brittni in ink

Author of The Patch Project and A Place That Used to Be

Tag: local author

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!

 

 

 

wonderful authors

The Windsor Small Press Book Fair was this past Saturday! I had a great time sharing a table with fellow authors Elizabeth J.M. Walker and Alexander Zelenyj!

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If you haven’t come across Alex or Elizabeth’s work before, you should definitely look them up. Not only are they super chill and thoughtful people, they are wonderful authors.

Alexander Zelenyj’s newest collection, Blacker Against the Deep Dark, weaves together terrifying melodies, counterbalanced by the distant note of a better world. His books are for adult readers and blend literary, horror, and science fiction styles into his weird and wonderful stories.

Elizabeth J.M. Walker’s new book, The Boy Who Owned the Forest, is a collection of illustrated short stories about many magical places, incorporating thoughtful reflections on creativity and belonging. Nicholas Beckett’s illustrations are whimsical and striking, and add another layer of the fantastic to each story. Her books range from middle grade to older YA fiction.

The Book Fair was super fun overall – I met a couple of new authors, visited my author friends at their tables, and picked up a few neat things – including The Neon Heart by Ben Van Dongen!

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Thanks to everyone who came out to support on Saturday, and thanks to ZED Press for organizing the event!

starting a full-time job and how it’s affected my creative life

A month ago, I started a full-time job. Up until this point in my life, I’ve mostly worked part-time, fitting in shifts around my university studies and creative projects. Since moving to Windsor, I’d avoided even considering positions that required over 25 hours of my time per week. I thought full-time work would be a drain my creative life. Now that I’m in a full-time position, my ideas on this are changing.

This picture is currently the lock screen on my phone:

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The Diggers by Vincent Van Gogh

I set it as a joke after my first week at the new job. Kind of like a “hey, this is my life now lol.” When I consider the image today, I think about it a bit differently. The figures in the painting are working, and the work is hard and time-consuming, that’s true. But there are also fields and trees and birds to enjoy in the midst of it. They’re working to accomplish something. And they don’t work alone. I find that my shifting attitudes towards this painting reflect some changes in perspective I’ve been experiencing since starting a full-time job.

I appreciate the sense of routine. Eventually, it may become tedious to get up in the morning and make breakfast and catch the bus, but right now, it’s invigorating. I’m sleeping better and eating better. I like that I know what to expect when I show up, and I also really like being able to leave at 5.

Leaving work at work is maybe the best part of the job so far. I’m used to jobs where people can reach me anytime, either through email or social media. Convenient, yes, but  also a constant energy drain. With this job, I’m not expected to do any work outside of office hours (emotional work included) and that is incredibly freeing.

And as much as I was worried about losing my creative energy, I find that I’m more intentional with my time after work. I don’t have swaths of free time to clutter with unnecessary Facebook scrolling or other forms of procrastinating. Once I get into writing a new novel my restricted schedule may prove to be a problem, but for now I find that I value my creative time all the more.

I know that I’ve only been at this job for a month, but so far, full-time work doesn’t seem to be all of the soul-crushing things I thought it would be. It definitely helps that the people I work with have been welcoming and supportive. Having less stress about finances is also huge. I’m thinking about attending a few conventions this year, which I would not have been able to even consider a month ago.

All that being said, I realize that every workplace is different, and that full-time work legit sucks for some creatives out there. Finding a job that fits can be really tough – I’ll have to find out if full-time work is the best fit for me. It’s a new season.

Now that I’ve settled into this new routine, I’m going to be getting back to weekly blog posts. Next week, I’ll have some news about my current projects, and the Windsor Small Press Book Fair!

 

 

time to look at books

Coming up this Friday, I’m super excited to be part of the Amazing Adventures in Strange Lands reading at Biblioasis. It’s going to be a fun night of readings by local genre fiction authors, with some time to look at books and talk to the readers afterward! Hope you can make it out!

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A couple of weeks ago, I met up with local photographer Elise Lappan for a photo shoot! It was a lot of fun, and the photos turned out wonderfully! Here are a couple of my favourite captures. If you’re looking for someone to do a portrait session with, Elise is super friendly and professional.

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Also wanted to post about the upcoming Windsor Small Press Book Fair, which is happening on April 13th. Looking forward to being a part of that as well!

I’m just wrapping up the final draft of the sequel to The Patch Project. The past couple of weeks have been full of editing, which has been pretty fun, to be honest! Can’t wait to share more about that next week.

I was going to go and do things today, but the ice out there is insane. Stay safe, all!

festive times

It’s the last Patch Project appearance of 2018! I’ll be running a vendor table at The Green Bean Festive Market, happening this Saturday, December 8th from 11:00 – 5:00 pm. Drop by, say hi, and enter the free draw for a chance to win a signed copy of The Patch Project!

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There will be buttons and copies of “Showing Her Teeth” as well as copies of The Patch Project available for purchase. Plus, a ton of amazing local creators and crafters are going to be there!

After Saturday wraps up, I’ll be taking a break from events for the holidays. I’ve set a deadline for editing the sequel to The Patch Project – final draft by the end of February! – which is exciting! It’s been a different kind of writing process from the first book, which I may consider posting about in the new year. I’ve also been more intentional about reading lately, and am working on getting the last book of Ursula K. LeGuin’s incredible Earthsea cycle. It amazes me that I’d gone so long without reading them!

I’ll be back next week to announce the winner of The Patch Project holiday draw!

 

Are you taking a break for the holidays? Or is it a more productive time of year for you creatively?

november tidings

It’s been a few weeks, but I’m ready to get back into the book game!

Coming up this Saturday, November 24th, I’m going to be signing things at Juniper Books! It’s going to be my first book signing, so I’m not sure what to expect! But I’m really excited to partner with Juniper Books on this event.

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If you’ve never been, their space is super cool. Each room is filled with books, cookbooks in the kitchen, fantasy novels in the attic – a treasure trove of unique finds! Copies of The Patch Project will be available for sale, and I’ll also have a holiday draw set up for a chance to win a free copy!

If you can’t make it on Saturday, I’ll also be at The Green Bean’s Festive Market on December 8th!  More details on that next week, it’s going to be a great collection of local talent!

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Also, thanks to everyone who’s been asking about how my NaNoWriMo project is going. I’m having a particularly tough time getting motivated this year, but hopefully I can get a few more words in before the end of the month.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? How’s your project going?

the fourth thursday, wrapping it all up

Here it is: the last post of the Windsor writers blog tour. It’s been a great month of sharing, interviews, and discussions that have spanned blogs and Facebook pages (check out Justine Alley Dowsett, Sharon Ledwith, and Ben Van Dongen‘s blogs for a full recap) and I’m very happy to have been a part of it!

This week, we’re supposed to post about our own books, some aspect of our own work that we want to delve into.

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The Patch Project is a post-apocalyptic novella about five strangers who develop even stranger powers in the wake of a mysterious event. The story isn’t so much about an exterior threat as it’s about how each character re-negotiates their identity and their relationships throughout the book. I wanted to try something that would be a little different from the incredible volume of post-apocalyptic media and literature currently out on the market. But writing the book was only the first step.

When I used to think about what it would be like to be an author, I imagined hours hunched over a desk scribbling out stories, wired on coffee and ideas. I imagined it would end with a triumphant stack of pages accompanied by a sense of relief and accomplishment. That the book would come in the mail from the publisher and that moment would be the fulfillment of the writing experience. The end.

But as I’m learning now, even if writing the work does involve a lot of coffee and scribbling, receiving the first copy of the book is far from being the end. It’s really the beginning of the book’s new life. What used to be something you maybe shared with only one or two friends, is now out in the world.

People you have never met will read it. Some of them will leave reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Some of them will like it, some of them definitely will not. You’ll read it aloud in front of audiences. You’ll talk about it with other authors, you’ll post about it on social media. It’s very exciting, but can also be draining. In the three and a half months since The Patch Project came out, I’ve learned that getting your book published is just the beginning of a long term commitment.

And it absolutely helps to have a community of people to share that journey with. Whether they’re readers, fellow authors, event planners, publishers, or friends, their support is invaluable. Sharon, Justine, and Ben didn’t have to do this blog tour with me, but they did. Finding creative ways to build up a writing community is part of what we can do as authors.

So thanks to all of them, and all of you, for creating connections and for reading.

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Want to know more about The Patch Project? Visit www.brittnibrinn.com or Brittni’s Facebook page to stay up to date with events and readings.

The Patch Project is currently available in digital and print formats on Amazon, and can be ordered through bookstores like Chapters. In Windsor, The Patch Project is available at Juniper Books.

 

 

 

the third thursday, featuring Sharon Ledwith and Lost and Found

Welcome to week three of our blog tour! Four local authors have joined forces to share their stories and answer questions about their writing process.

This week, I asked YA author Sharon Ledwith some questions about her newest book, Lost and Found!

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About Lost and Found

“The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.”

 

The Q and A

Brittni Brinn: Can you tell us a little bit about Fairy Falls?

Sharon Ledwith: Would love to, Brittni! When I ‘built’ the mythical town of Fairy Falls over ten years ago, I drew from all of my childhood and adult experiences from vacationing and living in cottage country. When you think of a small, northern tourist town, what emotional cord does it strike? Vacationing with the family when you were young? Visiting your grandparents at their cottage? Camping in the backwoods with your friends? Living the dream on a lake? Whatever vision you conjure, I’m sure you have plenty of happy memories of that special place. That’s the basis for creating the town of Fairy Falls.

I also knew I didn’t want to lose that ‘small, tourist town feeling’. True, change is good, but there’s something about going to a tourist town and connecting with the people living there that somehow leaves you feeling better than you did before you arrived. I also wanted to be realistic in the fact that growth is a necessary part of life, and Fairy Falls will have to deal with all kinds of challenges that will create conflict and divide the residents, believing that they are doing what’s best for their hometown.

The psychic teenagers in each of my stand-alone books in the Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series will have their fair share of adversity and prejudice to deal with. They truly believe they’ve arrived in a place so foreign, so backward, that they try so hard to find a way to leave, only to realize in the end that Fairy Falls has been waiting for them to finally come home to themselves. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

BB: Are the animal characters in Lost and Found based off of animals you know in real life?

SL: Absolutely! All the shelter animals in Lost and Found are based on an animal I cared for in some capacity while working at the Animal Shelter for Huntsville, a Muskokan tourist town three hours north of Toronto. Now, trying to come up with each animal’s unique voice wasn’t that hard for me, since I went by the personality of the cat or dog. I observed certain quirks, how each animal behaved, what were they afraid of, what they liked, and so on. What I found was that every animal (even kittens born in the same litter) was different. Just. Like. People.

When I was ready to sit down and write their story, I compiled a list of shelter animals that readers would emotionally relate to and connect with. Many came to me as a surprise, others were firmly planted in my imagination from the very beginning.

BB: Why did you choose to write about an animal shelter?

SL: During my year-long stint as an animal care attendant, I learned so much about the procedures and daily routines of working in an animal shelter. Then, one day, I found myself wondering what the animals would say if they could talk? How they would act and sound? What did they really think of humans? So, chasing down the animal voices frolicking in my head, I decided to write their story. The result is, Lost and Found, the first book in my teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls.

BB: Who was your favourite character to write scenes for?

SL: Hard question, Brittni! But if I had to choose it would be Whiskey, a cantankerous, old calico cat who doubles as the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter’s observer and sage of the shelter. In real life, Whiskey was named Whiskers, but I thought that might be confusing when describing the cat’s anatomy, so I changed her name. I guess I just love the fact that Whiskey doesn’t take any crap from any of the animal or human characters in Lost and Found, and she makes decisions for the good of the whole, not the one. Now that’s one smart kitty!

BB: Do you have any words of wisdom for YA writers who are just starting out?

SL: Life is short, so follow your heart, regardless of the challenges ahead of you. Let’s face it. Life is full of challenges and obstacles. Those are the things that makes us stronger, better, faster. That’s what our characters face every time we writers drag them through the muds of hell. Then, like us, our characters evolve and grow. Writing is a tough gig, but so rewarding when you write those final two words ‘The End’. It’s a badge of honor, and feels wonderful and uplifting, like you’ve reached the pinnacle of super hero status. Never give up on your dreams.

BB: Thanks for giving us a glimpse into Lost and Found, Sharon!

SL: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Brittni! I really appreciate your support and kindness in helping out a fellow Windsor writer share her reading wares. Cheers and happy writing!

 

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Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

 

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE

 

Book info:

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

 

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

 

***Check back next Thursday for the last post in our Windsor writers blog tour!***

the first thursday, featuring Ben Van Dongen and The Thinking Machine

For the next four Thursdays, I’ll be featuring a different book by a local author – and they’ll be featuring The Patch Project! It’s our version of a book exchange-style blog tour, and should be a lot of fun!

First up is Ben Van Dongen, with his new cyberpunk novella, The Thinking Machine!

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The Thinking Machine follows an outsider named Zed, a new arrival to the massive metropolis that spans most of the Eastern seaboard. The purpose of his visit is to hunt down a machine who, strangely, shares his name. A cyberpunk novella infused with Zed’s personal sense of mythos, this tale of humanity’s relationship with technology is full of suspense and intrigue.

It reads like a detective novel. Zed follows leads, passing through the less frequented corners of the bustling city. Ben Van Dongen’s cities are usually gritty and unforgiving places, riddled with back alleyways and dangerous doorways. This city is no different. The distinct locations of each scene create an impressive thematic atmosphere. Zed’s impressions of the city and the intermittent thoughts of his home in the forest, along with references to why he entered the city in the first place, really put muscle on the bones of this story for me.

The beginning of the book includes a couple of stereotypical side characters you would expect from an 80s dystopian film like Bladerunner, and there is a lack of multi-dimensional female characters. Until Belle, that is. I found that the interactions between Zed and Belle kicked this story up a notch, and created another layer of tension.

Also of interest is the implant which Zed receives in the city. I asked Ben about the role of technology in this book. “I write a lot from the hip,” he replied, “so the implants came from me thinking it was a neat idea that could push the story forward during an early writing session for the book. The idea of mechanical and technological prosthetics terrifies me. I am excited for the possibilities for people who need them, but when fake eyes out perform real eyes, how long will it take before people opt to get the new tech? Will that keep the people who don’t want augmentations behind? It’s a personal fear that I can see on the horizon.”

Overall, The Thinking Machine is a well-paced and engaging read. I’m really excited to see what Ben writes next!

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Ben Van Dongen was born in Windsor Ontario. He likes to think that if he tried harder he could have been an Astronaut, but he is happier writing science fiction anyway. He co-authored the books No Light Tomorrow and All These Crooked Streets, and is one half of the founding team of Adventure Worlds Press. You can read more crazy notions on his website BenVanDongen.com

**Next Thursday’s featured author is Justine Alley Dowsett with her newest co-authored novel, Mirror’s Deceit! **