Tenacious or Stubborn?

In the past week, three friends (lovingly) referred to me as stubborn. I (stubbornly) disagreed, saying that I was instead, tenacious – which of course led to a debate as to whether the two words actually mean the same thing.

The New Oxford American Dictionary and Merriam-Webster both list the words as synonyms of each other. Pfft. What do they know? I propose that there is a rather important and distinct difference between the two. Since I spend my days searching for exactly the right word to convey my meaning (a Sisyphean task if there ever was one), I figured this warranted a blog post.

To be stubborn, is to dig one’s heels in and refuse to move. When we say that a person is stubborn, we mean that he refuses to do something, or change his mind about something. So, stubbornness is characterized by a lack of action.

However, tenacity (in my humble opinion) implies the exact opposite. When we say that a person is tenacious, we mean that he is going after something with single-minded determination.

So while I stubbornly refuse to eat Turr (no matter how many times my father offers it to me), I am pursuing my career as an author with tenacity (actively finding solutions to each of the obstacles I encounter).

Have I convinced you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below! :)

Now, for having humoured me and my little rant, I reward you with this: The History of English, in Ten Minutes (it’s pretty funny!) Enjoy!

What Authors can Learn from Movies

 

[dropcap][/dropcap]For Christmas, Santa brought me and my kids the Lord of the Rings box set…twelve hours of film plus an additional fourteen hours of DVD extras. I had no intention of watching it all—I mean really, I don’t watch twenty-six hours of television in a year let alone a week—but I couldn’t help myself. I was hooked! In fact, I think I liked the extras better than the movies.

Obviously I’ve read the trilogy and as an author of children’s fantasy fiction, I’ve long been inspired by Tolkien. But what caught my attention this time around was the way the production team approached the characters and the world.

When I was in grade school, my English teachers had me write character sketches and setting descriptions which I thought were completely useless exercises because I never understood why I was doing them. Little did I know then that they would become the main building blocks of my career. Even so, my characters exist in my head alone, not on film. I don’t need to provide every detail of every item of clothing because I couldn’t—and shouldn’t—spend time in my novels describing them. It would weigh down the stories and slow the pace.

But for the Lord of the Rings movies, the production team had no choice but to develop these kinds of details. Designers spent months studying each group of characters considering what their clothes, hair, weaponry and architecture would look like based on where and how they lived, their culture, their history and their beliefs. And the movies are richer for their effort. No one would ever confuse Gimli (dwarf) for Legolas (elf) because everything about the dwarf culture is harsh, angular and utilitarian whereas the elfen culture is refined, flowing and graceful–and of course there’s also a massive height difference.

So what’s the lesson here for authors? If we aren’t going to give the reader minute detail, why do we need to develop it?

Simple.

Knowing these details enables us to bring our characters and settings to life. It becomes more like writing about people we’ve met and places we’ve visited which in turn, creates more enticing stories for our readers.

And that’s what this job is all about.

Publication News

 

And so, a quick update for those of you who have been asking about the progress of my book and when it may be published. (And a sincere thank you for being interested! :) )

Although I’ve been quiet on that front publicly as of late, a lot has been happening behind the scenes. I still can’t go into too much detail, but if all goes well Book One of my series, The Nature Knights, will be published Fall 2015.

I’m bursting to tell you more so as soon as I can start to reveal details, I will! For now, I’d better get back to the writing. There are eight more full length novels in the series, plus a novella – and they won’t write themselves.

One thing’s for sure … I’ll never complain of boredom.

Interview with Charis Cotter (Part 2)

Below you’ll find the final segment of my interview with Newfoundland children’s author, Charis Cotter. Here Charis talks about the importance of daydreaming, her work as an actor and children’s entertainer, and her incredible launch party coming up on October 25!

In fact the launch is so cool, I’m going to give you the details here too. It will be at Newman’s Wine Vault, 436 Water Street, St. John’s NL at 7:30pm (October 25). It’s completely free and the Vault will be decorated like the cover of The Swallow, there will be “spooky treats” and of course Charis will be doing a reading and putting on a bit of a show. :)  It’s going to be awesome – I can’t wait!

And of course, as part of today’s post Charis is giving away a copy of her book, The Swallow: A Ghost Story. Simply enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below the interview. It’s a stunning hardcover book, so if you know any kids between the ages of 9-12, you’re going to want to get this for them. Trust me. :)

As always, I’d love to know what you think about this or any of my posts. Please feel free to leave a note in the comment box at the end of the post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with Victoria Barbour (Part 1)

 

Newfoundland author Victoria Barbour is rereleasing her debut novel Against Her Rules as part of a ten-book collection of contemporary romances called Passionate Kisses. Victoria is the only Canadian writer to be selected for inclusion in this box set. In this interview she tells us a bit about her novel and her series.

The final part of this interview, in which Victoria talks about her decision to be an indie author, will be posted July 2, 2014.

And of course you can win a copy of Against Her Rules by entering your name in the giveaway below the video!

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with Author Kate Robbins (Part 2)

 

In this interview, Kate tells us what Promised to the Highlander is all about, and introduces us to the hero, Fergus MacKay. Be sure to check out our blooper reel at 5:11. :)

Interview with Kate Robbins, part one.

The third and final part of this interview will be posted on Monday, June 16, 2014.

 

How to Promote Your Children’s Book

Katie Davis headshot

 

Katie Davis is an author, illustrator and host of the #1 iTunes podcast about book marketing, Brain Burps About Books.

As if that wasn’t enough, she’s just released the second edition of “How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller.” But guess what? It isn’t just for kidlit – the information she provides can be used to promote any book, fiction or non-fiction.

Since we live two timezones away, we met up in cyberspace for a chat about her latest venture. Take a look!

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon … Videos!

A few months ago, when I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever finish my novel, a wise friend listened to my frustrations with patience and understanding and told me to relax and enjoy the writing process. That friend is Lesleyanne Ryan, author of the award-winning Braco. When I asked why, she said “because writing the book is the easy part.” I scoffed. Nothing could possibly be harder than writing a novel.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Enter book marketing.

For a while I would start to convulse every time I thought about having to flog my wares—book signings at the local Costco where I’d sit for hours unnoticed, lost in a jumble of oversized shopping carts. Public readings with no one but my mother in attendance, the sound of crickets chirping in the background. A basement filled with unsold copies of my magnum opus, destined for use as door stops.

But then I remembered that marketing is really just about connecting with people. As an extrovert, this excites me. Writing requires copious hours alone in front of a computer and I found that challenging. I mean, the cats are fine company but they’re not interested in having ideas bounced off them. They have no opinion on things like character development and point of view. And the dog has long since abandoned me in favour of eating tissues out of the bathroom waste bins.

So while I research book two of my series, I’m also updating my business plan to include marketing.

Most of it will be social media for now, which will be a struggle given the time requirements and learning curves. But millions of other small business owners manage it, and so can I.

For example, this blog needs to somehow magically morph into a full fledged website. I keep waiting for the tech and design fairies to arrive during the night and do it, but so far there’s no sign of them. I suspect they’re vacationing in the Caribbean with the book-writing fairies who have also been conspicuous by their absence.

The other thing I’ll be doing is video!

This is really exciting…I mean, I love to read (love, love, love it!) but when given the option even I will watch a video over reading an article online. Yesterday afternoon I brainstormed a list of nearly twenty videos I can post to this blog and my YouTube channel.

Everything from interviews with authors (I already have two lined up) and the craft of writing, to topics directly related to my novel—fun stuff like character interviews, the Newfoundland dialect and language (we have some funky words—even our own dictionary), and a short stop animation film enacting a scene from my story. I’ve always wanted to try stop animation! Luckily my 10-year-old daughter is as excited as me. We’ve decided to take this on as our spring/summer project.

So, stay tuned! Lots of exciting things to come.

I’d love to hear your ideas for videos you’d like to see on this blog and eventually, my new website. Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Dreaming Up and Writing Down

Now that I’ve finished my magnum opus, many people have asked me what I’ll do next. The short answer is “write book two.” In fact, I’ve already started plotting it.

But what happens to book one? As I write, Crossing the Rubicon is safely in the hands of my beta readers—people who are reading my book and giving me feedback before I send it off to agents and publishers in mid-March.

When I started this blog in 2012, I called it “chronicles of a debut novelist” because honestly, the learning curve was enormous. I took a few writing classes, but for the most part I was learning how to write a book by writing a book. Actually, I think I could write a book about everything I learned about writing a book. :)

Ironically, one of the biggest lessons came from this blog—maintaining a social media presence is both difficult and time consuming. Difficult because I didn’t have a finished novel which meant I didn’t have anything really to talk about—no media interviews, public appearances, teaser text to share, trailer videos to post or cover art to reveal. I was just sitting alone in front of my computer. And that’s dull by anyone’s standards.

But it’s also time consuming and that was by far my bigger problem. I found myself spending precious writing hours drafting blog posts, crafting tweets, maintaining Facebook and well, my Goodreads account never did get off the ground the way I’d hoped.

I was increasing my follower numbers, but I wasn’t working on my novel.

So if social media is such a distraction, why spend any time on it at all? Terrific question. I asked a literary agent, a publisher and many authors the same thing. Bottom line? Publishers like writers to have an online presence. I’m not sure why but my theory is that it shows a person who can write consistently and well. It shows discipline, an awareness of marketing and a willingness to be an active participant in the successful realization of a story from initial concept to final ink and paper/digital product.

When a manuscript from a debut author comes across a publisher’s desk, one of the first things he does is a google search. (For the record, if you google “Valerie Francis” this blog should pop up in the top four. There’s a musician in Ireland with the same name and we toggle back and forth for the top spot. Go ahead, try it.)

Personally, I think quality of writing should trump a google rating or follower counter. That’s why last summer, as many of you noticed, I abandoned this blog and social media and spent all my time finishing my book. (Thanks for asking where I’d gone…nice to know people actually read my posts!)

Now though it’s time to revive the online presence, but in a manner that compliments my writing time. Not overshadows it.

I won’t be here everyday but I’ll pop in once a week (or so) to share more lessons learned, and give you a progress report on my novel’s path to publication.

In the meantime, I’ll be dreaming up and writing down worlds of new adventures.