Showing posts from February, 2012

Interview with Barbara Rogan, and a Neil Gaiman Pep Talk, before Saint David's Day

nterview! With the amazing Barbara Rogan!

I first met Barbara through the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (thank you, Diana Gabaldon), and recently participated in her Revising Fiction Workshop, which helped me no end when I was trying to finalise the edits for Out of the Water (also, thanks to Matthew, I'm going to revise my query again!). And now, here's Barbara, first as an author, and then as an editor:

As an author...
Which is the most embarrassing song, book, movie or TV show that you love?

I watch those high-end real-estate reality shows, "Selling New York" and the like, which is pure voyeurism: seeing how the 1% live and imagining myself in those houses.

Which of your characters is most like you?

There's some of me in all of them, including (or especially) the villains. I do feel a great affinity with one character from my second book, Café Nevo: Emmanuel Yehoshua Sternholz a 72-year-old waiter in a Tel Aviv café. Sternholz is always there, sweeping …

Matthew Critiques My Query! More Questions, and An Award

uestions! More questions! I've mixed up a few from Cherie and from Julie:

1. What's your favourite item of clothing and why?

Leggings. I'm really excited that they're back.

2. If you could have any exotic or fantastical pet, what would you have?

Misha mentioned a cat-sized dragon...

3. What is your current writing project? Ayten's story, Rome, Rhymes and Risk (historical romance, set in 1493):
Ayten, an Ottoman girl kidnapped as a slave, is rescued and embarks on a voyage across the Mediterranean with her new friends, on their way to join Columbus' second voyage. She finds herself falling for the man who owns the ship: Devran, the son of the Grand Vizier.

Exiled for a crime he did not commit, Devran's also got one secret: before Ayten was kidnapped, her father had arranged for her to marry Devran.

Devran's been in love with Ayten for months - but having met him only after his exile, Ayten believes him a penniless rake. Their ship docks for a week at Venice…

Outlander Fun Facts, Tolkien and Jo Bourne, Sam Sykes, and Eleven More Questions

riday fun facts! That's the name of the fun new weekly feature Karen has on her Outlandish Observations blog. They're all Outlander-related, of course, but interesting even if you haven't read the novels, including titbits about 18th Century printing presses, poisonous tomatoes, what a bodhran sounds like, electric eels, and more.

[Don't forget the Campaign Challenge! My post is below the post about Talli. If you like my entry, please click on Like on Rach's page - I'm number 24]

I've been distracted by reviewing former blog posts for Pinterest, and noticed that I barely knew how to format a blog post when I first started, in 2007. Some of my links are spelled out, and there are hardly any images - some posts are only one one sentence long! One of the first to feature an image was the post where I talked of discovering a photo of my character Austin, from the MG The Face of A Lion. Along the way, I found a quote from Joanna Bourne, featuring Tolkien, on the…

Romance Book Covers and Talli Roland's Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts

on't forget to take a look at my challenge entry below, if you're part of Rach's campaign!

Abebooks did a round up of romance book covers over the years, featuring recurring motifs of nurses, uncomfortable embraces, floating heads, another tropes. While the article generally deplores the kind of 'art' that's graced the covers of this genre over the years, it also seems to reinforce the point that these novels are mostly about fantasizing and escapism - as is science fiction and fantasy.

Er, no. There are worlds in those stories, and there can be just as much character development and interaction as in any other genre of story. They're not all fluff.

Unfortunately, they're right about the old covers: "Just like your favorite sci-fi novel will often be adorned with outdated fonts, blinding color schemes, multi-headed monsters and embarrassingly scantily-clad space-vixens, you’ll similarly rarely find a subtle romance cover. No tasteful muted tones, no…

Ayten and Devran in the First Campaigner Challenge of Rach's Fourth Writers' Campaign

ampaign challenge!

Shadows crept across the wall. Devran picked up her quill and twirled it. "I was banished to Smyrna."
"Yes." Orange ink splattered onto his knee. "I was there last autumn."
The quill came close to her dress. "So that's how you knew everyone at my father's funeral." She pushed his hand aside and the quill fell on the sand.
"I wasn't long in Smyrna. My mother took ill and -"
"You said it'd been years since she'd passed away. Or was that a lie?"
"I was not lying, Ayten," he said, rising. The sunset behind cast his body into shadow. "I don't tell falsehoods or embellish my words. That would be the task of a poet." He tossed the quill beside her.
"Tell me the story then, and we'll see what poetry comes of it. A young girl, lost in the city. The spoilt son of the Grand Vizier, who takes advantage of her innocence -"
"Be careful wh…

Surprise ROW80 Update, A Question About Sailing, and What Magdalena Looks Like

ow that I've signed up for the campaign challenges, I'll miss my Sunday ROW80 updates this week and later on in March, as I'll be posting Monday. Wish me luck with the first challenge!

So here's a quick update: I've gotten a few more scenes under my belt, and a little more research reading - which reminds me:

If you were sailing from Constantinople all the way to Spain, in 1493, and had left rather in a hurry, what sorts of items would you need in your cabin? Items you might purchase in an Athens market. Candles? Extra clothing? A knife? A lantern? Something else?
I've also been agonizing over this month's Writers' Exercise on the Forum. Something about writing a metaphorical bedroom scene...

Meanwhile, though, I'm closer to finding an exact image of Magdalena, Rosa's mother. The timeline goes like this - Santiago and Magdalena meet in London in the 1470s. Their only child is Rosa, who goes on to marry Baha, as told in Out of the Water. They resc…

Eleven - no, Twenty-two - Interesting Questions and ROW80

ag! I'm it!

Thanks to Kaylie for posing these interesting questions:

1) What is your most embarrassing moment?

Aha, you think I'm going to reveal that here? I'll think of another one though... there might be something book related... ah yes. I'm a rather bad (read: terrified) public speaker. My brain pulls a Homer Simpson, and disappears. So one day, in eighth grade, I had to do a book review, in front of the class. I'd been warned that we'd lose marks for reading, so I tried not to look down at my notes and instead, out of sheer nervousness, went off on a rant about the author. Caught sight of my teacher's open-mouthed expression and promptly shut up. Afterwards, one of my classmates said, "I could see your knees shaking." Yes, thank you. I was aware.

2) If you had to play a sport as a career, which one would it be?

Good question! Something historical, like archery or swordfighting. I think I could do darts and archery rather well, but I'm not …

Origins Blogfest! and Pinterest

ery slow progress. Steady, but slow. I just want to sit there, eating that ice cream, and spend the weekend reading. I think I'll set aside next weekend as Reading Weekend, just to try to make a dent in the TBR hills, especially all my author friends' books .

Although, the other day, I came up with a new trick that seems so obvious, I don't know why I didn't think of it before. I was all stalled and lazy and just wanted to read, so I thought:

Why don't I WRITE the kind of scene I feel like READING?
And I did! I might post a snip, once I've done a little editing.

Then, the next day, I got a little distracted by my new Pinterest boards. It's like Tumblr, but with images only.

Here's one of the images I'm going to add on there, Quentin Blake's illustration for the Folio Society book bag:

And now... Origins!
This fun blogfest, which officially begins tomorrow, is hosted by DL Hammons, Alex Cavanaugh, Katie Mills, and Matthew MacNish.
"Post your own …

Fourth Writers' Platform-building Campaign! and Kate Kaynak's Latest

ate Kaynak's Operative is coming! This is the fifth book in the Ganzfield series, all about Maddie Dunn and the other G-positives who live at the Ganzfield training facility. I reviewed the third book, Legacy, here.

In the latest book, Maddie and the others (including sparks and minders - and Maddie's boyfriend, a telekinetic (who, because of what happened in the last book, is now afraid to touch her)) have to catch the person selling classified information about them to terrorists - before they become the targets. I'm looking forward to reading it this weekend!

And now... Rach Harrie's Fourth Writers' Platform-building Campaign is here!
"the Campaign is a way to link those of us in the writing community together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. The Campaigners are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platfo…

James Joyce and the latest ROW80 Update

n 1 January, the published works of James Joyce came into the public domain. Apparently his grandson and only living relative, Stephen Joyce, used to keep a tight rein on all Joyce's works, but now that his published novels and stories are in the public domain, they can be (among other uses) freely quoted from.

If anyone knows, please tell me - can't executors of a literary estate keep 'buying' the copyright? That is, if Stephen Joyce was oh so controlling over his grandfather's estate, could he not have kept renewing the copyright?

I first read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in my early teens. I had a sweatshirt that featured Joyce and jokingly referred to Beckett going out in the middle of the night to get pizzas. Or something like that. Tried to Google it, but can't find the exact text, so here're Joyce and Sylvia Beach at Shakespeare & Company in Paris:

(image from Princeton Magazine)
Here's the lyrical opening to Portrait:
"Once upo…

Messy Edits, Helen MacInnes and Kristen Callihan's Firelight

y latest update for ROW80:

If slow and steady wins the race, I might have something tangible by the end of this round. I started with 25 scenes to fill in and I've done close to 10 of them already. I hope I don't cringe when I come to type them up. I do still love the story and the characters, and that's always been my benchmark for whether an MS is worth sticking with.

But look at all the scribbled paper edits I have to deal with once I've typed up the missing scenes:

The opening:

A few blurry shots of the worst messes:

Frodo gets in on the act:

"Keep this page":

Helen MacInnes' books are coming back into print! I really hope they reprint and publicise Friends and Lovers.

I picked up this novel at a book fair or secondhand bookstore years and years ago and fell in love with it - with the story, with the characters - on the first page. None of the handful of other MacInnes books I've read have had that same effect. Every few years I reread Friends and Lover…

Charles Dickens, and Getting To Know You Blogfest

wo hundred years ago on 7 February, Charles Dickens was born. If I was in London, I might try to get tickets for the bicentenary dinner at the Dickens Museum.

"In celebration of the birth of Charles Dickens 200 years ago, a dinner will be held at Mansion House.
The evening will commence with a sherry reception at 6.45pm, followed by a three-course dinner at 7.30pm with wines and coffee. Carriages at 10.30pm.
Featuring Dickensian entertainment led by Sir Patrick Stewart." (emphasis mine)
Wonder what carriages means? Do you get driven home in style? How come you don't get picked up, too?

Sometime back, during NaNo, J. L. Campbell hosted a getting to know you blogfest for the romantic suspense group of Rach Harrie's Writers Platform-building Campaign. I came across this the other day on Tara's blog, and thought I'd answer the questions.

Only, of course, I'm going to do them from a historical romance point of view...

1. Name two historical romance authors who ins…

Neil Gaiman Writes Back, Insecure Writers, and a Shower Curtain Story

umping up and down:

Neil Gaiman wrote back!

Hope this catch sways Gaiman towards taking me on as copy editor (she says wistfully).

Insecure Writers Support Group (thanks Alex!)
All this is very timely as I'm in the midst of editing insecurity. So many missing scenes (25 to be exact) to draft for Rome, Rhymes and Risk, and each time I sit down to write one all I hear is a negative inner critic cackling at my efforts.

I know, I know, just quiet that critic with a little whisky latte, right? But it doesn't always work. Yet the only way to plough through is to do so despite the insecurity. As John D. MacDonald said, in his introduction to Stephen King's Night Shift:
"The only way you learn how to write is by writing. ... Because that's the way it is done. Because there is not other way to do it. Not one other way. ... Compulsive diligence is almost enough. But not quite. You have to have a taste for words. Gluttony. You have to want to roll in them. You have to read mil…