Veronica Bale

AND HER LITTLE WRITING LIFE

So there it is. My latest novel is now officially published. The object of my toil for the past two years, the subject of my love-hate relationship, the beast I’ve dreamed about, stressed over, doubted and loved like a proud parent… it’s out there. It’s on its own. Fly, my little bird, take wings and soar.

Shameless plug: Shadow, from the author of the best-selling The Ghosts of Tullybrae House, now available on Amazon. Click on the book title to view online.

Tee hee… okay, I promise I won’t do that anymore. I actually do have something to write about today.

I know have a lot of work ahead of me. I’ve been at this writing thing for a while now and I am not so green that I expect the masses to come flocking just because the Publish button has been pressed. From here on it is legwork, legwork, legwork. Yet I find myself staring into a void. It is the emptiness that fills into the space between an abrupt switching of gears. Mad writing, copy editing, line editing, rewriting, beta testing… they’re all done. And now I’m left feeling like my mind is a bicycle – I’ve stopped pumping the pedals and now the tires are left spinning on their own.

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It’s disorienting, that sudden disconnection from having a manuscript to work on.

This past weekend was the Canada Day long weekend, and I was fortunate enough to be able to escape the city for some quiet cottage time. I could have brought my laptop, I could have spent my three days of tranquility on the porch outlining my next project or working with my publicist on my marketing plan. I chose not to. I ditched the laptop and decided I was not going to do a lick of work the whole time. Veronica’s brain was officially closed.

Except that it wasn’t…

No, nonono definitely it wasn’t. “Silly Veronica,” says Veronica’s brain. “You really thought you could turn me off?”

All weekend I worked at rediscovering the small pleasures of life. I say work deliberately because, at first, it really was. It was effort to not pick up my phone, a chore to keep my mind off my next story line. But somehow I found my rhythm. I began enjoying the cool sensation of lake water on my skin and the sharp peal of screams and laughter as the kids swam and played and dived off the back of the boat. I basked in the fragrance of my frumpy clothes which, very quickly, began to smell of sunscreen, bug spray and campfire smoke. And I listened to other people’s easy chatter – like, really listened, not my pretend version of listening where my mind is actually miles away, plotting out someone else’s story.

In short, it was bliss. Sheer bliss. I’ve forgotten what that was like.

That was when my brain got its say. It waited until I was off my guard to sneak back in and take over. It had never been shut down, it turns out. Quite the opposite – it was on the back burner, simmering quietly, waiting to be forgotten about.

Here’s what happened. It was at the campfire on my second night that I became lost in thought. Everyone had gone to bed except for me, Uncle Bill and Pete. The men, having enjoyed their celebratory libations quite liberally, had happily lapsed into a discussion on the key to happiness in life. Listening with half an ear, my mind (all by itself, that sneaky beggar) wandered away and began considering what other ways one might describe a campfire. I mean, we all know the oft used cliches: the flames are dancing, or they’re licking, or they’re engulfing, or something equally meaningless. But I wondered, how could a log fire be looked at in a different way that would make a new and fresh description?

Well, wouldn’t you know? The more I stared, the more I realized a campfire looks like a reverse waterfall. It is as if the log is the river’s rock ledge, and the fire is pouring over it from underneath and splashing onto invisible rocks upside down. It was like the devil’s waterfall, I thought, and wouldn’t it be so cool if I could use that somehow in my writing…

Ah! Silly me. There I go again. Okay, brain. You sly wee thing, I see what you did there. You caught me unawares and managed to play on my creativity when I was least expecting it.

But I’m glad you did. I’m glad that I took a break from writing, glad that I found my way back to relaxing and enjoying without thinking. I’d been so wrapped up in my own fictional work for so long that I forgot to just be creative for the sake of it. Just for the fun of it, for the pleasure of seeing things on different ways.

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It was a bit of a humbling lesson to learn, since I pride myself on my work ethic. But I have been thoroughly reminded that balance is as much a part of success as hard work is. I’m going to take a bit more of a break, I think. To see what else my sly brain has up there to share with me.

Once we are refreshed, we’ll be back at it, dreaming up new dreams together.

 

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I am finally, FINALLY moving on my latest WIP. The end is in sight… I hope.

For now, I am happy to share with you all the masterpiece that my favourite cover artist, Viola Estrella of Estrella Cover Art, created just for me. Her talent and intuition never cease to amaze me. She sends me over the file and says, “Is this okay?”

I mean, seriously… as if I have ever had any response other than: “OMG, you’re brilliant! Don’t change a thing!”

So, without further ado… Shadow, meet world. World, meet Shadow!

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COMPASSION. REDEMPTION. IF SHE CAN FIND ONE, SHE CAN DELIVER THE OTHER.

Halloran Farm—a lonely plot of land and an abandoned Victorian farmhouse. Nearly a century ago it was the site of a gruesome murder which, to this day, resonates within its decaying walls.

 

Tilly Bright is a girl with an extraordinary gift, one which she never wanted and which she has spent a lifetime trying to suppress. At twelve years old Tilly vowed she would never again set foot in her grandmother’s farmhouse. Never again would she allow her sensitive mind to be attacked and manipulated by the vengeful, hate-filled spirit that inhabits it. He is called The Shadow. Nothing remains of his humanity except for the rage that consumes him over his long-ago death.

 

Upon her grandmother’s passing, however, Tilly has no choice—she must go back. Halloran Farm is now hers, as is a significant inheritance which is meant to help her restore the crumbling Victorian to its former beauty. It is what Gram wanted. And Tilly is no longer a frightened child unable to cope with a gift she does not understand. To fulfill Gram’s wishes, she will have to find within herself the strength to confront The Shadow. When she does, she will have to reconsider everything she thought she knew about her gift, about the dead, and about The Shadow himself.

 

Even the most hateful spirits deserve compassion. For through it, they may find their way to redemption.

Fixer UpperI have bought a house. Such a small paragraph for such a profound, life-altering responsibility, isn’t it? Home ownership takes many forms and has many motivators. For me, it’s all about the fixer upper.

Here is where my head was at when I started this process. I was going to find a place that needed me, and I was going to make it my own. All it would need was a little love, a little patience and a little TLC. Me and my home were going to travel on a journey together. I would do the updates, and it would allow me the opportunity to build my (currently non-existent) home improvement skills. In my DIY Utopia, my little house would be an oasis of craftsmanship, and I would be the next Nicole Curtis… complete with bad-ass tool belt and smoking hot body.

Nicole Curtis

Well, step one: Check. I’ve bought myself a beauty of a fixer-upper. Built in 1976, my little raised bungalow has a liveable layout, a good-sized yard, no major structural urgencies, and a swimming pool for my wee man and his friends. And hey, some of the original features are even charming. The yellowing pendant hanging lamp in the foyer, the avocado door handles with the sunburst pattern on the face, the brass door chimes with plastic mount that looks kind of like wood if you squint and don’t look directly at it…

Ah, the joys of nostalgia. Or at least that’s what I told myself when I signed the papers. Continue reading

clock-alarm-chain-flowers-natureROUTINE. That was going to be my goal for 2018. It was going to be my mantra. My raison d’etre. 2018 was going to be a year of order and structure, of productivity and of set times for set activities. After a year of upheaval and personal trauma in which I couldn’t seem to get my shit together, I was finally going to get my life back on track!

It is now halfway through March, and I remain routineless. I am still in a constant state of catch-up, and for every one item I knock off my to-do list, it seems like another one of those suckers jumps on and brings a friend or two. And unfortunately, I have this annoying little personality trait: I am unfailingly hard on myself. I set expectations for my time and my day, and if I fail to live up to them, then I am failing personally. You can imagine that, with no routine in sight, this is exactly how I’ve been feeling for most of 2018: I’m an utter and complete failure!

Okay, reality check. My inner perfectionist is not actually that much of a drama queen. But you get the idea of what’s been going on in my head. Continue reading

keeping-journal“I’ve lost my muse.”

So laments The Bard himself, as portrayed by Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love. It was one of my favourite movies through my teen years, and my VHS copy was well worn… yes, I realize I’m dating myself with that admission. The loss of Shakespeare’s muse, the Elizabethan “cure” of writing Mistress Rosaline’s name on a slip of paper so it would return, even the cheekily Freudian therapy session (“It’s like trying to pick a lock with a wet herring”). It’s entertaining, and ultimately it’s no big deal. We know Will goes on to meet the lovely Viola de Lesseps, regain his creative genius, and pen the most famous love story of all time.

That’s in the movies, though. That doesn’t happen in real life. It certainly doesn’t happen to me. At least that’s what I thought… until it did. Continue reading

Image result for heroI’ve got a post today that has nothing to do with my writing or my books … or anybody’s writing or books for that matter. I tried, at first, to tie it all together, but about half way through it felt forced, contrived. So I’m just going to go for it and tell it like it is. Today’s post is an amazing, inspirational story about a real life hero. He has been going about his real life heroics in a quiet way, seeking neither praise nor glory. Nothing more than support for his cause.

Oh yeah – did I mention that this real-life hero is only fifteen years old?
Continue reading

Journals. If you’re a writer, you’re supposed to keep one, right? Virginia Woolf did it, and so did other greats like Franz Kafka, Susan Sontag and C.S. Lewis. 

So yeah, okay, for a long time I felt like a total failure because I couldn’t maintain one, despite my many attempts over the years. And believe me, I tried. I’d be totally committed for a few days, maybe even a whole week. But sooner or later (usually sooner), I’d find the process cumbersome. I would run out of things to write about each day. I would get bored with the process of explaining the people and events of my life to my journal as if my journal were an outside person. I would spend too much time on verbiage and, worst of all, I would try to tie the endings of each entry to the beginnings to make the whole piece a coherent mini essay. Continue reading

Image result for lonelyWell, here we are in a new year. I’ve learned lots of lessons in 2016, and I hope to carry them forward to make 2017 the best year yet. The best part of last year was, by far, the unprecedented response I’ve had to the release of my latest novel, The Ghosts of Tullybrae House. Thank you to everyone for your support. I can’t wait to see what’s next for me.

If you’ve read any of my interviews, you’ll know that I do read the reviews that readers leave on my books. Some authors will suggest that you shouldn’t do this. It’s best, they’ll tell you, not to dwell on what someone said, but rather to look to the future and continue writing. For me, taking the time to consider and evaluate what my readers are saying about my work gives me a chance to gain insight on what I might improve on. After all, every review is a chance to learn. And I’m not just talking about the negative or critical ones. I mean the positive ones, too. Continue reading

m-brooklynThis weekend I was all set to write a book review for my next blog post. I had one drafted, I’d given it a lot of thought, and then on Saturday night I found myself with a rare stretch of time and no pressing tasks or engagements. Now what, one might wonder, does Veronica do when she’s got time to herself? Well, I should be writing, buuut … nah. Movie night! And I’ve been dying to see Brooklyn. Continue reading