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I wrote my first novel, Smudge's Mark, in a closet. No joke.
Monday, August 31, 2009

Once you see what it's like inside my head, you'll want out immediately

A friend messaged me with an early HappyBirthday. And, you know, I'd totally forgotten that my birthday is coming up! Lately, the passage of years has been measured by Smudge events, not birthdays.

So, in a few days I'll be over 40. (Thanks for reminding me, Colin!) When I was in my 20's I thought that by the time I was old (ie: in my 40's! Ha!) I'd be settled and content and have worked all the kinks out of my life. I thought I'd be "all set". But, at this "old" stage of my life, I find myself - among a few other life "stuffs" - in a very strange place. An UNsettled place. A place I hadn't anticipated.

This is what one corner of that UNsettled place looks like: I have a book published and on the verge of being press released to various media outlets. I'm up to my eyeballs in the follow-up book and am afraid to blink in case the plot points I'm struggling with get caught in my lashes. I'm returning to my teaching job next week (You know, the job that pays. Sort of sometimes.) and am wondering how I'm ever going to finish this second book by the end of the year when the first one took me six years.

I've had people tell me they (or someone they know) would kill to be in my shoes. But for some reason, the place I find myself in is a place where I'm totally overwhelmed and anxious about all of it. So many unknowns. So many unanswered (or unanswerable?) questions. So, I'm asking myself this question:

Is this what I want to do the rest of my life?

And I answer that question with another question:

What kind of a question is that? It took you 40 years to get here, why on earth would you want to quit now?

And then I answer:

I didn't say I wanted to quit. I just asked if this is what I want to do the rest of my life: Dividing the hours of my days between my passion (writing) and a paycheck. It's like working two full-time jobs, you know. And there's LIFE to be lived besides all that, too. I have a family. Do I really have what it takes to keep this up?

I answer with another question:

Do you have what it takes to NOT keep it up?

What kind of a stupid question is that?

Are you calling me stupid?

No. Well, maybe.

Okay, smartass. Think about this: What are your options?

I have options?

You always have options.

Like what?

Option one: quit your paycheck and devote your time to your passion.

That's not an option! I can't live without a paycheck!

Option two: quit your passion and devote your time to your paycheck.

That's not an option either! I couldn't live without my passion! See, I knew there were no options! You are stupid!

Option three: quit worrying about whether or not this is what you want to do the rest of your life when clearly you won't give up either one. Simply put: You don't have what it takes to NOT keep it up. So.... earn your paycheck so you can live and work on your passion so you can have a sense of fulfillment in that life. Problem solved.

Uh. Right. I knew that.

*Note: this is what happens when you've grown up as an only child and had no siblings or grandparents to talk to about stuff.
Sunday, August 23, 2009


A writer friend of mine says she gets book related dreams all the time. I asked her how this is possible as I have never, ever had a dream that was even remotely related to my books. (Actually, my dreams are very rarely remotely related to anything, including basic levels of logic)

She told me that just before she goes to bed she asks her character a question and then she has a dream in which the answer becomes aparent, in a round-about sort of way.

So I thought I'd try it.

See, my main character is in a bit of a bind. He has been for quite some time and I just can't seem to help him out. He's been told that he can't leave the place he's in. The problem with that is that I don't know why. I don't know why my main character was told by a secondary character that everything has changed and therefore he can't leave. You'd think that if anyone should know the answer to that, it would be the author! Ummm... no. I never know how my story is going to turn out. (I keep trying to convince myself that's a good thing: I mean if I can't even predict what's going to happen, my readers won't be able to either! Well, I suppose it's a good thing when it's all said and done and bound in a nice shiny hardcover, but it's often a terrible pain in the butt when I'm trying to write the darned thing!)

Anyway, I thought I'd try my writer friend's trick. Last night, right after I'd turned the light out, I asked that secondary character a question. It was a brilliant question that went something like this:

"So, uh, why can't he leave?"

I fell asleep with a smug smile on my face, thinking I'd most definitely tricked my subconscious into revealing the answer to me in living color as I slept.

Well, I dreamed all night! Seriously. But it was probably the worst sleep I've had in a while - I think I woke up about a million times. Each time I woke up I thought, "Yes! I'm dreaming and it's all going to make sense in the morning!"

Well, when I finally woke up for real (like when the sun was up) I couldn't remember a blessed thing! Well, besides the fact that I'd been dreaming all night and woke up about a million times.

The only other thing that came to mind was this:



So, there was definitely some subconscious stuff going on in my cranium last night, but it all amounted to 42: hardly original.

I suppose I was asking the wrong question. Which is hardly original as well.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are you sad?

I read somewhere that there's nothing sadder than an author's old blog. So, to avoid breaking the hearts of and causing misery to my readers (???) I've decided to post something today.


So anyway, the journey of this new author continues...

My publisher has kindly afforded me a publicist who will be working with me here, in Toronto. The funny thing (or not so funny, depending on how you look at it) is that she has the exact same name as my son's grade 4 teacher. And it's not a terribly common name, either. I had my fingers crossed that she wasn't the same person, 'cause, well, she might not have wanted to represent me if she happened to be the same person who sat across from me and had very little good to say all those years ago. What is it with teachers who can't find anything positive to say about their students? Well, that's a whole other topic - which will never be discussed here. I'm still a tad bitter, as you might be able to tell. That's why I was hoping for the name thing to just be a coincidence.

Well, luckily for me, the moment I spoke with her on the phone I realized that they're NOT the same person. (the lovely South African accent gave it away) Did I ever sigh a huge sigh of relief. And she told me she loves Smudge! (My son's grade 4 teacher would never have said that. She didn't like anything.) Anyway, I'm really excited to be working with her and am looking forward to what lies ahead. She exudes such optimism and energy - even over the phone - that I'm so confident she's going to do a fabulous job and get Smudge's name in front of people.

I've also 'virtually' met my U.S. publicist. She'll be working with me for Smudge's 2010 U.S. launch. She also seems like a truly fantastic person to have on my side and I'm excited to see how the U.S. market will welcome Smudge.

In the meantime, I've been preparing for Smudge's official launch that will take place on September 17 @ 7 pm at the McNally Robinson Bookstore in the Shops at Don Mills. I've also attended a massive family reunion this month, been organizing several author events at Chapters stores across the GTA that will happen after the Sept. 17th launch, and I've also been furiously putting the pieces of my second book together in hopes of having it polished and sparkly by Nov. 1st.

Who says teachers get their summers off?

So there you have it. I hope I've made my readers happy again. :)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hi, my name is Claudia. Nice to meet you.

It's amazing how life can zip by at times. This is one of those times for me. As I try to focus on putting the pieces of my second book together, I am also caught up in the excitement (and frustrations) that come with having my first book out. Add to that preparations for a book launch, my husband's career change, and a summer of family reunions; I'm in the middle of a chunk of my life where I'm having a hard time keeping track of what's going on and when. Just put it this way: when I opened my eyes this morning, I realized it was August!

So, please forgive my infrequent posts. And the way I seem to have fallen off the map. Be assured that I am still here, clinging to the edge of my piece of the globe in hopes I don't spin right off into the cosmos. (Although, come to think of it, it would be a lot more peaceful and quiet out there, wouldn't it?)

Anyway, I'll do my best to drop in from time to time to say hi and let you know what's happening in my and Smudge's life. And soon I hope to include some news as to how my next book is going.

Peace out.