Posted by: Fiona Skye | 16 December 2009


I like to pretend that I’m really organised. I add every appointment and important date to my Google calendar the instant I find out about it. Then I write it down on the big wall calendar in the kitchen. Then I email my calendar to The Man. I write lists. Oh God, do I write lists. Grocery lists, lists of names for future characters, lists of cool words, lists of movies and bands I want to check out, lists of books I want to read, lists of lists. Plus, you know, I honestly have an eidetic memory. If I read something – even once – it will forever be burned into my brain. This helps with remembering important things and with organisation, too.

But I really stink at organising my writing. I use Notepad to jot down ideas for potential stories, notes about settings, characters’ bios and back-stories, random bits of fascinating trivia that I think might eventually have some place in whatever it is that I’m writing. And I stick all of this into a catch-all folder on my hard drive, backed up to my external hard drive. There’s no rhyme or reason to these folders; they’re a big, ungainly mass of Notepad files, OpenOffice files, photos of actors I use as visual inspiration for my characters, maps and other photos of settings, and lists of songs I use while writing. I would desperately love to figure out how better to organise these folders, but what would really, really thrill me to no end would be to organise my notes. Maybe some software that organises notes according to their subject – setting, character, plot, whatever. Does such a thing exist? What do you guys use to organise your notes and other writing-related…stuff?

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 16 December 2009

Not Writing Music

Just beautiful, relaxing, awesome music. I’ve been nursing a pretty bad head-ache all night and Portishead always helps. So do Zero 7, Goldfrapp, Hooverphonic, and Air. I like to lock myself in my bedroom, put on headphones, hook up my iPod, turn off all the lights and just drift with this music filling my head. I often do this when I’ve come up against a brick wall in the story and talking the stuckness over with The Man hasn’t helped.

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 16 December 2009

Bloody brilliant article

The Smart Ass Guide to Dealing with Dream Zappers

You’ve met them, I’m sure.  Every writer has.  The people who tell us to grow up and join the real world.  The people who ask us who the heck we think we are to believe that the codswallop we’ve written will ever be published.  The people who take our hopes and dreams and squish them underfoot like roaches.  Reading this article will definitely help you deal with these sorts of…um…”people” in the future.  It’s a great read!

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 15 December 2009

Writing Books?

Books on Writing

My Stash of Books on Writing

Since I tend to be somewhat of a bibliophile, I decided when I got serious about this whole writing thing that I would seek advice on how to write in books.  It made sense – I learned how to do geometry and how to play the piano and how to speak French from books.  I could certainly learn how to write from a book, couldn’t I?  Well, sure, it turned out, a certain amount of the skill of writing could be learned from a book, but like many other creative endeavours, you’re either born with the gift or you’re not and no amount of reading How-To-Write books will help if you don’t have the gift.

From a book, you can learn proper grammar and sentence structure.  You can pick up some tricks on discipline and how to outline a story.  But you can’t learn how to turn a phrase in such a way that takes something as mundane as making bread and turn it into something magical if you’re not born with the gift of writing.  I know this runs counter to certain books available on the market right now, but I blame that on the writers’ stellar agent.  Unfortunately, for every hack who gets a multi-book deal, complete with movie and merchandising rights, someone who is truly a gifted story-teller is now reading his fiftieth rejection letter and has decided to cash in his chips and go back to selling insurance.

Too bad you can’t learn how to have better luck from reading a book, huh?

And honestly, maybe it’s a bit premature for me to be worrying about finding an agent, but I live in fear of never being published.  I think (no, I hope) all writers go through this.  I know I have the gift of writing.  I believe so thoroughly in my skill and my ability to tell a compelling story.  I know – deep down, like in the sub-cockles of my heart – that I am a Good Writer.  I just hope that I can find an agent who believes just as thoroughly in my ability.  Because, I’ve decided after reading myriad books, articles, and blog posts on the subject – having an agent (or not) is what makes or breaks you in this business.  Not whether or not you have the gift of writing; not whether or not you’ve read enough books on writing.  Whether or not you have an agent who is willing to bend over backwards for you is what determines your publishability.

It’s fortunate that you can learn how to land a good agent from reading a book.

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 14 December 2009

Photo Meme

The Rules:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first two or three pages, pick an image that speaks to you most.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker (4×3 or 3×4).
d. Save the finished mosaic to your hard drive and upload it to your image host or your blog.
e. Post these instructions, along with your answers, the credits for your photos and the moasic.
f. If you do a Photo Meme of your own, leave me a comment with the URL of your post.  I’d love to see what you guys come up with!

1. First name? Fiona
2. Favorite food? Cheese & Onion Enchiladas
3. Elementary school did you go to? St Michael’s & All Angels
4. Favorite color? Lapis
5. Celebrity crush? Neil Peart
6. Favorite drink? Peach Bellini
7. Dream vacation? New Zealand
8. Favorite dessert? Peanut butter cup ice cream
9. What you want to be when you grow up? A writer
10. What do you love most in life? Music
11. One Word to describe you? Creative
12. Favourite shoes? Chuck Taylors

1. helplessly waiting for Shrek,
2. 20050927 Enchiladas rojas,
3. Great Tew,
4. Lapis Lazuli,
5. Neil Peart,
6. Milestones’ Original Bellini,
7. Nature and Whale Watching in Kaikoura (New Zealand),
8. Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream,
9. writer’s teeth,
10. Forgotten guitar – 4,
11. Gummy Bear 365 : Day 240 – March 27th, 2008,
12. make chucks not war

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 14 December 2009

The Twelve Queries of Christmas

It’s just beyond ridiculous to figure out how to write a query letter.  Every agent wants something different and it seems that no two agents’ submissions guidelines read the same.  I think even more than the endless revisions I have to look forward to, writing a query letter makes me cringe and sweat bullets.

But thanks to Janet Reid, uber-agent, I now have a handy way of remembering what not to include in that oh-so daunting letter.  Check it out here:

The Twelve Queries of Christmas

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 13 December 2009

What is writing?

Just a quick note to let my devoted readership (heh heh) know that I’ve been afforded the chance to write a short essay on the topic of what writing is. It’s featured here. Go check it out and while you’re there, be sure to read the rest of Cassandra’s blog. She has some really interesting and thought-provoking entries.

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 12 December 2009

Photography quote

“We photographers have such violent professions. We go out and shoot people, then take them into a darkroom and blow them up.”

If anyone knows where this quote is from, please let me know!

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 11 December 2009

Inspiring Music

I can’t seem to get enough of this band.  It’s been very helpful when writing the scenes in Damascus and the Syrian Desert.  If you’re at all into this type of music, I highly suggest checking out their album, called Nine Heavens.  C’est si bon!

Posted by: Fiona Skye | 11 December 2009

As if I won’t be busy enough…

I’ve signed up for two reading challenges next year. Luckily for me, I do love to read and books from one challenge count against books for the other.

The Man scoffs at the notion of reading 100+ books in a year. He can do that in six months, but then he reads two full pages of text in less than a minute. (I know – I’ve timed him.) For the rest of us mere mortals, reading 100 or more books in less than a year’s time might seem slightly more daunting.  However,  I feel reasonably confident that I can meet and defeat the challenge.  I only wish that I’d waited to re-read the Outlander series until next year.

The other reading challenge I’ve signed up for is the Anita Blake Challenge.  If perhaps you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty or so years, Anita Blake is a vampire hunter, necromancer, and all-around bad-ass.  She is the creation of Laurell K Hamilton, one of the authors who has had the most influence on my writing.  The challenge is to read (and review) every one of the 17 or so Anita Blake books in 2010.  I’m actually rather excited by this – it’s been a long time since I’ve re-read Anita’s stories.

I’ll be listing the books I read in this post, along with links to their Amazon information.  Wish me luck and sign up for the challenge as well!  Read more, watch less TV.  It’s good for your mind, the economy and the environment!

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