Where to find us online

Leah

Deviant Art- This is where I post finished pieces of art.

Tumblr-Sketch blog. I also re-blog lots fandom stuff I’m obsessed with.

Art Portfolio- A professional art portfolio for clients and  commission’s.

Twitter- Super random updates about my life.

Instagram- Cats… lots and lots of my Siamese cats….

Kate

Twitter-Kate fears that internet may know what she’s up to… but she’s trying to update more.

Instagram- “Cat pictures are dumb”- Kate… Thus her instagram is suffering.

Parksville Writing Retreat

On Sunday, Kate and I headed up island for our own little writer’s retreat. We planned to do three days of uninterrupted writing. We headed up from Victoria around 1pm on Sunday and ended up in Parksville around 5. Our cabin was really nice, including the beautiful propane fireplace.

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We got the cabin with two bedrooms, but the first night we ended up sleeping in the same bed… There is something undeniably creepy about being in a rainstorm, in a cabin, in the woods…. There was also this really creepy attic area that we had to keep checking to see if murderers were hiding up there…

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My best friend was very sympathetic to our frightful night…..

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Our first full day at the cabin we woke up early, as planned, and wrote. I was actually surprised how productive we were. I’m sure the horrible internet connection helped us as well. We only left the cabin once to take a little walk along the river. We saw a beautiful eagle and Kate insisted on following him into the woods.

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The second day started out great: we woke up and wrote until around two. It was so nice; the rain was pouring so hard, but just sitting in the cabin by the warm fireplace was super relaxing. At least I thought so, but after a couple hours of the non-stop rain, Kate was getting pretty mad at the constant pounding on the roof. That’s when we decided to go get some lunch in town. Except, the car wouldn’t start…. We soon realized that we’d left one of the car doors open, leaving the car battery dead. It was extremely stressful. Normally asking someone for a jump wouldn’t be that bad, expect there was a mega rainstorm going on. Like raining so hard you couldn’t walk five steps without getting soaked. We went through the ideas of making someone drive up from Victoria, but making someone drive two hours just to give a jump is pretty lame. Eventually, after much stressing out, our dad got hold of our Saviour: a man who worked at a local car shop. He was the nicest guy ever, not only did he come all the way to our cabin after he got off work, he wouldn’t even accept any money saying all he needed was a smile. I was just thrilled someone was willing to help us :) The world needs more people like that! Once the car was ready to go, Kate and I drove it around charging the battery for an hour.

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Rain Storm

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The Evil Car

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Finally got our pizza

With the stress of the dead car over with, we spent the rest of the night writing, and fighting with the horrible internet connection willing dropbox to load…. We headed back home in the morning. I would love to head up there again soon.

This Day We Write!

This Day We Write!

I know my sister just posted a blog on the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, but it was such an overwhelming and amazing experience that I can’t help but want to publically share my thoughts on the entire thing as well. The SiWC was just an unbelievable experience, filled with positivity, energy, and hope. I left feeling electrified and invincible!

I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts about the conference before we arrived. I thought we weren’t ready to pitch our story yet, we hadn’t had enough time to perfect our writing, that we simply weren’t prepared enough to make the most out of it. I see now that nothing was farther from the truth, and I was just afraid. Thank goodness I had the constant optimism of my sister and the immense support of our parents, otherwise I would have bagged the whole thing and said, “Maybe next year!” for the rest of my life! I don’t believe our book will ever be 100% done, but somewhere along the way you just have to accept it and give it a go.

First of all, I love Vancouver! Even though it’s similar to Victoria, there’s always that feeling of Big City possibility as soon as the car pulls off the ferry. Our hotel was quite lovely with the comfiest pillows you have ever laid your head upon. We debated trying to smuggle one home but it wouldn’t fit in our suitcase. Registering with the con and getting our official SiWC folders and pens just heightened the excitement! (Oh, and not to mention we saw fantasy author Sam Sykes checking in at the desk so I had to fangirl-squee a bit.)

I was a bundle of nerves the first day, but relaxed when I saw how outgoing and friendly everyone around us was. Leah and I are not social Olympians, so making friends and small talk is not our forte. Lucky for us however, everyone else seemed more than happy to introduce themselves and break the ice.
The keynote speaker Friday morning was Jane Espenson, so being an uber Buffy-Angel-Game of Thrones-Once Upon a Time fan, I was in awe. Next, I sat through awesome workshops where I learned the do’s and don’ts of pitching (EXTREMELY helpful!) and heard some great thoughts on villains and conflict. During the conflict workshop, I received my first high-light of the trip: a text from my sister that read,
I got an appointment with Jack Whyte!!!!!!!
Omg
Aaahh.
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Jack said, “Well, after tearing that to shreds, I can tell you it’s very good.”

Meeting Jack was one of our hopes for the conference, but having him review our work was more than we could possibly dream! And, he said it was good. In his Scottish accent.

Incredibly, I got a last-minute pitch session with a certain agent that I really wanted to meet. Not so incredibly, Leah and I had not yet crafted our pitches yet and had to do so in 20 minutes. Incredibly, it came out sounding quite exciting! And even more incredibly, I was able to say the 40-second pitch without vomiting all over the table or bursting into tears (both of which I wanted to do). And even more incredibly, she said she wanted to read it! At first I was in shock, then denial (Oh, I’m sure she just says that to everyone so as not to hurt their feelings), then I decided to just accept it as a great thing and celebrate! Our very first query ever resulted in a request!

And what better way to celebrate than with a drink at dinner? Which were, by the way, delicious. Being a vegetarian, I was astounded by the amount of meat-free dishes they had, all which were incredible! And the company was even better. Talking about my work in a professional setting was extremely inspiring. I have so many supportive friends and family members in my life who I constantly lean on and talk about my writing with, but when I brought up our books to these new colleagues, I actually felt like I wasn’t discussing a hobby anymore – I was discussing a career path. I was discussing a lifelong dream.

Saturday went by just as wonderfully with some beautiful keynotes, another successful pitch where an agent requested the first three chapters of our novel, and an extremely helpful and hilarious Blue Pencil editing session with Sam Sykes. Oh, and Jack Whyte called us beautiful, and what better compliment is there than one said in a Scottish accent?

The amount of inspiration I received was indefinable. All I want to do is write that novel that’s been burning in Leah and I since Leah was 14 years-old and had her epiphany of what if…? Now that I have writer’s high, I am seriously considering taking a semester off of my biology degree in order to give writing full-time a go. I’m in the perfect position to do so (being only twenty years old with an ideal part-time job and my parents lovingly not charging rent). My reasoning is this: why am I devoting more of my energy to Plan B, when I should be giving 100% to Plan A?

So, readers, has anyone else felt like they should give writing full-time a go? Were you in a position to do so? How did it work out?

On the Surrey International Writer’s Conference

I am on the ferry ride back from Vancouver. Wow, what can I say, the conference was amazing! For a long time, all I’ve heard is great things about the SIWC and now I know why! Above all else, the atmosphere was great there; I didn’t once talk to a person that wasn’t friendly and supportive! In case any of you are thinking of going I’ll write some notes on different aspects of it:

Blue Pencil Café: So for those of you who don’t know the Blue Pencil Café is where you get to sit down with a published author and they go over three pages of your work with you. My first appointment was with romance novelist Sheila Roberts, and even though I brought a YA sample with me, she was SO nice and helpful! She gave me the name of her agency and told me to email her when my book was finished. On the way out, I decided on a whim to see if Jack Whyte had any free appointments. It turns out he did…right then! Luckily I had the first three pages of my and Kate’s YA fantasy with me as well. I can tell you right now, you’ve never really heard your stuff read out loud until its read by Jack Whyte. If you’ve heard him speak, you’ll know what I mean! I was terrified the entire time, but at the end (after stopping multiple times to tweak things) he said: “Well, after ripping that apart I can tell you it was good.” I was so excited! The 15 minutes just flew by. I would recommend blue pencils to anyone; the advice you’ll get is invaluable

Pitch Sessions: Pitching for me was the most nerve-wracking part of the whole conference! I definitely need to work on calming down my nerves. I had my 40-second pitch practiced, and when I sat down, I think I just threw it all up (figuratively!) on the poor agent. She was very nice though, and even though she didn’t request any pages, she gave me her card and told me to email her if I had any questions. Kate had a bit more luck with the agents (she was pitching the same book with the same pitch so if anyone asks I’m going to claim I just had bad luck!) and we got a request for 50 pages and 3 chapters! So we’ll be busy fixing those up!

Workshops: I really enjoyed all the workshops. I liked the idea that you could float between them if you wanted, and leave for appointments. I’d have to say my favorite (and most helpful) was pitching 101, Complex Conflicts, SIWC idol, and the Secret Lives of Best Sellers.  I enjoyed everyone I went to and wish I could have cloned myself to go to more!

The Banquets: Our mother was extremely kind and bought Kate and I the full package including all the meals. For anyone who’s thinking of going I’d highly recommended it. The key speeches alone were one of my highlights of the conference, two of the speakers almost brought me to tears! Not to mention the people you meet, everyone is so interesting. Plus one of the meals you get to eat with a presenter. Not to mention the food was VERY good :p

Plus there were so many great things about the conference that I haven’t even mentioned, such as getting to hear Jane Espenson’s speech, bumping shoulders with everyone in the elevators, and the hotel beds were super comfy too! I’ve never been to another writer’s conference, but I can’t imagine one being any better. I had the time of my life and hope I can go back next year!

http://www.siwc.ca/

Leah

On our way to Surrey International Writers’ Conference!

Kate and I are on the ferry heading to Vancouver! This will be our first writers’ conference. I’m definitely excited, but also nervous. My nerves are mostly due to the pitch session; I’ve always been better at putting things down on words than trying to speak then. At some point from my brain to my mouth all my words become a jumble of awkwardness. Since the point of the conference is to mingle, I guess I’ll just have to get over it!

Things I’m most excited for:

  1. The workshops! I wish I could freeze time and go to them all.
  2. Blue Pencil Cafe, where a published author goes over the first three pages of your work. This will be the first time I’ve met a published author, never mind show them my work. Definitely excited to see what happens.
  3. The Pitch. Hopefully I’ll be okay, I’ll just have to repeat the Dune saying of “I must not fear” over and over before I go in.
  4. And…. the food! Our mom got us the package which includes all the meals! And despite being excited to eat (which I always am!) I’m also excited to see who we’ll be sitting with!

Well the ferry’s abut to dock and I’m off for a long drive!

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Leah