Date: Tuesday September 23, 2008
Posted in: Acadian Star

It’s true! There is only ONE WEEK until October 1st and the release of ACADIAN STAR!



To celebrate, I’m having a contest! YAY!


Would you like to win a free copy? Cause I’m giving a book away each week until the official launch of ACADIAN STAR, October 18th, 2:00 pm at the Petit de Grat library.


And it is SO simple to enter. Just leave a comment here with the word STAR and you’re entered! (limited one per customer) Could it BE any easier?


But WAIT, it gets even better.  If you tell your friends about the contest and they enter and mention you told them about it, you get TWO chances to win!


AND, if you visit my fanpage on FACEBOOK, you can enter there, too!!


THREE chances to win. How cool is that? So many ways to get your very own copy!


And if you share the love and link this contest to your blog, let me know in the comments, too. Cause, yup, you guessed it:


That’s FOUR: FOUR chances to win!! BWAHAHAHA (I feel my inner Count Von Count trying to bust out.)




Then again, you can visit your local bookstore after October 1st.


Or order it from AMAZON:


Or Chapters/Indigo:


That’s always an option. :-)


So ENTER! And TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Invite them to enter, TOO!


First draw will be October 1st.

Good luck!


We are a GO for launch…

Date: Sunday September 21, 2008
Posted in: Acadian Star

So, I ran 5 k today. No stopping. No kidding.

Yep. Not much else new. Oh, yeah. We have a date for ACADIAN STAR’s book launch. Wait. You haven’t heard?


My mom called me at 8 am this morning. She’d been holding out since 6 (5am, my time–thanks, Mom). She was busting a gut to tell me that ACADIAN STAR’s launch was advertised in the Chronicle Herald’s book section this morning.

No kidding! Whee!

It was only 8 o’clock and she’d already fielded calls from Tante Netzie in Halifax, Tante Rose in Truro and a few ladies from town as they spotted the ad and called to tell her. Cute! So it’s official!

ACADIAN STAR will be launched, October 18th, 2:00 pm

at the Petit de Grat Library, La Picasse.

Ever neat!

And wait! I just got a message that a few weeks ago, they were chatting about the book on CBC Radio, the late afternoon show. What? My book? Maybe they were talking about Joanne Jefferson’s Lightning and Blackberries. Must confirm…

Either way, it’s all so weird and wonderful. For so long, this story has been just a bunch of words shuffled around on a computer file. And then, the wonderful people at Nimbus opened up a whole new set of possibilities for it. They helped me hone it into a story I’m so proud of. They transformed my words into a book. And soon, (very soon!) it will be on the shelf in a bookstore near you. Ha! People will buy it (hopefully). People will read it (again, hopefully). Maybe even people I don’t know (which is weird).

It’s a strange feeling to know that people will be walking into the world I’ve created and spending a few hours experiencing the story I’ve spent the last three years creating. Until now, only my critique group and my editors have read ACADIAN STAR. Will these new readers like it? Will they enjoy it? Will they understand it? I feel like I’m sending a child off to school, hoping she’ll make friends, hoping she’ll like the snack I packed, hoping she’ll like her teacher. It’s a bit overwhelming to think of, sometimes.

And fair warning–I always cry on the first day of school.


Running Is Evil, Write Books Instead

Date: Sunday September 14, 2008
Posted in: Acadian Star,writing

I’ve never been the patient sort, but my recycling box full of empty diet coke bottles tells me I should find a new hobby to keep my mind off the several things I’ve had on simmer these past few weeks:

To keep my mind busy, I thought I’d take up running. I even signed up for a 10 k race coming up on November 2nd. I’ve gone twice so far. Phht! Yeah, that’s going well.  At least the entry fee is going to the local hospital. Should come in handy when they rush me there by ambulance partway through the race.

But the nice thing about running is that your mind goes to interesting places while trying to ignore every cell in your body screaming THESE ARE BIRTHING HIPS, NOT RUNNING HIPS while you curse the sensibility of that maternity nurse who advised you to PRACTISE YOUR KEGEL EXERCISES SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. I should drop in and thank her when they cart me in on race day…

But I digress.

So, to avoid running, I’ve been writing. Working to expand RED DUNE ADVENTURES from an early chapter book (8 k) to a Young Reader (18 k). This darn manuscript has been to three different editorial boards and turned down each time. One editor wants to see it again in a longer format. Never to turn down an editorial request, I thought I’d give it a go. No problem, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Until I started revising and realized that it’s not just a matter of adding a subplot, fleshing out a few scenes. Nope. It’s a whole new book.

And like I mentioned, while running, (Remember? My whole body is screaming to stop and I’m thinking evil thoughts?) I realized I had to do something really mean to one of my characters. But man, that’s gonna totally change the whole thing and I’m gonna have to start again from scratch, and I already had 11k words written of an 18 k book.

Yeah, yeah, quit whining.

So, I had been avoiding getting started. That is, until I went to a CANSCAIP meeting on Wednesday and got inspired by one of the speakers discussing Robert McKee’s script writing techniques. The presenter talked about a script writing technique using the three act model. Okay, I’m not even going to pretend that I remembered all the technical terms she used, but it inspired me to come up with an iteration of my own.

I’m calling it the Running Is Evil Write Books Instead (RIEWBI) technique to plotting. I opened a new document (ah, clean white page, so many possibilities, rubs hands with glee) and this is what I came up with. First, I began with this:

PRECIS: André must clear his grandfather’s name when Conservation officers charge him with illegal lobster fishing after an anonymous tip. That is, if André’s cousin, Josie, doesn’t drive him nuts first.

This is the mission statement for my manuscript. By boiling down my story in a few sentences like this, I hope it’ll keep me on track as I work my way through the writing. Then, on to plotting. I’ll give you the break down I’ve come up with here and discuss each stage afterward. Don’t worry if my outline doesn’t quite make sense yet, I’m still filling in the holes. Hopefully it’ll become clear when put in context further downthread…


Main plot:
Grandpa mistakes a lobster trap for his own while out fishing with Andre and his cousin, Josie. He hauls it aboard his boat. (action)
Conservation officer is tipped off and stops Grandpa for fishing with an illegal trap. (hook)

Josie’s come to PEI without her parents this summer and is driving Andre crazy.

Chapter 2

Main plot:
Grandpa’s boat is seized. (action)
Back to port and meet Jimmy Foote. Something suspicious about that guy. (hook)

Josie is a know-it-all. André is annoyed

Chapter 3—PLOT POINT ONE—bad!

Main plot:
Go to beach to see if Sanford saw anything suspicious while moss harvesting. (action)
Sandford’s horse, Thunder gets injured. (hook)

Begin to doubt what Josie’s saying.

Chapter 4

Main plot:
Andre’s veterinarian dad comes to attend to the horse. (action)
Mom closes the beach. (hook)

Subplot: X

Chapter 5

Main plot:
Andre and Josie go to the clinic to check on the horse.
Paint the fence.


Chapter 6—PLOT POINT TWO—badder!!

Main plot: 
Andre and Josie sleep over in the barn loft to keep an eye on the horse. (action)
An intruder enters the barn in the middle of the night, then escapes before discovered. (hook)


Chapter 7

Main plot:
Andre and Josie have a conversation with one of Andre’s friends. (action)
Andre figures out that Josie’s been lying about why she came to PEI on her own this summer. (hook)

Subplot: Josie comes clean.

Chapter 8—PLOT POINT THREE—baddest!!!

Main plot:
Andre and Josie snorkel to find the object that caused Thunder’s injury (action)
It’s a second illegal lobster trap! (hook)

Subplot: André begins to see how much Josie loves the island.

Chapter 9

Main plot:
Go to conservation office with second trap to clear Grandpa’s name. (action)
Doesn’t prove anything. Grandpa still in danger. Pressing charges. (hook)

Subplot: X

Chapter 10

Main plot:
Andre and Josie go back to beach to get their bikes. (action)
They find the buoy in the moss and it has distinctive markings, pinpointing the poacher. (hook)

Subplot: X

Chapter 11—CLIMAX I—The fuse!

Main plot: 
The buoy is the proof! Jimmy Foote is the poacher. (action)
Jimmy has been watching them offshore and rides in on his speedboat to confront them. (hook)

Subplot: X

Chapter 12—CLIMAX II—The burn!!

Main plot:
Jimmy spills all, but no one will suspect him once he gets the buoy back. (action)
Josie throws a coil of rope to tangle in his feet and they make a run for their bikes. (hook)

Subplot: X

Chapter 13—CLIMAX III—Kaboom!!!

Main plot:
The kid’s escape, with Jimmy in hot pursuit. (action!)
Jimmy is apprehended. (hook!)

Subplot: X

Chapter 14—DENOUEMENT: Conclusion

Main plot:
Everyone lives happily ever after.
Lingering questions are answered.

Andre comes to a new understanding about his cousin and her situation.

So, still a few holes to fill, but the main gist of it is that every story starts with an INCITING INCIDENT. Then the narrative happens in three acts or PLOT POINTS. The tension builds with each PLOT POINT until we reach a CLIMAX. The climax in itself has trajectory of bad, badder, baddest until Kaboom! And then the resolution or DENOUEMENT trickles down from the climax to resolve the story in a wholly satisfying way.

That’s the plan, anyway.

First the INCITING INCIDENT, or the r’aison d’etre. While trying to rework this story, I kept getting feedback from my crit group that they only had a teensy inkling of what my story was about after the first two chapters. Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out how to pull the action to the front end of the story. Then, I realised I had to have Grandpa arrested for poaching from the get go (the really mean thing I was talking about) and aha! I had an INCITING INCIDENT.

Before I move on to plot points, I want to touch on conflict and tension. This book will be for young readers (7 to 10 year olds) so there needs to be an internal engine that drives the story forward. Well, let’s face it, every story needs that, but with this age group one needs to be even craftier to keep those pages turning. A tangible way to hook a reader and keep them reading is to end each chapter on a tension-filled high note so that the reader will want to find out what’s next. I’ve built that into the outline here.

An intrinsic technique to engage the reader is to introduce conflict. Conflict is the fuel that drives a story. To me, conflict in a story exists on three levels.

Global conflict: The big idea. Man against nature. Man against the machine.

Character to character conflict: Man against man. How the characters in the story interact with each other.

Internal conflict: Man against himself.

And btw, I’m totally making these terms up, though I don’t promise that I didn’t steal them from somewhere else, subliminally. No matter what age level you’re writing for, each level of conflict needs to exist to fully engage the reader.

In my little tale, the global conflict is the fact that Grandpa has been arrested.

The character to character conflict is between Andre and his ‘away’ cousin, Josie.

The internal conflict is Andre reconciling his contempt for Josie and growing to understand her, and possibly even (will wonders never cease) liking her.  

As far as pacing, this story starts with the INCITING INCIDENT (Grandpa gets stopped for lobster poaching), then goes from bad: PLOT POINT ONE (the horse gets injured) to badder: PLOT POINT TWO (an intruder in the loft) to baddest: PLOT POINT THREE (a second illegal trap). Cause all good stories happen in threes (think the 3 little pigs).

Just when you think things can’t get more horrible, the worst happens! (CLIMAX)

But not just any old CLIMAX. I like to think of the climax in three parts. For all you Wile. E. Coyote fans, this will be familiar:

CLIMAX I (lighting the fuse!)
Jimmy Foote is guilty

CLIMAX II (holding your breath as the spark makes it’s way toward the dynamite…)
Andre and Josie try to escape

CLIMAX III (kaboom!)
They get away and Jimmy is arrested

Throughout, the characters need to grow and change. I’ve kept track of this through mapping out the subplot. I still have some work to do on this, but hopefully you get the idea. Andre will grow and change regarding his attitude and understanding of his bossy, know-it-all cousin. At this point, this is enough for me to go on. And for sure, things will change as I write my way through the story.

For now though, I feel like I have a far better grasp of my story and I understand if it doesn’t make too much sense to you, my dear blog reader, but I hope that this glimpse into my new Running Is Evil Write Books Instead (RIEWBI) technique was helpful.

I almost forgot the best part of the outline! The very end where they all live happily ever after. (and eat lobster :-) )

Please, if anyone has anything to add, feel free to comment. Oh! And a vote:

___Hélène should keep training for the 10 k despite the obvious pain and fool-hardiness
___Hélène should think of other, less painful and fool-hardy diversions to recapture her youth

ACADIAN STAR is coming! Soon!

Date: Thursday September 4, 2008
Posted in: Acadian Star


I just found out that ACADIAN STAR will be out 6 weeks earlier than I thought. Like in 2 WEEKS  Ahh Like mid-September  yup yup yup yup yup yup

My publisher’s publicist just e-mailed me with all the launch events and author signings they have planned. She also said they’re pitching in extra copies for the contests I have planned on my Facebook page and website!!  Applause

I leave for Nova Scotia on my first author tour in 3 WEEKS!!

  Dancing Banana Dancing Broccoli Dancing Banana Dancing Broccoli

love my publisher!!

Up soon: