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Editing a Novel in the Middle of a Pandemic

It’s been a while since you all got an update from me. What have I been doing?

In the grand scheme of things—not much. The lockdown is still in place in Toronto, though recently things have begun to open up again. Life is still full of face masks and hunkering down at home.

Two things that I have done out of the ordinary were editing my second novel, and taking an online course.

First, the course. When the lockdown first began, I was full of hope. My workplace went remote, so I had extra hours in the day I’d normally spend going to and from work. I could get so much done!! I decided to take a class while I was at it. I was meaning to take it anyway, so why not do it during the lockdown period?

That was not a good idea.

While I’m very grateful for what I learned in the course, and I think it’ll be infinitely useful, I don’t think taking it during a pandemic was the best idea. My attention span towards the last half of the course was abysmal, and I made so many small errors on assignments that I’m pretty sure I would’ve noticed in regular circumstances. Not to mention technical difficulties would often interrupt lectures. It was overall not the best way to receive the information.

I won’t beat myself up for it, though. This period has been tough for everyone, and the longer we stay in this uncertainty, the more worn down we’re all feeling.

As for editing the novel, that wasn’t a mistake. I’m really proud of the work I did on We Go Together, and I think it reflects in the finished text wonderfully. I think it helped that I had already gone through edits once before, and with the same editor. The process, while sometimes mind-numbing and frustrating, was not overly painful. I had a better idea of what to watch out for, and how to accomplish the tasks under the deadline.

Now, We Go Together will be published in ten days. I’m so happy with the work everyone put on it, from myself to all the editors to the cover artist. It’s a really special book to me, and I’m so happy the wait is almost over.

Pre-Order We Go Together here!

Add on Goodreads

Sale Alert!!

IMG_20200202_111829390I hope everyone is doing well and is coping in the wake of a stressful time globally. In the wake of all this, many of us, myself included, turn to books as a way to pass the time while socially distancing ourselves. I’m happy to say both my books are on sale at select retailers.

I Knew Him is 40% off at NineStar Press until the end of the month.

I Knew Him

Poems Worth Saving is free until the end of April at the following stores.

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1490756658

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/poems-worth-saving-1

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/701656

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082H3R9R9/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_Pc5CEbK93ERP3

I’ll update this post if more sale links become available. Keep your eyes peeled and stay safe.

Introducing… We Go Together

As you may have seen, if you follow my Facebook or Twitter pages, I have a second novel coming out! We Go Together will be released by NineStar Press later this year, in 2020. It’s a YA contemporary about Kat, a girl trying to process a traumatic relationship that has since ended, returning to her childhood summer home. There, she reunites with some of her old friends, and together they set out to have the best summer they possibly can. But the years have changed her friends, and each of them come with their own baggage that may take a summer to unpack.

We Go Together began as a meeting of two main ideas. First, there was a summer music camp story I had attempted to write when I was fourteen or fifteen. I’d tried starting that story many times, but never got past character introductions. No matter how hard I tried, I could never come up with a decent plot besides “they’re at music camp and there’s drama.” But the characters still intrigued me years after I abandoned it. One character, Tristan (back then he was named Jude), in particular always stood out to me, so much that I tried to stick him in any new story idea I was working with. It never worked.

The other inspiration came from, as I’ll call it, the “Sandy debate.” As long as I’ve lived, there’s always been someone ready to interject “Sandy changes everything about herself for a guy” as soon as you bring up the classic movie-musical Grease. It bothered me to no end, especially as I grew older. I understood Sandy’s motivations the older I became (even if it wasn’t the director’s intention), and identified with her desire to change everything about herself. It wasn’t that she wanted to change herself to be someone Danny would love, but more she felt the need to change herself based on the way everyone around her treated her. If she looked “tough” maybe everyone wouldn’t mock her as they’d been doing the entirety of the story. I even wrote a poem about Sandy’s transformation in my now-published book Poems Worth Saving.

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The poem felt like just the beginning of a bigger conversation, and as I was editing it, a character formed in my head. This girl was another “Sandy” type, who was feminine, shy, and a little naive of the world around her. This caused many damaging perceptions of her, by her friends and her ex-boyfriend, who ultimately saw her as a conquest to “deflower.” What kind of affect would those perceptions have on a person? How would she go about creating her drastic transformation, and have her moment where she’s finally free, dancing at a carnival?

Sexual violence against young women is unfortunately common, and even more so with young bisexual women. The ways in which the violence occurs is often subtle and difficult to interpret in the moment with an intimate partner. Much of We Go Together is Kat’s journey to understanding what happened to her while she was this very imbalanced and abusive relationship.

But it is not a story without hope. It’s also about friendship, love, and music. Kat is a musician, and tries to find healing through the songs she listens to, performs, and writes. It’s a novel-long journey, to rediscover the joy she once felt for her passion. But through the help of her friends and the adventures they go on, she slowly finds herself, and finds a way to finally heal.

We Go Together was a difficult book to write, but Kat spoke to me so strongly I knew I had to try. I am so happy her story will be accessible to young people in the coming year.

You can add We Go Together on Goodreads now by clicking here.

The Story of Poems Worth Saving

I never considered myself a poet.

Any time I had to write poetry for classes in school, it didn’t come naturally to me. When I thrived writing stories and creating worlds, poetry was always difficult. Add in the fact that these poems were being seen by a teacher and graded, and any kind of enthusiasm I had flew out the window.

I still wrote poetry here and there.

When I was in university, a friend of mine gave me some poems to read, and I felt inspired. I started writing my own poems. Though they were clumsy, I liked writing them. I filed them away on my computer, with no intention of anyone seeing them ever. I didn’t think they were “good” poems.

Everything turned around for me in 2016 when I read Amanda Lovelace’s poetry for the first time.

Back then, Lovelace had a Tumblr account I followed, blogging about books and TV shows I also liked. One day, she dropped a self-published poetry collection called The Princess Saves Herself In This One. She posted excerpts on her blog and instagram, and I immediately became hooked. This poetry was different from what I’d learned in school. It was raw emotion, it was lawless, it was everything I never knew I needed. As I began to read other poets she’d been posting about, I fell deeper and deeper in love with poetry.

I began to write my own shortly thereafter. The past year had been a learning experience for me, and reading poetry inspired me to write about it. Pretty soon, I had enough poems to make up a collection, and I hastily uploaded it to Smashwords and released it to the world in February of 2017. It was called Poems Worth Saving after a folder on my computer, which I had created to to distinguish the “meh” poems from the ones I truly loved.

It wasn’t the right time for it to be released.

I was too shy to really market it well, not wanting to broadcast it to family or friends. I posted a link to my Tumblr, and did some minimal promotion on YouTube, but that was about it. I think I sold 4 or 5 copies in total. I just wasn’t prepared to truly let it go. In the end, I unpublished it on Smashwords for several years, with the idea I would eventually edit and refine it, and give it the proper release it deserved.

Years went by. I kept writing poems and saving them to the “poems worth saving” folder, but I hadn’t dared to open that old file with the original collection inside. Finally, this past spring, I finally took a look.

I ended up cutting out most of the poems from the original collection. I added some older ones I’d deemed “bad” before I really understood the value of my words. I wrote new ones, too. I finally had enough distance between the me I was now, and the me I was then to truly create a collection “worth saving.”

And finally, here it is. These poems have changed so much through the years, but I love the way this collection has shaped up to be. It’s all about home, friendships, relationships, and growing into the person you want to be. When I first began writing this collection, I viewed the poems as a sort of diary. Over time, they transformed and lived their own lives separated from me. As I say in the first page of Poems Worth Saving:

I intend to fill this world
with all that I am
and have never been.

I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Poems Worth Saving will be released January 7, 2020, and is currently available to pre-order through most ebook retailers here

 

This May

What a whirlwind of a month!

This past May, I participated in an intensive hosted by 603 New Musicals in Toronto. The intensive was being run all month, with some participants present for a week or two, others for the whole four weeks. I was there for three of the four weeks.

I have always been keen on working on musical theatre, ever since the last couple years of my Bachelor of Music. Musical theatre had been part of my life for so long, but I found I didn’t have much desire to act professionally. As I progressed in the music program, I thought I’d have to put musical theatre in my past and do it more as a hobby than a professional career route. It never occurred to me until much later that I could write musicals instead of perform them.

The task of writing a musical always felt too big to manage myself. I’d start writing songs that were never finished, and I had a hard time thinking up plots, despite being a writer. All these past experiences were floating around me when I went into 603 for the first time.

Being at 603 was a fantastic experience. Just being around other authors and seeing their process was incredibly helpful. It gave me motivation to move forward, and the tools to realize my ideas on paper. One of the most important things I realized while being at 603 was that I was fully capable of writing the book of the show. I always thought I’d need a collaborator, and I still think that’d be beneficial in the future, but I also have the power and the skills to do it myself. Now I have more confidence moving forward in my ability to execute all aspects of writing a show.

Another thing I realized while at this intensive was that I didn’t have to write anything “groundbreaking.” I’m not saying my work won’t be groundbreaking, but I think I needed to free myself from those expectations and write the music in my heart. My training and past experiences will inform how that music is set, and that in itself could be something truly magical and different. I just needed to separate myself from my own expectations in order to really take this work and run with it.

Now that the month’s over, my main goal is to finish my first draft of my show. I know 603 will be behind me if I need support or a place to write. They’ve really crafted a community there, and I’m excited to see them all again.