The Streets of Dawson City

Dear Vi,You might have heard that the streets of Dawson City are paved with gold,but the truth is, they aren’t paved at all.Here’s evidence: boot brushes outside the door of every establishment.And miles of boardwalk.This summer has been a writing retreat for me. I left home with a sketchy idea for my next novel, and today I’m well over halfway there. I’m writing about 1,000 words every time I sit down, which has been about 5 days per week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. When I’m not writing, I’m reading All The Books, which is so incredibly delicious – a summer of unlimited time.

And I’ve been accompanying Sam on his walks, of course. We love to walk up and down the streets, the boardwalk sometimes booming under our feet, sometimes squeaking , often soft with age.

I brought quilting projects and everything I need to sew a blouse, but haven’t taken my sewing machine out even once. And that’s just fine. It’s okay to stop once in awhile to wade in the water and smell the grass.

Don’t you agree?

Head and Shoulders, Knees and…Elbows?

Dear Vi,

I hate to be a complainer, but I just have to tell you:

Too much hand quilting, knitting, typing, and gripping heavy weights at the gym have given me tennis elbow in both arms and caused the arthritis in my hands to flare up.

It’s my own fault. I let it go too far. I let it get away from me. I let it get to the point where it hurts to even pick up a cup of tea.

And that’s not all. Poor ergonomics in my sewing and writing life are affecting my shoulders, neck and back, which (not surprisingly) has worked it’s way down into the knees.

‘It hurts when I cackle!’

Because I’m a writer, I’m often at my laptop for several hours a day. If I want to continue, it’s imperative that I address the ergonomics problem.

Fortunately, I know what I have to do to fix it.

Yesterday I went to Staples and bought myself a properly adjustable office chair. My lower half notices the improved sitting situation already, but my shoulders are still complaining because the keyboard is too high.

In a perfect world, I’d buy a properly adjustable computer desk. But the reality is, we all have to work with what we’ve got and live within our means. Whatever modifications I make to my writing space cannot infringe on the rest of my very small house, and they also have to fall within my fixed-income budget.

Installing a sliding, adjustable keyboard tray (and new keyboard) under my sewing table and using my laptop like a desk computer may be the best solution.

The laptop can easily share real estate with the sewing machine. Both are lightweight & portable, and can easily be unplugged and set it aside to make room for the other. Mr. C will have the final say on whether or not the sewing table can be modified.

It may take a month or more, but getting back to my home yoga practice, doing physio & massage therapy for the elbows, and making these ergonomic fixes will hopefully take care of the worst of the problems.

Have you ever suffered repetitive strain injuries or dealt with ergonomic issues when sitting for long periods at the keyboard or sewing machine? Has knitting or hand quilting ever given you tennis elbow?

Do tell!

Query Blurb for Holding Space

Dear Vi,

I’ve been climbing steadily and have finally reached the top of Procrastination Mountain.  I’m clinging onto it like a barnacle.

I’ve spent countless hours on the internet and read countless articles and blog posts on the Dos and Don’ts of writing a query letter. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, let me tell ya. So much conflicting advice, in fact, that I’m inclined to just ignore most of it.

What does the query blurb have to do? Well, it has to accurately capture the gist of the story, it has to be professional, it has to be tight. It has to make you Want. To. Read. The. Book.

And the entire query letter – blurb and all – has to fit on one page.

Eee gads.

Well, yesterday I finally wrote something that feels like it’s getting close. In fact, it’s your lucky day, Vi, because I’m going to share it with you!

Here it is, in block quote format:

On May 18 at 1030 Coordinated Universal Time, nearly every person on Earth disappears.

In Winnipeg, battle-scarred Canadian Forces veteran Kat Russo is fighting PTSD while trying to rebuild her life after the death of her lover. When humanity vanishes before her eyes, she falls back on her military training and embarks on a cross-country search for survivors and, ultimately, for herself.

In Vancouver, Dr. Maria Zhou is the brilliant but pampered only daughter of immigrant parents, and the youngest staff member at the University of British Columbia’s Quantum Matter Institute.  When the unimaginable happens, she finds hope in the unlikeliest of places while attempting to formulate a hypothesis to explain the mysterious event.

On the remote west coast of British Columbia, aging artist Noella Harris takes refuge at the Seal Island Lightstation. Alternating between hope and despair, she figures out how to start the lighthouse’s big diesel generators and begins broadcasting messages over the station’s radio beacon in hopes of saving her sanity – and any remnants of humanity that may be listening.

What would you do if you found yourself suddenly, achingly alone? Holding Space isn’t the story of what happens; it’s the story of what happens next.

Holding Space is a character-driven work of science fiction set in the initial weeks following the disappearance and told through alternating points of view. Complete at 81,000 words, it touches on the themes of grief, loss, family, and the unexpected sweetness of reunion. It would appeal to those who enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

Okay! There you go. It isn’t polished up to a glossy shine just yet, but it’s getting there. I’m going to sit on it for another day or so and then look at it again.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.