’s crusade to find the man she deems responsible for the downfall and death of her father. (The term 419 is a code for Nigerian email scams.) Taut. Intriguing. Educational.
After Thisby Alice McDermott An apt portrayal of the reality of life in an Irish Catholic American family. Lyrical. Engaging. Poignant.
All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr Set in France during WWII, this novel has two surprising protagonists, one a blind girl, one a Nazi soldier. The beauty in this lies in the author’s ability to create sympathy for the young soldier and to help the reader see through use of sound. (A must read for any writer seeking to improve sense of sound in writing.) Ambitious. Authentic. Riveting.
Behind the Scenes at the Museumby Kate Atkinson Atkinson’s first novel, this exquisitely-written piece details , from conception onward, the life of Ruby who takes us into the world of her quirky British family. Complex. Funny. Heartbreaking.
My favorite book of the year? I must cite two from the above list: 419for the education I received (until I read this, I would have assumed 419 to be an area code, no more) and The Book Thieffor its innovation, power, and simplicity. (In case you noticed… yes, I am currently reading a lot of WWII fiction: my work-in-progress, Book II of a trilogy, is set during that era.)
And now… I’m looking for some good reads while I remain quarantined on the couch, Kindle at the ready. Any suggestions?
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My 2015 calendar from the Federation of British Columbia Writers arrived the other day and, from all of Ben Nuttall-Smith’s stunning illustrations, one jumped at me– Pianist. It triggered memories of my beginnings at a keyboard: the Leila-Fletcher-on-staff-Middle-C-approach to the piano, taught by Sister Mary John Hughes and her trusty pointer. Ouch!
Over the years, I worked my way from Fletcher’s C-D-E to Debussy’s Reverie. I never mastered the art of sight-reading (the ability to pick up a piece and play it as you would pick up a book and read it.) Once, when I was a student of music at Mount Allison University, a friend suggested we partner up and plunge into the world of sight-reading, an attempt to conquer the beast. I started, half-heartedly, and fell away from it: for me there was a gaping hole where passion, drive, and above all, confidence should be. My friend persevered and became a long-time professional musician. (Thank you, T: I never did excel in sight-reading but I did learn from watching you gain mastery.) My piano, except for the annual Christmas carol, is now a silent shadow in the hallway of my home.
However, another keyboard has replaced it.
My passion is writing. I dipped my toe in the water seven years ago and I stayed. In that time, I have written three novels, each better than its predecessor, and I have a fourth awaiting editing. I have also penned forty+ short stories, sixty-five blog posts, and a few articles. Apparently, what I could not apply to music–commitment and perseverance– I can apply to writing. Doubt may knock once in a while but I don’t let it in. I just show up and write, daily. My routine: coffee, crossword, computer. Three hour minimum.
In the coming year, whatever your passion, just have at it. If writing is your passion, park yourself at that keyboard and plunk away. One letter, one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page… eventually becomes one book.
Just show up and you will create a wonderfully accomplished, well-written new year. One key at a time.
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