Archive for the ‘writing process’ Category

Writing update

February 7, 2009

too-many-notes_meeko1Here’s what my work space looks like right now. Still not totally organized since our move, and as you can see, I can’t remember anything unless I write myself a note (apparently, there’s a lot I need to remember).

I’m easily distracted by the call of the Internet. I tell myself, “I’ll just check up on one blog” or “I’ll just quickly update my Facebook status” or “I’ll just Google this one topic,” and an hour or two later, I’m still on the Internet, my eyes are burned out, and I haven’t gotten any writing done. I say this by way of apology and explanation for my apparent lack of attention to this blog and to the blogs of others. I have been trying to stay off the Internet (not always with success) and focus on writing my current novel. Progress has been slow. I’ve been working on it since about this time last year and hoped to be finished or almost finished by now, but am not even half way there. I keep getting stuck and coming up with excuses for not pushing myself to do the hard work of writing that next sentence, next scene, etc. Some distractions are fruitful ones, however, as I took a few weeks off to research and write the picture book, which has already been accepted by Orca Books. I’ve also taken notes on various other stories I’d like to write (new ideas are always a distraction!).

So, once again, I’m telling myself that this week I’m going to buckle down and work on the book I’m supposed to be working on. Once I get back into the writing, I get back into the excitement of it, so here’s hoping for an exciting week….and an exciting next week….month…etc!

If you’re on Facebook, please join my “fan” page and be among the first to hear when my next book is finally out!

Where do writers turn for inspiration when they’re stuck?

December 2, 2008

If you’re interested in hearing some children’s book authors and illustrators answer this question, check out the “Tuesday Tell-All” on the CWILL BC blog.

wet coast crow haiku

November 3, 2008

I arrived at my bus stop to head home this afternoon, and there were three crows ahead of me in the line (yes, they were literally standing one behind the other in front of the bus stop). They moved slightly before I got this picture, but I couldn’t resist trying to capture the original image in haiku.


 black pavement shines

 three crows at the bus stop

 waiting in the rain


Lately, I’ve been trying to work on the very important creative writing tenet, “show, don’t tell” (sometimes easier to know in theory than to use in practice). It is often tempting, for example, to point out how your character feels instead of letting your description and imagery paint the picture. It is hard to trust that the imagery will convey everything you want and to trust that the reader will get it. Haiku can be a good exercise for practicing this (my revelation of the day). Successful haiku uses a brevity of words and a single image to evoke the feeling of a moment. So, in the haiku above, I held back on saying what I thought about the crows or how I felt about the onset of Vancouver’s rainy season. Does it come across? I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s harder to write a little than to write a lot.

Internet wows and woes (or tales of a bogged blogger)

November 17, 2007

(Sorry, couldn’t resist the title)

I recently discovered that anyone can join Chapters/Indigo’s “online community” (and Amazon’s too, I think) and post blogs, book reviews, top ten books lists, etc. This is both a good and a bad thing.  You can have a lot of fun in the online world — Googling, blogging, Youtubing, etc. etc., but you can also waste a lot of time (and in my case, use up valuable and limited eye stamina). I’ve blogged on my publishers site, blogged on the Chapters.indigo site, watched Youtube vidoes, listened to some new music, looked up books, etc., but what I haven’t done is start writing my next novel!

On the plus side, I now have an actual website, and I have been doing quite a bit of book promotion stuff (here’s a post about an event earlier this week at Hycroft House in Vancouver), and if you want to find out more about manga you can read my version of the “manga basics” in my Chapters/indigo blog post (inspired by Wired magazine‘s latest cover story, “Manga Conquers America”).

Sharing the journey from story idea to finished book

October 22, 2007

Manga Touch was successfully “launched” Saturday at Nikkei Heritage Centre in Burnaby. I read from the book and gave a Power Point presentation about how I came to write it: from my first introduction to Japanese manga and Speed Raceranime (the 1970s TV series, Speed Racer, which my brother and I used to run home to watch after school) to some of the things I experienced on my research holiday in Japan (from historic sites and ancient traditions still practiced to modern bullet trains, Tokyo fashion and manga shops).

manga exhibit

Here I am in the shojo manga exhibit (my launch was planned to coincide with the exhibit at Nikkei Centre’s museum), standing next to artwork by Osamu Tezuka, a great pioneer of Japanese manga and animation.


Here I am showing the final image in my Power Point talk, a manga portrait of me by Vancouver artist Nina Matsumoto. Click here for background info on “Manga Me.” 

For more photos of my talk, you can click over to my guest post at Orca Publishers’ blog. You can also check out some stories that I touched on in my launch talk in the following posts about my trip to Japan:

Three-legged crow post

Quest for the Lucky cat post

And if you were one of those kids who used to run home after school to watch Speed Racer, here’s some Speed Racer trivia for you: The series, called Mach Go Go Go in Japan (playing on the Japanese word for “five” and the English word for “go” — as in “go Speed, go!”), started as a manga book series in the 1960s. Speed’s look was inspired by Elvis Presley’s race car-driving style in the movie, Viva las Vegas. Speed’s car, the Mach Five, owe’s a debt to James Bond’s gadget filled Austen Martin in the movie, Goldfinger. A live action Speed Racer movie is due out in 2008!

Another bit of trivia: I called the main character in my novel, Dana, after Dana Sterling, the spunky female Veritech Hover Tank pilot in the 1980s anime series, Robotech (Masters Dana from Robotechsaga). I did this as sort of a joke going back to my university days when I was part of a group of students hired to research children’s cartoons, toys and their influence on children’s play. Robotech (which was created out of three Japanese anime series) was our favourite cartoon (we watched more of this one than was necessary for the research), and at least one of the guys in our group had a crush on Dana.

Counting down the days to my book launch…

October 16, 2007

This week I’m guest blogger at my publisher’s site. Check out my first post here.

Eye holiday reading

September 4, 2007

story notesOne of the frustrating things about being a writer is not being able to get the ideas out fast enough. I’m usually working on one story, have a backlog of old story ideas, and am continually getting new ideas, as well as adding to the notes on the old ideas. It seems to be working out the same for the blog. I’ve got a backlog of things I’ve been meaning to write about and keep getting new ideas and photos I want to post, but I just can’t seem to get to them.

For me, it’s not just lack of time, it’s also lack of eye stamina. I have an eye muscle condition called intermittent exotropia, which is made worse by fibromyalgia. Basicly, this means I have a hard time keeping my eyes focused on anything close up, I get bad eye strain and can’t do all the writing, reading, art, etc. that I’d like. To work around the problem, I use large print on the computer screen, take a lot of breaks, do looser forms of art, and do my reading by listening to books on tape or CD. Not being able to read or write everything I want is very frustrating, but at least there are a lot of good books available in audio format these days, and it’s always nice having someone read to you. Author Jean Little once told me that if she regained her sight she would still continue listening to audio books, because she enjoys them so much. I feel the same — especially when there is a good reader like Jim Dale, who does the Harry Potter books.

Anyway, I’m at the point where I need an extended eye rest if I want to regain enough eye-ability to write my next book. So, I’m going to attempt to keep away from the computer for at least a few weeks. If you’re a regular to my blog, I hope you wont give up on me (and I apologize for not visiting your blogs for awhile), and if you’re someone stopping by for the first time, I hope you’ll check out some of my earlier posts.

If this was a radio station I’d be re-brodcasting the “best of..” segments while I’m away. In lieu of that, here are links to some of my favorite earlier posts:

June haiku (and haiku’s party roots)

Disappearing song birds

Manga me

Cherry blossoms in Vancouver and Japan

Serendipity and the perfect book (how I found some of my favourite books)

Chinese New Year

Bird brains and trickster tales (includes a raven story)

Three-legged crow

Quest for the Lucky Cat

Bad hair day and Emily Carr’s ghost

A flurry of haiku

The truth about rats

Biker birds (why people love or hate crows)

Call of the wild (my first post, which I thought would set the tone for my blog)

Harry Potter on CDThe books I’ll be listening to over the next few weeks: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (I pre-ordered the CD version ages ago, but it got lost in the mail and only just arrived), The Plague, book two in the Feather and Bone Crow Chronicles by Clem Martini, and Hoot to Kill by Karen Dudley (read about Karen Dudley’s eco-mysteries here).

From writing to art (maybe)

May 3, 2007

Editing a novel is a back and forth process. I send the manuscript to my editor, then wait for her to get back to me with comments and suggestions. I make revisions, then send it back to her and wait for the next stage of comments and suggestions. I actually like the editing process, because I can feel it making my story better.

I’m waiting to hear back from my editor right now, and while I wait I should ideally be working toward crossing things off my long “to do” list or resting up my eyes for the next round of revisions. Unfortunately, I keep finding myself getting stuck on the internet (they don’t call it the web for nothing). Today I spent several hours looking up the websites and blogs of various artists, whose links led me to other artists, whose links led me……and so on. I also spent way too much time researching button-making machines (saw some cool art buttons in a little shop on Main Street yesterday, then saw something on TV about a one inch button art show… got thinking about how it would be fun to make some buttons of my own, as well as work on some other art, and ….. next thing I know I’ve been staring at the computer screen for two hours, and I haven’t actually made or accomplished anything).

Anyway, here’s a photo of two artists in Tokyo’s Harajuku district who were selling buttons Tokyo artistsand other things they’d made. Sadly, I just lost the button I bought from them last spring. It had a D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) and anti-war message. My goal for the next week is to take up the D.I.Y call to action and actually make some art of my own instead of just drooling over other people’s…..

P.S. I just checked one more site (how many times have I said that) and discovered Blim gallery rents out their button-making machine.

When the sun comes out…

March 13, 2007

About noon today I decided to take a break from writing and go out for a Starbucks hot chocolate. I just missed the bus, which was frustrating, and had to walk to the Skytrain. Half way there, I looked eagleup to see a bald eagle circling low in the blue sky (yes, blue sky, not gray and rainy). The eagle continued to circle above me the whole rest of my walk. Eagle sightings always feel significant — like you’ve been honored by their presence or they’re markers of something important that’s happening or about to happen…. At the very least, they remind us to pay attention…. And if I hadn’t missed the bus, I would have missed this one.

Feeding the muse

March 7, 2007

I have a backlog of topics I’d like to post about, but I’ve been trying to focus on finishing my current novel, which is due next week (I’ve already asked my editor for two deadline extensions, so this is it!).

Immersion in writing about Japan has got me, not only wishing I could go back for another visit, but also craving a different Japanese food each week. Last week it was yam sushi, this week it’s Kakinotane peanuts, a few weeks ago it was yuzu (a kind of citrus fruit) tea, before that it was Gaba chocolates, vegetable tempura, and so on…..

So, for now I’ll leave you with three images to taste: a delicious cup of yuzu tea and chocolate cake (which I had at a tiny cafe in Nara after ducking in out of the rain), Gaba chocolates, and cherry blossom KitKat (apparently only available in Japan and only during cherry blossom season, and especially popular with students taking exams — as a kind of edible good luck charm).

Japanese food