Camp Nano: The Road So Far

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I decided to set my sights at being more writing focused this month. Not just writing new projects, but editing old ones, being on top of my blog, reading more articles on writing, etc…

I also set my camp goal for 35 hours, which I thought was a reasonable goal. My husband comes home soon and I know writing and writing related things will go to the side just a bit.

So far, things are going along great. As of writing this, I have put in 16 out of 35 hours so far. But by the time you read this, I will have logged in a bit more at the very least.

I have been writing and scheduling blog posts, edited my last short story, started a new project (not sure yet if it will be a novel or not), read a number of articles on writing that I was putting off and have made pages and pages of notes, for new stories and unfinished projects.

I am really happy with how things are going so far and I will do the same goals for next camp.

How is your writing life going? How is Camp Nano going for those of you taking part?

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Author Interview with Sherry D. Ramsey

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I am thrilled that my next author interview is with my friend and best selling author Sherry D. Ramsey! I have reviewed some of her books in the past and will be again soon enough. Right now I am reading her collection of short stories, The Apprentice Files. 

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Sci-fi and fantasy author Sherry D. Ramsey.

Me: Hey Sherry! Thanks so much for stopping by! So let’s get to it! For anyone who hasn’t read your Nearspace series, what can you tell us about it?

SD: Well, the series is set about 250 years in the future, and in that future we’ve expanded through space through the use of wormhole travel. So there’s lots of spaceships and aliens and other worlds. 🙂 But it’s also about a woman, Luta, who is in her 80’s, but hasn’t aged physically past about 30, and she doesn’t know why. This non-aging has a profound affect on her relationships, and she’d like to understand it and what it means. She thinks it might have something to do with her mother, who was a genetic researcher, but disappeared when Luta was around 14. There’s also the corporation her mother worked for, who thinks they might have a proprietary interest in whatever’s making Luta the way she is. The series starts in One’s Aspect to the Sun with Luta’s search for answers, and different story threads carry on to other books in the series.

Me: I have loved these books and I plan to get book three soon! One’s Aspect to the Sun recently hit the bestseller list! How exciting is that!?

SD: It was pretty exciting! I have a lot of screenshots saved to my computer as it rose up the charts! And I’ve had some really lovely new reviews of both that book and the series lately. They are always nice to see because it means someone genuinely enjoyed the story.

Me: I would have screenshots too! 🙂 That’s awesome, I am really happy for you! Your third book in the Nearspace series, Beyond the Sentinel Stars, came out late last year. Do you plan to go beyond book 3? Or keep it as a trilogy?

SD: I’m actually working on a fourth book in the series right now. I do try to keep them standalone to some extent–no real cliffhangers–but people who like series will also enjoy a sense of continuity throughout the books, I think. This one takes place about a year after the end of Sentinel Stars.

Me: Oh that is awesome! *writes down another book on the To Read list*  So I am curious, which character has been your favorite to write? Why?

SD: Ooh, that’s a really tough one. If we’re moving outside the Nearspace books, there are two characters who were just super fun to write. One was a talking cat in The Seventh Crow, because she gained the ability to talk by accident and really didn’t want it. She has a very prickly and sarcastic voice and she doesn’t have much patience with humans. The other, coincidentally, is also a talking animal, a goose from The Murder Prophet. He’s fun because he also has a very distinct personality, kind of goofy and easily excitable. It’s interesting to channel him and try to stay true to his character. He plays a large role in the next book in that series, which I’m working on concurrently with a few other projects, so it’s fun to see him grow and change but still keep those essential personality traits.

Me: Those characters were funny! You have a way with talking animals 😉 What does your writing area look like?

SD: I’m very lucky to have my own office at home. It’s not terribly large, but it holds a sitting desk and a treadmill desk, and a lot of books and plants. A lot of artwork on the walls and too much paper in general! Probably also too many bits and bobs and little writing talismans. I guess it reflects my mind–usually too cluttered up with too many things! But it’s my own sanctuary and I really appreciate having it. There’s one extra chair for someone to visit me and also a door I can close. Both very important!

Me: Yes both are important. It’s great when you can have your own little writing sanctuary. You have both novels and short stories published. Which do you prefer to write?

SD: That’s also a tough question. I like the compactness and focus of short stories, and of course the lesser demand on writing time to finish one. But I find it difficult to write very short pieces–my stories only rarely come in under five thousand words or so. Novels allow for much greater exploration of ideas and complexity, and character development over time, so they’re great to stretch those creative muscles. I’m starting to think my very favorite length to write is novelette/novella. You can get a little more complex than in a short story, but still write them fairly quickly. Sadly, there’s a much smaller market in traditional publishing for those lengths.

Me: Seems I have a knack for asking the hard questions. 😉  You write sci-fi and fantasy. Which one is your favorite to write?

SD: Lately I lean more toward sci-fi and urban fantasy than other flavours of fantasy. I’ll write in any of the speculative genres if I get an idea that fits, though. Even horror, occasionally.

Me: If you were going to be stranded on an island, which 3 books would you want to have with you?

SD: Well, these days I’d just have my ereader, loaded up with enough to keep me going for a long time! But to choose three…difficult. And I could give you a different answer tomorrow. But today I’d choose To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Hopefully I won’t be stranded for too long…

Me: I know, it isn’t easy for book nerds to choose their three fave books. Mine would also change on a daily basis. I know you are a creative person. What sorts of creative projects do you do when you aren’t writing?

SD: I like fiber arts, like knitting and crochet, as well as machine embroidery and sewing. In the past I’ve made wire and bead jewelry, although I haven’t done much with that lately. I can’t wait for spring to get out in my garden, which might not strike some as creative, but I think it is. And I mess around with various forms of art, on and off the computer. My approach to creative or crafty things is basically that I’ll give anything a try. 🙂

Me: Can you tell us a little something about what are you working on right now?

SD: I’ve just finished up a new novelette in my Olympia Investigations series (urban fantasy) called “Dead Hungry,” which will release on the 15th of April. I’m juggling the fourth Nearspace book, a paranormal romance (a genre I haven’t written before), another urban fantasy novel and a couple of short stories. That sounds like too much, I know. But that seems to be how I work!

Thanks so much again for stopping by for a chat! You are welcome to pop by anytime!

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Sherry D. Ramsey is a speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, creativity addict and self-confessed internet geek. When she’s not writing, she makes jewelry, gardens, hones her creative procrastination skills on social media, and consumes far more coffee and chocolate than is likely good for her.

Her books include the middle-grade fantasy, The Seventh Crow; three books in the Nearspace series, One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars; the urban fantasy/mystery The Murder Prophet; and two short story collections. With her partners at Third Person Press she has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction and a first novel. Every November she disappears into the strange realm of National Novel Writing Month and emerges gasping at the end, clutching something resembling a novel.

A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of SF Canada, Canada’s national association for Speculative Fiction Professionals.

You can visit Sherry online at www.sherrydramsey.com to find free stories and more,  connect on Facebook  and keep up with her much more pithy musings and glimpses into her life on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey.

 

 

 

Hello April! Let’s Go to Camp Nano!

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I’m feeling pretty good today. In just over a week Mr. C will be home after working away for almost six months. Also, March left like a lamb and I am excited about this months writing goals!

Last week I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo. It’s like national novel writing month, only a bit different.

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Just a cute image I found for camp.

Camp Nano takes places twice a year. Instead of writing fifty thousand words in a month, you can tweak your goals. You can write a new piece, edit an old one, etc… You can also pick your goal of what you put in. Word count, lines, hours, etc… are some of what you can pick from. For more about camp, read about it here.

My goal for the month is to put 35 hours into my writing. A reasonable goal I think. Also, I signed up that I would be editing. But I will be doing a number of writing projects, including writing/planning blog posts, final edits on my latest work in progress, writing a new piece and writing notes on new and old projects.

I’m pretty excited about it and I feel really good about this month. Last year was my first year taking part in Camp Nanowrimo, and I failed my goal. However, I was in a very different mind set last year so I know this year will be different.

Are you taking part in Camp Nano? What are your writing goals for the month? Tell me in the comments! 🙂

Planning My Story Bible

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What’s a story bible? Something to help keep your universe and characters in order, especially when writing a series or epic fantasy. All your important info at your fingertips for when you need to find the name of your hero’s first cousin or how your magick system works.

I started making one for my Lily and Quinn series, but I have recently decided to start fresh. The biggest problem for me is that I am a total journal junkie, so now I have to figure out what to use for it. (Word docs or something on your comp works too! I just like having something I can hold in my hand.)

I also want to break mine down a bit more then I did originally. Is that what I should do or is that the planner/journal junkie inside of me? Hopefully it will all work out so that the series bible I make will be helpful and not one big mess. 😉

This is how I plan to break mine down. If you have made one, or plan to make one, I would love to hear what other sections you have in yours! 🙂

Characters-A) My writing buddies know I am a huge fan of visual character sketches. I am going to put a photo or two per page of what my characters look like. (I have some from magazines and those I printed). I will also make bullet point notes on physical appearance, so that if I just want to double check on my hero’s eye color, I will open to the first few ages of my notebook and find it.

Characters-B) The character sketch. Bullet points on my characters and notes.  I will be sure to leave extra space. My fictional best friends tell me something new about them on a regular basis.

Timeline- I have four short stories published with this world, and a fifth on the way. Not to mention novels I have started/written. I will have a section to timeline for linking important events, plus bullet points on what happened in each story.

Vampire/supernatural lore- One big thing I had to come up with in my stories are my vampires. What kills them, how a person turns, abilities, etc… On top of that I have other supernatural creatures and a magick system, so I need to have sections devoted to that. I almost wrote myself in a corner once with how the vampire system works in my universe. I don’t want to do that again.

The Bad Guys- Some of my villains have been killed off, while others are still (possibly) at large. Each one of them, dead or alive, will have their own page of notes. Even the dead ones might come back, since I plan to write a prequel or two.

Setting- My universe is pretty much where I live, but with changes. I need to make notes on certain places, such as where characters live, favorite places to go, etc… If my world was in a sci-fi setting or alternate universe, my notes would be way more in depth.

Maps/photos- As with my characters, I like having a visual as well as written notes to look back on for my setting. I will use my own drawn maps for some of it, as well as sections of real world maps.

Notes- A section for other story ideas and things I want to include. This will be in the back section. Sometimes when I am out, I make notes in my phone, or on scraps of paper. I need to keep my ideas together in one spot for a change, so my series bible will be the best spot for them.

Every writer has their own tools, and for me, a series bible will be a valuable tool.

 

Something for Short Story Lovers

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I have been working on a short story for an anthology my writers group that my writers group is putting together. While brainstorming last night, I realized I never really touched base on my work and the anthologies I am in. (Yes, there is a little self promotion going on here too, haha).

When I was a kid, I didn’t think that having my very own story in print would happen. When three of my writing friends started Third Person Press, I worked my butt off and crossed my fingers that I would get a letter saying they liked and wanted my story.

They did!

Undercurrents Front Cover

From Third Person Press website:

A Cape Breton Anthology of Speculative Fiction (The Speculative Elements, Vol. 1)
The fourteen stories in Undercurrents ply the literary oceans of time and space, possibility and imagination. And while you may find familiar themes in these pages-love, change, greed, spirituality-you will discover that they take on a new perspective when viewed through the lens of the speculative. Inside are stories that ripple and swell with the unusual: fiddle-playing ghosts, malevolent cats, urbane vampires, and ordinary folks who have drifted into the realms of the extraordinary. Set your oars in these unusual waters and see for yourself what swirls in the undercurrents.

The urban vampires? That’s me. 😉

What I love about anthologies, are that short stories are a quick read. Also, while you may not enjoy every story, you are bound to love and like most of the book.

Third Person Press went on to publish a total of four stories in the Elements collection. (There is also Airborne, Unearthed and Flashpoint). I was lucky enough to be accepted into the rest of the books. My stories are all set in the same world, with new supernatural creatures and problems being added in the mix. I love writing the Lily and Quinn series, and have no plans to stop writing with them. (I will talk about them more in a future post).

I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished so far. When I re-read my stories, I can see where I grew as a writer, as each one went on.

They have also published a couple of other anthologies, one being Christmas themed and the other is ghost stories. And last year they published ‘Rise of the Mudmen’ by James FW Thompson. I have that on my book pile and plan to read that soon! 🙂

If you are interested adding to your short story collection, you can check out Third Person Press site and see what would be up your alley!

 

 

 

 

Writing Problems and Coffee

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One of my very good friends, Jo-Anne from Inspiration Pie, and I had our weekly (or at least it seems like that 😉 ) coffee date this evening.

Jo-Anne and I met a few years ago at a Nanowrimo write-in. I instantly liked her and I am so pleased that she is now one of my closest friends. Our dates are a must especially when life is crazy or when we have writing brainstorms bubbling under the surface.

A little while back she borrowed the books that my short stories are published in. (You can find them over here.) I was eager to hear her feedback, and to tell me what she thought of my characters. The four of them are stand alone reads but deal with the same characters and an expanding world.

She told me some positive things that gave me a boost. I don’t just mean a “I feel great” kinda way (although I did). It sparked something in my writer brain. And with the way I have been feeling, I am in good need of a spark or two.

It also helped me realize a mental block that I have been having.

My main characters are Quinn and Lily, and I love writing them. I love being in their world. The last few times I have sat down to work on a new short story or novel, I didn’t get very far. I get frustrated. And therefore I don’t want to write. This world no longer makes me happy. It makes me stressed. So, what is this block?

I have too many ideas for them. TOO. MANY.

When I start writing, I start to second guess myself. Is this plot good enough? Should I have went with the other story idea I wanted to start? Should I combine Plot A And Plot C, or should B and C go better together?

Once I am in this train of thought, that’s it. Game over.

Jo-Anne gave me a great idea that I am going to try. Basically write out a big ol’ mind map. I plan to dig out my bristol board, tack it to a wall and start writing down my plots, story ideas and see which ones I can connect well and which should be stand alone. I am excited to get on this and see where it will take me. 🙂

There is always a solution to every writing problem. You just can’t give up on it.

My Love Of Books And A Question To My Fellow Bookworms

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I’ve loved books all my life. Before my father passed away he told me how when I was about nine months old, if I was passed a book and it was backwards or upside down I would flip it right side up or turn it around.

I remember being three years old, mom or dad taking me to bed and being read to. And then asking for a second and third story.

When I was five I would sit for my oldest brother and tell him crazy stories about dragons and a princess and unicorns.

I remember the first word I ever read. I was in first grade and I ran off the bus yelling “Mom, I can read!!” I remember feeling so proud at being able to read the word “the”.

When I learned how to write I started putting my own words to paper and dreamed of being in a book. Seeing my very own story in print. In third grade my story (of a total of ten lines, I think) was picked to be published in a book called “Forever Friends”, which has stories from students in each grade, in schools across the province. And in high school another story, this one longer, was published.

I remember spending summers reading a box of books.

When my first short story was published in an anthology from Third Person Press, I was so proud of myself. Even though my dad can’t see what I have accomplished the last few years, he got to see me live my dream: my story in a book, and I got paid for it.

My point is, books and reading have been a part of my life for longer then I can remember. There is nothing I love more then diving into a new book. And so here is (finally, I know) my question:

What is your favorite quote about reading or books in general?

I am starting to focus on  my next tattoo. My first ink has meaning for me, and I plan to do that with each piece I get.

And it makes perfect sense to make my next one about my love of reading and the written word. There’s so many images and quotes to pick from. I think it will be an elaborate piece. So now the brainstorming has begun.

What is your favorite quote? If you were to get a tattoo reflecting your love of books (or even a certain book), what would it be? 🙂