Fall is in the Air–Oh, Say it Isn’t So

Fall is in the air - Bruce Witzel photo

Labour Day has come and gone. It’s time to pack away the wardrobe of white and dust off some warmer clothes for the coming fall. Eek – I’m not ready to let summer go. We had more than a few days of dullish weather last week but the upcoming one promises to be sunny. The garden is geared up for its last push – pepper and tomato plants are bowed over with bounty and the green beans are in a daily race to see if they can produce more than we can eat.

Evaluation - google imagesBruce and I are working on something we do every couple of years. We call it our lifestyle evaluation. We check in on the various things we’re doing as individuals and as a couple along a number of dimensions to see where we want to tweak or change direction. We congratulate ourselves where we’ve met goals and faced up to challenges. It’s a good exercise for the upcoming fall.

I saw my doctor the other day and she put me on to a great internet tool – My Fitness Pal. Have you heard of this site? Participation can be as private or as social as one likes. I go in and track food intake and activity and all these great calculating tools tell me how I’ll end up in a month if I stick with my current pattern. Enlightening, shocking and sometimes terrifying. But mostly it’s a fun tool – definitely a step up from a handwritten food log or activity journal. Basically the same idea, though. Research shows that people who actively keep track of food intake or activity have double the chance of sticking to their goals. Good old research – always there to bolster one claim or another.

The Orenda by Joseph BoydenI managed to find the time to sit down and thoroughly devour Joseph Boyden’s novel, The Orenda – 2014’s Canada Reads Winner. I received the hardcover as a Christmas gift and I have put off the read, like someone delaying the gratification to be had from the first sip of a fine wine. The book is absolutely exquisite – word by word so finely written it will break your heart. I wondered if he could top my experience of reading, Three Day Road. He could and he did. I’m in awe of the man’s writing talent.

Guenette - Inspiration for Chasing Down the NightThe first fifteen chapters of Chasing Down the Night have gone to a trusted reader. Targeted feedback at this stage of the writing is very helpful. I’ve asked questions such as – what grabs you, what leaves you cold, what makes you laugh, what makes you squirm, is someone getting too much exposure, is someone not getting enough, are you intrigued, do you want to read more?

I’ve been taking the time to reorganize my computer files before the next writing push. I generally start a work-in-progress with a number of word documents saved by date. These can be anything from character sketches, to timelines, to outlines, to blocked out scenes in various stages of writing polish. At some point, I have to go back through every one of those dated documents, pull out each scene and resave with the proper name. The process is time consuming and I’m always afraid I’ll lose something but the way I work is the way I work. I haven’t been able to change that and I’m not sure I want to. So, I’m willing to live with what is.

Storyboard - Guenette photo

An additional layer of paper needed to be added to the storyboard so that I could go into greater scene by scene detail with my coloured post-it-notes. The next section is coming together.  

I’ve been struggling to write the arrival of a new character – Liam’s sister, Fiona. I’ve walked around and around and around all my notes like an old dog taking the plunge to settle down on her bed. What I discovered was that I wasn’t quite ready – I couldn’t hear her voice clearly enough to cover something so important as how she arrives at Crater Lake. I didn’t know (yet) whose point-of-view to allow sway as she arrived. Who has the most at stake?

The solution has been to work on dramatic scenes that Fiona appears in further along the way. The other characters who surround her are letting me know in no uncertain terms what having her around means. With each day of writing I get closer to understanding how Fiona impacts the story. I begin to hear her voice. There is nothing like some high drama to reveal a character’s true colours.

Green Party Sunflower - Guenette & Witzel photo

So, fall is in the air – though some of us would like to deny it when the sun shines as warm as it does today. I’m wishing all of you the best with the last of the garden harvest, writing projects, lifestyle changes and anything else the coming autumn season brings your way. Though I’ve been away from the rhythms of the school system for a few years now, I always think of September as a time for new beginnings. I have the urge to run out and buy school supplies.

Before I sign-off – last month, I blogged a post entitled, Should Indie Authors Pay for Promotion. The post generated a great discussion. The comment stream has become far more useful than the post itself. I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already and please do take the time to join your voice to the interaction.

World Book Day in the UK

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World Book Day in the UK is the first Thursday of March. Sending out well wishes to all the readers in the UK. Read – it matters. And while I’m on about books – huge congratulations go out to Joseph Boyden and his book, The Orenda, for winning this year’s Canada Reads Contest.  As Stephen Lewis, Canada Reads panellist, so eloquently stated,  The Orenda speaks to the original sin, the moment of injustice in Canada. It is a book that will change the way Canadians think.