Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month
National Novel Writing Month

This year I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo officially – how about you guys?

I went back and forth about which novel to actually apply to this project and finally decided on Book 4 in the Portia Adams Adventures because I find I am writing it in my head almost every day – might as well harness that power!

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo IS, let me explain: its a month-long (November) writing project where you and all the other writers participating track and upload your word count progress. The idea is that you and every other writer registered uses the shared momentum of writing a certain amount every day to motivate us ALL to really crank out 50k of words in 30 days.

I’m pretty excited, especially when I read about all the other books being worked on (some of them look AWESOME) and I’m curious to see if this makes me write even faster (I already write pretty fast I am told).

Who else is in? Send me a comment and I will add you as a ‘Buddy’ on the NaNoWriMo page!

Hear, Here Salon Toronto

Hear, Here Salon Toronto

I’m very excited to be a featured author at the inaugural Hear Here Salon in November!

WHEN: November 20th
WHERE: Toronto (more location details to be released closer to the event – it’s a surprise!!)
WHO: Myself and a whole bunch of other artists – check out the full list here
WHAT: Here is the description from their website:

Welcome to Hear Here, Toronto’s premier Salon! For our inaugural event on November 20 2014, we will be holding an artistic gathering in Toronto with the greatest influential artists in Canada.

Poets, novelists, short story writers, essayists, fiction or non-fiction, professional or novice – all are invited to come to share or just listen. We’re creating a communal event for writers, the lovers of spoken word, literature, visual arts, music and all things creative. But we can’t stress it enough that ANYONE who wants to attend can do so.

Our first event will be only $30 which includes the exquisite culinary tastes of Toronto and the chance to rub shoulders with the greatest artists in Canada. If you’re unable to afford the entrance fee, you’re in luck. We’re looking for a limited number of volunteers to help with set up and clean up for the night. If you’re interested, send us an email with Hear Here Volunteer in the subject line.

Daily Prompt: Dictionary, Shmictionary (it’s time to ‘fess up)

Two daily posts in a row? Wow, that’s a whole new thing here on the Portia Adams Blog!

“Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).”

sigh

This is a sad story: I wrote a lovely book in 2012, it went on to get published and then a few of my readers

1) noticed there were errors in the published book, and
2) gave me bad reviews as a result.

Actually, I should put in here that at least three of these lovely fans identified the errors in their reviews and gave me four-star reviews DESPITE that, so a special thank-you to them!

Regardless, I am here to admit that YES I have used words incorrectly in my novels. One of my kinder detractors was clever enough to include in her review this gif image from The Princess Bride so I’m stealing it for emphasis.

THIS is an armoire
THIS is an armoire

One of the mistakes in Jewel of the Thames (if you haven’t caught it) was that I used the word ‘reticule’ incorrectly. For some reason in my head it meant an armoire – the kind with glass doors where you might store chachkas or medicines (see right image).

Yeah, I have no idea why that was what I thought it was, but it got all the way past my fabulous editor and into the book.

Suffice to say we have since corrected it in the newest print run AND the digital copies of Jewel, but it continues to haunt me and cause some upsetting reviews.

All I can say (fans and not-so-fans) is that I’m sorry; mistakes happen and this was one of mine.

I have found errors in books I have read and never really thought too hard about it, nor have I posted about the errors in my reviews. I guess as a fellow-human I can understand how mistakes can happen, and usually the mistakes don’t stop me from enjoying the book.

How about you guys? Do you get distracted by errors and review the books poorly as a result?

Writer’s Blindness (like snow blindness except pertaining to your words!)

Ryan Gosling is poking his eye because he has Verbameakeratitis.

There truly is a name for everything on the internet. I was searching around this morning for a phrase to describe the feeling where you’re reading over your umpteenth edit of a manuscript you know off by heart and you’re not even seeing the words anymore.

Terena Scott over at Medusa’s Muse called it “Writer’s Blindness” in her post: ‘Beware the Danger of Writer’s Blindness.’

That feels apt, but to take it further, the same way snow blindness has a scientific name (Photokeratitis) I am coining a new term for writer’s blindness Verbameakeratitis. Verba mea is latin for ‘my words’

In my own case, as I get ready to hit <send> on my second-edits for Thrice Burned, I find myself using these tricks to ‘see’ my own errors and catch them before inflicting them upon my poor editor/publishers <again>.

  • Read Aloud – this is something they teach to every first year journalism student (I should know, I was one) and it really does work. You are much more likely to catch an error if you have to read your words aloud.
  • Read your writing on a different machine – I find PDFing my document and reading it on the iPad helps me not slip into complacency. I’ve caught lots of typos that way
  • Know thy faults. I have a bad habit of adding stage direction (usually eyebrows a-waggling) so I do a search of the document for my own bad habits.
  • Read the document in order: just because you’re SURE that first chapter is pristine, do not feel you can skip it. Read the whole story as if you were a first time reader to really SEE the mistakes.
  • Check all dates and locations if you write historical fiction – this is a big one. Make sure every instance of a date is double-checked and makes sense.

What are your tricks for avoiding Verbameakeratitis ?

The fashions of 1930s London

This blog post is inspired by the incredible Beverly Wolov, whom I met at the GridLock Conference last month. During a panel discussion she revealed her gift of fashion history, and I had to stop her afterwards to talk to her about the 1930s, Portia, and all the fashion issues I have. If you know me at all, you know my preferred outfit is a comic-book t-shirt and jeans, but I am expected to write descriptive scenes about Portia and the fashion she would be wearing in 1930s London.

from Fashion Design 1800-1940. The Pepin Press, Amsterdam. 2001. p.361
from Fashion Design 1800-1940. The Pepin Press, Amsterdam. 2001. p.361

This blog post is inspired by the incredible Beverly Wolov, whom I met at the GridLock Conference last month. During a panel discussion she revealed her gift of fashion history, and I had to stop her afterwards to talk to her about the 1930s, Portia, and all the fashion issues I have. If you know me at all, you know my preferred outfit is a comic-book t-shirt and jeans, but I am expected to write descriptive scenes about Portia and the fashion she would be wearing in 1930s London.

Beverly, lovely lady that she is, not only read Jewel of the Thames, but came back to me with all kinds of suggestions for future outfits/fabrics/styles for the characters in my book series!
She also sent along the images in this blog post from her collection of fashion books and magazines that I intend to harness in my writing.

  

Beverly is a guest photographer and researcher at the Smithsonian (Yes THAT Smithsonian) and has an M.A. in the History of Decorative Arts from the Smithsonian Institute-Corcoran College of Art and Design where her studies focused primarily on the history of fashion, of lace, and material culture.

  

Enjoy the fabulous images below and expect to see them incorporated into Thrice Burned and No Matter How Improbable very soon!

 

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Amazing list of advice on research for your books by my friend Christine — bookmark her website!

IRISH FIREBRANDS: A Novel ~ and Other Works by Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

Thorough research is the 4th of The 7 Reasonable Rules of Writing. Details will differ, according to exactly what our Muse has tasked us with writing: be it historical fiction, fictionalized history, contemporary life, or even fantasy world-building, which must achieve consistency and continuity between its wholly imaginary historical and contemporary aspects. But in general, this is the kind of research that writers should expect to conduct:

mooreVerify vocabulary. Outside of misspellings (including homophones and apostrophe errors), there’s nothing quite so jarring to a reader who’s in the know, than encountering anachronistic or culturally uncharacteristic bits of verbiage. Pay attention to the etymology your dictionary provides, and in particular, the dates. (My 1941 Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary also supplies a helpful “new word” list.)dictionary &amp; phrasebook

Sometimes readers quibble over local semantics. Writers who are accustomed to the U. S. cultural and linguistic melting-pot should know that there’s no such thing…

View original post 1,136 more words

Villains you love

Do you have villains in literature/movies/TV shows whom you love?

You know the ones I’m talking about – those characters who but for a twist of fate would be the heroes of a story.

I’m writing my uber-villain right now and I’m thinking of writing a short-story from his point-of-view just to make sure I capture the depth of his descent.

Please share your favourite villains below, I need ideas my friends, and I’d like to pull characteristics from the BEST of the BEST.

This is by the way my One Fictitious Moment video on how to write a great villain – enjoy!

One Fictitious Moment: Writing a Series

Writing in a series is very different than writing a stand-alone novel. A stand-alone has its own benefits and issues – like that you have a limited time to tell an entire story and getting people to fall in love with your characters over a mere 80k words.

But when you’re writing a series there are definitely things to keep in mind – check out my latest One Fictitious Moment above to find out more!

Daybreak Alberta interview with Chris Dela Torre

For those of you that missed it, here’s my friend (and NEW host of the Calgary Weekend show Daybreak Alberta) Chris Dela Torre interviewing me about Jewel of the Thames :