I met humorist Colleen Landry through her blog a few years ago, and I was immediately taken with the rampant irreverent humor there.
I posted about her several times, HERE and HERE, for starters.
Since then, she has gone on to publish a few books for kids, but she finally agreed to take the leap and put out a humor book for grown-ups, based on her hilarious real life experiences.
Miss Nackawic Meets Midlifeis a terrific book, and Colleen was eventually persuaded to sit down and answer a few questions for us. (For the Amazon U.S. link, click HERE)
DAN: So I looked you up on your publisher’s site (Chocolate River Publishing Inc.) and your name appears on several books.
I knew about the goose butt book, but I didn’t know about the other ones. What’s the story there?
COLLEEN LANDRY: Besides writing Miss Nackawic Meets Midlife I’m lucky enough to have co-authored with two fellow teachers—Odette Barr and Beth Weatherbee—three children’s books in the Camelia Airheart series. It is about a Canada goose with no sense of direction; her GPS (Goose Positioning System) doesn’t work and she’s always getting lost. She’s instructed to stay in formation and to follow the goose butt in front of her…but she’s easily distracted too so she can never follow that goose butt! Our titles so far in the series are: Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart!, Take off to Tantramar, and Follow the Goose Butt to Nova Scotia.
The first goose butt one was very good; my daughter and I loved it, and the artwork was AMAZING. I’ll have to check out the other ones.
I saw you did a stand-up routine. What possessed you to do that? (I’m secretly impressed as hell.)
I did! I’ve always wanted to try it and last fall the planets aligned when a professional comedian taught a stand-up comedy course for women. I jumped at the chance and it was really fun! The course culminated in a live show in which we performed our material…to actual people…who were not in comas! It was terrifying but a total rush at the same time! Since then, I have tried it four more times…and lived to tell about it.
What! Four more times! Is there video of that???
My first one is on YouTube. The audience was very generous with their laughter. Phew.
They weren’t generous; you were funny. You did a great job and it looked very professional.
You also did some radio interviews. For people who haven’t had that experience, what’s it like?
For one thing, you don’t have to worry about hair and make-up because no one but the interviewer can see you, so there’s that!
Yeah, I worry about that.
Beth, Odette and I have been interviewed on the radio each time we’ve published a new book in the series and it’s quite relaxed…especially when I cover their microphones with my hand. Ha! Ha! Seriously, we do enjoy it. It lasts about ten minutes and you kind of forget you’re on the radio; it’s natural and easy.
Very cool! Lots of people get nervous when they’re doing interviews of any type, and with a good host it goes a lot smoother.
It took me a while to figure out how to organize and tweak the existing blogs into a theme for a book. I also wrote several new pieces so for those who followed my blog, there is LOTS of new material. It’s about middle age, family life and finding your purpose after the kids leave home. I encourage everyone to buy at least ten (hundred) copies.
People always want to know an author’s influences. I know it was me, but there may have been others. Name a few.
I’ve had many influences. My friends and family encouraged me by giving me feedback on my blog and by giving me the courage to put myself out there. My publisher (Chocolate River Publishing) approached me with an interest in turning it into a book so that gave me the final nudge I needed. You definitely suggested that I publish my blog and that people would read it (You promised!). Bless you for that. Did I mention I want to sell one million books (by Christmas)? They can be purchased at: https:www.chocolateriver.ca as well as amazon.ca. Also, people can go into their local book stores and ask the owner to order it through booknet.
Do you remember how we “met”? I think I was following a blog that re-blogged something of yours (it may have been on Facebook) and I ended up reading about ten posts and I thought you were hilarious. Then I started bugging you about writing a book. What is your recollection?
To be honest, Dan, I thought you were a cyber stalker. Kidding! Actually, you made my day. I remember you reaching out from the cyberspace interweb thingy and saying, “Hey, I just read your blog post about setting up a mojito stand in your driveway and it’s hilarious!” (Frankly, I still don’t see anything wrong with selling mojitos for $15 a pop in my driveway on a blistering summer day but whatever.)
Me, neither. And that post was a scream.
You gave me the confidence boost to take my writing to the next level. Thanks for that.
You are very welcome. Had I not fallen down laughing over the blog posts, I would not have reached out. You have mad skills, lady.
What’s next for you, writing-wise? Fans will want a series/sequel of Miss Nackawic books.
I hope you’re right and that readers will want more of this delusional character, Miss Nackawic! So far the response has been very positive! I’m currently working with an illustrator on a Miss Nackawic Meets Midlife comic strip. He is the illustrator who designed the book cover…
OH. MY. GOD.
…which we hope to publish…
Sign me up now for a copy of that.
Oh…and I’m carrying on with my delusional alter ego on Instagram. If everyone reading this could follow me on Instagram (missnackawicmeetsmidlife) I could be super famous by the end of the week.
We’ll do our best!
Gang, join me in thanking Colleen for a lively and entertaining interview, and please check out her bookMiss Nackawic Meets Midlife. You’ll love it!
Try to paint emotion in thick when you have a dramatic scene.
Use more words than you think you need.
When Bonnie, the killer, is about to confront the random fisherman after the murder, YOU have the scene in your head. You’re seeing it in all its tension-filled glory.
But is the reader?
Did you put it on the page?
Deliver MORE than an adequate amount of info. For the scene to sear itself into the reader’s mind, we need to go bigger at those times. Have her holding her breath, wiping sweaty palms on her pants leg, interspersing thoughts about do I have a second kill I’m about to have to make? What does he want? Is this car a cop?
Then, dwell there.
Readers are reading SO FAST at those times (because it’s exciting), YOU can add and add and add and make us wade through it, because it’s hugely dramatic. What tales hours to write takes mere seconds to read – and we want the reader in that moment for as looooong as possible, to heighten the drama.
How long would it take to read 45 seconds of material when you are reading FAST?
(I don’t know, but it’s a lot.) Set a timer and see how many words you get through (of someone else’s book) in 45 seconds. Count the words and add about 25% to it. That’s the minimum you should have between Bonnie seeing the strange truck coming and her deciding to leave.
Next, there’s a scene in Stephen King’s book Pet Sematary where a jogger gets his skull bashed in by a passing car and dies on the MC’s floor. Get the book from the library or buy it online and read that scene. It’s a cheap lesson in drama writing from a real master.
Read that passage.
King shows the scene and then details the brain showing and whatnot, so
we HAVE to dwell there for a moment, in that gross visual.And he holds our nose right up to it.It’s gory but it has an effect.
You’re supposed to be grossed out because the MC was. This is different, but it’s the same idea.
It’s a technique. Use it.
The difference in detail here versus regular scenes will be noticeable but since you only employ it at highly dramatic times, readers will not even care; they will simply feel the character was deeply into the scene, so the reader will be – which is what we want.
Your reader is your willing accomplice. Give them what they came for.
What book’s scenes really seared themselves into YOUR head?