Monday, May 31, 2010

Listening for the accent

A friend told me once that she hears my voice whenever she reads my writing. It's a woman's voice with an English accent of course, and my friend says she likes it. But I wonder sometimes, how will I write a Texan if my accent stays the same?

I know I can write with more than just one English accent. Sometimes I leave off endings of words, skip syllables or sounds and write Mancunian. Other times I'll be prim and proper and write a landed Londoner with a mouth full of plums and silver spoons. But what if my character's an American teenager, like in my Hemlock Edge stories. Will everyone hear the words with an English accent, or will only my friends?

I've read a few books recently where the written accent was very much part of the tale. What's Really Hood, edited by Wahida Clark, is a book of street stories told in the language of the streets. What impressed me particularly was how easily readable it was, the narrative text maintaining the same street accent till all the voices were clearly heard.

The Broken Blue Line, by Connie Dial, is set in Los Angeles and told in the voice of a police detective. It's not a first person narrative, but again the way the words fit together, the things that are noticed, the flickering thoughts as eyes check every corner, all reflect consistently the way the character speaks.

Connie Dial has police experience, and Wahida Clark knows the streets, but Time Among the Dead, by Thomas Rayfiel, is another book told with an accent perfectly suited to its tale. I'm quite sure the author's not a Victorian English gentleman, but he writes one very well.

I guess I'll know I've finally got it right if my friends start hearing American teens in my words. Meanwhile I'll listen well to the voices in my head and work on rendering their accents more closely than mine.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Blurbs

I signed my contract for Gypsy Shadow Publishing, filled in my tax form and put them both in the mail. It's scary stuff. I worked on writing a new author bio for them too - one where I finally admit I might really be an author. I have to do a book blurb and one-sentence summary next. I'm not sure which part of it all is scariest.

Writing the blurb is an interesting exercise. Once upon a time I always wanted to write blurbs for my stories. I imagined how the back of the book would read, a cleverly catchy paragraph perhaps, giving nothing away except for the subtlest hint. Then I started submitting to publishers and agents and learned that a real synopsis has to tell the whole tale. I struggled and groaned and trained myself not to keep secrets.

But now I'm writing a real book blurb and I mustn't tell it all or why would anyone buy it. Even naming the genre's got me asking my son for help. I can't say this, or that, or the other, or... well, never mind.

I'm still over the moon, no matter how scary it gets. Still dancing round the room. Still smiling at the silvery moon...

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Reading and Reviews

I finally got around to totalling April's points for the Reading Journey, so I'm feeling pretty good about how much I'm reading, even though it seems like I never have time. I guess graduation weekends gave me a good excuse to be busy, but they also meant I was hanging around waiting for things to happen quite a lot, so maybe that's how I managed to read so many long books recently.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz, was an appropriate book for the season. The author paints a very authentic picture of the admissions process, while including an intriguing mystery as her protagonist tries not to admit the secrets of her past or of present emotions.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, is another relatively long book that I borrowed from a friend's grandson - yes, a long children's book, and an excellent read.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was a wonderful read (also long), set in Australia, London and Cornwall, and spanning the last century with fascinating characters, mysteries and locations, a masterful example of multiple storylines and timelines seamlessly intertwined.

And then there's two books that haven't yet been released, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As an Influencer for Mary DeMuth I was privileged to read the third in her Defiance Texas trilogy, Life in Defiance and I loved it. Mary DeMuth has an amazing way with words, both in captivating descriptions, and in getting entirely into her characters' heads. Life in Defiance continues the story of a small town torn apart by the death of a child. I read A Slow Burn, book two, a little while ago and was entranced. I've now been out and bought book one, Daisy Chain, so I can complete the tale, but this really is a series that you can start reading at any stage. Life in Defiance tells the story from the point of view of a woman whose husband is not what he seems. Constantly trying to pick herself up, making excuses for everyone else while always blaming herself, and feeling guilty at all the secrets she keeps, Ouisie Pepper has to learn that a hope in people changing includes a hope in God's helping her to change, so she can become all God has made her to be.

Finally, the Permanent Press sent me a wonderful short book, Time Among the Dead by Thomas Rayfiel, an intriguing tale purporting to be the memoir of the seventh earl of Upton in the late Victorian age, written in the notebook given him by his grandson as his life draws to its close. The old earl has tales to tell about his past that he'd rather keep quiet, but he finds them bearing too closely on the present and speculates how the future will try to hide the self-same burdens. We're not so different, then or now, and there's a thread of regret in the book for joys that were missed due to secrets obscured: A thread of hope too and encouragement that the readers might learn and move on.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm speechless!!!!! And smiling all over my face so broadly I'm not sure how I managed to eat dinner.

I just got an email from Gypsy Shadow Publishing. There was a contract in the attachments! I won their writing prompt competition and they're going to publish my entry as an e-book!

Follow the link and you'll see my name on their front page. I still can't quite believe it. I keep going there to check. Yes, it really is me. Yes, I really have a contract. Yes, if I could just stop running around like a headless chicken long enough I might even read and sign it...

And post a quick blog post to share the good news!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Carry your Business Cards everywhere

I wander the internet, meeting a world of wannabe writers like me, and real writers, and really skilled wannabes, and maybes, and almosts, and ams. I pick up hints which I try to obey, and I work on remembering to say that "I write" when people ask "What do you do?" They usually walk off muddled and confused.

One thing I learned a long while back was that you're always meant to carry a stack of business cards. "You'd be amazed how many opportunities you get to give them away," or so they say. Though I haven't plucked up courage yet to offer cards to strangers, and I'm still unamazed.

I do carry them though, most of the time, but when I went to my son's graduation, I decided not to bother. It was his day, not mine. And for the first time ever, someone sitting next to me asked "What do you do?" was interested in my answer, and wanted to know how he could find my books.

John, if you're out there, you'd've made my day except for it's being my son's day. Instead you made my next day, month and year in memory. You wrote down my website and I thought how I wished I'd remembered to bring a card. And yesterday I found out I'd sold a book. I've no idea if it's you that bought it, but whoever it was, thank you so very much!!!

So now I'll go back to carrying my business cards around. Maybe there's hope for me yet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The graduates

One son's a doctor. One just got his Bachelor's. And I feel old. So now I'm home after a long and eventful weekend. Real life looms with growing weeds and rain outside the window-pane. Inside the cupboards are emptying fast, while washing machine and dryer are full to overflowing. The rooms explode with sheets and towels and several weeks worth of black and white tee-shirts on top of holey jeans. I struggle to have and to fold, and can't hold onto the children because they're all grown.

Still, I also feel proud, just in case you were wondering. And stunned and astonished at the sons' achievements. And glad that I could watch one while my husband watched the other because, in accordance with Murphy's Law, they graduated on the same day at the same time but in different states.

So, if I've seemed to be slow to respond to emails, and oddly absent from the internet and your posts, now you know why. It was a really good weekend.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

creative writer blogger award

I just got another blogger award, this time a

Creative Writer Blogger Award

from Creative Writer A F Stewart. (Many thanks!)

Apparently, as a recipient I have to tell seven facts, all lies and one truth (or all truth and one lie), leaving my readers (if any) to guess which is which. Afterwards I have to send said readers chasing links to seven more creative writers. So, here goes...

My Creative Facts:

  1. My siblings include a Catholic priest, a retired schoolteacher, an astronaut, a secret agent, a mother of ten, a librarian, and an alien.
  2. My past and present pets have included several goldfish, a cat that my Mum said ran away to live on a farm, a dog that escaped through a hole in the fence, a goat, a pony, a spider and an invisible unicorn.
  3. My favorite pastimes as a child included reading, writing, travelling in space, saving the world, dancing, building with Legos, and controlling a very large family of imaginary children.
  4. My favorite music includes classics, classic rock, indie, rap, metal, Beatles, and country.
  5. My favorite books include horror, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, literary, mystery and adventure.
  6. My favorite subjects in school included math, English, latin, French, history, religion and physics.
  7. My favorite foods include bread, cake, pastry, pie, pancakes, scones and toasted tea-cakes.

My Creative Blogging Friends
I suspect they're really too many to name, but here’s seven

  1. Alina’s Purple Caravan for its lovely pictures and words.
  2. Laura Eno’s amazing stories in Shift in Dimensions.
  3. Christopher Grant’s Twist of Noir.
  4. Randy Ingermanson’s Advanced Fiction Writing, and Sam the Plumber in Christian Fiction magazine.
  5. Bearman - yes cartoons are also creative, and he’s running a charity challenge – get over there and join in!
  6. Lynn Squire’s Faith Fiction Fun and Fanciful. Her ongoing Joab’s Fire is great reading.
  7. Jack Foster’s Mr Biblehead. Bring the kids!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Snowflakes in May

A member of our writing group issued a challenge to create a small book, or other writing project, from scratch. Impelled by my excitement at finally picking 5 poems to send to Poetic Asides yesterday, I decided to try to compile some of my other poems into a "chapbook." If you've ever tried that, you'll know what "fun" it is trying to order, reorder, pick, reject, repick, etc...

I bought the Snowflake Pro software a while ago to help organize my novel-writing. It was on sale for a ridiculously low price, and it has indeed got me more organized, though I'm not sure I use it the right way - more as a list-what-I've done machine than one to point me in the right direction. Still, organization after the event is better than no organization..., and those poems really needed to be organized.

I decided to list my poems like chapters in Snowflake Pro, with critical lines or comments like scene descriptions, and there I was, just dragging them up and down the page and working out which order worked best. It was really neat. Thank you Snowflake Guy!

So, today I'm looking at the blogs I follow and just found a notice that Advanced Fiction Writing is running a sale. Snowflake Pro's selling for half-price, just till the 7th. You'll have to hurry if you want to try it out, but I though I should at least give you the link in case you're interested.

And now I'll get back to wondering if a poetry chapbook should include pictures, and how to make the cover. Colored card? Colored image? I guess the Snowflake software's not going to help me with that.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I did it!!!!!

I finally submitted my "best five" poems to the April 2010 PAD Poetic Asides challenge, just crawling under the "midnight (Georgia/Ohio time) on May 5, 2010"‏ deadline. On July 4th there'll be an announcement of top poems from the month and Poet Laureate, not that I expect to make either of those. But there's a certain satisfaction to knowing I really did write a poem a day for thirty days, and managed to whittle the thirty down to only five favorites. There's a certain satisfaction to the word "submission" too. I made a submission! I did it!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still Reading that Journey

It's May - the month of graduation and change and memorial - and I'm still taking that reading journey. Recent books read and reviewed include...

Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix was a really interesting children's book, despite my husband's complaint that it sounded like "The Village" revisited from the back cover. It's depiction of modern America through the eyes of a frightened 1840s teenager was just stunning.

Immortal Warrior by Lisa Hendrix was a surprisingly absorbing read, combining Norse and Celtic mythology with a fascinating historical romance set in the time of William the Conqueror. I loved it and can't wait to read more of the series.

Rion, by Susan Kearney, is the second in her Pendragon Legacy series. If I'd read it before reading Jordan (book 3), the latter might have been less confusing. Which leaves me wondering just how I'll ever complete my magical series without totally flumoxing readers who enter at book 3. A good lesson for me, and a fun read, though not for those who prefer their sci-fi and Arthurian legends to stick to the script.

Spring Maiden by Aubrie Dionne is a perfect lunch-time read, and a lovely follow-up to Winter Queen - delightfully musical writing, and an enchanting and whimsical love story.

SpokeWrite is the the Spokane / Coeur d’Alene Journal of Art, and contains a story by my son. There's lots of other stories and poems too and I really enjoyed it - I even found myself hooked in by the non-fiction pieces, which doesn't often happen.

And then, of course, there's Elysiana by Chris Knopf, a new release from the Permanent Press, and an excellent literary novel that I shall certainly be recommending to my book group. Another musical book, threaded with the sound of the sea and approaching storm, blending characters and scenes with such perfect timing that the reader's never confused despite the large cast. It's not just the old hotel, or its brain-damaged occupant, who has lost the thread of life's meaning, but a storm brings definition and strength to all.

Oh, plus my review of Elaine Hopper's Always a Bridesmaid is in this weeks Nights and Weekends.

So I'm still reading, and the various graduations of sons are still approaching, and it's May. (Help! How did we get there?)