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

  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
  • "I Give You My Body...": How I Write Sex Scenes by Diana Gabaldon
  • Fractured by Catherine McKenzie
  • The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
  • Maigret Chez les Flamands by Georges Simenon
  • Prince Wild-fire by G. K. Chesterton
  • Birthday Girls by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer
  • The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
  • No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien
  • BOSS: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - The Illustrated History, by Gillian G. Gaar
  • Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach
  • The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak
  • Lethal Lies by Lara Lacombe
  • The Mansfield Rescue by Beth Cornelison (skimmed)
  • beta read!
  • Killer Exposure by Lara Lacombe
  • What Makes My Cat Purr (board book)
  • Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (love this!)
  • Things That Go (board book)
  • Peppa Pig Visits the Hospital
  • Peppa Pig and Friends
  • Ox-Tales anthology
  • Colton Baby Homecoming by Lara Lacombe
  • Traumphysik by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • The Cookie Jar by Stephen King (short story)
  • short story by R. W. (unpublished)
  • The Rose on the Ash-Heap by Owen Barfield
  • English People by Owen Barfield
  • "Come Sing ye Light Fairy Things Tripping so Gay": Victorian Fairies and the Early Work of J.R.R. Tolkien by Dimitra Fimi (essay)
  • Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by J. K. Rowling
  • A Closed World: On By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Emily St John Mandel (essay)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • The Summing Up by Somerset Maugham (reread)
  • The New Adventures of William Tell by Anthony Horowitz
  • Gambled Away anthology featuring Jo Bourne, Rose Lerner, etc.
  • The Dust That Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres
  • The Bog Girl by Karen Russell (short story)
  • Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
  • The Favour by Clare O'Dea (short story)
  • Wizarding History by J. K. Rowling (short pieces on Pottermore)
  • Jack Palmer by Amanda Palmer (essay on http://myoldman.org/jack-palmer-by-amanda-palmer/)
  • All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes
  • One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • various issues of Amon Hen
  • How do artists make a living? An ongoing, almost impossible quest by Monica Byrne (essay)
  • The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy (poem)
  • Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham
  • Kill Me Quick by Meja Mwangi
  • A Pocketful of Rye by Agatha Christie
  • Little Miss Twins by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Mr Rush by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Mr Funny by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • Where the Exiles Wander: A Celebration of Horror by R. B.
  • How to Write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina (essay)
  • A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert Gertrude Bell (compiled by Georgina Howell)
  • Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome
  • Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A River Town by Thomas Keneally
  • Free Fall by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • New Europe by Michael Palin
  • Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
  • The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie (possibly a reread)
  • Husli the Dwarf
  • Winter Birds
  • Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (reread)
  • Wish I Might by Kait Nolan (novella)
  • A Walk in the Countryside A B C (National Trust and Nosy Crow Books)
  • My First Touch and Trace 1 2 3
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  • A Secret Vice by J. R. R. Tolkien (edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins)
  • A Pocket For Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • The Narrow Corner by Somerset Maugham
  • Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham
  • Le gout d'Istanbul (anthology) (skimmed)
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • Blue Nowruz by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
  • secret beta read!
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain
  • The Mewlips by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • Just for This Moment by Kait Nolan
  • To Err is Human -- To Float, Divine by Woody Allen (short story)
  • the collected works of Beatrix Potter (Folio Society edition, over 30 books)
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman) (only half read)
  • At Home by Bill Bryson
  • Millions of Cats by W Gag
  • Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
  • Discovering You by Brenda Novak
  • Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson
  • Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
  • Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame
  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  • The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
  • They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
  • The Creatures of Number 37 by John Watts
  • The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter (reread)
  • A Mother's Confession by Amanda Palmer (lyrics and liner notes)
  • Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
  • Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, in A Tolkien Compass
  • Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay (poem)
  • For my Wife, Navid by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • An Evening in Tavrobel by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • The Lonely Isle by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • Bilbo's Last Song by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem)
  • Ancrene Riwle, preface, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley (poem)
  • Absence of Mind by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Peoples of Middle-earth - Book 12 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Young Magicians edited by Lin Carter (anthology; includes two poems by J. R. R. Tolkien and all of rumble rumble rumble rumble drum belaboured by C. S. Lewis, referred to in The Last Battle)
  • Black and White Ogre Country by Hilary Tolkien
  • The Devil's Coach Horses by J. R. R. Tolkien (essay)
  • Guido's Gondola by Renee Riva and Steve Bjorkman
  • Save Our Public Universities by Marilynne Robinson (essay in Harper's Magazine)
  • Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh
  • Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
  • Career by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Human life in this century by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Willow by Anna Akhmatova (poem)
  • Sonnet LXVI by Shakespeare
  • Sir Walter Raleigh to His Son (poem)
  • Fair Jenny by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • MacPherson's Farewell by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • World's End, the collected Sandman No. 8 by Neil Gaiman
  • O Wert Thou In The Cauld Blast by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • The War of the Jewels - Book 11 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Rolling English Road by G. K. Chesterton (poem)
  • The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
  • A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four by Thomas Hardy
  • The Hierophant by Lee-Ann Dalton (short story)
  • The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (reread)
  • Lonely Planet guide to Switzerland
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  • beta read!
  • Ode on Venice by Lord Byron (poem)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Lucky by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Trouble by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Homage to Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway (short story; reread but I really don't remember it after 20 years)
  • The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (reread)
  • Sing a Long Children's Songs
  • Emily's First Christmas
  • Up At the Villa by Somerset Maugham (novella)
  • Telling Stories by Tim Burgess
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Marble Collector by Cecilia Ahern
  • Sophie's Throughway by Jules Smith
  • Baby Animals (Little Golden Books)
  • The House That Jack Built (Little Golden Books)
  • Scuffy the Tugboat (Little Golden Books)
  • The Saggy Baggy Elephant (Little Golden Books)
  • Morgoth's Ring - Book 10 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Who's A Pest by Crosby Bonsall
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • The Case of the Hungry Stranger by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • extracts from the diary of John Evelyn (Volume 1 of 2)
  • extracts from Lord Byron's letters about Villa Diodati
  • Pippin the Christmas Pig by Jean Little
  • Ite Missa Est by Anthony Martignetti
  • The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Red Angel by G. K. Chesterton (essay)
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
  • The Boy Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was by the Brothers Grimm
  • The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • Preludes by Wordsworth (extracts read aloud)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves
  • Dance Me A Dream by Kait Nolan (ARC)
  • Once Upon A Coffee by Kait Nolan
  • England and Switzerland, 1802 by William Wordsworth (poem)
  • Once Upon A New Year's Eve by Kait Nolan
  • short story by Becky Morgan (http://forums.compuserve.com/discussions/Books_and_Writers_Community/Writers_Exercises/Becky_Morgans_December_X/ws-books/85291.1?nav=messages)
  • Blood In Blood Out by Brenda Novak (short story)
  • That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch (short story)
  • Distraction by J. L. Campbell
  • Humble Bundle Peanuts collection (strips by Charles Schulz)
  • Peanuts Volumes I to VI (bought via Humble Bundle; very disappointing as it's mostly new strips -- how is that even allowed?!)
  • Sandals and Sangria by Talli Roland (short story)
  • Over the Hump by Talli Roland (short story)
  • issues of Journal of Inklings Studies and Amon Hen and Mallorn (Tolkien Society)
  • Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier
  • Babar and his Family by Laurent de Brunhoff
  • Illusions Lost by Byron A. Maddox (short story)
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • Lost My Name book for Emily (https://www.lostmy.name/)
  • Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne
  • When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne (reread)
  • Neil Gaiman comics on Sequential app
  • Moranology by Caitlin Moran
  • 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