May 2012


Brian Henry Bestseller Workshop

My lovely purple workshop notes

On Saturday I went to Brian Henry’s How to Write a Bestseller workshop in Gravenhurst. I really enjoyed it. It was good to think at an objective or macro level about what makes a compelling story, a sympathetic hero, a realistic villain, and so on.

Of course, part of the workshop involved an exercise in writing. I must be the only writer I know who dislikes doing writing exercises at workshops. I’m not sure what’s with me on that. Anyway, I have to say, once I got going I really did start to enjoy it. Maybe I’m just a little bit rusty because it’s been awhile since I wrote longer narrative fiction (been writing short poetic prose lately).

It was truly fascinating to hear what some of the other writers had written for that exercise. As for my exercise, it sort of dovetailed with an idea I’ve been mulling over for a middle grade novel. My piece hinged on the content of a text message the hero was trying to conceal. I quite like that idea, but here’s my problem: I have actually no clue what the content of that text message is. And I think it’s kind of important.

So hopefully my brain mulls that one over for awhile. The workshop was a good kicker for me to begin thinking in a longer format than I’ve written up to this point. It’s getting me to think about what I’m going to write for, oh, July’s (whisper) Muskoka Novel Marathon in which I have to work on writing a novel for a whole entire weekend–eep! Nothing like a writer setting herself up for a huge and intimidating challenge…but it’s also all in the name of raising money for literacy, and that’s always a good cause.

© Lizann Flatt,
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

Getting on Goodreads

Are you on Goodreads? I am. Almost a year ago now I decided to join. I wasn’t really looking for yet another online presence to look after, but I decided to join because I wanted to track the books I’d read and, maybe more importantly, to remember the ones I wanted to read.

And for those reasons it’s been great. I can look back and see all the books I’ve read since I joined and feel a sense of accomplishment. I also love being able to come across a book mention and add it to my virtual to-read pile. Then, when I get to the bottom of the book stack I have on hand, I just look at my list and pick from that.

But of course sooner or later there’s the whole rating and reviewing thing. So far I only use the stars to rate books because I don’t really like reviewing books. I see myself as a book recommender rather than a reviewer. Plus, I feel uncomfortable about reviewing another writer’s book because I have some inkling of the work that went into it.

Sometimes I don’t give a book a rating. Why? Sometimes it’s as simple as I just don’t know what to say. I may have enjoyed it for the most part but something about it bugs me. Or maybe the book I read previously was so awesome the next one in line was bound to be less in comparison and so I’m not sure I’d be giving an unbiased rating. Or sometimes I just don’t know how many stars to select–I just can’t decide. And for wafflers like me there doesn’t seem to be a half a star option. Or did I miss it?

I do enjoy seeing what my friends are reading. I’ve added several to-reads from their selections. And being able to have an author profile there is pretty cool, too. It’s another place to appear with your author hat on while never leaving home. All in all I’m glad I’m there.

If you’re there too, please let me know. I’d love to connect over books with you.

© Lizann Flatt,
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

Taking (a photo of) Trilliums

Last week I was driving to a writer’s critique group meeting when I nearly drove off the road from gawking at the sight of hundreds of trilliums carpeting the forest floor.

I’ve seen trilliums for many a spring over the years (hey, I even blogged a poem about one a few years ago) but I’ve never myself seen that many together.

So I pulled over and snapped a few photos. It was dusk and I just had my phone so they’re not the best photos, but it was a nice moment made even better because no one in the neighbourhood came out to call me bonkers.

I got back into my car and carried on. I was pleased that I’d taken the time to…well, take a photo of the trilliums (no roses out to smell yet) even though I was a bit late for my meeting.

And at the meeting, Caroline helped me to sort out what I might tackle writing next. If I’m brave enough to take it up, I’ll let you know.

© Lizann Flatt,
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

Spying on my Illustrator

I have to confess that I’ve been peeking at some of Ashley Barron’s illustration works-in-progress for our new nonfiction picture book series which begins this fall with OwlKids. I can do this because Ashley keeps a blog, and sometimes she blogs about her work … and sometimes the work looks a bit familiar.

But I respect the industry norm that I’m not to comment on the art to the illustrator. I wait until my editor sends me the actual roughs if they want my comments. And, seeing as it’s non-fiction, they do let me see the roughs. If I have comments I use the proper channel.

Still, I can’t resist popping by her blog once in awhile. If she’s sharing something I think it’s okay to leave a positive comment, too, occasionally. And it’s not like she’s trying to avoid me since she did like my Facebook Page. These days it’s so easy to look up someone your publisher partners you with for a book project. We all do it, don’t we? Um, well, don’t we?

What do you think? Should I avoid looking? Look but don’t comment? Wait until the whole project is done and then interact? Am I making too much of this (non)issue? It’s okay, you can tell me.

© Lizann Flatt,
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.