Saturday, March 31, 2012

Word Reduction Exercise

Tuesday evening at Ben Franklin Place in Centrepointe was a packed house for the Awesome Authors contest award ceremony. Every seat in the auditorium was filled with people, and others standing and kids sitting on the floor up front. It is great to see all the interest in writing by these kids, aged nine to seventeen, not to mention the talent. All of their stories and poetry will be in an Ottawa Public Library publication entitled Potpourri, which will be on sale through the library. Here's a photo with some of the winners in the English short story contest.

I continue to edit my adult mystery, now entitled Cold Mourning. I've edited out 1000 words so far and have a few thousand more to go. Actually, this is a great, although time-consuming, exercise. I have to decide if sections or parts of sentences can be removed or reworded in fewer words. I signed the contract and sent it back to Dundurn earlier this week - I've been asked to start thinking about cover ideas!

It's an odd thing in this writing business. You spend about a year on a manuscript and send it off to the publisher. Then, you begin a new project and a year or so later, the previous manuscript comes back for editing and tweaking. By this time, you've moved on, sort of like to a new boyfriend, and have to reacquaint yourself with the story and characters. I remember hearing an author say that they hadn't reviewed their novel before appearing on a radio show and they'd forgotten the plot and characters because so much time had passed since they wrote it. A brain can hold onto only so much detail . . . I'm trying to remember if I ate breakfast this morning.

So back to manuscript with my big red pen, or in the computer age, delete button. Luckily, it's still cold enough outside that I won't be tempted to play hooky. Easter and spring are carrots for when I get this work done. This year's tulips will soon be looking like this:

 . . . And I'll have time to hang out in a shoe:-)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In Between Projects

It feels like summer has come and gone. We were in the sunny, humid high 20s most of the week and have now dropped down to seasonal temps. Just a few days ago, we were sitting on our neighbour's veranda before supper, wearing shorts and t-shirts and drinking a glass of wine. Back to reality today with a bump. (At least no snow like some unfortunate places - Cold Lake, for example :-)

The contract arrived in the post from Dundurn for my recently accepted adult murder mystery. I'm about to read it over, sign and mail back. I have to trim my manuscript by about 4000 words and have started, already cutting 500. It's actually a good exercise to get rid of any extra words that do not add to the plot. I tend to be rather concise in my writing anyhow, so this is proving to be a challenge. Once the editing is done, I'm going to start working on the next in the series.  I've missed writing this month, but a break has been good.

This Tuesday is the Awesome Authors awards presentation evening at Ben Franklin place in Centrepointe. I've got my presentation and winners all typed up and am ready to do my part. It's a fun night with an auditorium full of young authors and their families in attendance. Lots of excitement and happy kids - I always enjoy the energy.

So, cleaning up a few chores on my to-do list. I finished getting everything in order for the accountant that does my tax return. As an author, I can write off some stuff, but it means keeping track of expenses and receipts - I'm learning that it's better to keep a running tally all year. That way, memory isn't strained to the breaking point and hair doesn't get pulled out in frustration.

Two book launches coming up in April - Dave Whellams' first novel, Walking into the Ocean on April 4th at Collected Works; Linda Wiken and Vicki Delany are having a joint launch on April 19th at the Library and Archives. I plan to attend both and will stock up on some summer reading. When I first started at the Department of Justice, Dave was the criminal law policy lawyer who signed off on some of my work - small world, all in all. We're actually going to put on a workshop at Justice the end of April about how we got started writing and how we found publishers. l'l be sure to steer clear of lawyer jokes.

Well, time to get that manuscript opened on my computer and my delete button warmed up. The problem with cutting words is that I normally want to add more. Writers are funny that way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

I have great news to share this week. The editorial board at Dundurn has decided to publish the first in an adult murder mystery series that I submitted a few months ago! (This is the manuscript I've been working on all year.) Word came to me late Thursday and I have the go ahead to start working on the second in the series. This current submission has a spot in the fall 2013 roster. So, quite satisfying news.

This week, I also received a couple of advance reading copies (ARCS) of Second Chances, which I read through and have to say, like even after labouring over the text for so many months. I didn't even find any errors - kudos to my editor Allister Thompson - ususally there's one or two that slip past our magnifying glasses. I'm going to drop the copies off today at Collected Works and Kaleidoscope bookstores. Dundurn sent copies to reviewers already . . . and this brings me to the fun stuff . . .

I've booked the launch for Saturday, September 22nd from 2-4 p.m. at Collected Works (Wellington and Holland) in my neighbourhood. It's early days yet, but I hope each of you can mark it on your calendar and will come out to raise a glass and help me celebrate. Councillor Katherine Hobbs will MC the event, and I might even read a snippit.  The cover has a quote from Tim Wynn-Jones, award-winning author and fabulous writer:

"The plot of Second Chances crackles like summer lightning . . . Chapman skillfully weaves together a story, sensual and taut, that is a slow burn from the very first image."

I might even read the first sensual image :-)

I dropped in on Robin Harlick last Saturday and purchased A Green Place for Dying - I sure do like that title. Here we are in Chapters Pinecrest:

I also attended the Capital Crime Writers' meeting on Wednesday where Linda Wiken talked about her road to being published with Berkley in the U.S. She has a three book deal and the first, A Killer Read (another great title) will be released next month. She's launching with Vicki Delany at the Library and Archives April 19th - all welcome.

So much going on.

But I know what you really want to know if whether we have paint. Not yet, but the room is being readied . . .

All good things come to those who wait.

Great week to everyone as summer weather slips into the Ottawa Valley. Might be time to find an outdoor patio and do some people watching in the bright sunshine. It feels like it's been a long time coming.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Flying Pigs and Other Events of Note

Awesome author entries judged and results sent in. Check
Comments on each entry written. Check
Manuscript edited and off to Sylvia. Check
Next manuscript with my reviewers Lisa and Katherine for feedback. Check
Paint bought for the small bedroom project . . . uh, not yet . . . but there has been talk about buying it.

It's been a busy week heading into March. My next task, and one I put off every year, is compiling all my paperwork for tax time. I have a company do my tax return because they know the ins and outs of what a writer can claim as part of a small business. I have a stack of receipts spilling across my desk behind my computer screen all waiting to be recorded and filed. I can hardly wait to get started (and pigs really do fly).

Dundurn also e-mailed me that they received the ARCs (advance reading copies) of Second Chances and will be sending them off to reviewers. Many of the reviewers want the books well in advance of launch in order to have their review coincide with the publication date. Young adult books do not as a rule have the same reviewers as adult books - different markets and different ways of assessing the books. Different top-selling authors too.

Some new books launched this spring by local authors. Robin Harlick had a launch a few weeks ago that I missed but Katherine Hobbs and I will be going to her signing at Chapters Pinecrest this afternoon. I love the title of her latest Meg Harris - A Green Place for Dying. You can stop by and get a signed copy between one and four today. 

Linda Wiken, who owned Prime Crime bookstore, will be speaking at Capital Crime Writers monthly meeting on Wednesday at 7:00 pm at the Library and Archives on Wellington. A Killer Read is Linda's first book written under the pseudonym Erika Chase - check out her blog Mystery Maven Canada for lots of information about new mysteries and local authors. Better yet, come to the meeting on Wednesday and meet Linda in person. New members are always welcome. (It might be time you out-of-towners moved to Ottawa.)

So, what to do with my break from writing?  I stopped in and picked up some wine on my way home from work yesterday and am settling in to watch the Brier men's finals. (Go Ontarioooooo!) I'm letting my battery recharge before starting another project.

Oh yes, and their is that upcoming trip to Italy to dream about, not to mention plan for. Spring and the Easter bunny are just around the corner . . . .

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In Like A Lion

So where did all this snow come from? And why is it so cold out there? (These are questions I'm throwing out to the universe at large.)

The weekly writing update:

I've read all 155 stories entered in the Awesome Authors contest and have made my choices. after some deliberation. There will be a presentation ceremony in April, I believe, and I'll be announcing winners in my category so I also have to write up something for each story. I should have everything in order by the end of the weekend.

I'm also hard at work editing my adult mystery manuscript but have a bit of a ways to go. It's amazing how many little errors I'm finding because I thought I'd caught more of them than I had in my last edit. Writing is not for those who don't relish the challenge of combing through 90,000 words on a hunt for spelling and grammar errors. In some ways, it is tedious work, especially around the 15th time you've gone over the same text. You start mumbling to yourself.

Not sure I mentioned that I took up yoga last year during my Monday lunch hour at work. Now I know there are those who swear by it, but I'm quite sure I will not be booking a trip to India to contemplate my navel, documented centre of one's energy, anytime soon. I walked out of the class with another woman this week and here's how our conversation went:

Me - "Well, that was particularly gruelling."
 Her (nodding) - "I look forward to coming when I'm sitting at my desk, but once here all I can think about is how much time is left . I keep checking the clock, hoping it's time to leave."
Me (thinking how I guiltily start checking my watch 20 minutes in) - "I hate that cobra thing. It kind of strains my neck."
Her - "Yeah, me too. My favourite part is where we get to lie on our mats and sleep for five minutes at the end."
Me (realizing I've found a yoga soul-mate) - "It's the main reason I keep coming."

Yoga is kind of like eating your vegetables.

Well, not much movement on Ted's bedroom painting project to report. Still no paint bought. He has, however, moved around some of his tools and the ladder. All hopeful signs.

Another week wrapped up for the books.