Category Archives: Show and Tell

The Next Big Thing Blog Crawl

I was tagged to do this blog hop by Tod McCoy, missed the deadline, but was determined to do it anyway, because I said I would.

The thing is, I honestly think there is nothing more boring than talking about one’s W.I.P. I warn budding authors not to do this on a daily basis. You’ll tire people.

So, unless

a) I’m at an author’s reading and everyone in the audience is just dying to know what said author’s next project is, or

b) I am in a writing group/workshop and the subject of conversation is my W.I.P.

I try to keep this kind of thing under my hat as much as possible. But, hey, since he asked . . .

1) What is the working title of your book?

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
From one my own teaching exercises, actually, soon to be published in the Tarcher/Penguin anthology Now Write: Speculative Fiction. I heard an editor on a panel once say that she wanted to find the “Lady Gaga of authors” and my mind wandered to, as the exercise goes, “Lady Gaga . . . in space!”

The two rival intergalactic pop stars were so clear in my head at that moment I drew illustrations of them in my notebook, not something I normally do.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
I call it a Pop Space Opera, but since that is not technically a genre (yet!),  I would say Light Science Fiction.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
There is actual music in this story, so protagonist IdoLL would be played by someone like Keke Palmer (she could do her own singing). And for Jettison Prix (IdoLL’s rival) I want Dara Sisterhen (I have no idea if she can sing. I worked with her on a film before and she is hi-lar-ious), and if I could get a contemporary, edgier version of Bobby Womack for Reggie Backstone, that would be great, thank you.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a galaxy where fame can falter at the flip of a switch, a petty pop star must team up with her musical rival in order to prevent an interplanetary war.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I would like it to be represented by an agency because of the multi-platform elements. I don’t really know how to handle that, nor do I want to, so I’ll need someone else to manage it.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote it in a month for NaNoWriMo 2011.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It has been described as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with a soundtrack. I’d say with a healthy dose of The True Meaning of Smekday.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?
See Question #2

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The novel is divided into “tracks” and I have written an original song for each track. The idea is that the music will accompany and complement the book. I am currently working with a musician to produce the first three songs of the book to use in the pitch materials.

~     ~     ~

And now I will end this blog crawl by turning the camera like they do on The Amazing Race and say: I choose not to tag anyone. (and yes, I was always the kid who broke the chain letter)


Filed under Intergalactic, novel adventures, Show and Tell, YA literature

Weekend Workout: Inspired by Images

In my workshops I often use writing exercises around objects and images. They make excellent jumping off points for writing practice, but you can also use these exercises as a way to move deeper into your story. Below I have included 3 different exercises you can use to inspire your writing.

art by Gizem Vural. click for source.

You’ve probably heard writers chant SHOW not TELL a hundred-thousand times. One of the ways to do this is to constantly come back to the image. As you’re writing, ask yourself, if this were a movie, what would I see on screen?



Here’s a nice warm-up exercise if you just want to write, but aren’t working on anything in particular.

Take a walk outside for 10-15 minutes. Do not talk with anyone, do not write anything down, simply observe anything and everything as you walk. Make a mental note about what you see. Sometimes I say hello to the images as I notice them. It sounds silly, but it works. Something like: Hello tennis shoe hanging over telephone wire… hello dead crow in the green grass… hello blonde twins boys on the monkey bars… hello ant playing tug-a-war with another ant over a bread crumb… Any image that strikes you, make a mental note.

Then, go inside and LIST as many of the images that you saw. Don’t do anything other than list them at this time:

Black tennis shoes hanging on telephone wire
Mutilated dead crow in green grass under tree with spring blossoms
Blonde twin boys in blue jackets swinging towards each other on the monkey bars
Black BBQ in the empty parking lot at the firestation.

Give yourself 5-10 minutes to make this list.

Then, go through and circle the images that speak to you. When I do this in my workshops, I have other people pick three lines for you. Pick ONE line and use it as a starting off piece for a poem or a piece of prose. Write for 7-10 minutes without stopping. (you know the drill)


A black BBQ in the empty parking lot of the Fire Station as if
young men had to interrupt hamburgers on a warm blue day
to attend a meeting
no sense of emergency
lid closed
who would secure a lid if sirens were blaring?
who would take time to bring in the mustard if
flames leapt across homes?
who would bring in the trash, the bag of buns, the relish
who would manage the utensils
if bells were jarring the senses?
no, everything from this picnic walked away
the blue-uniforms still wear their crumbs
there may even be dishes to wash
but for now they digest their bit of summer’s end
and let the BBQ rest
for there is no rain



If you’d like to do some backstory work for your W.I.P., pick a character from your current story and think about images that come to her mind when she thinks about her childhood.

We all have images from our childhood that we’ve attached meaning to. When I think of my childhood, some of the images that come up for me are the huge almond tree in my front yard that delivered bitter nuts, my dad’s tools in the garage, the 500 National Geographic magazines my parents refused to throw away, and our enormous square record player that was more a piece of furniture.

Think about your character’s past. What images come up for her when she thinks about her childhood? Make a list of at least 10 images, the more, the better.

Once you have your images, select one. Let’s say my character thinks about her father’s broken watch that sat on his desk for months. Take that image and set your timer for 7-10 minutes. Write about the associations that come with that image. Do not stop or edit your work.

Startline: When my character thinks about ____________, it always reminds her of…


When Polly thinks about her father’s broken watch on the counter, it always reminds her of how many broken things she has in her life. Things get broken and don’t get put back together. The basement window, the lawn mower, the reclining chair… how many things have to break around her until she breaks? Until she can no longer be put back together…



Using the same idea of image listing, pick a scene from your story that you’d like to work on. Let’s say I want to work on the scene where “Mavis confronts Prof. Herbert’s wife, Terri.”

Take 5-10 minutes and do an image listing exercise around this scene. What do I see in my mind as this takes place? Set your time and do not stop listing images, even if you are unsure of them. You don’t have to use them for anything later, and you don’t want to miss anything that comes to mind.

(BTW – if you ever need to think about a scene before you start, simply write “The scene I need to write next is the scene where…” and write spontaneously for 5-10 minutes)


Mavis kicks Terri’s door
Terri in a grey sweatsuit with paint stains
Mavis in her nurse’s uniform
Terri and Mavis drinking wine on the back porch
Terri showing Mavis a photo of her son
The full moon when Mavis steps off the porch

Then, write the scene starting with whichever image you want. It doesn’t have to be the first thing that happens in the scene, it just needs to launch you into it. Keep all the other images in mind as you write.


Terri and Mavis sit on the back porch, feet on white stools, a bottle of red wine between them. Mavis has removed her nurse’s cap and Terri has a bathrobe on over her sweats.

“He’s no demon, you know,” says Mavis.

“I know,” says Terri, “It’s just easier to think of him that way.”


Have a great weekend writing!


Filed under Show and Tell, weekend workout, writing exercises

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here! !

(heh ~ remember phonebooks?)

Okay, I lied. It’s not the new phone books. And I’m probably the only one who even gets that reference (It’s one of my favourite movie scenes ever. And that goes to show you just what kind of a dork I am).

But ~ yay ~ not new phone books. The Nice Purolator Man delivered these boxes instead. Books for a week of launch events around Vancouver. Freddy Suave is excited. He is so excited the green laser beams are going off in his eyes.

Book Two is even more fabulous than Book One on so many levels. Everyone is getting better at what they do, including me. But also, one novel could have been a fluke. I could have been the literary equivalent of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. But two books, I think that means I’ve passed some kind of test. There may even be a club membership involved.

This map by the fabulous Alison Woodward makes my heart happy. I’ve always loved maps, all kinds, and loved maps in books. I’d say I can even be map-obsessive. When I’m reading a book with a map, I’ll literally stop reading to reference the map and find out where the actions is taking place.

Exciting month ahead. Full of magic and adventure. I will do my best to maintain a regular blog schedule, but I can’t promise anything! If you want to tune into what’s going on regarding Brigitta and Noe, check out Briggy’s Facebook page or the White Forest website.


Filed under novel adventures, Show and Tell, writing life

NaNo Blog Party! Put Your Hands in the Air. w00t! w00t!

Hello fellow NaNo writers and bloggers! The month is at a close and it’s time to celebrate. Some of you I haven’t “spoken” to in, uh, days while we all shut out the world and typed away.

Whether you wrote 5,000 or 50,000 words you can celebrate, because it’s that many more words you have towards a finished novel than you did before.

Not that a party should have any rules, let’s make it more like a game. You have to bring something to share and you have to bring something to eat.

To share:  links to your favourite blog post you wrote during NaNo, your favourite line from your NaNo, a summary of your story, a link to a sample from your story, etc.

To eat: you may only bring what food and drink that are actually in your kitchen right now (cuz I’m assuming many of you did not shop during November)

I’ll start!

All I can offer you to eat is leftover carrot cake from my husband’s birthday (but it’s really good carrot cake. Just ask hubbaby. I made it myself) and some eggnog. If you’ve never tried it, eggnog is really good in coffee.

I’ve posted the first 10 pages of my NaNo Intergalactic: A Pop Space Opera on their website.

Would love to hear about you and your experience and have an eggnog toast (unless you’re lactose intolerant. In which case, I do have one bottle of red wine around here somewhere.)


Filed under NaNoWriMo, Show and Tell, writing life

Light Letter of Unsubscription

Light Letter of Unsubscription

In honour of my decision to GET and STAY FOCUSED, I have been unsubscribing from the many distracting e-mail lists I’m on. Some are lists my conscience thinks I *should* be on, but have not made the time to read (I like to say “have not made” the time to read instead of “have not had” the time to read to recognize that how I spend my time is always my choice).

Yes, I still want to save the planet. Unsubscribing from the oil spill relief newsletter will not make me a bad person. In the past, I would see those emails in my inbox and then file them for later digestion. They’ve been piling up for months. But did I sleep better knowing they were available for immediate retrieval? No, I slept worse because they became part of the Pile-of-Unread-Unrearched-Information-Vital-to-Making-Me-a-Better-Person pile. (And let me tell you, that pile was only 1/2 the size of the Great-Unfinished-Projects pile.)

Getting rid of all that guilt and responsibility is freeing me to be more focused on what I love to do, which makes me a ray of sunshine to deal with, which can only make the planet a safer place for all (including the environment, because when I’m happy I ride my bike more).

Each time I went to unsubscribe to a newsletter, it always asked for a comment about why I wanted to unsubscribe. I used to write some generic b.s. if anything at all.

So, instead, today when I unsubscribed (hoping to bring a smile to the face of the minimum wage worker whose job it is to record, collate, and write a report about why people unsubscribe from their site) I did something like this:

Please take a moment to tell us why you chose to unsubscribe:

It’s not you, it’s me. It’s tearing me apart to leave you this way. I’m just focusing elsewhere right now and can’t be distracted by your seductive stories. Perhaps in a parallel universe, we can still be friends. Best of luck.

NOTE: If you are not good at letting go all at once, keep a list of all the enewsletters you unsubscribed from in case you ever want back on their lists.


Filed under do something different, Show and Tell, writing life