It’s Been a Busy Month …

Gannet

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I posted last! I think that might well be my longest in between posts. (I’m not going to go check; but I will try not to beat it in future.) I’ve been, obviously, quite busy. Mostly with summer activities: a visit with friends from France in PEI, which involved lobster, mackerel fishing (it was too rough to go out to the cod grounds), ceilidhs, and driving about looking at the island.Waves out fishing

Then there were two weddings in opposite ends of the country, one in Newfoundland and the other on Vancouver Island, with a visit to a friend in Vancouver in between. I’ve also been planning a move, attempting to finish Stargazy Pie (the which I have not had enough focussed time to finish, despite it being about 10,000 words from the end), and trying unsuccessfully to finish a few short stories.St John's, Newfoundland

Since September is going to involve the aforementioned move, and I want to keep the finished short stories I have on submission, I’ve decided to put my monthly short story on hiatus for a little while. I want to focus on Stargazy Pie and its sequel, Whiskeyjack (which is in the percolating-nearly-plotting phase — I would be seriously plotting it now except for wanting to be sure I finish Stargazy Pie first). I seem to go in waves with the short stories, and right now I’m in a trough of sorts, so until I finish the five half-done ones, I’m going to take a break.

 

Coastal Potlatch dish, Museum of Anthropology

Coastal Potlatch dish, Museum of Anthropology

I’ve been planning my fall — I’m still mostly on the academic time-table, so I think in four-month blocks of time. I actually have a few academic projects to do: two lectures on Dante I will be giving in October (I will post them, or parts of them, on my site afterwards, I think); a paper I gave in the spring that needs to be readied for the conference proceedings; and the next stage of edits, taking into account readers’ reports, of an edition I’m doing of Bernard Silvestris’ Cosmographia. I hope to get the paper done before I move, and read the translation of Dante that was set for the programme I’m lecturing in, and which is new to me.

 

Ucluelet, BC

Mostly, though, I want to spend this fall working hard on my writing business. I will be having a sale on Till Human Voices Wake Us at the end of September (I’ll let you know, in case you’ve been contemplating the ebook but uncertain, because you like my blog posts but aren’t quite sure about literary fantasy), just to see what a sale + advertising does — I’ve never tried advertising anything before besides gardening and tutoring work in my local area, and that’s a different kettle of fish. I intend to do an overhaul of my online presence, including trying to integrate my author site and this one more coherently, and playing around with Pinterest, Goodreads, and possibly some other social media options too.

And then there’s my ambitious but certainly not impossible plan to write three novels and publish them before Christmas.

Howe Sound, British Columbia

I don’t know that I would have said that was possible — let alone that I wanted to try it — two years ago. A year ago I tried to write a novel in a month (and, like my efforts in July), got most of the way through before the end of the month and travels halted me. I haven’t finished that book yet because I realised I was trying to be too ambitious with it, trying too many new things, but that the plot wasn’t quite right for what I wanted to do. The humour and lightheartedness I was aiming at there are coming out much more successfully (I believe) in Stargazy Pie, which doesn’t have some of the craft issues of the first one to hamper it. An omniscient narrator is hard to do well, I’m finding.

In considering where I initially stopped with Stargazy Pie, where I stopped with Derring-do for Beginners last year, and indeed where I stopped with “Preventative Measures,” “The Beanseller,” “The Bramble King,” and Kasian at the Crossing — the short stories and novella I’ve also been working on this year — and where I stopped (briefly) with “Indigo, Frankincense, and Jade,” “Rook,” and “Inkebarrow” before finishing them — I realised that in each case I tend to stop right before the climax, in the ‘dark moment’ for the characters. There’s a lull before the climax, usually — like the ebbing before a tsunami — and I very often get stranded there.

The picture was taken by a random friend of my mum's, who said: "Excuse me, we've never met but are you Sally's daughter?" To which I could only reply, "Why, yes, I am."

This is me (not stranded) at one of the corners of the world — Cape Spear, Newfoundland, easternmost point of North America

I realised this with Stargazy Pie, and pushed through the lull and into the actual climb up to the climax. (Climax, on a side note, is from the Greek for ‘ladder’. Don’t say you never learn anything from me!) In that case, once I got through the lull I’ve had ideas and momentum — just not time — to finish up. I’m hoping I can get the draft done this week, and see where I am there.

I usually have a strong sense of where the literal end of the story is — what the characters are doing, where they are emotionally and physically, and sometimes what the last line is — but not so much what’s going on the climax. I have difficulties with plotting, you see. That’s what I’m working on with these shorter novels — the Mr. Greenfield and Mrs. E Mysteries (I think that’s what I’m going to call the series). Pacing, plotting, and light-heartedness. Fun to write, and I hope fun to read!

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