Archive for the ‘Andy Maize’ Category

Fours years later…

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Yes, it’s time for that annual ritual of looking back across the last twleve months as a way of steeling oneself for the onslaught of the upcoming year. I’ve done this for the last four years on this blog, starting in December 2007, one year after I decided, as a last resort, to self-publish The Best Laid Plans, and then in December 2008 and again in December 2009. So here we are reminiscing about 2010.

If you had told me a year ago what 2010 would hold for me and my writerly life, I never would have believed you. I still can’t fathom my good fortune (and I know some will be getting tired of me saying that but…). Here’s a quick summary of my authorial blessings in 2010:

See what I mean about feeling blessed? It was a truly wonderful year for which I am just so thankful.

When I can draw my eyes away from the bright light that was 2010, the coming year looks inviting, even exciting. I have a raft of readings and appearances from Pelham to Banff, Grimsby to Ottawa, and Brantford to Hamilton. You name the town, and I’ll probably be there. As well, I’ve nearly finished the outline for the as yet to be named novel #3 (the working title is Making Space but it’s a long way from final). The outline is a big deal in my so-called “process.” When it’s done (in the next week or so I hope), the actual writing of the manuscript should take about eight months of weekends. I’m eager to get back in the writing mode.

So farewell 2010, and thanks, it was amazing.

Hello 2011…

My CBC Book Club Podcast episode

Friday, October 1st, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from one of the literary producers at CBC Radio about coming in to record a segment of their great CBC Book Club Podcast (longtime listener, first time… guest!). So in I went to the CBC Broadcast Centre, slapped on the headphones, and answered a series of questions I’d been sent earlier in the week. It was kind of fun. Anyway, it was produced and posted today. Check it out if you like…

Quill & Quire quotes authors’ rules for writing

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Quill & Quire has assembled on its blog some quotations from several authors capturing a selection of writing rules. Not sure how I made the list but Q&Q is clearly excerpting the Canada Also Reads piece the finalists were asked to submit last week for the National Post’s Afterword blog. I’m delighted to be there amidst some wonderful writers and their sage advice.

Fiction writing rules in the National Post online

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Taking a cue from the Guardian’s Rules for Writers series in the U.K., Brad Frenette, at the National Post and its Afterword blog, asked the authors of the eight shortlisted books for Canada Also Reads to submit their own fiction writing rules. My contribution, hastily considered and created to meet the National Post’s deadline, appeared on the Afterword blog this morning. Who am I to be cooking up writing rules anyway. But I always try to do what I’m told.

So, here are my ten rules, such as they are:

  • Very few rules apply to all writers. Every writer is different, so only observe these rules if they happen to work for you. If they don’t, make up your own rules to break.
  • Create a quiet, comfortable space for writing. Then, write there often. If that’s too regimented, carry a notebook and try writing wherever you find yourself, whether it’s Starbucks or the JiffyLube when your car is up on the hoist. As well, write in stretches of at least four hours so that you can get into a groove and not feel rushed or forced by the clock. If you don’t have four hours anywhere in your life, try writing in short snippets and see if that works.
  • I’m an “outliner” so I favour investing the time up front to map out a story in considerable detail. For writers with a fulltime job and not enough spare time for writing (like me!), I find you can maximize efficiency if you know what happens and where you’re going in each chapter. If that doesn’t work, try starting with a blank page and follow where your story leads you. This seems to work for many writers, though it’s a foreign concept to me.
  • Read. I don’t know many great writers who aren’t also great readers. Although I do know lots of readers who aren’t writers. What was my point again? Oh yes. Reading is professional development for writers. In other careers, people go to conferences and take courses. Writers read. (Having said that, I’ve spoken at a few writers conferences and will be teaching a course in the fall, so what do I know?)
  • Worry less about finding an agent or publisher, and more about your manuscript. (I know, I know, easy for me to say.) But most agents will tell you it’s really all about writing. Landing an agent and/or publisher will be easier if your manuscript is as good as it can be.
  • When your manuscript is finished, for the first time, let it sit for a couple of weeks before you return to it. Time inflicts distance and perspective, which almost always inform and aid editing.
  • Read your writing aloud. You’d be surprised how often I rearrange a sentence or choose a different word after hearing my writing, rather just looking at it. It was one of the benefits of podcasting my first novel before it was ever a book.
  • Print out your manuscript-in-progress once in a while. It’s easier to read it, and the growing stack of paper provides a sense of progress and satisfaction that can help you through the home stretch.
  • Visualize the scenes you’re writing as if you’re a movie director. This will add realism to your words, and help you decide what to describe and what not to. If it helps, go ahead and cast major stars as the main characters so you can see them in your mind.
  • I know this seems like a drag and may appear to contradict Rule #5 above, but when your book is written, commit as much effort to promoting your book as you did to writing it. Build an audience by using the online tools to which we all now have ready access, like podcasting and blogging. Offer to do readings at libraries and book clubs. Enter your book in competitions and awards. Sit on panels. Get out there, even if it’s uncomfortable. Publishers like it when you do this because you sell more books. And, you get better at it with practice. You might even come to enjoy it. I know I have.

On Monday, March 1, the essays defending each of the Canada Also Reads finalists begin. TBLP is being defended by singer/songwriter and all-round great guy, Andy Maize of the Skydiggers. I’m not sure which day his essay will run but you can bet it will commemorated on this humble blog.

Wow! TBLP a “Canada Also Reads” Finalist

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

You may recall a blog post I wrote at the end of December about being long-listed for the National Post’s Canada Also Reads competition. I was really happy to be among the more than 60 books on the list. So imagine my delight late this afternoon at finding The Best Laid Plans on the shortlist. What’s more, my old friend, Andy Maize, co-founder and lead singer of the great Canadian roots rock band the Skydiggers has agreed to defend the novel in the competition. I’ve known Andy for more than 25 years. He was the lead singer in our band at McMaster University. He was by the far the best of us, as his subsequent music career illustrates. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Andy.

Starting on March 1st, the defenders will author articles about their designated books, extolling their virtues and urging Canadians to read them. There will also be a live online chat with the authors and defenders in early March. Finally, Canadians will vote for their favourite. So there will be a role for all of you in making sure TBLP has a good showing! There are some wonderful books in the running including Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Day the Falls Stood Still, so check them out.

I’m over the moon that TBLP is a finalist. This is wonderful news, particularly with The High Road being published in September. Stay tuned and get ready to vote!