Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Third Writers' Platform-building Campaign and Other Social Networks

Rachael Harrie's Third Writers' Platform-building Campaign began on 22 August and sign up is open until 31 August. I took part in the second Campaign and had a blast - Rach's got great challenges, and organizes the event so well; it was an exciting way to meet fellow blogging writers. There are prizes, too!

The other day Nathan Bransford asked about social networks. I've never listed all mine before; let me give it a try (I hope all the links work):

LinkedIn (I didn't realise how much Turkish I had on here!)
Library Thing (all linked at the bottom of this page)
Myspace (hardly ever updated)
Facebook (my author site, Whisky Trench Riders)
Compuserve Books and Writers Community
Knitting Blog

And NaNoWriMo, in season. If I joined Twitter and what not, I'd never get any writing done!

Which social networks are you on?

Meanwhile, Rachelle Gardner has a detailed round up of advice on How To Market Your Book.

And Indie Book Blowout is coming on 2 September! 99¢ books all weekend!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Revising Fiction Workshop and Opening Scene from Out of the Water

Only a month left of the Revising Fiction Workshop, hosted by author Barbara Rogan.

I can't help but sing the praises of this workshop; it's been a tremendous boost as I push through the final edits and *gasp* prepare for querying come September. It's hard work taking a hatchet to the novel - more than I've ever done before. I keep thinking it's edited, but it's never ever done, not until I've dissected every last word - but I keep relearning how wonderful it feels when I've put the work in and come out the other side with a better scene than ever before.

In honour of which, here're the opening paragraphs of Out of the Water!
She hurtled down the corridor, the slap of footsteps close behind. Her feet turned and her body followed, her thoughts a waterfall of words. Get away, get away, get away.

One flight, two flights, and she reached a long corridor lined with high windows, gasping for air. A haze of early morning light gave the damp, stone walls a forbidding aspect, as though they might start moving inward to trap her if she stayed in one position too long.

The smell of sizzling garlic made her want to stop in her tracks, accepting whatever might happen, if she could only have one bowlful of food.

Through an archway, she saw a man in an apron beside a pot bubbling over an open fire. He was a stranger; not one of the Inquisitors who'd removed her from her uncle Aram's house nor yet de Armas, the officer who'd questioned her last night.

Behind him, a door stood open to the gardens.

She grabbed a poker as she skidded past. He called out, lunging around the table, and she hooked the poker to the pot's rim and yanked, jumping back before the hot liquid could splash on her. His spoon clattered to the floor and he yelped as broth splattered across his arms.

Out through the door and across the herb garden, a crashing and banging coming from behind as the man followed her. She was halfway to the gate when a second man stood up among the mint, a fistful of green leaves in his hand.

She caught one glimpse of his gaping mouth and kept running, the strong scent of trampled dill rising up around her. Dirt flew in clods against her legs as she ran on and on, towards the forest at the edge of the field, clutching a stitch in her side, not stopping or looking behind her. She burst into the shelter of the branches and tramped through the undergrowth, slipping and sliding on pine needles, ears pricked to their utmost, straining for the sound of pursuit above her own thrashing.

She sprang out into a clearing and crashed into another man.
Share your opening scenes in the comments, if you'd like!
The authors at All The World's Our Page have posted a few already.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Writerly Foods: What to Eat, When (With Talli Roland!)

Writing from home each day, most of the excitement in my life revolves around food. Now, we all know the benefits of cupcakes and chocolate – how they can lift us from the doldrums when things may not be going so swimmingly with our writing efforts.

But what about all those other mood swings we writers experience? What should we munch on then?

I've developed a handy-dandy guide to help with just that question.

Stuck on a plot point. If your creative juices aren't flowing, why not encourage a little saliva? I'd suggest munching on something sour; perhaps some of those super-mouth-pursing penny candies from the corner shop. Or, why not try sucking a lemon?

Bored with the MS. No matter how excited we may be when we begin a new project, it's inevitable that at some stage, boredom will set in. At this point, I'd recommend a bracing bite of a durian. It tastes like feet and I can guarantee you'll feel alert after eating it!

Restless and anxious. Sometimes, reading over one's own writing and the thought of showing it to others can be vom-inducing. I'd recommend a lovely cup of chamomile tea, paired with a digestive biscuit. Ahhhh...

When that character just won't behave! Don't kill them off with abandon. Instead, I recommend cooking up a piece o' meat then stabbing it over and over to release frustration. (Note: I haven't actually done this – yet).

The elusive 'this MS rocks' moment. Grab whatever food is handy and stuff your face fast, 'coz I can guarantee that moment probably won't last!

Happy eating! Oh yes... and writing.

Talli Roland has three loves in her life: romantic comedies, coffee and wine. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories – complete with happy endings.
The Hating Game is her first novel and her second, Watching Willow Watts, will be out soon.
Talli blogs here and can be found on Twitter here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mike Wolfe from American Pickers and ROW80

Back in October of last year I had one of my posts on characters' faces, where I posted images of Rosa and the others from Out of the Water (set in 1492-3). I mentioned at the time that I was looking for a doppelgänger for Santiago (Rosa's father).

I keep looking back through other posts, but nowhere did I mention that I've found him!

One day I saw an ad for American Pickers, and there he was, Mike Wolfe. Then I learned that I'm not the only one whose, ahem, eye he's caught. For instance, Blondie's written a letter to Mr Wolfe.

He's a Guinness drinker. But that has nothing to do with Santiago of course, who was around long before Guinness was ever brewed.

Here he is, in the usual anachronistic surroundings:

Now I need Mawdlen (Rosa's mother) and Ayten (Rosa's friend) and Ayten's love interest, Devran Bey (son of the Grand Vizier). Keep a weather eye open...

As for ROW80: I'm editing, I'm editing, I swear. Never mind that I'm on vacation...

*teaser* Look for a guest post from Talli Roland coming on Friday! *teaser*

Sunday, 21 August 2011

August Writing Challenge: Doorways

Another challenge! This one's a writing challenge, set by Sonia G Medeiros.

"Imagine opening a door in your home, or any door you've opened hundreds or thousands of times, and behind that door is not what has always been there. Instead, it opens into somewhere else. Some other part of this world or another world entirely.

What would you see when you opened that door? And what would you do about it?"

I thought of Rosa from Out of the Water as soon as I read this (yes, I'm still editing). This scene (392 words) comes after she's married Baha. Barely two days into their wedding, they're forced to live apart, as he tries to reconcile with the father who disowned him and she attempts to reunite with her adoptive family. A romance set in Constantinople, 1492...

(Peri, which means fairy, is his nickname for her)

She took a deep breath, knocked, then pushed in the door, her hand shaking, though she could not tell if it was anticipation or apprehension.

There was a narrow atrium, dim and empty, and beyond that another doorway. Behind her, the front door swung shut, and all light was extinguished. She advanced a step, and a shadow filled the doorway. A tall shadow with broad shoulders.

Her heart tripped faster, and she knew it was anticipation.

"Peri?" A whisper in the dark.

She barrelled forward as he strode towards her and they crashed together in the centre of the atrium, his arms wrapping tightly about her shoulders. He did not stop, but circled around with her in his arms, nudging her through the archway with a leg between hers, repeating her name over and over, until her knees buckled against the side of a divan and he fell on top of her across the cushions.

"How did you come here?" He bent his head, lips eager along her temple. Daylight filtered through the latticed window above them.

"Arcturus brought me. I sent him a message." She sank into the cushions as he kissed the hollow of her throat. "Baha –"

He lifted his gaze to hers. There was a hunger in his expression she had not seen before, his dark eyes burning with need, the future in their depths. Her husband, Baha, in a city she had not imagined at all; yet off the ship and in their own rooms at last. It was real and she wanted it, but was she truly allowed to give in to that want, when her family – and perhaps Santiago – would gainsay it?

"You smell of jasmine, Peri." He brought his hands to her cheeks and pressed his mouth to hers. She forgot what she'd been about to say in the delight of once more losing herself to his kisses, as her body woke to the thrill of his firm touch.

His hands roamed up and down, tugging aside her collar and raising her skirts, and she matched his urgency, sliding her hands under his shirt and across the planes of his chest. He yanked the linen up over his head, then covered her once more, her face in his hands.

"Peri." A throaty rasp in her ear. "I can't be gentle with you, my wife."

Friday, 19 August 2011

Plot Beasties and Belated ROW80 Check In

Cute plot bunny asks, what genre have you fallen into?

What's a plot bunny? you ask.

Me! I'm a plot bunny, he replies, whiskers twitching.

He's so cute that you have to put your hand out and pet him.

Suddenly you're surrounded by swashbuckling pirates. But your finger's still on the bunny's fur and the scene changes. You're on an undiscovered planet. Caught in a wild west town. Or maybe...

Plot bunnies were invented by Jill McCaw during our last writers' houseparty, at The Mall at the End of Time, and elaborated on by the rest of us. Touching a bunny - actually, at this point, it could be any beastie - transforms the world of your story and brings on new challenges for your characters.
"A plot beastie latches onto a character and clings for all it's worth. Characters are helpless: they believe, they act out, they experience real fear and risk. In so doing, they face the core illusion of their lives, and must struggle against the one thing they have worked very, very hard to avoid. In short, the plot beastie exposes comfortable illusions and challenages characters to face who they truly are, to realize not just dreams, but the simple truth of who they really are."
Now we're setting up an anthology of plot bunny stories, and everyone's invited to contribute!

The official submission request is through here. All genres and styles are accepted.

And ROW80? I'm editing my plot bunny story as we speak!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Today's Guest Post Brought To You By S. P. Bowers

Hi Sara! Thanks for guest posting today!

Sara, who blogs over at her space subtitled it's just me, was kind enough to drop by to talk about... Manuscripts.

Hmm, how'd that wine glass get there?

Take it away, Sara:

Like many of you I have a few novels tucked away in my virtual desk drawer. I sincerely hope most of them never again see the light of day. I'll admit to some pretty bad writing. Made worse by the fact that I didn't think I needed to rewrite. Don't laugh, I was young and naive. While I did try edits on a few of them my current novel is the first one I have really put this much effort into rewriting.

I heard Kiersten White say "Ideas are captured in first drafts but books happen in editing." I firmly believe this. Look at your old novels. Any of them read more like a series of scenes about the same people than a real book? Or do they still resemble brain spew from NaNo?

First drafts are wonderful. I love drafting. I love the rush that comes with being bombarded by a dozen new ideas at once. I love the newness of the experience. But where drafting is the honeymoon, glorious and wonderful (ok, I was horrendously sick on my honeymoon but I hear some of them are glorious and wonderful) editing is a marriage. Sure it may have morning breath and you may be sick of all the dishes in the sink but it's the living and working together that gives us a deep understanding and love of each other.

It's only when we get to know our novel, word after horrible word, inside out and upside down that we are able to form it into a cohesive whole. Otherwise known as a book.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Guest Post by Ayak at Ayak's Turkish Delight!

Welcome to The Girdle of Melian, Ayak!

I am very flattered to be asked by Deniz to do a guest post on her blog.

I moved to Turkey from England in 1999 and married my Turkish husband in 2000. We have lived in different areas of Turkey. In fact we have moved 15 times to date. My blog, Ayak's Turkish Delight, is about my life in Turkey. The ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the happy and the sad......not forgetting the often disastrous adventures of Mr Ayak.

The topic of my post is the Dolmuş.

A dolmuş is a privately owned vehicle, with seating capacity of 14, which runs to and from towns and outlying villages.

Dolmuş means "stuffed" or "full" as they often don't run to fixed schedules, but when they are full. Mainly because the fare's very cheap, and the owner/driver isn't likely to earn very much with one or two passengers.

And boy do they fill them to capacity! They will stop anywhere en route if you flag them down. Even when full, they always manage to squeeze in another passenger. The traffic police have been known to stop the driver if he is overloaded with passengers, which means that those standing have to get off... regardless of where they are. It's not unusual for the dolmuş driver, on seeing a traffic police car ahead, to shout for those passengers standing to get down. They immediately respond by ducking down until the police car is out of sight.

There's a lot of shuffling about and swapping of seats on the dolmuş because even in the 21st century, it's still frowned upon for a man to sit next to a woman, so when a new passenger gets on, people move about to accommodate them. And chivalry is not dead here... a man or child will always stand to allow a woman or elderly passenger to have a seat.

Paying your fare is a little precarious. You tap the shoulder of the person in front of you, hand them your money and it's then passed forward to the driver. If you need change, it's then passed back to you via the same route. All this happens while the driver is driving. You can imagine the potential for accidents.

A dolmuş driver is a rare breed. He is a patient man and very accommodating. He is happy to stop for a passenger who spots a family member en route, so that the passenger can have a quick chat with the relative, or hand over a gift of some kind, before continuing on his journey. He'll get out and escort an elderly passenger across a busy road, or even make a detour to drop them at a relative's home.

He'll gladly stop for you to pop into a shop for bread or cigarettes, and if someone en route from town to village wants to send something to a relative, he'll obligingly act as delivery man.

It's not unusual for him to make a diversion off his main route, to drop a child at home or at school, to prevent an elderly passenger from having to walk too far. And he really gets to know his regulars very quickly. After my first trip on the local dolmuş, he knew exactly where to drop me off from then on without my having to tell him.

He will allow people to board the bus with almost anything. On market days it's impossible to get into a seat without first climbing across bags of shopping, sacks of potatoes, and anything else that you happen to have bought in town. When I lived in Gümüşlük a man once boarded with an entire bathroom suite... toilet, washbasin and shower base... and no one batted an eyelid. Since I moved to this isolated spot two years ago, I've discovered it's quite normal for the dolmuş driver to stop and collect 50kg bags of fertiliser and other bulky items for the farmers, on our way back to the village. Last year during the Kurban Bayram we actually had a live sheep on board.

I've made many new friends on a dolmuş. When I had only recently moved here, and had arrived back in the village from a shopping trip into Milas, two Turkish women got off the bus at the same place as me. Their houses were on the way up the hill to my house. Instead of the usual ten minutes it takes me to get to the top of the hill, I arrived home two hours later, having been invited into one house to catch my breath, and drink water, then to the home of the other woman to drink Turkish coffee whilst we got to know each other.

Mr Ayak hates the dolmuş... he thinks they are overcrowded and smelly... which of course they are, especially in the height of summer.

Me? I love them!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Medieval Quotes About Writing


I've been reading medieval poetry from Spain, which started out as research but soon turned into a pleasurable activity in its own rite.

These two pieces come from the poet Shem Tov Ardutiel (Santob De Carrión):

Writer, you hold a flame in your hand,
or is it the blade of a sword or a spear -
the tree of knowledge of good and evil,
or a staff to make wondrous signs appear.

Are there words enough in all of song
to praise the pen? Who else could bear
the burden of bringing back the past
and preserving it then as though with myrrh?

It has no ear with which it might hear,
or mouth with which to offer answers;
and yet the pen, in a single stroke,
at once does both - observes and remembers.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Always Versus Never

Back in March, Lydia Kang had a neat post about writing habits; the Always/Never list.

My list goes like this:

In my writing, I Always:

- use pen and paper for the first draft
- have characters glance at each other
- repeat "and then" all over the place
- use the word "wondered"
- sprinkle meaningless modifiers (small, big, large, tiny, etc.) willy nilly

I Never:

- know the names of secondary characters until the third draft or so
- keep all the scenes I write (a lot end up as gangplanks or backstory, saved in draft folders)
- add dialogue tags in the first draft (the margin is always filled with notes like "but what are they doing??")
- write a story set in modern times
use contractions. Everyone's so formal all the time! I have to remind myself to be more casual in dialogue.

What sorts of habits do you have?

ROW80 going well! Still working on typing and editing the murder mystery short story. Hope everyone else is meeting their goals!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Finished! Champagne! Confetti! Squee!


I've finished! I've finally, finally, got a clean, no square brackets, no highlights, all linking scenes in place, copy of Out of the Water.

Bring on the strawberries and dark chocolate!

Because, you know, I'm going to need it. Now the real editing starts. The word choice editing. The tone and theme and imagery editing. The character arcs and motivations and possible subplots editing.

Let me just pop another cork first...

Friday, 5 August 2011

August Literary Resolution and Wariangles

Only four months left after this for the 2011 literary resolutions. Every time I do something like this (such as the 30 day song challenge on Facebook), it makes the time pass that much quicker. Whereas keeping track of writing-related goals never has that effect.

This is my favourite month. The challenge is: reread your favourite book from childhood. Why did that book make such an impression on you?

I get to reread - and talk about - The Lord of the Rings again! I had a long post last year, based on a post of Tahereh's; I called it Why Tahereh Mafi Should Read The Lord of the Rings.

I won't repeat all my points. It's quickest to say, without Tolkien, I wouldn't be writing. Of course, I started writing fiction before I first read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings (at the age of 10), but my growing love of language was directly influenced by Tolkien and the other members and followers of the Inklings. Many of the books I've read since discovering Tolkien were based on his recommendations, inspirations, editing, involvement, and so on.

And nothing beats the Oxford English Dictionary for etymologies! Here's Tolkien's research into one of my favourite words (I've blabbed about this before, haven't I?):

wariangle, n.

OE ?weargincel, ME variangel, were-, weryangle, wayryngle, ME, 16–17 waryangle, 15–18 wariangle, 15 warriangle, 16 warwinckle, wierangle, wierangel, wirrangle....

Etymology: ?Old English weargincelshrike (Sweet: authority not known). Compare Old High German (Middle High German) warchengil, wargengel, wargingel, etc. 'cruricula', etc. (Steinmeyer-Sievers, Diefenbach), German wargengel, warkengel (with very many local variants due to different etymologizing alterations; as würgengel, quasi 'destroying angel'). Compare also Middle Low German worgel, Old High German (Middle High German) wargil, warigel, wergil, worgel(Bavarian dialect wörglshrike, Salzburg wörgelgreenfinch). All these forms appear to be diminutives of Old Germanic *wargo-zmurderer: see wary n.

The Old English word, if genuine, perhaps preserves most nearly the original form. For the suffix compare Old English húsincel, túnincel, þéowincel, etc. (all without umlaut). Compare Old High German -inklî(n. It remains, however, very remarkable that in German or in later English there is no trace of -k forms with the single exception of warwinckle in quot. 1618 at sense 1.

As there is no evidence of the word later until Chaucer, the Middle English and later forms are perhaps in part due to, or influenced by, some continental form. The prevalent form of the ending, -angle, -ingle, is perhaps partly due to association with hang v. (owing to the habits of the shrike). In early times the first element would assist this etymology: compare Old English weargtréo, warytre n. gallows. Such an association was apparently present in early German: compare such forms as wurgelhâch, wurgelhâhe, warchengil, warkengel, etc.

1. A name formerly given to the Shrike or Butcher-bird, either the (Great or European) Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) or the smaller red-backed Shrike (L. collurio). See shrike n.2

Apart from the doubtful Old English form and two obscure passages in Middle English the evidence for the existence of the word is almost solely drawn from dictionaries, glossaries, and dialect collections of doubtful value, some of which perh. merely echo quot. 1598.

c1386 Chaucer Friar's Tale 110 This Somonour, that was as ful of Iangles, As ful of venym been thise waryangles.

1598 T. Speght Wks. G. Chaucer Annot. Bbbb v Warriangles Be a kind of birdes full of noyse and very rauenous, preying vpon others, which when they haue taken, they vse to hang vpon a thorne or pricke, & teare them in pieces and deuoure them. And the common opinion is, that the thorne wherupon they thus fasten them and eate them, is afterward poysonsome. In Staffordshire and Shropshire the name is common.

2. Used as a term of contemptuous abuse. Rare.
a1400–50 Wars Alex. 1706 A wirlyng, a wayryngle [Dubl. MS. warlow], a wawil-eȝid shrewe."

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Home Stretch

I. Am. Almost. Done.

I swear! I've got five scenes left to go:

Two have been written and need typing;
Two are, ahem, bedroom scenes, which need no encouragement for me to write;
Leaving one last scene, one of the more difficult, involving all sorts of fast-paced action at the end of the novel, right before the denouement.

Raise the stakes! Throw rocks! Add tension!

Argh. I just want them to retreat to the bedroom.

Rosa first came in to my head in February 2009. One year later, I finally had the title, Out of the Water. That was last year, the summer when everything changed. Rosa attended the writers' houseparty at Cherry Hill, then hosted one in Constantinople. Romance entered her life and I finished the first draft of the story a few months after that.

I've been editing since then. Some days it feels like it'll never end. Other days I procrastinate by doing research. Still other days I hide behind my To Read pile and pretend I'm not supposed to be writing my own story.

I've got an ROW80 inspirational post up on the official site!

Now if only I'd take my own advice...

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • Alexandria by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • 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***
  • Hermit Crab by Peter Porter (poem)
  • The Hidden Land by Private Irving (poem;
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
  • My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary
  • Managed by Kristen Callihan
  • beta read! (JB)
  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • 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
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at