Well, I had my first Vancouver book signing as part of my BC tour today. Metrotown Chapters in Burnaby has great store staff and a fun energy. And they sure no how to make a visiting author feel special.
Not only did they have a table waiting for me, they had copies of Whale Song set up on a blue wheely! :) Not every author gets one of those. They even had a copy of my latest press release up on the table. A great welcome!
I met some very interesting customers at Metrotown Chapters as well. One of the first people to welcome me to the store was Neil McKinnon, a fellow author. Neil and I talked for a bit about writing, and then he purchased a copy of Whale Song. Thanks, Neil! Neil is the author of Tuckahoe Slidebottle, the story of a small prairie town and its very interesting residents. You can check out Neil's book at: http://www.thistledownpress.com/cgi-bin/thistle/thistle.cgi?function=dispbook&bkid=207&nf.
Thank you to Rita for stopping by and showing such an interest in me and my novels. I enjoyed our conversation. :) Like many others I've spoken to over the years, Rita is an aspiring author who has written various works but hasn't gotten published yet. She is also at a crossroads, and I think she'll see opportunities start to open up for her. They are often there, lying in wait for that right place, right time moment. Sometimes we have to slow down just long enough to see the opportunities. Rita, when you're ready, I think you will find the way. Thanks for helping me with my books too.
Anyone who writes seriously knows the natural high you feel when working on a story, article, poem etc. There is nothing better than having edited a piece over and over until the day you believe you are done. "The End". Two very powerful words. I am always amazed at the people I meet while signing books. Some are gifted writers who just need a gentle push in the right direction. Sometimes I feel like that is the reason I am there.
Today a young girl asked me if it was "hard to write a book and hard to get published". I answered 'no' and 'yes'. Writing a novel is a journey for me--one I have carefully planned before writing the first word. And like a journey, I have a destination in mind. But I may not take the most obvious route. In fact, I often like to go off course, steer my readers into an area that seems perhaps innocent. But in the end, I know where I'm going and I don't hit major roadblocks (or writer's block), and those detours just make the journey that much more interesting. Of course, plotting someone's demise or grisly murder may seem a bit demented (ok, a lot demented!), but there is a certain thrill that goes with the territory of writing stories with suspense elements. Once I have a story in mind, it is like a movie flickering before me. I sure wish I could type faster to keep up though!
As for publishing, there are many options out there for writers. But finding and getting a traditional publisher to accept you and your work is certainly a challenge. Less than 2% of manuscripts are being accepted, which means the odds are low. This also means you had better have written an excellent story and you'd better know how to write, that means knowing how to construct proper sentences and paragraphs and how to write POV, beats, tags, proper pacing, etc. There are two parts to writing a work of fiction: the creative plotting of story and characters and the technical knowledge of language and composition. Writing is a craft, and like any craft it must be carefully honed and always perfected.
My day at Metrotown Chapters ended with an unexpected surprise. The staff had put together a lovely basket for me. I was stunned. A complete set of books by James Herriot, Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, some flower seeds and yummy chocolate, all in a huge straw basket tied with pink ribbon. What a nice gesture! Thank you, Metrotown Chapters. You made me feel like a star! :)