brittni in ink

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

Tag: writer

metaphorical cup of coffee

So, the floor desk I wrote about last time has been replaced by a more standard set up; being over 30, it turns out it’s uncomfortable to sit on the floor for more than twenty minutes at a time! I have a table and a swivel chair now, which is helping me get more on top of this author thing.

This week was pretty busy! For one, I did a vlog post for the first time in forever. It’s a touch longer than I usually like to do, but there was a lot to cover: moving to a new city, querying agents, projects that I’ve finished and am starting. It was also really fun to edit some video/ audio material again! I used to put together a weekly podcast, and my husband and I used to make short films pretty regularly, so it’s kind of nostalgic.

My current mug of choice, a white ceramic cup with a slim handle, featuring a painted rosemary plant.

I also started a Ko-fi page. It’s a platform where people can buy creators a metaphorical cup of coffee. I have a few friends who use it, so I thought I’d give it a try. For every donation to my page, I’ll drink a cup of coffee! And maybe film it. We’ll see!

Two versions of The Patch Project (2020 and 2018 printings) and two button options, one featuring the original cover, the other a picture of the character Pinot. Both covers designed by Peter Brinn.

If you’re interested in reading The Patch Project, now is the time to order a copy! Each order comes with a free copy of the original printing of the book or a limited edition Patch Project button, your choice! Only copies ordered directly from me, not Amazon, come with this offer. The book is $15 CAD + shipping.

And that’s about all the happenings going on this week! Hope you’re all enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

short list

Mirror World Publishing released the short list for their anthology contest! I’m thrilled that “Field Notes from the Unknown Planet” made it this far!

Image by Mirror World Publishing

I usually don’t have much success with short stories, so having a sci-fi piece recognized in this way is a wonderful confidence boost. Submitting “Field Notes” was a good challenge, and I feel more open to sending out short fiction in the future.

But for now, just waiting for the final stories to be announced (by the beginning of October), and imagining what kind of worlds the titles on the short list may lead to!

Congrats to all the finalists!

now available!

A Place That Used to Be is now available for online order! Before you order from Amazon, please consider the following:

  • See if you can order the book through your local bookstore! Many businesses are offering curbside pick-up or other social distancing options.
  • Request the book through your local library!
  • Wait a few weeks: I’ll be getting an order of books to sell by hand, and I would be happy to sell you a signed copy!

The test copies just came in last week and they look amazing! You can watch the unboxing video here.

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I’m still working on the audio book of The Patch Project. It’s been a lot of fun to spend a couple hours a day recording and editing the audio! Hoping to get that up on bandcamp in the next few weeks!

Also, stay tuned for news about an online book launch for A Place That Used to Be! Can’t wait to share more about the book with you!

 

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!

 

 

 

first draft complete

After four months of research, interviews, writing, and editing, I am happy to announce that the first draft of my novel project is complete!

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Finishing a draft is kind of arbitrary. I mean, I could’ve kept working on the manuscript for weeks, months, years, and still not have declared it complete. Luckily, I had deadlines to meet, and an editor friend who was waiting for the manuscript.

The manuscript is 45 000 words – a little shorter than I would’ve liked, but I’m okay with it – and has been sent away for feedback. While I’m waiting, I want to spend time with people and catch up on all the things I’ve been missing. So if I’ve promised to meet you for coffee once this book is done, please remind me. My brain is still readjusting to an existence where I have free time.

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Even though the first draft is done, there is still work to do. I am so grateful for the support of the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Fund as I worked on this project. Since this is a grant-funded work, I’ll be putting together a report on the process of creating it, from idea to interviews to holding the manuscript in my hands. Reflecting on writing this book will be a useful and happy exercise.

But for now, it’s time to enjoy the summer before it’s over!

 

*This project is possible thanks to the support of the City of Windsor and the Arts Culture and Heritage Fund

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interviews

A couple weeks ago, I put out a call for people interested in discussing topics around body and gender. The response was immediate and more than I could have hoped for.

I was actually pretty nervous about this part of my novel project (Phase Two: Conduct Interviews), but it’s six interviews in now, and I never want it to end.

Whether with people I barely know or with good friends I’ve known for years, each conversation has given me new insight and understanding about the complex intersections of body and gender.

Already I’ve had to rethink concepts and language I’d planned to incorporate in the manuscript. Thanks to the openness of the people I’ve interviewed so far, I’ve learned more in the past two weeks than I did in a month trying to research body and gender on my own (Phase One: Read materials on body and gender).

Oh right, I forgot to explain what my project even is! I’m working on a speculative fiction novel around the topics of body and gender. I have a working concept and a start to the manuscript, and I have until mid-July to finish a first draft.

After a few more interviews, I’ll be jumping into Phase Three: Review interview notes and ruminate on them for a while. This will involve lots of walking and reading, probably some journaling.

Come the first week of June, I’ll be diving into the manuscript with a lot of new ideas, and a better understanding of what I’m writing about (hopefully!).

So that’s the plan!  Thanks so much to everyone I’ve sat down with so far to talk about this project with and to everyone I will sit down with, whether in interview form or not. Talking about body and gender is important, we need to be talking about these topics, creating safe spaces for these conversations.

 

 

 

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(This project is possible thanks to the support of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund.)

 

 

 

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!

 

 

the process

I’ve been working through The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp with an amazing group of creative folks. We meet up once a week to discuss thoughts and discoveries around each section of the book. So far, I’ve been challenged to think more intentionally and clearly about my own creative process, and have deeply benefited from hearing the group respond to Tharp’s ideas.

Today, I was thinking about process vs. result in terms of creative projects. I love the process of creating something. I love the challenge of it, the problem solving that’s involved, the need for collaboration (in any medium – right now, I’m depending on my advance readers). I love the feeling of taking some vague idea or feeling in myself and watching it play out on paper or onstage.

Once a project is completed, however, I feel detached from it. And maybe this is because detaching myself protects me from criticism, or gives me a distant vantage so I can improve on the next project – but the group made me think about what a result actually is. Is it the last performance, the final draft? Is the result the product or people’s reaction to the work?

And thinking about it that way, I suppose I do love the result in that I love hearing people respond, even if it’s negative. I want to do well as an artist, but I also know that what I make has flaws, and that certain themes or genres may not appeal to everyone. It’s fascinating to hear the particular parts that resonate with each reader.

Which makes me wonder if maybe the creative life of a project is all process, just different points along the way.

What do you think about the relationship between creative process and result? Is there one stage of a project that you enjoy the most?

holiday draw

Congratulations to Sarah O. for winning The Patch Project Holiday draw! You can watch the draw video here.

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The Green Bean Festive Market was a wonderful event! All of the vendors were cool and friendly, and there was a steady flow of people mingling and checking out the tables throughout the day. I’m very happy to report that all of the copies of The Patch Project I brought to the event sold! I still have buttons and copies of “Showing Her Teeth” available, so if you’re interested in picking up a locally-created illustrated story, let me know!

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This’ll be my last blog post of 2018. Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, or gifted a copy of The Patch Project this year. Thanks for coming out to events, or meeting up with me to talk about the book. Thank you for hosting book discussions, for requesting copies for your local library, for sharing and commenting on my social media – for all of the ways you’ve reached out and supported my journey as an author. I couldn’t do this without all of you.

Hope you have a wonderful season of Christmas and holiday celebrations, and wishing you all the best for 2019!

 

where i’ve been

The past few weeks, I’ve really gotten back into writing. In fact, I finished my first draft of my next novel!

Finishing a first draft is its own particular high. The outline is done, the arcs have reached their destinations. Maybe some questions are left unanswered, but the characters are nowhere near to where they started. So many hours went into crafting the story that now features a “the end” on the last page.

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But the work is far from done. Edits are needed. Some sections are still skeletal. There are characters that got glossed over in the pursuit of plot. And since this book is a sequel, there are points from The Patch Project that still have to be addressed.

And in my case, entire concepts have to be changed. Here’s an example: Originally, I wanted to call the people who scavenge supplies from the wasteland “finders”. Typing it into Google (to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently copying someone’s title), I discovered that the most recent articles related to “finders” are about a cult. Not really the association I wanted readers to make. So I had to go off in search of a new word, a new label that would make sense in the world of the book. Still looking for something straightforward that doesn’t sound weird.

Something that’s really helping with editing is recording myself reading each chapter aloud. The reading aloud part helps to weed out awkward phrases and catch missed words. Listening back helps track the progression of each section, and to highlight unintentional tense changes. If you haven’t tried this method, I highly recommend!

As I’ve been getting deeper into edits, I’ve also been thinking about starting a vlog to track the progress of the book and interact with readers. Any tips?