Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A corrupt-tempered mood.

I stumbled across some character-notes from this past summer. Notes about people I met through the season whom I had the foresight to describe a little, that I might use the memories later in formulating new characters....here are some of the entries:

Rather shabby, lumpy, pale clerk with limp moustaches who is kindhearted, dull, and rather hopeless. His daughter works at the coffee shop downtown, of which he's rather proud and mentions often.

Old woman who is 1/4 negro and whose husband holds a prejudice against the race. He always uses the "N" word, but "he's the first to stop on the side of the road if one is broken down." She wishes she had the funds to do a blood tests on her husband and see if he has any negro blood. Husband wears an eye-patch.

Old, blind woman whose mind is still very sharp and who calls herself the matriarch "who doesn't do anything."

(during one particularly trying afternoon this summer, I vented to myself in third-person.)

Every point was countered with a remark of a dismally cankerous nature, inconvenient to the point of frustration and boiling indignation. Anything said was bound to be parried and disagreed with and so, valuing her own composure of spirits over the beauties of conversation, she purposed to say nothing at all....

....Being in his presence felt a deal like being locked in a dryer. They tumbled about, haphazard, from one subject to another and got in royal tangles at every turn. She felt her patience, like a left sock, disappear somewhere in the cavern of his thoughts, never to be heard from again..

(my coworker was fond of singing and anecdotes...)

...Was this how it felt to be in a musical? She'd always thought it to be a pleasant idea, but now she was not so sure. One couldn't say a thing without him striking a pose, raising a finger, and relating one anecdote or another from the hoards he had collected over the years for just such an occasion. Drat brilliant people, she thought. They drowned your own thoughts in the fury of their intellect. He was a genius cast in a variety show, and she was his audience--held captive by the single fact that if she did not put up with him, she would not receive her paycheck.

Is constantly making up new and ridiculous salutes for D. Reads favorite parts of Shakespeare aloud from the computer screen. Prints the words to songs I'm singing so I won't have to hum.  :)

In more recent news, a dear woman from our church brought her grown son with her. He is mentally challenged, but the most precious fellow. He's got a memory like a steel-trap and reads the dictionary for fun. Our dog scared him, however, and put him in a sour state of mind...

His Mother: "Well aren't you in an ill humor!"
Bill: I am not in an ill-humor. I'm in a corrupt-tempered mood!"

Of course I had to write that down in my writing journal. I mean, it's brilliant. I am intent upon using it someday, though perhaps in a different context. :) People-watching and listening and observing is a huge way to grow your knack for writing characters. Keep track of these things! It's hilarious to read over later on.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Of some other metal than earth."

Leonato: "Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband."
Beatrice: "Not till God make man of some other metal than earth."
-Much Ado About Nothing

It seems that romance is as much a virus in the online world as it is in reality. In my everyday life people have been making matches of themselves at an alarming rate. I foresee many weddings in the next year or two... *feels dazed*... And the plague, as I said, has not limited itself to reality. It's crept onto the blogs beginning with Mirriam and quickly followed by Jenny with their respective posts on romance and How To Write It. I was not intending to follow suit. Not at all. But then I was looking through my copy of the screenplay of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and came across Beatrice's vow and then I thought of something I've been meaning to write about and since it slightly aligns with the topic touched upon by Jenny and Mirriam, I'm giving it to you.

I bring up the topic of your Hero.

If there is one error Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell made (perhaps) it is that their heroes are so....heroic. Let me rephrase that. Their heroes don't really have any obvious flaws. (Their female leads do....funny.) We women love Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightly and Mr. Thornton and Roger Hamley. The only problems with those men are that two are misunderstood, one is a little critical, and one is a little blind. I love these fictional fellows as much as the next girl, but the transition from paper-to-reality is detrimental.

As humans we are all hopelessly flawed without Christ. There is no way a one of us would say that we don't have any faults.

Why, then, do we write characters who can boast near-perfection?

People say that fiction is a way to meet people where they are, take them along a fictional journey, and bring them out at the other end changed in some way. But how can you relate to a character and a journey that has nothing to do with your own life? Sure, a perfect man would be amazing, but I'm not a perfect woman so even if there were perfect men I wouldn't be the best help-meet to one of them.

One thing I've noticed is that Male Leads written by male authors always have plenty of faults...
Jean Valjean
Capt. Jack Aubrey
David Balfour
Bilbo Baggins
Eustace Clarence Scrubb
Ebeneezer Scrooge
All of these men are flawed, and yet we identify with them. Why is it that women are the only ones who will write perfect men into fiction? It's strange. If a man portrayed his fictional men as archangels, the feminists would throw back their heads and howl, "UNFAIR!" but we women will create our own Mr. Darcy's and Mr. Knightley's and defy anyone who would point out their unrealistic points. The men aren't the ones crazy about Pride and Prejudice. Obviously they don't find perfect men realistic and honest enough to bother reading about. We don't write perfect women characters, do we? No. Our women all have bad tempers, or resentful hearts, or scabby pasts, or hidden fears--things that make them real. It's because we're easy on ourselves and aren't trying to boast perfection because we know we don't measure up. Then why do we hold men to a different standard?

Though this post is somewhat rambling, it does have a main point: I'd caution all writers to make sure that your male "hero" in your story has his own flaws. You don't want a one-dimensional character. You don't want a perfect man that will drive away other men from reading the book.

Look to the men in your life. The men around you. Look to your brothers and fathers and pastors and neighbors. Your uncles and the guy down the street. Goodness--look to Taylor the Latte Boy if you must, but let's cast aside the Perfect-Man syndrome.

It's not going to help women to idealize Mr. Darcy's perfections, only to find they can't be satisfied with a single real man. It's an age-old problem that even Shakespeare addressed when he wrote Beatrice's refusal of marriage:

"Not till God make man of some other metal than earth."

Till she reaches Heaven, perhaps? Ah--but then it will be too late. Better to conform our ideas of fictional and earth-men to the mold we have here and now. Men made in the image of God, flawed as we all are, reaching upward to Christ a little more each day, denying their flesh and seeking Him.

After all, despite what Jane Austen might say, that's the true definition of heroism.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chomping at the bit.

I may have been silent and-or insipid on this blog the past couple of weeks, but I have good excuse. I decided to role with Au Contraire and have been up to my elbows in research and plotting. Exciting thing is, I tried a new method of plotting because plot-strength is something I've made a goal of recently. The method? After I had the bare-bones idea of Au Contraire (The basic plot outline), I went through and named all the chapters, devoting a certain amount to each phase of the plot. From there I researched historical events along the time-line of the story and plugged them into the basic plot, then built further plot twists and arches along those historical under-pinnings. I'm really really excited about this, and feel more prepared than I have for most of my novels. I have 3 detailed pages of outline to my name which will definitely keep me on track when I feel uninspired. Of course there is wiggle-room for plot changes, new characters, etc, but I think this method is going to prove extremely helpful. Would you like a sneak-peek of this novel via the chapter-names?

I had hoped so. I will tell you not to put too much stock in what the names mean--I purposely did not title them obviously. But do they pique your interest?

1. Parlor of Patriots
2. "A bas les aristos!"
3. The song of Marseilles
4. Flicker-by-night
5. Ring-around-the-Rosie
6. A Death of ideals
7. Guilt-gems
8. Visage of Offense
9. The Gulf Torn
10. Nor Hell a Fury
11. The Hound
12. Self-same Dust
13. Tete-tete
14. Ruse de Guerre
15. Belly to the Ground
16. Vive le Roi
17. Doubt Thou the Stars are Fire
18. Vogue la Galere

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Business, my darling--as usual."

Because we all need a little cat + Vivian Leigh to brighten our day.
Of course it always is business right when you were hoping for a bit of Something Else. But, my dear people, we must have business--if we didn't there would be no commerce, and if no commerce than no economy and if no economy than we'd be America and--oh dear. I had not meant to go that far.


I wanted to alert all of you to the fact that The Anne-girl is having a The First Annual Scribbles Conference on her blog and I was chosen as one of a group of writers who are "Convention Speakers." If you would like to read my post on The Vividry of Commonplace People (otherwise entitled, characterization), follow this link. And if you'd like to read my answers to some questions put to me by some of you (perhaps) you can click on the question below...

Incidentally, Jenny wrote up a post that so perfectly coincided with my thoughts on A Severe Mercy that they felt one and the same, so go and read that, please. You'll not regret it.
Adieu, my friends! I am deep in the throes of historical research for Au Contraire and am finding out more and more about Corinne Garnier and Renaud Tremaine--you must forgive me my abstracted state of mind. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a Parisian excerpt in the near future, and in the meantime I will leave you with my current favorite "toast":

"If it's half as good as the half we've known, here's Hail! to the rest of the road!"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nothing but parchment...

Abigail reminded me of the fact that there are such things as Character Letters in this life, and a much-needed thing they are, too. In fact, I believe it is safe to say that Character Letters are the perfect venue through which to familiarize yourself with your characters' voices when you get a tad out of touch with them. Or when you are wanting to get in touch with them, which is me in the case of Au Contraire. Thus I give to you a letter written by Corinne Garnier to her cousin, Renaud Tremaine. It has little bearing on the plot, and only serves to give you a feel for her character. She writes:

"My cousin,
       Perhaps you have scores of demimondaine who would address you as their "esteemed, beloved, magnificent Citoyen Tremaine", but though I might be an enfant terrible, you at least have the satisfaction of knowing I am entirely truthful. Of course a mistress would pamper and esteem you. But I do not esteem you any more than you esteem me. We have a perfect knowledge of our characters, you and I, and it seems to me that we are matched; en pantoufles. I do not call you noble or honorable. You do not call me a lady. We would be, both of us, en brochette-cooked on a skewer-if we were succumbed to the scrutiny of the aristocratic standard. Thank God that is not so and we've effectively silenced all such scrutiny--neither of us could survive the slight to our vanity it would be to be held to such a flame--we are nothing but parchment writ over with fierce, fiery script. Some a bit less ambitious than we would say our imaginings are nothing but folie a deux--a clinging to a delusional ideal. But, my dear cousin, here is the fun of it--they shall be the ones left pale and listless by and by while you and I swing higher on this glorious wave of Revolution.
      You will doubtless smile with your greatest condescension when we meet this afternoon. I feel in the highest of high spirits: viva la republique! and all that. I am lively enough to start a bread riot, only I am tired of bread. Perhaps a gateau riot would be more to the point. If we could demand an allay in cake-prices, what a glorious repartee that would be to that demimonde, Marie Antoinette's command to "let them eat cake." You have always been plagued by staircase-wit--store that one up for a later date and remember to thank me afterward.
     Sometimes, Renaud, I feel a queer idea in relation to you. I feel that we are so alike that I have but to look into your face and see my own soul--if we have souls yet, which many doubt in these wonderfully forward-thinking days. Do you have a soul, Renaud? Somehow I doubt it in your case as well as mine--and I am not sure whether to feel gaiety or terror over the idea. Come to me early this evening. I want to be mocked and taunted and mock and taunt in return and cease with everything soberminded. D'accord?
              Your chiton-fille,
                                Corinne Adele Garnier

Of Procrastination and Readables.

I am procrastinating today. Of course that is to be expected after having been entirely away from my writing for so long. (A WHOLE WEEK) It was a wonderful week, but I find my brain rather foggy and it will only think nonsense, so I thought I'd work on Cottleston Pie, but it doesn't want to write nonsense--only think it--so here I am realizing I had better write a blog post to clear off that wonderfully vanity-and-warm-fuzzy-inducing post my sister-ish-in-law-ish person wrote for me in a grand dose of Trespassing.

What a nice surprise to come home to.

I think I will indulge in reading today. Just to get my brain back into the feel of forming words. I know if I tried to write it'd be rubbish today, (having read a lot of posts I'd missed on Go Teen Writers, reading Jenny's convention-posts on Scribblings, and generally stuffing my head full of How It Oughter Be Done.) so I'll just let myself off this once and read something.

This brings to me the question, "what am I reading?". Here's the latest:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Never sorry I bought this for my birthday earlier this summer, though I already owned a ratty copy. My third time through it, I believe, and just as good now as it ever was.

Freddy Goes to Florida by Walter R. Brooks

I am reading this as a love-gift to Abigail. Because honestly, I'd never have thought to pick it up. But Abigail--being the wonderful sister-ish person she is--decided I needed a break from classics and taking my writing seriously, and sent me off on an improbable winter "migration" with a bunch of daft farm-animals. I've laughed. Truly.

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

An autobiographical book by Sheldon Vanauken about his relationship with his wife, their friendship with C.S. Lewis, their conversion to Christianity, and a bum-bum-bum-bummmmmmm which hasn't come up yet. This book has made me laugh, touched me, and will doubtless make me cry by the end. It reminds me of Jenny, somehow, and one of the reasons I like it best is because it deals with C.S. Lewis...and any book with him inside it is automatically that much better. I love true books.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I picked this book up for two reasons: 1) The plot intrigued me, 2) I'd been looking for a modern novel to read and enjoy, and I'd heard this one was better than most. Boy were they right. An entire review is forthcoming, but know that if you are of the age of 16 and older, I highly highly recommend it. It does have a couple issues such as language, but over all I think it was an instant classic.

In other news, I've got quite a queue of books lined up waiting to be read and/or re-read, including the Mark of the Lion series, Kidnapped, and a lurking, long-time feeling that I want to read again my beloved Chronicles of Narnia--a feeling likely stemming from reading A Severe Mercy.

What are you reading? How is your Have Read List for 2012 shaping up?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trespassing ;)

There has been a break-in, y'all.    

The writer of this post is not your beloved Rachel.  

You see, Rachel is away this week, wrangling youngsters on a mountain top in my own home State of North Carolina, while I have in turn hopped the border and come up here to Virginia to spend a few days, taking advantage of the unusual work week schedule which allowed me to come be an extra hand in the absence of Rachel and the Next Three Girls, and to visit her brother who is my Someone.  

So here I am, hijacking her computer AND her blog account, after having already spent two comfortable nights in her bed, (and eaten her porridge), -a shameless Goldilocks enjoying a few Days in the Life of Rachel, and wondering if her readers really know who lies behind that colorful imagination and those perfect written words which hold us all captive?  

If not, I'm here to give you an earful.  

Well first of all, she's very real. She's imaginative, yes, but down-to-earth and reachable and chummy and hilarious and clever and occasionally has really blonde moments!  

She is a thinker, and often times I think she understands me better than I understand myself.  Next to my Mama, she is the one I go to when my emotions are out of sorts, or I just need to hear someone tell me it's going to be alright.  I don't know what I would have done without her loving support and gentle wisdom in the midst of my girlish trial this spring, caught in a peculiar pickle of two men.  

I can't count the number of times we have laughed so hard we cried!  (and she did her little hiccup thing, and I squeaked). 

You've seen her craft a beautiful story, but have you seen her tie back her hair with a red bandanna and go cut the grass?  I have. 

She is very graceful... she sort of glides around the kitchen... and glides around cleaning up... and does her own theme music...

She puts herself together every morning in the cutest, most sensible ways!  She has a way of looking adorable, but totally prepared for the tasks of the day.  (I don't know how she does it... clothes are so not my forte).  

Rachel doesn't know she is beautiful!

She is a hard worker, and does not complain.  Or, if she does get vaguely grumpy, you can't take it seriously.  It's just too cute.

Well now I need to go help with supper, so I will stop my glowing there, although I could go on to speak more of her maturity and godliness, and fruitful spirit.  

I miss you, my Frankie, and I hope that you have a safe journey home this weekend, and that you don't mind the break-in.  :)  And to all y'all her readers-  she just rocks, don't she!  


Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Let's see...who will be next?"

I believe I've heard of a species of writer that has their work so carefully plotted that when they are done with one book they immediately begin on another, complete the process again, and so on. This species is unrelated to me. I think I missed out on the Spartan gene somehow. My style is much more...organic. I usually have two or three projects going at once. I work on all of them for the space of a week or so and suddenly one will take off and pull me with it. For instance, where have Cottleston Pie and Scuppernong Days gone? Good question! They are still very much alive, but Fly Away Home took over and raced with me to the finish line. Now that I'm through with Fly Away Home and am in the editing process with it and The Scarlet-Gypsy Song,  I am nosing about for which project will fly away with me next.

There  are four on the table at present:

Scuppernong Days

Find Her

Cottleston Pie

Au Contraire

I am not certain which I'll devote my entire creative-power to just yet. Cottleston Pie is a for-fun book that may not every be pithy enough to have publishing allure so I am doubtful I'll push hard for that, though I love to work on it. Here are the other three with their "Sales Handles", genre, and a picture from each. Which would you like to hear more about?

-Scuppernong Days-

A vow to rescue his sister. A tumble into intrigue, piracy, and traitorous waters. A promise to come home. It is up to young Nicodemus Murdoch to tie the three together and emerge alive.

Genre: Mid-grade historical/action-adventure novel

-Find Her

He has staked his life on a promise to "Find Her"...it would help if he knew what to look for. Find Her follows Griff Durbin--a young American in the 1920's--on his world-wide chase to find out what he's looking for...and where it's got to.

Genre: YA action/adventure

-Au Contraire: a novel of the French Revolution-

 Spoiled, petted Corinne Garnier has spent her life in mockery and contempt for the aristos. When a sleight-of-hand trick exposes her aristocratic blood, her ambitious cousin vows to hunt her down and execute her at the guillotine like any other duchess of the Revolution. Will Corinne stoop to accepting mercy at the hands of the people she has vowed to hate?

Genre: YA historical fiction

I am off to camp for a week without internet or my computer so I'll be thinking about these stories a bit during the stay. It'll be interesting to see which snags me first. I am excited about all three and would--if I could--work on them all together. Unfortunately, I work best devoting my entire life to one at a time. Each has great potential.....

Scuppernong Days has characters you feel deep sympathy and connection with, and a deal of great derring-do. Every kid has wanted to run off to sea--admit it.

Find Her is just such an improbable plot and Griff is going to be such a cool guy...a master in a long line of espionage experts...

And then Au Contraire (which I've mentioned before, though you didn't have the title)...the strength of the plot excites me as well as the sweeping drama of the time and the horrible crux Corinne finds herself at...

Ah yes. No lack of inspiration with these three clamoring in my head for proper time and exposure!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jeeves and W--Percy.

Since my mind has been gamboling 'round Wodehouse lately, and since it never strays far from thinking about The Scarlet Pimpernel at any time, I recently recalled a very intriguing post one of the sharp-eyed Leaguettes of The Day Dream had written up concerning P.G. Wodehouse mentioning The Scarlet Pimpernel and even spoofing it in one of his own novels. This post I have copied down in hopes that you will give them all the credit, pop over to their blog to look at the rest of their genius, and enjoy this sighting of Sir Percy smack-dab in the center of Jeeves.

From Sink Me! A period-drama nonsense blog--must read.

“And with the graceful gesture of an accomplished dandy, Sir Percy flicked off a grain of a dust from his immaculate Mechlin ruffles.” (-I Will Repay by Baroness Orczy)
“Sir Percy Blakeney- a prisoner since seventeen days in close, solitary confinement, half-starved, deprived of rest, and of that mental and physical activity which had been the very essence of life to him hitherto- might be outwardly but a shadow of his former brilliant self, but nevertheless he was still that same elegant English gentleman, that prince of dandies whom Chauvelin had first met eighteen months ago at the most courtly Court in Europe.  His clothes, despite constant wear and the want of attention from a scrupulous valet, still betrayed the perfection of London tailoring; he had put them on with meticulous care, they were free from the slightest particle of dust, and the flimy folds of priceless Mechlin still half-veiled the delicate whiteness of his shapely hands.”  (-El Dorado by Baroness Orczy)

“I remember reading in one of those historical novels once about a chap -a buck he would have been, no doubt, or a macaroni or some such bird as that- who, when people said the wrong thing, merely laughed down from lazy eyelids and flicked a speak of dust from the irreproachable Mechlin lace at his wrists.  This was practically what I did now.  At least, I straightened my tie and smiled one of those inscrutable smiles of mine.  I then withdrew and went out for a saunter in the garden.”  (-Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse)
“I know you did, Jeeves,”  I said, laughing down from lazy eyelids and nicking a speck of dust from the irreproachable Mechlin lace at my wrists."  (-ibid.)

"Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat sleeve."  (Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse)

What more is there to say?

(And I, Rachel, say that if I have to say something more it shall only be that you ought to read something of Wodehouse. Please do. It just about takes the giddy biscuit and that's no fib.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wandering, white, alone.

It's that time of the month again! That time when you get to read odds and ends and bits and pieces of all my works in progress. The time between this round and the last has been very busy--I've finished Fly Away Home, messed around with a little bit of two other ideas, and have almost finished a first-round edit on The Scarlet-Gypsy Song. That's why October's Snippets of Story are just a bowl of stone-soup. And be happy over the two other ideas because this may be the last time you see them on this blog if they aren't destined for full spinning-out! However, I am really excited over the first bit of the one I've titled Find Her. Enjoy!

I smiled into my cup, watching the reflections of a dozen kindnesses shimmer in the mirror of hindsight.
-Fly Away Home

My eyes traveled over Nancy’s strong, upright figure and rested on her brown, supple fingers. Fingers that had wiped tears and struck important words out of a typewriter. Fingers that had taken down dictation and fastened buttons. Fingers, in short, that had seen the world and chosen their occupation. I looked at my own and saw the fresh coat of apple-red nail polish so shiny I could see the curve of my lips in their reflection when I raised my hand to brush back my hair.
Well, I’d always liked paradoxes, hadn’t I?
-Fly Away Home

...you can't trust jelly in a sieve, and you can't trust a fellow to follow a logical system.
-Fly Away Home

Again, that strange grey-edge gulf widened between me and the rest of the world. I was left gazing upon an image of Mr. Barnett, Nalia, and a dozen greats standing on the white cliffs of Dover while I tossed—seasick—on the green swells between, without enough energy to look over my shoulder and see if that ever-eager Jerry had accompanied me on this departure of the lower social order.
-Fly Away Home

How the women of today must work to shake from ourselves that desire to be won. That is not what we want—you of all women know this—but the pathways of a hundred years agone have taught us to become enchanted with the fascino of a man who would treat us like his queen…
-Fly Away Home

I squinted against the glare of the sun—no more dazzling to my eyes than this new feeling was to my soul—and saw the great bird, pinions flashing and gleaming beneath the sunlight. My heart was like that albatross—wandering, white, alone.
-Fly Away Home

“This is how you repay me for my slavery?” I asked: “With fawning insults?”
“Would you rather have them administered in vinegar and cayenne?”
“Beauty.” He caught my eyes for a moment and again I was at a loss to look away. “But—” and he broke off the spell of a sudden. “This particular rose has thorns enough to spear a kingdom and she must be handled only by those who know the trick.”
-Fly Away Home

“You’re using your prudent-face,” Hayden said, jerked Valerie’s pen out of her hands. “So spare us both a scene and don’t preach at me.”
“I’m not preaching.”
“You fussed me out for not paying my rent.”
“I didn’t.”
“You might as well have. You made me feel guilty.” Hayden ran her manicured fingers through her hair and shook her head. “And this is a Saturday. It’s ‘Hayden is happy with herself’ day. Don’t ruin it with a sermon, Val, ‘k?”
“Whatever, Hayden.”
-The Sirens of Baker Street

“Playing Zaccheus?” Hayden slid into a chair beside Valerie with a playful shove.
Valerie ignored her and made a few more desperate marks with her pen on the edge of a Past Due notice.
“Come on, Val—just because it’s Saturday doesn’t mean you have to be a grouch. Can’t we do something fun?”
“We could.”
“Hallelujah—girls! Val’s ready to have some fun. What’ll it be—Starbucks?”
Valerie tucked her bangs behind her ears and stifled a yawn. “More like ‘sit in the park and catch the bread-crumbs before the pigeons do cuz that’s all we’re getting for lunch.’”
Hayden’s face fell. “That bad?”
-The Sirens of Baker Street

“Was my father Naramore Durbin?”
“Curse you, Griff—you know well as I and better who he was.”
“These are yes or no questions, Cartier.”
He growls something. I ask him again. “Yes,” he snaps out.
“Did he concern himself with Her?” We’re speaking of Her in capitals now—strong and tall with the legs of the “H” supported by a beam ‘cross the middle like me and Cartier and that grudge smack between us.
-Find Her

“You’re a damned fool.”
“Your language, Cartier. We’re in a church.” I slip from the comfortable backwoods accent into my Society British one I save for special occasions.
Cartier’s eyebrow jinks up, and I know I’m giving his nerves a work-out, playing all my father’s cards like this…the gambles…the accents….he licks his lips. “Fine.”
“You ask me a question—any question. And if I answer wrong, you get to kill me.”
“I could kill you now.”
“Of course.” I spread my arms and smile humbly. “But you won’t. Because you still need me.”
-Find Her

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Time to party!

People, prepare for an awesome month.

October? Nah.


Oh yeah.

Because it's the 2nd birthday of both Abigail Hartman's The Soldier's Cross and Jenny Freitag's The Shadow Things, and they are holding a huge birthday-bash! What wonderful mothers. ;) This party is gonna be full of informative posts, interviews, Q & A sessions, giveaways, and more both on Scribbles and Inkstains and The Penslayer. But the best part? The part that concerns you and me and everyone else who wants to get their hands on a piece of Jenny and Abigail's attention? You can ask them any questions. Any. You can post your questions on their blog, email them, or ask them on the authors' FB pages--just get out there and do it! Now's your chance, so hurry! {and does anyone else not think the Promo-banners are amazing?}

Monday, October 1, 2012

Word-play vs. Wonder

We have talked about the voices of different authors--how the ink our each of our pens flows differently. How we naturally piece together words in our own styles. We long to write as another author does, but our ideas do not flow like theirs. Then the search is on  for our own voice. --We have covered these things thoroughly indeed and bemoaned the glorious burnishing of being slain by another's pen. But tonight I was thinking of the books I've read recently and noticing something about each author that is perhaps one layer deeper than voice...

There is a phenomenon in reading that I often come across: a book will wholly and entirely transport me so that I forget all time and schedules and am simply living vicariously through a character. I will finish the book and look back with one of two sentiments:

Either the author spun his tale and description so effortlessly that the story was conveyed to my mind almost as a film....as a strand of vivid pictures without burden of words remembered
The sheer beauty of the word-play is a large part of what captivates one when reading that book.

I fall in love with each example in turn and marvel over the intricacies of that author's skill. Sometimes you will also find a good author who relies on a combination of both for her voice. My style is such a one. I have not yet mastered the art of completely making a person forget they are reading, but neither am I an astonishing master of word-craft entire. I am a happy medium between the two--perhaps not a protege, but a comfortable companion by the fireside on a chilly evening.
One book that I finished recently {With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin, [which I just did a review of over at my other blog] } took the first example. Her characters were so alive, her plot so strong, her story and setting so vivid that I hardly realized I was reading. Instead, I was living that book alongside the characters and when I was finished reading the text, my mind kept up the dance all night and into the next day. To be able to write in that manner! What a gift.
But previously (and currently) I've been on a Rosemary Sutcliff and Jenny Freitag jag. These are authors whose skill in word-play is a vast part of the charm of their work. You want to take the book slowly because each sentence is skillfully wrought in a way that might be overlooked if read too quickly.

One set possesses a vividry built of efficient, simple, perfect dynamo-sentences. The other paints with a careful, rich-hued brush, but both are distinct masters of their craft. We hybrids are a rarer--though still a magnificent--race who would do well to look sharp about them and study the techniques of these solid, rock-bottomed authors to learn how to wield both pens effectively and build up our own craft.

“It has been my experience, sir, that when one broods too much on imagination, he can begin to see the images of his fancies imprinted on the faces of perfect strangers.”