Sunday, 29 July 2012

WRiTE CLUB, Contest!, ROW80, and Flogometer

WRiTE CLUB is on!

Hosted by DL Hammons, who had an awesome analogy the other day about black ice writing (the kind that makes readers skim your story), WRiTE CLUB:

"embodies simplicity, good-natured competition, and a lot of fun. Over the course of twelve weeks we’ll be holding weekly bouts to determine winners that will advance to the play-offs, which will ultimately lead to a single champion.

Bouts between who... or what... you ask. Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted by anyone who wishes to take part, that's who. The submitted samples should be identified only by a pen name of your choosing (be creative) that nobody has ever seen before.

The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. It's a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, without having to suffer the agony of exposure. We'll start accepting these submissions today and will continue to take them during the entire twelve week preliminaries, but beginning on July 30th, the first WRiTE will be held."

Head on over to sign up on the WRiTE CLUB Linky List.

Guess what? My Show me the Words! contest was due to end Wednesday, but I've decided to extend it for all WRiTE CLUB participants - if you're signing up as a writer, or simply to vote, all you have to do to enter is mention that here in the comments!

There are prizes

20$ Amazon gift card (whichever Amazon you prefer)
Residents of the United States and Canada:
you can choose either the gift card or one of these two awesome books:
Hélène Boudreau's Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath
Kristen Callihan's Firelight

In other news, I've submitted the first chapter of Out of the Water to Flogging the Quill's Flogometer. Just got another two rejections in the mail for this story, so I'm worried about what kind of flogging Rosa will receive. Wish her luck!

By the way, if you are in the midst of editing (and speaking of flogging), then you'll know, as Sam Sykes does, that the editing process looks like this, and that "your relief at finishing the book is immediately counteracted by the certainty that you have just written seven hundred pages of complete nonsense. This is confirmed as you peruse through it, turning each error and clumsy sentence into a scourge with which to flagellate yourself."

I can't speak for myself, because (ROW80:) I've been drafting like mad rather than editing, and now I'm even thinking of signing up for the Three Day Novel Contest (running since 1977!), to barrel through another shiny new idea. Might be setting up too many pots on the stove here...

Don't miss it: My review of Talli Roland's Construct a Couple, coming soon to the One Hundred Romances blog.

And now, another award, thanks to Melanie! This one's for Zan Marie and Sara, for always coming by. Love seeing your comments, ladies!

Favourite colour: Purple and yellow
Favourite animal: Cats
Favourite number: Never really chose one. Let's say 19, for my birthday
Favourite drink: Latte!
Facebook/Twitter Locations: Facebook. I'm not on Twitter, so here's my Tumblr
Favourite passion: Reading
Giving or receiving: Giving is kind of fun. Receiving books is always a treat, though!
Favourite pattern: I like Melanie's answer: "Plaid. I love it. Especially if it’s on a kilt."
Favourite day of the week: One where I've written. And not thought "I suck."
Favourite flower: I love the smell of jasmine

I'll add a question for everyone: what's your favourite summer activity?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Edgar Allan Poe, and Three Awards

Thank you blogger friends!

Thank you to Gina at Diary of a Writer in Progress for the Fabulous Blog Ribbon and the Be Inspired Award!

And Melanie at Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams for the Illuminating Blogger Award!

I always have trouble with the passing on the awards part - everyone's got such colourful, detailed, entertaining, exciting blogs! Pick up an award or ribbon if you happen to have come by - perhaps you'd like to mention my ongoing Show me the Words! contest - there's still time to enter!

It seems all I've got to do is share one random fact about myself. Actually, I've got Ten Things I've Done That No One Else Has! One of the items off that list was: While working as a girl friday at a fashion magazine, I gave myself the authority to pull an ad just days before publication, because they had spelled Hemingway with two Ms! I called the company and suggested it'd be better if they changed it...

Speaking of Hemingway, I've got photos to share from another author's house - Poe's house in Philadelphia, which I visited on Fourth of July weekend:
Poe lived for a few years in the house on the left

here's the back garden

and the back door

sign outside the house

massive mural outside the house (and me!)

bit of an explanation, about how Poe lived here with his wife Virginia and his aunt/mother-in-law

imagine the street beyond full of horses, carriages, market vendors...

the door from the kitchen to the cellar, which featured in the story The Black Cat

the reading room, designed by the historic site according to his specifications

another view of the reading room

I learned that Baudelaire translated many of Poe's works into French

King, on Poe

Wilde, on Poe

Poe, with a cat (mural on an inside wall)

printed copy of a poem Virginia wrote to Poe

"And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door!"

one last thing - a sign a few blocks down, about the Barrymores; you learn something new every day!

Which authors' homes have you visited?

P.S.: ROW80 update: I've been getting a bit discouraged again, but still keeping up with my morning pages. Nutschell gave me a great idea though - it's not that I'm ignoring Ayten and her story, it's that I'm gaining distance from the manuscript.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Lucky 7 Writing Excerpt, and a Mysterious Old Portrait


Adam tagged all of us who caught his post in the Lucky Seven meme (he's got some great teaser snips, go see!).

The usual, go to page 77 of your MS, 7 lines down, then share the next 7 lines. Since I've been fulfilling half my ROW80 goals, of drafting for Fred and Lyne's story, I'm going to share from that. Except it's all in a notebook at the moment, so there is no page 77. I'll go with page 7 instead; the first ever bit of the story that's been typed!

Fred is in the midst of telling Lyne about the curse that turned him into Beast...
"'We were twins, but my brother came first, by two minutes. And when we were 21, my father told us of the curse. All down the line, every generation, that's when they were told. Some tried to fight, either before the change or once they'd become the beast. All failed.
'You haven't asked yet why I went to Lady Cockerell's masquerade that night. I didn't go because I was ignorant of the curse. I didn't go because I was safe, being the younger brother. I went because he'd chosen not to accept his destiny.'
'But why should you --'
'For family. For honour. I would fight, as every generation for a thousand years had fought. I had one secret strength they hadn't had: I believed in you.'"
Ah, but what if Lyne refuses the call to be his Beauty?

I'll turn around and do the same, tagging anyone who's read this far! If you haven't got a wip you're ready to share, here's a bit of a springboard:

I saw this portrait in our hotel in Chester, England (back in May). It was a Best Western, but renovated from a 19th Century railway hotel, and had paintings up and down the walls along the wide staircases. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

I wonder who Elfrida was?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Encyclopedia Brown, Clarissa Draper's Book!, and a Meme About My WIP

Sad news this week: Donald J. Sobol, creator of Encyclopedia Brown, has died:

"Encyclopedia's success wasn’t only due to his problem-solving prowess. Credit his best pal (and girl Friday) Sally Kimball: older, stronger and sometimes smarter. She also could stand up to Bugs, and was Encyclopedia's bodyguard. That was a novel premise, to give that role of “the muscle” to a girl."

I wasn't great at solving the mysteries, I have to admit. But I loved going "ohhhh, of course!" when I finally read the answer.

I've always loved mysteries, and tried my hand at writing a murder mystery short story a few months ago. The storytelling itself needs major editing, but I think the mystery is intriguing...

Speaking of mysteries, I finished Clarissa Draper's The Scholes Key the other day.

three of the books I've read this month
"All across London, single mothers are vanishing. Margaret Hill, mother of two, walks out of her house and is never seen again. A month later, Carrie-Anne Morgans takes her two-year-old son for a walk in the park and disappears, leaving him alone in his stroller. Lorna McCauley leaves her London flat in the early hours of the morning to buy medicine for her sick child and does not return.
Newly-promoted Detective Inspector Theophilus Blackwell is assigned the case of Lorna McCauley, that at first seems to be a simple case of mid-life crisis and child abandonment.
Elsewhere in London, MI5 analyst, Sophia Evans, is working undercover to catch an animal rights group responsible for targeted bombings. As her case (and her personal life) fall to pieces, she receives a strange envelope in the mail. It contains a picture of Lorna McCauley s lifeless face along with a daunting code.
Now the police and MI5 are forced to work together to stop the murders, and Sophia must find her way into the terrifying mind of a serial killer."
If you're looking for an intriguing mystery involving codes, and an original cast of characters (love Theo Blackwell's heartbreaking backstory), grab this one!


Thanks to Melissa for the Be Inspired tag!

1. What is the name of your book? I hate to say it, but rather than talk of Rome, Rhymes and Risk (which I haven't turned to in two weeks now (bad ROW80er!) or even Out of the Water, which is out on queries, I'm going to blab about my shiny new idea, which has no title as yet, but is referred to in a most original fashion as Fred and Lyne's Story.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from? This scene came from a dream: A man and a woman in a store room in a cave, with the door barred, and antagonists on the other side of the door, doing their darndest to get in. Somehow I knew that the man had been a beast, and that there were even more evil creatures in the depths of the cave, and they had to be defeated somehow.

3. In what genre would you classify your book? Contemporary Paranormal Romance. My first!

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose? Here's where it gets tough. Originally, I'd considered Roman Grosjean the racer for Fred. But then I saw a random photo of Henry Cavill (I've never seen him act!), and thought, maybe he could play Fred. But I have no idea about Lyne, yet. I know what she looks like, but haven't come across her image anywhere.

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book. Not one sentence, but forgive me, I wrote this mere seconds ago:

When Lyne, fresh out of graduate school, accepts a position at an archaeological dig at a seaside cave site in England, she might have signed up for more than she expected. The beast who guards the caverns gets too close for comfort, but rescues her during a disaster at sea. When she kisses him in gratitude, he turns into a man.
Now he wants her to be Beauty to his Beast, but the evil force at the heart of the caverns is bent on revenge for the loss of its servant. Can Lyne work with the beast long enough to defeat the horror of the caves? And what happens when she finds herself falling in love?

 I'm sorry, Nathan! I have to ask these rhetorical questions as I'm still writing the book - I don't know the ending yet!

6. Is your book already published / represented? Not yet finished. To wit:

7. How long did it take you to write your book? I've got over 10,000 words and I've been drafting for a month now, in every morning since 1 June (except for one three-day weekend) (ROW80 check in!). Still a loooong way to go.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours? Er, I don't know. Perhaps Kait Nolan's Red, which was a take on Little Red Riding Hood. If there are other books that sound similar that you think I should read, please let me know!

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book? Well, besides the original version by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve... My own dream, I suppose. And possibly the fact that I spent a month reading a tale here, a tale there, out of Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book. I gave away quite enough with that synopsis/blurb/teaser. I've been thinking of it as the druids/beauty and the beast/1000+ year curse/legend modern archaeological romance.

If you've read this far, consider yourself tagged (if you like)!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Re-discovering Your Characters (and Plot Bunny Invasions)

Kait Nolan's been plagued by plot bunnies recently, and I must say, so have I.

I haven't touched Ayten's story in a couple of weeks now, poor girl, and I haven't even returned to my actual plot bunny story featuring Rosa and Baha (and, okay, Ayten and Devran are in that one too).

But I have been plugging along with my shiny new idea, which is why I'm glad I made that part of my ROW80 goals. This one's set in England, possibly Wales or Scotland (I've got to decide on a definite location soon, if nothing else for the accents of my local secondary characters (I need a seaside location with a network of caves and lots of local legends (well, that part's not hard in the British Isles))).

One of my other shiny sparks involves the Earl of Rochester; it'll be a long time before I get around to delving deeper into that idea, but meanwhile I've got a history crush on him.

However, I discovered something interesting: all I've known about Rochester visually are copies of portraits available online. And he looks gorgeous in those portraits.

While we were in London, though, I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, and saw my favourite portrait of Rochester, by Sir Peter Lely, in colour and in person. And you know what?

I'm not sure if you can tell from my photos, but...

Rochester from a distance

Rochester close-up 1

Rochester's plaque

Rochester close-up 2

...he looks young!

I got so used to thinking of him as this worldly-wise poet, having affairs, duelling, getting into scrapes, disguising himself in all kinds of ways, that I forgot how young he was when living through all that. He's at least five years younger than me in this portrait, if not more.

I think if I ever do come around to writing that story, I'll have a slightly different perspective of him now.

What sorts of revelations have you had concerning your characters?

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dissecting Jonathan Franzen, and Photos of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria

The other day, Nathan Bransford had an awesome post about Jonathan Franzen.

Apparently, Franzen causes contention here and there; we've dissected Franzen on the writers' forum before, more than once.

I've only read The Corrections and, I have to say, I wasn't bowled over. The characters and story left me cold. Here's what I said on the forum:

"When I read about helpless characters in (for instance) Steinbeck, I do not have the constant impulse to fling the book against the wall. With Franzen's characters, it was all I could do to rein in that impulse.

I can not abide indecisive lily-livered people in real life, and certainly cannot bring myself to empathise with an entire book full of them. Characters who constantly refuse to speak up about their own desires, who constantly subvert the hopes and thoughts of others, and who leave a wasteland of pointlessness behind them. Ick.

I realise that all this only goes to show that despite myself, Franzen's writing drew me in. But I'm not sure that's accurate - I certainly never would have picked up, let alone finished, this book if it hadn't been a book club choice. As an example, one of my book club choices was Steve Martin's The Object of Beauty. Another set of odd characters who might not necessarily have been the kindest or 'goodest', but I quite liked being in their world. Franzen's world made me want to kick his characters in the kiester.

The one line, the absolute only one line, that sticks with me as an example of brilliant imagery, was the observation he gave to one of the characters that the flowers planted around office buildings are too weak to support us, that you 'can't turn to them' in moments of crisis.

I guess that's sort of an apt metaphor for how I feel about his writing - it has it's place, but I wouldn't turn to his world view, and especially not his characters, in moments of crisis."

Meanwhile, Bransford says: "The moment that made it click for me was almost a throwaway. [Franzen] was talking about that feeling you have after you've stayed up an hour too late reading a book, and how much better you feel after doing that than when you've stayed up too late watching the World Series of Poker...

We do live in a world of tremendous distraction. We have all but eliminated boredom. Every stoplight is a moment to check our e-mail, every wait in a supermarket line is a chance to sneak a peek at Twitter, every time our dinner companion uses the restroom is a chance to Instagram...

Societal pressures are on more and more work, more and more content, more and more connection, more and more communication. Where is the pressure for more and more thinking?... Franzen thinks. I think he fears a world where people don't."

Now, that I can relate to. I guess it's why I've got schedules, am not on Twitter (yet!), and love uninterrupted reading and writing time (morning pages are coming along great!). And no-internet uninterrupted vacation time too.

Here're some photos from a walk through the Yorkshire Dales, back in May, and a ride on the Settle-Carlisle Railway:

Bolton Abbey

A duck on the way...


Panorama of the dales

Tree in field

Bull in field

Entering the village of Linton on Craven

Linton on Craven, where we spent the night in a converted barn, with dinner at the Fountaine Inn

Lambing time!

Morning view

View from the train, Settle-Carlisle railway

Cumbria from the train

Those white dots are sheep!

An isolated farm, thousands of feet up

How do you unwind from screen time?

By the way, we're calling for reviewers over at One Hundred Romances. Come join the fun!

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
  • 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