Friday, 7 December 2018

Anne Perry at Surrey International Writers' Conference 2018

I was so fortunate to attend the Surrey International Writers' Conference this year. By the time I
Anne Perry on Wikipedia
signed up, only Sunday was left as an option, but even a half day at this special conference is life-giving. There were so many highlights, but with my limited writing time lately, I want to make sure to remember the closing remarks from the talented and prolific writer, Anne Perry. I hope she doesn't mind my paraphrase of her words. I typed them into my phone on the Skytrain on the way home from the conference. Here's what I remember of her talk on the magic of writing:

"I want to share the best and worst moments. The Louvre at sunset. White roses in the moonlight and the sound of a Nightingale. 

"In my series set in WWI, I wondered what the chaplain would say to the man who saw his friend blow to bits the day before. I heard the story of a man at a conference who had lost his son to suicide. The worst situation imaginable. His minister visited every day and said nothing. Then every other day, then a couple times a week then as few times a month. Then I found what my character would say. 'You've been through hell and I will be here for you.' 

"A book is a companion during a bad time. Be there for your readers. Tell your story and tell is honestly. There was a homeless man at a conference in Portland who was spending his only $20 on my book. I need to be there for him. Like a hand in the darkness."

Thank you Ms. Perry for these strong and inspiring words. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Now Closed: Audiobook Contest!

Congratulations to Jen for winning a copy of my new audiobook! If you are interested in another contest, please leave a comment and I'll get another one going in the future.

Expectations on Audible

Six months after Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth are deeply in love. Elizabeth is planning her first ball at Pemberley, while Georgiana Darcy considers a life of spinsterhood. Wickham has used her so terribly, she cannot face another prospect.

However, her handsome neighbour, Phillip Lawson, is a continual distraction. Then, Lydia Wickham arrives uninvited with an alarming announcement. Can the Darcy's love survive?

To enter, simply leave a comment on my blog about why you love Jane Austen. You can get extra entries by following me on Twitter @austengurl and posting a comment on Twitter. Contest begins May 16 at 12:00 AM EST and ends May 23 at 12:00 EST. Good luck! I look forward to reading your comments.

A few details. . .
The winner must have access to to claim their prize. In order to receive your prize, I will need to contact you via email.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

North Shore Writers Festival

I was fortunate to attend the North Shore Writers Festival at the West Vancouver Memorial Library this past weekend. It's an incredible opportunity and I am so grateful to the sponsor's for allowing anyone to attend for free. In fact, I'm amazed there aren't writers overcrowding the room, forcing the organizers to require registration.
I attended several of the Saturday events. The first was Writing Canadian Stories: A NSWA Workshop. Three writers shared their experiences writing about Canada. Sonia Garrett is a teacher and mother who wrote Maddie Makes a Movie, a novel for young readers. She was encouraged to set the book in the United States or elsewhere, but found the book wouldn't be the same without it's Canadian setting.

Sanford Osler wrote Canoe Crossings a book about the history of canoes in Canada. He was also encouraged to expand the setting of his nonfiction book, but found he had to keep his book in the country he knows and loves so well. I thoroughly enjoyed his reading based on the tale of obtaining a fiberglass "dancing canoe" used in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Bernice Lever read a couple of her humourous poems and encouraged all writers of the wealth of Canadian material as well as the generous support of our government through grants and recognition of Canadian authors.

I then attended A Writer's Life with William Deverell. I was most impressed with his willingness to read from his first diary. He seemed to get a great kick out of rereading his earnest first attempts at writing and love. He also shared the story of getting into publishing through the Seal First Novel Award in 1979. He won $50 000 and was flown to Toronto to accept his prize and promote his book. The organizers were a bit worried about his "West Coast" appearance and the fact that he enjoyed a few drinks on the plane beforehand. They insisted he accept the prize in $20 bills and later promoted the book to booksellers and the press by sending copies of his book Needles complete with a hypodermic needle. Wow! Publishing certainly has changed.

At 1 p.m., there was a free lunch and Writers Cafe. Attendees were invited to eat with the authors. My friend and I sat with Sanford Osler and were able to ask him any question we liked. After this, we were a bit wiped and took a walk on the incredible Sea Walk in West Vancouver.

Finally, I returned for The Rule of Stephens with Timothy Taylor. Governor General Award nominee JJ Lee interviewed Taylor on the writing of his newest book and the stories behind the story. Lee is a warm and energetic interviewer with years of experience at the CBC.

It was an inspiring day and I hope to see you next year to participate in the 20th edition of the North Shore Writers Festival.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Interview with Jo-Anne Sieppert: Writer and Cover Designer

I met Jo-Anne Sieppert at a reading and book a few years ago. I was impressed by her wide range of writing interests and her personability. I then had the pleasure of getting to know her better through different writing groups and events and have worked with her on a number of cover projects. Thanks to Jo-Anne for agreeing to an interview on my blog.

Jo-Anne created the cover for the audio version of Expectations. You can find her design page here Coversanddesign
Cover by Jo-Anne Sieppert
She also created this cover for Taking Comfort.
Cover by Jo-Anne Sieppert

Samantha Adkins: How did you come to be interested in both writing and designing book covers?

Author Photo:
Courtesy Jo-Anne
Jo-Anne Sieppert: I’ve always been a writer, cliché I know. I was just never good at talking that much. Growing up in England you don’t talk about feelings or emotions, so I wrote stories or poems. I never thought I would do anything with them. My first book was just a little story I would tell my youngest at bed time to help him sleep. I used his nightmares and turned them into adventures he and his brother went on. When they would ask me to tell them again I knew I needed to write them down because I’d forget. Eventually the little stories turned into 110,000 words, 
then 4 books.  
When my first book was released (Nytstars) back in 2008, the cover the publisher selected was awful! It didn’t represent the story in anyway. So, I tried making my own cover, which the publisher excepted. This represented the story but was equally as terrible. I was embarrassed to show my book to anyone. I knew I had more books to write and that if I wanted them to look as good on the outside as I knew the story was on the inside that I needed to learn how to do them right. I went to school for web and graphic design. I discovered I really loved making book covers and I wanted to help other authors love their covers as much as I did.

SA: How are the two crafts similar and different?  

JS: Writing and cover design are similar because they both tell a story, only one uses words, it has sentences, paragraphs, pages and pages to get the whole story out. You have time to describe things, grab a hold of your reader and take them on an adventure. Cover design tells a story in images. Not the whole story, just enough to make you want to read more. Sometimes, you get to use images to draw the readers in and entice them. Other times you only have a design and title to catch their attention. Just as in a writing, it’s all in the details.

SA: Do you have a favourite book cover? (One of your own)

JS: My favorite book cover is for my book Brother. I love the way it tells the story from the face in the background looking over the silhouette of the couple.
SA: Where do you find inspiration for book covers? Does this differ from your writing inspiration?
Brother available on Amazon
JS: When I come up with a book cover idea for my own books it often comes to me as I’m writing. There’s a certain spot in the story, which varies for each book, and that’s the part that needs to be the cover. When I do them for other authors I ask them first if they have an idea that they want to see as the cover. If they don’t I ask them about the book. The part that they get the most excited about, that’s the cover. That’s the part that they wrote the story around.

SA: What is the best thing about being creative? What is the worst? 
JS: This is a loaded question. How long do I have? Lol. If I have pick just one, I’d say it’s having an outlet. A way to release all the thoughts, images, colours, and noises that swim around in our head all the time. It’s hard to focus on day to day with all the extra chaos in there. Being creative means we get to release all that into to something brand new, something that has never been seen, heard, or read before.
The worst part, there’s never enough time for it.

Here's a video of Jo-Anne reading from her book Aberrant:

Youtube Channel: It's My Story and I'm 
Sticking to It

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Way Before You Suddenly Clears

Today's title comes from Sarah Young's book Jesus Calling on December 21. She writes "Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when time is right, the way before you suddenly clears -- through no effort of your own."

I was struck by these words when I first read them and they return to me as I've watched my writing coming to publication in the past few months.

My book Expectations is now available as an audiobook through Audible and Amazon. I couldn't be happier with the wonderful narration done by Liz Winstanley and the cover by JS Design.

Expectations has also been published as an ebook and paperback book with City Lights Press. I love the new cover!

I am so pleased to have my latest book After His Heart published recently with CKN Publishing. I really didn't want to self-publish this one and am so happy CKN wanted to help me get it out there!

I feel truly blessed and thankful. But I also feel a little bit embarrassed for tooting my own horn. Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Ski Haiku

We woke up to the most beautiful winter scene this morning. It took some hunting, but I dug out my cross country skis and was inspired by these Haiku winners at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver to try a winter Haiku.

Swish trickle quiet
Frozen puffy snowy pond
Sliding over seams

Sapphire light frozen
Cutting down a winter lane
Frosting on cedars

Sweet morning snowdrops
Slicing down island lanes
Bliss frosty morning


Saturday, 17 February 2018

An Interview with Liz Winstanley, Narrator of Expectations

Expectations on Audible
Cover by Jo-Anne Sieppert
In June 2017, ACX began offering its services to clients in Canada.
ACX is a company which helps authors turn completed novels into audiobooks.

Shortly after hearing the news, I submitted Expectations: A Continuation of Pride and Prejudice to ACX in hopes of finding a narrator with a British dialect. I was beginning to wonder if it would ever find such a producer when I received an audition from Liz Winstanley performing the first 15 minutes of my book. I listened several times, enjoying the warmth of her voice and her talent for voices. Then I made sure my husband and children approved and sent her an offer to record my book.

It has been a delight working with Liz over the past six months. She was dedicated to perfection and a pleasure to correspond with. She graciously suggested a few alterations based on her own knowledge of Regency and British customs. She was also a lovely person and so I asked for an interview which reveals a little more about this talented producer.

Sam: Tell me a little about yourself.

Liz: England was my home until I married an American in 1954, but I'm still a British subject.  Fearful of my acquisition of a North Country accent whilst at boarding schools there, I was given elocution and drama lessons which have served me very well, because in the workplace my so-called 'English accent' has secured employment, where other skills have been singularly lacking.

Sam: What made you interested in becoming a narrator for ACX?
Photo Courtesy of Liz Winstanley

Liz: ACX provides marvelous opportunities for bringing all authors and genres to the world via Audible books so the challenges and rewards offered appealed to me.

Sam: I believe Expectations is the first book you've narrated for ACX. How did you come to choose Expectations?

 Liz: The many movie interpretations of Pride and Prejudice gave me a great insight to the various characters, so I was delighted when I was accepted to be the narrator of this remarkable continuation of their pursuits! I couldn't have asked for a better book to be my first effort!

Sam: How were you introduced to Austen's works?

Liz: Jane Austen's house is located in a small village just miles from where we used to live, so naturally it was top of the list for us to explore. Her characters are so finely drawn and her careful descriptions of the mores and expectations of the genteel young ladies of that time continue to both enlighten and to entertain.

Sam: Do you have any future narration projects you can share?

Liz: I'm planning to try my hand - voice - at narrating some of the well known classics that are now in the public domain, for instance 'Alice through the Looking Glass,' which remains one of my all-time favourites.

We hope you enjoy the result, available now on Audible.