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Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold

Tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the Hamlet of Bragg Creek in Alberta, Canada is located 30 km (19 miles) west of Calgary, where the Bragg Creek meets the Elbow River. Bragg Creek got its name from a family that moved there in the late 1800s.

Another little community, Redwood Meadows, is just down the road.

In June of 2011, a group of writers from the Calgary Association of the RWA (CARWA) met at the community centre in Redwood Meadows, Alberta to have their Annual General Meeting.

Those AGMs never last very long, leaving lots of time for pot luck lunch, and presentations. When the meeting concludes, many of the writers move over to the Powder Horn Saloon in nearby Bragg Creek.

For this particular AGM, the last presentation of the day featured Tawny Stokes talking about the pros and cons of traditional publishing, E publishing and Independent publishing, or “Indie” publishing.

One of the pros of Indie publishing is that you can do what you want and you can write with anyone you want. Near the end of her talk, Tawny was saying, “If I want to, I can write a book with Shannon or Dara-Lee or anyone in this room.” Someone said, “Why don’t we?” And the town of Bandit Creek was born.

Bandit Creek—because we were thinking about Bragg Creek at the time. Mostly, we were thinking about continuing our brainstorming at the Powder Horn Saloon there. We needed a name for our town. Someone said, Banded Creek. Someone else said, Bandit Creek. The show of hands favoured Bandit Creek.

An hour and a half later, Brenda had outlined the basics on the whiteboard, Jill had bought the domain for banditcreekbooks.com, and we knew something about the town.

It would be in northeast Montana, have a population of 3000 people, and have a historical as well as present day town, because we would all write in our own genres and some of us are historical writers. As they say, Everything happens in Bandit Creek . . .

To keep the Old Town and the Present Day Town separate, we actually flooded the Old Town (in 1911) and rebuilt the new town two miles downstream. Death At Bandit Creek describes the days leading up to the Flood.

Today the Old Town lies under Lost Lake, which happens to have the same elevation, temperature and general characteristics as Ghost Lake, Alberta.

Now that I think about it, Ghost Lake would have been a good name for our Lake . . . considering all the paranormal activity surrounding the Lake and the town.

But we named it Lost Lake, because I was on my way to Whistler and there’s a Lost Lake there and I suggested the name. What can I say.

We have a Powder Horn Saloon in both the Old Town and the Present Day Bandit Creek. And, we have several recurring characters, especially Jack. He plays a part in both the present day stories and the historical ones. He’s the town bum, showing up at odd times, carrying his trademark bottle of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey in a brown paper bag.

We decided to publish a novella on the first and fifteen of each month, beginning September 15, 2011, and wrapping up on January 1, 2013. The April 1st book is an anthology called Fool’s Gold, in honour of April Fool’s Day. Seven authors from Bandit Creek Books present short stories that introduce and complement their soon-to-be-released novellas.

Aside: notice I’m writing in Canadian, eh? That’s because I’m in Canada. But since Bandit Creek is in Montana, I use American spelling. Hey, I’m bilingual. And, I’m sure if you look hard enough through the series, you’ll find a few Canadianisms.

Happy April Fool’s Day!


Writing a book in slow motion

Writing a book in slow motion

All books are written in slow motion. And since it happens in  v e r y  slow motion, it’s like it never happens at all, and that’s discouraging. So my XL chart is my friend and motivator.

After the writing session, I chart the date, the time (even if it’s just 15 minutes), the number of words, and maybe a note about what’s happening in the story or what I discovered today. Then, any time it all feels pointless, I look back a week, or two or three, and I can see how far I have come. Inch by inch, word by word. I really am getting somewhere. Though it does not seem like it today.

Do you chart your progress? What tricks do you use to keep adding those words?

While we would like to speed up writing, sometimes it’s interesting to slow things down. Like watching a water balloon burst, or seeing a bullet shoot an egg or a glass of milk or a watermelon.

hourglass from photos.com #117481718

Set a date

Set a date

When you’ve been away from your writing for a while, set a date.

For whatever reason, you’ve stopped. You either had something go wrong in your life, or in your writing, and you are out of practice. Life or your writing has thrown you and you need to get back on the horse . . . but you are shying away from it.

You may be listing reasons why you can’t write, but you know they are just excuses. Admit to yourself that you are afraid to get back on the horse.

Just admitting that to yourself will make you start to feel better. Then . . . Set A Date. Write it on your calendar – knowing that you are organizing your life to start writing – again – on that date.

And as that date approaches . . .

Set up your Environment
We all have a tool box – we know what we need from dictionaries and keyboards – to candles and music and pictures.

Mary Balogh (who says her writing is very chaotic) keeps her external environment very controlled. She has a pen – just so.

Think about changing your environment
Work somewhere other than your usual writing place. Try the library or a coffee shop or your backyard. If it’s winter where you live, dress appropriately.

In extreme cases, when housework (or some other necessary evil) is calling to you, you could try an out-of-town retreat. But, retreats can become expensive, so it’s best to learn to manage our environment where we are.

And, if housework is the thing that distracts you, remember, you may be socialized to clean. And if you are, one of the Truisms of Your Writing Life is: the amount of writing you get done is inversely proportional to the amount of housework you get done . . .

Mix with Other Writers . . . to get the writing bug again. Join a writers group and volunteer. BUT don’t get Overcommitted. Remember, it’s volunteering not conscription. There is a time to volunteer and a time to clear the slate. You will know what you need.

Have you fallen off your horse? Will you set a date for When You Will Begin Again? What will you do to prepare for that date?

calendar from photos.com #106561919

WriteWay Pro

WriteWay Pro

A long time ago, I started using WriteWay Pro. You only pay for this software once so updates are free, and GUESS WHAT?!

A new update is ready for download. I have some friends who thought WriteWay Pro was “not as pretty” as some other Writer Software. And, hey, whatever inspires your muse. That’s OK.

Well, take a look at this new Storyboard. 

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. ~ Epictetus ~

Nothing can write your story for you, but I like the way WriteWay Pro organizes my thoughts. I write without a plan, and then once I’ve written, I break the writing down and make it look like I had a plan.
With WriteWay Pro, I can see in capsule form what I have so far. I can switch from this storyboard to composition mode. I can see my list of scenes. I can drag and drop them if I don’t like the order, though I usually write in order.

I can click on my character icon where I store photos of my characters and traits I want to remember. I can see graphs of how far along my project is and I can set goals.

And I could be here all day telling you what WriteWay Pro does. But it’s easier to look at the software site. You can download it for free for 30 days and play with it. Go here. And have fun :o)

What software do YOU use for writing? Or, do you stick with a word processor like Word or Wordperfect?

CARWA Christmas Party

CARWA Christmas Party

Each year at Christmastime, CARWA (the Calgary Association of the RWA) meets to review our past year’s goals, to set new goals for the coming year and to celebrate the season. It’s a night we all look forward to.

We’ve probably all heard about goal setting and especially, SMART goal setting. The usual Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable goals.

Specific: How many submissions will we send? And when?

Measurable: How many hours (or minutes) per day will we write? Or, how many words per week?

Attainable: Are our goals realistic given the time and resources we have available?

Relevant: Are our goals relevant to what counts? Does going to another conference really help us write that book?

Trackable: Can we keep track of our progress?

Making our goal setting SMART is important. But more important than that, doing our goal setting as a group helps to make us more accountable, more encouraged and more committed. We talk about what worked last year and what didn’t, and we say what we will aim for in the new year. And after we’ve done that, everybody applauds, no matter how much we’ve done.

In the past year, CARWA as a group made over 1000 submissions. Many of our writers published new stories. Some of our writers published for the first time.

At the end of the evening, all of us go home feeling energized and renewed and ready to continue our work.

Thank you CARWA for the good times, good food, good friends.

Christmas cookie tree from photos.com #86521839

Search and Destroy

Search and Destroy

Back in the day, my cousin’s dad grew a tobacco crop in Ontario. As the tobacco grows, little lateral shoots appear between the bigger leaves. They’re called “suckers” and if they aren’t removed, they will rob the plant of nutrients.

My cousin Mary excelled at suckering. She would start at the top of the plant and using her thumbs she could flick off those suckers in a few seconds. And then she’d move on to the next plant. It was hard summer work.

Your manuscript is probably littered with little suckers. When you’re editing you need to remove them, or they will rob the nutrients from your prose.

Some of the most common suckers are:

just, very, that, up, down, out, a little, nearly, somewhat

Using your Find function, search out each of these suckers, destroy them, and you will have a healthier piece of writing.

What kind of suckers do you find in your manuscript?

photo from iStockphoto.com #0000134608