Friday, 30 September 2011

Five for Friday Links, and Don't Forget the Campaign Challenge

Lots of upcoming events in October!

Jennifer Hendren's By The Pale Moonlight has an awesomesauce book trailer (ask me why I like that word, awesomesauce. I don't know, but the fact that Lord John Grey has been called such on the Writers Forum might be a reason).

The Fourth Round of A Round of Words in 80 Days starts on Sunday, and on Wednesday, there will be a party! "For all the participants who just finished Round 3 of ROW80, anyone who plans to post their goals and dive into Round 4, and the amazing people who supported the ROW80 writers throughout the year (y'all REALLY deserve a drink!)." Join the #ROW80 party on your blog or on Twitter. There will be music and jello shots!

Wednesday is going to be busy for two other reasons:

First, it's the second month of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh. "Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time."

I may or may not have my first queries out by then and will be feeling very insecure indeed.

Second, it's the first day of the Rule of Three Blogfest! "The Rule of Three is a month-long fiction blogfest, where we’ve created a 'world', the town of Renaissance, and challenged you to create a story within it. The story will feature 3 characters of your creation, who will be showcased on your blog on 3 different Wednesdays, following the Rule of Three. The 4th Wednesday, we’ll have the culminating scene."

I'll be writing my entry this weekend. I've also got book reviews coming up! Carole Anne Carr's Thin Time, Jessica Bell's launch party for String Bridge, J. C. Martin's The Doll, Nadja Notariani's Claiming the Prize...

As for item five (hey look, I actually kept track), the Second Campaign Challenge ends on Monday - enter if you haven't done so, and please visit the participants (my entry is the post below the last one, on this page). Vote here for your favourites.

Here're all the bloggers in my campaign group, Historical Romance:

1. Raquel Byrnes

2. Dora Hiers

3. Liz

4. The Bird

5. L'Aussie

6. Julie F

7. Melanie

8. Angie Cothran

9. Sheery

10. Romancer

11. Angelina Rain

12. Katie

13. Brittany

14. Joy Allen-Debra Efert

15. Myne Whitman

16. Marcia

17. Raelyn Barclay

18. Maggie Fechner

19. Claire Robyns

20. Trisha at Word and Stuff

21. Vanessa Hancock

22. Scribbleandedit

23. Bri Clark

24. Meika

25. Gwendolyn Gage

26. ebarrettwrites

27. Brynne Betz

28. A well of words

29. Mels blog

30. Kerrin H

31. Ann

32. D. J. Kirkby

33. Allie

34. edgyinspiration

35. Misty Moncur

36. Heather Justesen

37. Tara W.

38. Romance & Beyond

39. Kerry Freeman

40. Nadja Notariani

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

P. J. Bracegirdle, Campaign Challenge Reminder, and List of New Releases

P. J. Bracegirdle's last book in The Joy of Spooking series, Sinister Scenes, is out! I haven't read it yet, for I've just finished the second book, Unearthly Asylum.


"With Fiendish Deeds, the first book of The Joy of Spooking trilogy, I wanted to kick off a quirky, comedic mystery that packed some serious chills. I loved the idea of a young heroine who revels in how the worn-out relics of the past still echo with secrets and stories—and that's what I found in Joy Wells. To set the stage for her, I took a lot of inspiration from classic literary figures such as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. ...

This trilogy itself however would be set in the modern day ... For that reason I needed a distinctively modern villain, someone both a product and a victim of these times. Someone selfish, greedy, and egotistical in the extreme. ... That character soon developed into Octavio Phipps, a failed musician who now works as assistant to the mayor of a neighboring suburban sprawl. It was then just a case of unleashing him on his mission: to destroy Spooking, the weird old town he blames for his woes..." (visit Bracegirdle's website for the full description from Simon & Schuster's Behind The Book Series)

In Unearthly Asylum, Joy's "pet frog Fizz becomes trapped behind the walls of a mental asylum, [and] Joy must mount a rescue operation that brings her into conflict with Mr. Phipps again. Along with her brother Byron and their strange playmate Poppy, Joy soon uncovers mind-bending secrets straight from the pages of her favourite author [E. A. Peugeot]. Can Joy get everyone out alive, or will they be trapped in the unearthly asylum forever?"

None of these descriptions quite convey the essence of these stories, which is sinister, mysterious and fun all at once. They're probably marketed as Middle Grade, but they're just the sort of books I loved back in my MG days and still love - where the author doesn't talk down to the young reader, and doesn't sugar coat mystery or history. And Bracegirdle (never mind having a Tolkienesque name) is from Montreal!

Speaking of local connections, Diana Gabaldon's posted the description of Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner, coming 29 November. The last time I visited Quebec City, it was after I'd read about Lord John's time there. I still get a thrill when I see lines like "Lord John Grey has brought home from Quebec..."

If you're not a spoiler avoider, there's a new mini-excerpt on the forum from the next book, Written In My Own Heart's Blood (Or MOHB - Diana's calling it Moby).

What's that you say, he's a fictional character? Well, so are Rosa and Baha from my own story Out of the Water. Yet that doesn't make them any less real. What would us writers be without voices in their heads?

Fellow campaigners, my entry for the second challenge is in the post below, featuring a tweaked snip from Out of the Water. Please head over to Rach's and click Like on your favourite entries!

Other releases, in no particular order:

Kait Nolan - Genesis
Susan Bischoff - Heroes 'Til Curfew
Duff McKagan - It's So Easy and Other Lies
J. L. Campbell - Giving Up the Dream and Don't Get Mad... Get Even

And coming sooner rather than later... Jennifer Hendren's By The Pale Moonlight. Now there's a reason for excitement!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Kait Nolan's Red, Second Campaign Challenge and Liebster Award

Kait Nolan's Red is out!


Have you read it yet? No? What are you waiting for? Here's a little bit of what the story's about:
"Elodie Rose has a secret.

Any day, she'll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that's cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she's hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line.

Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?"

You know what? I think Kait's the first modern (published only in the 21st Century) author, and first indie-published author, whose books I pick up as soon as they're released. As someone who normally reads novels and poems by authors long passed on, it's exciting to be able to say that. There's always some bit of news out there about publishing suffering the last throes, or no one being able to write any more, and so on. Well, Kait's proving them all wrong, and writing some great romantic paranormal stuff while she's at it. I wish I could turn out books that quickly!

Susan Bischoff interviewed Kait Nolan the other day - and there's a Jamie Fraser reference in there. Diana Gabaldon's Scottish Prisoner is coming soon, by the way. I've preordered it and hope Amazon can deliver on the day.

And now...
Second Challenge of the Writers' Platform Building Campaign!
Rules: "Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. The blog post should include the word "imago" in the title. Include the following 4 random words: "miasma", "lacuna", "oscitate", and "synchronicity". If you want to give yourself an added challenge make reference to a mirror in your post. For those who want an even greater challenge, make your post 200 words EXACTLY!"

I've done it all! Here's my entry, adapted from my novel, Out of the Water:

The Necessary Imago

"Rosa?"

Caught! She pretended she hadn't heard and continued down the stairs.

"Where are you going?" Arcturus reached her at the bottom. His eyes widened as he took in her outfit in the dawn light.

She stayed silent as a lacuna, but he followed her, down the hill past the tower. She remembered the day she'd looked down that hill and seen Ayten, and Baha had rescued the girl at her word.

Perhaps that was the day he'd fallen ill; some miasma from the icy waters had entered his lungs. If it hadn't been for her, he never would have lingered in the snow. Or perhaps it had been further back; the cold night on deck after the pirates' attack. Again, if it hadn't been for her... But perhaps it had merely been synchronicity.

They'd reached the harbour. She glanced across the mirror-like water, up to the palace walls. They said the Sultan could see all their neighbourhood through his windows.

A fool's errand it might be, but she would not back down now.

Arcturus followed her gaze, as if he'd read her mind. "You're going to the palace?"

"Yes. Don't oscitate."

"Is that why you're clothed as a boy?"

Thank you to fellow campaigner Sheril for the Liebster Award! Ich liebe meine fellow bloggers.


THE RULES
1. Show your appreciation to the bloggers who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the camaraderie of the most supportive people on the internet ~ other writers.
5. And best of all ~ have bloggity fun and spread the love.

MY PICKS
1. Sarah at The Aspiring Subcreator, who's a Tolkien fan
2 Glynis at Glynis Smy - Writer, who's celebrating the birth of her first grandchild
3 Liz at Liz Fichera, whose Craving Perfect you really should read
4 Michael at In Time..., who's hosting a What I Did On My Summer Vacation blogfest that I hope to sign up for, even if I'm late
5 Stacey at Stacey Wallace Benefiel, whose The Toilet Business is a hilarious and touching roundup of all the random jobs she's had

Meanwhile, this past week was Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week. I'm on my yearly reread of The Lord of the Rings, and it never ceases to amaze me how much reading this story is like slipping into a familiar world. The language, the pace of the story, the humour, the poetry; it's all so well known yet fresh. Sara had a post about rereading the other day. Does anyone not reread? Why not?

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Alberta's Book Tour for the Sefuty Chronicles


Pleased to present Alberta, who's on a book tour to promote the Sefuty Chronicles, an intriguing mix of fantasy and romance. She's currently posting the first chapter of Ellen's Tale in installments on her blog - go check it out! Alberta's wonderful at making a dystopian world seem real (when was the last time you really thought about what 'real' food tastes and feels like? Or how affected you are by the size of the space around you?), and you can feel the romantic tension between Bix and Ellen from the start.

Welcome, Alberta!


Hallo Deniz. After so many comments on various challenges we finally meet. Thank you for having me on your site and, as promised, Ill tell you a little of how the Sefuty Chronicles evolved. You're in the process yourself and may tut or grin at my haphazard start to being an author.

I have commented before how it began as a homework practice piece for a short story. I struggled with the format in class. Usually I could produce something but two defeated me: science fiction and food. What to write – nothing came to mind so during the holidays I brought out the notebook and tried again on food as that seemed the easier subject to tackle. Food became the quest at the heart of Ellen's Tale, and food security the overriding need in a world I totally trashed!

Voila, Ellen was created! In true creation myth style there had to be a mate and so Bix sprung readymade onto the page. I did not invent the names – they arrived already named – I didn't invent the genetic manipulation, Bix was already a Feral when he appeared. Magic!

Of course the rest wasn't as easy. Ellen took over and, holding tightly to Bix's hand, romped on through the pages. I made enquires, did research; how long could a short story be? Okay, we had passed that mark so how long could a novella be? Oh no, Ellen had the upper hand (I was a novice at this and hadn't learnt how to control characters – do we ever?). Ellen and Bix gave up graciously at just over 100,000 words. What a ride.

She didn't give a thought of course at what world she was romping through or why; no, she left that to me. Playing catch up, I had to create a suitable backdrop for her. I know, I know, world building should be done first!

Everything kind of flowed from my interests in climate change, genetics and, of course, food as that was supposed to be the reason for the story. I had been reading a few books at the time on the history of trade and food miles, waste and rules concerning modern day trading and so the Sefuty Line was born.


Sefuty Line was the original title composed from taking
Se = the first two letters of security
and
Ty = the last two
the
fu = pronunciation of foo(d)
Food Security = the be all and end all of survival.

The archives came while I was pruning (is the garden my muse I wonder?). I really enjoy archives, full of amazing treasures and real stories of ordinary folk. Of course, my characters would become archival material. And why would they be important? Ah well, that would be telling. Suffice to say by the time I was halfway through I had finally worked out the story!

By the time I was three quarters of the way through I realized they did not intend to be a stand alone couple. No, they demanded more space and caused a sequel to ferment in my imagination. I worried then about the title, I would have to find a new title for every book (was I being ambitious or what?!) and indeed if the second book went the way I was planning then the first title made less sense. My friend from forever/editor and I brainstormed over the phone for a couple of weeks. Eventually I went back to my schooldays and Chaucer, naming the books Tales, each would spotlight one person. So Ellen's Tale. However, one of the beta readers argued a good case for Sefuty and I had liked the whole concept of it so food security became part of the title. The Sefuty Chronicles are what the archivists have named the various pieces of research they put together.

Ellen raced through her story with a light-hearted abandon and I found that of everything I had done in my life writing was the most fun, the most addictive. Of course writing is the easy bit, what comes after is where the work cuts in. The editing, correcting, polishing, publishing, marketing and so the list goes on – all designed to keep you apart from your characters' far more interesting lives!

***

Thank you for being here, Alberta! And thanks for sharing the growth of your story. It's always exciting to know that other authors share our trials, tribulations - and rewards!

Look out for the second book in the Sefuty Chronicles, The Storyteller's Tale:


Alberta's Bio
I spent the first part of my adult life travelling the world, the middle years studying and now have settled down to write. From the first part I have endless photographs, memories and friends. From the second I have a BSc Hons, an MA and friends. Now in this part everything comes together.
Over the years my interests have expanded, as has my book and music collection. A short list would include reading (almost anything) science, opera, folk, gardening, philosophy, crazy patchwork, freeform crochet, ethics, social history, cooking (and eating of course), gardening, anthropology, climate change and sustainability.
My parents gave me, apart from a love of reading and music, an interest and curiosity in everything which in itself has become a total inability to be bored and for this I am always grateful.

http://www.albertaross.co.uk is Alberta’s official website where detail of her books, extracts, readers comments and contact details can be found

http://sefutychronicles-albertaross.blogspot.com, where Alberta blogs about writing and self publishing

http://www.didyoueverkissafrog.typepad.com, blogging about anything she fancies

Alberta can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/albertaross

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Final ROW80 and Susan Bischoff's Talent Chronicles

Reading author = happy author.

Author reading good books = happy and relaxed author, which is infinitely helpful for both my creativity and willpower (when it comes to Butt in Chair editing. More on that at the end of this post).

I've been very lucky with all the reading I've done since returning from vacation – not a single book has disappointed. First there was Talli Roland's Watching Willow Watts (so sweet and funny!), then there was Joanna Bourne's The Black Hawk (romance! mystery! brilliant writing!) and now I'm in the middle of Kait Nolan's Red, which I'll review next week (but don't wait for me - go get it and read it now!).

I've just finished Susan Bischoff's Heroes 'Til Curfew, the second book in the Talent Chronicles, and I must talk about it.


"All Joss wants is to be left alone -- with Dylan.

But as more Talents are imprisoned by the government, everyone's looking for a leader. Some look to Joss, some to Marco whose new criminal plan threatens Joss's family and friends. Joss wants to stand up to Marco, but Dylan's protective instincts are putting him in harm's way.

Can Joss find a way to embrace both the boy and her hero within?"

Susan's series is another genre – paranormal YA romance – that I don't normally read (yes, really. Will explain below), but her writing just pulls me in and I can't put her books down. Action, me? And yet I don't even notice where once chapter ends and the other begins.

It's wonderful to read a story with such strong characters and consistent voices, to be pulled through the twists and turns of the plot along with the protagonists, to laugh at all the one-liners... and I haven't even mentioned the kissing... ooh!

Now, it does sound strange for me to say I don't read romance, doesn’t it? Especially as I’ve just reviewed two romance books within one week. As I said, though, I’ve been very lucky in that the books I’ve been reading have been good ones. The other day I skimmed through an old Harlequin from the late 70s/early 80s and it was awful. The fact that it was 30 years old had nothing to do with it – I can read books from two hundred years ago and enjoy them just fine, if they're written well (and it's perfectly possible that they might not be – have you ever come across After London by Richard Jeffries (1886)? Now that's a time waster!).

That said, let's see if I can list (because I love lists) all the things that are wrong with bad romance novels. Basically, it drives me up the wall whenever the hero and heroine:

1. each love the other but one or both won't admit to their feelings ("I don"t want to seem weak", "he/she can't possible care for me so I won't say anything", "I'll never stoop to being honest!");

2. have passionate affairs but refuse to commit/reveal their relationship/admit their feelings;

3. have passionate affairs that don't require speech because they pretend to hate each other until roughly 20 pages before the end of the story;

4. DON'T TALK, and pointless avoidable misunderstandings ensue;

5. are forced into marriage, swoon over each other, but still pretend to hate being married;

6. listen to negative words from other characters, to the detriment of their love; and

7. have ugly, badly-described, clinical affairs (this is obviously a writing style preference and not a story preference).

Did I miss any? Do you disagree with any?


Also, one last thing - we're on the final week of A Round of Words in 80 Days and this is my last check in!

I don't remember what my goals were at the start. I'm sure I said something vague like "edit the novel" - and I have! I printed the entire thing, got lots of great advice from Barbara Rogan and my fellow participants at the Revising Fiction Workshop, and edited the heck out of 176 pages/140,000 words.

As of last night, I'm down to 269 pages/127,000 words and I'm on page 74 of entering in all my handwritten edits.

Hope to begin querying at the end of the month!

Thanks to everyone who participated, it's been great seeing everyone's progress. Join us in the next round, starting soon!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne, The Rule of Three Blogfest and Other Events

Adrian's coming! For those of you who've read The Spymaster's Lady, and watched Annique and Grey deal with a wounded Adrian, Joanna Bourne's latest book explains the backstory - and then some.

The Black Hawk is Adrian and Justine's tale and is coming out 1 November.


"When veteran spy, Justine DeCabrillac, is attacked on a rainy London street, she knows only one man can save her: Adrian Hawkhurst, her oldest friend... her oldest enemy.


London's crawling with hidden assassins and someone is out to frame Hawker for her murder. The two spies must work together to find out who wants to destroy them."

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of The Black Hawk. And here's an excerpt from somewhat later:
""My lover is an Englishman. This cannot continue."
Her bed was so full of Hawker. His body disconcerted her, always, with its fierce energies concentrated inside his skin. He lay on his back, half naked, his head turned toward her, his arm across his chest upon the sheet. She did not think he had broken any ribs, but he was holding pain inside him as he slept.
He lay, sunk fathoms deep in exhaustion. All the deadly knowledge of his blood and bone was quiescent. He was like a well-honed sword someone had carefully set down. Sometimes she forgot how beautiful he was when they had been apart for a long time."
Adrian's both mysterious and alluring - here's a glimpse of his face. It's exciting to watch him and Justine at odds, through no fault of their own; they're both sharp and quick-witted, intense and dedicated, yet find themselves on opposite sides of The Game of spying.

Everything I want to say about this book gives away spoilers for what happens between Adrian and Justine. If I say the scene in the storm was sweet and exciting, you won't know what I mean unless I tell you just what they got up to under the rain - and why. If I say the scenes between Justine and her younger sister made me cry, I can't reveal the reason without giving away Justine's secrets.

Let's just say this is Regency romance at its best. A spy mystery at its best. And if you've missed Maggie and Doyle from The Forbidden Rose, they make appearances here.

That's just for the readers - if you're an author, you can't do better than to read Joanna Bourne. Now that's writing! I can't say it more succinctly than that - put aside all the authorly advice from other books or how-to lists and read one of her novels. On the other hand, if you can't do without advice, drop by the Compuserve Forum, where she - and Myrtle - distill authorly tidbits. I'm hoping all of this stuff is lodging into my brain, especially as...

...we round the home stretch of A Round of Words in 80 Days - Wednesday will be my last post. It's been fun being a sponsor this round (here's the motivational post I contributed), and visiting lots of blogs I might not otherwise have read. Everyone's been doing really well! As for me, I got all my editing done - I just have to type it all up. The sooner I finish, the sooner the querying can begin.

Three events on right now or coming up:

Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day!

13 September was Roald Dahl Day, but as they say on his website: "Roald Dahl Day is now so tremendous and so fantastic that we simply can’t squeeze all of the fun into one day. So we party all month instead! This year, however, is particularly special because we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of one of Roald Dahl’s best loved stories, James and the Giant Peach!"

The Rule of Three Blogfest! The full rules and description are here. The event starts in October, and participants will be posting four separate posts:
"The Rule of Three is a month-long fiction blogfest, where we've created a 'world', the town of Renaissance, and challenged you to create a story within it. The story will feature 3 characters of your creation, who will be showcased on your blog on 3 different Wednesdays, following the Rule of Three. The 4th Wednesday, we'll have the culminating scene."
Come join us!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Are You A Rutabaga or Are You Procrasinating?

What do you think the future of publishing involves? Lots more e-books? The demise of further booksellers? Apparently, there's an expo focused on this very question, the FutureBook Expo, and they're looking for respondents for a survey.

I decided that I found it too hard to predict - I don't want to see traditional books fade away any time soon, and am all for secondhand book shops with resident cats. Neither do I want eBooks to be a mere fad; I think they're opening up wonderful opportunities for authors.

Who knows what we'll see 10, 15, 20 years from now?

Thank you to Susan for the Versatile Blogger award! And thanks to Trisha for tagging me in a meme! Based on which I looked up meme in the OED:
"meme, n.
Pronunciation: Brit. /miːm/ , U.S. /mim/
Etymology: Shortened < mimeme(see quot. 19761) < ancient Greek μίμημαthat which is imitated ( < μιμεῖσθαιto imitate: see mimesis n.), after gene n.2... Biol. A cultural element or behavioural trait whose transmission and consequent persistence in a population, although occurring by non-genetic means (esp. imitation), is considered as analogous to the inheritance of a gene."
I like the quote from 1998: "D. Brin Heaven's Reach 27 On all other dimensional planes, memes could only exist as parasites, dwelling in the host brains or mental processes of physical beings."

The questions are lots of fun:

Are you a rutabaga?
I don't even really blush or anything. Might get a little pink in the sun. Do I have leaves growing out the back of my head?

Which member of Def Leppard do you have the biggest crush on?
Well... I never really had a crush on any of these guys. Loved the band though, and almost missed the bus back from a school trip cos I was too busy buying their cassettes at a record store!

Upload a heartwarming picture of something that makes you smile.

Yes! An excuse to put my cats on the writing blog!

What were you famous for in high school?
Thinking back... Not sure... Having my nose in a book, probably.

How many people have de-friended you on Facebook?
A few here and there? I don't really pay attention to FB numbers, but sometimes my blog followers will go down by 1 and I'll wonder what I did wrong!

What is the weirdest/most disgusting job you've ever had to do?
Clean the toilet at the coffee shop where I used to work. Gak!

Where da muffin top at?
What, what? [sits up straight] I got nothin'!

Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.
Erat demonstrandum [that] ecce [author] amo [other languages]. But I took German at school, not Latin, cos they wouldn't let me take both! Ich liebe mehr Deutsch sprechen als Latin! Zan Marie, help!

For the record, I'm not entirely procrastinating. I've completed all the edits of Out of the Water on paper and just have to type them up. But I took a few days off for beta reads and copy edits of others' books - and for brain relaxation!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

If I Could Be Anyone I'd Be... Talli Roland's Launch Party!

It's release day for Talli Roland's Watching Willow Watts!

Talli's hosting an online 'If I Could Be Anyone, I'd Be...' party!

"Come dressed as that one person you've always admired, longed to impersonate, or just plain envied. Now is your chance to make your superhero, film-star, or Rock God fantasies comes true (okay, maybe not all your fantasies...). If you have a blog and you'd like to take part, all you need to do is post a photo of your chosen one (dead or alive) along with an explanation why you've picked that person."

Here's my dilemma. I don't really want to impersonate or be anyone else. I'd love to dress up in all kinds of period costumes, like a gown from Renaissance Italy or some sort of elaborate Restoration England affair. But I couldn't even put on a toga properly at Colchester Castle a couple of weeks ago:


I'll hide behind my character, Rosa, from Out of the Water. Just came across this photo in a collection that landed in my email a while back. I'd love to have someone dress me up and make up my face so I could go to a party looking like this:


But never mind me, let's talk about Willow!


Talk about chick lit at its best!

I don't usually read this genre, but I've been very lucky in the ones I do read. They've always:

a) been British; and

b) come at just the right moment, when I'm on vacation or simply need a book to unwind with.

Who can forget Carole Matthews' Let's Meet on Platform 8 or Claire Calman's Love Is A Four Letter Word?

And now I've got a new favourite - Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland.

Featuring the charming, down to earth Willow, hilarious one-line send-ups about small village residents (not to mention the village itself - named Belcherton!), and a host of varied secondary characters, Watching Willow Watts is a fast-paced, sweet yet daring story.

Roland subtly introduces the reader to Willow's world, deftly raises the stakes, and there's no way to put the book down. You've just got to find out what happens next. I was almost late for work one morning as I couldn't stop reading!

She has a knack of making you care for each character's fate, right down to that of Krusty the rooster. I've already started thinking about which actors could play Betts, and Dickie, and Willow herself...

Don't miss out! Watching Willow Watts is available now on Smashwords, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

September Literary Challenge and Bernice Thurman Hunter

Query.

No, don't run screaming for the hills - not you, me.
Query letter time is fast approaching.



I've still got to enter all the changes I've been scribbling all over the MS (and if you think your editing life is frantic, check out Diana Gabaldon's current schedule), and I've got reams of advice, including some from Joanna Bourne, to plough through and distil, and then I've got to polish the letter. Then it's agent selection and query time.

The September Literary Resolution comes at just the right month:
"Submit. Submit to your dream of being a writer. Submit your work to a contest, a local newspaper, a literary journal."
Here're the paragraphs I've got so far:
Exiled from her Spanish homeland by the Inquisition and separated from her family as they flee their home, 18 year old Rosa must place her life in the hands of a stranger from the Ottoman Empire. Baha, estranged from his own father and returning to his homeland after ten years, is her one hope of reaching Constantinople and reuniting with her family. The fact that he's attractive and tender is an unexpected pleasure.

As they travel together, her burning drive to be reunited with her loved ones is matched by a deepening desire for the man at her side -- but all too soon they may run out of time to be together. Rosa's family will likely not accept her marriage to a man of different faith, let alone one who has been renounced by his family. Yet before she can even introduce them, their reunion is cut short by the arrest of her father and brother at the hands of the Sultan's Grand Vizier. Rosa and Baha are the only ones that can rescue them, and together prove that their love can withstand their differences.
Meanwhile, if you're already published, and your book happens to include a romance of any kind, why not submit your book for review to our One Hundred Romances blog?

And now, Bernice Thurman Hunter. If you haven't read the Booky series (starting with That Scatterbrain Booky) or the Margaret series (starting with A Place for Margaret) and all of Hunter's other books - some MG, some YA, most taking place in the first half of the 20th Century in the greater Toronto area, then you're missing out on some amazing Canadiana.

I devoured Hunter's books when I was younger and still make time to reread them. She was awarded the Order of Canada a short while before she passed away, for her contribution to Canadian Literature. As her daughter says:

When she was younger, "she gathered her courage and sent some of her writing to L.M. Montgomery, treasuring the response, when it came: "Do keep writing, you have a lively imagination, characters ring true". L.M. Montgomery further advised her to "Keep up your education" – but university was out of the question for a child from such a poor family."

She didn't actually publish her first book until she was 59!

The first time I visited Toronto, I looked for all the places I knew from her books, but many of them just don't have the 1930s flavour I'd expected. I know, I know, it was silly to expect the corner of Yonge and Bloor streets to look the way they'd had back then, but she was my main frame of reference for the city. Swansea, Swansea!

Friday, 9 September 2011

First Campaign Challenge and Theresa Milstein's Celebration

First Challenge of the Third Writers' Platform Building Campaign is here!

Right off, here's my entry, tweaked from my novel Out of the Water:

The door swung open.

Her hands shook, though she could not tell if it was anticipation or apprehension.

There was a narrow atrium, and beyond that another doorway. She advanced a step, and a shadow filled the arch. 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. He did not stop, but circled around with her in his arms, nudging her through the archway, 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.

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 allowed to give in to that want, when her family would gainsay it?

The door swung shut.

The rules were as follows: "Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, "The door swung open". These four words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut" (also included in the word count). For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!"

I did all three!

Don't forget - Theresa's having a celebration! Join in the fun and you might win!

Thank you to Deirdra Eden-Coppel for this lovely award!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Claire Reminds Us To Shower, or, How To Take A Break and Live To Tell About It

So I was on vacation. Three weeks, in which I logged on to the internet for maybe half an hour every three days, just to watch my lovely, pre-scheduled blog posts go up. Oh, how lazy I was.

The only bit of work I did was editing Out of the Water. And wow, did that thing need editing. It's the first time since I finished drafts 1 through 4 (or whatever number I might be at by now) that I'd read the whole thing straight through. Not that I'm done, by any means.

Working during a vacation - especially when there's sunshine and sand and sea involved - does not come easily.

Drinks by the water? I'm there!

I've got roughly 50 pages left to go, and then comes Part Two: Entering the Scribbles. A lot of it, thankfully, is pure deletion. Yay for a descending word count!

All that being said, please, everyone, while you're keeping your Butt in Chair, heed Claire LeGrand's advice: Remember to Shower.

Huge congratulations and confetti rains go to Kristen Callihan, who's gathering NYT bestselling author blurbs for her upcoming release, Firelight. Check it all out on agent Kristin's blog. I love her description of Firelight: "dark gothic Victorian historical romance with an unusual paranormal twist".

Those genre-defying books are always the best ones.

Oh, and these are for you, Joy; market that takes place every Tuesday near Kadınlar Denizi, Kuşadası, Turkey:




Sunday, 4 September 2011

Random Photos From My Vacation That Relate To My Novel

Yes, that's right, it's a photo blog today!
What about your ROW80 goals, I hear you ask. What about your August goals on the Forum?

Hmm, yes. I was supposed to edit the novel while I was on vacation, wasn't I?

Editing, yes, yes... [insert wise authorly chin stroking]

Out of 276 manuscript pages of Out of the Water, I have a little less than 100 left to fix/slash/change. Better than nothing, no? Editing on the plane is a lot harder than I thought (planes make author sleepy. Hey look, free drinks!).

Forget that, let's move on to the photos! And thank you to everyone who commented on my blog posts while I was away; I promise to come around and visit all of you!


Where Rosa lands at Scala Nuova...


Sunset as they leave...


Trying to capture an authentic photo without any anachronistic cruise ships in the shot...


The Galata/Genoese Tower. Rosa lives in this neighbourhood.


Brother Arcturus' church in the Galata neighbourhood.
This really is a 15th century church that's still standing. Unfortunately inaccessible on the day I visited.


The view from the tower. Rosa never goes up the tower, of course, but would see this view from the top of the hill. Please concentrate on the Topkapi Palace in the centre of the photo and ignore all the modern buildings!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne and Good Aliens vs Bad

From Entangled Publishing comes a new sci fi romance by Aubrie Dionne! Aubrie's been holding a virtual blog tour all month to celebrate her new release.

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind's last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew — a planet that won't be reached in Aries' lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.

But Aries has other plans.

When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates — humans who escaped Earth before its demise — are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet's native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price.

The life of the man she loves.


What about good aliens vs bad? Here's what Aubrie has to say:

I've always wanted to meet aliens. Real aliens from another planet. But as I get older (and after watching several episodes of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, and going to a lecture by a real life contactee), I'm not so sure I want them to show up in my lifetime, or even at all.

Sure they could befriend us, or even teach us advanced technology, but they could also want to control us, steal our planet, or ignite natural disasters. They could probe us with their strange experimentations, or change us into pod people.

Do I really want to take the risk that aliens will be good and not evil?

For fun, I've come up with movies that portray aliens in both veins.

Let's talk about the movies with "good" aliens first:

1. E.T. - Although E.T. scared the heebeegeebees out of me, I knew deep down he was a good alien. He helped the kids out and healed them, and all he really wanted was to go home. So yes, I'd meet him if I could help him out. As long as he doesn't appear in my closet one night!

2. The Last Starfighter - Who wouldn't want to win a video game and be recruited to fight an intergalactic war? Centauri was the best. He looked like an average old man, but when you checked the rear view mirror, he was actually an alien recruiter in disguise. A good alien, to be exact, one that believed in Alex's abilities. I'd shake Centauri's hand any day.

3. Enemy Mine – Even though the alien was the enemy in the beginning of this movie, I was touched by how he developed a friendship with Willis (Dennis Quaid). Willis loved him so much, he raised the alien's son as his own. I'd play a game of football with this alien boy any time.

4. Starman - (With the famous Jeff Bridges) I loved this romantic sci fi movie! Not only did the Starman befriend and love Jenny, he also provided her with an unborn son with the DNA of her long dead husband. How cool is that? Yeah, I wouldn't be afraid of the Starman.

Okay, now for the baddies:

1. Alien/Aliens - Probably the worst and nastiest of the aliens in the movies, EVER. I would never want to meet one of these guys. This movie gave me nightmares growing up, yet I watched it over and over again! (Go, Ripley!)

2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers - This movie made me think. The alien pods created a society of people without emotions, and as a flute teacher, my job would probably be obsolete. That's the scariest thing of all!

3. Predator - When the hunter becomes the hunted! Only Arnold can beat these guys. Not only are they more technologically advanced, but they are bigger and stronger (but not prettier) than us. And all they want to do is save our skulls for their alien ship mantle. No way. If real aliens are anything like these guys, then stay away!

4. Mars Attacks - My favorite part of this movie was when they had an announcement saying they came in peace going, as they blasted everyone to smithereens. These aliens were only out to conquer, and they had no concern for human life.

In conclusion, if there really are aliens out there, would you take the risk to meet them?

An excerpt from Paradise 21!

"Might as well stay here and make camp for the night."
His casual tone stung her composure. How could he talk of such mundane things when they'd almost been captured, when she'd touched him so tenderly?
"We'll let them get farther away," Striker explained, reasonable as always. "We're going in their direction tomorrow."
The sting of rejection grew, burning a hole in her heart. "Why?"
"Why what?"
Her lips trembled. "Why not kiss me like you did before?"
"I can't." He shook his head, and the air cooled between them; so much so, Aries wondered if the desert had turned into deep space.
He'd teased her with such affection before, it was cruel to take it away. "I don’t understand," she said, wishing she didn't care, wishing she could stop all the emotions he'd started in her heart.
Aries caught a glimpse of pain etched in the wrinkles around his eyes. Striker turned away and started pulling supplies out of his backpack. "I can't do this."
"Do what?"
Striker shook his head and Aries prompted, "Can't kiss me, can't trust me? What?"
"I can't allow myself to get tangled up with someone. Not again."
The thoughts of Striker with another woman confused her. On the New Dawn, everyone had one lifemate and that was it. "You mean you loved someone before?"
Striker's hand tightened on the backpack. "I trusted someone a long time ago, allowed myself to love, if you will. She hurt me so much I lost my entire life and ended up here. I can't experience that kind of pain again."
Aries clasped her hand over her heart. "I'm so sorry."
He waved her apology off as if it meant nothing. "It's a tough world, Aries. And it's dangerous to love. If I were you, I'd keep my heart well-guarded, because you never know when it will affect your decisions, when it will make you weak."
Aries couldn't take his advice. Watching him talk about his past made her realize she'd already given up her heart.
He had it.

Want to know what happens next? Paradise 21 is out now!

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