Workshop student lands book contract

As soon as I heard the voice on the answering machine I knew something big had happened. Then Yvonne’s words came singing down the line, “I got a publisher! I’m going to be published!”

The equation can be this simple: a good story + good writing + dedication = published book. The reality is: many people have a great idea for a book, some have the writing skills but few have the dedication to see the project through. But right from the start I thought Yvonne Maximchuk might have all three.

I met Yvonne last May when she took one of my writing workshops. She’d been working on a memoir for five years. But she wasn’t sure if her story was good enough and she was having a hard time finishing the manuscript.

After reading the first pages of Drawn to Sea I knew Yvonne had the makings of a story that would engage and intrigue readers. The plot revolves around her decision to remain in an isolated community after a break up with her partner. The challenges were huge. She had two children to support and wondered if she could sell her paintings and pottery from her Simoom Sound location.

Then there were the day-to-day considerations such as getting firewood and travelling back and forth to a larger community to get groceries, medical care and other necessities of life. If she was going to make it, Yvonne knew she had to do three things. Get a chainsaw, get a boat and learn how to operate them.

Drawn to Sea is funny and heart-warming; totally candid and very evocative of place. Vici Johnstone, publisher of Caitlin Press, told Yvonne her writing was lyrical, the story well-paced and that it was a pleasure to read a book where the writer crafted her story like a work of art.

Yvonne, at right, made excellent use of her time at the writing retreat.

 

And that’s a key part of Yvonne’s success. As a self-employed painter and potter, she knows what it means to be disciplined. If you don’t sit down and do the work, it doesn’t get done. And that can mean the difference between earning a living or starving, completing a book or not.

I’m very proud of Yvonne. And I was touched when she said, “You got me over the last hurdle. Your advice on how to finish a book was brilliant.”

I can’t wait to see the published version of Drawn to Sea, perhaps featuring one of Yvonne’s paintings on the cover. To find out more about one of BC’s newest authors visit www.searosestudio.net.

 

 

Workshop student lands book contract

As soon as I heard the voice on the answering machine I knew something big had happened. Then Yvonne’s words came singing down the line, “I got a publisher! I’m going to be published!”

The equation can be this simple: a good story + good writing + dedication = published book. The reality is: many people have a great idea for a book, some have the writing skills but few have the dedication to see the project through. But right from the start I thought Yvonne Maximchuk might have all three.

I met Yvonne last May when she took one of my writing workshops. She’d been working on a memoir for five years. But she wasn’t sure if her story was good enough and she was having a hard time finishing the manuscript.

After reading the first pages of Drawn to Sea I knew Yvonne had the makings of a story that would engage and intrigue readers. The plot revolves around her decision to remain in an isolated community after a break up with her partner. The challenges were huge. She had two children to support and wondered if she could sell her paintings and pottery from her Simoom Sound location.

Then there were the day-to-day considerations such as getting firewood and travelling back and forth to a larger community to get groceries, medical care and other necessities of life. If she was going to make it, Yvonne knew she had to do three things. Get a chainsaw, get a boat and learn how to operate them.

Drawn to Sea is funny and heart-warming; totally candid and very evocative of place. Vici Johnstone, publisher of Caitlin Press, told Yvonne her writing was lyrical, the story well-paced and that it was a pleasure to read a book where the writer crafted her story like a work of art.

Yvonne, at right, made excellent use of her time at the writing retreat.

 

And that’s a key part of Yvonne’s success. As a self-employed painter and potter, she knows what it means to be disciplined. If you don’t sit down and do the work, it doesn’t get done. And that can mean the difference between earning a living or starving, completing a book or not.

I’m very proud of Yvonne. And I was touched when she said, “You got me over the last hurdle. Your advice on how to finish a book was brilliant.”

I can’t wait to see the published version of Drawn to Sea, perhaps featuring one of Yvonne’s paintings on the cover. To find out more about one of BC’s newest authors visit www.searosestudio.net.

 

 

Writing on the wild side

Escape. Whether it’s to a sandy beach in Cuba or a steep mountain peak in the Himalayas, everyone longs to get away from their day-to-day routine once in a while.

But as well as leaving something behind, what about moving towards

Me and Shannon after kayaking and hiking to the Grassy Knoll.

a goal you’ve held close to your heart for as long as you can remember? Something you really want to do but somehow there’s never enough time, inspiration or even just plain know-how.

That’s exactly what happened the last week in May when a small group of people brought their ideas and partially completed manuscripts to a Wilderness Writing Retreat at Seawatch Cabins in Nuchatlitz Provincial Park.

Surrounded by pristine wilderness, we discussed focus, point of view and active voice. We debated ways to carve time out of the day to write and the best way to find a publisher. And we all created timelines for finishing our projects.

Nuchatlitz is a wilderness area and wildlife is plentiful. The fawn with this doe escaped before I could take a photo.

While doing so, we watched a sea otter doing the backstroke in the bay and a martin scampering across the deck each morning. We also saw five bear (from a safe distance) and wolf sign on some of our walks.

I couldn’t have asked for more congenial students. Everyone was totally committed to taking their manuscript to the next stage…and did. I’m sure some found the red ink on their work daunting but when I saw the revisions they made, I was astounded at the improvement.

Shannon and Yvonne collaborate on some revisions.

“A balance of private time and group instruction addressed individual projects and skill levels,” notes Yvonne Maximchuk. “Paula gave me excellent and pertinent instruction in how to write to my best abilities and helped bring my memoir to a whole new level. I was thrilled!”

Yvonne leads the way on a kayak expedition.

“As a new author I had no idea how to edit my work,” adds Dodie Eyer who is working on a children’s chapter book. “It was a real turning point for me. And Shannon made us all feel very much at home. The food was delicious, fresh, healthy and attractive. I loved learning how to kayak!”

Yes, neither man nor woman lives by work alone. When not writing, we feasted on sumptuous homemande meals. Shannon Bailey, host for the retreat, wowed us with her flair for putting togeether delightful blends of colour, taste and nutritious cuisine.

Dodie admires wild flowers at the Grassy Knoll.

In addition to cooking and working on a young adult novel, Shannon also doubled as wilderness guide and instructor. We kayaked sheltered lagoons, pointed our bows towards the white-crested waves of the open Pacific Ocean and hiked gravel beaches and woodland trails. At night, the silence was enormous, the stars a cascade of light in the sky. 

Some random highlights:
• yoga on a sunny deck
• the “Aha!” look on participant’s faces
• Shannon’s stunning back garden
• lively discussions on writing and life in general
• seafood bisque made with oysters picked off the beach
• the profusion of wild flowers at Grassy Knoll
• chocolate brownies topped with rhubarb-strawberry sauce
• seeing manuscripts move from good to very good 

 

As well as working on writing, friendships were formed, ideas shared and possibilities explored. What a great escape! I can’t wait to do it all over again later this year.

The back garden at Seawatch Cabins. All photos by Dodie and Paula.