It’s done. Goddamnit.

Finally, and most definitely… done. Sitting at over 108,000 words (isn’t editing suppose to reduce your word count?) that bitch is finished. Well, until someone of importance tells me to fix it. Which brings me to…. #PitchWars on Twitter. Hells yeah, man.

If you’re a writer and you haven’t checked out this community/volunteer run funfest on Twitter, now is the time. You have 2 days to get your shit in order and submit. I just did it.

I’m not freaking out. Not really. Well, maybe a little. Okay, my synopsis is a dog’s breakfast and my query isn’t far behind it. But hey, put it out there.

Find them @PitchWars.

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The end is nigh…

The last edit of this manuscript is dragging. It’s not the edits, not really, it’s me. I’m procrastinating. I’m at the finish line and I’m hesitating.

I need to be held accountable, only I’m really clever with the excuses. I believe my own lies. So, here’s the truth of it…

Tentatively titled, CLAN, I’m sitting at around 103,000-ish words for this novel. After having the wise and extraordinary editor, Jeff Seymour, give it a read and provide his magical advice, I’m on my last edit before submission.

Next steps…

  1. Finish these goddamned edits.
  2. Write a query letter.
  3. Stop being so fucking lazy and get to those edits.
  4. Query agents.
  5. Those scene updates won’t write themselves!
  6. Cross fingers.

If you’re reading this, message me and ask me where I am. Don’t believe me when I tell you I’m almost done. Push me, berate me, tell me I should just give up. Actually, don’t do that. That reverse psychology bullshit won’t work on me and I’ll end up using you as my new excuse. Still… if you have a second, give me a push. A well-meaning ‘atta girl goes a long way with inspiration to keep gnawing away at it.



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How I became Scott Gimple’s Bitch

If you haven’t seen the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead and don’t want any spoilers, stop here. Scroll to the next post or just GTFO. Seriously.


I’m not just a casual watcher of TWD. I’ve seen the entire series, more than once. As a matter of fact, we’re in a relationship. Nothing gets between us. Not even sleep.


My love affair with TWD only waned once, back in season 3 with the whole Woodbury/Governor political snoozefest. (There are actual zombies in this zombie show, aren’t there?) I thought it might happen again going in to season 5, but luckily the whole Terminus fiasco thing didn’t drag on for too long. Nasty business that. But our relationship survived, it endured. Maybe it even got stronger. That is, until last April.

That was when Scott Gimple became the third wheel in our relationship and I, inadvertently, became his bitch. He barged in like some disgruntled BFF and left me hanging in the middle of a fucking scene with my beloved show. It was like it just went off to bed angry… for seven goddamned months! And in the middle of a really tense scene with the life of one of our own (literally) in the balance. What kind of show does that to a girl? Pfffft.


Now, I get it. Maybe TWD wanted to beef up our relationship a little. Add a little naughty spice to the mix. Rawr… I’m down for that. But all of a sudden, I’m in a classic baited case of whodunnit. Or, more precisely, who’d it get done (dun?) to. And I understand that. The whole Who shot JR bit, right? (You younguns can google how cliffhangers got started in the first place here.) And even then, at that point, I was still rolling with it. I mean, our bond is deep, we’ve invested in each other after all these years. If my show wants to kick it old-school and use a classic move, I have to give it a chance, don’t I? I just pretend like I haven’t seen it before. It’s the least I can do. Christ, we’re in love!

But then something happened. Something terribly unexpected. I started hearing things about my show. Strange things. I couldn’t even go online to my favourite nerd haunts without a bombardment of video evidence showing me what it had been up to behind my back. My precious show was being pulled apart, dissected, slowed-down and dismantled across the world. Some people were saying that it wasn’t even my show, that it was some sort of fucking comic book! They don’t know. They can’t know what we have together.


And of course, Gimple barged in again with authoratative responses to the chatter. He made statements about my show. He made promises. My show was coming back. It would be better than ever. Our reunion would be worth the pain of having it ripped away from me mid-sentence. But the underground gossip continued. For months it gnawed away at my better judgement. I was raised not to succumb to gossip. Not to feed the beast. But I was distraught. I needed to know what my show was up to. Maybe someone else had the answers. Maybe strangers could tell me and help me understand. I needed to know the truth. I didn’t trust Gimple. He didn’t care about our love. He was a numbers man, a corporate thug. His assured smile haunted my dreams. But he did promise! He said he left me hanging for a purpose. It would be better for us in the long run. He tied that delicious rabbit up on a stick and sent me round and round the track after it.

I gave him all of my control. I was tired. I just wanted my show back. I wanted everything to go back to the way it was before. That’s on me. No one made me that invested. But you do that in a relationship, don’t you? That’s commitment. But then one day, it dawned on me. This wasn’t about me or my show anymore. I had become Scott Gimple’s bitch. What the cockadoodie hell? How did that happen? I didn’t even like Ghost Rider!

I’ve since learned that it’s unhealthy to give away all your power. No one side should have that much control in a relationship. So, TWD and I are on a break.

Relationship difficulties

A little separation has shown me TWD’s true colours. Love is blind. TWD isn’t the show I first fell in love with. It used to be well-balanced. It definitely had a bad boy side, but it was also compassionate, gentle and loving. I mean, all relationships have some ugly moments, but you get through them. Together. You see the good in each other and fight for that. Somewhere along the way, my show got really dark. It lost compassion and that essence of humanity it once had. It lost the thing that held us all together. I mean, how could it smash Glenn the way it did for so fucking long? It’s like it liked it. It’s like it wanted more. Those scenes were just gratuitous gore. Indulgent even. It’s like Gimple fed my baby a slasher-porn biscuit filled with evil. It made me sick. THOSE ARE GLENN’S BRAINS GODDAMNED YOU! ABRAHAMS! It made my heart hurt that my precious show wanted to torture me with their brains spread out all over the ground like giant puddles of Grandma’s stew. They have to die, I get it. But this? That’s not right. How could I continue this love affair with my eyes wide open? <heavy sigh>

But Jesus, Dixon and Grimes, I do have some really great memories. We had some good times together. I hope one day we can be friends. RIP my loves.


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60,000 words in to a new novel… what month is it?


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October 25, 2016 · 1:55 pm

Top 3 reasons you should be in a writing critique group

As writers, we tend to plunk away at our keyboards in isolation. Even if you write your best work in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, you’re still enveloped in the protective writer bubble of isolation. It’s what shuts out reality and lets imagination reign. This is where the isolation begins and ends.


After we’ve fretted and pondered and written and re-written our literary works of genius, and before we let it fly on submissions, it’s time to let an impartial and objective set of eyes take a read. Yes, I know, you’re a brilliant writer, you don’t make mistakes, and your jaw-dropping prose makes other writers gasp in envy. But after the writing is done, the isolation of the writer absolves. Now it’s time for other people to get involved. It doesn’t matter if you have the gift, or that you believe your delicious prose is on fleek (did I use that word right?) your work as a whole could be a structural disaster. Or it may be an inadvertent expositional sermon. Your first twenty pages might read like a grocery list of character traits. A well-written grocery list, mind you, but a list none the less. And you might be able to fool the average reader with your clever prose, but publishers and book editors will see past all of that. They work with Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, remember? So, before you pay a professional to read and/or edit your work, join a critique group with a few other writers. Here’s the payback:

  1. Honest and objective opinions of your work. Writers have a tendency to be blind to their own work, but can spot errors in another writers work a mile away. Focusing on your work with other writers gives you specific feedback, valuable advice, and often creative suggestions that lets you view your work with fresh eyes.
  2. You will grow as a writer. Not only will you be receiving critiques but you’ll also be giving them. As you give and receive constructive feedback, you’ll be training your brain to look beyond the words and into the mechanics of your story. It provides the education and experiential growth that every writer needs to improve. And there is always room for improvement.
  3.  It offers motivation and accountability. Setting regularly scheduled meetings with your critique group offers a certain accountability. Being prepared for your group every week with a new piece of writing can be the kick in the ass some writers need to set the necessary time aside to write.

I would also suggest finding strangers to critique with. They will be the most objective. And the smaller the group, the more opportunity each of you will have to submit your work for discussion. It’s also important to find writers who are on (or about) the same level as you and who are avid readers. As time goes on, your relationship with these writers will become more and more comfortable, but the habit of their honesty and objectivity will already be established. These critiquing partners will become champions of your work in the future.

critique group

And lastly, the most important thing to do before joining a critique group is to let go of your ego. You want writers who will shred your work to pieces and leave you weeping on the floor in the fetal position. (Well, maybe that will just be the first meeting.) If you require constant validation as a writer, get it from your family and friends. Joining a critique group is business. It’s education. It’s a commitment to yourself to become the best writer you can be.

Where can you find these other writers? In local workshops, writing classes, meetups, writing events, online, etc. They’re everywhere, and they need you just as much as you need them. And did I mention that all of this is FREE?

That’s it, there’s no more. What are you waiting for? Go get ’em.


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The DIY pallet window garden box

I hear a lot about crafty people making things out of recycled wood. Specifically, old pallets. I’m not typically that ambitious.


But… I had a garden window box that was on its last leg this past fall, so I figured, hey, why not?

After cruising the seedy part of town in my truck, I located a pile of pallets that seemed right for the picking. I ended up stalking these pallets for the better part of an hour while I tried to determine the proper pallet-taking etiquette. (Do you just take them? Leave a note? Ask someone?) It was more stress than I had factored into the entire project.

After getting them home, I got straight to work in trying to dismantle them. Since my crowbar would barely budge them and my mind-control in willing them apart wasn’t doing the job, I spent another hour surfing YouTube for some special trick to get them apart without mangling the wood. I chose this one, mostly because his British accent was soothing and I was starting to redline with frustration. The longer bar coupled with patience sorted it out.

After I had my measurements, I went to work cutting the pieces to length. I wanted a rustic look with mismatched seams, so I used some scrap wood as nailers on the inside to hold it in place until I could assemble the whole unit with wood screws.


I used a semi-transparent wood stain (Cabot / Cordova Brown) and added black landscape fabric to the inside. A couple of hanging plants re-potted into the new box and then I hung it on the hangers from the original box. Since my old garden box was plastic, I did have to change the anchors in order to ensure the weight of the pallet box would be supported on the hangers.



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Lurking people on the internet pays off with Word wisdom

I’m a lurker, I lurk people. I’ve probably lurked you. Sometimes during my lurk-capades I find a little nugget of wisdom that blows my world apart. It’s usually mentioned in some off-handed way that suggests it’s common knowledge. In which case, this post should embarrass me.


I’ve been using Microsoft Word for some 20-odd years. It’s my go-to word processing application for everything when writing.  It’s handy word-count feature keeps me on track when submitting to journals and contests with submission rules. After 20 years you’d figure I’d know all its secrets.  But no, this morning’s lurk informed me that my word processing application has been quietly lurking me. After all these years it’s been keeping track of every minute that it takes me to grind away at edits. Well played Microsoft, well-played.


If you already knew about this little-known feature, congratulations, and where have you been? Tweet this information out immediately! If not, check your documents in File/Properties/Statistics (for Word 2003 or earlier) and Office Button/Prepare/Properties/Document Properties/Advanced Properties/Statistics (for Word 2007 and later.) I promise that Word doesn’t judge. If it did, maybe I’d have known about it earlier. (hint hint @Microsoft, forget Clippy, where’s my AI? I’d like the voice of Spock please, or Gandalf, yes, definitely Gandalf.)

Word: “Um, excuse me Catherine?”
Me: <fingers recoil from keyboard> “Woah… WTF?”
Word: “Yeah, uh, it’s me Word. Can you pick up your pace a bit? You’re slacking this week.”
Me: “What do you mean slacking? These edits are tough.”
Word: “Yes, right, well, you’ve been editing chapter one for 6,586 minutes already and you need to push on if you’re ever going to get this novel done.”
Me: “And what would you know about how long it takes?”
Word: “Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I am a child of Microsoft, and we know everything. Shall I give you the estimates of author chapter revision times in North America?”
Me: <pushes mute button>

editing time

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Fringe Literary Award

Totally stoked that the good folks at The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival selected my short story as a Fringe winner. What does that mean? It means I went to a swanky evening meal and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Elizabeth Hay, Emma Hooper, Michael Christie, Catherine Egan, etc. etc. and then was invited to read my short story the next day at the Festival. Super exciting and wicked fun. No joke. I could do this every day, forever.

Want to read the whole story? Check it out here.

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You’re an abomination of God… or not

Exciting news! My short story ‘Alba’s Tree’ was published on Commuterlit this morning. 🙂

alba's tree comment

For this short story I took the advice, “put your hero in a tree, throw rocks at them, and then get them down,” quite literally.

Why would someone throw rocks at Alba? Find out here, and be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the story.


Original image Photo credit: mripp / Foter / CC BY


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Kelley Armstrong’s advice on how to write a bestseller

This summer I attended a writing workshop hosted by the brilliant book editor, Brian Henry, on how to write a bestseller. I was excited to attend the workshop and be able to rub shoulders with the likes of Kelley Armstrong (author of the Otherworld Series) and, as usual, my imagination got away from me in the days leading up to it.

You know what I’m talking about.

While instructing us in the do’s and don’ts of making it to the big times, our eyes would meet. She would feel compelled to ask me what my current novel was about, and then, after I ever-so-eloquently pitched my story, she would request we become BFFs immediately and later that day we would be discussing the movie rights of my yet-to-be published novel as we sipped latte’s under a patio umbrella.


Yeah, so that didn’t happen. But I did shake her hand.

The workshop, itself, was pretty great. Kelley spoke in detail about characters, central goals, minor goals, conflict, POV and the emotion in our fiction. She was easy to understand, and there was a simplicity to what she was saying that helped me re-align my story in order to provide complexity, depth, and of course, action, action, action.

There was also a lot of obvious stuff thrown around. Things like, “you need to write a good story,” and you need to “stand out,” and have a “fresh voice,” that is different and compelling. We’ve all heard that before, right? But instead of wanting to slap her, I found that Kelley made it work. She backed up those statements with the “how” that most people leave out.

The most important piece of advice that I took home was that success has to be hard-fought. Another obvious humdinger. But the not so obvious part was that the fight of my characters for success needed to mirror my own. I had to work hard to bring my novel to the publishing market, and my characters had to work just as hard to bring success to the story. It was an inspired epiphany of layers that made me drive home in a mind-blown daze. If I want readers to spend their time in my world, I need to fight to give them something worthy of their time.

Somewhere about half-way during the workshop, we stopped for a short writing prompt. We got our notebooks out and had 20 minutes to crank out a short story based on a collaboration of prompts. Quite honestly, I’d never written a short story under pressure before and I was a bit panicked at the prospect. Everyone else seemed to be scribbling away and I was just sitting there like some gloss-eyed fool. But I persevered, and a couple of months later, that short story went on to win the Eden Mills Fringe contest. A short story that I’ve been invited to read at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival next weekend on September 13th. That never would have happened without Brian Henry, that workshop, or the inspiration from Kelley.

Keep writing, keep editing, and think about taking a workshop or two. It’s worth the investment.


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