Saturday, July 28, 2012

a note from abroad

I just wanted to tell you guys that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth--I am still in Georgia however, working hard on this campaign! We've personally gone to over 10,000 houses and are still hard at work! The election's Tuesday!! *EEEP!* and we have a victory party to attend at a country-club! :) I've made so many memories and gathered so much writing material! And it's weird--I've done a deal of research for Nick in Scuppernong Days by being immersed in a group of a dozen boys for three weeks! :D Anyway, even if I haven't been commenting on your blogs, I have been reading your posts and enjoying them a lot. Hopefully I'll be home soon and back to writing!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Achilles' Heel

Every one of us wants to be a successful writer--we want to know our strengths and weaknesses. We want to rely on the strengths but we want to shape our craft so that our weaknesses grow stronger with each book.
There are several spheres that I consider "strengths or weaknesses" for writers. They are as follows:
My greatest strength has been (and I assume will always be) characterization. It makes sense because since I am always people-watching whenever I'm around people (and I'm a people-person) I get a deal of research done. It's really important as a writer to pinpoint your greatest strength and then try to find the places that need work. My nemesis, I think, is plot. My first book--written at age twelve--was entirely plotless. My second, A Mother for the Seasonings, is a very simple tale. (though a good one!). I got half-way through two other books that are still languishing in their word document files, but never finished them. You see, one had too much plot, the other not enough. By the time I reached The Scarlet-Gypsy Song I knew I needed a plot that could carry me through a novel without seeming stretched thin. "Like butter scraped over too much bread," as Bilbo says. And though I was able to spin out a tale with a plot that I liked very much much, it was still lumpy-bumpy and will take a deal of editing to make palatable. I will admit that even in this book my character-love came out first. You see, I didn't have a plot when the book was born. I had a phrase:
"There was Nannykins to begin with, but she had a bad knee and left for the North."
I mean honestly. What does that have to do with a father whose children get into his fictional world and his princess who gets out of it, and massive travail and bloodshed and angst and beauty? Nothing. But somehow I came up with a plot and the phrase and the rest lies in the bloodied pages of the Gildnoirelly
All this to say, I know that plot strength is a weakness for me. So I've been doing a deal of reading this summer in hopes of getting a little better at it. I just finished reading a book called The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. She is not a Christian writer, but her skill is certainly a force to be reckoned with. I loved the plot anyway, but she put this huge twist at the end that left me reeling and marveling and wishing I knew enough to do the same.When we do research like this, it's helpful to ask yourself several questions:

Where did I think the plot was going?
How did she tailor my opinion one way so that she could whip the story around?
What was the most dynamic scene in the story?
How does the characters' personality/character play into the way the plot turns out?

I am excited. I've done my research and I have a good, strong plot for Scuppernong Days. I actually sat down and wrote it out in my writing notebook so that I know where I'm going. Y'see, my worst part is getting only major events and having difficulty stringing them together with important nothings. Of course there is wiggle-room for the plot changing and your characters changing and your idea changing, but for myself I find I can keep plot weakness to an ebb if I structure my story. :) What are your strengths/weaknesses? How do you strengthen your weak parts?
"Be sure of only two things: yourself and the ropes beneath your hands."
 -Mr. Nesbit, First Mate of The Scuppernong

Monday, July 23, 2012

Come away, come away, death...

Pinned Image
Brenn watched the child at play in the mosaic of autumn leaves and frowned over how stupidly often her heart played tricks on her. Hadn't she sworn to keep every semblence of emotion far from her, that she might have have to endure the pain of losing again? Like an old sword-wound that had closed over and yet remained unhealed, Brenn's heart was fire encased in ice; there might be tenderness there but it never saw the warm light of day.
Watching him play in the gutter, the old wound throbbed. Nina would have been the age of this little boy--seven or eight now. Her hair had been black too--black and soft like kittenfur, growing in short curls close to her head. Brenn clenched her jaw and locked the door memory had thrown open. "Come away, come away, death, and in sad cypres let me be laid." Shakespeare wrote tragedies enough...he always had something to say.
The child continued his game in the cobbled gutter by the road. Pretty thing, he was gathering the bright red dogwood berries filling the gutters with a rolling sheen like rubies. Every now and then the wind pushed against the tree and a shower of more berrries rained down on his head. Brenn watched him still, too enthralled by the gentle peace of this picture to mind the sharpness of the ache. She would be sorry for watching, she knew. But then, life was full of regrets. She'd rather have the greedy pleasure of this present moment than freedom from the hurt that might very well follow.
Rich October wind blew again and the child glanced upward. Brenn felt the  breath go out of her as their eyes met. His were hazel traced with dark lashes; merry as thrushsong and deep as evening. She was exposed--as bare to this child's soul as if she wore nothing and knelt at his feet. The knife-edge pressed deeper into Brenn's chest, and she was furious. What right had a child so young to speak without words a message so piercing?
His gaze lingered and Brenn saw herself and him as if from afar--a moment suspended in the flow of Time. It might last an eternity; it might burst, bubble-wise and go rushing away in a torrent of days never lived again. All anger fled from Brenn's heart. She clutched at the preciousness as a sailor drowning, and bent to gather a handful of the blood-red berries. "Hey," she said slowly, not trusting her own voice.
The child smiled and opened his chubby hands, exposing his cache of rubies to the leaf-spangled sunlight. "Hey," he answered.
Speech dissolved the ethereal haze over them and Brenn breathed easier. She took a step or two away from her bench, holding the dogwood berries like a talisman to ward off any fear the child might have in so strange a meeting. Fear! Laughter bubbled inside of Brenn. He was not afraid--it was she who felt the strange terror of loss. One thing she knew--if the child spooked like a frightened fawn, she would shatter inside.
But mercies raining down, the child came forward to meet her and smiled again. "Do you like tree-jewels?" he asked.
"Is that what you call them?"
"Yes. Is there another name for them?" The wind played in his curls and he pushed them off his forehead with an impatient hand. How Brenn longed to do it for him. "I'm Nat," he said.
She clenched her fingers. "Brenn." Saints be scolded, those were Nina's eyes. If she had not held Nina's poor, battered frame in her arms and wept as only a mother can weep, Brenn might have questioned her sanity.
"Where do you live, Nat?" she asked.
He observed her with his head to one side like an inquisitive sparrow. "Why are you sad?" he asked, ignoring her question.
Brenn thought about protesting against the accusation, but the hazel eyes were so deep and true. "Because I have...lost something I loved very much."
Nat fingered his tree-jewels and watched her. "Have you looked for it?"
Brenn's laugh glowed with scorn. "Many times, in many ways."
"And do you never find it?" he asked.
There was complete silence between them except for the rush of a few cars that rumbled over the cobbled road. Nat poured the berries from one palm into the others. "When I lose something...when I lose it for good..." Brenn waited to see what oracle might fall from his lips--she was sure something would. "When I lose it for good, I just look for something better to love even more."
Brenn bowed her head, humbled and ashamed. Of course it was simple. She felt now the chill of the red October wind and the cold made its way to her heart. That familiar stiffness was returning and it hurt all the more for have been chipped away...if only for a moment.
Nat patted Brenn's shoulder. "I don't know what you're looking for, but you might need these." He poured his trove of crimson treasure into Brenn's cupped hands and smiled again. "I hope you find it someday."
And as Brenn looked into Nat's merry eyes--full of childhood's simple confidence--she wondered if she was nearer to finding it than she'd ever hoped.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Mrs. Palmer Effect: a guest post by Amy

Hello everyone!  My dear blogging friend Rachel has kindly offered to let me guest post for her while she's off politicking in Georgia, and I'm so delighted to be here! Let's start off this post with a picture.  Pictures are worth a thousand words and all that, so without further ado... here's one that makes me all kinds of annoyed.
Now that I've (hopefully) got you hooked and wanting to know why that picture annoys me so badly, we may proceed.  (A hook is one of the most important things in fishing and in writing.  This is not the time to draw parallels between fishing and writing, especially since I've never done the former, but I just thought I'd throw that out there.  *bad pun alert*)
 Lately I've heard a great deal about dialogue tags in writing, and I am here today to tell you a great and important truth.  Sit up straight, take the Popsicle out of your mouth, cross your legs neatly and the ankles and listen closely.
There is nothing wrong with the word "said."
Did you get that?  
"Said" has been getting a bad rap lately.  It seems that everywhere I look, writers are advising each other not to use that word, because something bad will happen if they do.  Their books will become dry and hard to chew, the dialogue will turn clunky and the characters will be stuck in a monotone.  Or so you might think.

"Don't strain to find synonyms for 'he said,'" William Zinsser writes in his hilariously helpful book On Writing Well.  "Don't make your man assert, aver and expostulate just to avoid repeating 'he said,' and please--please!--don't write 'he smiled' or 'he grinned.'  I have never heard anybody smile.  The reader's eye skips over 'he said' anyway, so it's not worth a lot of fuss." Don't be afraid of "said."  Use it if you have to.  Don't use it if you don't have to.  If you can, leave the dialogue at bare bones (that is, without any kind of tags whatsoever, not even to distinguish who's talking) and see how it looks on the page.  If you need clarification, add some.  Even better, try using "said" as sparingly as possible and replacing the dialogue tags with action.  (See this post for ideas.)

 There's a phenomenon in writing--especially material written by young writers-- that I like to call the Mrs. Palmer effect.  Mrs. Palmer, in case you don't remember, is a character in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.  In the 1995 film she remarks that Marianne Dashwood will certainly be soaked to the skin after going out in the rain, to which her husband replies, "Thank you, my dear, I think we have all apprehended that much." When someone writes a sequence of dialogue like this (see below), that's what I call the Mrs. Palmer effect (because it's easier than calling it the Thank-you-my-dear-I-think-we-have-all-apprehended-that-much effect).

  "Please go with me to the party," Lisa begged.
"No, I don't want to!" Sandra yelled loudly.
"You are just so mean," Lisa insulted.
"Take that back," Sandra snapped angrily.
"Girls, stop arguing right now," their mother scolded.
"Mom, pleeeeeeease make her go to the party with me," Lisa whined. "
I'm not going and that's final!" Sandra exploded.

 Oh, cringe. Now, of course, that was an example of the worst of the worst, made up entirely by me.  I didn't copy it from a book, nor did I base it on anything I've actually read.  But believe me, there is writing--published writing--out there that sounds... well, like that.  Ugh. Here's the same conversation, reworked.
  "Please go to the party with me."  Lisa plopped on Sandra's bed and tweaked the book out of her sister's hands.
"No, I don't want to!" Sandra snatched the book back.
Lisa scowled.  "You are just so mean."
"Take that back!" Sandra snapped.
Their mother poked her head around the bedroom door frame.  "Girls, stop arguing right now." "Mom, pleeeeeeeeeease make her go to the party with me!" Lisa put on her most pitiful expression
. "I'm not going and that's final!" Sandra scooped up her book, scrambled off the bed, dove into her closet and slammed the door.

 I'm not going to insult your intelligence by asking which paragraph sounds more natural.  Obviously the dialogue itself is cheesy and uninteresting, but I think you'd agree with me that the action surrounding the conversation in the second version is much better than the stilted synonyms for "said" in the first.  I didn't take out all the dialogue tags, however-- Sandra still "snaps" in the fourth line.  In this case, I felt that saying "snapped" was justified.  It isn't evident from her words that she was snapping, and Mr. Palmer has no reason to thank his dear and tell her that everyone has apprehended that much. Another thing I changed in the second paragraph was the use of adverbs.  In the first paragraph, Sandra yelled loudly and snapped angrily.  Well, of course she yelled loudly.  That's what yelling is: loudness.  Thank you, my dear, I think...  And since we were told that she was snapping at Lisa, we don't need to be further informed that she did it angrily.  I've never heard anyone snap sweetly. But even if you aren't being ridiculously over-redundant (see what I did there?) you can still fall into the trap of adding an adverb after every "said." I know because I used to do it all the time.  He said suavely.  She said coldly.  He said arrogantly.  She said disgustedly...  Blah-de-blah-de-blah.  "Said" is not a baby.  It can stand alone.  Really, it can.  It's been around for a while and doesn't need an adverb to hold it up.  Unless, of course, you are Agatha Christie.  In which case you are permitted to use tons of adverbs in your dialogue tags because they just seem to fit somehow, and besides, everything else you write is sheer genius anyway. But most of us aren't Agatha Christie.   (If you do happen to be Agatha Christie, please leave a comment on this post and make my day.) In conclusion (I do like saying that, it makes everything seem much more important somehow), the way you write your dialogue is completely up to you.  I am not the boss of you, nor am I the expert who knows how to fix everything that's wrong with your writing.  (If, that is, there IS anything wrong with your writing.)  I'm just a scribbler with an overcritical eye, a zest for perfection and an abhorrence of unnecessary synonyms for "said." And, too, maybe I just over-emulate those crotchety writing critics in the Anne and Emily books.  Go ahead and cut out all those flowery passages.  Skip the sunset, too.  And ditch that sap Percival who sits around mooning all the time and never lets a girl get a word in edgewise.  In real life she'd have pitched him.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A star danced...

"There was a star danced, and under that was I born."
-William Shakespeare

(and quite possibly my favorite quote from him. :)
Because it is my birthday, and because I am now 20 years old, and because I can now quote one of my favorite Elizabeth Bennet quotes correctly: ("I am not yet one-and-twenty") and perhaps because I am feeling birthday-ish even if I am in Georgia, here is a birthday post for me and you and the rest of us.

First off, it's my golden-birthday. That means (in Rachelisms) that I turned 20 on the 20th of July. Some one recently tried to tell me that "golden birthday" means "50th," but that is so terribly unromantic that I ignored them and told them that they were probably incorrect, and I was probably right. ;) My family sent me the most amazing package ever. It sat in my hotel room for two days while I tried to forget about it, but I have to say that I bounced awake quite earlyish this morning and tore into it with a right good will.
They'd wrapped everything in gold-hued paper. Different patterns, different shades, all golden. :) And some peacock feathers thrown in for good measure. Nearly everything in the box was gold-themed too. I felt just like Rose in Eight Cousins--there was no end to that amazing package. Gift after little gift I opened till I was quite in danger of being late for breakfast!

"Every little girl cam easily imagine what an extra good time she had diving into a sea of treasures and fishing up one pretty thing after another, till the air was full of the mingled odours of musk and sandalwood, the room gay with bright colours, and Rose in a rapture of delight."

Mama and the girls had sprinkled gold stars in every envelope and box, and by the end of the time my dark little hotel table was quite awash in a sea of glittering splendour. :) Thanks, family-dearest! Among the many delightful things I received were:

- a silver pocket-watch necklace from Felicity--I feel just like Beatrix Potter. :)
- truffles, orange-dark-chocolate, Rollos, and Toblerone
- gold, sparkly eye-shadow from my sister, the Fashionista. :) (And yes, I can carry it off)
- fuschia lipstick, so that I might follow in the summer's fashion trends. ;)
- a little china box with a supercilious cat on it, filled with "golden" buttons
- twenty dollars
- a beautiful, golden, filigree dogwood-flower hairclip
- Bath & Bodyworks white citrus lotion
- eyeshadow especially formulated for hazel eyes (a girl on a campaign needs to feel beautiful, right? :)
- postage stamps
- and more. :)

Truly, it was the most wonderful parcel I've ever received. Most packages come to an end far too quickly, and with many of them you already knew what was coming. No such thing in this deal. And in addition, I had about 6  cards from various family and friends! Thank you everyone who contributed to making my birthday-away-from-home possibly one of the best ones I've ever had! I love you all, and I'll remember it for ever and always. :) <3

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Which I Meet Brilliance Herself...

Today I am pleased as punch (and tickled pink) to have Jennifer Freitag here on The Inkpen Authoress for an interview! As suggested by the name of her blog, Jenny frequently takes the role of Penslayer. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've become complacent and rather smug over my own writing, only to follow an innocent-looking link to one of her posts and find murder at the other end, in the form of soul-snatching beauty. :) I think it is safe to say that of all the authors I know personally, Jenny is the one who has most effected my sense of Beauty and Soul in writing. She is--to my adoring, amateur mind, at least--a modern-day, female C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. :)Jenny's first published book, The Shadow Things, is available for purchase on, (in Kindle or paperback form!) so please be sure to check it out and buy a copy! I am sure you'll love it. :) Anything Jenny writes is worth reading--even all her little snippets of "nothings" that she will (on occasion) post on her blog. I think one of my happiest blogging days was when I found a post with a "nothing" dedicated to me! My little heart with pit-a-pat. :) But you don't want to hear from me; it's Jenny's day to take the cake!

1. I am so happy to have a little while to interview you, Jenny! :) Would you mind telling us a little back-of-the-book blurb about The Shadow Things?

Indi has lived all his life accepting and rubbing elbows with his pagan environment, but as time goes on his conscience begins to question the validity of his faith.  What people have been calling good begins to look evil.  With this void of unbelief growing inside him, Indi hesitantly begins to fill it with the preaching of a Gallic monk who comes teaching a single God slain for men on a Roman cross…and the cost of taking up one’s cross oneself.

2. So it's historical fiction—how did you go about your research for the era?

Truth to tell, I had been doing my research before I knew I was going to write the book.  I’m very interested in history in general and the ancient world in particular, so it has been something I have been studying for years.  The insular nature of The Shadow Things did not allow me to show a great deal of backdrop, but I was already familiar enough with the world then so that when I went to write the book I did not have to do a lot of serious research.

3. Was there a particular dream, thought, picture, etc. that first inspired The Shadow Things?

Yes, actually: a very heart-wrenching little novel by Rosemary Sutcliff.  It gave me a vague, watercolour kind of image for The Shadow Things; additionally I was inspired by a familiar notion that men have always held, a truth we can find in Scripture, and is probably most succinctly summed up in the words of C.S. Lewis: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

4. Who is your favourite character you created in this book?

Oh, Indi.  Always Indi.  The emotions in him were always so raw and near to me that the link between author and character is still very strong.

5. Which character do you think most resembles yourself in temperament/personality?

That is a difficult question.  I suppose in terms of emotion (as stated above) Indi is closest to me.  His sense of the rightness of things, his almost painful ability to feel both goodness and evil—really, how raw and sensitive he is, is also how I am.  We differ vastly in other ways, too: though we both have tender tempers, Indi holds his in check far better than I do.  In many, many way I wish I was more like him.

6. As you know, you have pen-slain me numerous times on your blog, especially with excerpts of your current works in progress (Adamantine and Plenilune).  Does The Shadow Things follow your pattern of description and emotion-rich prose, or does it have its own voice?

All three novels, I think, have the same overarching voice which is my own, but I find myself intuitively taking into account the sort of people I am writing, the atmosphere of their culture, and the nature of the plot.  Adamantine takes into account both elementally agrarian cultures and practical mindsets: that novel is a kind of blend.  Plenilune, while heavy on the practicality, is populated by a rich, almost medieval people—the writing style in that novel reflects that.  The Shadow Things itself is the most elemental of my works to date: it is a matter of intuitive colour, sharp images, and the simple magic of conjuring clear, close feeling through small things.  They are all very much in my own voice, but I believe the tone changes from story to story depending on the factors I stated.

7. What inspires you more: people-watching out in the real world, or burying yourself in a corner of the house with your own characters?

Oh, I would definitely prefer to sit in a corner with my own characters.  I do, actually…  I know I’ve said it before, but I’m pretty poor at watching people.  I am too conscientious to want to impose and stare at them, and I am, admittedly, somewhat disinterested in them.  Because my characters are so much their own people I get more out of watching them than I do out of real people who have nothing whatsoever to do with my story. 

8. Your sister, Abigail, is a published author as well—did you publish your books at the same time?

Yes, we did!  We both submitted to Ambassador almost at the same time but, because I no longer carry my maiden name, they had no idea we were sisters.  I think they were a little nervous they we might grow jealous and have a row if one book succeeded more than the other, but we get on fine, and the two-homeschooled-sisters-get-published-together marketing pitch was something new.

9. The Shadow Things—how long did it take you to write?

I’m tempted to give a different answer to this question every time someone asks me.  I would guess around two years, give or take, mostly give.  I honestly don’t remember.  I didn’t sit down at the beginning and think, “It’s March 4th—I’m starting my very first novel today and I’m going to keep track of how long it takes me so that, years from now, I can tell people how long the process took.”  Never occurred to me; and, technically, I was in the sixth century anyway.

10. Do you feel more in your element writing historical fiction or fantasy?

I feel most comfortable writing a sort of “historical fiction meets fantasy” style.  Both Adamantine and Plenilune are in this vein: history is always fascinating and fantasy gives me scope for the imagination.  But The Shadow Things is straight-up historical fiction, and I do find getting into the nitty-gritty of history helps bring the past to life.  When an author can make you feel as if that time is real and now, you know the goal has been reached.  That is what I strive for.

11. Which classic authors do you admire the most?

“And the three men I admire most—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…”  Theological issues aside, I’ll take this line by Don McLean.  No one has written a better, bigger, more glorious story than that of Man and Time.

12. Which modern authors do you admire the most?

While he deals with film and not with novels, I confess I do admire Joss Whedon’s ability to tell a story.  “I like to meet new people,” his character Kaylee Frye once said.  “They’ve all got stories.”  As a storyteller myself, I tip my hat to the man’s ability to conceive and draw together the stories of a large cast and yet never lose sight of the plot and always move toward the story’s goal.  He’s also got a fun way with words that either leaves me laughing or nodding in admiration.  Here’s to wordsmiths and storytellers.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Temper Flares

This is just a little nothing I wrote this evening when I couldn't stand not writing any longer. I am Arianna in many respects, but Beckett is entirely fictional. The piece cannot possibly stand alone, and it really has no meaning, and now (of course) you'll wonder why I wrote it, and I will say "I don't know. But it popped out on its own accord." and that's all the explanation you'll receive, I'm afraid. :)

"Temper Flares"
By Rachel Heffington

“I would like a great many things,” she said in her queenliest voice, so that he might know the limits of her imagination were nonexistent, “but what I’d like right now would be to slip out of these horrid, sweaty clothes, and to slip into a cool white frock. I would like one of these velvety lawns, and nothing better to do with my time than lay in hammock reading, or to traipse across the green grass and look lovely.” That was exactly what she wanted—all these secluded, cool, wide lawns wandering up to white porches and arched windows filled her heart with a dusty, musty ache that kept pace with her increasingly drab appearance. Yes—she longed with all the passionate longing of a weary soul to have the luxury of traipsing.
“You want to….traipse?” her companion asked, evidently bewildered.
Traipse. We are always walking or going or running or trotting off to do this, that, and the other—I’d like to take a wander and have no one bother me about politics or religion or a thousand-and-one other things People tend to like to bother an innocent young lady with.”
She nodded; pleased with the way he’d taken his defeat. An “ah” meant he had resigned his verbal sword and would behave himself. It was a great relief that he had not said “aha” instead, which had much more of a challenge about it, and meant that she would be required to defend her point further. “Oh—and there’s one more thing, Beckett,” she said.
Beckett winced, and shook himself. “What is it, Arianna?”
“I have a headache, Beckett.”
“Well? Can I do anything about it?” Sarcasm, Arianna noted with contempt. Becket t always resorted to sarcasm first thing and wasted a situation in which wit ought to have played a decent part. He fought with a claymore of a tongue—she preferred a rapier; sharp, cutting, infinitely polite.
Arianna pressed her temples with her fingertips and tried not to think about how weary she was. “As a matter of fact, you can do something about it, Beckett,” she said at length. “You can take yourself off and leave me alone, and perhaps a massive portion of my headache would depart with you.”
“You’re a cruel woman, Arianna Maddox,” Beckett growled. But he lumbered off dutifully, and Arianna watched him with nothing greater than mild annoyance—he behaved exactly as a devoted lover ought: going away when bidden, and coming around when needed. He was just the sort of fellow Arianna liked, for though she was a woman and would faint before betraying her sex, she had never been overly companionable with any young ladies.
Beckett wandered off down the cool stone drive, and once Arianna was certain he would not come dawdling back, Arianna smoothed her shirt, fluffed her bangs, and re-folded the cuff of her capris. Dashing about campaigning through neighborhoods was all very well and good when the temperature was a balmy sixty-degrees, but the full summer heat had been beating upon them all day, and Arianna’s mood was souring. Beckett had done nothing but chatter all afternoon, and the hotter the day grew the faster his tongue wagged. It was almost as if Beckett had been a lumbering, bumbling, handsome sort of cicada intent on keeping pace with the advancing of the temperatures. “Which,” she thought to herself, “is exactly what he is.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Characters One Should Use In Writing...

Hey everyone! I want to introduce you to something amazing! To wit, a guest post by my hilarious friend, Bertie Wooster. Ahem. Sorry--pardon me. *Kicks Jeeves back into his corner* By my special friend, Miss Harriet Smith. Dear dear me. Let me try this once more. By my kindred spirit, The Anne-Girl. I asked her to write a little something to keep this writing blog from being entirely desolate while I'm away in Georgia, and so Anne rummaged up her humor (which is never far away) and wrote this merry, saucy little post for you to enjoy:

Characters One Should Use While Writing.

*disclaimer: this post is meant as a joke, I love and enjoy characters who belong to these generalizations. With that in mind go and read the post.*

In the course of my career as a writer it has come to my attention that I am not the only one striving for inky excellence{that I use keyboard and pencil more than pen is inconsequential} for the common good I have put together this list of characters to put into your books. These are not the only characters you are allowed to use.  But they are the most popular ones so read and learn peoples read and learn.

Here comes the wisdom.

The strong impassioned hero.
These are the guys who stare into the middle distance while delivering a speech on the hopeless quest that they have pledged their lives to. It helps if there is a swooning heroine{see below} gazing up at him for dramatic affect. These scenes are indispensable for insuring that your book will melt the heart of all female readers. Be sure that he saves people for breakfast and he must either have an accent or a horse. Preferably both. Also necessary for proper effect: a villain, two or three followers, and at least one scene being wounded.

The fainting heroine
Note: This kind of heroine doesn't have to actually faint, though it is helpful. Want to write a book about a hero without writing from a guys perspective? This heroine is for you! All she ever thinks about is the hero anyway so you don't have to mess up your book by telling about her story as well as his. it is obligatory that she have a sensitive mind and delicate beauty such as takes ones breath away. Phrases such as "she was in acute mental agony" and " ____ burst into an agony of tears and sobs" are useful to remember. She must be ready to die for the sake of her beloved one, or almost die so that he can either have the fun of rescuing her.  Further note: this kind of heroine must be small. If she is big you will find such stuff as "And then I took my darling in my arms and carried her insensible up the cliffs away from the certain danger though in truth she weighed no more then a child and even if she had I would have felt nothing so great was my joy at....ect. ect." {roughly paraphrased from Lorna Doone} rather hard to put in.

The tortured poet
To write one of these you must first understand that any action that does not have something to do with love will be chucked out of the window by readers as unrealistic. However these guys are so wild and mentally brilliant that you can get away with just about anything. Applesauce throwing, punching people with feet, writing reams of poetry, going off to war and getting shot, and banging their heads into trees are all things that can be put under the heading of "things done for love" as long as you make your poet tortured enough. Don't ever give them a happy ending. It would shame them and destroy their sense of the incomplete.  Besides it's mean to take people out of their comfort zones. 

The "different" girl 
The key to writing the different girl is to write her just like different girl ever written. Breaking the mold is unacceptable in this category. So listen carefully, these are the requirements of the different girl. She must live in a community where she is not understood. All {except a hero or two} must condemn her at least a little for her lone ways. She must be absolutely so beautiful that guys ask her to marry them on first meeting. But it must be a different beauty. Not the conventional beauty! On no account can this kind of character be beautiful in the common way. All the old ladies of her acquaintance must say she is "not pretty" She must be "starry" she must remind the hero of a lily or a star flower. She must have decided opinions but on no account can she know her own mind about the hero. She must repulse him at least once. Several times are effective and a refused proposal is the best way really.  She must walk by her wild lone and wave her wild tail. And she must either write or be wrapped up in stories of some kind. For further guidelines read the books of Lucy Maud Montgomery.  

The Sidekick
One word. Weird. Make them weird. If they are not weird then people will mistake them for heroes or heroines and that we do not want. Follow these three easy steps and you are on your way to the perfect sidekick. Think up a lot of cheerful quirky ways of stating life's truths then work them into the story with your sidekick saying them. Think up a quirky weird habit and give it to your sidekick. Kick the sidekick out of all the scenes where he is wanted and have him show up when he MC wants to be left alone. There you have it! The perfect sidekick.       

Anne girl is a young writer who enjoys alternately squealing over and pocking fun at her favorite things {such as characters}.  She loves writing, plot bunnies,  blogging, and laughing. You can find her at her blog Scribblings

Monday, July 9, 2012

...before we sink: july's snippets

Here are July's snippets--as I'm off on the campaign trail all month I haven't had time to write--all the same, enjoy these few tastes of Scuppernong Days. :)
Nick scrubbed at the decks all morning. After an hour or so, pink blisters rose on his palms and protested against being rubbed further against the stone, but Nick dared not rest. Salem-town—even when Nick squinted his hardest—was not even a dark smudge on the horizon. There was nothing now but the sea; and Nick blessed it for being blue and smiling this first leg of the voyage.
-Scuppernong Days

Didn’t you hear the whistle, lad? It’s time to eat.”Nick scrambled to his feet to see Mr. Nesbit looking much different than he had on the docks. The first-mate had discarded his common clothing and now wore a waistcoat of a violet hue and a long yellow feather in his hat. He wore also a skirted coat and a pair of dark woolen breeches buckled under his knees with bright silver buttons. “Didn’t you hear me, lad?” he asked again. “It’s time to eat. Go to the galley and wait your turn.”
-Scuppernong Days
What time is it, senior?” Nick asked.“Amaranto. Call me Amaranto.” The Spaniard spoke with only a trace of an accent that floated through his words like the elusive fragrance of curry in a lamb stew.
-Scuppernong Days

Nick pulled away from Amaranto’s heavy hand. “Elliott said I was to be prepared for keel-hauling at three o’clock. Please, sir, let me go!”A ribbon of laughter rippled through the knot of sailors. Amaranto tossed back his head and laughed the heartiest. “Did he now? The little pĂ­caro.”Fisher rolled his eyes. “Never did I see a worse varmint’n that Elliott. Fancy this new little chap pleading to be let go for a keel-hauling!” He broke off into louder laughter than before, and even Black-Swan swiveled her head about and bared her teeth as if joining in the general amusement.
-Scuppernong Days
He liked Cook—there was something oddly comforting in the benign appearance of the fat little man. He wore a buttoned shirt of a reasonably white shade rolled up to his elbows. His hair was non-existent, his eyelashes so light as to give him the appearance of being albino, and his cheeks very pink. He had a soft little under-chin too that Nick considered the crowning point in making Cook look like a very sedate Yorkshire pig.
-Scuppernong Days
"...don’t ye be worried about Cap’n Reynolds. I’m sure we’ll see ‘im someday before th’ ship sinks.”Before the ship sunk? That wasn’t a particularly cheering proposition. Nick decided to ignore the remark and instead lifted the wash-tub in his arms and staggered out the galley door with it. He dumped the lukewarm water over the edge of the ship and watched it rejoin the sea from where it had once been. It fascinated him, the way water never finished its business—it was always going somewhere, from one end of earth to another; never resting.                                                                                                -Scuppernong Days

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oh I wish I was in de land of cotton ;)

Hello Everyone! Long story, but this is the short version:
I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon for a month of campaigning in Georgia. :) 
Shocked? So was I--it came up majorly fast, but it's going to be glorious. :)

It's hilarious because I'm flying from here to PA and then from PA to GA.
It's going to feel like fighting the Civil War all over again...yankees and rebels, wot? ;)
I've got posts scheduled to keep this corner of the Blogging World from being death's doorstep, including some fabulous guest posts, so keep thy eyes peeled! :) You can catch up with me and my trip on Facebook--I set up a page expressly for that purpose. :) Just type up my name, and as long as I know you well enough to not think you're a creeper, I shall accept you as a friend and love you forever and always. ;) For now I've got to trot off to our town's darling 4th of July picnic/fireworks, but I will have internet access down there after all, so you will be hearing from me! Toodles--wish me a bon voyage and drop a prayer or two for Daniel and I if you think of it. :) (We're campaigning together. :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Faces of The Scuppernong

Welcome to the many faces of Scuppernong Days. In the future you will hear a deal about them, I'm afraid. :) This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does serve to give you an idea of what the characters in this book look like.

Imperia Murdoch


Cook (in stolen regimentals? ;)




Mr. Lightwood


Doctor Merrit

Mr. Nesbit