The first rule of Italian Driving.

It’s a 2-page day, if I’ve ever seen one. It’s January 2, 2017. And from January 1 to June 30, we’re going to write 2 pages a day (500 words). We’re allowed one day off a week. I usually choose Sundays. But the rest of the week, we move ahead.

Many days, I won’t feel inspired. Lots of days, the writing will be flat and lifeless. 2 pages a day is not about award-winning prose. It’s just about getting a story (or stories) onto paper. This we call the “crappy first draft.” The fixing comes after June 30th.

So we operate under one rule, articulated by Raul Julia to Tim McIntyre in the 1976 classic Gumball Rally: “And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving. What’s-a behind me is not important.” Maybe a good rule for New Year’s too.

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Two pages a day, 2017

Well, people, it’s time to start again. There’s a world of words ready for mining, and I’ve had a lovely and productive break since last year’s 2 pages a day campaign. I’m in good shape, and ready to start all over.

As with all projects, I spent today laying out the tools and ingredients I’ll need for the next bit of a run. For me, it works best if I have a writing idea or two in mind. I also keep a few half-baked ideas around as well. I’ve picked a few and set them around my computer desktop so I can find them easily.

Here are the guidelines for this gig:

  1. Two pages a day, with one day off a week. That’s 500 words a day, six days a week. January 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017. That’s 26 weeks of 3000 words a week, or 78,000 words.
  2. These two pages are “crappy first draft” pages. We don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or any other standard.
  3. We don’t go back and edit other days’ drafts, unless we happen to have extra time and inclination. Revision is something we save until after the end of June.
  4. We are allowed to switch projects. If you get a little stuck on one, have another handy that will let you keep your 500 word daily commitment.
  5. If you have a good day, and write 1000 words, you can bank those words against other days. I prefer to keep my 500 words a day promise, no matter how good specific days go. The regularity helps me stay disciplined.

I mention all of this, because it is time to prepare everything so come January 1, 2017, we’re off to a ripping start.

Brace yourself. It’s all about to start.

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Review: Uncertain Soldier

Uncertain Soldier
Uncertain Soldier by Karen Bass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Got around to finishing this one last evening. It’s a great read. Loaded with Alberta history, the story offers a glimpse at the tensions WWII had on Albertans and the Prisoners of War who came to be housed in this province.

The story follows two characters. A younger boy named Max and an older teen named Erich. Max is a the son of recent German immigrants to Alberta. Erich was forced to enlist in the German Navy as a 17 year-old. His ship is sunk, and he’s rescued by the Canadian Navy. He’s now a Prisoner of War (POW) in Alberta.

Erich faces discrimination and is hounded by Nazi POWs who are determined to uphold the Nazi perspective in Canada. Max, is squeezed between discrimination and his only family’s pressure to stand up for his heritage. The two struggle against the Alberta wilderness and winter and a series of mysterious accidents that threaten to destroy them both.

The book gives a historical glimpse of Alberta during the Second World War, and a pre-electric Alberta. The writing is often poetic. The story is truly Canadian and raises issues around racism, discrimination, bullying, and the war.

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Review: Power Plays

Power Plays
Power Plays by Maureen Ulrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Power Plays, by Maureen Ulrich, is a lovely read. I finally got around to finishing it last evening. It’s the first of a trilogy. I cared about her main character, Jessie. Small town life alienates Jessie when her dad’s career forces a move from Saskatoon to Estevan. Small-town teenage shenanigans alienate her to the point where a fledgling girls’ hockey team is her only outlet. Even Jessie isn’t sure how her hockey debut is going to work out. The hockey team, too, is on shaky ground. The players aren’t sure the team is worth the investment.

The action includes fairly realistic depictions of teen culture. There is drinking, drug use, and allusions to other teen issues. But it doesn’t wallow in that culture. The descriptions of Saskatchewan hockey culture, not that I’m an expert, are spot on. It probably helped that I’d been to many of the venues the main character visits in her stories. It speaks directly to womens’ sport, womens’ issues, rural living, even touches lightly on gender identity.

Sport-minded readers will love the story. It would probably appeal more strongly to female readers, though the issues are a concern to both genders. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books!

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Time for two pages a day.

January 1, 2016 it all begins. I’m beginning my writing program, and you’re welcome to join me. The goal is to write 500 words a day (two pages), 6 days a week (Sundays off), from January 1 to June 30.

I’m not able to do the NaNoWriMo, thing. It’s too much of a commitment for me. But I can do 500 words a day. In these months, I can turn out a first draft (crappy first draft) of a novel.

I’ve lined up  a couple of stories for the project. I’ve got a general idea for a new novel. I’ve got my starting spot. I’m ready to go because, for me, January 1 is go time.

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Smorgasbook, North!

‘Twas a fine day in Edmonton, where upon did gather 9, yes, 9 Albertan authors for to flog their new books. I being one of the said 9 did a tiny read from my latest tome, Kill Shot. While samewise reminding others of Duck Boy. This is me singing a Debby Boone number.

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It was delightful to included with some Albertan greats: Karen Bass, Natasha Deen, Marty Chan, Kate Boorman, Alison Hughes, Steven Sandor, Nicole Luiken, and Jacqueline Guest. Thank you Stephanie and Jenn, for hosting.

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Smorgasbook, Edmonton this Sunday!

Looking forward to hanging with some serious YA bookies this coming Sunday afternoon. It’ll be a delicious taste of some of the best YA around. And you’re all invited!

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Bill on a Taleblazer Tour

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to take part in Young Alberta Book Society’s Taleblazer tour. What a good time! I visited Ecole Sir George Simpson, in St. Albert, and talked to a couple of groups of students about writing. What an excellent visit! Thank you for inviting me! They ask good questions.

Sir George SimpsonI was also able to visit Wolf Creek Academy in Lacombe. We spend the morning in a small group talking about what it takes to write a novel and whether or not students could take on the task.This is a picture of me, there.

CQzirRTUwAApv5kThank you Cheryl Gascoyne for snapping a few pictures. What a great group! The weather was awesome. The company fantastic. Thanks for letting me drop by!

Special thanks to the YABS pros, Stephanie and Jenn. It was well arranged and a lot of fun.

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Book Launch — August 20th @ 7 p.m. @ Owl’s Nest Bookstore

Well, it’s fast approaching. In fact, it’s next week! You’re welcome to join me and a few other summer souls to launch “Kill Shot.” Hope to see you there!

https://www.facebook.com/events/867379363336470/

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Kill Shot — Extras

If you’re interested in a few extras to do with the story, this is your page. I’ve got a few things I depended on to create Kill Shot, and a few other things that I found interesting. Most of it has to do with u-boats, u-boat life, and other related matters.

The news story that inspired it all, and some extra u-boat/sub stories

Kill Shot is going to be released May, 2015. To celebrate its release and to provide some background, I’ll post a few background items here, beginning with the news story which began the whole idea in my mind:

The entire Kill Shot plot grows out of this news story. Since that time, there have been several related stories involving old submarines or u-boats:

Then, of course, the recent discovery of a submarine from the American Civil War, the H.L. Hunley:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/14/travel/civil-war-submarine-hunley/

A German u-boat found in the Gulf of Mexico:

Uboataces.com

One of the most helpful resources out there is a site called uboataces.com. One of the problems of writing a convincing u-boat story is that it’s difficult to imagine being on one. Uboataces puts out a bunch of documentary material to do with u-boats and their role in World War II. Excellent material here. I purchased a DVD with a photographic and virtual tour of a German Class VIIC u-boat. I’ve posted a couple of images from the DVD with Uboataces’ permission.

The first is a labelled schematic which points out the names of things, which were important to me writing the story.

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This is an outside shot of VIIC class u-boat on display in Germany:

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One last image: this is a shot of the “driver’s seat” of a u-boat, the place where the helmsman and planesman sat to guide the u-boat:

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Anyhow, this DVD allowed me to more fully imagine life aboard a German u-boat.

Uboat.net

Another site that I visited frequently was uboat.net. This site documents the specific boats, officers and crew of each German u-boat. It helped me locate a probable crew, boat, and situation to involve in my story. There are pictures of the commanding officers, mission routes and all sorts of things, here. Check out U-132. You’ll see I use some of what I found here.

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