Rod Stewart on Writing

Happy new year! The fact that I’m saying so on the 14th of January should give you some idea how busy the first two weeks of 2013 have turned out to be.

I’m currently researching my next WIP, reading whatever and wherever my subconscious takes me to try to make sense of the hints of a story it sends up every once in awhile for my conscious mind to chew on. Consequently, I’m reading stuff I would probably never otherwise pick up, from pictorial and written histories of Vancouver in the last five decades to biographies of musicians and lots in between. At the moment, that includes reading Rod: The Autobiography, the un-mysteriously titled autobiography of Rod Stewart.

I’m a writer who doesn’t outline, but has to feel her way into and through the story. So when I read something Rod said about the writing process, it made me smile both because I related to it and because I’m reading the book to help me do precisely that. For all my writer readers, and anyone else who doesn’t quite know where they’re going until they get there, I give you Rod Stewart on writing:

“The whole process is a mystery to me, in any case. When we wrote ‘Maggie May’ and the song was in its formative stages, just a sequence of chords that needed some words and melody to fit, I hadn’t got a clue what the number was going to be about. I was just mouthing away and making noises, some of them words, in the spaces where the vocal was supposed to be. And suddenly ‘Wake up’ snapped into my mind — not even ‘Wake up, Maggie,’ just ‘Wake up.’ And where that came from, or why, I have no idea. You just have to think ‘Thank fuck,’ and allow yourself to set off after it, down the path to the rest of the story.”

Ain’t that the truth?

Back soon!

(Oh, and for the sake of proper attribution, that quote, used for commentary/review, appears on page 124 of the hardcover edition of Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart, Crown Archetype 2012)


A Few Good Reads

With eleven days to go in 2012, it’s entirely likely this list may change or at least grow before the end of the year. But I got thinking today about some of the best books I read this year.

I’m extremely lucky to have a number of good friends who are writers and who are generous enough to share their not-yet-published works with me, and some of those were my most memorable reads of the year so far, but for this post, I’m including only published books.

I glanced at my bookshelves before I sat down to write this post in case I was overlooking anything great. But in the end, I decided to stick with the handful that came to mind first. It’s a good sign that I remembered them off the top of my head, I think.

I have a TBR pile that includes books that are years old that I’ve only recently discovered, new books, books I’ve been meaning to read but have never quite been in the right mood for and ones I buy because I have to read them Right Now, so often what I read is not newly in print, and that is certainly true of some of this year’s favourites.

last letter from your lover I talked about this one in the summer, and all these months later, it’s the first book that comes to mind when I think about recent reads. Lovely, lovely book, beautifully written.





the rose garden This is the third Susanna Kearsley book to feature on my blog. ’nuff said.





my husbands sweethearts This book’s unusual premise caught my interest. In it, a wife whose husband is dying figures she shared her husband’s good years with other women, so they can bloody well take a turn at his deathbed, too. It had the potential to be vindictive or perhaps voyeuristic on her part, but it’s neither of those. It’s about finding support and creating a family out of unlikely circumstances, and I enjoyed it.



renegade This is the second in Jack Whyte’s Guardians trilogy, (The Forest Laird is the first) and focusses on the young life of Robert the Bruce. I feel like I know young Robert after reading this book, and am looking forward to the next installment.

What were some of your favourite reads this year?

Who are we?

The grey, drippy skies of a West Coast December invite reflection. It’s a time for philosophical discussions over warm beverages and taking personal inventory. At the moment, I’m also mulling bits and pieces of a new novel that have been infiltrating my consciousness. I’m not at the point yet where I can look straight at the ideas without chasing them away into the dark, but the sense of them is there, the hint of what’s forming beneath the surface. And that makes me slow down and listen to whatever my subconscious reveals.

One of the themes that’s been nagging at me lately, connected somehow to that new story I can’t yet put my finger on, is the question of what defines us.

I think when this subject arises, people are often quick to trot out labels or name the various “hats” they wear. In my case, I am, among other things, a writer, a mother, a conference coordinator, a wife, a friend…. We can all count these off on our fingers, and possibly our toes, too, depending on how much we try to pack into this life. But do they define us?

Certainly they are easy, these labels, and their obligations fill our days. But alone when no one else is around, with time to really think and simply be, are they the things that make us who we are? I think not. I think maybe we come to those things because of who we are and not the other way around.

So what, then, truly defines us? Does it take everything – those labels, the things we enjoy doing, our backgrounds, the way we think about the world, the side we take on contentious issues, what we eat for breakfast, whether we cheat on our taxes or at board games, and any/every other measuring stick we can think of – to truly express who we are?

Or is it as simple as knowing whom and how and what and why we love?

I don’t know. But I like this stage of a new book, where I don’t have any idea what it is or where it’s going or even if it’ll become anything at all, but my mind turns over impossible questions, looking for the ones that resonate with the story hidden behind the curtain.

How do you define yourself?


We remember. Both the men pictured here lived long after the war. But they served. We remember them, and all the others who have given their youth, their peace of mind, their health, their limbs or their mobility or their eyes, their all, and, all too often, their lives. Thank you to all who have gone before and to the men and women who serve still.

Blogging at SiWC.ca today

I’ve gathered up some of the links to blogs written by this year’s SiWC attendees about the conference and have posted them on the blog at the SiWC website today. Check them out! http://www.siwc.ca/blogs/kathychung/siwc-2012-review

Interrupting the crickets…

My good friend Tyner Gillies mentioned me in his blog post this afternoon. It didn’t occur to me until he posted it that agreeing to be mentioned meant he’d point you here, and you’d find the crickets chirping, filling in the silence.

As many of you know, my head gets entirely eaten every fall, specifically every September through about the first week of November by my role as coordinator of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. This year was no different.

So apologies for the silence. If you’re new here, I hope you’ll find something you like in the archives. I’ll be back soon!

Blog Visiting

This is the busiest time of my conference year other than the conference itself, so I’m afraid my ability to string sentences together is rather impaired at this point.

But when I’ve taken breaks, I have managed to read a little of what my favourite bloggers are posting, and some of it’s terrific. You should have a look.

If you’ve ever been or known a kid whose favourite stuffed animal never leaves his side, check out the video posted by my friend A Novel Woman on her blog. Also, more recently than that video, she has another posted that contains Hugh Jackman. Go look.

Over on the Knight Agency blog, agent Nephele tempest tackled the sameness she sees in manuscripts and how to use details to make your world different from what she and other agents see every single day. Great advice.

And I don’t remember how this one came my way, but it’s completely safe for work. Meet Nellie the Sea Otter:

More soon!