Sunday, 3 February 2013

Empathising with Characters, Claire Legrand's Cover Reveal, and New Susan Mitchell Books!

ROW80 has not been going so well this week. I slacked off on both editing days (I was trying to catch up on a knit gift) and then finally managed a couple of hours on my 'off' day, Thursday (love my schedule!).

Except that, instead of typing up the missing scenes, or moving ahead with the on-screen editing, I printed the MS and tried to start reading it from the beginning. Oops.

Ended up with a Slash 'n' Burn of the first two chapters. Just when you think a scene is done and dusted, your realise your major flaw has come out to shine again: how to make the reader care about the main characters?

Anyone have any tips about how to achieve reader empathy from the start?

Claire Legrand is having a cover reveal week! I debated sharing a screenshot here, but that won't do it justice. You've got to go over and see the cover of The Year of Shadows for yourselves. Plus, there are prizes!

[Public service announcement: I've gotten an update on the Perrott's Folly charity drive: while it certainly is an older landmark and possibly worth restoring, its links to Tolkien seem to be dubious at best.]

Meanwhile, this is getting me very excited:

50th Anniversary Doctor Who with ALL THE DOCTORS

Who else is going to be doing the A-Z Challenge in April?

I am! Haven't yet decided on my theme though. Last year it was all books. So far I'm debating between Tolkien, art, more travel photographs, or... Not sure.

I might explore my Twitter favourites - no, seriously. The tweets I've favourited so far have all been items I've wanted to look deeper into, whether songs, new bands, medieval research, photos from space, images from Antarctica, or books I'd like to get. A sort of writing and musical hodgepodge, but one that fits the blog format more than the tumblr format (which seems to be mainly about images and oneliners, but looks so pretty, even down to the giant octopus that reminds me of my Kraken in Druid's Moon. And the .gifs! so many .gifs!)

There are already 460 bloggers signed up for the A-Z! It's going to be a busy month...


I've raved about Susan Mitchell's charming illustrations before - I got this adorable calendar of hers ages ago for my nephew - and now I find she's coming out with two new books:


What other books for wee ones have you enjoyed?

17 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We crossed over five hundred Challenge participants last night. Whoa!

Old Kitty said...

That was a weird cover reveal! LOL! It was some round-headed creature whizzing across some stripey drawing... did I get that right!?

Anyway! Yay for picking the A-Zing challenge!!

The little poppets look and sound so adorable!

For me it's got to be Winnie the Pooh's EH Shephard illustrations for the little people! Take care
x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deniz .. I signed for the A-Z (I waited a few days!) .. and am 500+ or somewhere!! I have my theme worked out ...

Old Kitty has the ayes .. Winnie the Pooh and his honey pot ..

Cheers Hilary

Tia Bach said...

I am doing the A to Z, too, so look forward to seeing you there! I loved it last year. Now to start pre-writing posts so I don't neglect my friends and family the whole month.

Characters -- such a tough question about empathy. Everything is so subjective. I have loved characters that other people hated. I think you have to create a character YOU care about and can empathize with and then hope for the best. If you pour your heart in, it's all you can really do. There is no perfectly relatable character.

Or so this is what I tell myself. ;-)

J.L. Murphey said...

No, I'm not participating in the A-Z this year either. Maybe next year again.

How do you get readers invested in your character... How do you become invested in something? Similar interests, similar fears, similar problems. The keyword here is something they can relate to. Something that hits a cord with them that they want answers to.

Zan Marie said...

Yowsers! 500+ A to Zers? Are you all crazy? No, I know better. And I know my limitations. I'd be blogging and nothing but blogging and I'm nearing a complete rough draft of my wip. I'm letting nothing get in my way... ; )

S.P. Bowers said...

Reader empathy from the start? That's one of my main problems. Anna comes across so cold at the beginning. Sigh.

Lara said...

I signed up for the A to Z challenge! It's my first year and I'm pretty excited, probably because I haven't fully grasped what I've gotten myself into... [g]

vbtremper said...

A-Z is too much for me but have fun and good luck, whatever theme you decide on. Hmm, getting the reader on your side is a tough one. Blake Snyder's advice is to make the hero relatable by giving her primal problems (life, death, survival, sex, protection of loved ones...).

amy kennedy said...

I can barely keep up with ROW80! Love her cover! The empathy thing...yeah. Blake Snyder's Save the Cat goes into that a little--which is where he came up with the title! I'm feeling your editorial write a scene...slash and burn pain. I'm right there with ya.

alberta ross said...

Yup I'm in for A-Z wouldn't miss it for worlds- will be fun:) - where does one find your books?

Nas said...

Well done on signing up on A-Z challenge, Deniz! Looking forward to your posts now.

All the best!

Carolyn Abiad said...

No A-Z for me. I'll just have fun reading your posts. <3

Joshua said...

I'm doing the A-to-Z. Still deciding on a topic and hoping to have time to get stuff prepped.

Deniz Bevan said...

That's crazy, Alex! Also, I have a scarf for you...

Oh, sorry, Kitty! No that was the post linking to the post with the awesome new cover.
I love Shephard's illustrations too!

Can't wait to see what your theme is, Hilary!

I think you're right, Tia and Jo! If we care about our characters, and share something with them, the reader will sense it.

Ooh, congratulations on being close to completion, Zan Marie!

But she has reason to be aloof, Sara! [s]

I was all over the place my first year, Lara. It really helps to have a theme!

Ooh, that's a good idea, Vicki! And thanks, Amy - I really have to get that book!

Aww, when they're published, I'll let you know, alberta...

Thanks, Nas and Carolyn!

J.L. Campbell said...

I think putting myself in my character's shoes from the get go helps me ensure they're in so much peril that other people can't help but want them to be okay.

Signed up for A-Z too. I know I've lost it since I have no time, but anyway...

Looked at the cover. I can't decide whether that little girl is in a snit or is contemplating something she shouldn't do. :)

Deniz Bevan said...

I can't wait to find out what the girl on the cover is doing, Joy!
Very good point about putting characters in peril - I always have a hard time raising the stakes because I want everything to go so smoothly!

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • Dead Cold by Louise Penny
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (annual reread)
  • Beowulf and Sellic Spell by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • The War of the Ring - Book 8 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • What to Expect in Baby's First Year
  • Baby's First Year for Dummies
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman)
  • Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison
  • Lessons for a Sunday Father by Claire Calman
  • The Magician by Somerset Maugham
  • Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
  • The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (skimmed last third)
  • A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak
  • Fatal Fallout by Lara Lacombe
  • secret beta read!
  • The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
  • Deadly Contact by Lara Lacombe
  • Carry On, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
  • The Floating Admiral by the Detection Club, including Christie, Sayers, Chesterton, etc.
  • Brief Lives, Sandman 8 by Neil Gaiman
  • Liza of Lambeth by Somerset Maugham
  • The Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona (I give up on finishing this; skimmed to the end)
  • Childe Harold by Lord Byron (listened to the parts of it set in Switzerland read aloud)
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • My Dancing Bear by Helene de Klerk
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  • The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
  • Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery
  • Tu Vas Naitre by Sylvia Kitzinger
  • Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves
  • secret beta read 2!
  • Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
  • The Caliph's Vacation by Goscinny (Iznogoud series; Canadian translation) (reread)
  • Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
  • Le Tresor de Rackham le Rouge by Herge (Tintin series) (reread)
  • Le Secret de la Licorne by Herge (Tintin series) (reread)
  • L'Affaire Tournesol by Herge (Tintin series) (reread)
  • The Bum by Somerset Maugham (short story)
  • The Colour of Magic, Discworld 1 by Terry Pratchett
  • Fables and Reflections Sandman 6 by Neil Gaiman
  • Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene
  • Once Upon an Heirloom by Kait Nolan (novella)
  • The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland
  • Snip, Snip Revenge by Medeia Sharif
  • Journey to an 800 Number by E. L. Konigsburg
  • various Neil Gaiman short stories on the An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer album (reread (well, this time in audio))
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (reread; actually this was an older edition, published under the original title of Ten Little N******)
  • Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Never Saw It Coming by Linwood Barclay
  • How To Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern
  • biographical note on Lord Peter Wimsey in reissue of Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers (on Gutenberg)
  • One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern
  • Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres
  • The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  • Temptation by Sandy Loyd
  • The Incorrigible Mr. Lumley by Aileen Fish
  • Effie's Outlaw by Karen Lopp
  • Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
  • The Christmas Crossing by Bev Petterson (short story)
  • secret beta read!
  • An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
  • Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie
  • Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
  • Emil In the Soup Tureen by Astrid Lindgren
  • Whales by Jacques Cousteau (excerpt essay from his book)
  • Tutankhamen's Tomb by Howard Carter (excerpt essay from his book)
  • Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
  • Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
  • Go the F*^$ To Sleep (board book)
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss (reread) (brought to you by Neil Gaiman: http://www.worldbuilders.org/our-next-stretch-goal-unlocks-at/neil-gaiman-reads-green-eggs-and-ham)
  • The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi
  • mini Twitter stories by Talli Roland (available here: http://advice.uk.match.com/dating-advice/enjoy-valentine%E2%80%99s-day-and-get-mentallydating?utm_expid=55691082-15.2L0G0ictTcSJ4BI9Srh77A.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fadvice.uk.match.com%2Fdating-advice)
  • The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter
  • Beloved Demons by Anthony Martignetti
  • Hands-on Therapy by T L Watson
  • Let Me Make Myself Plain by Catherine Cookson
  • The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham
  • Mystery of the Fat Cat by Frank Bonham
  • Spin by Catherine Mckenzie
  • Virgins by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (reread)
  • The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
  • The Ghost in the Window by Betty Ren Wright
  • The Progress of Love by Alice Munro
  • The Treason of Isengard - Book 7 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (reread)
  • Behind the Lines (poems) by A. A. Milne
  • the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (reread)
  • Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul
  • 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