Tag Archives: Writing

Helpful Things That Aren’t Writing | House Blog

There are times when I find it difficult to write. Sometimes I’ll sit in front of the computer with the best of intentions, but the words don’t come and the page remains blank. Yes, I want to be writing – I desperately want to create – but I feel stuck. Usually it’s because I’m stressed or finding it difficult to think, or trying not to focus on the other things I should be doing instead (i.e. cleaning).

So when the words won’t come, I try to think of other things I can do that will help push my ideas in a forward direction, instead of letting them swirl in an eternal vortex of hesitation. Such as…

Outlining. I never used to be big on outlining. I would sometimes know specific scenes and maybe how I wanted a story to end, but I always got there organically. Sometimes I even wrote out of order, having to find ways to cobble scenes together coherently. But when I’m having trouble writing I find that jotting down a rough outline of how I want the scene to look will help me. This especially helps with stress-brain, as now I know what I’m looking for and working towards. [This probably counts as writing, but it’s still different than actually writing the story.]

Creating Avatars. My visualizing isn’t always the best, so sometimes I’ll go online and create an avatar so that I have a quick reference to what a character looks like. What was their eye colour? Hair colour? Skin colour? Just look at this photo and you’ll know. And you don’t have to stop at avatars – create or find reference photos for places or buildings, too.

Reading a Great Book. When I was in high school I had two friends who were writing stories and they inspired me so much that I wanted to write one of my own. To this day, I can easily get inspired just by reading something amazing. It makes me want to create something just as wonderful. [Note: I can also sometimes be inspired by a book I find not-so-amazing, as it inspires me to write a story that doesn’t have all those things that bothered me in it.]

Reading or Watching Something Similar. If I’m having trouble slipping back into the world I’ve created, I’ll sometimes find something that’s similar in genre/character/tone, to help ease me into the world. It’s not always a book – it can be a television show or movie or graphic novel. Usually I go back to the thing that inspired me in the beginning. Whether it’s a musical that brought about a short story or a television show that I’ve spun into a series, taking another look can help me re-discover my original inspiration.

What are some of your favourite helpful non-writing activities?

New Year’s Resolutions (For Writers) | House Blog

I resolve to finish at least one project I start.  (I have twelve months ahead of me, which should be more than enough time to get a working draft done of something. And although I may leave a hundred unfinished projects in my wake, I will finish that one thing.  …Unless it gets too hard, then I’ll switch projects to something else that I’m sure to finish. But I’ll definitely finish that project.)  (Probably.)

I resolve to never be without a pen.  (I will continue to buy more pens than I could ever possibly need, and to be very particular about which pens I buy because some are definitely better than others and ink consistency matters very much.)

I resolve to continue buying books even though I have piles of unread books around my home.  (I’d resolve to stop doing that, but it would probably be broken within minutes.)

I resolve to review more books.  (Considering how often I read reviews to get an idea of what a book’s like, I should be writing more of them.) Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions (For Writers) | House Blog

Gettin’ in the Mood (for Writing)

I find it easiest to write when I’m inspired or when I’m bored. If I’ve thought of a really cool/interesting scene, then I have to write it as soon as possible or I risk forgetting about it. If I’m bored, then my brain goes into thought-overdrive and comes up with a bunch of scenes and ideas, and since I have nothing better to do, I might as well write them down.

But what about when I’m not inspired or bored? What about when I need to write something, but the words just aren’t coming? How do I make myself write? What’s my secret?

Most of the time: music. Continue reading Gettin’ in the Mood (for Writing)

KENNETH TAM the final Sci-Fi author!

Whitecoat: The Champions of 1940Kenneth Tam, a name familiar to all fans of science-fiction in Canada and known as the first guest ever to appear at Sci-Fi on the Rock returns for the landmark 10th year and is the final contributor to the Sci-Fi from the Rock 2016 collection!

Tam brings with him a prologue to Whitecoat, the first novel in his Champions series.

Since 1881, Britain, Canada and the United States have been colonizing another planet. Now it’s 1940, and tensions between the world’s Empires are mounting because the English-speaking nations enjoy exclusive control over a uniquely powerful resource: genetically-enhanced humans known as ‘Champions’. Lady Alex Smith is the newest Champion, and her best friend Stephanie Shylock has joined the British Army so they can work together. Along with Sergeant Mike Strong, a veteran soldier with a colorful reputation, these two must follow in the footsteps of their famous parents, and save the world… perhaps both worlds. For more, visit Championsof1940.com

Kenneth Tam (born 1984 in St. John’s, Newfoundland) is a Canadian science-fiction author. His best-known works include The Equations Novels and the Defense Command series. He is the son of fellow Canadian author Jacqui Tam. He is a graduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario. Kenneth has been an author guest at the Polaris Science Fiction Convention for six consecutive years, and a guest at the Sci-Fi on the Rock convention for its first three years.

He is the author of over 40 books spread over 4 different science-fiction series, and Engen Books is proud and honored to have his work represented here.

Top 4 Anticipated Releases of 2016

When it comes to distractions (and that is the name of this blog after all) nothing eats up more of my time than anticipation: that time spent waiting for the next novel in a series or the next season of a show of the next movie in a franchise. Follow my train of thought here: if the next movie in my favorite franchise was out I could just watch it, a distraction from my work of no more than 3 hours. But waiting for it, wondering about it, watching trailers, reading predictions, fixating on it, and then watching it: that’s a much heavier time commitment that I should be using to write and edit.

With that in mind, here are my Top 4 most anticipated book releases of 2016. These are the books that have left me sitting in my chair wondering rather than sitting in my chair working, and time can’t tick by fast enough for them to arrive!

Continue reading Top 4 Anticipated Releases of 2016

24 hours left!

There are 24 hours left to submit your short story to the Sci-Fi from the Rock anthology title, scheduled for release in cooperation with Sci-Fi on the Rock on April 1, 2016. Sci-Fi on the Rock will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s. Deadline for entry to the anthology is tomorrow, December 31, 2015.

Do you have a story to tell?  We think everyone does!! This year is Sci-Fi on the Rock’s 10th anniversary, and we want to ring it in in style with a new anthology celebrating the convention’s decade of celebrating science-fiction and fantasy in our region…but Sci-Fi on the Rock isn’t just made possible by its staff and guests: it’s made possible by you! So until midnight tomorrow, Engen Books will be accepting final submissions for publication in the 10th anniversary Sci-Fi From the Rock anthology from anyone who attends the convention or wants to help celebrate its ten-year history!

Send all entries to submissions@engenbooks.com by 11:59 PM NST December 31st, 2015, with the following information: Your name, the title of your story, the genre of your story, and the length. Please note: a reliable e-mail address is required so that all applicants can be contacted following the December 31st deadline.

For this anthology, applicants are asked to submit stories suitable for the equivalent of a PG or PG-13 rating. This is in the interest of creating an anthology that, like Sci-Fi on the Rock, can be enjoyed by fans of all ages. Applicants wishing to submit material outside of this range may do so only for consideration in future publications.

To delete, or not to delete

Ellen CurtisSometimes the hardest thing to do is to take your own advice. Part of my job as an author on the convention circuit means I am constantly asked for writing advice. Sometimes, people want help figuring out how to develop characters, how to plot out a novel, or just what my general writing process is like. A lot of times though, people come to writing panels because they’re suffering a bigger problem, such as the dreaded writer’s block.

Some people –cough cough- Matt –cough cough- don’t believe in writer’s block. In fact, Matt’s gone so far as to call it writer’s laze, saying that people just aren’t focusing enough on their work, etc. etc. I don’t buy into this at all.

I’ve struggled with writer’s block in the past in some pretty severe ways. The Tourniquet Reprisal was challenging for me to write, not just because of my busy personal schedule at the time, but because I was struggling with the direction we were taking with the series. Looking back, there are lots of things I would have liked to do differently with my contributions to the novel. That said, this view stems from where I am now, years removed from the project and after having completed a degree that trained me to analyze fiction. The old adage, that you are your own worst critic, holds true for me I think, and it is entirely to Matt’s credit as ‘show runner’ for Reprisal that it turned out so well despite my struggles with it.

The Tourniquet ReprisalGiven the hardships I had with Reprisal, I faced a daunting task heading into Exodus of Angels. I very much wanted to redeem myself for what I viewed as a failure to my partner. I dropped the ball; as I said in the last blog, I wasn’t prioritizing my creative endeavors the way I wanted to due to the workload I was dealing with. Exodus presented me with my turn to be show runner though, which meant I needed bring my A game.

I went into Exodus excited. The plot had mostly been hammered out since Matt and I first sat down to discuss Infinity. I knew what I wanted to do, I felt I had some really strong characters, and I felt that the plot was exciting and hearkened back to some of the aspects of Infinity that were missing in Reprisal. Talking it out with Matt, both of us were pretty excited to start in on writing. Thematically, we were hoping to tackle some pretty big issues that we were really excited to bring to the series.

Cinders (Xander Drew, #1)Matt, as the writing powerhouse he is (you guys have seen how many Black Womb/Xander Drew books he’s got out, right?), hammered out the majority of his portion of the novel fairly quickly. I have to say, it is honestly one of the most emotionally mature pieces I think he has written, and I am so proud of what he accomplished with it. His success with the ‘B’ plot of the novel didn’t translate to my success with the ‘A’ or ‘C’ plots though.

The first few scenes came out easily, but my writer’s block from The Tourniquet Reprisal was sticking around like a stubborn cold. Something wasn’t adding up for me, and I wasn’t sure what it was.

I didn’t think it was my new character. I had been so excited to write her for so long, and my idea of her was so concrete that it felt very natural to translate her experiences. She was a fully formed person in my mind, and seemed to have a life of her own that could carry an interesting story.

Continue reading To delete, or not to delete