A Tiny Little World

I spent all after­noon as a Stand­ard­ized Patient for the BCIT School of Nurs­ing… a very emo­tion­al role and I’m spent. BUT! I chat­ted at break time with my col­league, and it turns out she went to high­school with my par­ents in Regina. What a tiny little world we live in… So when we went to my folks’ for din­ner this even­ing, noth­ing would do but my mom got out the old year­books from Scott Col­legi­ate and we had to find pho­tos of the per­sons in ques­tion. What larks! I am going to take the year­books with me to work on Wed­nes­day and show them to Mari­on.

Colleen and I were going to chat this even­ing about my MS for Dark Elf’s War­ri­or. She’s cri­tiquing for me. But I wound up not being home, as I men­tioned, and it was­n’t a good night for chat­ting for her either, accord­ing to her mes­sage on my answer­ing machine. It can wait. We two are also look­ing for­ward to volun­teer­ing at the Sur­rey Inter­na­tion­al Writers’ Con­fer­ence. It’ll be my ninth time at that con­fer­ence, but my first time volun­teer­ing. I could­n’t actu­ally attend this year because I blew my budget going down to Seattle for the PNWA con­fer­ence in July, where Dark Elf’s War­ri­or was a final­ist. (Hoo­ray!!!)
Tomor­row is Pie day. I’ve already made pastry and I have to make the filling for pump­kin pie. 13 or 14 people for Thanks­giv­ing din­ner on Monday. All Roughrider fans, if they know what’s good for them. Oh. Lor­i’s a Blue Bombers fan.… but she’s a lot of fun, so we’ll let her stay any­way. Every­one else had bet­ter pose, at least.


I am SO glad I don’t have to do that every day. I mean driv­ing to and from UBC. Once in awhile is fine, but golly that’s a long drive. And in rush hour traffic it really sucks. Today I had to detour into the West End for a meet­ing after UBC, so that made the day even longer. I am exhausted.

Gee, did­n’t I start the day exhausted?

I did­n’t get any read­ing in today. Per­haps in the morn­ing. After my blurb about pro­logues this morn­ing I checked in the book I’m read­ing and found the copy­right was in 1976. Maybe the rules were dif­fer­ent back then…

I think they must have been, because I don’t think Peter Pan would be pub­lished in its ori­gin­al form if Barry had writ­ten it today.

Thinking about prologues…

A word about pro­logues.

I bring this up because the book I star­ted read­ing at 4:50 this morn­ing has one. Now, there’s a bit of debate over To Pro­logue or Not to Pro­logue. Many times I’ve heard agents say, “I hate pro­logues.” I’ve even been giv­en the impres­sion that they will reject a nov­el out­right because it has a pro­logue. I think that’s a bit silly, and maybe I don’t want an agent who would reject a work for a goofy reas­on like that. To be fair, maybe the agents in ques­tion were just being melo­dra­mat­ic. But it has made me think about pro­logues.

I have to con­fess [flushes guiltily] that I have skipped pro­logues. Why? Because so often they are too long and dull. If a pro­logue just gives me a bunch of world his­tory and back­ground info, well that’s bor­ing. Why has­n’t the author skill­fully worked that stuff into the story itself if it’s so import­ant? The book I began this morn­ing has such a pro­logue. 

The whole time I was read­ing it I was think­ing, “This had all bet­ter be cru­cial inform­a­tion.” It was about five pages long, and that’s a lot of energy to invest in some­thing that is kind of bor­ing. If it isn’t cru­cial I will resent being treated so dis­respect­fully by the author. 

Some­times a pro­logue is the right way to impart crit­ic­al inform­a­tion to the read­er. If it’s an event that takes place pri­or to the time peri­od of the story but is some­how a cata­lyst for the events of the story. Or if it involves char­ac­ters that may or may not appear in the main story. Or when said event needs to be from the point of view of a char­ac­ter who will not oth­er­wise be a POV char­ac­ter. Those are some case where a pro­logue is a great tool. But for me as a read­er I want it to be short and I want it to be intriguing. I have been known to skip pro­logues that go on and on. I read a book years ago, I can­’t remem­ber which book it was, but its pro­logue went on for about 14 pages and I was so con­fused

[Growls in frus­tra­tion because this is the point where the inter­net shuts down, and everything typed after this point is lost so it must be typed again… Grrrr]

…that I stopped read­ing after just a few pages. See, without any ground­ing in the story none of the places and names men­tioned in the pro­logue made any sense.

An example of a pro­logue I liked is in The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie.

It is 1915 and the Lus­it­ania is sink­ing. A man approaches a young lady and asks her to take charge of a pack­et of import­ant papers, “because of ‘women and chil­dren first’. He gives her a few instruc­tions and that’s it. It takes about a page and a half. That is the incit­ing incid­ent for the rest of the story. When the story opens it is sev­er­al years later, and the read­er meets the prot­ag­on­ists, but con­tin­ues to won­der what happened to the girl and the papers and why they are sig­ni­fic­ant. 

That’s a pro­logue that really works for me because it is intriguing and it’s short! I fig­ure I should­n’t refuse to write a pro­logue because some people “don’t like pro­logues.” If it’s the best thing for the story, then I will go for it. At the moment my second book has a pro­logue which I quite like, but I revis­it it when I return to that book for revi­sion. 

My ori­gin­al end­ing for this post was way bet­ter, but I can­’t remem­ber what it was. Ah well.

Boy, it’s really easy to make these posts very long, isn’t it? (sort of like some pro­logues). I’ll have to watch that.

At the end of the day…

Con­sid­er­ing I’ve had a nasty head­ache all day I feel pretty good about what I accom­plished today. I did a word count of Griffin and I’m near­ing 27k, so I’m pleased. A bunch of those words are at the begin­ning of the story, and a bunch of them are at the end… Now I just have to put a whole bunch of words in between.

I have to write what comes into my mind, so the last little while it’s been all the build-up to the cli­max of the story. Even­tu­ally I’ll fig­ure out exactly how she gets there! It’s such a fas­cin­at­ing pro­cess. 

My work sched­ule is so busy this fall that I’ve had to set aside blocks of time for writ­ing. It’s work­ing pretty well. Some things have to be neg­lected, and since it can­’t be the writ­ing and it can­’t be the kids.… Golly, look at all those dishes over there. Wow.

It’s my first time, eh?

Here goes. Wel­come to my blog. We’ll see how much fun I have, and how much of my lim­ited time it uses up! 

It’s a writ­ing day, today, which means I’m not booked to do oth­er work else­where. I’ve star­ted out by cre­at­ing this blog, so that counts as writ­ing-related work. Yes­ter­day I had some bonus writ­ing time, between work­ing and meet­ing my step-sis­ter-in-law for din­ner before going to work again. I sat in the bright and beau­ti­ful atri­um of the Health Sci­ences build­ing out at UBC, and wrote for a couple of hours.

What am I work­ing on right now? I’m con­tinu­ing to revise, as well as mar­ket, my first fantasy nov­el, cur­rently titled Dark Elf’s War­ri­or, which was a final­ist in this year’s PNWA writ­ing con­test. (Hoo­ray!!!!) I con­tin­ue to revise because to my mind, it’s a work in pro­gress until such time as it is pub­lished and on book­store shelves. But I’m mar­ket­ing because it’s awfully easy to hold onto some­thing forever because it’s not “per­fect” yet. 

I’m look­ing for­ward to revis­ing the sequel, (the Ser­pent and the Sage… or maybe Dark Elf’s War­ri­or: Decep­tion, I don’t know which is bet­ter. And it’ll prob­ably change later any­way). I’m look­ing for­ward to it, because I’ve learned so much in recent years and have fixed up book one so much that I want to apply all those things to book two!

My new pro­ject is what I call a Mod­ern Fantasy. The term Urb­an Fantasy seems to indic­ate were­wolves and vam­pires and so forth, which is entirely inac­cur­ate for this one. It’s simply a fantasy that takes place right here and now. It’s about a girl named Griffin, who’s dying for val­id­a­tion as a musi­cian, (she’s a gui­tar­ist), as well as a decent rela­tion­ship.  Her Big Chance to make a good impres­sion is ruined by an ex-boy­friend’s drug-induced thrash­er solo accom­pan­ied by many insults and explet­ives. But then she meets Ricken­back­er Topi­ary, a man­ager of the Sala­man­der House of Music and Pud­ding, who is also a self-pro­claimed Find­er of People and Things. He prom­ises to find her the lead gui­tar­ist of her dreams. Which he does. And that’s the begin­ning of a most bizarre peri­od of life for Griffin…

I’m hav­ing great fun writ­ing this story. It’s funny and crazy and because lan­guage is not lim­ited by the medi­ev­al-ish world of my first two books, I’m find­ing that simile, and meta­phor­ic­al descript­ive pas­sages are com­ing much more eas­ily than ever before. I’m get­ting great feed­back and ter­rif­ic reac­tions from my writer friends, and my writ­ing part­ner Ron is grilling me for more detail, for­cing me to think of back­ground info I haven’t thought of yet, mainly because I’m writ­ing off the top of my head. Fun stuff, any­way.

Ok, I think that’s prob­ably enough for the first one. It’s time for lunch, and then I must get back to find­ing out what’s going on in Griffin’s life, poor thing, inno­cent vic­tim that she is.