Year in Review

I’ve had this blog for almost 18 months now. My thanks to all the lovely people who’ve stopped in to visit and to leave comments. People have come by from all over the world. Well, okay, Greenland continues to snub me. I’m trying not to take that personally.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be a published author. Woo hoo! Let there be celebrations.
New Years Eve fireworks Oulu 20111231l

I’m prepping a second book for publication, have another one submitted to a publisher, and several more waiting in the wings. In terms of writing, I’d say this has been a very good year.

Where do you see yourself in a year? And what plans to you have to make your goals become reality?

I’ve gone through the links that I’ve included in posts this year, and singled out my favorites. These aren’t necessarily links that were created this year, but they’re  the ones I liked best.

Links for when I’m feeling sad

Not always right Stories submitted by various people. Just little anecdotes of a time when someone was nice to them, kindness from total strangers.

This link will make everything okay. It’s silly, but this does help.

Favorite video links

An interview with Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon

Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech

Favorite game There are other games out there, but I like this one because you can play word games and donate to the hungry at the same time.

What links make your favorite list?

I hope 2018 is a fabulous year for each and every one of you. Happy New Year!

Fireworks DetroitWindsorIntlFreedomFest

A big part of a writer’s life? Waiting

Arthur Rackham 1909 Undine (15 of 15)

They also serve who only stand and wait.
-John Milton
(who clearly never had to deal with a slow waiter)

The nice part of waiting for your book to come out? The experience prepares you for writing in general. You are always going to be waiting for the next book to come out, the next Bookbub ad, the next royalty check… etc.

Of course you fill the time with writing the next fabulous opus, but you still wait.

I don’t have much longer to wait for my first book to be published. But it FEELS like it’s taking forEVER.

What a good thing I am such a patient person.

Um… you believe that don’t you?

Oh. You don’t.

Well, you’re right. But I’m trying to be patient.

Two more days.

Only 3 more days as an unpublished writer…

I haven’t been posting too much about the forthcoming publication of His Forgotten Fiancée. Truth to be told, I’ve been trying not to think about it.

Well, not completely. I have written some guest posts for a few blogs. But I’ve been trying to avoid most advance reviews and just focus on getting the next novel out. I am working my way through the first batch of edits back from the editor for Geoff and Lia’s story, The English Lieutenant’s Lady. I just submitted Neil and Sam’s story, I’m roughing out scenes for a new contemporary romantic suspense story, and I’m updating a Victorian romance for an agent who requested the manuscript.

Working on several projects at once does help me keep my mind off fretting about a book that’s out of my hands. But I wish I could get these stories finished now. I don’t want to have to stop writing to deal with the need to pay the mortgage and the myriad chores inherent in living in a fixed place on this planet.  It is tedious to have to work a day job and clean house and tidy the yard and all those things. I need staff.

A couple dozen sounds about right… of course, I’d have to have a mansion to house them all… and a whole lot of money in the bank and… well… maybe I’ll hold off on these plans until after my first book is published.

In three days. Gulp.

Quote: Neil Gaiman on the Benefits of Ignorance

Muenchhausen Herrfurth 9 500x783

When you start out… you have no idea what you are doing. This is great.

People who know what they’re doing know the rules, and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not. And you should not…

If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.

-Neil Gaiman

Actually, I think instead of just posting that quote, I should just put in the link to the whole video. If you haven’t seen the commencement address that Neil Gaiman gave at the University of Arts, I recommend watching it.

Five more days until my debut book is published. And I have no idea what I’m doing.

Characters do what they want

Jane Austen coloured version
There’s a scene in The Man Who Invented Christmas where Dickens complains, “I can’t make the characters do what I want… I’m the author here!”

That reminded me of Shannon Hale’s book, Austenland. It’s the story of a woman who’s becoming frustrated with her inability to find a modern-day Mr. Darcy. In an attempt to overcome her Darcy obsession, she goes off to a resort where guests can interact with actors pretending to be Regency-era characters. And of course, she meets a man who resembles Mr. Darcy, as well as another tempting man.

As I see it, there were three ways that Hale could have ended the story:

  1. The heroine ends up with the grumpy-but-charismatic Mr. Darcy-type hero.
  2. The heroine ends up with the lowly-but-charming gardener.
  3. The heroine rejects both men and ends up with living on her own and feeling good about it.

Reading this story, I had the strong impression that Hale wanted one ending and the heroine wanted another. That sounds odd, but it’s true that sometimes, as Dickens said, you can’t make the characters do what you want. It felt as if the author were pushing the heroine toward one particular potential hero. There were whole scenes where the heroine waffled back and forth about whether she should make that choice. The trouble was, that choice didn’t make sense in the context of the way the story was developing, how the heroine interacted with the two potential heroes.

The ending felt right, and I’m glad the heroine made the choice she did, but I don’t think it was the direction the author had wanted the story to go.

Merry Christmas

Brooklyn Museum - The Nativity - Cuzco School - overall

Merry Christmas to you all. Peace on earth.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold,[b] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”[c

Luke 2:8-14

When a good description turns into bad writing

Leonid Pasternak - The Passion of creation
I love reading the winning entries for the Bulwer Lytton contest. It’s a contest devoted to writing the worst possible opening sentence of a novel. Deliberately bad writing is not as easy as unconsciously bad writing, in my experience. I’m great at writing badly when I’m not paying attention. But reading deliberately bad writing is not only funny, it’s often useful.

Writers are told to include sensory detail. I’ve had a contest judge ding my writing because in one scene I only included sensory detail from three senses (sight, sound, touch) instead of all five. I don’t think the reader notices or cares whether you use all senses in describing a scene. Writers get so focused on including the sensory details that they miss the reason for including the details in the first place.

One day—though this was no average day, it was gloomy; uncharacteristically forecast for mid-July, yet not extraordinary considering the geographic location, on the northern coast of Germany, where drastic changes in weather are indeed quite common although not so common that they were expected yet common enough to leave no one shocked by the small gathering of clouds above their heads—Linda went on a walk down the street.
— Benjamin Matthes, Founex, Switzerland Dishonorable mention, Bulwer Lytton contest

I’ve read stories where the writers devote a page or more of meticulous description in precise detail, for example a clinical description of the taste, sound, scent of eating an apple. The problem with that? Clinical detail, by its very nature, is detached from all emotion. I don’t need to know what eating an apple is like. I need to know what this character feels about it.

Description is an elegant way to tell the reader how the character views their world. It slips information into the scene subtly, providing details in the background while the main action is going on.

She was the most desired object in the room, not unlike the last deviled egg at an Easter Day potluck.
— Christine Hamilton, Atlanta, Georgia
Dishonorable mention, Bulwer Lytton contest

Description is also a good way to set the tone. If you want your readers to know you’re writing a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, an opening sentence like the following would definitely work.

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.
-Kat Russo, Loveland, Colorado
Winner, 2017 Bulwer Lytton contest