Archive for June, 2013

The High-Wire Act by novelist and guest blogger Gina Buonaguro


Balancing parenting with writing—not to mention a regular job—is no mean feat. I’ve at times found it to be immensely difficult, especially when I had my newborns and no maternity leave (since I’m self-employed). For instance, my first novel, The Sidewalk Artist, was purchased by St. Martin’s Press soon after I gave birth to my daughter, and I remember feeling like a zombie as I walked the hallways of my house bouncing her in a sling, discussing revisions with my coauthor. I felt less pressure when my son was born five years later, since we were still in the writing stages of our historical mystery, The Wolves of St. Peter’s , but still, it was all I could do to keep on top of my email.

Of course, having a coauthor helps tremendously in keeping the writing ball rolling – you’re writing even when you’re not writing. But most writers don’t have a coauthor, and so the single most important thing I would recommend in terms of keeping balance is getting help to carve out writing time. It could be in the form of hired help such as a nanny or a neighbourhood preteen or teenager to act as a mother’s helper (or how about “hiring” an older sibling?). You could swap babysitting with friends or call in favours from family members. The other tip I have is to schedule in your writing time as you would any other critical appointment or work deadline, something that you would never dream of missing. I’ve become a huge fan of Google Calendar, where I not only schedule in appointments and commitments (both work and family) but also have the app email me reminders. Because the thing about writing: It’s not only work; it’s a pleasure. And such things that feed the soul should absolutely be prioritized.

Gina Buonaguro is, along with Janice Kirk, the author of The Sidewalk Artist, Ciao Bella, and the just released The Wolves of St. Peter’s. Visit their blog –


True Blood Fairies Vs. The Real Deal

True Blood Fairies Vs. The Real Deal

True Blood vs. REAL Faeries

Stuck between Game of Thrones and True Blood? Delve into the origin of fairies and find out why they might not be such a weak match for vampires and witches after all.

“I’m a fairy? How fucking lame!”

Sookie Stackhouse

Doesn’t sound real bad-ass, does it? Especially when you’re coping with vampires. Well, those fairies seem pretty and disappointingly delicate until you see one die. Ugly doesn’t begin to describe it. And while a vampire can polish off a fairy in one go, they are fairly durable otherwise.

How close does Sookie’s realm of Faery resemble the original Celtic myths on fairies? For this we asked Lisa Llamrei, author of Reflection of the Gods, about the true nature of Fairy.

Q: In True Blood, fairies appear to Sookie as “beautiful creatures with pointed ears and glossy thin skin,” but she eventually realizes that it is an illusion designed to disguise their ugliness. Are Irish fairies ugly? Are there any pretty ones at all?

A: A great many Irish fairies are ugly, but not all. The Sidhe, the nobility of the fairy realm, are tall, blond, and beautiful. The Dearg-Due, as well, is known for her beauty. But don’t mistake beauty for benevolence. The Side are known to be, at best capricious, and at worst brutal. The Dearg-Due is a vampire who seduces men and then feeds on their blood.

Q: You say fairy folk tales are found all over the world. Why do you think Irish fairies are the most well known?

A: The fairies of the British Isles in general are the best known in North America. I believe that’s simply a function of demographics. Most of the early colonists were English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, and they brought their tales of the fair folk with them across the ocean. Accessibility may also be a factor – stories from the British Isles were either told in English or were translated into English long ago.

Q: Sookie hears other people’s thoughts until she learns to shut them out. Do fairies have telepathy in any of the legends you looked up?

A: They certainly have telepathy of a sort in the old stories. Fairies always seem to know who is pure of heart and who isn’t. They may even possess true telepathy as they are often seen acting in large groups without speaking.

Q: The one thing Sookie has to guard herself against vampires is her blasts of light. Any fairies with laser-beams coming out of their fingers in your research? What other offensive magic do they have?

A: I’ve not come across a single Irish fairy with laser fingers. Fairies rely heavily on glamour – appearing to be something they are not. This is often used as defensive magic, but fairies also use it to appear beautiful themselves, or to make a place appear particularly attractive in order to lure humans in and kill them. They can do anything from sending mist to obscure coastlines in order to wreck ships, to causing temporary madness, to hurling buckets of blood, to causing swollen joints or other physical ailments. Many fairies also possess tremendous strength. Adding to the danger is their capriciousness – fairies may kill or maim just because you happened upon them, or even just for sport.

The confrontation between Irish fairies and Eastern European vampires never happened in the old stories. If it had, I suspect the vampires wouldn’t have stood a chance. They have too many vulnerabilities (sunlight, fire, wooden stakes, needing to sleep during the day), whereas fairies have none. On the other hand, those crafty vampires might have found some where humans couldn’t. Hmm … there could be a novel in there.

Q: How long do fairies live?

A: In the old stories, fairies are generally thought to be immortal. A few humans claim to have witnessed fairy funerals; however, it isn’t certain whether there really was a death, or the fairies were simply imitating humans, as they have been known to do.

Q: Aislinn can travel through dimensions. Is this a common fairy power or something you decided to give her?

A: Fairies do travel easily between their world and ours, which is how humans have happened upon them at times.

Lisa Llamrei is the author of Reflection of the Gods, winner of the 2013 Independent Publisher Awards, Bronze for Canada-East – Best Regional Fiction. For more of Llamrei’s research on fairies, go to her blog post The Truth about Fairies.

Target Your Market

Target Your Market

Excellent advice from a clever writer and self-promoter, Lisa Llamrei. From her blog:

I accidentally read a work of Christian Fiction (The Samsara Effect, by Paul Black, which I reviewed here). I wouldn’t have done it on purpose, because I’m not a fan of the genre. But, my mistake was understandable – the book was not classified as Christian Fiction, nor was there any indication from the description that there were religious themes. As a result, not only was I disappointed in an ending I couldn’t buy into, I was left feeling like I’d been deceived into spending good money and investing precious time into something that doesn’t interest me.

I am not singling out Christian Fiction; that just happens to be my recent experience. I also don’t like Romance, Military Fiction, or Westerns, and would be equally miffed about being tricked into reading one of those (even more so, in the case of Romance). No matter what your genre, it is essential to play fair with readers by being clear about the themes in your book.

I understand the difficulty of classifying fiction, particularly as the cross-genre novel is popular. While I tend to classify my own Reflection of the Godsas Urban Fantasy, it could just as validly be classified as Historical Fantasy, or Paranormal. Due to this difficulty, cross-genre books sometimes get dumped into General Fiction. But this is where the book description comes in. Even ifReflection of the Gods ends up in the General Fiction section, anyone who picks it up will know that mythological beings feature prominently in the narrative. Potential readers can make an informed choice.

The purpose of defining your book’s genre is to target your readership. You want the people who read your book to enjoy it, and to tell their friends about it. In a good way. Word of mouth can drive sales, or it can kill them. Purposely aiming for a broader audience in the hopes that they will love it if you can just get them to read it doesn’t work. Readers who don’t care for your genre, and feel duped into reading it, are going to leave bad reviews. And once bitten, twice shy. Someone who’s been fooled once won’t take a chance on you again.

The cold, hard truth is that not everyone will like your writing. And that’s okay. Because for every genre, there is a devoted audience. The key is to connect with that audience. Your audience.

Lisa Llamrei

The Writers’ Union of Canada Votes to Admit Self-Published Authors

Twuc_Votes_To_Admit_Self-Published_Authors (link to press release)

This decision has been causing a big stir.

I am hugely in favour, of course, and not just because I represent independently published authors, but because big publishing houses are finding they have less opportunity to nurture as many new writers as they’d like. And there are many valid reasons to choose to self-publish (see this link for a few: This choice is increasingly respected as such, being seen as more than vanity publishing.

“This is a landmark decision,” said a delighted Merilyn Simonds, Chair of TWUC, “one that addresses our sincere desire for inclusion and innovation, while maintaining our tradition of defining and upholding professional standards for writers in Canada.”

Authors of self-published books will have to demonstrate commercial intent, have those works peer-reviewed, and have an ISBN.

The decision won’t be ratified — if indeed it eventually is — until the fall, but since it was unanimous, I am hopeful attitudes are changing.

John Green: why I’ll never self-publish

John Green: why I’ll never self-publish

Loyal author rants lovingly but fiercely about the publishing industry. All his points are very valid, and his gratitude is appreciated, no doubt, but those same components — editors, mentors, production assistants, publicists, book designers — are all available to so-called independently published authors as well. And just as necessary.John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

Caution: Elephant in the Room

When Diana Gabaldon submitted her first manuscript to a few publishers, wondering if she had any talent or if it was all in her head, she came home to find a man waiting on her doorstep with an offer. I can’t remember if he was an agent or an editor, but whoever he was, he had a contract with a big advance for her to sign right them and there. Proof that the cream rises to the top.

But that was decades ago. Now, big publishers have fewer places on their lists for books. Blame mergers, or changing tastes, or a shrinking market – or all of the above. But when I interned at a big house I saw wonderful books being turned away because that category was full, or they didn’t have the time they used to have to nurture writers.

And what about the self-published authors who have become literary sensations? They are proudly and happily earning a living doing what they love. Maybe the publisher who turned them down was just plain wrong.

Self-publication is hardly solitary these days. There are usually writing groups and mentors and colleagues and editors involved. So there is some vetting of the quality, without the financial constraints (or big budgets, conversely) of the big houses. Small and mid-sized publishers are great, but they can only publish and promote so many books.

Self-published authors have greater creative control, keep more of the proceeds, and set their own schedules. Need I say more?

Lit Laugh Love

I won’t bother to preface this post with an introduction to the topic of self-publishing. Whether you’re in publishing or not, the words have been bandied about plenty, especially after the success of 50 Shades of I-Can’t-Bear-To-Think-Of-It. I’ve read many an article on the subject and for the most part I’ve stayed strong to believing that self-publishing *on the whole* doesn’t do the individual or the industry many favors.

I recently read an article by Jonathan Bennett that had a sentence I just couldn’t shake:

“It used to be that waiting, rejection, indifference and silence were honoured and, indeed, essential aspects of professional, literary writing.”

Read the full article here.

It struck a major chord in my mind. I’ve always believed that there can be no success without failure. By all means, let’s have more opportunities in publishing. But if everyone’s written-word becomes worthy of publication (isn’t it already?…

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June 2013
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