A novel approach to waiting out the pandemic

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Some people have shifted their office to the dining room table, and for others, the pandemic has shut down their livelihood. For travel writers like myself, it may have slammed the door on travelling but it opened the door to exploring new opportunities. Like publishing a long-lost manuscript. 

True story. Many years ago, I was running back to the YMCA. As I was crossing the river, I heard someone approaching from behind. I turned to see who was coming up so fast just in time to see this handsome man pass me. He waved his hand in the standard, “Hey,’ and I did the same flick of the hand, “Hey,” back. 

End of true story. 

Joanne Elves
Joanne Elves

I went back to the Y, collected my kids and went home. When I told a fellow runner about this guy who was certainly not a runner (all legs and lungs) but rather someone cross training (thick shoulders and thick legs) she dared me to step out of my comfort zone as a travel writer and write a novel.

That one simple 10-second encounter started a 234-page novel called Ginger and Ice

While I went back to my blissful existence, the girl running across the bridge meets this guy and her life takes a hard left turn. It took years to finish it. Life, kids, paying jobs, they all get in the way. I got mad at myself and actually stopped reading other novels. Maybe I was jealous that they completed the task? Well, the kids have moved out and the pandemic hit, so I had no excuses. I opened up the old file and to my delight I got excited about working on it again. 

Writing a novel is so different from writing articles. You build these characters in your head and they begin to take on their own lives and move the story for you. When I was too busy working on other projects, I’d feel them in the back of my head, glaring at me, waiting to jump onto the page. On long runs, plot ideas would pop into my head and I’d have to stop and make notes on my phone. If I didn’t, the ideas would vanish within the next mile.

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and is super cheap download on Kindle and Kobo.

I looked into finding a publishing house but so many warned on their websites warning that they were not taking on any more books while the pandemic raged on. So, as the days on the calendar kept flipping towards my self-imposed completion date, I decided to self publish. I had a few friends in the industry read the manuscript and we went over and over it, looking for flaws and poor punctuation. It was scanned through Grammarly a few times too. I’m sure there are still mistakes. (Heck, I remember finding punctuation errors in a Stephen King novel so there is bound to be mistakes.)

The hardest part – from start to finish – was pushing the SEND button. Once the book goes live, you have exposed your belly to the lions. But you have to believe in yourself and just do it. And, after all that procrastinating and worrying, it wasn’t that bad. So far, the reviews are great.  

Ginger and Ice takes the reader on the running trails in Calgary, on hikes in Banff and then to The Bahamas where the action heats up. There is corporate deceit, hockey fights, romance, and way more. But like the back of the book says: “Tie up your laces and get ready to run. Ginger and Ice is a fast-paced adventure full of twists, slippery slopes, revenge, jealousy, deep and dangerous waters and hopefully a love that can withstand it all.”

Now I’m excited to be working on another book. I bought a Kobo e-reader so I can look for other new authors and keep up with what’s new in literature. I feel like I waited way too long to push SEND.

What about you? You’ve probably got a bucket list item just waiting to be seized. Maybe it’s learning how to snowboard or ski? Check out our Level Up contest to win the chance for lift tickets, rentals and lessons at a ski resort near you in B.C. or Alberta.

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