Tag Archives: writing advice

Make Time to Read | My Writing Process | Distractions

goodreads1One of the oldest clichés when it comes to writing advice is that if you want to write, you need to make time to read and you need to read a lot. I will confirm: yes, yes that’s absolutely true.

It’s entirely subjective evidence, but I find in my own life that when I do hit the rare dry spell writing, I’ve also hit a similar dry-spell reading. Perhaps life is just getting in the way too much. Perhaps I’m reading a particularly lengthy book that I’m not enjoying as much as I’d like and is “bottlenecking” my desire to get back to things. Or perhaps I just find myself seeking other, less engaging forms of media that week. (I enjoy games, the Lego games especially).

All that is fine as a temporary issue, but if you don’t have the discipline to finish a book, how do you expect to have the discipline to… well… finish a book? But it’s more than that. It’s a creative muscle that you’re flexing when you read, and it’s informing how and how well you write. I’ll attempt to break down my experience and the pseudo-science behind it. Continue reading Make Time to Read | My Writing Process | Distractions

#LOLAnl Writer’s Circle a Success!

img_0649The Writer’s Circle event hosted by the AC Hunter Public Library tonight was a great success!

Hosted as a part of the ‘Love Our Local Authors’ month going on all through February at the AC Hunter Public Library, the Writer’s Circle was a round table discussion with four of the indie writing community’s top talents: the person in charge of taking your submissions (Ellen Curtis), the author of Call of the Sea (Amanda Labonté ), the author of more than 15 novels (Matthew LeDrew) and  Erin Vance, the author of Song of the Mockingjay and the revolutionary editor behind Sci-Fi from the Rock and Fantasy from the Rock!

The Writer’s Circle aimed to answer any questions about the writing and publishing process, from professionals with a combined 25 years experience in the competitive small-press market.

Engen Books would like to that the AC Hunter Public Library for hosting the event, as well as Amanda Labonté, Erin Vance, and Ellen Curtis for taking part!

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)

Matthew LeDrew at the #LOLANL Writer’s Circle!

021In just 7 days at the Arts and Culture Center, local St. John’s author Matthew LeDrew will be co-hosting the first Engen Writer’s Circle of 2017!

Hosted as a part of the ‘Love Our Local Authors’ month going on all through February at the AC Hunter Public Library, the Writer’s Circle is a round table discussion with four of the indie writing community’s top talents: the people in charge of taking your submissions (Ellen Curtis), the author of Call of the Sea (Amanda Labonté ), the author of more than 15 novels (Matthew LeDrew) and of course Erin Vance, the author of Song of the Mockingjay and the revolutionary editor behind Sci-Fi from the Rock and Fantasy from the Rock! The #LOLAnl event has already featuring amazing local Newfoundland talent, such as Glenn Deir, Victoria Barbour, Heather Reilly, and Kevin Major! The Writer’s Circle aims to answer any question you might have about the writing and publishing process, not matter what stage of the process you’re at, from professionals with a combined 25 years experience in the competitive small-press market.

Come and get answers to your questions, meet the authors of some of the province’s most thrilling genre fiction, gets books signed and learn the different avenues to success with writing! Admittance is free, although Arts & Culture encourages calling ahead to reserve seats at: 709-737-3950. The event will be 6:30pm-8pm on Feb 22 2017 at the Arts and Culture Center, 95 Allandale Rd, St. John’s, NL A1B 3A3. To join the Facebook event and get more information, click here.

Continue reading Matthew LeDrew at the #LOLANL Writer’s Circle!

Erin Vance at the #LOLANL Writer’s Circle!

009In just 10 days at the Arts and Culture Center, local St. John’s author and editor of of Fantasy from the Rock Erin Vance will be co-hosting the first Engen Writer’s Circle of 2017!

Hosted as a part of the ‘Love Our Local Authors’ month going on all through February at the AC Hunter Public Library, the Writer’s Circle is a round table discussion with four of the indie writing community’s top talents: the people in charge of taking your submissions (Ellen Curtis), the author of Call of the Sea (Amanda Labonté ), the author of more than 15 novels (Matthew LeDrew) and of course Erin Vance, the author of Song of the Mockingjay and the revolutionary editor behind Sci-Fi from the Rock and Fantasy from the Rock!The #LOLAnl event has already featuring amazing local Newfoundland talent, such as Glenn Deir, Victoria Barbour, Heather Reilly, and Kevin Major! The Writer’s Circle aims to answer any question you might have about the writing and publishing process, not matter what stage of the process you’re at, from professionals with a combined 25 years experience in the competitive small-press market.

Come and get answers to your questions, meet the authors of some of the province’s most thrilling genre fiction, gets books signed and learn the different avenues to success with writing! Admittance is free, although Arts & Culture encourages calling ahead to reserve seats at: 709-737-3950. The event will be 6:30pm-8pm on Feb 22 2017 at the Arts and Culture Center, 95 Allandale Rd, St. John’s, NL A1B 3A3. To join the Facebook event and get more information, click here.


Erin Vance is an editor and a graduate of the Memorial University of Newfoundland English Honors Program.

Erin wrote her Honors thesis paper, Song of the Mockingjay on exploring the nature of Katniss Everdeen’s agency in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series. She is creative, spiritual, and loves reading, writing, and anything to do with words.

Erin is the co-editor of the From the Rock anthology series, which highlights Newfoundland talent in genre writing.

Erin is an editor for Engen Books on a work-for-hire basis and is currently accepting proposals from more editing work in both copy and content from authors of all backgrounds and skill sets, subject to right-to-refusal and prices to be negotiated based on the amount of time each project is estimated to take. Potential authors wishing to work with Erin should write erinvance@engenbooks.com and allow up to four weeks for a response.

Amanda Labonté at the #LOLANL Writer’s Circle!

template9_flatIn just 14 days at the Arts and Culture Center, local St. John’s author of Call of the Sea Amanda Labonté will be co-hosting the first Engen Writer’s Circle of 2017!

Hosted as a part of the ‘Love Our Local Authors’ month going on all through February at the AC Hunter Public Library, the Writer’s Circle is a round table discussion with four of the indie writing community’s top talents: the people in charge of taking your submissions (Ellen Curtis), an Editor (Erin Vance), the author of more than 15 novels (Matthew LeDrew) and of course Amanda Labonté, the author of Call of the Sea! Continue reading Amanda Labonté at the #LOLANL Writer’s Circle!

One Draft, Two Draft, Red Draft, Blue Draft

Sometimes you’re going to write something and right from the start it’s going to be amazing!  Other times you’re going to write something which will require a surprising amount of time and effort in order to make it readable.

Life is about balance, I guess.

My first draft for The Six Elemental clocked in at 118,000 words.  For someone who used to have trouble writing anything longer than 5,000 words, that’s a BIG accomplishment and well worth a pat on the back. Unfortunately, it still needed work.

The second draft was about the same length.  I added a few things, but I also got rid of these made-up quotes I’d put before each chapter.  The quote idea fizzled out two-thirds of the way through the novel anyway, and since I couldn’t keep it going I figured that I might as well get rid of it.

The third draft was when I decided to create a major secret, which would only be revealed when it was most shocking!

The fourth draft was where I got rid of the major secret idea, because it wasn’t working out AT ALL*.

Advice from a beta-reader led to the fifth draft, which is when things really started working out.  The story got more focused and the pacing picked up.  I also cut a lot of stuff.  Two main characters got cut entirely, and at least two minor characters.  Another minor character turned into to a one-line mention.  I lost some stuff that I liked, but as William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

I must have taken that advice to heart, because The Six Elemental currently clocks in at approximately 78,000 words – 40,000 words fewer than the first draft.

Sometimes, though, when you’re making a lot of cuts, it can be hard to know when to stop.  At one point I was ready to cut an entire page worth of stuff, but when I ran the idea past my editor she told me that I should leave it in, and gave me a bunch of reasons why it worked (thanks again, Erin!).

Never underestimate the value of an opinion from someone who doesn’t reside inside your brain.

Another difficult part of editing is accepting the changes to your story.  In the original there was a character who died half-way through the novel, but during the re-writes that character ended up living. I literally spent a week trying to figure out if there was some new way to kill them so that I could bring balance between the two drafts. However, I didn’t want to go all Joss Whedon on the character, so when I couldn’t make the death work I had to accept that the world had changed and abandon the idea.

But just you wait until next time, character.

Just you wait…

___

*Sometimes you’ve got to write a lot of wrong to figure out what’s right.