brittni in ink

Author of The Patch Project

art in the time of social distancing

In this time of social distancing, I’ve been getting back to art. I adore making art and learning about art. The DIA is currently one of my favourite places in the world (though I have yet to catch van Gogh’s self-portrait – literally every time I go, it’s out on a travelling exhibit, or just missing?) A couple of friends on Facebook have been posting links to online art exhibits and tours of museums. A stand out has been Faces of Frida – up until going through the exhibit, I knew very little about Frida Kahlo and her art. I learned that she spent time in Detroit – right across the river! – and how her life and art shaped each other. Fascinating!

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I’ve also been working through a free online art workshop called Sketchbook Revival – there are two instructional videos every day relating to different art journaling techniques – everything from lettering to binding an old book into a journal. Some of the exercises haven’t been for me, but the ones that draw my attention (pardon the pun) have been really fun.

All that being said, now that I’ve had a week and a bit at home, I’m starting to miss meeting up with people to write or have coffee together. And I’m trying to find a writing project to focus on while the sequel to The Patch Project goes through one last round of edits. Either finishing up a set of short stories I’ve scribbled at for the past couple years, or continuing the space opera I started writing for NaNoWriMo this past fall. Just something to keep me feeling productive and grounded while waiting to see what the next couple of weeks are going to look like.

I think there’s a lot of pressure to be productive during this time. I’m trying to balance it with the acknowledgement that this can also be a time of rest and contemplation. How do I want my life to change once things go back to relative “normal”? What is bringing me clarity and fulfillment during this time? What is important to me? How can I find time to ask these questions when things become busy again?

Also, I’m getting back to reading. Currently I’m reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, and am rereading The Left Hand of Darkness with my sister over video chat. I’m also looking forward to reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, which just came out – we’ll see if the copy I ordered arrives.

What are you reading? What are you getting back to during this time of self-isolation? How are you approaching being productive/ resting?

so much news

 

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Meet my new author photo! This film portrait was taken by Sarah Kivell, who does astounding work and constantly inspires me with her contemplative and creative approach to life! I like this photo because I’ve been taking myself too seriously lately; it reminds me that there is fun to be had with creativity, that art is a place to be humble, to play, to listen. This photo is a gift.

I’ve been lax in posting on here lately, but I can promise that that will change very soon. I have so much news in regards to my writing and upcoming books. I can’t reveal some of those things yet, but I’m so excited to share them when the time is right!

I can tell you that my website has been updated! If you want to be the first in the know about upcoming events, readings, and giveaways, you can now sign up for my newsletter!

Also to note is that The Patch Project is going out of print. Limited copies are available for sale at Juniper Books and Biblioasis, with some paperback copies available through Amazon. I also have copies I’ll be selling at upcoming events. If you would like to purchase a signed copy, I’m happy to send/ deliver one to you.

Speaking of upcoming events, the Windsor Small Press Book Fair is going to be held on April 18, 2020 at University Community Church. More details to come!

I’m also really excited for Emily St. John Mandel‘s new book, The Glass Hotel. Her previous book, Station Eleven, is one of my favourite post-apocalyptic novels of all time, but I think she would agree that now is not the best time to start reading it. Stay safe out there, friends!

 

out in the world

This month, I’ve been focusing on The Patch Project. This book has been out in the world since 2018, and I’ve enjoyed hearing all of the feedback, online and in person. My favourite review compares the book to a ’70s psychedelic film. It was a two-star review, but I love the comparison, and that the person felt strongly enough to leave a review at all!

I’m in the process of planning a reading for the spring, and looking at other ways to put myself out there as an author. Maybe I’ll start carrying my book around, just in case people want to read a chapter. Self-marketing is a huge part of having a book, but I’m terrible at it. At least I have business cards now.

I’m really enjoying working on my next draft of my work in progress. After this weekend, I’m going to take a couple weeks to overhaul the entire manuscript. We’ll see if I can keep to my goal of getting it out for beta reads by March.

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Have you read The Patch Project?

The Patch Project is available online through Amazon, or locally at Juniper Books. I also have copies on hand I can sign. If you do give it a read, let me know what you think 🙂

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If you’re making creative things, you may be interested in the following developments: 

The Windsor Review is open for submissions!

The Windsor Endowment for the Arts is taking grant applications until March 31, 2020. If you’re in the Windsor area, you should consider applying!

truly and deeply

It’s a new year, and after a very out of the ordinary beginning, I finally have a bit of time  to plan out, and dream about, what 2020 is going to look like.

2019 was a wonderful year overall: I appeared at events with amazing local authors; I received funding to work on a novel I’ve been itching to write for years; I spent time with friends and family; and I continued to realize that writing is what I truly and deeply want to do with my life.

With that in mind, I have lots of writerly goals for 2020. For one thing, my dear husband Peter is always going on about how I never use my desk because it is covered in craft supplies and gift wrap and thousands of little notes and a bag of old USB drives and instruction booklets and… he has a very good point. Keeping an organized work space is something I have to prioritize so I can write more.

Another goal is to try and attend/plan at least one book event per month. I’ve been super lucky to have been invited to participate in readings or book fairs the past year and a half – but I need to start seeking out opportunities and putting my work out there! This is a little daunting as I’m terrible at self-marketing, but I do love the energy at events once I get to them.

Also on my list is keeping this blog and my other social media up to date! I’m taking suggestions on what kind of content people are interested in seeing on my Instagram account. Maybe a photo essay on how messy my desk is. Hmmm…

Finally, I really just want to write a lot! Finishing the next draft of my novel is first. Once it’s sent off for beta reads (hopefully at the beginning of March), I’m going to try writing short stories. Who knows though? Maybe I’ll double back and finish the space opera I started for NaNoWriMo last year…

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If you’re on a writing journey of your own, you may be interested in the following developments: The Windsor Review is open for submissions for the first time in a while! And The Windsor Endowment for the Arts is taking grant applications. If you’re in the Windsor area, you should consider applying!

All the best to you for 2020!

 

 

 

grand adventure

Oh where to start! I feel like this month has flown by – at the same time, how is it December already?

The Fall Book Crawl (November 23, 2019) was a grand adventure. Fellow author Ben Van Dongen gave my husband and I a ride to the Tecumseh library – quite a trek, if you know the area! Fellow author Christian Laforet lent me a table to set up my books and such – everyone liked the open suitcase look: if an apocalypse hit, I could sweep everything into it and be on my way. The library was enthusiastic about having eleven authors set up in their community room. Fellow author Tim Gabrielle, the mover behind the operation, had his hands full with last minute questions like are there plates for the cookies, and where should the snack table go. It’s no small feat to organize space for ten other people, most of who you’ve only just met!

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The Fall Book Crawl Authors! (Photo from Tecumseh Library)

Spending the afternoon with authors and readers was life-giving. Some friends dropped by, and my husband brought me cookies and coffee and took care of my stuff when I wandered around. The only down side of the day was that I did not sell any books. This wasn’t an optimal outcome, but hey, that’s show biz. I’m not a great self-marketer, and when I meet people at events I don’t immediately hand them my business card. I have a lot to learn in terms of how to sell books, and some great local examples to learn from (like the authors at the Book Crawl, for example!). So my goal for 2020 is to be a better author, in all of the facets of what that means.

Ultimately, that means writing books, right? NaNoWriMo went well for a week and then I had a week from hell (in terms of word count), and after that, I just didn’t have the energy to catch up. I did manage to reach around 17 000 words, which is a great start for when I go back to the manuscript. It’s a space opera, and I love the characters. For all of the writer’s angst, it was an enjoyable month playing around in a genre I don’t write in very much.

And now that life is getting back into a rhythm and holiday times are coming up, I finally feel ready to return to my novel manuscript. I finished a first draft this summer, had a fantastic discussion with my editor/friend about it, fellow author Hanan Hazime, and am now preparing for draft two edits. It’s a little overwhelming? I have notes from my writing group to go through, Hanan’s edits to implement, and whole scenes to add. But I really think this book is something special. That’s what’s so exciting (and terrifying) about it.

Been reading some Madeline L’Engle this month too, her memoir/ book about writing called A Circle of Quiet. A Wrinkle in Time and one of its sequels A Wind in the Door are two books that speak to deep places in my life. They remind me of this quote from her:

“A book, too, can be a star, explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle

 

Fall Book Crawl 2019

Coming up this Saturday: the Fall Book Crawl at Tecumseh Library! Local author Tim Gabrielle has arranged for a stellar group of Windsor writers to be involved, so make sure you come and meet them and check out all of the amazing books (of many genres) that were made and/or written right here in Windsor. It’s a free event, and is a drop-in format. No formal readings, just come and browse and visit with the authors. Also, books make great Christmas gifts. Just saying 🙂

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It’s been a while since I’ve taken The Patch Project out among people, and I’m really grateful to be part of a community where these kinds of events happen. I’ll have character pins available as well. There’s also going to be a draw you can enter!

Hope to see you there!

 

*Photos from the Fall Book Crawl Facebook page

projects end, projects begin

After six months of researching, interviewing, writing a first draft, and editing, along with compiling time logs and budget charts, my Arts, Culture, and Heritage Fund final report has been submitted. I feel a lot of things: relief, contentment, a sense of clearness. I feel okay about putting the manuscript* to the side for now as November and new projects are about to begin.

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This’ll be my 9th time participating in National Novel Writing Month, an international event that’s all about word counts! And having fun while writing! And writing garbage if you want to, or writing that story you always wanted to write! Writing whatever you feel like with the editing switch off and the creative doors and windows thrown open! I find NaNo super helpful in that it gets me to sit down and set aside time to write. I’ve never hit the 50 000 mark, but I’m going to really try to make it this year. To aid me in my quest, I’ve printed off a calendar from NaNo’s blog page and written down how many words I want to write on each day up the 15th. I tend to lag mid-month, so I may have to respec my daily word count at that point. Should be fun!

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Speaking of fun, there’s a reading tomorrow (October 30th) at Biblioasis featuring Windsor authors Christian Laforet and Ben Van Dongen, who I know and who are stellar writers, and David Nickle, who I do not know but am sure is stellar also. Hope to see you there!

 

*This novel project was possible thanks to the support of the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Fund and the City of Windsor.

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