Author Archives: navigatorseries

These Things Come in Threes

These Things Come in Threes is the title of a collection of my short stories that I am putting together. As soon as I published my first novel in August, I have felt the urge to publish all my writing.  There is just something about seeing the manuscripts in .epub format that make them feel like an accomplishment.

It’s strange when I think about my writing in that way.  I wrote it, therefore I accomplished it, yet without publication, it somehow doesn’t feel provable.  For example, my undergraduate thesis was an accomplishment.  I received a grade, and completing it allowed me to graduate with my honours degree.  However, when I decided I wanted to see it ‘in print,’ albeit electronic print, it then felt like proof of that accomplishment.  I know having chapters is pretty much a requirement for a graduate thesis, but I didn’t have to do chapters for my undergraduate thesis.  So, I spent over a week re-reading my thesis and creating chapter titles for the different sections, and truthfully, it seems to make a lot more sense with chapters and has really benefited from the effort.

As soon as I finished and published my thesis with Lulu.com, I was thinking ahead to next spring, after I finish the novel on which I am currently working.  I plan to re-read my entire first novel to catch any grammar errors, (that numerous previous edits may still have missed), and re-publish it as a second edition.  I want to feel proud of my body of work out there, and even though I’ve detected the odd error in some very popular mainstream ebook versions like The Hunger Games, I want to feel confident I’ve done my best to catch any errors remaining in The Hematite Horses.

It occurred to me that I could publish some of my short stories in an anthology.  One of my short stories actually won third prize in the 2009 Okanagan Short Story contest, and again, it feels like proof of my accomplishment if it is in electronic print, not just a file on the hard drive of my computer.  But alas, I only have three short stories so far that I am very proud of, amounting to less than 14,000 words.  I think I’d like to have three more sets of three stories for a total of 12 before I decided to publish them, approximately 40,000 words.

Thesis on Lulu.com

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Blade Runner 2049 was 163 Minutes Long and I Loved Every Minute

My husband and I went to see Blade Runner 2049 last night, and I had no idea how long it was before we sat down.  But its running time didn’t bother me at all.  It was a visually stunning movie that furthered a storyline I’d been very captivated by when I was young.  I could have kept watching for a least another hour.  Interestingly, I did know the running time of The Revenant was 156 minutes before we watched it.  In the case of The Revenant, we were going to the movie with friends and trying to gauge what time we would be exiting the theatre for dinner plans.  That can be the way things are in our busy lives.  We may want to see the movie no matter what, however, how long it runs can be a consideration when we are trying to squeeze in the time to see it, factoring in details like how much will we owe the babysitter, how tired will we be, and will there a risk we will end up falling asleep before the end, (regardless of how stimulating the movie is).

This got me thinking about knowing how long a novel is ahead of time as well.  Honestly, sometimes it is just about fitting in the time to read.  It used to be that you judged how long the book was when you picked up the heavy new hard cover copy at the book store.  I remember hefting a hard cover version of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour in 1990 (965 pages) and wondering how I was going to fit in time to read it because I happened to be working two summer jobs and had a new boyfriend.  Mostly this is because I don’t want to read it for maybe just about 15 minutes a day, for however many days it takes.  I want to read it, and read it, and read it some more, until it’s done.  Sort of like how we binge watch television these days.  As soon as you select a series, via your provider that will stream unlimited entertainment your way, it tells you how many seasons, and with a quick tallying of how many episodes per season, you can estimate how many days of your life you are about to waste.

With ebooks, as soon as you touch the book on your tablet, it tells you how many pages.  I just bought Dan Brown’s Origin, and it comes in at 1313 pages.  I don’t think I can be the only one who looks at page counts, how many episodes, or movie running times.  It’s just the reality of being busy these days.  The sad part is when we let a long running time, a high page count, or “7 seasons,” (sorry all things Star Trek that I missed watching the first time around), deter us from exploring something we may end up really enjoying, because it just sounds like we don’t have the time.

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I’m on Amazon and Letting Go of the Outcome

Just about two months ago, I published my young adult novel, The Hematite Horses, and wrote about it here:

The Hematite Horses, I Published it!

Then, about three weeks ago, a good friend told me to “Let go of the outcome.”  This is probably some of the best advice I have ever received.  It frees me up to just be happy about where I am now, instead of looking forward to a place where I have yet to arrive.

Last November my niece participated in NaNoWriMo.  It was with her encouragement that I started writing on a new novel.  I couldn’t imagine committing to 50,000 in one month however, so what I committed to instead was 15 minutes a day.  Every. Single. Day.  Being consistent is actually quite difficult.  It sounds easy in theory, but in practice, it involves daily discipline.  And in a structured world full of ‘have to’s,’ like ‘have to go to work, have to cook dinner, have to do laundry,’ have to write for fun for 15 minutes is easy to just drop from the list at the end of a long day.  There were plenty of days I wanted to say, ‘hmpf, maybe I won’t bother. It’s only 15 minutes.’  But having made the commitment, I did it anyway, faithfully, everyday.

The biggest realization I have now, in applying this kind of daily discipline, or with anything, really, is to let go of the outcome.  All that matters is today.  If you are working on a project, big or small, doing it everyday will get you where you need to go.  Yes, having a deadline is important for some tasks, but when I find myself struggling, it can really help to let go of the outcome, and just let it be.  If I do something every day, I’ll get there eventually.

On that note, Amazon approved my novel in its ebook form, so in addition to Lulu.com, my book can be found on Nook, iBooks, Amazon Kindle, and Kobo.  Letting go of the outcome has helped me there too.  Being wrapped up and worried about some eventual unknown ‘outcome’ is what stopped me from publishing it for a long time.  Now instead, self publishing has become about allowing the story to exist in an electronic form that can be accessed, regardless of the outcome.

 

 

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Movie Soundtrack: Tell Me How to Feel

If you go onto YouTube and type in ‘epic soundtrack music,’ your choices include items such as “4 Hours of the Best Epic Inspirational Music for Studying/Working.”  As I kid, I studied music, so I always thought maybe that’s why I have always been extra conscious of movie soundtracks.  Get the soundtrack wrong, and I won’t like the movie.  Get the soundtrack right, and I will rhapsodize about the movie for life.  For example, (time to rhapsodize), George Lucas wanted Star Wars to have a traditional orchestral soundtrack to ground the viewers in something familiar, while watching something so amazingly new and unfamiliar on screen.  For lack of a better word, it was epic!  And then a few years later, I’ll never forget the futuristic synthesized score for Blade Runner by Vangelis.  I thought I had just time travelled, because nowhere in my time had I heard sounds like that before.  Albeit, I was only about eleven or twelve years old when I saw it, so my scope up until that point was limited, but still!  I’m getting chills up and down my arms just thinking about it.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who is ‘attune to tunes’ that underscore our movie experiences.  In fact, getting swept up in epic movie music, (or any music for that matter, at any time, depending on your taste, but maybe not elevator music), is pretty much universal.  I just read an article about the upcoming adaptation of another Stephen King novel, Gerald’s Game.

https://www.avclub.com/apologies-to-it-but-geralds-game-shows-how-to-really-a-1818816026

Katie Rife’s article states, “Flanagan deliberately avoids using musical cues during horror sequences, adding to the sickening sense of uncertainty.”  I love that!  The sound of silence.  And in the absence of what movie goers have come to expect, namely the soundtrack telling us how to feel at any moment, the viewers will no doubt be feeling very uncertain and anxious (which is akin to scared), just like the character on screen.  I cannot wait to see this movie!

Of course, many writers and critics comment on movie soundtracks, and of course, the Oscars have categories related to the music such as Best Original Score, and Best Original Song.  However, sometimes the soundtrack in a film plays such an integral role in telling its own narrative alongside those of the characters on screen, that it’s presence in the movie could be more aptly recognized in the Best Supporting Actor category.

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Intuitive Counselling

I would try to make this a ‘long story short,’ but where would the fun be in that?

At an event I attended recently for the company I work for, I won a door prize, a complimentary half hour session of “Intuitive Counselling.”  Translation: I went to see a psychic for the first time.  Ever since going yesterday afternoon, I have wanted to write about the experience.  Luckily, because I don’t know if posting a “Google Review” counts as writing, I have a blog.

To be fair, she stated her practice approached things differently than what I may have thought a typical psychic does, and that she doesn’t work predictively.  I liked that because I believe, in part, that ‘what you think about, you bring about,’ and self-fulfilling prophesy is real.  The film Paycheck based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick taught me that.  (I love all things Philip K. Dick, by the way, and even though Blade Runner 2049 obviously isn’t written by him, as he passed away in 1982, I still cannot wait to watch it when it hits theatres in a few weeks).

Honestly, she did seem quite intuitive.  Early on the session, which we specifically decided at the beginning would focus on the very broad theme of “career,” she pulled the “Creativity” card from a deck of 79 cards.  She asked me if I my current career allowed me to be creative, and I said, no, but I had recently recommitted to fitting in time for creativity within my current work structure.  She asked what my creative outlet was, and I said, “I’m a writer.”

I did not tell her that after more than a year away from school, I was finally applying for grad school.  I did not tell her that I spent 17 out of 27 years going to school as a part-time student to obtain my undergrad degree.

But, I suppose she could have Googled me, and read this blog…

Anyhow, she did mention a few things about my job (not writing) that I certainly hadn’t mentioned, which impressed me.  How the heck did she pick up on some of the conflict I’d recently went through with hiring?  However, she made an assumption about something that I initially decided not to correct her on.  Her assumption was that if “I’m a writer,” I intended to be a writer for my profession, and that would mean the pursuit of becoming commercially successful with publishing, going to book signings, negotiating movie deals, and maybe even screenwriting adaptations.

She cautioned that “fitting in time for creativity within my current work structure” could be a problem if I needed to pursue my career marketing myself as a writer, because I would need to find balance.

Even though she missed the mark on my chosen profession, which is ultimately teaching, not being the next J.K. Rowling, she intuited that balance is the challenge.  Based on how our conversation had been, with her saying things about the various cards she drew, and me not saying much at all, I think that was very ‘intuitive’ of her.  I didn’t tell her this:  Balance has been a huge struggle for me for most of this year.  I was a student for ten years between the years 2006 and 2016.  After graduating, without something like schooling that I was actively pursuing outside of my job, I spent a good part of 2017 feeling directionless, out of sorts, and untethered.  However, in the last month, when I decided I would definitely be applying for grad school, I dusted off my manuscript from 2009 and finally self-published my first novel.  Then I researched low and optional residency writing schools, I drafted reference request letters, and I started writing again on the novel I began last November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  With this forward momentum, most evenings I go to bed feeling positive and accomplished.

It’s only really in the last five weeks that I’ve again constructed a balance between work and creativity, and my spirits have substantially improved.  Did she pick up on that intuitively?  Yes, I think there is a chance she did.  She actually mentioned going back to familiar structures, instead of forging new ones.  Did she know what was in my future?  Not exactly, but as she told me right at the beginning, she doesn’t work predictively.

Later on in the session, I finally corrected her and said that I was not keen on counting on books sales to pay my bills, and that my future ‘career’ involved writing for the love of the writing by firstly being accepted as a student of my craft, (grad school, part time, of course, for the next 5 to 6 years).  And then that I would like to be a professor of the craft of writing, at a college or university, (which to me is still being a student on some level because I believe writing is something we practice, like practicing law or medicine).

I wonder what it would have been like to have gone to see her two months ago while I was still mired in feelings of fecklessness?  Anyhow, I feel like I am going in the right direction now regardless.

 

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Transcription of VLOG from September 16, 2017:

“A friend of mine is taking a memoir writing class and additionally I was speaking with my sister this week about genres; fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting, drama, that kind of stuff, genres.  But within non-fiction—memoir writing.  That’s a non-fiction format, because it’s your words, your truth, you’re not making things up.  It can be creative non-fiction if it is written narratively.  But I was thinking about the format of oral history that is being created via vlogs: video logs versus the blog, which is writing.

So, vlogs—oral history—is a non-fiction format I think, and I think it’s interesting, of course, because if you transcribe the video then it becomes written, but it’s non-fiction.  Anyhow, I think that’s a really great sub-genre of non-fiction in that’s it new to our times; social media.  Vlogging is what blogging was twenty years ago, at the advent of the internet.  Like, starting a blog, and putting up an online journal and all that kind of stuff was new, but then it became YouTube.  Oh my goodness, let’s record a video.

Now, all the videos I’ve recorded in the last…mostly it’s just been this year 2017.  But I did do one last summer after watching Grace and Frankie that showed that Frankie did vlogs, and she encouraged Grace to try it for a big reveal, because when you’re talking to yourself out loud there is that illusion of clarity because you’re trying to be coherent in case somebody else watches it.  So, anyhow, I think it’s fascinating , the idea that this is a sub-genre of non-fiction and transcription of what I say orally could be a really neat non-fiction project.

But anyhow, that being said, because I’m trying to get into a Masters of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, that’s why I’m thinking of genres and whether a transcription of this could count as an assignment (ha, ha), because it helps me.  And I’ve actually done some transcription, or certainly a synopsis of all my videos so I can remember which video came up with which idea.  Because I do find that I say something fairly revealing.  My last vlog was on, um, today is Saturday, and I think I did it on…Wednesday maybe?  Anyhow, I got a little emotional thinking about asking my mom to edit.  Anyhow, she was fine with it, she was, like, yeah, fine, sure.  And she sent them back the same day, and it’s all good.  But to get in the MFA program I am primarily a fiction writer.  But I need to pick three genres.  I’ve written adult fiction, I’ve written children’s fiction, and I need a third, so non-fiction.  And certainly I have written non-fiction, I do actually have a blog that I started in 2011.  But I’ve also started this oral history, as of this year.”

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The Hematite Horses, I Published it!

Buy The Hematite Horses

At this point, publishing is about finding a space, even if it is online, to bring my work alive.

I came up with the idea for a postern door to another world when I was about 10 or 11 years old.  There was an old shack in the woods of the property where my elementary school was situated.  By the time I was 12, the shack had been demolished and was just a huge pile of boards and plywood that we would dare each other to go climb (all the while watching for the ever dreaded rusty nail that could be sticking up and which would result in a tetanus shot).  But before it was demolished, instead, the dare was to go inside, which I never did.  I imagined if I went inside for just a minute, I would come back out and a whole year would have passed on the outside, and thus I declined the dare.

In 2001, I was in the habit of having a pen and paper next to my bed, and I would write things down that were in my mind immediately upon waking.  At that time, I fancied myself an amateur poet because I missed the creative writing classes I has taken in high school and my first two years of college.  One morning, I wrote this:

The dream swelled
beneath the consciousness
of her being
The story telling
the truth of things to come
things done
It would not be told
to rest
or to take a different path
It was a part of her soul
what the Hematite Horses
had to show

I really had no idea what I was writing at the time, but the Hematite Horses stuck out in my mind.  And somehow, the idea of the postern door in that old shack in the woods that would shift time never left my mind as well, and it seemed like a set of Hematite Horses, whatever they may be, would be good guardians for such a door.

Welcome to my story.

The Hematite Horses

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