Monday, 2 March 2015

GUEST POST: Letting the Words Flow

I've invited Jamieson to write guest posts here before, notably his Writing Past the Wall post. Jamieson is a good friend and writer, and just a nice all around guy. Check out his stuff!

A lot of people have asked me how I write. The truth is, I work best when I just sit at the computer and write what comes out.

I've tried plotting books many times, however all those plotted books have become my unfinished works. I get too bogged down in plotting, in making sure that every detail is perfect, that I lose the story and it get stuck midway.

At that point, I usually leave it aside and work on something else hoping that a new work will clear out the cobwebs and let the sun shine through to clarity. Sometimes this works. Three  of my recent works (69B, The Other Side of Oz and my most recent work in progress Boy Friends) were all overly plotted, set aside novels that I came back to eventually.

Other times, I'm not so lucky. I have tons of short stories, several novels and hundreds of poems that are just sitting there, waiting to be finished. But you know what? That's okay. They will always be there waiting to find their happy ending.

I've tried plotting and it always leads to writers block. It doesn't work for me. So I always go back to what works for me, what an old high school teacher would call verbal diarrhea of the mind. I know that there are lots of writers who plot as if their life depends on it. I'm just not one of them.

My writing starts from an idea, a nugget of inspiration, and goes from there. I have a general idea of where the story will end up but that's it. I always let my characters say what they want and do what they want to do rather than control them and have to deal with the resulting writers block.

Really, I think of myself as an automatic writer. I just let the words flow. Sure, on the first draft, there are far too many words and a lot of it isn't good. However, the secret to good writing is just writing what wants to come out. The rest can be fixed in edits.

The same trick works well for titles, too.

When I was thinking of a title for my new collection of poems, Talking with the Earth, I was stuck. I had published Talking to the Sky last year. That title had just come to me and it made sense with regard to where the poems came from.

I had been struck with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013. For several months, I would stare at my computer screen, the blank white page mocking me. It felt as if I was trying to talk to clouds. When I was able to write again, that image stuck in my head and the title was there, already formed.

When I came to the title for the next book of poems, I was stuck. I had the idea of doing a series of poetry collections, each representing one of the elements. Talking to the Sky was Air, so the next one would be for Earth. Trouble was, I didn't want to just name it Talking to the Earth.

So I did what I normally do when I hit a mental wall. I had a good think about it. I walked away from the title and focused on writing the poems and I thought about what I was trying to say with this collection. Whereas Talking to the Sky had been all about coming to terms with what my life was like now and trying to push past the wall to learn to write again, the new collection was different. This collection of poems was all about letting go of the past, of moving forward along the path I was on and regaining my strength and sense of self.

I knew that I wasn't talking to the Earth; that felt wrong.  Instead, I was working with it and listening to what it had to tell me. Then it hit me: Talking with the Earth. Who would have thought that so much went into the title of a book?

Now I'm stuck on the title for my third poetry collection, that has a working title of Talking to the Flame. I know I'll think of the right title. I just have to stop over thinking it and let the words flow...

Get a copy of Talking with the Earth in ebook or paperback.

_______________________________

Jamieson is an award-winning, bestselling author of over sixty books. He is a poet, a blogger and, above all, a story teller. 

Jamieson is also an accomplished artist. He works in mixed media, charcoal, pastels and oil paints. He is also something of an amateur photographer, a poet, perfume designer and graphic designer.

He currently lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada with his cat, Tula, who is fearless. You can find Jamieson at home at www.jamiesonwolf.com. You can also read his blog at www.jamiesonwolfauthor.wordpress.com.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Nigh 2 is now available!

The faerie-pocalypse continues!

The mists have lifted, leaving behind a shattered world. Still reeling from the loss of her best friend, Alva Viola Taverner must trust the mysterious watchmaker to keep them safe.

But the road to safety is strewn with bodies and, up ahead, the faeries still thirst for human blood.




 "The first great serialized novel of 2015" - Black Gate Magazine

"Nigh’s first installment bodes simultaneously fantastic and terrifying for the balance of the novel." - The Page of Reviews

"There’s a soothing, almost seductive quality to Marie’s writing that lulls you into a sense of ordinariness, only to slam you with a new and rapidly changing reality that leaves you as breathless and reeling as the characters…over and over and over." - Linda Poitevin, author of the Grigori Legacy

"Bilodeau has embraced a storytelling method made popular by Charles Dickens, Armistead Maupin and Stephen King but she’s given it new life and an incredible sense of urgency. " - Jamieson Wolf, bestselling author

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Art of Terror

JUMP
I stand on the edge of a crane, my toes over the edge, water shimmering below. My mouth is dry, my feet are numb.  I don't have glasses or corrective lenses on, so I just see the sprawling gray of doom below me.

The dive master gives me instructions: "I'm going to count down from five. When I'm done, you'll jump."

My mind can hardly process what I intend to do, so I ask for clarification.

"You mean jump that way?" I emphatically jab the empty air before me.

The dive master confirms it, probably thinking I'll never jump. I don't think I will, either.

He counts down from five. Each number is more terrifying than the last. By the time he reaches one, I think: If I don't do this now, I never will.

The opportunity is now.  I'm secured to a giant elastic. The dive master finishes his countdown.

I don't jump.  But I manage to let go and fall forward.

On still summer days, my screams can still be heard echoing through the quarry.

I am *terrified* of heights. But I let go, and I let myself fall, screaming like an extra in a Godzilla movie.  I slow down and bounce back up, which is even more terrifying.  I'd reached bottom! Why the heck am I going back up?  The mind is scared of falling. It's terrified of bouncing up with the threat of falling back down again.

Once I'm done bouncing, a boat comes to get me down.  I almost fall in the water trying to reach land too quickly.  Very heroic.

JUMP!
Fast foward ten years. I receive tickets to go to a conference in Tunisia. I'm to be a subject matter expert on smart things.  Last minute arrangements. I'm not sure where I'm going, how I'm getting places in Tunis, who my contact is.

I head to the airport, not sure I even have real tickets. The airport staff manages to issue my boarding passes, but only to get me to Paris. I'll have to see if I can board a plane to Tunisia from there.

No problem. Heck, I can think of worse things than being trapped in Paris. But I make it to Tunisia. The country has just had a revolution.  I had missed that bit in my short prep time. I walk around angry soldiers with machine guns.

I see the ruins of Carthage and I find myself in their beauty.

Carthage bath house. LOOK AT THIS SUBLIME BEAUTY AND WEEP!


JUMP!!!
My last day in Tunisia, having been stuck at the conference most of my stay, a Tunisian woman sits beside me. She knows enough French that we muddle through a conversation. She finds out I'm from Canada. I tell her I'd like to see a camel, since I was flying out the next morning.

She tells me to follow her. I get in her car, thinking: This is how people get kidnapped.

She drives me to a café in Tunis, where she informs me is the city's only camel (there needs to be a song about the lonely urban life of camels). The camel has a job: it pulls up the water from the well.  It is also apparently on break.

We go to stand by the Mediterranean and admire its shimmering vastness. Then we spot the camel, on the beach, alone.

She grabs my hand and we start running. I think: Wait, *this* is how people get kidnapped!

We visit with the camel. It has no attendant. It's eating rotten vegetables out of a box. I try to explain to her how suspicious the camel is, but linguistic or cultural barriers impede my message. She shoves me near the camel and takes a picture.

I don't care what anybody says. This is one heck of a suspicious camel.

She drives me to her apartment.  Her niece is finishing up a PhD in environmental studies and speaks perfect French. We chat for hours. She asks me if I've ever had almond tea. I say I haven't, guessing Tetley almond tea didn't qualify (I was totally right).

They drive me an hour up a mountain, where is served the best almond tea.  We make jokes, finding common ground. We don't get all of each other's jokes, but we laugh. We also sit in comfortable silence, enjoying the scenery. By then, I'm no longer thinking I'll be kidnapped.

I drink the best almond tea ever, and they drive me back to my hotel.

We hug. I don't know if I'll ever see them again.

JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!
Fast forward another four years. I have the chance to jump and become a full time writer. I have the savings, the budget, the sales and the ambition.

I'm terrified.

But not as terrified as jumping off a crane.  Not as terrified as I am of angry looking soldiers with machine guns.

I jump.

Learning to embrace the art of terror (without going splat or actually being kidnapped) is a must for artists.  We send in our stuff to be judged by editors, by critics, by audiences.

Embrace the Terror.  Learn to love it.

Become an Artist of Terror.*

*Note to self: get new business cards.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Nigh 2 Cover Reveal!

Cover revealf for Nigh 2! WOOO!
Coming out February 27. It's gonna be fun, my friends (if you define fun as terrifying).
Art by Kerri Elizabeth Gerow and design by Designs by Lynsey.


Monday, 2 February 2015

Six Months Ago, I Jumped

Six Months Ago

I worked as a full time communications (public relations/marketing) manager at a successful non-profit organization with a huge national portfolio. I was good at what I did and I liked it. In fact, I was so interested in my job that I was allocating most of my energy to it. Everything else was suffering.

In June, one giant national conference later (I *love* event organization), I was drained.  And I looked around and took stock of the situation. The first thing I noticed was that I had to put down my old cat, Battle Bart.  I hadn't noticed how bad he'd gotten, because I was busy not paying attention to life. That'll shamboozle anyone back to reality. The guilt alone was like a brick on the side of the head.

Yes, the cat did make me pay for that later.
Then I saw the multiple calls for storytelling shows I would have to turn down AND that my writing was doing well. Things were selling, money was coming in. My savings were doing great, since I hadn't had a social life in a while.

I thought: Mmmmm...

Then I Jumped

DISCLAIMER:  I have a high tolerance for risk. For the love of all that's pink and fluffy, DO NOT DO THIS unless you have good risk tolerance.  Plus, savings.  Have some savings. Back up plans. And a rich or well enough off partner. I had numbers one and two, but Roomy has made it clear she's not becoming my sugar mommy. (What's her problem, anyway? Well, at least she still makes bread.)

I did a reality check, because I know me and I know that I can jump like crazy whooping all the way until I land hard and break all of my bones (not always, but sometimes!) I'm impulsive. It's a strength (interesting) and a weakness (crazy).

Good writing friends drink with you and smack you
when you're being an idiot. My writing group is the best.
So I talked to my family about it, looked at my budget, talked to a bunch of people I respect, and then I jumped.  It wasn't easy or always fun. I lost some friendships over it, just because a move like this is scary for more than just the person doing it. And scared people sometimes leave.

I'm okay with it. It really highlights who your real supporters are.  I like obvious statements like that. I don't have to wonder about them.

OMGWTFBBQ???

That's my reaction every two weeks, thereabouts. I think it follows my old pay period at work. Thing is, when you don't have a steady job, you don't have a steady paycheque. Paycheques are *awesome.*

Sometimes I stop, wonder if I'm completely insane and realize what I did. I own a car. I own a house. I intend to keep both. Thankfully I didn't buy above my means. In the grand world of big purchases, both were very reasonable.

I am judged.
All. The. Time.
But my family and Roomy are smart and wise, and they know me. Heck, they've all known me for at least half my life. They know me well, have seen me fail on multiple enthusiastic occasions, and not one of them is worried for me. That's a good sign. Roomy especially, as she owns a house with me. When I doubt, I ask. They don't rose-colour their answers. They ask me questions. I answer honestly.

It's good to have people who can give you regular reality checks. Don't expect you'll be able to. You'll lose too much of yourself to art.

The Plan

I have three revenue streams.  Here's the plan:

1 - Writing
Not good for immediate income.  Take out some self-published stuff to get more immediate  and regular payments (starts three months after one work is out). I have a fan base and a team I can call on (and pay!) to help me make a great product.  This isn't going to be trash from my computer to Amazon, "keep my fingers crossed it's going to work." This will be good stuff. REALITY: It still might not work. But I'll get to do a heck of a lot more of it.

2 - Storytelling
Good for immediate income and there are mutliple audiences in Ottawa and nearby. Schools, businesses, associations... I can work it. I have a vast repertoire and can adapt it quickly and effectively.

3 - Freelancing
Let's be realistic. Sometimes, the art stuff doesn't work out. But I was a freelance writer before, and I can certainly take up some communications contracts as necessary.

So Far

The fall was awesome for storytelling shows. Scary stories for all!  Winter is slower, since no one wants to leave the house and travel the cold landscape of wintery death. But spring is filling up nicely with shows, as is summer.

I've been taking advantage of the cold weather to get more writing done. Nigh is starting to come out, and I'm hoping the serialization will lead to regular boosts in interest and people noticing it exists. So far, so good. I'm working on some other projects as well. I'm having a ball.

Realizations

  • I don't know myself nearly as well as I thought I did. 
  • Writing is harder the more time you have to contribute to it.
  • My routine isn't as solid as I thought it was.
  • I like money.
  • I like coffee.

So far so good. This is an adventure.  I've learned a lot in the past six months already and am looking forward to learning more.  I didn't overtly announce that I was doing this in August because I was terrified. And failing alone is much easier than with an audience.  

But I have more of a footing now, and I really want to help others who are hoping to follow the same path. So I'll write about it. About what's helped, what was hard, new routines and realizations.  AND IF I FAIL I'LL EXPECT YOU ALL TO SCREAM IN TERROR WITH ME AS I GO DOWN IN FLAMES!! I shall make it spectacular!  I shall make it impressive!!!  

I'll label these posts with Writing Life. I hope this helps me and you learn a heck of a lot more about art, business, commercialization and, heck, life.  Plus, how to discourage cats from sitting on your keyboard.  

It's gonna be a heck of a journey. It's already been a heck of a journey.  *deep breath* Forward and onward.
Plus, I can  now keep track of neighbourhood controversies,
like the great squirrel-saltine takeover of 2014.


Friday, 16 January 2015

Nigh is available for pre-order!

New book baby!!!  *Deep breaths*

The first installment of Nigh is live on Amazon, at a special pre-order price of 0.99! Order it now and you'll get it delivered to you on January 29, when it's released.

I'm really excited about this serialized novel - it's the first series I've started since Destiny in 2010, and it's my best so far! I hope you'll also get excited and hop on board early - help me come out of the starting gate strong! Wooooooo!!!

I'll add store links here as they pop up, and on Nigh's page.

Amazon.com
Amazon.ca



A disappearing watch. A thief in the night. Whispers around every corner...

Then a mist rolls into town and refuses to dissipate.

Alva Viola Taverner has lived in her small town all of her life, working as a car tech while saving for her little sister to go to university. But everything is about to change as the veil between our world and the world of the faeries weakens and falls.

Suddenly, even the smallest bump in the night can prove the deadliest.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Chainmail Bikinis for All!

I'm a child of the 80s, meaning I grew up with lots of strange representations of females in fantasy. So many strange things...  But there was She-Ra, and she made up for most of the rest.  I also loved sword & sorcery and devoured the genre, cheering on chainmail bikini clad warrior women like there was no tomorrow (and, in those stories, there often was no tomorrow for most of the characters).

One of my good writing buddies, Derek Künsken, is a blogger at the online fantasy-focused magazine Black Gate, and he was kind enough to pass my name along when they were looking for more bloggers.  I'm thrilled to say that I'm now their new once-every-two-weeks Friday blogger!

My first post is a satirical look at the chainmail bikini. I'll try and post to my own blog all of the posts since I know some of you only follow me here, but Black Gate is an awesome and fun place to hang out, so consider keeping an eye on them, too!  If you want to leave a comment on this article, please do so at Black Gate. Let's spread the fun!

Happy weekend-ing!