Friday, June 15, 2012

June Blooms

Hey, guess what? If you haven’t looked at your calendar lately, it’s June. I’ve always liked June. Strawberries come into season, roses bloom and the school year (finally!) reaches it’s end for a lot of kids. Bring on summer! Beach trips, sandcastles, barbecues and chocolate dipped ice cream cones at the local Dairy Queen. Yum!!! Time to relax, time to have fun.

June is also my birthday month (my grandfather nicknamed me Rosebud). Not that I’m happy about being a year older, but hey, can’t stop that clock and still be around to notice, unless you’re immortal like a vampire, or some kind of freaky automaton robot thing with a human soul trapped inside. Heh.

So how’s that story coming along, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell ya. The last six months have been a whirlwind of productivity in getting my life onto some sort of forward moving track. Thanks to those twin sisters of success, Persistence and Patience, I now weigh a lot less and am in better shape than I was ten years ago. My home business of creating photo art is about ready to launch, and getting up at 5 am to put in a solid hour of writing a day has resulted in paragraphs of crap being revised into paragraphs of slightly-more-readable crap. Yep.  Progress has been made. Am I done the book yet? No. But every step counts, every word counts, every second spent on making my dreams a priority count.

Yolo: You only live once. So just do it. Very sage words spoken by a very wise friend.

And sometimes just doing it means taking a chance on yourself; stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new, so it’s with a mixture of excitement and anxious nail biting, that I make my next announcement…drum roll please…I got a new job. A promotion at work which I am very honoured to have been given as it entails more responsibility and slightly more pay for the trade-off of slightly less hours. Actually, a lot less hours. Which means, that’s right, more time for me to put the things that matter the most in my life first, like caring for my son, and running that small business properly and, oh joy, oh bliss…writing stories. Scary for my bank account of course, but I’ll make up the difference soon, won’t I? You know, when Tin Heart is snapped up and becomes a NYT best seller, right? RIGHT?


Truth is I’m not a special snowflake. I’m just like everyone else. I struggle, dream, and paying bills each month will always be a circus juggling act. But sometimes dreams are more important than money. Happiness most certainly is.

 YOLO. Just do it. Let your inner rose bloom. You never know what will happen if you try.

Happy June everyone!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Dreams do come true!

Six years ago, when I started on this journey of becoming an author I had the good luck and honour of meeting a group of like-minded ladies with whom I became good friends. Over the years, we have not only shared our work with each other and helped each other grow as writers, but also our dreams of getting that Holy Grail all authors dream of, "the call." For some of us, getting that call has come in landing an agent (awesome!!!), for others, it arrived in the mail as a contract with a publisher (way awesome!!!!), but for Maya Blake, I am happy to announce the call has come for her in a very big way.

Being a writer has been Maya's passion for many years, and she has had successful releases in the e-pub industry, but while she's enjoyed these successes, she's had a bigger dream that goes back to when she was a teenager and picked up her first Harlequin novel--she wanted to become a Harlequin author.

This was no easy goal.

Writing is a craft that takes lots of time to learn, but writing for a particular line of a particular publishing house takes many years of practice, many hours of discovering what style and conventions are appropriate to use, and many more hours discovering what not to use. It is so easy to get discouraged when you think you've got the writing style down, and you screw up the courage to send off your manuscript, which you've sweated over for hours to make it as polished as you can, to learn --oh no!-- the writing is indeed good, but that story isn't going to cut it, because well, because of a hundred things which you couldn't possibly have known before you tried to put your work to the test, but you sure as heck know now because the end result is a big, fat and

No. Such a small word. But so very powerful. It can stop dreams from becoming reality, if we take it as the final answer. This is when patience and persistence become our very best friends, and surrounding ourselves with positive people who hold us up and keep us motivated rather than bring us down becomes essential. Well, Maya didn't take no for a final answer. She cried, she felt disappointment, she felt frustrated, and there were probably many times when the moments of writing she managed to sneak in between kids, and job, and daily life seemed impossible choices to make for the sake of a dream. But she never gave up. And that's important. That's what makes her story so exciting and pleasurable to tell. She could have given up at any time, but she didn't. She kept that dream alive even, after having gotten very close many times to succeding only to be told "no" again, that doubt crept in to say, "maybe I'm not cut out for this after all." Maybe. If she had given up, certainly. But she didn't. She tried again, and I am overjoyed (seriously, I jumped around the room doing a happy dance when I found out) to say Maya Blake is now a Harleqin author. Her first Harlequin book, The Price of Success, (that title is soooo fitting, isn't it?) will be out in time for Christmas 2012.

Holy awesomeness, Batman!!!!

In the writing world, it doesn't get any better than that.
Unless you find your work on the New York Times bestseller list. And for Maya, I think that's just a matter of time, too.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Steam What?


An interesting sounding word. But what does it mean?
At a quick glance it would seem to have something to do with punks and steam, which begs the image of spiky-haired, leather-clad social deviants with a penchant for hot, vaporous water. Not exactly what it's all about, really, but not entirely off the mark either. Anything not on the main-stream radar could be considered deviant, and certainly Steampunk imagery is often powered by corseted ladies captaining air-ships or mad-scientist gentlemen, with wild hair and amazing spectacles, employing steam-billowing engines for dastardly means. Not exactly your run-of-the-mill role for a historically accurate ladies and gentlemen.

Steampunk is 19th century with a twist. A re-imagining of how history might have unfolded had certain devices and choices been made. Think Victorian bustles and parasols, heeled boots and brass buttons, dirigibles, steam-locomotives, printing presses, clockwork gears and a host of mechanical inventions which embody the adventurous spirit and optimism of the Victorian era.

Not that Steampunk has to be set in Victorian England. No, no, it works equally well in the 'Wild West' of America, or in a post-apocalyptic world which has been reborn with 19th century aesthetics. To be true to the genre, however, and resist the temptation to dabble in Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk, it is generally considered that Steampunk should not rely on elements of invention which predominantly occur in the 20th century such as gas engines, television and digital computers.

As a sub-genre of science fiction literature, according to Wikipedia, we can blame--or admire--K.W. Jeter for coining the term in an effort to describe a relatively "new" adventure in writing which incorporated 19th century style and setting with the mechanical devices imagined by the writings of H.G Wells and Jules Verne.

The Time Machine. 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea. Victorian era adventurism and invention, with just a hint of the fantastic....that's what Steampunk is all about. Just imagine the adventures you could go on by reading it.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Muse messages

And today my brain is busy receiving critical messages from my characters so off I go into writing land.

Happy Friday everyone!


Friday, March 2, 2012

An Interview of a Different Kind

In the interest of discussing the advances I’ve made in revising my current manuscript, I thought I’d ask my heroine, Lady Anne Amberleigh, for her opinion on the matter. Not sure if it was a wise choice, but this is what she had to say:
Me: “Hello? Lady Anne? Are you available?”
Lady Anne: “I beg your pardon? Are you addressing me?”
Me: “Yes.”
LA: “Well, I dare say it’s been long enough. A girl could go quite mad, sitting here with nothing to do except fuss with the silverware.”
Me:  “Okay, well, it’s time to give an update on how the book is progressing. I thought you might like to explain.”
LA: “Progressing? Surely you jest.”
Me: “Um, no. Where are we up to in the revisions?”
LA: “The exact same place we’ve been for over a fortnight, my dear; the beginning of chapter three. I’ve grown quite hungry, you know, staring at this platter of scones while you have me dallying about with napkins instead of chatting with the Captain and drinking tea.”
Me: “What does it matter? You hate scones. And you don’t end up drinking the tea in this chapter anyway.”
LA: “That is entirely beside the point. I need progression. You have been entirely too lax in your literary duties as of late.”
Me: “What about the new scene I wrote? And all the time I’ve spent plotting book two?”
LA: “Ha. You have been dallying about on that Faceplate nonsense.”
Me: “I believe you mean Facebook. And it’s not all I’ve been doing.”
LA: “Oh yes. This new obsession of yours with exercise. Quite obnoxious if you ask me, deliberately making yourself all winded by, what did you call it? Jogging? Lawn tennis is a decent lady’s past time, but I suppose Mr. Kellogg would approve of that sweaty business.”
Me: “A healthy body is a healthy mind.”
LA: “Then you should not have eaten all those chocolate biscuits.”
Me: “Okay. We are so off track right now. Back to the point…. About the revisions?”
LA: “It’s this invention of the difference engine that’s the problem.”
Me: “What are you talking about? Do you mean the computer?”
LA: “Quite. It’s a devilish distraction. What in heaven’s name is wrong with using a pen and paper, or if you must be mechanically assisted, a typewriter?”
Me: “The computer makes it easy to do edits to a manuscript. The way I write, I’d go through a ton of paper with all the spelling mistakes.”
LA: “The way you write, a character could die while waiting for the book to be finished.”
Me:  “Ha ha. Very tempting. But then it would be a tragedy and not a romance.”*sigh* “Are you really in such a hurry for the story to continue?”
LA: “Certainly! I want to try my hat at persuading Captain Leonidas that it will be advantageous if we become friends.”
Me: “Ah, I hate to break it to you, but I’m not sure he will agree.”
LA: “But he is very fascinating to talk to.”
Me: “Hum. You sound awfully interested in the Captain. Aren’t you supposed to be getting married to the Duke?”
LA: “Oh, please do not mention that atrocious cad. How could you have me betrothed to such a loathsome creature?”
Me: “Heh. I think you have some surprises coming your way, Lady Anne.”
LA: “Surprises sound fantastic, as long as they do come. You will write faster won’t you? I’m not enjoying the long passages of nothingness and this tea water is quite cold.”
Me: “Heaven forbid.” *rolls eyes* “Very well. Let me get back to it then and start heating things up for you. And next time I do an update, I think I’ll chat with Captain Leonidas instead.”
LA: “Good luck to you, then. He’s a solitary creature. Quite reclusive, even for an Automaton.”
Me: “On the contrary. I do believe I know one subject he’d be more than willing to talk about.”
LA: “Oh? And what might that be?”
Me: “You.”
LA: “Er…”
Me: “Ha! Shocked you into silence, have I? Well, goodbye Lady Anne. Thanks for chatting and putting me straight about where we are in the revisions. Not.
Well, I hope she enjoys the stale scones and cold tea…because by the end of chapter three, they will be the least of her concerns. And her day will only get worse from there.
It’s always fun to end a blog post on an evil cackle, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by and having some fun here today…
~Kate * who is staying OFF the internet for a bit and sticking her nose to the writing grindstone.*

Friday, February 24, 2012

19th Century Remedies?

I found a very enlightening article on the Steampunk Blog, Xerposa all about 19th Century Remedies

Nothing quite like a tonic to cure you ... or kill you.
My favourites would be either the Male Impotency Belt, the Hysterical Paroxsysm gentle massage for Hysteria, and last but not least, Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup for Teething Children. But who am I kidding? All of the remedies are real eye-poppers. So grab your coffee and click on over to the Xerposa Blog, which is a pretty neat place to be lurking on a Friday morning. Especially when it's raining. Like it is here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Robots, Zeppelin's, and World Building, oh my!

We were talking about the characters in my current story-in-progress while at the dinner table recently. My son, who I think should have said "robots" as his first word instead of "fish" since he loves them so much (unless of course he meant clockwork fish which would entirely make sense) anyway, his eyes lit up at the subject of designing a metal man. Because, as we all agreed, how can you know what a character looks like if you don't have a good picture in mind?

I know many authors use celebrity photos as a source of inspiration for the physical look of their characters, but in the case of a Steampunk story, there aren't many gentleman walking around (or any) who have brass rivets and metal skin to use as a model for a romantic hero. So, here we go then. World building.

I love world building. It is just so exciting to think up different ideas for "how things work" and research the snot out of sometimes obscure subjects that I would never have come across had I not been inclined to inquire about them in the process of creating the foundation of a story. Yes, it takes a long time to gather all your facts, and, yes, it can be frustrating sometimes when certain elements don't fit together as well as you would have liked, but lets face it, anything worth doing, is worth doing well, and that includes world building.

So what does a metal man look like, whose innerds are made of clockwork gears and steam powered gadgetry?

Well, my son grabbed his pencils and paper and came up with this design:

A "hex" apparently is the charm which makes the automaton alive, and I love the brain cable which travels the whole way through so the metal man can move. He really put a lot of thought into how it might all work.
And then because he was still so excited, he drew a few airship design as well, including, of course, lots of active guns, and the puff-puff of a steam engine.

Who could not love such enthusiasm? I am wondering if my love of world building isn't just an adult version of the same creative fantasy we enjoy as a child. Because my eyes shine like my son's do when he gets inspired to draw, and my heart races as I settle at the keyboard to jot down my notes.

So, how far would you go in the creation of a story-world? How much detail do you think is necessary to make a fantasy world believable?

For my part, I have spent well over a year researching, amongst other things, automatons, armor, steam powered propulsion, alchemy, Victorian society, gemology, and of course dirigibles...and as much as I have discovered and used to mold the aspects of my story together, it never feels I know enough.

By the way, if you ever wanted to know what the inside of a real dirigible looks like and know some useful facts about their travel applications, an amazing book I found in my Internet travels is called, Zeppelin; the story of a great achievement (c1922) and it can be downloaded for free here: 

Do you think there there can be "too much" when it comes to researching for a book concept? Or is knowing your subject in depth the key to a well built world?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Know What You Write.

Today, I was thinking to blog about World Building, or Steampunk, as both are subjects close to my heart, but settled on the topic of "journey's" instead. Why journey's, you say?
Well, there are all kinds of journey's in life. Going on vacation is a favourite type, of course. So is starting an exercise plan. Quitting smoking. Becoming a parent. Yeah, that's a biggie, eh? A journey that never ends. But there are emotional journey's we go on as well as the physical. Like the roller coaster anxiety of writing a test. Getting married. Going through a divorce. Whatever the situation, in all journey's, who we were at the beginning of the journey is different than the person we are at the end.

Writing a book is a journey. Which is one of the reasons I started this blog, in the hopes that the ideas I stumble across on my personal journey of writing down the stories in my head, may be of use to others. I have been writing seriously now for five years. Learning and practicing the art of putting together a story, and along the way, I had to sit down and think about what it was I enjoyed most about the books I read. I mean, how can I set out to write a book if I don't know what  kind of story I find most pleasing myself? What truly grips me in a book and keeps me turning the pages until 3 am, or 4, or even later, knowing full well I'll be hitting the coffee pretty heavy the next day as a result?

The answer is simple. Regardless of genre, a good story to me, is one which takes me on a journey. I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy. Loved, from an early age, going to far-off imaginary worlds and places where I would see new and fascinating things through the eyes of the characters. But it was always the emotional journey, the choices the characters made along the way and the things they learned about themselves as a consequence, that really made the stories gripping. As I grew older, I discovered other genres: historical fiction, romance, mystery, horror. But always it was the stories where the characters went on a journey, both of body and soul, that made me never want to put the book down.

Diana Gabaldon is absolutely masterful in her scope and ability of writing a journey. In Outlander, Claire travels through time to find her true love and true self, a journey made exquisitely believable by the ofttimes painful choices Claire makes. Life is never easy, but its that very hardship which makes the achievements and joys so worth fighting for and cherishing.

And in stories, the idea is exactly the same. It doesn't matter the length or genre; as long as there is a journey that can involve the reader emotionally, the story will be successful in keeping the reader doing what we all want as writers...reading.

What are some of your favourite books? How important is the journey in them?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Description or Distraction?

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the book she was reading. Did she like it? Was it a keeper? To which she replied with a “meh” face and shook her head.

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked, surprised. The book in question shall remain nameless, but suffice it to say it was by a well-known author of popular main-stream fiction, and I had assumed she would enjoy it.

“Not really exciting,” she said. “I keep skipping through it.”

“Really?” I asked. “Why?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. There’s too much description. It just seems to get bogged down. I mean, do I really care what color someone’s pants are or what kind of shirt they’re wearing? What’s the point in that kind of detail?”

What’s the point, indeed.

The problem I think my friend had with the book she was reading, was not with the descriptions the author had written, but their relevance. It’s easy to write on auto-pilot. To think, “inset description here” and add in a few details to describe a room in order to flesh out a scene. What takes a bit more effort, though, is making the description relevant to the point of view of whichever character happens to be hosting the scene, and relevant to the story as a whole.

Take my living room for example. It’s undoubtedly a mess to my eyes. I see the dirt on the carpet that needs vacuuming, the dust that needs Swiffering away, the toys left in a pile on the floor, ready to trip the unwary. So what do you know about me from those few details I have described? I have kids, and my living room needs cleaning. Going a bit deeper, you could wonder if maybe I’m a clean-freak who obsesses about every piece of dirt. Or maybe I’m just too busy to pick up and clean up, and could really use a helpful maid. (Really. I need a maid.) Either way, the point is, description does more than add details to a scene, it builds character.

Someone else would see the same room quite differently than I, of course. Point of view is so important; it really changes everything that is "seen" in a story. A bookworm might ignore the dust and toys in favour of the very large bookcase stacked full of rare books that takes up most of a wall. A kid would see little else except the toys on the floor and the fun they embody. What types of books and kinds of toys those might be, would depend on the scene being written and how it relates to the overall story. Because description does more than build character, it builds a story. And every detail counts.

Every. Detail.

If a detail doesn’t count, then why is it there? Why describe the carpet as chocolate-colored, or plush, or wool, unless it means something to the character "seeing" it and engages the reader to keep reading instead of putting the book down. Description should never serve as a distraction; it should bolster good dialogue and add depth to a scene. It should never be some sort of fluffed-up filler that bridges one line of dialogue to the next. Because, as my friend pointed out, it’s very easy for a reader to become bored and skim through chapters if the description is just not appropriate.

Have you ever read a book where the description in a scene popped you right out of the story? Did you put the book down or give it a second chance?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Great Corset Debate

Underwear has always shaped us, in our bodies and our ways of thinking. I read a good article this morning all about corsets, the beginnings of their design and evolution to near extinction with the switch to bras. You can find it here:

The idea under attack in the article is the truth about the long-standing belief women cinched their waists to as small 13 inches. The author claims such reports as false, citing a lack of documented evidence to verify the truth of the matter. But here's my thinking: corsets were designed to be sexy, to make a woman's figure as sleek in the tummy as possible while pushing up the breasts into eye-catching proportion. And just like today where we tend to idolize the svelte figures on fashion magazines, striving to become as sleek and supposedly-sexy as possible through diet, exercise, and when that doesn't cut it, using a knife to reshape our natural form, you can bet your sweet heiney that women-of-the-past, wielded whatever weapons they had at hand to make themselves look socially beautiful.

There was more at stake back then. Today's modern woman can, if she chooses, say, "this is horse sh*t" to what is fashionable and wear a potato sack if she likes, because we've have employment with decent wages, we have independence, we don't need to catch a husband to survive. But back in the Victorian era and before, we did. We needed to do whatever it took to get ourselves married to a man who could support us and our children, and if it meant cinching a corset to the smallest waist possible, despite the indigestion, pain, and other health-problems which squashing internal organs would cause, then so be it. Women would, and did, and still do whatever it takes to make themselves more eye-catching than the next rival. Just ask your local plastic surgeon how much he makes a year.

But I don't think it's ever been just about rivalry and fashion. Social customs aside, corsets are undeniably sexy. So sexy women dare to wear them on the outside of clothes these days, to show just what they can do for their figure. Like a good pair of high heels, wearing a corset feels sexy. I'm sure there were Victorian women who enjoyed the feeling of a tightly bound waist, who didn't feel "dressed" until they had their corset in place, who enjoyed the sensation of being undressed, layer by layer, lace by lace, when their husband was inclined. Isn't that the ultimate draw of historical romance novels, the slow building anticipation which happens only in the undressing of a corsetted woman by her lover?

I look at my own waist and think, "13 inches....erm, not even close" and I don't really feel a strong desire to find a corset made out of adamantium steel in order to get it that way. But how about you? What do you think of corsets?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chrono what?'s Friday the 13th, and January of the year the Mayans said the world will end. What better day to start blogging!
'Cause who knows how much time we really have. Which makes me think this post is actually about time and timing and all those watch-related things.

I've come to the realization I'm chronometrically challenged. For instance, I've had this blogger blog space thingy for the past, um, two, or is three, years but never used it. Not even once. I've checked out other peoples blogs for sure, posted comments, written lots of other comments blogger refused to post (grrrrr), but avoided actually writing my own blog or even looking at it because...I just wasn't ready. That's what I told myself. "I'm not ready." I've been "not ready" for many things for a long time. Like finishing my stories. Lots of starts there, lots of words written, lots more words not written though, because, "I'm not ready."

Problem with being an eternal coffee pot, percolating away, but never getting brewed, is that time still passes by, and the coffee gets stale and if left on the heat long enough, burned. Then you have to throw it out and start a fresh pot. What a waste.

What a waste of time if I don't use the precious moments I have each day to finish those stories and blog about my journey as a writer every once in a while. I'm actually excited about this year. I'm sure it will be filled with all sorts of interesting things, good and bad. But for the first time in a very long time, I feel "I'm ready." What that means, I'm not quite sure, except...'s Friday the 13th, and January of the year the Mayans said the world will end.

And for me, it's a new beginning.