Quick note to let you know about a quick, and hopefully short term, change to this blog.
The previous theme I was using started messing with my pages so I have temporarily switched over to this theme until I find the time and space to hire someone to do the full make-over this website needs (which requires stuff done on the back end which is beyond my abilities).
However, this theme displays things somewhat differently than the old one did so posts made before today (2/19/19) may be formatted somewhat oddly.
For the past few years (OMG it’s been seven. Seven years! O_O) I’ve written a letter to Santa and shared it on my blog. This year’s is the shortest so far, and yet…
My 2016 and my 2017 letters to you began with me talking about how tough the year had been… I mean… Maybe let’s just not focus on that LOL Instead, let’s focus on the fact I was pretty damn good this year, Santa. I mean, I always aim to be kind to those around me, but this year I made an extra big effort to do that. And I vaguebooked far less than I did last year. And I whined… okay, so maybe I still whined a fair bit, and I definitely still swear more than my grandmother would like, but surely that is a small thing in the grand scheme of things?
This year I would really, really like a whole week (okay, that’s greedy. Maybe five days? Five days.) five consecutive days when I don’t need to do anything work related or leave the house (except to walk to the corner store to catch Pokemons and get a pop). I will spend those days staying up too late, sleeping in too long, playing ridiculous amounts of video games, reading whatever I want and snuggling on the couch with Jo.
Oh, and also? Remember those baseboard and transition things I asked for back in 2011? I could still use those.
I thought I had lots of time to get around to making an award eligibility blog post… and then World Weaver Press tweeted yesterday to remind people about all the things they’d published that were eligible and I started flailing like, “OMG nominations are open!!”
So here is my rather brief and very belated list of works I did last year which would be eligible for award nomination this year:
Short Story “Starry Night”, In Places Between short story contest, IFWA, August 2017
Non-fiction Haunted Hospitals (co-written with Mark Leslie), Dundurn Press, August, 2017
Anthologies D is for Dinosaur, Poise and Pen Publishing, February 21, 2017 Equus, World Weaver Press, July 18, 2017 Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say, World Weaver Press, November 28, 2017
I am also eligible for short form editor for my work in the aforementioned anthologies, and for long form editor for my work on Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln.
If you are nominating for any major awards (and I count the Auroras among those) and would like to read any of my eligible works, just get in touch and we’ll make it happen.
I’m not going to even attempt to give a blow-by-blow accounting of When Words Collide because I couldn’t possibly. Not only would this post be impossibly long but my over-stressed memory is so bad these days that I would absolutely forget something or somebody and that would make me sad.
In fact, even while I was at the con if people asked how my weekend was going I would usually say “Ask me on Tuesday”. This weekend was fantastic, but simultaneously a bit overwhelming (which, really, is kind of my theme for 2017).
Well, it’s Tuesday so let me just say, my weekend was fantastic 🙂
First of all there was this:
This year has been hard. I severely over-scheduled myself and the stress of that, coupled with dealing with some non-work things and a slight depression has taken quite a toll on me. I’m not going to go into details about that (that’s a topic for a different blog post) but, yeah, it’s been difficult. So when Barbara gave me a copy of this photograph which she’s entitled “Believe” along with some incredibly encouraging and supportive words I cried. It means more to me than I can put in words to have someone say, “I see what you’re doing. Great job. Keep it up. And also, are you okay?”
I’ll be framing this photo and hanging it over my desk.
Thank you Barbara.
And a special thank you also to Ellen who provided similar but different validation to my work and additional incentive to keep on keepin’ on. With your incredible energy, enthusiasm and propensity for thinking out of the box I can’t wait to see what you create in the years to come.
Ever since I launched Fae at my very first WWC it’s been a sort of tradition for me to launch each new installment of the Magical Menageries there. Equus was no different.
I mean, it was different, but we launched it there just the same 😉
This is what our panel looked like. Well, to be honest Megan looked a wee bit different in person than she does in that photograph. I can’t imagine why…*
We have, from left to right, Hal J. Friesen, Susan MacGregor, C.S. MacCath, M.L.D Curelas , Sandra Wickham, V.F. LeSann (Leslie Van Zwol and Megan Fennell, Pat Flewwelling, Chadwick Ginther and Cat McDonald.
In addition to Equus contributors there are two D is for Dinosaur authors included in that rowdy bunch.
The reading was awesome and included flying cellphones, yeehaws, accents galore, laughs and tears. I am so lucky that I get to work with such amazing people.
And then this happened:
At The In Places Between judging where they critique the finalists. I am a finalist. O_o #wwc2017
I’ve never won a short story contest before, I was pretty stunned and kind of floated through the rest of the day in a weird state of shock.
In Places Between is a short story contest organized by the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association that is dedicated to the memory of Robyn Herrington. In fact, the dedication on the associated anthology which contains all the stories that were finalists in the contest says:
Dedicated to the memory of
Robyn Meta Herrington (1961 – 2004)
Who believed so passionately in paying it forward,
She still is.
I never met Robyn but after winning the contest dedicated to her memory I spent some time with Barb Galler-Smith learning about her. She sounds amazing and I can only hope people speak so highly of me once I’m gone as they do of her. Thank you, Barb, for sharing some of your memories with me.
Before the con was done I had one more panel. This one was with Mark Leslie where we talked about collaborative publishing and how Haunted Hospitals came to be. The panel turned into an interesting discussion between Mark, myself and the audience and was a lovely way to end the programming.
The next day was time to come home, and on the drive back to Edmonton with S.G. Wong she helped me unknot a really annoying characterization problem for a novel that’s been collecting dust on my desk for years. Now, I’m really excited to re-write the thing over the three day novel weekend (I’m not officially registered), which is a much better state of mind than the ‘What am I going to write? What am I going to write?’ one I had been in before that. So yay!
Overall it was an awesome weekend, made so by many, many people (most of which aren’t listed here by name because if I did this blog post would be far too long). If you organised, volunteered or attended When Words Collide thank you for helping make it an amazing weekend.
See you next year!
*Just guessing here but it might be because she’s a brat…
I want to take a few minutes to talk about my wishlist for Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns, and yes, that is a rooster up there. I chose it specifically because it’s probably not what you’d expect to see at the top of a blog post about fire and fiery creatures.
And the number one thing I really want to see in the submissions to Fire is something completely appropriate and yet wholly unexpected.
Like a fiery rooster. Because why should phoenixes get to have all the fun? 😉
Fire is dramatic. It is bold. Ferocious. Powerful. Beautiful. Terrifying. It can consume everything in its path, or push back the darkness so you can see the terrors which loom all around you. It can purify or purge. Brand or bless.
Above all I want to see stories that embrace those first five descriptors:
And any tale which captures the dichotomy of fire, the yin-yang of it (without smacking me in the face with it) will get serious bonus points.
Including those things doesn’t mean you need to exclude other things though. A story can be both dramatic and funny. You can write beautifully about ugly things. Meek characters can do bold things — or a bold prose style can make readers fall in love with a character for their weaknesses (or despite them).
I’m going to get a bit more specific here than I usually do on these wishlist-type posts because there are specific creatures named right there in the title of the anthology. Demons, dragons and djinns.
When you’re submitting to an anthology the smart tactic is to try and make your story stand out in a positive way. In this case that might mean choosing to write about the most obscure fire creature/magician/thing you can possibly think of–and don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad strategy–but here’s the thing… I need some demons, dragons and djinns.
Ideally I would like about a quarter of the stories I accept to be dragon-y, a quarter to be demon-y and the last half to surprise me… but include at least two which are djinn-y.
I say ‘dragon-y’, ‘demon-y’ and ‘djinn-y’ because a dragon-y story doesn’t need to have the dragon as the main character, nor does it need to be all about the dragon. It just has to be dragon-y. It’s like truthiness, I suppose.
(Quick side note about dragons, specifically — it probably goes without saying but for this anthology I’m looking for fiery dragons. Save the water, air and earth dragons for those later anthologies :-p)
The point I was trying to make before I went off on that bit of a ramble is I really do need some dragons, demons and djinns in this anthology so if you have a great idea for a demon story and a good idea for a salamander story but you’re thinking, “Nah, everyone is going to be sending in demon stories and I don’t want to compete with them all — I’ll write this salamander story instead.” don’t. Go for the great idea.
Djinns are mostly in the subtitle because I am an alliteration hound, I love djinns, and I could make an argument for them being fiery creatures. Alas, since I can also make an argument for them being born of air I don’t intend for them to take up as much of the Table of Contents as dragons and demons. Though you never know, if I get enough amazing djinn stories that could totally change.
I want an ifrit story (bonus points if it’s actually set within ifrit society and the ifrits are demonstrably different from humans!), and a salamander story. Someone please send me a story with a lava monster and, possibly related, a fire mage. No fire anthology would be complete without a phoenix story, and any story that includes a hellhound (especially one that’s misunderstood) will likely discover the path to my shortlist is… well, short.
But you don’t need me to give you a list of creatures associated with fire, do you? Google can do that better than I can.
And, because I’ve been asked, you don’t need fire-based creatures in your story, fire itself can fulfill the required fiery element for your tale.
Michael Bay-type explosions? Why not?
Bombs dropping during The Blitz? Please!
Other things that will give you an advantage while submitting:
I am completely infatuated with WWI & WWII as a setting. Any story set during, between or shortly following them will definitely make my eyes light up when I begin reading.
For this anthology I’ll be leaning further toward fantasy than science fiction or horror but fire in space? On a whole other planet?
Is fire sentient?
I’d like something that dates back to when humans first gained control over fire. Whether this takes the form of something set in prehistoric times or a take on more of a ‘How raven brought fire to the people’ or ‘How Prometheus stole fire from the gods’ type thing… well, that would be up to you.
Does man command fire, or does fire command man?
I like diverse characters and settings. And by diverse I mean in every way you can possibly imagine.
Have you got a fiery story that is set in the Arctic? *makes grabby hands*
Fiery fairy tale?
A story with absolutely no humans in it at all would be awesome.
Fire can transform. Got a fiery shapeshifter story to tell?
And if your story is nothing like anything I’ve described here — send it. Please send it. I love reading a great story about something I never could have imagined.
This anthology is the first volume in a brand new series. That means, to some extent, it is going to help define that series. Which means you get to help define that series. Is it going to be upbeat and fast-paced? Angsty and emotional? Fairy tales and folklore? Well, we’re going to find that out together 🙂
Finally, because it’s become an FAQ–probably the best way to get an idea of what I like is to read one of my other anthologies, but when in doubt–submit. The worst thing that can happen is I’ll say no. And I’m not a jerk about it, I promise.
Call for Submissions:
The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.
We want to explore the many facets of this beautifully furious element and the creatures associated with it so Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns will be filled with stories about every kind of fiery creature you can imagine, not only those listed in the subtitle. We’re looking for phoenixes, ifrits, salamanders, lava monsters and fiery beasts no one has ever heard of before. And of course this anthology will not be complete without at least one demon, dragon and djinn!
Rights and compensation: Payment: $50 CAD flat fee and a paperback copy of the anthology. In exchange we are seeking first world rights in English and exclusive right to publish in print and electronic format for six months after publication date, after which publisher retains nonexclusive right to continue to publish for the life of the anthology.
Open submission period: June 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017 (extended from August 15th)
In addition to being an editor and anthologist I occasionally take the form of a writer which means I totally understand that if you write a short story specifically for an anthology you are taking a risk. Depending upon the theme if the story doesn’t make it into the anthology it’s intended for it can be a nightmare to try and place elsewhere. I also understand that, to varying degrees depending on your story, Mrs. Claus is that kind of tricksy anthology.
With that in mind I wanted to gather together a few other anthologies that are currently open to submissions and have a holiday theme. Perhaps some people who submitted unsuccessfully to Mrs. Claus might find a home for their stories here (because I pass on stories for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with quality). And perhaps some people might be inspired to write something new for them.
I am in no way affiliated with any of these anthologies and I don’t know anything about them, their editors, or publishers beyond what you can find on the submission pages I link to.
Bon Chance Press — Christmas short stories (romantic elements helpful but not required)
This one takes a different approach than I’ve seen elsewhere. You don’t submit the story but rather a pitch for a story?
Sounds like a bit of a darker take on the holiday theme. Submissions don’t open until the end of June.
Deadline: October 30th
Thank you, Sarena, for helping me track these down. If anyone else knows of any other holiday themed anthologies that are currently open to submissions please let me know, I will be happy to add them to the list!
I’m not going to bore you with the long story because this is a long blog post all by itself even without the detailed explanation. The short version is I’m writing a couple ‘How to’ type things for writers. One of those things is this thing about hosting a successful Facebook launch party for your book. Take a peek, give it a read and then give me a shout if you think of anything I’ve missed. This is my first draft (I know, I know…) so there’s still plenty of room for revisions and additions 🙂
Facebook Launch Parties
Facebook launch parties, like any event involving the internet and other people, have highly variable success rates but there are some things you can do to maximize your chances of having a fun and effective one.
The first thing you ought to do is define what your primary goal is. If you don’t know that how can you judge your success rate? Are you looking to just have fun and celebrate the book’s release? Want to generate ‘Likes’ for your page? Get reviews? Add subscribers to your mailing list? Sell copies of the book?
Bonus points to you if you create a measurable goal. “I want to add XX new subscribers to my mailing list” is a more meaningful goal than “I want to add new subscribers to my mailing list”. Similarly, “I want to sell five copies of my book between when the party begins and when it ends” is more helpful than “I want to sell more copies of my book” or even “I want to sell five copies of my book”.
As you plan, set up, host and contend with the aftermath of a Facebook launch party you’ll want to keep that goal at the forefront of your mind. It will directly impact all of the choices you make through the entire process.
Choosing a Date
Keep your goal in mind when you choose the date for your event. For example, if you want to increase your total reviews you could plan the event for a week or two after release but if your goal is to make some sales you’ll probably want to schedule the party to happen on release day or shortly after. Whatever your goal is you’ll want to pick a party date that is far enough in the future that you’ll have time to organize the event, maximize attendance and build some anticipation for it.
I’ve held parties that were all day long and parties that were just a few hours. I highly recommend the later. Day-long events might seem like a good idea but stretching things out too long means you rarely have multiple guest on at the same time so they can’t interact in real time and it also makes for a really long day for you as the host.
Given different time zones and people’s schedules trying to choose the perfect two or three hour window in the day can seem like an impossible task. Because it is. You’re never going to make everyone happy so my advice (barring extenuating circumstances) is to go with what works best for you. You’re probably the only person who is going to be there from start to finish so in this case it’s okay to be a little selfish.
Create the Event Page
Use a custom header for your event page. If you’re not awesome with graphics that’s okay, there are free services like https://www.canva.com/ that will help you look professional even if you don’t know how to do anything more than drag and drop.
Include all the information your guests will need on the event page(don’t forget the five Ws—who, what, where, when and why) and make sure you emphasize the ‘why’ part. Give your guest a real reason to show up. People are invited to tonnes of Facebook events every day so you need to find something to set your event apart from the rest. Are you giving away an awesome door prize? Offering exclusive content of some kind? Unusual access to the author/editor/publisher/contributors/artist/your dog/something? Games? Contests? Whatever the thing is that makes your event special make sure that is front and centre.
The Door Prize
I always offer a prize to the attendee who invites the most people to the party. The door prize is meant to be an incentive for people to spread the word and invite their friends (who will, one hopes, invite their friends. And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends…).
I try to make it something of value (this doesn’t have to be monetary value, just value to the person winning it) that is not the book I’m promoting. The exception for this might be if the goal of my party was to get more reviews, but otherwise I want people to buy the book not wait to see if they won it instead.
If you’re feeling especially ambitious you could also ask your friends who are writers (or create any sort of product somehow related to the book you are launching) if they’d like to donate prizes to the event as well. Done correctly this can benefit both parties—you get prizes and they get some promotion—but it will increase your workload significantly.
The Event Itself
Ideally the goal is to strike a balance between structured posts and unstructured conversation. You want to avoid having a stilted and dry event where you’re posting things and people are pausing in their scrolling for just long enough to click ‘like’ before continuing on. At the same time if the conversation turns into a free-for-all you are highly unlikely to accomplish your goals for the launch—you need to maintain some measure of control.
I aim for one post every ten or fifteen minutes and spend the time between those posts chatting in the comments of all the posts with my guests. I also consider it a total victory when I spot participants engaging with one another directly instead of always going through me—that’s how you know the party is actually a party and not just one big commercial for your book.
Each post I make contains three things:
Something to catch my guest’s eye and make them want to stop and read what I have to say. Also, posts with pictures are more likely to be shared, which would be an added bonus, amirite?
The content of my post
I usually aim for 100 – 150ish words. Long enough to have something to say but not so long that people can’t be bothered to read it and just keep scrolling. When a post does have to be longer than 100 words I break it up into several smaller paragraphs rather than presenting my guests with a big ole wall of text.
Something intended to stimulate conversation.
More often than not this is going to be a question (“What do you think?” “What’s your favourite thing?”) but sometimes, like in the case of a post that’s a contest entry, it will be a ‘Post such and such’ in order to enter to win!
If you ask your guests a question pay attention to their answers. Not only because it’s the right and respectful thing to do (which it is–the same as in a three dimensional conversation), but also because they might provide you with fodder for a new post/conversation as well.
Regarding contest entries. Sometimes it’s fun to send people on scavenger hunts (‘post a picture of the actor you’d cast to play so and so’ for example) but you do need to be careful because if you send your guests away from the party, even just to a different browser tab, they might become distracted and not make it back.
Don’t be afraid to use all the tools Facebook gives you to make your party memorable. Facebook Live, photos, videos, polls, sharing—all these things can be combined in creative ways to make your party stand out from the crowd. Experiment. See what happens.
After the Party
You’re not done just because the party is. Close, but not quite.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that all your prizes have been won and the winners notified. You also need to send out those prizes and follow-up with the people who have donated prizes to make sure they’ve sent theirs out as well. There’s no quicker way to anger a guest at your party than to promise them a prize and then not deliver. And I very much doubt ‘Make people mad at me’ was on that list of goals you made before the party began, was it?
That’s the next thing you need to do—honestly evaluate the success of the party. Did you meet your primary goal? This is where you’ll be super thankful to Past You for setting specific, measurable goals. If Past You didn’t do that you may not be able to clearly determine how successful you were, but you’ll probably have at least a vague idea.
How did things go? What went better than expected? Worse than expected? Make a note of these things—really. Write them down somewhere—they will provide incredibly useful information for you when it comes time to plan your next Facebook launch party. That is, assuming you’re going to have another Facebook launch party.
Give that some thought too. These events are not for everyone. Some people love them, some hate them. Some do very well with them and some don’t. If you love Facebook parties there may be some reward for you just in having them, regardless of how effective they are. However, if you aren’t having a good time your guests will probably sense that which is likely to impact your results. But even more than that, if you’re not having fun maybe your promotional energies would be better funneled in a different direction.
In the end, like so many things in this industry, it’s all very individualized. The best way to discover if a Facebook launch party is the right thing for you, though, is to throw one.
For the past several years I’ve written a letter to Santa Claus on my blog that includes a wishlist of gifts. This is not an actual wishlist that I want my friends or readers to buy me things from it’s just meant to be fun :)
This year has been rough. Really, really rough. But I’ve tried my best to be good — actively worked really hard at it, actually. If I’m not on your ‘Nice’ list this year, you really need to get a new list-maker. I mean, have you seen some of the ‘Naughty’ people out there in the world? Okay, I know, I know, comparing myself to others is not good and could easily lead to my name being put right alongside those people I’m judging. It’s hard, Santa, but I get it. Still, I hope I’m on your ‘Nice’ list because I have a few things I’d really like from you this year.
The Fairy Tale — this is a course offered through The Carterhaugh School and though there is no reasonable way for me to make time in my life to take this course, I want to. And given the subject matter, maybe it being nearly impossible for me to pull it off makes it even more appropriate that I do it? Think about it… 🙂
A Mysterious Package — Any of them! They all look so amazing! I really wanted to get the Filigree in Shadow one during their kickstarter (I suspect the object will be a camera-type thing) but that was pretty expensive. The ones on the website seem to be somewhat more reasonably priced, though still far from cheap. But still… it’s an experience!
A Big Wall Calendar — something like the one I linked would be great, but I’m not too picky. I just need something to help supplement the white board that keeps me sane.
I didn’t get to donate as much to Fauna this year as I like to do. If you could give them a donation on my behalf that would be awesome. I really appreciate the work they do and they could definitely use all the support they can get.
Finally, five years ago I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” and yup, you guessed it. That’s still on the list for this year.
Well, I “won” NaNoWriMo again. I think this makes my ninth victory in twelve attempts (I can’t double-check that because the NaNo site is not loading properly right now LOL) For this NaNoWriMo I was a rebel — I wasn’t writing one novel, I was writing a series of interconnected short stories. Or, that was the intention. As it turned out, some of the stories were less connected than others.
I’m kind of an old hand at this NaNo thing, but this year seemed especially difficult. I knew it would be going in — part of the reason I decided to do NaNo this year was because I had so much going on in November that it was ridiculous for me to add NaNo to the mix — but I didn’t realise just how very tough it would be. Things like the results of the American election and an unexpected weekend away added extra bumps along the way. Some of the biggest obstacles I had to deal with were 100% internal and included a ginormous helping of impostor syndrome right around the middle of the month.
If you get a bunch of writers/editors/publishers together and start them talking it soon becomes clear that things aren’t always shiny, and what you see on social media is only one of many facets of our lives. As the quote says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” With that in mind I’ve been making a real effort to peel the curtain back now and then, to acknowledge the struggle from time to time.
Some writers don’t go to conventions or writers groups or whatever so if we don’t talk about this publicly on occasion they might not benefit from those ventfests I enjoy from time to time. They might not get that they aren’t alone. I’m not looking to be Debbie Downer, but I think it’s important that we be real about this stuff.
A small group of friends and I have banded together to work through Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story“. Right smack dab in the middle of my most recent bout of impostor syndrome I was working on the latest assignment for that group — to write a story about an old woman doing some task while thinking back to something in her past. I used that assignment not only to add to my NaNoWriMo word count (every bit of fiction counts!) but also to work through some of the stuff I was feeling. Now that I’m in a much better state of mind, I think it’s kinda funny so I thought I’d share it here.
And know that when you’re feeling badly about your work, or like an impostor — you are not alone. I think we all go there from time to time. I certainly do.
The latest, and final, installment in my Magical Menageries series is opening to submissions very, very soon so I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you the story of how it came to be.
Some time ago–time is slippery these days and my mind can’t hold on to it well, so it could have been months but I think more likely it was years–I critiqued a story for a friend of mine, Beth Cato. As many of her stories do, this one involved horses. I’ve critiqued a fair number of stories for Beth over the years (as she has for me) but this was one of my favourites. It’s difficult to critique a story once you’ve fallen in love with it, but I did my best. I sent it back to her and Beth did, whatever it is Beth does between critique and submission, then she sent it off to Big Market #1.
The editor at Big Market #1 sent back and revise and resubmit letter. So Beth revised and sent it to me to see if I thought she’d addressed all of the editors concerns. I did. And I thought the story was stronger for it. Beth re-submitted. Time passed. The editor of Big Market #1 eventually passed on the story, “close but…”. With a shrug Beth sent the story on to Big Market #2. The editor sent back a revise and resubmit letter… so she revised and sent it to me, I thought, “Wow, this story went from great to amazing!” and she resubmitted. “Close but…”
This particular story collected more than its fair share of ‘Close but…’ emails. Finally, in exasperation, as Beth was sending the story out yet again I said, “If they don’t accept it this time I’m gonna make a freaking horse anthology so it can find a good home!”
That market accepted the story.
(I’m being vague here because Beth gave me permission to tell this story but I feel like the details are hers to divulge, not mine)
Fast forward some more time, slippery devil that it is. I had to decide what to pitch to Sarena Ulibarri for the next installment of the Magical Menageries anthology series. I thought about dragons, because, c’mon, dragons! but the first of my elemental anthologies will cover dragons. And I thought about witches but they seemed too human for this series. And I thought about going with something quite obscure but then, out of nowhere, I remembered Beth’s story and my saying, “I’m gonna make a freaking horse anthology!”. And it just felt right.
I’m not hugely into horses these days, but I spent years and years and YEARS of my childhood obsessed with them. I spent innumerable recesses playing unicorns with my best friend Linda. Basically we just trotted or galloped around and around in a circle talking about what colour of unicorn we were–I was usually black with a silver horn, or white with a gold horn that had red roses spiraling around it–and when we moved to a new town my new best friend Miranda definitely helped fuel my horse love. One of my favourite books when I was a kid was The Black Stallion, and The Last Unicorn remains one of my favourite books even today.
And also? I grew up on this:
Centaur and Pegasus, anyone?
So I thought about all of that.
And I thought yes.
And happily, Sarena thought yes too.
And that is how I decided to make Equus the final installment of this anthology series. 🙂
Jo was putting in an Amazon order the other day and asked if I needed anything. Which, I mean… I think we all know the answer to that right? But I thought about the huge pile of books sitting up on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf and the multitude of electronic titles I have waiting to be read and I decided to be responsible and say no. Then I had a flash of inspiration. “You know what I could use?” I said. “I could really use to replace my copy of On Writing.”
This is my copy of On Writing:
It doesn’t look too bad, does it? Well, not until you look at it like this:
It’s water-stained and pretty beaten up.
For the record, I bought it second hand and it was like that when I bought it. It really was. But I wanted the book pretty badly so I paid actual, real money for it despite the condition it was in. And I’ve read it cover to cover at least three times since then, so, ya know, apparently the damage didn’t bother me all THAT much.
But now, thanks to Jo, I have this:
Which, as you’ll notice from my sexy paint chip bookmark, I’ve already started reading again.
And that got me thinking about ‘how to write’ books and how many I own. The answer to that question, in case you’re curious, is three:
And I recommend every one.
On Writing by Stephen King is an amazing combination of autobiography and master class on writing. Like I said, I’ve read it at least three times cover to cover and I’m on my way through it again. I find this book super inspiring. It never fails to get me fired up about writing again on days when I’m just not feeling it.
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin is fantastic. I’m not done reading it — I’m working my way through it with my ‘Mutinous Crew’ and life has been getting in our ways a lot lately, but what I have read has been great, and the writing exercises are interesting (which is more than can be said for most writing exercises, amirite?). This book has also added several titles to my TBR list and the ones I’ve read have been whole lessons in themselves.
Writing the Breakout Novelby Donald Maass is phenomenal. I don’t know if you can see in this picture but I’ve got tons and tons of Post-it notes marking sections of this book. I feel like I’ve internalized a lot of the lessons but then every time I go back to skim through something or another I learn (or re-learn) new things.
For myself it’s important that I spend more time writing rather than learning about writing (because reading about writing is just another form of procrastination for me, and I am already the freaking queen of procrastination) so the ‘Books about Writing’ section in my library must remain small, but these three titles come with the highest of recommendations from me and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever part with them.
What about you? What does your ‘Books about Writing’ section look like?