The Streets of San Francisco

I don’t often bite the hook of the photo challenge. I’m a writer, and though my blog features fantastic photography, the photo taking is usually the work of my talented husband, Bruce. He blogs over at through the luminary lens.

But this week, the writer in me couldn’t resist the challenge.

Juxtapose – to set something in close proximity to another in order to highlight a contrast.

Writers often have life-long love affairs with certain words and I’ve always been wild about the word juxtaposition. The moment I saw the photo challenge post, the perfect depiction popped into my head and it just happens to be a picture I took myself!

Streets of San Francisco

I snapped this on the streets of San Francisco in 2010 and didn’t realize what I had captured until later – a billboard sign of a beautiful woman in sunglasses perfectly framed through the sides of a passing San Francisco fire truck.

What could be a better juxtaposition?

Cauldstane–the latest novel by Scottish writer, Linda Gillard

CAULDSTANEFrom the award-winning writer, Linda Gillard, comes a Gothic novel in the romantic suspense tradition of Daphne du Maurier and Victoria Holt.

When ghostwriter Jenny Ryan is summoned to the Scottish Highlands by Sholto MacNab – retired adventurer and Laird of Cauldstane Castle – she’s prepared for travellers’ tales, but not the MacNabs’ violent and tragic history. Lust, betrayal and murder have blighted family fortunes for generations, together with an ancient curse. As members of the family confide their sins and their secrets, Jenny learns why Cauldstane’s uncertain future divides father and sons. But someone resents Jenny’s presence. Someone thinks she’s getting too close to Alec MacNab – swordsmith, widower and heir to Cauldstane. Someone will stop at nothing until Jenny has been driven away. Or driven mad. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Especially a dead woman.

I hope I’ve got your attention! Linda Gillard’s latest  release promises to keep her reputation as an author with a finely honed talent for dealing with mystery/romance alive and hopping. And what about that cover? Talk about a hit!

Author Linda GallardI first met Linda, via social media through The Alliance of Independent Authors. She was so generous with her time answering my questions on the Alliance’s members only Facebook page that I got curious about her. I downloaded and read her novel, A Lifetime Burning. After that I was hooked by the ability of Linda’s words to wrench my emotions, paint a breathtaking landscape and tell a darn good yarn. The Glass Guardian and House of Silence soon found a home on my Kindle.

Linda has agreed to do a guest spot on my blog later in February. She will share some pictures of Scottish castles and talk about her inspiration for writing Cauldstane. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile – let’s all get over to Amazon and grab Linda’s latest. I’ll meet you there. You can also join Linda over on her Facebook page and keep up with all her adventures.

Hopping on a Blog Chain

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Much like this beautiful eagle hopping onto a tree top, I’m the next link of a blog chain today and am happy to hop on the bandwagon.  Deb Young tagged me in this chain last week and I want to shout out a big thanks to her for the invite. Deb and I met through social media. I bought and read her self-help book for self-published authors – Sell Your Books and from there we connected on Twitter. I was looking for a writer’s professional association to become part of and she directed me to the Alliance of Independent Authors – I haven’t been disappointed with any of Deb’s advice so far!

Okay – this is how the blog chain works. I answer the following four questions and then tag three other writers to do the same.

What am I working on?

I am currently formatting The Light Never Lies (sequel to my first novel, Disappearing in Plain Sight) for upload to CreateSpace – huge learning curve but I’m finding that I enjoy the devilishly picky nature of formatting and I love the control. I’m also storyboarding the next book in the Crater Lake series and working on tuning up ten short stories I would like to publish under the title, Echoes of Sorrow, Threads of Hope.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Choosing a genre is difficult. I write about family dynamics, personal growth, issues facing young people, rural living to name just a few themes. But there is romance, too. I have slotted my writing into a genre I call – contemporary fiction with a splash of romance. My books find their voice in third person narration through the eyes of a number of the characters in the story. This makes my writing somewhat unique. I also weave a good amount of setting details into my work – I want the reader to recognize this area or, if they’ve never been to Northern Vancouver Island, be intrigued about visiting.

Why do I write what I do?

I believe that all my experiences to date shape what I write – teaching, working as a trauma counsellor, my years of being a mature university student and researcher, living on the shores of a beautiful lake in a pristine wilderness setting, being plugged into the life of a rural community. When it comes to fiction writing, these are the things that allow scope for the ideas that pop into my head.

How does my writing process work?

I get a tiny idea about a character – maybe a tidbit of dialogue or an interesting situation that character might find him or herself in. I jot down notes and when the time is right, a story starts to form. Next comes a ton of back writing – detailed character sketches, research, timelines, drawings of various settings. After all of that, I might be ready to storyboard. This happens with post-it-notes and a large bulletin board. That will lead to a bare bones outline. After all of that, I start writing. Not necessarily at the beginning – wherever my interest is caught on a given day. The writing weaves back through the whole process as I update everything that has gone before. This is an important part of my writing process because I need that openness to letting the story take the lead.

When the first draft is finished, I move straight on to rewriting. Input from my first beta-reader comes after the second rewrite. She builds up my confidence and gives me valuable input on things like believability, length and structure. By about draft eleven or twelve, it’s time for editing. My first beta-reader is also my editor. She is already familiar with the story and she knows my style. This stage is amazing and exciting as we become real collaborators on tuning up each and every sentence. After this edit, my husband Bruce gets a read through. He often has a lot of technical suggestions. With any luck, I also have a few other beta-readers who might be brought in for specific sections of the story. Then the work moves into the final edits and proofreading. And voila – a finished manuscript.

Now for the fun part – here are my three tags.

Laekan Zea Kemp

bio1Laekan is a writer and explorer extraordinaire who grew up in the flatlands of West Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Creative Writing and is the author of the multi-cultural New Adult novels, The Things They Didn’t Bury, Orphans of Paradise, and Breathing Ghosts. I got connected with Laekan when she issued an invite to her blog followers asking if anyone would like to host her on a tour to promote her new book. I thought she had the most brilliant idea for putting together a blog tour that I jumped on board. Some of my followers may remember when Laekan appeared on my blog.

Please check out Laekan’s blog where you will learn all kinds of other things about her and find links to her books.

P.C. Zick

Writing Whims by P.C. ZickP.C. began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable. Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. Her novels advance the cause for wildlife conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion. I got connected with P.C. when she featured Disappearing in Plain Sight on her Writing Whims blog.

Please check out P.C’s blog to learn about all the great things she’s up to.

Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Vashti's Web Photo[1]From the time Vashti was a young kid, writing has been her passion. She’s always been a writer, she just didn’t know it until much later. It is easier for her to express her thoughts on paper than with the spoken word. She enjoys making people feel an array of emotions with her writing. She likes her audience to laugh one moment, cry the next and clench their jaws after that. A love of animals and nature are often incorporated in her stories. You’ll read intriguing things about various animals, nature and natural disasters commingled in her character driven novels. Vashti and I have been blog buddies for a while now.

Please visit Vashti’s upbeat and interesting blog to learn more about her.

Thanks again to Deb Young for inviting me to be part of this blog chain. I hope everyone will check out Deb’s blog and my tags to three great writers – Laekan Zea Kemp, P.C. Zick and Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

I’m leaving you today with a bit of the west coast beauty I appreciated last week on a trip out to Winter Harbour.

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Clothes on the line in January?

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I hung sheets out on my clothes line today! Quite the experience for January 19th. We are having an unusually mild winter here. We have mixed reactions to this on a number of fronts. These unseasonably warm days mean a lack of snowpack on the mountains and no period of cool weather to kill off the bugs that perhaps should die off each year. No denying, though, the absence of frozen pipes, icy roads, snow, and endless days of rain has its cheering effects.

But not so fast – February can be a month that kicks us in the butt in this region. No sooner do we breathe a sigh of relief that winter is long over, than February brings a dump of snow. Time will tell.

But back to the laundry – my displeasure at having to hang laundry in the house is in direct proportion to the pleasure I take in hanging laundry on the clothesline. So, today I am enjoying the beautiful blue sky and mild temperature without losing sight of what else this all might mean in the grander scheme of things.

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(Just ran out on the deck to snap this pic.)

Francis Guenette

Please check out the great little author promo site that Susan Toy has created over at Reading Recommendations. She featured me and Disappearing in Plain Sight on Friday. She’s providing a very nice service for authors. Hope you like the piece on me and her site.

Reading Recommendations

Francis Guenette - author photoFrancis Guenette

What is your latest release and what genre is it? My debut novel, Disappearing in Plain Sight, came out in March of 2013. I classify it as contemporary fiction with a splash of romance.

Quick description: Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

Disappearing in Plain Sight - cover

Brief biography:
I’ve spent most…

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Book Review Thrills. Ring Those Bells

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Self-published authors love book reviews! Okay, no doubt all authors love reviews but self-published authors really love reviews. Be it a few lines or an opus – we get pretty thrilled. Please check out the detailed and totally humbling (in the sense that I am humbled to the ground with her praise!)  review Deb Young has done for Disappearing in Plain Sight over on her great blog – aptly named Debbie Young.

The Light Never Lies – Book Cover Reveal

E-book cover draft for THE LIGHT NEVER LIES

The learning curve has been negotiated and the hard work has paid off. We recently purchased a program called BookCoverPro (deluxe edition) with the idea that husband Bruce was going to take over cover design for all my future forays into the world of book publishing and we can hopefully spread the cost over several covers. Like any good wife, I went into the process sounding enthusiastic while internally filled with doubts. Obviously, the guy is a skilled photographer and has a great deal of patience for tinkering with things but did that make him a book cover designer? I wasn’t sure.

My doubts have been shelved and I’m thrilled to reveal the ebook and softcover for The Light Never Lies and a bit about the process of creation. Keep in mind though, this is not a primer on how to use BookCoverPro – that is way beyond my powers to understand or explain. My part of the process was to look at innumerable drafts and say no, no, no, sometimes, maybe and ultimately, yes, yes, yes.

Cover draft for THE LIGHT NEVER LIES

I knew from the beginning that I wanted the picture of the lake with the prominent image of the rainbow and I wanted something that wouldn’t clash with the cover of Disappearing in Plain Sight. After that everything was up for grabs. Bruce played around with various filters to get the right look. He then chose a dark burgundy for the print to compliment the greens and blues of the photo. The burgundy box around the entire cover came later to define and delineate. The bar code generator located in the program accepted my newly-obtained-from-the-Canadian-government-site ISBN number without a hitch. I’m particularly thrilled with the little Huckleberry Haven Publishing icon on the spine, designed for me by my son who is also involved in doing a specialized proof-read of the book and is my go-to person for any questions related to formatting. This is really becoming a family affair project!

And speaking of formatting – I am working at putting the book, bit by bit, into the CreateSpace Formatted Template that one can download from the CreateSpace site. I had considered purchasing one of the formatted templates that Joel Friedlander sells over on The Book Designer site and it still may come to that if I’m not happy with this free one.

But whether the template comes from Joel or CreateSpace, I’m here to tell you that working with a pre-formatted template is as close as I want to get to the lower regions of hell. Suffice to say – don’t attempt to move text around too much because the preformatting is bound to send up a howl of protest and simply not allow anything that violates impossible to understand and deeply hidden norms.

I’ve found a neat little text ornament (book design language) that I hope works for my chapter breaks. These are also known as glyphs or dingbats. 

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So far, for the print edition, I’m looking at 8 pages (4 recto and verso – more book design language) of front matter and six of back matter. For the front, I have what is referred to as the half-title and on the back of this page – other books by Francis Guenette. Albeit a short list but still, nice to see. Next, the actual title page with the copyright on the reverse, then the dedication with a blank reverse and finally, the first section title page (Convergence) with a blank reverse. After all of that – yippee – Chapter One.

For the six pages of back matter, I plan – acknowledgment with reverse blank, about the author plus photo with reverse blank and then my Disappearing in Plain Sight book cover with a couple of reviews and reverse blank.

On other publishing fronts, I’m up to my ears trying to finalize the back of the book synopsis – another specialized form of hell for someone as long-winded as me.  

So – there you have it. The publication of The Light Never Lies is moving forward and so far no more pain that I experienced when working with the assisted self-publisher for Disappearing in Plain Sight – though again it is early days.