Friday, July 31, 2009

In Memoriam

My high school English teacher, Miss Cunningham, passed away yesterday. She taught at the high school for something like 41 years or so and will be greatly missed. She introduced me to reading classic literature (I mean the "real" classics like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc.) and made Shakespeare understandable and even fun.

So today I am blogging some of the Shakespeare quotes we had to recite in her class (I'll only post portions of the speeches, but we had to memorize and recite the entire speech).

From Julius Cesar, we have Antony's speech from Act 3 Scene 2:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.

From Hamlet, we have in Act 3 Scene 1, Hamlet's famous speech:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

The study of Macbeth found us reciting his speech from Act 2 Scene 1:

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

And Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet provided us reason to recite:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.

And though I don't believe we had to recite it in class, I seem to remember memorizing Katharina's speech from Act 5 Scene 2 of Taming of the Shrew (maybe I needed extra credit or something):

Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.

Yes, those are some good memories. Though things weren't always happy in her class. She did have a tendency to make our homework bleed. Oh the countless red pens who willingly placed themselves in Miss Cunningham's hands and selflessly gave their ink to correct our numerous mistakes.

Her tough love and endless homework made her students more knowledgeable and prepared them for their futures, but it was her love and compassion for each one of us that made us love her and this is the Miss Cunningham we will miss most. She was never to busy for a student who needed to talk.

These words from Macbeth (Act 5 Scene 5) I also seem to remember reciting (probably more extra credit) and were never more appropriate than now:

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more . . .

And now Miss C is free from the earthly binds of teaching hard headed students and grading endless papers. May she rest in peace.

I can't help but feel sorry for the students who will never get to be in her class now (she had planned to continue teaching this year)


Write on.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Whose story is this?

I love sending my work out for critique. Not only because I have some great critique buddies, but because I enjoy seeing how other people critique. At an ANWA retreat I attended last weekend, Sarah M. Eden gave a fun talk in which she said there are three types of writing buddies:

a. Mom—always loves it

b. Ruthless editor—mangles MS and rips it apart

c. Pep rally—cheer for you and support you

She also said you need all three types of buddies and one person can be more than one type.

Yes, critiques are lovely and critique buddies are fabulous at pointing out our strengths and weaknesses. We couldn't do this without them!

However (you saw that coming, right?), I think we have to be selective in what advice we use and what we don't. I've found myself becoming a minimalist in that I cut down my words and tighten up my sentences to delete unnecessary words . . . but it's gotten to the point where I think I've lost my voice along the way. I've taken so much advice and incorporated so much into my work that I'm no longer sure whose story I'm writing. And I'm so concerned with minimizing that I've minimized most of the emotion, characterization, and scene building right out of my novel!

The story I wanted to tell isn't the story I ended up with.

I'm not saying we should all dump our crit buddies (whatever you do, don't go there), or ignore all their suggestions . . . we all know they give great suggestions . . . but we need to remember whose story we are writing. We don't want to revise so much or take another's advice so completely that we lose our voice. While we revise, we shouldn't lose sight of the story we started telling in the first place (unless it's so horrible that it needs an overhaul . . . I'm afraid my current WIP may fall into this category).

And speaking of voice (pretend we were), at the same retreat, Janette Rallison gave a talk about POV in which she suggested a good way to find your character's voice is to rewrite in first person (assuming you wrote in a different POV) and then go back and change it to third person.

Of course, she also suggested writing a first draft then putting it aside and re-writing the story from scratch. This confirmed my suspicion that she is completely insane. I mean who ignores all that beautiful word count and starts all over? Okay, she did say you could cut and paste scenes . . . but still . . .

Seriously though, I think this is an excellent suggestion, but I'm not brave enough to try it (see me over here doing the chicken dance?).

I am brave enough to rewrite my novel in first person and this is what I've been working on since last weekend. I haven't gotten very far (since I'm still working . . . yeah, that's fodder for another post). I'm using my previous draft as a guide (so I don't get too far off track), but I'm liking the new version so far. At this point, I plan to change it back to third person . . . but we'll see how it goes.

So what do you all think? Have you ever found yourself losing your story/voice because of too many revisions? Have you ever done as Janette suggested and completely rewritten a novel? Have you tried rewriting in a different POV? Have I asked enough questions?

Another important thing I learned at the ANWA retreat . . . bring a camera . . . no that wasn't it . . . bring earplugs . . . no there was something else . . . oh yeah! Try not to be so painfully shy that you miss out on meeting all the wonderful people . . . but at the same time, don't babble and make a fool of yourself. I'm afraid I went from one extreme to the other. Yeah, I don't do well with meeting new people. *sigh*


Write on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Which book trailer?

"Lipstick Apology" by Jennifer Jabaley launches August 6th and now you can watch some book trailers.


Jennifer posted a choice of two trailers on her blog. I picked this one as my favorite.


I liked the other one as well, but it moved too fast for me to read all of the text.


So, check them out and choose your favorite!


Write on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Novel Novel Review

It's that time again. Here's a quick reminder of my rating system

A+--I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book. In most cases, I passed it on to my child/teen.

A--I enjoyed this book and I might pass it on to my child/teen.

B--I liked this book, but probably won't pass it on to my child/teen.

C--I thought it was okay, but I won't pass it on to my child/teen.

D--I didn't like this book, and won't allow my child/teen to read it.

F--I hope I never have to go here. =D

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you find your book here, don't panic if I rate it below an A. These are my personal preferences and I'm only one small person in a large market.

Okay, here we go.


Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena

Rating: A+

Category: Historical Romance

Age Recommendation: 14+


The Earl of Gunthar has been sent by King Henry II of England to assure obedience to the terms of the peace treaty with Prince Richard and his rebellious followers. Because eighteen-year-old Heléne de Laurant's father was one of Richard's supporters, King Henry believes an arranged marriage between Gunthar and Heléne's sister is the only way to assure Laurant's loyalty.

But loyalties are questioned when several assassination attempts are made on Gunthar's life and are linked to people close the Laurant family. Now Heléne must try to prove her loved ones' innocence by revealing the true killer in their midst.

As she struggles to unravel the truth, she discovers secrets, blackmail, intrigue, and finds herself drawn to a forbidden romance. Heléne becomes tangled in a web of loyalty and is unsure whether to reveal the secrets of loved ones or keep quiet and risk losing the man she loves.

DiPastena has woven a wonderful tale set in twelfth century France. Full of action, romance, and conspiracy, LOYALTY'S WEB drew me in and held me as I traversed the maze of twists and turns to the very last page. I believe this sweet romance with ingenious plot twists will appeal to both adults and teens.

It was my pleasure to be ensnared in LOYALTY'S WEB, and I look forward to DiPastena's next novel, ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART.

Write on!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

To listen . . .

. . . perchance to be inspired?

Maggie put out a call for help in compiling some mood music to help her get through her rough draft. She received many fantastic suggestions. As I clicked on a few of the links and listened to some amazingly inspirational arrangements, I wondered . . .


I've heard many authors discuss their play lists and I never ever considered trying to write while listening to music. I know I'm not the only one  who prefers a cone of silence while writing, but, as I really stopped to think about it, I realized I never have a cone of silence.

During the day, my usual "mood music" is Spongebob Squarepants, Wonder Pets, Wizards of Waverly Place, or whatever the kiddies have decided to put on the television. We have a TV in the living room, but they insist on coming into my bedroom/office and turning on the squawk box in here any time I sit down to write. And I allow it to assuage my guilt at sitting in front of my laptop instead of running around the yard with them (though I do that sometimes too).

If it's not the kiddies, it's hubby flicking through the channels. And if by some miraculous twist of fate hubby decides to take the kiddies away and leave me to write in "peace" I've still got the dogs barking and the macaw babbling . . . so technically I don't work in silence anyway. Now I'm considering the possibility of finding some "mood music" that's actually, you know, MUSIC.

Of course, I have no idea where to begin. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to work with vocals blaring in my ears, but some nice instrumental inspiration might be okay.

I do have access to iTunes and I'm not afraid to spend a few hundred dollars on some good music . . . but what if I go to all the trouble and find out I can't work with music serenading me? Or what if I pick the wrong songs and end up going WAY off the path of where I originally intended to go?

And here's where I beg knowledge from my friends/enemies/stalkers/who-ever-has-an-opinion-about-such-things.

For those of you who DON'T write with mood music, why don't you? Have you tried it? Was it horrible?

For those of you who DO write with mood music, why do you? What made you do it? How does it work for you? Have you ever been thrown off track by choosing the wrong music for a particular scene?

For those who know my writing, what type of instrumental do you think would be appropriate for my "mood music?"


Listen on?