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Writer Wednesdays – Barbara Carter

This week, Writing Wicket interviews Barbara Carter (Langille), artist and author. She was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and grew up and lived outside the town of Mahone Bay until moving to the Halifax area in 2002.

Barbara Carter

I asked Barbara:

Q: Do you try more to be original or delivered to readers what they want?

I try to be original and also deliver a story to readers. I don’t want to follow a set formula or do as others have done or fit into what is popular at the moment. I’ve always been original when it comes to my visual artwork and I want to try to do the same as a writer.

Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Like in the opening lines of the old TV Star Trek show, I’m talking ‘60s: to boldly go where no man has gone before.

My goal is to keep the reader interested and engaged in the story while taking them to places they may never have personally gone.

Sometimes it could get a bit uncomfortable for some.

Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Well, since I write nonfiction I feel that what I owe the real people in my life is a name change.

I try to reveal as little as possible about them, only including them where it’s necessary in the telling of my story.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

The only unpublished and half-finished writings are those I’m currently working on.

My first book took sixteen years before it came together. Sometimes I thought it never would. 

Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

The most unethical practices in the publishing industry is in the so-called vanity area, with new authors not researching and learning enough about how the publishing industry works. Authors handing over lots of money to a publisher who has no incentive in what happens after the book is printed and paid for by the author.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve several writing projects on the go. Some days it depends on my mood and where inspiration strikes. Most of the fourth memoir is written, and I’m working on the first draft of another memoir. I’m also planning to write personal essays. Also want to try my hand at writing a play and a screenplay.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?

As a child I wanted to be a teacher, thinking at the time my only options were nurse, secretary, and teacher.

In my teens I wanted to be an artist or a writer. For some reason I felt I couldn’t be both.

I guess I’ve always been connected to what I wanted to be. I’ve fulfilled them all. For many years I instructed art classes and more recently writing workshops.

Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

If spirituality is what connects you to a sense of a deeper connection to yourself and others, then yes, I view it as a spiritual practice.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

Since I write non-fiction, from what I’ve experienced, my male characters are based on the actions of the men I’ve encountered.

I like thinking of them not as some kind of alien enemy, but as vulnerable and as human and sometimes as scared as us women.

I gained much more appreciation and understanding of males by raising a son.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

That it takes so long to do!

Other than that I really do enjoy it all, from the first draft, rewriting, editing. All of it..

Q: What your favourite part about writing?

My favourite part of writing is after the first draft when I’m starting to flesh the story out. Balancing showing and telling. The first draft is very draining for me.

I find revisions and edits more relaxing and fun.

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

Because of my chronic pain condition I cannot work long hours.

Everything I do in life is done in small chunks. Pacing myself from one activity to another. Balancing my life as best I can. Fatigue a constant companion.

I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking for dictating.

One hour or two at the most is a good day of writing for me.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

What I hope to accomplish with my writing is to be able to touch readers in a way that makes them feel less alone. To connect with others.

Also to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren.

That no one else tell my story as a white-washed fairy tale; I want it raw and real.

So many people leave this world and we never really know who they were.

I want to leave behind who I was.

Q: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I spend quite a bit of time writing about my early years, teen and young adult.

Learning from those past experiences, seeing them with new eyes.

Exploring what shapes us into the people we become.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?

I’ve taken out several chapters. Parts that weren’t strong enough or important enough in the story. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to leave in, what to take out. It’s a balancing act.

If it bothers me to cut parts out, I stick the writing in another folder where maybe someday it can work in another story. That makes it much easier to cut.

Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?

What motivates me is believing my writing has a purpose.

That my stories can offer hope to someone else.

To inspire others to be themselves, not to worry what others think, to be follow your dreams, believe in yourself.

Q: Are you ever upset when you finish the story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?

Well, since most of my characters are nonfiction, I can only be upset with what they’ve done in real life. Some left much too soon. Some could have said so much more.

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

One book that stands out in that regard is: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson.

In that book she says… “I wrote a story I could live with. The other one was too painful. I could not survive it.”

Some may need that escape into a world easier than the one they know. I get that.

Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your Mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I think I would stick with a bird image. I use a lot of bird imagery in my artwork. Dah! The covers on my memories all feature bird images.

A bird can glide above it all, look down, land if it wants, and simply fly away again.

Q: What books have you published?

Floating in Saltwater: a young girl’s search for answers

Balancing Act: memoir of a teenage breakdown

Loose Gravel: memoir of running from grief

SAD Girl, BAD Girl, and I  (a collection of poems & art)

Check out Barbara on social media:

Barbara’s Facebook Page:

Barbara’s Web Page:

Goodreads

Draft2Digital (Floating in Saltwater):

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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Writer Wednesdays – Jane Doucet

This week, Writing Wicket showcases Jane Doucet, author of The Pregnant Pause.

Jane Doucet photo by Rachael Kelly (2).jpg

After earning an honours journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax in 1993, Jane Doucet began her career in Toronto at FLARE, Canada’s leading fashion magazine. She spent the next six years working as a staff writer, editor, researcher and copy editor for several award-winning national magazines, including Chatelaine and Maclean’s.

In 1999, Jane decided to pursue freelance writing and editing full-time in Toronto. A year later she returned home to Halifax, where she expanded her freelance clientele. She wrote dozens of feature articles on health, parenting, gardening, entertainment, education, business and more diverse topics for national magazines and newspapers. In 2015, she joined the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University as a communications specialist.

In 2003, Jane wrote the first draft of The Pregnant Pause, her debut novel. Following a negative experience with a literary agent in London, England, she shelved the manuscript for 14 years, dusting it off in the fall of 2016 and choosing to self-publish it in order to maintain creative control. While the story is loosely based on some of her own experiences, it’s also representative of many women’s journeys.

“I wrote my novel to empower women who assumed they’d have children but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen,” says Jane. “It’s really for everyone, though—women and men, parents and non-parents—because it’s about relationships with romantic partners, family, friends and coworkers. People will be able to relate to different parts of the story.”

I asked Jane:

Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?

I try to write a story that I’d like to read and hope the readers who like the genre and topic will also enjoy it.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’m almost finished the first draft of a manuscript for my second novel.

Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Not paying authors more. Except for the big names, ordinary authors don’t receive much money from each book sale.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A novel about a married couple in their late 50s who open a sex shop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It has some racy bits, but it’s really about love—long-time mature love, love in a rut, new love, lost love, unrequited love, even the love of beloved animal companions.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?

Until Grade 7 a teacher, because both of my parents were. Then when I was 12 I started taking ballet lessons, and I wanted to be a ballerina. I earned a dance performance studies diploma at George Brown College in Toronto, then did a short stint at the Washington School of Ballet before enrolling in journalism school when I was 20. I’ve been writing ever since, and I turned 50 in September.

Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Hardly! I find it painful.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

Everything.

Q: What do you like least about writing?

Revisions, and feeling like you could still improve it even after it has gone to the printer.

Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?

Finishing! Seriously, though, rereading certain passages in my manuscript after taking a break and thinking, “Hey, that isn’t half bad.”

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

I have a full-time day job so I don’t have a writing schedule. I write when I have the time, energy and ideas. I never watch the clock, but I’m obsessed with checking word count. I rented a house in Lunenburg the first week of October solely to work on my second novel and averaged 1,500 words a day over five days.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

To entertain and educate with humour.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?

I put the manuscript for The Pregnant Pause in a drawer for 14 years before I self-published it. When I went to revise it, I was a stronger writer than I had been since I had written the previous draft. I cut 20,000 words out of it and the flow was much tighter as a result. So, no, it didn’t bother me; it felt necessary.

Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?

In writing, when an idea won’t leave me alone. Then I’m like a dog with a delicious bone—I won’t let go of it till it’s good and done.

Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?

Not at all. It’s a release and a relief—and time to send it out into the world and see how it’ll be received (hopefully well).

Q: What books have you published?

My debut novel, The Pregnant Pause, in 2017. I’m proud to say that it was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award.

Jane’s Website

Facebook: @thepregnantpausenovel

Twitter: @allmywords2017

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If you are an indie author and would like to be “showcased” on this blog, please send a request to writingwicket at gmail.com.

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

 

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The Spot Writers

This week’s post comes to us from Cathy MacKenzie, who writes mainly short stories and poems. The prompt this month for the Spot Writers is to write a short story including three of the following words: courage, car, obvious, sashay, checked, twitched.  Cathy used the following words: courage, car, obvious. She hopes you enjoy her story!

Check out her blog at: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/  Her books are available on Smashwords at:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack

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Shadow Dance

At the restaurant, in between mouthfuls of Thai chicken bites and Caesar salad, I take stock of Dan, my husband. I’m startled to notice how much thicker—and darker— his hair seems. Has he died his white hair a tawny brown? His face—once etched with deep furrows and molted with red blotches—is smoother than I remembered. His burnished skin glows, like he’s spent too much time outdoors.

When we arrive home, I glimpse my own face in the hall mirror—a face I almost don’t recognize. I stare at the drawn reflection bordered with wispy whitish hair. Crows’ feet fan from the outer corners of my sunken eyes, and fleshy bags perch beneath dwindling lower lashes. My jowls sag like soggy dishrags pinned to the clothesline on a breezeless day.

When I sense Dan’s presence, I move away from the mirror. He stares at me like he hasn’t seen me before, just as I seemingly viewed him for the first time earlier at the restaurant. I want to hide my face in shame. Does he see tell-tale age on me? Will he search out someone younger? Or has he already?

Without a word, he turns and sprints to the garage to work on his vehicles, specifically his ’65 Mustang. He cherishes that car, caring for it like a mother would her newborn. I’ve spied on him in the past while he caressed its smooth, firm body. I’ve seen him tenderly slide a soapy cloth across the surface, and, after carefully spraying off the suds, lovingly rub on the oil paste like one would apply sunscreen over a svelte young woman. I’ve watched while he polished the frame to a radiant sheen.

I often wonder what goes through his mind while he continually kneads an ever-immaculate chassis into gloss shimmering like a new black patent shoe. Does he think of me? Someone else? Or is he too immersed to think of anything?

White I watch his backside vanishing down the hall, I debate whether to follow. Instead, I remain in the kitchen and gaze around the recently redecorated room—the stark black granite, the all-matching stainless steel appliances, the resurfaced cupboard doors—and wonder where life begins and ends. Similar to poofs of smoke on a windy day, my years disappeared too fast. What good are material possessions? What happens to things when we’re gone?

Where will that car go? Who will treasure that vehicle as my husband does?

More importantly, who will cherish me when he’s gone? He’ll depart first. If not, I’m certain I’ll live longer than a dratted car that gobbles up his time and money.

A force of courage propels me to again peer into the mirror. The features are displayed before me, etched for all time in that rectangle of recently Windexed glass. Mirrors don’t lie—they never did; they never will. My eyes can lower to hide what they don’t want to acknowledge; I can’t be scarred by what I can’t see, but, unfortunately, I’ve already seen it. I already know. Tearing out my eyes won’t make the years disappear. Time has taken its rightful place. Obvious age has attached itself, and there’s nothing left once those deadly talons have latched.

Maybe luck would have been on my side had Dan succeeded in blinding me that day many years ago. The searing liquid hit me square in the face, but didn’t penetrate into my eyes when my eyes instinctively closed tight. No one can touch that car of his—except him, of course; I learned that the hard way.

Perhaps not being blinded was my downfall. Had I been blinded that day, I wouldn’t be able to see today how I have morphed over the years. I’d forever remember me when I was twenty-five, when I was still desirable.

What happened a few minutes ago when Dan saw me by the mirror? Did he suddenly encounter an old woman instead of his once-young, pretty wife?  Or had he even seen my beauty those many years ago? Perhaps he’s only ever had eyes for his Mustang, for he’s owned that vehicle longer than me. That car’s family, after all. Not to mention the car has retained its beauty and grace throughout the years; its appearance has have never changed, thanks to his meticulousness.

I sneak down the hallway and open the door to the off-limits garage. The Mustang leers at me—the headlights glare and the grill sneers like fangs. The body shines as one titanic twinkling star, revealing reflections of youth and lust. At the far end of the triple-car garage, Dan holds a blow torch, hard at work on an old Chevy. He doesn’t hear the door’s creak nor does he see me enter the forbidden room.

When I stumble over a pile of car parts, I lunge to the Mustang rather than tumble to the concrete where I would chance a bone fracture.

The racket jars Dan from his intense labours. “What you doin’?” he shrieks. “Get off my car!”

I jump back. But it’s too late. My body and greasy fingerprints have marred the gloss of his favourite friend. Within mere seconds, before I realize he’s leaped in front of me, I feel the heat—hotter than anything I’ve ever previously experienced.

“Take that, you…” The rest of his words are garbled. Someone else might have been able to decipher them, but not me.

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 The Spot Writers- our members:

 RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller
http://www.valmuller.com/blog

Catherine A. MacKenzie
https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Deborah Dera
http://www.deborahdera.com

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