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    A Writer's Resolutions

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The ultimate resolution that writers gravitate towards at the end of every year seems to be: 'Make More Time to Write'. Sounds like a great idea, but if I’m looking for a resolution I’m actually going to keep I’m going to stay way far away from the impossible task of fabricating time. Days may be getting longer as we roll into the new year, but only in terms of light. We’re not gonna see any 25-hour days or 8-day weeks in 2013, so I’m gonna fall back on the two promises I can never seem to keep:

    - READ MORE -


    Catching up on the long list of books I must read should be an easy one to follow through on, but this promise is not to be taken lightly. Anyone who has ever sought advice on writing has surely heard in the darkest bold letters – READ. Whether it’s the type of work you strive to create or the complete opposite, there’s nothing more important to a writer’s development than devouring as much literature as possible. Makes sense. Want to be a chef? Taste a lot of food, understand what makes it delicious. Want to be an athlete? Play a lot of sports to develop the right muscles and figure out the game’s structure.


    Unless you aren't sure what to read next. But the library has the answer for that - NEXTREADS - a booklist newsletter service that sends customized reading suggestions directly to your inbox. Stay on top of all the latest greatest releases in your selected field and discover exciting new authors.

    Getting out to more local literary events is a sweet, easy resolution too. For the most part we engage in a necessarily solitary process but somewhere along the way the support of community, however you define community, is essential. Every week in Calgary there is at least one author reading, one group meeting, one book launch, or one opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in a stimulating environment, often a pub. I just found out today that filling Station magazine is bringing their next installment of "Hot Dates with Blank Pages" right here to the Central library on Saturday, January 5.

    Here in the Writer's Nook we are always looking out for next week's best-looking events so if your resolutions look anything like mine, I will hopefully see you out there. And please leave a comment if I'm missing any of the shows and events you're excited about. And happy new year!

    Writing a Novel in Thirty Days

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    So for all of you crazy, wonderful NaNoWriMo types:

    ...just how do you write 50,000 (or more) words in thirty days?

    We have lots of tips (books, blog posts, articles) on how to get ready for National Novel Writing Month madness, but once November 1 is here my advice is to stop looking at writing advice and start writing.

    Some types sneer at the concept of writing a full-length novel in one month, but the point of NaNoWriMo is not to end up with a beautifully written, perfect manuscript that will lead to publishers' bidding wars and international awards. No. My hope for all NaNoWriMo participants, whether already published or not, is simply to write 50,000 words—perhaps much of which will be complete and utter crap—by December 1.

    As I see it, the beauty in NaNoWriMo is threefold:

    1. Creating a regular writing practice
      So many of us struggle to write every day. During NaNoWriMo you write—a lot—every day, helping to create the habit of making the time to write and then actually writing.
    2. Completing a major length writing project
      Will it be your best work? No. Will it get published? Not likely. Will you realize that you can write a novel to completion and learn a whole lot (about yourself and you as a writer) from the process? Yes.
    3. Community Support
      What most consider the most important aspect of NaNoWriMo is the community support. There are websites, international and local online and in-person meet-up groups, support from others who see the fun and folly of writing 50,000 words in thirty days. (And perhaps you didn't realize that your local library is one of the best places for writing space, information, tips, support and awesome programs for writers?)

    So now what?

    Well, you (especially those of you who like to tackle things in a structured way) are in luck; in its How to write a book in 30 days series, the Guardian website has spent the last two weeks giving detailed advice and a day-to-day breakdown on how yoGuardian How to Write a Book in 30 Daysu might best use the thirty days of November:

    How to write a book in 30 days (Guardian series)

    Stage 1: days 1–6
    Creating your preliminary outline with characters, setting and plot

    Stage 2: days 7–13
    Researching your novel (note: please remember the Calgary Public Library)

    Stage 3: days 14–15
    The evolution of your story

    Stage 4: days 16–24
    Introducing the formatted outline

    Stage 5: days 25–28
    Evaluating the strength of your formatted outline

    Stage 6: days 29–30
    Revising your first draft

    If you like to take notes, there is even a series of worksheets to help keep you on track (you have to register for the Guardian website to access the worksheets).

    The information in this series is a condensed version of what is in Karen S. Wiesner's First Draft in 30 Days, and may help you focus on how best to use your time. (note to NaNoWriMo participants: you don't have time to read this book, or any book, before November 1.)


    Nine Questions for Garry Ryan

    by Tyler Jones - 0 Comment(s)

    With each new book in his Detective Lane series of mysteries, Garry Ryan's readership and reputation has grown. The quality of his writing combined with the realistic portayal of a homosexual protagonist earned him the prestigious LAMBDA Literary Award in 2007. While many readers comment on how a novel allows us to travel to far-off locales, the books of Gary Ryan offer an even more rare opportunity to Calgarians; the chance to see our own city through the eyes of another.

    Visit Garry at his website:

    This past September saw the release of the fifth book in your Detective Lane series of mysteries. I am curious to know what you have learned about writing since you began writing the first one. Is there something you know now that you had wished you knew then?

    Two things. One is that I really need an editor. I miss mistakes when proof reading/rewriting and need another pair of eyes. The second would be marketing. It’s an entirely different field. With Malabarista I hired a great publicist who works in Calgary. She really helped to get the word out.

    Calgary, despite being home to over a million people, is not the setting for a great many works of fiction. Do you think there is something special about Calgary that readers outside our city will find interesting?

    Definitely. I’ve lived in Singapore, visited cities like Toronto, Red Deer, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, New York, San Diego and Guadalajara. Calgary has a unique culture and some quirky habits. It’s those quirky habits and characteristics that make it interesting. And there are some really good coffee shops in this city!

    You were born and raised in Calgary. What changes have you noticed in the writing community here through the years?

    It’s getting bigger. WordFest is becoming a remarkable event. There are incredible independent bookstores in the city. Pages is the one I like to frequent.

    What was it like to win a LAMBDA Literary award?

    Going to New York was something I never really expected to do. Finding out how friendly New Yorkers are was a very pleasant surprise. Winning the award was a huge surprise and then an even bigger responsibility when I learned what the people of LAMBDA had overcome and accomplished.

    How much of writing is inspiration and how much is perspiration?

    That’s a tough question. In some ways it’s like a job. A writer learns by writing and it’s work. It’s also fun to be able to enjoy that fictional imaginary world. That and the fact that some of my inspiration comes from walking the dog. There’s something about the rhythm of walking that gets the imagination going. The walk brings perspiration and inspiration.

    Has anyone given you advice that has been particularly helpful in your writing?

    Stephen King’s On Writing, Simone Lee, W.O. Mitchell, Meron Chorny, Samantha Warwick, Clem Martini and Cheryl Fogo. Each of them has said something that turned out to be an essential truth about writing. Meron Chorny taught me that bullshit baffles brains. It’s really important in writing to be able to separate the chaff from the kernels of wheat – to get to the essential truths.

    Is writing something that has always been part of your life?

    It’s kind of like breathing. Something I always had to do. You know how the air tastes different in different places but tastes especially fresh the closer you get to the Rockies? That’s probably not the answer you were expecting. It wasn’t the one I was expecting either. And that’s why I like to write. It’s full of little and large surprises.

    Is it important for you to follow a certain schedule while you are writing? Do you always write at a certain time or in a certain place?

    I think so. Mornings work well for me. I write in a cluttered office in the basement away from whatever else is going on in the house. It’s necessary to be away from as many distractions as possible.

    Then there are the contradictions. I bought and iPAd and use it for writing when I’m on an airplane, at an airport or just away from home.

    What do you do if the words don’t come?

    Walk the dog. Read. Think. Go to a movie. Try and be patient. Trust in the fact that the ideas are percolating and wait. That is very easy to say and very difficult to do when the words are slow.

    Dreaded Deadlines

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    “To everyone who has ever emailed to ask me for advice on writing, my answer is: get a deadline. That's all you really need. Forget about luck. Don't fret about talent. Just pay someone larger than you to kick your knees until they fold the wrong way if you don't hand in 800 words by five o'clock. You'll be amazed at what comes out.”
    Charlie Brooker The Guardian

    There was a time in my life when my best—or at least my most prolific—writing was done after nightfall. Something about the quiet and darkness, about working when most people slept, made the sometimes agonizing writing process easier and less anxiety-ridden.

    When I became pregnant with my first child, I assumed I would easily continue to find time to write. Surely I would maintain my nighttime writing routine, I thought, and there would also be time when the baby slept during the day, right?

    "A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all." Rita Mae Brown

    As it turns out, I was so preoccupied with parenthood (and sleep deprived) most days I could barely even think, let alone write. Any writing I did during that first year or so was paid writer-for-hire freelance writing. I was under contract and had no choice but to complete my work, whether or not I felt inspired, interested or well-rested. Was it my best writing? No. But I had signed a contract and made a commitment and I absolutely surpassed the NaNoWriMo 50,000 words in one month goal more than a few times.

    Even now, several years later, I am most productive when I am under pressure to finish by a certain date.


    The word strikes fear into the hearts of many new and established writers. For many, though, deadlines are at best welcome and at worst a necessary evil. If you find the pressure created by deadlines too oppressive, there are many books and articles on how to cope with that stress.

    If you work better under pressure but do not have an external publisher or editor or contract placing you under a deadline, there are ways to create it for yourself. Work with an editor (better yet, hire an editor) who'll give you a deadline. Commit to entering writing contests. Find a writing partner or group (online or in person) to put pressure on you to produce. Participate in events like the National Novel Writing Month or the upcoming Script Frenzy.

    And remember you're not alone.

    "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." Margaret Atwood

    Forget those creative writing workshops. If you want to write, get threatened. Charlie Brooker The Guardian

    Deadlines can give life to creative writing. Robert McCrum The Guardian

    Unstuck: a supportive and practical guide to working through writer's block
    by Jane Anne Staw

    Writing tools: 50 essential strategies for every writer
    by Roy Peter Clark

    "Deadlines just aren't real to me until I'm staring one in the face." Rick Riordan