Netting Word Count and Salmon

Aerial Shot of Kyuquot Sound Lodge

Photo Courtesy K. Clark

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Kyuquot, a small community on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Technically it was a fishing trip, but what I netted was word count, because when the anglers are away, the writer will play.

A more spectacular perch from which to write would be hard to find. Inspirational vistas, no cell phone service, and only a whisper of Internet added up to hours of uninterrupted writing bliss.

The lodge is located on one of the small islands that dot Kyuquot Sound. Every window offered a spectacular view, and the expansive decks that surround the lodge provided plenty of outdoor space.

 

Bedroom View of Ocean & TreesMV Uchuck IIIKayaks and hiking were right outside the door, and directly across from us, a helicopter flew in and out of a nursing station outpost. On Thursday, we headed outside to wave to the MV Uchuck III which cruised by on its weekly supply trip.

Eagles feastingEach day when the crew returned with their catch, they’d clean the fish on the dock and take the heads and innards to a nearby rock to feed the local wildlife. The gorging that ensued was a photographer’s dream even for those of us without long lenses.

With the salmon iced down and the eagles fed, we’d enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer, and the anglers would entertain us with colourful lies about the one(s) that got away. Each evening a different crew cooked dinner, salmon on all but one night, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favourite rendition.

Sadly, we couldn’t stay forever, but we left Kyuquot topped up with good food, fond memories and loaded fishing coolers.

The next Gift Legacy book sits at +50K words, well over the halfway mark. Every day I’m pumped to write the next scene and if I ever need some Kyuquot inspiration, I can always cook a yummy salmon dinner and gaze out to the Pacific!

JPMcLean at Denman Saturday Market

Photo Courtesy S.Dyck

A note on the rebranding front: yesterday I set up a table at Denman’s Saturday market and a group of three women approached to ask if the books had a religious theme. That’s three more votes for rebranding!

Don’t forget! All Gift Legacy eBooks are on for half price via Smashwords, including the boxed set, until Monday, July 31. You’ll see the reduced price at checkout.

If eBooks aren’t for you, click on the covers below for more purchasing options.

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Posted in Island Life, On Writing, The Gift Legacy, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

San Diego and Book Covers

JPMcLean in San Diego AirportEarlier this month, we took a short trip to see dear friends in La Mesa, California, just outside of San Diego. It was wonderful to catch up with our friends, and also to see a bit of San Diego. A few scenes in the new book take place in San Diego, so it was good to get a first-hand feel for the airport, the sounds of the streets, and the ambience of the city.

I didn’t get a good photo of the boats along the waterfront, so you’ll have to trust me when I say they were impressive.

Container Store's shop windowFashion Valley was a treat with its high-end shops. I fogged up the windows of Prada, Coach, Emporio Armani, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton, but didn’t venture inside as my Canadian dollars were shaking in their boots. I did, however, find a fabulous new-to-me shop, The Container Store, AKA paradise for an organizational freak like me. Sadly, the shops aren’t in Canada, which is probably a good thing.

JPMcLean posing beside old postmaster desk in Old Town, San DiegoOld Town San Diego, though touristy, was an entertaining diversion and we ate dinner at Guadalajara’s on the recommendation of our cabbie. The food was tasty, as was the margarita that was the size of my head.

JPMcLean drinking huge margaritaBack home on the writing front, I’m contemplating something I’d like your input on–titles and book covers. Over the life of the Gift Legacy books, I’ve received feedback that the titles and covers suggest the books are in the “religion and spiritual” genre. They are not and I don’t want to mislead readers. They are contemporary fantasy thrillers. I’ve always felt that the book covers, like the books themselves, wouldn’t appeal to everyone, and left it at that. However, the issue keeps coming up and it’s getting harder to ignore.

Book covers, like their titles, have an important job to do; they have to convey the genre and tone of the book, as well as pique a reader’s curiosity. I feel like I’m too close to be objective, and though I’ve stated often how much I love the covers, I’m open to re-branding them.

And that’s why I’m asking for your input. What do you think? Are the covers and titles doing their job? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

You can read Emelynn’s story with one click right here.

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Posted in Book Covers, Book Titles, On Writing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Skidding in to May’s Home Plate

Authors JPMcLean, Jennifer Manuel and Elinor Florence

Writers’ Meeting in Duncan, L to R JP McLean, Jennifer Manuel, Elinor Florence

Who else has a teaming inbox? A mess of chores begging for your undivided attention? A to-do list that would choke a horse? Making matters worse, the warming weather draws me outside to luncheons, farmers’ markets, farms, and farther away from those niggling emails, awaiting chores and other things that need to be done.

JPMcLean, Elinor Florence at the Old House, Courtenay, BC

JPMcLean, Elinor Florence & two charming gentlemen, The Old House, Courtenay, BC

Despite my efforts to touch base here once a month, May is waning fast. It’s been a busy month with a birthday, an anniversary and a writing project that keeps throwing down (up?) yellow flags.

The birthday and anniversary remind me that time marches on, the yellow flags remind me that I’m not in charge, and not nearly as clever as I imagined. So, while I sort through the yellow flags, review the tape, and decide what to do about the unruly prose, I take a step back, breathe, and realign my priorities.

Piglets on Ornney Farm, Denman Island

Piglets, Orkney Farm, Denman Island

Life, limb, and love comes first, writing second, all else?  Get in line. A good friend reminded me once, pick your battles. Good advice. Spring will only bless us once this year. Chores will go on the rinse and repeat cycle ad infinitum. I’m choosing good friends and piglets. See you in June! With any luck, the yellow flag situation will be resolved by then.

A story with no yellow flags is Emelynn’s story, you can pick it up with one click right here.

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Posted in Humour, Island Life, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Battling Weeds and Plot Holes

Image of a dwarf apple treeYesterday, I gathered my knee pad, gloves and garden tools and set out to dig in the dirt. I crawled under one of the dwarf apple trees, and settled in to do battle with a regiment of weeds that had settled in during the winter.

Weeding is one of those chores I do on autopilot, which frees up my mind to wander where it may. Normally, it wanders into the book I’m writing and combs through plot and character tangles.

Image of a dwarf apple treeYesterday, however, it didn’t wander that far. Across the road I heard the bleat of new lambs, the drone of a neighbour’s lawnmower, the sputter of a chainsaw. Overhead, birdsong competed with the distant clang of metal as someone worked on farm machinery.

These are sounds I hadn’t missed until I heard them again—sounds of spring and the promise of summer. It reminded me how fortunate I am to live in the countryside, and how grateful I am to be able to enjoy it.

Image of a rainbowAfter a few hours of weeding, I felt refreshed, recharged, and ready to tackle James, a character who is causing no end of trouble in the next Gift Legacy installment.

Is anyone else hearing the sound of spring?

Now … back to writing!

The Gift Legacy books are now available at Geek Crossing,#105-20285 Stewart Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC. Drop in and tell them I said hello!

You can pick up a weed-free digital copy of the book that started it all with one click right here. Click on the images below for other purchase options.

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Posted in Gratitude, Island Life, On Writing, The Gift Legacy | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

My Train of Thoughts Reviews The Gift: Betrayal

What a day! The sun’s shining, the temperature outside is almost warm, and there’s a new 5-star review of The Gift: Betrayal on Karen Oberlaender’s My Train of Thoughts blog. So happy to share it. Source: The Gift: Betrayal (The Gift Legacy, Awakening Redux (“#20”)) by J.P. McLean

Posted in Book Review, Gratitude, The Gift: Betrayal | 6 Comments

Who’s That Blogger? JP McLean

The Book Club Mom sure knows how to fire up my Saturday. It’s a real treat to have my blog featured today on her blog. Want to know why I blog? Check it out. Thanks, BCMom!

Source: Who’s That Blogger? JP McLean

Posted in Interviews, The Gift Legacy | 7 Comments

February Has Lost its Mind

Record snowfall in yardLast month when I wrote An Uncommon Winter, I had no idea that February would charge in and dump a 20-year record snowfall on us. Clearly, February has lost its mind, or at least its bearings.

Ornamental tree knocked over by snowOne of our ornamental trees fell over and couldn’t get up. Many branches waved their final adieu, and at least one of the neighbourhood boat houses is out of business.

Broken Cedar BoughOn the plus side, the extreme weather gave me all the excuse I needed to stay home and spend some quality time indoors, writing by the fire. I’m well into the next book in the Gift Legacy series, as yet untitled, which will continue on from Penance, and I’m continuing to make notes on the new project, Witness.

Being in creative mode is nirvana for me. I carry a notebook around like a security blanket in case an idea pops up when I’m away from the laptop. I can’t believe I am still surprised when the story goes off script and a new plot twist finds its way onto the page. Love it!

Boathouse flattened by snowIf you had snow this February, I hope you were better equipped for it than we were! Hang in there, spring is just around the corner. Until next time …

And if you find yourself snowbound, curl up with a good book. The Gift: Awakening, for example. You can grab a copy with one click right here. If ebooks aren’t you thing, click on the cover below for more options.

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An Uncommon Winter

book-beach-frostIt’s been an uncommon winter here on Denman Island. The ground froze for 6+ weeks, which is an unusual state of cold we normally count in days, not weeks (No need to roll your eyeballs – we know we’re spoiled – we barely reach the “damn it’s cold” threshold for Canadians). And on top of the frozen ponds and gardens, we woke day and again to find fluffy white stuff, more commonly referred to as snow. Unheard of … especially when it sticks around for more than a day. (Your eyeball are going to stick up there!)

Ad for The Gift: Betrayal with Elinor Florence's Quote.I can’t complain; I didn’t get outside much in November. The November 15 release of Betrayal Kept me busy and plagued with the usual should’ve/could’ve/would’ve done more XYZ to promote the new release, except for the troublesome fact that I also have a life.

Ontario Winter 2017That “life” took me back to Ontario to spend a rare and snowy Christmas with my family. Despite my earlier whinging, I love a white Christmas. There’s something magical about crisp, white snow at Christmastime. And it may just be my ego, but I think Ontario went out of its way to emphasize the white this year. It brings me back to my childhood. I can count on one finger how many white Christmases I’ve experienced since moving to the coast (not that finger – gheesh!). The coast has many wonderful attributes, which I tout to no end in the Gift Legacy books, but a white Christmas isn’t one of them.

spring-b1I’m now back on Denman Island. The snow has melted away and the frost has departed. Spring bulbs are poking through the earth, the honeysuckle bush is blooming, and I find myself in the refreshing position of writing something new. This is one of the sweetest spots for writers. It wakes me in the middle of the night, and pulls me out of bed early in the morning. It doesn’t wait for the coffee to brew or a good internet connection.

book-outline-1

Plotting the next story…

It demands my attention, and I’m beyond happy to oblige. In addition to developing the story for Witness, I’m writing the next chapter in Emelynn’s story. This is what it looks like when I’m organizing my ideas for a story. If you have thoughts about characters you’d like to hear from, or storylines you’d like to see on one of those stickies, now is the perfect time to tell me. Leave a comment, or contact me on any of my social media sites.

If you want to read Emelynn’s story, you can pick it up with one click right here.

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Christmas Travel Challenges

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you wake up with a leisurely stretch and wonder how you’re going to fill your day? Yeah, me neither. Especially this year. Busy doesn’t even have a seat at the kiddie table.

Candle and holly on a stone mantleLike a lot of you, I’ve been in a whirlwind of cleaning, wrapping, cooking, baking, entertaining, and being entertained :). I’ve also been packing for a winter road trip back east to spend a rare Christmas with my family in Ontario. It was a decision we’d made way back in March.

Most years we parcel-up Christmas in boxes and mail them in early December. What a treat it’s been this year to pack with abandon, free of the usual worry of breakage, and the expense of excess weight. Being a writer with a new book out, I even included a few boxes of books. We bought new snow tires, cleaned the car inside and out, and loaded the bulkier items. All that was left to load were our suitcases.

Boot castAnd then our long awaited cross-country winter wonderland Christmas trek came to a screeching halt with a last-minute boot-cast (cave master, not me) and a scramble for airline tickets.

Happily, we found suitable flights, but I had to add re-packing to my to-do list, and sadly, some of the treasures we’d originally packed didn’t make the re-pack.

Christmas HatBut on the bright side, we’ll still have a white Christmas with my family, and we’ll still be able to visit with friends along the way. For us, it’s the people who make Christmas special, and the rest of it though nice, is simply glitter on the tree. Not critical, nor necessary, and easily done without.

With that in mind, from our house to yours, all the best to you and yours this holiday season. Glitter or not, enjoy the special people in your life. Until next year …

And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift, you can pick it up Awakening with one click right here. And if ebooks aren’t your thing, click on a covers below for more purchase options:

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Mystery Mondays: J.P McLean On Writing Deeper Dialogue

I’m hanging out over at Kristina Stanley’s Mystery Mondays blog today, sharing my two cents and meeting new people. Check it out:

 

Hosting an author on Mystery Mondays that I’ve actually met in person is a treat. Jo-Anne and I met at a writers conference in Calgary, Alberta last summer and became friends. We both write, …

Source: Mystery Mondays: J.P McLean On Writing Deeper Dialogue

Posted in Interviews, On Writing | 4 Comments