Sneak Peek of City of Hope and Ruin

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the unveiling of our next novel, City of Hope and Ruin by Kit Campbell and Siri Paulson! It’s a very serious novel and we’ve worked hard on it, so we hope you like this teaser. Enjoy.


Hello, traveler. My name is Edvarda, and I once saved this village using only a broom. You might not believe it, but it’s true.

Evidence? Hah. It was just a common household broom, well used over the years and long gone now. My hands were burned in the doing, but they have mostly healed long ago. I live a quiet life, tucked away in this little village by the fjord, grandmother to all. But what I do have are stories. Talking is thirsty work, though….

Why, thank you, kind master. A cup of mead is most appreciated by an old lady such as myself, and loosens the tongue most wonderfully. Settle in, settle in. I hope you have nowhere to be, for a tale will not be rushed.

I had a husband then, but he was off at war, like our half-grown son and all the other men of the village. So I spent my days fishing in the fjord, tending the garden, and trying not to think about the fighting. It almost worked, too – until the day I have in mind.

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Guest Post: Dianna Bell on Fanfiction

Siri here. We have a special post-Easter treat for you today. Because it’s the fifth Tuesday of the month, you’re getting a guest post from fellow writer Dianna Bell. Dianna is an Aussie who writes primarily fanfiction, and she’s here to share some ways in which lessons from fanfiction can apply to writing original fiction as well. Pleeeease welcome…Dianna!

This guest post feels like all my writing: I have a plan, but no idea how to start so that the words in my head hit the screen. How about I just wade in? I write fanfiction, and there are things I’ve learned from it that could apply to all writing. (Supposedly I also write original stuff, but I’ve had more luck in the last few years with fanfiction, and in any case that’s probably another blog post. Which may be a while coming, because I’m a guest. :-P)

Dismissing fanfiction as ‘not writing’ is wrong.

It’s true that characters, locations and more come ready-made; however, I’d note that I’ve never seen this argument made against people who redo fairy tales. I believe, whether fanfiction or original, a story boils down to a “what if” statement. No matter how much they started with or had to create from scratch, each writer has that moment when the “what if” comes to them, and they write down the story which follows from it.

Uh, what’s a fayth?

I’m writing a Frozen Fantasy X fanfic currently; I’ve replaced theΒ Final …

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In the Throes of Editing

Just a quick post today, lovelies, because Kit and I are still wrestling bears editing our novel for your future reading delight. I’ll be honest: it’s been a really tough slog.

Not because I can’t take critique — I’ve been in critique groups for years, and have gotten past the initial defensive reaction. When someone like our awesome editor KD points out a problem, I listen. (And then decide whether the passage in question should be fixed in a different way, or should actually stay as is while I go fix something elsewhere that led to the perceived problem…)

Not because I can’t stand the thought of changing a word. I’ve long since gotten over the fear of messing up my first drafts. (I mean, first drafts are rough by nature, but there’s something raw and pure about them — that’s the way the story came out of your head, and it can be hard to contemplate making it different. But first drafts aren’t canon. Or maybe they are, and second drafts are the fanfiction that seeks to improve upon them? Good grief, I think it’s too late in the day for analogies.)

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Co-Writing for Fun and Profit

Didja miss me? Well, too bad…I’m back!

Today I’d like to share a bit about Turtleduck Press’s next novel (title and cover art forthcoming in due time). Kit and I have both talked in this space about the fact that we’re co-writing, but we haven’t gone into any detail about the experience…until now.

It’s not Kit’s first time co-writing a novel; I’ve done it before too, but not for many many years. And I’ve blogged before about having a major crisis of faith as a writer last year. So I was a little apprehensive about how it would go.

In fact, it’s been quite a smooth process — at least as smooth as novel writing ever is! It’s helped immensely to have somebody to bounce ideas off, to trade chapters with (we each wrote one point of view, in alternating chapters), to keep each other motivated. Having two minds to work on the worldbuilding and plotting has not meant that we’ve each done half as much work as on a solo novel, but it’s certainly helped — I think we’ve done a better job on this story than either of us could have on our own.

Luckily, we’re on a similar — though not identical — wavelength when it comes to planning. We did a pile of worldbuilding first (it’s a fantasy novel, more or less), then identified our respective characters and wrote some sample chapters. Those went out the window and we started over, with a clearer idea …

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The Obligatory Winter Blues Post

Every year I find myself writing about the winter blues — what I’m doing to cope, how well it’s working (or not). And why should this year be any exception? πŸ˜‰

This year hasn’t been too bad so far. For starters, we’re having a really mild winter with almost no snow. Amazing what that does for one’s state of mind. Don’t get me wrong, I like snow, especially the proper crunchy snow that I grew up with and Toronto so rarely gets, but months of it will drag one down. And the cold, and the dark, and the post-Christmas, post-New Year’s letdown…okay, winter is still tough even without snow.

I’m doing all the usual things — taking extra Vitamin D, using a full-spectrum lamp, exercising (dance and yoga, with some walking here and there), focusing on coziness (blankets, slippers, tea, soup, comfort reads).

This year I’ve also added a couple of new things. First up, my latest creative outlet — Instagram.

IΒ  finally joined Instagram last summer so I could post pictures of my garden, but when the harvest was over, my account sat idle. Then in early December I noticed a friend doing a daily photo challenge, #decemberreflections. I jumped in and enjoyed it so much that I joined a second challenge this month, #savouringjanuary.

I haven’t been quite as diligent in this second round, but it’s been a lot of fun looking for subjects to match the daily prompts, and seeing the wide variety of ways in which …

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The Dreaded Middle

So Kit Campbell and I are working on a secret project for Turtleduck Press. It’s a novel that we’re co-writing, and you’ll hear more about it in due time, after it’s been made suitable for public consumption.

In the meantime, though, we’re wading through the first draft. Well, I can’t speak for Kit, but I’m wading. Or wallowing, maybe. I’ve passed the halfway point and am flailing around in the late middle, feeling rather as if I’m trapped in Zeno’s dichotomy paradox. I’m also fighting the deep-seated conviction that the story sucks (or my half of it, anyway — I’m not about to say that for Kit’s half!).

However, I’m not the only one. Check this out:

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Small World, Redux

Last week, KD wrote about being stuck in a small world and taking steps to get out of it – to “expand” as she put it. She’s working on not hiding, on being social, on trying new things. She’s exploring.

I’ve been feeling much the same – stuck in a rut, coasting along on habits, doing the same things because they’re easy – and I’d like to make a shift

On the other hand, maybe November, with winter lurking (hello, 5 PM sunsets), isn’t the best time for a Canadian to try to “expand”. I have another friend who declared she was taking this month to unplug from Facebook and look inward, to honour the night. But maybe there’s a way to do both.

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Goodnight, Garden

It’s nearly the end of another gardening season where I live. We’re lucky enough to have a longer summer and fall than the even more northerly city where I grew up, but it does eventually come to an end. (There’s a reason Canadian Thanksgiving falls more than six weeks earlier than its American equivalent…)

To be honest, I’m a bit relieved. Not because I like winter (I really, really don’t) but because I got overambitious this summer. I planted too much, had too many high-maintenance plants, and set my expectations for myself too high while at the same time feeling constantly behind. Problems came up and I didn’t deal with them effectively, or sometimes at all. Then what was supposed to be fun and relaxing became stressful instead.

Wait, was I talking about gardening, or…?

Anyway, some things I learned this year:

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Time to Hit the Books

Happy September! Here in Toronto, Canada, we’ve just come off a sweltering Labour Day long weekend…but even still, whenever the wind blew, there was the faintest of chills in the air. Autumn is coming. The biggest sign of this: all across Canada, Labour Day means back to school.

Mind you, nobody in my household actually attends or works at a school. But I’ve never lost the sense that September marks a new year, a new beginning. (I celebrate January 1, too. Why not have an opportunity for two fresh starts a year?) Now is the time to step out of vacation mode (or “spend the glorious summer weekends pretending you’re on vacation” mode, as the case may be) and move into Getting Stuff Done.

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The Two Sides of the Garden

Time for another garden update!

Here in southern Ontario, it’s the start of prime harvest season. Early crops like raspberries are over, veggies are coming into their own, and my partner and I just bought finished eating our first basket of peaches – my very favourite fruit when they’re in season.

What does that mean for our backyard plot? Well…to be honest, we’re having a stressful summer.

First problem: the tomatoes. In past years, we’ve been given seedlings by the elderly Italians next door, and planted them quite close together. This year we bought them from a garden centre and spaced them farther apart. Suddenly they’re sprawling out all over. The main stem of each is staked, of course, but what to do with all the branches with fruit sagging to the ground?

I’m slowly building a weird-looking system of multiple stakes for each plant and also trying to prune them back. At the same time we’re battling hungry squirrels and an evil tomato ailment called blossom end rot. Right now the tomatoes are taking up way too many of my mental cycles.

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