Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Love Books!!!

Hello fellow readers and writers. Just thought I would write a quick blurb about the books that I am presently reading, writing and about the books that I am eagerly waiting to hit the shelves.

This is such an exciting time for me because two of my favorite authors have new books coming out in March. Anne Easter-Smith’s book The King’s Grace and Vanora Bennett’s Figures in Silk are hitting the shelves mid March and are at the top of my reading list. I simply cannot wait!

Presently, I am reading Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats – introduction by Edward Hirsch. I have also been hitting the English History Website and reading Keats’ letters to Fanny Brawne. They really give a lot of insight into the poet’s psyche. His love for Fanny borders on obsessive but there is something about it that shows such a naiveté when it comes to matters of the heart. Fanny, on the other hand, is quite the tease, even though I think she does return his affections in the end. I really can’t wait to delve into writing this book that I want to write about Keats and Brawne; however, as I was doing research I found out that there is a movie that is in pre-production about them. Just my luck…even though I believe that historical figures are fair game as long as your work is original. I mean, how many people have written books about Henry VIII? I rest my case.

Last but not least, I am reading Jeff Hermann’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents, 2009 ed. I think the most fascinating read in that book was Deborah Hermann’s essay about spiritual writing. It really hit home for me. In fact, I saved my current novel on my computer as “bless this book and its writer with words that touch people’s lives and hearts.” Chills! So, fellow writers, check this book out next time you are at B & N.

This week in writing…I am heading to finish line with The Heart is Lonely Still. I suppose that title has kind of stuck. It comes from one of Byron’s poems:

I Would I Were a Careless Child

I WOULD I were a careless child,
Still dwelling in my highland cave,
Or roaming through the dusky wild,
Or bounding o'er the dark blue wave;
The cumbrous pomp of Saxon pride
Accords not with the freeborn soul,
Which loves the mountain's craggy side,
And seeks the rocks where billows roll.

Fortune! take back these cultured lands,
Take back this name of splendid sound!
I hate the touch of servile hands,
I hate the slaves that cringe around.
Place me among the rocks I love,
Which sound to Ocean's wildest roar;
I ask but this -- again to rove
Through scenes my youth hath known before.

Few are my years, and yet I feel
The world was ne'er designed for me:
Ah! why do dark'ning shades conceal
The hour when man must cease to be?
Once I beheld a splendid dream,
A visionary scene of bliss:
Truth! -- wherefore did thy hated beam
Awake me to a world like this?

I loved -- but those I loved are gone;
Had friends -- my early friends are fled:
How cheerless feels the heart alone
When all its former hopes are dead!
Though gay companions o'er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
Though pleasure stirs the maddening soul,
The heart -- the heart -- is lonely still.

How dull! to hear the voice of those
Whom rank or chance, whom wealth or power,
Have made, though neither friends nor foes,
Associates of the festive hour.
Give me again a faithful few,
In years and feelings still the same,
And I will fly the midnight crew,
Where boist'rous joy is but a name.

And woman, lovely woman! thou,
My hope, my comforter, my all!
How cold must be my bosom now,
When e'en thy smiles begin to pall!
Without a sigh I would resign
This busy scene of splendid woe,
To make that calm contentment mine,
Which virtue knows, or seems to know.

Fain would I fly the haunts of men--
I seek to shun, not hate mankind;
My breast requires the sullen glen,
Whose gloom may suit a darken'd mind.
Oh! that to me the wings were given
Which bear the turtle to her nest!
Then would I cleave the vault of heaven,
To flee away and be at rest.

Lord Byron, (George Gordon)

Sigh! I love the Romantic poets. My book was born from this poem. Anyhow, it’s coming to an end. I am working hard on the ending, which has proved to be a little difficult to write. Hopefully, I will work it all out by this weekend and the editing process may begin. Gulp.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Projects

Now that I am almost nearing the finish line with my first novel, which may or may not be published (we shall see... busy taking out adverbs at the moment...ARGH!), I have a couple of new projects in mind. I am really entertaining the idea of writing a historical fiction about John Keats. As many people know, his short life was marked by quite a lot of drama and illness. Keats died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the young age of twenty-six. Before his death he had made the acquaintance of and fell in love with sixteen year old Fanny Brawne. Of course, a very sweet love story ensues but ends with the sad circumstances of Keats’ disease and inevitable death. Many of his poems are said to have been written for her, and the sadness behind them really tugs at the old heart strings. Of course, Keats had many interesting acquaintances, such as Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, who will lend a little interest to the overall story.

The next project I was thinking about is a short novel with an “obsessive love” theme; a Heathcliff and Kathy type story but in a modern setting. I have always admired Emily Bronte’s style of poetic prose. I want to try to capture that style in this book. I think it would be really fun and imaginative.

The first one, the historical fiction, is rather ambitious and will require a lot of research. I would really like to get back to England and Italy so I can walk in Keats’ footsteps. Right now, it’s just an idea. Once I do a little more research I will know for sure. I read a book called Passion by Jude Morgan about two years ago. It was mostly about Byron, but so good! I think that’s what is inspiring me. I have always thought that Keats was the better poet of the three, and his life was so short and tragic. It will be an interesting read.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Writing Sex Scenes


I wanted to write about this subject because I am now in the process of having friends and colleagues read my manuscript for editing purposes (no, I’m not finished). I read a lit agent’s blog this morning who was writing about a letter from an author who felt embarrassed because she didn’t want her friends and family to think that her sex scenes reflected her own sex life. She was asking whether or not other writers felt embarrassed about their sex scenes. Well, I want to clear the air right now for all of my friends and family who might read my book. I am not even the slightest bit embarrassed of the sex scenes and they are purely the experiences of my characters, not necessarily my own. Stephen King writes about murder, does that mean that he murders people? I think not! Okay, maybe not the best analogy.

A writer has to remain true to his or her characters. In my case, I have two male characters for whom sex is the center of their world. It is the only way they are able to relate at all with the opposite sex and it is the only way they understand love. For Henry Clarke, sex is a means of control or, more importantly, a means of showing power. There is no intimacy in it whatsoever. He asserts his sexual power over his students both male and female. For Jude, sex is a game and, in some cases, an adrenaline rush. It’s sex that fuels the relationships between Kate, the protagonist, and these two characters. Kate is very conflicted when it comes to sex; she mistakes it for love.

I don't believe I have never known anyone like Henry and Jude; they are purely figments of my imagination (or I am protecting someone's identity). Perhaps they come from the books I have read or the movies I have watched in my lifetime?

Furthermore, my life is not exciting enough to hold a reader’s attention. So rest easy mom, you can read without equating the sex scenes with me. They are appropriate to my characters and to the plot of the story. OK... maybe a little cathartic (he he). Come on! Sex is only a part of life… get over it people!

Disclaimer – the writer cannot be held responsible for any of the grammar or spelling errors in this blog as it is Monday morning, which is too early in the morning and the week to be talking about sex!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Writing and Such

poetry Pictures, Images and Photos

I am now at 65,000 words and all’s well. The weekend is also here, so I will have plenty of time to write away. I am at a crucial turning point where the main character begins her journey of self-discovery. I have also thought of two or three possible endings, but I am not sure which I am going to use. One is tangible and the other is very spiritual. The spiritual ending will involve a twist that will inevitably shock readers. When I told my friend and colleague about it, I got the result I wanted. So, I just may use it.

I was reading a literary agent’s blog today and it reminded me of the blog that I wrote yesterday. She was discussing the rules of writing. Should writers ask agents for guidelines? I was actually startled that anyone would! It made me think of my students present and past who would ask how many sentences one should include in a paragraph. My standard answer became “fifty,” which nipped that in the bud. I can’t imagine that putting any parameters on creativity would work that well; however, we are all aware that punctuation actually makes our writing readable or not. Oh yes, and organization, flow, voice, language, syntax, diction and all of those wonderful things that we learn in school.

The reason this reminded me of the blog that I wrote yesterday is because I don’t think I could have written what I have with someone telling me that I should follow a set formula or that I should make my book into a mystery because mystery sells. So glad that no one asked me to add vampires or sorcerers! I venture to say … that just wouldn’t be me. A story has to come from your heart, it can’t be forced. Oh dear, what am I going to write about next?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Does Life Imitate Art?

Roses Pictures, Images and Photos

As I delve further into the writing process of my novel, I am beginning to see intricate connections between the story I am writing and my own life. I am being bombarded with life lessons that I am learning vicariously through my main character, Kate. Also, just the process of writing has taught me that, like life, a story needs to unfurl at its own pace, not at the writer’s pace. The more I force it, the less powerful it becomes.

The connections that I have created have happened quite unexpectedly, as if from my subconscious. It is almost as if my inner voice has spoken to me though my own words. I never intended for Kate to be anything like me, she is very different from me as far as her mannerisms, her belief system, her self-esteem, how she thinks and her way of life as a whole. However, she and I share the same life lessons. Perhaps we all do. The more I tried to make Kate different from myself (better), the more she started to speak to me. Even though we all have a different lot in life, we are all learning lessons. We experience hardships, love, loss, happiness, desire – we are all merely humans trying to make the best of it. Most of all, Kate taught me that we have to accept our lot in life and not wait until it’s too late before we learn to see the love that is all around us.

Finally, the writing process has taught me that our life is like a flower that opens itself up and reveals its beauty in its own time. It can’t be rushed, and every moment should be enjoyed as much as possible. This story has been waiting to come out for two years and I found that the more I tried to rush it, the less effective my writing became. I had to stop and remind myself that agents and publishing houses would still be around when I am finished. I would venture to say that, in this case, art does imitate life. Although, I hope that the reverse may happen also, and that my book will touch someone else’s life the way it has mine.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In the Defense of Richard III

Richard III Pictures, Images and Photos

For the past three or four years I have really been into reading historical fiction, especially anything having to do with the kings and queens of England. About two years ago I read A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter-Smith. This novel offered a much kinder take on the infamous king Richard III, and I was intrigued by it because everything I had learned about Richard III had, thus far, been negative. History has looked down on this King as is evident in Shakespeare’s play and other various histories. One such history was written by Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor in Henry VIII’s court. Richard III has been accused of killing his two nephews so that he himself could take the crown after the death of his brother Edward IV, and he has been accused of killing his queen, Anne Neville, so that he could marry his niece Elizabeth of York. Could it be that we have all been mislead?

That question led me to investigate even further. This is when I happened upon the website for the Richard III Society. The Richard III Society is made up of scholars, historians, novelists and regular everyday people who want to clear good King Richard’s name. One premise is that the surviving histories on Richard III were tainted by Henry VII and the Tudor kings that followed him. This makes sense because it would have been in Henry VII’s best interest to paint Richard III in a bad light. Henry VII had usurped the crown from Richard III, thereby removing the last Plantagenet king from the throne and securing the crown, once again, for himself and the Tudors. It is well known that history is written in the viewpoint of and to the advantage of the winners. Furthermore, these histories are what would be passed down from generation to generation. Shakespeare himself, a patron of Elizabeth I (Tudor), used them as sources when writing his plays.

The historians and writers of the Richard III Society have found overwhelming evidence that may prove that Richard III was not the hunchbacked nephew killer of Shakespeare’s play, but a loyal, kindhearted and noble king who, in fact, was loyal to his brother Edward IV and who had loved his wife Anne Neville since childhood. Richard III’s motto was “Loyaulte me lie”, which is Latin for “Loyalty binds me.” He seemed to have taken this motto very seriously.

Who was Richard III? There are only bits and pieces of the puzzle left that when put together, show only a partial picture; however, I would like to believe that he was the good king that the Richard III Society paints him out to be. Other books worth reading are Sandra Worth’s Rose of York series and her most recent book about Elizabeth of York, The King’s Daughter. Venora Bennet’s book A Portrait of an Unknown Woman is also somewhat pro-Ricardian. The book is mainly about Sir Thomas More and his family but she infers that John Clement (also mentioned in More’s Utopia) may have been Richard of York, one of the boys in the tower. In Bennet’s book (fiction), Richard III did not kill his nephews. It is a secret that is kept amongst More, his humanist counterpart Erasmus, and the painter Hans Holbein. Juicy! I also use the name John Clement in my novel as way of paying homage. My next novel just may be a historical fiction.

Links to authors and books can be found at the bottom of the page.

Works Cited
Richard III Society, American Branch. 9 February 2009. <http://www.r3.org/intro.html>
Image from <http://www.photobucket.com/>

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Heart is Lonely Still


I am currently working on the manuscript of a novel (women's lit) entitled The Heart is Lonely Still. Now that I am well past the half-way mark (60,000 words), I have been researching literary agents and am looking forward to writing queries and earning my battle scars with the infamous letters of rejection. I have written two summaries and have passed them around to both colleagues and students to get advice. Much to my dismay, the results were half and half (Ugh...which one do I use?). Not to mention, the task of querying agents is both daunting and exciting. The Agent Query website has been a big help and I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in publishing. Here is the link:


I particularly enjoy reading Jessica Faust's (BookEnds, LLC) blogs as they are probably the most helpful on the internet. Kriten Nelson's blogs are always helpful too. However, for entertainment value, I love to read the Evil Editor (be ready to pee your pants).

At the time, I am not ready to post a summary of my book on the internet but I will post a small blurb. Flying under the radar seems to be the best thing to do right now. Hopefully, I will have it finished and polished in the next three or four months.

The Heart is Lonely Still is an emotionally and spiritually engaging novel about an aging Kate Harrington who looks back on her life, tempestuous relationships, and on a now estranged daughter with whom she wishes to make amends. In the backdrop of 1970’s Italy and England, Kate is whisked away by two passionate love affairs, including the elusive Byronic hero Henry Clarke and the hippie writer Jude Matthews, that lead her into the safe arms of John Clement, but that haunt her for the rest of her life.

Yes I know...the last sentence is REALLY long. So, shoot me! he he