Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Out of Print

I'm feeling a little sad today. Yesterday I learned that one of my earliest children's books, A Circle in Time (Napoleon, 1997) has gone out of print. It happens, I know. The stock runs out and there is no more demand for the book. But today I will celebrate it's life of 12 years.

A Circle in Time tells a strange adventure in time that happens to 12-year-old Wren Ferris. With the aid of an old mirror discovered in the dressing room of a former movie studio as it is about to be demolished, Wren travels back to the era when her hometown of Trenton, Ontario was Canada's "Hollywood North."

Wren befriends the young daughter of a British director, in town in 1928 to make a war movie. Catching the eye of the director, Wren is offered a small part in his movie--a movie where her own grandparents are also appearing as extras. I loosely based the story on research I had conducted for my non-fiction book, The Movie Years.

A Circle in Time was a good yarn, in my humble opinion. The book received an Our Choice designation by the Canadian Children's Book Centre and a glowing review from the Manitoba Library Association (visit my website at, click on the book cover and read that review). If you own a copy of A Circle in Time, hang onto it. It may be one of the last.

Till next time.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Advice from William Zinsser

William Zinsser, in his classic book, On Writing Well, suggests that fiction writers need to take their subjects seriously. "(The subject) must be about something that matters to the writer. Only then will it matter to the reader."

"Write from a topic that burns," he advises. "Writers need to see the drama unfolding as they write." Can you see the scenes you write? You need to be in them to make them real for the reader.

More of Zinsser's gems: "An idea for a story grows in your mind as a tree grows, i.e., slowly gaining in strength." Allow yourself time "for rehearsal," for thinking and dreaming.

This is the stage I am in now, thinking and dreaming, discovering my characters, musing where I should enter their story, and which one should tell it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tight Writing

All those clever phrases! All those beautiful, well-chosen words! Out they go--chop, chop.

I am cutting a short story down to fit the requirements of the market. The first draft was more like a novella. Now, I have to be ruthless. I delete unnecessary words, whole sentences, even. And then I click on the word count.

I am surprised at how much I can throw out and still keep the story. I find that I actually enjoy the process. It's a good exercise for "tight writing."

Till next time.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book Review

"...a variety of threatening situations that are sure to enthrall mystery lovers. ... Peggy Dymond Leavey's Trouble at Turtle Narrows is a fast-paced novel that will captivate readers." (Resource Links. Vol 14:4, April, 2009.)

It often feels as if I write in a vacuum. Is anyone out there? A good review of my latest book naturally lifts my spirits. Hey, someone read my book! The reviewer gave it an "E". The highest grade, my editor tells me.

Write on!