Pre-Christmas Busy-ness

Christmas at Maggie's

Christmas at Maggie’s

In this pre-Christmas season, I spend one Sunday evening with the Just Write Vancouver Meetup group learning about the practical dos and don’ts of book publishing at a workshop presented by a highly knowledgeable and super helpful local book designer and producer. I pleasantly discover that “French flaps” is the proper name for one of my preferred covers for paperback books. Another tip gleaned from this lesson is to allow 3-6 months for book production once the book is written. After several years of writing, this step will seem to take no time at all!

I continue my education on the book production process and industry by attending a panel presentation of self-published authors, once again organised at the Vancouver Public Library. The stories of overcoming personal and social challenges that these authors have written resonate with me and my story, encouraging me that my story indeed needs to be told. Three main themes emerge for book production and promotion. Obtaining book reviews on advance copies before officially launching a book is critical to promotion. A noted advantage of the self-publishing process is maintaining of control by the author over the choice of book title and cover, as well as the composition of the book editing and production team. And, whether traditional or self-publishing, 90% of the marketing and book promotion is up to the author—so it is best to learn to like this part of the book production process.

My education intensive extends into learning the French language, when in the past 2 weeks I study, write, speak, and pass 2 sets of French tests for the Fall course. I look forward to continuing to practice it, and to the next course in the New Year. J’aime beaucoup apprendre le français, et j’aime même l’étudier !

I will get a chance to pratiquer mon français enconre during one of my two upcoming writing retreats that I have been beavering away to organize for this winter. Just for fun, the details shall remain top secret until my retreat posts in the near future. But needless to say, I am super excited to be setting aside the time, once more, for some concerted writing!

My Artist Date takes me once again to the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), but this time I try FUSE: a live performance night. My favourite activity of the evening consists of indulging in a glass of wine as part of the roughly one hour queue for a half-hour playtime with LEGO! Immensely fun and super neat sensuous experience—completely physically and mentally consuming—as we work in teams of two to design and build multicoloured LEGO towers, which will eventually form a part of a Douglas Coupland exhibit at the VAG in May 2014. As my reflections during my writing clarify for me, I spent most of my life inside my head, and in some ways, I would like to learn to be more of a kid, living equally with the body—and this experience shows me that perhaps I still can.

Another Artist Date inspires in me a continued will to live, and to live with spunk, to the end, as do the “Fabulous Fashionistas” in a film from the UK. It, in deed, does not need to be too late to start something new, and to remind oneself to keep up one’s fabulous living.

Noel chez Maggie

Noel chez Maggie

The month also sees much Christmas-related activity, from decorating my apartment with lights from behind the crown mouldings, red bows on my 2 ficus trees, and cut cedar wreath for my table; to attending several Christmas potluck parties; and meeting with good friends and relatives for pre-Christmas visits. The season is shaping up to be much more enjoyable than around this time last year, when my plans were in flux to the end.

As a result of all these educational and social engagements, I hardly have the time for cooking, and other than snapping photos of my last few Special Dishes for the Week, I haven’t been documenting them—till now, by which time, I have nearly forgotten the secret ingredients that made these dishes uniquely delicious, ranging from French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille, and Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils, to Cardamom Chickpea Muffins.

5 thoughts on “Pre-Christmas Busy-ness

  1. Maggie, yet another inspiring post about what sounds like a rich and fertile time in your life! Thank you for sharing all your latest adventures in french, lego, writing, and of course, cuisine.

    I found your point about obtaining book reviews on advance copies interesting, and was wondering if you have heard much (if anything) about working with an editor during the process prior to publication? I think that is the approach you are taking and I was wondering how common it is. It seems like a brilliant idea to me.

    P.s. Your place looks lovely. 🙂

    • Mel, I am very happy to read that you enjoyed my latest post, and that it got you thinking, presumably for your own projects.

      Yes, I do hear quite a bit of advice in favour of working with someone in a developmental or substantive editor role, or a book coach, prior to the publication stage. Some people engage them before and some after finishing their first draft. For some people, it tends to be a spouse, or a friend, or a writing group, and others hire their editor or coach.

      There are several levels of editing, as is easily learned online, and some editors have skills at the various levels (from honing in on the overall messaging and ideas flow–the forest, to identifying specific content issues–the trees, and working at the very detailed level of grammar and spelling–the leaves 🙂 ). It is useful to select an editor that can work at the level you need them to at a particular phase of your project, as well as one that is familiar with–if not terribly experienced at your genre–but one who likes working in your genre.

      Currently, I find that working with a developmental editor, with whom there is no pressure to share my actual writing and we are just discussing the ideas, is very helpful to me. Not all such editors or coaches work that way, which may also work for some authors. For me, having the separation between the quality of my story from the quality of my writing feels less restrictive at this stage (i.e., I can only take so much constructive feedback at a time 🙂 ).

      I hope this gives you some more ideas!

      • Awesome response Maggie – thanks very much. You make some good points – in particular in that not all editors will focus or necessarily specialize in the same area or function. I’m not too sure what would be best right now with regard to my project, but I have a vague sense that an outside opinion would be very helpful.. if perhaps a bit challenging to implement given the time needed to modify illustrations and such. Anyway, thanks again… looking forward to discussing in person soon!

        • I am glad you found my reply useful. I will be happy to chat about it some more w.r.t. your project.

          As an idea, have you considered cutting up your pages into frames, so that the frames could be moved around or edited individually, without needing to redraw the entire pages?…

          • Hi Maggie.. that’s an insightful suggestion. The problem is that I would have to have consistently sized frames across pages. Unfortunately I have chosen varied frames which in retrospect makes things more difficult. What I am starting to do now though is break things into chapters and draft mostly by pencil before “committing” to ink, which helps.

Share your thoughts