Surrey International Writers’ Conference

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Taking the ferry to the mainland for the conference.

I have some exciting news to share. I found out this autumn that I was lucky enough to receive the Diversity Scholarship to attend the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in October 2019, held in Surrey, BC. For those who don’t know the conference, it’s a three-day event that brings together writers, including everyone from emerging writers to best-selling authors. It’s a very welcoming and inclusive conference.

When I went to the registration day on the first morning to check-in, I just about fell over when I picked up the program and found myself in it with a terrific bio. I don’t know why, but I was sure the questions they’d asked me would end up on their blog instead. At any rate, it was a great surprise. It was also an icebreaker all weekend meeting people who had seen me in the program. I’ll definitely admit to some imposter syndrome, but I had some excellent conversations with people I met over the weekend.

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All weekend I attended fabulous sessions, from panels to Q&A sessions to craft topics, and much more. One of my favourite panels had to be one by several authors on plotting. Spoiler alert: all of the panelists were pantsers. I felt immediately cheered, because I’m mostly a write-on-the-fly sort myself. There was great discussion. Other great moments included talking to Kevin Hearne about including nonbinary characters in fiction.

I attended an agent pitch session for my novel, which went well. It was the first time for me pitching in person. Luckily, there was so much going on over the weekend I didn’t have time to get too nervous. I also attended a Blue Pencil critique session on my current novel manuscript and had some very encouraging feedback from Denise Mina, plus a bonus laugh over how amazing London Drugs is, a Canadian shop that sells just about everything under one compact roof. Her keynote speech at dinner on Saturday night was inspiring and hilarious–and a fair warning about eating too much ham on a book tour that all writers should heed.

Despite being more introvert than extrovert, I came away from the conference feeling  inspired and energised about my own writing. I loved how approachable and friendly everyone was at the conference. There’s something very special about this conference. I definitely recommend attending if you haven’t been before. It was cool to hear authors who have attended many other conferences saying that there’s a special energy at SiWC.

I want to send out a very big thanks to the scholarship committee for selecting me. I’m definitely going away with a lot of ideas to inspire my work and a community of writers. I’ll do another post soon about some of the great sessions I attended.

2019 Update

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If only this was my top secret writing lair. Let’s pretend it is.

Admittedly, I’m well behind on updating my blog. But it’s not all bad news… instead, I’ve been working away on various writing projects in a top secret location.

2019 has brought some exciting things for writing amid the chaos.

I’ve had three poems published this past spring. The first piece is unravelling at PS I Love You (February 2019). The second piece is we regret to inform you, at Anti-Heroin Chic (March 2019). The third piece is The Curation of Ghosts at Impossible Archetype (March 2019). I’ve also learned that apparently intermission at the ballet is a great time for me to write poetry. Soo, more ballet next season?

On the fiction front, even more exciting news: my latest (unpublished) novel has been longlisted for the 2019 Bath Novel Award. Since judging is blind, I can’t reveal the title yet, but I’m amazed to have been included in such good company. It’s been great fun following updates on Twitter, including teasers about the novels ahead of the longlist and shortlist. Stay tuned.

There’s other cool things ahead this autumn that I can’t speak about yet, but eventually I will have some more updates from September.

2017 Brings New (Writing) Adventures

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Impressionist winter dawn through the Gulf Islands.

Happy New Year! Best wishes to everyone for a great 2017 and plenty of writing and reading time too.

For me, 2017 is a big year starting with all kinds of new things, after a tough 2016. First thing for me in January is moving to a different city, and starting a new job, which I’m very excited about. Victoria is beautiful, and I’ve lived there before and enjoyed it. By some miracle, I’ve found a great place to live in 0.2% vacancy. My sacrifice to the Apartment / Flat Hunting Gods was only one (epic) spill on black ice. Vancouver, by the way, has descended into the next Ice Age this winter, and a surging glacier has taken the suburbs and is bearing on downtown. Watch out for woolly mammoths!

And with this move, I’m getting my own space again, and at last room for all my books. Many of my books have been shuffled about and in storage for quite a few of the last ten years. I’m planning on fulfilling my dream of enough shelving, after a big sort and cull. I’m sure it’ll be a voyage of rediscovery.

What I’m really looking forward to, though, is having a place to read and write.

This has been a long time in coming.

But highlights of 2016 included writing the first draft of my novel, first in a series, and my writing group. I had one short work published, and another story received an honourable mention in a contest. I discovered the main character I never expected to have, and started developing a whole world the series. So 2016 did have a silver lining for me.

My main writing goal for 2017 is to finish the draft, through a couple more rounds of edits and revisions, and get going on book two.

And at long last, reading time! I have a reading mountain, rather than a pile to get caught up with, slowly but surely. If you’re curious, you can track my reading adventures on Goodreads.

Happy writing in 2017! 🙂

The Galloping Consumption + NaNoWriMo 2016

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My outlining set-up, with all the colours. I like to go analogue and start scratching out notes on index cards. Behold at the top of the screen, outlining in progress for book 2.

I had the best of intentions for NaNoWriMo this year:

I had the outline ready for book 2 for my Professor Justin Fintry series, plus most of my background prep in order.

After a very busy summer of physio and such things, I was more than ready to set into some first draft writing.

What better motivation than NaNoWriMo?

I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, and won. I wrote the first version of book 1 in my series from November through to the end of January. And then I started in fairly quickly on the new and improved book 1 from February to May. I had all kinds of plans of writerly things to do this past summer, but physio and active rehab took over.

So, right. I was motivated. And ready. I’d been psyching myself up for NaNoWriMo for months.

And then I got the damned galloping consumption (read: bronchitis, not tuberculosis) at the start of November.

My plans went out the window fairly quickly, but I flailed about for the first week of November, trying to write. I lost my voice entirely for a week and then squeaked for another. You’d think being quiet would be good for writing, but nope. Days of fever, foggy brain, etc. And that cough.

I’m kind of scared to go back and see what I wrote.

BUT…

I did write over 16,000 words, including two more chapters for that book 1 draft, and two starting chapters for book 2. So that’s definitely better than nothing, but it would take some manner of Christmas miracle to get my 50K words in before midnight on the 30th.

Which brings me nicely to December.

I figured: Hey self, since we’re all geared up for NaNo, and prepared, and now at least in the final stages of the whooping cough (apparently I enjoy being overly dramatic), why not write in December? Christmas tends to be low key around here, so why not?

Now the odds are looking good that I may be moving cities next month on fairly short notice, but I don’t know for certain yet. Because who doesn’t enjoy that sort of thing at the last minute? 🙂 Think of it as the ultimate in writerly procrastination.

Now I need to go wash some walls and wheeze quietly in a corner.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo 2016? How did you fare?