nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘writing

writing life,

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This summer I have been taking a break from writing science fiction. I have my next science-fiction book Meniscus: Karst Topography ready to publish so I can take some time to think about other writing projects.

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In 1997, I wrote a long mystery novel. I thought it would be interesting to read it through and see how much my writing style has changed. It has changed a lot, as you will see below. But the story was good and I had spent a decent amount of time on characters, story arcs, and point of view, so I decided to work on the draft.

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The story is titled HHGG (big reveal later in the year) and was 162,500 words. Yikes.

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This is my first draft of an eventual cover blurb …

Kaye Eliot comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children. But instead of passing stress-free days of swimming and hiking, she finds herself embedded in mystery after mystery. A missing vagrant and a gang of thieves have the community worried. Neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. Meanwhile, she and her kids have stumbled on a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property, a packet of old letters and an old map of the garden. And they dig up a sinister sea shell. A sea shell who looks like a grinning skull and who will not stay where he is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be victim of neighbors, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun?

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jane1 (2016_12_30 00_28_35 utc)

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the Grinning Tun (about 25 cm or 10 inches across)

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My work on the book has been on several fronts. I have ‘tweeted’ daily about my process  since May 28, 2018 (@TimsJane):

  • Reduce the number of words. I lost a lot of words through editing and style changes. I took out the dream sequences, all the ‘ly’ adverbs, a lot of thinking and feeling, and a raft of ‘that’s. I went from 162,561 words on April 13, 2018 to 148,999 words today on July 15, 2018. It is still a little long but a good read (in my opinion).
  • I did a lot of thinking about whether to keep the setting in 1994 or modernize it to 2018. With some advice, I have decided to keep it in 1994. In fact, the story would not unfold as it does with cell phones and computers at hand. So my characters drive down to the community phone booth almost every day and look for clues in whirring reels of microfiche.
  • Leaving the action in 1994 provided an opportunity to explore the culture of the 1990s. Besides the missing cell phones and computers, people collected Canadian Tire Money, waitresses smoked in restaurants and POGs were a fad among kids. In the summer of 1994, the song ‘I Swear‘ held the Canadian single charts for three weeks and the American charts for seven weeks. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon was a thing. The slang interjection ‘like’ punctuated speaking (still does).
  • Part of the text is in Spanish so I asked my friend Roger Moore to help me proof-read the Spanish text.
  • I spent a lot of time with my Grinning Tun … I bought him on line in 2010. The more you look at it, the more it looks like a skull.
  • I spent a stupid amount of time designing a curlicue for announcing a change in sections. I am glad I did, because this new novel will include ‘Drop caps’ at the beginning of every chapter and said curlicue.

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design

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It will take me a few more weeks to proof the draft. To do this, I order a Proof from CreateSpace and do my edits as a way of passing the time effectively on my stationary cycle. Once I have the Proof, I’ll be able to concentrate on painting the cover for HHGG. This is the rough outlay for the cover, tacked together from various photos …

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HHGG cover (2).jpg

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Now you know everything about HHGG except its title!

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All my best,

Jane 

Written by jane tims

July 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

tweeting about writing

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Every day, I write. Today I worked on the story for Book Six in the Meniscus SeriesMeniscus:Encounter with the Emenpod. I also did some editing of an upcoming mystery novel I refer to as HHGG. Tomorrow I will be writing poetry for a series about abandoned communities and what happens to plants in abandoned gardens.

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Working back and forth like this between projects at various stages of completion is a great strategy for me. I never get bored, I never get writers’ block and I think shifting projects keeps my writing brain refreshed.

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Besides blogging, I participate in Twitter, sending a tweet almost every day to #amwriting … if you’d like to find out what my writing life is like, follow me at @TimsJane … I report on what I am doing and share a bit of writing wisdom. I’d love it if you would follow along!

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A little about the mystery novel since I tweet most often about it. HHGG is one I wrote in 1997. I have learned a lot since then, so editing makes me laugh. HHGG is about a woman and her two kids who seek summer solace at her old family home. She never dreams she is walking into a village rife with mysteries, some of them stretching back more than a century. I have a few human antagonists, but one who is anything but human!

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Hope you are enjoying your summer and your own writing life!

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All the best,

Jane.

five ways to prepare for reading from your work

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I love to read aloud and my work as a writer gives me lots of reading opportunities.

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Reading at Westminster Books, Fredericton

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Readings take lots of preparation:

  1. Practice. Stand, read and time your readings. Keeping to the allotted time respects the audience and keeps the reader calm, particularly near the end of the reading. No last minute timing revisions. No being ‘hooked’ off the stage!
  2. Prepare any remarks not in the reading itself. I usually give a little background to my reading and make a few remarks between poems. These words will be delivered more smoothly if they are composed, written down and practiced.
  3. Include a give-away. I sometimes raffle one of my paintings or another associated item during my book launches and readings. Everyone likes bookmarks. Business cards should always be available.
  4. Use props. Once I gave a talk to a group of high school students about career development. I took an old pair of hiking boots with me to talk about my time in the field. The boots make the presentation funny and gave the audience an image to focus on. I often bring my cardboard stand-up aliens when I read from my Meniscus books.
  5. Involve your audience. Always leave time for questions. Consider adding some interactive components to your reading: ask the audience mid-reading questions, pass a book around, include a quick show of hands.

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my stand-up aliens at a New Maryland market

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I have two readings and a book fair in the next weeks:

WordsSpring, WFNB

7 PM, May 11, 2018 (Friday) at Quality Inn & Suites Amsterdam, Quispamsis for WordSpring (Writers Federation of New Brunswick) – I will be reading from my two newest books: Meniscus: One Point Five – Forty Missing Days, and Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill. Copies of all my books, including ‘in the shelter of the covered bridge’ will be for sale.

Book Launch, Westminster Books

7 PM, May 25, 2018 (Friday) at Westminster Books in Fredericton. I will be launching my book Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill. Cary Caffrey (a.k.a. Terry Armstrong) will also be reading from his Girls from Alcyone Science Fiction Series. Everyone is welcome!

2018 Metro Moncton Book Festival

I will be selling my books at the 2018 Metro Moncton Book Festival, June 9, 2018 (Saturday), 10 AM to 3 PM at the Moncton Lions Community Centre (473 St. George Street
Moncton, NB).

 

Reading at The Attic Owl, Moncton

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Plan your readings and your audience will appreciate the time you have taken.

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If you are in the area, please come to one of my readings. I would love to see you there!

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all my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 9, 2018 at 7:00 am

segue

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segue

(verb) move without interruption from one song, melody or scene to another.

(noun) an uninterrupted transition from one piece of music or film scene to another.

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I am so happy today to be doing some creative work. For months I have been focused on edits and other work associated with my book releases. But today, I clicked on the draft of the fifth book in my Meniscus Series. And there are blanks in the writing! Places to add new ideas. A chance to create!
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Immediately, on a re-read, I identified a problem. Meniscus: Karst Topography follows two diverging (and then converging) story lines. From chapter to chapter, I switch from story line to story line, back and forth as many books do. However, in the draft, the transitions are sometimes quite abrupt. Instead, I want to help my reader by creating smooth changes from one story line to the next. I want to segue from one set of actions to another.
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Ways of creating smooth transitions, from chapter to chapter, action to action, or scene to scene:

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  • make sure the tone and rhythm of the writing are similar or appropriate in the transition. This may be particularly important since I am writing poetry. Sometimes, a smooth transition will occur because lines are of a similar length or number of beats, or because the tonal qualities of the poetry are similar. On the other hand, there may be places where an abrupt change is necessary to introduce an element of anxiety or surprize. I compare this to the background music in a movie, carrying the watcher from scene to scene, or changing abruptly to signal a crisis. In the following passage, the terse, rather short lines of Chapter 13 are focused on action verbs and are picked up by terse statements in Chapter 14:

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Madoline locks the door as she leaves.

Ignores the way to her cell

in the honeycomb.

Turns

towards the centre

of the city.

 

14.

Belnar throws down his pack.

“Not there,” he says.

“Big scandal afoot.

The cook gone.

Eighteen

unconscious

Gel-heads.

Nine dead

Dock-winders.”

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  • use a repeated idea or word to help transition the reader. An example might be the use of colour. Sometimes in movies characters are shown walking down a hallway, for example, and characters in the next scene are also walking down a hallway. In the following passage, the idea of swirling at the end of Chapter 1 is picked up by the word ‘confusion’ at the beginning of Chapter 2:

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Chill wind kisses cold rock.

Sweeps out, across the Darn’el.

Stirs desert and dust.

 

2.

Confusion in the village.

The women gone.

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  • have a character in the first scene think about a character in the second. In Chapter 9, the Dock-winder child Don’est remembers Kathryn and Chapter 10 takes us immediately to Kathryn in the Gel-head’s clutches:

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“And Kathryn

was a bedwarmer,”

says the Dock-winder child,

nodding, the wisp of a smile

on her thin lips.

Her knowledge

not appropriate

for her years.

 

12.

Kathryn waits in the cell

of the honeycomb.

Fiddles with a ring above her eye.

Tries to ignore confining walls,

paltry inflow of air.

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  • signal to the reader that something new is coming. If the location changes, name the new location to make sure the reader knows where the action is situated. In Chapter 7, Don’est, the Dock-winder child, reminds the others that she and the wolf-like Kotildi are also part of the community of Themble Hill. In Chapter 8, the action is taken far from the Themble Wood, in the city of Prell:

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Len, len.

And me,”

says Don’est.

“And tame Kotildi.

 

“Elan’drath

in the Themble Wood.

 

8.

Tal and Daniel in a room

as unlike the Themble Wood

as it is possible to be.

Del-sang ma’hath,

Acquisitions Tracking,

Prell.

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  • report on an event happening in the previous chapter. In the following passage, Odymn rocks the new baby in Chapter 22 and Vicki refers to the birth of the baby in Chapter 23:

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Odymn weeps when she sits with Malele

and rocks the tiny baby.

 

23.

“Fourteen days,”

says Vicki.

“Fourteen days

and we’ve made

no progress at all.

 

“Back in the Themble

Malele’s baby will have been born.

They will be wondering

if we will ever return.”

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So my first task in creativity is to look at each shift from one chapter to another and write in some segues. Sounds a little like editing to me!

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What do you think of the transitions I have written above? What devices do you use to make certain there is a smooth transition from one chapter to the next?

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Copyright 2018 Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

February 7, 2018 at 10:26 am

review of ‘within easy reach’

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My book of poetry within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016) has been reviewed by James Deahl (Canadian Stories 20 (116): 66-67, August/September 2017).

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

July 31, 2017 at 7:41 am

reading tonight!

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For those of you in the Fredericton area, it looks like a dull, muggy day. Just a reminder … tonight at 7 PM, Roger Moore will be reading from his books at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Nasonworth (Highway 101, just beyond New Maryland). There will be cookies and ice cold refreshments, and the free will offering will go to ‘Grace House for Women’ in Fredericton. Hope you can come out to hear Roger read! The church hall is cool and the acoustics are great!

Roger at the creative business of writing

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Roger has written almost thirty books and chapbooks. His book ‘Bistro’ was on the short list for the 2016 New Brunswick Book Awards and he has won the WFNB Alfred G. Bailey Prize for his books of poetry. His poetry can be very funny, but he writes on serious topics. Some examples of his work? His ‘A Cancer Chronicle’ provides insight into the battle many will face during their lifetime. ‘The Empress of Ireland’ explores the history and emotions of the famous St. Lawrence River shipwreck. His most recent book ‘One Small Corner’ is the outcome of his artist’s residency at the Kingsbrae Gardens in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. Roger is a born teacher and gives of his experience generously. I am so happy to call him my friend.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

Written by jane tims

July 27, 2017 at 7:33 am

a muse takes over – structuring a project

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When I wrote the first ‘book’ for my sci-fi series about enslaved humans on the planet Meniscus, I really didn’t know where the series was headed. The characters were clear to me and my focus was the building of a relationship between the main two characters, Odymn and the Slain. However, as I neared completion of the first story, I discovered: the first book needs the guidance of the second to set the stage for a book series.

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book-cover

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By the time I completed the draft of my second ‘book’, I knew where the series was headed. This is a story of how a small group of human beings overcome all odds and challenging enemies to rebuild a social structure stolen from them.

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vicki

Vicki, Odymn’s friend in Prell-nan, plays a very minor role in the first two ‘books’ and a major role as the story progresses.

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In the end, the project will be five books, telling the story in sequence. I thought I would begin this series of posts near the middle of the creative process, when I am deciding how to frame and present my five books and the one over-arching story.

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Each book in the series will tell one part of the over-arching story, in the form of a long poem. This will be accessible poetry, written in short lines and stanzas. The less-accessible part of the story will be the vocabulary and strangeness of the planet and the characters.

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Each book will have its own story arc and these stories will build on one another. Each story will feature recurring characters and a few new characters. All of the stories occur in a particular area of the planet Meniscus, known as the Prell-nan South District (Prell-nan is the main urban area in the story). This allows me to expand on the original five books, if the muse continues to inspire me, into the North District!

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a map to go with the story

a map to go with the story

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Presently, the five stories are in different stages of completion. Book 1 (Crossing The Churn) is in final draft and with my editor for comment. Book II (South from Sintha) is in final draft. The story arcs and drafting of Book III (Winter by the Water-climb) are mostly complete. Book Four (The Town at Themble Hill) is experiencing the agony of story arc resolution. Book Five ( ?????) is in early, early draft.

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At this point, I am trying to make sure the five stories are balanced in their presentation. To do this, I keep in mind the length of each story, measured in terms of the number of words,  ‘chapters’, pages and characters.

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To present this in a table:

number in series book title number of words number of pages number of chapters number of main characters
1

 

Crossing The Churn 9,821 147 33  

4

 

2

 

South to Sintha 8,648 104 31 7
3

 

Winter by the Water-climb 12,877 147 53 13
4

 

The Town at Themble Hill 11,389 108 47 16
5

 

???? 761+ 10+ 11 so far ??

 

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As you can see, these will be short ‘books’, probably readable in about 2-3 hours, allowing for the poetry and a bit of challenging alien vocabulary.

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This post’s bit of advice:

if you are writing a series, knowing the content and story arcs of the subsequent book(s) will help inform the story and content of the previous book(s).

This worked well for me in writing the “Saving the Landing Church” series (see https://janetims.com/2015/07/03/writing-a-novel-draft-by-draft/ ).

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

 

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