Tag Archives: yay

(Not actually) Finished

I’m pleased to have as my topic for this week’s blog that I finished a complete draft of Heretic Blood today. I’ve been working away at it, at varying rates and to varying degrees of success, for what feels like a very long time. There have been numerous challenges (many moaned about here on the blog) and I think this book may well be the most difficult thing I’ve ever written.

It changed, or at least my impression of what it needed to be changed, at least twice as I was writing, requiring some extensive rejigging of things both already done and yet to be created. There are also some challenging things in it (that I’m not entirely ready to spoil just yet) that go beyond what I’ve tried to grapple with in my fiction before. In the end I have something that (even reasonably deep in the Statler and Waldorf process) I think is reasonably good and should only get better as I begin the next phase of the job, editing and revising.

I think I’ve mentioned here before that I wrote this book just as I pleased. I picked the words I wanted to pick, wrote each sentence the way I wanted it, and gave more or less zero thought to any of the rules of writing that you’ll encounter on any typical cruise around the internet. As I’ve said before, I’m not sure there really are rules, or at least (as one writer put it on Twitter recently) not in the sense that there are rules for how to assemble an engine. There are, of course, principles that will work somewhat more often than they won’t, and approaches that have succeeded for a great many writers. When it comes down to it, though, what you’re left with is you, the page, and getting words on it. You have to do what works for you, and you’ve got to make it your story. That’s what I think I’ve done with Heretic Blood, which may or may not be an unreadable mess, but it’s my unreadable mess, and I like that.

Editing will probably demand a lot of this changes, and that’s good. My hope is that I’m starting from a place that has a strong voice and tells a story the way I would like it told. I’m sure it won’t be for everyone; with luck it will resonate with some audience, of whatever size. I really do look forward to hearing what my Eager Volunteers think of it, and then hopefully what more of you think of it when and if the book gets to you.

I hadn’t expected to finish today. I knew I was reasonably close, but then this morning I was working on rewriting a scene, took a look to see how much more work there was to do it total, and realized that I could just do all of it today. I changed the plan for my afternoon a little bit, pushed on, and got it finished. It was somewhat like that feeling towards the end of a race when you see the finish line and realize you can sprint to the end. Just: wow, yes, we can get this done!

I made a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks. I think a lot of it was having a stretch of days to devote to writing, and really focus on it, to kind of get my legs under me. I hate to continue the running analogy, but there are things I don’t properly realize until I’m doing them. When I’m running, I need to be able to feel the right stride for me to use – the one that feels slower-paced, but with bigger strides that digest the kilometers, not the quicker, shorter one that burns my cardio and ends up a more frantic, slower movement. It really is similar with my writing; I need that block of days to feel myself settle into a good steady rhythm, and then the pages fill themselves.

I think I hit that over the past week, in particular, and now this job (or a phase of it, anyway) is done. I need to carry this momentum on to another project, and I have a couple of ideas.

Finishing is a lovely feeling.

Now to start something new.

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Bonhomme Sept-Heures

Last weekend, I launched another one.

Saturday night was the official coming-out party for my new novel, Bonhomme Sept-Heures. My publishers put on a wonderful launch party with several other local artists in downtown Ottawa, there was an amazing turnout, and the evening was fantastic. People listened to me read a selection from the book, some of them decided they wanted my story and took it home with them.

Some very keen people have even already finished it, and told me how they liked it. There’s no better feeling, as a writer, to have someone say that they would like to sit down with a story you wrote. It really doesn’t matter, to me, whether they say it directly, or just through the implication of taking my book home with them. It is a wonderful validation to have created something, and have someone say ‘yes please’. I imagine that’s true for every artist.

There is also that vulnerability that I talked about a couple weeks back – where people may read it, and decide they don’t like it, but right now I’m not feeling too much of that. I’m mostly just excited to have the story out where people can read it (which is really what stories are for) and give it a home in their imaginations. I’m sure I will hear some criticisms – which I am mostly glad to get, since it means someone read my story and thought about it – but for now I’m just enjoying it leaving the nest.

The launch itself was a splendid experience, too, of course. Again it was great to be in a room full of writers and readers and to feed off all that excitement for stories and enjoy the craft of other artists. We obviously can’t always be surrounded by people who agree with our passions, but it’s certainly a treat and a reward when it’s possible to grab it. I’m very grateful for all of these times.

Finally, I feel like this all reinforces the creative process on the next project. Even though what I’m working on now is a different set of characters and quite a different sort of story than my first two books feature, having this reminder of the payoff for getting it done and getting it out to an audience is fantastic incentive. I already can’t wait for my next story to be ready for people to read. It’s going to take a while.

Next week I will probably have something a bit more thoughtful for you. This week I’m watching Bonhomme Sept-Heures take flight. Thanks for reading.


(Thanks to Rohit Saxena for the photo)


I’d be delighted if you wanted to give Bonhomme Sept-Heures a try yourself. I made the story the best I could and I’d love to know what you think of it. You can order the book from Amazon (as well as several other major online retailers), you can buy it direct from the Renaissance Press website here, and you can ask for your favourite local bookstore to order it in for you. It will (of course) also be available at any of the events Renaissance Press attends from this point onwards, and I’ll keep you updated about those as they come up.

There’s one minor wrinkle at the moment as the paperback edition isn’t available on Amazon.ca – it is on all the other versions of Amazon, but because of how Amazon handles the different versions of itself there’s a delay with the Canadian one. It will be available there shortly and I’ll update you when it is.

I greatly appreciate everyone who spends some of their reading time on my stories. I hope you’ll like Bonhomme Sept-Heures and I really do look forward to hearing what you thought about it.

You can now also read an excerpt from the story under the ‘Books’ tab here.

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Bonhomme Sept-Heures

This week I have some exciting news: a few days ago, I received confirmation that Renaissance Press will publish Bonhomme Sept-Heures, the sequel to my first novel, The King in Darkness. I can tell you that having a second novel accepted for publication is just about as thrilling as the first time around. I imagine it’s inevitable, given the amount of time that goes into writing a manuscript, to put some emotional investment in there as well, and so the ‘yes’ to the piece of art is a ‘yes’ to a little piece of the soul as well. Given my own ever-present doubts about my own work, too, it’s wonderful to have a pat on the back from people who take books very seriously and have them tell me that they think mine is good.

Of course now there is a great deal of work to do to get ready to share the story with all of you; the next months will be filled with editing the manuscript so that it will show its best when it arrives in your hands. Having been through the process once, I now have a better idea of exactly how much labour there is to be done, and how much of a team effort it really is between the author and the editors. I think I may already have told the story here about how I didn’t expect there to be too much work to be done on King in Darkness after my own rewrites and feedback from the Eager Volunteers, and then I got thirty pages of notes from the first editor. It was a bit sobering, it was enlightening, and the book was very much better as a result.

At the same time, I am thinking of writing the Next Thing and hoping to regain momentum on my new project. I’d still like to have a first draft of it done by summer’s end, although somehow we are now already in June and I’m not sure it’s possible. I’ll have to see how it goes.

For now, thank you to everyone who has already read some or all of Bonhomme Sept-Heures and has helped me get it this far. Your ideas and your encouragement made it possible to make the story as good as it is and I am tremendously grateful. I’m also pre-emptively grateful to the editors at Renaissance who will be working with me over the next few months; I apologize in advance for the length of some of the sentences.

I don’t yet know when Bonhomme Sept-Heures will be released, although obviously I’ll keep you updated as the process goes on. I’m excited for you to read it, but I also want to make sure it’s worthy of your time when it gets to you. One final thanks today to everyone who read King in Darkness and told me that you wanted to read what happens next; the response to the first part of Adam Godwinson’s story was really encouraging and gratifying and I hope you’ll enjoy the next part just as much.

I look forward to putting the story in your hands and hearing what you think about it.


This past weekend I was interviewed on the Sunday Morning Coffee podcast by my friend Scott Gardiner; although it is no longer Sunday morning, I’m pretty sure he’d still be all right with you giving it a listen. We talked about writing, my early experiences in publishing, and how goddamn old I am now. You can find the episode on iTunes or from the SMC website here.

Just like with your favourite authors, if you enjoy the podcast, it would be a great help if you left a review on iTunes.

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Year One

It was a year (plus a few days ago) that I got the news that Renaissance Press was interested in publishing The King in Darkness. It’s somewhat amazing that so much time has already passed. I’ve learned a great deal in those 365 days and I thought I’d write a little about that on the blog today.

I learned to appreciate professional editors a great deal. The manuscript had been read through by several friends whose opinions I value, went through a local writers’ circle, and of course I had been through it many, many times. I really expected the editors to find very little.

Then the first editor sent me 30 pages of notes. (Not, to be clear, notes on 30 pages, but a word document, 30 pages long, consisting of nothing but corrections and suggested changes.) I sat and looked at that for a while, and then got to work. I try not to give out very much advice here, since I’m quite a new author, but if anyone is reading this and thinking of getting their own work published, make sure you secure the services of a professional editor. You’ll get your money’s worth.

(I should point out that the next editor, and the next, also sent me substantial notes to work on.)

I really felt like that process was the beginning of becoming something roughly resembling a professional writer. It’s one thing to write down the strange ideas I have running around in my head and share them with friends and family; it’s quite another to try to make them into a product that might appeal to anybody. It wasn’t always easy – sometimes the best decision for the text meant changing something I like – but it was a great educational process.

I think I’ve learned a fair amount about social media – my Twitter following has increased substantially, I have a Facebook page and I’m getting to grips with Goodreads and Instagram, slowly – but one of the things I’ve learned is that I’m not entirely sure how much practical good it does. I enjoy interacting with people and I hope some of what I do is interesting or entertaining, but from a shamelessly mercenary perspective, I’m not sure how much of the time I invested in it turned into people reading my book who otherwise wouldn’t have. Maybe it made a big difference. Maybe it didn’t. I’m not sure how one tells. Fortunately, messing around on the internet is great fun so I’m likely to keep doing it anyway.

The most fun new thing from the past year has been getting to go to several conventions and interact with the public. This was something I had (again) really never done before and for a naturally shy person it took some adjustment. However, once I got used to it, I really enjoyed myself. I got to meet people with immense passion for SFF books, movies and TV and spend some time sharing those interests. I got to be a part of panel discussions that really made me feel like A Writer. The costumes were amazing.

All of this basically to say that the past year has been a tremendously fun ride. I’m already looking forward to what’s coming up in the months ahead. The big one, of course, should getting to share Bonhomme Sept-Heures with all of you. Renaissance has some exciting plans that I’m very excited to be a part of.

Thank you for your part in it all for reading the blog – I hope you’ll stick around a while yet.

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Yesterday I was very excited to see the first review of The King in Darkness come out – also juuust a tiny bit nervous.  However, I’m very pleased and grateful for the kind things they had to say.

Read the review here.

Thank you to The Geeky Godmother for her thoughts on the book and for writing up the review.

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Author Moment

I’m going to have a bit of a Moment this week, so if you were expecting whatever it is I usually do on the blog, I apologize in advance.

The thing is that after what I know was a lot of hard work, my publishers at Renaissance have gotten our books on the shelves of some local bookstores here in Ottawa: Octopus Books and Books on Beechwood. This, of course, led to me dashing over to one of the stores in question like a goof and taking the following picture:


I think the people at the store now believe they are stocking a book written by a certifiable loon, but never mind. For a long time, when I thought about writing and Things I Would Like to Happen, one of the big ones was walking into a bookstore and seeing my book there on the shelf. That happened yesterday and so I’m very very pleased.

I’m not entirely sure why that moment or that image were quite so important to me. Having the book in some physical stores is significant in a practical sense; although lots of people now buy their books online, places like Amazon are not easily browseable in the way a shelf of books is, and some of their content gets filtered by various algorithms that tends to keep stuff by small presses from showing up. Getting on the shelf of actual stores is a big deal because you’re getting in front of the eyes of people who are not specifically looking for your book, but are looking for something to read, and now they might decide that thing is the thing you wrote. So, this is a good deal for me and for Renaissance and so it’s a good reason to get excited.

I know that’s not why I was excited though. I mean, I hadn’t even really thought about those kinds of issues until fairly recently, and I have wanted to see a book I wrote on a bookstore shelf for a very long time. I think it’s more that having one’s book on a bookstore shelf is one of the indicators that one is an Author; and that’s really what I have wanted to be since I was the kid skipping doing my math problems to write more stories about Earth Defence Command. Even with the book published and all, I still seem to keep looking to reassure myself that this really has happened, and yesterday did that very well.

I remember reading an article not long ago about people in my other field of academia, talking about the prevalence of a thing called Impostor Syndrome where people feel as though they, and they alone, are unqualified frauds just waiting to be exposed and expelled by all their colleagues. Having suffered through that as well, I wonder (first of all) if there isn’t a similar thing going on with writing that is (at least temporarily) counteracted by things like seeing your book on a shelf or having someone buy something you wrote at a convention. I also wonder if it might be the case that people in many walks of life suffer from their own versions of Imposter Syndrome and need these little reassurances as well.

No doubt there are plenty of hyper-confident, self-assured folks who never doubt themselves or their own position in life even a little bit. For the rest of us, I guess look for those reassurances when you can find them, enjoy them when they’re there, and then try not to kick yourself too hard the rest of the time. You’re probably much more clever and talented than you give yourself credit for, and you’re probably surrounded by a bunch of other self-described Impostors as well. (Oooh, there’s a story idea in this somewhere now)

I think that’s about all I’ve got for this week. I know it’s a little short. I’ll try to have something more substantial for you next week.


I should of course thank my publishers at Renaissance for their hard work in getting the books into the stores, and thank Octopus and Books on Beechwood for their support of local artists and small press publishing. They are great independent bookstores that have served their neighbourhoods for a long time and deserve your support if you can give it to them. Obviously there’s only so many copies of The King in Darkness that anyone needs to own but they have lots of other great books to sell you; check them out if you’re in the area.

I should also say that Renaissance is having an immense holiday sale on all the products in their webstore (including The King in Darkness if by some vanishingly small chance you haven’t bought it yet) so if you have some spots to fill on your Christmas list (or just, you know, need to feed your book addiction) you should check it out.

Still plugging away on the sequel project. It keeps growing new scenes! I’m going to have to put a stop to this process eventually. 🙂

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Originally I started to write this entry and titled it ‘Mission Accomplished’ because, in a way, that’s true – I did get a complete draft of The Project done on the schedule I set in my last post and sent out to the Eager Volunteers.  However, I think for all time the words ‘mission accomplished’ will forever recall George Bush on the aircraft carrier and maybe that’s a useful association because a lot of times when our impulse is to think that something is done it is far from it.

So it is with this writing project.  While I am genuinely pleased that I have – for the first time ever – ‘finished’ a novel-length piece of writing, in the sense of continuing on with it until it is (in a broad sense) a complete story, it isn’t done.  I mean, you can read it through from the beginning to the end and it isn’t missing any bits or have any of my beloved ‘COME BACK AND FIX LATER’ notations in it.  However, I am also conscious that it is very rough, likely needs a lot of work to make proper sense to anyone that isn’t me, and probably needs a lot of additional love and care to make into something that might read well.

‘Finished’ is therefore an optimistic exaggeration and so would ‘mission accomplished’ have been.  In a way (and I remember this from the thesis writing process) the next steps will be potentially harder because, for me at least, editting is not as satisfying as the raw creation process of writing from scratch.  But it’s probably (again judging from the thesis) more important in its way.

I am fortunate in already having something to get started on – one of the Eager Volunteers already read the thing and sent back some very thorough comments.  Now I have to find time to spend on them and the writing, and that will be the next challenge for the next while.

However, going to try to stick to not finding time, but making time.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


p.s. If you’re wondering about the time lag (and lack of posts) between last time and this time, the answer is ‘a lot of germs’ and ‘bedridden’ and I am going to give myself a pass on that one.  So there.

WORD COUNT: 88, 551

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40 degrees and 40,000 words

Not sure what to write for an entry today as I do an update on the progress of the project.  It is ungodly hot here today, which makes me very glad that the main work I will be doing is writing.  It occurs to me how generally fortunate I am to have writing back in my life again – it is easily portable to a variety of weather conditions, but also I feel very lucky to have the time to play around with my imagination and try and do things with words for a while again.

I still feel pretty rusty with it all but it’s not in ways that I can coherently describe in a blog entry.  I have a nagging sense that there should be a better way of expressing certain things, or a more elegant way of getting an idea across, though.  It’s possible that’s just Statler and Waldorf lurking in the background, though.

I’ve done my first significant edit to something the Eager Volunteers have seen – first of all we’ll see if it helped that troubled scene or not, but I guess we’ll also see how I do with this editting thing.  I’ve already written about my issues with growing dislike for my own writing, so I won’t belabour it again, but I’m a little unsure how that’s going to synergize with the editorial process.

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit today so I’ll cut it here and try to do better the next time.

I will also just briefly go ‘yay, me’ for hitting 40,000 words, which is one of the longest things I have yet written, fiction or non-fiction.

Word Count: 40,358


p.s. WordPress reminds me that this is lucky post #13, so no wonder it has issues.  I feel much relieved. 😛

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Two Tough Days

Just a brief one today.  The last couple days have been hard ones to keep at it – I had training all day at work yesterday, which was stupid on several levels, and then a meeting taking up most of the day today, which was about as fun as it sounds.  Anyway I did not arrive home in a writing mood, to say the least, and seriously thought about just giving myself the night off, tonight especially.

However I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t, because one thing I know I am good at is making excuses, and once I start finding reasons not to write on a particular day I will probably find a lot of them.  Basically, then, this is just a check in to affirm that I am still banging away at this thing and that the process of writing EVERY day seems to be working.  I think if I take it back to just writing SOME days I will really get in the mud.

Now I’m not sure whether anything I wrote today or yesterday is even slightly good but I’m not sure that’s the point.  Even if I end up rewriting those points entirely I kept the momentum going and kept building the base to work from.

I guess in the end I kind of want to say yay for me, lame as that is.

Word Count: 26, 319  (yay for me)

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