Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exercise and this writer

I never liked gym when I was in school. I liked Library.

However, I'm all grown up now and I have a dog. He's not quite the same as gym class. The dog doesn't taunt me or pick me last for team sports but he's annoying all the same. The dog expects to be walked. Every day. The dog doesn't understand anything about me as a writer--the need I have for space and time to loll about reading and doodling and...and...sloth. Brain work that has nothing to with the dog or what the dog wants or where the dog wants to go. The dog--an obvious jock--could care less about my writing life.

Dog guilt gets to me. Bloody exercise vital to health and well-being, blah, blah. Put on my coat and boots. Dog goes berserk with joy. No one in gym class was ever that happy to see me on their team.

Kind of flattering. Besides, walking is supposed to be good for inspiration.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Girl meets publisher, girl gets publisher, girl loses publisher...

My publisher, a small press in Calgary has informed me that due to financial constraints, he has to liquidate stock. ICED UNDER and a few other books have been turfed from his list. I was given the option of buying the remaining books from the distributor or they would be sent to the shredder.

The investment wasn't huge but as I'm not employed at the moment, it was a tough call. In the end I opted to buy the books thinking they were kind of an income, right? I can live on the sales, right? I had visions of me tootling along Quebec country roads, selling my book at fairs and at flea markets out of the back of the car. Just like Diane Keaton in Baby Boom. The spectacular fall colour, the crisp country air....

I have 10 boxes of books in my office. I'll be on the road for years selling it! I must have been out of my mind. This morning, attempting to address the situation, I listed with Alibris, a handy online service that helps with this sort of thing. They ensure the book remains listed on all the major bookstores websites and when an order comes in, I fulfill it. Me. From this office. You betcha.

I shouldn't complain. Before the Internet, there was no choice for writers but to spend hours on the road. Margaret Atwood described dragging copies of her newly published book of poetry to a reading on a sled in a severe snowstorm. And then only a couple of guys showed up just to get in out of the cold.

Now that's commitment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So this is what a writer does all day....

Thinking about characters, sprawled on my bed under a quilt, rain pummelling the roof. Tea and cookies on the nighttable. The dog is asleep in the bathroom having given up all hope of a walk. I've spent the morning thinking about the main character in the story I'm working on. Thinking about his name, what he looks like, what he wants and why he wants it. I didn't expect the main character to be a guy, so this is all news to me. I thought this story was about a young woman, but here he is, impossible to ignore.

He came to me when I was walking the dog earlier this week. The dog and I walk the trails behind my house to a nearby lake. At the very end of a dirt road is a cottage with a weather-beaten dock. No one is ever at the cottage so the dog and I have adopted the dock as our own personal goofing off space. It's a lonely spot. Silent, except for the wind and birds and the lake lapping the shore. Very peaceful. It was in a moment of not thinking, planning, plotting, that this character came along. A more intriguing, complex character than I could have devised on my own, bringing with him a more intricate and dangerous plotline.

My little critique group starts up again October 1st so I have to have the first 25 pages ready. I'm glad I didn't rush into what I thought I was going to write. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer's over

 The September rains are upon us. The outside world has gone back to their jobs, the kids are in school, the cottagers are closing up and going home. A great time to hole up in the office and get into the new work. I've had an amazing summer, reading, walking, thinking about stuff. I took a parttime job working in an independent bookstore and discovered what it was like to be on the other side of the counter. Fun and tough at the same time. Fun talking books to customers and discovering some gems of my own with my employee discount; tough eavesdropping on customers who were planning to buy on their Kindle instead.

Even I could see the writing on the wall. The independent bookstore is on its way out as a place to buy books, particularly in cities, but perhaps they can be repurposed as literary salons, venues for readings, book clubs, discussions. Heck, they already have the coffee. I think more we'd sell more books, no matter what the format. 

Case in point: My bookstore hosted a reading at the end of August as part of Wakefest 2010, an arts event staged every year in my tiny town. This year's Authors on the Lawn featured Brenda Chapman, Tom Henighan and Diana Beresford-Kroeger whose book, The Global Forest is garnering international attention. Diana's presentation was so passionate, I couldn't hear her without wanting to leap into action to save our nation's forests. Isn't that the whole point to writing, publishing, bookselling? We are trying to get ideas across. We are trying to save the world.

This is me chatting about THE GREY LADY, my most recent manuscript. Trying to save the world, one murder at a time. Many thanks to mystery author, Brenda Chapman for taking this.