Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Making Time to Write

I've decided to write my first children's book. Or will it be a children's book? I'm not quite sure yet, but we'll all know soon enough. I've been collecting the information (and getting the other steps in place to publish it) for awhile. I just have to set aside some time to do the writing.

I've been asked many times about the process I use in writing a book. These are some of my thoughts on that... (also see this blog of mine)

As a journalist for getting close to 40 years (Wow! Time flies when you're having fun!), I have always worked with deadlines. I continued setting my own deadlines for projects when I began freelancing and operating my own business. Some days, deadlines are easier to meet than others, but it is important to set up a process that you follow each and every time you write. That will lead to greater success in achieving the result you want.

These are steps I follow:

- Set aside some time to work on the piece. Whether it is a few hours every day for a certain period of time or a few days in a row where you work on nothing but the one project, this will help you to get your writing done. I also find that once I start a project, I want to keep going to get it finished ... so the most important part is really just starting.

- Minimize distractions. Go to a comfortable spot in your room, house, garden or wherever it is that you like to write and remove yourself from distractions if possible. Some people can write well with the TV or music playing in the background. I am not one of those people. I need to concentrate only on what I am writing without interruption from a catchy song, awesome video or chatty friends or family. As much as I'd like to do so, I have to turn off the Olympics on TV so I can concentrate more fully on work right now. (Decades ago, I began working from an office in our home, so my family long ago learned that when I failed to acknowledge their presence, it meant I was working and they should step quietly away or wait until I stopped to chat with them. Thank you, understanding family!)

- Think about what you want to write well before you sit down to write it. What do you want to say? How do you want to make your point(s)? Will you have tips or questions for your readers? Are you going to include comments from one or two or more people? What's the most important thing you want to say and where in your written piece do you want to say it? Some times, it is easier to write than others. If you have at least the beginnings of a plan before you sit down to write, you will waste less time in the writing process and you'll likely come out the other end with a more meaningful piece.

Happy writing!

And here's a pretty distraction for you... a beautiful day lily.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Working on e-books

In the process of adjusting three of our books to the correct layout format for an e-book, I have been reminded of how great these books are ... and how wonderful, sometimes funny, but mostly inspirational, the stories are within them.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces of:

The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story by Alan J. Buick:

Chapter Six - Hell on Earth:
     The first Canadian infantry unit landed at 7:30 a.m. at Juno Beach and although Bob and his crew couldn’t see what was happening, they knew by the massive number of shells and bombs exploding that all hell had broken loose for the men on the beach.
     The Germans were well prepared for an attack, with concrete bunkers that protected their machine gun and antiaircraft emplacements. They also had a formidable force set up
in a big house near the beach, firing their guns from that location. The Queen’s Own Rifles were assigned to attack and secure that house. They achieved this goal but lost more than 100 men within the 100 yards from the shore to that house. (The house was later restored as a memorial to the Queen’s Own Rifles soldiers who lost their lives in that battle.)
     Then the LCTs headed towards shore and it was Bob’s turn to join the battle on land. No amount of training could have readied Bob or his comrades for what they were about to experience. Their LCT came to a halt. Down went the loading ramp and Bob’s tank, the second in line, proceeded to drive off. Every previous landing they had accomplished during training had been onto dry land. This time, the vessel had stopped short and they were driving into six feet of water. Bob was at the controls and could feel the waves tugging at the huge Sherman tank. Now he understood the reason for the waterproofing and flotation devices they had installed before boarding the LCT in England.
     Once on the beach, they came to a standstill. What they saw there was not something anyone should ever have to witness. Dead and wounded soldiers were strewn about the sand like broken, discarded dolls at a landfill. The combination of bodies and the burning and twisted wreckage of jeeps and infantry vehicles made progress impossible.

Chapter Nine - The little coat:
       “So what are we going to do for Sussie for Christmas?” Bob asked his crew a few days later. “She is our lucky charm and we should give her something.”
       “She could sure use some new clothes,” one of the men suggested. “The ones she’s wearing now have pretty much had it.”
       Their conversation turned to other things for awhile but eventually came back to Sussie and her Christmas gift. “New clothes are a great idea, so let’s do that,” Bob commented. “She badly needs a coat, so we should get her that to begin with, but why don’t we get her some other things to go with the coat, too?
       Maybe some shoes, a sweater and hat and scarf?”
       The men agreed.
       “Okay, we know what we want to give her,” Duke noted, “but how are we going to get all these things? There’s nothing in the stores around here. The Germans made sure of that.”
       The crew fell silent while they pondered this predicament.
       “I hear that some of the locals have been making clothes out of wool Army blankets,” George observed. “Maybe we could do that, too.”
       “Good idea. Yeah, a really good idea,” the others agreed.
       “Okay, that’s great,” Atchy said. “We can find a good Army blanket no problem, but who’s going to make the clothes?”
       “Hey, Bob, did you bring your sewing machine with you?” Duke joked...

Letters to Jennifer From Maudie & Oliver by Sharon Gray:

Portraits of Us:
  Dear Auntie Jennifer,
      LIP (our Live-In Person) announced yesterday that she thinks it is time we had a series of photographs taken.
      This is Oliver speaking.
      Immediately upon this announcement, Maudie went into panic mode. (She is very vain and her beauty is very important to her.)
      Maudie stated that she would have to have her nails done professionally.
      LIP said that would not be possible as no Siamese cat pedicurist within a hundred-mile radius would do it as she has such a bad reputation. LIP said we are not driving out of town to some poor unsuspecting Siamese cat pedicurist so that Maudie can put him/her into early retirement, probably with bodily harm and, for certain, emotional trauma. Maudie will just have to do her nails by herself. I don’t see what the problem is here as Maudie spends about two hours a day doing her nails diligently...

More HAL Business:
 Dear Auntie Jennifer,
     HAL the computer has been living with us for some time now.
     We have not yet got a full read on him, but we are working on it.
     This is Maudie speaking.
     We find that he is really quite boring – until LIP starts to push his buttons. Then an interaction between LIP and HAL starts that is really quite X-rated, Auntie Jennifer. We are going to have to remind LIP to close the windows when the weather gets warmer. The neighbours would not approve.
     We call this LIP-HAL computer speak – quite different than normal computer speak. We do not understand it at all but we know that HAL is also pushing LIP’s buttons. LIP speaks in a tongue very
foreign to us. It is like this, Auntie Jennifer:
     HAL says nothing – just purrs along.
     HAL comes with his own mouse. Imagine! This mouse is not like any known to us. First of all, he has no fur. He is very bald and we can’t seem to get our teeth into him. He is about as boring as HAL
as he shows no fear of us. That is not mouse-like. He has the longest tail we have ever seen. HAL sits on it. We have tried to drag the mouse away from HAL, but HAL will not let go. Control freak.
     One day, LIP came home and found the mouse hanging by his tail from the desk – still, HAL would not let go...

Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope by Deana J. Driver:

Dionne - Growing Up:
     Dionne describes herself as a very spirited person. “I can be stubborn. I’m very strong-willed. Is that the same as stubborn? I’m very passionate and very protective when it comes to my family and my friends. If you hurt them, you hurt me and I’m coming after you!” she says with a laugh.
     Natalie Akoon recalls a time when Dionne did some research to make sure Natalie was safe. “While working at an ad agency, I started getting to know the studio manager and we would hang out
together. I found out that his wife was murdered and I was not 100% sure he was telling me the truth about his innocence. I told Dionne the complete story and she had detective skills I did not know about. She found out where, when, others involved, newspaper clippings of the murder and the person who was charged. She could have been an amazing detective!”
     Dionne has also been known to ask friends’ boyfriends or partners whom she feels might become short-term to step away after the first group photo so that she can take a second photo of just the friends or family. “I’ve said to them, ‘You have to step out because if you two break up, it will ruin this picture.’ Do you know how hard it is to crop people out of a group photo?” she asks with a giggle.
     "I love to laugh. I’ve always felt laughter heals so much. It’s good for you and it makes you feel good inside. I don’t care how stupid I look or what people may say. I just enjoy the laughter.”

The Good Life:
     One of Dionne’s favourite stories from her volunteering days at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre occurred when she was working in the wig room one day. A female patient stuck her head in the doorway and told Dionne, “You look too pretty to be looking after sick people.”
     Dionne asked the patient to come further into the wig room, where Dionne pointed to a snapshot of an attractive bald woman. She asked the patient, “What do you think of this picture?”
     The patient was aghast and said, “What woman would let somebody take a picture of her with no hair?”
     Dionne replied, “Actually, that’s me. I am a four-time cancer survivor. I’ve had breast cancer, brain cancer and two liver cancer surgeries.”
     The patient grew very quiet and then she grabbed Dionne’s hand, looked at her and said, “My dear, if I look as good as you after all my treatments, it will all have been worth it.”
     Dionne had put the photo of her bald self, taken by Graham, on the wall of the wig room in 2005 “because I wanted the women to know that I know what it’s like to be bald. I know what it’s like to try and find that wig that fits so you feel better.”
     Dionne and the patient hugged and laughed. “It was quite a moment for the two of us.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pobody's Nerfect #2

Here is my second post on some common errors made by writers (including this writer):

- Incorrect use of words:
  • 'Was' and 'were'. eg - Instead of 'If I were to do this', the proper phrase should be 'If I was to do this.' It should be I was and We were.
  • 'Who' and 'That'. eg - Instead of 'We spoke to the teacher that gave us the assignment', the proper word relating back to the teacher should be'who'. Persons are a 'who' and inanimate objects are a 'that'. You would not say 'we went to the school who was in our neighbourhoud', would you? (Please say, 'No! Of course I wouldn't!')
  • 'Who' and 'whom'. This is a rule that I and many others have not mastered. I have a tendency to rewrite the sentence or eliminate the phrase altogether if I am unsure - which follows a rule I learned in Journalism classes many years ago: "If in doubt, leave it out." The simplest explanations for 'whom' versus 'who' I found were on Yahoo Answers:
    "Who" and "whoever" should be used as a subject; "whom" and "whomever" should be used as objects of prepositions.
    Use 'who' where you would use 'he' or 'she' and 'whom' where you would use 'him' or 'her'. It's quite a bit more complicated than that, though... Check out this page to see if it helps you.
- Consistency is important. I can't stress this enough. For example:
  •  If you're going to have one character in your story refer to a friend by his nickname only, keep that style throughout the whole story - unless the name changes for effect such as when the person is yelling at him in fear or is angry at him.
  • If the fictional character has blue eyes and wavy blonde hair at the start of the story, she'd better have the same characteristics throughout, unless colouring has been added to either part and that has also been mentioned in the story.
  • Check and re-check your dates. A person can't be born in 1980 and be 15 years old in a scene that happens in 1992.
Now - get back to your writing...

Canola (formerly known as rapeseed) ripening in a Saskatchewan field

See Pobody's Nerfect #3.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Just Write

Good day!

Last week, I received this question from someone who recently read my 'To Do' blog:

"First off I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question in which I'd like to ask if you don't mind. I was interested to know how you centre yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Kudos!"

So I thought I would reply in today's blog with two simple words: 

"Just write."

It can be difficult at times to come up with the perfect beginning for any written work, so I often find it helpful to just start typing. I'll write down the other things I want to say in the article, blog or whatever I am working on and eventually the beginning will either write itself or at least come more into focus for me. With the technology we have today, it is a simple process to go back at any point to any spot in your text and do some editing or make additions, etc.

I try to read and re-read what I've written at least three times before I hit the magic 'send' or 'publish' button. (Typos creep into my writing all the time. It's quite annoying, actually. Why doesn't every program have a proper spell-check?)

I always set deadlines for myself and I try hard to meet those deadlines so at least something gets done around here (Ha! Ha!)! (It's important to have self-discipline as a writer and especially as someone who is self-employed, making a living from writing and editing etc.)

I consider options for the best way to start writing a new piece long before I sit down to write it - and I rarely sit at the computer to do that thinking. I'll go for a short walk, water my flower garden (one of the advantages of working in a home-based office), rinse out my tea cup, tidy up my office, look at Facebook or Twitter, or do something else for a few minutes until my self-imposed deadline looms very, very close and then I have to do something!

Some times, a good beginning comes easier to me than others. For two of my books, the inspiration came after an interview with someone. I wrote the Prologue of Never Give Up after a particular interview with Ted Jaleta, the subject of the book.

For Never Leave Your Wingman, I came home from the Pasqua Hospital after standing in the cancer clinic waiting area and then interviewing one of the nurses who had cared for cancer survivor Dionne Warner during Dionne's treatments there. It was winter and I came into our home, sat down on the back step - winter coat and boots still on - and typed the Prologue on my Blackberry! I'd never done that before - but the words were tumbling around in my mind and they had to be captured with whatever I had available! It was pretty cool.

And finally - don't be too hard on yourself. In the world of blogs, there is a lot of imperfection and the readers are a pretty forgiving bunch. If you were ever to write something that was to be published in a book or other format more permanent than a blog - that's what editors are for!