Showing posts from May, 2010

Alan Sillitoe RIP

just found out that Alan Sillitoe passed away on 25 April (no thanks to my local paper - I saw the obituary in The Economist for last week). I can't remember if I read The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner first, or saw the movie first. But that film was the first time I'd heard Jerusalem sung by a choir; one of my favourite hymns and poems. I'd like to read his autobiographies.

Here is Blake's poem:

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green and pleasant Land

A Weather-related Snippet and Another End of an Era

ight in the middle of the rainstorm and microburst we had on Wednesday, I started a weather-related snippet thread on the forum. Here is the excerpt I posted:

[Three] days after they had parted from the knights, when they were well into the mountains, the snow fell. Arcturus had expected this, and bidden them each to carry an extra faggot or two of wood, in case they could not readily find dry wood to burn or any form of shelter from the wind. As they were skirting the villages, they were not provisioned with donkeys or fur cloaks or any other supplies with which those crossing the mountains might normally be equipped.

Rose, in fact, had never seen snow before in her life. As the grey skies lowered upon them day after day, she had expected fog and rain, with all the dampness that was in the air soaking beneath her clothing, so that she was chilled even as she walked. But, though Arcturus and Uncle Levi had talked of snow, and kept shooting wary looks at the banks of clouds about their …

Speed Writing - A Novel in Three Days

ive or take.

A little while ago, I came across this bit of information in the introduction to the Folio Society edition of Crime Stories from The Strand:

"Edgar Wallace was another wildly careless writer, extraordinarily prolific - he wrote eighty-eight crime novels and much, much else, and tossed off one book in thirty-six hours non-stop - who yet was a gripping story-teller."
One book in 36 hours? Or there's Michael Moorcock, whom India posted about, who tells you how to write a book in three days.

One book in three days? It's slightly more feasible than 36 hours, but planets would have to align, free lattes and single malts would have to flow, and I would have to be home entirely alone with a broken internet connection, for that to even be remotely possible.

Says I, who's due to start a writing marathon soon!

Dorothy Sayers Quotable Quotes

ouple of writing-related quotes from the brilliant novel Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers:

"In the meanwhile she had got her mood on to paper - and this is the release that all writers, even the feeblest, seek for as men seek for love; and, having found it, they doze off happily into dreams and trouble their hearts no further."
[Harriet Vane talking to Lord Peter Wimsey]
"'But if I give [my character] all those violent and lifelike feelings, he'll throw the whole book out of balance.'
'You would have to abandon the jigsaw kind of story and write a book about human beings for a change.'
'I'm afraid to try that, Peter. It might go too near the bone.'
'It might be the wisest thing you could do.'
'Write it out and get rid of it?'
'I'll think about that. It would hurt like hell.'
'What would that matter, if it made a good book?'"
Has your story hurt you lately?

(47 followers! Thanks everyon…

Dear Lucky Agent Contest

uide to Literary Agents is hosting a contest; the theme for this round is science fiction or fantasy. But only the first 200 words of your novel are eligible!

Here are the first 200 words of The Face of A Lion, slightly tweaked, for my contest entry:

Austin met the cat on his first day in Kusadasi.

Bored with helping his parents clean their villa, he set out to explore. He was standing at the boulevard’s edge, watching the waves crash against the shore, when an unearthly howl filled the air. It came again, a long-drawn out screech, close at hand.

Austin ran to the crossroads, skidding to a halt before an empty lot. Among the weeds, two kids crouched over the prone figure of a grey cat. One gripped its front paws as the other tied tin cans to its tail. The cat wrenched and jerked its back legs.

"Hey! What’re you doing?" They shot each other shifty glances but ignored him. He took a step forward, as if to grab the cat and, as one, they released their grip and ran off.

The cat c…

The 50 Followers Marathon

oo, I'm at 44 followers! Thank you everyone!

A little while ago I promised myself that if I hit 50 followers I'd do a 50 day marathon to *gasp* Finish. The. Novel.

Heck, and maybe even come up with a title, finally. Rose, 1492 isn't quite cutting it any more.

So, 6 followers to go. And then the promised marathon starts...

Anyone want to join me? No daily word count, just the goal of writing every day. Butt in Chair!

The Easiest Way to Donate Books

e info:

From May 3-28, BlogHer and BookRenter "are working to make a difference in children's lives by generating new books for children who need them most -- via the nonprofit organization First Book.
Want to help? For every answer we receive in the comments to the following question, one book will be donated:

What book has had the greatest impact on your life?" Comment here.
It's hard to focus on just one book. I've reread so many that had such an impact on me between 5 and 15: The Lord of the Rings, Charlotte's Web, A Handful of Time, From Anna, Death on the Nile, 1984, A Wrinkle in Time, The Dark is Rising, and so on and on. The only theme or link I can find in common between most of the books I devoured as a youngster is that most, if not all, of them took place during or between the wars. Somehow, the events of 1910 to 1945, the ordinary people that became heroes, the generation that suffered so much, left a profound impression on me that continues to th…

One Sentence Game

utting off for tomorrow what should be done today leads to a jam-packed four day weekend; no, not sour cherry jam, more like traffic jam.

I joined this game off Tricia at Talespinning who got it from Suzyhayze at Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness. Write a one sentence post and link back to her.

Let's Talk Blogfest - Dialogue Snip

oin us for the Let's Talk Blogfest, hosted by Roni at Fiction Groupie. Click on the link to see all the bloggers who've joined and to comment on their snips.

Here's one of the most important dialogues in Rose's story - the moment when her Uncle Santiago, a sailor with Columbus, tells her the truth. Rose has joined him on the Santa Anna on the day of his departure:

Uncle San stopped walking and leaned on the rail, peering closely at her. “You can’t come with me, I’m afraid. There’s barely room for most of the crew and Senor Colon is quite particular over his arrangements.”
She nodded but continued to dwell on the freedom of sailing away, to watch the shore sink slowly behind one and to find only the horizon ahead, day after day. She leaned beside her uncle on the rail, looking after a school of [tench] passing beneath the clear water, tails flickering. “No chores, no responsibilities...” she murmured.
“No chores!” Her uncle laughed, waving a hand at the men scurrying to …

The Ideal Writing Environment - and Middle Earth

offee and lots of it!

As part of her blog tour, Kait did an interview recently on The Nature of the Beast, talking about her ultimate writing environment. Mine would involve cats, a view of the Mediterranean or Aegean from a very clean, very bare villa room (of the hardwood floors and white draperies variety), someone else to do all the gardening, a huge professional barista machine so I can make all the lattes I want, lots of gorgeous notebooks and pens, a fast laptop with unlimited memory and internet access, and some travel money so I can attend conferences and fairs and workshops. And that's just for starters!

One of the fairs I'd attend would be the Middle Earth Weekend, going on this weekend at Sarehole Mill in Birmingham, to practice my archery, see the places where Tolkien lived, and so on. Maybe next year...

By the way, Jessica Hische, who's drop caps I've been gleefully using for weeks now, recently had a couple of my favourite drop caps featured in an articl…

Unusual Research Topics

uestion: what's the strangest item you've ever researched?

Kristen recently posted a sample of the topics she’s researching for her latest work in progress, noting that someone who didn’t know she was a writer, or wasn’t aware of the story elements, might start wondering about the strangeness of her Google search history.
Mine might look a little something like this:

Caves in the Mediterranean region
Cistercians vs Benedictines
How to defeat or outrun Saracen pirates
What fruits grow in which seasons?
Medieval and Renaissance meteorites and volcanoes
Was chivalry dying out by the end of the 15th Century?
Monetary systems and “passports” in the Renaissance
Sailing without a map or compass
How to dress as and pretend you’re a nun
Leather shoes and how long they might last

One area of research that overlaps my wip and Kristen’s: names of saints. Who’d have thought?

Probably the strangest item I’ve ever researched (whether through Google or at the library) is the best way to set f…

Middle Grade Books, Contests, A New Book and Wodehouse

eeping with Children's Book Week, Susan Adrian has a list of books for Middle Graders.

Marsha's book has a cover! Take a peek here and vote on how catchy you think it is. At the same time - prolific author that she is! - she's guest blogging at India's about her guide book 24 Hours Paris, released today by Prospera Publishing! Enter the Me And My Big Mouth contest to win a copy!

And, Justine's hosting a 110 followers contest, where you have to submit the worst one-line blurb about a book. Here's my terrible blurb for Rose's story: teenage girl has angst, struggles with family and religion.

Finally, Joel Stickley's been doing another round of homages on How To Write Badly Well; today it's P. G. Wodehouse.

Kait Nolan's Forsaken By Shadow

ait Nolan recently published her novella Forsaken by Shadow. Here's my Amazon review, reprinted below:

I also read this as a beta reader, and came to the story in some trepidation, as it's not my usual genre and I was wary of encountering character types and storylines I might not understand. But whether you're an avid fantasy fan or not, FORSAKEN BY SHADOW will have you hooked from the first page on. The action starts right away and the characters are well developed and interesting. Very well paced and with just the right amount of explanation on the supernatural elements. I'd recommend it!
Now she's hosting a blog contest! All you have to do is review the novella and comment about it on the contest page. Grand prize is a 10$ Amazon gift card. And which of us readers couldn't use that?




Celebrating Children's Book Week

o shortage of events in the next five days, in celebration of Children's Book Week.

Better World Books has an awesome sale on children's books.
The Children's Book Council has a long list of recommended books.
If you're in Montreal, support the 80th anniversary of the Montreal Children's Library.

The official website has many fun links, to puzzles, a contest, Children's Choice Book Awards finalists reading from their books, and story starters, including one by Lemony Snicket and one by Katherine Paterson:

"I'd be the first to admit the fact that I've done plenty of things in my life that have gotten me into trouble, some I've even regretted, but I never imagined a simple..."

Friday Five

eme time! I've been tagged by Talli!
Here're the rules: Answer 5 questions 5 times and then tag 5 people to play.

Question 1: Where were you 5 years ago?
(my answers span the summers of 2004-2006)
On vacation in England and Scotland and Wales and Turkey
Planning my wedding
Reading Diana Gabaldon’s books for the first time
Joining the Compuserve Books and Writers Community
Starting to write again after not having had any inspiration for a couple of years!

Question 2: Where would you like to be 5 years from now?
In a new house, possibly by the water, possibly in another country
Possibly with a puppy, which my cats will get along with
A gardener (I can’t say ‘a better gardener’ because I’m not any kind of gardener at the moment.)
With an agent! And with a book deal!
A regular attendee at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference – and meeting some of my forum and blog friends

Question 3: What 5 things are (were) on your to-do list today?
Comment on blogs posts and put up a new po…

Why Are You Writing/Reading YA?

ver on her blog, India has asked an interesting question: why are you writing/reading YA?

I find it easier to answer why I *read* YA rather than why I write it. I don't really like the labelling that goes on (YA, MG, etc.); I have to follow the rules while querying (and will certainly have to do so if I get published and start marketing), but it seems to me that the best books are loveable by everyone. Adult critics read these books and other adults - whether parents or not - read their reviews, if not the books, so why do we bother with labels at all? Among others I'd recommend The Lord of the Rings or Charlotte's Web or Anne of Green Gables, not to mention The Giver or The Wind in the Willows, to readers from 7 to 77! Someone said something about YA books being shorter - what? Shucks, the longer a book the better, and that's how I felt when I was a kid too!
None of that quite answers why I read it, however. I think I appreciate how clear cut the morals are. I like th…

Critique of My First Page

uess who's on Fiction Groupie today? Austin and Kedi from The Face of A Lion. Read Roni's critique and comments from other readers here. And thanks to Veronica for linking to it!
I forgot how much I missed being in Austin's head and world. Perhaps when I've completed the first draft of Rose's story I'll return to Austin's and go through another round of edits.
And he'll definitely be coming to the next house party! Scroll down to message 25 to see Claire's helpful links to all our previous parties.

Dialogue Blogfest!

iction Groupie is hosting a blogfest on 18 May!
Rule #1 is "On Tuesday May 18, post a short excerpt on your blog of your most sparkly dialogue scene (no, I'm not talking about Edward Cullen). It can be anything dialogue-heavy--a laid-back chat, an all out argument, a flirty conversation, two friends ribbing each other--whatever. The options are endless."
Go here to sign up and see the rest of the rules.
Can't wait to choose a scene from Rose's story.

In other - very exciting! - news, Talli Roland is going to have a book published in 2011!