A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.


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Writing Romantic Scenes

Writing TipI grew up with older, conservative parents. They were born in the 1920s and lived through the Depression. My father served overseas in the Second World War. They never spoke about sex. In fact, my mother—born in rural Newfoundland—arrived in Canada in 1945 believing babies came from under rocks. She was seventeen. That’s what her parents had told her; it was what all the children in the community were taught.

In my very conservative raising, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of smut—as they would put it. When I was about fourteen, however, I found magazines my mother was reading. They were called True Stories. Anyone who remembers these magazines filled with short stories knows what I mean when I say, there was a little smut amongst those pages. And I read many of them, hiding out in my bedroom or in the work shed.

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Craft Show Lesson Almost Forgotten

Hope2It came to me this morning. All of a sudden like. It was something I wanted to remember, something I needed to remember because it was equally important to me as to the few customers who talked about it.

And in retail, we all know if one customer is thinking it and asking about it, there are ten more thinking about it and not asking about it. It’s the same thing in the classroom: if one student asks a question, you can bet there are three others who have the same question but for some reason don’t ask.

So here it is. I was asked this question by three or four readers at the Middle Musquodoboit craft show that took place in November 2013: Do you have any stories that are uplifting, that are positive?

The women made this comment while looking at my short story collection, Nova Scotia – Life Near Water. On the surface, the stories sounded very dark:

The Man Who Reads Obituaries: A man is lying in a hospital bed, waiting to die of cancer. To pass his final hours, he plays a game he calls Heaven or Hell.

Dancing in the Shine: A woman is trying to escape an abusive relationship. She feels trapped and doesn’t know where to turn. She is isolated from friends and family. Her parents died during Hurricane Juan. She is lost and feels hopeless.

Mutated Bloodlines: The floodwaters have made Nova Scotia an island. The main character lives alone and her brother wants her to move to ‘the mainland’ for her safety, but he has evil plans for her.

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