Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Best Book for 2009

Sometimes it feels as if that book you worked so hard on got sucked into a black hole after it was published. No fanfare, no award nominations, and few reviews.

That's why it was such a pleasure to learn today that the book I'm referring to, Trouble at Turtle Narrows, is on Resource Link's "Year's Best for 2009" list. Hooray!

Resource Links is Canada's national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.

Write on!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Write Style

I recently bought myself another book on style. The editors at Dundurn, the publishers of my up-coming book, Growing Up Ivy, use a combination of their house style guide, The Chicago Manual of Style, and The Canadian Style (Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press, 1997).

It's the latter book that I purchased, in a revised and expanded edition. I have other style books on my reference shelf, as well as books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Jan Truss, a witty approach to punctuation. But this one should help me when I'm working with the editor.

The Canadian Style is designed so that you can quickly access the topics you need. But from time to time, I also pick it up just to read. The chapters include everything from abbreviations to revision & proofreading. There's even a section on frequently misspelled words, although they left out two that I always have trouble with: refrigerator and cemetery.

Do you know your publisher's stand on the use of the serial comma? Do you know whether to write out the numbers 1 to 100? Or how to express exact amounts of money; or how to use punctuation with quotation marks?

It's a good idea good to familiarize yourself with the style book your publisher uses. That way, you can correct many errors in usage before submitting the final manuscript.

Till next time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Writers' Groups

I am a member now of two writers' groups -- one that I've been part of for several years; the other, for just a few months.

I was reluctant to join any writers' group, at first. For one thing, I never share my stories in their early stages. The first couple of drafts are just too fragile. They might crumble into nothing if edited too closely. For another thing (and this is a biggie), I'd rather be writing!

With the first group, the smaller one, we are all primarily interested in writing for children, each one a member of the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP). We all have stories to share about publishers, editors, school visits -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. We've grown to be good friends, supporting and encouraging one another. Between meetings, we email news of our successes and disappointments.

I no longer feel as if I'm not contributing to the group if I'm not ready to read my work. It's okay to simply listen and enjoy spending time with a group of like-minded people.

If you are fortunate enough to have a writers' group in your area, why not give it a try? You're the only one who can decide whether or not it's a good fit for you.

I'd love to hear your experiences.

Till next time,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good-bye, Bella Stone

After two drafts and almost a year of writing, I find I have to rename one of the main characters in my novel-in-progress. This character, a fifteen year old girl, has turned out to be rather immature and gullible. She's naive and easily led. It is this personality that gets her into trouble.

I've been calling her Bella Stone. That's a good solid name, a no-nonsense kind of name. But as the story goes on and Bella's personality develops, that name keeps getting in the way. It just doesn't suit the girl who is emerging.

I need a more light-weight name for her. Maybe something like Daisy Feather? To me, a name like that suggests airiness, a bit of fluff. I imagine a dandelion seed, drifting like a tiny parachute, trusting her fate to the wind.

Hello, Daisy Feather. Now, that should help me get on with the story.

Write on!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spreading the Word

With a new book on the horizon, I'm on the look out for ways to let the public know about it. A writer has to take a pro-active role in helping the publisher's sales and marketing team spread the word.

Yesterday, I was interviewed for a short segment on local television. The cameraman/interviewer was a pleasant young man enrolled in the television program at the local college. His story was about the film-making industry that is part of the history of the town of Trenton where I live. I was being interviewed because I wrote a non-fiction book on the subject, The Movie Years, back in 1989.

I was pleased when my interviewer asked me to talk a little about myself and my other books. This gave me the opening I needed. I told the television audience that for the last 20 years I've written almost exclusively for children. In fact, my ninth novel for young readers, Growing Up Ivy, will be released in June, 2010.

There was a time when I might have considered such a statement to be shameless self-promotion. Not any longer. Today I know that a writer has to use every available opportunity to get the word out.

Till next time!