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?


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

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

  • A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell
  • A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Spun by Catherine McKenzie
  • Sauron Defeated - Book 9 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • Lonely Planet guide to Switzerland
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Journal of Inklings Studies
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman)
  • 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***
  • Le livre des Baltimore by Joel Dicker
  • Paddington Bear All Day by Michael Bond
  • Beowulf and Sellic Spell by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Mrs Whippy by Cecelia Ahern
  • The Story of Kullervo by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Going Back by T. L. Watson
  • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (abridged, darn it)
  • Emily's House
  • The Hockey Song
  • The End of All Things by John Scalzi
  • A Christmas Story by Richard Burton
  • Histoire de Founex by Josiane Ferrari-Clément (skimmed)
  • Rabbit's Nap: A Lift-the-flap Book by Julia Donaldson
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg
  • La Verite sur l'affair Harry Quebert by Joel Dicker (loving this!)
  • How To Be A Man (and other illusions) by Duff McKagan
  • The War of the Ring - Book 8 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • Pop-up Peekaboo: Farm (DK publishing) (board book) (duh)
  • Paddington Bear Goes to Market by Michael Bond (board book)
  • Emily's Balloon by Komako Sakai
  • Bible stories and puzzles (in French) (board book)
  • The Last Chance Ball (a Word Wenches christmas anthology featuring Jo Bourne, Jo Beverley, etc.)
  • Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread but new edition)
  • CassaFire by Alex Cavanaugh
  • First and Second Things by C. S. Lewis
  • Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread but new edition)
  • So Anyway... by John Cleese
  • The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
  • Slowly, silently now the moon by Walter de la Mare (poem)
  • I can't work like this by Neil Gaiman (poem)
  • CassaStar by Alex Cavanaugh
  • Death of A Century: A Novel of the Lost Generation by Daniel Robinson
  • The Fly by William Blake (poem, reread)
  • Tyger, Tyger by William Blake (poem, reread)
  • The Christie Notebooks by John Curran
  • The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White
  • What to Expect in Baby's First Year
  • Baby's First Year for Dummies
  • secret beta 2!
  • The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
  • Chu's Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman (reread, many times)
  • Sacred Inwardness by Marilynne Robinson (essay)
  • New Statesman issue guest edited by Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman (I don't usually include magazines in this list but I read this one cover to cover)
  • The North Star is Nearer by Evelyn Eaton
  • Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King (loved My Pretty Pony)
  • Every Month Was May by Evelyn Eaton
  • Occasional Soulmates by Kevin Brennan
  • secret beta!
  • Smoke by Catherine McKenzie
  • In Two Aeroplanes Over the Sea by Amanda Palmer (poem)
  • Jim at the Corner by Eleanor Farjeon
  • Finding Fraser by kc dyer
  • Mother Tongue -- The Story of the English Language by Bill Bryson
  • The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • Absent in the Spring by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie
  • The Lord Fish by Walter de la Mare
  • The Going To Bed Book by S Boynton
  • The Nursery Rhyme Book by Andrew Lang
  • In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck
  • Subterranean Scalzi Super featuring To Sue the World (an original, very short Redshirts story available nowhere else) Muse of Fire Mallet of Loving Correction Lock In, Lost Chapters (available nowhere else) How I Proposed To My Wife: An Alien Sex Story An Election Judge Sn Goes Golfing Questions for a Soldier The Sagan Diary The Tale of the Wicked The God Engines You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop by John Scalzi
  • Emily Goes to Market by William Mayne
  • Many Moons by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (reread)
  • Colours Are Nice (Little Golden Book)
  • Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo by Judy Blume
  • The Wars by Timothy Findley (reread)
  • The Captive Diary of Catherine Logan by Mary Pope Osborne (Dear America)
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (reread)
  • The Poky Puppy (Little Golden Book) (abridged)
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (reread)
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • secret beta read 2
  • Pre-Fix: A Ciel Halligan Short Story by Linda Grimes
  • Hidden by Catherine Mackenzie
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
  • But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton
  • Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad by M. R. James (short story) (1904)
  • Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman (reread)
  • My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
  • Usborne board books
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson (so lovely)
  • Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico
  • secret beta read!
  • The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend
  • HELP! Food Allergies Coming To Dinner by Kait Nolan
  • This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak
  • The Owl Service by Alan Garner
  • Two Caravans by Monica Lewycka
  • Aunt Sass by P. L. Travers
  • An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (actually a few pages of the story, written by John Green for the film of his novel The Fault In Our Stars)
  • January Brings the Snow by Sara Coleridge (poem)
  • Kissing song by Neil Gaiman (poem)
  • The Mother by Nettie Palmer (poem)
  • William Tell Told Again by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Her Ladyship's Companion by Joanna Bourne
  • The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
  • Mes P'tits Contes, legends of Swiss cantons
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