Category Archives: Editing

Of ARCs and Aliens

It’s been a busy writing week with lots to report. Hence the utter lack of blog updates. When things are happening, I find it hard to make time to write about it, thus my news here tends to be sadly outdated. Anyone else find that difficult when blogging?

Public Reading–yikes!

One not-yet-outdated announcement: I’ll be reading from my new book, Boarder Patrol, at the Whitby Health & Wellness Fair. The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region has a booth there. Sue Reynolds and Ruth Walker will be “enthusing about the health benefits of following your heart and your muse” (according to Ruth), and various WCDR members will be reading throughout the day.

Ruth promises a captive audience, as we will be in the room with the snacks. Isn’t that kind of like live-band-in-bar syndrome? The band is fun if that’s what you wanted to hear, but if you’re at the bar to talk to the person beside you, it makes life difficult. I hope it won’t feel that way to the people at the fair. I’ll keep my reading short, just in case.

Also because the longer I’m up there, the more likely my sweaty palms will stain my lovely new ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Boarder Patrol.


Which brings me to my second topic. My ARC came in the mail last Friday. It is beautiful. It is glorious. Picture available here.

After I spent most of the day jumping around the house and dancing with the book, I could not bear to be parted with it. I carried it, wrapped in its envelope for safe keeping, to my daughter’s piano and swimming lessons (Friday is a busy night). I have no shame; I showed it to the parents of the little girl in my daughter’s class, simply because they were sitting beside me. They were kind. New writers, like new parents, must beg the indulgence of others.

(Incidentally, the book will be available from Orca Sports in early May, and the book launch will be sometime in late May or early June at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, which is a beautiful bookstore and well worth visiting. But I’m sure I’ll post about that as it gets closer.)

Wolves at the Gate

I finally finished and submitted the rough draft of my new novel for HIP Books. The working title is Wolves at the Gate. (Actually, the working title here at home is “Foxy’s Big Adventure”, since the book was thus christened by my daughter, but “Wolves at the Gate” seems to be going over better with the over-six demographic.)

I’m about two thousand words over the target word count but in a first draft, I can forgive myself that. It needs to be tightened, but I’ll worry about that after I know I’ve got the story right. This is an unusual way to work; normally a book would be thoroughly critiqued and polished before I ever submitted it to an editor. Come to think of it, that may be why I so seldom submit anything… nothing’s ever quite “done” enough.

In this case the publisher (HIP Books) initiated the project, so he’s been involved from the very beginning. He approved my story concept, then my outline, and I won’t touch my first draft again until I hear his feedback.

I’ve had fun with this story. It’s another mediaeval fantasy, like the Dragon Speaker series. I’m working with Cheryl Rainfield and Debbie Ouellet again, but this time, our books don’t have to be sequential. They just share a world. Not sure how much we’re allowed to reveal yet, so I’d better leave it at that. But yes, wolves are obviously involved, and foxes. And a “big adventure”.

And Aliens…

Also this week, I received feedback on my Muskoka Novel Marathon manuscript. My story about a little boy and an alien won in the Juvenile category for the 2009 marathon. Part of the prize is that an editor with a Canadian publishing house agrees to critique it. The novel marathon is a fundraiser for the Muskoka Literacy Council, so it strikes me as extremely generous of the editors and publishers associated with it to volunteer their time.

I was fortunate enough to receive feedback from Kathy Lowinger of Tundra Books, who has volunteered to help the novel marathon in this way for several years in a row. She gave my still-very-rough manuscript a thorough substantive edit and offered detailed (and encouraging!) feedback. She absolutely made my week.

(Well, okay, that and the ARC made my week. Can’t forget the ARC.)

Anyhow. Big week, filled with blog-worthy events. Things should be a little bit quieter now. My next planned blog entry will be about an amazing writing book that I came across recently.

Should you happen to read this before it happens, please wish me luck with the reading tomorrow morning!

So Very Behind…

I haven’t updated in ages. The past month or two has been crazy-busy, writing-wise.

My revisions on Boarder Patrol were due October 31. There wasn’t that much to change, but some of what needed fixing took some thought. Since the book is under contract, I didn’t feel right working on anything else until I had that work done.

My newest manuscript, Tyler’s Intergalactic Spy School, won the juvenile category in the Muskoka Novel Marathon. I was able to revise it a little before sending it to the level-two judges, Kevin Craig, Anne Millyard and Roy McGregor, for feedback. (Well, Kevin was gracious enough to look at the raw manuscript, but that was due to a scheduling issue.)

The next step will be preparing it to go to a Canadian children’s publisher for January. The publisher is going to give feedback and not necessarily consider the manuscript for publication, but obviously I want to do the best job I can before submitting it. And there’s a lot of work to do before January! Especially around the ending…

My short story, ‘Julia’, was published in On Spec; I finally received my copies just this past week. It’s exciting! I’m especially grateful to the readers who got in touch with me and had very kind things to say about the story. My first reader feedback! 🙂 I won’t mention names, but that first email that appeared in my in-box made my week. Thank you so much!

I learned some great things in Brian Henry’s writing course and at the CANSCAIP conference, Packaging Your Imagination, which I’ll try to share here when things slow down a bit. I’m working on more changes to Boarder Patrol this week, and planning a book launch. The book launch will get its own post.

I’ve also plunged into CANSCAIP and volunteered as the new co-recording secretary. Taking the meeting notes, I’m fine with. Voting on issues feels somewhat less comfortable, given that I have all of two months’ experience as a member. I suppose I can balance out the more established authors and illustrators, or stretch out the bell curve, or something.

Finally, my husband insists on dragging me into the twenty-first century despite my misgivings. I caved and opened a Twitter account. I’m still not sure I’m doing it right, but I’m following some people who have interesting things to say (including said husband, because otherwise he’ll get cranky). Every now and then I pop up with a reply or a link, and I’m learning how to “retweet”. I’m @erinlthomas, because erinthomas was taken.

More later. Back to work.

Sold a Story!

I’m very excited that my short story, “Julia”, sold to On Spec magazine. I’m not sure when it will be out; I received the acceptance last week, so I’m guessing it will be in the next issue.

I’ve written a few incarnations of this story about a mother who is forced to choose between her children. The first draft, less than 2000 words, was based on a prompt from the NYC Midnight short story contest. After that, I stretched the concept out to short novella length, to explore it better. That draft was close to 10,000 words. Too long; it felt bulky. I’m pretty happy with the current draft, at just under 6000 words. 

Peter Carver, a former editor with Red Deer Press, teaches a course on writing for children through George Brown College in Toronto. He always talks about a work being “the right length for itself”–not the usual length for that genre, or the size it should be to make a picture book, but the number of words it takes to tell the story properly, without a lot of extra fluff in there. I feel like I finally got “Julia” to the right length for itself. It took a lot of trying, though.