How to get published with Madeleine Callway and Wordstock Sudbury 2015

I know I’m a little tardy with this report, but after spending the day at Wordstock on Saturday, I was exhausted, and returning to work on Tuesday, so forgive me, but I’m not going to apologize outright.

So first up is Madeleine Harris-Callway’s “How to get published” workshop which took place on June 18.

To Madeleine, there are three main components: confidence, commitment, and courage. Her presentation focused on the traditional publishing industry because that’s where she’s had her experience and her success.

After introducing the group to her experience and to the state of publishing today, we moved onto the three C’s of publishing success.

I’ll go over each component in a little more detail below:

Confidence

Perfect your writing skills.

  1. Formal learning
  • Creative writing courses at universities and colleges.
    Cambrian College: The Essentials of Writing Fiction
    Correspondence courses: e.g. Humber College, Toronto
  • Writing workshops by established teachers.
    Brian Henry – Quick Brown Fox
  • Workshops and panels by published authors.
    Literary festivals
    Authors associations
    Public libraries
  1. Feedback on your work
  • Critique groups are essential to success
    Join and existing group, or form your own.
    Consider manuscript evaluation services or freelance editors
    Find them through professional associations or writing conferences.
    Explore mentoring programs
    Find them through professional associations, universities or colleges, or make a private agreement with an established author.
  1. Grow into a novel
  • Write short fiction first for magazines or anthologies
    Start a blog
  1. Writing awards and contests
  • An excellent way to get recognition for your writing
    Short story competitions
    Unpublished novel contests

Commitment

  1. Just write
  • Every day
    Use the ten minute rule (even if you don’t feel like it, try writing for 10 minutes – if you still want to stop, then stop)
    Critique groups provide motivation
  1. Network
  • Join writing associations
    Stay in touch with writers you’ve met
    Attend book launches
    Local author readings
    Attend literary festivals and conferences
  1. Social Media
  • Join online literary groups
    Connect to other writers through Facebook and Twitter
    Subscribe to online writing publications
    Join literary sites (e.g. Goodreads)

Courage

  1. Rejection is the norm
  2. Take heart – even famous authors were rejected
  3. Use strategy
  • Contact publishers in your genre only
    Study their websites
    Follow their submission guidelines to the letter
  • Edit your queries and proposals – eliminate typos and formatting mistakes
  • Multiple submissions are fine
    Follow up
  • Find an agent
    Study their websites
    Follow their submission guidelines to the letter
    Attend pitches at writing conferences
  • Consider small publishers
  • Consider epublishers

Then, Madeleine ended the evening with a Q&A session.

Having organized the session, I forgot to take pictures 😦

Wordstock Sudbury 2015

This was only the second edition of the festival, but the organizers made a number of improvements.

Friday night began with a reception at the Speakeasy, followed by the announcement of the Youth Writing Contest winners and “An evening with Terry Fallis and Sandra Shamas.”

Saturday started early with book table set up and the organization of the two venues for the workshops and panels at Sudbury Secondary School. Over at the Greater Sudbury Public Library, Danielle Daniel held a children’s story time.

As of 10:30 am, the workshops and panels began and continued right through until 5:15 pm. I’ll let you read the program on their web site to get the details if you wish.

Madeleine Callway readingI participated in the author readings at noon, attended the genre fiction panel at 1 pm, volunteered at the indie book table until 4 pm, and then caught the graphic novel panel.

After we closed up the book table, the venue moved to the Motley Kitchen at 6 pm for a dinner and performance by Corin Raymond, back to Sudbury Secondary for Cheryl Cecchetto’s book launch, and finally back to the Motley Kitchen for Spoken Word After Dark.

It was a busy day. Hence the tired.

Wordstock Sudbury 2015 was a success, in my opinion, but it has room to develop and grow as a literary festival.

I’m looking forward to the next iteration.

Genre Panel

Graphic Novel Panel

Up next: I’m getting miscellaneous.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 7-13, 2015

There’s a little bit of somethin’ somethin’ for everyone 🙂

Here was the thoughty controversy of the week: Tim Hunt doesn’t want women in the lab. Why? Because they fall in love with their male coworkers, they distract their male coworkers, and they cry (there’s no crying in science!).

So, of course, after making the statement, Hunt quit. That didn’t stop these ladies from taking it out of him with #distractifyinglysexy 🙂

Understanding the sensitive heart. The Elephant Journal.

This is for anyone who has had to watch a loved one die. There is something poetic about being there to witness the final struggle, even if the struggle is not a physical one. To sit with death. The Elephant Journal.

Sarah Knight left a job because happiness is more important to her than commitment. Quartz.

Which countries are the happiest? Find out in this article from 24/7 Wall St. Canada’s in there, but the Scandinavians rule (apparently)!

Indigenous cultures have less back pain. Why is that? NPR.

Baba Yaga’s House, a feminist alternative to seniors’ homes, opens in Paris. RFI.

Eight feminist lessons from Jane Austen. Bustle.

The psychology of inspirational women: Veronica Mars. Janina Scarlet for The Mary Sue.

Caitlyn Jenner got Vi Hart thinking about gender. Honest and awesome.

Sarah Jones delivers a sex talk from the future by way of six characters. Amazing TED Talk.

Margaret Atwood speaks out about Bill C-51. The National Observer.

The problem with patterns. The Creativity Post.

Find out more about the SEAL team that’s famous for taking out Osama Bin Laden. The New York Times.

The moon terminator illusion. Vsauce.

Did the dinosaurs really go extinct? It’s okay to be smart.

Eek! If a Boomslang bites you, you bleed to death (out of every orifice – ew). IFLS.

Here’s a little futuristic retro for you: This is what 1956 marketers thought 1976 roads would be like. Popular Mechanics.

13 rarely seen photos of Marilyn Monroe. Elle. She was such a beautiful woman.

This tribute to a beloved dog will have you bawling. But it is SO beautiful. Denali. Bustle.

So kawaii! A family of weasels scales a wall. The Telegraph.

And in case the song at the end of the Denali video got to you like it got to me:

Now go get that squishy grey thing of yours into gear 🙂

I’m off to get ready for the M.H. Callway workshop taking place in Sudbury this evening.

I will probably not post on Saturday this week because of Wordstock, but I’ll post Ad Astra and Wordstock reportage on Sunday. Ok? Ok. S’alright? S’alright!

Thoughty Thursday

Six questions with M. H. Callway

Madelaine Harris-Callway

Madeleine Harris-Callway is a traditionally published crime writer. Her debut novel, Windigo Fire, which has a northern Ontario setting, was published by Seraphim Editions in October 2014. It was warmly received by reviewers, including Margaret Cannon of The Globe and Mail. The Huffington Post Canada put it on their list of Books for Book Clubs. On April 23rd, she was thrilled to learn that Windigo Fire is a finalist for this year’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel.

Prior to writing Windigo Fire, Madeleine was a successful crime short story writer. Her stories have appeared in several anthologies and magazines and have also won awards.

She has moderated and participated on numerous panels at writing conferences. Most recently, she moderated a panel at Left Coast Crime on plot twists. Her favourite topic is “How to Get Published” and she regularly gives talks at public libraries on this subject.

In 2013, Madeleine founded The Mesdames of Mayhem, a collective of 16 Canadian women crime writers.

_______________________________________________________________________

I was introduced to Madeleine through a mutual friend, author Dorothy McIntosh (D.J. McIntosh), last year. She mentioned that she would be interested in coming up to Sudbury to promote Windigo Fire, and we started a correspondence that culminated with the organization of a writing workshop and her participation in this year’s Wordstock literary festival.

I’m so pleased to welcome Madeleine to Writerly Goodness 🙂

WG: When did you first come to writing, and, as it’s always seemed to be your thing, what drew you to crime writing specifically?

MHC: I have been writing since I was a child. I co-opted my mother’s portable electric typewriter and banged out plays for my friends to perform with mixed results! I forgot my dream to be a writer between studying science and business at university, earning a living and raising a family though I returned to it from time to time. In 2002, I decided it was now or never and committed to writing full time.

While I worked at the Ministry of Health, I was assigned to work on the scientific investigation of the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. The study, in parallel with the police investigation, was headed up by the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta. The report concluded that deaths were indeed homicide.

It was a deeply disturbing experience that affected every one of us who worked on the study. My boss at the time ended up leaving the government and becoming a forensic psychiatrist! He and I would have many long discussions puzzling over the motivation of the person responsible. I began to read accounts of true crimes, trying to gain insight into the criminal mind and I continue to read such books to this day though I’ve come to believe that the reasons, at least to me, remain unknowable.

I turned instead to crime fiction, where the criminals, for the most part, are caught, punished and moral order is restored!

WG: You’re an avid cyclist, runner, and downhill skier. Does your physical activity play a role in your creative pursuits?

MHC: Physical activity and writing are intertwined my personal life. Windigo Fire is an outdoor survivalist thriller. I drew on my personal experiences with dehydration and fatigue to lend authenticity to the hardships my hero, Danny Bluestone, goes through. During long training runs and bicycle rides, I have the freedom to think up stories and to resolve plot problems. And on the way I always spot odd and fascinating people, buildings or incidents that give me ideas.

WG: What led you to found the Mesdames of Mayhem?

MHC: Sadly women crime writers still face an uphill battle to get equal recognition. Though we represent at least half of published crime writers, we aren’t reviewed as often as men and we don’t win as many awards. My friends and I feel we have greater power by banding together and supporting each other at our new book launches and through social media. Through the Mesdames of Mayhem website and Facebook page, we reach far more readers than we can as individuals. We’ve had great fun doing readings at libraries and other venues. It’s much easier for emerging and mid-list authors to get exposure when we approach libraries and literary events as a team.

WG: What was the idea that became Windigo Fire, and how did it evolve?

MHC: The first crime novel I wrote became my “learner novel”. Though it had interest from a few publishers and a New York agent, it never quite made it and it now lives in my filing cabinet. Windigo Fire was to be the second novel in the series, but Danny came to life and took over.

The story of Pasha, the tame bear at Logan’s zoo, was inspired by a bear we saw performing at Clark’s Trading Post, a roadside attraction in New Hampshire. I was inspired to write Windigo Fire after reading about Ted Nugent’s obsessive advocacy of hunting. At the same time, I ran across a sad story about canned bear hunts or fake hunts where the poor animal is chained down and shot by “hunters” who pay a fortune for this. Fortunately these occurrences are rare. Naturally, I asked what if the hunters become the hunted . . .

I spent a lot of time in Northern Ontario early on in my working career: my first job was with Lac Minerals, a gold mining company and later on, I ran health studies for the Ontario government. I heard many wild stories from my workmates, some of which, like the wild bear encounter, are true. The event “karaoke strip night” is an exaggeration, of course, though not by much!

WG: Windigo Fire is set in northern Ontario and features a native protagonist. What kinds of research did you conduct in the process of writing the novel?

MHC: I relied on a friend and fellow writer who was Native Canadian. She explained aspects of culture, such as sweat lodge ceremony and shared her life on and off the reserve. Sadly she passed away so she never knew that Windigo Fire was published.

I also did research at the Spadina Road Branch of the Toronto Public Library, which has a great collection of Native Canadian literature. Studying Cree legends, I ran across the story of the windigo, which proved to be the perfect theme for my novel. The windigo is the symbol of evil, a cannibal with a heart of ice that can only be destroyed by fire. I believe Native Canadians used this legendary character to explain the existence of psychopaths.

At a deeper level, my novel represents the struggle of the main characters against evil. Do they rise and become strong enough to fight it? Or do they succumb to it and let their hearts turn to ice?

For information about surviving in the north, I used the book, How to Survive in the Woods, and for details on uranium mining, I used the internet.

WG: Can you give us a hint about what’s coming up in the future for M.H. Callway, author?

MHC: Absolutely! I am hard at work on Danny’s next adventure, the second book in the series, called Windigo Ice. Danny survived forest fire season, but now he’s forced to battle the frigid northern winter and a rogue priest bent on bio-warfare.

In follow up to our successful first anthology, Thirteen, my group, the Mesdames of Mayhem, will be releasing a second anthology, Thirteen O’Clock. It contains twisted tales of time and crime and will be available on Amazon this fall on Kindle and in printed form.

Thank you for an insightful interview, Madeleine. It was a pleasure! Break a pencil in your creative pursuits 🙂

Many thanks, Mel. It was a pleasure to be interviewed!

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Danny Bluestone, a young Native Canadian, settles for a job at a children’s camp in his Northern Ontario hometown of Red Dog Lake. Local entrepreneur, Meredith Easter, offers Danny some easy money: play the role of native scout for his wealthy hunting buddies. Danny knows that Easter’s roadside attraction, Santa’s Fish Camp, is the front for the local grow-op, and probably more, but the money is his way out of Red Dog Lake. Danny flies the hunters to an island lodge deep in the wilderness. Once there, he learns that he’s part of an illegal bear hunt and is powerless to stop the men from shooting the helpless animal. The following morning, he awakes to find all the hunters but Ricky brutally murdered. Even though each of them believes the other is the killer, Danny and Ricky must team up to escape the forest fire started by the hunters. While his friends in Red Dog Lake struggle to rescue him, Danny falls back on the teachings of his shaman grandmother to survive the bush and the Windigo, the evil spirit that pursues him and Ricky.

Windigo Fire

The next chapter: April 2015 update

Where I’ve been

I don’t know how to say this, but April kind of sucked.

Due to the situation at work, I decided to give myself a true break for the Easter long weekend. So, no writing there.

The next weekend was Ad Astra and I knew better than to even promise a blog post. No writing that weekend either.

After having left things for so long, it took a while to get restarted.

I didn’t get either of the two stories written that I had wanted to, and only revised one story, but incompletely.

You won’t be surprised by my progress, or lack thereof.

April 2015 progress

11,907 revised words on Initiate of Stone. I’m about 70% finished.

5,541 words written on the blog.

2,931 words written on Marushka. This is so far below what I’d hoped for in progress that it makes me weep a little. According to my original goal, I’m just over 50% of the way to finishing the draft. I’m closer than that, but I don’t know how much more.

38 words is all I managed on my short story.

20,417 was my total for the month.

April 2015 summary

I submitted my story “The Broken Places” for consideration to the Aurora Awards and several people were kind enough to nominate me.

I’ve also sent it to Sandra Kasturi for consideration in the next Imaginarium anthology.

Will be sure to let you know what happens.

Where I’m heading

Friday was my last day as a consultant. It’s truly a relief to be back at my old position with the training team. I’ve realized that I appreciate my position so much more now because I actually get to see the results of my work.

Even if I’m frustrated because my learners tend to hear what they want rather than what I’m actually teaching them, I maintain relationships with many of them and can see how they’re doing.

I’m burnt. I’ve actually been so tired I’ve felt sick, but when I’ve tried to nap, I don’t actually sleep. I close my eyes and my mind won’t settle down. It happens at night, too. I just need a break.

I have only two weeks at work and then I’m off for five.

Since I need the rest, I’m not going to be slaving away over my break, but I do intend to get some work done and finish a few small projects around the house.

I aim to have my revisions on IoS and my drafting of Marushka all, or mostly, done by the time I start my leave.

Then, I’m writing my query and synopsis, researching agents, and I’m going to send IoS into the world to see how she does.

I’m trying to arrange a bit of a promotional visit for a new author friend, Madeleine Callway, some time in June as well.

Because of that, I’m not aiming high for the next couple of months, though I do intend to pick up with drafting Gerod and the Lions once I’m finished Marushka, and trying to pull together Apprentice of Wind, the second book in the Ascension series.

Since I’ve been working toward the goal of querying, I’ve taken a load of courses, including Jane Friedman’s MBA for Writers and I’ve picked up Jeff Goins’s The Art of Work.

I’ve had Julie Czerneda and another author friend review my opening (‘cause openings still kick my arse).

I’ve ordered the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents and signed up for Publisher’s Weekly, ShelfAwareness, and Publisher’s Lunch free newsletters.

I’m getting serious about this writing gig in a whole different way.

Of course, I’ll let you know how all of this pans out.

One more post today and then I think I’m done.

See you in a few!

The Next Chapter