Free Fiction on Friday

Over the next few months I’ll be making my previously published short stories available online, for free. And what better day to start than today? 🙂

First up is “Seven Years”, a science fiction story that was my first and only venture into flash fiction (it’s under 500 words–so, a quick read!). It was originally published in ON SPEC, a Canadian science fiction and fantasy magazine, in 2004.

I invite you to read it here.

Hope you enjoy!

Flashback: Discovering My Writing Process

June 13, 1997 (Megan is 16)

Very little happened yesterday — I spent a good part of the day writing. I’ve found it goes somewhat faster now — it used to take me an hour per page, and now I’m getting at least a page and a half done, sometimes two. Maybe it’s because I’m writing so much, my mind is really geared into the story, plus I have it outlined so well, I don’t have to think much on where I’m going.

It’s kind of sad, though, don’t you think? I mean, I spent a good part… most of grade 11 working on STARS FALLING, but it just sort of… crumpled. Really, it’s because I hardly outlined it at all, and also the idea was too big. But now, it looks like I’ll finish this novel in less than a month. Of course, it helps that, being summer vacation, I have lots of time to write, but if I didn’t have each scene mapped out…


An Introduction to Flashbacks
The Flashback Cast
The Flashback Timeline

Wonder: Ghost Stories–Bloody Mary

When I was in grade six, one of the popular stories going around was about Bloody Mary. According to a close friend who claimed to have attempted this herself, what you had to do was go into a bathroom, close the door, and turn off the light, then say “Bloody Mary” three times while looking into the mirror. She’d tried it once on her own and once with friends and both times she’d seen some sort of blurry image that had freaked her out so much that she ran right out of the bathroom shrieking.

She tried to convince me that we should give it a shot, but being somewhat more timid than her, I figured that I’d rather let this Bloody Mary person rest in peace.

Apparently this tradition of calling Blood Mary (or Mary by other names) in the mirror had been going on for quite a while: see articles at Wikipedia and Snopes.

How about you all–have any of you ever called Bloody Mary? Did you see anything?

What other ghost “games” have you played or heard of?

Writer at Work: The Writer vs. Technology

Two things about me: I can be independent to a fault, and tech and I do not generally get along.

I know a lot of people who would be surprised by the second fact. I’ve been putting together my own websites for years; I am the go-to person for all things computer-y among the 2K9ers; I have excellent Google-fu. But all of that mostly has to do with the first fact.

My dad’s really into computers, so I grew up with them. And when you grow up with something, it’s hard not to pick up the basics. But all the other stuff has mostly been a matter of me wanting to do something, and not wanting to have to ask anyone for help. I wanted a website? I’d darn well figure out how to make one myself. I wanted to look something up? I’d keep plugging in key words until I found the ones that worked best. So all the things I want to do a lot, I’ve gotten reasonably competent at. Practice–it does wonders!

Nevertheless, my mind is still not fond of abstracts, and math beyond the basic plus/minus/times/divide gives me hives, and most tech seems to be filled with abstractions and numbers. Which is why, when I go to figure out how something works for myself and then don’t practice, there may as well be a big hole in my brain that all that info drains out of.

Case in point: A couple months ago I was working on a book trailer for GIVE UP THE GHOST. (Why not get someone else to do it? I did mention that independence thing, didn’t I?) So I sat down with Flash and fiddled and got Chris (who programs in Flash) to show me a few things, and once I got going I set it up with few hitches along the way.

And then I got caught up in other things, and left it sitting for a couple months before I finally came back for some tweaking. And stared at the file on my screen. And realized I had so little clue I couldn’t even hope to google the answer, so I called Chris over for a conversation that went like this:

Me: What’s the command to get one of those dot thingies to come up? I’m sure there was some button I pressed or something…
Chris: Dot thingies?
Me: You know. Those! *points at screen*
Chris: Oh, a keyframe, you just right-click and select “Insert Keyframe”.
Me: Right, of course, keyframes, ha ha ha ha… *headdesk*

(Keyframes being only the most basic part in the whole thing. Kind of like forgetting what that “dot thingie” called a period is.)

Lesson learned: If I’m going on insist on learning new tech, best to get all the work done in one shot, or I’m going to end up having to teach myself all over again.

For the book bloggers: ARCs, interviews, etc.

I’ve gotten e-mails from many awesome book bloggers, so I figured it might be helpful to make a post just for you.

If you are excited about my books, well, I am super excited about you being excited, so it works out well for both of us! Here are some ways you can potentially get involved:

1. Reviews. Now that Give Up the Ghost and all three books in the Fallen World trilogy are out in stores, review copies are no longer available. Sorry! If you pick up a copy on your own, I’m still grateful if you take the time to share your thoughts.

Earth & Sky e-galleys will be available from NetGalley starting in September. Canadian book reviewers can grab a print ARC of the book during my appearance at Toronto’s 2014 Word on the Street, or by requesting on from Razorbill Canada (subject to availability and publisher approval). I will also have some author copies on offer in late September or early October, if you want to make a request (though I can’t promise anything, as they’ll be limited).

2. Interviews and guest blogs. Want me to come by your blog to answer a few questions or talk about a particular topic? I’ve love to! All you’ve got to do is e-mail me and ask.

3. Contests. I’ve heard from a few people interested in hosting contests related to my books. Wonderful! I’m always happy to donate swag like bookmarks, magnets, and stickers. If you’ve got a really great idea for one, let me know and I may be able to throw in a signed copy of the book as well.

4. Bookmarks. I am currently offering Earth & Sky, Fallen World trilogy, and Ghost bookmarks to librarians, bookstore staff, reviewers, bloggers, and other bookish folks, anywhere in the world. I order them in big batches, so there’s always lots to go around! Email me if interested, letting me know how many you’d like and what you’d use them for.

5. Foreign editions and publishers. I am so excited that Ghost, the Fallen World trilogy, and the Earth & Sky trilogy are starting to be picked up by publishers in other countries. Unfortunately, I have very little control over where they will appear. But publishers do listen to readers! If you’d love to see my books in your country, write to your favorite publishers and let them know.

And if you’re wondering about anything I haven’t mentioned here, just get in touch. I don’t bite, promise! You love books–I already like you. 😀

Contest reminder–and another chance to win GHOST

Just a quick reminder that the Great Ghost Giveaway will be closed to entries tonight at midnight. Thanks to everyone who’s entered and spread the word!

And if you want another shot at grabbing an early copy of GIVE UP THE GHOST, plus a whole bunch of other awesome books, check out this amazing contest the 2009 Debutantes (of which I am one) are holding! It’s open until June 22, so you still have lots of time. 🙂

Flashbacks: The Cast

For those looking for some continuity, I have used the same letter when referring to most people who appear more than once in the flashbacks. This letter may or may not have anything to do with their actual name. I’ve avoided using “A” and “I” since those get used on their own in other contexts.

B — crush from end of grade 9 through end of grade 10, with occasional relapses in grade 11
C — friend throughout high school
D — first real-person crush; lasted from end of grade 6 through most of junior high
E — one of the few people I didn’t get along with in high school
F — crush in grade 11
G — my younger brother
J — brief crush around end of grade 11
K — crush at beginning of grade 12; became first boyfriend shortly thereafter
L — close friend throughout high school
N — close friend throughout school years
O — sort of friend in high school
P — crush from the end of grade 10
R — close friend from grade 11 on
S — crush at end of junior high/beginning of high school
T — close friend in grade 8; moved away early in high school years
W — close friend in grade 8; grew apart in high school

X, Y, and Z are assigned to random people; they will refer to the same person within one entry but are likely to be different people from entry to entry.

Flashbacks: An Introduction

I was never a very good journal writer. (And always aware of that fact — my very first entry in my very first diary begins, I won’t write every day. I’m not good at that.) And I haven’t kept a journal in years. But during my teens I periodically turned to journals as a way of getting out all the things I wanted to express but couldn’t quite seem to with my parents and friends; a way of analyzing the behavior of my peers (particularly boys); and a way of recording the things that had happened right after they did, so that I could look back later and find out what really happened, not just what my memory had come up with (and actually, reading over these journals I’ve sometimes discovered that what I wrote at the time was quite different from what I remembered later. So they have served that purpose).

And now, they’re a way of offering you all a glimpse inside the head of this YA writer, as a teen.

Every week or so, I’ll be posting a flashback — an entry from one of my preteen or teenaged journals — along with some supplementary commentary on issues I didn’t end up writing about. All entries will be unedited (other than occasional spelling mistakes I may fix). Names will be substituted with letters so as not to intrude on anyone else’s privacy — the reoccurring letters can be found in The Cast post.

I hope you enjoy spending time with my young adult self!

Writer at Work: Voices

There are a whole lot of activities that make up a writer’s life that involve little or no writing. For example:

A few days ago my WIP decided that possibly it wanted to be 1st person after insisting for two and a half drafts that it really must be 3rd. (Gee thanks, muse!) But hey, I am always game. What story wants, story gets. And I knew it might solve a few narrative issues I’d been having difficulty with.

Unfortunately, switching POV is not as simple as changing all the “he”s to “I”s. I’d need to have a strong sense of my main character’s voice. And in this particular case my main character is a teenage boy living many centuries ago (to the extent that the events in the story could theoretically be in our reality) in Scandinavia. Though, for fictional purposes, speaking English.

So what writerly task did I find myself engaged in that evening? Looking up interviews and other videos on YouTube with native Scandinavians speaking in English. Preferably young-ish and male. Which, okay, is not the most accurate representation, but it’s about as close as I’m going to get to developing a sense of rhythm and sentence structure and anything else that might be useful.

All in a day’s work!