ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Family secrets revealed at Thanksgiving dinner. My story for Erica's BlogFeast.

Erica at Hypothetically Speaking is having a Thanksgiving BlogFeast. To read/join go here. It is open until Dec 7th, so polish up your Thanksgiving stories as this is a writing contest with PRIZES! You have to write a fictional story of 1500 words or less on the theme of Thanksgiving and family secrets. You also need a recipe. The recipe is for food. I stretched it to a drink as cranberries are a food, right?

My NaNo WIP is set in Nantucket as you would know if you read my post about google research. I was hoping I could write a scene for it. I did and it just didn't rock my boat, so I polished up one of my stories that's been in a dusty corner of Word waiting to shine at the right time. I hope it does shine as I'd like to get my hands on one of Erica's prizes.

So here it is, my entry in the Thanksgiving BlogFeast (with recipe for a slammer):

FAMILY SECRETS AND THANKSGIVING


MARGO

Every Thanksgiving it gets worse, the missing so much more painful. From the moment I held his chubby little fingers, tenderly undressed him and marvelled at his perfectly formed body, I was in love. This feeling has never left me; it is as strong today as it was 23 years ago on this very day. Despite my overwhelming feelings of love and adoration for my precious newborn, he was cruelly taken from me. I was told I was too young to bring up a baby. I couldn’t keep him, but I got to keep the pain. It’s always there, a catch in my heart. Having a lovely husband and two beautiful teenagers doesn’t take away the pain.


RAFE

I know she is remembering her baby boy. If only it was in my power to help. God knows I’ve tried so hard, done everything I could, followed all the advice I’ve been given, but I’ve come up empty. I love her so, but I know she can never be completely whole. She was scarred by losing her little one a couple of years before I arrived on the scene. There is always a sadness about her, even when she is in the lightest of moods. Our two children sense, rather than know, that there was some sad event in her past, but Margo has never shared the real reason for her sorrow with them. I hope she will share it one day soon. I believe it’d make us closer as a family but she says she’s afraid they’ll judge her.

ABBY


Mum’s got that faraway look in her eye again. She does this every Thanksgiving. I feel really angry when it happens, but she assures me it’s nothing to do with anything I’ve done. I still wish she’d realise that I’m a big girl now. God I’m nearly 20. Maybe I could help her if only she’d tell me what was wrong, instead of shutting me out. We’re so close in every other way, but it is maddening that she is so obviously keeping something important from us kids. I know dad knows what it is, as he looks so worried every time she gets this sad look in her eye. If only she knew how often Julian and I talk about it, wonder about it. We love her but she shuts us out.

JULIAN

Oh boy, mum’s at it again. When will she get over whatever it is she’s moping about? Abby and I have tried but it’s a no-go zone. It’s probably not a good time to tell her I’ve invited this guy for dinner. Found him hanging about near the pier. Foxy took a great shine to him, so he can’t be too bad. They say dogs are great judges of character and Foxy was all over him. He said he had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. I can’t get my head around that. Fancy having no family to share such a special day. He should be here soon. God, I keep putting this off. There’s no good time really, not when mum’s like this. I’d better ‘fess up before…



The doorbell chimes. Everyone looks at each other. Who would be ringing the doorbell on Thanksgiving, especially at dinner time?


‘Er, mum, I, uh, I invited…’ Julian began.


‘You invited? You invited someone to Thanksgiving dinner and didn’t ask me first? Julian, you do some frustrating things but this is the worst! Today of all days!’


‘Calm down now darling,’ Rafe is by her side in an instant, smoothing things over as always. ‘Julian would have his reasons, eh son?’


Julian is glad to be the centre of attention. ‘Well, mom, this guy was sitting shivering on the town pier this morning when I took Foxy for a walk. He looked so lonely and I just asked whether he’d like to share Thanksgiving dinner. No biggie is it? Thanksgiving is for sharing, or so you’re always telling us.’

The bell rings again, its shrill sound adding to the tension in the room.

‘We’ll talk later Julian. For now, Abby, set another place please. I’m in the kitchen. Julian, go let your guest in.’

In walks Benoit. He shuffles self-consciously, eyes darting round, til finally they fix on the bright red tiles at his feet. He is dressed in jeans and a windbreaker. He looks frozen.


‘Hey Dad, sis, this is Benoit, er…sorry, don’t know your surname,’ Julian mumbles.


‘Marion,’ Benoit replies, teeth chattering.


‘Come stand by the fire, Benoit,’ Rafe offers.
‘Benoit Marion?’ asks Rafe, leading him to the warmth, ‘are you French?’


‘French-Canadian. I’m from Montréal. Québec.’ He looks around, his blond curly hair jerking around his shoulders.

‘You don’t look French, or French-Canadian, Benoit. You look like an Aussie surfer with all that blond hair and suntan,’ Abby says, sizing him up.

‘I was over in Oz for a few months. Hardly out of the water.’

‘Ah, that explains it then,’ says Rafe. ‘Australia is a long way from Nantucket. What brings you here?’

‘I came here once for a summer holiday with my folks. I always remembered it. It looks a bit different in November, but it’s been good checking out the old haunts.’

‘So where are your folks now?’ Rafe asks.


Benoit tears up. ‘They were killed in a car accident while I was in Oz,’ he says quietly. ‘That’s what brought me back. I was planning to stay in Oz and work for a couple of years and hopefully stay there.’


'Any particular reason you chose Australia?’ asks Julian. ‘My mum is Australian, but Abby and I have never been there. Mum came over here on some teacher exchange to Canada. Met dad and they ended up here teaching on Nantucket.’


‘Well, I was adopted when I was a baby.’ Benoit was looking a little less frozen. ‘I’ve been tracing my mother and apparently she is Australian. I’d only just got started on my search when I had to come back to Montréal when...uh...my parents passed.’


‘Tough all round Benoit.’ Rafe cleared his throat.


‘Hey!’ Julian yelled. ‘I’m starving! Can we eat and talk? You must be starving Benoit.’

‘Yes,’ agreed Rafe. ‘Please come through to the dining room Benoit. Margo is just putting the finishing touches to dinner.’


'Margot? Would you believe that’s my birth mother’s name?’


Rafe stood still. He felt a tingle up his spine.

‘You all right, Dad?’ asked Abby, concerned at her father’s pale face.

‘Yes, I’m fine Abby. Let’s go, shall we?’


Benoit thought the table looked amazing with its snowy white napkins, silverware, bowls of flowers and nuts, but what impressed him most were the smells coming from the kitchen. It’d been a long time since he’d smelt real home cooking.

Margo appeared at the dining room door, face flushed, curls awry, carrying the roast turkey.
She saw the stranger standing there, but some instinct told her this was no stranger. She stumbled, the turkey teetered on its tray. Benoit rushed to help, just as Margot bent over.


Their heads bumped together.


Rafe, Abby and Julian looked on, amazed. The two heads were an identical shape. The curly blond hair was stunningly similar.


Margot and Benoit stood up slowly, holding the Thanksgiving turkey between them, apologising to each other. They looked into each other’s eyes. They each saw a startling blue with long dark lashes.

Rafe looked from one to the other. He was speechless. The kids were puzzled.


Everyone knew there was some mystery in the room.


‘So Benoit,’ Rafe asked carefully, clearing his throat, ‘have you always lived in Montréal?’


‘No sir. I was born in Australia.’


‘Really?’ Margot’s voice sounded like she was talking underwater.


‘So how did you end up in Montréal?’ Abby asked.


‘Mom and dad told me I spent the first month of my life in a Sydney hospital. I was put up for adoption. They chose me, then took me to live in Montréal for dad’s work. They never went back to Oz.’



‘When is your birthday, Benoit?’ Margot knew Benoit’s next words would probably change her life forever. Her heart was jumping around in her chest and she had strange flutterings in her throat.


‘Actually, today. I was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1987. In Sydney. Today happens to be the exact date again. The fourth Thursday in November, the 26th.’


‘Margot reached for Benoit but fell into a chair. Rafe bent down and hugged her. Benoit, Julian and Abby looked on, only half understanding what was happening.


Julian turned to Benoit, ‘Hey man, looks like you’re our family’s secret.’


‘Son,’ said a teary Rafe to a weepy Benoit, ‘you’ve come home.’


Rafe, Julian and Abby watched in wonder as mother and son embraced. Rafe knew they would never be parted again.

‘This calls for a celebration!’ shouted Rafe. ‘Julian, mix some of those Thanksgiving’s a Breeze Seabreezes. Even you and Abby can have a sip. There’ll never be a Thanksgiving to top this one!

THE END

©DeniseCovey 2010



Thanksgiving's a Breeze Seabreezes




Ingredients


1 cup orange juice
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup vodka
Mint sprigs, for garnish


Directions


Mix all in a chilled pitcher filled with ice. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with mint. If desired, place a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce in the bottom of each glass before filling with Seabreeze mixture.




Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello and Food Network.com

  • In Australia the legal drinking age is 18 years. That's why I was careful to say the kids could only have a sip.
  • The kids are using 'mum' not 'mom' as Margot, being Australian, wants this form of address. Benoit uses 'mom' because his adoptive parents encouraged him to use it as they intending always living in Canada. My google research says Canadians use either 'mom' or 'mum'???


Now click on the above link to read some other entries or to submit your own.


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Early-bird Thanksgiving blogfest. I'm thankful for the mundane things in life, are you?

Thanks to Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe for hosting the Thankful blogfest to celebrate American Thanksgiving. Hey I'm no American, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but I'm muscling in anyhow.

Jeffrey has just passed his milestone 100 followers. Go check out his blog. He posts nearly every day so there's always something happening over there! Slow down Jeffrey, we can't keep up!


Jeffrey set wide paremeters for this blogfest - it can be a list of 10 things we're thankful for, an essay...whatever, as long as it shows we're thankful.


I've been watching Kevin McCloud's series on the slums of India. It made me very thankful to live in Australia where I don't have to share my home of a few square metres with 25 others, where I have a flushing toilet or two, and I don't have to work long days in crushing heat for a few measly bucks...but I must say the Indians looked very happy in their situation and the children heading off to school looked spruce and shining, much more so than Aussie kids who have their own ensuites. Go figure...(as my American friends would say.)


As I don't have much time, being 17,000 short of my NaNo goal, I decided to do a quick photo essay on the mundane things of life (which are really what life is all about...)

 
I Am Thankful for...


...the teenager who is is watching TV when he should be doing the dishes, because that means he is at home and not on the streets.

...the mess to clean after a party, because it means that I have been surrounded by friends.

...the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat (even if a little too much at times.)


...my shadow that watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine not in some pokey office.

...a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

...all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech - yay, Save those Whales! It's on again in the Great Southern Ocean... check out seashepherd.org.

...the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking, and that I have been blessed with spunky wheels.

...the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear (even if they're a tad crinkly these days.)

...weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, (not to mention carpel syndrome and RSI) because it means I have been capable of working hard.

...the alarm clock that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means that I am alive and hopefully afire for another day's writing.


and finally....
...for living in Australia because in so many ways we really are the 'lucky' country (and I don't have to cook a Thanksgiving dinner.)

Thank you Jeffrey. I will remember to be thankful every day of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving my American blogging friends! *pumps air*


Sunday, 21 November 2010

It's been released - The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, author of The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog)

The Distant Hours, the novel that Kate Morton fans have been waiting for with great anticipation. I got my hands on it the other day and it's a winner! If you enjoyed The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog) you will love this. View Kate's video first, where she explains the inspiration for this novel and how she just had to sit down and write, write, write, because the story just couldn't wait.

This is the Aussie cover! It's just gorgeous.

Her dress was incredible, the sort you expect to see in films about wealthy debutantes before the war, or hidden on the racks of up-market charity shops. It was organza, the palest of pink, or it had been once, before time and grime had got busy, laying their fingers all over it. Sheets of tulle supported the full skirt, pushing it out as it fell away from her tiny waist, wide enough for the netted hemline to rustle against the walls when she moved.






I'll start with the blurb from The Book Depository:

From the international bestselling author of "The House at Riverton" (or The Shifting Fog) and "The Forgotten Garden" comes a brand new tale of love, mystery, betrayal and dark secrets...

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Millderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother's emotional distance masks an old secret.

Evacuated from London as a thirteen year old girl, Edie's mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond.

In the grand and glorious Millderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie's mother. She discovers the joy of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.

Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother's riddle, she, too, is drawn to Millderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiance in 1941 plunged her into madness.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Millderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it...

My Review

This  book will lead to sleep deprivation. You will find yourself totally engrossed in The Distant Hours! I've loved reading both of Kate Morton's previous novels, The Shifting Fog (The House at Riverton) and The Forgotten Garden, so I knew what to expect and I wasn't disappointed. I was hooked from the Prologue which is a deliciously descriptive excerpt from The Mud Man:

"It is moonless. It is moonless when the Mud Man comes. The night has slipped on a pair of fine, leather gloves, shaken a black sheet across the land: a ruse, a disguise, a sleeping spell, so that all beneath it slumbers sweet."

By the time an author releases a third novel, I'm prepared to be disappointed, as often, like a film sequel, it disappoints. However, "The Distant Hours" was everything that I had hoped it would be...and more! It had all the elements that make a great mystery: a gothic castle, family secrets, a literary mystery, and tragic love.

 
It is long (500 pages.) Some may find this a little off-putting...but I enjoyed every second of it because Kate Morton's prose has gone up a notch, it is descriptive and brings her characters and Milderhurst Castle to life:

We stood facing one another across the dulled corridor for what felt like a very long time. Finally, she moved. Slightly. Her arms had been hanging by her sides, resting on her skirt, and she lifted one a little, leading from the palm, a graceful movement as if an unseen thread stitched to her inner wrist had been plucked from the ceiling behind me.

The "book within the book" in the form of Raymond Blythe's The True History of the Mud Man is done so well. I want to read The True History of the Mud Man now! Morton should totally publish it ;-) But one of the things that Morton does in The Distant Hours is celebrate the written word. I love what she says about librarians: "it's the librarian's sworn purpose to bring books together with their one true reader".

I'm not a librarian, but I love the sentiment - as I love this book. Grab it. You'll be sorry if you don't.


'And then we're going to dance, dance, dance..."

(All quotes from pp. 71 - 75.)


This is my 7th Aussie Author Challenge Book Review. Click on the kangaroo on my side bar to read more.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

If google says it, it must be so...my hymn of praise to the mighty google


My fingers pummel the keyboard into submission. I'm plum out of words. The muse has deserted me. NaNoWriMo is past the halfway mark and I'm behind in my word count - should be well over 25.000 words by now, loser!

I take out my frustration on my keyboard and hurl it against the wall. Silly hunk of logitec plastic just shredded itself. Now what am I going to do? Let's try pen and paper. Cramp! Not used to that, RSI already! Botheration! Now what?


Aah, I lie down and dream of...Barbara Cartland. Where's my chaise? Let me lie here and dictate my words to a lesser mortal. But, even now there's a problem...what could possibly be wrong now? I've got everything - the pink hair, the pink frilly frock, the pink chaise, the pink fingernails, the pink drink with its pink umbrella, the pink dog, the pink ribbons, but...


 
I need more research! Now! Right now! I shouldn't have smashed that bit of not-so-useless plastic after all because it can do what not even Barbara Cartland could do - google google!
 
Why am I desperate for my google fix? Because I need to know a few more facts/names/places and what better way to find out? Better run off to my local JB Hi-Fi and grab another logitec, maybe one with light touch keys this time. 


Well I drowned myself in so many pre-NaNo writer's guides, most of which frown on pantsers like me, so I tried, I really dd, to get my outline together, my story idea fleshed out from start to fini, and my character profiles...blah blah. Trouble is, my outline was out the window on the second day as my headstrong characters snatched the reins outta my hands and trotted off in another direction or three, bolting away with my story and leaving me hanging on tight and gasping for more...research...

My writer's guides said to get your research done beforehand  - it may take months I read - hello? Who's got a month, even, to research for NaNo? So I've taken to pen and paper and have been trying to keep ahead of my bossy boots characters - Need to Know This, Need to Know That, lists, lists, lists...

I'm a firm believer in not in writing about what you know, but about what you would like to know. I therefore rely on the big R - RESEARCH! To make it harder on myself (and more interesting too!) I've set my story mainly on Nantucket island, MA in the mighty US of A. The queries I've made for this story say it would work best in America, so go figure. Not too hard - it's the R capital of the world. Therefore lies a passel of problems - language, settings, accents, dress, beliefs, police procedures - how different are they from country to country! We all have our own lingo and don't we chuckle knowingly when we read a book by a writer who's obviously never been in our country tries to give the character our voice and we fall down laughing 'cause we'd never speak like that, fair dinkum'!

So, I don't want American readers (and I hope I get some!) falling down laughing/guffawing/cracking up/going hysterical at my Americanisms, so I've been tapping into Stephen Fry's America (where he has a list of British words and their
American counterparts,) reading a lot of books set in Nantucket, but most of all I've been googling!
I've run out of things to say!

How easy is it to soldier on! For example:


I NEED TO KNOW;

1. How do the cranberries get harvested on Nantucket?
  • No problem - here's a video, watch it in awe - here's the history, here's the manager blah, blah...
2. What's the name of a cafe where my MC could meet her beloved?
  • No problem, here's a video - and a review or two -and the menu - anything else?
3. Ah, what do houses look like on the island?
  • No problem - take a virtual tour of all the properties for sale/rent on Nantucket. Now go inside. Lookie there! Here's some further info...ready...there is a strict building code...only built in shingles...blah blah...


4. What do they call police in Nantucket? Sheriff, Inspector, Officer, Cops, Pigs?
  • No problem. Take a virtual tour of the new, just-opening-soon, police headquarters. Here's a list of the officers' names and ranks. Here's the address. Now go inside and take the lift - there is the Chief of Police's office - there is a blah blah...What else can I help you with?? Oh, and Sheriff Wyatt Earp (not his real moniker) just got stood down coz he liked to wave his piece/gun/weapon/firearm/Magnum/Glock/ around...
Get the drift? Just gotta say how much more thrilling research is in the google days. How could we live without such instant gratification?


Now I can finally throw away my dream of being Ernest Hemingway - the running with the bulls is on in Pamploma, Spain. Like let''s go and get plastered and watch a bit of the excitement, but you didn't think I was going to be sober enough to run ahead of a mob of maurauding beasts with big horns, did you? But I'll write a great book about it - well, it's not just about the bulls, but it makes a cute interlude...


The Sun Also Rises

Now I can google all the silly bull I like, unless they've banned all the fun and games by now...better get on google and find out...lol...

Happy NaNo-ing, and more sane writing all!

Denise :D

All images thanks to google images - gotta love it!

This blog entry is part of the NaNo"WriMo blogline.

Disclaimer: The words and phrase in this post may confuse you as they confuse the author being as they are a conglomeration of Australian, British and American English. Can you tell which is which?


Monday, 15 November 2010

Award Round-up, Yee ha!! Please help yourself, they're free!

I've been saving up awards for a few weeks, so at last I am posting. Thank you to those lovely bloggers who passed awards onto moi. I want to pass them on to you if you'd really like one, two or all three. Just read on...

Thank you Rachel Morgan at  Rachel Morgan Writes - Versatile Blogger Award. I think Rachel is awesomly versatile herself as are all of you, so take it!


Thank you JC Martin - Fighter Writer for the Beautiful Blogger award. Yes, JC is definitely a beautiful blogger. I try to be, do you? If you think so, please add it to your awards cache. Hey, we're all beautiful!


Thank you to  Quinn at seeing, dreaming, writing... for the Honest Scrap award as he thinks my posts/comments are honest. Sometimes it's really hard to leave an honest comment as you don't want to start a controversy and I often find myself deleting some, but occasionally a really honest one gets by me then I gnash my teeth hoping no one is offended. If you're like that, please take this award. There's a scrap of honesty in us all.

I'm going to pass these on in the best way I know. This is always the hard part as there are always so many bloggers you'd like to award so I decided to open it up. Being NaNo month too, makes time a premium to decide who gets the honour, to find their links, to drop by and tell them... So, if you'd like any of these awards, leave a comment, telling me why you'd like it - like you're really honest, versatile or beautiful, then copy and paste onto your site. Just let me know so I know someone is happy!

To make up for not doing the time-consuming thing, once NaNo's over, I'm going to make up my own award and do the rounds, starting with everyone who comments here and tells me they're taking an award or two or three.

Have a great week of writing, reading, living..:D

Friday, 12 November 2010

Aussie Author Challenge - Book Review No 6 - My Place, by Australian Aboriginal writer and artist, Sally Morgan


Here is my  sixth book review for the Aussie Author Challenge. It reveals the difficulty in being aboriginal in a white society. It was published in 1987, so has been around for sometime. I remember how shocked I felt when I first read it. Seeing Australian society through aboriginal eyes was very unsettling. Fancy anyone hiding their identity because of fear of being looked down on. Of course, since then, I've learned this isn't so unusual.

My Place is a heart-warming story of a family with Aboriginal roots in Australia. Most of it is written from Sally Morgan's point of view. Sally is the eldest child in the family who lived in Manning with her mother (Gladys), grandmother (Nan), and her four siblings – Jill, Billy, David, and Helen. Her father, Bill, died when she was only a young girl. He had been a POW (Prisoner of War) in Germany and was tortured so brutally that he needed serious hospital treatment even when the war ended.




Sally Morgan is an indigeneous artist. Here is one of her works.


Besides Sally’s point of view, there are also stories from three other people - Arthur Corunna, Gladys Corunna, and Daisy Corunna. Arthur is Sally’s granduncle, Gladys is Sally’s mom, and Daisy is Sally’s grandmother, whom she refers to as Nan. It was quite difficult for Sally to get Gladys’ and Daisy’s stories as they were reluctant to share their past. Especially Daisy (Nan) who is defiant in keeping her past a deep secret. She lives in fear of being found to be aboriginal.

This book reminds me of another book on racism and slavery - Roots by Alex Haley, but lacking the outright violence in Haley's tome. The stories in My Place are eye-opening as we are taken back to history where we learn about the troubles and conflicts between races. At times when I read them, I became emotional and felt anger about how the aboriginal people were treated cruelly and in a totally unfair way. Fortunately, times have changed, but not as much as you might think.


Sally Morgan, proudly photographed in front of the Aboriginal Flag.

My Place is interesting from the first page but slumps a little in the middle. However, when I reached Gladys’ story, things picked up pace. Overall, My Place is definitely a must-read. I learned a lot about Australia while reading this book. It also stresses family importance and accepting one’s roots. Important things to ponder on.



Click on the kangaroo to read more Aussie Book Reviews


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest we forget - A Bridge, a Poem and links - Remembrance Day 2010.

Just a quick post to honour those who have fallen in the wars. I thought I'd share a photo of the Storey Bridge (William Jolly Bridge) in Brisbane, which is alight with poppies on Remembrance Day (er, night.)


A lovely display to honour the fallen.


And here's another...



And my favourite Remembrance Day poem -

Break of Day in the Trenches




The darkness crumbles away
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet's poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies,
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver -what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in men's veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe,
Just a little white with the dust.

by
Isaac Rosenberg1890-1918, written in 1916

Another Remembrance Day post here - Genie
And here - Donna
And here - Sciencemuller
And here - Fragile mouse
And here - cheekyness
And here - clark
And here - Abby
And here - tinalynnsandoval
And here - Elspeth
And here - Simon
And here - Jan
And here - The Literary Project

There's probably heaps more. Let me know. Next year we'll have to have a Vereran's Blogfest.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

NaNoWriMo - 1/4 of the way - How do you write? In chapters or scenes?


Well here we are, 1/4 of the way through NaNoWriMo. With the outline I have, I'm ready for my second story spark, which sets off the action into the next 1/4 of my story. I must say it feels strange to be working with a loose outline instead of just a vague story idea, but my story is still developing well as I write. How about you?

This NaNo I've been writing in scenes instead of chapters, because in a first draft who knows where a chapter ends/begins? It is one of the first things to be rearranged in a revision and takes so much time.


So I don't know exactly how it happened but I've been writing scenes - SCENE - POV - PLACE - TIME etc like in a movie script with END OF SCENE. A great way to keep track of POV as I can get confusing with this I'm told. This also helps when I don't have a fully-fleshed outline for my story - I know I want a scene about this or that, so I'll be able to put them together when I want in the future when I get the sequencing right.


Clarissa Draper over at Listen to the Voices posted about writing in scenes recently. Go to this direct link to read her great post - ahem, not yet, how about finishing mine first?

If you're still here, I like Clarissa's movie talk. Think about it - a director doesn't shoot movie scenes in order - he/she just knows the scenes he/she wants - so do I. However, I missed the vital part that Clarissa inserted into the mix - acting out your scenes. Hmm, I can see that's a great idea when no one's around! Thankfully I don't have many people in a scene so far.
 
So when I write a scene I get enthused, asking myself what will the next scene look like?
 Clarissa's advice is to act out the scene yourself. Take on the character roles, spouting their lines. Clarissa says: 'Move around. You'll be surprised how quickly you cut out the unnecessary characters - especially if the scene involves dancing or running a marathon.'

Yeah, I totally get it Clarissa. Think I'll keep my characters sitting around drinking...something...


Wouldn't it be great if the book you write this way is picked up for a movie? Easier to see its potential for film if the scenes are tight and fast moving.

Happy writing all and I hope I've helped someone today...

Denise

This post is part of the NaNoWriMo blogline. Go here to read more NaNo stories...


Monday, 8 November 2010

Eat, Pray, Love - the movie

Javier Bardem and Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love.”

It can be refreshing now and then  to see something different when you go to the movies. Movies showing women searching for fulfillment outside of marriage is not a topic explored all that often in the multiplex, but Eat, Pray, Love is a movie that takes seriously and even has fun with a "woman’s autonomy, her creativity, her desire for something other than a mate." Refreshing.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and IndonesiaBased on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilberts, this tale of a post-divorce, globe-trotting main character whose natural self-confidence is dented by disappointment and threatened by remorse, Julia Roberts plays down her glamour but doesn't snuff it out altogether.

Julia Roberts' Liz Gilbert can be both radiant and witty, a woman who doesn't doubt her womanliness, but she does suffer uncertainty, ambivalence and real anguish during the film. The end of her marriage — to a kind, weak-willed oddball played by Billy Crudup — is wrenching and I felt, poorly explained. Her rebound relationship with a soulful younger actor (James Franco), only exacerbates the sense that Liz is drifting away from her centre.


What “Eat Pray Love” has — what the superficial “Sex and the City 2” (read my review here) notably lacked — is authenticity. Whether you like Liz or not, and whether you approve of her choices and the expectations she has set for herself, it is hard not to be impressed by her honesty.

I guess it is a fantasy for many women to think they might embark on a year abroad to taste what another life might offer, but I felt this film was totally refreshing and believable (as it should be, based on a memoir.)

I was thoroughly entertained and challenged to look at life in a new way.  

Naturally, so many of you are thinking - but how does it shape up to the book? I was given the book as a gift, but refused to read it before I saw the film. My experience is that all films suck if you read the book first, so now I must go and read it...I hope I'm not disappointed...


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Who am I? If I were a season I'd be Spring. How about you?

This is how I'm feeling today on a lovely Spring Sunday. It's NaNo month, so here is a blog entry I've had in the editing suite for sometime. An easy, yet fun post for those of us who must post!

I saw this on a Writer's Ramblings some time ago, and I've filled it out myself. I'd love to hear yours...I've added a few to the original...


- If I were a season, I’d be Spring.

- If I were a month, I’d be June.

- If I were a day of the week, I’d be Sunday.

- If I were a time of day, I’d be 9pm.

- If I were a planet, I’d be Venus.

- If I were a direction, I’d be South.

- If I were a tree, I’d be a eucalyptus.

- If I were a flower, I’d be a lavender sprig.

- If I were a fruit, I’d be a mango.

- If I were a land animal, I’d be a horse.

- If I were a sea animal, I’d be a dolphin.

- If I were a bird, I’d be an eagle.

- If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be an art deco lamp.


- If I were a liquid, I’d be tea.

- If I were a stone, I’d be turquoise.

- If I were a tool, I’d be a plane.

- If I were a kind of weather, I’d be sunshine.

- If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a guitar.
- If I were a colour, I’d be white (uh, hum, it is a colour!)
- If I were a facial expression, I’d be a smile.

- If I were an emotion, I’d be happiness.

- If I were a sound, I’d be water running over smooth stones.

- If I were an element, I’d be water.

- If I were a car, I’d be a classic.

- If I were a food, I’d be cheesecake.

- If I were a place, I’d be France.

- If I were a flavour, I’d be chocolate.

- If I were a scent, I’d be lavender.

- If I were an object, I’d be a Mont Blanc pen.

- If I were a body part, I’d be a hand.

- If I were a song, I’d be "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - U2.



- If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be ballet flats.

- If I were transportation, I’d be a plane.

- If I were a fairy tale, I’d be Cinderella.
- If I were a holiday, I’d be Christmas.
- If I were a novel, I'd be Beach Music by Pat Conroy. 
- If I were a movie, I'd be Moonlight and Valentino.


All right - your turn!

BTW - fans of my vampire mini-serial, I've just posted the final episode on my flash writing blog here. Do Ciassia and Sibon die? What is going on here?


Thursday, 4 November 2010

To use or not to use, that is the question? Can anyone recommend a writing software program?



With NaNo moving along at a cracking pace - is it Day Four already? - my thoughts turn again to whether I should be using a specialist software writing program. At the beginning of NaNo last year, my NaNo group suggested we should use a dedicated program and recommended some free programs to try, like YWriter. I downloaded it but after a bit of fooling around, decided it was too complicated and just plugged on with Word which I'm very familiar with.

So in the lead up to NaNo this year I read different recommendations again, and found Scrivener highly recommended by NaNo writers (you get it 50% off if you are a NaNo winner). I downloaded the beta version (you have to pay up on Dec 12) to try. I even worked through the tutorial, but have not used it for my new novel. Back to good ole Word and comfort.

I must admit, editing my first novel in Word is a bit of a nightmare, with the need to keep everything in different files, blah, blah, it can get a tad confusing and I know there must be a better way.

So, out there in the blogosphere, all you dedicated writers, I'm asking you what program do you use to write your novels? YWriter, Scrivener, Dramatica Pro, Storybase, Contour, Power Structure, Power Writer, The Writer's Software Companion, Writer's Blocks, Master Storyteller, Story Weaver - no wonder I'm confused.? Or are you a Word afficianado?

Please let me know before NaNo gets too far along...please, please...