Books I Love

Who Else Thought the Orc Read Shakespeare?

Orc blog pic
Original image of Uruk-hai_statue.jpg by Hermann Kaser from Derby, United Kingdom via Wikimedia Commons.

In Harp Lessons, Sarah’s Mom and her friend, Mary, tease each other about “leading the pigeons to the flag,” something that Mary garbled from the Pledge of Allegiance when they were kids. Originally, I wanted to use garbled lyrics from my grandmother’s cousin, Flossie, but it would have meant trying to obtain permission to mention copyrighted material, and my deadline wouldn’t allow it.

I always found her garbled lyrics hilarious. They had listened to “Catch Us If You Can” by Dave Clark Five. When the song was over, Flossie asked, “What’s a ‘sifyoucan?'”

Maybe it’s related to a snipe? 😉

The first several times I watched The Two Towers, there was a scene that just baffled me. Merry and Pippin are captured by the Uruk-hai and are on their way to Saruman. The night when the Uruk-hai insist on a break from their endless run, some of them suggest eating the hobbits.

One of the orcs (several of them voiced by the ultra-talented Andy Serkis), says a line. I hear:

“Just a mouthful. A pound of flesh.”

*giggle* I just can’t see that dirty orc sitting down with his copy of the Merchant of Venice and attempting to analyze the motivation behind Shylock’s blood thirst. And I don’t think that Tolkien would have agreed with that portrayal either.

Time to turn on the subtitles.

Oh! It’s “a bit off the flank.” Hahaha! That makes more sense.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Did you hear what I did in that Uruk-hai scene? Do you know what a “sifyoucan” is? What are some funny ways you’ve misheard lines or lyrics?

Books I Love · Writing

The Words of Wilder and Austen

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

William and I have been reading The Little House series together at bedtime. We’re halfway through Farmer Boy. He’s enjoys it, but I know when he still hasn’t wound down enough to listen.

So I wait



and open up my trusty Kindle.

I’m currently re-reading Pride and Prejudice. I absolutely LOVE this story. Oh poor, misunderstood Mr. Darcy! But guess who took an interest in what I’m reading?

William. Wait, what?

Weird.

Okay, enough alliteration. I was totally shocked that my six-year-old son wants me to read Jane Austen to him, but I’ll go for it. So I actually read passages like this to him:

“To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to herself. They had long wished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited a lively attention. The suspicions which had just arisen, of Mr. Darcy and their niece, directed their observation towards each with an earnest, though guarded, enquiry; and they soon drew from those enquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love. Of the lady’s sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.”

I have no idea how much of that he takes in. Every once in a while, he’ll stop me to ask what a certain word means, but he seems to like the flow of the language. He’s asked for me to read it for the last several nights.

And I do a little happy dance inside. 😉

The thing is, I haven’t read the classics for a while. For the sake of my writing, I needed to read modern books. My first draft of Harp Lessons tried to emulate some of Austen’s flowery style and my editors had to chisel away at the manuscript to make it more stylistically pleasing for today’s audience.

I am nowhere near having the command of the English language that Austen did. But when I tried to pretend that I did?

Call the bomb squad!

The result was that my words were fit for weapons of mass destruction rather than to delight a mass of readers. I’m relieved to have had patient editors when I first learned the ropes. They were fabulous people to subject themselves to my pretentious words.

I am reminded of the journal I kept of my trip to England back in 2005.

Hee hee.

While describing the places I went, I was so wrapped up in the experience, I couldn’t resist using the word
 wait for it
 “alighted.”

Fortunately, I’m the only one who ever goes back and reads that journal. But maybe William will one day read it and forgive my attempt to emulate a favorite author. 😉

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever tried, crashed, and burned while imitating the writings of your favorite authors? Did it actually turn out pretty good? Do your kids like to read the classics? Do they “get” it?

The Stone of Kings · Writing

First Amazon Review of The Stone of Kings!

TheStoneofKings_500X750I’ve got a post started to introduce the character Ardan from The Stone of Kings. However, the zombie porcupine has been pitiless. It kept me from finishing it today. I’m hoping to have it ready next week.

But I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing my first Amazon review for TSOK! I’ve refreshed the Amazon page more than is probably healthy. Some authors make a point to not read reviews. Maybe I’ve got a thicker skin, because I look for people to tell me what they like AND what they don’t like. I crave to make myself a better writer and need to know where my writing should be tweaked.

I definitely feel as if I’ve grown since writing Harp Lessons, and this first review (being a five-star!) for TSOK is a nice little validation. 😀

 

 

Writing

World Blog Hop – Redo

TheStoneofKings_500X750Alrighty then! Trying this again, despite the fact that the wind has died a bit from the sails. I was asked to participate in the World Blog Hop a few weeks ago, and between my computer eating my first draft and zombie porcupines destroying my guts, I was unable to get it done. But I got it now, so…

1) What are you working on?

Why would you assume I’m working on anything? Oh, yeah, I’m a writer. 😉

At the moment, I’ve been working on the screenplay for The Stone of Kings. And while it would be a dream come true if it were made into a movie, that’s not really why I’m writing it. I studied screenplays briefly in high school, and I’d always wanted to write one. What I’m learning in the process is fabulous. Writing in this style is forcing me to think about my story visually. We writers tend to slip into telling the story instead of showing it. Screenplay writing is a fantastic way to remedy that tendency. I may just write the screenplay before I submit any of my following works and cross check to see how I can make the novel form better. 🙂

A project that I have on pause right now is a mystery/suspense about the American Civil War. It’s about halfway finished and has been that way for almost a year. 😉 I’m stuck on the technicalities of a major plot point. Wrapping up and publishing The Stone of Kings has put it to the back burner.

2) How does your work differ from others in your genre?

My genre? Hee hee. That’s a funny question.

I don’t really have a set genre. Harp Lessons is a sweet romance, The Stone of Kings is a historical fiction/fantasy, my WIP is a mystery/suspense. After that I have two more ideas, one is a dystopia, the other is a historical thriller. But all of them share a general theme of investigation and getting “the whole story” before making a decision about a person or situation. It falls into my theme of finding ways of working together as people, instead of focusing on differences and using them to tear us apart.

Which leads me to…

3) Why do you write what you write?

The answer to this is basically in my author bio. It’s incredible to me that there are still parts of society haven’t moved past racism and bigotry. What I write is my effort to help.

4) How does your writing process work?

Gotta do it in longhand. I can’t seem to create on a computer. The words simply don’t flow.

I’m also a pantser. I have no idea how my story will end until I’m more than halfway through. I usually let the characters decide how the story goes. Sometimes, I get too bossy. That’s when my characters put me in my place and do the opposite of what I thought they would do. 🙂

I’d love to hear from you!

Are you a writer? How would you answer these questions? 

Writing

What’s In a Name?

You may think we're William and Charlie, or even Peter or Spiderman. But really, we're George.
You may think we’re William and Charlie, or even Peter or Spiderman. But really, we’re George.

If you have a sibling, especially one of the same gender, you were probably called by the wrong name from time to time. Growing up, my parents would occasionally call me by my sister’s name. I never understood why. After all, I had perfect recall of my classmate’s names. Why couldn’t my parents get two simple names right?

Then I became a mom of two boys. 😉 Enough said.

Charlie is the twentieth grandchild on my hubby’s side of the family. My mother-in-law just calls all her grandkids George.

Sometimes I want to do that with my characters. Every so often, choosing a name comes naturally, other times it takes research. I try to pick character names that have meaning for their role in the story. For example, I chose Ardan for the main character of The Stone of Kings because it means “high aspiration.”  An average reader probably wouldn’t pick up on it. But for those like me who revel in detail and happen to know the meaning, we realize from the start that there might be more to this clumsy little orphan boy.

Other name selections are more personal, like Sarah McKenna from Harp Lessons. She’s a fictionalized version of myself at that age, so of course her initials had to also be SM. Grandma Maggie is my Grandma Caroline and the story of letting strangers wander into her house for tea in case they were thirsty came from Grandma Caroline about her friend Maggie. 🙂

*giggles* And then there’s George. I couldn’t think of a name when I created the character in Harp Lessons, and I didn’t have time to research something at the time, so I borrowed the trick from my mother-in-law, and simply called him George. In The Stone of Kings, Hannah’s little brother (and Ardan’s alias) is also George. And in my NaNoWriMo book (tentatively titled The Secrets of the Kennel Plantation), George is the family name for the Kennel descendants.

The benefit of naming characters in a story, is that we, as authors, happen to know the character’s story and can name them accordingly. As parents, we have no idea what our children will grow up to do. My boys are William and Charlie, named for Shakespeare and Dickens. Will either of them ever grow to be great writers? I have no idea. But hubby agreed to their names because he was thinking of William Wallace and Charles Ingalls. I’ll be proud of them no matter what they choose to do with their lives as long as they live honorably. Personally, my mom happened to be watching Family Feud just before I was born and thought that the contestant named Shea had a pretty name. 😉

Do you look for meanings in names? Were you named for someone famous? Were you named for family? Have you ever looked up the meaning of your name and found that it totally described you? Does it not describe you at all? If you’re an author, do you have a particular method for choosing your character names?

Gluten · NaNoWriMo

Bring Back My NaNoWriMo Attitude!

I feel as if it will take the strength of two superheros to get me out of my slump. Rescue me, Spider-men!
I feel as if it will take the strength of two superheros to get me out of my slump. Rescue me, Spider-men!

This will be short, because I feel broadsided by life and gluten. But not to worry. To keep from being a Debbie Downer, I end this post with two positives.

Normally, I know that gluten causes my depressions and I can usually push though it. But after deaths of beloved grandmothers, our car being stolen, and now a beloved uncle – who I was looking forward to visiting with again – will quite likely never make it back to the States from England, I’ve been feeling like sludge, both physically and emotionally. I totally expected to be back into blogging again, but I can barely bring myself to work my edits for The Stone of Kings (which are now overdue). So please bear with me while I get through this mess which is currently my life.

I may just be that all I post for a while is Friday Fun, because I do have one lined up for this Friday. I thank the Lord for my boys because without their sweet hugs, smiley faces, and hilarious clowning, I’d be reduced to tears everyday. I’m so blessed to have them lift my spirits even just a little. 😀

For my second positive, I just discovered that the audio version of Harp Lessons has been released! It was quite surreal to hear a professional reader bring my words to life 😀 And I love the beautiful new cover!

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#30 Why Do You Think You Could Benefit From Manuscript Evaluation and Critique?

Pre-polishing. Image attributed to Scotty00 via Wanacommons
Pre-polishing. Image attributed to Scotty00 via Wanacommons

Despite having been a writer since I was 6, I’m still learning. Despite having a degree in English Literature and having taught High School English, I’m still learning. Despite having published a book and having another one under contract, I’m still learning. If I have ten plus books under my belt, I’ll still be learning.

I have grown a pretty thick skin. I need feedback whether good or bad because I know that it means I can learn to get better. That’s why I’ve been pretty disappointed that I’ve only gotten two reviews for Harp Lessons. Sure, I’ve had people come up to me to tell me that they enjoyed it, but I really want to know what they liked about it. I want to know what they didn’t like about it.

Help me be a better writer!

But even better than reviews, is having a professional evaluate my manuscript before it gets sent to my publisher. It’ll be great to have someone tell me which “little darlings” need to bleed out and which spots need to be beefed up.

I’m very curious how this manuscript is going to come out. I’ve never written anything this quickly before. I can only imagine how much editing I’ll need to do when it’s finished. It would be nice to already have a plan in place to adjust the parts of the story that need work before I even get started on the grammatical issues.

A different set of eyes is always helpful. Different people have a different set of experiences to bring to the table. A different editor can catch things that another one may not. Not that the other editor is a bad editor, just one with other experiences. And the other editor may catch things that the first one didn’t.

The bottom line is, I want to be a better writer. The experience of NaNo will be unique for me. I’m hoping it will help, but I’d like to know if by the end of it, do I have a descent book or is it just puked out words?

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: A little more, but not much. Still not quite 26,000, but I didn’t get the chance to count. As stoked as I am that I found out I won this contest, especially for reasons expressed in the above post, I also found out that my Grandma Caroline just passed. She was a great inspiration for my writings. I will miss her tremendously.

Blogging Contest · Harp · NaNoWriMo

#19 Your Greatest Fan

Ick, sometimes I feel as if I’m my own greatest fan. Which is about as sad and silly as I’m My Own Grandpa.

I’d love it if my hubby were my greatest fan, but when he reads, it’s always non-fiction. I don’t think that harps and romance or faeries and druids will appeal to him. 😉 So, unless I sell a million copies of my books, my writing will look like just a hobby to him.

Having a hobby doesn’t really draw fans.

I suppose my greatest fan depends on which book you’re talking about. So far. For either one, my fans are my mom and step-mom (whom I also call Mom, just to add lovely confusion 😉 ).

My birth-mom has the same taste in reading as I do. She and I enjoy discussing the finer points of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. She liked Harp Lessons, but has been really enjoying being my beta reader for The Stone of Kings. When I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with TSOK, we had wonderful brainstorming sessions. That always got the story moving again.

My step-mom is more of a visual artist, but has provided most of the inspiration for both my finished books. She has encouraged my writing throughout my childhood, got me started playing harp, and took me on my first trip to New York City, where she grew up. She and her mom, my Grandma Caroline, told me endless stories of Ireland and what it was like to live there. If you’ve read Harp Lessons, do these things sound familiar? Naturally, Mom has been tickled pink that I’m now a published author.

I know there are those outside of my family who have loved Harp Lessons. But I can’t imagine having many “fans” since I’ve only got one book out there so far. I’m quite happy to have my mothers as my greatest fans. But it’ll be nice to start getting multiple five-star reviews that my fellow author friends (who have great backlists) have.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 17,462

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#14 A Description of Your Dream Blog

Is MY wand in there somewhere? I could really use one! Image attributed to Jeremy Thompson from United States of America via Wikimedia Commons.

The first things I thought about for my dream blog belong in the world of Harry Potter. With a simple flick of my trusty wand, my blog would magically give me compelling topics to write about, load the perfect title automatically, and come up with one-line hooks that gets folks interested in reading what I have to say.

But as Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Not only am I a simple muggle, but all those magical fixes defeat the purpose of why I blog. Unless I can magically make myself a better writer. But if I’m not mistaken, those sort of spells don’t usually work out so well. 😉

So instead, I’ll go the muggle route and talk about what would make my blog even better aside from my skills needing improved upon.

One of the main things that has always bothered me is all the quirky tech issues getting in the way of the how I’d like it to look. So yeah, I’d get all the widgets I want working properly. I could connect my readers to my publisher and eventually to my Facebook fan page (which I’ll probably set up when I get closer to releasing The Stone of Kings). I’d also have a custom-made banner design that encompasses who I am as a writer. It would represent how I try to open reader’s minds with my fiction.

Which brings me to the most important part…

I will have improved my writing so that I can encourage people to change their perceptions for the better. My blog posts (and books) will prompt others to remember to treat those around them for who they are and not what they look like. It will inspire my readers to find common interests with others rather than reasons to argue. It will influence us to learn from mistakes instead of ignore them.

And most of all, it will be fun!

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 12,809. Over 2k written yesterday without even having gone to the Y! That’s more like it! 😀

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#12 What Makes Writing Really “Worth It” to You?

It’s aliiiive!!! Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Yes, I’m going to go all clichĂ© and say that I’m pleased as punch if I touch just one person with my writing. Of course I want all my readers to appreciate my words, but I know that’s not going to happen.

When I wrote Harp Lessons, my target audience was my family. It truly doesn’t matter to me if no one else likes it (though I hope they do), because I didn’t write it for them. The Stone of Kings is a different matter.

I wrote TSOK because it’s the kind of book I would like to read. So, kind of like HL, what made writing worth it was creating the story and making it better than the last one. Um, but yeah, I’d probably be a bit bummed if not as many folks go for it as I think will.

I’d be tickled pink if just one reader reviews and really “gets” the message I’m trying to convey in TSOK. But, like many other writers I’m sure, I have dreams of selling a million copies…talking over movie deals…being interviewed on what inspired me…

*blinks* Oh, um, where was I?

*clears throat* But what’s really worth writing the story is that it’s better than a hyped up role-playing game. I love how the characters that I’ve created start to do their own things and change the story in ways that I had not anticipated. I’m still in charge of the story, but like Frankenstein’s monster, my characters tend to have other ideas.

I cross my arms and lift a confused eyebrow at my character. “But Hannah, I thought you were going to cower from the gunman and let Thomas handle it.”

Hannah puts her hands on her hips and glares at me. “Don’t be daft! I’m stronger than that. You should know, you made me.”

I roll my eyes, and try not to smile because I know full well she enhanced the tension. “Alright, fine. Have it your way.”

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 9,649. Not quite what I wanted, but better.