Tag Archive | story telling

The Queen’s Pleasure by Brandy Purdy

The Queen’s Pleasure by Brandy Purdy, published by Kensington Books.

 

I just got this book, and I fell in love with it. (Disclaimer: It was an Advanced Readers Copy.). This book is a book meant for people who loves words, told by someone who has a mastery of the language. I fell into this book, loving every minute.

A few words about it, though. Although the title is “The Queen’s Pleasure,” and is billed on the cover as a novel of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley… It is mostly Amy Robsart Dudley’s story. The inconvenient wife of a man convinced he was the only one Elizabeth would marry.

Since it is historical fiction, technically we already know how everything ends. The novel takes this even further, starting with a prologue that pretty much lays everything bare.

But oh! The language! How can you not fall in love with a passage such as:

 

Outside my windows the sky is as dark as black velvet, with not a star in sight to
provide a prinprick of diamond white light, and the silver coin of the moon has been
spent.

The Queens Pleasure, Page 21

The theme of feminine power, femininity and such keeps circling around this book, too. The recurring images (I can’t really call it foreshadowing when the book opens the way it does) haunt this book, enriching it and wrapping themselves around your soul.

In college, I loved Shakespeare. I adored the poem with “trailing clouds of glory” by  Wordsworth. And of course, there was Faulkner. There are people in this world who can take the language and twist it into an art form that I really wish I could emulate.

Instead, I’ll just devour their works. Oh, and highlight all the passages I love.

Do yourself a favor. Go buy “The Queen’s Pleasure.”

 

 

Books about Books

Books about Books

 

We’ve all read them—books about books. More specifically, books where the hero/heroine either pop through the worlds created by other authors or, in the case of Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (Daw, 2012), is able to bring things out of books through magic.

Libriomancer does it deftly, and is great fun. The magic system is consistent AND has consequences, which is always a good thing. The narrator reminds me of Jim Butcher or Glen Cook—the hardboiled detective goes fantasy.  Libriomancer is apparently the first book in a series, but I have to admit: I’ll probably wait for the paperback of book 2.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book—I ripped right through it. But I’ve had to start defending my hardback choices:  it should be a book that I’m going to re-read again (which is a possibility) and it has to have some meat on it. For me, meat on it means that I’m going to take longer than 24 hours to read the darned thing. Otherwise, 24.95 just isn’t worth it. But it was a new author, so I’m not too disgusted with myself. Over all a really good read, fast paced and fun.

I know there’s a term for this kind of writing, but I can’t remember it. It’s not fan fiction, because it doesn’t take the entire world. I do remember suffering through several different versions of this type of writing during my workshop years (college & internet). Most of those were not done with any finesse. I am so glad that this one met and beat down all expectations (or lack thereof).

 

In more personal writing news, I have stalled out in Nanowrimo. I got stuck in the novel and just can’t push through. I am however working on another short story. I’ve decided that I just might be a sprinter right now, and not a long distance runner. Perhaps I need to get my writing stride again before I can compete in the marathon (novel) level. But I am still writing, and having mostly given up on Nano, I’m reading again as well. I like the short story format, it suits the way I’m writing right now: short bursts clearly focused through to the end.

Till next time, when I have 3, count em THREE reviews to do.

Libraries

Who remembers their first library? Not the first visit to a library, but the first library that you claimed as yours. Where you realized that it contained a whole bunch of  books that could and would transport you to other worlds.

My first library was a little neighborhood one. About the size of a smallish 7-11, situated in a strip mall, it was where my love for books blossomed. I didn’t know it at the time, but as my ever ranging interests started casting a wider and wider net, the librarian called my mom.

I was in fourth grade, and checking out adult books.

But oh! Those books! Some were romances (the Harlequin romances of the 70’s were A LOT sweeter than they are now). Some were sci-fi or fantasy. Some were plain old fiction.  I had already devoured A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, all the Little House Books. My brain was wide open, and at this point… my mom could have done something different.

But she opted to let me read what I wanted. It was a different time, back then. There wasn’t quite as much chance of anyone getting an inappropriate book in a public library. And I am sooo thankful.

Books are magical things. They open up windows into new worlds– sometimes doorways into a new life. But there has to be that one place where your imagination catches on fire.

For me, it was in what would become a bakery, sitting on bean bag chairs, reading adult fiction. They closed that particular library a few years later. They made a huge library, a modern one, and closed down all the little neighborhood libraries.

It was never as much fun.

Yes, they had all those books. But I could no longer go at least once a week. I had to be driven over there, I couldn’t walk. And the nice librarian was no where to be found in there… Just a lot of strangers.

I miss the neighborhood libraries. But I have to admit, I do love the large stacks of books in the main library.

How about you? Where did you fall in love with books?

 

PS– found a great fantasy novel about a librarian who pulls magic out of books, which inspired this post. I’ll review it later in the week. If no one else gets the stomach flu (please please please).

Helping Hands

I’m getting ready to send the story off. I had planned to just write it, put it away, and start on a new project. Couldn’t get anything to stick, and quite frankly something amazing happened.

My niece “stole” my story pages and typed them in for me. Thanks, Leyla Bean! It was a tremendous help.

And then.

Then I sent it to a friend **wave to Rie**. She asked if I minded a “hard” edit.

Yikes!

But I said yes. Even before I had even READ the typed copy. Why? Because I trust Rie. Because I knew that if I put it off it might not happen. That hard edit? Wasn’t very hard at all. Some of them were formatting issues, some were misspellings and misunderstandings on the part of the typist. But then, oh then, Rie started prepping me to submit my work.

I wrote it (literally hand wrote a 4,000 word short story). Someone helped me edit and get ready (down to how to blurb) to submit. Writers are a special breed my lovelies.

In most businesses, potential “competitors” would never lay out exactly how to get the finished product through. Need more proof? Google Writing Tips, or here on WordPress put the topic/tag Writing in your Reader portion. There are *tons* of people trying to help other people get their voice out in the open. I often cruise on Word Press while on breaks (loving the Android!) and writing is the go to topic. I almost always find a post or two to read.

We are, in a word, odd. Writers are odd. There, I’ve said it. We live in our heads. We’re often “performing” while solitary. We love our stories, our words, with a passion. The drive to write, to publish (and yes, they are two separate drives) is fierce but yet we will reach out a hand and help drag someone else to the very best of their ability.

The very generosity of those who helped me… it’s humbling.

I’d better write more, make sure that their investment of time is worth it.

 

PS- I just finished Cathy Lamb’s new novel coming out in August. I’ll post a review this week. IT”S GOOD.

The Finish Line

The Finish Line

 

Well, I made it across the finish line and there was much dancing of the happy sort. I finally, finally finished something.

I have a short story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It has a heroine, a villain and a supporting cast.

It also, strangely enough, has a lot of alliteration. It’s funnier than I normally write, and her mouth gets her in trouble every once in a while, but it was fun. I looked forward to writing the next day. I got it all written down and crossed the finish line.

I’ve reclaimed my writing self.

YAY!

Now I just need to take that momentum and carry it over into the next one and the next and… WHOA. One story at a time. That’s all we have to do. Tell one story at a time.

 

In other news—I made a trip to the bookstore and picked up some reading material. I just finished Jane Bites Back and will be reviewing it soon.  Probably by Thursday. I rewarded myself for finishing with a small(ish) bag of books. But I need to keep it in perspective.

I can read other people’s dream constantly  or forge my own.

Not really a hard choice there.

Writing a new life

I’ve talked before about how long and from whence my writing block came. I’ve been trying to bust through it, would start and stop. Incomplete Word files are piling up in the My Documents section of the computer and all I can think of is WHY NOT?

Why not this one here? Because it hits too close to home? But that one was distanced from me and it went nowhere quickly, too. Of course the heroine was a little whiny. And on and on it goes, excuse (yes, I know what they are) after excuse while stories pile up. It’s a massacre!

So I tried something different. I’ve been writing on a computer for decades. It’s easy (was easy) to simply zone out and watch the story as my fingers flew across the keyboard. I write my blogs the same way. But my stories… haven’t been happening.

I purposely quit reading books this week. The book I reveiwed, I actually read a while back ago (but Hey! it’s just now getting ready to come out so that worked perfectly). Sometimes you need to give your brain a rest from other people’s dreams in order to let your own imagination come out and play. So that’s what I did.

Imagine my suprise when I picked up a pad of paper and a pen and started writing a short story. And have been working on it, continuing on in bits and peices (as a single mom that’s all the time I’ve got right now). Is it perfect? Hell no. Will it need stuff added in, well of course! Even when I write on a computer I tend to be a bit sparse on setting, focusing more on character. I go back and paint in the details, if you will. But you know what this story has that the others don’t?

A smart ass heroine. Difficulties.

The fact that after the first inital burst I’m still writing it is the main difference.

I’ve finished stories before, of course I have. But no matter what happens, I’m rooting for this story.

Because I really, really need to cross the finish line again.

 

Grace

Grace, by T. Greenwood. Published by Kensington Books

Advanced Reader’s Copy

 

It is often uncomfortable to watch a family implode (hence the reason why I don’t watch most of reality television), but Grace by T. Greenwood breaks the barrier. A tale told in multiple viewpoints, it is mostly of the core family.

The title character only appears once as the point of view character

The thing is, everyone in the book is looking for a little bit of grace. Of peace, relief from daily life. The struggle that the family goes through, finding out what their core is and then having to live with the consequences, brings to mind some of the depression era writing that I went through during college.

It isn’t pretty, this struggle. The people are “real” in that they have faults. But the writing keeps you going past your comfort level and straight into a gripping story. And you read on, knowing that it could be you, your best friend, your college roommate who goes through this.

And that’s the best sort of writing of all.

It’s also the scariest. Because, you know, I haven’t read anything this evocative of what’s going on in the country from bullying to elder care to the recession in a long time, if ever. Nothing contemporary even comes to mind. It feels like Faulkner, in As I Lay Dying. Not stylistically… but maybe even deeper. Deep down where it grabs you in the gut and shows you your own insides, that’s what this novel is.

Fine Art of Editing

While reading I’ve noticed that there seems to have been a distinct lack of editing in books. Now most of the books that I read are great. Cuz otherwise I wouldn’t, you know, finish them.

With these books, it wasn’t bad grammer. It wasn’t faulty logic or crass writing. It just shocked me that no one, from the reading groups on up, told these authors that their books could stand to loose 100-150 pages. Because if I stop reading at 140, skip ahead to 298 and can still not only follow the story but haven’t missed a hole lot… Well….

Loose the verbiage.

I’m kind of a to the point kind of writer. There;s not a whole lot of embellishment. I forgive a lot, especially in Fantasy where author’s are compelled to build a whole world from scratch. However, if you’re writing a modern story… spare me. And keep out of people’s heads just to make your work count. If it  doesn’t add the the story, loose it.

Or you’ve lost me.

You know, the reader who plunked down an insane amount for your print book?

Keep your story moving, and I’ll keep buying. I promise.

Dream Snatchers, Time Wasters, Excuse Makers

So last week was a book wasteland. Bought a couple, thought they’d be good… but no dice. Life’s too short for bad books… So instead, here it is, a bad blog 😦

Did come up with the opening line, tho. For the anger project. “My family excels in the fine art of the polite fiction.” See, and I’ve already written it here, where it will remain safe and sound, until I can find a mother’s helper to come in and help me so I can start writing the darn thing. Actually, that isn’t true. It was, at one point. It’s not anymore. Ray has grown so much, and with the Skylanders I might not see or hear form him for a while if I set him infront of the video game. That probably makes me a bad mommy. However, finding a little time for myself, especially when it pertains to writing… That is a very good thing. How does it help him to keep putting off my dreams? (BTW– he has not snatched my dreams… I just liked the way that title sounded).

Anyways, I JUST finished a cute little cozy mystery and reading one of the BEST ROMANCE NOVELS ever! I mean ever! Coming from someone who reads as much as I do, that says a lot. The reviews will be up on those by Sunday. Saturday night if I can 🙂

What are the biggest excuse makers you have with your writing? How do you over come them?

 

PS– We’ve started doing shared stories, the princeling and I. And tonight he asked me to start writing them down. How cool is that, to be writing stories off the cuff with your 5 year old and hearing him say “and then…” with the special tone of voice that throws the story to the next person. AWESOME!

Navigation & Living Large

What does living large mean? What should it mean? I know most see it as having & spending tons of money. Going out and doing things in a big way. But what if it meant something else? Something more personal, more meaninful? What if it actually meant something?

I started this blog because I firmly believe that I have a calling to write. Still believe it, but I’ve moced off the path a little (blog wise, that is). I haven’t been paying attention to what means something to me, what matters most.

In watching some of my shows lately, i’ve been bludgeoned with the thought: What are you waiting for? What will it take for you to step up and live your life? Do what you’re passionate about? If your passion/calling/talent isn’t being used…. then find another way.

For a long time, this was my other way. I wrote about things that really mattered to me here. Deeply. Not so much, lately, though.

So how can I live large and fulfill what I’m here to do?

1. Go to God. Pray. Really, there’s no living large without Him, so why not have the Master Navigator charting my course?

2. Write about things I’m passionate about, not something I feel i should write. Whether in the blog, journal, fiction, poetry… no matter. Just write about something with meaning to me.

3. Carve out time for me, where I’m not sick or just watching tv.

4. Try to walk with Him everyday, in Every Way. That’s the only way to really and truly live large.

There are things that I’m passionate about that need to find their way back onto these pages. Some of them have made appearances, some need to be brought out into the light of day. With my Navigator by my side, I’ll know where to go, when to avoid the rocks.

Buckle up. It’s gonna be a fun ride.