Monday, 26 May 2008

The Promised Snip

From The Face of A Lion, copyright 2008 by Deniz Bevan:
"Austin stood with Theseus in the doorway, hidden from the men in the room by slaves passing to and fro with food-laden trays and jugs of wine. He looked around at the portly men, slouching on divans set against the walls, some actually lying down, pulling small tables toward them and picking at the sweetmeats, fruits and pastries layered in pyramids on silver platters. Their golden jewellery and brightly coloured togas glittered in the lights from oil lamps set into niches in the walls. The pink and orange rays of the setting sun came through the arched entrance at the back of the room and lent a piercing shimmer to the purple, red and blue stripes of the men’s togas. Each noble had attempted to outdo the others, it seemed, and worn as bright a colour as he could, with no grey or brown to dim the glow. All except Theseus’ father, he noticed, who was wearing his everyday toga, plain white with only his senatorial purple stripe, without any ornaments, and who sat alone, staring unfocused at the tinkling fountain in the centre of the room.
On a large table to the left of the fountain he saw a whole lamb, roasted and garnished with mint leaves, its eyes still gaping from their sockets. Austin gagged at the sight and looked away, toward a small room off the great hall, but had to veer his gaze again as he noticed what one man inside was doing – vomiting, loudly, with his whole body heaving toward a bucket set between his legs. Finished, the man wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and returned to his place on the divans, gathering a squishy handful of figs off a slave’s tray as he passed. Austin shuddered.
It was amazing how no one seemed to notice the slaves at all, as if they were simply an extension of the trays they carried and not separate people. Another man was yelling at a slave who stood bowed before him. Austin caught a few words of the man’s anger and frowned, frustrated at the injustice of the situation. The man had spilled the wine on himself, it wasn’t the slave’s fault!
He glanced at Theseus, to see if he had noticed, but Theseus’ eyes were trained across the room. Austin followed his gaze, to see Lady Porphyry seated behind the fountain, the only woman in the room. She was also the only one sitting up straight, and on a high-backed chair, rather than lounging on cushions. There were a few young men standing next to her, leaning forward to catch her words and offering her drinks and sweets. She kept laughing and raising a hand in protest as they pressed their gifts on her.
Austin let his eyes wander, wondering why he and Theseus had been so eager to spy on the party. There was nothing of interest going on, at least not in the great hall, and everyone seemed to be concentrated in it; the rest of the house held only servants and slaves, or younger boys like himself.
The whole scene was nauseating. Only one other room led off the hall, and it was empty, except for –
'Theseus!'
Austin whispered, but was sure his excitement made his every word audible inside the hall. 'Isn’t that –?'
Theseus dragged his gaze from an argument he had been watching between two men seated nearby and looked toward the brown-haired girl Austin was pointing at.
'Oh, yea, Antonius’ sweetheart’s sister. She’s 17, you know; she’s probably here to spy on the man they’re going to marry her off to.' Theseus turned back to the argument, but the men had relapsed into a companionable indolence, and were now holding up silver glasses of wine and comparing vintages.
'Marry her off? At 17? Isn’t she too young?'
Theseus looked round at him, wide-eyed. 'Too young? Are you crazy? She’s at least three years behind all the other girls. Wonder what’s wrong with her?'
'I think she’s lovely.' Austin stared at Althea, his eyes slightly blurred by the glow of the sunset, striking the braids in her hair as she bent over, rearranging flowers in a vase.
'Look at you! Gone all soft, have you? I wouldn’t waste my time with that one, man, she’ll be an old maid soon. Antonius says to get ‘em while they’re young and I reckon he knows a sight more about girls than we do!'
'What do you think she’s doing here by herself?' A horrible thought came to him as he glanced around at the languid men. 'She’s not – she’s not going to dance for them or something is she?'
'Of course not! A nobleman's daughter? No way. Like I said, she’s spying on the men, just like us. Wonder which of the fatsos is getting her?' Theseus glanced around the room, now interested.
'Don’t say that, that’s disgusting.' He continued to stare at her, and for one wild moment she looked up in his direction, and their eyes met. He grinned, and she grinned back, as though they were sharing a private joke, both of them invisible to the men on the divans and the slaves passing between them.
She lowered her head back to the flowers, tossing her braids over one shoulder.
'I’m going to go talk to her.'

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Won't Be Posting For A While...

I've got leave coming up! And Jen's marathon, will, I hope, keep me very very busy and sleep deprived, as I'll be getting up at 5.30 (!) every day to do some writing. As Basil Fawlty says, "I've been up since 5.30, you know!"
I'll post a snip soon to tide y'all over :-)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Yay for Carol!

Carol Spradling is about to have her first novel, COST OF FREEDOM, released through The Wild Rose Press.
Release Date: Digital May 30, print Nov. 28
ISBN #: 1-60154-241-0
And Jen's having a contest to celebrate!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Marathon

Jen has suggested another writing marathon, for all of us who have been slacking off recently and not meeting our goals. Well, she may have just been talking to me, for all the guilt I felt when I saw her message! Herewith, please find my goals for this week and for next week, when the marathon officially starts. Vacation coming up soon (Hi Jenny! We could do a joint blog post from your place!) so I'd like to get as much done before that as I can.
1. Read the whole novel
2. Fill in the few scenes that *still* haven't been written
3. Start researching agents, how to write queries, etc

A Meme about Various Things

Tagged by Nina!

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. The player lets the person who tagged them know when they’ve posted their answer.

What were you doing ten years ago?
That would be 1998 but I can’t remember too specifically, so the things I list cover 1997 to 1999: graduated from CEGEP; started my BA at McGill University; saw Coldplay, Morrissey, Radiohead, Supergrass, Charlatans, Jean Leloup, etc. live; visited London, Paris, Antibes, Cannes, Nice, various towns in Corsica, Istanbul, Izmir and Kusadasi; almost bought a Dali statue (see here), quit working at Dairy Queen and started working at Second Cup; finished reading all 12 of the History of Middle-Earth books; knit about 20 scarves; started learning Middle English; continued to learn German; and gleefully gave up taking Math, French and Gym classes for the rest of my life!

What are five things on your to-do list for today (in no particular order)?
Ha! Today’s a wash, too tired from my sister-in-law’s wedding. So tomorrow:
1. Work half a day
2. Go to the pub for lunch with relatives from out of town
3. Write
4. Edit
5. Play Scrabble

What are some snacks you enjoy?
Ice cream, pretzels, carrots, celery, dark chocolate, fruit.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Oh my. Assuming I get a windfall tomorrow, I would: give money to family and to a few charities (though why there have to be so many disparate groups, I don’t understand – wouldn’t they save money and have more resources if they pooled their efforts? I’m talking about you, WWF, SPCA, CSPCA, Canadian Federation for Animal Welfare, etc., etc.!); pay off the mortgage; travel all over the place; make writing my job (as Nina B. said); get a driver’s license but probably not a car; think about moving somewhere where I could get a job copy editing for a publishing company; possibly invest in real estate; save the rest of the money; and start thinking about setting up the following:
1. A magazine (called The Inkuisitor)
2. A store with imported goods from England and Turkey
3. My own editing/publishing company

What are three of your bad habits?
Assuming I have more than 3? Talking too fast, cracking my knuckles and never using the phone.

What are five places you have lived?
Istanbul, Turkey; Montreal, Canada; Kusadasi, Turkey.

What are five jobs you have had?
Dairy Queen (I miss making ice cream cakes!)
Barista
Editor’s Assistant at EnRoute and Les Ailes magazines
Translator/Editor/Copy Editor/Administrative Assistant at GarLin International (two sites)
Copy Editor/Administrative Assistant at ICAO

What are the last five books you have read?
Stoics and Sceptics by Edwyn Bevan
Dear Bill, Remember Me? by Norma Fox Mazer
Ready or Not by Mary Stolz
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (all 7; reread before the release of Prince Caspian the movie)
On Writing by Stephen King (if you haven't read it yet, do!)

What are five websites that you visit daily (in no particular order)?
Blogs
Facebook
Yahoo email
Gmail
Compuserve Books and Writers' Community
and I Google at least one new fact/weird question/definition every day...

So, whom to tag... Aydin!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Sven Says Sweat!

Round Three of the 70 Day Writing Challenge is over this weekend. As usual, I didn't complete *all* of my goals, but still got a fair bit done. I'm on the third or fourth draft of The Face of A Lion, with about five scenes left to write and one or two major overhauls to do of the entire novel. Once it's ready to show friends and family, then I'll know it's ready for querying!
Work may be on the back burner for a little while, however, since there are a few family events coming up - and a two week vacation! Ask me where - I have no idea yet... Any suggestions?
Meanwhile, Claire has some big news over on her blog :-)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Concert for Those Who Live in Paris


Concert mardi 13 mai a l'Etage - paris 11eme

Bonjour à tous!!

Rappel : nous jouons Mardi 13 Mai à 20h30 a l'Etage - 77 rue du Faubourg du Temple (Paris 11eme - metro Goncourt/Belleville/République)

Pour une fois c'est à une heure décente...
Entrée directement sur place à 5 € (pas de prévente), et possibilité de se vautrer dans de gros canapés ou de manger sur fond de musique douce et berçante...

On compte vraiment sur votre présence parce que si la salle est remplie on nous proposera d'y rejouer, et puis aussi parce qu'on a des nouveaux morceaux - et donc c'est la bonne occasion pour les tester.

Flyer en pj et toujours des videos et morceaux en ecoute sur: www.myspace.com/yalloh2

Bises!
Alexandre

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What I Think of Microsoft Word's Grammar Checker

(this was also originally a post on the Compuserve Forum)

I did a spelling and grammar check up to Chapter 9 of The Face of A Lion, and then got bored by Word’s ridiculousness. Here’s what I came up with:

"Perhaps in that one place, it need not come to pass. The right way might be chosen, the seed planted in good soil. But it would require help, a trip forward, another trip backward. Yet it could be done... He would have to start at the neap of the tide."
See, here it’s obvious why I’ve chosen the passive – because I don’t want to name names... Especially in the second example: if I say "he could do it", it sounds stupid and implies that Kedi is acting on his own, which is certainly not the case.

"She suggested he walk to the ice cream parlour at the end of the main road, pointing with her shears, and told him that the original neighbourhood in her childhood had been made up of roughly fifty houses."
Aye well, this one is kind of a sticking point. Any changes I come up with seem to make the sentence even longer or repeat the word “had” (in her childhood the original neighbourhood had had fifty houses; there had been fifty houses when they were first built...) and I’d rather stick with the passive, in that case.

"He had probably been asked to keep an eye on the houses whose owners had not yet arrived, and Austin must look suspicious, loitering in the garden of a closed-up house."
Again, Austin doesn’t know who asked the watchman to keep an eye on the houses, some faceless group of adults. Hence, passive.

"'One of the original seven wonders of the world, it is now nearly hidden under a marsh...'"
This is a quote from the guidebook. Guidebooks are generally passive, and they certainly don’t say things like "the marsh has nearly swallowed up the site."

"He had to remind himself to look left not right, instead of the way he was used to back home."
"The sea does not have the strong tides of the ocean you are used to.”
"Only the window’s thick-slatted wooden shutters were closed, so that the air came in but the room was hidden from the road behind."
The words in bold are exactly those words which Word underlines and tells me are passive. Hello??? "used to" not "used"! This isn’t passive, it’s past tense!

"The horn blast vibrated all around him as he stepped back and tightened himself up, drawing in his arms, trying to stay as stiff as possible, and not be swept away."
I changed "be" to "get" and Word suggested that I change it to "be", upon which it promptly underlined it again and suggested that I change "be"! Grrr...

The following are two unrelated comments [to the exercise on passive structures]:
"He lay under the thin cotton blanket in the cool dark of his room, eyes closed, fuming. What if the cat came now, seeking the shade of the verandah to snooze in?"
Word told me this was a "non-standard question" :-)

"But that is neither here nor there."
Word suggested I change this to "But that is unimportant." How dare they make suggestions on word choice? Sure, many people rely on them for essays and so on, but, really, I hardly think a computer programme is the right medium through which to filter your editorial decisions, regardless of subject matter...

Based on all of these, I’ve now learned that, apparently, I don’t use quite as many passive structures as I thought I did. The ones I have used, I’ll keep :-)

How I Started Writing

This is part of a reply I wrote to a new member of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. I was a Forum newbie only two years ago - time flies when you're having fun :-)

I've been writing since I was in the first grade. My first stories were about a kid named Aldo and another kid who was friends with a cow who went to the moon. Later on, I wrote short stories that had stickers in place of some strategic words, and a story about a birth in the family, told from the point of view of the kettle on the stove.

I tried writing my first novel when I was in the fourth grade, about a new girl at school. My sister still remembers it and asks whether I've kept it. Kind of like J.R.R. Tolkien's memory of reading a story to one's parents and having them criticise a miniscule aspect of it (his mother had told him he couldn't say "green great dragon" but had to say "great green dragon"), my mother, when she read my story, asked why I was using the acronym TP, and told me that one should try to explain anything that the reader might find confusing (in this case, TP was toilet paper, and the kids were TPing the new girl's house).

So for all intents and purposes I've been writing my whole life and have learned how to do it by: reading; writing; reading some more; and letting others read my writing. I've taken a few creative writing courses here and there, but found they did nothing for my self-esteem and hardly anything for my writing. That being said, I think the type of course one takes is important; learning and sharing on the Compuserve Forum is stimulating and rewarding, whereas the courses I took were geared towards either grades or people who treated writing like an average hobby and weren't serious about it. I'm not sure how to describe the latter without insulting anyone... It was a course I took at the local community centre. It was a group of women - no men - in their fifties (I was about 15 at the time), who kept writing sappy emotional stories for every assignment. I, of course, had very little style at the time, and everything I wrote sounded juvenile by comparison to their long-winded dialogues and purple prose.

Still, any experience can teach you something about writing, though there's no substitute for reading a lot. A few people have a natural gift that doesn't require constant exposure to other books; they can whip up their own tale in no time, with voice and character development intact. The rest of us need to keep reading, to discover new styles, learn about different methods, pick up vocabulary, etc.

Right now, I'm editing my seventh novel, The Face of A Lion. I started it last March or so, and finished it around December - yay!

BUT, and this is thanks to the Forum, this is the first time I'm Going All The Way. All of my other novels, wtih the exception of one, are barely worth salvaging, and this is the first book that I'm taking through the editing ringer, in the hope that I will soon be querying for agents with it...

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2016/12/annual-books-read-statistics-2016.html
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2015/12/annual-books-read-statistics.html
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2014/12/books-read-in-2014-review.html
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html