Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Generally, swans don't venture this close to our side of the lake. They stay on the other side where there is wildlife, but minimal human threat. During the night, they move about, often floating closer to the homes of year-round residents; their honking penetrates the darkness.

The lake has a circumference of 14 kilometres, giving the swans plenty of room to roam. This morning, we heard them before sunrise and waited until there was enough light to snap a photo. As soon as I stepped out onto the deck, they started moving away from the beach. I managed three rapid shots, but only one turned out.

Neither of these are clear photographs, but everyone knows that swans are beautiful, elegant creatures. Think swan and an image of serenity comes to mind.

I just finished an interview, and one of the questions forced me to think back to those early years (1984) when I started my first book. It's the book I wrote while convinced I could tell my dad's story and thus have him live forever. Seven years later, I shelved Always Father's Child and began work on Dead Witness.

Back in those days, I didn't know where this novel writing would take me, only that I had to write. I never considered  where the desire came from or how deep it went. Writing gave me pleasure, so it seemed logical to continue. How much time it would take to write another book didn't matter. Like seeing swans close enough to photograph, I had a story to tell and nothing was going to stop me. Certainly not a busy family or a full time job.

Sound familiar?

My protagonist Valerie, her last name didn't come to me until later, had occupied space in my head for several months. I didn't know much about her, except she had a problem, a story to tell, and wasn't about to go away.

My Valerie (McCormick) was 38 years old and looked identical to Cheryl Ladd when she was that age. Valerie lived in Prince George with her husband and three daughters. She loved and was loved; so much so that her elder daughter sneaked one of her short stories and entered it in a writing contest. Valerie won and that changed her life forever.

I began Dead Witness in 1991, finished it in three months, then spent the next ten years editing and revised it. Dead Witness was released July 1, 2008.

Is my process towards publication any different than yours? I'm sure it is. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to know how; I'm nosey. Besides, I think new writers out there need to see that while we are all unique and special, and with our own story to tell, we have similarities too.

How long did it take you to write your book? How long from the day you began to the day it was released? I  bet  there are lots of writers out there who would love to know.


  1. Wonderful photos, Joylene! The swans are so beautiful, especially against the backdrop of frigid water and snowy shore.

    As to your questions... although I have short stories published in anthologies and articles in magazines, you know I don't have a published novel yet, so I can't answer that part. I've written since childhood. My first long work was a memoir that I periodically still work on because a family's story never quite concludes. One day I will stop writing it, print and bind it, and give copies to our children, but it will never be formally published. My novel writing began about ten years ago and I'd guess the first two took a couple years to write and another couple to revise. In fact I'm not happy with them yet but I'm well into writing my third anyway.

    I think the best explanation of how long it takes to write a novel is however long it takes to get the story out of one's head and onto the page. That varies from weeks, to months, to years. The editing and refining of that story will last as long as the writer's intolerance of its imperfections. Once it enters the publication process time is out of the writer's control and often takes another year or two. I know it's a long journey!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Carol. Remembering back to those first years writing, reminded me how it felt to be a newbie and to know that I wasn't alone. It's a long journey, but full of surprises and blessings, and a lot of rejections too.

    Worth it? You bet.

  3. Hey hon, I just wanted to let you know that I closed my Facebook account. If you'd like to guest post, it will need to be before 2010. New changes will take place then.

  4. Gotcha J. Kaye. I'll send something in the next few days.

  5. Great! My email is on my blog as well as on my blogger profile page.


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