BEST NEWS EVERYONE!

It is with great pleasure that I announce I have a publisher for my novel Sleep Over!

My first published novel will be with Skyhorse Publishing.  They have placed 33 books on the New York Times bestseller list; I hope to add one more to that tally.

I am working closely with one of their editors to get the manuscript where they want it (for a larger audience, more commercial fiction than literary fiction) and I am 10000% on board with getting it to be the best that I possibly can, to reach as large and audience that I can!

I have about 1.5 tons of work to do.  How much writing is that?  Many.  Many writing to do.  Notes on just about every chapter.  Many new chapters to write.

I am so excited!

I have been waiting to tell everything this news for… let’s see, I submitted my first novel to a publisher in 2002, then wrote 5 more books, then, carry the 1… yes, ten thousand years.  But more specifically I had to keep this news about this publisher and this book under wraps for so long!  I am so glad to get to tell you finally.

Hurray for me!  I have a publisher!

I will keep you posted on things to come.

Expect to hear such exciting news like:

  • crumbling under the stress of revisions 
  • tackling tough revisions with gusto
  • getting the final draft approved by my editor
  • getting an author photo
  • getting a back blurb
  • getting cover quotes
  • getting a cover!
  • the book going to print
  • a release date
  • and much much more!

This process takes a crazy long time; don’t expect to see my book until 2017 (I think a January release was being tossed around- maybe I will get the best birthday present ever).

I will be sure to keep you posted.

Here’s a link to Skyhorse’s site.  Sleep Over will be under the Talos imprint, with their other great sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.  (For those that don’t know, publishing houses have “imprints” that handle the various genres they work with.)

I’d like to thank everyone who has checked in to see how things are going.  It’s a long process, and having your support has really made a difference to me.

Thanks for reading.  ❤

Heidi out.

Posted in Acceptances, Authors, Books, Editing, Novel, Published, Sleep Over, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SiWC 2015: Some Helpful Craft Psychology

Surrey International Writers’ Conference was amazing this year!  I met many wonderful authors and went to many amazing talks on things like the nitty gritty of the publishing side of the biz, and how to not fall into an unending well of depression brought on by improperly setting up the psychology around your writing career.  You know, keepin’ it casual.

It was very refreshing to hear more about the psychology of writing.  I have known for a long time that relying on external sources for motivation and validation is a mistake- so too is expecting to feel like you’ve “made it”.  So then what do?  How act?  Mongo just pawn in game of life!

Well for starters, I am working on building my own network.  I have a writing group, but I need to take charge and make it happen more often.  Building a group of trusted writers takes time and tons of effort, but it seems like a solid way to have a supportive environment in which to practice the craft.

Next I am going to celebrate more things.  It can’t be 15 years of work and then a single day of jubilation at seeing my book on a shelf.  It just can’t be that.  Why did I think that was a good way to go.  *rolls eyes at self*  SO the solution is to focus more on the journey, and celebrating the little steps along the way!

For instance, celebrate getting rejection letters.  They are proof that you submitted!

Celebrate finishing something.  Want to celebrate more often?  Bang out some short stories and treat cho self to something nice.  Reenforce the behaviour you want to cultivate!

I made a list of things for me to celebrate upcoming:

  • Announcing a publisher (SOON I SWEAR TO GOD)
  • Handing in the final draft
  • Getting the proofed MS to review and handing it off
  • Getting the back blurb
  • Getting any cover quotes
  • Submitting my author photo
  • When it goes to print
  • When it comes out

They likely won’t be huge celebrations, maybe just a meal out.  The point is to mark them and continue to support myself by acknowledging my successes.  If I’m only planning on having one big thing to look forward to, then what?  I will be looking to the next thing?  So like, ONE good day a year?  Naw bra.  I want many little things to be happy about.  I want to feel good about this process.

Also I need to get better at waiting for things that I have literally no control over.

In the mean time: more writing!

Good luck to everyone doing NaNoWriMo this year!  Crank out that word count.

Pic + video unrelated.

 

Cheers.

Heidi out.

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Wild Gears 2.0!

Hello dear readers!  I’m very excited for my husband’s latest project; Wild Gears 2.0, a spirograph redesign!  One more day to go and it’s already almost 500% funded!

Here’s a link to the Kickstarer:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/465068187/wild-gears-20-reinventing-the-spirograph

He’s successfully done a kickstarter before and everyone was wildly happy with it. His redesign has already funded almost 500%!

Here’s his youtube channel if you want to see him use his sets: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1Japyt2Sp_r_4qq3TGqIjw.

Together, we’ve been to craft fairs and Maker Faires and he has shipped sets all over the world to artists and engineers, children and grandmothers, mathematicians and people who just like to doodle.

Oh and the free shipping to the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and (for the Compact set) Europe is a pretty big plus, especially since one of his stretch goals (already reached!) will get a bunch of designs out in time for Christmas.

If you have fond memories of spirograph, you’ll definitely be into what he’s doing.

Cheers.

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Getting Close! And Check Out This Podcast!

Hello Dear Readers!

I am extremely excited to keep you updated with my progress in the quest to get a book published.  I have had offers from more than one publisher!  Now it’s a matter of choosing which one will be the best one for the job.  It’s a tough decision to make.  I’ll let you know when I’ve signed on with the publisher I choose.

In the mean time, I got to be a guest on a film podcast that goes in depth into a movie.  I chose “Children of Men” (2006) and Doug Ferguson and I talk about it for an hour.  If you want to check it out, listen to it here.

I really love Children of Men; it’s one of my favourite films.  Nerding out with someone else who loves it was a real treat.  If you haven’t seen the film, there are spoilers in the podcast, but we do say “spoiler alert” before things get spoilery.

Here’s the trailer for the film if you are wondering if you are interested:


But after hearing Doug and I talk about it like we do, how could you not be interested in it!

I’ll keep you posted regarding upcoming publishing excitement.

Thanks for stopping by!

Heidi out.

Posted in Acceptances, Books, Movies, Published, Sleep Over | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Hello There, Kepler 452b!

I was very excited to hear NASA’s press conference this morning that announced the discovery of the most-similar-to-earth planet yet!  Kepler 452b (I wonder when we’ll get a proper name and what it will be?) orbits a G-Type star like ours and orbits at a very similar distance to earth.

There you can see the previous earth-like planets. Notice that they’re closer to the bottom of the graph, indicating that they are orbiting stars that are cooler than our own.

Notice the position of Kepler 452 and how close it is to Earth on this graph!

Amazing!

What we know about Kepler 452b so far:

  • Kepler 452b has about 5 times the mass of Earth
  • It has about twice earth-normal gravity
  • It is about 1400 light years away from us
  • We don’t know if there are other planets in that solar system yet (we haven’t observed any, though there could be other planets that haven’t orbited between us and their sun yet, or they could be orbiting off-axis)
  • Kepler 452b orbits its sun in 385 days, quite similar to earth’s 365 day year
  • It receives an amount of energy on its surface that is similar to what earth gets
  • Kepler 452b will be in the optamistic habitable zone for quite a long time to come, about another 3.5 billion years.  Check it:

We know very little about its atmosphere so far, but the models we have suggest that it does have an atmosphere, though we don’t know its composition yet.

It will be exciting to see what else we can learn about Kepler 452b.

Here’s the news briefing materials from today’s announcement.

Learn more about Kapler’s mission here.

Thanks to NASA for sharing the live feed of the conference today.

I think I’ll start paying attention to when they’re making other announcements like this; what an exciting time for space discoveries!

Thanks for checking in.

Heidi out.

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It’s a World of (S)Laughter: Jurassic World in Review

Jurassic World: It’s a world of (s)laughter

When I was little, I was all about dinosaurs. I had a subscription to DINOSAURS! magazine (from which I still have the glow-in-the-dark T-Rex skeleton I had to put together using a few bones that came with each issue). I went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and was supremely glad to have experts to talk to about the minutia I was worrying about, such as whether Parasaurolophus had a skin sail which connected its head crest to its neck and/or back. It was vitally important for my drawings to be up to date with the scientific understanding of my favourite animals ever.

That was the first time I realized that science was an ongoing process, that we were constantly expanding and refining our understanding of how everything worked, especially the further back in time you go, and that they couldn’t yet tell me with certainty if the parasaurolophus had a skin sail connecting its magnificent head crest to its neck and/or back. I was perplexed; they were the experts, how could they not know. But then- if the experts didn’t know yet, holy smokes there must be so much to learn.

So I grew up and retained my love of all things dinosaur. I created and mod the Dinosaurs subreddit. It’s been great fun to see the community grow as we share our mutual love of all things dinosauria. Heck when that drunken reddit post about Lam(e)beosaurus hit the front page at the beginning of last year it was basically the best thing since sliced pizza.

Last night I went to Jurassic World. I fully intended to be disappointed but prepared to see things that would make me happy. My expectations were low. Things I wanted to see included: 1) dinosaurs, 2) Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle hunting in a pack with velociraptors, 3) the Indominus Rex, and 4) parasaurolophus because they are the best hadrosaur and obviously way better than lam(e)beosaur.

I got to see all of these things and more. Here are some of my likes and dislikes from the film.

How I turned against the familiar theme music
Right off the get go my excitement turned to annoyance at their cavalier use of the much beloved Jurassic Park theme music. They brought it in way too early and it served literally no emotional purpose other than to tug at the viewers’ heartstrings. To me, they were saying “hey remember how magical it was when you first heard this theme? Well here we go again. Oh you’re expecting to see something magical this time around again? Best we can do is an arial flyover of a crowd of people milling around this theme park. Oh maybe how about these characters going into their hotel room.” What a tragically wasted opportunity. To throw away such beloved music on nothing-scenes actually made me angry.

The viewer being inserted into the film as a character
They had a great character that represented the viewer and I wasn’t even annoyed at how obvious they were about it being us. He was the guy in the control room wearing the Jurassic Park t-shirt. Kind of cringy, right? But no, I liked him immediately, and his lines were all spot on. He was us, and they did a great job writing him so that he felt real and added a bit of humour here and there.

The sound design is stellar
When Indominus Rex escapes its paddock and is slowly searching for Chris Pratt, we hear the noise it makes for the first time and it sent a shiver down my spine. There was something strangely human about it, but then there were all sorts of terrifying nuances in the way its breathy growl seeped out through those teeth (so many teeth) that made it seem alien.

They also did a good job of holding off on showing us the entirety of Indominus for quite a while. We got some spikes here, a foot there, which really left me wanted to just see the damn thing already, but in a good way.

Raptors, raptors, raptors
They did a great job of treading a fine line between making the raptors terrifying but also relatable, able to follow commands but also clearly wild animals with hunting instinct. The raptor “Blue” had a nice splash of colour which hopefully we’ll see more of in the future when dinosaurs are portrayed on the big screen. Watching Chris Pratt work with them was pretty killer, and was basically the thing in the trailer that got me on board with this sequel. It delivered.

Reconning the (outdated) look of the dinosaurs
The had a little attempt at retconning the inaccuracies with the appearance of the dinosaurs. As you may know, we know understand that many dinosaurs, including plant eating dinosaurs had feathers. And they had colours! Heck dinosaur eggs just got a nice makeover when these ones were discovered to be blue and green! So why does Jurassic World have naked, boring brown dinosaurs? Wu says that if they had created dinosaurs as they had actually looked they would be very different “but that’s not what you wanted”… Sort of a nice nod to why they’re showing last centuries version of what dinosaurs look like, but also a little lazy. You’d think they’d be transitioning their theme park- you know, the theme park all about displaying animals meant to inspire awe with their appearance- to having more accurate looking animals that would be much more visually compelling. You know, with bright colours, camoflage, display patterns, and feathers? I’m a little disappointed they’re sticking with the outdated model of dinosaur appearance. When when WHEN will we get to see a big screen dino flick with right proper looking dinos? I hope it’s soon because it’d be nice if their images could get a massive update with the general public.

The skinny
All in all it was massively entertaining. There is a ton to knit-pick and many flaws, but over all I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was just good fun. Dinosaurs: check. Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle hunting in a pack with velociraptors: check. The Indominus Rex: check check check. And finally parasaurolophus: check. Granted they had minor appearances but you could tell they were the best dinosaurs in the park.

If you get a chance to check it out I hope you enjoy it! The discussion in my beautiful subreddit is here if you want to take part.

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

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Cognitive Bias Affecting A Writer’s Ability to Maintain Consistent Character Portrayal

OK so here’s something I’ve been thinking about.  For the life of me I cannot find the source study that this post is based off of, but I remember enough of the gist of it to go from here.

You can change your cognitive bias by writing opinions opposite to what you believe.

Let’s say you believe the television show Dr. Who is stupid.  If you write, hand-write on paper, the phrase “Dr. Who might actually be ok.” a bunch (I cannot remember the efficacy of numbers of repetitions), your opinions will drift.  Where you started out hating the show, after you write that phrase, your opinion of it will be measurably boosted.  You will now allow for the possibility that the show might actually be ok.

This is fascinating.  We can change our opinions simply by writing words on paper, even if we do not believe those words, and even when we are aware of this phenomenon.

So, how does this interact with writing?

I theorize that this phenomenon affects writers’ ability to maintain a cohesive portrayal of a character over a long period of time.

Think about it.  You’re writing a character, and part of that is making value judgements of them from the perspectives of other characters.  In effect, writing the opinions of other characters will affect how you perceive and portray your characters.

If you’re constantly expressing opinions about characters, then your own opinions of them are constantly being modified, and will change how you portray them.

!!!

You can see such ‘character portrayal drift’ in TV shows that run for a long time.  If one character is constantly told by others that ‘they don’t know what they’re doing’ for instance, then future portrayals of that character may lean into that judgement.  Over time, said character may become completely inept at everything they do, because they never know what they’re doing.  There is of course the actor’s portrayal of the character, and that can become caricaturish, but they are still working from a script, where writers are furthering the character on the page.

This is how shows become almost caricatures of themselves.  Characters become more of whatever everyone in the show thinks they are.  The stupid ones get stupider, the meticulous ones become more meticulous.

Writing is non linear.  Edits are happening all over the place, and drafts have whole sections cut and added all throughout.  But the flow of time when we write remains constant, and so as we make changes, our biases change the characters.

I’m still trying to figure this one out… this post has been in my ‘drafts’ folder for a few months now.  I wanted to get it out there and percolating through the cultural morphic field.  See what comes back to me.

So there’s something to pay attention to.  What shows do you notice this happening in?  What books?  If you think about it, has this phenomenon effected your writing?  I’d love to hear about it.

And because that was all work and no play, here’s a cool thing for fun.

Cheers.

Heidi out.

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10 Overused Words in Writing

A great list!

Precise Edit's Blog

All words are good words. Some, however, are overused without adding value to what you write. As a result, they reduce the readers’ interest, make text seem redundant, and cause the writer to appear amateurish.

We have created a list of 10 overused words, based on the documents we have edited over the last 5 years. We don’t recommend that you remove these words from your writing. Instead, we recommend that you become aware of how often you use them and that you revise your documents to limit their use.

1. There
When writers are not sure about the subjects of their sentences, they will often use this word as the subject. This results in weak writing. (For advice on correcting this problem, see our article “Where Is There?”)

Example: “There was no one at home.” This can be revised as “No one was at home.”

youfingerpointing12. You
Writers often…

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How I Started Reading More: All it took was a change of font

I have been wondering how to read more.  It sounds silly, I know.  I have bookshelves of books I would like to read.  They’re all right there.  My nightstand has a few books on it to remind me to read.  But there they sit, unread.

Being a writer means being a reader, right?  Reading is a necessity in honing your craft, seeing what else is out there, and has the side benefit of being immensely enjoyable if it grabs you.  That’s how it’s supposed to be.

But for me, it wasn’t.  It was like pulling teeth.

Graphic novels are another story- those I would devour.  I can spend hours reading graphic novels.  So why was it so hard for me to read books which were text only?

I thought maybe if I switched up the format it would help.  My husband got me an ereader for my birthday, and I was excited to play around with it.  It’s a fantastic piece of technology, and I think its portability, size, and weight, will go a long way to helping me read more.  I can actually hold it in one hand and the thumb of that same hand can turn the page!  This leaves my other hand free to be clamped over my mouth in horror, or languidly propping my head up while I relax and read.  It really lets e sink into the story.

It was all that.  But I still wasn’t really reading as much as I’d like.  It was still hard.

I’ve written dozens of short stories and five novels; it can’t be something to do with reading.  I am editing a novel right now, and I can spend hours at a time focussing on it.  I know, it’s a different mechanism; reading and editing are not the same.  So what gives?

I played around with the text settings on my ereader.  (It’s a Kobo Aura, if you’re wondering- there’s some really great YouTube reviews that compare ereaders if you’re wondering which is right for you!)

Changing the line spacing was a blessed relief.  I write and edit in double-space, so there’s tons of white on the page.  I also write and edit in the full-screen, composition mode of Scrivener, which is nothing but the words on the page (no menus, no sidebars).

Then in the fonts, I was playing around to see what was on offer.  Pretty standard fare.

But then: some font called Dyslexic Open.  I switched to it, and it was like a being slapped in the face.  It was initially very odd looking; the symmetry is all messed up, the look of letters has them leaning and weighted all over the place.

But I started reading.  And let me tell you, I‘ve never read so fast in my life.

I never went back.

Here’s what it looks like.  Don’t be too put off; it’s one thing to look at the pieces individually, but entirely another to have your eyes dance over them in a sentence.  Entirely another thing to have the font melt away so all you see is the story. 

Now, I don’t think I have Dyslexia.  But this new font makes it much easier for me to read, so I’ll go with it regardless of who it’s for.  If you’re having trouble staying attached to the business end of a book, I suggest you give it a shot!  Here’s their site, where you can download it for free.

As an aside, we’re still in the “waiting excitedly” phase with my book; hopefully I’ll get a wonderful phone call from my wonderful agent soon, and then I will The Best Post Ever to share with you, my dear readers.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers.

Heidi out.

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Right On Track!

The thing about being rejected NOW, with an agent, is that it feels like nothing at all.

At this point we’re looking for the publisher that wants the book, that thinks the book will be the right fit for their brand.  Ultimately I want a publisher who thinks Sleep Over is perfect for them, and will put it out there with enthusiasm.

I’m not phased by rejection at this point.

I’m pretty pleased with how it’s all going.  This being my Birthday, it’s a good day to take stock and see how all my plans are shaping up.  I’m happy.

Google doodle surprised me today.  How sweet!

Want to know some cool stuff?  You can go to the url at the end and find out the same (and more) about you, based on when you were born!

Since I was born, I (read: our galaxy) have travelled nearly 600 trillion km towards the Great Attractor.  The population of humans on earth has grown by 2 billion, 422 million and change.  (World population is now at 7 billion, 288 million and change…)

My heart has beat one billion, 95 million, 841 hundred thousand, and change times. Mmm, good ol’ heart.

The moon has only orbited the earth 401 times since I was born???  For some reason I am surprised.  I think I need to learn more about the moon I guess.

Anyway, find out all this and more, about you!

So that’s all for now!  Just didn’t want to have complete radio silence until the BIG NEWS that will come (soon hopefully).

I’ll leave you with this image of what Andromeda, our closest neighbouring galaxy, would look like in our sky if there wasn’t light pollution.

Doesn’t look so far now, does it.  Oh wait what?  We’re going to collide with it in 3.75 billion years‽

Cheers!

Heidi out.

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