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Showing posts from January, 2008

Well I Did It

Here is the brand new opening to The Face of A Lion (if I decide to keep it this way. Still not happy about cutting out the bazaar entirely. This version was created for Nathan Bransford's Suprisingly Essential First Page contest):

Austin met the cat on his first afternoon in Turkey.

Bored with helping his parents clean their villa, he set out to explore the neighbourhood. Every couple of minutes he climbed onto the stone wall edging the road, as a car or bus full of tourists whizzed past, a stench of diesel fuel wafting behind. Once the roar of each vehicle faded, the seaside sounds rushed back into his ears: children’s shouts, the drone of motorboats slicing the water, cicadas buzzing in the distant tops of fir trees. And below everything, the rhythmic crash of waves breaking one after another on the sand, carrying through all other sounds, like a low note in an extended piece of music.

He waited on the wall as another car zoomed by, then peered through the exhaust and added up the…

Willing Submission to Torture

I spent half a day yesterday and all day today fixing my opening chapter to submit to the Surprisingly Essential First Page contest on Nathan Bransford’s blog.
I started with roughly 1500 words that I knew I had to edit anyway, and have already tackled once as part of my ongoing revisions of the completed MS of The Face of A Lion. I’m trying to keep all sorts of advice in my head and have Jo’s words ringing in my ears (Simple terms (“farmer” not “man from the village”). Exact Terms (“subaltern” not “guy in the army”).), along with some other advice I’ve picked up from the wonderful people at the Books and Writers Forum and links that they’ve posted. I also have my own voice in my head: “this line’s crap, this simile’s crap, this metaphor’s crap – tighten it up!”
It sounds like a lot, but I do actually have enough head space for this and for the teeny weeny voice that goes, “it’s getting better, keep going, this is FUN!”
BUT
I’ve now reached the point where I can’t tell if I’m making it b…

New Contest for Spymaster's Lady!

Claire's hosting the next contest to win a signed copy of Spymaster's Lady and a book thong courtesy of Firefly - from Australia! - here.
I'm going to ask if I can enter twice - my mom is in Istanbul, Turkey with the book right now, and I read it in Montreal. Then I can give it to my sister and she can read it in Ottawa...
Regular Writing Blog will resume. I'm at home today and as soon as I Step Away From the Computer plan to spend the afternoon writing/editing.

Books and Reading Meme!

I got this from a random blog that someone on the Outlander Yahoo Groups linked to. There's also a contest involved!
Consider yourself tagged!

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Usually anything by a first-time author who's "essentially Canadian" or who's an ethnic Canadian and has just written something scathing or revealing about their homeland. Boo-ooring!

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
Well Jamie and Claire from the Outlander series obviously. They count as one character :-) Possibly Hercule Poirot. I'll make my life easier, I'll stick with adult humans (i.e. no hobbits!). And Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey. And Lord John Grey. Right, that's four. I would be extremely nervous and very shy, so we would have to be at an event that wouldn't make …

Coincidence?

I was perusing a glossary of Roman/Latin names, waiting for ones that would strike me as being particularly apt for a few of the characters in the story that had not been named yet, and came across the name Aulus. I thought, aha! that's Theseus and Antonius' father! He supports the invasion of Britain.
Today, I was rereading some of notes on the Roman invasio of Britain and noticed that the general who led the invasion, under Claudius was Aulus Plautius... A senator from Rome...
Serendipity.

Snake Snip

I asked a few questions of the folks on the forum, here, drawing on the breadth of their experiences. My snake-related questions were: is there a criteria to eating snake meat? That is, if you were stuck in the wilderness, and found a dead snake (probably dead of natural causes), would you find this snake under cover or out in the open, and is there any snake you would avoid eating?
As a thank you, I posted the following snip at the end of the thread (only a couple of square brackets (questions) left!):
Here's the snip where the snake-eating comes in...
The Face of A Lion by Deniz Barki
“I’ll come with you.” Austin swerved to avoid a large snake a few steps away in the grass, then turned back to look more closely at it. “Pliny! What is that?”
Pliny followed the direction of his forefinger. He advanced a step, broke off a reed and slowly pushed aside the plants around the snake’s head. Austin could see the length of its body through the grass, wending in a long line back in the directio…

I Hate My Story / I Love My Story

Jen of Random Thoughts started a new thread on the writer's forum: When It Starts Feeling Like A Job.

She asked: "How do you cope with pushing through when your...I guess you'd call it your muse...is being a snippy beeyotch who doesn't want to acknowledge she knows you?"

I replied: "I've never struggled through this feeling before. Usually what happens is, I write and write and write, get to the end or near end and when the inspiration dies down, I stop. Thanks to this forum (already been a year and a half!) I am now more than ever eager to actually see an MS through to the real end - querying agents. And because of that I'm having to slog through periods of "I suck!" more often than ever before (the only other times have usually involved short stories, either published in literary anthologies at university or submitted to contests (Surrey... sigh... I suck!)).
It seems that I have been unconsciously following Diana's advice. I console my…

Books I'm Reading IV

Ms Zephyr's Notebook by kc dyer (finished; great Young Adult novel! Best new one I've read in a long time; fast-paced with engaging characters)
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (finished; disappointed; see review below; my opinion hardly changed from the third chapter to the end)
The Heart of A Peacock by Emily Carr (I'll say it again, she's a marvelous unsung Canadian writer; everyone should read her writing)
The Jerusalem Bible (at Joel)
Heretics by G. K. Chesterton (halfway through)
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Christmas gift)
Tales Before Tolkien short stories (almost finished)
I, Cladius (almost finished)
Ephesus by ? from 1865 (from GoogleBooks)
Der Ruf der Trommel (Drums of Autumn) by Diana Gabaldon (reading at intervals)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (ditto)
Paradise Lost by John Milton (ditto)
The Divine Comedy: Hell by Dante (ditto)
Australian Short Stories (ditto)

Evil Editor's Novel Deviations

Sometime ago I submitted the first 150 words of my story to Evil Editor and was given quite a number of positive and helpful comments. Read them here. And now I'm being published in the third collection of such openings: Novel Deviations 3! Buy it here. Oh, and most especially, Church Lady will be having a party to celebrate! Join the fun on Thursday, here.

Ten Things About Me As A Writer

You have been tagged (this one's from Jenny).

1. Your genre(s)?
I seem to have become a Young Adult novel writer, not through any intentions of my own! I guess writing romance has had it, now that I've gotten those two fan-based novels out of my system and don't seem to be writing any new, adult stories...
2. How many books have you completed?
Three. The Face of A Lion should be done this winter!!!
3. How many books are you working on now?
One. Plus another revision and some translations on the back burner.
4. Are you a linear or chunk writer?
Used to be completely linear. Now I'm a semi-linear chunk writer. This leaves me lots of gaps that I find it hard to fill, usually involving the ending of a scene or bridges where one day/scene/incident ends and before the next one starts.
5. The POV you're most partial to?
Third. I haven't been able to maintain a consistent voice in first and omniscient has only been done well by Tolkien and other generations before him.
6. The the…

Ten Things I've Done That No One Else Has

I've tagged myself off Claire, but this discussion is also going wild over on the Books and Writers forum.
1. Eaten kokorec – intestines served gyro-style – at 3 am from a street vendor in Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey
2. Baked cookies for the band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and had them praised in their tour diary
3a. Walked the entire length of Dame Judi Dench Walk in York
3b. Fallen asleep in the sunshine on a bench atop Calton Hill in Edinburgh
3c. Visited Ephesus and Mary's House at least 6 times as a layman and hopefully once more next year for research!
4. Spent an entire day indoors one 30-degree summer in Turkey because I had four baby chicks asleep on my lap...
5. Gotten lead poisoning in my finger from an HB lead pencil
6. Watched a three-masted sailing ship on the Mediterranean from a cafe in Bonifacio, Corsica
7. Collected sand from Aberdyfi, Wales and kept it in my jacket pocket for three weeks before delivering it to my mom, the sand collector
8. Eaten the same lunch every weekday…

The Spymaster's Lady Contest

Jen over at Random Thoughts is giving away a free, autographed copy of Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady. Run, run, run and enter for your chance to read this great book!

Books I'm Reading

I don't have a photo like my Snail's Tales uncle, but here is an update. This will be the last update for a while as I've got to finish a few of these, for research purposes and otherwise (some are getting a little dull).
Cook with Jamie Oliver (finished)
The Spymaster's Lady by Jo Bourne (finished. Everyone, get your hands on this book and read it! It's fun, extremely well-written, heart-wrenching, and I'm really really sad to have to leave it behind. Jo, if you ever see this, you *could* work out a sequel by writing a love story about one of Anneka (I defer to you :-)) and Grey's children...)
Ms Zephyr's Notebook by kc dyer (about to start)
Heretics by G. K. Chesterton (could have been published in 2005 not 1905!)
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (halfway through)
Ephesus by ? from 1865 (from GoogleBooks)
The Jerusalem Bible (at Hosea)
rereading The Return of the King (almost finished)
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion by Hammond…

Eight Day Marathon - The End

I accomplished more than I thought I would when I started but now see just how much is ahead. My to do list from the day before still stands but there's a lot of family stuff going in this weekend. Monday, back to work, where I will print the latest version of The Face of A Lion!

Eight Day Marathon - Day VII

I'm not being very consistent with my titles, or with my tasks. Of the items on the list I made yesterday I have done nothing. Conversely, I have organized all the papers collected in the past months (newspaper clippings, printed articles, short stories, blogs, knitting patterns, business cards, drafts of my own writing, assorted correspondence, etc.) and sorted them for keeping or tossing in the recycling bin. Tax papers collated and ready to be analysed (blechh). I also spent all morning reading, and can add a new book to the list: Heretics by G. K. Chesterton. Hard to believe it was published in 1905, given how timely some of his observations are. I might put up some quotes here.

Eight Day Marathon - Day Six II

Aha! Finished my January exercise, posted comments on all the other exercises up there, and finished my first reread of The Face of A Lion! Can I take a break? No! First because I've already taken enough breaks today reading The Spymaster's Lady, and second because, before I go back to work Monday, I still have to:
1. complete query for Young Dogs
2. print story! read! fill in blanks!
3. finalise last bits of research and handwritten bits of story floating around
4. print story! read! fill in blanks!
5. organize purse/to do list/junk I carry around with me all the time
6. print story! read! fill in blanks!
5. research ship terminology and how Roman ships worked (e.g. how many levels? slave schedules? messes? sails? names of positions?)
7. print story! read! fill in blanks! edit the whole thing!
Total cups of coffee: 16 or so. Think I'll have a nightcap...

Eight Day Marathon - Day Six

Now that I’ve spent all this time blabbing, let me redeem myself by finishing my edits and doing the January exercise over on the writer’s forum!

Never Tried This Before II & A Book Review

First off, here’s the updating "reading right now" list:
The Spymaster's Lady by Jo Bourne (sneaking reads in between writing!)
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (started two days ago)
Ephesus by ? from 1865 (from GoogleBooks)
Cook with Jamie Oliver (almost finished)
The Jerusalem Bible (at Hosea)
rereading The Return of the King (Sam!)
Tales Before Tolkien short stories (reading every once in a while)
Australian Short Stories (ditto)
I, Cladius (fun research)
Der Ruf der Trommel (Drums of Autumn) by Diana Gabaldon (on the train)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (reading every once in a while)
Paradise Lost by John Milton (reading every once in a while)
The Divine Comedy: Hell by Dante (reading every once in a while)
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion by Hammond and Scull (reading concurrently with LoTR)

I was really looking forward to reading Mistress of the Art of Death. A number of other writers recommended the book, and the premise sounded so inter…

Eight Day Marathon - Day Five

It sure is windy out there! The wind pushed me to the bus stop, it pushed my granny, my sister and I out to the cafe where we had cupcakes, pushed me back to the bus stop, and now it's crying about the windows and doors, waiting for me to go out again, when it will push me down the street to the restaurant where we'll have cena (dinner). I've learned more Latin in the past 10 months than I ever knew before.
In between, I've actually gotten some work done! On page 104 of 165, Chapter 21. I have about ten pages or so of linking scenes to add in, plus 10 or 20 to finish the novel. Then the real editing can begin...
I couldn't help it, I've started reading Jo Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady (on the bus, so not out of working time) and I can't help but marvel at her language (neverminding the plot!). Not a word, description, phrase out of place. And yet it's rich with scene-setting and little foreshadowing hints.
So my editing for language and theme and p…

Eight Day Marathon - Day Four

How can I be halfway through the marathon already? I have so much left to do! I've been taking out square brackets like nobody's business (okay, I got a little sidetracked playing Scrabble) and replacing the bits that still need work with bold text and I'm still only on page 50 of 165, Chpater 14 of 36. Plugging away.
On my 6th cup of coffee in two days.

PS do you think Peter Jackson would considering using Leonard Nimoy's Ballad of Bilbo Baggins in the closing credits of The Hobbit? *snicker*

Eight Day Marathon - Day Three II

Oof! If I wasn't so busy, I would have time to be discouraged! I hadn't dreamed how much I had left blank, or how boring the beginning of the novel was! I've tidied it up a bit now, and successfully removed a lot of those square brackets - all that research is bearing fruit, it's very exciting. But after over three hours I'm only on page 30 of about 160 - I need at least another week off from work!
Still, it's a very good feeling to have waded back into the story. As long as I can keep it exciting, then I'll be even more eager to reach a final draft and begin sharing it with others.
Here's a snip! I can't believe I'm writing about my beloved UK this way...

from The Face of A Lion by Deniz Bevan:
Antonius looked Austin up and down as they shook hands. The older boy’s hands were calloused and dry with powder. “There are rumours that Claudius wants to invade Britain, and I want to be ready if it happens. They’ll need lots of young blood to quell those …

Eight Day Marathon - Day Three

Today I am supposed to be writing. As of 12.37 pm I am already 37 minutes behind... I have until 5 pm to finish all the linking/bridge scenes. I don't know whether to laugh or just grit my teeth and get on with it. Up late yesterday finishing research - I'm still reading I Claudius and still haven't finished the Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization but I waded through four/five other books yesterday and got caught up on a lot of reading this morning.
On a side note, I don't think I like Ian Rankin's writing very much, I'm sorry to say. Don't know how far I'll get in the short stories. It's a strange combination of third person narrative that's supposed to be focused on Rebus and yet barely delves into his mind at all, so that the reader feels two steps behind.
At the same time as the research, I got further afield in my list of names, so now I can spend more time writing tomorrow and maybe even Wednesday, if I'm organized...
First cup of …

Eight Day Marathon - Day Two

Well now. In yesterday's vanished post I had written all the details of my eight-day marathon and invited anyone who wants to, to come and join me! I'd also written out my schedule and was getting all set to update you-all this morning when I realised that the post seems to have gone into internet netherland...
Here's a quick version of the schedule. I have the week off work and will hopefully not let family or my own procrastination get in the way...
Saturday: visit with Nanny-in-law and consolidate all research (put together all notes from flagged pages, etc.)
Sunday: take down decorations, shop for bridemaids dress, read I Claudius
Monday: write all filler/bridge scenes for The Face of A Lion
Tuesday: continue from Monday and find names for X, Y, Z, Q, etc.
Wednesday: go for lunch with Granny and go to the library
Thursday: finish query for Young Dogs
Friday: write last scene
Saturday: finish final draft of The Face of A Lion
Sunday: rest!
Pressing "publish" with the hop…

What Happened to Yesterday's Post?

My post disappeared! I'm actually really upset, I had written all the details of... aw, heck, I'll start over...

I've Never Tried This Before

Part of the reason I started that library catalogue (which is now finished, behind me, over!) was because I have never kept any kind of "books I'm reading"/"books I read in 199X/200X" list. I read so many, so often, and so jumbled up together, that I was always wary of a list that would not accurately portray the variety of material I get through.
But it's the first day of the new year, I have a blog, and I happen to be on it, so... for the first time ever, I bring you:
Books I Am Reading
(to be updated throughout the year, I hope!)
Right now we have:
Growing Pains, the autobiography of Emily Carr (relatively unsung genius!) (almost finished)
Cook with Jamie Oliver (perusing every night for recipes)
The Jerusalem Bible (in the middle of Daniel)
rereading The Return of the King (the Ride of the Rohirrim. Oh!)
Jesus of Nazareth (almost finished)
Short Stories of Ian Rankin (starting today)
Wet Magic by E Nesbit (almost finished)
Tales Before Tolkien short stories (readin…