Sunday, December 6, 2009

The writer's "red badge" ~ by Donna Carrick

My imagination has been captured of late by the concept of ‘courage’ – that crystalline intangible that defines some authors and causes their words to reach us at the core.

What is it that characterizes some artists as ‘brave’, in a world where so many miss the mark?

Is it the refusal to shirk the truth? For I believe ‘truth’ is at the heart of all great works, even – no, especially – those of fiction.

Is it the author’s willingness to embrace ideas that are not yet popular, whose time is yet to come? Maybe it’s a brutal exploration of the past, either personal or societal, that lifts some books to that higher level.

If I, as a writer, aspire to write with ‘courage’, then I must first understand what exactly it is that marks a work as ‘brave’, ‘honest’, ‘cutting’.

Maybe it’s the shutting of one’s eyes as one writes – the feeling of one’s inner self surging forth onto the page…the screen…the world.

Perhaps it is nothing more or less than the writer’s willingness to fail or to succeed on his or her own terms.

To those great writers who have already earned this badge, I salute you with my heart.

Donna Carrick, December 6, 2009

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The First Excellence~Donna Carrick, Review by Kirkus Discoveries, November 27, 2009

Kirkus Discoveries is about to post the following review of The First Excellence!
...compelling storylines...

A complex mystery with multiple plots and a host of intriguing characters.

When Fa-ling was a child in Guangxi, China, her birth mother—fearful that her ruthless mother-in-law would kill Fa-ling and her newborn sister—abandoned the girls on a park bench before committing suicide. Fa-ling and her sister Daphne lived at a wretched orphanage where Fa-ling tolerated sexual abuse in an unspoken trade for extra food for her and Daphne. Readers later discover that their father’s heart was broken by their disappearance, and though he was too weak to stand up to his insufferable mother, he continued to search for them unbeknownst to Fa-ling and Daphne.

Forward to the present, when 21-year-old Fa-ling is living with her loving adoptive family in Canada, but feeling lost, tentative and confused about her future. Determined to resolve her feelings by revisiting her past, she returns to China. For safety reasons, she doesn’t go alone, but travels with a tour guide and a group of five couples who ironically are going to China to adopt a child. Soon after their arrival, a gruesome murder occurs at their
hotel and Fa-ling unknowingly stumbles into a three-way plot involving child kidnapping, organ theft, political intrigue and government coverups.

Enter detectives Wang and Cheng, two wonderfully rendered characters who must toe the tenuous line between uncovering the truth and risking reprisal from governmental higher-ups. The other compelling storylines quickly unfold, and Carrick deftly and seamlessly weaves these plots together. As with many other mysteries, there’s a lengthy list of characters and some readers may feel confused by the array. Though there are some lovely descriptions, there are also some jarring metaphors and similes which disrupt the narrative flow—“Her voice, never soothing at the best of times, ripped through the humid afternoon with the intensity of a chicken being plucked” and “The water shimmered, whispering like a friend in a new dress.”

Still, the conclusion is pleasantly unpredictable.

Carrick, Donna
Fa-ling’s Map
BookSurge (374 pp.)
$17.99 paperback
September 26, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4392-5393-9
Kirkus Discoveries, Nielsen Business Media, 770 Broadway,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Little Write-Humour (getting all Mozart-y on you!)

Curious%20in%20China.jpgThey say the first step toward self-improvement is admitting one has a problem. To that end, I stand in front of a virtual room of perhaps thirty people on this cool fall morning, somewhere in Canada…

Me: Hello. My name is Donna and I am a writer.

#Group: (Mild applause.)

Cindi (the moderator): Welcome, Donna. What brings you to our #group?

Me: It’s kind of hard to talk about…

Cindi: You’re among friends, Donna. You’re safe here.

Me: Ok. Well, it’s been 3 days since my last Chapter. My life is spiralling out of control. I’ve had ‘whiteouts’ -- too many errors. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between the story and ‘reality’. I feel so…alone. My sponsor is buried in her own revisions.

#Group: (Some shaking of heads.) Yeah, man. That’s rough.

Cindi: How are you coping?

Me: Not sure I am, coping, that is. Just trying to keep busy. Trying to keep my mind occupied. Following my husband around like a lost puppy. Doing some baking, helping the kids with homework, knitting….

Cindi: Go on….

Me: (Looking at my feet) Well, a bit of blogging.

#Group: (Gasps) No! Don’t do it!

Cindi: We’re not here to judge you, Donna.

#Group: That’s right. We’ve all been there, man.

Cindi: The main thing is you realise you need help. You’ve come to this #group looking for something – some way to fill the void of empty hours.

Me: (shoulders lifting with suppressed sob) I can’t help it. I’ve always been a writer. I don’t know how to DO anything else. It’s how I identify myself.

Cindi: But you have a husband, a family, friends, a job…. Surely there are other things in your life besides this crazy dream of making a living by the Word?

#Group: (Claps loudly and slowly) Yeah! Right on, Cindi. He who lives by the Word, dies by it!

Me: I don’t think I can do this. I’ve made a mistake in coming here. (I start to leave the front of the room)

Cindi: What’s really holding you back, Donna? What’s stopping you from planting your feet firmly in the ‘real’ world and giving up this crazy addiction?

Me: (Standing up straight at last) I have to accept it. It’s just who I am. I Am A Writer.

#Group: (Loud applause) Bravo! Bravo! (Rises to ovation)

Cindi: All right. That’s enough for today. We’ve made a major breakthrough here. Now, for God’s sake, let’s all go get a drink!

Donna Carrick, Sunday, October 18, 2009

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Hung -- by Donna Carrick

Flower-poem.JPG Long ago in my mis-spent youth, I used to exert a great deal of my passion in writing poetry. Every once in a great while I dust off some of those old sheets -- just to remind myself who I've been.


Feeling so
to find my soul
Stretched out to sunbake, brittle,
Cracked and sore. So one would
Come across me in a meadow --
Unforgiving afternoon! --
And there annoint my head with oil,
Too parched to cry aloud for rain,
And leave me there alone to perish,
Slow and languishing in pain.

So real it was -- that moment that
Was stolen from a dream!
I could have tasted it forever,
Moist and brazen like a lover.
The dream calls out, "Unhand my child!"
I must return that moment to
The other sphere. I cannot keep
It with me here.

To steal another
Moment in the shadows as
They stretch from tree to tree across
The meadow, reaching out to shield
My dying and deserving soul.

The sun is not amused...

Donna Carrick

Monday, September 14, 2009

Writing and Parenting: An "excerpt from Trish"-- Part 1 of 3

Kids%20Blog%20BeachThumbnail.JPG As an author, wife, mother of 3 and office manager, I am often asked how I find time for my craft. On the surface, it seems to most people that being a parent takes a toll on one's ability to write, or at least on one's productivity. The following is Part 1 of a 3-part article that hopes to capture some of the essence of what it means to be a parent and a writer.

Trish was born in Ontario, and now resides in New Brunswick. Like myself, she's lived all over Canada, a fact which no doubt lends her work a tremendous breath of "experience". In addition to geography, Trish has been blessed with another kind of experience: she is both a wife and a mother to 7 children! In her own words, here is what Trish has to say about the impact of "parenting" on her art: READ MORE...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gypsy Love Song - something different by Donna Carrick

Flower-poem.JPG Long ago in my mis-spent youth, I used to spend a great deal of my passion in writing poetry. Every once in a great while I dust off some of those old sheets -- just to remind myself who I've been.

Gypsy Love Song

Thank you for the kind words that
You rained like silver on my head.
They made me laugh until I cried.
Too bad they were so insincere.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recalling a shared sorrow -- September 10, 2009

Well, folks, here we are again, 1 day away from the anniversary of a dark mark on our history. If you're like me, you will remember quite vividly where you were on that fateful morning.

I work for a large multi media firm, and on that awful day I was at my desk, as usual. At 9:05 one of my staff members called to say she was held up in traffic on the highway.

"But Donna," she added, "there's something really wierd going on. Everything's really quiet out here, and the radio says something bad happened at the Twin Towers."

I ran up the atrium stairs -- me and about fifty other people from various departments in our building on Don Mills -- and got a spot where I could see the huge video screens in the newsroom.

Keep in mind, at that critical point we all, in fact the whole world, still believed there had been a terrible accident. (I can't believe the power of my emotions as I write this.) We watched the news man as he stood in horror with his back to the first building, which had just been struck. We could all plainly see the damage. It was tragedy in the making.

Then the unthinkable happened, right before our eyes. As the newsman spoke about the unofficial reports, the second plane flew behind his head and straight into the second tower.

You could have heard a pin drop in the atrium of our building. By this time, nearly 200 people had gathered on the stairs and in the halls, and there was not one sound. There was a beat, then another, as the newsman slowly understood what was happening -- as the dreadful realisation came over us that this was no accident.

Others have described this event with far more eloquence, and others have been touched by it on a far more personal level than I was. I was fortunate to be in Toronto when it happened, and to have no loved ones in the tower.

Having said that, it's clear to me that no one was un-touched that day. As report after report came flooding in, the world changed before our very eyes. We all changed.

We can't deny it. We are no longer the people we were before that day.

But here's the question that needs to be answered: Can we somehow move past the horror and make our way toward a better, more unified world?

I hope we will find a way. I noticed a "Tweet" by Yoko Ono ( @yokoono ) asking for signatures on a petition. The petition was very general in nature: it is asking for our leaders to work toward a more unified global society.

Big ambitions. I'm no longer as young as I was in the 60's -- I lost my rose-coloured glasses some years ago.

Just the same, one does hope...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The First Excellence: Fa-ling's Map, coming in September!

My latest mystery is finally scheduled for release in late September! "The First Excellence" is set in China and features a young Chinese-Canadian woman, Li Fa-ling, who returns to the land of her birth. There she encounters murder, kidnapping, political intrigue and troubling memories of her years in an impoverished orphanage prior to being adopted. Along with Detective Wang Yong-qi and his brilliant but uncouth partner, Cheng Minsheng, Fa-ling must stop a brutal kidnapper, before another baby girl goes missing!

A larger image of the cover can be found at: The First Excellence! Hope you will all drop in for a sneak peek.

Best in writing,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Confused about Networking and Self-promotion? Don’t ‘drop your pants’ just yet – there may be hope!

With so many social networking sites available on the Internet, I thought I’d do some research to discover the emerging Do’s and Don’t’s of Self-Promotion. After all, one doesn’t want to become known as a Dreaded Spammer. On the other hand, we all know that “Bench Advertising Works”, so in that spirit, I set out to uncover the mysteries of Global Networking.

According to the experts, the following are the “10-Commandments” of on-line self promotion. I have to admit, they leave me feeling somewhat perplexed. See for yourself if you don’t come away scratching your head. READ MORE...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Committed? Uncommitted? Should be committed? What kind of writer are you?

With the insurgence of Twitter as a networking/marketing tool, Alex and I have been having some fun learning to promote our books and blogs to all and sundry. (See Alex's blog)

This morning I came across the following “Tweet” posted by Phillip Schofield in the UK: Wow, there's a lot of Saturday morning ironing going on in tweetsville!

To which I RT’d (Reply Tweeted, for the uninitiated): Apparently it ranks as #1 Diversion Tactic for writers! READ MORE...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Asians are Coming! – “Adoption Group” Anniversary Party

September 1st marks the 6th anniversary of the day we first met our daughter Tammy-Li.
It was hot, which is normal for Nanning, Guang Xi Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China. I remember all of the Dad’s were wearing shorts, and all the Mom’s wore shorts or sun-dresses. Nanning is on a latitudinal par with Cancun, Mexico, so palm trees lined the streets and there were jungles just outside the city limits. READ MORE...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Your Best Shot: A Writer’s Account of Domestic Violence and commentary on Gun Control

During my recent cyber-travels, I encountered a Website featuring the Coalition for Gun Control. There I found an Interview with Wendy Cukier posted on July 29 by Elizabeth Mandelman. The article discussed the impact of heightened gun control and registration on the incidence of gun-related violence against women in Canada.
It was the replies to this article that I found to be most disturbing. They were posted by persons in disagreement with Ms. Mandelman and Ms. Cukier. However, rather than expressing respectful debate and dissent, their overall wording showed a blatant disrespect and even, in some instances, personal attack. The replies argued it was not guns that were responsible for the 1989 Montreal Massacre in which 14 women were killed and another 10 were injured. Instead, it was the perpetrator’s Islamic beliefs that were a direct cause of these deaths.
On the subject of Domestic Violence, I have some first-hand knowledge. READ MORE...

Sunday, July 26, 2009


One of the most interesting groups that I belong to is an on-line collection of Crime-Writers who gather on something called “CrimeSpace”. The group was developed by a man by the name of Daniel Hatadi, whom I consider to be nothing short of brilliant. Here, writers from all over the world get together virtually to discuss everything from ‘plotting’ to ‘character development’ to ‘manuscript marketing’.
Recently a question was raised on the group’s Forum that sparked a great deal of discussion. The “conversation” took a number of turns, and at one point it became a friendly debate on the issue of ‘gun-control’. READ MORE...