Most authors consider any year where they release a book to be a good year and, by those standards, local author Cathi Shaw, whose second book of the year is coming out in early November, is having a fantastic year.
In fact, not only did Shaw release two books this year, they couldn’t have been more different from each other.
The first book, Surviving Logan, was co-written with her cousin Erik Bjarnason about an ill-fated expedition to Mt. Logan in May of 2005.
The expedition was meant to be a celebratory recreation of a historic expedition to Mt. Logan and was made up of seven men and one woman, all experienced search and rescue professionals and experienced mountaineers.
Part way through the climb a freak storm blew up — the storm was so rare that there’s only about a one per cent chance of it happening — and Bjarnason and two others were trapped without communications for nearly 20 hours in winds capable of blowing away 400 pounds worth of equipment like it was paper.
Without giving away too much of the story, Bjarnason and the others were rescued, but severe frost bite cost Bjarnason eight fingers and one of his thumbs.
The book, Shaw said, had been a long time coming, but it wasn’t until recently that she and Bjarnason started talking about working on it together.
Shaw managed to speak with all but one member of the group during the writing of the book — she has since spoken with everyone — and everybody she spoke remembered the events slightly differently, which presented a huge challenge during the writing phase of the book.
Shaw’s second book that is coming out this year is a very different book from the first in almost every way you could think of.
Firstly, it’s a work of fiction. It’s also aimed at younger readers, ages 14 to 17.
The book, entitled Journey to the Rift, is a prequel to Shaw’s other works for younger readers, Five Corners and Finding Refuge.
The book tells the story of Brijit before the start of Five Corners and helps lay the foundation for the Marked One books.
Not only is Shaw busy writing books, but she currently also teaches academic writing to engineering students in Kelowna.
The students, she says, are great to work with.
They are motived, engaged and, most importantly, they want to learn.
For those who want to start writing, Shaw offers up some great advice. “If you want to write,” she says, “Write.”
If time allows, try writing every day. If you can’t do that, write regularly. “Even once a week is better than nothing at all,” she says. “Just set the time aside. It all adds up.”
For anyone who’s ever tried writing, especially a novel length piece of writing, finding that time can be just about impossible, but as luck would have it, there are things you can do to help you find more time.
When Shaw was getting ready to write the first book in the Marked Ones series, she participated in NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month.
The idea is to write a 50,000 word book during the month of November.
Those who want to try can sign up at www.nanowrimo.org and, to help participants reach their goal, there are forums filled with other participants that you can go to for help as well as a way of tracking your progress, which helps.
It might seem like a daunting task, especially to a new writer, but participating in an event like that, where you’re forced to sit down and write, really helps gets words on the page and often helps get a first draft completed, which is exactly how Shaw managed to get her first draft of the Five Corners written.
Those interested in reading Cathi Shaw’s books can find them online at Amazon or through the local library.
You can learn more about Shaw through her website as well, at www.cathishaw.com.
Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.