Uncle Orson’s Boot Camp

Montana from the highway north


Last June I toddled off to Orem, Utah to attend Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. It was exciting because (a) I was selected  to attend, and (b) I got to take a road trip with my best friend. (Think Oprah and Gail, complete with red Chevy Impala.)

Here are the highlights:

  1. Orson Scott Card. Duh. The man is a creative genius. I listened to him for a week pump out ideas as fast as a machine gun pumps out bullets, all by asking “what if?” (Not exactly a new technique or one held exclusively by OSC, it’s just that he was really good at it.) He is also a very nice, very intelligent man, and very real, if you know what I mean.
  2. We had to write a story. He liked mine. That was cool, considering I hadn’t written a short story in 15 years.
  3. I met some really cool people who wrote some really cool stories.
  4. The weather was warm, no, hot. I was the warmest in Utah that I was all summer.  I came back to Edmonton and froze for the rest of the summer. I’m still frozen, only now it’s winter and I expect to freeze in the winter, so it’s okay.
  5. Montana was absolutely beautiful. Stunning, in fact.
  6. The Red Iguana in Salt Lake City. Mexican food to die for. Worth going to SLC just for the food.
  7. Radio stations in Montana, Idaho and Utah suck.
  8. Americans, at least in Utah, have developed this nasty habit of saying “uh-huh” when you say “thank you.” I believe the correct response is still “you’re welcome,” is it not? I wanted to yell and stamp my feet, but I didn’t. I’ve lived in Canada too long. The politeness thing has rubbed off.
  9. Shopping, of which we did not do nearly enough.  But I got this great dress for $27.


Scott (I get to call him Scott!) had a mild stroke on January 1. He is  happily doing well enough to do another Boot Camp this summer.  Wish I could go again . . . .



In the interest of full disclosure, here’s an update of my (meager) previous postings:

— Simon and Garfunkel never made it to Edmonton.

— My daughter, even though she had her own pair, ended up with my shoes.

— I gave up on trying to rewrite that old mystery novel.  Somethings should be left in the box.

— Harlequin rejected my romance novel at the query/synopsis stage.

— I never did hear from Mr. Really Big Agent about Stone Cloud.  I guess that means no.  Too bad.  I’m pretty sure the world could really use another vampire novel.

Strangely, the only thing that upsets me is the shoes.

Bye-Bye January and Don’t Look Back

My New Year’s resolution this year was to stop writing for one year, and instead, read, spend more time with family and friends (the few I have left) and quit this stupid notion of ever being able to produce anything that anyone will ever want to publish, let alone read. Hell, at times I can barely stand to read what I’ve written. So I closed the file on THE FLYERS, THE SWIMMERS, AND THE WALKERS (I cried a little even though at that moment I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever written), and actually turned off the computer.

I was good for 15 days. I read the entire Mistborn trilogy (Brandon Sanderson).  I even stated to read book one of the Wheel of Time series. I took out my sewing machine and made half a dress for my granddaughter who is scheduled to be born in April. I watched television. I went to bed at a respectable hour.

Knock off the snow already -- January from my driveway

Like I said, I lasted 15 days.

I have now written almost 10,000 words on a new novel. And I have retrieved FLYERS, which was very close to being COMPLETLY AND TOTALLY DONE, and  I am 70 percent through what I hope is a final draft.

This is what I learned: sometimes it is possible to over revise. What I hated most about FLYERS was that I was making too many changes that were taking away from what is really a very simple story. I ended up going back and removing almost everything I had added and put back much of my first draft, albeit more polished. And best of all, it’s almost COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DONE.

My other New Year’s resolution: Get back to blogging. It’s good for the soul.

Happy Feet

Are these not the best shoes ever? Amelia bought a pair for herself and I threatened to steal them so she bought me my very own pair.  Right now, she’s my favorite child. Winners: $24.  I have absolutely nothing to wear them with, but who cares?

So, last September I sent off Stone Cloud to be reviewed by Mr. Really Big Agent in NYC.  By March, I still had not heard a word.  I finally get brave and e-mail him.  Turns out he never received the ms.  I get a nice e-mail from someone in his office asking me to e-mail it to them, which I promptly did.  Now I wait.  Again.

Next time, I won’t wait so long to inquire.  Must be braver.

Current Work in Progress:  28,000+ words.  About one-third completed.  I am taking a break to read what I have written so far and to correct any major problems before I get into Act II.  It stops the flow a little, but I find it saves time in the long run.

Happy Easter.

back at it

Today:  12 degrees C or about 53 degrees F  Sunny

I took a day and a half off.  It was great.  But an opening line popped into my head, begging me to write it.   So I did.

Big mistake.

I am working on rewriting a mystery I wrote twenty years ago.  I loved the idea then; I was obsessed by it.  I wrote the bulk of it in ten days and it was short-listed for a provincial novel-writing competition.  But I was never happy with it, and always thought I would get back to it.  In the meantime, I put it aside and went on to other things.  But this line jumped out at me and I was hooked.

I think I have a hard copy of the old manuscript somewhere.  I don’t know whether to look for it or not.  Not that it matters.  What I’m writing now is very different from what I wrote then.  The plot is basically the same, but the details will be different, as well as the voice. I wrote 7,000 words this weekend.  Not a bad start.

That’s Lola at three months.  She is now nine months old

and desperately needs a haircut.

done, done and double done

So, this morning I put my query and synopsis in the mail to Harlequin.  Vampire Bob and the Barracuda Babes is finished.

But I’m at a bit of a loss.  Now what?  Do I go back to my previous work in progress?  Do I resurrect an old work that has been calling me to rewrite it?  Do I write another romance?  Do I start something completely new? (I am certainly not lacking in ideas.  I have a little list . . . .)

If it were summer, I’d be in the garden.  Or even spring.  Which I know is occurring in other parts of North America, just not here.

I could read a book.  But which one?  I have a stack of them.  So many books.

Decisions, decisions.

Simon and Garfunkel Cometh

Today: 1C Snow in the forecast.  How lame is that?

Simon and Garfunkel are coming to Edmonton May 1!  I am so excited.  I love Simon and Garfunkel.  As a teenager, I had three record albums:  Bookends, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and one by Leonard Nimoy.  (I was such a nerd!)  Later, my collection would grow to include John Denver, Harry Chapin, and the Carpenters.  And Queen. (Go figure.)  If it weren’t for some serious intervention by friends, I’d still be listening to the Carpenters.

When my children were teenagers, I’d play Simon and Garfunkel because I knew it bugged them.  (That’s the best part of parenting, you know–thinking up ways to annoy your kids.)  Then one day, my daughter announced that they (S and G) weren’t all that bad.  That’s when I knew I was doomed to lose the parenting war.

So, tickets go on sale on Friday.  Will I get any?  Will I be able to afford them, or will I have to put a second mortgage on my house?  It would be worth it.