Writing While On Vacation

If you came here looking for advice on how to do as the title indicates, I’m sorry to disappoint.

I don’t know how to do it either.

Indeed, not once in at least the last three years I’ve been writing have I successfully maintained my writing schedule while on holiday.

I’ve tried.

In the beginning, my efforts used to be quite fervent.  More recently, I’ve not even bothered to make the attempt, instead consciously choosing to take a short break from writing and resume my regular schedule upon returning home.

That won’t work this time.

Because I’m on holiday for the entire month of August.

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Adventures in Reading: Soldiers of Misfortune

Every reader has a T(o) B(e) R(ead) pile; sometimes a TBR pile that’s years in the making.

I’m no exception in this regard.  To wit, I’ve been meaning to read the fantasy novel In the Eye of Heaven since its publication in 2007.  Back then, fantasy was my genre of choice, and this book was blurbed by my favourite fantasy author, Jacqueline Carey.

As well, the book’s author – David Keck – is a fellow Canadian and was a debut author in the genre in which I’d hoped to someday be published.

I finally read this book this past May.  It’s success in summiting my eight-years-long TBR pile has a lot to do with its subject matter, as well as my assertion in a previous post that sometimes research for one’s own novel is conducted via fictional sources.

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Adventures in Reading: A Monumental Achievement or, When Bad Characters Do Worse

As someone hard at work writing a historical fiction novel, I’ve read a startlingly large number of research books.

Cover and spine of my worse-for-wear copy of The Pillars of the Earth. Over the course of reading, it eventually became a contest to see which would occur first: me reaching the end or the back cover falling off. The cover won.

Not all of them have been nonfiction.

I suspect that conducting research via fiction is something numerous writers do, and not just those writing historicals.

I’m sure almost every writer has consciously studied existing novels to see how others have handled any number of elements of writing craft, from as broad as character development to as concrete as the number of pages per chapter.

So it was, therefore, that I came to Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.  Reading this book fell under the purview of “research” for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to study the pacing of such a lengthy (973 pages) novel since my own WIP, though in two novels, will also be a long-ish tale
  2. I wanted to study Follett’s presentation and accuracy of historical details (for all that Pillars takes place about three-quarters of a century earlier than my WIP)
  3. I wanted to read the book before watching the Pillars of the Earth miniseries so I could critique the fidelity of the adaptation in preparation for when my WIP is someday turned into a film.

Cue delusion.

Although, it could happen.  Anything could happen.

I digress.

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Adventures in Reading: New Planets and the New Adult Genre

(A/N: Mild spoilers for Beth Revis’s Across the Universe series)

Here’s a scenario for you:

Imagine you had the opportunity to help colonize a new planet located hundreds of light-years away.  This would involve saying goodbye forever to everyone and everything you know and love on Earth, being cryogenically frozen for centuries, and shipped off into the stars.

Would you go?*

This question is brought to you by a dystopian young adult sci-fi series dealing with this very subject: Beth Revis’s Across the Universe trilogy.  This trilogy includes Across the Universe, A Million Suns, and the final book of the series – Shades of Earth – which I read back in February.

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Line By Line, Stone By (Mile)Stone

This past week, I reached another milestone in my novel-in-progress:

Page 200.

Except it’s not really my 200th page, for my story is a novel in two volumes (like how Lord of the Rings is actually a novel in three volumes rather than the trilogy it’s often erroneously termed).  The first volume of the story in draft form is 377 pages.

That means I’m technically on page 577.

The past two months has seen me achieve a number of writing milestones: my current page number; my one-year blogging anniversary on February 20; my writer’s birthday (which I actually missed) on February 10.

I’m now a five-year-old writer.

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Adventures in Reading: A tale of two tyrants – part 2

Continued from part 1

Tyrant #2: King John of England, 1167 (b) – 1216 (d)

More people are familiar with King John of England than probably realize.

This is not so much due to his own merits, but rather his frequent association with another, better-known individual from history:

Robin Hood.

(King John, just so you know, was a real historical personage.  Robin Hood, meanwhile – not so much.)

My second half-book for 2013 – John, King of England by John T. Appleby – was an adventure to read because it was a reference book for my novel-in-progress that I had to continue if I wanted the “in progress” bit to remain true.

Yet is was also so dense with historical information, it took forever for me to get through it.  No word of lie, I renewed this book from the library four times for three weeks at a time.

It was also the book that quite decisively taught me how not to go about writing a work of historical fiction, such as I currently am.  But that’s the topic of a whoooole other blog post.

Despite how long it took to read John, King of England, it was very enjoyable.  It was written in a dry, witty style typically attributed to British humour.  For a long time, I assumed the author, John T. Appleby (who died in 1974), was British, only to discover that he was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was a Harvard graduate, and at the time of the book’s publication (1959) lived in Washington, D.C.

In the book, I learned about King John’s many failings that made him such a suitable distant villain in the Robin Hood lore.  A small selection:

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Adventures in Reading: A tale of two tyrants (in two parts)


As previously mentioned, one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 is to read 12 books.

Twelve books in 2013 is a book a month(ish), and once the New Year hit, the countdown was on.

The problem was, on January 1, I was midway through a research book for my novel that I had to finish to continue writing.  Yet, this title couldn’t count as book #1 since I was, indeed, already halfway through it.

To compromise, I took another book I was also halfway through and counted the two halves as one.  And as it happened, the two books – John, King of England by John T. Appleby and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – both dealt with the subject of tyrants and people’s responses to their actions.

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Is Anybody Listening? A lament (and relent) about Twitter

I don’t get Twitter.

Or in Twitter parlance: #IDon’tGetIt.

It is, at face value, actually quite simple: an online venue in which one expresses him-/herself in 140 characters, follows the expressions of others, and categorizes his/her own expressions with hashtags for ease of allowing others to follow him/her.

Indeed, Twitter’s liberal use of symbology – #, @, RT, MT, and links beginning with bit.ly or ow.ly or foreshortened forms of other familiar websites (e.g. amzn, goo.gl, wp) – gives it less the air of a web service and more that of a futuristic language.

And who doesn’t think it’s cool to be bi-/tri-/multilingual?

I get all that.

I also get that Twitter’s a great way to keep up with news, which is the primary reason I joined up in the first place.


What I don’t understand is how some people manage to actually get said news.

Because there is just so much of it.

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Adventures in Reading: Trials of a time-pressed bibliophile

I used to love reading.

Putting it like that makes it sound like I don’t anymore, which is the furthest thing from true.

Reading is one of my earliest and most enduring pastimes.  As a child, I spent whole Saturdays at my local library.  My childhood summers were a parade of one book after another cracked open in any customary summertime location: the beach, the hammock in the yard, on a family vacation.

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself and my everyday surroundings in a great story.

I just don’t have much time for it anymore.

Of course, I know the adage: “No one has time; you make time.”  I even fully subscribe to this wisdom, in all areas of my life and with all pursuits that are important to me.

And it’s a good thing too, for I really don’t have time.

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No One Would Make a Coconut Fluoride Rinse: A writer’s frustration with finding the right words

A Distractions & Subtractions post

So, I have this sort of condition….

It’s nothing overly serious – nothing requiring medical treatment or that’s even been officially diagnosed.  More than anything, it makes for something of an odd party trick in response to yet another game folks may play at a party.

The blindfolded, guess-what-food-I’ve-just-put-in-your-mouth game.

Yes, this does, indeed, relate to writing.  Everything does with me, dontcha know?

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