I have a really fun event coming up in next month.
Dine with Local Authorsinvites readers to have dinner, and chat, with five local authors. I’ll be participating in this event on Monday September 10that Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa, CA. I’ll be reading from and talking about The Smallest Thing.
Here are the details:
DINE WITH LOCAL AUTHORS
Monday, September 10, 6-8 PM
1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa
For reservations: email@example.com or 707-544-2491
There’s a minimum $5.00 food purchase required.
I’ll be joined by these fabulous authors:
Wordstruck! non-fiction, humor, by Susanna Janssen
The Healer Is You, health and wellness by Diane See
As Long As You Don’t Turn Them Into Weirdos, memoir by Janell Smiley
The Autobiography of Charlie Lord, Fiction by Bill Wetmore
See you there!
July is here, school’s out, and, all of a sudden, it feels like summertime. Which can only mean one thing: Time for Summer Camp.
Summer Camp wasn’t a big thing in the U.K. when I was growing up, so I have little experience with cabins, camp counsellors, or having my sheets shorted. When I was about nine years old, I did go to Band Camp at a holiday camp in Minehead in southwest England. (I played trombone, in case you were wondering.) I remember we had to wear matching red, white, and blue knit caps, so we could be easily identified. We went in March, not summer, and it rained almost the entire time and was freezing cold. It was also my first time staying away from home for an extended time and I was horribly homesick. Not exactly the stuff fond camp memories are made of.
So, this time I’m not actually going away to camp. Instead, I’m attending Camp NaNoWriMo, a virtual camp for writers, run by the folks behind National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that, during the month of July, writers around the world set a personal goal for their novels-in-progress, and team up with fellow writers for support (and perhaps a teensy bit of competition.)
My goal is to write 25,000 words of a brand new idea. It’s a reasonable goal, considerably less than the 50,000-word goal for National Novel Writing Month, but given I’ll be busy rewriting my third novel this month, it’s still going to be a stretch to make it.
One of the hardest things about a new project is committing to that first sentence from which everything else will unfold. It can be daunting to stare at a blinking cursor with infinite possibilities ahead. Having a challenge like Camp NaNoWriMo removes the temptation for procrastination and overthinking. If I didn’t start on July 1, I’d be impossibly behind my goal by the end of the first week. So, despite having a full holiday weekend planned, and despite the typical day-to-day nuisances that conspire to interrupt my writing time (e.g. dead internet, squirrel invasion, power outage) my brand new project is now officially a work-in-progress.
I don’t want to say too much more about it yet, as so much can change during the writing process, up to and including the entire idea being thrown out as useless. But I’ll keep you updated on how it’s all going and if I survived my month at camp.
Hope you’re enjoying your summer (or winter, if you’re reading from the Southern Hemisphere.)
P.S. I’m going to be appearing at several book events over the summer. First up is Redwood Writers Author Launch in Santa Rosa on Sunday, July 8. You can find out all the details, plus information about the other appearances on my Events page.
Mr. Fab and I just moved house. We had lived in our old house for thirteen years and it’s fair to say we had accumulated a lot of stuff. So, for the month before we moved, we set about the task of purging. Which meant I had to face…da–da–da–daaaah…the office.
Oh, good grief. You wouldn’t believe the amount of clutter I’d gathered there. I had receipts dating back to 2010, cross-stitch projects I started for my young nieces, who are now in their 20s, and a giant stuffed Nemo that my nephew’s girlfriend won at the county fair and then couldn’t fit in her suitcase. I had stationery, bags, gift wrap, colored paper, even the user’s manual for a car I don’t own anymore. I had no idea just how much junk I had been hoarding.
Once I’d pulled all of it out and tossed several bags of trash and recycling, I finally made it down to my box of abandoned manuscripts. Ugh, what a trip down memory lane that was.
I found a very early version of A Strange Companion, then titled Bond of Souls, in which Kat is a decade older and working as an auto mechanic in San Francisco. I know there are gems in there (Mary-Jo Lipinsky Meyers, one of my favorite characters) but the story takes a serious turn south around the middle and should never be read.
I found My Mother’s Eyes, a story about a girl who discovers the woman who raised her was her grandmother and sets out to find her birth mother. Meh. I found a screenplay attempt that was so terrible the only bit worth salvaging was the character of Mr. Scroggins, the cat who charmed his way into Kat’s mother’s heart in A Strange Companion. I also found Thicker Than Water, a story based on a vivid dream I had of two sisters tied by a hidden secret. Great concept, but also flawed. This, at least, had sufficient potential to be dusted off and re-examined. In fact, it’s the story I’m rewriting for this year’s National Novel Writing Month. (You can follow along with my progress through my daily Instagram posts.)
Most published authors, when pressed, will admit to several abandoned novels squirreled away in drawers and under beds or in the back of stuffed closets. For most writers, it takes time for ability to catch up with the vision, and the truth is, some novels just aren’t ready to debut.
I discarded much of the paper I found in my office, packing and moving only selected versions of completed books, and a copy of each of the unfinished ones. Even though there are hours and hours invested in those novels, they belong in the back of my new closet, where perhaps my literary heirs will discover and publish them against my will, and I will quietly turn in my grave.