A Comic Obsession

I dug out the old – but never forgotten – romance book that I wrote a few years back. Why, you ask? I read that the Harlequin Series Digital First Line was currently accepting submissions, and thought, what the heck? After reviewing, polishing, and updating, I sent it in. Below is a bit of a synopsis …
A Comic Obsession


Nothing can prepare 25-year-old Brinn Michaels for the mind-blowing moment when she rushes into a popular downtown comic book store and smacks face-first into a sexy, leather-clad Caped Crusader (circa Christian Bale; no Adam West dorkiness here).

Shocked at her physical reaction to the mysterious Batman (who would’ve thought leather could be so intoxicating?), Brinn is desperate to buy her brother’s birthday present and get the hell out. She’s hot for a guy in costume, and that simply doesn’t fit with her calm, ordered world of calendars, schedules and smartphone alarms.

And why doesn’t this man fit into her world? A third-year law student at the University of Toronto, Brinn’s worked hard to get where she is, and it hasn’t been easy. Her dad buggered off when she was eight, and her mom died when Brinn was 20, leaving her to care for her 13-year-old brother, Adam. With all her responsibilities, Brinn doesn’t have time for fantasy and flirtation, no matter what her body is demanding.

But Brinn hasn’t seen the last of the man in black, also known as Jake Reynolds, sexy owner of the comic book store, Jade. In order to help her best friend, Emily, keep her job as associate producer on the hit reality TV show, Make Me Over, Brinn reluctantly agrees to pose as a guest – with Jake pretending to be her boyfriend. Now they need to spend the three weeks leading up to their segment’s taping getting to know each other … intimately.

Hunter High 2.0 Complete!

I wrote the last sentence of Hunter High on July 24 around 10:35 p.m. What a feeling! Whoo hoo. The entire story is complete, all 279 pages of it, and now I just need to revise. Having a whole week at a cottage to focus on finishing my second draft was such a luxury. I’d get up, eat breakfast, gaze at the water, go inside, and then write like a maniac.

I’m totally looking forward to revising. I need to review for character development, pacing, story structure, etc. Also, did I plant enough/too many clues? Does each scene move the story forward? Then on to the actual line editing.

In my reading world, I’ve enjoyed:

  • Sandman, Books 1 and 2
  • Danse Macabre (I can’t believe I’ve never read this Stephen King book before)
  • Prom Nights from Hell
  • Tales from the Script (a great non-fiction book about writing for movies)
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • 11/22/63
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames (David Sedaris is the ultimate in shorty story humour: self-deprecating, deadpan, downright hilarious)

And next up:

Game of Thrones

This Dark Endeavour…

The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, by Kenneth Oppel is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Two words: loved it. We are introduced to a 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein and the tragic events that incite his passion for creation. The inclusion of a mortally ill twin brother who needs the Elixir of Life is an ingenuous idea. Kenneth Oppel is a brilliant writer! (I knew this already; he also wrote the Silverwing series.) I must now re-read Frankenstein and see how Oppel weaved bits of the classic into his novel. I’m especially interested to see the portrayal of Elizabeth and Henry.

I also read The Great Gatsby and loved that, as well, which totally surprised me. My best friend and I had talked about it a few weeks ago in the vein of, “Wasn’t that the book where a bunch of boring rich people talked at parties?” I’m embarrassed to admit that I had agreed, having read the book back in university and was not impressed. (Again, I chalk this up to having to fly through so many novels per week and not appreciating many of them.). Anyway, The Great Gatsby…Yes, there are obscenely rich people flitting from party to party, but I never realized that at the book’s core is obsession. Everything Gatsby does is motivated by his love for Daisy, to prove to her that he’s worthy and capable of taking care of her. She gets his hopes up, but in the end, treats him like garbage. Argh! Gatsby definitely partook in criminal activity, but wow, I felt such sympathy for the guy, and to some extent horror and embarrassment at his actions.

Read, Write, Read

I’ve been so caught up the past week and a half revising Hunter High that I haven’t gotten ’round to updating…again!

So, books.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Enjoyed it. Found it hard to put down. A good wrap-up to the trilogy, but left me wanting to read more stories about Lisbeth. I wonder what the series would have tackled next if Larsson had lived.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules: An easy read for a Saturday morning. I like the dry humour and school situations, though the main character Greg isn’t really that nice of a kid. I think he deserves everything he gets.

Your Voice in My Head: A memoir by the British author and screenwriter Emma Forrest. Not always a huge fan of memoirs, but I liked this one because it was kind of written like a love letter to her psychiatrist. He died from cancer and she spends the book struggling to understand why he didn’t let anyone know of his illness. The book also focuses on her relationship with a movie star, which ended abruptly after six months and after he said he wanted to have a baby with her. He did a complete 180. Jerk.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
: I read this book three years ago and decided to re-read it after two friends remarked that Hunter High reminded them of this book, with respect to the adventure set-up. I can see; it follows the hero’s journey.

Getting there…

I’ve finished designing my website, and Trevor is in the midst of programming it. Fortunately, I can help upload the content once he shows me how to do it. It’s taken a while, but it’s looking good! The longest (and sometimes tedious part) was gathering the content: scanning, screenshots, links, resizing jpegs, etc. I’m happy that part is over.

I can’t wait until it goes live!

Hunter High 2.0

I’ve started rewriting my first draft of Hunter High. I’d been putting it off for weeks because I figured it would be a dreadful task; who wants to rewrite a couple hundred pages? I know. I know. Rewriting is part of the process; there’s no such thing as a perfect first draft, or even second draft, for that matter!

However, I’m happy to say that it’s going much better than I thought it would. Probably because the story is already written and I don’t have to stare at a blank page. It’s weird; it kind of feels like I’m reading someone else’s work.

Like breathing…

Great interview on salon.com the other day with the legendary editor Robert Gottlieb. He’s in his eighties now and has worked in publishing since 1955. I especially like the part I’ve excerpted below, where he talks about making the transition from editor to writer:

Get it done, whether it’s writing the piece or doing the dishes: Do it. Don’t sit around moping.

On the other hand, I do sit around moping! When it comes to writing, I can’t haul myself to the computer. I put it off all day. Usually around 11 at night, I drag myself over there and I say, “OK, I’ve got to type something.” Then when I’m actually doing it, it’s fine. It’s not the doing it, it’s the getting myself to do it. And then of course, I go over and over and over it.

I’ve dealt with writers, or observed writers, who aren’t like that at all. They’re automatic writers. They sit down and they type. I’ve known three of them, two of whom I was quite close to: Doris Lessing, Anthony Burgess and Updike. You just felt that between the desire and the act fell no shadow. …Doris…always said that if she hasn’t written during the day she feels she hasn’t lived that day. These three were writers the way the rest of us are breathers. But that’s not me: For me it’s reading that’s like breathing.

I can relate. Especially the part about just sitting down and writing, for goodness’ sake! I think it’s because I’m almost finished the first draft of my YA book… And now that I’m nearing the end, I’m a little overwhelmed at the need to tie it all together in a satisfying conclusion. I just need to sit down and do it; I have the plot points printed out on cards; it’s all there. Just do it! Sheesh.

Our Stories

When I was in high school, my best friend and I used to write what we called “our stories.” (Typing that phrase now makes me think of my Grandma Dot and her devotion to Days of Our Lives.)

Basically, it went like this, we’d choose a theme: the dance, the drive-in, the date (forgive us, we were teenage girls. What else would we write about?), and then one of us would start the story. If it were me, I’d write 3 or 4 pages in the evening, leave it at a cliffhanger, and then in the morning before classes started, I’d read it to Emmalyn in DM’s foyer. She’d balk at the cliffhanger, wonder how she’d write her way out of it, and then she’d do the same to me the next day. I clearly remember how excited we were to hear what the other person had written, and then being extra-excited to rush home and continue the story. We did this for years, but then it kind of petered out once we went to different universities and couldn’t see each other every day.

Emmalyn has been the keeper of all our stories for the past two decades. She gave them to me a couple of weeks ago to read, and man, it’s hilarious to think about what was so important to us back then. The CFNY dance? And it wasn’t just one story about a dance, there were several. All of them starred the two of us, plus one of our friends who went to a different school, and of course, our current crushes. We all had aliases just in case the stories were misplaced somewhere. Looking back, everything little thing was so huge, vital, something to exclaim about: “Did so-and-so glance at us? Ohmigod. He looked this way. Is he going to ask me to dance?” Totally embarrassing, but I love to think of us back then writing away in our rooms about that kind of stuff.

The majority of the time our stories had no plot; they were more like a snapshot of some event that we thought was important. However, as we hit the older grades, we branched out. There was the Australian Outback adventure, and Emmalyn did a great story about Miss Scrimmage’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, which was a riff on Gordon Korman’s “The Boys of MacDonald Hall” series. That reminds me, I have a whole bunch of his most recent books to read. One of my favourites of his books is I Want to Go Home, about this boy Rudy Miller who is sent to summer camp and spends every spare minute trying to escape. It came out in 1981, and I remember thinking it was so funny and ridiculous. I must get it from the library.

All this to say, I’d like to recapture that excitement of writing just for one person, namely Emmalyn. So when she suggested that we start writing our stories again, I was like, sign me up. I’d like to think our stories are a little more mature this time (we are in our late 30s, after all), but who knows, and who cares because we’ll be the only people reading them. We can make them as embarrassing as we want!

Free trip? Yes, please!

I entered the CAA Discoveries travel-writing contest today. Hard to believe, but this is the first time I’ve ever submitted to a writing contest. I couldn’t resist, though. Basically, you write a 200-word account of your favorite “travel,” and then CAA travel experts pick the best one. Winner gets to go on a free trip and then write about it for their magazine. I wrote about how Trevor and I went whitewater rafting along Kicking Horse River. That was a thrill ride. The winner is picked in June, so I’ll just have to wait and see. I can’t imagine if I won. South Africa, Ecuador, China…where would we go?

Kobo thoughts: I like my new Kobo. (Trevor got me one for Christmas.) I’ve always been curious about e-books; I even bought a few close to ten years ago when there were no such things as e-readers. However, I found it hard to read a couple hundred pages on a computer screen, and quickly “shelved” the idea of electronic books. But now I have to say that with the Kobo, it’s very close to reading a physical book. It’s not back-lit so there’s no stress on your eyes, and wow, is it ever easy to download books from the Toronto Public Library! The only thing is that the new releases are always gone. You have to go on a waiting list and wait for readers to “return” them, which is fine, I guess. They are library books, after all.

One problem I’ve had is that a couple of the library books came as pdfs instead of e-pub formats, and the font was too small. I couldn’t read them and also couldn’t figure out any way to make the text bigger, except to zoom in, which sure, made the font larger, but then you had to scroll the page up and down and side to side. My only other complaint is that the Kobo is extremely light. This is one of their selling points: it’s better than dragging around heavy hardcovers books, which I’m prone to do. The only thing is that I like to read curled up on the couch, with my knees up, and the book resting against my knees and my stomach. The Kobo is so small and light that this reading setup doesn’t work. The Kobo keeps slipping down my knees. I know, wah, wah. I’m almost over it.