‘The Next Big Thing’ Meme

There’s this Meme going around, called The Next Big Thing. Folks have been sharing details of their current writing and up-and-coming projects. My DD, Shari Green, was tagged and I was happily reading her post when, wham! I came across my name. So I’ve been tagged now, too.

The idea is to answer the questions and then pass them along to another writer. It’s a great way to learn about each other’s work and to do a little self-promotion. Here are my answers:


What is the working title of your book?

Since I don’t have a working title for my current w.i.p. yet, I’ll use the previous manuscript, and its title is UNLIKELY SHOWDOWN.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve been involved with the world of purebred dogs and dog shows for more than thirty years, and have seen some bizarre situations and behaviour. I heard of dogs being killed by obsessive competitors and that got me thinking about what might drive a competitor to murder someone.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s fallen all over the place, from cosy mystery to romance to inspirational romantic suspense! The revision I’m currently querying is simply a romantic suspense.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If it wouldn’t be considered too arrogant I would love to see Meryl Streep as the MC and David Strathairn as her husband. On stage they both display the strong, independent personalities that cause so much conflict in this story.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

UNLIKELY SHOWDOWN is the story of what happens when one woman’s addiction to purebred dogs and the competitive world of dog shows speeds out of control and turns deadly.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have friends who have very successfully self-published so I know it’s possible, but it’s not for me. I can’t imagine myself venturing into today’s tough publishing scene without the guidance of a knowledgeable agent and the help of an experienced editorial team. Does that make me a wuss?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If I said ‘forever’, I’ll bet other writers would understand. Much of it was written during last year’s NaNoWriMo month, but I continued to work on it right through the spring. I guess that means about nine months for the first draft, but I was still rewriting  parts of it earlier this fall, and am continually tweaking it now… especially since attending a recent workshop by Donald Maass on the topic of Writing Twenty-first Century Fiction.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I left this question until last, but even now I can’t really pinpoint perfect titles. I’d like to say a movie match-up would be combining the quirkiness of BEST IN SHOW with the out-of-control adventure of THE RIVER WILD, but that’s not exactly right either. Let’s just move on, shall we?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think my earlier answer covers this. The plot reveals an aspect of the dog show world few people know about, and should. Once the idea germinated, the story pretty much blossomed on its own.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Everyone loves a dog story, but this one is more about the people who love dogs. There are many wonderful people involved in the dog show world, but also many eccentric ones. I was the official consultant for the filming of ‘Best In Show’ and if you’ve seen it, you’ll remember how passionate some people are about winning at any cost. There might be “eight million stories in the Naked City”, but there are a whole lot of them lurking behind the scenes at dog shows, too.

There! Now you have it. And now that I’ve done my share, I’m to tag others and invite them to participate. So, in alphabetical order…


Laura BestFirst victim:  Laura Best

Laura’s first novel was an historical YA story, although I think I recall hearing her hint that there’s a non-fiction project somewhere in the works, too. She can be a little kooky at times (yes, you have to read her claim to the Booker Award) but when she talks about her little Miss Charlotte, you know she has her priorities straight.

KeliGwyn-V4-SmallSecond victim:  Keli Gwyn

Keli writes inspirational historical romance. Long before she was published herself, she interviewed me on her Romance Writers on the Journey blog. There is nobody with a heart like Keli’s when it comes to supporting and encouraging her fellow writers.



 Third victim:  Ruth Logan Herne.

Ruthy is a multi-published inspirational romance author, a dog breeder, and an out-of-this-world cook, plus she has an outrageous sense of humour. I met her on Seekerville, but she has multiple websites for her books and a couple personal sites as well.

Katherine WagnerFourth victim:   Katherine Wagner

Katherine writes Gothic horror, but I like her anyway. Anyone who has attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference more times than I have has to be on the right track. She’s the co-facilitator of my writing critique group, Golden Ears Writers, so I have to be nice to her and her red pen.


If you’re tagged and don’t have time to take part, or would prefer not to, it’s okay to decline… although since I’m dying to hear more about your “next big thing”, I’m going to be very curious about your answers to this meme, so I hope everyone will choose to participate. 🙂

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A worthwhile challenge: can we do it?

Yes, I know I said I was taking a blogging hiatus, but this is worth breaking it for.

Every so often I come across a very worthwhile cause. This time it was on Facebook, where I discovered singer/songwriter Jimmy Rankin had decided to do a Christmas giveaway — a personally signed guitar. He plans to give it to someone who comments on the offer, and whose comment garners the most number of “likes” before December 31st. Simple. No strings attached.

Win a signed guitar Epiphone DR 100 from me for the holidays! Just comment below and tell me why you’d like to win. Have your friends like your comment and the person with the most likes will win! Good luck everyone! 🙂 Happy Holidays! – Jimmy
What made it worthwhile to me, however, was that one of the people who commented was Kelly Yeats, the sister of author and blogging friend Laura Best, and the reason she would like to win the guitar is so she can give it to her nephew who is recovering from a devastating car accident in which his back was broken.
There are hundreds of comments on Jimmy Rankin’s post, but only two are really close to winning, with Kelly Yeats in second place barely a dozen votes behind. Lots of people would love to have this prize, but as I read through the comments last week I realized that most just “wanted” it, either for themselves or to give to someone else who would like to have it. I couldn’t see anyone else who would benefit by being physically and emotionally encouraged in his long road to recovery like Kelly’s nephew. So, I’ve taken up the cause, too. With only three days left, the two top comments are staying pretty much neck-‘n-neck in number of votes. I’d love to help rally more votes for Kelly’s comment.
This is a Facebook thing, so you have to have a Facebook account if you’d also like to help.
  • Sign into your Facebook account.
  • Go to Jimmy’s page.
  • Once there, find Kelly’s comment (you’ll have to click several times on “view previous comments”, then scroll down to find hers. It was made on December 14th at 2:37 a.m. my time (PST), 6:37 a.m. if you’re farther east where Kelly lives.)
  • Click “like” on her specific comment for the vote to count (adding your own comment in support of her doesn’t count as a vote). (There are over 1100 “likes” on it now, but she’s still running in second place.)
I hope you’ll agree this is worth the effort and, if you have a Facebook account, will click on over and vote by “liking” Kelly’s comment. I’ll let you know in my Monday post how it works out. Whoever wins, I wish her nephew a speedy and complete recovery from his injuries.
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Although Kelly didn’t win the contest, she maintained second place by about 20 votes. This morning Jimmy Rankin posted the following notice:

“You guys rock! The response to the Epiphone guitar contest was fantastic – so many great comments – wow! Congratulations to Colleen Ingraham on winning the contest! It was neck and neck right down to the wire. Kelly – if you can hang tight, I’m going to get a signed guitar to you for your nephew. Happy new year to all and here’s to your dreams becoming reality in 2012! Cheers… – Jimmy
Meanwhile, Kelly has created a separate Facebook page to collect well-wishes for her nephew, Robin Varner. What a lot of ‘coming together’ this contest has created!
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Finalists Announced for Geoffrey Bilson Award

Finalists for the GEOFFREY BILSON AWARD FOR HISTORICAL FICTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE were announced yesterday. Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund the winner of this award will receive $5000. Congratulations to all the nominees and finalists, but a special shout out to finalist Laura Best, author of BITTER, SWEET (Nimbus Publishing 2009).

Bitter, SweetWritten by Laura Best (Springfield, NS) Nimbus Publishing, for ages 10 and up. “A beautifully crafted novel set in 1948 in Nova Scotia told by Pru, a young girl trying to keep her siblings together after their father abandons them and their mother dies… Best has masterfully created a sense of time and place… The characters are thoughtfully developed and their relationships to each other skillfully described.”

“The Geoffrey Bilson Award was established in 1988 in memory of the respected historian and children’s author, Geoffrey Bilson. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to the Canadian author of an outstanding work of historical fiction for young people.”

“The winners of the English-language awards will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at The Carlu in Toronto on November 9, 2010.”

I interviewed Laura on November 2, 2009. You can read the interview here.

Woo-hoo, way to go, Laura! We’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed for you!

Beautiful Blog or Blogger Award

Receiving an award is always an honour. There have been a number of awards circulating the blogosphere during the past year, each suggesting the recipient’s blog has been providing value to its readership.

Joylene Butler surprised me with the “Beautiful Blogger Award” last week. I was honoured by this award but I admit to a bit of confusion. She called it the “Beautiful Blog Award”, but as you can see, that’s not what it says on the award logo. Joylene’s version seems more appropriate. Most of my readers have never seen me, and those who have would be quick to agree that if the award is based on looks then I really don’t qualify! 🙂  Anyway, many thanks, Joylene! You’re very sweet and I truly do appreciate the acknowledgement.

I’m told the rules are simple: copy the logo, choose those blogs that you find most beautiful (sometimes that means words alone), and link back to the one who chose you.

So here, in alphabetical order, are the blogs (bloggers) I chose for this award. All are published authors whose blogging words either educate, encourage, or inspire me — sometimes all at once.

  • BERTRAM’S BLOG – for Pat’s openness and honesty about her life and writing.
  • LAURA BEST, AUTHOR – for her pride in and promotion of a Canadian heritage.
  • AUTHOR, JODY HEDLUND – for sharing her faith and publication journey with total transparency .
  • WRITER JENN – Jennifer Hubbard, for her constant encouragement of other writers.
  • RANDOM JOTTINGS – Richard Mabry, for his Godly humility and writing ethics.
  • A HOLY EXPERIENCE – Ann Voskamp, for the oasis of her beautiful words.

Interview with Canadian Author Laura Best


Laura Best

Laura Best

I’m delighted to welcome Laura Best to my blog today. Laura has lived in the small community of East Dalhousie, NS her entire life. She was a contributor to Christmas in the Maritimes: A Treasury of Stories and Memories and A Maritime Christmas: New Stories and Memories of the Season, and her fiction has been published in literary magazines across Canada, including The Antigonish Review, Grain, and Room. In 2003, her short story “Alexander the Great” was nominated for the Journey Prize. Released by Nimbus Publishing on October 1, 2009, “Bitter, Sweet” is her first novel.


CG:             Laura, you’ve just launched your first YA novel, BITTER, SWEET. Tell us a bit about the story.

LB:  The story is about a family who move into a small community in rural Nova Scotia in the 1940’s. They are barely settled in when their father abandons the family. Soon afterward their mother becomes ill and eventually dies. While she is sick, their mother prepares them for her death making them promise that they’ll do everything they can to keep the family from being sent to foster homes. But when the authorities eventually show up the children are forced to do whatever they can to ensure they stay together.


CG:            Where did the idea for this story come from?

LB: The inspiration for the story came from a newspaper clipping, an incident that I thought would make an interesting scene in a story. When it came time to write, the oldest daughter, Pru, gave me the first line, “After she died, we buried Mama behind the house.” The rest of the story came together quite easily after that.


CG:            You live in Nova Scotia and I understand that’s the locale for the story. How closely did you adhere to real people and places for your characters and setting? Did you ever worry that friends, family or neighbours might feel you were writing about them?

LB: I wanted to make sure that the places, such as the Anglican Church, the Dale Post office (which by the way was a little room in the house I presently live in), Lake Torment, rang true. I knew it would be important for the readers who were familiar with the community. My characters are all imagined and I never once thought anyone would compare them to real people, especially since it was set twenty years before I was born.


CoverCG:            Was there ever a concern that having a Canadian setting might limit its publication potential, or did you always expect to have it published in Canada?

LB: While I was writing “Bitter, Sweet” I concentrated only on the story that was crying out to be told and not what would happen in terms of publication once it was written. Writing a story is one thing, having it published is a totally different story altogether. I’ve never, in the past, considered publication in any other country other than Canada. I’m not really sure why, I just haven’t.


CG:            Everyone has a story about “how I found my agent/editor/publisher.” Can you share a bit of the journey that led you to Nimbus?

LB: I was published in two Christmas anthologies that Nimbus put out. I also knew they are the largest publisher in Atlantic Canada and prefer to publish stories that are relevant to this area. Since “Bitter, Sweet” is set in Atlantic Canada I thought it was worth trying them.


CG:            How long did it take you to write BITTER, SWEET?  Was the first draft close to the finished product or did it go through multiple revision transformations?

LB: I’d say I worked on “Bitter, Sweet” for about three months. I never sit down and write a first draft. I tend to edit as I go so that when I finally reach the end the story is pretty much where I want it to be. I did make changes later to the first two chapters once I was finished but it wasn’t anything substantial.


CG:            Did you do a lot of research before starting? Are you a writer who plots and outlines first, or do you dive in and figure things out as you go?

LB: While writing “Bitter, Sweet” I needed to do a bit of research on plants since the use of healing plants native to Nova Scotia is present in the book and of course the deadly night shade plant or bittersweet from which the title comes. I knew a bit about the subject myself, since my father was knowledgeable about these things as was common for people from that generation who live in our area. I often remember him digging out gold thread from the ground to steep into tea.

As far as plotting goes I tend to dive in and figure things out as I go, although I can see how working with an outline might be beneficial and could be something I might use in the future.


CG:            Will you describe your favourite writing spot for us?

LB: I have an office where I do a lot of my corresponding but I find I use that area less and less for writing fiction. I also have a laptop and often write in an armchair in my living room.


CG:            Were there doubts, low times or obstacles for you along the way? How did you overcome them?

LB: I think most writers have doubts from time to time especially when the rejection slips keep coming in. It is difficult to have faith in your ability as a writer during those times. I’d sometimes wonder why I was putting myself through this torture but those times were short-lived. I never allowed myself to become discouraged for anymore than a day or so and sometimes only a few hours. Being a self-taught writer I knew I had/have so much to learn. I try to look at writing as a learning process. It helped that family and friends were so supportive.


CG:            Do you have any advice for writers who are a step behind you in their pursuit of publication? Anything that you wish you’d known before you waded in yourself?

LB: The only bit of advice I have to offer anyone seeking publication is to write and rewrite. It’s not enough to write the story. You have to try and make it as good as you possibly can. Be true to who you are. Write what’s important to you, not what you think is trendy. Last of all, don’t give up. Stay determined. Many talented people drop out before seeing their work published because they can’t stand rejection.


CG:             What are your plans for promotion and marketing or does your publisher look after these? Where can people buy copies of BITTER, SWEET?

LB: Nimbus has set up signings for me with Chapters and Coles store in the area for the month of November in six different locations. Articles have already appeared in two of our local papers to promote the book. “Bitter, Sweet” can be ordered directly through Nimbus publishing or from Amazon.ca, Chapters.ca and, of course, bookstores.


CG:            What’s next? Do you have another story in the wings?

LB: There is always another story in the wings, Carol. I presently have one under consideration but I have several others in various stages of completion.


CG:            Anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to comment on?  🙂

LB: I’d say you’ve pretty much covered everything although I would like to say thank you for setting up this interview! It’s been fun!


Thanks, Laura. It’s been a treat to learn more about you and your novel. I’m so glad you agreed to this. I wish you much success with BITTER, SWEET!


NaNoWriMo – Let’s GO!!!

This is it!  This is my time to…..


And now that I’m racing against the word clock you may not see as much of me over the next thirty days. That might not be a bad thing. I imagine you’re getting pretty tired of hearing about NaNoWriMo if you don’t happen to be a participant.


This NaNo’ing endeavour doesn’t garner much respect from serious writers. It has frivolous overtones. They wonder why an aspiring novelist willingly wastes time accumulating 50,000 words of questionable value. But I have no desire to waste these thirty days. While the writing is undoubtedly mediocre quality, it has purpose. Committing to this very visible project is my way of shoving reluctant thoughts and words out of the wings and onto a stage whether or not they want to be there. It’s an extensive “free writing” exercise that I believe will enhance my creativity and self-expression.  At the end of November I hope to have completed the bare bones rough draft of a novel that has been shackled inside me for the past six months. I’m heading off now to see if it can be done.


Coming up next: an interview with Canadian author Laura Best whose debut YA novel BITTER, SWEET was recently launched in Nova Scotia.